Saturday, February 27, 2010

Well That Escalated Quickly

Now, I think you all know I had high hopes for the United States to beat Finland yesterday and advance to the Olympic Gold Medal game. Well, uh, I didn't see this coming. And I don't think anyone else did either, particularly considering Finland hadn't given up four goals yet in the entire tournament.

The United States scored six times in the first 12:46 of the game, an almost ludicrous pace regardless of whether you're playing against NHLers or a pee wee team. It was the largest single period output for the U.S. since 1964, and the first four tallies in the blitz came against Miikka Kiprusoff, who, while his defense clearly wasn't up to par, is generally considered one of the best goaltenders in the world. Perhaps Kipper was victim to a little bit of hubris considering his pre-Olympics comments. Either way, the United States was able to pour it on, with one tweeter noting that in the first period the Americans had a higher shooting percentage than the New York Knicks.

After a wild day of semifinal games, a team which many didn't expect to medal when the roster was announced on January first, now will have a shot at Gold for the first time since 2002, when the Americans lost it on their home soil for the first time in 70 years. The United States fell that day in Salt Lake City to the Canadians, who were making their own erstwhile history that day, winning gold 50 years to the day of their last Olympic triumph, a remarkable drought for the first nation of hockey. Well, after juuuust squeaking by the Slovakians last night, we're going to see our old friends one more time Sunday at 3 for top honors.

I, as I have noted on more than one occasion here, am not happy about this.

Friday, February 26, 2010

1995 NFL Mail Bag: The New England Patriots

Some of you might remember a few posts ago when I mentioned my upcoming plan to write letters to every NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB team as well as Dick Cheney's uncanny marksmanship. Well, in addition to Cheney not being the only older politician to make us proud lately, you might also recall that this project was inspired by a similar letter campaign I made when I was nine years old to every NFL team.

Well last week I made a trip home to New Jersey where I did the all too exciting activity of filing my tax return. In addition to finding that I received half as much in my refund as expected -- to say nothing of what I owe New Jersey and New York -- I also uncovered a box with all the mail I received as a nine-year-old. Fifteen years later it's time to uncover it all and so every Friday, you can count on me showing you just how generous -- or cheap -- professional football teams were a decade and a half ago.

First up: The New England Patriots.

I'm going with the Pats first because after sending out my deluge of mail, New England was the first to actually respond. This became particularly memorable when my father picked me up from Sunday School at Temple Sinai in Summit, New Jersey, handing over the mail. In my haste to open it on the ride home I almost didn't notice when we were blindsided by a pregnant woman near the Short Hills train station.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

So I Was Wrong. Go Figure.

Alright, so that legendary showdown I was predicting between the Canadians and Russians didn't quite exactly come to pass. Much to my surprise, the outrageously talented Russians decided they simply didn't feel like playing, while the Canadians finally realized they're an almost unfair combination of skill and strength that can't be trifled with.

Somewhere, Don Cherry is smiling.

Not only did the Canadians smack the Russians around but good, they may have finally found the groove we've all been waiting for them to display. As I've said all along, this is easily the most talented team in the tournament, but for the opening round Canada appeared to struggled at times and took a while to get its offense rolling against lesser teams like Norway or Germany.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You All Should Care About This More

It's a big ol' day of Olympic hockey as we move on to the elimination rounds, and not those silly qualification round games where giants pick on lesser countries. I shouldn't be quite so condescending. After all, Norway did push Slovakia to overtime and Latvia put a scare into the Czech Republic, which also needed overtime to advance.

But let's be honest here. These were not big matchups. With the possible exception of USA-Switzerland at 3 p.m. all of today's quarterfinal matches feature big-time showdowns. I of course will be most glued to the United States, which should, all things being equal, manage a victory over the Swiss. Beyond defenseman Mark Streit and netminder Jonas Hiller, this team is mostly bereft of NHLers and should be a relative easy match. Of course, if being a Mets and Giants fan has taught me anything it's not to take any game for granted. This goes double for the Swiss, who almost stole a game from Canada in the round robin. With Hiller in goal, Switzerland is a threat to beat anyone any day, which makes me extremely antsy.

That said, USA-Switzerland is probably the least sexy game of the day. Finland and the Czech Republic will give us a meeting of two gold medal contenders at 10 as will Slovakia and Sweden at midnight.

But neither of those is the one I'm excited about. Nope. Not one bit.

....

"Well, what are you excited about, Dave?!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Memories From Milwaukee

Originally written on May 22, 2009

While I had already decided I wanted to see every Major League Baseball park, my first exposure to stadia outside the New York area came in the spring of 2001. I was 15 at the time, and while the long parade of college visits most American High Schoolers endure was not yet in full swing, my mother had wanted to visit my sister at the University of Wisconsin that April and figured it was as good a time as any to get the show underway. Our first stop came in Evanston, Illinois, where I would be exposed to Northwestern University, an event that would obviously have longterm ramifications. I was hoping to see Wrigley Field for the first time that week, and I did, but the Cubs had hit the road, and while my mother and I did accidentally wind up attending a White Sox-Twins game at the new Comiskey Park, a story for another time, I have a far stronger recollection – and perhaps connection – to a later stop we would make in Wisconsin.

This probably has to do with the fact that the Mets were involved.

When my mother and I had planned out the trip to visit my sister in Madison, I noticed that Milwaukee, not a far drive away, was on the schedule for the Amazins’ current road trip. This more or less set in stone that whenever the Mets are within 200 miles of me on the road, I have to attend. After begging and pleading, we finally bought tickets for myself, my mother, Stephanie and her roommate.

Monday, February 22, 2010

See? I Told You All Hockey Was Awesome

For all you people who claim hockey is boring and that you don't know how it could be entertaining, the whole lot of you got smacked in the face tonight with the United States' upset win over Canada at the Vancouver Olympics, its first victory against its northern neighbors at an Olympic Games in 50 years. This was an exciting, taut matchup between two geographic rivals that played with the same effort and tension you'd see in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Both teams viewed it as a key stepping stone to a medal, and what followed with tons of great saves, great goals and wild end-to-end rushes was great theater. America's victory has set them up for a fantastic shot at the medal rounds, while dealing a startling blow to Canadian national pride.

Now, unfortunately, I'm going to have to break down to all of you in a few minutes why this might not have been the hallmark moment you thought it was -- to say nothing of the fact that Canada is still very much alive for the gold medal -- but don't worry, if you want to relish in it for a few seconds, I'll let you have your moment.

...

There you go. Now, I'm not going to be one of those self-congratulatory hockey fans who begins to criticize the vast majority of you for not caring about hockey until tonight --  it seems Gawker already did it for me. I don't mind people jumping on the bandwagon when the Olympics come around. Swells of patriotism and the joy of national triumph are what the Olympics are all about, even if douchebag extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens doesn't seem to agree. Furthermore, without it we wouldn't get gems of comments by Canadians such as this one.

No, I'm glad you're all watching, and I'm glad you're all pissed off that the game was relegated to MSNBC rather than NBC's national telecast. If the U.S. team can make a stirring run to the medal round, rally the country behind it and convert some of you out there into real hockey fans who keep watching come the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, tonight's game will have been a victory not just in the Olympics but for hockey as a whole. This is Canada's game, but making it healthier in the U.S. can only better the sport for everyone.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oh, So That's What The C In CNBC Stands For

Perhaps the rest of you haven't been watching as much Olympic coverage as I have, which, frankly, wouldn't take very much, but it seems as though of all the sports I've watched so far, by leaps and bounds the most ubiquitous has been curling. Now, this doesn't bother me one bit. I rather enjoy curling -- it's a fascinating game -- and I generally only get to watch it once every four years. If you're not so familiar or, as one of my coworkers claims, you think it's just "plinko on ice", well, you're wrong. And here's a refresher. Here's a more complex explanation.

Because of in-house Canadian feeds at my office I now get to annually watch major tournaments like the Brier of Scottie's Tournament of Hearts, but prior to that, I had to wait four years and even then the matches were often in mid-day or at 2 a.m. And yes, when they were on at 2 a.m. in Torino, I stayed up to watch.

This year, however, there seems to be an entirely different case. CNBC has been showing the entire first week of curling matches nearly round the clock, with the lone exception being whenever a hockey game is played and even in those cases, the early parts of the first period are often pre-empted so the final end can be finished.

One wonders if we'll ever see Maria Bartiromo again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Oh My God Rick Reilly Shut Up

I wanted to avoid talking about this Tiger Woods press conference. Really, I did. I am so unbelievably tired of this story -- if for no other reason than it is absolutely none of our business -- and yet, well, here I am. Not so much because I feel the need to criticize Tiger, though I am now convinced that he is the worst public speaker alive, but moreso because I need to explain something very clearly to ESPN commentator and former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly.

Rick. Buddy. Tiger did not cheat on you. He cheated on his wife. Despite how badly you might want to be her, you, Rick Reilly, are not his wife. He does not owe you an apology.

Get it? Got it? Awesome.

Now, I know you may feel like Tiger owes you something since you have all the answers for his troubles even if your colleagues don't necessarily think you do, but he doesn't actually owe you anything. Really, he doesn't. He doesn't owe you anything and he doesn't owe me or any other sports fan anything. At all.

In fact, unless you happen to be a Swedish woman named Elin Nordegren, or are one of Tiger's close relatives, he doesn't owe you any sort of apology at all. Not sure why, Rick? Ok. Let me break it down for you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why Don't The Knicks Just Trade The City Of New York?

Ah the strong, masculine sport of figure skating, thy name is Johnny Weir.

Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate figure skating, and I understand that it is, in fact, very very difficult to do. I even enjoy watching it from time to time, but what I can't understand is that with hundreds of millions of people watching you perform your triple salchows, this is what you chose to wear?

Really?

I have no sense for fashion -- I wore birkenstocks, cargo shorts and hockey jerseys for most of college -- but I can't possibly imagine anyone would find this attire appropriate for any situation whatsoever. Then again, I suppose I'm not one to judge if you want to look like a woman whose dress has just been ripped open or a worn out fur coat. Everyone makes their own choices. And I do realize that part of Weir's appeal is his flamboyant choice of vestments, but don't we think this is pushing it just a wee bit? Particularly since Men's Figure Skating outfits have been silly, but never quite this silly?

I suppose the only sillier thing is why I'm asking the question. I don't fault Weir for his choices. I just think his attire may take away attention from the actual artistry or technical proficiency of his performance. And after all, isn't that, you know, the point?

I suppose I ought not to get involved, particularly since I've been paying far more attention to skiing, snowboard cross, curling, short track and not surprisingly hockey. I was extremely dismayed last night at around 2 a.m., however, to find that RCN Cable is cutting off the last hockey game of the night in the middle of the third period to show infomercials. Last night in particular, when Slovakia and the Czech Republic was cut off despite playing the first watchable hockey game of the tournament was a ridiculous offense.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

But I’m a Good Drunk Driver

Originally written February 1, 2010.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Missouri is, at least as of 2008, it is one of just eight states in the union that allows passengers in a car to drink open alcohol. While I and my compatriots took advantage of this on the way to Kauffman Stadium on July 26, 2008, it became readily apparent to me that in a town where the communal ethos every Saturday night is “I know I’m driving home drunk, but I’m a good drunk driver,” as one Kansas City resident said to me, this is unbelievably stupid. In a state where three years earlier I had seen a sign reminding Cardinals fans that “Missouri law prohibits firearms in a sporting venue with a seating capacity of 5,000 or more,” this was far more disconcerting. Then again, in a city where bars in the Waldo neighborhood sell domestic bottles for $1.50, I can’t blame them for enjoying the revelry. What Lewis Black said of Madison, Wisconsin holds true in Kansas City, Missouri.

Even with the plane ticket it’s cheaper than drinking in New York.

Regardless, I wasn’t thinking of the theoretical implications, I was just enjoying drinking my Sierra Nevada. I always thought the idea of drinking openly and brazenly on the car ride to a baseball game was a little ridiculous, or at the very least required questionable judgment. But here I was, enjoying every minute of it. Not being quite sure what was proper and yet still relishing in it was probably the theme of that trip to Kansas City for me. In a city distinctly different from my own, the brief sojourn was a wholly educational experience.

I had come to Kansas City that summer to visit Susie Sharkey, whom I had met five years earlier while working at Fairview Lake YMCA Camp. Fairview generally hired a large swath of counselors from across the country and the world, prompting me to make friends with people as close as New Jersey and as far as Australia. Kansas City lay somewhere between those two on the exotic scale.

I’m not sure when the moment occurred that Susie and I became so close, though I theorize it was probably the night during staff training when we sang an impromptu rendition of Don McLean’s “American Pie”, likely to the chagrin of everyone around us. In the years since, Susie visited me in Chicago, I visited her while she was working in a Jesuit Social Work program in Sacramento, and she visited me in New York in April of 2008. If the pattern involved alternating, well, I suppose it was my turn again.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

72 Hours In The Life Of Steve Nash

Instead of spending most of today thinking about the dumbest holiday known to man, I beseech you to take a few minutes and consider one Stephen John Nash. Yes, I'm sure most of you reading this have at least heard of Steve Nash, the point guard for the Phoenix Suns who may very well wind up in the Basketball Hall of Fame one day, but I wonder how many of you have actually taken a few moments to really think about his life. And by think about his life I mean, if you have watched anything sports related this weekend, you've probably seen Steve Nash.

This has been Nash's weekend:
Friday Night: Light the Olympic cauldron to open the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, roughly 60 miles from your childhood home in Victoria, British Columbia.
Saturday Night: Win NBA All-Star Skills Competition in Dallas, Texas, a city that still adores you for the six years you spent turning their Mavericks from moribund cellar dwellers into championship contenders.
Sunday Night: Play in NBA All-Star Game.

Yeah, just a typical weekend in the life of Steve Nash.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh, Hey. The Olympics.

Apparently none of you seem to be noticing that the Games of the XXI Winter Olympiad open tonight in Vancouver, British Columbia. Now, I know most of you probably prefer the summer games and you might be wondering why, exactly, Apolo Anton Ohno, Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn are suddenly worth knowing about for the first time in four years. Also, you may have forgotten who Sarah Hughes, Bonnie Blair or Jamie Sale and David Pelletier are.

That's fine. But for people like me, well, I love the Olympics. I don't always remember whom all the different stars are, or the defending gold medalists in the vast majority of the competitions, but I love watching all the sports I don't get a chance to see on a regular basis in the U.S. Also, these people are just unbelievably phenomenal athletes.

I enjoy the downhill skiing, and the figure skating, though curling and short track speed skating are really what I get excited about seeing. And if you've never seen the short track speed skating relay before, well, it's like a chaotic ballet on ice.

Oh yeah. And there's hockey.

And by "hockey" I mean, the single greatest hockey tournament in the world. This means you won't be seeing any of these for two weeks, however. With the use of NHL players and no Soviet Union to hate, we'll never be able to see a feat quite like the Miracle on Ice again -- though the 30th anniversary of the greatest upset in sports history is later this month -- but this tournament should be awfully exciting, if for no other reason than Canada, a heavy gold-medal favorite, is hosting the Games. And take it from me since I've had an awful lot of interaction with Canadians in the last two years. Canadians love hockey.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A New Project Is In The Works And You Could Be A Part Of It

It's been a momentous week here at ARWSMDAS, and no, not just because we're busy celebrating the fourth anniversary of one of the most hilarious political episodes of our time -- though I do hope that I, one day, can have enough power that I can put someone in mortal danger and have them apologize to me.

No, it's been a big week because Bert and I headed down to Philadelphia on Monday for the Devils-Flyers game at Wachovia, where, in addition to finding out that we're both apparently gay, I was able to cross the Flyers off my list. The Devils blew a two-goal lead to their hated rivals, which was frustrating, but I did manage to get some good fodder and Bert and I were able to sit in the fourth row behind the Devils bench until the people who actually owned the seats showed up in the second period.

Why you would wait until the second period to show up when you've spent $200 on each ticket I can't say, but I won't judge.

In any event, there are just 91 teams left and I will have a story on the trip up as soon as I've written it, though that, um, could be a while. But surely you'll all still be on the lookout for it... right?

The other big story is that I'm considering a new side project. As I told Bert during the drive down, when I was 10 years old or so, I decided to write letters to every team in the NFL -- at the time there were only 30 -- just to see what I got back. I was particularly shameless in asking for anything free and autographs of star players, but I was a ten year old. Who was going to hold it against me?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Craig Billington and My Deal With the Devils

Originally written on April 19, 2009. Statistics updated on February 9, 2010.

For whatever reason, I had a poster growing up of the 1991-92 New Jersey Devils in my room. I’m pretty sure my sister got it as a free giveaway when she attended a Devils game with her girl scout troop, but I couldn’t swear to it. All I remember about it in certainty is that the photos were all in black and white and that New Jersey’s goalie at the time was a journeyman named Craig Billington. He and Sean Burke, who I believe was also on the poster would soon be supplanted by Martin Brodeur, who has maintained the post for 16 years, taken dozens of records and won three Stanley Cups.

To call Brodeur my hero is putting it mildly.

Regardless of owning the poster, I didn’t really watch hockey as a six or seven year old. In fact, I didn’t come across a hockey game until I, an eight-year-old up well past his bedtime one Saturday, happened upon MSG Network’s replay of a Rangers-Stars game at two in the morning. I watched and found it entertaining, and for some reason developed a strong fascination with the name of Dallas goaltender Andy Moog, but I remember clearest of all that I knew absolutely nothing about the game. This has since become painfully obvious to me because I remember watching the clock tick down on a Rangers power play and I assumed it was a countdown until the Rangers power play started, rather than ended. How the Rangers could have exacted the timing of an offensive scheme so incredible that it would be called a “power play” in a game of such unpredictable action and fluid motion is beyond me now, but the thought didn’t enter my head at the time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Well, I Guess I Was Wrong

Yes, I'm aware I picked the Colts to win, and frankly, I feel like I had sound logic to rely on, but alas, that is why they play the games. I don't know that I really have the energy to go into all of my thoughts on the game, but for now I'll give you some bullet points.

-- The Saints won the game when they went for it on fourth down in the first half and didn't get it. Sean Payton is a gambler, and that onside kick to start the second half, aside from being perhaps the game's most crucial play, was a pretty clear manifestation of that. But once he showed his team that he was willing to risk the game on them, it was a signal to the players that they were going to get it done. They clearly relished the risk.

-- Lance Moore will not be remembered as the key player of this game, but he made the play of the game when he contorted his body to stretch for the two-point conversation after New Orleans took the lead in the fourth quarter.

-- Dwight Freeney was effective early, but by the third quarter it was clear that his ankle was affecting him. My guess is he was on so many cortizone shots that he couldn't even feel anything below his knee. He may not be walking for a while.

-- Despite that late pick, Peyton Manning actually played an exceptional game. He was 31 of 45 for 333 yards a touchdown and an interception.

-- Jim Caldwell was overwhelmed by the moment, as shown by the fact that he didn't call time out before the Colts' fourth down in the final minute.

-- The Saints executed an excellent Gatorade Dump on Sean Payton, who thoroughly enjoyed the shower.

-- The Colts lost because they had never been in a close game this season. When it came to crunch time, they had no idea how to react.

-- Reggie Wayne absolutely should have had that catch in the end zone at the end of the game.

-- I said early in the game that if Joseph Addai won MVP I would eat my hat. I came dangerously close to it.

-- This afternoon's Capitals-Penguins game, which featured Washington winning its 14th in a row by rallying to win in overtime on the strength of a hat trick by Alex Ovechkin was a better game than the Super Bowl.

That's all I got. This wasn't the best Super Bowl I've ever seen, but it was a pretty good one. And it was far closer than the two-touchdowns New Orleans eventually won by. What made it even better was that I have a fridge heavily stocked with Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat as a result.

Tomorrow it's off to Philadelphia for team No. 31, the Flyers. As a result, I may not get a chance to post a story because I will probably be in transit, but if that's the case, I'll be sure to have it up on Tuesday.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super What Sunday?

When I was younger football was my first love and Super Bowl Sunday was essentially the holiest holiday of my religion. Now Yom Kippur has stolen that mantel -- sort of -- but Super Bowl Sunday still has a special feel about it even though I now can viscerally remember watching the last 15 of them. The Super Bowl doesn't feel like quite the rare event it once did now that I'm older -- after all it does happen every year -- but I still can get into it, particularly since the last decade or so of games has for the most part been pretty good, and once in a while a fucking life fucking changing event.

Of course, the Giants can't get there every year, but even though my rooting interest is pretty minimal and based on the least stringent of standards this time around, I'm pretty excited for what should be a fairly entertaining game.

Now for those of you who know me, in addition to sports I also get irrationally interested in the Oscars despite the fact they're almost always wrong. Still, Newsweek had a fairly accurate example of how the Super Bowl would appear cinematically depending on the auteur earlier this week, and for film minors like myself, it makes an awful lot of sense.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Apparently There Are Crazy People Like Me Everywhere

Daniel Kernkraut brought to my attention yesterday the existence of a group of people in England who refer to themselves as The 92 Club. Apparently this is a group of men who have made it a point to see every stadium in the Premier and Football League in England and Wales, a total of clubs that works out to -- yep, you guessed it -- 92 teams. Apparently the club was started after England's sole World Cup win in 1966 and as of four years ago it boasted approximately 1,100 members. It even has an unofficial website.

Now, I know this is not exactly the same journey as the one I'm forcing myself irrationally to pursue, but these are men after my own heart nonetheless. My trip will have some 30 more teams to visit -- barring future expansion, which is always possible -- but at some point I might contact these people or try to start a similar organization on my side of the pond.

The tricky thing about the 92 Club is that the English system of promotion and relegation means that teams in the top Leagues will often change over time, moving up and down depending on their club's fortunes. This also happens to be why my Southampton FC is mired in the third tier of English Football following hard times over the past few years and a recent series of financial troubles. And to think, they were in the top half of the Premier League just seven years ago.

Lastly, I'm sure almost none of you were watching the Devils-Maple Leafs game last night because a) it was Friday and b) it was hockey. As is the case in so many of these things, this was all your loss, as the Devils managed to pull off one of the most remarkable comebacks I've ever seen in a hockey game.



Yes, New Jersey trailed by two goals with just over three minutes to play and then scored twice in the final 44 seconds to steal a remarkable win against Toronto. It was almost as remarkable as the preview for tonight's Blackhawks-Blues game I'm not silent in the newsroom, but rarely do I jump up like this.

The coworker who sits next to me that roots for the Leafs? Well, he was less than enthused.

And in case you were wondering, new acquisition Ilya Kovalchuk had two assists.

Friday, February 5, 2010

In Which The Devils Shock Just About Everybody

I was planning on spending most of this entry talking about a number of different things, including the preview I wrote for tonight's Blackhawks-Coyotes game. But last night that became only the second-most important item of hockey news this week.

Yeah. I know.

Most of you don't watch or care about hockey, which, frankly, you should. But whether or not you watch it doesn't change the fact that the Devils acquired Ilya Kovalchuk for the stretch run last night. Any way you want to cut it, New Jersey, rather uncharacteristically, threw the power structure of the Eastern Conference completely out of whack last night. Washington and Pittsburgh still have to be considered the elite teams that a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals runs through, but the Devils have thrust themselves into that discussion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So There's This Game on Sunday

I know you're all pretty busy, and I appareciate you all taking a few moments away from reading that totally awesome Blues-Blackhawks Preview you found to kill time with me.

I've been doing some thinking in regards to how I want this structured and I think for the purpose of maintaining the longevity of this blog, I'm only going to update with stories on Monday. Don't worry, I'll ramble on all the other days of the week -- you know, the days you see I have a new post up and then find that it's just me blathering on about something pointless.

In any event, Monday seems like a good choice because the rest of you are at work and no doubt are looking for a distraction, so here I am. As for once a week, well, I think it's necessary to stretch these things out since there are 122 teams, which seems like a lot, but over the span of 30 years, well, it ain't.

In fact, I'm not sure how, exactly, this will continue in the long run, but if you all keep reading, well, I'll keep writing. If any of you have any good ideas about how I should publish stories or otherwise effectively use this space, by all means, send them along.

In other news, there's this "Super" Bowl game on Sunday that you might have heard about. I'll make my entirely worthless and ineffective prediction later this week, but I can tell you right now that I've already made up my mind as to who I'm pulling for. This was tricky for me since this is the first time in five years that I've actually been to both cities in the Super Bowl without living in one of them.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Eamus Catuli

Originally written June 18, 2009

In the mid-1990’s there was a commercial for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball in which a Chicago Cubs bobblehead doll nodded its head repeating “This is our year! We can’t be beat!” As it said this, the doll slowly grew a beard and became covered with cobwebs. At the time I thought this was funny, but being that I was young and not particularly well-versed in Cubs history, I didn’t quite understand the depths of why it was so funny or what it truly meant to watch the Cubbies.

There are, to me, few immutable truths or superstitions that are worth relying on in professional sports. Curses, good luck, bad luck, lucky socks, lucky jockstraps, rubbing your bats with fruit, wearing the same uniforms, eating the same pregame meal, velcroing and de-velcroing your batting glove the exact same number of times before each pitch – it’s all complete lunacy. None of it is real, none of it exists, it’s all in your head.

Except one.

There is one superstition that I believe wholeheartedly without any cold data or rational reason.

“They are the Chicago Cubs.”

They’re the Cubs. They’re cursed. This is not their year. Next year will not be their year. In fact, I’m fairly certain that it will never be their year. Not once in the past 101 years have the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

I haven’t found a Z-Score to determine the statistical significance of how unlikely it was for the Cubs to go more than a century without winning a championship, but given that there are now 30 teams in Major League Baseball, and that for the first 54 years of this streak there were only 16 teams, and if we assume that all things being equal, the Cubs should have made a World Series appearance at least once every eight years as there were only eight teams in the National League until 1962, and also assume they had a 50% chance of winning each of those World Series, well, it seems particularly unlikely that this one baseball team could go more than a century without winning a World Series.