December 4, 2003

Sox Fan's Journey in Wonderland

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Maybe it’s the massive amounts of tryptophan in last week’s 22lb turkey (yeah, size does matter). Maybe my neurons are overloaded by the K2-sized mountain of work that I have to do over the next three weeks (Everest may be higher, but K2 has the higher death-rate). Perhaps it’s because I’ve just ingested enough naproxin sodium to kill a small-to-medium-sized horse (my lower back decided to betray me last night, the bastard). In any case, I feel like I’ve fallen into some kind of looking-glass world where the spider crawling across my computer screen possesses the power of speech and has just signed a deal to pitch relief for the Yankees.

It’s been nothing but bedlam in the world of sports since my last column; this only adds to my catatonic state. Jon Navarre wins a big game, the Lions beat Brett Favre, and there’s a 14 year-old soccer player making more money than I ever will. What the hell is going on?

Clearly, now is no time to be writing coherently. I’m THIS close to pulling a Hemmingway and machine-gunning fish off the boathouse docks while imbibing vile champagne-absinthe cocktails in rapid succession. Not the most healthy of pastimes, but it worked for Papa. I, myself, do not have access to a machine gun, though the alcohol might help my back. As Jason Mraz would say, if I knew all the words, I would write myself out of here. But, I don’t. So, instead, here are some words on the last two weeks.

College Football

You can’t spell “the BCS is stupid” without BCS. The Bowl Championship Series has finally been outed for the moneymaking sham that it is. USC and LSU are 2 and 3, respectively, each with only one loss on the season. But why, exactly, is LSU considered a notch worse USC? Quick — gun to your head, which team deserves a berth in the Sugar Bowl? Hard to say, right? Not even the three people (I checked) on this campus from Louisiana would be able to muster an adequate argument. Yet, the opinions of mere mortals just like you and those three Louisianians, as well as a few computers (!) will determine the fate of these teams in the form of polls.

There is no way to establish a true hierarchy unless the USC and LSU play each other. Yet, schools are reluctant to have a playoff because it would involve a longer season, causing detriment to the academic pursuits of the players. Newsflash — Division I sports are year-round commitments; ending the season the first week of January instead of the third isn’t going to matter at all. Just like everything else in college, the real issue is money.

But the whole thing is moot anyway, because Oklahoma could take’em both behind the woodshed.


The Magic fired Doc Rivers for starting the season 1-10. His replacement has now gone 0-6. Good call.

This team was a strength in the playoffs last year. Currently, they’re worse than the Hawks. The GM should fire himself and hire someone who will trade a disgruntled T-Mac for a Kobe with something to prove. Hey, it’s not like it would be any worse.

Elsewhere, LeBron and Carmelo continue to exchange friendly fire on the road to the Rookie of the Year ceremony. We geniuses in the media vacillate between both camps — King James has better numbers, but Anthony’s team has more victories, two of which have come at the expense of LeBron’s Cavaliers. But, consider this: what if LeBron had a legitimate point guard, a strong inside presence to count on, and a talented bench — all luxuries afforded Carmelo?

And Kobe Bryant is still a punk.

College Basketball

Wow, those UConn dual title hopes shattered pretty fast, didn’t they? The men’s team almost lost to Yale, an embarrassment Emeka Okafor will have to relive during his presidential campaign in 2024.

But the real story in the college game is the advent of three new coaching regimes. Ben Howland takes over for Steve Lavin at UCLA, Roy Williams replaces Matt Doherty at UNC, and Bill Self supplants Williams at Kansas. Of the three, Self has the easiest job — Kansas is an established force in the Big 12 and is in no dire straits. Williams and Howland, however, have much bigger hills to climb. Both UCLA and UNC, two of college basketball’s sacred cows, have fallen upon hard times. The Tar Heels missed the Big Dance each of the past two years and mutinied under Doherty. Lavin’s Bruins went 10-19 last season, UCLA’s first losing record in 55 years. The game needs the Dean Dome and Pauley Pavillion as beacons of excellence, not cupcakes.


Can I just say that it’s a travesty that both Thanksgiving Day games are played in domes on artificial turf? That’s like eating your turkey dinner at McDonald’s.

I did enjoy the early game, though. The Lions dink-and-dunked all over the Packer defense, and harassed Brett Favre into a couple of ugly interceptions. When I pointed this out to my mother, a life-long Italian Vince Lombardi devotee, she threatened to end my life with a meat thermometer.

Needless to say, it was good times.

At least my mother can still be happy for me; the Patriots are looking frisky this year, just like they did during The Great Super Bowl Run of 2001-02.

(*Editor’s Note* Per Ostman means the “We Got Lucky and Invoked the Tuck Rule” run of 2001-02.)

If you caught the end of their game against the Colts on Sunday, you’ll agree with me. Nothing says “I’m going to Disneyland!” like a game-winning goal line stand.

And no, Bill Callahan, the Raiders are not the dumbest football team in the world. But you might be the dumbest football coach in the world. When you get fired in three weeks, I hear that Cornell has an opening.


Did you know that the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadians played a game of pond hockey? I’m not kidding; it was in a football stadium, outside and everything. No word on whether both teams went back to Jose Theodore’s house for hot chocolate and marshmallows when it got dark.

Major League Baseball

Where’s Dean Acheson and Robert McNamara when we really need them? Someone has to establish d