Monday, February 02, 2009

All Hail Punxatawney!

Apparently, we'll have six more weeks of winter, according to Punxatawney Phil this Groundhog's day.
As opposed to the only 42 days we'd have left of winter if he hadn't seen his shadow (do the math). That's what Staten Island Chuck predicts.
Now, I suppose there's some truth to this meme. After all, the only way Phil doesn't see his shadow at the appointed time is if it's REALLY cloudly and REALLY cloudy weather this time of year in the Northeast means it's been a very mild winter, and that moisture sufficient to cause big storms has been able to accumulate in the atmosphere.
Which means we can probably look at the large weather patterns and say that things will get warmer in a hurry. Conversely, if the skies are clear and the sun is shining, likely the air is pretty dry because it's been cold.
To true calendar watchers, the first real sign of Spring's arrival is that baseball pitchers and catchers report for Spring training in ten days. That thought warms my cockles on this first Monday in February.
Spring of course offers such renewal that we often overlook those things in winter that point towards the coming warm: the crocus piercing the crusty snow, or the cardinals chasing each other through the branches of the apple trees in the annual mating ritual. I guess you have to be outside for those, and that's hard when it can still be bone-chilling outside.
And then, of course, the end of football season comes around this time each year, which is the surest harbinger that winter is waning.
I watched some of that over-hyped excuse of a game last night. I'd call it "football", but in truth, it was a game of Refereeing. This is precisely why I stopped watching football when the compelling story of Joe Namath's knees ran its course (save the occasional Richard Todd or Ken O'Brien game). It had stopped being the game I played as a kid, a game of innovation and execution, and had turned into "who could piss off the ref the least".
It reminded me of school. Or life under a Republican president. And I don't think it's a massive surprise to find that Republicans enjoy football more than Democrats. It is the ultimate expression of fascism in America, or was until Dick Cheney was VP.
Besides that, I don't have to call it a football game because every damned sentence out of an announcer's mouth was reminding me that it was either a football or NFL game. Think about it: what was the last sentence to come out of John Madden's mouth that didn't include "football"? "I take thee as my lawfully wedded wife"? Cuz I'll bet the next sentence was "To have and to hold, in sickness and in football health..."
It's, like, his "you know", you know?.
Seriously, guys, you can save a lot of us a lot of annoyance if you drop "football" from your vocabulary. I recall many years ago, NBC experimented broadcasting a game without announcers. It was a delight not to listen to (pick your favorite announcer) talk about how that running back carried the football or this defensive end really is hungry for the football.
I recommend a thousand dollar fine and fifteen yard penalty on the defensive team anytime any announcer takes it upon himself to remind us that the twenty two men wearing helmets and shoulder pads on the field are playing football.
Just the spectre of having Troy Polamalu beating the crap out of me after the game would be enough to keep me from ever speaking the word again.
Yes, the last two minutes of the game were something special...again, if you factor out the fifteen yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct that the referees just had to call that had nothing to do with the play as it unfolded and could have been better handled with an immediate expulsion of the player and a hundred grand fine.
I worked out in my head how the game would have gone if the referees had just been disappeared. I figure the Steelers would have won 14-0 after scoring twice in the first half, and the game would have been over long before "" (?!?!?!?!?!?!?! D-huh???) had it's Super Bowl commercial.
Wait....was NBC so that hard up to sell commercial time that "" was able to buy ad time in the fourth quarter????
That's really all I needed to say to write this column.