Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: The year the road went international

The turning of a calendar is a painfully arbitrary thing. I say painful not because it actually physically hurts to hang up a new calendar, though I suppose it could if you've pulled a muscle, but because it is a date that comes with extreme pomp and pressure to be celebratory, become reborn or reflect. Why couldn't we just as easily do this on, say, September 1 is the start of the Christian Liturgical calendar and has been celebrated as New Year's in the past?

The answer is, I guess, that we could. After all, this day largely just serves as an excuse to drink a lot, which is kind of funny considering there's one of those every three weeks or so on most office holiday calendars. But somewhere along the line someone decided January 1 would be the day we all started writing the wrong years on checks out of habit, so here we are.

If nothing else, like I said, it gives us an excuse to drink. As if most people needed one.

So, as the calendar makes its annual flip, I'm going to do what I always do and recount what a busy, wild year it's been -- and boy has it ever been both of those things. It all started with a bold, aggressive entirely non-serious prediction on Dec. 31, 2014, it continued in February when, for the first time, I saw a sporting event outside of North America, it included very nearly witnessing the prophecy coming through in October and now it all comes to its thrilling conclusion on Dec. 31, 2015, which I will spend, well, I honestly don't know yet. Maybe sleeping?

Considering everything I've done this year, I could probably use it. You'll see.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

NFL Picks Week Fifteen: To Cam or not to Cam

I want to acknowledge before I begin this that a) there are bigger things going on in the world right now than my fantasy team, and b) none of you care about my fantasy team. That's fine. I can accept that. But this is also my blog, so I get to say whatever the hell I want here and that's what I'm going to do. Deal with it.

Now that the preamble is done, allow me kindly to take you back to the salad days of 2012, when I made my trek to Baltimore, Maryland so I could see the New York Football Giants visit the Baltimore Ravens with my friends Lindsay and Chris. This trip was a big one for a few reasons, namely that the Ravens were the only team in the northeast megalopolis apart from the Philadelphia Eagles that I had not yet seen, the Giants were in the thick of a playoff race as they sought to defend their most recent championship and I, for the first time, was in the semifinals of my big keeper fantasy football league. This was a team I had built from nothing through an extensive system of trial and error -- perhaps with more error than not -- but had nursed on the strength of Cam Newton's arm and Giants wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz to my league's final four.

As I reached kickoff for the second round of games that chilly December Sunday, the path was clear. A Giants victory would keep the defending champs in control of their own destiny ahead of their season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. For me, a grand total of 13 points between Nicks and Cruz would put me in the championship of my league for the first time. Given the seasons those two had put together, this should not have been too difficult.

The Giants played one of their worst games of the season, taking their fate out of their hands in a season that would end without a postseason berth. Cruz and Nicks combined for virtually nothing. The Ravens won the Super Bowl. My friend Christian, who would advance to the final against me, won our fantasy championship.

These aren't the outcomes I was looking for.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

NFL Picks Week Thirteen: The Giants took two weeks off, so I did too

Yes, I know only one of the past two weeks of NFL football was a bye week for the New York Giants, but honestly, if you saw their performance against Washington last Sunday, amazing catch by Odell Beckham aside, you'd be hard pressed to determine which week was which. The Giants turned in an illustriously awful day with first place in the NFC East on the line, which gives rise to the impression that was surely on no one's mind already, that maybe the Giants just aren't that good this season.

That doesn't mean the season is over, of course. The Skins hold a tiebreaker advantage over the Giants at the moment, but I'm not sure most people in America are prepared to say the words "NFC East champion Washington (expletive deleted)" any time soon. In fact, be it as a result of their play or their karma, I'm pretty sure if any team can manage to slip out of first place in this division, Washington is that team. My suspicion is still that the NFC East title will come down to the Giants' showdown with the Eagles in Week 17, but I might stop short of calling the winner of that game a "champion". Then again, if 7-9 is all it takes to get into the playoffs, I am fully confident the Giants will somehow ride that to another Super Bowl win over the Patriots.

Only time will tell.

I have no real explanation for why the Giants took last week off even though a game was scheduled, but as for me taking two weeks off from writing in this blog, we'll call it a combination of laziness and the busy schedule that comes with the Thanksgiving holiday. That laziness wasn't without cause, of course. Just after my last post I endeavored on one of my more fun, but above all more exhausting whirlwind trips as I ran around Chicago and Milwaukee to the tune of four sporting events in three days, with enough greasy food thrown in to make my college self blush.