Thursday, January 07, 2010

Motivation? Watchoo talkin' 'bout, Mozart? [Analyzing the Playoffs, Day 2] (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

Day one is here. Not a sports fan? Don't worry; there's only about 1% sports in this. And Mozart is mentioned!

Let's talk "motivation." This morning, in my local tiny newspaper, I read an article on how the Arizona Cardinals are using the two meaningless beatings the Packers gave them as "motivation" to win the playoff game between the two teams this week.

That article also suggested that the use of that motivation might itself be motivation for the Packers, who would be extra motivated to win by, I guess, the fact that the Cardinals were extra-motivated to win.

On my drive in to work, then, ESPN continued its ironclad policy of "Sucking Up To Bill Belicheat" by noting that the last-game, season-ending injury to the Patriots* number one wide receiver, Wes Welker, might not be very damaging to the Patriots*' postseason hopes. You might think that losing a star player on the eve of the playoffs would be a sign that maybe you're not the favorite, but if so, you would not be an ESPN "analyst" paid to promote Bill Belicheat's genius, because the ESPN "analysts" (played by Mike & Mike this morning) suggested that the injury to Wes Welker would motivate the Patriots* to prove that they could still win.

(That's what passes for sports "analysis" these days on ESPN; this blog has more actual sports thought than an entire day of ESPN radio, most of which is devoted to winning lifetime membership in the Bill Belicheat Fan Club by continuously claiming everything that happens to Belicheat is a good thing and part of his master plan. ESPN has [seriously] suggested, for example, that The Patriots* deliberately lost to the Saints in the regular season as part of a master plan to get the "right" seed in the playoffs.)

I don't get all the talk about motivation. Aren't football players already as motivated as they can be by the fact that they (presumably) want to win and by the fact that they make more than a quarter-million dollars even if they never get into the game? (That last part's true; the league minimum for players with zero experience this year is $310,000. For players with 10+ years' experience, it's $845,000.)

If a player needs extra motivation, if a player can be more motivated than he was for a playoff game, then doesn't that mean that the player wasn't playing to his full capacity?

So Cardinals, Packers, Patriots*, and your fans: why aren't you already motivated to win a playoff game and get to the championship? It's not enough to be paid thousands of dollars to play the game? (maybe not, according to one former Bills' player who suggested that some players have no interest in making the playoffs.) It's not enough to win a championship? Those aren't enough motivation -- you also need to have something personal to prove?

I don't get it. That's probably why I write this blog instead of spending my day at the ESPN corporate headquarters singing hosannas to a giant golden statue of Bill Belicheat. But the fact that I do write this blog means it's time for DAY TWO of the

NonSportsmanlike Conduct 100% Accurate, Never-Fail, Always-Right, Sure-Fire System For Picking The Playoff Winner.

Today, I'm going to go through four teams, quick, because there are ten teams left to review, and I've only got three days to do it; if these aren't done by Saturday morning, people will accuse me of rigging the picks to match what happens on Saturday night.

(The joke will be on those people -- I probably won't know what happens Saturday night in the NFL games until Sunday morning, because although I'll plan to watch a game or two Saturday night, I'm sure I'll be distracted by Sonic burgers and a rousing game of Hot Wheels with Mr Bunches, followed by Sonic Ice Cream and a rousing game of Lil' Einstein's Piano with Mr F, who likes it when his new piano plays Mozart's Symphony No. 40:

(The joke may also be on people who like Mozart. I heard a story the other day about Mozart that may or may not be true, but it's a good story. It does like this: A little boy approaches Mozart and asks him for help writing a symphony. Mozart says to the little boy: "Perhaps you should wait until you're older to work on a sympony."

The boy says "When you were my age, you wrote symphonies."

To Which Mozart says: "When I was your age, I didn't have to ask for help."

That story says something about someone. Probably about Mozart. It seems pretty arrogant, doesn't it? But it seems like if anyone could be arrogant, then it would be Mozart, but, then, it also seems that if someone is so talented that they can be arrogant, the better practice would be to still not be arrogant,wouldn't it, so that everyone thinks you're talented and nice? Like Tom Hanks, who's sort of the acting equivalent of a modern-day Mozart, except he didn't start young.

(Tom Hanks started at age 24, according to IMDB, playing Elliot in "He Knows You're Alone." Apparently that movie is entirely available, in segments, on Youtube. Here's part 1:

I've kind of lost track of my parentheses, here, so I'm moving on.

Today's teams are the Green Bay Packers, the Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals.

One correction: yesterday, I claimed that the Jets were a six seed; it turns out they're seeded fifth in the AFC. While I regret the error, I do need to point out that it is far more likely that the movie 2012 is a documentary than that the Jets will win this year's Superbowl, so don't get too excited either way, Jets fans.

Another correction: The Boy made the false claim yesterday that the 100% System didn't work on the World Series, using as "evidence" the fact that the World Series was not (as the System predicted) Cardinals vs. artist Christian Faur, but was the Yankees against Somebody. While The Boy is correct about who played in the World Series, he missed the point: The 100% System worked perfectly; it's Major League Baseball that made the error. I regret that they did so.

1. Team Mascots/Nicknames: We've got Packers, Bengals, Cardinals, and Ravens. The former Jake Plummer commercial notwithstanding, we can downgrade the Cardinals right away; not only are they a tiny bird frequently featured on collectible plates from the Franklin Mint (the kind of thing you buy your aunt when you get her in your family gift exchange), but they share that nickname with a baseball team. And, the "Arizona" Cardinals changed their name from the Phoenix Cardinals, presumably on the belief that fans who live in Arizona, but not in Phoenix, would not root for the Cardinals based on geography. Arizonans, are you really that way? If so, stop. Cardinals, you get 1.

Ravens is a good nickname, because they took their name from an Edgar Allen Poe poem (The Raven, not one of the other poems), and I like it that there's a literary allusion in the NFL, especially one that's not immediately obvious. Also, the Raven is a pretty tough-looking bird:

Also-er, the Raven is a superhero of some sort that was in the Teen Titans. I'm not sure if they're still the Teen Titans, or if they're just the Titans now, but I'm sure that Raven is still around and the Titans are still around, since nobody ever comes up with new superheroes anymore, as I've previously pointed out. I've read exactly four comic books in the past 20 years -- the first four Blackest Night episodes, and every single one of the superheroes is an old one. In twenty years nobody has come up with a single new superhero.

is the other Raven:

So Ravens get a 4, but I'm going to minus 1 because I'm irritated about superheroes now, making it Ravens 3.

Bengals: Awesome nickname, cool helmets, and extra credit for going with Bengals instead of Tigers. I briefly wondered if there was some Cincinnati connection to Bengal Tigers, and it turns out that maybe there is -- prior to these Bengals, there was another Cincinnati team named the Bengals, and that team may have been named after a rare white Bengal tiger that used to be in the Cincinnati zoo. Which, in turn, led me to find out that apparently all of the white tigers you see nowadays originated from the white tigers in the Cincinnati zoo way back when, which in turn, raises this question:

If the Bengals in the zoo were white, why are the Bengals in the NFL orange and black? You'd probably guess that the orange-and-black colors were picked because they're tiger-y colors, and you'd be wrong. The colors were chosen on the same basis that all sound, rational decisions are made:


Paul Brown, who owned the Bengals (not the Browns), chose the same orange as the Browns to spite Art Modell.
That is sweet.

So, overall, the Bengals get 5.

And, lastly, the Packers. Everybody knows the story of how a Packing Company helped save the team and led to the nickname, but it seems to me that story is probably bunk. The Packers' own site suggests that two different companies, the Indian Packing Company and Acme Packing Company had a role in founding or owning the team, and notes that the Packers were also called the Indian Packers, the Indians, and, briefly, the Blues. (At one point, they were the Big Bay Blues, a very strange name for a team that plays in the city of Green Bay.) I'll give Packers a 5, though, on the basis of it's not a very hip or tough sounding nickname, and yet the Pack has stuck with it for nearly a century, not giving in to modern marketing pressures as to color scheme, name, or logo.

Cardinals: 1
Ravens: 3
Packers: 5

2. Craziest Fans: Off to Youtube we go, where stop one is Jarvis Cocker's single, "Angela," because Stanley Goodspeed got me into him today:

Stop two: Crazy Cardinals Fan:

That's titled "Red Zone crazed fan ARIZONA CARDINALS" and god dang it, Cardinals, can you do anything right? You cost me the Superbowl bet against The Boy last year, and now that's your crazy fan? Can't he at least wear a cape?

-1 point, Cardinals. -1.

Crazy Ravens fan:

That guy says "It's like this every week when they score a touchdown." I can't resist: When you score as few touchdowns as the Ravens do, that kind of celebration is warranted.

You set 'em up, I knock 'em out. That guy also needs to turn on the lights or open some curtains in that room. What are they, the Volturi?

(Having just gotten millions of 13-year-old girls and their lonely moms to find this site, let me take this opportunity to welcome you to my blog, and also to point out that Robert Pattinson is either too old or too young for you.)

Crazy Ravens fan, you get a 1. Anyone can jump up and down in a dark room. That's not crazy; that's aerobics for people who are part cave fish.

Crazy Bengals Fan: Here we go:

See what I mean about new superheroes, or the lack thereof? He's not Bengals man, or The Tiger, or something. He's just... Batman, who's been around for nearly a century.

My favorite part of that video? The part, beginning at 0:09, when Batman Bengal says "three years" but briefly holds up two fingers.

I checked; you can't, apparently, buy Batman Bengal masks, but you can buy Ringling Bros. Bengal Tiger pajamas. In case you wanted something to cover up your metal bikinis while you watch the game.

Batman Bengal, for at least having a cape, you get a 3.

The Crazy Packer Fan is one who was just at the meaningless (but still very motivation-y) game the Packers and Cardinals played on 1/3/10:

And he's not very crazy at all. A wig? A Packer jersey? You've just described the outfit I wore on my first date with Sweetie. Plus, he refuses to high-five the woman in the number-40 Cardinals' jersey, but then shakes her hand? Mixed messages, Crazy Packer Fan. You get a 1.

Running scores:

Cardinals: 0
Ravens: 4
Packers: 6

4. Best Name On Team Roster.

I'm going to give a threefer to the Cardinals: They've got the high-falutin', hoity-toity, hoi polloi trio of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling. That's not a football roster; that's the British House of Lords.

Speaking of backup-to-the-backup quarterback, Brian St. Pierre, you've got to think there's a pretty good chance he'll play, given that Kurt Warner is 73 years old and Matt Leinart may at any point suffer an outbreak of stuff he caught from dating Paris Hilton.

But the Cards get 3 for names.

The Bengals, meanwhile, have very few really cool names (outside of Chad Ochocinco, that is), but do appear to be a family operation. There are five Johnsons on their team (ranging from Brandon to Tank), two Joneses, two Harrises, two Smiths (plus another on the practice squad), and the first and second string quarterbacks are actual real-life brothers: Carson & Jordan Palmer. You get the feeling that the Bengals were trying to save on jerseys: All you Johnsons, just share one jersey. Same with the Harrises.

I'll go ahead and give the Bengals a 5, because I encourage thriftiness.

The Ravens have two pop-culture names, by which I mean "they make me think of things other than football." In the Ravens' case, there's Willis McGahee:

And then there's Todd Heap, who always makes me think of Uriah Heep, for no reason other than that the last name sounds similar. I was never a fan of Uriah Heep, the 70s band. (They're still around, it seems, looking about like you'd expect.) I looked up the Best of Uriah Heep on CD, and didn't recognize any of the songs. But they do have a song called Bird of Prey:

Which should be used as a mascot for the Ravens, shouldn't it? Even if Ravens aren't birds of prey, which I think they're not. And that song is all right, for overly theatrical glam-rock excess Kiss knockoffs.

I was always more of a fan of Uriah Heep, the character in David Copperfield, which is to this day the only book that ever made me cry. So instead of watching Ravens' football, you should probably read David Copperfield. (I read it while I was in Morocco, during the times that I wasn't eating sheep eyeballs and being held at gunpoint.)

The Bengals get a 3, for making me like Uriah Heep music kind of.

The Packers Roster is the only one of the rosters I've looked at so far that puts the players' first names first, instead of the last names, and lists them by numbers instead of alphabetically. So if you're trying to find a player by last name, forget it. If you're looking to go by position, forget it. You've got to know their number, or just read the whole stupid list. That's typical of boneheaded Green Bay management.

The Packers do have "Atari Bigby." Atari's bio says that the name is Japanese for attack. Babel Fish says this:


Is the Japanese word for attack, but that hardly proves anything. Babylon, for it's part, says all of these:

(名) 攻撃; 発病; 着手

Are Japanese for attack. That doesn't help much, either, but they look cool. On the other hand, why do the Japanese need so many words for attack? Now, I'm nervous.

The AtariAge website, though, says this:

Q: What does the word "atari" mean?

A: The word atari comes from the game of Go, perhaps the world oldest board game. Several early 80's magazine references define atari as "you are about to be engulfed," but the FAQ denotes that word in this way: atari : A group of stones is in atari if it has only one liberty left.

I think Glenn Beck said last night that we have only one liberty left.

Remember "Super Challenge Football" on the Atari 2600? It looked like this:

And this is how the earlier version of the game played:

What I'm trying to say is, you kids these days are super lucky.

You'll have 3d sports broadcasts soon, and you have your ultra-realistic Madden NFL games that I can't even understand when I'm just watching.

We had video football players who appeared to be spastic poltergeists, and Lynn Dickey.

Let's go ahead and give Atari Bigby and his Packers a nostalgic 5.

Updated scores:

Cardinals: 3
Ravens: 7
Packers: 11

4. Craziest Thing In Their Team Shop:
I'm going to skip ahead to the Packers to open, and I'm not going to go with their team shop. Instead, I'm going to go with the jerseys that were on sale at a discount department store last night at the World's Saddest Mall. I had to go to that mall to renew my driver's license -- raising again the question of what kind of mall has a DMV in it? I did renew my license, despite two very serious problems that came up during the process, those problems being:

1. I could not pass the right-eye vision test. Remember, I'm a former fat-kid-with-glasses-and-an-eye-patch. The eye patch & glasses were for lazy eye, or amblyopia, a condition best explained via Peanuts:

My lazy eye has stayed lazy over the years - -maybe it needs more motivation?-- and as a result, I couldn't read anything last night on the vision test in my right eye. The DMV guy wasn't phased, though; he said "You pass based on your left eye." I'd chosen to read only the top line, which was in huge letters. People who drive in my city should sleep fitfully from here on out.

More alarming, though, was number two: The drastic increase in the size of my head and chins in the past 8 years. I knew I was bigger and had less hair and more chin fat, but that was never so dramatically shown as when Sweetie, last night, held up my two driver's license photos, side by side, one from yesterday, and one from 8 years ago. The one from yesterday looked as though it had eaten the one from 8 years ago, and had part of the remnants stored in my chin and cheeks.

I skipped dessert last night. (Then had a larger-than-usual breakfast this morning.)

Anyway, on the way out of the World's Saddest Mall, I passed a discount department store that had a sale on blankets and sheets. I decided to pop in and get Sweetie's Tuesday present, a day late, and selected a plush, soft, blanket, one that is identical in softness and plushness to the two previous blankets Sweetie has gotten, one from Middle and one which she bought; both of those were swiped by Mr F, who loves them more than anything except maybe the toy cow he took on the ride with him today. Mr F also took the blanket Sweetie bought specifically for him, and Middle's plush, soft green blanket, so he has four.

I bought the fifth and presented it to Sweetie last night ("Happy Tuesday!" I said. "Belated!") and Mr F took that one, too. But it's the thought that counts.

Anyway, while I was at the discount store, I saw they had Brett Favre Packer jerseys, leftover from the good old days when the Packers were run well, and I wanted to buy one because they were only $12.99 -- but the sizes started at 2XL, and went all the way up to 5XL. That's XXXXXL.

, I wondered, would need a 5XL Packer Jersey?


Anyway, a jersey made five times the maximum human size is pretty crazy, and I'm giving the Packers a 5 for that.

The Cardinals pro shop is disappointing, not just because there's not a lot of crazy or weird stuff, but because there's not a lot of stuff, period. No clearance items, no good novelty items. The best I could do was a pair of children's Crocs, priced at $29.99, but I can't copy a picture because it won't let me. It's just as well: They're just black Crocs, with an Arizona Cardinals strap. The team wouldn't even spring for red Crocs, for thirty bucks.

I'm giving them a zero.

The Bengals pro shop, on the other hand, is like a treasure trove. I couldn't make up my mind whether to go with the $12 Bengals calculator, or $12 Bengals screwdriver, or $12 Bengals tape measure. But then I saw that the Bengals would sell me a $400 Bengals-logoed executive-style leather desk chair, great if I wanted to watch the games at my desk, or I could buy a $5 photo of coach Marvin Lewis, except that the same five bucks would get me a set of Bengals Plastic Forks, or I could get a photo of ... um... Rey Maualuga, who may or may not be a Bengal:

Rey Maualuga 8x10 Thumbnail
Add to Cart
Our Price: $5.00
Photo seen may not be the one delivered. An 8x10 photo of the #2 2009 draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals

And, judging by the part in bold, I may or may not get the photo I ordered.

But the absolute winner was the Wilson Leather Briefcase:

for only $200, it's a steal, and I loved it because, for real, I have that briefcase. My mother-in-law found one at a rummage sale and bought it for me. I had no idea it was worth $200. I'm a two-hundred-illionaire!

Five points, Bengals, plus one for making me feel cool. 6!

I then looked for the Ravens Pro Shop with one goal: find some Edgar Allen Poe stuff, or they get no points. Unfortunately, the Ravens don't even have a pro shop. WTH?

BUT, at the Edgar Allen Poe Museum online store, you can get a "Lil Edgar" action figure --

Or a Poe Action Figure with Detachable Raven. Still, you can't get a Raven t-shirt, even there. So I'll give the Ravens a one, on the basis of I still like Edgar Allen Poe.

Final tallies:

Cardinals: 3
Ravens: 8
Packers: 16

Yesterday's totals were:
Jets: -3
Eagles: 12.5

So the frontrunners are the Packers in the NFC and the Bengals in the AFC -- but there's a lot of analysis yet to come.


Got a headache from trying to follow my logic? Why not check out the nearest online pharmacy for some remedies?

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