Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This New York sports fan puts 2013 behind her, looks forward to 2014

2013, as I have stated before, was a terrible year for New York sports teams. I'm glad to be able to (almost) put it behind me. I'm looking forward to a fresh start with all my teams in 2014. Until then, though, what do we have to distract us...we have the Winter Olympics coming up in a few weeks. I don't usually get into the Olympics too much unless there's a big storyline going on, a la Michael Phelps or the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan rivalry. My 9 month old daughter however recently enjoyed watching Blades of Glory with Jon Heder and Will Ferrell so I imagine she'll like the costumes, music, and movement of actual figure skating. We also have the NFL playoffs. I don't have any teams to root for, but there are two quarterbacks in it who I love - Aaron Rodgers on the Green Bay Packers and Peyton Manning on the Denver Broncos. Of course, I rooted for both of them last year in the playoffs and jinxed them into losing, so I'm not going to say I'm rooting for them or that I want them to win...just sayin' I like 'em.

A happy, fun, and most importantly, a safe New Year to you all - may we all have a good year in sports to look forward to in 2014!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This year in sports (or how I want to bang my head against a wall)

Well, the Baltimore Ravens win last night on Monday Night Football eliminated the New York Jets from the playoffs, officially making this the Worst Year Ever for New York Sports. ::Sigh:: I'm not a Jets fan, but they were my last hope to root for any New York team in any sport to have a shot at maybe not the title, but at least a postseason appearance. I know Jets and Mets fans are used to this kind of disappointment, but in addition to those perennial losers (no offense intended), we saw the Yankees suck and miss the postseason, we saw the Giants suck and miss the playoffs...hockey and basketball are in the middle of their seasons but the Islanders are in last place, the Rangers are middle of the pack, and the Nets and Knicks aren't looking good either. What's a sports fan to do? I'm tempted to take up some other pasttime, such as needlepoint or taxidermy. I'm just glad my daughter is too young to remember this year in sports - I want her to be proud of being a New York sports fan, not want to bang her head repeatedly against a wall in frustration. Although she does seem to be leaning toward being a Jets fan, which might cement her as her grandfather's favorite grandchild (she's his only grandchild) but might mean she'll have to get used to banging her head repeatedly against a wall in frustration.

Here's looking forward to 2014!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Just because there is nothing good to write about New York sports at the moment...

From Sports-Funny Page on Facebook...this cracked me up. Even though the New York Giants (just barely) won this week, I am overall in need of a good laugh to get me through this entire year, across the board, sports-wise. Although I'm a New York fan first and foremost, I do love me some Peyton Manning. I have 3 Manning jerseys, and only 2 of them are Eli, but I think my most favorite member of this tongue-in-cheek but really quite accurate list is Uncle Rico. Dude spends so much time taping his passing practices instead of watching his nephews Kip and Napoleon, he best be on this list!!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For those of you who didn't give up and kept watching...

They did it, they did it! The New York Giants finally won their first game...it's only the end of October, after all... My daughter wore her Giants onesie for the first time this season in the hopes that it would bring our team good luck (we're Irish...we can't help but be superstitious...), and whaddyaknow, it worked! Good thing she has three of these cuz she's gonna be rockin' them every Sunday for the rest of the season.

Of course, it was a really sloppy win, but at this point, I'll take it...anything that gets the players over what seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle of simply, y'know, winning. Maybe now we can start to look forward to seeing more Victor Cruz salsa-dancing and not having to hide our faces in shame in public anymore!

Friday, October 18, 2013

From TelevisionWithoutPity, a post tailor-made for this blog: Throw Like a Girl: My Boys, Friday Night Lights and Sports Night‘s Fiercest Females

I couldn't have written this post better myself, though the idea of a round-up of some of TV's fiercest sports-loving females is one I plan on stealing and expounding on in the future. Since Aly Semigran's post is so spot-on, I'll just let you read it at TelevisionWithoutPity.com here, and just add that My Boys used to be one of my favorite shows, and P.J. Franklin is one of my favorite characters and totally makes me want to be a sportswriter. I AM in need of a job, so maybe that's something I should look into - I have a background in journalism and a love of sports, if anybody reading this is hiring! ;)
Throw Like a Girl: <i>My Boys</i>, <i>Friday Night Lights</i> and <i>Sports Night</i>‘s Fiercest Females
The cast of My Boys

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

There are worse things than starting your season 0-5. Oh, wait...

...when it comes to sports, at least, there really aren't. I guess maybe starting your season 0-6. Not to jinx the New York Giants' season or anything...but seriously! They're looking less like former Super Bowl champs out there and more like pee wee players who have yet to learn the fundamentals of the game. There's still hope, though. In theory. They can still turn it around. The thing is, though, that each week that goes by without winning a game, the more pressure there is the next week to get that first win, and the more pressure there is from both coach and management and themselves and oh my lord, the fans, the more likely the team is to keep shooting itself in the foot. I mean, there's playing under pressure and then there's playing UNDER PRESSURE. One gets you to the Super Bowl. The other gets you lynched by a mob of angry blue shirts. And the more winless weeks there are, the more wins in a row you have to get, the less leeway you get if you want any hope at making it to the postseason. And pretty much every team in the NFL makes it to the postseason. But not if you can't win a game...

On a brighter note, the New York Jets are actually making their fans happy. And probably even some non-fans. We need SOMEBODY to win in New York, people! Watched Monday Night Football last night and they had a pretty exciting win over the Atlanta Falcons. Nothing like winning it at the very last second. Couple of bad calls throughout the game, but the Jets played well besides that. Those calls helped but didn't hand them the win. I hate to say it, but Giants, take note...this is what a winning team looks like...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

This New York sports fan has the blues

The New York Yankees are almost done. It's a sad day for this sports fan when there's no October baseball to care about. The New York Giants are 0-3 to start the season. I can't even put into words how disgusted I am with their performance this past weekend. I could've played better football than that. My 5-month-old daughter and I could have shown up better than those Giants did. Ugh. You know things are bad when the New York Jets are your go-to team to brighten your cloudy sports day. Mariano Rivera is retiring. Andy Pettitte is retiring. I know this totally dates me, but those guys are the Yankees to me. Oh, along with Derek Jeter. Who is out for the rest of the season. Which doesn't so much matter now that the season probably won't be heading into October anyway, but he's out because he's injured, and he's injured because he's old. I'm glad I didn't go to any games this year, what with Derek out for most of them, and the Yankees just not being very Yankee-like, but I would liked to have seen Andy and Mo pitch one last time. Oh well. I'll have to bring my daughter to a Yankee game next year, because with him turning 40 next summer, I wouldn't be surprised in the least for Derek Jeter to announce that next year will be his last. Or if he doesn't retire, I could see him giving up playing short stop and becoming the permanent DH, a la David Ortiz. But to keep harping on the Yankees' terrible season - not for nothing, but they did it to themselves. My five-month-old daughter and I could manage that team better than Cashman and the Steinbrenners. This season is EXACTLY what happens when you rely on older, burned out, faded, former super stars, both homegrown and acquired - when they get injured, as old men are wont to do (and in baseball, anything upwards of 35 is an old man), you have to bring in your young, green, immature, and inexperienced players, and when that transition isn't gradual, when you just throw them into the game, when you don't give them a chance to learn side-by-side with the seasoned former superstars, who have the experience to show and teach them a thing or two, when you don't look two years down the road and realize that hey, eventually you're going to HAVE to go with new players or else be the only team in the league featuring 50 year olds on the field, then your team fails to make it to the play offs. End of story. So baseball is a bust. Here's hoping the Giants shape up or I'm going to have to start rooting for the Jets. Or look forward to basketball season...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Must be autumn...football season is here again, with a new sports fan!

These crossover seasons, when it's the end of one sport but the beginning of another, can be tough. Usually when both your teams, if you have a team in each sport, are doing well. With a new baby in the house, I haven't really watched any baseball this season, but from what I can glean from the little I have seen, the New York Yankees are well on their way to having a well-rested October full of plenty of free time. Ay-yai-yai... thankfully, football season is upon us again. It officially started Thursday night but today was the big day, the first football Sunday of the 2013 season. Today my five month old daughter watched her first football game - New York Jets vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers with her hardcore Jets-fan grandfather. Because of that, and because today was Grandparents' Day, Elena rocked her Jets onesie, even though Mama is a hardcore New York Giants fan. I told my dad that I would never buy her Jets gear, but if he did, she would wear it when we watch football at his house. And so he called my bluff...oh well. She looked cute, and apparently it was good luck, as the Jets somehow pulled off a win in the last seconds of the game. Now tonight I will be rockin' my Giants Super Bowl jersey as we take on the hated Dallas Cowboys...this is the way to start a football season!

And yes, in case you were wondering, my daughter does have Giants onesies. But they're size 9 months, as opposed to the 3-6 month size of her Jets onesies. Which means she doesn't fit into them yet, but she'll be able to wear them for more of the football season and show her real fan colors! (Sorry, Dad!):)

Jets fan and granddaughter

Jets fan and niece. And Trooper.

Mama in her Giants jersey and baby in her Jets onesie

J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets! That's for Grandpa...

Trooper wanted to get in on the photo-taking fun. #totallyhoggingthespotlight

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Manning brothers bring you "Football on Your Phone"

Now, don't get me wrong - this is straight up a commercial for DirecTV. Commercials suck. Except when they're entertaining. A well done commercial can be more fun to watch than the show you turned your tv on for. And when it comes to athletes, I love me the ones who don't take themselves seriously, the ones who can make fun of themselves and goof around. Back in December 2012 I wrote about some of my favorite sports commercials, which you can read here, but I'm thinking I'm going to have to add this one to the list.

You can always depend on Eli Manning and Peyton Manning to bring the funny. I never pictured them as rappers and it turns out my life was a little darker and sadder for lack of that. The hook to this song is annoying, I'll say that, but the Manning brothers sure do know how to have fun and make fun. This video might not make me go out and buy DirecTV (sorry, folks!), but I would watch it again and again simply for Eli and Peyton's hairstyles and outfits, as well as their mad rhyming skills. Methinks the Manning Family Singers might be a good back-up plan once the whole football thing has gotten old and boring.

Read some funny commentary on the video here.

And watch that sucker down below:

Monday, August 5, 2013

In the wake of MLB suspensions for A-Rod & company...

I really don't know that there's anything new to say about the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in professional sports anymore. Alex Rodriguez and 12 other major league baseball players were suspended today for receiving performance-enhancing drugs from a Miami wellness clinic. A-Rod was suspended for 211 games, although he has appealed the decision and is eligible to play while the appeal is pending. If it is upheld, he would be out the entire 2014 season and out his entire 2014 salary. Boo hoo. The 12 other players - Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers; Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres; Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers; Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees; Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners; Jordany Valdespin, New York Mets; Sergio Escalona, Houston Astros; Fautino De Los Santos, San Diego Padres; Cesar Puello, New York Mets; Fernando Martinez, New York Yankees; Jordan Norberto, free agent - have been suspended 50 games, or until the postseason should their teams make it. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who won an appeal of his suspension last year for using PEDs, accepted a 65-game ban last month for his involvement with the clinic. Don't even get me started on how he swore up and down last year that he had been falsely accused.

I think we can all agree that we know professional athletes use PEDs. It is not limited to Major League Baseball, and it is certainly not limited to the players who get caught. We can all agree that using PEDs gives players unfair advantages over those who do not but we all flock to the ballpark to see the results of these drugs, such as monster home run races between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and aging players being able to play well into their late 30s when they should be slowing down because of their age. Players who are truly talented and who want to play a fair game are almost forced to do PEDs as well just to compete with the users. And really, if we're being honest, what do we care if professional athletes use these drugs? It makes games exciting, and the only ones it hurts are those players who try to play fair who can't compete and the health of the players who use. I personally have more important things to worry about in my life than whether or not Alex Rodriguez is going to lose out on 30 million of a $275 million contract. As I said before, boo fricking hoo. Personally, I've never been an A-Rod fan. I would be perfectly fine not having him and his drama around my sport and my team.

Still, as much as I am so over hearing about this "news," I am so so disappointed to see Francisco Cervelli's name on this list. There are some players you just know are using PEDs. There are some players who seem like talented, stand-up, honest guys, like Derek Jeter, who you think are probably clean, but like I said before, you never know. Just because someone wasn't caught doesn't mean they haven't done it. I liked Cervelli. I was looking forward to him take over for Jorge Posada before he was waylaid by many injuries. I couldn't care less about the "news" about A-Rod but the news about Cervelli makes me feel disappointed. Like when I found out about Andy Pettitte. That one hurt. That one made me feel let down.

What are your thoughts on the player suspensions or on the use of PEDs in sports or the continued media coverage?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thoughts on the NBA Finals

The NBA Finals have begun. Last night, the San Antonio Spurs took Game 1 from the Miami Heat.

In your face, LeBron...

(In case you can't tell, I am not a Heat fan. And even less of a LeBron James fan...)

Unfortunately, I had two New York teams in the postseason, but as in every sport this year, those New York teams let me down, so I don't have anyone to root for. The Miami Heat being in the Finals however at least gives me someone to root against, and having a team to really, really root against is almost as good as having a team to root for. So by default, this sports fan will be rooting for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and the Spurs.

Still, the Heat have dropped Game 1 in a few of their last playoff series, only to go on to win the next 4 games and the whole series. Let's hope the Spurs can break that streak!

How about you - are you watching the Finals? If so, are you rooting for a team or against a team?

Game 2 is Sunday night, June 9, at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The next great sports star...

The next great soccer star?
Or not. But do you see those feet?? My daughter, Elena, was born April 6 and her father and I think she has great athletic potential. If her long toes and long feet are any indication, she is going to be a tall Viking princess like her very athletic Aunt Maggie. And her kicks in utero were no anomaly - Elena's legs and arms are still very powerful for a baby - try to make her do something she doesn't want to...you can't! It's like a battle! And tonight she was crying the whole time I was holding her until I passed her off to her father, who sat her down to watch the Knicks-Celtics playoff game with him...and she was entranced. Yes, I think we have a future athlete on our hands. Either way, whether she's able to support us in our old age from all her endorsements or she just shows off her Little League participation trophies, Elena's father and I are on the same page - Elena will be playing sports. She doesn't have to do it forever. She doesn't have to try every sport out there. But I personally think participating in sports as a kid has so many benefits - exercise, learning how to be a team player, making friends, etc. - and I have so many fond memories of my years playing/coaching soccer, baseball and softball, she will play some sport at least once. And who knows...maybe that's how she'll meet her BFF. Or maybe she'll be the next Mia Hamm or Venus Williams and buy Mommy and Daddy a nice beach house for their retirement. ;)

All set for her first post-game press conference.
On a side note, because I just had a baby (and to top it off, she's colicky and so taking up 99 percent of my time just comforting her), I won't be posting as frequently to this blog for awhile - probably a few months. But I'm not going anywhere - I WILL be back, so please check in on me every once in awhile!!

Daddy & daughter watching the Knicks beat the Celtics

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bernie Williams sighting in NYC March 16

Was at Vision Expo East 2013 at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan over the weekend and Bernie Williams of the New York Yankees was there taking pictures and signing autographs. The fiance was tempted to wait online for a picture but everybody and their mother was in line and we actually had some business to attend to. Oh well. It would've been fun...but at least we got to see him! A great player from some great years for the Yanks...what more could a Yankee fan ask for? No guitar sighting, though. Maybe next time. :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

It's official: Mariano Rivera to retire at the end of the 2013 season

It's certainly the end of an era, but I'm not sure it qualifies as "breaking news." Mariano Rivera, closer for the New York Yankees, announced at a press conference this morning that he'll be retiring at the end of this 2013 baseball season.

Even the greatest closers of all time can't play forever, people!

Rivera has been with the Yankees for 18 years. He turned 43 last fall. In the world of professional athletes, that's an old man. He was knocked out of the 2012 season at the very beginning by a knee injury. We should be grateful we get one more year to see him play.

Unlike other players who have stayed into their late 30s and 40s, Mo has never seemed to lose his mojo. Is he as good as he was in his heyday? Probably not. But a Mariano at even 85 percent is still better than all the other closers in baseball. It'll be good for him to leave at the top of his game...too many great players fizzle out and fade away, leaving us with that as our last memory of him.
New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera stretches during the first day of MLB spring training workouts for pitchers and catchers in Tampa, Florida in this file photo
As a Yankee fan, I'm glad I've gotten to see him pitch. I'm glad I've gotten to scream and cheer at Yankee Stadium as "Enter Sandman" begins to play. Besides being one of baseball's best, Mo also always seemed like one of baseball's classiest.

But time marches on. I hope the Yankees use this year, while Mo is still around, to start training another top notch closer. Get someone young and new and fresh, someone with a lot of raw talent, who can benefit from learning from Mo while he's still around. That person should've been Joba Chamberlain, but both Joba and the Yankees screwed that up by deciding it was better for everyone for Joba to be a mediocre starter than a potentially great closer. Starting pitchers carry a lot of cache, yes; being a team's ace is awesome. But I think Mariano showed that being a great closer can be just as important and make you just as rock star!

I didn't mean for this post to be this long. Thanks, Mo, for all your years of hard work, for all the championships, for all the excitement you brought to the game for us Yankees fans. Thanks for one last season, and good luck in everything you do from 2013 forward!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

’A League of Their Own’ inspiration dies at 88

 Lavonne "Pepper" Paire-Davis was an inspiration for Geena Davis' kick-ass catcher Dottie Hinson in "A League of Their Own," a movie that makes me cry no matter how many times I watch it. Unfortunately, the women who played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League are of the same generation as our World War II vets, and are dying or have already left us. It's a good time to remind ourselves and our daughters that women played professional baseball at one time, (though it took a world war and the absence of a generation of young men for that to happen), a time when many women didn't even have normal day jobs outside of the home. So even now we can dream big and reach high, whether it's in sports or any other aspects of our lives - girls don't always have to be the ones watching; we can be the ones playing!

Rest in peace, Pepper.

’League of Our Own’ inspiration dies at 88

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ways you can tell whether you're at a boys' Super Bowl party or a girls' one

Now, these are generalities, so any girls who are totally into the "boy" version of a Super Bowl party, don't take offense - more power to you. I personally ride the fence - I enjoy aspects of both the boys' list and the girls' list. Here goes:

1. Heroes, wings, chips, and beer are standard fare at a Super Bowl party thrown by men. Women may have those things too but will try to class it up with wine and maybe a cheese fondue. Strike that - definitely a cheese fondue.

2. The theme of a male-organized Super Bowl party will be "football." A woman will change the theme of her party depending on who is in the game - three years ago, my best friend threw a Mardi Gras-themed Super Bowl party in honor of the Saints. Two years ago, because of the Packers, the theme will be "cheese." See reference to fondue in first point. This year, in honor of the New Orleans locale, her theme will once again be Mardi Gras.

3. Many of the invitees to a boy's Super Bowl party will be there to watch the game. Many of the invitees to a girl's Super Bowl party will be there to watch the commercials.

4. A Super Bowl party thrown by a guy will be punctuated by discussion on the merits and missteps of the various plays being made by both teams. A Super Bowl party thrown by a girl will be punctuated by a breakdown and explanation of the various plays being made by both teams.

5. A boy's Super Bowl party will feature commentary on which player has the best skills in the game. A girl's Super Bowl party will feature commentary on which player has the best backside in the game.

Whether you go to a boy's or a girl's Super Bowl party this year, have a great time! Who are you rooting for - Baltimore Ravens or San Francisco 49ers?

The Super Bowl will be on CBS tomorrow, Feb. 3, at 6:30 p.m.

Be there! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ready for some football? Start with 5 great onscreen moments

In honor of the Super Bowl this weekend:

Ready for some football? Start with 5 great onscreen moments

Author Courtney Hazlett picked some great moments from both television and the movies - my dad and sister always loved Al Pacino's inspirational speech from Any Given Sunday, and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Coach Taylor's "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," from Friday Night Lights - in fact, I'm tearing up just thinking about it. I guess the only thing I'm surprised by is the lack of Rudy on this list. Isn't that the iconic inspirational football movie? Even the music has become the go-to music for any kind of inspirational sports montage/moment in television, previews, commercials, etc. Otherwise, good job - and good suggestions for anyone who wants to watch something to get in the mood for this weekend's game...just might have to dig out my FNL DVDs!

Thoughts on this weekend's Super Bowl XLVII

  • I was happy when the Baltimore Ravens beat the New England Patriots to make it to the Super Bowl - unfortunately, that leaves me pretty much "eh" about this year's competition. At least if the Patriots had made it, I'd have a team to vehemently root against. Of course, if they had made it, then I also run the risk of seeing them win it, so I guess it's good the Ravens are in. It's just not as exciting when there's no one team to root for or against.
  • When you don't really care either way who wins, that's when it's good to buy at least one box in a Super Bowl pool. Restaurants and bars have 'em, if you go to a Super Bowl party, it's likely someone will be organizing one. So you buy one box or a few, and then even if you don't have a team you hope wins, you have a score you can root for, and usually its at the end of each quarter, so it keeps you engaged throughout the game. It's fun to be able to root for something.
  • The most interesting storyline of this Super Bowl? You mean, the Har-bowl? Anyone tired of hearing that term yet? But it's a fun storyline - first time two head coaches who are brothers meet in the Super Bowl. Takes sibling rivalry to a whole other level! Don't envy the Harbaugh parents or anyone watching the game in THAT household.
  • Another interesting storyline? Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Rookie QB, gets his golden opportunity when starting QB Alex Smith is sidelined, and impresses his coaches enough that they decide to stick with him even when Smith is doing better. It's a somewhat sad story for the veteran QB but it's a feel good story for Kaepernick. Everyone likes to see the new kid not only given a chance but shining when given that chance. Plus, going to the Super Bowl for the team he's wanted to play for since he was 9? We'll see a TV movie about that one day.
  • Will Beyonce sing live at the half time show? Personally, I don't care, but I'm sure some people do. The half time show doesn't really do it for me.
  • Commercials - they're usually entertaining. Let's hope we get some good ones this year!
  • Who do I think will win? Eh, I don't know. Like I said, I really don't care. I like Kaepernick's story I guess, but I've always been a fan of Joe Flacco, the Ravens' QB. I guess we'll see during the game if I start to lean either way. I'm bring dollar bills for the pool - I think I'll probably just end up rooting for a score.
I guess that's it - wherever you are, whether at a bar, a party, at home, enjoy the game, or at least enjoy the company and the food! Be safe!

Who do you think will win? Are you looking forward to the game?

Super Bowl XLVII with the Baltimore Ravens vs. the San Francisco 49ers will be coming to you from New Orleans at 6:30 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 3.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

From CNN.com: Let Manti Te'o be the end of sports hero worship

Thought this was an interesting story by Howard Kurtz over on CNN.com, mostly because he admits sportswriters' culpability and participation in the sports hero worship mentality. I haven't commented on the whole Manti Te'o debacle in this blog just because I can't even wrap my head around what the hell he was thinking, whether he was in on it or not, but I talked about Lance Armstrong in my last blog post. Kurtz doesn't really address what's wrong with the idea of worshipping sports heroes in the first place, but as a former reporter, I appreciate that he takes the sportswriting world to task for not questioning red flags, for not asking the tough questions when they need to be asked, and for forgiving too easily. Read the whole article here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

When heroes fall: Lance Armstrong admits to doping

Well, we were told the former seven-time Tour de France winner would confess to using performance enhancing drugs in his interview with Oprah last night night, and he did.

Has the sports world screeched to a halt? Unfortunately not. That's the professional sports world we live in today.

To some extent, I can understand why Armstrong did it - in a sports culture where professional athletes are doping so much that they're breaking records left and right, if you are relying simply on God-given talent, even if it's phenomenal talent, you simply cannot compete. There is implicit and explicit pressure to dope. All things being equal, you cannot beat someone who has given themselves that unfair edge.

But even though I can understand, I can't excuse, because using performance enhancing drugs is embracing a win-at-all-cost attitude, which Armstrong admits. It's professional athletes showing us and more importantly our children that winning is the most important thing, even when it's because of cheating, even when it's at the cost of the integrity of the sport and the integrity of your character. When we're trying to teach our children that sportsmanship, love of the game, and a game well played, even if it's not won, is what it's about, professional athletes show them that all of this is not enough.

The Lance Armstrong situation is even more heartbreaking because of his battles with cancer. He overcame life-threatening cancer twice to compete - and win, or so we thought. That was an inspirational story we could look to, that we could point out to our children, but it was just a fairy tale. The sad thing is, even if Armstrong hadn't won those Tours, the fact that he overcame cancer just to compete, just to ride another day, would have been inspirational enough. People would've loved that story. The story of someone who fights for a dream, even if he doesn't win, is a story people will always get behind. Hello - Rocky, anyone?

So yeah, it's heartbreaking when our heroes fall, when we find out that for them, being great wasn't good enough. I admit to being upset the day Andy Pettitte admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. I think of one of my all-time sports heroes - Derek Jeter - who I believe to be a player of integrity and who has a love of the game and happens to be an extraordinarily gifted athlete and I think, what if he was to admit to it? I don't believe he's part of this culture, but you never know. The use is so rampant that it sullies the image of everybody.

But the truth is, professional athletes are human. They are just like the rest of us - except a lot richer. They make mistakes. They do stupid things. They're arrogant and egotistical and full of $h*t. So why are these the people we choose to look up to, to be our heroes? Yes, because they are famous, because they are public figures, we can point to them and say to our children, "This is someone to look up to." But if we're going to choose flawed humans - and who isn't one? - for our children (and ourselves to look up to), maybe we're better off pointing out the teachers in their schools or the policeman or firefighter down the street or even our children's grandparents or maybe even ourselves. Our athletes - and other celebrities, but that's a story for another blog - certainly don't want the pressure and certainly don't feel the need to be the heroes we make them out to be.

And so really, today is just another day - another suspected dopers admits to cheating. It's become the norm. Some people will forgive Armstrong. For others, his vehement denials over the years and a sense of betrayal will make it impossible to forgive. Some will see this as his trying to make amends. Others will sense that it's simply a PR ploy. If you were a Livestrong supporter, keep supporting them, even if you initially did it because of Armstrong. He is no longer affiliated with them and they still do good work. The fact is, Armstrong is just the latest athlete to come clean (no pun intended). He certainly won't be the last. Heroes will rise and fall, we'll continue to teach our children to love the game and hope that's enough, and the world will keep on turning.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

NFL playoffs: another weekend in January, another day of deciding who to root for

So hockey is coming back, the Knicks & Nets are floundering, nobody got into the baseball Hall of Fame this year, and the rumor is that Lance Armstrong is going to admit to doping, which if he does, I will address in another post, but right now, football is still in play, and I need to decide who I'm going to root for.

Today we have the Ravens playing the Broncos at 4:30, and the Packers playing the 49ers at 8. Today is actually a pretty straightforward decision for me - I'm not a fan of any of these teams, but as we all know, I am a huge fan of both Peyton Manning (the QB for the Broncos) and Aaron Rodgers (the QB for the Packers), so those are the teams I'm going with. Tomorrow is a little harder - Seahawks versus Falcons at 1, which, eh - I really don't have a preference. And at 4:30, it's the Texans versus the Patriots. That game, it's not so much who I'm rooting for as who I'm rooting AGAINST, so say it with me, everyone outside the New England area - let's go Texans!!

How are your teams doing so far in the playoffs? Are they still in it or are you having to find secondary teams to root for?

Friday, January 4, 2013

NFL playoff picture: who to root for when your team isn't in it...

Tomorrow starts the wild card round of the NFL playoffs. If you're lucky, you still have your home team in the running to make it to the Super Bowl in about a month. But if you're like this fan girl, whose team let her down COLOSSALLY this year, or your team just didn't make the cut despite the best of efforts, then to keep the playoffs interesting, you need to find somebody else to root for...or at least somebody to root against. You could keep the Super Bowl interesting by investing a few bucks in a Super Bowl pool - that way you have a team AND a score to root for - but that's still a month away. You may navigate these next few weeks of playoff play your own way, but let's see who I'm considering (be forewarned - some of my decision-making methods make sense; some follow girl-logic):

1. Washington Redskins - yes, they beat out my New York Giants for the NFC East, but deservedly so...and considering how half-heartedly the Giants played, I don't even say that begrudgingly. They're a young team with a lot of passion and heart and they WANT each win...and they have a whole city in the nation's capital dying to support a breakout team with breakout players, dying for a Super Bowl win. Plus, they still kinda have underdog status. In lieu of having an actual team to root for, I like to adopt the underdog as my own.

2. Green Bay Packers - I couldn't care less about this team but if you read this blog, you know I am a HUGE Aaron Rodgers fan. Besides being a great QB, he seems like a class-act, and I would like to see him get a Super Bowl win.

3. Denver Broncos - ditto everything I said about the Packers but substitute "Peyton Manning" for "Aaron Rodgers" and add "another" in front of "a Super Bowl win." Especially after the way the Colts treated him, I love that Peyton has come back better than ever from the injuries that sidelined him last year.

1. New England Patriots - That robot Tom Brady. Hated enemies of my Giants. 'Nuff said.