Saturday, July 28, 2012

Upcoming NFL Season Promises One Thing - Unpredictability

The 2012 NFL season will get underway in approximately six weeks when the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants square off in the official opening game on Wednesday, September 5 at the Meadowlands Stadium.
The Giants are the defending Super Bowl champions, having disposed of the New England Patriots in the big game for the second time in five seasons last February, winning by a 21-17 score.
There are many questions looming of course, as the 32 NFL squads compete in training camps and the pre-season games during the month of August.
Can the Giants win it all again? How about the Patriots, can they bounce back? How will the "bounty gate" impact the New Orleans Saints, who lost several players as well as Head Coach Sean Payton to suspensions for the 2012 season? Will all the moves by the Chicago Bears be enough to get them past the vaunted  Green Bay Packers in the NFC North division?
Or will the Baltimore Ravens, despite an aging defense, continue to thwart nature and go deep in the AFC playoffs once again? How about Denver with quarterback Peyton Manning now running the offense?
The Pittsburgh Steelers, like their rivals in Baltimore, with an aging defense and questions surrounding running back Rashard Mendenhall (coming off knee surgery) and holdout wide receiver Mike Wallace... will that have an impact on their offense?
Every season brings new questions and this year is no different as the teams get it going once again.
The Giants came out of nowhere to win the Super Bowl last season, as QB Eli Manning delivered once again in the clutch. The defense rose up once the post-season got going, knocking off the mighty Packers in the NFC playoffs (on the road) and then did it again a week later as they traveled to San Francisco and beat the upstart 49ers in the NFC title game to reach the Super Bowl.
In fact, when you look back at the past six or seven seasons, the NFL has crowned "unlikely" champions who rose up when the playoffs got going.
In 2005, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the sixth seeded team in the AFC and won the whole thing by taking three straight games on the road in the playoffs before throttling the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
The 2006 season saw the Indianapolis Colts finally get the Super Bowl ring by beating the Chicago Bears in rainy Miami. The Colts limped into the playoffs, but their defense, which was ranked last against the run during regular season, came alive and helped secure the title.
The 2007 Giants, yet another sixth seeded playoff team, beat the undefeated Patriots, 17-14 in a memorable Super Bowl after winning on the road against Dallas and Green Bay, which still had Brett Favre at QB at the time.
In 2008, the Steelers did it again over the Cinderella like Arizona Cardinals, who caught fire in the playoffs after going just 9-7 in the regular season. In fact, the Red Birds nearly won the game as they stormed back in the finals seven minutes of the game before Santonio Holmes made a memorable touchdown catch in the closing moments to give the Steelers their record sixth Super Bowl trophy.
The exception to the NFL post-season trend was in 2009 when the favorites, New Orleans and Indianapolis, played in the big game where the Saints, led by QB Drew Brees, won 31-17. The game was close until Tracy Porter raced for a touchdown after intercepting Peyton Manning in the final minutes of the game.
The Green Bay Packers were the NFC's sixth seed at 10-6 in 2010 and then steamrolled their way into the Super Bowl behind solid defense and the play of QB Aaron Rodgers on their way to a Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh.
It just shows that the regular season doesn't mean a whole lot once the playoffs start.
Who will be this year's upstart team?
The Kansas City Chiefs come to mind in the AFC as they are looking to bounce back with a new coach and renewed hopes after finishing in last place in the AFC West while seeing several key players sit out most or all of last year with injuries, including star running back Jamaal Charles.
The Philadelphia Eagles are another team looking to atone once the new season kicks off. Michael Vick and company finished 8-8 and narrowly missed the playoffs in the NFC as they watched the division rival Giants (9-7) go all the way.
There are many dark horse teams along with "favorites" to choose from for the 2012 season. The questions remain to be answered.
One thing is certain in the NFL for 2012 ... unpredictability will abound once again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Long Overdue

Ron Santo, who died in December of 2010, is finally being inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
The former major league player spent the majority of his playing days with the Chicago Cubs and also served as baseball analyst/color commentator for the Cubs for many years on WGN radio in Chicago.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Simple Observations

Why is it the right wing media feels the need to defend Mitt Romney and his inadequacies regarding his secretive financial dealings, in particular the tax returns? I am speaking of Fox News, with the exception of Bill Kristol, a Fox 'contributor' who said Romney needs to take the hit for a day or two and release his tax returns.

"Queen" Annie (aka Ann Romney) seems to think her husband is above the "little people" who have to pay taxes with her snide comments today regarding Mitt Romney's hiding of his income tax returns, in particular form 1999-2002. "We have given YOU PEOPLE all we are going to," she said regarding the release of the Mittster's tax returns. She sounds just like the late Leona Helmsley, who once infamously stated that "only the little people pay taxes."

Why does Ayn Rand worshiper Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) continue to get so much publicity for a crappy national budget plan that guts Medicare and would force the elderly to take a 'voucher' for a mere $8,000?

While we are at it, why is Paul Ryan even a member of the U.S. House of Representatives? Oh yeah, the nit wits from Wisconsin sent him there. Yes, NIT WITS is what they are because they are the same people who chose Scott Walker, the Koch Bros. puppet, as governor of the dairy state.

It is no secret that the Republican party is no friend of labor, especially Union workers. So when I saw this at a Union job site in Chicago the other day, all I could do was shake my head... some people still just do not get it. Why would a Union worker or for that matter, any middle class worker support Mitt Romney for President of the United States?

Why all the hoopla for the new 'Batman' movie coming out tomorrow? I still like the 1989 version with Jack Nicholson as 'The Joker' best. Nicholson stole the show.

Speaking of the 'Batman' movie, right wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh stated on his radio gig recently that the new Batman is left wing propaganda because the villain in the movie is called "Bane" (as in Bain Capital according to Limbaugh) and works in favor of President Barack Obama in the upcoming election this fall beacuse Mitt Romney has come under much fire for his secretive financial matters while he was the CEO of Bain Capital.

Speaking of fire, the weather has been downright awful with the heat and humidity this summer. All across the country, it has been sweltering this year. Can you say Global Warming?

And finally, NFL training camps for the 2012 season get started in less than two weeks.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Come And Get It

If you support Mitt Romney and are NOT a ONE PERCENT income earner, this is what you can expect from him as President of the United States.
As Romney recently said at the NAACP gathering, "Take a look!"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MLB Baseball - All-Star Break and Beyond

The Major Leagues are at the All-Star Break as the mid summer classic takes place in Kansas City tonight.
The All-Stars from both the National and American Leagues will go at it and then it is on to the second half of the baseball season.
The surprises have not been lacking this season as the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox lead their respective divisions in the pennant races.
Disappointing teams include the Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox, which are at or near the bottom of the standings in their division races. The Tigers have shown some life lately and trail the ChiSox by just 3 1/2 games at the break.
The New York Yankees continue to roll along in the American League East division, even though they have pitching issues due to injuries to Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and C.C. Sabathia.
The Yankees have the largest division lead of any of the six leaders (seven games ahead of the surprising Baltimore Orioles) while the Texas Rangers lead the AL West, four games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels.
The National League East leading Nationals have the best record in the senior circuit and the Pirates hold a slim one game lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central. In the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers have rebounded from their struggles to retake first place at the break, one-half game ahead of the surging San Francisco Giants.
Looking ahead, the Phillies have to be counted out in the National League as they have had numerous struggles and injuries in the 2012 season. Looks like their five year run of NL East titles is over.
The Nationals have been solid all season and their young pitching staff, led by Stephen Strasburg, continues to hum along atop the standings.
In fact, the Nationals may have what it takes to get to the World Series this fall. 
The Pirates are a good mix of veterans and youth and manager Clint Hurdle has them believing in themselves to this point, though the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals are formidable foes who will be there until the end of the season.
The Giants should hold off the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in the West.
 Back in the American League, it should come down to Texas and the New York Yankees this post-season.
However, the Chicago White Sox, under first year manager Robin Ventura, have been right at the top of the standings from the beginning.
The White Sox are a gritty group with solid pitching and a powerful middle of the lineup, especially with the addition of Kevin Youkilis to go with Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios.
The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians won't go away in the second half, so the Sox will have to continue to grind it out and get the pitching if they want to return to the post-season for the first time in four years.
The Rangers should emerge from the West, as they will battle the Angels throughout the second half.
The picks here at the beginning of the season were Detroit and Philadelphia in the Fall Classic... well, it's time for an adjustment and the pick is the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers in the World Series with the Rangers finally getting the championship trophy in their third attempt.
We will see, but for now let's enjoy tonight's All Star Game and then it is on to the second half of the season.
Play Ball!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Time Road Trip

The past weekend included a road trip following the Fourth of July holiday, with stops in Cleveland to see the Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1 on Thursday night.
Friday saw a trip to Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (highly recommended if you have never been there) and then on to Pittsburgh, PA Friday evening to see the Pirates take on the San Francisco Giants.
Here are some photos of the trip, including many from the Pro Football Hall of Fame stop.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July in Chicago (Sort Of)

The city of Chicago did away with the huge lakefront fireworks show at the annual Taste of Chicago two years ago and the celebration for the Fourth of July in the 'Windy City' hasn't been the same since.
Then Mayor Richard M. Daley claimed it was because the city could no longer "afford" it.
The Fourth of July is AMERICA'S HOLIDAY! 
The costs of a fireworks display should not be a factor to the enjoyment of the people of this great nation.
The last big fireworks show took place in 2009, just a year after thugs helped to raise caution with huge numbers of cops and special security forces appearing in 2009.
The thugs (gang bangers and the like) started trouble amongst each other during the 2008 Taste of Chicago celebration that resulted in open gunfire throughout the area near the Taste event in the downtown Chicago area.
In 2010, the city decided to break the fireworks show into three parts, with a show on the south side of the city, a smaller "downtown" display at Navy Pier (just north of the annual Monroe Harbor event) and a show on the far north side of the city.
The events were cancelled entirely under the Rahm Emanuel regime that took over as Mayor of Chicago in 2011. The Taste of Chicago continued throughout the July 4th Holiday without the fireworks show.
But this year, NO fireworks (again) and even the Taste of Chicago has been moved back after the 4th of July Holiday, spanning from July 11-15 in the city's Grant Park.
That's life in the big city I suppose, but still doesn't make it right.
It's the 4th of July and fireworks displays are part of the festivities along with the cookouts and gatherings of millions of people throughout the land.
Oh well, light a sparkler and just be careful out there and enjoy the 4th of July Holiday.

(Following below is some pictures from past Taste of Chicago events and fireworks shows)