What a great weekend to be a sports fan

What more could a sports fan ask for this past weekend?  well, I could have asked for the Cowboy’s to have won, but that’s just me.

Four of the top five NCAA Football teams got upset, with only previously #2 Oklahoma surviving.  Oh, and Navy beat #16 Wake Forest as well!  When is the USNA going to get some respect?  Sure Paul Johnson left to go to Georgia Tech, but this team is still very very good.  Not BCS worthy to be sure, but still…

Then there’s the Baseball races.  Wow.  The Mets collapsed again!  Guess it wasn’t just Willy Randolph eh?  Hope he had a beer and called Omar Minaya to say “HA!”  And it looks like we’re bout 2 innings away from another Ozzie Guillen tantrum in Chicago.  He has to be on the hot seat if the White Sox fail in their make up game against the Tigers.  Then there is the feel good story of the Tampa Bay Rays.  A payroll 1/5 that of the NY Yankees, and the Rays win the dvision, the Yanks get to play golf.  And the Twins.  Who would have expected the Twins to be looking at making the post season?  No one that’s who.  Even die hard Twin fans were writing this season off.  Oh, and Cubs fans, you still got a long way to go.  Not saying they won’t, but it is the Cubs.  And of course some “usual suspects” are back, LA Dodgers (aka the West Coast Red Sox), the Red Sox, Angels, and Phillies.  Oh and the Brewers are back for the first time since Cecil Cooper wore the uniform.

NFL weeken was interesting as well.  No unthinkable upsets like last week with the Patriots-Dolphins game, but still some upsets.  Kansas City over Denver?  Herm Edwards probably just saved his job there.  Brett Favre finally has a great day as a Jet, even if they were wearing the old NY Titans uniforms.  How Lane Kifin is surviving in Okland is beyond me.  It’s not that he’s a bad coach, but with Al Davis in charge, it’s more soap opera than NFL.  Json Garret in Dallas finally had a “bad” game as offensive coordinator.  Not enough touched for TO (though the Skins D had something to do with that), and no use of Felix Jones.  See what happens after the bye week.

The NHL preseason has begun as well.  Haven’t watched any games as yet, but I am looking forward to the new season.

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American McCulture

No, this is not a rant about fast food.  It’s about how American culture has “degraded” some what in recent years.  We have a culture where we want instant gratification, in 30 seconds or less.  We emphasize flash and pomp over substance and patience.  It’s not just about our desire for fast food, microwavable products, home delivered pizzas or Chinese, or even about our obsessions with pop stars.  This “I want it now” attitude is so pervasive, that it has altered how we approach all our problems.

Call it the “magic bullet” attitude.  All anyone wants is a simple, easy to swallow solution that will magically cure all our ills.  Doesn’t matter what the problem is.  Over weight?  Why exercise or eat right when all you should have to do is take a single pill and *poof!* all those nasty pounds will just go away.  Don’t want to cook, or don’t have the time?  There are a billion options, from burger joints to pizza places to Chinese take away, or even the frozen food section at the local supermarket.  Convienience rules the day, never mind the long term, that’s just so in the future.

And that’s just it, it’s all about the now, with no mind to the consequences down the road.  This attitude has seeped into all aspects of American life.  We don’t think beyond the imediacy of the moment.  We reach an situation or “conclusion” that we like or want, one that is with in a very short time frame, and stop.  Take fast food.  We get the instant satisfaction, but don’t concern ourselves about the long term potential consequencs.  Take sports.  We are so hung up on sports stars and their stats, that often they feel compelled to seek “short cuts” like steroids to achieve the desires.  I’m sure Lyle Alzado would like to have a do over on that regard.

But again, it’s more than that.  It has become part and parcel of our politics and policy debate.  Look at the antiwar movement.  The troops out now attitude is all well and wondeful.  So, let’s say we pull out.  Then what?  What happens to the people of Iraq?  What happens to their neighbors?  What will tha do to the stability and security of the region as a whole?  To some, that is of no matter, it’s “over there,” “out of sight, out of mind.”  They only want the immediate satisfaction of pulling our troops out, damn the consequences.

The Immigration debate is the same way, and on both sides.  Neither side is looking much beyond 2008 and the White House run.  There is little to no concern about what the impact of any shift in policy would be.  Those who advocate a free walk for illegals fail to see that this will only encourage a back lash, not only against them and any illegals that get “outed,” but against those who are here legally, and don’t deserve to be penalized for following the rules.  They end up only encouraging attitudes that will serve to ruin the fabric of the nation.  Those who demand an overly harsh stance on the illegals also fail to see beyond the immediacy of the situation.  As I said in a previous post, deporting some 12million plus illegals is a nonstarter, it isn’t going to happen.  The impact, not only on the courts and enforcement agencies, but on how the USA is percieved around the world.

People here in the States have a bad attitude.  If they can’t have it now, they don’t want it.  And if we can get someone else to do it for us, all the better.  As I referenced above, it’s like going to McDonald’s.  You pull up, place your order, and in less than 5 minutes, you’re on your way.  No real planning involved.  No concern for what the potentialities of the action could cause.  It’s one reason why so many people get addicted to drugs.

And this attitude has become institutionalized.  Look at the fight former players are having with the NFL, or what older baseball players had to fight for (and still do).  Look at how we handle Social Security (which has always been behind from day 1), or how we approach any sort of welfare program.  It’s slap dash band aid type fixes that a certain Dutch boy would be ashamed of.

We need a fundamental change in how we approach things.  This patch and move on just isn’t working, and never will.  What we need to do is start looking at things in more than a six month block.  For those that haven’t heard, Americans usually only think in a six month block, three months ahead, three months behind.  This severely limits our perceptions, and ability to plan strategically.  And it’s why those who can are labeled either visionaries or scoundrels. 

If we start thinking in truly long term parameters, we can radically change our approaches to nearly everything.  We need to think in more historical terms, in blocks of 10 to 20 years.  That alone will provide a better basis for policy planning, and even practical applications.  Once we achieve this, we alter the basic debate structure on nearly all things, from public policy to personal planning.  It will also change how we percieve our icons.  We will stop being so obsessed with people like Paris Hilton, and concentrate on those who have staying power, and a lasting impact.

OK, I’ll stop dreaming now, as this will not change…*sigh*

A busy Sports Day

Well, it seems that the sports world here in the US of A has had a rather busy, and some what eventful day.  We got history in MLB, The NHL Hall of Fame inductees, and that ever so exciting (Not!), NBA draft.  So let’s get to it all…

First on tap we’ll look at the NHL HoF inductees.  A solid group got elected this go around.  Tops on the list would have to be Mark Messier, the Center/Forward for the Edmonton Oilers and NY Rangers.  Love him or hate him, he was one of the best forwards in the NHL in the 80’s and 90’s.  It’s also nice to see Al MacInnis get his due in this election.  One of the top defensemen for years, he languished in Calgary, and rarely, if ever, complained.  One of the great ambassadors of the game.  Scott Stevens and Jim Gregory (former GM) are also solid choices.  When I first saw Ron Francis’ name on the list, I at first questioned the choice.  But looking at his numbers, and what he accomplished as a player, I over came my initial thoughts of him being a solid, but not HoF player.

Then there was the NBA draft.  I just don’t get why people find these drafts exciting to watch.  Yes, I remain curious about who my teams draft, except in Baseball, as it takes 3-4 years before any of those players will show up, but I don’t need to sit in front of the TV or PC to get who goes where in real time.  I am more than satisfied to catch up on all of it after all is said and done. 

For the past several years, I’ve found it hard to watch any NBA games, even those of my beloved Celtics.  And it’s not just because they’ve been so awful lately.  The whole game since Jordan has been terrible to watch.  Even those teams who play the game “right” are hard to watch.  Even so, I keep up on who the C’s have, and who they deal and acquire.  I like the move Danny Ainge made today, trading for Ray Allen from Seattle.  I haven’t checked who they got in the 2nd round (except Seattle’s pick), so the jury’s still out on the direction of the team, but the prospects for next season are improving.

Now, today in MLB, it was a historical moment for two players, individually and singlely.  First was Frank Thomas hitting his 500th HR against the Twins in the Metrodome, where he hit his first HR.  Then, in a five hit performance, Craig Biggio reached the 3,000 hit plateau.  With both reaching these milestones on the same day, it was the first time in MLB history that it has happened.  Both Thomas and Biggio should be planning their trips to Cooperstown 5 years after they retire. 

I especially like Biggio’s achievements, as he did it all for one team, and has been a class act for so many years, more so as he did it all for the Astros.  Kudos should be given to Craig for the class he showed by having his long time teammate, Jeff Bagwell not only at the park, but joining him on the field for one last time when he reached the mark.  It was a testament not only to the friendship between the two, but to what the two of them did on the field together.  Welcome to immortality Frank and Craig.