Super Bowl predictions

George HamiltonI don’t hate the Super Bowl. I don’t know where that came from. I dislike the Wing Bowl, which I believe is one of the biggest reasons why the rest of the world hates America and why the rest of America thinks Philadelphia and Philadelphians are ugly. At least that’s what Americans told a slick travel magazine a few months ago.

But that’s a different story. In the meantime let’s just be glad that the Wing Bowl is a radio event because I saw pictures of the contestants, the deejays and the scantily clad women hired to flash the audience and… how do we put this delicately… um… bowwow.

Look, I’m not George Hamilton, but geez. Cover up, people!

Anyway, the Super Bowl is set to be played sometime this weekend. That means we will be deluged with many of the worst parts of America not excluding crass commercialism, marketing and consumerism. In fact, some folks claim they watch the Super Bowl just for the new commercials. Really. Now how pathetic is that?

“Please, please, please tell me what to buy and how to think. Yes, yes, I know that if I drink your brand of light beer I will be as fiendishly clever and debonair as those hipsters with their meticulously messy haircuts and cavalier outlook on life. Drink up!

“That Spuds McKenzie! Rock on!”

Like Major League Baseball, the NFL has an alcohol problem it doesn’t want to admit. But we’ll save that issue for another time – or at least until the city police decides to set up DUI checkpoints outside the Linc after Sunday home games. Meanwhile, the beer companies have a problem because they can no longer produce commercials like this:

Never mind the fact that the Super Bowl is to football fans what New Year’s Eve is to those on the pro party circuit – it’s strictly amateur hour. But be that as it is, you make sure you tune into the game. Missing it would is like being stuck at home while everyone else is having a rockin’ time with Dick Clark.

So to help out the football novices out there enjoy the game better, I sent out a mass email to some of the best minds in the sports business to provide a trenchant analysis of the big game.

Here’s the results:

John FingerComcast SportsNet/Raconteur
I think I watched three or four football games from start to end this year and they all involved the Giants, Patriots or Brett Favre. I like Favre because he seems crazy – not crazy like he should be institutionalized, or crazy like he painted the windows black and allowed a bunch of dogs kill each other. But crazy in a way that I bet he would drink a champagne glass mixed with whatever liquid was left on the table if there was enough cash in it. For instance, if we’re hanging out at a wedding with Brett and we combined a little champagne, a few floaters of beer, maybe a bit of a gin & tonic, eight olives and some sudsy bubbles left over from greeting the bride, I bet it would only take $11 to get him to drink the whole mix.

So yeah, I’m picking the Giants just to be different.

Todd ZoleckiPhiladelphia Inquirer

Because Bill Belichick is such a humble guy, I can’t help but root for him.

Lance Crawford Comcast SportsNet/mountain climber
I see the Giants keeping it close for 3 quarters, making one fatal mistake and losing by the final of 31-21.

Kevin RobertsCamden Courier Post
I predict that during the halftime concert, Tom Petty will accidentally show a nipple. No one will care. On the field, the Patriots will win 87-2.

Courtney Holt – CSN/diva
The evil hoodie strikes again! Brady and his boot (not Giselle) strike early and often against crappy Giants secondary. Randy Moss finally gets a ring and is disappointed to find it’s not a good substitute for his bowl. Eli will rest his head in the space between Strahan’s teeth and sob for 3 minutes, then hits the Waffle House off of 101 North with his fraud brother where they shoot a commercial.

Jim SalisburyPhiladelphia Inquirer
The Pats will push the Giants off the elevator, 28-21.

Ellen Fingerteacher
You’re all winners!
Seeing as I am one of the many schmucks who works tirelessly to make sure No Child is EVER Left Behind, I would like to propose that the Giants and Patriots simply play football for three hours. Then, whichever team is behind when time runs out should get a chance to kick field goals until they catch up to the other team. Or, better yet, maybe they should play but not keep score. During huddles the defense should be told exactly what play the offense is going to run. And at the end everyone will get a Super Bowl ring, an endorsement with Wheaties, and boatload of self esteem.

Marcus Hayes – Philadelphia Daily News
With the eyes of the nation and his brother upon him, Eli Manning reverts to his pre-hypnotic state, channels Kerry Collins and throws four picks. Patriots 35, Giants 17.

Dennis DeitchDelaware County Daily Times
Patriots 38, Giants 27… I love the Pats and Moss on the fast track, particularly because Maroney has been giving their running game a little credibility. But the oddsmakers are in the zone with the betting line. The Giants will score some points, although I could see 7 or 10 of them coming in the final five minutes when it doesn’t matter.

I like the over, of course. I also like prop bets for nine touchdowns scored (+750) and Todd Zolecki throwing a beer on a Giants fan in a first-half drunken rage at a Manayunk bar, then sprinting out the door to his home to avoid being pummeled (-110).

Scott LauberWilmington News Journal
Giants 35, Patriots 32 … Eli Manning isn’t as bad as you think. Plus, it’s always more fun to pick the underdog.

Martin FrankWilmington News Journal
New England 38, NY Giants 17… I have no clever reason, or funny anecdote. I just think the Pats are much better than the Giants and now that Belichick has had 2 full weeks to spy on them, he’ll probably know every single play Eli Manning is going to run.

End of the road

headWASHINGTON – So far this weekend’s trip to The District has been pretty eventful for everyone in the Phillies’ travelling party. A few of the players were given a private tour of the White House and were even granted an audience with the President in the Oval Office.

Another got to show off his superhero poses, while a few teammates were given the chance to show off a softer, more feminine side in formal evening wear.

But the best part of the last road trip of the season that ends tomorrow with the final Major League Baseball game at RFK Stadium hasn’t been the quiet time spent away from media mass at Citizens Bank Park, nor the special perks granted to the gentry athlete class.

Instead, the Phillies have simply taken pride in their work.

“Nothing beats winning,” manager Charlie Manuel.

That certainly has been the case for the Phillies, who enter Sunday’s game with an 8-1 record during the 10-game road trip. Actually, it has been on this trip that the Phillies went from sitting on the edge of oblivion, to a team with an incredibly legitimate chance at winning the division OR the wild card.

To think, when the Phillies left for New York after the victory over the Rockies on Sept. 13 they were a distant 6½ games behind the Mets in the NL East. But when the team returns home to host the Braves on Tuesday night, they very well could be tied for first place.

Then again, in a worst-case scenario, they could be four games back, too.

The District
As far as northeastern cities go, Washington, D.C. provides the perfect urban experience. The city has an extensive public transportation system, an incredible system of trails and parks for the recreationally and fitness inclined, every type of cuisine or entertainment offering imaginable, and of course, all of those free museums

Yes, Washington, D.C. has culture coming out the wazoo.

Need an example of how D.C. is unique? Check this out:

During Friday morning’s run I meandered through the Northwest quadrant of the city’s confusing grid, passing by such notable places as JFK’s last residence before he was elected president, Bob Woodward’s towering Q Street crib and, of course, the childhood home of the legendary iconoclast, Ian MacKaye, until I filtered back toward the Key Bridge and the C&O Canal Tow Path. This part of the run took nearly 30-minutes at a modest clip where I made sure I ran hard up the inclines on Q Street and Observation Place. After all, D.C. was built on top of a swamp, which (I assume) are relatively flat. So when one arrives at the base of a hill during a run, they should take it with some pace.

Anyway, I hit the tow path, which is the ultimate urban biking/running trail in these United States. Instead of a modest nine-mile loop around the Schuylkill River like Philly’s Kelly Drive, the C&O goes from the Key Bridge (just off Georgetown’s main thoroughfare) through the western edge of the city along the Potomac River, into the Maryland suburbs and onto the countryside for nearly 200 miles.

One runner, named Scott Douglas, ran the entire trail during a seven-day stretch.

ANYWAY, the towpath…

George HamiltonNeedless to say I wasn’t about to run the length of the entire path. After all, the weather in D.C. has been hot and sticky and the main reason I wanted to run on the riverside, tree-shrouded trail was to get out of the sun. Besides, if I bake beneath those ultraviolet rays any more than I already do, I’m going to have the complexion of George Hamilton.

C’mon, who wants to dress in a tuxedo all the time even if it does give Georgie’s epidermis the hue of rich, Corinthian leather?

The plan was to run for 13 miles, which takes about 86-to-90 minutes. Or, if I felt good I would run for an hour and then weave my way back through Georgetown. But I didn’t feel good because it was hot, and, truth be told, since the birth of our son, I have only been able to run about 70 to 80 miles per week. My fitness level is a little lacking these days, so 90 minutes in the heat and humidity would be fine enough.

And it was. On the way up the trail I enjoyed the shade, the sweeping river views into Northern Virginia and the quietness of the day where the only audible noise was the cadence of my feet pounding on the hard, packed dirt. I just couldn’t believe that I was in Washington, D.C.

But as the run progressed I really could not believe that I was in one of the biggest cities in the country.

At first glance I thought it was a dog…

After getting good and tired and deciding that approximately four miles on the trail was plenty, I made a u-turn and retraced my steps. I also decided to ease off a bit after doing half-mile intervals at lactate threshold pace. However, upon noticing some hikers and what I thought was some type of amber-colored dog, I figured I could put on the pace one more time before knocking off and cruising in to the finish.

It was hot, though. I was also thirsty and the combination of the heat and dehydration narrowed the focus of my vision causing me to weave ever-so slightly on the path as I attempted to run down the hikers.

That’s when I brushed up against what I originally thought was a dog… only it was a white-tailed deer.

Yeah, that’s right. A white-tailed deer. I rubbed shoulders — quite literally — with a freaking white-tailed deer a little more than a mile from M St. You know, where the Barnes & Noble, Banana Republic, Dean & Deluca and Starbucks are mixed in amongst all of those tourist-trap bars and restaurants. In Washington, D.C. …

A white-tailed freaking deer.

Needless to say, my brush with Bambi straightened me right the hell up. For the next half mile I ran as hard as the heat and my legs would allow for fear that I somehow angered the deer and he was hot on my rear in attempt to chase me down and give me a beating like that scene in Tommy Boy.

As if I could out-run a deer…

robo deerAnyway, I suppose robo-deer remained in the brush to munch on some leaves and shrubs while I settled down, finally eased up on the pace, and cruised on toward the end of the path. But there, again, in the last copse of woods before nature gave way to the giant cylinders of concrete that supported the bridge and menaced the landscape as cars sped to and from Northern Virginia, another white-tailed deer stood as it picked away at the brush from the left side of the trail. This one was even closer to all of the action of G’town, yet really didn’t seem to mind when the walkers, runners and bike riders passed by just inches away.

Perhaps this proved that political animals are not the only species that inhabit Washington.

Though the deer might be less frightening.

Anyway, that’s some of the highlights from the trip. We’ll have more from the equally deer-laden tranquility of The Lanc tomorrow.