Saturday, January 19, 2008

So, we're counting down to kickoff, and the inevitability of 18-0. It's not an inevitability that I particularly enjoy, but one that I have come to accept. I am tired of convincing myself that there are any one of a number of vulnerabilities on this Patriot team that any one of a number of opponents could exploit in any one of a number of ways.

It doesn't matter how slow and decrepit the Patriot linebacking unit is. It doesn't matter how dirty Rodney Harrison plays this week. It doesn't even matter that I don't think Laurence Maroney is a legitimate big time tailback in today's NFL. All that really matters is that Quentin Jammer, Antonio Cromartie, Marlon McCree, Clinton Hart and Eric Weddle have a better chance of being elected Pope than they do of containing Moss and Welker this week. And even if they could contain those two, what of Ben Watson, Stallworth and Kevin Faulk (who has been coming up big in situations where I didn't want him to come up big since he was at LSU under Gerry DiNardo's reign of terror)?

Yes, the Chargers managed to lead the NFL in takeaways this season. They also managed to beat Indianapolis twice this season, even winning in the RCA Dome last week. But they also suffered humiliating losses to the Patriots and the very, very, very average Minnesota Vikings this season. Playing on the road and in the cold in New England against the undefeated team that every one loves to hate, it's just not happening. I only hope LaDanian Tomlinson manages to be as entertaining with this year's round of postgame whining as he was last year.

Since this blog is supposed to be about the Red Sox, I would be remiss if I didn't pass along Mike Lowell's statesman-like response to potential testing for HGH in baseball. Mike Lowell is willing to take the test, provided that it's 100% accurate, but he's out if the test is only 99% accurate. I can't help but wonder if there's any room for negotiation there, since it seems very unlikely that any test for any substance will ever be 100% accurate.

Lowell also brought up the double standard issue. Baseball players, writers, coaches and so forth have been quick to point out the fact that Shawne Merriman was suspended for four games and still went to the Pro Bowl last year, and Rodney Harrison missed the first four games of this season for being implicated in an HGH scandal. But it is baseball that is in the cross hairs.

It's simple, as Lowell himself conceded in that article. Baseball looked the other way for a long time, refusing any kind of testing. The NFL, on the other hand, has had a ban on steroids for years. It might not be perfect, but at least football players have been suspended for violating the NFL ban on performance enhancers for years.

Mark McGwire admitted he took andro in 1998, when it was not banned according to the rules of Major League Baseball. It was, however, a banned substance in the NFL at the time. Roger Clemens is alleged to have taken steroids in years when none of the substances Brian McNamee and George Mitchell accuse him of taking were even banned in baseball. Baseball didn't even start testing or developing any kind of comprehensive policy until Congress got on their case.

I don't think there is a double standard here. Rodney Harrison and Shawne Merriman lost a quarter of the season and four game checks. Four games doesn't seem like much at first, but when you do the math it is the equivalent of 40 and a half baseball games. Considering the NFL developed and implemented this policy on their own, long before baseball got religion thanks to a Congressional hearing, I think it's more than reasonable.

I do think Merriman shouldn't have gone to the Pro Bowl, but I wasn't one of the people who voted for him. I think out of common decency, he should have declined the invite, but that's his business. It is, or at least it was, a free country. If people are dumb enough to vote to send a cheater to the Pro Bowl, that's their misfortune.

In other news, in my ongoing effort to make this blog more interactive, here's another gem of a comment from an anonymous reader. In a recent post I happened to bid the Seattle Seahawks a less than fond farewell from the 2007 season. As a part of it, I ripped Seahawk fans for ripping off traditions from Texas A & M and suggested they should play a song to commemorate every early exit from the playoffs the way A & M plays Taps across campus when an alumnus (or alumna) dies in the line of duty serving in the Armed Services.

I suggested "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" as Seattle stole the nickname Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz (Not very funny, but then I just might have overindulged with respect to beer at the time). Reader KobraKommander (in one of his rare instances of bringing things to the table) improved the suggestion with one of his own, offering "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," which is pretty funny.

To make a very long, and pretty unnecessary story short, the anonymous commenter suggested "I'm an @#$hole" by Denis Leary. I bring it up because this is a bit ambiguous. I assume the commenter meant that I, the blogger, am the @#$hole. But it is open to the suggestion that the commenter himself could be the @#$hole. Or any Seahawk fans who might play that to bid their team adieu from the playoffs could be the @#$hole. And let's face it, the odds are that if you live in Seattle or root for the Seahawks, you probably are an @#$hole.

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