Stream of Consciousness to follow...
It's 10:45 p.m. in Salt Lake City. I'm on a layover on my way back from Oakland after a week of depositions. I dominated a Cajun burrito at OAK (in support of LSU, whom I believe to be hours away from their first big win of the year) and then two beers before last call at Dick Clark's American Bandstand here in SLC. You can imagine the epic that is my breath right now. G-d help the person in 26B tonight. I spent the time at the bar Blackberrying my wife and figuring out what songs I would play if my I-Pod was plugged into the speakers at the bar. This is surely a comment on modern life, although I'm not coherent enough to describe it, other than the fact that we all stay in our own little cocoons, even in public, and that Radiohead has written some good songs that apply to the situation.
I don't sleep well on planes and I'm on Pacific time right now, so I'm going to be very tired tomorrow. This will test both my merits as a father of an infant and my commitment to college football. The Michigan game won't be on, which will help. How is it, by the way, that I paid $120 at the start of the year to get extra games on GamePlan and I pay $5 every month to Comcast for the "Deluxe" sports package, but I don't get ESPNU and therefore, I'm going to miss the Michigan game. In the words of Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies, what do I pay you people for?
Speaking of the Deluxe sports package, I haven't had a chance to comment on Barca's current swoon, which I got to see up close and personal on Gol TV against Real Madrid. The conventional explanation is that they miss Samuel Eto'o and that Eidur Gudjonsson is a poor replacement, especially since he isn't a true striker. There is some merit to this, as he missed a couple really good chances against Real. Another explanation is that Ronaldinho is also slumping, which also has merit as he sucked against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, as well as at the Bernabeu. The third explanation is that they miss Henk Ten Cate, Rijkaard's lieutenant and technical brain. For those of you who don't know much about soccer, imagine Pete Carroll without Norm Chow, George O'Leary without Ralph Friedgen, or the Rolling Stones without Mick Taylor. Related to this explanation is my personal favorite, which is based solely on the Real match: they lack a defensive bite in the midfield. Real poured forward in the game, not unlike Chelsea in the second leg in 2005 at Stamford Bridge, and this was because Rijkaard played a midfield without Motta or Edmilson. (He could also play Marquez in the holding role with Puyol and Thuram behind them as central defenders.) Barca cannot play without a defensive midfielder. Anyway, the home match against Werder Bremen has become must-win.
I took the deposition of a damages expert for the defense today in a commercial litigation and it made me think of all of the sloppy arguments that are made in sports arguments on causation. On the other hand, it made me think that we would never be able to attribute anything to anything if the world was ruled by defense economic experts because there's always another factor that allegedly isn't being controlled for.
I caught the second half of the Louisville-West Virginia game last night. It was nice to see the WVU defense that we all expected to finally rear its head. The Mountaineers are a team with a good offensive concept and the right personnel to run it, but they don't have the athletes to compete on a top level (insert standard explanation that Georgia had their heads in their cooloos [transliterating Tony Montana there] in the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl) and that shows up on the defensive end. Teams with inferior talent can hide that shortcoming by coming up with inventive schemes. There is little way to hide a lack of talent on defense. Louisville has more talent than West Virginia, for which they can thank...that Michigan State coach who was fired this week. WVU can remedy this shortcoming because they have a good potential recruiting base in Western Pennsylvania and their success of the past couple years ought to bring in some people who can tackle and cover. As for the Cards, they have pretty good athletes and a terrific quarterback and coach. For a brief moment, I was scaring myself about the prospect of a Michigan-Louisville game because Michigan's secondary isn't outstanding, but then I considered what little chance the 'Ville would have at blocking Woodley & co. The Louisville game also reminded me, by the way, that a team's offensive performances in the weeks leading up to a game of the year can be highly deceiving, so now I've swung back to the side of thinking that Michigan has a great chance at the Horseshoe.
I've done nothing more than read the recaps for the Hawks' first two games this season, but the first game sounded extremely depressing. Shelden Williams did absolutely nothing, Speedy Claxton didn't have an assist, and the team looked on paper to be worse than they were last year. Tonight, they beat the Knicks, which doesn't exactly prove a lot, but it sounds like they won by running. Adding Williams to Pachulia ought to improve the team's defensive rebounding and they finally have a point guard who can lead the break. In other words, for one night, based solely on a game recap that I read on my Blackberry, I am holding out hope that Billy Knight has added the components that will allow the team to harness its athleticism and that Shelden and Speedy will make the team's primary players better. If that happens and Josh Smith makes the leap this year, then 35 wins are a legitimate possibility.
I can't believe I haven't even had a chance to blog about Mike Vick's renaissance. Leaving aside the dumbest thing I heard this week - Sean Salisbury opining that Vick will someday throw for 4,000 yards and run for 1,000, as if it's possible to combine those two other than in an offense scoring 50 points per game - this is an excellent development. That said, the Falcons have so far lost two games decisively and won just about every close game they've played. There's a market correction on the way.
Time to board the plane.