Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Shocking the World

Super Tuesday folks and what did I do? I watched the TV coverage of the New York football Giants ride floats down the Canyon of Heroes. This is coming from a former political junkie, but these last couple of campaigns have really turned me off of politics. It’s not that the bad guys won (or I should say the worst guys beat the bad guys, cause they’re all full of shit far as I’m concerned), it just feels like the presidential campaign has turned into something Paddy Cheyevsky might have created. At least it would be fun.

Worse, I hadn’t even decided who to vote for when I discovered today that my registration got screwed up and my polling station location was 30 Pico Blvd. In Santa Monica. As in 500 miles away from where I live now.

The problem has been corrected but not in time for me to vote in the primaries. I’d be okay with either Obama and Clinton. Shoot, I kind of liked Edwards too. Which is to say after eight years of George W. Bush, I’ve really lowered my expectations. As I write this, it looks like Clinton is slightly ahead in the 10-state primary race, having been declared winner in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee and is holding on by a percentage point in the Show Me State, while Obama looks to have taken Georgia, his home state of Illinois and has a pretty good lead in Colorado with 63 percent of the vote counted. Still out is Arizona (59 percent votes counted as of this posting) and California (14 percent) with Clinton ahead by double-digits in both so far.

But the two of you who dropped in to read this, can surely find a better place on the web to check in on political pontification. For right now, I’ll stick with something I know. Seriously, the world would be a better place if it were more like sports. How about a presidential election where intelligence and ability counted for more than how much money you spent? Where we could see candidates perform under pressure and witness the depth (or lack thereof) of their character? I’m just saying...or should I say dreaming?

Back to my New York Giants. Who I picked to win the Super Bowl. Shyonelung is proud of herself, I tell you.

I admit to still being as stunned as Michael Strahan, who told the crowd at the Giants victory parade this morning that he’s been floating in a haze since his team shocked the world by busting up the previous undefeated New England Patriots and winning the Super Bowl 17-14.

To be honest, the fact that they won didn’t even set in for me until I watched the last six minutes of the game again late last night. Even watching it knowing how it all turned out, I was still nervous. It’s like us Mets fans watching a reply of Ron Swoboda making that sensational catch in the ’69 World Series. You can watch him lope (and he was loping) across the outfield grass 1000 times and still be sure he’ll never get to that ball. And yet he does.

It’s the same feeling I had watching the Third-and-Five Miracle when Eli somehow some way manages to get out of the grasp of the Patriots’ rush to unload a 32-yard pass to David Tyree who somehow, some way manages to hold onto the ball with his hands, his helmet, whatever.

It’s not just that play. There’s dozens of moments in the last four minutes of the game where the Giants could have easily lost. Dozens of moments that in this season of dominance, have more often than not come down in favor of the Patriots.

Not this day. This day belonged to the Giants and the football world is still trying to figure out what the hell happened.

Damned if I know.

I do think the weight of expectations may have finally caught up to the Patriots. Andyet even as I say that I give them credit for playing so hard even when it was pretty clear they couldn’t match the intensity or physicalness of the Giants. I mean people say this game exposed Tom Brady. Yeah, it exposed how good he is. The guy spent half his time looking over his shoulder or up from the turf. His running game was non-existent and his vaunted front line was getting whupped on but good. Still, Pretty Boy took hit after hit after hit and he got up after each one and he led his team to what would have been the game-winning TD if 1000 things that could’ve have gone wrong, didn’t go right for New York.

Seriously, all props to the Patriots. An upset win isn’t worth shit if the other team isn’t a worthy opponent. Who needs to gloat on the Patriots when the magnitude of the accomplishment itself is enough. I hope my fellow Giants fans will remember that. Win with grace.

Losing with grace, however, doesn’t seem to be the forte of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. You can count me as a fan of this surly, miserable, freakishly focused genius of a football coach. To be dominant in the NFL in this Era of Parity is an accomplishment that puts Belichick at or near the top of any list of all-time great football coaches. He has molded a dominating franchise by being smarter and working harder than everybody else. Until Spygate is proven to have given them a real advantage, I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to Belichick’s genius.

His bush league performance at the end of the Super Bowl Sunday when he ran off the field when there was still one second on the clock, and kept on running off like a petulant teenager and then afterward in the post-game press conference, dealt a serious blow to my high opinion of him.

It’s a tradition to get a few quiet words from the losing coach after the Big Game. They usually say something like “we played hard, all props to the other guys etc.” The point being it smarts like hell to lose and I’m bummed but I tip my hat to the winners. I remember watching head coach Lovie Smith last year, for example, after his Bears lost to Indy and the other Manning. One hundred percent class.

Belichick didn’t have any of that. “Disappointed,” was but one of the barrage of single-word sentences the Hoodie uttered through gritted teeth as if he were spitting up like the E-Trade baby. His congratulations to the Giants was so flat, so unbelievably disingenuous -- spoken like a man in the throws of post-traumatic stress disorder. Count magnanimous as not a word in Belichick’s dictionary.

It’s not that I expect him to be all smiles but he should have taken a cue from one of his players, linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who made it a point to personally search out Giants coach Tom Coughlin and offer his sincere congratulations.

A true example of the best in sports, just like the game itself, which apparently was just too damned difficult for Belichick to stomach. What a serious bummer. Really, when the loser acts like, well, a fucking loser, it really diminishes the whole affair. And that’s not just wrong, it makes me wonder if maybe old Bill needs to take some time off and get a life.

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