Friday, December 4, 2009

You Mean He's Not a Robot?

So Tiger can now be considered a human because of what he did? Well, I can see the logic behind this thought process, because if there's anyone that has had every aspect of his personality controlled within the media, it's this guy. He doesn't say or do anything that would be considered spontaneous, and it's eerie how much he's been on his game until the recent trouble. Granted, he's also one of the most talented golfers on the planet so watching him at work can be dazzling, but I have always thought styrofoam had more personality that this guy. Nike did a few commercials to break down the wall a bit, but otherwise, I felt that Tiger could have been substituted for a robot and maybe nobody would notice the difference. That's what you get when you attempt to control how you are perceived to such a level, because what you portray is what people expect.

So when a situation happens that falls outside of the ability to control, like a simple auto accident that becomes a torrid admission of an affair, there's no amount of damage control that can be done to make this mess immediately go away and have things go back to normal. Because he is who he is, I would expect that he'll come out of this better than most because he's one of the most mentally tough people ever and it's hard to bet against a combination of mentally tough and talent. We are now seeing inside the wall here, and it's amazing to think that one of the best athletes in the world shares the same frailties, the same insecurities, the same temptations, the same issues, and the same choices that many of us face every day. And what we find here is that this wonderfully talented but supremely controller person is more human than we think. He's made a start to cleaning the mess by apologizing and acknowledging what happened, and that's a good start. I know there will be people rooting for him to succeed, and more that want him to fail, but it's hard to argue this isn't compelling.

The Civil War has come and gone, and I ended up watching the entire game even though I wasn't going to. I started watching in the first half, and couldn't take my eyes off of it. It was one of the most classic football games I've seen, and it was sad that somebody had to lose this game. It had amazing plays, incredible emotion, true sportsmanship, and it was a banner night for Oregon and its athletic profile, and nobody disappointed. The game was so close that I felt there were three minor things that turned the tide for the Ducks to win 37 to 33. One, the Ducks were finally getting pressure on Beavers quarterback Sean Canfield in the second half, and the Beavers offense struggled to deal with it. Second, the Oregon State Beavers couldn't tackle when they needed to, as there were some key plays where Oregon State players were tackling air rather than the speedy Ducks. Finally, at key moments of the game, the Ducks made plays and the Beavers didn't. The Beavers went for it on 4th and 15 on their end instead of going for a long field goal, and their pass was not caught, while Ducks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli ran for it on 4th and 2 during the Ducks final drive, and he made the play to keep the chains going.

So the Ducks will be representing the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl, while the Beavers will probably get hosed by the Pac-10's bowl affiliations. With the Beavers and Stanford tied at 6 and 3 and in second, USC, Arizona and California have shots to tie at 6 and 3 if they win. The Holiday Bowl, reserved for second place, is rumored to be wanting USC and will award their bid to whomever wins the USC - Arizona game this weekend because the winner will tie for second. The Emerald Bowl, the third place game, is San Francisco based, and so they are leaning towards taking one of the Bay Area schools, either the Cardinal or Golden Bears. The Sun Bowl, the fourth place bowl, took the Beavers last year and so they have a no-repeat clause, so the Beavers seem destined for Las Vegas and the Maaco Bowl. This doesn't seem all that fair for a team that fell just 4 points short of winning the Civil War, especially after coming so close to the Rose Bowl last year. I think the world of the Pac-10, but their bowl affilations really need to be revisited because this situation doesn't seem fair to its members.

The World Cup draw was today, and the coverage on ESPN was apparently the source of much amusement. The draw was actually at 10 AM local time, so ESPN spent the first hour just talking about possibilities and the components of soccer for non-soccer fans. Because I was at work, I was relying on their web feed to hear the draw, and the chat windows were full of comments about things being boring or just get to the draw. I never thought anything with Charlize Theron could be considered boring, but apparently it was a train wreck.

As far as the draw itself, the 32 team tourney has some amazing brackets and compelling matchups. The United States earned a decent bracket to reside it, although the first draw for their group was England. As I saw that the English and Americans were in the same group, I figured we were looking at the fabled Group of Death, which happens every World Cup. The draw really breaks down to putting all 32 teams into 8 pools, and then drawing them randomly to fill 8 4 team groups, and there's almost always one group that pits 3 soccer powers in the same collective. Sure enough, group G pit the Brazilians, Portuguese, Ivory Coast, and North Korea. So what you have here is two traditional soccer powers, a powerful African team, and the Koreans, who might not score a goal in the opening round.

The Americans have Slovenia and Algeria in their pool with England, and there's a good shot that the US could advance if they get two wins and a good result against England, or a good draw. The thing is, this could have been a lot worse for the red, white and blue. Based on the other brackets, most of the soccer powers have a decent shot to advance to the knockout round, but there's chances for upsets at some points as well. There will be some traditional soccer power that gets knocked out early, while some unsung team will made an unexpected run towads the cup. I don't think the US could win the tourney, even though I have a bet on them in Vegas, but I think they have a shot to make a good run. And with the World Cup going on this summer, soccer fans worldwide will have a lot to be excited about this summer, and I can't wait!!

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