I May Be In The Minority…

…well actually, I know I am. I was in the minority of those who predicted the Broncos would win. I’m not exactly claiming I was alone in the wilderness on this one, as many writers and talking heads called the same outcome – but we were in the minority. The reason I thought the Broncos would win the game was two-fold; the Broncos’ pass rush and the Panther’s pass protection.

For some reason, most of the media had played Cam up to be Superman. And let me interrupt myself here by making it clear, I am not knocking Cam Newton at all. He won the regular season MVP, deservedly so. He was very difficult to stop all season long and in the playoffs, and presented a fairly unique challenge. But somehow the bulk of the media ignored that the Falcons handled this “unstoppable” team, 20-13. Cam was only 17-30 in that game. More importantly, Newton was sacked 33 times in the regular season. That’s a higher rate per pass attempt than the “immobile” Peyton Manning, by the way.

Att      Sacks   Pct

Newton    495       33       6.67

Manning  331         16      4.83

Osweiler  275         23      8.36

Just so you can see, it isn’t that Denver’s O-line is impregnable, it’s that Peyton was hard to sack. Anyway, yes, I’m well aware that Peyton got dropped by the Panthers five times, threw more than a few poor balls, even fumbled. The Panthers played a great game on defense.

Von crushes it

Unfortunately for them, the Broncos were even better. They compiled 52 sacks in the regular season, and added 7 more in their playoff run to the Big Game. So how is it a surprise they got to Cam? I’ll admit, I didn’t expect them to sack “Superman” six times. They also picked him off once, forced him to fumble twice, and held him to a pretty unspectacular 18-41. And if that sounds like I’m dogging Cam, I’m not. They did to the Panthers exactly what they did to the Patriots. Ton Brady gets rid of the ball faster than anyone, yet Von Miller and his merry wrecking crew were in his face that entire game. Cam gets rid of the ball pretty quickly, but not as fast as Tom. Cam was sacked 33 times in the regular season. So how and where did this narrative of Cam being unstoppable arise?

I’ll tell you what I think. I think that the Panthers got so little respect all season long, that when they finally blew out the Cardinals, a lot of the media felt compelled to flip back as hard as they could, and proclaimed this team as a heavy favorite. Going into this game, Cam was obviously the better quarterback, so at one level, it makes sense. Despite his stats, Cam was the better quarterback in the Super Bowl, too. Cam got away from several sacks, sheerly on his wits and athletic ability. The running game all but disappeared, too. So basically, it was Newton vs the Broncos D, and that’s a tough play. If Peyton had been playing against his own D, you could add a couple more sacks to that whipping.

Super Bowl Football

Again, I am not dogging Cam. With luck, he and the Panthers will be back – although there are no guarantees; just ask Dan Marino. But neither Super Bowl MVP Von Miller nor the rest of the ferocious Denver D was going to be denied tonight. So all the Cam haters can keep their hate in check – well, they won’t of course, but they should. Newton was about the only guy who showed up on offense for the Panthers; just as Tom Brady discovered, one person cannot beat eleven, Hall of Famer or not.

By the way, I also stated that I believed Peyron would manage to shake off the past two years of accumulated injuries; that certainly didn’t happen. As he stated, he’s no longer the lead singer, but he can solo a few times here and there. Tonight, Von Miller took the lead, and crushed it.

NFL: Super Bowl 50-Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos

I may be in the minority, but here’s what I think: while Cam isn’t Superman, he isn’t a bumbling Clark Kent either. He’s an extraordinary football player who ran into an extraordinary defense. He’ll be back; I’m sure he’d just as soon never see Von Miller across from him again, though.

 

 

 

I May Be In The Minority…

…but don’t worry, your regularly scheduled rant will return in this slot soon enough. For now, we’ll return to those halcyon days of yesteryear in 10th grade English: choose a subject, then compare and contrast, Mr. Vandenberg. Today we’ll learn why baseball movies totally rule, and football movies are the worst.

Baseball is a far different sport than football, as George Carlin famously described in his classic routine. Baseball, played at its own pace, encourages talk and reflection. Football, governed by the ever-ticking clock, is best discussed and digested after the game. In my mind, films about the sports reflect this aspect as well. Of course there are exceptions, as we’ll see. But baseball films tend to be more personal, deeper and richer than football films. I’ll rank my favorites from 20 through 11, comparing the baseball movie to its football counterpart. I made the cutoff at twenty because frankly, there aren’t a lot of great football movies. This forced me to leave out some pretty good baseball flicks like The Sandlot, Alibi Ike, It Happens Every Spring, Angels in the Outfield, and Ed. Yeah, just seeing if you were paying attention with Ed.

I haven’t matched films for similar themes, although in some cases they do match up well; this is simply my personal ranking of the movies. I’m including the Rotten Tomato score, or in the case of older films the IMDB user rating, scaled to match the 0-100 scale.

Jackie-Robinson-Story

20. The Jackie Robinson Story, 1950, 63. Not a great film, but it’s pretty awesome to see one of the all-time greats portraying himself, even a deeply sanitized retelling of his struggles. The story is better told in the terrific 42.

20. Everybody’s All-American, 1988, 30. A college star fades, and finds that life sucks. Dennis Quaid is good, at least.

19. The Life and Time of Hank Greenberg, 2000, 97. This documentary shows that Greenberg had his own battles to be accepted in baseball. The lesson of America: don’t be different.

19. All the Right Moves, 1983, 53. Tom Cruise does good work as an angsty high school football star.

18. Fear Strikes Out, 1957, 82. Tony Perkins is terrible as a ballplayer, but exceptional portraying the emotional battles of Red Sox star Jimmy Piersall.

18. Varsity Blues, 1999, 40. A CW take on high school football, years before the CW began.

17. Ballplayer: Pelotero, 2012, 88. Great documentary that focuses on two kids in the Dominican Republic and the signing process in the MLB. By the way, Dominican means Shortstop in Spanish.

17. The Replacements, 2000, 41. Coach Gene Hackman turns to a bunch of scrubs when the real players go out on strike. Keanu Reeves proves to be a baller.

16. 61*, 2001, 80. This HBO feature follows Maris and Mantle in their chase of Ruth’s single season record. Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane shine in their respective roles. Thank you, Billy Crystal! Yep, that Billy Crystal, who not only produced the film, he directed it as well.

16. Knute Rockne, All American, 1940, 68. Pat O’Brien plays the legendary Notre Dame coach, and Ronald Reagan impersonates George Gipp. You know, win one for the Gipper? Yeah, we got eight years of him because of this movie.

15. Major League, 1989, 82. C’mon, you know this movie. I’ll say, “Just a bit outside”, and leave it at that.

any_given_sunday

15. Any Given Sunday, 1999, 51. Al Pacino is loud, Cameron Diaz is mean, and Dennis Quaid (again) plays ball. At least Quaid and Jamie Foxx looked like they could play.

14. The Rookie, 2002, 83. Damn, that Quaid guy sure likes sports roles. Here, he plays high school coach Jim Morris, who at the age of 35 regained his fastball and played two years in the bigs. Yes, it’s a true story. Amazing.

14. Invincible, 2006, 71. Another “old guy makes it” story, in this case with Mark Wahlberg as Vince Papale, who debuted with Philadelphia Eagles at the age of 30. Oddly enough, this is the only film at which Dick Vermeil never cried.

13. The Stratton Story, 1949, 83. Jimmy Stewart plays pitcher Monty Stratton, who managed to get back to the minors after losing his leg in a hunting accident. The film won the Oscar for best screenplay.

13. The Blind Side, 2009, 66. Another real-life story, about the journey of Michael Oher, who came from a tough background to a career in the NFL. Naturally, the white lady won the Oscar. Yep, I went there.

moneyball

12. Moneyball, 2011, 94. A great look at the mechanics of how teams are assembled, and sabermetrics. Yes, I am a geek. Oh yeah, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill rock this flick.

12. Undefeated, 2011, 96. This story of a small-town, resource poor team that won it all won the Oscar for best documentary. No flippant comment; this is a great movie.

11. Bang The Drum Slowly, 1973, 88. Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarity are terrific in this story about a not-too-bright catcher and the world-wise pitcher who takes him under his wing.

semitough

11. Semi-Tough, 1977, 80. Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, and Jill Clayburgh are at their peak in this funny, sexy look at two football pros, their mutual girlfriend, and the weirdness that was the 70s.

The average Rotten Tomato score for the baseball flicks is 84. For the football movies, it’s 59.6. While these are my personal rankings, the overall scores for baseball compared to football changes little including the top ten. So those rankings may be biased, but they’re not my bias. And we haven’t even gotten to my personal top ten movies – sure, there are some great football flicks, but nothing that stands up to the best of baseball.

So maybe football movies aren’t the worst, unless they’re football movies with Adam Sandler. For once I’m in the majority – football movies aren’t as good as baseball movies. The worst critic’s consensus score was 63 for The Jackie Robinson Story; all other baseball-themed films scored at least 76. There are twelve football movies that scored under 76, five under 50. Baseball just lends itself to storytelling better than football. Add a great cinematic team, and baseball is magical in a way that football just can’t reach.

I may be in the minority, but I’d rather watch a replay of Game One of the ’88 World Series than Super Bowl 50 live. Or even It Happens Every Spring.

Examining Athletes, Baby Daddy’s and today’s society!

puff-daddy-mase-shiny-suits2In my world – I’m the father that spends time editing a parental blog – which operates in the heart of TriBeCa, NY. My world-renowned nationally syndicated BTR (Late Night Parents) podcast is consumed by millions – maybe even billions globally!  Well, now back to reality – It’s 2016 – and management is ensuring that I fulfill my HHN contract.  So, on a regular basis – you’ll get a bi-weekly rant from yours truly. As you already know – I also co-host Baseball, Beer & BBQ with two of the roughest, toughest SOBs in the business. (aka MGMT) Continue reading “Examining Athletes, Baby Daddy’s and today’s society!”

Football, Violence and the American Way by Lee Vowell

We Americans love our football. And we Americans love our violence. One could assume the reason we love our football is because it is a violent sport and, well…it is ours. No place else in the world truly cares about the sport anywhere close to the way we do. We invented it! And yes, since we are the greatest nation a divine power ever allowed to be on the Earth and we are THE global power – we tell this to ourselves, you know – we will force upon other cities and nations our sport. Hello, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe, the World! Germany! We see you! You people already have our blue jeans, our bloody action films, our music…try our sport as well. We promise. You will love it! And we know, you already have your own violent sports, but they are just so you. Before you even start to trade sports with us, let me tell you why we do not want to really, like long-term, embrace yours. Continue reading “Football, Violence and the American Way by Lee Vowell”

“Suh Me – I Am Not A Fan” By Todd Vandenberg

First, I’m not going to apologize for writing about football on the BB&B blog. I’m sure Ndamukong Suh has eaten plenty of barbeque and drunk plenty of beer – or if he hasn’t, he could. And now he’ll be getting his fill in Miami with the Dolphins. And I am not happy about that, at all.

I am indeed a Dolphin fan, have been since before the glory days of the early ’70’s. Back in those first glory days, the Fins were known for a tough, swarming defense, anchored by guys like Manny Fernandez and Nick Buoniconti. In the 80’s they had the Killer B’s, with Bob Baumhower, the Blackwood brothers, and non-B (but definitely killer) A.J. Duhe. And now Miami has added a guy with the chance to be their best defensive player ever in Ndamukong Suh. Continue reading ““Suh Me – I Am Not A Fan” By Todd Vandenberg”

“Sour Grapes and Cats” by Lee Vowell

First, I will get the obvious question out of the way: “Why?” Why would anyone make the choice to throw on second and goal with two timeouts left and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield and 20 seconds left in any game? Not just the Super Bowl, but any game. This ill-fated decision by the Seattle Seahawks that ended up being an interception by the New England Patriots sealed the game for the Patriots and they won Super Bowl number four. Continue reading ““Sour Grapes and Cats” by Lee Vowell”