Friday, January 31, 2014

Gong Hay Field Goal! Wacky theories, China vs. the NFL and Super Bowl XLVIII

We, as a society, with our Snowpocalypses, sitcoms, literotica and Branjelina just love our silly portmanteaus. This got ramped up into overdrive last fall when my beloved Festival of lights fell on the third Thursday of November and gave us the gift of Thanksgivukkah. With these prior examples it would seem there is almost no end to the possibilities nor the appetite of ridiculous combined names, but all of us -- ALL OF US -- appear to be missing the boat when the biggest game crosses paths with world's biggest population.

Yeah, that's right, kids. Chinese New Year happens to fall on this very weekend, which, at the same time, just happens to be the weekend of Super Bowl XLVIII. My good friend Michael, who will not be watching the Super Bowl with me because he is a Chinese American who will be ringing in the new year with his family, coined the most appropriate terminology for this weekend, and that is:

"Gong Hay Field Goal!"

It makes perfect sense, but it also begs the question of why hasn't this particular portmanteau caught on with the public? Is it because no Chinese citizens currently play in the NFL? Is it because the NFL has blatantly ignored the growing population in the East in terms of marketing?

It's probably none of those things and certainly not the last one. After all, the NFL, knowing the potentially massive fan base in China, has done its best to make in-roads, setting up Super Bowl parties and putting together youth clinics. Hell, there's even both an English and Mandarin version of NFL.com programmed specifically for a growing Chinese fan base. Despite an enormous China-specific online store and a China-specific Twitter feed, the League does not appear to have gained quite the foothold it is hoping for.

And so I am but left to wonder: Is the NFL scheduling Super Bowl XLVIII on the weekend of Chinese New Year one last gasp effort to co-opt the world's next superpower? After all, the NFL has already conquered the North American sports landscape and, for at least this weekend, New York City. Just ask someone who lives here. If the NFL's growing popularity and power continues to expand we may well be hurtling toward a Rollerball-esque future of sports representing corporate power and stabs at global hegemony a little faster than we anticipate. And it might just bring the real death we were anticipating.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Baby, it's cold outside

There's something you might have noticed about me -- I don't really keep it a secret -- but I am an alum of Northwestern University, a place I couldn't be prouder of at the moment (but I'll have to get into why the NCAA is an immoral cartel some other time). It's a pretty spiffy place. The educational quality is tough to match, the proximity to a major American city is fantastic, and the campus itself is truly beautiful. Well, for about eight weeks out of the year anyway. The rest of the year it's pretty damn cold. Being as stupid as I was in my college years I opted to run outdoors throughout the winter, -20-degree wind chill be damned.

The weather was something I did not miss. Unfortunately for me and anyone else that resides in New York City over the past month, however, this Polar Vortex business had to come down and gum up the works, plunging our typically chilly January into an utterly frigid one. This has prompted a wave of people wearing layers, bright red faces and a barrage of tweets by people complaining about how cold it is as if the ability to wear the aforementioned layers does not exist. If I have any advice to people enduring these extremes, it is that, if they're not so into those temperatures, they should not do this:

They should not stand outside for five hours watching a hockey game.

I know this because that's exactly what I did this past Sunday afternoon, as my New Jersey Devils played one whole period of outdoor hockey against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium before standing around for 40 minutes while the Rangers scored six straight goals, as part of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series. Obviously that last bit of the whole deal didn't exactly please me, but on the plus side I got to freeze to the bone in the name of taking some pretty awesome pictures like this one or this one once the snow began to fall. And as an added bonus, the Devils shirked the temptation to wear gaudy new "futuristic" alternates in favor of their throwback uniforms from when the franchise first moved to New Jersey in 1982. Silly as they may look, I am always in favor of those fantastic green shorts.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Let's all talk about how Richard Sherman is classless or something

Some of you might have noticed that there were some football games yesterday. I watched them. Some of you probably watched them. The first one, for all of its pregame sturm und drang, was actually something of a dud, as the Broncos easily and almost mechanically did away with the Patriots in what had been billed as another chapter in the eternal Peyton vs. Brady rivalry. A coworker of mine noted as the game ended that this was a big feather in Peyton's cap, to beat Brady again. I suppose for the sake of argument this is true, though I think it's kind of silly when one considers a) Peyton Manning has already been to the Super Bowl twice and won it, along with the game's MVP award, once, b) That time Peyton won the Super Bowl, he beat Tom Brady and the Patriots to get there while leading an oft-forgotten and epic rally from 18 points down to do it, and c) (This is my most fervent point, here) Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have never been on the field at the same time. Ever.

Really, it's true.

You see, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning both play quarterback, which is a position that is only on the field with the offense. Two offenses do not play on the field at the same time. Ever. So really, when Peyton Manning beats Tom Brady or vice versa they're not so much beating the other as they are beating the collection of 20 or so players that rotate in on the defensive side of the ball. This makes the whole argument kind of foolish.

This brings into focus my bigger point about why this game wasn't all that exciting and, I thought, probably wouldn't have been from the start. The Patriots this season, despite their record, were not the New England Patriots of seasons' past. Their defense was a cobbled together mix of separate parts that weren't bad by any stretch, but certainly weren't great either, their offense was one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, a few competent receivers and a brilliant coach and their schedule was a relatively easy slate that allowed them to fluff their record against a mediocre collection of division foes and a cross-conference matchup with two very bad teams (Tampa Bay and, surprisingly, Atlanta).

The Broncos, meanwhile, with the best offense in the game and a fairly strong defense to go with it, were likely to outclass a defensive unit that simply didn't measure up (like Seattle's might in two weeks) and the rest of the holes were easily filled in. Of the four teams left, the Patriots were easily the fourth best, and to me, by a fair margin it seemed.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013, We Hardly Knew Ye: My Year in Review

As the clock ticked to midnight on Tuesday, I won't lie to you all and tell you I was in the most sane of mindsets. After all, New Year's isn't exactly a sedate holiday, but I think I managed not to get too crazy -- a plus since I had work at 11 a.m. on New Year's Day, which is just as fun as you would imagine. Dems da breaks, right?

But among the garbage flying around in my head at that moment -- in addition to the alcohol -- was my mental check list of things I needed to take care of in the coming days. For example, I was going to need to start looking seriously at plane fares for places like Montana, Los Angeles and Spain. I also need to finally buy my sister a wedding present, which I'm shamefully behind on doing. I also needed to make sure I had purchased enough infant Giants and Metswear for my impending nephew and try to jump start writing in my personal life again.

And then there was this thing. I'm not sure if you noticed since none of you actually read this, but I've kind of been neglecting this here blog. And by "kind of been neglecting" I mean I've "completely been neglecting" this blog. But hey, at least I know I'm neglectful. I'm working on it, I swear. Somewhere on my mental checklist between "do the laundry" and "find out what that smell in the kitchen is," I realized I needed to update you all on my 2013 year in review.

I've done this year in review thing three times by now, and I rather enjoy them. It's always fun to take a look back on where your life took you and how it changed. I needed to make sure I remembered to do this before I became too inundated with other responsibilities and curiosities, and while 2014 looks like it may be a doozy (I've already trekked to Long Island in a blizzard for a hockey game) I can't move on completely without meticulously categorizing the last 12 months.

And so... here we go. This is 2013 in review: