Hello again everybody...
Back at it again. Not quite as crazy of a sports news weekend as last weekend was. But there was still plenty to comment on.
As usual, I have a collection of rants and ramblings ready for your early-week perusal.
Before we get to all that though, I have a quick question for you: is the presence of an owl a good sign or a bad sign?
I was sitting in my living room Friday night, watching... well hell, I don't remember what I was watching. But I noticed a sudden movement out of the corner of my eye. I'm not completely unused to there being movement out on my deck. Birds fly in and out of there all the time. And, of course there are the famous Rocky the Squirrel incidences (Part the First and Part the Second).
But this particular movement I sensed was unlike either of those. When I first looked out on my deck, I thought a hawk had landed on the railing; the bird was that big. But then it turned it's head and I realized it was a small owl. I tried to get a picture of it, but I didn't want to spook it and the zoom on my camera phone leaves a bit to be desired.
So I guess I have a new neighbor. I'm just trying to figure out if it's a good thing or not. On the one hand, his presence might help keep Rocky from trying to chew his way inside my apartment again. On the other, I'd really rather not get dive-bombed by Errol while I try to grill on my deck.
Let's get on with the Notes then...
”Character is what you have left when you've lost everything you can lose.”
- Evan Esar (1899 - 1995), American humorist
Character, class, sportsmanship... yup, those lead us to...
The “Eff You” Touchdown...(copyright: Bill Simmons)
Here's how this is going to go. First I'm going to describe it, then I'm going to point out reasons to defend it, and finally, I'll tell you the real reason it was a bad idea.
For those of you who missed the Vikings/Dallas tilt from Sunday, well, you didn't miss much. To be honest, it wasn't a very entertaining game. Sure, if you're a Vikings fan, you liked the way Minnesota dismantled the Cowboys. But if you're not invested in either club, it was a snoozer... until the end.
The Vikings were up 27-3 with less than four minutes to go in the game. For all intents and purposes, the game was over. Dallas had quit playing hard long before that, and their quarterback Tony Romo had gone completely fetal in the early goings of the second half. The Cowboys weren't going to come back. They weren't even threatening to come back.
And yet for some reason, in the closing moments the Vikings dialed up a pass play on 4th-and-3 from the Dallas 11 and tacked on another touchdown to make the final score 34-3, Minnesota.
Instantly, cries of “running up the score” rose from those who enjoy being morally outraged everywhere.
Here's why you can say it wasn't a bad thing...
First, just because the Cowboys quit doesn't mean the Vikings are required to. What's lost in this "controversy" is the fact that Dallas showed a conspicuous lack of heart and determination. Sure, Tony Romo was the poster-child for said gutlessness, but he was far from the only Cowboy to shut it down before the final whistle. So the Vikings are supposed to honor Dallas's lack of commitment by going vanilla? These are paid professionals, not high school kids. This wasn't a case of talent-disparity. One team showed up, one team didn't. That's the bottom line.
Second, is there any team on the planet more deserving of an “Eff You” touchdown than the Cowboys? Seriously. Their quarterback won't date a woman who doesn't have a significant Q-rating. Their wide receiver pouts because he doesn't get the ball, yet doesn't get the ball because he sucks. Their owner thinks he should be the head coach, and built a bajillion-dollar stadium because he couldn't fit a 10-ton HD screen in his mansion. I'm not above saying it: eff you Dallas. You deserved it, ya smug bastards.
Thirdly, (and this is the reason the Vikings are going to cling to) Minnesota wanted to send a message to New Orleans: “we just dismantled the 'hottest team in the NFC' (full disclosure, I was one of the folks giving Dallas that label) and we're didn't let off the gas just because they quit. Be ready, Saints. Be ready.” Let's be honest, psychology plays a role in playoff sports. The Vikings started the gamesmanship with the “Eff You” touchdown. I'll be surprised if a Saints player doesn't comment on it during the week.
But as I said, ultimately, I think this was a bad idea. And here's why...
What are we talking about? The Vikings dominated a Dallas club who I, amongst others, said was the favorite to go to Miami. But instead of talking about the big win, or Brett Favre's clutch performance (his on-field performance... not his version of ”Pants on the Ground” from the locker room), we're talking about the “Eff You” touchdown. Some people defend it. A lot of people are criticizing it. Either way, it's distracting us from the biggest Viking playoff win since 1998.
And for that reason, if no other, it's a shame the game had to end that way.
I've got a new favorite Wild player...
… and his name's Guillaume Latendresse.
There's always been guys I was a fan of on the Wild, but I've never really locked on to a guy as “my favorite player”.
Marian Gaborik was supremely talented, but kept getting hurt, and always seemed annoyed that people questioned his commitment. Mikko Koivu is also very talented, but let's face it, he's about as interesting as dry toast. Andrew Brunette is as hard a worker as you'd ever want on your club, but doesn't inspire me to rise out of my seat. And as I like to say, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and I share the same taste in barbers, but he never really seemed to fully realize his potential. And given that he's been out all year with a concussion, I can't really latch on to him.
But now I've got Gui. All #48 has done is log 13 goals and 19 points in 24 games since joining the Wild. And included in that was a hat trick Saturday night that nearly single-handedly brought the Wild back against the Coyotes
(Aside: Phoenix fans, I love you. Really, I do. Trying to promote hockey in the desert. It's a valiant effort, really. But next time, make sure Peter Brucha actually scores his third goal of the game before littering the ice with your hats. Losing your hat when a player doesn't actually score a hatty? Not good.)
Lats out-Crosby'd Sidney Crosby when the Wild beat the Penguins 4-3 on the 11th of January. Gui's 4 points topped Crosby's 3. He also played a huge role in bringing the Wild back against the Blackhawks on the 9th, scoring a pair of goals including the game-tying marker with a minute-and-a-half left.
In a season where the Wild have been maddeningly inconsistent (they followed an impressive 4-game winning streak with two stink-bomb losses Thursday and Saturday), Latendresse has been one of their few consistent performers.
He's got size (6-2, 229), skill (seven goals in his last seven games), and he plays hard on every shift. What more could you want from a favorite player?!
So next time I hit the X, I'll be checking the Hockey Lodge to see how much a #48 green sweater might run me. (Short answer: more than I ought to spend - but when has that ever stopped me?)
I've finally got a favorite player. And though Hammer will gleefully point out that he's Canadian, I don't care. He's a member of the Wild, and that's all that matters to me!
The DFTU jinx is on?!
Let's see... I go all “the Wild are back in the playoff race”, and the team turns around and gacks-up two very winnable games. They never got off the plane in St. Louis. And it took a Latendresse hat-trick and a huge effort in the 3rd period to make it a “respectable” loss to Phoenix.
But “respectable” losses don't earn you points, and the Wild have gone from two points out of the final playoff spot to six points out in two games. Not cool.
Then I jump firmly on the Bucky basketball bandwagon (damn I love alliteration!), and they get blown off the floor in Columbus, losing to the Buckeyes 60-51. And trust me, it wasn't really that close.
So have a created a whole new jinx? And what do I do if I have?! I can't just drop the DFTU. It's been a staple of The Sports Take since its humble beginnings!
This could be bad... this could be very bad.
Who do I root for in the USC/Minnesota game this fall?
In all my ranting and raving about what a lousy, good-for-nothing scumbag Lane Kiffin is, it just dawned on me that the Trojans are coming to TCF Bank Stadium on September 18th.
What am I going to do?!
Obviously I'm not rooting for the scumbag coach's team! It's my plan to thoroughly enjoy watching Kiffin ride a wave of sanctions down the path of the deterioration of the USC football program. So part of me wants to go to the game to lustily boo the Trojans, and more specifically their coach.
But the Gophers are part of the original class of the "Pantheon of Hate". I can't root for them either. Kiffin may be a scumbag, but Gophers coach Tim Brewster isn't exactly a paragon of virtue. This clown's coaching ability is so far behind his mouth, they need a satellite connection to communicate with each other.
I guess I could just boo both teams, but that hardly seems sporting.
I'm honestly at a loss here folks. I don't know what I'm going to do. Fortunately, I've got plenty of time to figure it out. But if you have any suggestions, I'm happy to listen to them!
That's going to wrap things up for today. I'll be back on Wednesday with more indignation and tomfoolery for you.
Until then, thanks for reading!