Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Friday, January 04, 2008

Vince Young Lacks Heart

A few years back, I watched Chad Pennington play a full quarter in the MAC championship game with a badly pulled groin. He could barely move,and anytime he was off the field, a trainer had his arm elbow deep in Chad's pants, keeping him loose enough to be able to play. Last weekend, during the "must win" game against the Colts, Vince Young took himself out of the game for...ummm, did he really hurt something? He sure didn't look like it as he strolled to the locker room before half time. It looked more like he was pouting over his medicre performance upto that point in the game.

If he doesn't develop a little maturity, and really soon, the Titans won't last a quarter against the Chargers.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

New England Finishes the Season 16-0

I guess cheaters do prosper after all.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And Now a Word About Integrity

I spend a lot of time working in youth athletic programs. In years past, I've run the PA system for games, taken pictures,written up post game commentaries, run a website, manned a concession stand, built stadium seating, done pre-game set up and post game cleanup. I've helped install a below ground sprinkler system, stood in a metal shelter during an electrical storm, wired a concession stand, and supplied a dinner for 30 hungry football players.

I'm not the only one out there busting my tail. Putting on a football game, even at the little league level takes the concerted effort of dozens of people, who work week in and week out to make sure our kids have a nice field and good equipment to play in.

And it doesn't end in the off season. The field requires maintenance; uniforms require repair and replacement; lighting needs to be repaired; the concession stand must be cleaned and restocked; facilities must be upgraded; and fund raising is always a priority.

The amazing thing is that all of this work is performed by unpaid volunteers. Everyone involved in little league football is an unpaid volunteer. The coaches, the paramedics, the security people, the concession stand workers, the gate keepers, the folks in the press box, the set up and clean up crew; all of them donate their time and effort to make sure the kids can have a game. In fact, there's only one group of people who demand to be paid for their services.

The refs.

That's right, the boys in black and white are the only ones who make money off of a kids' game. Refs in our league make $45 a game, so on a 3 game night, they each clear $135 for 4-5 hours of work. And that's fine; we want professionals who can control the game, and keep it fun, safe, and fair. But we also expect that since they are professionals, they should act like professionals. All too often, that is not the case.

In fact, I'll say that in most cases, if it's not a Friday night game, the refs are phoning it in. I've heard refs at Middle School games talking about not calling penalties so they could catch a TV show, and calling players crybabies and other, less printable names when they complain. I've watched refs deliberately run the clock improperly to rush a game. I've seen refs at little league football games fail to give proper signals to the clock keeper, then complain when the clock is run improperly. I've seen them arrive late to a game, and then hurry it up to try and get back on schedule.

In short, the refs make it very clear that they are out there for the money, not for the kids.

While most folks are wary of criticizing game officials for fear of reprisals, I'm happy to go on the record and say this to every referee out there:

If the thought crosses your mind that "It's only a [Little League/MiddleSchool/Freshman/JV] game," then keep your lazy butt off of my field. Go home, kick back in the recliner, and don't disrespect the kids and parents who have spent hours of time working and preparing for the game. We take it seriously, and we expect you to do so also.

That's why we pay you.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pre-Super Bowl Prediction

Based on their performance during the play-oofs, we know that the Colts can win even if Peyton plays like Grossman. It remains to be sen if the Bears can win when Grossman plays like Grossman. That, combined with te odds against Manning having 4 mediocre games in a row, and the Colts win.

Colts 49 Bears 17

Posted by Rich
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Friday, February 02, 2007

Open Letter to the NFL on the Super Bowl

Dear NFL,

I will be having a Super Bowl Party for my friends. We will be watching the game in two rooms, on two big screens, one 55" and the other 61". There will also be a small screen showing downstairs in the pool room. My daughter might watch the game in her room, or she might just play Guitar Hero 2. Her door will be closed as usual, so I won't be able to tell.

The guests at my party have all agreed that, on the off chance that they are a Neilsen family that week, they will not indicate that they watched TV, most particularly the Super Bowl, during that time period in their homes. I've also requested that they bring along a food or beverage item to contribute to the party. If the weather had been better, I'd planned to rent an outdoor projector and show the game outside the house, but it is too cold and nasty for that.

In short, I, my family, my friends, and maybe even some of their friends plan to watch the game together on multiple screens, some larger than 55".

So sue me you greedy bastards!

Sincerely,

Richard Hailey

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Titans Top Colts!

Manning Mystified!
Titans Triumph!
Colts Clobbered!
Bironas Blasts!

Sportswriting is fun!

So is watching the Young Titans (pun intended) top the Indianapolis Colts with a 60 yard field goal.

Don't get me wrong; I like the Colts and I'm a big Peyton Manning fan, but I'm a bigger Titans fan. NO, they wont go to the playoffs this year, but they're showing constant improvement every game, and that makes next year look very good indeed.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Vols 51, The Overrated Pound Puppies 33

You know what the most fun part of the game was?

Listening to the shock in the ESPN announcers' voices as the Vols utterly destroyed the Bulldogs over the second half.

Sorry, ESPN, we decided not to follow your script.

Did anybody else catch it late in the fourth quarter, when the announcer started talking about how the Tennessee game showed how good a team Florida was?

I didn't see a Gator on the field, did you? Here's a hint, ESPN; talk about the freakin' game you're broadcasting, not last week's game, or the game you wish you were watching.

One last thing and I'll lay off ESPN for a bit. I waited through the boring baseball stuff to get to Sportscenter's coverage of the UT game, and if I hadn't just watched the game, I wouldn't have known that UT won. Every highlight was Georgia scoring, and the only comment they made about Tennessee was "Boy, they need help on special teams."

Yeah, that's certainly a bigger story than UT scoring 51 points on the number one ranked scoring defense in the NCAA.

Man, what a game! The Vol defense, patched up and held together with duct tape, held the Dawgs to 9 second half points while the offense exploded for 30 points, not counting the blocked punt. Way to go Wardlow! Cutcliffe supplemented a fair running game with a strong short passing attack that kept Georgia scratching their heads and sniffing their tails as they tried to come up with a way to stop the Tennessee attack.

Now it's time to get ready for Bama in two weeks. I don't care that they struggled against Duke. The Tide Vol game is always a battle.

I'm looking forward to it...

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tennessee’s Fickle Football Fans

Last week they were Superman without the aversion to Kryptonite; this week they're Jimmy Olsen without the camera.

At least, that's the case if you listen to many Vol fans dissappointed by UT's tough win (Remember that? It was a WIN) last night over Air Force.

"We should have killed Air Force! They only won 4 games last season!"

Ahem. We only won 5. And lost to Vanderbilt, which should negate one of the wins.

"We're ranked number 11, and they were unranked!"

Yeah, and last week, we were ranked #23, and were lucky to be that high.

For those with "irrational exuberance induced amnesia," let me remind you of a few things.

  • We scored every time we touched the ball, 4 touchdowns and a field goal. Can any other team make that claim?
  • We executed a flawless hurry up offense at the end of the first half that arguably won the game for us in the second half.
  • Eric Ainge proved that the Cal game was no fluke, throwing for three touchdowns vs one interception.
  • Monterrio Hardesty showed that the running back position is well handled, even if Foster misses a game or two.
  • The defense handled a very tricky offense fairly well, giving up only a few big plays and making enough key stops to overcome the special teams abysmal performance on the onsides kicks.

Yeah, there were some ugly aspects to the game (the aforementioned special teams play chief among them) but overall, the Vols played about as well as I expected them to. They are a young team, and young teams have a history of a letdown after an emotional win. The good news is that they still notched a win, in spite of the letdown.

As for the Florida game, with Harrel and Inky Johnson lost for the season, a lot will depend on how well the defense adjusts. But I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a UT victory come Saturday.

We're not as good as some thought we were a week ago, and we're nowhere near as bad as some think we are right now, but we're good enough to take down the Gators on th 17th. Fla doesn't run the flexbone, they run an offense very similar to Cal's, and we know how to handle that. We'll give up a few more points with the loss of two defensive starters, but our offense is powerful enough to take care of business.
Tennessee 38 Fla 28

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

US Soccer Team:  The Atlanta Braves of the World Cup

Nobody can choke when it counts like the Atlanta Braves.

Except for the US National Soccer Team

How else can you explain the 5th ranked team in the world only scoring 1 goal in the opening round?

Yeah, the refs in the last two games were awful, but that doesn't explain Landon Donovan's cosistently bad play. Out of position, sloppy passes, and truly horific corner kicks characterized his entire World Cup.

How do explain McBride choosing to head the ball out of the box in stoppage time instead of shooting on goal?

How do you explain Bruce Arena leaving his ineffective lineup out ifor 15 minutes in the scond half, down 2-1?

Like I said, they choked big time. Oh well, the Women's World Cup is coming soon; they, at least, know how to win.

Congrats to Ghana for making it out of the group of death into the round of 16.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Vols Win 63-61 Against Winthrop

As billed when the matchups were first announced, Winthrop gave the Vols almost all they could handle, but in the end a long arcing 2 point shot by Chris Lofton gave the Vols the win.

I heard a lot of folks say befor the game that Winthrop was very good, much better than their seeding suggested, and they showed it today. It was nice to see the Vols win a close one again, after the last few games.

Unfortunately for the Vols, their next game is against another team whose seed is misleading, Wichita State.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, March 10, 2006

Post Season Slump Persists; Pearl Stumped

It cost Jerry Green his job.

Once agan, the Vols are one and done in the SEC tournament, despite entering as the top seed in the East, and playing a team they swept during the regular season. For all his success during the regular season, Coach Bruse Pearl can';t seem to solve the riddle that has cost former Tennessee coaches their jobs; how to win a post season game.


That could be the lede (Why do newspapers spell things funny? Why lede instead of lead?) on tomorrow's sports pages. I hope it won't be.

It overlooks and diminishes just how much this team has accomplished this season. The Vols were a consensus pick to finish in the bottom of the East, with a losing record. They went 15-16 in the regular season last year, and lost their top scorer to graduation. They are undersized, without a true center. They brought in a new coach, with a new system. Nobody expected anything from them.

But they won the SEC East, sweeping Florida, beating Texas, beating Kentucky at Rupp, and earning a bye into the SEC tournament.

So they lost to South Carolina. So what? South Carolina also swept the Gators, and are a very strong team in their own right. As the saying goes, it's very difficult to beat a good team three times in a season.

Yeah, I'm disappointed; I wanted the chance to avenge earlier losses. But that's the cool thing about this season, the fact that I thought it was possible to avenge those losses. I don't care what happens in the NCAA tournament either. Yeah, I want to win a few games, and so the Vols can show that the season wasn't a fluke, but even if they go one and out there, this has still been a great season. Basketball is fun again at Rocky Top, even when the guys are playing.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lady Vols Win SEC

I'm going to be llate to my Oscar watching party, but I had to watch the end of the Lady Vols' game against LSU. It went right down to the wire, but in the end, Pat Summitt's ladies pulled out a squeaker.

Now I'm not a big basketball expert, but watching this game, and a few others during the season, it seemed to me that the Lady Vols aren't playing with the same level of intensity I'm used to seeing from a Pat Summitt team.

Is this just me, or have other people seem the same thing?

I've seen poor passes, lazy defense, and generally sloppy play the last couple of games. It could be that they're just tired; Lord knows a tournament takes it out of you, but it really surprised me. Two or three times tonight I saw players miss beautiful passes bevause they weren't paying attention to the ball, or passes that went way off target.

I guess the good news is that the Lady Vols have room to elevate their game as they go into the NCAA tournament.

How cool is this? Both the Ladies and the Men finish the season second in the SEC and win their Division. How long has it been since that happened? Now we'll have to see if the men can avenge a couple of their losses and maybe win their tournament.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Auto Club 500 at California Speedway

Booooring!

It doesn't take wrecks to make a race interesting; but it does take actual racing, and that was in very short supply yesterday.

After a wild and wooly Speedweek in Daytona, the drivers seemed ready to take most of this race off, and were content to just let the laps go by until there were under 50 to go. It was only then that drivers actually started racing one another.

It was so dull, I had to change the channel and watch golf to get a little excitement going.

The only good part of the race was watching Tony Stewart finish dead last due to a blown motor. NASCAR may not have the guts to reign this loser in, but apparently St. Octane, the patron saint of fast drivers and Texas billionaires, has what it takes. It was an added pleasure to see Matt Kenseth, Stewart's victim last week, win the race.

Justice was served.

The drivers get a week off before going to Las Vegas on the 12th, and after that, just three more weeks to Bristol, baby!

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Sermon from the Book of Stewart

A Reading from The Bible of NASCAR; The Book of Stewart; Chapter 12, verses 1-

1. And so it was that after the early race, the Crown Prince of Racing in Circles did look out over the tri-oval, and saw that it was not good.

2. And he did speak out, and did say, "Tis is not good. So much bumping and banging is dangerous, and someone will die of it forthwith."

3. And his loyal subjects, the Officials of NASCAR did bow low before his wisdom, and they did make changes to the rules of the contest, to lessen the dangerous bumping and banging whereof the Crown Prince had spake.

4. And the Crown Prince surveyed his kingdon, and saw that is was good, and he was pleased.

5. And the Court Jesters French and Helton did caper with glee that the Prince was pleased and their bells did ring merrily.

6. And the following week came the big race, and all the knights were charged with obeying the new law, lest they face penalties great and severe, and they did all vow to do so, or forfeit their honor.

7. And it came to pass that during the race, the Crown Prince did cross over three quarters of the track, and did drive a fellow knight off the track, sending him spinning into the infield, then through traffic and into a wall. It was only through great good fortune that the knight was not injuered, nor were other valient knights caught up in the incident.

8. And the crowd did cry "Foul!" and "Fie upon the Prince!" and the mages in the booth did cry "Foul," but the loyal subjects of the Crown Prince did remain silent, ruling only that the Prince should move towards the rear of the race, perchance to have more targets fro his aggression.

9. And when the race was through, the Crown Prince did deign to speak to the multitudes, saying "He started it; I finished it!"

10. And the multitudes did speak unkind words to the Prince, and did toss offal and refuse at him, except for those serfs wearing his livery, who did say "Whooo-Hooo" and did contemplate returning to the double wide to beat their children and abuse their spouses.

11. And after the Crown Prince did admit to deliberately wrecking his fellow knight, placing all the competitors in jeopardy, the Officials of NASCAR remianed silent, while the mages in the booth, seeing which way the wind was blowing, changed their tune, and cries of "Foul" became amused chuckles as they labelled the Prince "Boisterous."

12. And the Court Jesters French and Helton did caper with glee that their master escaped unpunished and their bells did ring merrily.

So ends the reading.

In case you can't tell, I'm not a big Tony Stewart fan.

How would you like to be a Nextel Cup driver, knowing that one of the guys on the track with you, strapped in to a 3500 lbs car capable of speeds exceeding 200mph had the emotional stability of a spoiled 5 year old brat?

And I may owe the brat an apology.

He deliberately forced another car of the track while coming up on a turn, placing the lives of many of his fellow drivers at risk. He admitted publicly that it was an intentional move on his part. NASCAR needs to sit the man down for a few races do he understands that that sort of driving is not accceptible.

Either that, or stop penalizing everybody else for it.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bowling for TV

I watched bits and pieces of several football games yesterday as the traditional "Day after New Year's Day because we don't want to interfere with the NFL" football orgy took place.

By the end of the day, the SEC went 3-3 with Auburn, South Carolina and Georgia all falling in defeat. At least they got to play in a bowl game.

But I was really annoyed all day by the ABC logo in the upper left corner of the screen. At the start of almost every play, they had a yellow flare on the logo that looked like a flag. It was very distracting, and while it didn't ruin the game, I hope they fix it before the games tonight and tomorrow.

Who's playing, again?

Posted by Rich
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