Palm-sweating and excitement

Masha

Today is a bit bittersweet for me. Usually, we find ourselves sitting on the couch yelling at the TV, involved in mystery-named bowl games where we don’t really know any of the athletes. But we still yell and wonder about the state of BCS football. We wonder aloud when college will admit that they are the minor leagues for the NFL. We religiously watch the Rose Parade and the “big bowls” and argue the merits of who made the NFL playoffs. It is a week of sports overload, one game leading into another, a banquet of delights and amazement, with the spice of poor officiating.

But today is different. Today I just finished the final touches on packing for a vacation where there will be no internet, no TV, no wi-fi. Instead I have more insect repellant than I’ve ever owned at one time. I have moleskin for blisters I’m sure will form. I have hats, and sunscreen, and masks and fins and did I mention an excessive amount of insect repellant? And I’m excited for a wonderful vacation.

And I’m terrified. I’ve never been away from my smartphone/computer for more than 36 hours (yes, yes, I know, it’s good to unplug, no nagging here…). My palms are sweating at the thought of no internet connectivity. My internet sports addiction pokes at me with the glee of an apocalyptic zombie, tasting fresh meat already and knowing it can torture me before finally finishing me off. What? No ‘I’ll just google that guy,’ or ‘how many yards did he have last week?’ No NFL Mobile. No Sportscenter. I’m hyperventilating just thinking about this.

So Happy Chrismahanukwanzikah dear followers, and Happy New Year 2014. Next Sunday I’ll have my 49ers t-shirt on, coated in insect repellant. Pat will have his Arizona Cardinals Fitzgerald jersey on and we’ll be cheering to the sports gods that somehow we’ll learn a score or two before we return to the US.

See you all in January!

Week – 16 – WOW!

Pat

The second to the last week of the NFL season is upon us. The cool thing is that at least 10 games this week have playoff ramifications and only one division title has been decided.  The Colts have clinched because their division is terrible. I don’t think too many people expect much out of them in the playoffs. I think New England will take their division and the Broncos will take the West  just due to the tiebreaker against K.C. Lastly, I think Cincinnati will take the division and Baltimore may miss out on the playoffs completely due to playing New England and the Bengals the last two games.

In the NFC, it’s even crazier. I think Philly will win the East due to lack of competition in that division. Who knows who will win the North, there are three teams still in the mix there. In the West, Seattle seems to have control of the division with the 49ers having the first wild card. Arizona will be playing for their playoff life at the Seahawks, a very tall order.

They will all be competitive, compelling football games with a lot on the line.  I for one can’t wait to see how it comes out and how much will still be on the line in Week 17.

Masha

Love this part of the NFL season, and this year has proven to be a great guessing game for division winners. But, today I’m focused on tennis. Novak Djokovic has hired Boris Becker to be his ‘head coach’ with Marion Vajda still on the team, but with “more time for his family.” So my question is how do athletes know when they’ve peaked or when they’ve reached their optimal performance level? Novak and Marion are both saying that Becker will be able to help Novak continue improving “certain parts of his game.” Wow – what could that possibly be?

I understand that Djokovic dropped out of number one in the ATP World rankings, but it’s difficult to imagine that his game will be dramatically impacted by Boris. Now, if Becker has joined the team to give Djoker a mental boost and share some of that German mind-steel Becker was famous for, then I’m all for this. But is seems a bit disingenuous to focus on his physical performance, when, based on what I’ve seen in the last two years, he is at his own personal peak. Can Djokovic improve in the mental strength area, yes, although he has made leaps and bounds in this area from the days when he used to withdraw on a regular basis. I’m looking forward to seeing if Becker can have the same immediate impact on his player that Ivan Lendl did for Andy Murray. Should be a great Australian Open on January 13!

Dallas Cowboys – what’s going on here?

Pat

So I said in the coming days I would look at the underachieving NFL teams and the overachieving ones as well and try to figure out what’s gone wrong and/or right with these teams. Everybody seems to love to analyze the Dallas Cowboys, so I will get this one out of the way. I’ve looked at the roster and depth chart to see who’s doing what statistically. I’ve analyzed the coaching staff, specifically the Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator, and of course the General Manager to see if he has hired the right people in these jobs and brought those coaches the players to get the job done. The big failing grade here goes to them all. At a 7 and 7 record, this has to be considered another lost year for the Cowboys. The first one that has to go here is the General Manager and Owner Jerry Jones. Jerry has stuck by Jason Garrett, Bill Callahan, Monte Kiffin and Quarterback Tony Romo because when he fires them it will be admitting that he has continually hired the wrong people and that he is easily one of the worst five General Managers in the NFL.  Philosophically, this team is terrible. They have no balance on offense, even though he has a talented running back, so he puts all the pressure on Romo, who folds under that pressure time and again.  Because he is offensively minded as a GM, he spends all his money on offense and does not have enough talent on the defense to get the job done. The Jerry Jones team philosophy for this team is a big loser and he needs to fire himself as GM and hire a good one.  He says he will never do this, but I believe that when the fed up fans finally quit coming, he will have to make a sensible change to improve his team.

Masha

I agree with Pat that the primary responsibility for the Dallas Cowboys’ performance failures ultimately lies with Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones as the Owner/GM is the worst case scenario. It’s like a physician treating himself for cancer. He’s so close to the situation that he can’t see the problems and instead sticks “loyally” with combinations that are not successful. No one has enough power at this point to challenge his decisions, and those that seem to have tried to challenge him have been dismissed from the organization. Until Mr. Jones steps back from the GM role and allows another viewpoint to enter into discussions, the Cowboys will continue to default to their pass-oriented, “seizing defeat from the jaws of victory” pattern they have languished in for years. I don’t believe for a second that Mr. Jones’ ego will allow him, declining fan base or not, sensible decision or not, to allow an actual GM to make decisions for the Cowboys organization.

NFL Week 15 picks

Masha

We’ve been picking NFL games for a long time and betting our favorite things as a reward. This year, we changed the format a bit and went to a season-long total, rather than a week to week total. Here’s our Week 15 picks, and, to the best of my swiss-cheese memory, it is the only time we’ve selected only one game differently from each other. Thanks Romo, for making my pick the best ever…

Week 15
Chargers     Broncos Pat Masha
Redskins     ATL Pat Masha
49ers Pat Masha    TB
Seattle Pat Masha    Giants
Eagles Pat Masha    Vikings
NE Pat Masha     Miami
Bills    Jaguars Pat Masha
Texans    Colts Pat Masha
Bears Pat Masha      Browns
KC Pat Masha     Raiders
Jets      Panthers Pat Masha
GB Pat      Cowboys Masha
AZ Pat Masha   Titans
NO Pat Masha   Rams
Bengals Pat Masha    Steelers
Ravens   Lions Pat Masha
After tonight’s game, we’ll add the wins/losses into our total. Through Week 14, Pat = 124-83-1, Masha = 120-87-1. Oh, and a special thanks to Jerry Jones for being the best GM ever. (Wish there was a special font for sarcasm…)