Thursday, January 20, 2005

If It Doesn't Fit, You Must Acquit

Well, I hope all those fans belly-aching about Roethlisberger wearing gloves are happy. Wednesday he declared that he wouldn't wear them Sunday, even though it's supposed to be in the 20s, snowy and windy. Good news though -- I heard Sean "I'm the biggest meathead to ever be a backup QB and then parlay that into a studio gig" Salisbury say yesterday that (a) gloves don't help you grip the ball in cold weather, and (b) it's easier to throw the ball when it's snowing.

And I know it sounds like I'm embellishing this story, but as Ray Lewis as my material witness, I watched him tell Dan Patrick as much last night on SportsCenter (you know, the show I've sworn off at least once a week over the past year). What's so funny about the whole "gloves don't help you grip the ball in cold weather" rationale is that I'd need one of the golf stroke counters to keep up with how many times Tommy Maddox whiffed while throwing the ball last season (and if I recall, he did it in the 2004 season opener too). And regarding Salisbury's other goofy statement about it being easier to throw when it's snowing, I now know where Mike Mularkey got his game plan for last season's game against the Jets. You know, the one where there was about two feet of snow on the ground and Mularkey thought it would be a good idea to put the ball in the air almost 40 times.

Anyway, if you were one of those people for Roethlisberger taking off the gloves, you might want to be careful what you ask for. Whether you like it or not, you're in agreement with Salisbury, and that's usually not a good thing. And let me ask you this, if QBs grip the ball better without gloves, why do WRs wear them too? Isn't it the same concept? And if you want irrefutable proof, consider this: Plax didn't start wearing gloves as a pro until this season, and he's playing lights out. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Speaking of things not being what they seem, on the same SportsCenter that gave me insightful commentary on gloves, I was also treated to Dan Patrick talking with the Mark Madden via satellite about Sunday's game. And I know this expression is hackneyed, but it's never been more appropriate: If there was ever a case of someone having a face (and body) for radio, Mark Madden's it. This photo on his radio website doesn't even begin to do him justice -- except for reinforcing the fact that he seems to have a penchant for shirts that were heretofore only poplular on Gilligan's Island and Don Ho conventions.

OK, I spend an inordinate amount of time bad-mouthing Madden for being chubby and eating a lot of donuts, but I also think it's important to recognize when he makes sense (you know, positive reinforcement and all). Anyway, Patrick asked Madden the typical "how's the home team doing before the big game" questions, and all of his answers were reasonable. But when Patrick asked Madden for a prediction in Sunday's game, I was surprised when he said: "I like the Steelers 28-14." And this coming from a guy who's made a living being contrarian (I guess it's hard to be contrarian by picking the Steelers this week). Whatever the case, I'm spinning it as a good omen. In fact, I'm officially proclaiming Mark Madden the Steelers' "Good Luck Buddha" for the remainder of the post-season.

I got an email yesterday from someone I'll call Brian (I'll call him Brian because that's the name he used), and he made an observation that I also began to notice after the Pats smoked the Colts Sunday. Here's part of his email:
I was watching the post-game interviews with the always-talkative Belichick (I'm just bitter he's their coach) and the ever-eloquent Brady (I'm just jealous he's with BM), along with a few others. When talking about upcoming games (in this case Pitt), they all seem to be programmed to say pretty much one thing: "These guys proved that they are the best, we have to go to their house, we know it's going to be tough to beat them."

Now I know most coaches encourage their players not to talk trash, but I noticed that when Brady was delivering his answers, they seemed canned. Not only, did they seem canned, but this time his delivery also seemed completely insincere.

I get the feeling that one of Bill's strengths as a motivator is to make his guys feel like they're always fighting for something (respect (NFL, media, fans, even his) the Ring, Bridgette's hot table-scrap friends, etc.).
First, nice BM reference. Second, nice Bridgette's hot table-scrap reference. Anyway, I also noticed this -- especially heading into this Sunday's game. It's almost like Belichick is the Rev. Jim Jones and he's got the Pats drinking the Kool Aid (except the only difference is that instead of being in a cult and killing themselves, they're pro football players and they're winning Super Bowls; I know, a small difference, but one that still worth noting). Now that the Steelers are the underdogs, it'll be interesting to see how Belichick motivates his troops (I'm guessing clips from the Halloween game might be in order).

Paul left a comment yesterday about a really good recap of the Jets-Steelers game from a fan who was at Heinz Field. I love hearing about lengths fans will go to ensure they don't do anything to "curse" their team. And I admit I'm one of the worst -- I'm mean, during the Sox-Yankees series, when the Sox were winning games five, six and seven, I sat in the same uncomfortable chair with my legs propped up the exact same way and my arms folded. And you know what? It worked.

I'm even worse when it comes to the Steelers. Every game I sit on my "gameday" stool and it's maybe the most uncomfortable piece of furniture ever made. In fact, making a person sit on it against their will is considered a form of torture in some countries. I also have to have on all of my Steelers shirts before the game starts. I have to have my six dollar "Pure Lunacy" Troy Polamalu t-shirt, followed by my nondescript short sleeve black and gold Steelers shirt, topped off with my homemade long-sleeve Troy Polamalu jersey (yes, I'm pathetic). I have long-term plans of sewing "43" on the sleeve, but I want to hold off until the season's over so as not to jinx the team. God, as I re-read this I'm now convinced, without a doubt, that I have some serious issues. But hey, if the Steelers win you'll all have me to thank (or at least that's how I'm rationalizing it).