A little while ago, I complained about not having experience an earthquake since I moved to California. Well tonight that changed in a big way. As I was sitting here, eating dinner and watching TV, I started to hear a loud noise. I thought, "oh great, what are my lousy neighbors up to now?" But then it got louder. And then the building started shaking. And it continued shaking.
I sat there mesmerized, watching as the walls and my entertainment center swayed rhythmically back and forth. I really had no idea what to do, so I just sat there. After about ten seconds it was over. There was no damage aside from my rattled nerves. Now I feel like I've had the whole California experience.
This is the second weekend in a row that I've been able to say this: it's good to be a Boston sports fan. The Red Sox completed another sweep in the World Series. It's almost hard to believe that a few years short years ago Boston was bemoaning 86 years without a baseball championship. Now, with two championships in four years, the Red Sox are a model franchise that people can't figure out how to beat. The only thing that would've made this win better would have been beating the Yankees on the way. Oh well, there's always next year.
And of course, as I predicted a few weeks back, my Patriots systematically dismantled the Redskins (sorry Richy). The scary thing is that the Redskins are one of the better defenses that the Patriots have faced. They pretty much took away the long ball, with Brady completing only one long pass to Moss. The Patriots just did it around 10 yards at a time. A pass here, a run here, and they were down the field. It was great to see Maroney back and looking incredibly fast and tough, we're going to need the run game against Indy. It was also great to see the defense step up and play the way that they were playing in preseason. Vrabel was huge with three strip-sacks. I was bummed that they gave up a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but oh well.
Next up: the Colts. For the first time, I believe that the Patriots have more offensive weapons than the Colts, especially if Marvin Harrison can't play. The Patriots needed only one more first down against the Colts in last year's AFC Championship game to go to the Super Bowl, and they couldn't get it because they just didn't have the personnel. This year, they have it in spades. My official prediction: Patriots by at least two touchdowns.
There seems to be a lot of fuss lately about the Patriots being the new villains of the NFL. First, Bill Simmons wrote about the Patriots' tendency to go for an "eff you" touchdown. His point is that the Patriots aren't taking knees at the end of the game as a way of retaliating against the league for their treatment of Belichick and the spygate scandal. Then Gregg Easterbrook went one step further, saying the Patriots are evil in pretty much every way possible and the Colts represent all that is right and good in the world. Once again, he bemoans the fact that the Patriots aren't taking knees. Then, Dolphins player Chris Liwienski complained that the Patriots showed a lack of respect by continuing to pass the ball long after the game was out of reach. All of this complaining is about running up the score.
I coached a kids' basketball team for five years and at that level, I'm more concerned about sportsmanship and teaching skills than I am about winning. Running up the score in that league would have countered those goals. In high school and college, scores are run up all the time and no one really seems to care. Hell, most big-time college programs load up their schedule with teams that have no shot at beating them just to earn more BCS points since margin of victory is important. On any given weekend there's some college football team winning by a score of 56-7. When the basketball dream team played, no one asked them to stop scoring and only beat teams by 30 instead of 40 or 50. Yet when the Patriots do it, it's a horrible evil act?
Here's the thing: I think running up the score shows poor sportsmanship in friendly games. Kids shouldn't be taught to run up the score and it shouldn't be encouraged in high school or college (even though it happens all the time). However, I've always said that I don't believe there's such a thing as running up a score in the professional sports. You are paid to score points and win, not to care about the other guy's feelings while you're doing it. If your team doesn't want my team to score, you know what you should do? Stop us.
I don't think continuing to score in the final minutes of each half makes a team into poor sports. Brady and his bunch (sorry, couldn't resist) conduct themselves professionally on and off the field. You very rarely hear about a Patriot in trouble with the law or mouthing off in the media, showing disrespect to another team. Just because Belichick isn't ecstatic after each win doesn't make him a horrible person. Just because Tom Brady, the golden boy quarterback who has it all, decides to date models and actresses doesn't make him a bad person, either.
All of the Patriots get paid to win, plain and simple. It's a system that's worked very well and, spygate aside, the Patriots have been very good football citizens the entire time. Yes, they may have become like the New York Yankees, being the team that people are sick of seeing succeed, but everyone one of those people will be tuned in when the Colts and the Patriots face off this year. Easterbrook says it's a battle between good and evil; I say it's two good teams...and that the Patriots will win by 14.
I got in from Boston early this morning, so I'm a bit jetlagged and tired, but what a great day for Boston. First, the Patriots thumped the Dolphins 49-28, in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated and then the Red Sox whooped up on the Indians to win the series and the pennant.
I have to say, growing up a Boston sports fan trained me to expect the Sox to let us down. But really, these are different guys since the championship in 2004 when they came back from 0-3 to the Yankees to win the Pennant. This time they came back from 1-3, which is also incredibly tough to do. Consider two of the four wins this series occurred while I was on a plane, maybe I should travel more often. Beckett is insane and really deserves the MVP award.
The Patriots game was great. I was a bit scared when Miami scored and made the game 14-7, since they pretty much just marched right down the field. But then I blinked and it was 42-7. Brady was absolutely brilliant, throwing six touchdown passes. I was bummed that the Patriots took their foot off the gas after halftime...I would've liked for them to have tried for the Patriots team records of seven touchdown passes and 56 points...but oh well. The defense really looked crappy in the second half. I know it's hard to get excited when you're up by 35 points, but come on guys, have some pride. I bet there's going to be a lot of laps run by the starting defense in practice this week. Matt Cassell also looked foolish, relieving Tom Brady only to throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. It's the first time I can remember Brady needing to come back into the game after going out. Good thing he didn't take his eye goop off.
It's looking like there's really not going to be any competition until the Colts game on November 4th (sorry Richy, still don't think the Redskins have a chance). I just hope that Maroney is back at full strength then. He disappeared in this game after the first quarter, though clearly the Patriots didn't need much of a run game to get things going. Sammy Morris won't be available until after the bye week, it seems, so having Maroney back would be very helpful.
I was so glad to be home to watch this game with my dad - the way it used to always be. It really was a good game though I was disappointed with the Patriots efforts in a few areas (yes, I know I sound like Belichick, being unhappy with a 21-point win).
First, I thought the defense played lousy for most of the game. When your offense can score 48 points, people tend to overlook what happens on defense...but they gave up 20 points (one TD was on a fumble recovery/return), and on those drives, the Cowboys pretty much moved right down the field. That won't be good enough going against Indy.
Second, the offensive line was sprouting leaks like a hose that met with a cactus. Brady was getting hit, getting rushed, and the run game had no shot at getting going.
Of course, the special teams coverage was lousy on kickoffs - one lousy series let the Cowboys start at the Patriots' 20. Inexcusable.
Of course the good things would be the Patriots wide receivers. I'm a big Wes Welker fan, so I'm glad to see him do well (over 100 yards and 2 TDs), and Stallworth is really starting to impress me with his ability to evade tackles and run after the catch. I feel like Brady finally has his own versions of Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.
Up next, of course, is 0-6 Miami, which may be another trap game. How do you get up to go against a team that's 0-6 when you just destroyed a team that was 5-0? I expect there to be a letdown, which is dangerous against Miami, as they always seem to give us trouble. Jason Taylor, in particular, just seems to have a way of getting to Brady whenever he damn well pleases. Miami always seems to be a tough game and it's not like they're horrible, they did put up 31 points against Cleveland...we only scored 34 against Cleveland, so take that for what you will.
And yes, it was heartbreaking seeing the Sox lose last night, but it was great to be back around other fans.
I don't really like cleaning, so when I lived in Massachusetts I had a woman named Teresa come and clean my place every other week. Teresa was something to behold. She didn't just clean, she attacked the condo with ferocity as soon as she entered. I used to say that she was like a whirlwind: fast, contained, efficient, and before you knew it, gone. She didn't just do the job fast, she did it well. There was no dust left anywhere and the place smelled clean when she was done.
I have a lot of respect for hard workers, no matter their craft. I've always believed that no matter what you do, you should have pride in your work and do it passionately. Teresa did both. If you ever talked to her, she'd say how much she enjoyed cleaning. Could she do something else? You bet. She has the type of drive that, when applied to anything, could take her very far. But this is what she is passionate about and she is damn good at her job.
Passion is the number one thing I look for in candidates at work. You don't have to be an expert in every technology. What you need to do is take pride in your work and be passionate about it. I want to see that this is what you want to do. Personally, I don't want to work with someone who just wants a job to pay the bills. I want someone who is going to be excited to solve the problems we're going to be facing. I want someone who shows up to work already thinking about the problems to solve today. I want someone with passion for front end engineering, passion for Yahoo!, and passion for the Internet.
Truth be told, I was a little concerned about this game. It's a classic trap game: a so-so team at home the week before a tough game on the road in Dallas against possibly the best team in the NFC. After the Patriots went up 20-0 in the first half I actually got a little more worried. I felt like a letdown was inevitable because the first half just looked too easy. And so came the third quarter, the worst offensive performance for the Patriots this season and the only quarter thusfar that they haven't scored in.
There really was nothing pretty about the offense in the third quarter. Too many three-and-outs, poor decisions, and poor execution. When the Browns pulled to within 10, I wasn't surprised. The Patriots defense, which I thought played incredibly well, was on the field too long and put in some really crappy situations that the offense and horrid punting left them in. Thankfully, the offense woke up in the fourth quarter.
The offense's production on the last possession of the game was horrible too. Three running plays that only inched closer to the goal line. When they went for it on fourth down and didn't get the touchdown, I was disgusted...and upset that they wouldn't score over 30 points again. However, Randall Gay came up with a huge play on the next series and ran in a fumble for a touchdown, making the point-hungry me happy. I'm sure that Belichick is going to have a field day ripping the offense a new one this week in practice.
All in all, though, I think this was what the Patriots needed. When they got up big the previous weeks, the other teams just sort of rolled over. It was good for them to go against a team that wasn't going to give up and a team whose offense is really underrated even though they put up over 50 points a couple weeks back. The Cleveland Browns aren't as bad as people think they are or as bad as their record indicates. They're a young team with tremendous talent and a huge upside. I bet they're going to play spoiler to some would-be playoff teams in the final four weeks of the season. But for the Patriots, it's now time to prepare for Dallas, their first real challenge of the year. I'll be back in Boston for this one, and I can't wait!
I've been going through a bit of a reflective period here the past couple of months, trying to figure out where my life is going and if it's really heading in the direction I want it to be. Some might say I'm at a crossroads, but I'm wondering if you can be at a crossroads presently or if it's something that you can only identify in hindsight.
The definition of crossroads, aside from a young Britney Spears' attempt at acting, is a critical or decisive point. It's often used in relation to people who are in crisis, such as drug addicts and alcoholics. I don't think crossroads need be so dire, nor do I think that they are terribly obvious at the time. Am I at a crossroads right now? I don't think so, I think the crossroad happened a couple of years ago for me.
In 2005, I was living in a condo in Massachusetts that I had bought with my own money. It was my pride and joy, the only place that felt like home other than my parents' house. It was an expression of my independence and an outlet for my creativity as I attempted (somewhat successfully) to decorate it. I also had a good, steady job with good pay. I was friendly with almost everyone in my building. I was friends with the older woman who lived beneath me as the guy who lived on the top floor who used to give me free guitar lessons. The old couple across the hall from me used to leave me food and fill me in on the local gossip. I had a wonderful, intelligent, caring girlfriend named Emily that I had been dating for almost two years at that time. My family was nearby as well, so I had all the support that I needed. I had what one might consider to be a stable life: a job, a home, a published book, and a relationship, all in great working order. It's at this point that a lot of people start to settle down (I think). But for some reason, I didn't.
It would have been easy to settle down at that point, marry Emily, live together for a few years and then buy a house and have a couple of kids. I know that's what she was envisioning anyways, and after being together for two years and both of us rapidly approaching 30, I really couldn't blame her. My job was going well, I got a decent raise and still had stock options that were looking like they'd be quite valuable. I believe that's the point where my crossroads existed.
Realizing that someone isn't "the one" is a very sad moment, and it was crushing for me. Everyone loved Emily, and sometimes I thought my mom actually liked talking to her more than talking to me. Regardless, I felt like marriage was not in our future and after two years of being together, I thought the best thing to do would be to call things off. It wasn't fair to her to keep her hanging on when I couldn't give her what she wanted. Emily will make a wonderful wife and mother someday, I have no doubt about that. Part of me wishes she was "the one" for me, but it wasn't meant to be.
The rest of my life really started to unravel after that point. I grew restless in my job. The condo that felt like home before started feeling like a grave dedicated to our failed relationship. Then the opportunity came up to move to California and join Yahoo!, so off I went, basically ensuring that stability was something I wouldn't have for a long time.
Now the most stable part of my life is my job. And thank God for that. This job has been and continues to be the best one I've ever had, and at points, it's the only thing keeping me sane while the rest of my world remains unstable, unpredictable, and oftentimes, exhausting. I wouldn't say I'm miserable out here but I definitely feel very unsettled. Part of that is, of course, the issues with my apartment. But I also realize that I have very little of the stability I had in 2005: there's no neighbors to hang out with, no little old ladies looking after me, no relationship, no home. And it was breaking up with Emily that set me down this path. That was my crossroads and I can't help but wonder how my life would be different now had I made a different decision then.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference
- The Road not Taken, Robert Frost