Monday, January 15, 2007

Ravens vs. Colts Redux

I wasn't surprised by the Indy victory in Baltimore. It was a set up all the way. How could the Ravens actually be favored against a team that has dominated the league for the past five years? The Colts had all the motivation they needed. After all, they only missed making it to the Superbowl last year by inches against the Steelers. Remember the defensive back who intercepted the pass and couldn't juke Roethelsberger because of a knife wound? Instead of acting like it was a done deal, the Ravens should have played it like they were the underdogs. The defense performed well but the offense never hit stride all season. They showed flashes of brilliance under McNair, but the unit never completely jelled. In fact, the Ravens have never had a potent offense in all the years they have been in Baltimore. Resurrecting the ghost of Irsay moving the Colts in 1984 made the loss even tougher to take. It was Irsay who ran the franchise into the ground. Many lackluster teams took the field under Irsay's ownership. Remember Columbia Lion QB Marty Domres at the helm of quarterback trying to compete against the likes fo Namath. Even when the Colts were good enough to challenge the Raiders and Snake Stabler, Coach Ted "Furrowed Brow" Marchibroda relegated Bert Jones, owner of the strongest arm in football, to screen passes and running plays. Stealing the Colts was a horrible moment for this fan. I will never follow the Indy 500 Colts, but I think they have a talented team and a great quarterback. They are exciting to watch and one day they will win it all with Manning at the helm. As a professional football fan, I am a disenfranchised soul wandering the desert. I jumped on the Giants bandwagon in the 90s when I lived in NYC, having played sports as a kid with Sean Landeta, but the Baltimore Colts will always be my team. Perhaps Manning is the quarterback for a new generation just as Unitas was, and it will be the city of Indianapolis that reasserts the prominence of the NFL in the years ahead. Peyton is the poster child for a league that badly needs some likable characters. And let us not forget the place of Baltimore in the history of the NFL as it helped put the league on the map in 1958 in what is still the greatest game ever played and once again in 1969 losing to the Jets. Needless to say, I will be pulling for the Bears in two weeks.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Even Richard Nixon Has Got It

President Ford's recent passing rekindled memories of the Nixon era, one of the most interesting times to be alive in this country. I remember watching the Watergate hearings and Nixon's resignation as a boy. I was attending a conference in Anaheim when Nixon died in 1994. The night his body arrived in California, the Orioles were scheduled to play the Angels and I had tickets to the game. It was sunny in Anaheim but you could see clouds in the direction of Nixon's home. Hail pounded the coffin as it came off the plane, little balls bouncing off the lacquered finish. George Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and George Schulz were all at the ceremony. The Orioles crushed the Angels that night, 18-6, unleashing an uncustomary barrage for the middling outfit they were in those days. They looked like the team that played when Nixon was President. He would venture over to Baltimore to see them play on occasion.

I also enjoyed the transcripts that were printed between Ford and Nixon during the Watergate days. "Tell them to get off their asses and say something, Jerry," Nixon implored his buddy to galvanize support around an embattled President. Nixon knew the importance of spin and Ford was the loyal soldier. In the end, Nixon revealed a human side never before seen.

His legacy is currently enjoying a mild renaissance as the subject of a hit play, Frost vs. Nixon on London's Broadway. The play takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Frost-Nixon Interviews wich captivated the nation in 1977. Nixon is played by Frank Langella who delivers an expert performance as our most demon-addled President. Langella, most recently of HBO's "Unscripted" where he played Godard, a creepy acting teacher, used his height to accentuate Nixon's authoritative presence. The play will be turned into a movie by Ron Howard at some point and I highly recommend it. The human side of Nixon entertained me for two hours as Frost frantically tried to save the interviews, going for the jugular in the last round. Did Frost know in 1977 how intertwined Hollywood and Washington would become?

The pardon of Nixon may have paved the way for questionable if not law-breaking acts committed by the Reagan administration and those of the current team in the White House. In fact, bugging an office looks innocent enough compared to what is happening today. Articles have speculated that he may relinquish his position in the basement as one of the worst leaders in our nation's history. Opening the gates of China through detente and introducing us to panda bears make him look prophetic now.

As of today, we have lost 6,000 people to the war against us (3,000 on September 11th and 3,000 in the Iraq war) and we are no closer to resolution than we were on those wistful, naive days before planes crashed into our buildings. We have not shut down the terrorists--we have gotten better at it--but we have not made a dent in their operations.

We are now poised to send over 20,000 more troops to Iraq to expand our presence in the region and enable the Iraqis to quell the unrest. There will never be "rest" as long as we are there. This action will accomplish something. We will effectively place more than 100,000 body parts at risk--heads, arms, and legs--newly susceptible to IEDs. When the smoke clears from this error in judgment, the Presidency will be an artifical limb.

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