End of a Remarkable Era

April 5, 2010 - Leave a Response

I had resolved to let the sports writers do the sports writing, since they are the ones that get paid for it and I have a dozen other things to do. And since the Sixers didn’t do much worth mentioning this season, it made it that much easier to look the other way. This blog post is one that I didn’t think I would be making, and don’t really want to make, but maybe after writing, it will be easier to see McNabb in a Redskin’s jersey next year. Somehow I doubt it.

The speculation has been heavy for weeks. With it, I felt my interest in the NFL beginning to fade. They’d already let Brian Westbrook walk, but that was somewhat understandable. The concussions, the other injuries, the big contract, the running back expiration date (30+)… you get it. Still, I asked myself, “supposed the stars line up perfectly and the Eagles win the Super Bowl without Westbrook… wouldn’t that mean a little less?” Without Westbrook AND McNabb, the answer for me is pretty clear.

Obviously I’m speaking from that place that fans still go to sometimes, while owners and GMs busy themselves with numbers. But I have to wonder, why isn’t Tom Brady on the trading block? Or Eli? Or Romo? Or Rivers? Why does McNabb catch the fall for the Eagles inability to stop the run? I guess if he made more plays on offense, the Eagles wouldn’t have to stop the run as often. But didn’t he do that enough times… I mean, all those NFC championships weren’t produced under the best scenarios, but he still got it done.

In the perfect world, McNabb would have retired an Eagle. Would have sucked for Kevin Kolb, but they probably would have found another team for him to play with. I know he had a few good games last season, but he also had a few bad ones in his career. Best case, the Eagles know what they’re doing, shed a contract, find a young star, and put some pieces together. Worst case, we’re back in Doug Pederson land (the QB who was supposed to let McNabb get a year in training; that lasted about 4 games, I believe). How will Vick take sitting behind Doug Pederson? How long will Kolb have before he gets pulled? If and when the ball is put in Vick’s hands, what will he do with it? Would be an excellent story for Season 2 of The Michael Vick Project. If only life was like reality TV (hmmmmm….)

So now the question becomes do the Redskins end up with a better record than the Eagles next year? Does McNabb blow a tire, show his age, or throw the ball low or high, proving the Eagles to be geniuses? Or does this light that fire, and put him on a mission. You know what they say about any given Sunday? The Redskins had a terrible record last year, but they weren’t as bad as they seemed.

At the end of the day, McNabb’s sole crime was not winning a Super Bowl. (Neither has Andy Reid, by the way. But I guess all those NFC Championships have gotta mean something for somebody).  A big part of me hopes that he gets his before the Eagles get theirs. Maybe that makes me a Redskins fan now, I don’t know. But I do know that somebody’s gotta have the last laugh here (and I doubt it will be the Giants who look to be on the downward trend, but it could easily be the Cowboys — let’s hope that doesn’t happen, though).

PS – What’s the over-under on Farve becoming an Eagle? Oh you think it’s not possible. Let’s not forget who we’re talking about.
PS2 – I’m sure there are some fans out there who wanted McNabb to go to the Dolphins for Ricky Williams and a draft pick, you know, to fill that Westbrook void and finally make things right for the franchise. smh.

Ending Eras?

February 24, 2010 - Leave a Response

Yesterday the word on the sports wire was that Ladainian Tomlinson was being let go by the Chargers. LT predicted it months ago, but it finally became a reality. We also heard that Allen Iverson was given “an indefinite” leave from the Sixers to tend to his ill daughter. Many of us never thought we’d see AI in a Philly jersey again. While he caused a sell-out for his return game a couple of months ago, the Sixers have been a win-one-lose-two-or-three kind of team, not really doing all that much in a very weak Eastern conference. While AI certainly hasn’t – at least on the surface – seemed like the squad smasher than ran through Detroit, then went unwanted through most of the summer only to land, then unland in Memphis, he also wasn’t dropping 30+ a night. He seemed fine with being a distributor, and even was a jovial supporter from the sidelines just a few nights ago as the Sixers beat the Spurs. He didn’t play in the 4th quarter, I don’t believe, but we didn’t read anything about beef in the papers. Seemed like he was cool with getting the W, getting in where he could fit in, rather than having to carry the burden of making every move as was his previous Philly role. Who knows what the future holds, but if we believe Stephen A. Smith, then AI’s locker on Broad Street will be cleared out again. At least this time he’ll get to pack his own stuff up.

The say death comes in threes. Didn’t know that carried over into sports, but today, the Eagles gave word that they were letting Brian Westbrook go. Frankly, I didn’t want to see Westbrook on the field anymore – not in Eagles green or any other jersey. The concussions this year pretty much said enough. Pride, and the love of the game, can make a player want to squeeze out everything they can, but a running backs middle name is “target,” and when they can’t cut like they used to, and make All-Pro linebackers look like special teams fill-ins, then the targets start to become beaten-down bodies, crumpled at the bottom of thousand pound piles. At least Donovan can throw the ball away. Westbrook didn’t have that kind of luxury. The Eagles didn’t have the luxury of dropping $7.25M in his account, to get maybe 6-8 games of ten touches, and perhaps a gem or two during the season. Retirement would have been the fitting end to this story. But I can certainly understand the fight in a young man (at 30, he’s still young by all accounts, except in running back years) when he is told that he can’t do something that he’s done so well for as long as he can remember. So at this point, I can only hope for the best.

Finally, on a somewhat related note, from Stephen Curry (Dell’s kid) to Gerald Henderson’s son to a Wilkins boy to who knows who else, I’m realizing that entire generational eras are happening before my eyes. I was cool with Luke Walton because I only remembered his dad playing spot minutes for the Celtics late in his career, and not his head-band wearing days in Portland. But today in the UPenn paper I saw that Toni Kukoc’s kid had committed to Penn. And watching a few minutes of Tennessee vs. Florida a little while ago, I heard the name Hopson, and I bet that’s Dennis Hopson’s son, or nephew, or something. What I want to know is, where are Shawn Kemp’s kids? He’s got enough to scrimmage against each other, so shouldn’t at least one or two of them be on somebody’s squad by now?

Why Philadelphia Loses

November 8, 2009 - Leave a Response

Nope, this isn’t about the Phillies recent loss to the NY Yankees in the World Series. That one is easy to explain. Pitching. If you can’t rely on your bullpen (and you’re not putting up 8 runs minimum a game), it’s a wrap.

Instead, this blog post is about the SEPTA strike. It’s prompted by my plantar fascitis, which was aggravated by walking an additional couple of miles each day due to the strike. Here are some observations and critiques I’ve had during my strolls, as we enter week 2 of the strike.

  • I get the blue collar, bring down the establishment, working class union thing, but the establishment is driving to work or riding Regional Rail (which is not on strike), and the SEPTA establishment in particular still has a job. This strike  hurts the working class people the most (ie, YOU and your wives/husbands/community members), and the school kids, like the one who told me yesterday that she hadn’t been to school all week because she had no way to get there. Loss.
  • SEPTA workers want an independent audit of their pensions. Great. That’s nothing to strike over, however. For the sake of the people, you concede that for now, and get what you can on the other terms. If you feel like the pension books are out of wack in a couple of months, you file a grievance for an audit. This is not the time to play “we’ve got ’em by the balls… let’s get everything we asked for.” Loss.
  • With a slumping economy, Philly already raising sales taxes, and everybody paying more into their pensions and healthcare, NOBODY’s getting what they want these days. If you’re going to strike over these things, you may as well be prepared to quit, then add to the 10.2% unemployment and compete for nonexistent jobs with worse benefits. Loss.
  • I’m pretty sure that when you’re on strike, you don’t get paid. I’m also pretty sure that most bus and trolley drivers would like to get paid on a regular basis, and can’t really afford to miss 7 or more days income. Loss.
  • No buses, subways, and trolleys, means more cars. This minor surge probably won’t lower gas prices in the area, but it will produce more toxins. Loss.
  • The longer this drags, the more embarrassing this is for the city. There’re aren’t many ways to spin a win out of this. Loss.
  • At the end of the day – whether it’s day 8, day 48, or day 108 – a contract will get signed that really won’t vary much from the contract that could be signed right now. There aren’t a lot of options here, so all sides need to stop pretending and posturing, and get it done. And in the future, please keep this fact in mind and do not let things get to this point. It’s pretty much just one big childish loss.
  • My left foot really hurts. I’ve decided to rest with it elevated today. This means that I can’t go to the grocery store today, so we’ll be making due on whatever we have in the freezer. But hopefully by resting up today I’ll be able to carry my 4 month old and his 3 year old brother to daycare tomorrow (12 blocks away) then make the additional trek to Regional Rail, then to my job. This walk, I’ve found, works out better than losing 3 hours trying to drive through the massive traffic, only to have to search for free parking a mile away from my job. Loss.
  • I get the sense that this is going to play out like a hunger strike, and both sides have an ample supply of crackers and water. Now that the Phillies are all at their vacation homes, there’s no sense of urgency. Just a few million people like me who need to get to work and school everyday, that’s all. This is a stubborn city, full of stubborn people. (This is the THIRD strike I’ve experienced here; despite having their own past strikes, this is another reason for NY to laugh at us. THREE strikes in a little over a decade is pretty ridiculous).  Until somebody gives, we’ll all just keep on losing. I guess that’s what both sides are counting on, which speaks to the said state of affairs here. The people who are supposed to be the ones served by the public officials and who pay one of the highest transit fares in the country should not have to pay further by being pawns in what really should be a game of checkers. Please cut the losses and sign the deal.

Football Season: Same ol’…

October 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

Subtitle: The sad life of an Eagles fan.

We just took an L today against the Raiders. If pessimistic, realist B was a gambling man, I could have walked away with some extra dough today. I knew we were going to lose, when some NFL analysts last week were talking about this game as if was a joke. Oh, they don’t know the Eagles, do they? We can always find a way to put the joke on us. Just ask the offensive line (how many times do you want your broken-ribbed, bad-knee having quarterback to get taken down by dudes who eat whole boxes of cereal for breakfast).

One would think with the new “offensive weapons” (how many plays did Vick get on the field today?), we could get over the ugly game hump. But it seems to be a part of the Eagle’s genetic makeup. Bad throws, dropped balls, QB sacks, inability to stop the run. The Raiders looked like a decent team today (thanks to the Eagles). If they actually were a decent team, this would have been a blowout. Their punter and their D was what did it for them, plus a few key runs and 3rd down conversions.  If Akers would have put the ball between the uprights, it would have been an ugly W for us, rather than the annual inexplicable loss to a poor team.

Speaking of poor teams, I think the Eagles play the ‘Skins next week. That oughta be some quality football… (Didn’t we lose to the Redskins last year… twice?)

SPEED ROUND

  • Is the wildcat only for when we have the lead, or can it be used to perhaps jumpstart the inept offense? How do you go from 20 wildcat plays to zero, and can this sudden change explain why the team failed to get into the endzone?
  • Why is Kerry Collins still on the field?
  • Who really wants to see the Saints right now?
  • Did all of Philly sports positive karma yesterday go to the Phils (couldn’t you have spread those runs out over a couple of games), and the Sixers (who, believe it or not, are 5-1 in the preseason)?

Child’s Play in the Imaginary Post-Racial Moment

September 6, 2009 - Leave a Response

Two things have come to my attention that are particularly disturbing, and serve as a reminder about the realities of the world, and in particular, the North American slice where conservatives and liberals enjoy being at odds with one another.

First, why is there such a debate about Obama speaking with youth? We elected him partially because he inspires people. We know that our educational system needs work, and that our young people could use a little motivation. So what’s the fuss? Why are so many people trying to politicize this moment. My only critique is that, given the wars that have gotten so little recent media attention due to the health care discussions, Obama could be seen as spreading himself too thin – a critique that others have made in the past at various points during this still very short time in office. There may be a point there, but we also must face the reality that in our multi-tasking world, our President should be able to address more than one thing at a time. I applaud Obama for wanting to do this. He could easily not care, and stay invisible to school children while he pushes forward on health care. But he didn’t do that. He’s trying to offer an opportunity for school children to hear directly from him – an experience that my mother reminded me in the past would be looked at as an honor, and not something to be debated by parents and schools. In some countries, leaders aren’t chosen, and when they speak, you listen. We don’t live in a country like that. No one is forcing anyone to watch Obama’s message, but yet so many people are treating this as if he’s going to tell all the kiddies that the world is flat and that they must send their lunch money in to pay for a White House add-on. I’m thinking that his message may be something more like, “if you all work hard, do your homework, stay focused, and help make your school communities strong, you’ll be doing your part.” And maybe at the end of the day it is all lip service, and the government’s ensuing educational initiatives prove to be weak. But what if there are a couple thousand kids around the country who take the message to heart, and point to it as a defining moment in their lives? That seems to be the point that quite frankly the haters are completely missing.

The second issue – Van Jones stepping down as Obama’s Green Advisor, amidst controversial past statements. Guess Black men with harsh past critiques of the government and/or Americana culture can’t be on the U.S. payroll. Meanwhile, for decades, we let racist politicians and other public officials stay on the job while they verbally and physically beat Blacks down, occasionally while on the clock. 

This is why I say that politics is the chess game that no one wins. People spend too much time trying to gain leverage, fighting back and forth over irrational and inconsequential views, rather than getting things done. The microscope is that much more intense in the Obama administration. So this is what the post-racial moment looks like, huh?

The king is not my son

August 21, 2009 - Leave a Response

Was about to finish up some work before I make the Friday Dominoes order, when I overheard my daughter Nia singing…

Billie Jane is not my lover / She’s just a girl / And I am the one / But the king is not my son.

It’s funny now. But I’m really hoping she doesn’t come upstairs and ask me what a “lover” is. Maybe I’ll counter with “who’s the king?” and we’ll get stuck in stalemate.

Miller moving on

July 25, 2009 - Leave a Response

In Philly hoops news, it was announced yesterday that Andre Miller is headed for Portland. Most people knew he was going somewhere else next year, but now we have to face the reality. He was an efficient, effective point guard; didn’t need a bunch of shots, wasn’t going to jack up three’s or dunk on you, but got the job done. Actually, he did a lot more than that for this Philly team. When he came over in the Iverson trade, he stepped in right away and did what he does. Obviously two sides to the coin… do you sign an aging player to a longer-term deal? Did Philly make the playoffs b/c of him, or not advance farther b/c of him? Can Lou Williams perform consistently every night, and possibly emerge as a star w/ Andre gone?

Those are just a few of the questions for Philly in 2009-10. But with the Cavs loading up, Artest joining the ring-holders, and somebody (maybe Toronto or Indiana) climbing back into playoff contention in the East, it may not even matter.

Rest in Peace, E. Lynn Harris

July 25, 2009 - Leave a Response

Back in my short-lived career as a novelist in the late 90’s, early 2000’s, I was out in Chicago for a big bookfair. After signing a handful of books during my scheduled appearance shift, in walks E. Lynn Harris for the next shift. He hadn’t even sat down, but already had a trail of people waiting for him. Before he got to work, he actually introduced himself to me (as if he had to let anybody know who he was… lol) and said, “I enjoyed your book.” My fiction career didn’t have many highlights. That was one of them. He will be missed by many.

The Interrogator

July 22, 2009 - One Response

This post has been coming for some time. Feels like now is as good as any…

I’ve got four kids. Three of them are suspects. Doesn’t matter the crime… I know one of them did it. The fourth? He’s innocent by default. For now. He’s only two weeks old.

Suspect #1. Nia. When directly questioned about infractions (Did you push your brother? Are you up here being silly when you’re supposed to be sleeping?), she will pause… at great length… before answering the question. My interrogation technique is to interrupt these pauses with stern recommendations, such as “Stop thinking about the right answers and just answer the question” or “Nia, I don’t want to hear what sounds good. I want to hear what happened.” She will then begin to unravel the mystery for me, in vivid detail.

Suspect #2. Jalen.
“Jalen, are you jumping on the bed?”
“Yes.”
“Please don’t do that.”
“Okay.”
One day later…
“Jalen, are you jumping on the bed?”
“Yes.”
“Can you please stop jumping on the bed?”
“Ummm…. okay.”
One day later…
“Jalen, are you jumping on the bed?”
“Yes.”
“How many times do I need to tell you stop jumping on the bed?”
“Ummm… one?”
“But this is the third time, Jalen.”
“Okay… four times.”
“Can you please stop jumping on the bed, Jalen?”
“Oh… okay.”
One day later…
“Jalen, did you break your bed.”
“Yes.”

Suspect #3. Nicholas. Streetname, “Ice Cold” Cole. Two weeks ago this 3-year old suspect was brought into the bathroom for questioning. After removing a fully loaded Huggies pull-up, the suspect was asked whether the yellow, pungent liquid substance inside the pull-up was urine (streetname, “pee pee”). Suspect responded that no, it was not. When suspect was informed that the liquid was yellow, like the color of pee pee, suspect responded that it was not yellow. (Note: Suspect may be color blind… but curiously refers to yellow duckie as “yellow duckie”). When asked to smell the pull-up, suspected immediately responded… “Ewwww, stinky pee pee.” Ahhh, an admission of guilt. When asked if he was the one that pee peed in the pull-up, suspect responded, “Nope. Jalen did it.” Suspect then got into the bathtub, refusing to answer further questions until his legal counsel was present (as he washed away the evidence).

Yesterday suspect #3 entered parents’ room (aka Peterson precinct headquarters), with thumb in mouth. Suspect was asked whether he still sucks thumb. Suspect quickly departed the room without acknowledging the question, thumb still in mouth.

There are 8-million stories in parenting. Who knows what today’s tales will be…

Welcome, Myles

July 8, 2009 - 18 Responses

myles and me

Today, 7/7/09 at 12:53pm, my 4th child was born. Myles Christopher Peterson. Nine pounds, eleven ounces. Another big Peterson baby.

The first child was surreal, in that new parent way. I had read a book on being a dad. I had a checklist of supplies. Faith (my wife) went into labor and we went to the hospital with all of this anxiety and amazement; we would be parents in a few hours, but we didn’t know what that looked like. Those few hours slowly turned into many hours as her labor didn’t progress through the night and they did a C-section the next morning. So there I was, having what I guess is a traditional experience of camping out in a hospital for a good 20+ hours, counting contractions, waiting, praying, and trying not to say anything stupid like “Did that contraction hurt more than the last one?”

This time was/is also surreal but for very different reasons. This time we went in because she was having contractions the past two days, but had a scheduled C-section for tomorrow morning, bright and early. Once she got there today, the contractions wore down and they were set to send her home with some Tylenol PM after another hour of monitoring. I said, “Cool, I’ll be back in an hour,” then went to the gym, stopped by the office to grab some stuff and was making plans to work from home. I got back to the hospital ready to take Faith to the house and they were like, “You’re just in time, we’re going to move her to the prep room.” The prep room? There’s a prep room to get ready to leave? Nope. Turns out, while I was doing leg presses, the doctor checked on her and decided to just go ahead and do the surgery today, since he was free, and to save us another trip back tomorrow. How convenient. So, two hours later, instead of sending e-mails and making a spreadsheet for my job, I was holding Myles and having my baby burping technique come back to me like it never left. Just like that, a daddy again. Then an hour and a half later, I was picking up my two oldest from summer camp, running errands, then scooping up the other one from daycare, who just a few hours earlier was “the baby.” Seems like they were all born just yesterday. Time truly flies.

As I heated up dinner for the oldest three and watched Nia teach herself a new word game on her Barbie laptop, Jalen – my spirited child – move between building a tower made out of toys that don’t go together and dance around our family room (the boy has energy for days, but when he goes to sleep, he goes in hard), and Cole, who was the only one really paying attention to Dora the Explorer, answering all of the questions right, I tried to imagine what Myles will be doing, and how he will fit in. It’s tempting as parents to wish the world. I mean, after all, somebody will have to be the next Obama, the next Oprah, the next Jordan, the next one to try to moonwalk like Mike (I’m sorry, but there will never be another Michael Jackson, my kids included… lol), the next CEO of the next big thing. I don’t know what the future holds for any of them; the first three are extremely bright, stubborn in their own ways (which means they’re motivated and passionate, and is fine by me), and try to do the right thing. I’m sure they will all be just fine, and will be able to do whatever they want to do, whatever is needed, whatever is their calling. I think Myles will fit right in, and carve out his own niche in due time. But for now, I’m not too worried about any of that. My oldest turned 7 just over a week ago. My youngest is now 8.5 hours old. I think what matters the most is that I never let a day go by without doing something meaningful with each of them. I think if Faith and I do that, “the future”… and every day leading up to then… will be just the way it’s supposed to be. Ase.