Giving Thanks

November 21, 2007

Once again Brian Westbrook proved to be too much to handle last week.

(image courtesy of http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com by H. Martin)

Well, as promised before, I’ve decided to make a post that will encompass all categories. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I think that it might be appropriate for me to list what I’m thankful for thus far in sports. It’d be much easier to list what I’m angry about, but the holiday isn’t “Excusegiving,” so please bear with me if my gratitude seems to be stretched a bit thin. Well, here is, without further ado and in no particular order, my Thanksgiving…to sports:

1. I’m thankful that this college football season has been so unpredictable, especially because the BCS Championship Game is still quite wide open.

2. I’m thankful that while I was pretty much ready to pack up and mail in the Eagles’ season, the team, particularly Brian Westbrook (who is obviously one of my favorite players), didn’t give up.

3. I’m thankful that the Diamondbacks were able to surpass my expectations and advance in the playoffs, and keep me extremely optimistic for the future.

4. I’m thankful that the college basketball season has proven to be just as interesting as college football, with Mercer upsetting USC and Gardner-Webb stunning Kentucky.

5. I’m thankful that the Suns have found a way to win so far, even if they haven’t won pretty.

6. I’m thankful that my mother is not going to think I’m a jerk for going to the ASU/USC game Thanksgiving night.

7. I’m thankful that Michigan is awful this season, because my roommate is a Michigan fan…it really is a lot of fun.

8. I’m thankful that I’ve learned how to find audio broadcasts of Eagles games online, free of cost.

9. I’m thankful that Barry Bonds was FINALLY indicted by the federal government.

10. And finally, I’m thankful that a power-hungry, self-righteous, covetous, egocentric agent got his comeuppance.

Side note: I don’t think all player agents are scum, just the ones who take advantage of their clients.

On Again, Off Again

November 14, 2007

Brian Westbrook ran all over the Redskins’ defense Sunday.(image courtesy of http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com by D. Hallowell)

After seeing the outcome of Sunday’s game against the Redskins, I’ve come to the startling realization that the Eagles are actually two completely different teams this season. There really is no other, more logical way to explain it, considering their penchant for winning a game, then losing the next. After dropping their first two games to the Packers and Redskins, the Eagles have followed a pattern of win then lose. In fact, the argument could be made that their entire season up to this point could be in a win/lose pattern if they didn’t have the special teams debacle against Green Bay in the season opener. As for the game, I’m happy to say that the offense FINALLY found a way to score in the red-zone against the Skins. If you’ll remember, I was not too pleased with their first effort.

It seems as though the defense is very much a “bend but don’t break” type of defense. By that, I mean they let offenses drive and score points, but never let the game get out of reach. I hate these types of defenses, because it means the game always falls on the offense’s shoulders…but it’s what they have. However, I wouldn’t put it past the Eagles to find a way to shore up their defense sometime this season and become a more dominant force on that side of the ball. Creating turnovers will help with that, along with limiting the big plays against them. Perhaps, when Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins are both back to full strength, the secondary will cause some havoc. Until then, I and other Eagles fans have to wait and see which team will show up next week.

A Week Off!

November 12, 2007

(image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com by Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian)
Yes, I took a week off…and apparently so did the teams I follow. Both of my football squads were shot down in their respective games. Since I was in Hawaii all of last week, I didn’t have much internet access. Aside from paying some stupid, overinflated charge of 15 dollars for 10 minutes of usage, which I immediately decided against. It was really of no consequence however, because I was usually busy enough to not feel the need to fool around on the internet. I wasn’t too busy however to catch the Sun Devils fall to the Oregon Ducks on Saturday. My family and a bunch of other wedding attendees found a nifty sports bar to catch the heartbreaker that was. My first impression was that “Wow, the Ducks are no joke.” After they lost to Cal, I figured they were just an above average team playing at a Championship caliber level. It turns out that it was actually they other way around, as the Ducks are most certainly a Championship caliber team, they just found a way to outplay themselves when they lost to Cal.

Now, with ASU it’s become clear that ASU can’t rely on fourth quarter heroic comebacks if they want to win. The defense needs to stop teams early, and the offense has to learn how to function in the first quarter. Another thing became clear after the loss to Oregon…Dennis Erickson is an amazing coach. Kevin Donahue of fanblogs.com agrees. (Granted, I knew and I’m sure everyone else knew that Erickson was a good coach based on his track record) However, for him to come into an established team and not have a SINGLE player transfer is amazing. What is more remarkable is his ability to keep his team in games that are seemingly over. Although they lost the Oregon game, ASU faced a double digit point deficit after the first quarter but didn’t seem to be out. Costly turnovers ended their hopes of winning in the end, but I noticed the Sun Devils never gave up. That starts with the coach, Dennis Erickson.

A Good Week, Finally

October 31, 2007

Your very best friend ArmchairGM will be enjoying this particular beach in the week to come! (image courtesy of http://www.aloha.com/)

It’s about time that I’ve had a good week when it comes to sports teams. Unfortunately I didn’t have a good past week altogether, but I’m very thankful my sporting team counterparts picked up my slack. As some of you know, I’ve been extremely pressed for time preparing and awaiting my brother’s wedding in Hawaii. On the same note, my parents are even more stressed, thus leaving me as their answer for manual labor around the house.

It wouldn’t be fair for them to ask my brother, who is less than two weeks from being hitched, to do body breaking yard work. It appears that those types of tasks fall on the younger, lesser muscularly equipped son. Trust me, I’m not trying to say that my frantic behavior and amount of personal stress is anywhere near comparable to my own brother’s or his beautiful wife-to-be’s. I just wish that considering I want to take this extremely important wedding (it’s the first I’ve been a groomsmen in) for all it is worth, people could see why I might be re-prioritizing.

On the note of re-prioritizing, it’s a good thing that College Gameday for ESPN is a fluid broadcast. They’ll be in Eugene this weekend to be a part of what could very well be one of the biggest weekends in football ever. Show me a person that thought the Oregon vs. Arizona State University game would have National Championship implications and I’ll show you a liar. Nonetheless, I’m obviously very pleased that this is the case. If the game is on ESPN that means I can watch it in Hawaii…poolside :) Aside from ASU taking on the Ducks, the Pats will duel with the Colts to decide the battle of the best in the NFL, and there is the Saban Bowl as well.

Another event absolutely worth noting is yet another win for my beloved Eagles. As most people realize, back-to-back wins are hard to come by for the Birds. As I mentioned at the end of the first paragraph above, my assistance was needed around the house last Sunday, particularly in the backyard. Again I resorted to using my newfound free radio technique, but was reduced to hearing only bits and pieces of the game. One name I heard called quite often was Trent Cole’s, and as it just so happens he won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. This won’t be the last people hear from Mr. Cole, and it won’t be the last you guys hear from me…my vacation still allows me to post!

To conclude, I think this is my first blog post where I can use all of my tags aside from “Uncategorized” and “Arizona Diamondbacks,” so enjoy history my friends. One day I’ll work in an all encompassing blog…in the meantime I’ll miss you all while I’m gone, and have a great time while I’m gone!

Star Eagle cornerback Lito Sheppard returned to action after being out since the season opener. (photo courtesy of http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com by D. Hallowell) 

So, yet again the Eagles went without television coverage in Arizona. They also went without an offensive unit, but that is neither here nor there. Usually, when I can’t watch the game from my home I’ll go to a sports bar with a friend. Unfortunately, nobody was able to, or wanted to, go with me Sunday afternoon, and going solo to a sports bar is like going on a date to church…pointless. Luckily, my fantastic brain offered me a brilliant, (and free!) solution. I navigated my way around the Official Philadelphia Eagles Message Board and found a site where I could stream a free audio broadcast of the game.

Since I’ve started watching football that’s pretty much been my only exposure to it…watching it. I don’t typically listen to any sort of games, but football in particular is usually always watched, not listened to. This is because Sundays are quiet and reserved essentially to watch some pigskin, whereas there is a greater potential for me to be driving around during a D-backs game due to their erratic and frequent star times. Listening to the audio broadcast of the Eagles game was a great experience, aside from the ending of course. I’d heard calls from Eagles radio broadcaster Merrill Reese in the past and loved them. Side note: my favorite call ever from Reese came on Brian Westbrook’s historic punt return against the Giants in 2003. “This place…is in a state of SHOCK!” I still get chills playing it over in my head.

That said, listening to the game stream through my laptop allowed me to enjoy the game somewhat more. Sure, I would have loved to see exactly what was going on on the field, but hearing it and picturing it all in my head was a new and unique experience. While listening to the game prevents me from critiquing the play of certain players, it was kind of a welcomed reprieve from always looking for the guy who isn’t hitting his gap, or the guy who didn’t block his man. I was forced to hear the game through Reese’s, forced to see what he saw, and loved it. Not being inundated with different ads and promotions mid-game was also a welcomed change. Sure, Reese and his color commentator Mike Quick had their read through promotions and whatnot, but they didn’t detract from the game in the same way that on screen television ads do.

In the end, while I think that changing over to a radio broadcast was the right move for me, I’m still left to wonder what changes the Eagles need to make in order to turn their ship around.

A Bittersweet Weekend

October 17, 2007

(image courtesy of FOXSports.com from Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Eagles seemed to have had a pulse this weekend, which is a very good thing. It’d be nearly impossible for a team with such a dynamic back as Brian Westbrook to not look like they can compete every weekend. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to watch the game, so I can’t really give too many thoughts. On the plus side, I have plenty to talk about when it comes to my other favorite team…the Arizona Diamondbacks.

When the D-backs made the playoffs, I originally thought that they wouldn’t make it too far. I thought if they fought their way into the NLCS that it’d be quite a feat, considering the average age for the team is just a hair over 28 years. Take into account that most of the older folks aren’t starters (Tony Clark, 35) (Jeff Cirillo, 38) or they’re on the disabled list (Randy Johnson, 44). Really, this team is a group of youngsters, and I expected the lack of playoff experience to be a huge factor. Until I saw them sweep the Cubs. Once they swept the Cubs, I really thought this team had a chance to win it all. They pitched outstanding, played tremendous defense and got the big hit when they needed it. Maybe I was getting a bit too excited because I was rooting for my brother to make some extra cash for his upcoming wedding. See, before the season started, my brother put down some money on the D-backs as a joke in Vegas. The odds were so heavily stacked against them that someone would be crazy not to play them, just in case. But I digress…

For no reason whatsoever other than that I didn’t think the Rockies were really a good team, I began to feel confident the Diamondbacks would make the World Series. Of course, I was wrong and will eat my delicious crow right now, as the Rockies are absolutely rolling. While I’m glad the National League West will be represented in the World Series after years of being looked at as an inferior division, I feel that the Diamondbacks should have been there. I became spoiled by the “Anybody, Anytime” mantra adopted by the team, and never lost hope that they’d pull it out…until Eric Byrnes ended the game, series and season with a checked swing dribbler to Troy Tulowitzki. And yet I and I’m sure other Diamondbacks fans remain optimistic for the future. This playoff run helped get rid of the aforementioned lack of playoff experience, and these young D-backs should only get better. Even with this reassurance and a bright future, the feeling still remains bittersweet.

Thoughts During a Bye Week

October 10, 2007

(image courtesy of http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com)

The good news for this weekend (aside from the Diamondbacks sweeping the Cubs) is that the Eagles didn’t lose! Sure, it was a bye week so they didn’t even play so I may be a little overly optimistic, but I’ll take what I can get. Another good tidbit of information: Brian Westbrook, L.J. Smith, and William Thomas are expected to being practicing again, so hopefully they’ll be ready for Sunday’s matchup with the Jets. If you remember, it was Thomas’ replacement Winston Justice who provided a direct route to quarterback Donovan McNabb. His new nickname is “Highway 74.” With no Eagles football being played, I figured I’d take this opportunity to explain why I’m a fan. Why is this kid who has only been to Philadelphia a handful of times a huge Eagles fan? Here we go…

I was born and lived in El Paso, Texas up until 1994, when I was in second grade. During my early, early, school-going days the Dallas Cowboys were enjoying great success, having won the 1993 and 1994 Super Bowls. I hated it. Cowboys fever was just plain annoying to me, the repetition of “Go Cowboys” coupled with Troy Aikman jerseys made me sick. I wasn’t really into the football at the time so I couldn’t understand, but at the time it bred a hatred for the Cowboys I’ve grown extremely fond of. Luckily I wasn’t around for the 1996 Super Bowl victory, because I probably would have lost it. Since I was moving to a new state from Texas, I didn’t want to be immediately categorized as a Cowboys fan…so I chose another team to follow. I kind of randomly selected the Eagles for two main reasons. One, I was young and thought Eagles were awesome. And two, I knew that they were rivals with the Cowboys. I didn’t know or care that the Eagles had been cellar dwellers in the NFC East for previous two years…they were my team now. And they have been ever since.

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