Friday, November 1, 2013

NFL Picks Week Nine: Finally, Red Sox fans are vindicated

This is Luisa and Mike. I like Luisa and Mike. They're good people. We're friends. Two years ago the two of them were living in a small city in Germany and they allowed my friend Kristen and I to stay at their studio apartment with them. Luisa and I have known each other for a decade now and had many adventures in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Illinois and Minnesota. And yes, Germany.

One of our adventures included a trip to Fenway Park in 2009 to watch one of the four or so great starts Johan Santana had for the Mets over the course of his injury-marred tenure. This is pertinent information because, as the picture indicates, Luisa and Mike are Red Sox fans. Well, Luisa is a Red Sox fan, Mike is a Cubs fan, which basically means this is the closest he's ever getting to a World Series championship anyway. The point is, I'm happy for Luisa. Really I am. I was with her when the Red Sox broke the curse in 2004 and know the significance this kind of event has not just for Sox fans in general, but for Luisa specifically.

So all that said, here's the thing. FOX, MLB, most of the U.S. sports media, presented Boston's World Series triumph as the end of much suffering because finally, at long last, the Boston Red Sox won a World Series after 95 years of waiting. In Fenway. A World Series in Fenway afer 95 years of waiting. Apparently this must have been a deeply emotional sore spot for Sox nation because if you listen to Joe Buck's call at the final out, it seems like eons of suffering have finally been ended.

That's fine and all, but this isn't exactly a team that's been suffering. Yes, the Red Sox hadn't won a World Series at Fenway in 95 years, but in the last eight seasons before this one they were not bereft of World Series titles. They had won two of them. And judging from this video from the stands, it didn't exactly sound like the Sox were on the road when they won their second of three titles in the last decade in that Bostonian Hub of Denver, Colorado.

Also, not for nothing, but this whole jumping up and down after the final out rather than collapsing in a dog pile thing is pretty silly looking. This is how it's done.

This is not to take away from the moment for most Sox fans. They're not at fault and they have the right to enjoy their spoils. But can the external media cool it a bit with the Red Sox romanticizing? In 2004 it made perfect sense. In 2007 less, but there was still something remarkable about it. But now? Really? They've won three of them. It is still special if you're a fan of the team, but this is not a hallmark seminal Major League moment. Hell, the Mets could win the World Series in a Burmese prison yard and I wouldn't care where it happened so long as they won one.

Here are some more remarkable home championship droughts, though, if we're going to shine a light on some unfortuante fan bases.

-- The New England Patriots have never won a championship at home.
-- The Baltimore Ravens have never won the Super Bowl in Baltimore.
-- The Green Bay Packers haven't won a championship in Wisconsin in 46 years. When will their drought end?
-- The Boston Bruins haven't won the Stanley Cup in the Hub since 1972!
-- The Chicago Blackhawks may have won the Stanley Cup two of the last three seasons, but their Windy City drought is currently going on seven and a half decades.
-- The last time the San Francisco Giants clinched a World Series title at home was 1922, a full 35 years before they had even left New York.
-- The United States of America hasn't won a war on its home soil since 1865! Don't Americans deserve to see a victory up close?

Alright, this is overkill now, but here's my point. I'm happy that Mike and Luisa got to share the lifelong memory of watching the Boston Red Sox win a World Series in person, but it doesn't really matter where you win. It matters that you won at all. And when a team has won two championships in recent memory, well, there's only so far my heart strings can stretch.

Unless this is the Mets, who haven't won a World Series at home in 27 years (and never on the road! How have I been robbed of that memory!). In that case, sap away.

So now that we're done with that whole rant, I must come clean on some things.

I did not write a blog entry at all last week. Typically this isn't that big of a deal, but when I attempt to keep track of all my ill-gotten NFL picks during the course of the season, I really ought to be writing on the regular. What's more is that last weekend also included my long-awaited, oft-spoken of, but never-accomplished visit to see the Philadelphia Eagles, the 55th team on the list and the last in the Northeast corridor that I had not yet seen. And wouldn't you know it? Somehow the Giants won. It may have been the worst-played game in NFL history, but a win is a win, so I'm not complaining.

I will get more into the nitty-gritty of that at some point, but for now, here are my picks from last week (complete with bold-faced correct picks!), and my picks from this week. Enjoy the magic.

Week 8

Last week's picks: 10-5-0
Season: 50-55-2

Carolina (-6.5) over TAMPA BAY
DETROIT (-3) over Dallas
KANSAS CITY (-7.5) over Cleveland
NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) over Miami
NEW ORLEANS (-11) over Buffalo
NY Giants (+5.5) over PHILADELPHIA
San Francisco (-16.5) over JACKSONVILLE
NY Jets (+6.5) over CINCINNATI
Pittsburgh (-2.5) over OAKLAND
DENVER (-12.5) over Washington
Atlanta (+2.5) over ARIZONA
Green Bay (-9) over MINNESOTA
Seattle (-11) over ST. LOUIS

Week 9

Last week: 7-6-0
Season: 57-61-2

Cincinnati (-3) over MIAMI
Kansas City (-3) over BUFFALO
DALLAS (-10) over Minnesota
Tennessee (-3) over ST. LOUIS
New Orleans (-6) over NY JETS
WASHINGTON (+1) over San Diego
CAROLINA (-7.5) over Atlanta
OAKLAND (-2.5) over Philadelphia
SEATTLE (-16.5) over Tampa Bay
Baltimore (-2.5) over CLEVELAND
NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) over Pittsburgh
HOUSTON (+2.5) over Indianapolis
GREEN BAY (-10.5) over Chicago

There it is, folks. By the way, did you know the Red Sox have never won a World Series Game 7? When will that madness stop?

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