Friday, September 02, 2011

Calling My Shots: 2011 NFL Predictions

I have decided to actually record my NFL predictions this year to demonstrate my soothsaying powers (or documents how wrong I am). Is there a bit of a Homer-feel to these predictions. Sure. But for the first time in 10 seasons, I'm really excited for the home team:

East - New England
North - Pittsburgh
South - Houston
West - San Diego
Wild Cards - Baltimore, Indianapolis

East - Dallas
North - Green Bay
South - Atlanta
West - Arizona
Wild Cards - New Orleans, St. Louis

Super Bowl: Atlanta defeats HOUSTON...

Yep, I'm picking my Texans to the Super Bowl. Call me a homer, call me delusional, call me Al... whatever. I really like this Houston team. Explosive offensive, and a defensive that will improve by attacking under Wade Phillips.

Other interesting items -

1. I think Atlanta may be the best team in the NFL, the Falcons or the Patriots.

2. I have Kolb in the playoffs and Vick out.

3. I think Dallas may be quite good. And I don't trust Mike Vick to stay healthy.

4. The Rams keep improving. I don't have a real good feeling on this, but the schedule is inviting and frankly I needed a 5th new team (see below).

5. For many years now, 5 teams that made the playoffs the previous season do not return to the playoffs. Often it is a Super Bowl team. I've tried to hold true to that (although I do have both GB and Pitt returning to the playoffs).

Playoff teams from last year that I do not have returning:
New York Jets - I question their QB, WRs, and think the running game will fall off.
Kansas City - Much more difficult schedule and San Diego will win more.
Chicago - I think they played over their heads last year and are worse this year.
Seattle - They are worse than the 7-9 they snuck in with last year.
Philadelphia - As I mentioned, I've never trusted Mike Vick to stay healthy and V. Young is not an NFL QB, even as a backup.

Texans to the Super Bowl...clearly I'm just crazy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

To Believe or to Live?

I'm becoming more and more convinced that within the churches of Christ, it's more important to "believe" the right things than to "do" the right things. Living Christ is far less important that believing the right things.

Does it really matter what you believe if you don't live as Christ? Does it really matter if you get every doctrine right if you don't feed hungry people? Is it more important to believe right on baptism if you don't meet people's physical and spiritual needs?

Is it even possible to live as Christ in a church fellowship where the most important thing is believing the right things? I don't know anymore.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Launch Site or Final Destination?

Anyone else reading since its launch yesterday?

My thoughts thus far:

> Klosterman = +. His pieces have been fascinating (which I was expecting) and, frankly, touching (which I was not).

> The reality fantasy draft post (about a fantasy draft of reality tv characters wherein points are earned by various horrific, yet totally expected, behavior) included the following line: "We encourage you to start your own leagues, suggest changes to our system, or just read these posts and mumble to yourself, 'I thought this site had Malcolm Gladwell?'" That may be the funniest thing I have ready in months. I literally laughed out loud uncontrollably - probably because as I was reading that trainwreck of a post, that is exactly what I was thinking.

> The writing has been absorbing. These are genuinely creative, talented, and (I just can't think of a better adjective) great writers. You can just lose yourself in the worlds they are creating -- mid-80's North Dakota junior college basketball...Wembley stadium...Wrigley...a freaking video game review when I don't play video games... When reading this stuff, I have become somewhat lost in the worlds created by these writers, and it's almost a shock to come to the end of the piece and leave those worlds. The essays (thus far) are deeply compelling, even when they are about the most trivial of subjects.

> As gripping the writing has been...the site is just "meh" at best. At best. I actually like the attempt to keep it simple, but it's just not easy. Once a column has fallen off the mainpage, where does it go? Go to columnists and you only get Simmons and Klosterman. You have to search for prior columns - there does not appear (yet) to be an archive or an ability to click on an author and find their work. I think this needs to be cleaned up relatively quickly.

> But, mainly, it has Simmons writing regularly again. I've got this sneaky suspicion that he may wind up as the President of ESPN one day soon, (FN1) and he's had so many irons in the fire recently that the writing has just fallen way off. What - a column every two weeks or so? That makes sense. I don't like it, but it makes sense. He's so good (in my opinion) that he's been pulled in a million directions and it just takes time and focus to sit down and draft 5,000 words that won't ruin the reputation he has developed. But Grantland may be getting him back to his writing roots, at least that's what I'm hoping. Granted, three pieces in two days is because of the "launch." But, if this site has him focused on a column a week, it's well worth it. And writing is what he does best.

The question becomes is this Simmons' launch site? Does the "Editor-in-Chief" want to move onto to further executive positions? Or is this right where he wants to be, and where he'll be content to stay. No idea, but it will certainly be interesting to watch... or rather read.

FN1 - There was a long feature on Simmons and the launch of Grantland in the NY Times Magazine on May 30. In the midst of it there was a throwaway moment in which Simmons was at a LA Lakers game with the author/interviewer and they see Stephen A. Smith (who does not notice them) walking by. Upon seeing Stephen A. go by, Simmons tells the interviewer, "We need to do a better job of protecting out talent. ... He's a guy who should be writing more. We let him become too big a yakker." Look, Simmons has the most widely read sports column on the internet, he is (in large part) the creator of the exceptionally high-quality '30 for 30' series of documentaries (maybe the most critically acclaimed thing ESPN has ever done); and now he's the Editor-in-Chief of, an ESPN spinoff. Call me crazy, but I think he could be running ESPN someday soon.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Symphony in Space...

Last weekend, I had one of the truly special experiences of my life... Our family has a package of tickets to the Houston Symphony's season of family performances (3 or 4 shows). Last weekend (2-Apr) was the last show of the 2010-2011 season, entitled "Symphony in Space." It was really great. But one part of the show stood out... At about the mid-point, the conductor (dressed as an alien...yes, conductors in Houston do that for the kids) called out an actual astronaut, the distinguished Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield on Twitter) who will command the final shuttle mission next year and spend six months on the International Space Station as well.

In addition to "just" being an astronaut commander (what am I doing with my life) he sings and plays guitar. His brother, just by chance (WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE???), composed a song about him going up in his first mission called "Big Smoke." [FN] Cmdr. Hadield played guitar and sang the song during the Symphony's performance, along with a chorus of children from a local school. [Yes, in addition to being a Space Shuttle commander, he was an accomplished guitarist and singer.]

After the performance, Cmdr. Hadfield took questions from the audience. At first, my son Noah was throwing his hand in the air to ask a question. I immediately told him to put his hand down. I asked him if he had an actual question to ask. He did not [of course]. After about a fifteen count he told me he did have a question. He explained it to me and I told him that was a good question, and he put his hand up, way up, again.

Belive it or not (we had pretty good seats) the conductor called on "the boy in the striped shirt," -- Noah!!!

"What does if feel like to float in space?"

Noah asked that question loud and strong -- in front of about 4,000 people filling Jones Hall.

Cmdr. Hadfield ( @Cmdr_Hadfield ) proceeded to answer Noah, in detail, for several minutes. He called a little girl out of the chorus who had pig tails and demonstrated how your hair floats in space; talked about how your blood doesn't flow down to your feet without gravity so you have to do certain exercises in space; and how you eat without gravity in space.

I was floored. This was my son asking a real life astronaut -- commander -- what it was like to float without gravity in space. And the commander answered the question in such detail and with such deliberateness, yet, spoken from the actual experience.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? What a wonderful moment in my life --- and Noah's life. What a special time. I would never have guessed/expected that this would be my life. Providence!

[FN] Big Smoke refers to the smoke that emits from the launch of a Space Shuttle.