Wednesday, January 04, 2006

And Now, Sports
I usually write several football-themed posts in December and January, which doubtless bore the hell out of anyone not as obsessed with football as I am--and that probably includes most of the readers of this blog. Nevertheless, there are a couple of stories percolating at the moment of interest to me, so here goes.

Item number one: The Green Bay Packers completed their most awful season in 14 years last Sunday with a 23-14 win over the NFC's best team, Seattle, which had nothing to play for and was taking no chances on injuring its best players before the playoffs. Given the season-long will-he-or-won't-he speculation on retirement, Brett Favre's departure from the field after the game sure looked like a farewell. I told the family this past weekend that I expected Favre to return in 2006, but also that I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't. However: Since he's said that he doesn't want to learn a new offensive system this late in his career, and because the Packers fired coach Mike Sherman on Monday (unjustly, I think, despite the team's 4-and-12 record), and given that all of the coaching candidates scheduled for interviews so far come from outside the current circle (and that one of them, Ron Rivera, is a former Chicago Bear, for chrissakes), the odds that we've seen the last of Favre seem a lot greater today than they were 48 hours ago.

Item number two: Wisconsin's 24-10 win over Auburn in the Capital One Bowl on Monday was more than just another win. It was, next to the comeback win over Michigan in September, the most satisfying victory of this season and maybe longer. This was partly because the team sent coach Barry Alvarez into history with a win, partly because it a definitive victory over an on-paper-superior team, and partly because it seemed to befuddle ABC-TV's announcers, who had seen Auburn several times and figured the Badgers had no chance. Normally I'm a fan of Ron Franklin and Bob Davie, but it didn't sound to me like they'd done their homework this time. ABC's treatment of the game as a second-rate appetizer for the much-hyped BCS series was annoying, too, as if the Capital One were merely an excuse to promote the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and Rose Bowls that make up the series--and never mind that all but the Rose were as meaningless, in the grand scheme of things, as the Wisconsin-Auburn game.

The Rose Bowl/national championship game is tonight, and it will, if all the learned sports opinionmakers are to be believed, be the greatest game of the age, at the end of which the football gods will descend to Earth and take the winners bodily up to heaven. USC is going for its third straight championship and is on a 34-game winning streak, but Texas is supposed to be more than capable of giving USC all they can handle, and will quite possibly end the streak and take the title. All of this sounds strangely familiar. Last year, USC's equally hyped game against Oklahoma was no contest, and ended up 55-19. Prediction on tonight's game: USC 55, Texas 19.

Rearview Mirror: Thanks to Fimoculous.com, all of 2005's major best-of lists on most major subjects are in one place. A couple of my favorite lists from the bigger list include Regret the Error's summary of the year in media errors and corrections and the BBC's annual list of 100 things we didn't know this time last year. If you don't have time to browse the Fimoculous list, Alternet has helpfully provided its own list of the best lists of the year. My annual favorite among the best-of lists should be coming along later this week, I hope: the Buffalo Beast's 50 Most Loathsome Americans of 2005. To tide us over, the 2004 list is here.

The soundtrack for the writing of this post was provided by Salon's top 20 downloads of 2005, all free and compiled by the magazine's Thomas Bartlett, who is no relation, which is fine, because he's way too hip to fit in my family.

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