Friday, December 27, 2013

NFL Picks Week Seventeen: Adios to a Craptacular 2013 season

So before we get to the nitty gritty, I suppose I ought to explain that I didn't write an update last week because, er, what happened last week? Whatever it was, it took precedence, and the Giants actually ended up winning on Sunday afternoon, so part of me is wondering if perhaps the secret is that I should stop writing at all. Then again, I guess there's evidence to the contrary that superstitions are dumb and all. (Unrelated sidenote I just thought of: Was Weatherford properly handling a low snap on that game-winning field goal against the Niners a universal correction for the infamous Trey Junkin game nine years earlier?)

In any event, sorry that the four of you out there who bank on this for your entertainment (I'm looking at you, Evan) had to take a week off, but as the horrendous 2013 football season winds to a close, I am back and ready to throw both last week and this week's incorrect picks at you. Before you point out the absurdity of posting picks for several football games that happened a week ago, I want to make it clear these picks all come from my Yahoo picks league, which will be made clear by the fact that a large number of them, even after the fact, are wrong.

If you still are skeptical, you need more hobbies.

Before I get there, though, can we talk about how happy I am that this football season is nearly done with? It's not that 2013 was a bad year in general. I mean, my sister got married, I made four trips to California, I found out I'm going to be an uncle and ensured my nephew's life would be ruined by purchasing his first Mets jersey for him, and I made a trip to Africa, which was still great even though the airport burned down two days before I was supposed to leave.

But let's call a spade a spade here. I like sports a lot. And if we're talking about sports, this wasn't so great. The Devils missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs a yaer after a miracle run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Knicks are a colossal disaster, the Mets saw their first sign of pulling out of the darkness go under the knife with Tommy John surgery and, well, then there was football.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

NFL Picks Week Fifteen: I Left My Coat in San Diego

I don't expect much when I visit San Diego. That isn't meant to be a slight. The city is lovely, the embarcadero has beautiful views of the Pacific, the California burrito at El Indio and the accompanying tortilla chips are truly delicious. If you have the chance to fly across the country to eat there your plane ticket will not have been a waste. The people, with the exception of one possibly stoned 60-year-old woman I met on the city trolley, are lovely. The night life is good even if you end up falling asleep by 10 p.m. What's more, I didn't even expect the Giants to play well when I traveled 3,000 miles to get there.

But look. When I go to San Diego, I don't think it's so unreasonable of me that I expect it to, at the very least, be warm.

For some reason, even in this most modest request, San Diego, California was unable to comply last weekend. A city that makes its bones with a steady stream of 78-degree days with almost no humidity 365 days a year came up far short, as every day I was there the temperature peaked at, maybe, 60 degrees. And even that was a rarity. During the game itself temperatures settled in in the mid-50s unless you were one of the fortunate souls to be sitting in direct sunlight. All of this meant that I felt about as hot as the Giants' offense in a spectacularly mediocre showing.

That isn't to say I didn't enjoy myself of couse. After all, when I drove up to Anaheim to see the Ducks play the Islanders on Monday night I got personal approval from Wild Wing on my hooded sweatshirt, as you can see above. No trip with that special moment could be a failure. Plus, I saw Ducks forward Corey Perry score what was probably the most spectacular goal I've ever seen in person. And it could have been worse. I could have been in a place as ill-prepared for its weather as, say, Cairo and Jerusalem.

But, really, would it have been so bad to have a weekend of 80-degree weather no questions asked?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

NFL Picks Week Fourteen: Hey, Let's Go to California! Again!

Years from now, when scribes and scholars dictate and notate the events of David Edward Kalan in his late 20s, 2013 may rightfully be called "The Year of California." This is not a place I spent a great deal of time in growing up, nor do I have any particular strong personal connection to it. And yet, this weekend, for the fourth time this year, I will be boarding a plane and heading to that big homunculus on the left coast.

It is a bit bizarre that it all worked out this way. For some reason, however, I noticed that visits to a particular place you don't normally go to tend to come in bunches. I came to this realization about four years ago when after a grand total of zero visits in my entire life, I found myself frequently winding up at the G Train subway stop at Fulton Street. Now some might argue that California has distinctly more charm to it than the G Train, and in the case of San Francisco, which I've visited twice this year, they are certainly right. The jury is still out on Los Angeles, where I spent five days this past March.

Some might argue that San Diego, which I am visiting for just the second time ever this Saturday, has more charm than L.A. and certainly more than the Fulton Street G station. But if the rumors I've heard are true, the place I will be spending most of Sunday -- Qualcomm Stadium -- by nearly universal consensus, uh, does not.

When I recently told one friend that I would be making my first ever visit to The Murph (It'll always be Jack Murphy Stadium to me), we had the following exchange:

"So I'm making my first ever visit to Jack Murphy Stadium next month."
"Oh, nice! Prepare to be... not at all impressed."