Sunday, December 23, 2007

i'll take what i can get

When your favorite NFL team is eliminated from playoff contention, there's not much left to do but wait for the draft. That is, of course, unless you can take comfort in knowing you have a season sweep against the dirty, cheating Packers. Thanks to the Bears, the road to the Super Bowl goes through the home of the dirty, cheating Cowboys instead of the afore-mentioned dirty, cheating Packers.

Oh, and Favre chucking two more picks is always a good time. Especially when one of them is run back for 85 yards by all-universe football player Brian Urlacher. Good times from a football season that hasn't produced many of those.

Friday, December 21, 2007

i've calmed down enough to try to write about this

Last week, I finally saw Jesus Camp. I'll skip the general outrage over what those people are making my faith into and get to three specific things that still stick with me.

1. When "speaking in tongues," everyone sounded more like they were speaking ComedyWorks/Sportz-styled gibberish. I don't like the idea of making fun of the way that any non-scientologist expresses his or her faith. I suppose quiet reflection and personal prayer aren't for everyone. Yet, whenever I sit in a room full of folks who prefer to express their faith in this manner, it tends to turn into a "my tongues are louder than your tongues" contest. I'm always uncomfortable when someone makes a showy prayer in any language, real or otherwise.

2. The only thing that really surprised me in this movie was how blatantly political some of the "preachers" were. I'm not talking about the crazy anti-choice guy, even. I'm talking about praying for a cardboard cutout of Bush the W(I have doubts about the same camp praying over a William Jefferson Clinton cardboard cutout that way). I'm talking about prayer for the nomination of an evil judge. I'm talking about teaching kids that the dirty liberals want to steal God from them. And I'm talking about how they don't even try to disguise how political it all is. Bad form.

3. The leader of the titular Jesus Camp, while showing all the ways in which she dumbs down the Christian Faith for her campers, basically tells us that her impression is that the young people don't want to think or read; they just want to be told what to do. And here's my main issue. She basically admits that this branch of crazy doesn't encourage any study or thought about that book that they put so much stock in. This is why they think the world is 6,000 years old and that the rapture is more than a plot device for a Kirk Cameron movie. I'd be less concerned, but the idea that people are idiots that won't respond to anything but the simplest message has slimed its way into more than just Pentecostal, Pentecostal Baptist, and Pentecostal Freewill Holiness Baptist churches. It's found its way into the United Methodist church, and that makes me very sad.

If anyone knows how I can take the direction of the church away from these people, I'd be happy to listen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

one sad part is how i'm not even surprised anymore

Up next in the "Atrocities from Iraq" department? The cover up of a gang rape by Haliburton, probably with the aid of the US government. This is, of course, just the latest example of how the contractors we've set loose out there operate outside of any law.

This happened two years ago. Who knows what other horrors Bush's stupid war has unleashed. We'll probably be finding out for years to come.

Monday, December 10, 2007

chapter 14: wherein the Bears listen to me

Some quarterback got himself sentenced today, but that's not the big news. The biggest QB news to come across the wire today is that former rookie sensation Kyle Orton will be the Bears' starter come Monday night.

It's been a dismal season. The best team in football is the Patriots, a team I am entirely sick of hearing about. Compound that with how I'm sick of hearing about the Red Sox and the Celtics, and you've got a pretty rotten go of it. In the NFC, the two powers are the dirty cheating Packers and the dirty criminal Cowboys(I know it's been a while, but still...). I'm looking at a playoff chase that features teams I don't like in The Bucs, The New York Football Giants, The Vikings, The Jaguars, The Steelers, and a few more that I don't actively dislike but don't particularly care about either.

I've been begging for a reason to care about the remainder of the season. Kyle Orton will do for at least one Monday Night.

Monday, December 3, 2007

my annual bowl championship series outrage, 2007 edition

NC State's losing aside, this was a pretty entertaining college football season. We had 7 different teams at number two in the BCS standings, and even more when you look at the opening weeks of college football when LSU and USC stuttered out of the gate before there were "official" standings. The closing weeks of college football's regular season produced no stand-out team and ended with an incredible whimper. New teams that no one ever would have considered were, at one point or another, getting a sniff at actually playing for a championship. This sounds like the kind of thing that a playoff was built for.

Instead, we get Ohio State vs. LSU in the national championship game. Woo.

What this basically proves is that some guy who called in to some sports radio show was right when he offered up the following scenario: "You're a college football player. You wake up before dark in August for practice. You go to class. You go to a late afternoon practice. When you go to bed, you're tired and sore. Then you take a look at the sweats you tossed into the corner. And if the name of the school on those sweats isn't one of the 6 schools that it's already been decided are the real contenders before one football game in the season has even kicked off, you'd better be doing all of it for the love of the game because there's zero chance you're doing it for a championship.

I watch enough ESPN and listen to enough sports talk radio to know what the people who like the BCS have to say.

But Ben, we have a playoff's called the regular season!

I don't know of a lot of playoffs where you can lose some playoff games and still play for the championship. Yet we have a one-loss team and a two-loss team right there. I mean, maybe the playoff is double(or triple) elimination. But then, there are a lot of teams out there that lost one or two of their "playoff games" that are settling for some bowl sponsored by a snack chip or a restaurant chain rather than playing with the big kids.

As a matter of fact, the only team that won all of their "playoff games" was Hawaii. Their reward? Not playing for a championship.

But Ben, Hawaii had a lousy strength of schedule and plays in a weak conference!

Well, let's take a look at BCS darling Ohio State. Here's what a strong schedule looks like, apparently. Load up on cupcakes and a conference more overrated than a biopic during Oscar season, eke out a close win over an unranked Michigan State team, and lose to Illinois. Never play a team ranked in the top 20 in the country. Play a non-conference schedule that includes Washington, the last-place team in the Pac 10; Akron and Kent State, the bottom two teams in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division; and Youngstown State, which plays in a conference far weaker than Hawaii's WAC. That makes for the 43rd strongest schedule.

Granted, Hawaii beat up a lot of cupcakes. Granted, Hawaii played in a weak conference. Granted, Hawaii's strength of schedule was 111. But you can only play who came on your schedule, as defenders of Ohio State's schedule will say without even a trace of irony in their voices.

But Ben, schools make their own schedules. Hawaii could have upped themselves from 111 if they wanted.

Well, they can try. But no one wants that game on their schedule if they're one of the big kids. They have nothing to win. A win is just a win over a cupcake team in a weak conference. And a loss is an important "playoff loss." Hawaii did try to up their strength of schedule. Michigan(yes I know that it turns out that Michigan wouldn't have done that much to help the ol' SoS) was going to be on the schedule, but ended up dumping this "trap game" in favor of a game with Appalachian State. That worked out real well for them, and probably made it that much harder for the Hawaiis and Boise States of the sport to get on any BCS school's schedule anytime even remotely soon.

But Ben, you can't really be suggesting Hawaii deserves to be named one of the top two teams in the country, can you?

Maybe not. But they're definitely the only undefeated "Bowl Subdivision" team, and definitely one of the top 8. Which is all I'm really asking for in a playoff. Not a huge 65-team field, 8 teams over three weekends. They deserve a shot, and this would be the way to get one.

But Ben, they're student athletes! You can't take them out of class for that long!

Bite me. It's two extra weeks for 2 teams and one extra week for 2 more. The kids that play for the big schools aren't real students. They were brought to those schools for football. If they get an education out of it, bonus, but it's not why they're really there. And the small schools that actually do have students that happen to play football? College is about experiences, and for those kids, there probably won't be a more educational experience than living through the media circus that would undoubtedly surround the championship game.

But Ben, this is the way it is and no amount of blogging from you or anyone else is going to change it. Deal with Ohio State or LSU being named national champion.

Yeah? Not if I refuse to acknowledge it and get enough people behind me. The precious BCS once did such a lousy job that national champion LSU was ignored while people claimed that non-championship game winner USC was proclaimed champion by the entire sports media. A playoff would have fixed that mess, by the way.

I do agree that no amount of blogging or bitching will change the BCS from what it is to something that works. So with that in mind, thanks for reading all of this. But it was for nothing. Just like everyone else's sports blog.