Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cheers and Jeers

Cheer - USC and Texas - Both teams put together impressive undefeated seasons, ensuring that a true national champion will be selected this year. Midway through the first quarter, the game has not disappointed. Both coaches have been foiled early, aggressively going for it on fourth down.

Jeer - The Michigan Wolverines - After winning a second straight Big Ten Championship, a fairly strong showing in last year's Rose Bowl, losing a heartbreaker to Texas, 38-37 with a last second Texas field goal as time expired, and very promising freshman seasons by Hart and Henne, the Wolverines started out the season ranked third in the nation, behind USC and Texas. Things began to unravel early, with an early season loss to Notre Dame. The Wolverines suffered an injury plagued season, including injuries to several key players on the offensive line, and a disappointing sophomore season from running back Michael Hart. The 7-5 record of the Wolverines was the worst record since the mid-eighties.

Cheer - Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions - Penn State finished one play away from a perfect undefeated season. The aforementioned Michigan Wolverines caused the only blemish on Penn State's season, when Henne completed a pass to Mario Manningham with no time remaining on the clock.

Penn State finished out the season with an exciting triple-overtime win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl to ensure a top-three ranking in the final national polls.

Jeer - Fox Broadcasting Company - This fall, Fox introduced an intriguing new television series called Reunion. The show wasn't exceptionally well written or executed, but it was an interesting concept and a show that me and my wife followed for the past couple months.

What made this show special was that it was a 20-episode murder mystery, covering one year per season. Now, basically at the half-way point of the season, Fox just announced that they are canceling the show and will not broadcast the remaining episodes.

Sure, it wasn't a great show. Sure, it didn't have great ratings, but you can't do that with a murder mystery series! Shame on you, Fox Corporation, for putting once again demonstrating where your true loyalties lie, once again putting corporate profits above fan loyalty.

Cheer - Toronto Maple Leafs - Around this time the last time the NHL had a regular season, fighting a number of injuries to key players, the Leafs reeled off a sixteen-game undefeated streak, on route to a 103 point season, temporarily taking over first place overall in the NHL.

The Leafs appear to once again be starting to catch on fire, with a six-game winning streak, while several key players, including Jason Allison and Eric Lindros, remain injured. Two weeks ago, the Leafs were on the brink of being pushed temporarily into a non-playoff position. After the six game winning streak, they are now in a fight for fifth in the conference with the New York Rangers. The Leafs are still a long way from contending for the conference lead, way behind the Ottawa Senators, but they definitely look better than earlier this season. One of the keys has been the play of veteran goalie Ed Belfour, who finally appears to be playing to the level he is capable of. The upcoming week should be an interesting challenge for the Leafs, with a three-game road sweep through Western Canada, playing in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

Jeer - USA Hockey, Fox Sports Net, and the US Media - For failing to promote the World Junior Hockey Tournament at all during the five years I have resided in the United States. See my previous rant for all you ever want to hear on the topic. If you want to watch the gold medal game this year, or ever want to watch a WJHC game in the future, please contact USA Hockey and Fox Sports Net to voice your displeasure.

Cheer - The State of Wisconsin - For signing legislature earlier today that will require open source software to be used in touchscreen voting machines. This is a huge victory for democracy. Here's to hoping this trend spreads to more states throughout the country.

Cheer - Tuukka Rask - Future Toronto Maple Leaf prospect Tuukka Rask put together one of the greatest individual goaltending performances in years, with a 53-save overtime shutout over Sweden in the quaterfinals of the World Junior Hockey Tournament, allowing team Finland to squeak by with a 1-0 victory. Honorable mention goes to Justin Pogge of Team Canada, another Leafs prospect, who has two shutouts for himself in the tournament, and is one win away from a gold medal.

Jeer - Congress, Lobbyists and Corruption - Jack Abramoff's guilty plea is an abysmal indictment of the state of US political corruption. Here's to hoping this is a turning point to the political climate of the United States. Lobbyist money cannot continue to be the chief force in American politics.