Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dispatches Part 10 / Random Notes, September 2020

 I thought I was going to have time to post three blogs in September. I guess not:

+ Fall is on the horizon in the American Midwest, and I wonder how restaurants that had to ret-con outdoor seating will recalibrate and survive. We slowly felt comfortable going outside again, and now we have to go back in. A rough Spring and Summer will give way to an equally formidable Fall and Winter. It makes sense to hoard supplies again. Alas, I am reminded of Aesop; we aspire to be a nation of ants, but in reality we're a bunch of grasshoppers.

For liberals and progressives alike, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg we both anticipated yet we feared when it would happen. She was sharp and resilient as ever, but her body failed her. It doesn't make sense to appoint anyone before the election --six weeks away, friends-- but Trump and his cronies will push it through. Amy Coney Barrett is the most moderate of Trump's three picks, though that's not saying much.

+ What becomes of the U.S. Supreme Court remains to be seen. Jimmy Carter was the last president to not appoint anyone, so from 1969 to 1992 all the justices were appointed by Republicans. Some, like Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist, proved to be more moderate than others. Today's GOP clearly doesn't want centrists. At the same time, Clarence Thomas is "only" 72 years old but approaching 30 years on the court, and could easily be succeeded by a progressive judge. 

+ Both Chicago teams made the MLB playoffs this year, only the third time that's ever happened. How fitting of 2020 that both teams could beat the odds and face each other in the World Series... in Dallas.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

32 Teams, 32 Haiku: My 2020 NFL Preview


Hey, I guess we're having a football season.

At the onset of the outbreak nearly six months ago, it looked like the NFL was in a better position than pretty much any other team sport. After all, their season wasn't halted. Then the pandemic dragged on into the summer and fall, and probably into 2021. The league bucked trends and opted to have partially filled stadiums, at least until another spike halts the season. (At least tonight's Chiefs-Texans season opener was played without relative incident.)

With or without COVID, the NFL is still ripe for drama and storylines. How will the Patriots manage without TB12 for the first time in nearly two decades? Is the NFC West really that good, and is the AFC East really that uninspiring? What if I break it down, 17 soma at at time?

*note playoff wild cards


1. Vikings (11-5). Thielen and Cook/a two-way offensive threat/make it (purple) rain.

2. Packers* (10-6). No team needs fulfilled/"don't fix what isn't broken"/a cheesy mantra.

3. Bears (9-7). The heat is on, Mitch/you need a hot start, or you'll/make friends into Foles.

4. Lions (6-10). A healthy Stafford/is load-bearing; the improved/young D must impress.


1. Eagles (10-6). Look at Carson throw/(when he's not hurt) but watch new/look secondary.

2. Cowboys (8-8). Their O is fine; the/new boom-or-bust D concerns/me. Sleeper? Just hype? 

3. Giants (6-10). Instability/holds; unproven Jones matures/with awful O-line.

4. Washington (3-13). As anonymous/as their name; rebuild phase one/red-yellow mish-mosh.


1. Saints (11-5). Beat the Vikes and we'll/talk titles; Brees is still a/Hall of Fame QB.

2. Buccaneers* (9-7). Tampa Tommy time!/High scoring balances weak/special teams, soft D.

3. Falcons (6-10). 28 to 3/odds of playoff return; this/D still underwhelms.

4. Panthers (4-12). Young secondary/faces uphill battle. Just/McCaffery on O?


1. Niners (13-3). Love the coaches. Too/much talent now; will suffer/in free agency.

2. Seahawks* (10-6). Overhauled pass rush/will turn heads; more pressure on/Russ to carry O.

3. Rams (9-7). No Gurley? Time to/man up; Goff and remaining/backs will pick up slack.

4. Cardinals (6-10). Trendy, but I'm not/sold; don't rule out Kyler, though/young D must grow up.


1. Ravens (13-3). Lamar is so good/he's done everything but/win a playoff game!

2. Steelers* (12-4). The clock's on Big Ben/no COVID opt-outs, that helps/depth, hard to ignore.

3. Browns (7-9). They'll make the playoffs/...someday; can their Baker stop/making turnovers?

4. Bengals (3-13). Burrow's not hiding/I forgot AJ Green is/still on this team. Wow.


1. Patriots (10-6). Wham, bam, thank you Cam/most flawed team in ages, but/still best of weak bunch.

2. Dolphins* (9-7). Tua good to be/true; disciplined D needs to/speed up, make big plays.

3. Bills (7-9). Running Fromm problems?/Rough midseason schedule/deters decent squad.

4. Jets (6-10). Darnold can't say he's/green anymore; vexing gap/at outside corner.


1. Titans* (10-6). No glaring flaws here/Tannehill, Lazarus act/Super Bowl dark horse?

2. Texans* (9-7). PR disasters/aside, weak pass D countered/by Watson magic.

3. Colts (7-9). Cupcake early sked/doesn't fool me; old Rivers/won't be wading long.

4. Jaguars (2-14). The new XFL/had better teams; these cats are/domesticated.


1. Chiefs (14-2). The best get better/if everyone on offense/can stay healthy... YIKES!

2. Chargers (8-8). No QB, but lots/of weapons; D ensures a/few low-scoring wins.

3. Broncos (6-10). Stiff competition/doesn't make wins a Lock; zone/heavy D works cheap.

4. Raiders (5-11). Sin City, at last/Carr needs more drive, so Gruden/drafted some hot rods.

Offensive ROY: CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys

Defensive ROY: Isaiah Simmons, Cardinals

First Head Coach Fired: Dan Quinn, Falcons

NFL MVP: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Super Bowl LV: Chiefs 30, Niners 27