Thursday, December 31, 2009

Worst. Decade. Ever.

...well, at least since the 90's. Some good lines here from Nick Gillespie:

On Bush, "He hadn't dodged that well since Vietnam," and, "He's always had a problem with exit strategies".

On Dennis Kucinich, "Any time Dennis Kucinich is the voice of reason, you know you're really screwed."

Love it. Good stuff. "Enjoy".

Lying Liar

As far as I'm concerned, John McCain, Dick Cheney, or Barack Obama could be president right now, and the war results would be about the same. Bush's 3rd term. As 2009 ends, we're supposed to see an end to the war in Iraq. Today. Per, Barack Obama. Via Cato at Liberty:
This is not the change we hoped for. President Obama rose to power on the basis of his early opposition to the Iraq war and his promise to end it. But after a year in the White House he has made both of George Bush’s wars his wars.

Speaking of Iraq in February 2008, candidate Barack Obama said, “I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009. It is time to bring our troops home.” The following month, under fire from Hillary Clinton, he reiterated, ”I was opposed to this war in 2002….I have been against it in 2002, 2003, 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8 and I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don’t be confused.”

Indeed, in his famous “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow” speech on the night he clinched the Democratic nomination, he also proclaimed, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that . . . this was the moment when we ended a war.”

Now he has doubled down on the war in Afghanistan and has promised to keep the war in Iraq going for another 19 months, after which we will have 50,000 American troops in Iraq for as far as the eye can see. If McCain had proposed this sort of minor tweaking of the Bush policy, I think we’d see antiwar rallies in 300 cities. Calling the antiwar movement!

Calling all Democrats! Calling the left! Where art thou? Only the libertarians left standing against the war? Don't want to ruffle your seat at the table? What good is having power for change if you aren't going to use it?

I'm not confused. Obama lied. People die. Sound familiar?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Integrity of the Game

Conspiracy, or just resting some stars for the playoffs? Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley sees a conspiracy. From ESPN:
Pittsburgh's problem: The Patriots (10-5) and Bengals (10-5) have little at stake other than which team will be seeded No. 3 in the AFC. With a wild-card playoff game awaiting both teams next week, New England and Cincinnati are expected to rest some starters to avoid possible injuries.

New England coach Bill Belichick hasn't revealed who will play. Woodley, last week's AFC defensive player of the week and a Pro Bowl alternate, thinks he knows already.

"All of them lay down," Woodley said Wednesday. "No one wants to see Pittsburgh in it. That's just how it is. Everybody knows we're a dangerous team once we get into the playoffs, no matter how we played the whole year. Once we get into the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers is a playoff team."

Are. Are a playoff team. Well, he probably wasn't an English major in college.

I don't buy his conspiracy theory, but I do think the Pats and Bengals will be as beatable this week as any all season. Just like the Colts. Wake me up when the second round of the playoffs start.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Conversely, Hockey Players

I once met Troy Auzenne, a former lineman for the Bears and Colts. He went something like 6' 8" and 300. When he shook my hand, it disappeared inside his.

We had a deep, meaningful conversation about sports that went a little like this...

TA: You play hockey? You guys are crazy!
MK: What do you mean? You guys are giants and you smash into one another every single play.
TA: Yeah, but you guys don't wear facemasks!

Those days, I didn't. Now I wear the birdcage, and providence smiled upon me when I put it on, as a guy slammed his stick across my caged face, saving me roughly half of my teeth.

So, while the Colts pull starters for fear they might get hurt, pro hockey players get hurt fairly severely and won't miss a game. Check out Dallas Stars' Stephane Robidas, via ESPN:
Robidas, 32, suffered the injury when he was hit in the face by a puck during Sunday's practice.

"I saw a dent there, so I knew something was wrong," Robidas said. "My cheek bone caved in a little bit. They had to do an incision on the side of my head and pop the bone back out. It was causing a little bit of pain."

Robidas said the procedure took 10 to 15 minutes.

"They put me under, but the surgery was at 7 a.m. and I was home by 10," Robidas said. "I'm ready to go."

That means Robidas will be able to play his usual spot on the top pair with Nicklas Grossman.
'Causing a little bit of pain'. Now, THAT'S a professional athlete!

Update: Robidas not only played, he logged more on-ice time than anyone else on his team... by five minutes! That's unreal. Robidas led Dallas to a 5-4 win over one of the NHL's best teams, Chicago, with a broken cheekbone. Finished with an assist, a +2 rating, and blocked two shots. With 25:44 on ice, Robidas logged more time than 99% of NHL players will get per game, any game.

Full admiration from me.

More Armchair Quarterbacking

I'm with ESPN's Howard Bryant here, on the benching of Colts starters:

But here is where the entire logic of resting starters in December collapses: In the most dangerous and violent of sports, football coaches don't practice this protective strategy during the season. If Caldwell or any coach were going to rest starters at the end of the season, he should do so during the entirety of the season, following the NBA approach (it is commonplace to watch Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan watching a fourth-quarter blowout from the bench).

Take, for example, how Caldwell handled Manning earlier this season:

• Led 31-10 in Week 3 at Arizona with 11:31 left. Manning played the whole game.

• Led 28-3 in Week 4 versus Seattle with 8:02 left in the third quarter. Manning played the whole game.

• Led 31-9 in Week 5 at Tennessee with 7:32 left and a bye week coming up. Manning played the whole game.

• Led 28-6 in Week 7 at St. Louis at the end of third quarter. Manning played the whole game.

So Caldwell coached a certain way all season long. Why, then, would Manning be more at risk on Sunday than he had been during the rest of the regular season? If the stated objective is to win the Super Bowl, wasn't Manning unnecessarily at risk on the field for the entire game in a 42-6 win over the Rams?

Taking out his starters would have made more sense under the following conditions: 1. The game was especially physical and/or dirty; 2. Weather increased the risk of injury; 3. The result of the game was no longer in doubt; or, 4. The players in question were already playing with injuries that threatened their playoff availability.

When Manning was removed, he had not been sacked nor intercepted. The Jets are a tough, physical defensive team, but Manning had completed 14 of 21 passes for 192 yards. The two teams are formal rivals, but the game itself wasn't a particularly edgy one in which a star player was at greater risk of injury due to a cheap shot or rougher play. Weather, naturally, was not a factor because the Colts play indoors. At 15-10 with five minutes left in the third, the outcome of the game was hardly assured, and Manning, who has played in 191 consecutive games -- which is to say every game of his NFL career -- is not an injury risk.

And if injury was truly such a major consideration, why allow Manning to play at all? He could have broken his leg in the first quarter Sunday and could injure himself at Buffalo next week. In short, none of it really made sense.

I'm with Bryant when he says that Coach Caldwell created a distraction- his decision. Good coaches remove distractions. He created one, at precisely the wrong time: right before the playoffs.

None of this is to say that the Colts can't overcome. They certainly can. Overcoming 16-0 would have been a better 'problem' to deal with, though. Just because the Patriots lost the Super Bowl after going 16-0, well, post hoc; ergo, propter hoc?

Monday, December 28, 2009

What In The Wide World Of Sports?

I can't remember the last time I was so irritated watching a sporting event. There were the Indianapolis Colts, winners of all 14 of their games, lining up against a very mediocre NY Jets team. At home. With a chance at history. So, what happens? Rookie coach Jim Caldwell pulls Peyton Manning and several other starters in the 3rd quarter, and the game goes from a Colts lead to the first loss of the season.

I was damn glad not to be one who paid for a ticket to this game. I would have wanted a refund. Good for the fans who booed throughout the latter part of the game. They were ripped off. They paid full price, they should have gotten to see a full team, for the full game.

The coach is apparently thinking that he wants to spare his stars potential injury. There are a few flies in that ointment.

First, look no further than the team's recent history. When they've rested players like this in the past, they've been eliminated early in the playoffs. The one Super Bowl win came in the season the Colts were a Wild Card team, playing every playoff game without rest, scrapping continuously. Why would anyone deviate from their own model for success?

As an Ohio State fan, I get the value of continuous play. Year after year, OSU rolls to a good record and a bowl game awaits. Because the Big Ten doesn't have a playoff, the Buckeyes have a month-long layoff. They come to the bowl game out of synch, rusty, and generally lose. Well, that's the same lesson as the Colts' playoff history.

I just hate the cowardice. Go for the brass ring! Try for perfection! How often does that opportunity come along?

If nothing else, Colts fans hopefully learned this: Never buy a ticket for the last home game. Exhibition season is at the front end of the season, but Colts management is unaware.