10-26-09: Monday Notes

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to another week. And what a special week it is. That's right, this week begins that annual Fall tradition, the most storied championship in professional sports history: the World Series.

The Phillies won the NL Pennant last week and the Yankees won the AL Pennant last night. The Fall Classic commences Wednesday night. I'll talk about it.

But that won't be the only note today, as one of my sports pet peeves was brought to the fore again yesterday, and I feel the need to vent. Prepare yourselves.

All that and whatever else I can think of between now and the end of my writing...

Let's do this!

”Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.”
- Cyril Connolly (1903 – 1974), English intellectual, literary critic and writer.

No, I didn't pick this quote solely based on the fact that he died the same year that I was born (though that did catch my eye). Instead I chose it as a dedication to one of my co-workers who had a rough time yesterday with a certain nameless, octogenarian newspaper scribe who ought to know better at this point in his existence.

But I digress...

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Because it's time for...

Monday Notes

Yankees v. Phillies... and this one ought to be a doozy.

The last time these two clubs met for the title, Casey Stengel and Eddie Sawyer were the managers, Jackie Robinson had signed the largest contract in Dodger history ($35,000) and Joe McCarthy was chasing Communists (real or imagined) in the State Department.

The Yankees have been nothing short of brilliant in this post-season. They've had dominant starting pitching from CC Sabathia and Andy Pettite. They've had clutch hitting from Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon. And of course, looming as it seems he has for ages, there's Mariano Rivera, always ready to put the nail in the coffin.

The Phillies are the defending World Champions. And they seem focused and determined to do just that: defend their Championship. Cliff Lee has been outstanding on the mound for the Phills. Ryan Howard has matched or surpassed any clutchness (yes, that's a term... because I said so) that the Yankees have displayed. And though he's no Mo Rivera, Brad Lidge has shut the door enough times to have earned some confidence headed into the Series.

So who's going to win?

I honestly have no idea. And that's what's got me so excited. This has the potential to be one of those special Series that we'll still be talking about 10 years from now.

It's been a long time since we've had a classic battle in the World Series. You really have to go back to 2001 and 2002 when we had two seven-gamers back-to-back. In 2001 the Arizona Diamondbacks, behind Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, knocked off the Yankees in seven. In 2002 it was the Angels turn to win a Game 7 as they defeated the San Francisco Giants.

But in the last 6 Series, only once has it gone beyond five games, and three of them have been sweeps. So to put it mildly, we're due for something special.

And it's my earnest hope that these two clubs won't disappoint.

Game 1 is Wednesday night. CC Sabathia takes the hill for the Bombers. Cliff Lee is his opposite for the Phillies. Fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen, this ought to be fun!

Next, it's rant time...

Can we please stop blaming officials for Minnesota losses... please folks, this is getting embarrassing.

First I had to hear it from Twins fans...

”If that stupid ump had gotten the call right on what should've been a double for Mauer, the whole ALDS would've been different..."

And now I'm hearing it from Vikings fans...

”If the refs wouldn't have screwed up calling that tripping penalty, the Vikes would still be undefeated..."

Stop it... stop it... for the love of God, STOP IT! You're killing me people!

Unless your team played a perfect game, you can not blame officials for losses. You just can't.

Yes, the umpire got the call on Mauer's hit wrong. No question. No debate. He screwed the pooch. But that's not what cost the Twins the game.

That hit came in the top of the 11th. The Twins had a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the 9th, but their All-Star closer couldn't hold it. If he does his job, Mauer's at-bat never happens.

More than that, even after that call got FUBAR'd, the Twins still managed to load the bases with nobody out and NOT score a single run. If any of three batters did their job, the call wouldn't have mattered.

When you have four situations where you have enormous influence and yet fail to execute each time, you can't pin the loss on one blown call by an umpire.

You just can't.

Yes, that tripping call on Jeff Dugan probably shouldn't have been flagged. Yes, there were other calls by the officials in the Vikings/Steelers game that were questionable at best. But no, the referees did not lose that game for the Vikings.

When you give up two separate fumble returns for touchdowns, you can't blame the officials for that loss. Even if one of those fumbles occurred after the phantom tripping penalty.

So what? So you got screwed by a call? The Vikings are the only team in football to have bad calls at critical points in games? I don't think so.

They still had the ball deep in Steeler territory. They still had a fantastic opportunity to put points on the board. And they failed. Not only did they fail, but they failed so spectacularly, that they gave the Steelers more points than they deserved.

That's not the officials fault. Just because the official created a situation where that could happen doesn't mean it was fated to happen. The Vikings still had control over what they did with the ball subsequent to the lousy call. And they blew it. They choked. They gacked it up.

Sorry folks, that's not on the Stripes, that's on the Vikes O-Line. If fans want to point fingers, they should start with the 5 beefy guys up front.

I guess it's a fundamental difference in personalities. When stuff goes wrong for me, the first thing I do is try to figure out if or how I eff'd up. Call me a control freak, that's just what I do.

People who want to blame officials for losses are, in essence, trying to find someone else to point the finger at when something goes wrong. "It can't have been my team's fault, it must be the poor officiating!"

I'm not saying that it makes me better than them, just more realistic. When I figure out how to be perfect, then I can start expecting other people to be. Until then, I'll worry about the stuff I screwed up and not try to blame others for my troubles.

But that's just me...


I'm still not adjusted to the new schedule... and I'm still not sure I even like it.

But I did discover one small advantage.

All of my shifts are still 1-9pm, which for a night-owl such as myself, is nothing but a good thing. But the two weekend shifts are different enough from the weekday shifts, that it breaks up my work week in such a way that it seems to go by a little more quickly.

If you do 8 hours of the same thing, time seems to go more slowly than if you do a few hours of this and a few hours of that. This is much the same thing. The differences on Saturday and Sunday make those shifts feel something apart from Friday, Monday and Tuesday, hence the week seems to go by a little quicker.

I know that may be a stretch, but at this point, I'm trying to find any way I can to stay positive about this. Because if I don't, then I'll have to live with the reality of a crappy schedule, and I'm not ready to give in to that yet.

And you all thought I was a cynical so-and-so!

Well, you're still probably right about that. But I'm trying!

That's going to do it for today. I'll be back on Wednesday with the usual slate of college football madness.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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