Lions and Penalties and Bears, Oh My
Frank: Rain out here delayed my Brewer farewell by a couple of days, but family fun still kept me from watching Packers-Bears. I couldn’t help noticing, though, that…
Artie: Yeah, yeah, 20-17 Bears. As a Packer fan you’re always
whistling past the graveyard. But there’s an explanation: Obviously the Daley
political machine got to the refs and the result was 18—EIGHTEEN!—penalties on
the guys in gold pants. The fix was in.
Frank: What about all those interceptions Jay Cutler was supposed
Artie: I expected him to fling about five, and to my recollection
he did, but they were all called back by the flag-throwers. I want an
investigation of those zebras' bank accounts!
Frank: Officially, Cutler threw one pick and had another, during
the winning drive, nullified by a flag. But he had the game you expected when
the Giants literally knocked him out with nine sacks.
Artie: And one of the few times he got rid of the ball, it went
to the wrong team. That’s the Cutler we know and love.
Frank: So I wound up seeing the Brewers last Wednesday, beating
the Mets 8-7 after blowing a 6-0 lead. And I was back at Citi Field for the
Mets’ season finale against Washington—a
dreary 2-1 loss in 14 innings—which meant I had no knowledge of Packers-Lions.
But when I saw the 28-26 final, I guessed you had an anxious afternoon.
Artie: Let’s just say I’m breathing easier now. When I saw the
point spread as high as 14 I thought, “If I were a betting man I’d put a buck
two-eighty on the Lions.” They should have beaten the Bears in the opener, they
could have beaten the Eagles the next week. I knew this wasn’t going to be
Frank: So, a few details?
Artie: Total yards—Lions 431, Packers 261. Time of
possession—Lions 37:37, Packers 22:23. Detroit
had the Pack defense all figured out; they dipped and dunked and kept the ball
moving all day with a lot of third-down conversions. Fortunately, the Lions
also piled up negative yardage with 13 penalties to the Pack’s three.
Frank: You mean Mike McCarthy really did “fix” the penalty
problem this time?
Artie: More like an un-fix, as in getting away from Cook County.
Frank: I see Charles Woodson was back to his 2009 form, taking an
interception for a score.
Artie: That made it 28-14, a mighty good thing because Jason
Hanson, who I think began kicking field goals the day Lou Groza retired, booted
four of ’em after that. Woodson played a fabulous game—blocked passes, 11 solo
tackles. Hey, they pulled it out, and that’s what counts.
Frank: So this weekend the Packers go to Washington to see their old friend Donovan
Artie: Don’t remind me. I still have nightmares from that playoff
game in Philly. Just don’t let the ’Skins have a fourth-and-26 and everything
will be fine.
Frank: I had no knowledge of Wisconsin-Michigan
State, either, because I was basking
in sunshine in Easton, Pa., with my nephew as his Lafayette
Leopards played Harvard. It was a bad day for the Leopards, 35-10, and no better
for the Badgers, 34-24.
Artie: Odd thing about this team under Bret Bielema. Whenever
there’s some buzz about them nationally, they underachieve. But when they’re
under the radar, not expected to do much, they perform exceptionally well.
Frank: They were fortunate to beat Arizona
State at home and now they’ve dropped
the Big Ten opener with Ohio State and Iowa
down the road. Farewell, BCS bowl shot.
Artie: They just looked bad—not focused, sloppy. Play-action
passes and screens killed them all day, and they gave up a punt return for a TD
after allowing several long returns by Arizona State.
Frank: This weekend it’s Minnesota
at Camp Randall.
Artie: That’s a break. The Gophers have lost four straight,
including two alleged “cupcake” games against South Dakota
and Northern Illinois.
The Boys of October
Frank: I'm worried about my Yankees' playoff series against Minnesota. The pitching
after CC Sabathia is in disarray, so much so that they yielded the division
title to Tampa Bay.
Artie: I think the Yanks are better off facing the Twins instead
of the Rangers. I still don’t get how Minnesota
cruised to the postseason with Justin Morneau out since early July with a
concussion. And I’m still not convinced about their pitching. Yeah, Carl Pavano
and Francisco Liriano have been good, but it ain’t like the Twins are the
Phillies with Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, ain’a?
Frank: The Rangers are kind of a mystery because they never
really had a challenge in their division.
Artie: They’ve got a true ace in Cliff Lee and a terrific
offense, with Josh Hamilton back for the playoffs. I think they’ll give that
strong Tampa Bay pitching staff real trouble.
Frank: Now I feel better.
Artie: That’s my job.
Frank: The Phillies could become the first team to win three
straight National League pennants since the Cardinals in 1942-’44.
Artie: They’ve got to be the favorites, but my sentimental choice
is San Francisco.
I’d like to see these post-Bonds Giants do it with their great pitching and
Frank: Phillies-Giants would be a great NLCS. Atlanta and the retiring Bobby Cox would add
tons of sentimental value, too, and it’s nice to see the Reds back in the hunt.
Artie: Equally nice to see some of the alleged “big boys,” like
the Red Sox and Cardinals, stuck at home.
Frank: Five of the eight playoff teams are different from last
year. Despite the huge disparities in payrolls, baseball has at least as much
postseason diversity as the other top sports.
Frank: Back to the Lafayette
game. I noticed something really cool that I had never run across in all my
years of watching and listening to football.
Artie: That covers a lot of ground.
Frank: Five decades’ worth, at least. Anyway, the announcer at
beautiful Fisher Stadium—Jim Finnen, according to the Web—has a great voice and
smooth delivery. I’d heard him twice before but never noticed his unique touch.
Artie: Which is…
Frank: When a pass play succeeds, he says, “Pass completed by…”
and then gives the name of the receiver!
When I finally noticed, I thought, “How cool and how utterly correct.” The
quarterback's toss will never, ever be complete unless it’s caught.
Artie: The forward pass as a journey, a contract, a two-step
transaction. Logically, it’s undeniable. Where the hell have we been?
Frank: Same for all the broadcasters and writers over the years.
Finnen has shown us a new common-sense way of describing football. And it could
open a whole new emotional dimension, too.
Artie: Um, emotional?
Frank: Sure! Remember Jerry
Maguire and the endearing line Tom Cruise uses on Renee Zellweger?
Artie: I’m proud to say I don’t…
Frank: It’s “You complete me.”
Artie: I think I’m gonna lose my lunch.
Frank: We could have QBs everywhere racing to their receivers,
looking in their eyes and letting their feelings flow.
Artie: Now I’m gonna lose tomorrow’s lunch.
Frank: And it’s not just in football. All partnerships are like
successful throws. In fact, buddy, I’d like to say right now…
Artie: This conversation is completed!