I will never not enjoy seeing Tennessee lose

ICYMI: South Carolina defeats #5 Tennessee, 63-38

Man, this game is proof of the power of sports.  I had a pretty rough day, having to be on double duty all morning with the kids, and while they were down for their afternoon nap, I took my wife to the airport, and got obliterated on the way home in traffic, enraging me to thinking Thanos had a good idea, and how lucky the 2% of people who vanished in The Leftovers must’ve been to have been on a version of Earth without 98% of the population.

All I wanted was for the kids to go to sleep without too much warfare, and perhaps have a quiet evening where I could veg out and watch more television from my listed queue.  Instead, I caught wind that unranked South Carolina had hung 21 points on overrated #5 Tennessee, and I was like hmmmmmm and decided to watch, and hope for the upset; seeing as how my interest in South Carolina is merely in-law, but an opportunity to see Tennessee lose made it feel like it was kind of a no-lose situation for me.

Three hours later, my mood is uplifted, and the aggravations of the day earlier are melted away as ESPN cameras begin monitoring the crowding of the students section of Williams-Brice Stadium, after the inevitable upset is complete.

Seeing Tennessee get obliterated, and effectively dashing any remaining hope for playoff contention is the real win here.  Hendon Hooker demonstrated that his mediocre tenure at Virginia Tech was not the fluke, but his performance for Tennessee was, playing way over his head for an equally overrated and ballyhooed program as the Volunteers are in the SEC as Tech often had been in the ACC.  Instead of blowing out the unranked Gamecocks and making a case to leapfrog the Horned Frogs who needed a last-second field goal to beat Baylor, Tennessee will undoubtedly drop out of the top-10 outright and might not even get a New Years Six bowl.

South Carolina winning, and it pleasing my in-laws is merely the cherry on top. 

Spencer Rattler, oft-being labeled a bust after his much-hyped transfer from Oklahoma exploded on Tennessee like Soldier Boy from The Boys, throwing a double hat-trick of touchdowns that even Al Bundy would have to scrunch his eyes and tilt his head over.  If he performs similarly next week and the Gamecocks can upset Clemson, it’ll have to be one of the more legendary finishes to an otherwise adequate season.

But what a game though, really.  Who doesn’t love a good upset, regardless of the loose skin I might’ve had in the game?  Sure, I don’t like Tennessee and I am not a fan of turncoat Hendon Hooker.  But my in-laws are all South Carolina fans, and I like Shane Beamer being the son of Frank Beamer, and it was a treat to see that ol’ Frank was there to revel in this win. 

Speaking of Frank, it was also nice to see that Virginia Tech didn’t lose eight in a row.  Hard to believe a win against Liberty would be considered such a massive upset, but it also equalizes when they upset the Hokies in Blacksburg just a few years ago.

It was touching to see that both teams, and as I realized, all across the CFB landscape were wearing UVA stickers on their helmets to show solidarity and honor the victims of the senseless deaths and gun violence from earlier in the week.  Regardless of my personal team allegiances, nobody ever likes to hear of anything like that, and it seems pretty unprecedented that it hit multiple, active, student-athletes, whom people literally saw on television just days prior.

All in all though, this was a good example of just how effective sports can be, at being able to make a difference in the lives of people.  For me, it was a great catalyst to improve my day, for some, it’s a reminder of strength, solidarity and mourning, and for many in South Carolina, this is probably one of the better days of peoples’ lives.  Yeaahhhh sportsball

And as the subject says, I will never not enjoy seeing Tennessee lose.  Even when they’re back to being the middle-of-the-pack SEC East program they are, or when they’re having shitty years, but it’s even better when they’re completely overrated, and brought back crashing to reality.

Nothing says celebration like destruction of property

Sauce: University of Tennessee solicits for donations to repair their football field’s goalposts after they were ripped out of the ground and dumped into the Tennessee River in celebration of upsetting Alabama

I think I already know the answer to this, but I have to wonder if anywhere outside of ‘Murica, people celebrate sports victories by destroying property?  Sure, if I had to wager, places like parts of the United Kingdom probably get rowdy after a win, but by and large I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard of like Japan, Korea, Germany, France or Brazil ever go biblical on their own property, after winning a World Cup or a gold medal or some other monumental victory.

Obviously this is very commonplace in ‘Murica where Philadelphia had been set on fire no less than three times in celebration, and most of Auburn and Tuscaloosa in Alabama have been torched and had trees poisoned as a result of college football games, which come to mind the quickest, with many other examples out there for inquiring minds.

Back to Tennessee, I get it, the celebration part; beating Alabama is a big deal, because it has not happened a lot over the last 13 years.  Any school that can steal a win over Alabama is truly a massive deal, and worth a good field storming afterward.

But then the uprooting of the goal posts and then throwing them into the river?  That’s just dumb, but honestly I wouldn’t expect anything less from a hick school like Tennessee which is barely relevant in anything outside of women’s hoops.  It’s the epitome of no one of us is as dumb as all of us, and you know that the vast majority of the people who ended up doing it probably don’t even care about football so much as it’s part of the scene out in Volunteer country.

The best (read: fucking insane) part of this is that not only is the school claiming that replacing  two sets of some metal bars is roughly $150,000, is that they’re soliciting people for donations to help pay for it.

Like, both schools are probably getting upwards of at least $1 million dollars each for the television rights to the game, not to mention all sorts of sponsorship monies from all the commercials.  And they have the audacity to cry poor and ask people to pay for the installation of new goalposts?  That’s fucking insanity.

Yeah sure it’s not right for people to celebrate the win by destroying property, and there should be some accountability from the violating parties. But it’s also the greatest moment in the program’s history since Peyton Manning, and some insanity should have been expected.  Not to mention the school is already loaded as fuck and in the grand spectrum of what the UT athletic department generates, $150k is a drop in the bucket.

The irony is also the fact that $150k is probably obviously some grossly inflated estimate so that a bunch of it can be pocketed, but there’s no doubt that at least $150k will be successfully raised.  And that’s the type of money that even the most tenured of educators in the faculty probably wouldn’t see, for trying to teach and develop young minds, while some yellow pieces of metal will have it raised for their sake in the span of a week.

And people wonder why college sports are resented so much, sometimes.  Sure I’m aware of the reality of the chicken and egg dynamic where the education doesn’t grow without the athletics, but when fucking goalposts raises the money that could probably pay two people’s salaries, it does sound pretty fucking ridiculous.

And that’s the kind of shit can of worms opened after a win.  Sociologically, and economically, it probably would’ve been better had Tennessee lost.

But that’s why we play the games, right??

Now this is actually just like old times

A little while ago, after I wrote about the amazing finish to the regular season, where the Braves caught the Mets on the final weekend of the season and literally stole the NL East crown right from underneath them, I had this sneaking suspicion that I was tempting fate by doing such, and that once the playoffs began, the Braves would be ripe for a good old fashioned, first round NLDS* collapse, like they had done countless times in the past.  Baby luck was no longer in play, and by acknowledging in text that the Braves were anything other than a garbage organization not worth two pennies rubbed together, I was clearly pressing the boundaries of the universe that my feelings of high on the Braves were doomed to come crashing down once the playoffs actually began.

*can’t call it first round anymore thanks to the new wild card round

The fact that the Braves did in fact, get bounced from the NLDS doesn’t bother me; after all it’s something I’ve seen happen so many times that it’s more of an aberration when it doesn’t happen.  What actually does suck is that it came at the hands of the Phillies, which is a team that I’ve never liked at any point in history, so that part does give me some sour grapes.  If it had happened against the Cardinals, I would’ve been salty but unsurprised because it seemed like the Pujols and Yadi farewell tour would’ve been very appropriate to have had run over the Braves along the way, but when they failed to close out the Phillies in the first game of the wild card series, it was pretty much all downhill from there.

More than any other sport, baseball playoffs has and will always be a game for the team that gets hot at the right time.  Because games are played so closely together, momentum can really hang and maintain in baseball, and throughout the history of the playoffs since the inception of the wild card, so often times is the World Series winner the team that just catches fire and stays on fire for a month.  Aided by the magic baby luck brought on by #2’s birth, the Braves were that team that got hot, and stayed hot, and won it all last year, no matter how unworthy of the playoffs the 88-win team really was.

The Phillies appear to be that team that’s caught fire at the right time, and amazingly they did it in the midst of a game, where they looked all but defeated against the Cardinals, but the switch flipped, they came back on the Cardinals, put them out to pasture, rolled into Atlanta, and put the Braves out of their misery too.

As much as I dislike seeing the Phillies succeed, especially at the expense of the Braves, there’s a sadistic part of me that really wants to see the Padres advance on the Dodgers, so that we have an NLCS between the #5 and #6 seeds, with hopefully the Padres going to the World Series to play against the Seattle Mariners,** in a barn burner of a World Series nobody in the world wants to see.

**at the time I’m writing this, the Mariners have just blinked first in the 18th inning of their elimination game and are on the cusp of getting eliminated  🙁

But as for the Braves, it’s back to being the Barves all over again, getting bounced in the NLDS.  Yes, it’s something that does suck, but honestly?  The good thing about a fairly fresh World Series victory, or any championship for a favored team, is that it always creates a cushion of absorbing the disappointment of future defeats.  I can still say I got to see the Braves win a World Series in my lifetime as a Braves fan and as an Atlanta resident, and because it happened pretty recently, this year’s fuckup doesn’t really irk me at all.  Being a Braves fan, it’s mostly just kind of business as usual, losing in the NLDS.

All the same though, woof, what a shitty day to have been a sports fan.  This really was kind of like a bloody Saturday as far as my casual fandoms go.  The Braves get bounced from the playoffs by the Phillies, Virginia Tech takes the L against an equally unimpressive Miami squad.  Normally Alabama getting upset is always kind of amazing, but the fact that it happened against Tennessee is irksome enough, but then realizing that their quarterback is Hendon Hooker, who used to be Virginia Tech’s QB before he transferred out and has developed into this Alabama-beating Jesus motherfucker, leaves a little bit of bitter in my mouth.

Also, I learned that Dikembe Mutombo has a brain tumor and is undergoing treatment, which hopefully is successful.  Those who know me well enough, know of my fandom of Mutombo, so this isn’t just sad because he’s kind of a meme, it’s sad because I genuinely have always been a fan of the guy.

And the cherry on top?  #25 JMU, my very literal hometown school in Harrisonburg, nationally ranked in probably like the first time ever, immediately loses to Georgia Southern, and undoubtedly that ranking.  Heavy is the team that wears a ranking, and even the Dukes couldn’t salvage this turrible day to be a sports fan.

Also, the Mariners just lost and are bounced, so there goes the hopes for a Padres/Mariners World Series. 😭

I’m sure this is going to go over very well

There’s a popular narrative that the National Football League is basically incapable of doing anything right.  And that the financial bulldozer that they ultimately still are, is completely in spite of the general lack of ethics, competent leadership and all of the just in general inability to not keep doing stupid shit.

Players want to celebrate touchdowns and look like they’re having fun?  Those are penalties.  A player who is on injured inactive status wants to bet on some football games?  That’s an exiling.  But multiple players who were caught, have video evidence, or were found guilty of domestic violence?  2-4 game suspension.  A Muslim player kneels after a touchdown?  Penalty.  Tim Tebow kneels after scoring a touchdown?  Hero.

I mean, the list can go on for an embarrassingly long time, regardless of the fact that the NFL is a veritable money printer.  Regardless of the fact that I don’t have the time to indulge in as much sports as I used to or liked to, the NFL doesn’t exactly make itself particularly compelling or attractive to want to pay any attention to, even if I had the capacities to.

Recently, the NFL made a public amendment to what has been called the Rooney Rule, which was already basically the NFL’s version of Affirmative Action, where teams are basically PR strong-armed into having minorities somewhere on the coaching staff.  And up until this amendment, just about every person of color ends up being a defensive coordinator, which depending on the reputation of the team, might either be a really important role, or a really insignificant one.

But the amendment states basically, that a minority must be added to the offensive staff, and also now includes that women can be implemented in order to fulfill these obligated positions.

So just like that, the NFL has basically admitted that defensive coordinators are mostly patsy positions, and that they’ve been stashing all of their mandatory minorities in them.  And now they’re trying to rectify it, as well as backhand placate women, by amending the Rooney Rule, to include more minorities and/or women onto the more glamorous offensive side of coaching.

Already, the public acknowledgment of all this is embarrassing enough, but because the NFL can’t do anything right, I can already see what’s going to happen: a whole lot of bogus bullshit positions are going to magically materialize, and they’re going to immediately be filled by minorities and/or women.  Or, there will be some team that’s extra ambitious, and fill them with black women, and go for that double whammy of Rooney Requirements:

  • Head Quarterback Football Asset Return Specialist (ball boy or girl)
  • Running Backs Nutrition Management Coach (personal chef)
  • Receivers’ Public Relations Coach (social media manager)

By labeling these with specific offensive positions, they’re now parts of the offensive coaching staffs, meant to fulfill the Rooney Rule.  And make no mistake, as hyperbolic and snarky as some of these things might appear for the sake of being brog material, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see some surreptitiously new coaching titles start to appear on the coaching staffs of teams in the very near future.

Forced writing, vol. 745

Over the last few weeks, I’ve actually been in an okay rhythm of writing.  Between my new job having yet to really pick up steam, leading me to have some occasional downtime, trying to get #2 onto a modicum of a sleep schedule, and the fact that there have actually been numerous things that have piqued my interest to write about, I’ve actually felt satisfied with how much brogging I’ve been able to accomplish lately.

At this very moment however, I’m in a position where I wish to continue to ride such momentum and keep on writing, however my motivation to write is basically nonexistent today.  It’s not for lack of things that I know I could brog about, from the Royal Rumble, a Bengals vs. Rams Super Bowl, Tom Brady’s retirement, or the spoiled surprise of the Washington Redskins Commanders new team name.  Or social commentary about how despite the threat of coronavirus being no lower now than it was two years ago, people are going out and about all the time, and other sicknesses are spreading like wildfires, leading to situations like earlier this week where I had to go two straight days without a nanny, while on the clock, wrangling two kids.

No, I don’t much feel like writing right now.  And I hate to make it seem like I’m never not in a bad place, but right now I’m not in a particularly good place.  However, I’ve said it several times in the past, it’s times like this when I don’t feel like writing, is exactly when I should be writing, even if I am forcing it.  I have the capacity to do so, and short of dicking around on YouTube or doing surveys on my phone, there’s still no better way to spend available time than writing for me.

I just received confirmation from the vet that my dog is very much not a good candidate for surgery, due to the development and spread of cancer in his little body, and at (roughly) 16 years old, it’s probably best to just do whatever necessary to make his life comfortable, but for all intents and purposes, dog has cancer, who knows how much longer there’s left, but it’s probably not much.

I’ve touched on it before, but #2 has been regressing hard in terms of sleep, in spite of the training we’ve been trying to implement.  For the most part, both of my kids have been polar opposites of each other when it comes to sleeping, and for how great my oldest sleeps, #2 is an absolute nightmare when it comes to the topic of sleep.  Over the last few days, she’s been waking up multiple times in the night screaming bloody murder, and nothing short of plowing her with bottle after bottle seems to be capable of bringing her back down and getting her to sleep.  For another 54 minutes, before it all seems to repeat itself.

Mythical wife and I have been basically getting no more than an hour of sleep at a time before it repeats itself, and it might be just fatigue rate, but seriously, this shit is ruining my life right now.  I loathed teething and sleep regressions from my first go-around, but there’s nothing saying we’re not hitting both at the same time with #2, but it absolutely sucks balls, and I can’t even look forward to going to bed anymore, because of the expectation that shit will repeatedly hit the fan while asleep.

So when baby isn’t sleeping, parents aren’t sleeping, and we’re miserable and ornery and exhausted, more so than when she was a tiny newborn.  And this impacts my work life, which is actually now important now that I’m a new guy in a new place, and it’s critical that I make positive first impressions of how hardworking and reliable I am, but I haven’t really been able to, because of kid duties, and I’m concerned about having those that hired me think they got a dud, instead of the stud I know I’m capable of being when I’m normal, engaged and not distracted.

Of course, this, like most soul-sucking, sanity-testing tribulations of parenthood, will pass, but it’s just a matter of when.  It feels like a speedbump that never will end, and it’s so, so hard on a daily basis to operate in the routine I’m in.  It’s a waiting game with no definitive expected target date in sight, and frankly that’s feeling like the case with anything and everything these days.  From small shit like waiting for an email response from customer service, to waiting on some merchandise I’m interesting to drop when they said it was going to drop, to bigger things like the aforementioned wait for my daughter to get her sleep shit together so that my household can actually get some rest and improve the quality of our lives.

I am, not in a very good place right now.  I’m trying my best to keep my head above water, and trying to find happiness and small wins in the little things, like the explosion of growth and development from my first child, and the general daytime happiness and smiles from #2 at any other time outside of the night when she should be sleeping.  But when it comes to the big picture, there are a lot of things that are bogging me down, and I hope that the strings cut and they fall off sooner rather than later, because I’m just so over so much, and I need, just a little bit of time to catch my breath and not feel like I’m so underwater all the time.

White Men Can’t Jump – the 2022 National Champions, Georgia Bulldogs

It’s easy for me to say after the fact, but no matter how pessimistic I may have verbalized my predictions that Alabama had owned Georgia to the tune of never losing to them since like 2007, I kind of had this feeling that Georgia was finally going to win this one, even in spite of all the tragic history that had befallen the Dawgs over the last 13 years.

  • The game was not in Atlanta. The vast majority of these matchups have always happened in Atlanta, the home of the SEC championship, as well as one prior National Championship matchup a few years ago.  Even aside from Alabama, for whatever reason, Georgia just can’t not shit the bed in their home state, and I feel like there’s an added pressure of playing “at home” that Georgia just struggles with, that would not be in play, being in Indianapolis.
  • Georgia’s defense was truly otherworldly this year. I’m not a diehard Dawgs fan, but it’s impossible for a sports fan to not know what’s going on with them, just through natural sports fan osmosis.  I’ve witnessed every Georgia season come and go since I’ve lived here, and this Georgia defense was on a pedestal above them all, and as the old adage goes, defense wins championships.
  • Alabama beating Georgia twice in the same season just seemed too much ask anyone. Georgia and Alabama have never once, played each other twice in a single season.  Either one of them misses the playoff, or Alabama misses the SEC championship but gets in the playoff.  And with two teams as good as these, it didn’t seem likely one of them would win both games.
  • And of course, baby luck. Yes, it was still in play.  And weirdly, sports success tends to cluster together, regardless of the sports.  Boston had their renaissance period where the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins were winning championships.  When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, Villanova’s basketball won the National Championship shortly afterward.  Tampa Bay had both the Bucs and Lightning win championships just a year ago.  And with the Braves having broken the cycle of suck in Georgia, it seemed appropriate that the Bulldogs follow suite and finally win something themselves too.

And in spite of how poorly Georgia came out of the gate during the game, I had this sense that all was not lost.  Sure, the first half turned into a glorified soccer game, where kickers were the only contributors to the score, but the thing is, Georgia at no point was ever out of the game.  Their defense, as taxed as it was, bent but didn’t break, and held Alabama within striking distance the whole time.

Contrary to the narrative of most prior Georgia-Alabama games, the script of this game just felt different too.  Georgia wasn’t racing to an early lead, where they would then screw themselves up in the second half, collapse and fall victim to yet another Atlanta/Georgia sports team collapse.  They were instead screwing themselves up in the first half, with penalties and unfortunate calls against them, and I made a joke to mythical wife who gets to hear all my mansplaining of hunches and gut feelings, that they still have a chance.

And then with ten minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Georgia sprung to life, almost as if they were deliberately sharking Alabama for the prior 50 minutes of game time, and decided to hit the NOS and actually start playing football.  Stetson Bennett IV, whom I was making jokes about the whole game for having the whitest name in existence, suddenly stopped playing like a little bitch and in like 4 plays that covered like 81 yards, drives down for a touchdown, capped off by this bomb to the end zone, and I’m just like, where the fuck has this guy been for the first three quarters?

Basically, it’s like Georgia was Woody Harrelson from White Men Can’t Jump, where he was playing like a patsy for a little bit, but when it came time to actually play, Stetson Bennett IV turns his hat backwards, pumps up his Reeboks and starts delivering big plays for big scores.

And then the most astounding thing is that Georgia, only up by 8 points, was still in striking distance of a textbook Alabama heartbreaking-dagger-to-the-heart play to tie the game up and win in OT, they are the ones who stand strong for the first time in 13 years, and haul in a pick six, which was hilarious to watch as Kirby Smart is screaming get down get down, but Kelee Ringo’s just like lol fuck that, I’mma be on the cover of Sports Illustrated and next thing we know, when the confetti is falling, it’s not Nick Saban under it all for the 50th time, but finally, Georgia.

Much like seeing the Braves win the World Series, seeing Georgia actually win a National Championship was also up there on the list of things that I wondered if I’d ever witness in my life.  Not that I’m a huge fan of the Dawgs, but I live in Georgia, and I know the success of the team can really boost a lot of people here’s spirits, so I’m quite pleased.  I guess all that’s really left in the bucket of hopes and dreams is Virginia Tech (LOL) and maybe seeing some Korean national teams win something major in baseball or soccer, but they’ll be on their own.

Pretty sure with this, the baby luck is now exhausted, and I ain’t having no more kids.  But the Braves and Bulldogs, not bad for reinforcing my superstition.  You’re welcome, Georgians.

Undefeated, no longer

One of the many things I hate about very likely having COVID is whenever anyone insinuates that it’s remotely close to okay, because the infection numbers are so rampant that it’s almost inevitable that everyone will have caught a variant of it at some point.

My response to that is that a loss is a loss, and there’s no wiping a loss from your record, no matter how successful you are afterward.

Because I’m me, everything is an analogy to sports or wrestling, and the way I see it, everyone who has managed to evade COVID as long as I and my household had, was basically undefeated. 

Fewer things in competition are as hallowed as undefeated streaks, and there’s little more frequent narrative of a streak to inevitably break, with it growing more and more value the longer it goes unbroken. 

The ‘72 Dolphins. DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak. Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive game streak.  The Oakland A’s 20-game win streak. The Cleveland Indians’ 22-game win streak. Goldberg’s 173-0 streak. Asuka’s 914-day undefeated streak. The Undertaker’s 21-0 Wrestlemania streak.

And in my head, every single person who has managed to go without COVID since it came into existence, y’all are also undefeated.  And up until a week ago, my wife was.  Up until more recently, so was I. 

But now, (very, very likely) not anymore. 

No, it isn’t the end of the world. My wife will recover. I will recover. We could thrive afterward. But it’s still a loss on our records, and that will never go away.  And I fucking hate it.

Back in like 1995, I was playing a season NBA Live ‘95. I wanted to have a season where the Orlando Magic went undefeated with my Penny Hardaway having 100% field goal percentage and averaging like 169 points a game and a triple-double.  I put a lot of time into it, but after about 30 games, the game apparently didn’t like such unrealistic conditions, and next thing I knew, I had a loss to the Seattle SuperSonics on my record and my Hardaway’s numbers were all tarnished. 

I quit the game.  That and-1 was a loss that I couldn’t expunge no matter if I won every single game afterward.  It ruined the ultimate goal.

Having the ‘Rona brought into my home and infecting my household makes me feel like the 2007 Patriots.  We were doing so well, only to be derailed and defeated by an unlikely party.  And the worst part is, I highly doubt the offending party realizes just how much they’ve fucked us.

Whereas they can go home to a childless environment with nobody but themselves to care to recover over, or any real demanding jobs to go to, mythical wife and I have two young kids to be mindful of, boatloads of duties that still have to get done no matter how addled we are; on top of our respective jobs.

Ask any parent how it feels to have to deny their kids an embrace that they want, and tell me that it’s still “fine” that “everyone’s going to get it eventually.”  Don’t try and calm me down with that bullshit reassurance that everyone will get it or that Omicron isn’t as lethal, because I will tell you to go fuck yourselves.

Life is already very difficult as it is right now, but to throw fucking coronavirus into our mix, sounds like a pretty crushing loss and way to end an undefeated streak in a terrible fashion.  I will always resent it, and unlike a video game, this loss on the record is permanent and there’s no turning off and quitting it.