MLB15 Chin Music: Harper Time

1 Mar .............B.Harper.3.12.11.wc.MissChatter.1.66m

I can feel it. The ice is about to break on this winter and unless you sell salt or woolen mittens for your livelihood, it can’t happen soon enough.

The thought of breaking ice takes me back to that Northern Exposure episode about cabin fever when the long winter in “Cicely (Alaska)” had libidos running high and fuses burning short. What a show. Now it’s Law & Order syndication saturation. Whoop-de friggin’ do.

Ice break also means veteran big leaguers & invitees got their gloves neatsfoot’d, set to venture to destinations South (AZ / FL) for baseball’s annual spring rites.

.............B.Harper.7.31.13.wc.Stegas4.thmbStaying in that break, or make it, vane, 2015 should prove one or the other for Washington Nationals’ outfielder star-in-the-making, Bryce Aron Max Harper, an alternate poster-boy for this upcoming campaign, if you’ve grown tired of Misters Trout, Bumgarner, Kershaw and Cabrera‘s faces gracing your mags.

Not make or break in the contractual sense, mind you.

Back in December, “Bam Bam” signed a 2-year extension ($7.5M) to the 5-year deal he inked when he was the first player chosen in the 2010 MLB draft.

But rather, make or break in the, ‘Will this guy ever live up to the hype?,’ sense.

When the 19-year old Harper finally arrived in the nation’s capital in 2012, it coincided with the National’s rise to prominence among the senior circuit’s contender class.

Old sage Davey Johnson was DC skipper that season when Harp took the NL-ROY award (.270, 98r, 22hr, 18sb), turned heads with an aggressive, sometimes cocky manner, and the Nationals nearly won 100 games (98-64) for the first time in franchise history (Expos) in capturing the Eastern crown but then fell to the Cardinals in the LDS (3-2).

In that short playoff, the Percheron-necked Harper didn’t exactly set the world on fire (.130, 2r, 2rbi, 1hr) but did put up comparable scoring stats to HOF-bound Mr. Jeter in his own rookie foray (‘95) in what would prove an annual event (ALDS: .412, 2r, 1rbi).

It is Mr. Harper’s 2014 post-season that should’ve set tongues a’ wagging.

.............Nationals.wc.SGS.lettermarkIn the 4-game series loss to eventual world champion San Francisco (1-3), Bryce batted an impressive .294 (5-17) with four extra-basers, including 3 home runs.

Clutch play is a special trait.

It resonates with teammates, fans and managers alike, but not surprisingly rides the bench in the minds of today’s sabermetrician, which may help explain, in part, why Mr. September, Clay Kershaw remains a favorite, while Misters Schilling, Morris, McGriff, Garvey and Hershiser must all still buy a ticket to enter the Hall of Fame.

Bryce has passed the clutch test which, admittedly, has been more of the ‘quiz’ variety (2 series), but a test is a test, right? Right.

If the 2-time All Star wants to keep turning heads, stay on the same page with Manager Matt Williams, help take his club deeper into the playoffs and garner one of those mid-mega-deals sometime down the road, he’ll need to meet these three goals in MLB15:

1) Stay healthy

No career-threatening injuries to this point, Harper nonetheless still incurs enough bangs and bruises, pulls and strains, to hit the disabled-list with some regularity. He’s yet to play a full major league season and has been on the decline in attendance (139, 118 and 100g (’14)) as he suffered a thumb injury in early ’14 that necessitated surgery.

You don’t want mess too much with ‘what works,’ but a little savvy in sliding technique and fielding finesse can go a long way in a longer season, too.

2) Cut down on strikeouts

I know, I know, the round-tripper is what parents hope to see when they take out a 2nd mortgage and finance their kids trip to a major league ball-park today. Ugh. But Harper’s strongest suit is not power, it’s run production. When he gets on base he often finds his way home. The nine triples his rookie campaign alone are testament to that fact.

............Nationals.9.17.13.T.Evanson.wc.thmbBut in abbreviated seasons, his strike out totals are 120 (139g), 94 (118) and 104 (100). If he doesn’t shorten-up his swing, get better command of the strike zone and cut down on his wiffs, if he doesn’t become a tougher out (OB%), his value drops and dingers turn desperate. Despite the power Bryce has displayed at times, he is a 15-20 homer guy. In the run department, he should be in the 90 to 100 range.

3) Maturation

Though seeming centered spiritually off the field (Bryce got engaged in 2014 (K.Varner)), Harper has shown a public disdain for managerial authority on more than one occasion and seems to carry a small chip on his shoulder when at the ball-park and related venues (“That‘s a clown question, bro®”). The press can be an irritant, no doubt.

Wound-up tight can come in handy when reporters deal dirty, or, if the intensity is channeled into a competitive spirit on-diamond that promotes team success.

But when it enables a divisive individualism at expense of the cooperative spirit that leads to team progress, it’s a bizarro Bozo that leaves nobody happy.

Winning Rookie of the Year is no guarantee of a long, memorable career.

When you peruse the past ROY winners list, you’re left with the feeling that it’s no better than 50-50 they‘ll leave a sizable mark on the game. That’s better than the typical rookie but then expectations are raised after you raise the trophy.

You’ll remember Rick Sutcliffe (‘79) and Ozzie Guillen (’85), but Jerome Walton (‘89) and Pat Listach (‘92) may not ring a bell to most fans outside the Midwest.

Whether Bryce Harper goes big bopper (HRs) or OB% superstar, he’s gonna’ have to make his mind up soon because that window of opportunity is gonna’ start to close fast, and open up wide elsewhere, i.e., el conexion cubano. Es verdad: el beisbol es internacional.

...........canned cornIt’s time to get healthy, make contact, fully mature and be all the ball-player you can be. It’s Harper time, crisp & clean and alcohol-free. Play ball!

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credits: B.Harper, wc.cca, MissChatter, 16m, 3.12.11; B.Harper, 7.31.13, wc.cca, Stega4; Washington.Nationals, wc.cca, SGS/T; Nationals.Park, wc.cca, 9.17.13, T.Evanson; canned.corn
Posted: 3.1.15 @ 2:31 pm EST

75 Great Films You’ll Never Watch

23 Feb .............WaterlooB.40.Japan.49.wc.cca.561k

Ever wonder if the mere act of appreciating a thing, might give you a stake in it?

Could simply admiring, say, a song, a book, a good meal, a crafted table, sports team or a movie, vest the connoisseur with something beyond taste or a shown preference, maybe a smidgen of stake, or, at very least, let them share in the creator’s vision and product?

............ThisSportingLife.fair.use.tb

I’ve been pondering this fanciful notion for a time, but decided to put it to prose when I began compiling my great movies list in honor of the upcoming 87th Academy Awards to be held on February 22nd at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Solitary admiration just didn’t seem to cut it, not for these babies.

Appreciation of someone else’s work won’t vest you with an ownership interest (IP), of course, no profit nor name in the credits, but something along the lines of spiritual stock, greater than your run-a-the-mill, self-satisfaction one takes from recognizing quality.

Kinda’ kooky, huh? Not entirely.

Take sport. Without fan investment, the games & players are just so much extra-curricular activity, just like an unadorned “Mona Lisa” is nothing more than an odd looking female in frame hanging in a French chateau somewhere.

Appreciators turn baseball into America’s national pastime (until Manfred is done with it, and what it will be then, god only knows) and make Klimt’s “The Kiss” a modern classic.

...........BringingUp.wc.DC.Geist.thmb.38

Everything’s connected: creator, the work, the audience and valuation.

This spiritual stake is not unlike the equity some Packers’ fans hold in their Green Bay football club by way of limited stock shares. An ownership interest vesting the holder collectively with certain powers & rights (select votes, etc.), but more importantly, a valuable connection in mind & purpose.

And so it is with the fine flicks listed below, where I take micro-stock in declaring their value to the world, maybe the universe, in posting by wireless transmission.

Most of these movies are either too old, or never did get the big studio sell. That doesn’t make them any less memorable, timeless and well worth viewing, as much as all of this season’s Best Picture nominees.

A Cry in the Dark (88)
A Family Thing (96)
Alfie (66)
American Graffiti (73): Soundtrack medley stars
Amores Perros (00)
Atlantic City (80): Lancaster & Sarandon are a treat
Barfly (87): Rourke & Dunaway are unforgettable
...........Sarandon.5.3.08.wc.thmb.D.ShankbeneBody and Soul (47)
Bound for Glory (76)
Bringing Up Baby (38)
Crime in the Streets (56)
Cross of Iron (77): WWII from Axis side
Das Boot (81): Submarine movie un-matched
Drugstore Cowboy (89): Good as Midnight Cowboy
Fat City (72): Keach portrays the anti-Rocky
Harold and Maude (71)
Hell Is For Heroes (62)
Hobson’s Choice (54)
I’m No Angel (33)
Ironweed (87): Nicholson & Streep
Knife in the Water (62)
King Rat (65)
...........Leigh.WaterlooB.40.wc.cca.thmbLa Strada (54)
Lonely Are the Brave (62)
Los Lunes al Sol (02)
Matewan (87)
Midnight Run (88)
Miller’s Crossing (90): Tops Good Fellas
Monte Walsh (70): A real cowboy classic
Murder My Sweet (44): Equals The Maltese Falcon
Murphy’s War (71)
My Brilliant Career (79)
Paisan (46)
Paper Moon (73)
Papillon (73)
Ruggles of Red Gap (35): Laughton’s Gettysburg recital
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (60)
Sidewalks of London (38)
The Bicycle Thief (48)
The Breaking Point (50): Hemingway’s favorite Hemingway
...........MurderMy.D.Powell.44.wc.thmbThe Clock (45)
The Corn is Green (45)
The Day of the Jackal (73)
The Hidden (87)
The Hitch-Hiker (53): Ida Lupino directs
The Incredible Shrinking Man (57)
The L-Shaped Room (62)
The Last Detail (73): Nicholson’s hidden gem
The Last Picture Show (71): An American masterpiece
The Last Round: Chuvalo vs Ali (03)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (62)
...........McQueen.DIL.ryangrigg.wc.thmbThe Magnificent Ambersons (42)
The Man Who Would Be King (75)
The Mark (61)
The Naked Prey (66)
The Night of the Iguana (64)
The Party (68): Sellers was a genius
The Pope of Greenwich Village (84)
The Red Shoes (48): So good it could be a faith
The Search (48)
The Set-Up (49): Ryan (boxer) & Totter (wife) are superb
...........Taylor.WaterlooB.40.name.thmbThe Station Agent (03)
The Sundowners (60)
The Third Man (49): It’s own genre
The Verdict (82)
The Year of Living Dangerously (82)
They Made Me a Fugitive (47): British film noir beauty
This Sporting Life (63): Sporting cinema visceralia
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (74)
Trouble Along the Way (53): Shirley Jackson knows “winning”
Twelve O’Clock High (49): Battle speech (Peck) Patton-esque
Viva Zapata! (52)
Washington Merry-Go-Round (32)
Waterloo Bridge (40): Taylor & Leigh will break your heart
Winchester ‘73 (50): Rifle-ricochet resonates

Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: Waterloo.Bridge, 40.Japan, 49, wc; This.Sporting.Life, 63, R.Harris, fair-use; Bringing.Up.Baby, 38, DC.Geist, wc; S.Sarandon, 5.3.8, wc, Shankbene; Waterloo.Bridge, 40, V.Leigh, wc; Murder.My.Sweet, 44, D.Powell, wc; S.McQueen, DIL, ryan.grigg, wc; Waterloo.Bridge, 40, R.Taylor, wc.cca.
Posted: 2.22.15 @ 9:59pm; edit 2.23 @ 2:16am EST

MLB15 Chin Music: Robby Red Flag

13 Feb .........Rose.wc.Kjunstorm.1.11.08.4m.Vegas-CP

They are the cornerstones in the foundation upon which modern baseball was built and its legitimacy rests: the prohibitions on gambling, performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and a valuable stewardship over its historical record book of achievements.

..........Rose.K.Junstorm,08.thmb.wc

And in just a little over a month at the helm of America’s national pastime, MLB’s brand, spanking new Commissioner, Rob Manfred, has taken chisel & hammer to hands and appears ready and eager to begin breaking said cornerstones, filling the breach with mixture of one part appeasement, one part pandering and one part indifference.

Last week in appearing on ESPN radio’s Mike & Mike (2/6), Rob took to micro-phone to answer queries on the role he envisions in his new job (a promotion in-house) and various topics of curiosity, including Pete Rose case and PED’s effect on Hall of Fame voting.

Bloom Coming Back?

“I have heard from [Rose’s] lawyer, and I do anticipate having a conversation about that (Rose’s reinstatement to baseball)…it’s a conversation I’m willing to have (“Pete” / WCPO / Noble / 2-7-15).”

While a Rose reinstatement doesn’t assure his induction into Cooperstown by Veterans (“Expansion Era”) Committee vote, just by ending the ban, forgiving his misdeeds, would send a squishy message on gambling at the worst possible time, when sports betting is getting the big push (See; NJ & NBA’s Silver).

........Manfred.7.15.14.wc.fanfest.A.Pardavila.thmb

Rose’s lifetime ban was never punitive at its crux. It’s over-riding purpose has always been a standard of deterrent to those who’d contemplate the dangerous co-mingle of sport and gambling. On this point there can be no half-measures.

Is it possible the Commissioner is just working PR to give impression his office has a heart, though, not sure what’s hearty about it, and always “willing” to listen, not seriously contemplating a reinstatement? If yes, even flirting with possibility of Rose’s return to MLB-sanctioned events is a bad play, and no good for Pete.

An 8th-grader can recognize importance of finality in a rendered verdict. Legally, some rulings are made without prejudice, remaining open to review when certain criteria are met, while other rulings are with prejudice, forever final.

And that would be the clear message intended and widely supported when Cmsr. Bart Giamatti (d. ’89) negotiated a lifetime ban of Pete Rose in 1989.

Preserving the game’s integrity in keeping it free from illicit drugs and connections that lead to disastrous results like game-fixing (Black Sox), setting a standard for kids and players both, is far cry from the mawkish moralizing Rose campers would claim.

No one person, not Ruth, Jackie, Roberto, Sandy, not Ripken nor Rose is above the game, no matter their popularity or symbolism.

..........Landis.wc.underwood.Milw.Journal.11.15.20.Chicago.thmb

Celebrity sells, but it is the good name of the game itself, not the individuals, that give life to their fame. And I fear that Mr. Manfred, with the game in his hands, skates on thin ice in expressing “willing(ness)” to engage Rose for possible return to baseball.

What’s kept baseball free of the fix since 1919, so it appears, is the bright-line ban (life) which anyone connected to the pastime caught dirty on gambling, will receive.

If that line gets blurred with a Rose return, heaven help us, for if the corrupt co-mingle begins again (fix), we won’t hear about it this time around. Too costly.

And if you think Rose the manager never bet on his Reds team to lose (’84-89), you’re either not a baseball fan or pining for your Pete collectibles to regain that “rosy glow.”

That this betting “maroon,” who put his legacy, family, club, fan trust, MLB, all in peril by his self-obsessed, reckless behavior, would deviate from his gambling gorge to set a standard at which he’d not go below, is fairy-tale Brothers Grimm would’ve scoffed.

PED Clear

When holding court with ESPN reporters that same Thursday, the Hall of Fame topic again tested Manfred, this time concerning candidates denied election because they’re believed to’ve used PEDs, whether on “credible evidence,“ reasonably discerning use by observable facts & logic or “literally nothing (“Commish” / Stark / ESPN / 2-6).”

Rob believes it wrong to exclude an otherwise stat-savvy, typically Percheron-necked, Hall of Fame aspirant, on what the voter may “surmise” is a drug-enhanced record of performance.

Problem #1 with Manfred Mode: What to do with men like McGwire and Canseco who had wherewithal, for whatever reason(s), to admit they used PEDs?

That’s the “proof” of enhancement (confession) Rob requires, yet now they’ve failed his test, even though they’ve shown, if not good character, something closer to it than the plethora of former players still too selfish or shy or scared to come clean. But the Mum-Men keep ‘taking the 5th,’ so to speak, and come out heroes in Robby’s world.

.........Bonds.wc.cca.11.15.07.USMS.thmb

Problem #2: There’s good chance, when urine testing, you’d “never (have) failed PED tests,” considering HGH blood draws and BPP (biological passport program), WADA’s anti-doping stratagem, random form, anyway, didn’t begin in MLB until 2012, years after most the rejected-suspected candies had exited, i.e., Bagwell, Piazza, Bonds, Clemens.

Luck of the (no) draw, no doubt.

Having “evidence” before rendering a verdict on someone is a good thing, to state the obvious, in whatever venue of inquiry, be it legal, social or abstract. It’s fundamental to fairness: due process, Magna Carta and all that jazz.

Everyone’s been smeared, wrongly accused, one time or another, and it hurts.

But it’s an unbalanced scale of justice Manfred applies that demands customary proof to deny election (failed test), yet disregards two facts: 1) there was no reasonable means to acquire said “evidence” to ascertain player physical states w/ any degree of accuracy, pre 2012, discounting out-moded, random urine tests (‘03); and 2) It was players themselves, by their union (MLBPA), who stymied serious testing for over a decade, maybe longer.

That second point vitiates any argument that requires positive test “proof” to deny election on PED grounds, making reasonably discernable conclusions, not only permissibe, but the responsible manner by which Hall voters aught cast.

...........Clemens.wc.mx5tx.2005.thmb

If the players wanted clarity they could’ve gotten it by voting approval for blood draws in the 90s. They chose doubt & suspect and the pro-test, clean players were muscled out.

The chickens have come home to roost for all players, dirty and clean. It’s the bed they made and they can sleep in it. Manfred, for some reason ($$?), wants to make-up that bed, give ‘em new Spider-Man sheets with hospital corners, to boot. Bully for him.

That gets to problem #3 with Manfred’s “Bart Simpson” take.

Hall of Fame votes or record book lines, for that matter, are not Constitutionally protected rights, Congressionally mandated entitlements or issues of fact & law judged in common law jurisprudence where “innocent until someone proves you guilty” is courtroom motif.

A plaque in Cooperstown is like an MVP, it’s an honor, a gift, whose award or denial can be based upon a standard permitting reasonable deduction and not bridled by shifting mores, profit motive, genuflect to the number-god nor over-narrow definition of “proof.”

Baseball will always turn a tidy profit. That’s in stone.

No matter the inroads NFL makes into consumer hearts, rounders is so engrained in our culture, so presenced worldwide and, like its gridiron kin, a legally-sanctioned monopoly, it will never be wanting. The money spigot always gushes. At winter meetings it’s just a question of how much growth is acceptable. That’s where the greed comes into play.

...........Rose.2005.cleverswine.wc.thnb

What that means for the Commissioner is that he (maybe a she someday, especially if there’s a baseball version of Condoleezza Rice with dogged supporters, keen on the post) need only be concerned with one, simple task: securing the game’s integrity.

Maintain and amplify with crystal clarity the dead-serious prohibition on gambling and PEDs and the dire consequences that await any who arrogantly skirt the bolded rules.

Rather than change course, Manfred could take page out of Little League’s book.

On Monday (2/9), Stephen Keener, CEO of Little League International, a body overseeing sporting and business interests of over “7000” affiliates world-wide, announced that 2014 US champ Jackie Robinson West (Chicago), would vacate their title, giving runner-up Mt. Ridge (Las Vegas) the crown (S. Korea 2014 world champs), because of rule violations involving an active rostering of players outside acceptable boundary lines.

It was a hard decision, said Keener (ESPN 2.10), due largely to the kids, although, one must suspect some of the youngsters, on the cusp of manhood, had an idea of what was afoot and should not be entirely insulated from blame-attachment. We have seen similar before (age deflation, soap-box rigging, etc.).

Keener explained in simple terms why it had to be done: “To protect the integrity and uphold the standard.” Simple, strong, clear and brave.

But lonely are the brave and R. Manfred is today, in some circles, a popular man.

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: P.Rose, K.Junstorm, wc.cca, 1.11.08, Las Vegas; Rose, K.Junstorm, wc.cca, 1.11.08, Las Vegas, thmb; Manfred, A.Pardavila, wc.cca, fanfest, 7.14.15; KM.Landis, wc.cca, Underwood, 11.15.20, Chicago, Milw-Journal; Ba.Bonds, wc.cca, 11.15.07, USMS; R.Clemens, wc.cca, mx5tx, 2005; P.Rose, wc.cca, cleverswine, 2005.
Posted: 2.13.15 @ 2:22pm; edit 5:49, 2.14 @ 12:24am EST

Homer or Hater, History Will Love These Patriots

4 Feb ...............Brady.wc.cca.A.Campbell.9.14.14.348k

Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.” Gen. George S. Patton (’43), as portrayed by George C. Scott (“Patton (’70)”).

Things were alot clearer back in 1943, not always better, just more clear.

..............Brady.10.11.09.wc.J.Beall.thmb

What’s clear today is that America “love(s)” the New England Patriots, winners of Super Bowl 49 over the defending champion Seattle Seahawks (28-24). They just don’t know it yet. Too many in too high (& low) places too busy tearing ’em down (Deflategate).

But this is just what the doctor ordered for what ails the Patriots and the NFL.

And you can also chalk one up for passer-QB who looked to be on his last legs.

Patriots’ five-star field-general Tom Brady threw for four TDs, set a Super record for completions (37 / 50) and joined 49ers QB Joe Montana as only players to take the MVP trophy three times. Had Seattle not gone from “boom“ to bust, linebacker Bobby Wagner (10t / 2a / INT) might’ve been only the 4th middle-man defender to claim the award and follow teammate Malcolm Smith, the ’14 recipient.

A Seahawks victory would’ve heralded a new era in the NFL, one where manager-QB, i.e., Russ Wilson, Joe Flacco, displaces the 5000-yd passer as top dog.

It didn’t happen, but it’s coming.

..............Brady.11.8.09.P.Keleher.thmb.pocketpasser

It’s just a matter of time before pass-machines like Brady, Peyton & Eli, Rodgers, Romo, Brees, Ryan, Rivers, Cutler, Stafford and their ilk ride off into the sunset with not many of their set waiting in the wings.

We saw the writing on the wall last year in SB48 when Hawks demolished Denver (43-8) in what seemed to’ve been the final, major chapter in the great Peyton Manning story.

And with run-QB dominating the college scene so certainly that a third-stringer can come off the bench and run his team to a title (OSU’s Jones), the patent pro-passer is soon to become, if not a dying, a very rare breed, indeed.

But rather than “ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive” and bask in the glow of an NFL standard-bearer‘s success, the cherry topic has been hijacked once again by those who would scandalize & deconstruct a great game, choosing instead to pile-on Seattle’s proven head coach Pete Carroll as a means to second-guess & scapegoat the pain away.

...........P.Carroll.wc.cca.12.29.13.M.Morris.thumb

Apart from a minor melee in the game’s waning moments as Seattle saw it slip away, Super Bowl 49 was a truly splendid showcase, a back n’ forth barnburner, decided only in the final minute when Seahawks QB Russ Wilson, 2nd & goal w/seconds left, tossed an errant pass through hands of Ricardo Lockette to be intercepted by johnny-on-the-spot safety Malcolm “blessed” Butler to clinch it for New England.

If you buy the blowhard line, Carroll blew the game in play-call.

And if that sounds familiar, it should.

It was just a few weeks back when Packers’ Super coach Mike McCarthy had his reputation drug through mud by similarly thin-skinned malcontents (See; NFCT15 ‘Cheese-Melt’).

The complaint: ‘Hawks should’ve run Marshawn Lynch (24 / 102y) for go-ahead TD rather than a pass play. This skewed thinking, even as Lynch got stymied at the 1 on prior play and the grapevine holds that ML had been less-than reliable in his five, 1-yd goal-line run attempts in ‘14 (1-5).

..........R.Wilson.wc.cca.11.11.12.L.Maurer.thumb

Most football folk know all too well that one-yard away from pay-dirt can play like one-mile through hell against a determined defense. It helps explain why the pass play, even with a capable run-threat, has been preferred goal-line call since Don Coryell (STL) brought Sid Gilman’s (SD / AFL) wide-open pass-attack to the NFL in early 70s.

NBC announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collingsworth must shoulder most the blame for igniting the flame of discontent on the play call, and then fanning it.

Like two compulsive school-boys, these two veterans of TV broadcast put Pete Carroll & staff right, smack dab in the cross-hairs of pointed & petulant criticism.

Al: “Amaaaazing.”
Chris: “I’m sorry, but I can’t believe the call.”
Al: “Me, neither.”
Chris: “I can’t believe the call…I cannot believe the call…a guy (Lynch) that’s been border-line unstoppable this part of the field (wrong)…I can‘t believe the call.”

Run vs pass debate is as trivial as it gets in post-game analysis. Paper vs plastic but not near as practical. ‘Bag it and move on’ is the preferred choice of most.

......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

What‘s most curious in all the mealy-mouthed, Monday morning criticism of the Hawks’ brain-trust was how Seattle supporters, bandwagon-variety, no doubt, are cannibalizing their mastermind in Carroll, architect of the Seahawks championship rise to power.

Wilson is championship-caliber, that’s in the book, but he’s clearly still learning the finer points of his trade, like finding his target’s bread-basket or calling post-snap audibles.

As for Lockette, had he brought his gripper hands we might’ve had “Simultaneous Catch-gate,” Part II (See; GB-SEA ’12).” That would’ve been a hoot.

But there’s been a slight shift in mood by Tuesday.

..............Patriots.wordmark.60-92.wc.cca.thmb

Fans and reasonable (media) minds are starting to tire of the finger-pointing and Seattle whine, reminiscent of the Wisconsin vintage in 2012 (“Simultaneous Catch”) a particularly bitter blend. Ugh.

In the investigative state, Deflategate has already worked to add more unwashable tarnish (Spygate) onto Patriots legacy trophy, regardless of the League‘s final finding.

But even if the NFL finds a failure-in-standard (psi low) constituted a violative act with intent to gain an unfair advantage, a string of determinations hard to fathom at this point, such a wrong, given SB49’s result and likelihood that every player has, on occasion, converted a shenanigan into gamesmanship, will not place very high on most folks’ totem pole of misdeeds, the outraged Mark Brunell sect, notwithstanding.

..............Pats.SBtrophies.10.05.wc.cca.thmb.pkeleher

On the tsk-tsk templar, with top spot constituting highest degree of culpability (violent crimes, game fixing & PEDs), lowest eliciting a stern finger-wag (taunting), deflation of game balls rides below cheap shots and just above faux crowd noise (ATL).

When historians compile & catalog events of time to rank NFL’s greatest teams, most are guided by comparative viewpoints informed in logic & fact, weeding out extremes, those mindsets captured by contemporaneous bias / prejudice, i.e., haters & hangers-on.

..............P.Brown.wc.Bowman.52.thmb

The Lombardi (60s) & Lambeau (20-40s) Packers, Walsh-Seifert 49ers (80-90s), Brown’s Clevelanders (40-50s), Noll’s Steelers (70s), Halas’ Bears (40s) and whomever Chamberlin coached (Canton / Frankford), are indisputably top-tier. These are the teams that birthed the dynasty tag. No doubts.

The 2nd-tier might include Steve Owen’s Giants (30s-40s), Landry’s (70s) and Johnson-Switzer Cowboys (90s).

Third-tier: Shula Dolphins (72-74), Parker-Wilson Lions (50s), J.L. Howell’s Giants (50s), Ewbank Colts (50s), Neale Eagles (40s) and Shanahan Broncos (98-99), with some subjectivity in play.

And where will the Belichick-Brady Patriots end up in the pantheon of greats?

...............Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumb

Even with some tarnish, they’re clearly well-positioned to join the elite, given the titles (4), SB showings and, like their b-ball peers, San Antonio Spurs, their unprecedented longevity in success. They could find themselves in with the cream of the crop (top tier) once Tom hangs up his cleats and Bill turns in his head-set, which could be years away.

But this week, the Patriots are big winners and the whiners merely bottom-feeders in need of a good, firm (figurative) slap.

The General would’ve agreed.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: T.Brady, wc.cca, A.Campbell, 9.14.14; T.Brady, wc.cca, 10.11.09, J.Beall; Patriots pocket, wc.cca, P.Keleher, 11.8.09; P.Carroll, 12.29.13, wc.cca, M.Morris; R.Wilson, 11.11.12, L.Maurer, wc.cca; NFL wikiproject; Patriots wordmark, wc.cca, 60-92; NE Patriots SB trophies, 10.05, P.Keleher, wc.cca; P.Brown, wc.cca, Bowman, 1952; B.Belichick, wc.cca, 8.28.09, K.Allison.
Posted: 2.4.15 @ 12:45pm; edit 5:11; 2.5 @ 1:07am; 2.6 @ 12:29pm EST

NFL15 “Cherry Cherry” & The Lost Super Bowl 49

30 Jan ...............Belichick.wc.cca.K.Allison.8.28.09.2m

Call it the Damn Shame Bowl.

Super Bowl 49’s match-up looks a dandy. Stellar class.

The Seattle Seahawks versus the New England Patriots portends to be a glittering gem in NFL’s cavalcade of crowning moments, the best face-off since Dallas and Pittsburgh last tangled for title in ‘79 in maybe the greatest high-top hootenanny of ‘em all (PIT 35-31).

The balance of team talent is superb.

The head coaches are nonpareil.

...............Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumb

Pete Carroll plans to become the first man to dynastisize the college scene (USC / 2-NC) and bring that over into the pros (SEA / SB48), while Bill Belichick takes the Patriots to a record tying 9th Super appearance (DAL & PIT) and hopes to join that upper echelon of NFL gurus with four or more championships, joining Halas & Lambeau (6), Lombardi (5), Guy Chamberlin (Canton & Frankford) & Chuck Noll (4).

The franchises: commonalities and contrasts.

...........P.Carroll.wc.cca.12.29.13.M.Morris.thumb

Neither is old guard (Bears, Pack, Giants) as Seahawks are NFL expansion (‘76) and Patriots of the rival AFL (‘59). Both so successful, so innovative, so non-conforming in approach to the game, it’s a damn shame Deflategate has dampened the spirit and blown the bloom off the rose of this championship, so much so that no matter who mines the Lombardi silver, the ne’er-do-well narrative will be an unwelcome hanger-on.

The competing quarterback styles, like SB48, shout, ‘Changing of the guard!’

Patriots’ Tom Brady is old school pocket passer who rarely leaves ‘the bridge,’ versus his opposite Russell Wilson who is no run-QB in Kaepernick vane but new version of the old single wing tailback and may be sign of things to come: mobile-manager QB.

The immovable object (SEA-D) vs the unstoppable force (NE-O).

And the Second-chance Bowl, i.e., Misters Lynch, Blount, etcetera.

But the gates, not the Bill variety, are killing us.

..............gate.Strasbourg.Kayser.wc.thmb.Ji-Elle

Give an anti-NFL hooligan a media-bandwagon from which to pelt the shield with virtual vegetables whenever a League issue appears on social stage (Rice, Redskins, Sam, flag-gates), and they’ll board in bunches. Splat!

Which should then come as no surprise that Democrats, bound by a PCB dictate, have, in one poll, anyway, been found to be more likely than Republicans, to disbelieve Patriots denial of game-ball mischief (PPP / 1-27 (SI (FS) / 1-28)). Maybe not on veracity as much as Bob Kraft’s friendship w/Roger Goodell who’s backer of Dan Snyder and his Redskins motif. The Kev Bacon thing.

Age, regional resentment and self-loathing (jealousy), may play roles as well.

Be that as it may, as the big game nears, which I’ll watch next day on NFL Replay (NFLN), sans the insufferable IR-delays, high school half-time and over-hyped commercials, we‘ll be sure to get our fill at the traditional media smorgasbord of fun factoids, player over-analysis and press-con overload.

Two weeks of hype has always been one-week mood-kill, but this time, maybe it’s a mood-enhancer, as evidenced in Bill Belichick’s Wednesday press conference.

In one of the more light-hearted but heavy-in-clever exchanges, and god knows we need some light moments these days, Belichick was tossed an “oddball” by a reporter, asking if he was aware of the unique circumstance in store: the first All-Croatian head-coach heritage Super Bowl. Reporter added, “they’re dancing in (Zagreb?) already.”

Kick-off is set for Sunday evening (6:30 / NBC).

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle’s world turns on a historical defense w/Kam Chancellor and Bob Wagner setting the tone. Other keys may be less-than-100% on game-day, i.e., Earl Thomas (arm) and Rich Sherman (elbow), who‘s reportedly completed his treatment but whose loved one is expecting their first born sometime post-Sunday. Another sub-plot, better variety.

...............Sherman.8.18.12.J.Beall.wc.cca.thmb

Unless Ashley dissaudes his attendance so he can play, it’s most likely Dick will be bedside for the delivery, whenever it occurs. Child birth has elements of risk and then it’s #1 or 2 on ‘life’s most special moments’ list. Besides, he’s done the Super and his non-sport fandom expect full-faith & compassion here. Pete can fill the void.

So why such a ballyhooed defensive unit?

Besides topping the NFL rankings, there’s no compromise on the basics: tackle efficiency and over-lap in zones of responsibility, a team tactic that was SOP in olden days but in 2014 gets bumped by glory-stat strategy (sacks / INTs).

..............Chancellor.8.22.14.wc.M.Morris.thmb

For the scoring side, it starts with a Tom Cable-capable offensive line and a pound & astound run-game featuring stalwart RB Marshawn ‘speaks with feet’ Lynch.

Lynch has been a force-in-motion of late but was fairly “silent” (See: SB5) in last Super Bowl and better find his rev this time or his friend-in-backfield will duck for cover.

Clearly, Russ Wilson can excel under pressure and is key cog in Hawks’ O-machine. But he’s still learning his trade (NFCT15 (4 INT) and will have tougher time vs Patriots pass defense (Revis & Collins) than he did Denver’s. His fast-track to fame was paved in managing from the pocket and reversion back to college curriculum (Rabbit 101), while unlikely in SB49, is a risky road onto which Pats D hopes they can divert.

Upside: When Wilson does bolt, his excursions are textbook for novice run-QBs.

He slides before the hit, has a motive in mind in sideline or end-zone and even in mobile-mode has a cohesion, a synchronization with his receiver corps (Wilson, Baldwin & Kearse) that translates into a fine ‘14 completion (63%).

............Wilson.wc.cca.12.29.13.L.Maurer.thumb

Lateral mobility is key to Russ’ game, but hanging in, fighting urge to bolt, letting the big men (ML) carry the freight and implementing the boss’ game-plan, from the pocket, are reasons why Wilson & Seahawks’ offense clicked in Super Bowl 48.

Hawks rebounded nicely after Harvin’s high tail but their field of competition post-KC was so-so and had to pull their fat outta’ the fire vs visiting GB w/Rodgers limited.

And for master-craftsman Pete Carroll, looking the “new Belichick,“ the words football genius are waiting in the wings as he’s thrown down the gauntlet as challenge to his opposite for NFL’s best gladiator guru.

Carroll is leading that new wave of team scheme threatening to replace the west coast offense that’s defined NFL matriculatory methodology ever since Bill Walsh took the reigns in San Francisco.

..............Blitz.Seagals.SB48.2.2.14.w.ccca.A.Quintano.thmb

It’s a scheme with Western flavor and plays big in NFCW. It begins with top defense that values tackling skills and loathes the late-game prevent mode. The offense works off play-action by establishing the run game to open the passing lanes for a manager-QB, pocket (Flacco) or mobile, who keeps it simple & sound (25-30a).

Word is, Wilson will become the highest paid QB in the land this off-season. But owner Allen best make sure he pays Pete a comparable king’s ransom, coach class. Man is Belichick West but the personas are worlds apart.

William the Conqueror plays it cool, almost aloof at times, though, with today’s petulant press corps it’s hard to find much fault there, while Peter the Great can’t talk enough. When he’s not jawing with the zebras he’s jawing his gum like nobody’s business.

A well structured, leader-laden defense (Kam & Dick) doesn’t require the same sideline symbiosis as the offense, where strategizing play-call is quick & constant.

...............Seahawks.wordmark.76-01.wc.cca.thmb

Seahawks world spins on an axis of defense but it’s the harmony between it’s coach and quarterback that creates, sustains an atmosphere of life from which victory grows.

Carroll and his young protégé Wilson are ‘same-pagers.’ In a manager-QB system, the composer (Carroll) is as important as the conductor (Wilson) to making music.

It takes all styles to forge a championship caliber offense. Ditka and McMahon (’85-86) were kismet for brief time, but longevity requires rapport in style & purpose. Lombardi & Starr had it, Tom & Bill still have it and Pete & Russ are building to perfection.

Any imperfections aside, Pete Carroll & Crew have earned a reputation for making super teams (DEN (’14) / GB (’15)) look super-silly-us.

If Pete-harmonic continues to orchestrate happy tunes to which his men can play, Hawks could have a dynasty and a new football genius in the Emerald City by February 1st.

New England Patriots

Count Seahawks with the public (80%?) who wish Deflategate had never been.

On that Conference Sunday night when the story broke, there may have been feelings of disbelief, a little smugness, even some sympathy, but now, the NFC and Super Bowl defending champs know it’s only likely to give their AFC opponent better focus and more motivation to achieve that end that helps to cleanse the soul of the “cheat” talk that’s been driving dialogue for days. Pats have to win, they don’t have a choice, so they’ll tell themselves.

..............Patriots.wordmark.60-92.wc.cca.thmb

And with a better balance they can boast this time around (’14-15), it’s pretty fair chance they will…win.

Offense has always been a Patriots’ preference under Bill Belichick, defensive credentials notwithstanding, and this season is no different.

Ranking #11 in yards per game (365+), just behind Giants (10) and Hawks (9 / 376), they were neck n’ neck with GB (1 / 30.4), DEN and PHI in upper echelon of points per game (4 / 29.2) with Seahawks rounding out top ten (10 / 24.6).

...............Collins.wc.cca.1.19.14.J.Beall.thmb

Defensively, Minutemen are led by Jamie Collins (LB). They’ll come into University of Phoenix will respectable ranks. In ypg, they sit at #13 (344) (SEA 267 (1)) in virtual tie with MIA (12) & IND (13) and a strong #8 rank in ppg (19.6), about a FG off Seattle’s stellar #1 post (15.9).

Quarterback Tom Brady had another MVP-caliber season and would’ve positioned better for the trophy had he pulled off the road win at Lambeau W13 (L 26-21).

This season Tom had a quartet of inter-changeable run-support (Vereen, Ridley, Gray & Blount (W12)), a personnel shift that can pose a challenge for any caliber defense and then Shane possessing of the Chuck Foreman hands (52r / 447y).

.............Brady.wc.cca.mongomez93.thmb

As to the hardcore hand-corps, that’s been Patriots power-point for years. I count 4 Level-1 pair-a-mitts (Gronk, Edelman, Vereen & LaFell) and 2-4 Level-2 guys. They’re stacked. And nobody puts it in the old “bread basket” like Brady. Just ask Mr. Berman (ESPN).

It would be prudent to predict the stronger suits of both teams will determine SB49’s outcome: Seattle’s super-stout defense (IO) pushing back on Patriots scoring punch (UF).

But then you realize, their work-a-day ensembles aren’t too shabby. Hawks have their own tested TD tactics and Pats are no slouches at holding their ground too.

Seahawks’ defense can be a reincarnation of the rocks of granite 1932 Chicago Bears (44 pts allowed) and yet the Patriots are gonna‘ put up some points, “gar-ohn-teed.” Question is, can they keep Wilson & Co. from finding their happy zone, a la SB48?

..............UoPhxStd.2.4.08.USDoHS.wc.thmb

Some think that incorporating the sprawling metropolis that is Russell Wilson-in-motion to be the key to stopping Seahawks flight. And that would be a red-herring.

Wilson’s mobility is merely an extension of the Carroll play-call. The former Badger is not a run-QB per se in category of Kaep, RG3 or Cam, all who run-at-will and funkify a game plan in the process of frequently futile free-lance, aka, misnomer read-option.

Hawks matriculate because Russ sticks to Carroll’s management plan: establish run and work the pass (short-to-mid) off play action (See: BAL, etc.). Mobility simply affords more time behind the line to execute an air-route or footwork at breakdown as Wilson has a nose for the 1st-dwn marker and sideline safety.

The keys to stopping Seattle scores: 1) frustrating Lynch, 2) stopping progress at point of pass completion and 3) flushing-out the young QB into vulnerability.

.......cherries.B.Kua.thumb

Super Bowl 49: Cherry on Top

Pre-season, this was the match-up most NFL fans envisioned, coast-to-coast.

Both coaches are smart, successful and capable of being bold and creative. Patriots held slight edge in TA/GA differential (12 v 9) and turnovers always play big. As to kicking games, something to always keep in mind in waning moments of Super play, New England holds small lead there, too, in place (94.6% / 83.8) and punt (46y / 44).

As Seattle has played a notch below last season’s Super showing, are fortunate to be in Glendale after shocking GB late and this is probably the best New England team in 10 years, one now vested with a morality mission of sorts, Patriots will win Super Bowl 49 and maybe, before the hoist, stop by the lost & found and retrieve its spirit.

Record: 96 – 55 – 1

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: Belichick, wc.cca, K.Allison, 8.28.09, 2m; Belichick crop; Carroll, 12.29.13, M.Morris, wc.cca; baroque-gate, wc.cca, Strasbourg, Ji-Elle; Sherman, wc.cca, 8.18.12, J.Beall; Chancellor, M.Morris, wc.cca, 8.22.14; Wilson, wc.cca, 12.29.13, L.Mauer; Blitz-Seagals, wc.cca, SB48, A.Quintano; Seahawks, wc.cca, 76-01, wordmark; Patriots, wordmark, wc.cca, 60-92; Collins, wc.cca, J.Beall, 1.19.14; Brady, wc.cca, mongomez93; UofPhx.Std, wc.cca, Glendale, 2.4.08, DoHS; cherries, 6.1.08, wc.cca, B.Kua.
Posted: 1.30.15 @ 6:54pm; edit @ 11:48 EST

NFL15 Cherry Sour: “Fools for Scandal”

24 Jan .............Brady.8.28.09.K.Allison.wc.cca.2m.DC

With Deflategate and its PSI pigskin narrative (lbs per sq inch) having tabled the pre-Super Bowl analysis that footballers have come to expect, it’s been a challenge for those of us who write on the NFL to find our focus.

I was beginning to feel a bit like “Elaine” (spirit, not body) in that Seinfeld episode where she fights writer’s block to find a theme for Peterman’s “Himalayan Walking Shoe.”

..............Brady.wc.cca.12.18.11.J.Beall.thmb

And then it hit me while watching a 1930s cockeyed romance (“Fools for Scandal (’38)) with, who else, but the legendary Carole Lombard. Such a beautiful face and talented mind never had to suffer so many face contortions.

Eureka!, patience is a virtue, all good things come to those who wait, whatever it was that made my tumblers fall into place, I had my theme, and a snappy title, too.

Maybe we’re not so much fools for tawdry tales as it is the media monopolies who know just how to press our buttons. We’re human, susceptible to scandalous habits, the weight of constant coverage and the minions who tag along to try to make it take hold.

.............blackhole.nasa.wc.cca.JSL.Caltech.2013.thmb

Another black-hole has emerged in our sporting universe that’s sucking the joie de vivre out of our neo-national pastime at the worst time. Maybe not a sign of a civilization in decline but these media feeding frenzies of late (a la Rice, Sam, Sterling, The non-Catch (Dez), etc.) cannot be a bellwether of progress & better days ahead.

And once again, a picayune process of post-game deconstruction stole the show.

The details are sketchy and in flux, but following Sunday’s AFCT (NE 45-7), Patriots’ game-balls came under suspicion for under-inflation, triggered by either Ravens rumor or D’Qwell Jackson (Colts) in-game INT ball. The League then confiscated Pats balls just as 2nd half got underway and initiated an investigation as to whether or not the pigskins were in fact under-inflated, and if yes, the who, how and rule implications.

The League determined Wednesday that the 12-ball set of spheroids all held low pressure (-2 psi (lbs per square inch) below standard (12.5 min)) and released a Friday statement confirming “under-inflation” of Pats AFCT balls in 1st-half with rectification by 2nd.

Now we wait on the NFL to finish its investigation, reveal its determinations and if necessary, mete-out a penalty, whether that be a reprimand, team-tags (draft), fines or suspensions, probably post-SB. Oh goody.

Getting this settled by Monday would be a favored schedule, dissipating the odd cloud that hangs overhead and leaving a full week for serious game build-up.

That’s what fans’d favor. And faux-fans? They just want Roger & Redskins out.

...............Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumb

On Thursday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his starry quarterback Tom Brady responded to the growing pressure and held separate press conferences.

And on the whole, I’d say that both men carried it off well enough.

Belichick (“had no knowledge”) was his usual curt, taciturn self, wisely keeping his words to a minimum and bristling anytime a reporter started to press.

Brady, for his part (“I have no knowledge of anyone doing anything”) was cordial as his usual self and entirely patient with a Boston press corps that hurled more softballs than tight spirals at the decorated and reputable but now suddenly questionable QB.

.............Brady.10.27.13.J.Newton.wc.cca.thmb

A female reporter finally did pose one of the few pointed queries: “Who handles the ball after the refs bring them over?” Brady: “I have no idea…we’re still trying to figure out what happened.”

Both played it too close to the vest and breached boundaries of believability at times (Brady: “I don’t think about the ball”) but achieved three critical goals: 1) denied any knowledge of the deflation; 2) made it clear they are in full cooperation with the investigation, and 3) appreciate the importance of the game’s integrity. Sometimes clear & concise equates candor.

One curious moment came when Tom made a “Mr. Whipple” claim: “I don’t squeeze the ball, I grip it, I guess there’s a difference.” Somewhere Dick Wilson of Charmin® fame is smiling (d.‘07).

And for anyone who’s not a Patriots pisser (Pollyannaish, but I’d guess 70% of fandom and 90% SB49 viewership), a group that cannot include most ex-jocks & scribes on ESPN discussion panels who should have their neutrality levels checked for pressure, or is not a hater of the NFL product, this topic can’t be put to rest fast enough.

.............MrWhipple.DickWilson.thmb

What will become of New England’s legacy now?

To those with an axe to grind or prejudice to push regarding this outdoor version of our two most successful franchises in the past two decades (See also; Spurs), this misstep should leak about .5 psi outta’ their championship aura. Measurable but hardly deflating.

But a win over Seattle in SB49 will go a long way to putting this scandal to pasture and pumping air back into the Pats‘ championship ball. A loss? You should be so negative.

Not like Deflategate was gonna’ push most serious football fans to start doubting the Pats success anyway, but putting the newest kids on the super-block in their place with a win in SB49 will dull the edge of the hatchet critics have been wielding ever since news of Spygate broke (’07).

Getting some read on some of your opponents possible plays might prove somewhat helpful, though not likely to tip the scales, but monkeying with a few psi in the pigskin, that’s horse of different color and too much a-do about too small a dog, especially when a “properly inflated” Patriots’ part (NE 28pt 2H) exceeded their opponent’s whole (7pt) four-fold.

Deflategate is not so much about cheating as it is about comfort level, a state that every serious athlete knows all too well about. Hard to imagine there’s not a player in the present or past NFL who hasn’t, on occasion, converted a shenanigan into a claim of gamesmanship. And that includes misters Mark Brunell and Jerome Bettis.

Rules, and their consistent enforcement, are essential to quality. Without it, the game will die a slow death (See; un-addressed tanking claim & betting (NBA)).

..........Goodell.thumbnail.flag

If the NFL does due diligence in its inquiry, finds certain intent on part of Pats’ personnel to deflate in-game balls for unfair gain and a shepard search of League precedent reveals a unique culpability, a deterring penalty follows.

In the long run, the heightened attention to ball management will be a good thing. It’ll bring all sides together, the referees, manufacturer (Wilson®), players and the NFL, to hammer out an improved set of rules that respects, to some degree, individual tastes while maintaining easily verifiable standards that preserve the game’s integrity & spirit.

One concern in wake of Rice-gate is a new tendency to over-reach in appeasement, as NFL did in 2nd Rice susp’n (life). Don’t ‘throw the baby out with bath water,’ Roger.

We live in an age of micro-management, over-analysis and constant change, needful or not, but also one where guardians of integrity must be forever watchful of grift & greed. Not an easy job.

PEDs is cheating, and a real danger, if your health matters.

Starting more as experimentation, once the players became deceitful and their digits rose in never heretofore seen fashion, with exception of amazing Hack Wilson (‘30 / 191 RBIs), as questions & concerns were raised about the games integrity and the bad message to kids, changes finally came and cheating became the definition.

.............football.extreme.wc.'10.HordeFTL.thmb

The life of a football. Who woulda’ thunk?

Trying to pin-down it’s travels & tribulations, its friends & family of fiddling fingers all along its journey, and then for the NFL to publicly present a referee gauging process that appears less-than-standardized from start to finish, seems an impossible and unholy task.

We may be fools for scandal, but Roger Goodell is gonna’ be ready for the loony bin by the time his service is up.

Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: T.Brady, 8.28.09, K.Allison, wc.cca; T.Brady, wc.cca, J.Beall, 12.18.11; black-hole, NASA, JSL-Caltech, wc.cca, 2.21.13; B.Belichick, 8.28.09, K.Allison, wc.cca; T.Brady, 10.27.13, J.Newton, wc.cca; D.Wilson, Mr.Whipple; R.Goodell, 8.30.12, wc.cca, SSG-T.Wade, USMA; Wilson, Extreme.NFL.Soft.Grip.football, wc.cca, HordeFTL, 2010.

Posted: 1.23.15 @ 11:39pm; edit 1.24 @ 1:26am, 12:34 EST

NFL15 Cherry Best: Hoisting Halas & Hunt

16 Jan ......Rozelle.Halas.80s.J.Summaria.wc.cca.4m

The Whittle Down

The CFP Committee couldn’t have chosen a better foursome, had they been the given task of selecting a college-style, coffee klatch of teams (4) for the NFL’s AFC – NFC Conference championships playoff, set to kick-off at mid-afternoon, this Sunday.

That’s assuming they’d have gone with the #1 and 2 seeds in each assemblage, meaning, the (Indy eliminated) Broncos (2) would‘ve made their grade.

.............AFC.Hunt.trophy.Kirk.thmb

I don’t know if the NFL result tends to validate the CFP methodology, which disdains a dilution of quality of competition (4) and cuts to the chase w/top seeds, or instead, shines a light on a flawed college set-up that leaves out top-tier risers (TCU), which here, would have been the Colts. But they’d have come close to getting it right, no matter the tack.

As it stands, three of the four remaining hopefuls for Super Bowl 49 are #1 (NE / SEA) and #2 (GB) seeds. Indy’s an AFC #4 and earned their spot, taking down defending American champs, the Broncos, at Mile High, 24-13 by leading most the way.

At this advanced stage in the NFL playoffs, the teams know pretty much everything they need to know about eachother, excepting the evolving injury reports. That’s especially true where the match-ups constitute re-matches of earlier contests just this season.

League schedulers were prophetic as Packers visited CenturyLink Field in September to kick-off the 2014-15 NFL season, getting a Puget Sound pasting in the process, 36-16.

......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

For their part, Colts have received a double-thumping, having given one away in Indy to the visiting Pats in W11, 42-20, not too long after having taken a similar shellacking, East Coast variety, by losing big to the New Englanders in last season’s divisional, 43-22.

It’s been said that familiarity can breed contempt, but here, that will all depend on your particular motif.

If you wear a green G or blue horseshoe on your helmet, there just might be some contempt swirling around in your locker-room this weekend, but if it’s a seahawk or minuteman, it’s not so much contempt that could be a controlling emotion in the minds of players as it is complacency.  And that’s a coaching concern.

A likely, key component of both Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll’s pre-game, locker-room speeches: guard against over-confidence.

Experience is the best teacher. Indianapolis and Green Bay have been down these out-of-State roads before and are not likely to lose their road maps nor forget lessons learned.

Expect close contests, barnburner variety.

.........ripe.cherries.thumb

Conference Cherry Picks: Only the Best

Packers @ Seattle: 1-18 Fox 3:05 EST: Hawks win
Colts @ New England: CBS 6:40: Patriots win

Record: 94 – 55 – 1

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credit: Rozelle & Halas, J.Summaria, wc.cca, 80s; AFC Hunt trophy, A.Kirk, wc.cca; NFL Wikiproject; ripe cherries, Chirak, wc.cca, 6.24.07
Posted: 1.16.15 @ 2:09pm; updated 5:36 EST

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