"Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned but heaven hath no sweetness like a sports fan vindicated." - Samcat

Monday, December 26, 2005

Crass Consumerism and John Madden's Sausage Fingers

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Random Thoughts While Watching Monday Night Football

You know, I was just thinking, Bill Belichick might actually be magical. Think about it. Belichick in his grey hoodie calls to mind Obi Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. I’m pretty sure that if the camera focused on him closely enough during a challenge, you’d see him waving his arm and calmly reciting, “You WILL overturn the call,” while the referee walks slowly to the sidelines to review the play chanting to himself, “I WILL overturn the call. I WILL overturn the call…”

Earlier in the day, my mom and I found ourselves in Kittery, Maine doing a little post-Christmas outlet shopping. Normally, the last place you’d catch me on the day after Christmas is anywhere near a mecca of consumerism (like, say, an outlet mall), but I was there for two reasons. 1) I’m trying desperately to start dressing in a manner befitting a semi-professional 25-year-old woman living in a cosmopolitan city, and 2) if I didn’t get out of my parents’ house for at least a few hours, I was liable to stab myself in the trachea with a butter knife. I was doing really well with the “semi-professional dressing,” even picking up a few sweaters at Old Navy, and then, on my way to the Gap outlet, everything went to hell. We passed the Reebok Outlet. “Okay,” I said to my mom, fully intending to walk right past into Banana Republic, “I just want to see if there are any more sweaters and—“ SCCCRREEEECCCHHH! My head snapped to the right. “50% off NFL jerseys?” I looked at my mom. “Can I? Just for a second?” She rolled her eyes, “Go ahead,” as if to say, “And you were doing so well too.” But it was a lost cause. All my good intentions flew out the window once I saw that sign. Within three minutes, my arms laden with Vrabel, Vinatieri, McGinest and Brady jerseys, I started wandering around the store in daze, mumbling to myself like Rain Main. “Dunno if I want a Vinatieri. Everybody’s got a Brady. Dunno if I want a Vrabel…” My mom, trying desperately to keep everyone in the store from realizing that her daughter was completely insane, kept trying to get my attention. “Kristen, look! A Patriots windbreaker for $12!” “Uh huh,” I said, my eyes glazed, “Uh, huh, I’ll get that too.”

Now, I think it’s worth it to point out that under most circumstances, finding a veritable treasure trove of Patriots jerseys for half price (from $18 to $25) would not have presented a dilemma for me. But as it’s the day after Christmas and I’m a bit, shall we say, cash poor right now, I disciplined myself to get only one. I finally narrowed it down to McGinest and Seymour, reasoning that everyone has a Brady and I’ve always been a big defense supporter. McGinest or Seymour (a question, I imagine, the Pro Bowl voters were also asking themselves. They will learn what I have just learned. The answer in that situation is always “both.) Ultimately, despite the fact that I’m still slightly miffed at Richard Seymour for his “Why do the fans hate us?” business after the game I went to, his jersey ended up being a mere $18 to McGinest’s $25. Even as I write this, less than five hours later, I’m kicking myself for not buying both. I mean really, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve already instructed my mom to throw herself to the lions of consumerism as she drives back to Kittery tomorrow to snag me that McGinest jersey. That, and when I returned with my bounty, my dad piped up, “Huh. I could go for a Vrabel jersey.” “Now you tell me!” my mom said. “It’s no big deal,” The Rick said, “It’d just be cool to have.” Of course, after Vrabel caught his second touchdown pass of the first half in tonight’s Pats/Jets game, The Rick changed his request. “Nope,” he said, as the Jets AGAIN failed to cover Vrabel on a goal line situation, “Now I DEMAND a Vrabel jersey.”

The Vrabel thing is quickly becoming the “Somebody cover McGinest” of goal line situations. ABC just flashed his offensive stats. 6 regular season catches. 6 touchdowns. 2 Super Bowl catches. 2 touchdowns. I’m just sayin’, I’ve been to a game (thanks again, Beth!) and the refs announce to the stadium at large when an unconventional player is checking in. “Number 50 is checking in as an eligible receiver.” It’s not like it’s a surprise. Unless Belichick has worked his Obi Wan magic on the Jets (which, frankly, is not that far out there), they clearly hear the announcement. They see Vrabel lining up as a receiver. And yet still, no one remembers him. I couldn't tell you why this is. But I'm certainly glad it is. You know Brady’s going to Vrabel. I know Brady’s going to Vrabel. Seemingly the only person who doesn’t know Brady’s going to Vrabel is the defensive player assigned to cover him. Let’s hope they never learn.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m not discussing the Bruschi injury, it’s because as far as I’m concerned, it didn’t happen. I need to convince myself that I hallucinated Bruschi being driven off the field on that little cart thing. Otherwise I’m going to dunk an angel ornament in Drano and chase it with some broken Christmas tree bulbs.

I felt an odd sense of betrayal when Ty Law intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it for a touchdown. As, I imagine, did Brady. Ty Law’s not supposed to be picking off Tom Brady. He’s supposed to be picking off Peyton Manning. He did it well. He did it often. But since he left for the Jets because the $10 million contract the Patriots were paying him evidently didn’t enable him to feed his children the gold-plated filet mignon they required, now he’s intercepting Tom Brady. Et tu, Ty? Et tu? Truth be told, I don’t actually hate Ty Law. I actually have very little animosity towards Ty Law. It’s not like he bolted for, oh New York or anything. Oh wait. Well, it’s not like he left because he felt he wasn’t wanted. Um, actually. Well, at least he didn’t go to a division rival. Crap. Okay, it’s not like he’s Johnny Damon. There, that makes sense. Plus, he remains Colleen’s Patriot Baby Daddy, even as a Jet.

“Tom Brady is as smooth as a good drink,” Christian Fauria reported to us, via John Madden. I have nothing to add to this. Absolutely nothing.

While we’re on John Madden, I though I’d let you all know that Marianne and I usually watch Monday Night Football together and we’ve taken an almost manic obsession to John Madden’s giant, baseball mitt-sized hands. Imagine Madden wheeling a grocery cart down the pasta aisle and swatting boxes of elbows and angel hair into his cart. His fingers, big as sausages, sweep back and forth, knocking cans of tomatoes off the shelves. We’ve also decided that he makes a sound like Chewbacca when he does this. (I have no idea where all the Star Wars references are coming from either). Especially amusing is when Madden shills for whatever cell phone company he’s currently endorsing. He holds up a normal sized cell phone, reduced to doll-sized dimensions in his monstrous hands. “There’s no way he can punch the buttons on that phone,” Marianne said. “He has one of those voice activated ones,” I said. “He just screams at the phone, “’PIZZA HUT!’ and it calls and orders him an extra large sausage.”

I realized yesterday as we were opening presents that I’ve turned into the teenage boy my parents always wished they had. This is not a slam against my 22-year-old brother as he’s turned into the 25-year-old daughter they always wished they had as most of his presents were for the new house he just purchased. Yup, he’s buying a house and getting vacuums and salad bowls and I’m barely squeezing out rent and am rewarded with baseball cards and books about the Red Sox and Patriots. I toyed with the idea of getting my brother a Mark Loretta shirt to replace the Doug Mirabelli jersey (now vintage) that I got him last year, but I figured this would come back to haunt me when he locked me out of the house in my bare feet during a torrential downpour.

But I now have all kinds of new reading material. Over the next few weeks, (or, let’s be realistic, days as work will be so slow, it’ll make a joint session of Congress look lively), I’ll slog through “Now I Can Die In Peace” by Bill Simmons, “Three Nights in August” by Buzz Bissinger, “Aces” by Michael Urban and “Next Man Up” by John Feinstein. I’m already halfway through the Simmons and so far, it’s about what I expected. Simmons’ trademark informal writing interspersed with footnotes to all of his relevant Red Sox related columns from 1997 to 2004. It’s funny, occasionally scathing and more often than not, on point. Trademark Simmons. I’ll be sure to let you know how the rest of them fair as well. Of particular interest to me is the Feinstein which chronicles a season behind the lines for the Baltimore Ravens. I’m curious to see if Ray Lewis showed Feinstein the slate he uses to sharpen his shivs or if Brian Billick ever forced him to babysit Kyle Boller during a trip to the ATM.

The Rick has a couple of questions: Is there a rule in football that allows for a free kick after a fair catch? What I mean is, could the Jets (or whomever) lob a pathetic 25-yard punt, Tim Dwight call for a fair catch and then could Vinatieri and his holder line up and attempt a field goal with no defense on the field? The Rick swears he’s heard this before and he couldn’t make it up. Anyone know? Also, are drop kicks still legal? And if so, how come no one does that anymore? Can you drop kick while running down the field or does it have to be from the line of scrimmage? For instance, could Corey Dillon break for a run and decide to drop kick the ball through the uprights from the 10-yard line? Not that he would, because Corey Dillon seems reasonably intelligent, but could he? Somebody’s gotta know the answers to these questions. Anybody? Bueller?

Doug Flutie is so tiny. I'm sorry, I can't get over it. He can't launch a pass without hopping and throwing with all of his might. It's endearing. I'm not sure a 43-year-old professional football player would appreciate me thinking that his stature is "endearing" but it all comes from love.

The Pats have just wrapped up a more-intense-than-it-needed-to-be 31-21 win over the NY Jets and thus endeth the bazillion years of Monday Night Football on ABC. No more John Madden sausage finger jokes, which, if you ask me, is the real tragedy. However, next season has already opened itself up for endless installments of the Joe "My God That Was BRILLIANT" Theisman-isms. Oy.

I sincerely hope that everyone has had a fantastic holiday thus far and that the new year brings great things for you all. Thanks for reading. Onward and upward. This means you, Red Sox front office. Ahem.