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Great response last week to what seemed an innocent query -- "What are you people sick of hearing about?" Apparently, there's more angst and agita out there than we might think. Which got me to thinking: How much jing would a sports-fan-specific psychologist make? Someone to turn to when your team keeps bogging down in the red zone in December. Someone to listen when your onerous two-guard keeps freelancing and jacking ill-advised threes (or running coaches and Hall-of-Fame teammates out of town). Someone to offer sage advice when you're at loss to explain how a head-in-the-sand populace could possibly continue to worship, say, an admitted steroid user, all-time home-run king or no.
If such a professional exists, e-mail me and I'll fill your appointment book with the needy. Meanwhile, let's check in with the desperate....
Not surprisingly, the BCS led the way. Josh Batten of Morrisville, N.C., writes that "the BC 'frickin' S is a terrible system that has turned college football into figure skating. These guys aren't competing against each other anymore, they're just trying to put on the best show possible and hope they get voted into the big game at the end." Let's all enjoy the two-week break, before we kick off '05 with new and improved college-playoff "caterwauling" (great call, Gary Steven in Stuart, Fla.), to the chagrin of Rick in Marblehead, Mass.
The Pacers-Pistons brawl -- and the generally pathetic state of the NBA -- were also high on the lists of many, including Patrick Meehan of Avon, Colo., Gresham, Ore.'s Tiffaney O'Dell, and Hoosier Andy in Bloomington, Ind. "Every time I think that I have resigned myself to the fact that Ron Artest destroyed our season," Andy cries, "they have to go and appeal this or charge that and replay the whole thing. Enough already!!!!" Four exclamation points. Now that's vitriol. (More on Andy's shaky D-I men's soccer title later....)
Of the many NFL-centric responses, there was a surprising landslide winner in the "Enough Already" petition drive. "I can never watch the Packers play again because the game inevitably turns into a three-hour Brett Favre lovefest," complains Ross Timbrook in Las Vegas. Adds Don Johnson in Bourbonnais, Ill., "I'm sick of hearing about Saint Brett Favre. He's a great football player to be sure, but to say that everyone would be a better person if they spent a few minutes talking with him -- as one ESPN analyst said a couple of weeks ago -- is ludicrous."
A particular non-favorite, teen queen Lindsay Lohan met with copious exasperation. Writes Merrick, N.Y.'s Dave (currently in Okinawa), "Lindsay Lohan makes me ashamed to admit that I'm from Merrick. Just another drama queen, in the mold of the Olsens, Hilary Duff and thousands of others whose sole aim in life is to be in the spotlight and be misunderstood. I tell you what. Let's have Lindsay, the Olsens and Hilary Duff square off in a Celebrity Death Match. No matter the outcome, society wins." Me like, Dave. Me like.
Submit a comment or question for Josh.
Asks Saskatoon's Nehali Vachhrajani, "Where are Jessica and Ashlee Simpson? They are everywhere, including some lame Christmas special on ABC. How could you forget about them? No talent and all hype." As an aside, did you read what the girls' father, Joe Simpson -- their arch-controlling manager, and former barnstorming minister -- said about Jessica's, er, assets? I dare you to find me someone more disturbing....
(Other than a man named Michael Shipley, who's apparently involved with a site dedicated to the Olsen twins -- don't laugh, or cry -- and took exception to my issues with his favorite freak jobs. "I don't see you making millions of dollars. How many fans do YOU have?" he asks. And I answer: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA....)
Brian Pendleton of Suitland, Md., is sick of America's Sweetheart. "How many women have had children? I'm closely related to one woman in particular. OOO OH, she had twins. I had never heard of a woman giving birth to two children at one time." Then Brian will never believe this.
Keep 'em comin', folks. This week, I'm sick of hearing about Pedro Martinez, Bernie Kerik, year-end lists, the one NFL team no one wants to see in the playoffs, and the Olsen twins. You?
I'll end with the best of the bunch, courtesy Jeff from Brunswick, Ohio, who's residing in a place far more dicey than ol' Brunswick. (Hint: It also starts with a B.) Writes Jeff: "I am sick of hearing people referring to sports related topics as war, with the word 'battlefield' thrown in. Have you ever heard a mortar go off 50 yards from you? How about a car bomb 10 yards away? Until then, no more war in sports."
Or even better, Jeff: Just no more war.
NFL'S TOP FIVE (OR SIX) TEAMS (BECAUSE I SAID SO)
1. Pittsburgh (12-1): No offense to the hideous Giants -- and I dare any Gigante other than Tiki Barber to look like you care -- but Buffalo, in Week 17, is the only conceivable pothole on the road to 15-1, and blessed home-field advantage throughout...
2. New England (12-1): They seem outmatched, they seem undermanned, they seem downright lucky -- and then wideout/nickel corner Troy Brown makes a crucial interception (his THIRD, tied for the team lead) and the Pats turn back a spunky Bengals squad playing for its playoff life. But they'll miss Charlie Weis.
3. Philadelphia (12-1): Wake them up sometime before January 15th.
4. San Diego (10-3): Bad sign for AFC playoff teams: LT looks thisclose to 100 percent.
5. Indianapolis (10-3): Congratulations, Peyton, and to you, NFL rushing leader Edgerrin James.
6. Carolina (6-7): So I want to believe in miracles. And I'm a HUGE John Fox fan. So sue me.
DROPPED OUT: N.Y. Jets (9-4): Bottom line, that offense scares no one.
UCSB MEN'S SOCCER UPDATE (BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IT)
I wanted to lead with this, but I thought better of it, if only because I'm so damn sick over the way UCSB's season ended last Sunday -- and end it did, when the Gauchos lost to defending champ Indiana following a two-overtime thriller that ended with the teams deadlocked at 1, necessitating a...(keep it together)...(keep a lid on it, man)...a....(can't hold it...in...any...longer)...penaltykickfinishareyououtofyourfreakingmind?!?! PENALTY KICKS?!?!? The Gauchos -- oh, screw it, my Gauchos -- dominated the second half, finally breaking through with under 10 minutes remaining on a sharp follow from senior striker Drew McAthy to make it 1-1. As thousands of Santa Barbara faithful went to pieces in the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. -- and one SB sportswriter alum shamefully whooped in the Gillette Stadium press box -- it was clear. This thing was over.
The Gauchos had run the Hoosiers into the ground. They'd never wavered from their direct style, never stopped setting the tempo, never stopped attacking the goal. It had worked to perfection in their 5-0 rout of Duke in the semis. And it was finally working now. Even as the match moved into two 10-minute sudden-death overtimes, it was clear that UCSB was the fitter of the two teams, and thus would score its rightful winner in no time, and secure our first national championship in a quarter-century. But despite holding the ball for essentially the match's last 40 minutes, they could not break through.
Cue outrage. I'll be brief: Penalty kicks are a joke, an abomination, an insult. I don't just say this just because SB lost in PKs, 3-2. I'd have written the same thing if SB had won. Because settling a 110-minute match in a sport which places a high value on fitness is like ending a World Series game with a home-run-hitting contest, a Stanley Cup match with a penalty-shot contest, etc. It's insane, and worse, it's fraudulent. A fraudulent NCAA championship. Imagine that.
(And while we're on the subject of the NCAA -- who indefensibly saddled the Gauchos with a #9 seed -- I say only this: Up your nose with a rubber hose....)
No matter. My hat's off to Indiana for a game effort -- you did it, barely. And a final shout-out to the UCSB Gauchos, the best team in quite a while to emerge from my favorite place in America. Thanks for the run, guys.
With a week off from NFL-ing -- SI's jam-packed year-end double-issue hits next week -- I'm off tonight to the live finale of the The Apprentice, and then doing the Christmas-party circuit this weekend, including one at the home of Blogger extraordinaire Chris Ballard (and his lovely wife, Alex), where I'll hang with Owen, of Ballard's "Important Sports Thought With Owen" fame. Should be good.