Sports in the New Year (P366D8)

Let’s start with (American) football.  In 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers, my favorite NFL team, are in the playoffs again.  They finished the regular season at 12 – 4, the same record as the Baltimore Ravens, but the Ravens owned them during the season so the Steelers are the wild card team.  Today,  January 8th, they play the Denver Broncos, who finished the regular season at 8 – 8.  Because Denver won their division, with only a break-even record, they host the game.  Normally, that wouldn’t be such a huge factor, except that the Steelers’ safety Ryan Clark ended up in the hospital following the last game he played in Denver due to the altitude and a blood condition.  Coach Tomlin, based on Clark’s previous hospitalization a lot of discussion with his coaches and medical experts, decided not to play Clark.  So the Steelers’ starting safety won’t be in the game.  This shouldn’t change the outcome of the game which should be the Steelers beating the Broncos and heading next week to New England, who they beat during the regular season.  Does it say something about the strength of your division when, out of six playoff teams, the division winner, Baltimore, ranked number 2, and the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals filled out the wild card spots, both with records better than the Broncos?

On to Soccer, also known as football in many countries around the world.  My favorite team, the Arsenal Gunners, started very slowly this season and now find themselves having to fight for every point to ensure they’ll be in the UEFA Champions League again next year.  They currently sit in 5th place in the (Barclay’s) English Premier League, one point behind Chelsea, and only a couple points ahead of two or three other clubs.  To qualify for the next season’s Champions League, they must finish fourth or better.  To help Captain Vantastic, Robin van Persie, who now owns the Arsenal single season goal record, Arsene Wenger has worked a loan from the New York Red Bulls (MLS) to bring long time Gunners legend Thierry Henry to the club for the rest of the season.  Henry, by the way, is the player who previously held the Arsenal single season record for goals.  Henry will see his first action back in an Arsenal jersey tomorrow in an FA Cup match vs. Leeds United.  With these two fantastic goals scorers in the line-up, things should be looking up for Arsenal.  While they may be too many points behind the two Manchester teams (Manchester City and Manchester United) leading the Premier League to hope to take the title this year, they should be able to secure themselves a top four finish.

I’m looking forward to watching the Olympic Summer Games hosted by London this summer, esp. seeing the U.S. Men’s and Women’s soccer teams compete, as well as seeing how well Michael Phelps can defend all his gold medals.

At a more local level, I am really lucky to still be able to play soccer three days a week during lunch and am hoping to play with my adult league club again this summer.  My daughters will be playing on the team I coach again this spring, kicking off in March.  We’ll see about getting one or both of them on a travel club next fall…maybe.  The girls will likely again be joining the swim team they were on last summer.



One Response

  1. Well, I was wrong about the Steelers not needing Ryan Clark. They gave up a number of long throws downfield. Would he have made better plays on the ball or stopped the runners and quarterback before they got first downs? Who knows? It also didn’t help that our first string center, Maurkice Pouncey, and running back, Rashard Mendenhall, didn’t play, and that our starting nose tackle, Casey Hampton, and defensive tackle, Brett “The Deisel” Keisel, left very early in the game. We fought back from fourteen points down, but blew it on the first play of overtime. Sucks. Time to get healed up and start the quest for the seventh trophy again next season.

    Now I have to figure out who to root for. Really don’t like the Patriots, Ravens, Saints, or Packers. Not overly fond of the Giants. I like the Texans and could support the 49ers in the NFC… so I guess my rooting for next weekend will be Broncos, Texans, 49ers, and Giants, hoping to see Houston vs. San Francisco in the Super Bowl and the Texans with their first trophy. Probably a long shot, but, hey, it’s the NFL and anything can happen.

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