What can you imagine Peyton Manning doing? Let’s build him an analogical world. You can imagine him wearing a short-sleeve button-down dress shirt. You can imagine him speed-typing numbers on an old-fashioned adding machine. You can imagine him lining up the corners on a pack of yellow legal pads. You can imagine him carrying coffee. You can imagine him researching lawn mowers. You can imagine him leaving early for work to take the station wagon in for a wax job and sliding Astral Weeks into the CD changer and watching the gray morning light settle on a street full of Dunkin’ Donuts and drive-through bank branches and thinking to himself, This is the time of day I like best.
It’s a cliché to note that he’s got some curious OCD tendencies — all that finger-licking under center,3 those rapid-fire Tourette’s bursts of audibles. What’s incredible is the cumulative effect 10,000 perfectly executed seven-yard reads have had over the years. At this stage in his late career, really for the whole season-plus he’s been with Denver, Manning makes being a midlevel IT manager look like a form of ruthless conquest. It’s as if he wrote a script to install automatic PC updates, and somehow it made him the god-emperor of hell.4 This is how he plays football: He goes out every week with a graphing calculator and a stack of forms, and he just audits teams to death.
When the Broncos defense was on the field, offensive coaches would often tell Tebow the first series of plays they wanted to run when the team got the ball back. Tebow would nod, and they’d separate. And then, invariably, a short while later he’d ask for the information again. Sometimes this ritual would repeat right up until Tebow had to duck into the huddle and call the play. As a result, despite starting only 11 games in 2011, Tebow was flagged for delay of game an NFL-high seven times. Worse still was the fact that, according to scouts, Tebow almost never audibled because he struggled to quickly and properly read defenses. And of all the deadly sins Tebow committed against quarterbacking, this was the worst: lacking the self-awareness to recognize and fix these shortcomings. Maybe the most shocking part of Tebowmania isn’t that he has been cast out of the NFL after just three years but that he lasted as long as he did.
The weird part about reading this is that when Josh McDaniels drafted Tebow, all he talked about was Tebow’s football IQ.
In a meeting room at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and Tim Tebow sat several feet apart, engaged in animated, rapid-fire conversation about football. They clicked almost immediately.
McDaniels was convinced Tebow was genuine. He came away even more intrigued with Tebow as a player.
Tebow, an All-America quarterback at Florida and the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, felt he had found a kindred football spirit.
“I was jacked leaving that room. I didn’t even want to visit another room. It was not enough time,” Tebow said. “We were excited, we were enthusiastic. There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome.”
The Dave Fleming has this.
But he scored a below-average (for QBs) 22 on his Wonderlic test. As a kinesthetic learner, Tebow absorbs information better through using flash cards and hands-on repetitive experience than the traditional method of memorizing diagrams, notes and Polaroids from a playbook.
I have taken the Wonderlic (and done quite well on it). it’s not that hard and if someone does poor on it, I would have some serious questions about their comprehension abilities. That may not be that important if you are cornerback or a defensive tackle but if you are a QB and you have comprehension problems, it is big deal.
The disturbing question in all of this is why then did Josh McDaniels draft him? It seems like they bonded personally and that made all of the other issues (like completing passes and reading offences) go away.
Christmas for us started on the 23rd as we joined our good friends Gloria, Jerry, and Kristy for our traditional Christmas together. It was a bit different this year because of Gloria’s cancer but it was a fun night of exchanging gifts and hanging out. We gave some books (as is our tradition) but I gave Gloria a Sound Spa which should help her sleep while the boys gave her a plush blanket.
Because I like to make fun of Kristy, we gave her an Edmonton Oilers Snuggie. Because most of Kristy’s life is dedicated to a) staying warm and b) the Edmonton Oilers, she liked it.
Christmas Eve had Wendy working all day. This is the worst schedule she has ever had over a Christmas season and it hasn’t been a lot of fun for us as a family but that is the life of people working retail. I worked part of the day and then headed home to spend the rest of the day with the boys. We gave the boys two early gifts of some NHLPA hockey sticks so they could play some road hockey during the day. Of course it was freezing outside so instead of playing hockey, we just taped them up. While she worked, we packed up the Mazda and headed out to Warman where we spent the evening at Lee and Brittany’s place for a traditional Christmas supper of lasagna and fighting over who got the lasagna leftovers before opening gifts.
Lee is known to master such phrases as “less talking, more chewing” on Christmas Eve. While he loves lasagna, he loves presents more. In the past when Wendy was working, he would spend most of the day badmouthing Wendy and trying to convince Mark to open Christmas presents without his mom. He takes this whole Christmas gift opening seriously.
Of the delay in eating turned costly when Oliver was playing with Tika (Lee and Brittany’s dog) and fell nose first into the edge of the carpet. There was crying, rug burn, and blood all over the place. While Oliver’s new shirt paid a steep cost, all was okay. It wasn’t as if I didn’t expect blood, I just expected it over the lasagna.
Santa gave Mark a new HTC Desire C Android Smart phonewhile I got him a Fuji AV150 camera (and tripod). I had created a Instagram, Foursquare, and upgraded his Flickr to a pro account on Sunday. We made sure we had batteries, SD (and Micro SD) cards all ready to go. Now we have to download some apps which will mean some quality time on Google Play today. I gave him a 1932 Chevrolet Truck scale model to build, Oliver gave him some adventure and Star Wars blueprint books (and some Daytona 500 cologne). He also got a graphic novel story of Canadians in WWII as well as a book on how to create his own graphic novel
In his stocking he found a new watch, a big bottle of the worst cologne known to man, Brut 33 (Wendy wept tears of pain when I showed her the bottle) Mark also got some high quality headphones; both on the ear and in ear ones. The less I have to listen to 90s rock, the better.
Lee and Brittany gave him a Denver Broncos jersey with his name and number on it. Thank goodness Tim Tebow was traded before the season started. He was pretty excited with that. Almost as excited as Tim Tebow gets about everything.
He also got a Starbucks travel mug and gift card from myself. It’s a bit self-serving as he wanders down to The Lighthouse and takes me out for coffee. To keep all of his special memories safe, we gave him a small chest to keep some of life’s momentos.
All Oliver wanted was a pogo stick and I found him one from Santa on Amazon.com. I gave him a toy F-22 Raptor jet. I would have gotten his a F-35 toy but the price kept increasing until Stephen Harper told me not to get it for him. Mark gave him a rescue play set, a puzzle from the dogs, an Obi-Wan Kenobi lightsaber, and an Optimus Prime Transformer that talks. He is getting into hockey to I got him some mini hockey sticks and nets.
Lee and Brittany gave him a tricked out big wheel for Christmas. I immediately thought of this.
What’s scary is that I think Oliver would think that was a good idea.
His favourite gift by far was a Power Ranger that transforms into something else. He was quite jacked about it.
With the new iPod I gave Wendy for her birthday, I gave her a set of iHome speakers and some perfume. We got her an electric griddle and skillet (she asked for them), a new popcorn maker (which she was really excited about). Mark gave her a pink Zepco fishing rod which she was horrified of. Lucky for Wendy, the fishing is horrible in our part of Last Mountain Lake. We also got her some high quality over the ear and in-ear headphones. If nothing else she will be able to tune us out for Christmas. The dogs gave her some new knives and a kitchen scale. Not sure where they got the money to get those.
Lee and Brittany gave her a gift card for Dutch Growers which made her day. She’s out right now waiting for spring to hit.
I bought Lee a Leatherman Skeletool multitool and case. Mark got him Red Dead Redemption for the PS3, while Oliver got him a George Reed collector’s edition figurine. Lee and Mark got into an argument a couple of weeks ago where Mark called his uncle, “Uncle Glitter” which has kind of stuck. Mark got him some glitter stickers for his new iPhone 5. ”Uncle Glitter” didn’t seem to appreciate his nephew’s gift that much.
He tried to pull his knife on the Skeletool on Mark for bugging him but he couldn’t get it open. Once he got it open, he cut himself.
Brittany was given a nice fountain pen, two journals (one lined and one unlined), and an Indigo gift card. Because both Lee and Brittany are getting new iPhones, we tossed in some iTunes cards as well. Holding her Indigo gift card was Cooper the Bear which apparently has been a Sears mascot for years (a fact that I did not know). It just seemed to work well for us. Brittany is an english teacher and I just think an English teacher with a fountain pen is more intimidating. It was either that or do what the NRA is suggesting and that is to give her a firearm.
Wendy gave Brittany a soapstone statue of a couple from Ten Thousand Villages which I really liked. As much fun as it is to bug Lee, him and Brittany are a wonderful couple.
I wasn’t expecting too much but Wendy and the boys did a lot of planning and looking for good deals. Wendy gave me a trail GPS and a George Reed limited edition action figure, Oliver gave me a Toronto Blue Jays hat, Mark gave me Assasin’s Creed II and Red Dead Redemption. I also got a Leatherman Skeletool. To balance out my Tim Tebow action figure from last year, Wendy gave me a Peyton Manning action figure. Lee and Brittany gave me a remote control helicopter. It flies and crashes quite well around the house. Also because I don’t smell enough like David Beckham, I was given some of his cologne. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. To replace my old barbecue tools (that are showing some age), Wendy also got me a simple set of three barbecue tools which is all we really use.
The advantage to only periodically playing PS3 games is that I never own the new ones which means that Wendy can find me games for $10-$15 at Wal-Mart and it doesn’t matter since I haven’t played them.
I really had no more success than Lee in using my Leatherman today although no blood was spilled.
The photos can all be found here.
Today is being spent around the house setting up things, doing some reading, and then having a more traditional Christmas dinner. I had hoped to get get down to work but for the second day in a row, someone has swiped our power cords to the car which is frozen solid in this cold. We had planned to take a long walk downtown today with Mark’s new camera but as the song says, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Hopefully your Christmas is a good one and you are enjoying the time with family and friends as well.
Today LaDainianTomlinson retired from the NFL. As a Denver Broncos fan I despised watching Tomlinson carve up the Denver defence season after season but I respect his work ethic and how he played the game. I watched a 60 Minutes segment on him once on his insane workouts, almost gravity defying workouts, which gets me to my point that despite being an elite athlete and an insane workaholic, even Tomlinson could only play running back for 11 years in the NFL.
Tomlinson won the MVP in ’06, when he set NFL single-season records with 31 touchdowns, including 28 rushing, and 186 points. He ran for a career-high 1,815 yards that year, giving him the first of two straight league rushing titles.
Tomlinson finishes his career with 13,684 yards and 145 touchdowns.
First ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas. After a daring battery run to Walmart on Saturday morning, we met up with the Sieberts for coffee/tea and to exchange gifts and Christmas cheer. After that we headed out to Warman to Lee and Brittany’s place for Christmas Eve dinner to open gifts. Wendy talked about the evening over at her blog but I was got some great gifts from Lee and Brittany including some DVDs and When the Gods Changed by Peter C. Newman, an iPad from Wendy, a Denver Broncos hat from Oliver, some big bear head slippers from the dogs, the Steve Jobs biography from Mark, along with a stocking full of fun stuff. Oh right, Wendy gave Mark, Oliver, and myself a Snuggie for Christmas. We aren’t happy about it.
On Christmas we went over to the Reimers where I got a really cool book by Gloria’s great uncle Heinz Guderian who was a Panzer commander and later became the Chief of the General Staff during WWII. He wrote several important books on armoured tactics and I was thrilled to get a copy of one. It also confirms my belief that if Gloria hadn’t married Jerry, she would be leading a war against a rival country. Kristy gave me a gift certificate for Indigo! instead of trying to figure out what to get me. Instead of getting a book to read, I went to Indigo! today and got a big one to write in. While we were there, we walked over to Best Buy and looked at iPad cases. We found one that works for now but I am planning to add a keyboard in the future but they were all out of stock.
Tonight we are chilling out, listening to Moxy Fruvous while taking down the Christmas tree and decorations. In a couple of hours we will be ready for New Years.
First the good news. Tim Tebow lead the Denver Broncos to a win over the Miami Dolphins. He looked horrible for 55 minutes, good for 5 and got the win. The bad news has to be for Miami coach Tony Sparano as he lost to Tim Tebow and an untalented Denver Broncos team, his owner doesn’t support him and his starting QB is Matt Moore. I don’t know how he isn’t fired in the next week. If I am Sprarano, part of me would be relieved. He will do some television on NFL Network if he let go and you have to think that a team will hire him as an offensive coordinator next year and hopefully it will be for an owner that isn’t an idiot. Part of Sparano’s problem has been that he comes from a three yards and a cloud of dust system his entire career (it ain’t pretty but it works) and now he has an owner that wants Showtime. It’s not going to happen.
First the positives:
- The University of Saskatchewan Huskies beat the UBC Thunderbirds making Coach Brian Towris the winningest coach in CIU football. For you American readers, this is a pretty big deal. Brian Towris wins year in and year out with no scholarships and until recently, inferior facilities to almost every other university in Canada. Related: David Dube revitalizes Huskies homes games.
- The Saskatoon Hilltops beat the Winnipeg Rifles (a rather appropriate name for the Winnipeg team considering the news of the last week). A special nod to the Hilltops for practicing with Mark’s football team this Thursday. This is the highlight of Mark’s season so far. Related: Dave Hutton writes that Gordie Howe Bowl is about to get a $8.9 million dollar upgrade.
- It’s really good to see the Houston Texans finally get a defense. Say what you want to say about Wade Phillips but he is an incredible defensive coach. Watching some of chaos in Dallas this year makes me wonder how much of the fault was Wade Phillips and how much is the fault of Jerry Jones.
- I became a Detroit Lions fan watching Wayne Fontes coach them during the 80s and 90s. There has been a lot more good times than bad but this year has been incredible to watch them. The fans in Detroit deserve this and I hope they are enjoying their renaissance. I know I am.
- Notre Dame beats Purdue. I know it’s just Purdue but teams like the Boilermakers used to give Notre Dame fits so I am glad to see the progress.
- Does BC Place look amazing or what? It is a formula for the Minneapolis Metrodome. I am sure it’s too late in that process but what a way to revitalize a stadium.
- Tigers and Yankees are tied at a game a piece as the series shifts to Detroit.
- Sure it is good to see the Houston Texans get an offense but boy do the Pittsburgh Steelers look old. It’s early and you don’t want to count the Steelers out but I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a drastically different looking Steelers roster for next season.
- Let’s not talk about what happened in Green Bay. Denver is not a very talented team yet. Shanahan’s last couple of drafts were horrible and the only decent player that McDaniel’s brought in was Eric Decker. It’s going to be a while until they are back on top.
- What can you say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders other than they are not a very good team. Grandpa coming back gave them a spark but I have been saying since last season that just because Ken Miller was a good assistant coach, it doesn’t make him a good personnel man. That and I have been terrified of Brendan Taman running the team ever since they brought him in. Look at what he did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and how long it took them to recover.
- Dear Buffalo Bills. You lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. Really? Rookie QB, lame duck coach, apathetic fans and you still lost to them. You should be ashamed.
I turned 37 today. Not much of a milestone but it was an enjoyable day. I fell asleep on the sofa last night so I woke up early to the family and a really sore neck. After some stretching and straining I got up and opened some presents. Mark gave me a 70-210mm Sigma lens for my camera and a Lowepro Exchange Messenger camera bag while Oliver gave me a DSLR for Dummies book and a new camera strap.
Wendy gave me a mini Denver Broncos helmet, some new in ear headphones and some upgraded noise cancelling headphones while Hutch and Maggi got me an iTunes card so I could get some music. The helmet made it’s way to my office and Oliver isn’t pleased. He sees an Oliver sized helmet and doesn’t understand why there isn’t a football game breaking out.
While the Broncos helmet was pretty cool, our timing was odd with the negotiations breaking down between the owners and the players. For NFL addicts around the world, it gives new meaning to the Day of Rage.
Keeping with the audio theme, Lee gave me a Best Buy gift card and I picked up some iHome Rechargeable Mini Speakers which will be making a trip to Toronto with me in a couple of weeks (as will the noise cancelling headphones).
To celebrate, the family took me out to Alexander’s Restaurant for supper with Michaela and Taylah. Michaela decided that since we share three hugs a year (our birthdays and on Christmas), we must be family. I am not so sure. We just became Facebook friends last year.
Thanks to everyone who emailed, tweeted, and Facebooked today. I appreciated them all.
Michael Lombardi writes that ownership didn’t buy into McDaniels plan
When Belichick was hired in Cleveland, Modell had no idea what he had, or what Belichick could eventually become. He never thought in three dimensions, or hired with a plan; he just hoped for success, in large part because Modell based every decision on what the media and the fans thought. Modell had a wonderful heart. He wanted to make his fan base happy, therefore hiring Belichick after winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants was great, and firing him after the fans revolted was also great — never mind he just extended his contract.
Belichick’s success in New England was due to his experience in Cleveland — that Modell financed and Patriots owner Robert Kraft now enjoys. Any time a team hires a young coach or a young executive, one must think in a three-dimensional way. Does he have the aptitude to be a successful leader? Does he have the willingness to grow? Do we have the strength to handle the turbulent times?
Modell paid for Belichick’s education as a head coach, an education that has to be lived, not learned. There are no schools to attend to be a successful coach in the NFL. And just because an assistant works for a successful coach does not ensure success when it comes time for a promotion to the head coach’s chair.
When the Broncos hired McDaniels and turned over all the power to him, they had to understand there would likely be tough times. But did they?
As an outsider looking in, when the Broncos hired McDaniels, I thought they were willing to change the direction of their organization. Having spent a brief time volunteering my services as a consultant to Mike Shanahan, I saw firsthand Denver’s ridiculous spending on players, the failure to have a personnel department, and the constant approach to repair as opposed to rebuild. Therefore, when the Broncos fired Shanahan following the 2008 season and decided to change the course, eliminating the free-spending of the past, the move signaled to me that they wanted to try the Patriot Way, which centers on building a total team through the draft, cut spending in free agency and develop coaches and players from within.
Initially, it made sense to me, as most owners tend to hire the opposite of what they just fired. Firing McDaniels 28 games into his tenure as the head coach is bad for both parties. It wasn’t enough time for the team to be fully developed, or enough time for McDaniels to grow into the job.
And therein lies the problem — the Broncos wanted to change, but were not committed to change. Once they slipped into a different world, they longed to be back to their old ways of doing things. They really love the Bronco Way.
Never mind they have only won one playoff game in the last 12 years. Never mind they lack talent on the field, or are going to be paying three head coaches as a result of McDaniels’ firing. Never mind they might have to take two steps back to move forward. Clearly, this move means the Broncos long for their old days, and potentially bringing John Elway back into the organization signals how much they miss those days.
"I had a coach that, regardless of how well I thought I was playing or how well the majority of fans across the country thought I was playing, it was never good enough for him," Plummer said, not bitter but very matter-of-fact. "And that kind of gets frustrating.
"It just seemed like every game I could have completed these four more passes or these five more shots here and it would have been perfect. And that just wasn’t my personality… But Shanahan wanted perfection and he wore a lot of us down there."
Plummer didn’t sound surprised by the current circus unfolding in Washington, D.C., between Shanahan and Redskins quarterback.
"I think Shanahan is still searching for John Elway," Plummer said. "Somehow, someway, he thinks there’s going to be another guy like John Elway.
"He coached a team to almost perfection [with Elway] so he wanted that again, he wanted that every time we went out there. It’s just not realistic."
Hockey Night in Canada Retro Puck & Stick Rug :: While Gary Bettman doesn’t respect the traditions of the NHL, that doesn’t mean that you can’t. Check out this retro Hockey Night in Canada welcome rug which would look great every Saturday night as you host your friends and family for the Hockey Night in Canada double header. Now if we could only find a way to automatically mute the television whenever Kelly Hrudey comes on. | $39.99 (Can) from CBC Shop
NFL Training Camp for the Wii | Compared to other fitness gaming releases on the Wii, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp is in a whole other league. Unlike those other games that concentrate on general fitness concepts, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp focuses on the agility, aerobic, stamina and strength training exercises that NFL players routinely are put through during their pre-season training camps. Developed in collaboration with NFL strength and conditioning coaches, users will experience the thrill of competition while challenging themselves, as well as friends and family in these authentic NFL football drills which are performed in the likeness of user’s favorite NFL players. $99.95 from Amazon
Saskatchewan Roughriders Shares | As a Roughrider shareholder, fans will get the opportunity to vote on team leadership, contribute to the team’s long-term viability, and help create a football dynasty owned and operated by its fans. In addition Rider shareholders receive a number of other benefits including discounts on merchandise, preferred seating upgrades, first rights to priority parking and access to special Shareholder events. Sadly you don’t get a say on the head coach, what kind of defence they run or who is the starting quarterback.
Each shareholder will receive a personalized and numbered share certificate, an owners card, as well as a window decal and bracelet. The limited edition 100th anniversary Series II Rider Share is available for a cost of $250 per share, with an option to have the certificate fully framed for $499.
To own a piece of the pride and become a Rider shareholder, fans can call 1-888-4-RIDERS (474-3377) or visit the Rider Ticket Office at Mosaic Stadium.
Sportscraft Pubmaster Dart Board :: The official size 18-inch dartboard has traditional colors with steel tensile steel spider and high visibility numbers. You can throw either steel or soft tip darts at the bullseye! Plus with no one really knowing when or if the economy is going to come back, having bunch of friends over for a night of darts is a lot cheaper than a night at the pub or doing much else now that I think of it. The great thing about darts (and bowling) is that you don’t have to be good at it to have a good time playing it. | $19.99 (USD) at Amazon.com
If you want to up the anty a bit and hide the dart board from view, check out this dart board cabinet. This pine cabinet comes with everything you need to start playing. It includes a high quality, self healing dart board, 6 steel tip darts, dry-erase scoreboard, out chart, marker and mounting supplies. It would look great at the cabin. $68.91 at Amazon.com
Wendy gave me this customizable Denver Broncos watch for our 13th anniversary. You can change the watch hands, color of strap, and engrave the back (something like “Fire Josh McDaniels” might be appropriate). While this one is sold out right now, you can get a variety of other NFL team watches from NFL Shop ranging from $25.
Men’s Team HeatGear® Longsleeve T Tops by Under Armour | If the person you are shopping for actually is athletic, you may want to consider a workout shirt from Under Armour. It’s a versatile multi-sport shirt ideal for training. It’s popular because the Under Armour Team HeatGear long-sleeve tee will keep you feeling cool and refreshed during your workouts. The shirt is made using HeatGear technology, a superior moisture-management system that moves moisture away from your body to the outer layer of the garment. To keep the shirt smelling fresh over the long term, Under Armour added anti-odor technology, which prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes. Other features include a lightweight micro-pique construction with a generous loose fit, raglan sleeves that allow for total mobility and a full range of motion while eliminating shoulder-seam abrasion points, and a UA logo on the center front chest. $30 from Amazon.com. You can get a short sleeve t-shirt for $20.
Custom NFL T-Shirt | While a customized NFL jersey may set you back $200, a customizable t-shirt or sweatshirt will cost you as a little as $40 and you can actually wear it out in public. Customize the front, back and both sleeves of your shirt in any number of ways. From players name and number to a pink breast cancer ribbon. Anything is possible and available in men’s and women’s version. I just can’t believe that other leagues aren’t doing this yet.
How many times in the last year have you said, “This room would be perfect with a stained glass Notre Dame plaque on the wall?” Now for $59.99 you can bring completion to your fan cave with one. It actually would look great in a lot of family rooms, even if you happened to cheer for teams like USC or Alabama. Now of course if you cheered for anyone in the SEC, you probably would not appreciate something like stained glass but sadly they don’t make these things deep fried.
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns | Here is the story of America s national pastime from master storyteller Ken Burns. It is an eleven DVD epic overflowing with heroes and hopefuls, scoundrels and screwballs. A saga spanning the quest for racial justice, the clash of labor and management, the immigrant experience, the transformation of popular culture, and the enduring appeal of the national pastime. And through it all, baseball remains a mirror of America. $50.99 from Amazon.com
Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks | “Professional fan” Hample (How to Snag Major League Baseballs), who falls squarely in the “deeply serious geek” category, has put together an invaluable resource for armchair fans. A former college shortstop, four-time attendee of Bucky Dent’s Baseball School and an obsessive baseball collector, Hample covers basics like what to watch for in pitchers, catchers, hitters, fielders and base runners; he also provides answers to such nagging questions as why spectators stretch in the seventh inning and why most ballplayers grab their crotches. He explains the difference between a change-up and a split-finger fastball, breaks down a box score and offers an extensive glossary of baseball slang that defines both a “courtesy trot” and a “dying quail.” Other sections address free agency and fair balls, umpires and uniform numbers, stadiums and superstitions. Trivia abounds, including the names of the 10 switch hitters honored in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a record of inside-the-park homeruns. Hample hits the equivalent of a reference-book homerun with his witty, loose and readable style-taking a friendly for-a-fan-by-a-fan approach that doesn’t hide his enormous depth of knowledge. Highly recommended for baseball watchers, Hample also schools amateur players and coaches with well-illustrated examples of some complex pitching, hitting and base-running scenarios. $10.08 from Amazon.com
Instant Reply: The Green Bay Packer Diary of Jerry Kramer | In 1967, when Jerry Kramer was a thirty-one-year-old Green Bay Packers offensive lineman, in his tenth year with the team, he decided to keep a diary of the season. “Perhaps, by setting down my daily thoughts and observations,” he wrote, “I’ll be able to understand precisely what it is that draws me back to professional football.” Working with the journalist Dick Schaap, Kramer recorded his day-to-day experiences as a player with perception, honesty, humor, and startling sensitivity. Little did Kramer know that the 1967 season would be one of the most remarkable in the history of pro football, culminating with the legendary championship game against Dallas now known as the “Ice Bowl,” in which Kramer would play a central role. Nor could he have anticipated that his diary would evolve into a book titled Instant Replay, first published in 1968, that would become a multimillion-copy bestseller and be celebrated by reviewers everywhere, including the Washington Post’s Jonathan Yardley, who calls it “to this day, the best inside account of pro football, indeed the best book ever written about that sport and that league.” I still remember the first time I read it. It was fantastic and is still one of my favourite books of all time. $17.79 from Amazon.com
The Game by Ken Dryden | I know I broke up with hockey last year but this was written during the golden age of hockey and the Montreal Canadiens dynasty of the 1970s. This is a wonderful book which goes a lot deeper than so many sports autobiographies that I have read over the years. It was named by Sports Illustrated in 2002 as one of the Top Ten in The Top 100 Best Sports Books of All Time. It was the number-one hockey book on the list. #9: “Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden was always different. A Cornell grad, he led Montreal to six Stanley Cups, then at 26 sat out a year to prepare for the bar exam. His book is different too: a well-crafted account of his career combined with a meditation on hockey’s special place in Canadian culture.” $15.61 at Amazon.com
Madden 11 | Madden NFL 11 is the 22nd version of EA Sports’ classic video game football franchise. Featuring cover athlete Drew Brees, Super Bowl XLIV MVP and quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, Madden NFL 11 incorporates a blend of simpler, quicker and deeper new features with time-tested classic features expected from a game in the Madden franchise. Features included in the PlayStation 3 version include Franchise mode, All-new GameFlow playcall system, dual stick control, extensive online functionality and more. It now allows you to play games in half the time – With an all-new playcall system, spend less time in the huddle and more time on the field as you experience the drama and excitement of a full game in less than 30 minutes. While you are learning, you can actually win now. New Coaching Tips automatically pause the game at critical points to help explain each situation as it unfolds. A revamped playcall system draws player routes on the field as in-game coach’s audio provides helpful hints to better execute the play. Available for PS3, Wii, PSP, and XBox at Amazon.com. If who you are buying for is more of a NCAA fan, don’t forget NCAA Football 2011.
Harvard Action Arena 7-Foot Air Hockey Table | Tired of heading to the pub every time you want to play air hockey? Enter the Harvard Action Arena 7-foot air hockey table, which brings the same exciting, fast-paced gameplay directly into your home. Designed for four players instead of two, the Action Arena is well constructed, with sturdy 4-by-1/2-inch L-style legs, a cross bar for added stability, and a 6-1/2-inch PVC laminate apron with silver trim. More importantly, the table plays fast and fun thanks to the smooth, glossy white laminated play bed and 110-volt motor. Other features include automated puck return goals, an electronic scoring system, four striking paddles, and four pucks. $637.47 and available from Amazon.com
A smaller and less expensive air hockey table can be found here for $149.00. . Sports table includes 2 puck pushers and 2 pucks. Hockey puck easily glides across the playing surface due the table’s powerful 110v 2400 rpm heavy duty fan and air box. Manual scoring. Table dimensions: 32 inches high x 28 inches wide x 60 inches long. Includes assembly and game play instructions.
If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides
- November 1st | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for Tween Boys
- November 4th | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for the Sports Fan
- November 8th | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for the Outdoorsman
- November 11th | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for Wives/Mothers of Your Kids
- November 15th | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for Really Smart People
- November 18th | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for Toddlers
- November 22nd | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for Husbands and Fathers (guest post by Wendy)
- November 25th | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for Geeks and Gadget Lovers
- December 2nd | 2010 Christmas Gift Guide for the Road Warrior
In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for Tween Boys
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for the Sports Fan
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for the Outdoorsman
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for the Geeks and Gadget Lovers
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for Really Smart People
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for Kids Under Two Years of Age
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for Fathers
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for Wives (and the mother of your kids)
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for the Road Warrior
- 2009 Christmas Gift Guide for Your Hard to Shop For Co-Workers
Les Carpenter at Yahoo! Sports has a good article on how Mike Shanahan’s constant search for the next John Elway is ruining his coaching career and the Washington football team.
When it comes to quarterback, the position he played and loved and has nurtured through his 35 years of coaching, Mike Shanahan is never a patient man.
After Brian Griese failed to be the acceptable replacement for John Elway in Denver, Shanahan dumped him. As Jake Plummer proved incapable of running his offense the coach replaced him midseason despite a 7-4 record.
In Shanahan’s quest for the next Elway, no player is infallible, no situation too absurd. If a quarterback displeases Shanahan as apparently Donovan McNabb has done, then he is a candidate for exclusion. Even if fewer than two minutes remain in a winnable game against a team you need to beat.
Shanahan’s late-game benching of McNabb on Sunday against the Detroit Lions still defies logic. And three days of his bungled attempts to explain the decision – claiming first that journeyman Rex Grossman was better-suited than a future Hall-of-Famer to run the two-minute offense, then changing a day later to claim McNabb wasn’t in the right cardiovascular condition to run the two-minute plays – was uncharacteristic of a coach who burns for perfection.
But this year must be so strange for Shanahan, who came to Washington believing the fierceness of his will could make these lousy Redskins a winner the way he always made his Broncos teams competitive in Denver. Halfway through this season, associates say, he has come to realize the team Vinny Cerrato built and left for him is not very good and no level of coaching – no matter how intense – is going to change that.
Those who have worked with Shanahan say his greatest strength, yet also his biggest weakness, is his certainty that he can improve anybody. In the past he has eschewed the good advice of scouts to watch highlight tapes of prospects, choosing to see only the best plays that player made, confident he can coax them to that level as if to say they hadn’t been coached by him.
When they fail to meet those standards he sours on them. Soon they wither and fade away.
And it appears Shanahan has soured on McNabb.
Okay the Raptors are going to be horrible this season. I really don’t want to cheer for them but according to the code of the sports fan by Bill Simmons I still have to, even after reviewing these exceptions. My comments are in red
Once you choose a team, you’re stuck with that team for the rest of your life … unless one of the following conditions applies:
- Your team moves to another city. All bets are off when that happens. In fact, if you decided to turn off that sport entirely, nobody would blame you. If only I was a Vancouver Grizzlies fan.
- You grew up in a city that didn’t field a team for a specific sport — so you picked a random team — and then either a.) your city landed a team, or b.) you moved to a city that fielded a team for that specific sport. For instance, one of my Connecticut buddies rooted for the Sixers during the Doctor J Era, then happened to be living in Orlando when the Magic came to town. Now he’s a Magic fan. That’s acceptable.
- One of your immediate family members either plays professionally or takes a relevant management/coaching/front office position with a pro team.
- You follow your favorite college star (and this has to be a once-in-a-generation favorite college star) to the pros and root for his team du jour … like if you were a UNC fan for the past 20 years, and you rooted for the Bulls (because of MJ) and then the Raptors (because of Vince). Only works if there isn’t a pro team in your area. Not a lot of University of Saskatchewan Huskies make it to the NBA
- The owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn’t take it anymore — you would rather not follow them at all then support a franchise with this owner in charge. Just for the record, I reached this point with the Boston Bruins about six years ago. When it happens, you have two options: You can either renounce that team and pick someone else, or you can pretend they’re dead, like you’re a grieving widow. That’s what I do. I’m an NHL widow. I don’t even want to date another team. This would give Toronto Maple Leafs an out.
So it’s going to be a bad season but I will continue to cheer for the Raptors as I have some faith in Jay Triano and Bryan Colangelo and I plan to channel a lot of my anger over this season onto Chris Bosh. For those of you who are fans of successful NBA franchises, please be kind to me as this season is going to be a long one.
Also I would like to extend my thanks to all of you who have not taunted me over the Denver Broncos debacle last weekend. These wounds are going to take some time to heal.
Update: The Ego that is Chris Bosh
Staring at the swath of Boston Celtics banners hanging from the TD Garden and at more television cameras than he claims he ever saw at his only previous NBA home, Bosh essentially said what many in Toronto suspected:
We weren’t big enough for him.
“I mean, really it’s all about being on TV at the end of the day,” Bosh said following the pre-game shoot around, the first look at the Miami Heat circus about to play at an arena near you all NBA season.
“Seriously, a guy can average (20 points and 10 rebounds) and nobody cares. If you don’t see it, it doesn’t really happen.”
Toiling in the perceived anonymity of Canada’s biggest market doesn’t really cut it for any NBA star worth his ego. These are the guys who lust for Sportscenter (the ESPN version) not Sportscentre (TSN style). Tuesday’s tip off to the season was broadcast nationally in both countries, although only one apparently matters to Bosh.
While I am at it, I might as well roll this article about LeBron James into this post.
When LeBron James was running roughshod over the Cleveland Cavaliers, it became common for him to respond to tough coaching and differing degrees of conflict with the sheer shutdown mode. There goes LeBron, stomping off to the locker room with a staff member in hot pursuit to talk him back into practice. Come on back, King. We need you.
James would mope back onto the floor, reluctant to be told that someone disagreed with his belief on a matter. The Cavaliers’ culture of enabling, letting things go and go, exacerbated these issues. James stayed in a cocoon of perpetual adolescence.
“His coping skills,” one perceptive ex-teammate said, “had been largely underdeveloped.”
It’s what I have always said, LeBron James is a 15 year old in a man’s body.
I am trying to figure out which city I should go to and take in an NFL game next year. Here are my requirements:
- The game can’t have Brett Favre playing in it.
- I want to see either a baseball game in it or a NCAA football game the same weekend.
- It needs to be within a 24 hour drive.
- It’s Mecca as far as I am concerned. I live and die for the Denver Broncos.
- I have no desire to see the Colorado Rockies play.
- Again, not sure if I want to see the University of Colorado play a Pac-10 matchup.
- That doesn’t look like a fun drive through Wyoming and I doubt Dick Cheney would let me crash at his place after some of the things that I have written about him here.
- Closest game to Saskatoon.
- Mark can stop in Winnipeg and pee on Canad Inns Stadium on the way by again.
- Can see the Minnesota Twins play in their new park.
- Mall of America.
- I do like Minneapolis
- Domed stadium.
- I really don’t like the Vikings.
- Brett Favre could send me a crude txt message.
- Mall of America is not that much different than West Edmonton Mall.
- I would feel bad driving to Minneapolis and not going to Solomon’s Porch because I was heading to a football game.
- It’s Seattle
- Pike’s Market
- I could take in a University of Washington game
- I can taunt them for drafting Brian Bosworth
- I may be able to talk Don Crawford into driving down and watching the game with us.
- We could stop in Calgary and I can have breakfast with Dave King.
- I lost so much respect for Pete Carroll after what happened at USC. It would bug me to support his salary with a game ticket.
- What if they wear their horrific third jersey’s.
- Soldier Field.
- Navy Pier.
- Sears (or whatever it is called now) Tower.
- Wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs, White Sox, or Northwestern play.
- Jay Cutler
- Mike Martz
- Bears fans in general are not the most enlightened.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Despite being a Denver Broncos fan since I was a kid, I have always loved the look of Arrowhead Stadium (as well as a huge fan of Hank Stram). While I like to cheer against the Chiefs, I have always wanted to go and see a game there. Now that I have seen what they have done in refurbishing Arrowhead, I want to go even more.
While I am not a big fan of Mosaic Stadium, it would be great to see some of these ideas incorporated into a refurbishment of Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, which I have long considered one of the great stadiums in North America.