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Posting for the sake of posting

I was so dead tired yesterday after driving back to Russell. I kept falling asleep.

It’s been more than 48 hours since Super Bowl LII ended, and I still am in disbelief the Eagles won. I’m glad they did. I have had it up to here with the Patriots winning so much. If Belchick and Brady weren’t such egotistical jerks, it wouldn’t be so bad. But because Belichick is anti-social and Brady is arrogant, it makes it easy to dislike that team.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was all set to be the head coach of the Colts, but this evening, he reneged and decided to stay with Belichick and Brady. McDaniels was a colossal failure during a brief stint as Broncos head coach in 2009 and most of 2010. He alienated just about everyone within Denver’s organization, and nobody was sad to see him go. Maybe Indianapolis dodged a bullet.

I really don’t have anything else to add. My title for this post pretty much sums it up. Time to get some sleep. I should have been in bed two hours ago, honestly.

 

Super Sunday–at least in two out of 197 countries

Super Bowl LII is now a little under two hours away.

I am still in Kansas City, but no way in hell am I watching at an establishment. I went to Buffalo Wild Wings last year and it was a zoo. Amazingly, I played trivia throughout and did not fail to answer a question.

Today, I’m sitting in room 229 of the TownePlace Suites near KCI, blogging away and getting ready to leave tomorrow morning. I’ll get some work done and munch on the rest of my Outback meal. I devoured the large bone-in ribeye earlier, and I still have some coconut shrimp left, plus a couple of QuikTrip pretzel dogs, which are divine. Too bad they aren’t around all the time. I’ll be in bed pretty early I think.

It snowed between 11 and noon today. There was a two-car accident on Interstate 29 south near 112th Street, one mile south of the airport. I made sure I didn’t go over 45 MPH (70 km/h) on I-29, and much, much less than that on Barry Road. Made it back safely.

Today is the equivalent of a national holiday. It’s highly unlikely there will be much activity anywhere in Kansas City after 5:00

The Super Bowl  is the biggest single day sporting event in the United States and Canada, yes.

But the biggest sporting event on earth? Nope. Not even close.

More sporting fans watch the FIFA World Cup every four years than anything else. Football, the kind played with the round ball, is the world’s most popular sport, and it is one understood by people in every nation, save for a few ignoramuses in the United States and Canada who refuse to acknowledge association football (soccer) as a major sport alongside gridiron football, baseball, basketball and hockey.

I’m betting the ratings for the Super Bowl in the United Kingdom will be no more than one-tenth of what they were for today’s Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Sure, the Super Bowl kicks off at 11:30 p.m. (2330) British Standard Time, but I would venture to say there are many more people who would stay up at that hour to watch Liverpool-Tottenham than the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

The NFL has grown by leaps and bounds since the first Super Bowl in January 1967, but seriously, how many countries can realistically play gridiron football outside of the U.S. and Canada? Most African residents probably have no idea what American football entails, and certainly, most nations can’t afford it. Shoot, many in Africa are living on less per year than what it takes to outfit someone to play high school varsity football, which is north of $1,000 when you consider a helmet ($350), shoulder pads ($300), shoes ($200) and the other necessities.

Association football is easy. All you need is a ball, two goals or other objects to serve as such, and a field. Basketball is almost the same, with nets and rims instead of goals. Baseball is a little more price, but the balls are much cheaper than gridiron footballs, and one metal bat is enough for everyone to use.

The problem with ice hockey? It’s impossible in many areas of the world due to the climate. Heck, outdoor rinks are impractical in Kansas because it often gets above freezing for long periods during the winter. And certainly nobody would ever dream of outdoor hockey in Louisiana.

I have the sense of dread the Patriots are going to win. Again. If Brady wasn’t a giant douche and crybaby, and Belichick was not so angry all the time, maybe we could celebrate their success. But Belichick is a summa cum laude graduate of the school of anti-social behavior, and Brady never misses an opportunity to tell us he’s better than you and me, so I won’t hold my breath.

All I know is that by 2100 tonight, it will all be over until September 6.

Steinle on sports, 1/24/2018

I forgot to mention this last night about new Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks…

…his birthday is August 8, 1969. That means he was born only hours before Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenewinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Tex Watson went to 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles and brutally murdered Sharon Tate and five others on orders from Charles Manson. It’s just a coincidence, but I hope it’s not a metaphor for Wilks’ tenure with the Cardinals.

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Anyone who thought the Jaguars would defeat the Patriots last Sunday for the AFC championship was a fool.

The Patriots rallied from a 14-3 deficit and won on a touchdown pass from Brady to Danny Amendola with less than three minutes left.

Thrilling? I don’t think so, because for New England, it’s par for the course.

I honestly believe the Patriots get satisfaction out of falling behind and coming back, just to jerk viewers around. The early deficits the Patriots fall into lull fans of the opponent into a false belief the opponent will win, but when the chips are down, Brady will make the plays needed for his team to win, giving the proverbial middle finger to the fans of the NFL’s 31 other teams.

If you need any proof, look at Super Bowl LI. I watched last year at Buffalo Wild Wings, and even when the Falcons were up 28-3, I KNEW the Patriots were going to come back and win, even as those around me were cheering wildly for the Falcons (Kansas City really hates the Patriots, maybe more so than the Broncos and Raiders, which is hard to believe). Why? Thomas Edward Brady and William Stephen Belichick.

In Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots were down 24-14 to the Seahawks entering the fourth quarter. Two Brady touchdown passes later, New England is ahead. Then Malcolm Butler makes the play of the game with the interception at the goal line. Again, the Patriots tell the rest of NFL nation “F YOU!”.

Super Bowl XXXVI, the first Brady-Belichick Super Bowl, saw a reversal of the above, but the same outcome. New England led 17-3, but winning in a blowout just wasn’t its style, even though Brady and Belichick were only in their second seasons with the Patriots. The Rams’ comeback to tie simply allowed Brady to be the hero and Belichick to look like a genius when the Patriots drove downfield in the game’s final two minutes to win on Adam Vinatieri’s field goal on the final play, rather than play for overtime as John Madden suggested the Patriots do.

If the Eagles take a big lead in Minneapolis on the evening of February 4, do NOT get excited. It’s all a big tease. The Patriots will find a way to screw you and win another Super Bowl. It’s their modus operandi, and frankly, Brady and Belichick like it that way. What fun is there in winning every game 42-7?

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The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will consist of Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. The first four earned the requisite 75 percent from the Baseball Writers Association of America, while Trammell and Morris were inducted by a special Veterans Committee late last year.

To me, Morris is being inducted based upon one game, the 10-inning shutout he pitched for the Twins in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series vs. the Braves. Yes, he was the ace of World Series championship teams with the Tigers (1984) and Blue Jays (1992) as well as the Twins, but a 254-186 career record, a 3.90 career earned run average and a 1.296 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) doesn’t scream Hall of Famer.

Personally, I would much rather have seen Jim Kaat, who won 283 games in 25 seasons with the Twins, White Sox and Cardinals, among other teams, get in before Morris. Kaat had a better career ERA (3.45), and he was one of the best fielding pitchers of all-time.

Trammell was a .285 career hitter and one of the best defensive shortstops of his time, although he was overshadowed by Ozzie Smith. He was the anchor of maybe the beset double play combination of the last 50 years, playing alongside Lou Whitaker for 19 seasons in Detroit. He also was very loyal to the Tigers despite the team falling apart in the latter years of his career and two ownership changes.

I’m not going to argue with the four voted in by the BBWA. All very worthy. Thome, Chipper and “Vlad the Impaler” were among the most imposing sluggers of the 1990s and early 2000s, while Hoffman was a lights-out closer during his long and distinguished career, mostly with mediocre or worse teams in San Diego.

I was very happy to see Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Edgar Martinez all fail in their bids for the Hall. However, I know sooner or later some or all of them will make it to Cooperstown, so nothing I say here is going to really change anything. Besides, it won’t change the grand scheme of the world.

I am against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa making it because they were on performance enhancing drugs. Same with Rafael Palmeiro. All four do not deserve to be in the Hall because they disgraced the game of baseball.

Martinez didn’t take PEDs, but he was half a player for most of his career. I think the designated hitter is the most abhorrent thing in all of sports. Cannot stand it. Martinez was mostly a DH during his long career with the Mariners, and while his supporters point to his gaudy numbers, I say all he had to do was bat and never had to worry about fielding. He could go to the cage underneath the stadium while the Mariners were on defense and get his cuts in, while others who played the field didn’t have that luxury.

Martinez will likely get in next year or in 2020, and I’m resigned to the fact David Ortiz, another player who was mostly a DH, will get in on the first ballot. But that doesn’t mean I have to like the DH. I never will. NEVER. And God helps us if the National League ever adopts it.

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The possibility of an all-hot weather Stanley Cup Final may become a reality later this year. Tampa Bay, Vegas and Nashville are all near the top of the NHL’s overall standings, and the prospect really sickens me.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think the NHL has any business in places like South Florida, Tampa, Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Las Vegas and Arizona. I am not really happy with a team in Dallas, or two teams in the Los Angeles area, either. If you get down to it, you can’t play hockey outdoors in Washington DC during the winter, either, and it’s an iffy proposition at best in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Canada should have at least 10 NHL teams. One in every mainland province at least, which means Saskatchewan should have a club. Quebec City should have one. Toronto could easily support two. So could Montreal. And one team should be in Atlantic Canada, whether it be Nova Scotia or Newfoundland.

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Who’s #1 in college basketball these days? I don’t care. I’m not watching until it matters.

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The Bucks fired coach Jason Kidd Monday. I noticed because the Bucks are my favorite team, but I’m not going to sit here and mope. Life goes on, and I could not care less about the NBA.

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Danica Patrick dating Aaron Rodgers? Great catch for her. Terrible downgrade for him. Should have held on to Olivia Munn while you had her, Aaron.

That’s it. Have a good night. And a better tomorrow.

Quasi-home field advantage: a split decision

I’m writing this at a semi-ungodly hour because I figured it was better to get it out there while it’s fresh in my mind. I don’t do that enough with this blog.

Much has been made about the Vikings’ quest to become the first time to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Minnesota is the first team to reach the conference championship game in the same season it is hosting the Super Bowl.

Seven teams previously reached the playoffs in the same season it hosted a Super Bowl, but none got past the conference semifinals. Those were the 1970 Dolphins (lost to Raiders in AFC divisional), 1978 Dolphins (lost in AFC wild card to Oilers), 1994 Dolphins (lost to Chargers in AFC divisional, blowing 21-6 lead), 1998 Dolphins (lost to Broncos in AFC divisional), 2000 Buccaneers (lost to Eagles in NFC wild card), 2014 Cardinals (lost to Panthers in NFC wild card) and 2016 Texans (lost to Patriots in AFC divisional).

If you’re keeping score, the Saints have NEVER made the playoffs in a year they have hosted the Super Bowl. In fact, only once have they even posted a winning record in a Super Bowl hosting year, going 9-7 in 1989, and it took a three-game winning streak in December over the Bills, Eagles and Colts with John Fourcade as the starting quarterback to do so. The Saints’ records in seasons hosting the Super Bowl: 5-9 (1969), 4-8-2 (1971), 5-9 (1974), 3-11 (1977), 1-15 (1980, the year of the “Aints” and the bag heads), 1985 (5-11), 1989 (9-7), 1996 (3-13), 2001 (7-9) and 2012 (7-9).

Even though no NFL team has yet to play a Super Bowl on home turf, two teams played in college stadiums in their metropolitan areas: the 1979 Rams in Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena; and the 1984 49ers in Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium.

Today is a perfect day to talk about this, since Super Bowls XIV and XIX were played on January 20 of their respective years. That will never happen again, unless the NFL moves up the start of its season to mid-August. Not happening.

Pasadena is 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Coincidentally, 1979 was the last year the Rams played in the Coliseum until 2016. The Rams moved to Anaheim Stadium in Orange County in 1980 under an agreement signed in 1978 by then-owner Carroll Rosenbloom, who died under mysterious circumstances in April 1979. The team passed to his widow, Georgia, who soon remarried for the seventh time and became Georgia Frontiere. Georgia was a vicious old hag who swiped the Rams for her birthplace, St. Louis, where they played from 1995 through 2015 before returning to where they belonged.

The 1979 Rams were a hot mess. Yes, they won their seventh consecutive NFC West division championship, but benefitted from a down year by the Falcons, who were a playoff team in 1978, and a Saints team which had a potent offense led by Archie Manning and Chuck Munice, but a porous defense which allowed the Seahawks to score 38 points two weeks after the Rams held Seattle to an NFL record low minus-7 yards total offense. That porous Saints defense also allowed the Raiders to score 28 points in the fourth quarter of a Monday Night Football game in New Orleans to turn a 35-14 lead into a 42-35 loss.

Los Angeles somehow went on the road and beat the Cowboys in what turned out to be Roger Staubach’s final football game, and then the Buccaneers to reach Super Bowl XIV.

Awaiting Ray Malavasi’s club were the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were aiming for their fourth Super Bowl championship in six seasons. The Steelers were aging, but still were the dominant force in the NFL in 1979, thanks to their explosive offense, which featured Terry Bradshaw throwing deep to John Stallworth and Lynn Swann more than ever. Pittsburgh still had Franco Harris in the backfield, but Chuck Noll took advantage of the 1978 rules changes which opened up the passing game (allowing blockers to use open arms and extended hands, and limiting the amount of contact against a receiver) better than any coach in the NFL.

Pittsburgh ousted Miami in the divisional playoffs, then outlasted AFC Central rival Houston to reach the Super Bowl. It would be the first time the Steelers would play a Super Bowl on the west coast, having won Super Bowl IX in New Orleans in Tulane Stadium’s last NFL game, then X and XIII in Miami. The latter game was the last Super Bowl at the Orange Bowl, and the last in Miami until the 1988 season, by which time Joe Robbie Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium) had opened.

Nobody gave the Rams a prayer. Los Angeles was led by inexperienced quarterback Vince Ferragamo, who was ineffective after taking over for the injured Pat Haden. The Rams did have a stout defense, led by future Hall of Fame end Jack Youngblood, who was playing with a broken bone in his leg suffered during the win over Dallas, but the ineffective offense didn’t figure to be much of a challenge for the Steel Curtain, even though perennial All-Pro linebacker Jack Ham was out with an ankle injury.

Instead of the expected rout, the Rams gave the Steelers all they could handle and then some. Los Angeles led 13-10 at halftime, and after yielding a 47-yard Bradshaw to Swann touchdown pass early in the third quarter, the Rams struck back on a halfback option pass from Lawrence McCutcheon to Ron Smith to go back in front 19-17.

The Steelers finally remembered they were the three-time Super Bowl champions in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh took the lead for good on a 73-yard touchdown pass from Bradshaw to Stallworth on a play where the Rams’ secondary became confused and cornerback Rod Perry had no safety help deep down the middle (sound familiar, Saints fans?), and extinguished the Rams’ last flicker of hope when Lambert intercepted Ferragamo in Steeler territory with under six minutes left. The Steelers added an insurance touchdown to make the final 31-19, but many agreed it was one of the best Super Bowls played up to that point.

Five years later, the 49ers played just 30 miles (48 kilometers) from their home at Candlestick Park to take on the Dolphins in what was expected to be the greatest quarterback battle in NFL history.

Miami, making its fifth trip to the Super Bowl under Don Shula, was powered by the rocket arm of Dan Marino, who rewrote the NFL record book in his second year in the league.

Marino, who somehow fell all the way to 27th in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft before Shula swiped him, threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns in 1984, both NFL records at the time. It was a good thing Marino had a record-breaking year, because (a) Miami’s running attack was next to non-existent, and (b) the “Killer Bees” defense had lost its sting. The Dolphin defense was reeling following the departure of its architect, Bill Arnsparger, who took the head coaching job at LSU at the end of the 1983 season. Add in injuries to All-Pro linebacker A.J. Duhe and nose tackle Bob Baumhower, and Miami was a in a whole heap of trouble against Montana and the man who made the West Coast Offense as common as the off-tackle play in the NFL, San Francisco coach Bill Walsh.

Montana led the 49ers to a 15-1 regular season in 1984, with only a three-point loss to the Steelers marring their ledger. Jerry Rice had not yet arrived–he would the next season–but San Francisco still had plenty of weapons, with steady Dwight Clark, imposing tight end Russ Francis and versatile running back Roger Craig all catching loads of footballs from Montana. San Francisco also had a far more stable running game, thanks to Craig and Wendell Tyler.

The 49ers also had a very good, if underrated, defense, even though linebacker Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds was in his final NFL campaign, and future Hall of Fame end Fred Dean held out until late November. San Francisco’s strength was its secondary, where all four players made the Pro Bowl: cornerbacks Eric Wright and Dwight Hicks, and safeties Carlton Williamson and Ronnie Lott, another future Hall of Famer wearing the red and gold for Walsh and Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

The expected showdown turned into a rout.

Miami led 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, but 21 unanswered points by the 49ers in the second quarter turned the Super Bowl into a super blowout, something which would become quite common in the near future.

Other than Montana’s performance, Super Bowl XIX was most notable for President Reagan performing the coin toss via satellite from the White House (the former Governor of California had to stay in Washington because of presidential inauguration ceremonies; since January 20, 1985 was a Sunday, Reagan took the oath of office privately at the White House and publicly the next day in the rotunda of the Capitol).

San Francisco won 38-16 and would go on to win two more titles in 1988 and ’89 to become the team of the decade. Miami has yet to return to the Super Bowl. Marino played 17 seasons in the NFL and set numerous records, many of which have been broken, but only reached the AFC championship game twice more, losing to the Patriots in 1985 and the Bills in 1992, both times at home. Shula retired after the 1995 season with an NFL record 347 victories.

Strangely enough, Shula is one of three coaches to lose four Super Bowls, having been in charge of the Colts when Joe Namath delivered on his guarantee in Super Bowl III. The other four-time losers didn’t win one, Marv Levy of the Bills and Bud Grant of the Vikings.

Mentioning Grant is a great segue to the current Vikings, who have thrived under Mike Zimmer despite the quarterback conundrum facing this team the past two seasons.

In August 2016, Teddy Bridgewater, the first-round draft choice out of Louisville in 2014, suffered a horrific knee injuries, tearing all three ligaments (anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and lateral collateral) during a non-contact practice drill. The injury was so serious his career was in jeopardy. He missed all of 2016 and did not play in 2017 until near the end of the year.

Before the 2016 season, the Vikings traded a first-round draft choice to the Eagles for Sam Bradford, the oft-injured former #1 draft choice of the Rams and Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma.

This season, Bradford was injured early, but the Vikings got a career year from Case Keenum, a journeyman who had been mediocre at best in previous stops with the Texans and Rams. Minnesota has the league’s #1 defense, not surprising given Zimmer was an outstanding defensive coordinator in Dallas and Cincinnati before going to the Vikings.

I am not a Vikings fan, but it would be nice to see them in the Super Bowl at home (as the designated visiting team), especially if the opponent were the Patriots. The crowd noise of U.S. Bank Stadium would be the ultimate neutralizer to Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, if “all time” is limited to the 21st century.

By 9:30 Central time tomorrow night, we’ll know who’s going to be playing in Minneapolis February 4. Then crank up the hype machine!