Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's Been A Rousing Start to the New Year

I know it's been a while since I've written anything, which I think happens around the holidays. Not only is there lots of family time and celebrating going on for Christmas, New Years or any other holidays that you might celebrate there, my birthday falls right after the holiday, so things don't slow down as the start of the year happens. Things around our household also were busy as we start a project to renovate parts of our house to give us more room while giving our brood of cats their own space to live in. That's how things work for girl and myself, we just have a crazy schedule which means there's either nothing going on or everything going on. It's kind of a fun ride at times, even if there are points where I would like things to float more in the middle.
That hasn't stopped things from happening around the area that is newsworthy, and so without further adieu, here's my takes on some of the stuff going on:
I don't buy the notion the Trail Blazers are cursed, but you do have to wonder what the heck is going on with this team during the 2010 season. Most of the key players for this side have injury issues, keeping them out for most or all of this season, and on most nights, the team is using a 7 to 8 player rotation. This isn't relating to talent, it's simply because they don't have enough available players.
Greg Oden, Travis Outlaw and Joel Pryzbilla are out for the year, while Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, and Steve Blake currently are out with various ailments. Add to that LaMarcus Aldridge, Jeff Pendergraph, Paddy Mills, Dante Cunningham and Brandon Roy dealing with various nagging injuries that have kept them out for parts of the year, and you can see that this team is essentially playing with one arm behind their back. Many nights, you don't know who is going to be available, yet here they are after the first of the year within striking distance of first place in the Northwest Division lead and the playoffs.
I'm proud of the team simply for battling most nights when most things are against them, and they've won some games that they probably shouldn't have, but they just simply wouldn't be denied. It also makes strange scenes like Tuesday night (1/5/10) the more palatable when they lose a winnable game at home after a tough back to back (game in LA Monday night, Memphis on Tuesday). Yes, the officiating was a bit uneven (how can you call Roy for a foul at midcourt with 25 second left when Webster gets decked taking a three and the whistle gets swallowed), and the team went into bunker mentality far too early for my taste, but it's hard to look at this and not be entirely happy. No team loses more than half of their roster for most of a season and sits where the Trail Blazers are in the standings now without truly achieving something special.
And for me, it's tough because of my feelings about the organization. I love the players on this team, and am proud of their efforts even with my own reservations about the guys in charge. Satellite TV NBA fans are getting hosed by the team's TV contract, while the team continues to attempt to strong arm the city into their vision for the Rose Quarter area, yet ticket demand is through the roof. We live in a rather unique market, where we live and die with our NBA team, and it takes a special kind of fan to try and ride through the ups and downs.
I did finally relent and attend a game on my birthday versus Golden State, and while it was a win for the Black and Red, I didn't find the overall experience enjoyable. I find myself disliking the overly canned, completely controlled and contrived entertainment that is now part of the NBA right now. At no point do teams let spontaneous chants or cheers start, they fill every spot with something to see, something to hear, something to do. The game itself is almost secondary to all of the other things going on, and being away from it for a bit, I realized how much the environment is contrived. While I still get a kick from how loud and passionate the Rose Garden can be when things are rolling, I could do without the standard two chants of "Defense" and "Let's Go Blazers!" The NBA is more a sport - entertainment hybrid, and for fans like myself, I don't think I'll ever see things go back to a simpler time when fans were left to their own devices at points.
The Timbers will have a 2010 season, although it was touch and go for many months as the USL and NASL sides played an advance game of ego stroking to get more money. I cover the main points of this in my other blog home, but just knowing that the stadium deal for PGE Park is forthcoming next week while the Timbers have a league to play in for 2010 is a huge relief to me. While I can relate to a lot of the moving parts of this dispute at some point, the disagreement simply came down to two sides thinking their idea was better to make money and help soccer along, while discounting any other thoughts about the process. There's no reason this should have taken so long to resolve, but when you have money, influence and egos in the room, nobody wants to relent even if it's for the best.
I had a good holiday season, although it was far more mellow than in previous years. There was no travel outside the area, there was only one big family gathering to visit girl's grandparents at their assisted living home, and I was able to talk with my sister and dad briefly on the day for a short time, which is always pleasurable. It was nice to have a holiday that didn't have a lot of drama and frustration, even though there was the occasional misunderstanding.
I've also come to learn about my own personal shortcomings in greater detail, which has been both an enlightening and frustrating experience. In certain aspects, I take things at face value and I don't question why things are why they are. While that works in some areas, it's important to remember to question things, something I would have thought my Jesuit education would have taught me. I don't like being wrong, and when it does happen, I'm way too hard on myself. I'm probably my own worst critic, but at the same point, you have to give yourself credit for making strides at points. But you can't be complacent, either, because change is the main force behind personal growth. Yes, I've probably oversimplified this as vaguely as possible, but ever since I started this process to improve my outlook, this is the first time I've felt that real hurdles were being crossed.
It's easy to go through the motions and think things are changing, in an attempt to try to improve things, but it takes real work to understand yourself and understand the impact you have on others. Granted, I don't want to be too hard on myself, but I'm learning how entirely hard I've been on certain people in my life, and I'm not happy about it. I'm not a big resolutions guy, but with the new year, I'm resolved to try and be more aware of how I impact others and make sure that I'm not adversely affecting people with my mood and actions.
In addition to that, I'm also working on getting in better physical shape. I've become addicted to the Nintento WII games, especially WII Resort and WII Fit Plus. There's a lot of really cool games to play on both of these programs, and the WII gets you a good workout without too much effort. The first few times I did aerobics and yoga on the WII Fit, I was in pain and dripping with sweat, and I didn't think any video game could do this. The WII does, giving you support when you need it, while yelling at you at times when you also need. it, kind of like a certain person that is near and dear to me.
Finally, I don't talk much about college football around here, whether that is because I went to a school that didn't have college football or I find the whole BCS mess a complete scam. But this year's bowl season had some of the most compelling football action I've seen all year. Yes, it was disappointing that the Oregon Ducks lost the Rose Bowl, but they didn't get blown out and played well for most of the game, unlike the Beavers who got blown out of Vegas with a stiff wind.
But it's hard not to watch the Fiesta Bowl and get caught up in the non-BCS sides battling in a rather competitive game, even if the first half was incredibly boring as both teams struggled with nerves and composure. The game came down to a single moment on a punt play, where Boise State executed a fake punt that worked, and they scored the winning touchdown a few moments later. They then held off a charging TCU side with a very good defensive effort in one of the better finishes this year. Ok, it wasn't the crazy finish of the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise where Bowling Green and Idaho scored 15 points in the final minute of the game, with Idaho getting a two point conversion with no time left to win the game 43 to 42, but the Fiesta Bowl was still a very entertaining game.
Granted, the schools and the BCS are putting out information that says they want this system to continue, despite most fans wanting a playoff in college football, which means that nothing about this championship is going to change anytime soon. But if they keep producing moments like what they did in Boise and Glendale, I don't think most fans are going to mind that much.

No comments: