Friday, February 17, 2006

Don't believe the Hype

It was advertised as "the best U.S. team ever" by NBC heading into this year's Olympics. I've got a new term for it....Most Disappointing. Unles the 2nd half of these games turns out a heck of a lot better than the first half, that monicker will stick, too.

1. Kwan filing for, and recieving, a medical exemption keeping a perfectly healthy Sarah Hughes at home, only to have to pull out because of injury (Hughes does get to skate, but her preperation has been tainted).

2. Johnny Weir missing out on a medal because he missed his bus.

3. Ohno's falling and mising out on a medal in the 1500.

4. Lindsey Jacobellis showing off and celebrating her Gold too early only to fall and take the Silver in the snowboard cross.

5. The Swedish version of "the Miricle on Ice", a 3-2 shootout loss by the U.S. Women's Hockey team to knock them out of the gold medal round.

this games will be remembered for some of it's failures more than for its successes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This is why we have The Olympics

Kildow's outing means more than any medal
By Eric AdelsonESPN The Magazine

SAN SICARIO, Italy -- She tried to flee the hospital. On Valentine's Day morning, one day after rolling out of the trauma unit on a gurney, Lindsey Kildow got out of her bed, packed a bag, put on her clothes and made for the exit. She had to be restrained.

And if you need one image of these Games, when you look back in 2016 or 2036, let it be that. Let it be the vision of this pretty blonde girl bolting for the door of a hospital after careening over a hill so fast that she sheared open her ski suit upon landing.

Or let it be the image of Kildow at the bottom of the downhill course Wednesday, hunched over, using her poles as crutches, holding back tears, smiling, and then walking gingerly off the mountain upright and without help.

Or let it be the sound of Kildow's voice as she said: "Not racing wasn't an option. I was gonna go through everything I could today to start and I really wasn't thinking about not racing at all. I just learned that your body can go through a lot. And that you can push yourself as far as you want to push it."

Let these Games belong to Kildow, and to 2002 gold-medalist Carole Carles-Montillet, who mangled her face so badly in a fall earlier this week that she had to ski Wednesday with her eyes taped open; and to the Chinese figure skater Zhang Dan, who got up from a horrendous fall Monday night, wobbled over to the dasherboards, then allowed her partner to throw her into the air once again.

We'll pass up any ticket to any hockey game in the coming days in favor of our chance to sit in the stands Wednesday with Thomas Vonn, Kildow's boyfriend and 2002 Olympic ski racer. He watched the biathlon in his Sestriere apartment two days ago, when suddenly his TV screen showed a group of medics surrounding a fallen skier. He thought, "Not Lindsey. Not Lindsey." Then, the screen showed a slo-mo replay of a familiar face glaring out of a tuck position, and then the ground gave way, and then Vonn's stomach gave way.

"I was horrified," Vonn said from the front row of the stands Wednesday. "That was a double-knee blowout, for sure. One knee for sure. Let's pray not two."

He rushed out of the apartment. He stopped. He rushed back in. Where was she? Which hospital? How do I get there?

The phone rang. It was Lindsey, crying.

Vonn tried to reassure her: "Don't worry. I'm coming down. You'll be OK." He hung up and thought, "I can't believe this happened."

Two-time Olympic medalist Picabo Street was already on her way. And if you thought Picabo was a hero before, well, that was nothing. Picabo was a "private nurse," a "best friend," and "extremely cool," said Vonn. She made Lindsey laugh and got her food and even instructed Vonn to wear a sanitary mask to keep his receding flu out of the hospital air. Oh, and she also told Kildow: "You can do this."

And when your childhood hero and mentor sits in your hospital bed with you and says you can, well …

Vonn clutched his cell phone all Wednesday morning, remembering that Lindsey would only call if she decided to pull out. He might as well have chucked the phone in the Po River.
He stretched out his legs in the stands and chomped furiously on a piece of gum and tried not to wince behind his sunglasses when early racers fell. She was up there. She was going to do this.
Vonn passed the time by telling the story of the past few days as the racers left the chute, then he shifted his glance up to the video screen as bib No. 31 got into the chute. "Do this!" he yelled.
Kildow took off. "Come on!" Vonn screamed. She negotiated the turns and Vonn held his breath. The splits came in -- she was behind pace, but fighting. Vonn got louder: "Come on! Adrenaline! Come on!" He pounded his knee.

She launched herself over the same jump that nearly crippled her, and landed sweetly. Vonn stared bullets at the scoreboard. He wanted more than just a finish, and he knew she did too.
She crossed. He clapped. There were no tears. "I'm happy she made it down," he said. He didn't look all that happy. Neither did she.

Then, he thought about it some more.

"I thought I'd be in the U.S. making surgery arrangements right now," Vonn said. "Incredible."
Kildow finished the race in 1:57:78. And no one cares, except for maybe Kildow herself. How many points did Willis Reed score in his epic playoff performance for the Knicks? Anyone remember?

So, she didn't have the perfect tuck. So, she looked tentative. So, she finished eighth. Whatever. Let the others in Torino win the medals, stand on the podium, get a spot next to Leno. Kildow gets much more, because she gave much more.
She gave to us.

We've all hurtled through life at full speed, then suddenly, we're upside down and we land hard and we feel deep pain and we don't know when we'll get back to the familiar places we blew past before.

But we can't look to the pro athlete much anymore for inspiration. The regular fan can't shell out $4 million for a shiny bauble when he lets down his spouse, or call a greasy agent to tell his boss "Next Question!" The regular fan can only rely on friends and family and himself.
The regular fan can only crawl out of bed and get back to work, fighting the arms that grab us and hold us back, ignoring all the reasons to crumble.

And for that, the regular fan has Lindsey Kildow, and the feeling of watching her do what we all imagine ourselves doing in such a moment of terror and agony.
"I am in awe of her," said her mom, Linda. And she started to well up, and she apologized, and she took no more questions, and she went quiet.

Enough said. We're in awe, too, of the speed and the precision and talent and grace. But more of the vision of her running for the door, dropping out of the chute, leaning on her makeshift crutches, hobbling away, planning her return.

"I wanted to do it even if I wasn't going to do well," Kildow said. "I just had to try. It's the Olympics. You work so hard to be here. You can't just give up." contributor Carrie Sheinberg contributed to this story. Eric Adelson is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Manilow Tops the Charts, 29 Years later

29 years after his only #1 album reached the top of the charts, Barry Manilow has the #1 pop album in America again...

NEW YORK (Billboard) -- Barry Manilow topped the U.S. pop charts for the first time in nearly 29 years Wednesday with an album of pop evergreens released in time for Valentine's Day.
"The Greatest Songs of the Fifties" (Arista), featuring versions of such tunes as "Unchained Melody" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing," sold 156,000 copies in the week ended February 5, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.
His lone prior chart-topper came in July 1977 with the double LP "Live." His last album, "Scores: Songs From Copacabana and Harmony," released on the Concord jazz label, peaked at No. 47 in 2004.
"It's not only a genuine thrill to see the album enter the charts at Number One, but it's truly an historic occasion for both of us," said a statement from Arista Records founder Clive Davis, who first worked with Manilow in 1974 on the Grammy-nominated "Mandy."
Added Manilow, "I've had some pretty amazing experiences in my career, but this one tops them all ... I swear, if you live long enough, anything is possible!"
Mary J. Blige's "The Breakthrough" jumped two places to No. 2 with 123,000 copies. The album has for weeks been dueling for No. 1 honors with Jamie Foxx's "Unpredictable," which slipped one place to No. 4 with 95,000 units.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Evidence of wrongdoing?

Because of my post about the Superbowl, some of my co-workers have been scrounging up evidence of wrongdoing at the Bowl. Here are their submissions:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Colts/Seahawks Favored to win Superboxl XLI in 2006

ODDS FOR 2007 SUPER BOWL (from MGM Mirage Race & Sports Book)

Indianapolis Colts-4/1
Seattle Seahawks-5/1
New England Patriots-4/1
Carolina Panthers-6/1
Pittsburgh Steelers-6/1
Dallas Cowboys-10/1
San Diego Chargers-10/1
Denver Broncos-10/1
New York Giants-15/1
Chicago Bears-15/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers-15/1
Cincinnati Bengals-18/1
Washington Redskins-20/1
Jacksonville Jaguars-22/1
Kansas City Chiefs-22/1
Atlanta Falcons-25/1
Philadelphia Eagles-20/1
Miami Dolphins-20/1
Minnesota Vikings-25/1
Green Bay Packers-35/1
Baltimore Ravens-40/1
Cleveland Browns-50/1
St. Louis Rams-50/1
Buffalo Bills-50/1
Oakland Raiders-60/1
Arizona Cardinals-60/1
Detroit Lions-50/1
Houston Texans-75/1
New Orleans Saints-75/1
San Francisco 49ers-100/1
Tennessee Titans-100/1
New York Jets-100/1

Monday, February 06, 2006

Officiating, officiating, officiating

Living here in the, ahem, great Pacific northwest all I am hearing this morning is about how the officiating cost the Seahawks the game. That is just flat out wrong & is a component of seeing things through "blue" shaded glasses. Let's review:

1. The pass interference call on Darrell Jackson WAS, in fact, pass interference. That gets called 9 out of 10 times. The one time it doesn't get called is because the official is looking at something else or falls down.

2. The TD by Roethlisberger? He dove, had the ball in his right hand, it just has to cross the plane of the end zone, and the ball kind of disappears behind his arm. It's possible a millimeter of the ball grazed the plane of the end zone & you can't overturn a call without conclusive evidence. The rule of thumb here is, if it's so close you can't overturn it, it just can't be labeled as a bad call. The fact is, if they rule it down it's 4th and 1-inch and Pittsburgh goes for it & gets the TD anyway. And before you whine about how the Hawks would have stopped them on 4th down...I call BS. Teams score the TD 89% of the time when there is less than a yard to go for a TD. Better yet, Pittsburgh is one of the best at that particular situation. In fact, I would say the momentum would have been worse for the Seahawks had he been ruled down because Jerome Bettis would have come in and got a TD...the crowd, and the Steelers, would have really had momentum on their side if that happened. BTW, for the record, the still photos of an airborne Roethlisberger showed that the ball actually did break the plane of the goal line.

3. Seahawks punter Tom Rouen had 4 touchbacks. How about pinning the Steelers back deep once or twice, especially when the Steelers kept going 3-and-out in the 1st half?

4. The Seahawks messed up at the end of the first half, with terrible clock management, leading to a 54-yard field goal attempt that was missed. With the time they had and 2 timeouts, they should have gotten the ball closer. Later, they missed a 50-yard field goal. Again, they could have moved the ball closer.

5. The holding call on the Seahawks pass to the Steelers 1-yard-line looked like a bad call. Nothing you can do about that but hitch up your jock strap and move on.

6. Hasselbeck's interception a couple plays later. There was no Seahawk anywhere near that ball.

7. Hasselbeck blocking below the waist penalty. This was a 2nd bad call. It only cost the Seahawks 15 yards though. It certainly wasn't a game changing call. The interception was much bigger. I keep hearing how people are saying Rothlisberger did the same thing on the reverse a few plays later. That's just a joke. Rothlisberger hit his man above the waist. Hasselbeck hit his man at the knee cap. Hasselbeck's call was wrong because it was a tackle, not a block. Had it been a block, the call was correct. Rothlisberger's, under any definition, was a legal hit.

8. Pittsburgh had the big plays: a 3rd-and-28 completion in the 2nd quarter led to a TD. A 75-yard TD run by Parker. A flea-flicker from Randle El to Ward for the third TD.

9. The goat of the game: Big talker Jeramy Stevens had 4 drops. The two in the first half could have made this game totally different. With the exception of the one long run (which I explain next), Pittsburgh could not run the ball and Rothlisberger looked awful. If the Hawks jump out to a 14-0 or 14-7 lead & force Pittsburgh to try and pass, they win this game 34-7.

10. The 75 yard TD run. This is on the coaching staff of the Seahawks. Holmgren's team has been stopping the Steelers with a 7 man front the whole game. For some unknown reason, with his 3rd string Safety in due to injury, he switches to an 8 man front... turning what normally would have been a 7-15 yeard run into a 75 yard TD run (the longest in SB history). Boulware, the 8th man up, bites into the wrong gap and now Parker only has one man to beat...the third string safety...who takes the wrong route and gets burned by the fastest running back in the NFL.

11. Darrell Jackson disappeared after catching 5 passes in the 1st quarter (a SuperBowl record). He had no catches after the 1st quarter.

12. Down 21-10 with 8:48 to play, the Seahawks needed to get a score. They couldn't, with Hasselbeck getting sacked on 3rd-and-8 at the 47. For some unknown reason they decided to punt the ball away knowing they needed two scores. If they give up a first down or two, the game is over.

13. Speaking of which....down 21-10 with 6:15 left, they needed to make a defensive stop. They couldn't, allowing 2 first downs as Pittsburgh took over 4 minutes off the clock on 9 straight running plays...after the Hawks had stopped the run all day. It looked like the D had given up.

So, two plays I thought could be classified as bad calls. One was on Hasslebeck after the interception...which had nothing to do with the outcome of the game & the other a holding call after a pass down to the 1 yard line. This certainly did have something to do with the outcome of the game, but if you can't overcome a bad call or two, your not a Superbowl champ anyway. Not only do I agree with it, I wrote it all….lol.

Some articles have been written about how the Seahawks got jobbed. Here's a couple:

Buck Harvey from San Antonio

Michael Smith from ESPN

To that I say....Eh, journalists are just people. They get paid to do a job and make interesting points. You think their column would be more interesting to read if it said, the game was great and I agree with everything? No. They have to find an angle to write about. Of course the people here in Seattle want something to blame. If these teams played 10 times, the Hawks would win 7. The better team did not win on Sunday. That being said, they lost. The got beat. Don’t whine about it. Don;t be known as the "criers from the Pacific Northwest." take your lumps and move on.

look at it this way...all of the Seahawks's past demons were excercised yesterday:

1. Dropped passes - Check (Stevens)
2. Phanton TD by Testeverde - Check (Rothlisberger)
3. Injuries costing in crunch time - Check (3 D-men gone in 1st two quarters)
4. Officiating - Check (covered that)

The only stat that matters right now is that since we've slipped the calendars to the 2000's no team that lost the Superbowl has had a winning season the following year. It's called the hangover effect. How the Hawks respond next year is what counts.

Now, on to some random thoughts:

1. The National Anthem was absolutely horrible. Could be the worst NA I have ever heard sung outside of me in my car.

2. Halftime Show. I never was much of a Stones fan, but it sounded awful. I would never pay a penney to go see tham live. In fact, if they were playing a mile from my house for free and I was guaranteed a seat, I'd pass.

3. The only good commerical was the rotating refrigerator....and that wasn't even a brand new commercial.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Time for my Superbowl Prediction

First, let me start by saying I live in a suburb of Seattle. I am not a fan of either team. However, my loyalty belongs to the RRRRaiders. So, that may disqualify me as knowing anything about football since the Raiders haven't played any for a few years now. That being said, here we go....I'll take Pisstburgh over Seattle by a final of 30-24.

Here's some of the reasoning: The AFC is just much, much better than the NFC. Don't believe me? How about these facts:

Seattle played 4 AFC teams, going 3-1. Loss @ Jax: 14-26Win Vs.Hou: 42-10Win @ Ten: 28-24Win Vs. Indy: 28-13 Pittsburgh played 4 NFC teams, going 4-0Win @ Green Bay: 20-10Win Vs. Chicago: 21-9Win @ Minnesota: 18-3Win Vs. Detroit: 35-21 Seattle gave up 73 points to the AFC teams while Pitt gave up 43 points to the NFC teams. Seattle scored 112 points versus the AFC teams while Pitt Scored 94 points versus the NFC teams Overall Pitt was +12 in points (73-43) – (112-94) & a +1 in wins versus the opposing league. Overall AFC playoff teams were 20-4 versus all NFC teamsOverall NFC playoff teams were 12-12 versus all AFC teams

For as good as everyone thinks Matt Hasselbeck is, and he is, remember Rothlisberger not only has a higher QB rating in the regular and postseason than Hasselbeck, but he also threw at a higher completion percentage rate, for more yards and more yards per attempt in the postseason than Hasselbeck did.

The Individual Matchups:


QB - Hasselbeck Vs. Rothlisberger: Edge - Pittsburgh
RB - Alexander vs. Parker/Bettis: Edge - Seattle
WR - D. Jackson Vs. H. Ward: Edge - Pittsburgh
WR - B. Engram Vs. A. Randle EL: Edge - Pittsburgh
TE - J. Stevens Vs. H. Miller: Edge - Pittsburgh
FB - M. Strong Vs. D. Kreider: Edge - Seattle
LT - W. Jones Vs. M. Smith: Edge - Seattle
LG - S. Hutchinson Vs. A. Faneca: Edge - Seattle
C - R. Tobeck Vs. J. Hartings: Edge - Pittsburgh
RG - C. Grey Vs. K. Simmons: Edge - Pittsburgh
RT - S. Locklear Vs. M. Starks: Edge - Seattle
Total Offense Score: Pittsburgh 6, Seattle 5

LE - B. Fisher Vs. A. Smith: Edge - Pittsburgh
LT/NT - R. Bernard Vs. C. Hampton: Edge - Pittsburgh
RT/ILB - C. Darby Vs. L. Foote: Edge - Seattle
RE - G. Wistrom Vs. K. von Oelhoffen: Edge - Seattle
LLB - L. Hill Vs. C. Haggans: Edge - Seattle
ILB/MLB - L. Totupu Vs. J. Farrior: Edge - Pittsburgh
RLB - D.D. Lewis Vs. J. Porter: Edge - Pittsburgh
LCB - A. Dyson Vs. I. Taylor: Edge - Pittsburgh
SS - M. Boulware Vs. T. Polamalu: Edge - Pittsburgh
FS - M. Manual Vs. C. Hope: Edge - Pittsburgh
RCB - M. Trufant Vs. D. Townsend: Edge - Seattle
Nickel/Dime Packages (Others): Edge - Seattle
Total Defensive Score: Pittsburgh 7, Seattle 5

Special Teams
K - J. Brown Vs. J. Reed: Edge - Seattle
P - T. Rouen Vs. C. Gardocki: Edge - Pittsburgh
KR - J. Scobey Vs. R. Colclough: Edge - Seattle
PR - Williams/Warrick Vs. A. Randle El: Edge - Pittsburgh
Kick Coverage - EVEN
Total Special Teams Score: Pittsburgh 2, Seattle 2, one tie

Total: 15-12-1 in favor of Pittsburgh

Give two football points for every point given here and you have my final score: Pittsburgh 30, Hawks 24

Cheerleader kicke doff team for working at Hooters

Hooters Girl Kicked Off University Cheerleading Squad
POSTED: 8:53 am PST February 2, 2006
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- Kimberly Sams can't be a cheerleader and a Hooters Girl.
The freshman at East Tennessee State University said she has been kicked off the cheerleading squad because of where she works.
Cheerleading coach Tammy Bartow said being a Hooters Girl isn't acceptable employment for an ETSU cheerleader.
Sams said she's 18 and should be able to work wherever she wants. Some people object to the skimpy tops and snug short-shorts worn by the Hooters waitresses. But Sams said her cheerleader outfit is more revealing and sometimes she's "more embarrassed to wear" the cheerleading skirt. She said at least at Hooters she wears pantyhose under her shorts.
Sams says her coach dismissed her from the East Tennessee State University cheerleader squad three weeks ago. She says the coach made it clear a Hooters Girl isn't welcome on the team. But the school's athletic director wouldn't say why Sams was dumped.
A spokesman for Hooters says he's not been following the case, but said "it's a black eye" if the team doesn't welcome Sams back.

Holmgren's wife/Daughter will miss Big Game

Wife Of Seahawks Coach Departs For 'Super' Mission
POSTED: 4:31 am PST February 2, 2006
UPDATED: 7:56 am PST February 2, 2006
SEATTLE -- Super Bowl Sunday will be a huge day for Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, but his wife and daughter will not be in Detroit.
Thursday, his wife Kathy and daughter Calla will leave Seattle and head to Africa with Northwest Medical teams for a special mission of their own.
Kathy and Calla Holmgren depart for war-ravaged Congo as part of a mission with the Oregon-based Northwest Medical Teams.
The Holmgrens and a team of six others will train healthcare providers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They will also help with critically needed surgeries. Millions of people have died there either directly or indirectly from a conflict that started in 1998.
Kathy Holmgren is a nurse and her daughter Calla is a doctor. And although she loves her husband and the Seahawks organization, Kathy Holmgren also loves mission work.
She said she will be with her husband and the Seahawks organization in spirit.