Category Archives: Sports

UW-LSU 2012: A Washington Fan’s Perspective

Just over three years ago, the University of Washington was coming off one of the worst seasons ever recorded by a Division-I NCAA football program. In 2008, the final year of Tyrone Willingham’s reign of terror on Montlake, the Dawgs went 0-11 before embarrassing themselves further by losing the only game they absolutely needed to win – the Apple Cup – against an equally dreadful Washington State Cougar squad. The following year, UW had a new coaching staff and a new set of expectations, but all the same players. We opened our season by welcoming #11 LSU into Husky Stadium for a night game, and while we did end up losing, the final 8-point deficit was far closer than any radio personality or ESPN talking head could have imagined from a team with as much pathetic stink lingering in the recent past as the Washington Huskies had. That 11th-ranked LSU team thought they could walk all over the Dawgs, but our fans made a lot of noise, our team stood strong, and we valiantly gave them a fight they weren’t expecting.

 
Flash forward three years to this Saturday, and our unranked Washington Huskies led by quarterback (and odds-on favorite for the Heisman of our collective hearts) Keith Price, will head to Baton Rouge to take on LSU once more. I did not set the stage with the story of UW’s 2009 season-opening loss to LSU as some kind of harbinger of doom, but rather as a message of hope. Both UW and LSU are now much different teams, each notably stronger than they were three years ago. Yes, another loss to LSU this weekend would hurt, but I’d like to remind you what happened two weeks after that loss to LSU back in the 2009 season. The Washington Huskies took the field against the 3rd-ranked USC Trojans and beat them with a last-second Erik Folk field goal, capping a football game and field rush (pictured below) that became one of the most beloved memories of all my years as a collegiate sports fan.

 

 

Did I already mention that USC team was ranked #3 in the nation the week we beat them? Did I mention LSU is also ranked #3 in the nation THIS week? Sure, it would be a fallacy to argue that simply because UW beat a 3rd-ranked USC team in 2009 they will beat 3rd-ranked LSU this weekend, just like it would be inaccurate to argue that just because the Huskies lost to an 11th-ranked LSU team in 2009 they will automatically lose to a higher-ranked LSU team this weekend. Sports do not work like that, and such simple transitive qualities rarely apply in games that are often decided by the smallest moments and most (seemingly) miniscule factors. What these things do illustrate, though, is the reason we watch – the hope that something incredible will take place. In sports, like in life, there will always be experts offering opinions (23.5 point underdogs!), but once the whistle blows we all know the result can only be decided on the field.

 
So fellow Husky fans, as we head into what the entire nation has predetermined will be a slaughter, I’d like to remind you that amazing, shocking, and unpredictable things do happen. For my sake, and for the sake of Husky fans everywhere, I hope those amazing, shocking, and unpredictable things take place for the Huskies at LSU this Saturday. Those rare moments are the reason sports fans so deeply enjoy such seemingly trivial competitions, and it’s the reason I have and will always cheer for the University of Washington Huskies. No matter how dark things get (and trust me, 0-12 was plenty dark), there is always that glimmer of hope and that knowledge that on a given day anything can happen. I have believe good things will happen for the Dawgs on this trip to Baton Rouge, and I hope every fan sporting purple and gold this weekend feels the same way.

 

-E

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Some Fantasy Football Advice Grantland Didn’t Like

Last week, Grantland sent out a call for readers to submit a 750-word article on fantasy football. The assignment was to write about five picks and sleeper for the 2012 season. I didn’t publish my entry on the blog because it violated the terms of the contest but today I found out I wasn’t selected. Now that I no longer have a longshot chance to become a semi-famous internet sportswriter, I figure I might as well publish it. Here’s what I had to say:

 

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Everyone knows it’s never good to overthink your fantasy draft. Once it begins, all those mock drafts and hours spent scrawling illegible notes all over your apartment like Kevin Spacey in Se7en are immediately out the window and chaos reigns supreme. Someone is going to take your number one pick and the drunkest guy in the room will grab a kicker in the 4th round. Surely these things will throw you off your game and push you into quick decision-making territory. Don’t be the guy who panics – no one likes the guy who panics.

It’s very important to decide on a simple guideline that will govern all quick decisions you have to make on draft day. This year, I’m going with player names. Having two first names is the best possible scenario. Famous examples include Ron Paul, Ron Jeremy, and Ronnie from Jersey Shore (his last name is “Sammi,” right?). Those people have all excelled in their respective fields so this should work out well for me. [Note: People not named “Ron” can also qualify so don’t worry, Ronnie Brown will not be on my list.] Now, time for the picks:

  1. Aaron Rodgers – I know people don’t typically spell Roger with a “d,” but we’ll let it slide this time because he’s Aaron Rodgers. He also plays for a team that was notoriously poor on defense last year. This means his games remain closer than they should and he will continue throwing the ball later in the game. Rodgers also has the “discount double check” thing going and State Farm is a Pro Bowl sponsor. I smell collusion, but the terms “good” and “evil” mean nothing in the cut-throat world of fantasy football. Collusion is your friend, folks.
  2. Tom Brady – He easily passes the “two first names” test and we all know this guy is good. So good, in fact, that he has become the face of Ugg boots, the official shoe of eskimos, college girls embarrassed of what the “freshmen 15” has done to their ankles, and athletes everywhere. Much like my rationale for Aaron Rodgers, the Patriots defense has left much to be desired in the past and Brady will often be forced to pass throughout the 4th quarter. Honestly, even if the game situation doesn’t call for it, Belichick may throw late in blow-out games anyway because he (allegedly) sold his soul to the devil in 1999 for a future Super Bowl ring and a never-ending supply of hooded sweatshirts.
  3. LeSean McCoy – He doesn’t pass the “two first names” test but the symmetry of LeSean McCoy’s name is reason enough to draft this guy in the first round. In football-related reasoning, we all know Michael Vick is likely to be in a back brace by halftime of Week 2 and the Eagle’s offensive burden will fall to McCoy. Considering he averaged nearly 5 yards per carry and scored a touchdown almost every week of the 2011 season, it’s safe to say he will be up to the task.
  4. Maurice Jones-Drew – Yes, I know “Jones” is not a first name, but “Maurice and “Drew” both are. It’s a first-name sandwich and this is America, the land of sandwiches and opportunity, so I say it counts for something. We all know MJD has been holding out, but that is bound to end soon because this guy loves fantasy football. He must be watching his stock fall in mock drafts and salivating at the chance to prove people wrong. Be the risky genius who takes a chance because his value will far outweigh the pick spent on him.
  5. LeGarrette Blount – Much like MJD, this is another value pick. He had an injury in the preseason but it has been deemed “minor.” Still, the injury is likely to scare off the risk-averse owners in your league. Take a chance on LeGarrette Blount. He punched a guy on national television once. It was awesome. You might be saying, “WAIT this guy doesn’t pass the two-first-names test.” Well, my observant friend, you’re right. But I grant him an exception because I knew a guy in college whose nickname was “Blunts.” Not sure why everybody called him that. Cool guy, but he always seemed sleepy. Speaking of sleepy… It’s time for my sleeper pick.

Sleeper: Jason Pierre-Paul. Why? THREE FIRST NAMES. Yes, I am aware he’s a defensive player but trust me, you just can’t go wrong when a guy has three first names. Thank me later.

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Watching Sporting Events Involving Two Teams You Have No Real Emotional Connection To: A Guide

Even the Bud Bowl is more fun when you pick a side

Like many people around the world, I will be watching the Super Bowl this afternoon. Like most of those people, I will not have any actual interest in the two teams playing the game. But that won’t stop me from rooting for one team to beat the other, because a key to enjoying live sporting events is hoping one team wins. It’s a good idea to decide on a team before the game starts, so that you can start to align yourself with the other people in your group who are rooting for “your team.”

There are a few things to consider before the game that may help you decide without having to make a crunch-time decision:

  • Keep in mind, you’re only cheering for one team temporarily. You don’t have to like them all that much — you can even hate them. The real question is, which team do you hate more?
  • Think about teams you actually do like, and then pick based solely on the relationship they have with the teams that are actually playing. For example, I will always root against the Pittsburgh Steelers because the Seahawks lost to them in Stolen Bowl XL. I will forever want them to lose and be humiliated, despite the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is apparently a very nice person and has never forced sex on women who did not want it.
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside the box — it’s your team! You can pick based on jersey color, team mascot, or personal experiences you’ve had in their city. If you got food poisoning in Boston in 2004, screw the Patriots!
  • When in doubt — pick against the favorite. No one likes a frontrunner.
If these rules haven’t already helped you pick “your team” for today’s Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, have no fear. Once the game begins, there will be plenty of new factors to help you pick a team. For game time decisions, just remember to pick a team early and always trust your gut.

One last piece of advice: If you still can’t make up your mind and you’re watching with a friend who happens to be a huge fan of one team — just pick the other one and get loud and obnoxious about it. Sure, that specific friend will hate you, but it will be a ton of fun for everyone else in the room.

-E