Monthly Archives: December 2005

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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No. More. Raycroft.

Oh for fuck’s sake.

Listen, how many times do I have to say it? HANNU. It’s not that hard. Hannu wins? Hannu should play. Raycroft wins? Raycroft should play. But poor Rayzor’s not doing a whole lotta winning of late. Until he figures it out, stop dicking around and let Hannu be the starter. Tell him he’s the starter. Tell him he’s the Number One goalie. Let Raycroft back him up for a while. This isn’t an ego thing. This is what’s best for the team. Hannu has clearly been head and shoulders above Raycroft this season and while I understand that no one wants to make any knee jerk, reactionary moves, while they’re waiting around for Raycroft to find his groove, the team is losing games and dropping in the standings. Teams thrive on consistency and consistency at the goaltender position is of the utmost importance. Raycroft, for all his brilliance in the past, has been anything but consistent this year.

Put the better goalie in. The team will get better. It’s that simple.

This has been a Public Service Announcement from a concerned Bruins fan.

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Global

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A conversation that began with Annette and I discussing lasagna recipes and ended – as most things do – in our thoughts on baseball.

Me: Let’s talk about the World Baseball Classic. Let’s discuss three points in particular. Please review the rosters.

Point 1) Andruw Jones is going to play all nine positions himself for the Netherlands.
Point 2) Doug Mirabelli is evidently Italian (and yet Tony Graffanino is nowhere to be found).
Point 3) The Dominican Republic is going to absolutely kick ass and take names.

Discuss.

Annette: Point 4) Marco Scutaro does not actually have a country of origin. Apparently, we are going to invent a country for him to play for or he is going to represent Antartica. Perhaps, his country will play against Andruw Jones’ Netherlands.

Me: Unaffiliated vs. The Netherlands! A matchup for the ages!

Am I high or is “Scutaro” Italian?

Annette: It is Mediterranean. How is Tony not representing Italy?!? His name is TONY GRAFFANINO for crying out loud! My nonna calls him that “nice italian on our team.” If 4-foot tall, 88-year-old Italian grandmothers place him on Italy’s team, then dammit, he should be there.

Me: I agree completely. Also, it appears that Kevin and I have started another blood feud as he’s already emailed me with “GO ITALIA!” I guess that means I have to root for the US, represented by Tek and all. ‘Cepting they are totally going to get the everloving shit kicked out of them by the Dominican Republic.

Instead of countries, we should create alternate teams. Like “Guys Who’s Names Make Spellcheckers Cry,” or “Guys With The Best Porn Mustaches.”

Why aren’t we running baseball again?

Annette: OH! EXCELLENT IDEA.

So let’s make up a list for the “All Spellcheckers Team.”

First up: Zoccolillo, Pete

Me: Niether Mientkiewicz nor Grudzielanek are playing. Which makes our Spellchecker team that much less complex. Bastards.

Annette: Sucks that team All Spellcheck is going to be lacking both Mientkiewicz AND Grudzielanek. I was having them be the centerpiece of the team.

Me: We can just call our Alternate Team Spellcheck the Kansas City Royals. But don’t despair! We still have Kyuji Fujikawa, Frank Catalanotto, Alfredo Amezaga, Andruw “with a ‘u'” Jones, Jason Isringhausen and Mark Texiera.

Annette: Check out the pitching on Team USA. We’ve got Sheets, Clemens, Smoltz, Dontrelle Willis, Barry Zito, Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia. The Dominican Repuplic has offense galore in Tiz, Manny, Miggy, and Pujols. It’ll be a pitching vs. hitting deal.

Me: Also Vladdy. Don’t forget Vladdy. He’ll remind you. By force if need be. Do you know what I see happening? I see the Dominican team loving playing together so much that they all decide to start their own team, based in the Dominican and return to playing Major League Baseball but only if they can play for The Dominican Destroyers. They’re going to create their own team and they’re going to win the World Series every year. It’s totally going to happen.

Annette: They don’t have the pitching.

Me: They have Pedro. And they’re going to engineer some kind of robotic arm for him. So it won’t fall off. I’m pretty sure that’s not against the rules.

Annette: But Pedro can’t pitch every day. And I’m pretty sure Manny would get confused it they tried to show him the different pitches.

Me: Vladdy has a cannon arm. I’ll bet they could convert him into a pitcher pretty quickly. And then people would die when he threw at them.

Hmmm, maybe we can get Posada to catch him? Crap, Rat Boy is Puerto Rican. The best laid plans…

Annette: Always go to waste. Sigh. Maybe we can make the Dominican Republic annex Puerto Rico.

Me: So in addition to being Co-Commissioners of Imaginary Baseball World, we’ve also deemed ourselves Rulers of the World? I just want to know what to put on my business cards.

Annette: Well, yes. World domination was always the ultimate goal. Nothing’s changed there.

Me: I just want to make sure I’m on the right track. And while we’re wishing for things, I’d like a pony and a house elf to do my laundry. Oh, and for Pedro to come back. Just ’cause.

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Shaaaahp

(photo from Boston.com)

HANNNNNUUUUUU!!!!!

That is all.

Actually, you know what? That’s not all. When an article starts out thusly: “In a game between last-place teams, the Boston Bruins had the better sense of desperation,” you know the team’s in trouble.

Yikes.

The problem is not, as one might previously have thought, the Thornton trade gone bad. Rather the opposite, actually as the new guys (Marco Sturm in particular) have played incredibly well. The problem appears, as always, to be harder to pinpoint. At first glance, you’d blame the defense. First they lost Leetch. Now they’ve lost Boynton. Sing it with me now, second verse, same as the first. But then when you consider that the the Capitals were only able to scratch out a measly 18 shots on goal last night, you wonder if perhaps the defense is doing their job after all. I mean yes, the Capitals are abysmal, but 18 shots on goal? The overweight, middle-aged guys who win the “Get a Puck Near The Net, Win a Year’s Supply of Penzoil!” contest can get more than 18 shots on goal. And they’re usually blindfolded.

So maybe it’s the offense after all. The Bruins outshot Washington by a margin of 43-18 for the game. That’s a ridiculously one-sided number. The B’s had more than twice as many shots on goal as the Capitals and they still only managed to score one more goal. And it didn’t happen until overtime. Granted, Olaf Kolzig (Olie the Goalie!), Washington’s netminder is one of the best in the game, but come on. 43-18? That’s not a shots on goal count, that’s the score when the Colts play the Texans. That’s insane.

Of course, all credit still goes to Hannu Toivonen (Holla!) despite the fact that he managed to stop only 15 shots all game. But he still got the win. Somewhere, Raycroft has broken an Easton goalie stick over a locker room attendant’s head.

And while we’re on goalies, is there any other position in any other sport that has so many cool nicknames? Off the top of my head you’ve got the aforementioned Olie the Goalie, Rayzor, Felix the Cat, Eddie the Eagle, Jiggy, The Dominator, Cujo, and, my personal favorite The Bulin Wall. I move we come up with one for Hannu. The Finnish Fury? Suggestions? Favorite nicknames? It’s a slow work week, people.

Also, I’m linking to the site that The Rick works on for New Hampshire high school hockey. It’s comprehensive and well done and, so far as we know, the only site in New Hampshire dedicated specifically to high school sports. Take a look and see if you can figure out who the next wave of NHL players will be. You’ll find it permanently entrenched in the sidebar under Sports Links.

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Crass Consumerism and John Madden’s Sausage Fingers









(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Random Thoughts While Watching Monday Night Football

You know, I was just thinking, Bill Belichick might actually be magical. Think about it. Belichick in his grey hoodie calls to mind Obi Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. I’m pretty sure that if the camera focused on him closely enough during a challenge, you’d see him waving his arm and calmly reciting, “You WILL overturn the call,” while the referee walks slowly to the sidelines to review the play chanting to himself, “I WILL overturn the call. I WILL overturn the call…”

Earlier in the day, my mom and I found ourselves in Kittery, Maine doing a little post-Christmas outlet shopping. Normally, the last place you’d catch me on the day after Christmas is anywhere near a mecca of consumerism (like, say, an outlet mall), but I was there for two reasons. 1) I’m trying desperately to start dressing in a manner befitting a semi-professional 25-year-old woman living in a cosmopolitan city, and 2) if I didn’t get out of my parents’ house for at least a few hours, I was liable to stab myself in the trachea with a butter knife. I was doing really well with the “semi-professional dressing,” even picking up a few sweaters at Old Navy, and then, on my way to the Gap outlet, everything went to hell. We passed the Reebok Outlet. “Okay,” I said to my mom, fully intending to walk right past into Banana Republic, “I just want to see if there are any more sweaters and—“ SCCCRREEEECCCHHH! My head snapped to the right. “50% off NFL jerseys?” I looked at my mom. “Can I? Just for a second?” She rolled her eyes, “Go ahead,” as if to say, “And you were doing so well too.” But it was a lost cause. All my good intentions flew out the window once I saw that sign. Within three minutes, my arms laden with Vrabel, Vinatieri, McGinest and Brady jerseys, I started wandering around the store in daze, mumbling to myself like Rain Main. “Dunno if I want a Vinatieri. Everybody’s got a Brady. Dunno if I want a Vrabel…” My mom, trying desperately to keep everyone in the store from realizing that her daughter was completely insane, kept trying to get my attention. “Kristen, look! A Patriots windbreaker for $12!” “Uh huh,” I said, my eyes glazed, “Uh, huh, I’ll get that too.”

Now, I think it’s worth it to point out that under most circumstances, finding a veritable treasure trove of Patriots jerseys for half price (from $18 to $25) would not have presented a dilemma for me. But as it’s the day after Christmas and I’m a bit, shall we say, cash poor right now, I disciplined myself to get only one. I finally narrowed it down to McGinest and Seymour, reasoning that everyone has a Brady and I’ve always been a big defense supporter. McGinest or Seymour (a question, I imagine, the Pro Bowl voters were also asking themselves. They will learn what I have just learned. The answer in that situation is always “both.) Ultimately, despite the fact that I’m still slightly miffed at Richard Seymour for his “Why do the fans hate us?” business after the game I went to, his jersey ended up being a mere $18 to McGinest’s $25. Even as I write this, less than five hours later, I’m kicking myself for not buying both. I mean really, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve already instructed my mom to throw herself to the lions of consumerism as she drives back to Kittery tomorrow to snag me that McGinest jersey. That, and when I returned with my bounty, my dad piped up, “Huh. I could go for a Vrabel jersey.” “Now you tell me!” my mom said. “It’s no big deal,” The Rick said, “It’d just be cool to have.” Of course, after Vrabel caught his second touchdown pass of the first half in tonight’s Pats/Jets game, The Rick changed his request. “Nope,” he said, as the Jets AGAIN failed to cover Vrabel on a goal line situation, “Now I DEMAND a Vrabel jersey.”

The Vrabel thing is quickly becoming the “Somebody cover McGinest” of goal line situations. ABC just flashed his offensive stats. 6 regular season catches. 6 touchdowns. 2 Super Bowl catches. 2 touchdowns. I’m just sayin’, I’ve been to a game (thanks again, Beth!) and the refs announce to the stadium at large when an unconventional player is checking in. “Number 50 is checking in as an eligible receiver.” It’s not like it’s a surprise. Unless Belichick has worked his Obi Wan magic on the Jets (which, frankly, is not that far out there), they clearly hear the announcement. They see Vrabel lining up as a receiver. And yet still, no one remembers him. I couldn’t tell you why this is. But I’m certainly glad it is. You know Brady’s going to Vrabel. I know Brady’s going to Vrabel. Seemingly the only person who doesn’t know Brady’s going to Vrabel is the defensive player assigned to cover him. Let’s hope they never learn.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m not discussing the Bruschi injury, it’s because as far as I’m concerned, it didn’t happen. I need to convince myself that I hallucinated Bruschi being driven off the field on that little cart thing. Otherwise I’m going to dunk an angel ornament in Drano and chase it with some broken Christmas tree bulbs.

I felt an odd sense of betrayal when Ty Law intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it for a touchdown. As, I imagine, did Brady. Ty Law’s not supposed to be picking off Tom Brady. He’s supposed to be picking off Peyton Manning. He did it well. He did it often. But since he left for the Jets because the $10 million contract the Patriots were paying him evidently didn’t enable him to feed his children the gold-plated filet mignon they required, now he’s intercepting Tom Brady. Et tu, Ty? Et tu? Truth be told, I don’t actually hate Ty Law. I actually have very little animosity towards Ty Law. It’s not like he bolted for, oh New York or anything. Oh wait. Well, it’s not like he left because he felt he wasn’t wanted. Um, actually. Well, at least he didn’t go to a division rival. Crap. Okay, it’s not like he’s Johnny Damon. There, that makes sense. Plus, he remains Colleen’s Patriot Baby Daddy, even as a Jet.

“Tom Brady is as smooth as a good drink,” Christian Fauria reported to us, via John Madden. I have nothing to add to this. Absolutely nothing.

While we’re on John Madden, I though I’d let you all know that Marianne and I usually watch Monday Night Football together and we’ve taken an almost manic obsession to John Madden’s giant, baseball mitt-sized hands. Imagine Madden wheeling a grocery cart down the pasta aisle and swatting boxes of elbows and angel hair into his cart. His fingers, big as sausages, sweep back and forth, knocking cans of tomatoes off the shelves. We’ve also decided that he makes a sound like Chewbacca when he does this. (I have no idea where all the Star Wars references are coming from either). Especially amusing is when Madden shills for whatever cell phone company he’s currently endorsing. He holds up a normal sized cell phone, reduced to doll-sized dimensions in his monstrous hands. “There’s no way he can punch the buttons on that phone,” Marianne said. “He has one of those voice activated ones,” I said. “He just screams at the phone, “’PIZZA HUT!’ and it calls and orders him an extra large sausage.”

I realized yesterday as we were opening presents that I’ve turned into the teenage boy my parents always wished they had. This is not a slam against my 22-year-old brother as he’s turned into the 25-year-old daughter they always wished they had as most of his presents were for the new house he just purchased. Yup, he’s buying a house and getting vacuums and salad bowls and I’m barely squeezing out rent and am rewarded with baseball cards and books about the Red Sox and Patriots. I toyed with the idea of getting my brother a Mark Loretta shirt to replace the Doug Mirabelli jersey (now vintage) that I got him last year, but I figured this would come back to haunt me when he locked me out of the house in my bare feet during a torrential downpour.

But I now have all kinds of new reading material. Over the next few weeks, (or, let’s be realistic, days as work will be so slow, it’ll make a joint session of Congress look lively), I’ll slog through “Now I Can Die In Peace” by Bill Simmons, “Three Nights in August” by Buzz Bissinger, “Aces” by Michael Urban and “Next Man Up” by John Feinstein. I’m already halfway through the Simmons and so far, it’s about what I expected. Simmons’ trademark informal writing interspersed with footnotes to all of his relevant Red Sox related columns from 1997 to 2004. It’s funny, occasionally scathing and more often than not, on point. Trademark Simmons. I’ll be sure to let you know how the rest of them fair as well. Of particular interest to me is the Feinstein which chronicles a season behind the lines for the Baltimore Ravens. I’m curious to see if Ray Lewis showed Feinstein the slate he uses to sharpen his shivs or if Brian Billick ever forced him to babysit Kyle Boller during a trip to the ATM.

The Rick has a couple of questions: Is there a rule in football that allows for a free kick after a fair catch? What I mean is, could the Jets (or whomever) lob a pathetic 25-yard punt, Tim Dwight call for a fair catch and then could Vinatieri and his holder line up and attempt a field goal with no defense on the field? The Rick swears he’s heard this before and he couldn’t make it up. Anyone know? Also, are drop kicks still legal? And if so, how come no one does that anymore? Can you drop kick while running down the field or does it have to be from the line of scrimmage? For instance, could Corey Dillon break for a run and decide to drop kick the ball through the uprights from the 10-yard line? Not that he would, because Corey Dillon seems reasonably intelligent, but could he? Somebody’s gotta know the answers to these questions. Anybody? Bueller?

Doug Flutie is so tiny. I’m sorry, I can’t get over it. He can’t launch a pass without hopping and throwing with all of his might. It’s endearing. I’m not sure a 43-year-old professional football player would appreciate me thinking that his stature is “endearing” but it all comes from love.

The Pats have just wrapped up a more-intense-than-it-needed-to-be 31-21 win over the NY Jets and thus endeth the bazillion years of Monday Night Football on ABC. No more John Madden sausage finger jokes, which, if you ask me, is the real tragedy. However, next season has already opened itself up for endless installments of the Joe “My God That Was BRILLIANT” Theisman-isms. Oy.

I sincerely hope that everyone has had a fantastic holiday thus far and that the new year brings great things for you all. Thanks for reading. Onward and upward. This means you, Red Sox front office. Ahem.

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Mint

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(Baby Tek!)

So that up there? That’s my Christmas present from Marianne. A MINT CONDITION, 1992 JASON VARITEK ROOKIE CARD!

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to our waiter and the rest of the patrons at The Publick House last night as I’m fairly certain that my shriek of glee may have left them all with permanent hearing loss.

Also to Marianne who I hugged so hard, I might have cracked a rib or two.

Baby Tek now lives happily next to the Official 2004 World Series baseball autographed by Jason Varitek that my parents got me for my birthday.

/is a 12-year-old boy.

What can I say? I have great friends.

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Insert Religiously-Themed Betrayal Headline Here

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Acceptable terms include but are not limited to: Judas, Anti-Christ and/or Heresy.

The way I figure it, if Yankees fans are unhappy, it’s gotta be good news for us.

Also? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. And you can’t force an old dog to get a shave and a haircut and teach him to hit the cutoff man.

It may sound like sour grapes on my part but those of you who know me know how I feel about Johnny Damon. Namely, I tolerate him because he was one of The Twenty-Five but given half a chance, I will tell him to shut up. No, for real, shut up, I mean it. That’s not about to change now. In fact, Annette seemed to think I’d be downright giddy about this turn of events. “I fully expect Kristen to be doing cartwheels in the streets tomorrow and kissing strangers. I mean, the stranger kissing is just par for the course, but she busts the cartwheels out for the special occasions.” And while I don’t NORMALLY make a habit of molesting strangers, I can’t say I’m too upset. Just, eh.

What bothers me most about this, I suppose, is not Damon’s move 250 miles to the south (because any halfway self-aware Sox fan had to know that his “I could never play for the Yankess” bluster was bullshit), it’s that I WASN’T surprised. And that it’s NOT sending me into a depressive funk. Which is not to say that I WANT to be rending my garments over the loss of our center fielder (see what I did there? I made a religious joke.) It’s just that the list of Sox players who’s departure would cause me to destroy a small Macedonian village is rather short. At present, it consists of: Tek, Ortiz, and Trot. Coincidentally enough, those look to be the ONLY three players remaining on the team when I show up to bother them in Fort Myers in March.

My point, I guess, is: when did I get so jaded? When did we all get so jaded? And by “we” I include the players in that. As Annette so deftly added in one of our Neverending Email Threads that I checked at 3 am when I got up for a moment because I have a PROBLEM, people!: ” Somewhere Mo Vaughn is going ‘They’re never going to love you anywhere else like they did in Boston.'” And really, that’s the bitch of it, isn’t it? I resent the Johnny Damon-centricity of the team over the last three seasons or so because I felt all the while that I was being force fed. It wasn’t organic. It wasn’t as though he was someone that fans just gravitated to like they have with Tek or Trot. Even Papi’s popularity is due to his megawatt smile and his ability to jack one over the Monster, not a publicity tour or some mad genius whipping up a brilliant PR scheme. But with Damon, it just got to be too much. “Face of the Red Sox, people! Get your face of the Red Sox, right here!” It felt calculated.

And now, it appears, it was.

I realize the players, save for some rare occasions (Tek/A-Rod anyone?), don’t have the same animosity towards each other that the fans do. I understand that the Yankee pinstripes don’t cause Red Sox players to shudder as their skin crawls, but if anyone was going to talk out of both sides of his mouth regarding The Rivalry, it was going to be Damon. And hey, here we are. Am I hurt? A little, I suppose. But part of me feels like he was never really ours to begin with. That’s why he had to try so damn hard to make us love him. Not that I fault the fans who went all gung-ho Johnny. That’s fine, everyone has their favorites. I don’t fault them for a second (but I am most assuredly NOT upset about the far fewer numbers of pink #18 t-shirts that will be littering Fenway this year).

I think, when it really boils down to it, the one issue that sticks in my craw is the fact that so many memories about 2004, The Year, The Deliverance, if you will, are awash in Johnny Damon. Because he wouldn’t let them not be. True, he did some great things for us. I’m not going to deny that for a second. But when you look at those highlights now, it’s probably going to sting just a little bit because of your knowledge that the guy who professed to be “just an idiot” is now clean-shaven and shagging flies for the Other Side. Who knows what’s true anymore? I’m bothered by the sheer amount of bullshit and hype that will spring from this. Johnny Damon is JUST a ballplayer. An integral one, sure, but I’m still more upset about the Theo debacle than I am about this. And I think Theo would have called his bluff too so I’m okay with that.

From a purely functional standpoint, the Red Sox now have a leadoff hitter problem. Namely, we don’t have one. But hell, we don’t have a shortstop or a first basemen either so maybe we’re not concerned about these things? I don’t relish having to play against Damon eleventy billion times over the course of the season but I didn’t want to face A-Rod either and that worked out pretty well for us.

And, since I’m not a dude, I will most definitely NOT miss the Michelle Damon Fashion Round Up or whatever the hell that ridiculous bullshit on NESN was. Which brings me to, finally, my last point. If Damon harbors any delusions that he’s going to be anywhere near as beloved in New York as he was in Boston, he can check them at the door. No way, no how. We’re a persnickety bunch here in Beantown, sure, but once you’re in, we tend to accept you and your quirks. However, Damon’s going to have a tough road in New York. Without the hair, he’s a good leadoff hitter with below-average fielding abilities and a lack of self-preservation instincts. Which is fine. But I gotta wonder how a media hog like Damon fares with someone like Jeter around. Should be interesting.

In the end, I feel like the ancient knight at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The traveler, in this case, Damon, has chosen the jewel-encrusted gold cup (or an extra $12 million over four years) instead of the more modest cup of a carpenter. After sipping from it, he quickly shrivels up and vanishes into dust. “You chose…poorly.” the knight says.

Really, people, this shit writes itself.

So au revoir, JD. May the outfield wall at Yankee Stadium become familiar with the contours of your cranium. And as for Boston, Torii Hunter is still available, right? *salivates* Onward and upward.

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A Late Night Phone Call…

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Between Peyton Manning and Chris Simms.

Ring! Ring!

A telephone rings in the darkened Simms’ house.

Ring! Ring!

A battered figure pulls on a bathrobe and hobbles to the phone, nursing his left foot and cradling his left hand. Ice packs are strapped to both his knees and his shoulders. The stench of Icy Hot fills the air.

Ring! Ring!

“Hello?” grumbles the man.

“Chris?” A hayseed accent inquires from the other end. “That you?”

“Oh, uh, hi, Peyton,” Chris Simms answers.

“Hey, Chris. I, uh, I saw your game yesterday.”

Simms settles onto the sofa, cradling the phone between his bruised shoulder and a pillow. He readjusts the ice pack on his left knee. “You did, huh? Well, not one of the better ones, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, it was all right,” Peyton replies. “Them guys are kinda tough up there in New England.”

Simms winces at the pain in his arm, “You can say that again.”

“Plus,” Peyton adds, “It’s cold. And they don’t got no roof. My daddy says that it’s a sin to let them run around in the snow and all. He says football’s a gentleman’s game and gentlemen don’t get dirty. Daddy says they ain’t no need to be playing out in the elements. He said if God wanted us to play football outside, he’d a never given us Astroturf.”

“Doesn’t Eli play outside?”

Peyton pauses, “Daddy don’t like Eli.”

“Oh,” Simms replies, “I see.”

There’s an uncomfortable pause.

“So, uh, Peyton,” Simms continues, “I, uh, caught some of your game today.”

There is silence on the other end punctuated by what appears to be quiet weeping.

“Uh, Peyton? You all right?”

Peyton sniffles, “I’m fine, Chris. I’m just fine.”

“Well, hey, you can’t win ’em all, right?” Simms shrugs.

“I, I guess not,” Peyton sniffles. “But now everybody’s talkin’ ’bout how I won’t never be as good as my daddy. It’s just so hard. You don’t know. Nobody knows.”

“Actually, I do know.” Simms replies.

“Oh, uh, right.” Peyton says. “But, I mean, we was supposed to win it all this year, ya know? We was supposed to win all our games and finally beat them Patriots and win the Super Bowl. Your team wasn’t supposed to be no good. But the Colts are God’s chosen team. I mean, that’s what God wants, right?”

Simms begins to get irritated, “How do you figure?”

“How else do you suppose they got a whole Pro Bowl’s worth of players all busted up in New England? And they gotta play the tough teams. We been playing the likes of Houston all season long!” Peyton begins to grow animated and his voice raises. “How they doin’ it? Must be black magic! That ain’t right. Daddy says that ain’t right!”

Simms rolls his eyes and shakes his head, wincing at the pain in his neck. “Peyton, you can still win, you know? This was only one game.”

Peyton, near hysteria, starts crying openly. His words are choked with sobs, “BUT DADDY SAYS WE WAS SUPPOSED TO WIN ALL THE GAMES! WE WAS SUPPOSED TO!”

Simms sits up, preparing to hang up, “Peyton, look, it’s going to be fine. You could still win. Look, why don’t you talk to your dad about this? I’m sure he’ll make you feel better.”

Sniffling, Peyton replies, “Daddy won’t take my calls. Momma says he’s talkin’ to Eli.”

“Oh, well, why don’t you just take some Ambien and try to get a good night’s sleep?” Simms says, “I’m sure you’ll feel better in the morning.”

“Yeah, okay, that’s probably a good idea,” Peyton answers, “Except…”

“Except what, Peyton?” Simms asks, annoyed.

“Except it’s just, I can’t sleep too good. ‘Cause whenever I close my eyes, I, uh. I see him. I see him coming towards me.”

“See who?” Simms asks.

“He just keeps comin’ and nobody can stop him. He just keeps comin’.”

“Who keeps coming, Peyton?”

“THEY CAN’T STOP HIM! AND HE KEEPS COMING! AND HE’S LIKE A RUNAWAY FREIGHT TRAIN AND HE WON’T STOP COMIN! AND HE’S COMIN’ RIGHT AT ME!”

“Peyton! Who’s coming right at you?” Simms demands.

“Willie McGinest!” Peyton cries, “He’s always comin’ at me! WHY DON’T NOBODY COVER MCGINEST? I see him in my sleep!”

“Oh,” Simms replies, lying back on the couch and cradling his sore arm, “Uh, me, uh, me too.”

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