Sunday, September 13, 2015

All That Hype, A Long Season Ahead, and Vera

Now that most of the surgical nonsense is out of the way (I discovered the lozenges, drinking cold water, and ibuprofen are doing the trick for the throat while cotton gauze dressing [or pads], neosporin, and ginormous bandages are helping the open wound in the belly button to heal), it's time to get back into the swing of things. Like getting ready for the High Holy Days.

Nah, I'll worry about that later. I miss my sports.

This weekend was a great opportunity to be reintroduced to the glorious season that is the National Football League (American football).  The season started off on Thursday night as the defending champions, the New England Patriots, squared off at home against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers.
As a die hard Cleveland Browns fan, it's hard to chose who to root for when two teams that are just that good face each other. Do I pick the Steelers, with their legendary "Steel Curtain" defense, or do I pick the chessmaster that is Head Coach Bill Belichick and his Patriot army, fresh from their "Deflategate" scandal?

Eh, rule number one of being a Browns fan is you always root for the Browns. Rule number two is you always root against the Steelers. So I picked the Patriots. The score at the end of the game, 28-21 Patriots (Patriots 28-21 Steelers), looks as if this game was a close match. However, when you factor in the gaping absence of Steeler Defense Coordinator Dick LeBeau (he is now with the Tennessee Titans), and the footballs had "no issue of being under inflated," I expected the Patriots to wipe out the Steelers' lackluster looking defense and win by a larger margin. Oh well; a win is a win.

Fast forward to yesterday, heh, with Soccer Saturday (European football). Supposedly, the English Premier League's "Match of the Day," or MOTD, was an anticipated matchup between Manchester United against Liverpool. It's a shame the game, Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool (3-1 Manchester United), was a snooze fest for the entire first half, as neither team scored. It was only when United was up 2-0 that some spectacular scoring was made. The first goal was by Liverpool Forward Christian Benteke, as he did a tribute to Péle with an overhead kick into the net nobody could touch. The other goal came from the €80 million man, Anthony Martial (say: mar-TEEL), Forward for United, as he played surgeon and sliced up the Reds' defense with scalpel precision, firing the ball into the net practically unchallenged.

I really wanted to see how well Liverpool played. Yesterday's match was not what I was looking for. The same can be said for Chelsea when they went to Goodison Park to challenge Everton (my EPL team for this season). This game was truly the Match of the Day, as Chelsea didn't have problems with Everton Goalkeeper Tim Howard, but rather with their Midfielder, Steven Naismith. Naismith, who wears the number 14 jersey for the Toffees (heh, 14 is my favorite number), did all the Everton scoring via the hat trick, destroying the Blues 3-1 (Everton 3-1 Chelsea). What made the match more special was the enthusiasm of the Everton fanbase. It was seriously infectious. It got so loud and boisterous that the crowd noise decibel levels could have matched the roar from CenturyLink Field, home of both the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and the Seattle Sounders (MLS).  Maybe both United and Liverpool can feed off some of that energy in the weeks ahead.

In the Russian Premier League, I am rooting for Zenit St. Petersburg (the St. Petersburg Zenith). Their match yesterday against Moscow CSKA (Central Sports Club of the Army) almost made Chelsea and Liverpool look good in their matches. I wanted to reach out and give Zenith Defender Nicholas Lomberts a big hug; he and I know what it's like to inadvertently place the football into your own net (mine took place in the third grade, thus crushing my dreams of becoming a soccer star). And for a good portion of the match, the Zenith did not look like they belonged in the same country, let alone the same playing field, as CSKA.  What I do admire about the Zenith is that they faced adversity and never backed down, scoring two goals to equalize CSKA's one and one freebie to finish at a 2-2 draw. I'm going to keep my eye on Zenith Goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin in future matches; he pretty much gave his team the fire to continue in this game when the team had absolutely no reason to.

And finally, NFL Sunday arrived. My long time beloved Cleveland Browns kicked off their 2015-16 campaign against the New York Jets. I predicted the Browns would finish this season at 3 wins and 13 losses (3-13). Based on today's 31-10 punishment at the Meadowlands, my prediction may be too optimistic. In the first quarter, the Browns lose their starting Quarterback, Josh McCown, to a nasty spinning dive into the end zone, where the ball popped out when he came crashing back to Earth. That and expectations of a somewhat decent season went down with McCown. So backup Quarterback Johnny Manziel (say MAN-zell) took over and gave the Browns a 10-7 lead. And then the Jets realized that they were playing against the Browns, and managed to score 24 unanswered points. There was one critical point in the game; Jets Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin got severely hurt during a fumble which caused the Browns to turn the ball over to the Jets. And it did not look pretty. At all. When Mauldin got up and took a couple of steps, he fell, face first, back onto the field. You know that pindrop cliché? It would apply to this because everyone went dead silent for a few moments until the medical team took Mauldin off the field and later to the hospital. As of this post, he has an injury involving both his head and neck.

Oh! I forgot about the Ohio State Buckeyes! They easily handled the Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors, 38-0, at Ohio Stadium. This was a match in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1-A football league, both teams represented the colleges of the Ohio State University and the University of Hawai'i, respectively.

Welp, time for me to get ready for the High Holy Days. Erev Rosh Hashanah starts in a couple of hours.

L'Shanah Tovah!

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