Denial: Seven days ago this team was on the verge of a first-round bye; now, it's over and Mark Sanchez is still playing? Really? The Andy Reid Never Loses His Playoff Opener Streak was just a statistical improbability and not a guarantee of future results?
Bargaining: We missed starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley all season. Brian Westbrook was never fully back after his concussions, and as such neither was the rushing game. Maybe we just needed an Andrews brother on the offensive line, while DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin just keep improving. With just a few tweaks, this team isn't that far away from where it needs to be. And we always knew this team wasn't quite as good as its potential playoff seeding suggested, that its grade was artificially inflated by having not played Dallas a second time yet.
Anger: And yet, it is so far away. Andy Reid still doesn't know how to do clock management, and couldn't figure out how to repeat last week's failure against Dallas this week. Once again, Donovan McNabb came up small in a playoff game, and it's infuriating. This team did nothing well against Dallas, in two straight weeks. Dallas. Ack. FAIL.
Despair: Having cast its lot with Andy Reid's contract extension through 2013, the big remaining question is whether Donovan McNabb returns at quarterback next year. There is no easy answer, and it may well be that McNabb is simultaneously the best answer among the viable alternatives and an insufficient one to lead this team to the championship we crave. This is a team that certainly may be good enough to go 10-6 next year (but, oy, that home out-of-division schedule), but not 12-4 or better, not en route to a championship team from where we sit now.
What follows is a cold winter for those Philadelphia sports fans like me who lack interest in ice hockey or the time to follow Villanova (or Temple) basketball, and a long thirty-nine days until Roy Halladay reports in uniform with his fellow pitchers and catchers in Clearwater.
Acceptance: Come again? Oh, yeah. The Phillies. The 2008 World Champion, 2009 National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. That which leavens everything else sports-related which seems painful. This is no longer a city which lives and dies based on the green and white; it is on Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and the rest that our hopes reside. And Roy Halladay. Tonight's loss doesn't hurt as much as it would have a few years ago, because we've known the most likely path to a parade starts on the other side of Pattison Avenue. Spring is coming, sooner than you think.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
While I had no problem with my parents getting an F- for naming me Kimberly in 1971 -- it was the #4 name that year, having peaked in popularity in 1967 -- I feel more than a little besmirched by the suggestion that my 2009 name would be Madison.
Open thread for feedback on this, all the layout changes and anything else meta that's on your mind.
Friday, January 8, 2010
No, it's not without its flaws. As Alan points out, at least once a week there is a colossal hole in the plot. It is frequently predictable. The writers still haven't figured out how to make Sarah a fully-formed character instead of a love object (something unhelped by the distance with which Yvonne Strahovski plays the role). Despite all that, this is the show that most consistently made me smile last year -- not laugh, but just smile at the characters, the music, the ridiculous predicaments, the giant musical numbers involving Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian, the freaking awesome cliffhanger.
It's back this Sunday. If you haven't watched this show, this may be of note: last year, the show managed to bring new viewers up to speed in a few clever and economical opening minutes. Hopefully it will repeat that feat this year.
And hey, I hear NBC may have some hours to fill later this year but has nothing in the pipeline. Anyone for a back-13 order?
The Wall Street Journal: What are you doing to prepare for your now role as a judge on "American Idol"?DeGeneres won't be in the audition episodes, which begin next Tuesday, January 12. We'll see her for the first time when we get to Hollywood, Baby.
Ellen DeGeneres: I'm starting to criticize everyone I see, no matter what. I'm like, you thought that was a good outfit to wear? I just start criticizing people. But really, I'm trying not to think about it too much… I don't want to be influenced by anyone thinking I have to be different. I'm going to be myself and I'm going to be brutally honest in a kind way, I hope… Whatever comes out of my mouth will be a surprise to me and you.
WSJ: Paula Abdul was known as the nurturing judge. Do you think you'll be a similar type of judge?
Ms. DeGeneres: I don't know if I'll be as nurturing as she is. She always found a positive thing to say instead of attacking. I'll probably try to be somewhat encouraging. Just because in standup [comedy] there's no where to hide. When you're in a band, you've got the guitar player you can turn to but when you're by yourself on stage I know what that feels like and I know it doesn't feel good, especially with millions of people watching. But I'll be honest. I don't think it helps anybody to be encouraged and not told the truth.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
- Good News! Effective February 1, The Jay Leno Show permanently leaves the 10 EST time slot, first for Olympics coverage. Post-Olympics plans remain unclear, but apparently involve original programming in the slot. (I wouldn't be shocked to see some USA programs--In Plain Sight or Royal Pains, perhaps?--make a jump to the sister network.)
- Bad News! Post-Olympics, Jay will return to the 11:30 EST timeslot. Left unclear for the moment is whether this is a return of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno with Conan getting an unceremonious axe, or a new half-hour Jay Leno Show to serve as a leadin to The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien.
ETA--OK, the NYT now has the plan as Leno--11:35, Conan--12:05, Fallon--1:05. Three questions from that:
1. What are the shows called? Does Leno get back the "Tonight" name? If so, what do the other shows go to?
2. Does Leno even have guests, or does he just run with 30 minutes of "comedy?" He can fill a 30 minute slot with intro, monologue, and one of his staple bits (Jaywalking, Headlines, etc.), and then a nice toss to Conan.
3. This could actually benefit Conan--no longer is he head-to-head with Colbert, and I can see folks flipping from Colbert to Conan, or flipping from Letterman in his second half hour to Conan.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
added: EW talks to the competitors about their strategies.
added: Is this the end? Well, of this iteration of Lost ...:
Q: Can you say definitively, after this final episode, there will never be another produced hour of "Lost" on film, TV, Web, any medium -- this is it?
Cuse: The Walt Disney Co. owns "Lost." It's a franchise that's conservatively worth billions of dollars. It's hard to imagine "Lost" will rest on the shelves and nothing will ever be made with "Lost." Eventually somebody will make something under the moniker of "Lost" -- whether we do it or not. We just made a commitment to this group of characters whose stories are coming to a conclusion this May.
Lindelof: Somebody made a sequel to "Gone With the Wind." Sometimes the franchise transcends the storyteller. The definitive edition of "Lost" ends this May on ABC, and that is the story that we have to tell. It has a beginning, middle and end. That ending will not have cliffhangers, or be set up in such a way that people will be saying, "Clearly they're going to make more of these." We don't have any connection to another TV series or movie, but there's a new "A-Team" movie coming out, for god's sake. This is a business that thrives on known commodities. "Tron" is the most buzzed-about Disney movie for next year, and it has been gathering dust for 20 years. I cannot imagine there will not be something with "Lost" on it involving smoke monsters and polar bears and time travel.
I've been overly statty lately, and Randy Johnson's numbers make their own irrefutable arguments, so I'll leave the stats aside. At 6'11", the long, thin Johnson was one of the most unusual physical specimens in baseball. A wild and ineffective slinger in his early career in the Montreal system, my beloved Mariners acquired him (and others) for a half-season of Mark Langston and watched him grow into an elite talent (for those looking for a "Jack Morris Game 7 Moment," he delivered the second-greatest moment in the greatest game ever played, when he caused total bedlam in the Kingdome during his walk from the bullpen to the mound for three innings of one-run relief – and the win – on one day's rest). Seattle shipped him to Houston in a controversial contract-year trade: Johnson was injured and, for him, subpar in the half-season before the trade; he got healthy for the rest of the season and essentially won the division for Houston. Some misguided Seattle fans see this as evidence of malingering to force a trade, but I think this is wrong -- it wasn't in Johnson's makeup to soften his performance. He went to Arizona the following year, where he made Schilling unashamed to be a distant-second starter, won a World Series and notched the best post-40 pitcher season in baseball history; spent a couple of (still decent) decline years in the Bronx (where he was about as good, relative to the league, as Jack Morris was in his prime); and twilighted in San Francisco.
There are other pitchers during Johnson's career who could lay at least an equal, and maybe -- maybe better, claim to being the best, but of that club of sublime pitchers in the last two decades, Johnson was the most feared member. With a low, wide left-handed delivery that appeared to reach around left-handers' heads, hundred-mile-an-hour heat, and occasional wildness (like the discharge over Kruk's head in the All-Star Game), lefties always had to fear taking one on the chin, even while Johnson was slipping it right in the sweet spot. But Johnson had three plus pitches – his heater, his curve, and a murderous slider, which meant that if lefties cowered when he unfurled his left arm, righties were no happier to see that oversized appendage swinging toward them.
The Unit was prickly, probably because his prominence (at his size, it was impossible not to stick out) interfered with his private nature. All that unsightly hair couldn't have helped. But he also was canny, analytical, and hard – very, very hard – to hit. Of the modern players least likely to be duplicated, Johnson, with his size, power, and stamina, must be the foremost.
P.S.: When he goes to the Hall, his hat should have an S on it.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Also: Jon Stewart eloquently honors fellow Garden Stater Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder sings "My City of Ruins" and Ben Harper and Jennifer Nettles perform "I'm On Fire," which might not have made my top fifty list of Songs You Should Be Sure To Play When You're Honoring Bruce Springsteen, but was rather nice regardless.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Points to anybody who can identify all of the source material -- only five sources in all.