Friday, October 30, 2009

Rumble in the Jungle Turns 35

"Beyond the stucco villa, the Congo River flowed swiftly," Dave Anderson wrote in The New York Times. "On the law several dozen Africans, men in their slacks and bright shires and women in their long dresses had come for a glimpse of the famous man now that he was the world heavyweight champion again."

Anderson's words are of no recent vintage, but they remain as vivid and as lucid as the day he crafted them 35 years ago.

His words are remembered today because this is the anniversary of the title fight Anderson wrote about. Now as then, you can hardly forget it, not if you consider yourself a Muhammad Ali fan.

Even if you didn't watch the bout live or weren't born until after that autumn day in 1974, you have seen film of it or have read about Ali's "Rumble in the Jungle."

(Continue to Justice Is Served)

Redskins Not Getting the Signs

The Washington Redskins - who now have stooped to making up rules as they go along, like the ones stopping fans from bringing signs into FedEx Field - are doing the entire sports-loving world a favor. They’re teaching a long-overdue lesson about what it means to be a good “fan’’ (which is derived from “fanatic’’) and to be a good “customer’’ (derived from “gimme what I’m paying for, dammit’’).

Think about all the times organizations have put lousy products on the field, all the times fans have gotten fed up and stopped showing up – and all the times that someone has chided them for being “bad fans.’’ The times they’ve been called a “bad sports town.’’ The times they’ve been told they don’t “support their team,’’ and that heck, why not, just move them to another city that’ll appreciate that lousy product on the field.

(Continue to The Steele Drum)

Lions-Rams: That '70s Show

When the St. Louis Rams take their sorry, 0-7 act on the road to stumble up against the almost-as-sorry, 1-5 Lions on Sunday, nostalgia will run as thick as the soot in the Motor City air.

St. Louis and Detroit...playing a meaningless mid-season football game...Shout it from the rooftops, friends, the NFL as we used to know it is back! Parity is dead, and a rebirth of the '70s is upon us!

All this harks to a time when our kids weren't too fat and our celebrities too thin; back when we actually believed the sludge which is Coors was a premium brew, if only because their boss told us it had water from the Rockies in it; back when newspapers were king and blogs were...well, they weren't.

Light up a smoke, close your eyes, and try to take a deep breath. Now open 'em. Pro football never looked so good, eh?

Once again we can take great comfort in knowing that when the Rams (of St. Louis Cardinals vintage), and the Lions of dependable Detroit bump up against our squad, a win is in the offing!

(Continue to The Grill Room)

Rules Are Made to Be ... Followed

In Uniform: Baltimore Cross County Championships
(Photo: Baltimore Sun)

This is a story getting some legs – about the Baltimore area high school cross-country team that lost a championship because of a uniform rules violation involving Spandex undergarments.

In local and national newspaper sports and editorial pages, blogs and readers forums, debaters are asking when is a seemingly insignificant rule infraction worth distorting the outcome of the competition. A larger view is whether some rules should be overlooked to maintain the purity of competition.

On Oct. 26, a runner for Hereford High School's boys cross country team competing in the Baltimore County championships wore Spandex beneath his uniform shorts sporting a white pinstripe on the side instead of a solid color as a Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association uniform rule requires.

(Continue to DMA 7-22 Sports)

The Empire Strikes Back

With Halloween two days away, it looked like Pedro Martinez would bewitch the bats in the Bronx but AJ Burnett was able to do just a little bit better, tricking Phillie hitters all night long.

Phillies went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first after A.J. Burnett threw a first pitch strike to each batter. Pedro started off by striking out Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon while Yankee fans obnoxiously chanted, "Who's your daddy."

Let me comment on that chant by the way...Pedro came up with it and it does not bother him so please be quite. Come up with something original. The Wolf Pack, Duck Pond, Howard's Homers, Coste Guards, Padilla Floatia, Cole Miners, Burrell's Girls, RAAAAUUULLL, and the Philly Phanatic are all original ideas New York Yankee fans cannot possibly conceive by themselves.

(Continue to Philadelphia Sports Scene)

Schedule Gives Cardinals a Chance

Not sure if anyone would have thought of this three weeks ago, but the Arizona Cardinals, with 10 weeks remaining in the season, can think big.

After winning three straight games, and claiming sole possession of first place in the NFC West division, the Cardinals have a good chance of finishing the season strong and claiming a first-round bye or home field advantage.

In Week Seven, Arizona claimed a 24-17 victory over the New York Giants on the road. It may be the team's biggest win of the season. It has set the table for Arizona to make a run through the remaining games of its schedule.

Arizona's next 10 opponents have a combined record of 21-42.

It's that bad. And it's that good for the Cardinals.

(Continue to Arizona Sportspage)

Can Notre Dame Catch Michigan?

Here's something for Notre Dame fans to sink their teeth into:

On Wednesday, the NCAA officially began its investigation of the (sc)UM football team regarding allegations that coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff surpassed the allotted mandatory workout hours (Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis never will be accused of over-working his troops because that would mean pushing back his dinner reservation, which is why his getting fired would be the worst thing for the South Bend economy).

Let's suppose the violations are so egregious that Michigan has to forfeit all its win under Rodriguez, who is in his second season in Ann Arbor (three last season and five so far this year).

That means that Michigan would lose at least eight victories, and Notre Dame would jump back over the Wolverines into its rightful place as the winningest program in NCAA history, at least in terms of winning percentage.

(Continue to Bob Birge's Irish Eyes Are Smiling)

A Lot on the Line at Autzen Stadium

On Halloween night the #5 USC Trojans travel to #10 Oregon Ducks. Before the season began California and Oregon were expected to challenge USC for first place in the Pac-10. The Trojans defeated the Bears 30-3 and Oregon beat California 42-3.

The Ducks could be the only team remaining on the Trojans schedule that has a shot at beating them. Autzen Stadium is a very difficult place for visiting teams to win. A lot of highly ranked teams have lost at Oregon. In 2006 # 15 Oklahoma lost 34-33. In 2007 #6 Arizona State lost 35-23. The Ducks have beaten USC four out of the last six games at Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks need to play this game at a fast pace and make this game a shootout. Oregon has a better chance of winning this game 42-35. A low scoring game would favor the Trojans. The Trojans defense in a two-week span held Washington State to 6 points and California to 3 points. The last couple of defensive performances by USC might have Oregon believing that it’s possible for them to put a lot of points on the board this Saturday.

USC gave up 27 points to Notre Dame and 36 points to Oregon State. The Ducks are second in the conference in scoring at 34 PPG and USC is ranked #1 in the Pac-10 in scoring defense allowing only 15.1 PPG

(Continue to Inside the Pac-10)

Magic City Classic Takes Center Stage

Alabama A&M players celebrate their 2008 victory in the Magic City Classic (Photo by Joe Songer/Birmingham News)

Back in the day, the moniker “Football Capital of the South” was appropriate for Legion Field.

The stadium on the west side of Birmingham, just a few miles from downtown, was the site of the Iron Bowl, the annual in-state Civil War battle for braggin’ rights between Alabama and Auburn, for many years.

Alabama played all of its marquee home games, such as USC, Notre Dame, Penn State, and Tennessee at the Old Gray Lady on Graymont. Auburn and Tennessee regularly met each other there. In fact in 1968, there was a doubleheader featuring Auburn against Tennessee and Alabama against LSU that attracted more than 137,000 spectators to Legion Field.

In its infancy, the SEC Championship Game also was played at Legion Field.

(Continue to Rue's Rant)

Pujols' Words Sweet to Cardinals

Cardinal first baseman Albert Pujols told the St. Louis media he wants to remain a Redbird for life.

Okay, Cardinal fans you can breathe easier now. That a joke by the way.

Cardinal nation was abuzz about mixed messages Pujols apparently gave in a recent interview about a week ago. The key word there was apparently. I believed all along Albert would remain a Cardinal.

Basically what Albert said in the latest interview is that his contact status (two years) is not a concern and he wants lifetime Cardinal status.

(Continue to Paul's Redbird Report)
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