Monday, January 23, 2006

NUFCED by wikkidpissah

Time for another drive down Nostalgia Lane. Yeah, I know, we were there just last week, as I shared my Seattle football memories. If you come along this time, though, I promise I’ll take you to Isaly’s for a chipped ham sandwich & a cone. Then maybe down to the Strip for a rap & a tap. For Pittsburgh is my sports home-away-from-home.

My mother, her brother Bob & I are the only rabid sports fans on either side of my family. When my uncle got a job teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, it broke up our little clique but it opened to me my first chance to see sporting events outside of Boston. Uncle Bob had two daughters and a son who was...well...he grew up to be an award-winning choreographer and director of the movies “Chicago” and “Memoirs of a Geisha” can guess what kind of sports fan he was. That made me Bob’s sports son so, in the two weeks each summer I got farmed out to the Steel City, we watched game after game together. Now, even at sixties’ ticket prices, a game a day at Forbes Field was too costly for an associate professor. Fortunately, Uncle Bob’s office, on the 17th floor of the Cathedral of Learning (the tallest school building in the world and, at one time, the tallest building outside New York) offered a clean, though distant, view of the Pirates at play below. So each day my Aunt Anne would pack us a basket with a transistor radio, binoculars and some cucumber sandwiches and send us on our way for some low-cost fandom. Then, Three Rivers – first weekend I went there (and, though beautifully situated, it always looked to me like a spaceship at the ready to evacuate Planet Earth in the wake of a catastrophe) I saw Roberto Clemente’s 3000th hit and last game. And, when I was on tour in the music biz as a young man, I’d always schedule a stop to Da Burgh to see a Pirate or Steeler game with Uncle Bob. He’s retired and moved away now, but I called him after yesterday’s game and he was as
happy as he’d be were he there.

Isn’t it fortuitous that, the season I start a football blog, the conference champions are teams of whose locales and fans I have some intimate knowledge. Let’s have a look at the rather one-sided games which parented that coincidence:

PGH 34 DEN 17
The formula holds up – the team whose defense kicks ass and offense don’t suck has to be your favorite to make it to the dance every time, no matter how offense-oriented a season has been...The key to this game was how many times the Denver D let the Steeler O off the hook on 3rd & long. The Pats were a good 3rd-down team during their run, but they didn’t have to go so far as often as Pgh...Did John Whisenhunt just win the Raiders’ HC job in that game or what?! G’ahead, take it Johnny – Al “Gollum” Davis can’t live forever. He’s prolly just waiting for us to finally bomb Osama’s cave so he won’t be the slimiest piece o’ shit in Hell...The Broncos are Albuquerque’s “home” team, so I’ve seen every game of Snake’s Denver career. He’s been a lot better than I thought and was a big reason they made it this far, but there’s one thing he just can’t do – come from behind. He did an admirable job escaping the Steeler rush in the 2nd half, but his decision-making with a sizable deficit to make up is always just terrible...Only bad thing about this game was that Hines Ward’s TD-cancelling penalty on Bus’ 2nd run to the goal kept me from winning Fanball’s Deathmatch.

SEA 34 CAR 14
I don’t know if Fox miked the game differently for the Conference Championship, but that was the loudest sports crowd I’ve ever heard on television. As I alluded to last week, I’d rather try to make myself heard at Ozfest than at the old Kingdome games, but the joint was REALLY rockin’ for this one. I mean, 4th quarter, ahead a million-to-three and it as defeaning as at the kickoff...I called for NGoings to be the Cats’ starter on a couple of occasions this season but, the way the Seahawks salivated over having only him to stop makes me wonder...Never mind six feet, is Tatupu even 5’ 10”? I don’t think so – he looks like the world’s fattest point guard in the huddle...I guess Little Stevie Wonder CAN be defended from scrimmage...Have you EVER seen a special-teams blocking-related penalty flag picked up before? Do you reeeally think the Conference Championship is the time to start with that?! Only “Skating with Celebrities” is lamer than the postseason officiating this year.

Speaking of figure skating (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that), I sure hope NBC doesn’t get Super Bowl coverage as part of their new TV deal with the NFL. That network becomes sooo skate-mad once winter arrives (channel-surfing during commercials last week, I saw their skaters weaving between gymnastics displays as some American Idol also-ran sang patriotic songs – possibly the gayest moment in the history of broadcasting) they’ll try to find a way to put a Bus or Manning on blades at some point. Although it would be fun to see Jagger & Richards do a Lutz at halftime. Play hard -

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