Monday, October 03, 2005

R.I.P. Little Papi, 9/25/05 - 10/2/05

With the Steelers off, and the Red Sox going back to the playoffs -- albeit the wildcard ... again -- here's a bunch of random stuff I came across this week:

... This is scary. Honestly, I'd probably have a hard time pulling for Roethlisberger if he had indeed gone to Duke. At the very least, it would've been a lot easier to come up with a seemingly legitimate reason why he struggled during the playoffs last season -- the Duke Choke. Actually, the Choke only applies to the infuriatingly good Duke basketball players who go on to really suck in the pros, but this certainly would have been an exception. (I guess the other reason The Choke is currently an only-basketball players thing is because the Blue Devils football team averages about two wins a year, and that includes the VMI homecoming game.)

If you read the article on Big Ben and Duke, it only takes a few sentences to realize that he was more interested in good seats for basketball games than he was enamored about playing on the Bad News Bears' version of an ACC football team. And despite the obvious fact of not going to Duke, another added benefit is that Roethlisberger wasn't "David Carr-ed" as a college QB and arrived in Pittsburgh in pretty good shape ("David Carr'ed" is when a player is sacked on at least 30% of a team's offensive plays -- something Big Ben would've easily attained playing at Duke and against teams like Miami, Florida State, and anybody else not calling Lexington, VA home).

... I tried to watch some of the Ravens-Jets game, simply because I like watching the Ravens lose. But I could only get through the first quarter of that debacle, and anything more should be considered torture by the U.N. Anyway, I was reading the Baltimore Sun last week and I found maybe the (unintentionally) funniest article ever written.

So what am I talking about? The Ravens all-decade team. The first thing that immediately slaps you in the face is the leading vote-getter for QB. Yep, you guessed it, it's ... Trent Dilfer. The same guy who played all of one season in Baltimore, and wasn't even the starter when the season began. Funnier still is the fact that current pseudo-wunderkind, Kyle Boller is ranked third behind soon-to-bee Jets starting QB, Vinny Testaverde. You know, the only white guy in the league to sport both an afro and a do-rag. And it's not like the voting was close either. Dilfer got a mind-boggling 60% of the vote; Testaverde got 29%; and Boller garnered a measly 7%. Solid work. Now if only someone could explain to Brian Billick what all this means. On second thought, don't. I'm eagerly awaiting Boller's return ... kind of like when the Yankees call Alan Embree in from the bullpen to face Big Papi.

The only thing more amusing than Dilfer taking the trophy, was the fact that K Matt Stover -- the only kicker the Ravens have had in their history -- didn't get 100 percent of the vote. He was close -- 98% -- but 14 people actually voted for kickoff specialist, Wade Richey. Huh?

... Speaking of Papi, last weekend was my wife's birthday, and in my never-ending challenge to find her the most obscure, inane gift imaginable, I got her this fish bowl. It has all the usefulness of Mark Bellhorn during a tie game, with a runner on third and you need a deep fly ball to score a run. Knowing that, I purchased it anyway, and promptly went to Wal-Mart and purchased two fish of unknown species. Even though it was my wife's birthday, I took the liberty to name them myself, coming up with "Big Papi" and "Little Willie."

Well, Big Papi (the fish) made it exactly a week. I know as much about fish as I do about sports, and yes, that's very troubling. Apparently, it's a good idea to change the water in the bowl (which I did religiously), but not such a good idea to transfer the fish from water that's room temperature to water that's noticeably warmer, while you clean out said bowl. And that's exactly what I did. I was tipped off that something was probably not right when Papi, who had been pretty mellow during his six-day tenure on the wall, starting darting around his temporary quarters like he was, um, on fire. After my wife informed me that drastic changes in temperatures was probably second on the list of "ways to quickly kill a fish" (right after taking them out of the water for extended periods), I hurriedly returned him to the bowl.

But I was too late. He made it through the night, but didn't make it to Sunday's 11 a.m. showing of "NFL Countdown" on ESPN. On second thought, maybe Papi knew that and decided it wasn't worth living for, and opted to end it. I can't say that I blame him (of course, I didn't help matters, but now's not the time for the blame game). Now "Little Willie" is all alone in the bowl, and I'm currently accepting names for his new bowlmate (who I will, to the best of my abilities, try to keep alive for more than a week).

... Despite the loss, the real "Big Papi" and the Red Sox managed to squeak out a 10-1 win against the Yankees. Of course, the White Sox wrapped up their sweep of the Indians by the 6th inning of this game, so it really didn't matter what Boston did, but at the very least, it was encouraging to see Schilling have a good outing. And much like the 2004 team rallied around Nelson de la Rosa during the post-season, I expect "Big Papi" the fish to serve a similar role in 2005. You have not died in vain little fish.

... I finally got around to watching the second half of the Pats - Steelers game this week and I think the "play of the game that no one really noticed, at least initially" was Heath Miller steamrolling Pats safety Gus Scott (the same guy who replaced Rodney Harrison). Here's how it was reported in the Boston Globe:
"But being where you're supposed to be and making the plays are separate issues.

In the middle of the third quarter against Pittsburgh, Scott joined Wilson in a meeting of the pads with tight end Heath Miller at the New England 15-yard line. After a tremendous collision, and despite a 50-pound weight disadvantage with Miller, Scott made the stop ... from his back, 5 yards later.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Scott was the third Patriot to take a shot at the Steelers' Verron Haynes, a 222-pound running back, who had gotten free out of the backfield. Scott dived shoulder-first into Haynes to make the tackle. Haynes got up and celebrated. Scott needed medical attention."
The funniest thing about the Miller - Scott collision was that Scott literally made the tackle while being semi-conscious. After getting clocked, his arms got tangled in Miller's legs and that's how he got Miller on the ground. I wonder if the Pats practice that play, or if it was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

... I was beginning to think that CPW might have to be retired mid-season because it's been a few weeks since some dopey reporter wrote something really, really stupid. No need to fear, because some guy named Jack Tipton wrote a doozey last week. And luckily for everyone smart enough not to fork over 30 bucks to the Tribune-Review for their "insider content," you don't have to read it. Unluckily for me, I'm the idiot who flushed $30 down the Thomas Crapper for said content, but the bright side is that I'll always have material to criticize. Anyway, here's part of what Lipton wrote last week in a column titled, "Defense doesn't measure up":
"There are major problems brewing within the Pittsburgh defense that need to be solved. The linebackers are horrific in pass coverage (see: James Farrior covering ancient Corey Dillon). The defensive line is not built for a pass rush. The secondary is quick and aggressive, but like any other defensive backfield in the league they can’t cover NFL receivers for more than five seconds after the snap."

Jack Tipton is an idiot. And not because he writes a disparaging column about the Steelers -- that's fine when it's warranted, or at the very least, supported with, ahem, facts. He's an idiot because he thinks the Steelers' linebackers are "horrific" in pass coverage based on what I can only assume is the last drive of the game that set up Vinatieri's game-winning kick. Here's the thing: Tom Brady made all of three throws during that final drive. His first two passes went to RB Kevin Faulk and RB Patrick Pass (and the third was a quick out to David Givens that stopped the clock). Both passes went for first downs, but if Lipton took the time to actually watch the tape, he'd notice that the Steelers' coverage was deep-to-short and the Pats running backs were single-covered by Farrior, who was also playing deep-to-short. Something else to consider is what Eric mentioned last week:
"i liked Z's take on the pats-steelers game"
And what exactly did Dr. Z say?
"The Steelers did a lot of all-out upfield rushing. They blitzed, too. But here's the thing about the Mad Rush. It's tiring. If you don't get there, and you have to turn around and give it the same effort on the next play, it can wear you out.

I think that's what happened to the Steelers. That's why Brady could complete 12 for 12 and put together three scoring drives in the fourth quarter. When I see fullback Patrick Pass catch a flat pass and fake all-pro LB James Farrior off his feet, to help set up the winning field goal, I have to believe the fatigue factor had kicked in."
Hey, look at that, Dr. Z watched the game before writing his column. There's an idea somebody at the Tribune-Review might want to pass along to Tipton. Just consider yourself lucky that you don't have to read craptacular stuff like this on a weekly basis.