Ando’s Wide World of Sports

vlad.jpgI’m in something equating sports heaven right now.  With the notable exception of the SF Giants (and my fantasy baseball team which finished in the cellar), all my favorite sports teams are doing remarkably well this year.  In the NFL my Green Bay Packers have shocked everyone by starting the season 4-0 (that’s fours wins and no losses, Kludge).  And it’s not like they’ve been playing patsies either.  They’ve beaten the perennial Super Bowl contender Philadelphia Eagles, the enigmatic NY Giants, the San Diego Chargers who were 14-2 last season (that’s fourteen wins and two losses, Kludge), in a game in which they held LaDanian Tomlinson, arguably the leagues most dominant player last season, to under 100 yards rushing.  Then last week they defeated longtime rival, and my dad’s faves, the Minnesota Vikings, at the Metrodome, in a game that saw QB Brett Favre break Dan Marino’s all-time passing touchdown record.  Favre is probably my favorite athlete of all time.  Watching him play in his prime was awesome.  The way he played the game made him extremely fun to watch.  He played hard, you knew he was having fun, and he wasn’t afraid to take chances.  You gotta love a guy like that.  In recent years, his penchant for risk-taking has hurt him, and the team, leading many a sportwriter to say that the Pack and Brett’s legacy would be better served if he rode off into the sunset.  But so far this season he has them eating some savory crow.  He’s thrown eight TD’s to only one interception in leading his very young Packer team, youngest average age in the league actually, to a very hot start.

On the gridiron in the collegiate world, California Berkley is off to its best start, maybe ever.  For the first time in over 50 years Cal is ranked in the top five, coming in at number three.  Their high-powered offense is fun to watch, especially wide receiver DeSean Jackson.  This guy is incredible.  Even his moves have moves and he’s obscenely fast.  I didn’t go to Cal, but my grandpa grew up in Berkley so we’ve all been Cal fans in the family.  He would be so excited at the season they are having.  They’ve got a long way to go yet, and some very tough Pac-10 games up ahead, but its been fun so far and should continue to be so.  This could be the year they finally get back to the Rose Bowl.

As great as my football allegiances have been to me this young season, nothing gets me as excited in the sports world as postseason baseball, with my Angels as participants.  The Halo’s had a great regular season, overcoming a ton of injuries to key players and a late season scare from the Seattle Mariners, to clinch their third American League Western Division title in four years.  Guys brought in off the bench or from the minors stepped up when they needed to and manager Mike Soscia turned in another brilliant season of lineup juggling.  And of course Vladimir Guerrero was awesome as usual.  I love watching him play for the same reasons I love to watch Brett Favre.  He looks like he’s actually enjoying himself out there.  He plays hard and with reckless abandon, which, like Favre, can sometimes get him into trouble.  But more often than not, it leads to something amazing happening (like last year when he scored from second base on a sacrifice bunt!).  The Angels begin their playoff run today against the Boston Red Sox.  They’ve met the Red Sox in the playoffs twice before, in 1986 and 2004, both with disasterous results.  Hopefully this is the year we slay the red stockinged giant.

In the world of sports fandom, things can go from very good to very bad in a heartbeat. 

The Packers don’t have a running game at all, which will allow defenses to key on Favre, forcing him to make those ill-advised throws that have been so lamented.  As Favre goes, so go the Packers.

As I said before, Cal has some very tough Pac-10 oppenents up ahead, including USC.  In college football, all it takes is one loss to drop you from any dream of contention.  Not to mention QB Nate Longshore took a bad hit late in the game last Saturday which could leave him hobbled and less effective.

For the Angels, they couldn’t have drawn a worse card for the first round of the playoffs.  Not only have they struggled against Boston in years past, but this year as well.  Especially at Fenway park.  They are not a picture of perfect health either.  Starting center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. will not be playing in the first round due to a bad knee and ankle.  Other important guys like Chone Figgins and Vlady will play, but are dinged up.

So, you can see that the sports fan has got to appreciate what he’s got when he’s got it.  Which is probably why we do get so crazy when our teams are doing well.  Their’s no guarantees for next year.  When the Angels lost to the Red Sox back in ’86, they didn’t reach the playoffs again until 2002.  In sports you have to live for the moment.

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