Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019 (or 1993)

For more than a decade, I've wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving here on Sean's Ramblings by taking a few lines from Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song." I've now run out of lines from the song, so instead, I'm going back 26 years to the 1993 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Starting around the 2:06:30 mark, you'll see the Woodland Hills High School Marching Band including my brother. I mean, I don't see him, but he's there. Or at least he said he was there. He left home with his trumpet for a few days and came back with a "Tommy" T-shirt, so I assume he went to New York to perform in the parade.

Other highlights of the parade include Stevie Wonder, Joey Lawrence, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, and for some reason, members of the 1969 Mets singing (at the 1:32 mark).

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Steelers Playoff Chances

I’m going to go back to pretending that I’m a Pittsburgh sports blogger today. The topic: will the Steelers make the playoffs? And yes, this is a perfectly appropriate time to share this from Jim Mora’s legendary press conference.

It’s difficult to talk about playoffs after seeing the Steelers gain only 236 yards in a 21-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns last Thursday to go along with Mason Rudolph throwing four interceptions. However, assuming that their playmakers like JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Connor, and Diontae Johnson get healthy (and I realize that this is a big assumption), I think the Steelers will make the playoffs. According to the odds from this site, the Steelers currently have the 8th best chance to reach the playoffs among AFC teams with their odds currently listed at 9/5. Unfortunately, there are only 6 playoff spots, so being in the top 8 doesn't help them much, but here's why I think they'll make it.

Let’s look at the Steelers’ remaining schedule.

November 24 vs. Cincinnati Bengals (0-10)
December 1 vs. Cleveland Browns (4-6)
December 8 at Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1)
December 15 vs. Buffalo Bills (7-3)
December 22 at New York Jets (3-7)
December 29 at Baltimore Ravens (8-2)

Every one of these games are winnable. Sure, you might be thinking that the Steelers have no chance against the hottest team in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, but the Ravens may rest players like Lamar Jackson in week 17 with their playoff spot possibly secure.

In addition, the strength of the Steelers is its defense. Do any of the offenses (besides Baltimore) really scare you against Cameron Heyward, TJ Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and company? I think it’s likely that the Steelers cause turnovers in most, if not all, of these games. Again, assuming the Steelers are healthy, I think the team can go 4-2 or 5-1 in these games. That would give the Steelers an overall record of 10-6 or 9-7. A 9-7 record may or may not get a team into the playoffs in most seasons, but the Steelers already have the tie-breaker against the Colts and could have it against the Bills. I like their chances.

Maybe the most important factor is that the team just signed Superman, Dean Cain.

Oh, that's Deon Cain

Close enough. Go Steelers!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cortaca 2019

When it was first announced nearly a year ago that the 61st annual Cortaca game between Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland was to be played at MetLife Stadium just outside New York City, I was a little skeptical. Sure, it seemed like a unique opportunity to have this game take place somewhere new in the hopes of setting a Division 3 attendance record, but how many students, faculty, and staff would travel from central New York to East Rutherford, New Jersey? Were there enough alumni in the NYC area to justify moving this game 200+ miles?

It was this uniqueness that got me and my friends on board. Living in Northern Virginia, a drive to New York City/New Jersey is much easier than driving to Ithaca or Cortland. So for the first time since 1996, I planned to see an Ithaca College football game. And as the date approached, I got more and more excited about the trip. I took 8 year old The Moose with me and was joined friends that I first met over 25 years ago.

The Moose got to witness his first ever football tailgate as we walked from the parking lot to the stadium entrance. This included seeing a woman vomiting into a bag being held by I assume a really good friend. The best explanation I could come up with when he asked why she was throwing up is that this woman had too many adult beverages and wasn’t being responsible. Fortunately, there were no follow up questions.

MetLife Stadium set up an area where kids (and adults) could pass, kick, catch, and more. Here are a few pictures of The Moose in action.

The Moose needed to be about 9' 10" to catch this pass!

Very cool ceremony to start the game.

The Bombers about to score a touchdown.

The half-time show should have been Ithaca College graduate Tony DeSare or Ithaca College student (but not graduate) Gavin DeGraw, but instead we got several Ithaca College and Cortland groups. While they were good and I enjoyed their performances, a headliner would have been nice. Even David Muir (who it turns out may have been in a class with me) and David Boreanaz doing cartwheels at midfield would have been fine!

Credit to my friend T for taking this picture below. Why no Heinz ketchup? I have a friend who believes that there is an NFL conspiracy between the Mara (owner of the Giants) and Rooney (owner of the Steelers) families since they are related somehow. If they were truly linked, MetLife Stadium would serve Heinz. (By the way, I'm pro-French's mustard, so I didn't get as upset about this as I would have if they offered Hunt's.)

With about five minutes to go in the game, and Cortland cutting the deficit from 26-6 to 26-20, I mentioned to my friends that I was much more invested in the game’s result than I thought I would be. The point of the trip was to hang out with friends and take The Moose to a game I knew he would enjoy. At that point in the fourth quarter, I realized that I wanted (needed?) an Ithaca College victory too!

Ithaca got the ball back, and I'll let Ithaca Athletics explain:

Cortland would answer after the missed field goal and found the end zone just 1:32 later to pull the Red Dragons to within a score at 26-20 with 6:53 to go. On the 7-play, 80-yard drive, Ithaca was flagged for three separate 15-yard penalties, which allowed the Red Dragons to move down to the Ithaca 27-yard line. Segala then hit Burgess for a 24-yard gain and Tripodi capped off the drive with a 3-yard run.

Sean's note: I don't want to get into the penalty calls.

Now in a fight with 6:49 left in the game after the kickoff, Ithaca needed another sustained drive, which is exactly what the Bombers did. Garcia began the drive with a 2-yard run and then Germinerio notched five straight carries for 27 yards. After two more runs by Garcia and Germinerio, Cortland burned two timeouts with 3:14 to go and Ithaca faced a third-and-six at the Red Dragon 46-yard line.

Out of the timeout, Ithaca pulled out a play for the ages with a pair of fake handoffs to stretch the Cortland defense and Germinerio threw a perfect pass to a wide open Vito for a 46-yard touchdown with 3:06 left to give the Bombers a 32-20 lead after an unsuccessful two-point conversion.

D3 Football used less words.

The Red Dragons scored on another Tripodi run with 6:53 left in the game to make it 26-20.

But Germinerio, who had picked up a bunch of yards running the ball, found Andrew Vito streaking behind the defense on a bit of razzle-dazzle, and Vito ran the rest of the 46 yards to the end zone to seal the game with 3:06 left.

And here's the play:

The ball was in the air for what seemed to be about 8 minutes! Ithaca's wide receiver was so open, you just hoped he wouldn't drop it. Great way to basically end the game.

And there was great celebration throughout the land!

Several people in my section started a “State School” chant a few times during the game. This is apparently a chant to try to denigrate the education students receive at Cortland compared to at Ithaca. I’ve always hated this chant. First, Cortland students are continuing their education after high school to become more educated and to increase their employment prospects. This is a good thing. As a country, I think we can agree that we want people to continue in education whether this is at a “traditional” school or in vocational programs. A better educated society is a better society. We also generally want more government funding to go to education. That’s (at least historically) one of the hallmarks of public education. Basically, what I’m writing is that the state school chant is garbage and needs to go. Rant over.

In case you're wondering, the Cortaca game did set the Division 3 attendance record.

Cody Holyoke, news anchor at KMBC in Kansas City, also highlighted the game on his newscast.

Definitely a fun weekend. Go Bombers!

Thanks to T, Sista K, and T-Rike for many of these pictures.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Dave Grohl, Big Bird And Elmo Visit Pittsburgh

There’s a lot going on in the world. There was another mass/school shooting on Thursday, this time in Santa Clarita, California. Impeachment hearings are occurring in the House. The Steelers played horribly in last night’s loss against the Cleveland Browns, yet all anyone is talking about (probably rightfully) is Myles Garrett swinging a helmet and smashing Mason Rudolph’s head with it. Oh, the Cortaca game at MetLife Stadium is also happening on Saturday.

So with all of this going on, I’m writing a post about...Sesame Street. Dave Grohl of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and The Moopets did a song called "Here We Go" with Big Bird and Elmo, and they all traveled together around the country. Here’s a picture of their stop in Pittsburgh.

I think Grohl, Elmo, and Big Bird picked an excellent spot seeing the entire city skyline from Mt. Washington.

The full video of their adventure is here:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Everything Cortaca 2019

Perhaps you have heard that the annual Ithaca College-SUNY Cortland football game is being held at MetLife Stadium just outside of New York City this Saturday. I may have mentioned it. I thought I would create one post with everything that you need to know about this historic game.

* First, based on tickets sales, the 2019 Cortaca Jug game will be the biggest game in terms of attendance of any Division 3 football game. Last I heard as of about a week or two ago, there have been approximately 43,000 tickets sold. My guess is that the total will be between 45,000 and 50,000 tickets sold. (I also wonder what game will have more people: the Cortaca game, the New York Jets game against the Miami Dolphins on December 8th, or the New York Giants game against the Dolphins on December 15th.)

* A little publication called "Forbes" has an article about the game.

* Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has thoughts about the game.

* Despite my thoughtful and elaborate post outlining why ESPN’s College GameDay should broadcast from East Rutherford, New Jersey, ESPN is going to Waco, Texas to cover the Baylor-Oklahoma game instead. It’s nice of ESPN to travel to Waco for the feel-good story which is Baylor football. Baylor clearly runs an extremely clean football program, so it’s nice to see ESPN reward them with national exposure. (In reality, maybe GameDay just wants to go to Texas since it will be 30 degrees warmer than New York City.)

* There's a Cortaca Jug Giving Challenge:

For the first time, IC and Cortland will go head to head off the field to see who has the strongest donor support. Whichever school secures the most donors through game day wins the challenge and the vice president of institutional advancement from the losing school will have to write a personal check to the winning school’s Annual Fund!

* I'm not going to tell anyone how to sell their tickets on StubHub, but my guess is this person is not going to get $500.

The Ithaca Journal has a story titled "Cortaca Jug: 10 things to know about the rivalry game at MetLife Stadium."

* I miss being around college campuses a getting free shirts. Ithaca College students can "shed the red" by donating articles of red clothing to charity in exchange for a student-designed Cortaca shirt. Yes, I want this shirt!

* The biggest thing about Cortaca 2019 is that I'm going to see friends that I first met 25 years ago. I'm going to see people who I haven't seen in over 20 years. This is really exciting!

* The Ithacan has information about the actual football teams and key players.

* There's going to be an Ithaca College Fan Fest at the game.

Participants will be able to run on a turf field and try on helmets and shoulder pads. The event will feature music from DJ Washburn, an alumnus who performed at numerous college sporting events while a student, and there will be a giant inflatable chair adorned with the IC shield that fans can sit in to take pictures. While Fan Fest will be geared towards the Ithaca College community, anyone is able to participate.

* Finally, MetLife Stadium has everything you need to know about what you can and cannot bring into the stadium. Here are some of the "highlights."

Event Timeline:

Parking Lots Open: 8:00am
Ticket Office and Will Call Opens: 10:00am
Gates Open: 11:00am
Event Time: 1:00pm

Stadium Carry-In Policies:

- Clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC bag that does not exceed 12” x 6” x 12” OR one-gallon clear, plastic freezer bag (Ziploc or similar) – limit 1 per person
- Small clutch purse/wallet no larger than 4.5” x 6.5” with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the stadium with one of the clear plastic bag options
- Bags that do not meet these specifications can be checked-in at one of our bag check facilities (located outside each entry gate) for a $5 fee per bag
- An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at a gate designated for this purpose

Sadly, battery powered heated clothing is prohibited. I don't know what exactly this is, but with the temperature set to be in the 30s, I wish I could have this!

Friday, November 08, 2019

Friday Video: Normani

Today's video is "Motivation" by Normani. While I'll get to the song momentarily, a few things about Normani. First, her name is Normani and not Normandy like the region in France which was also the site of the World War II D-Day Invasion. She was a member of the group Fifth Harmony and appeared on songs with Khalid and Sam Smith. "Motivation" is her first solo song, and she performed it a few months ago at the MTV's Video Music Awards. (Yes, I watched some of the show even though I'm definitely not the target audience.)

Before you watch the video, here's a fun(?) way to listen to the song. Instead of motivation or innovation, replace the last syllable with Sean. So motiva-Sean or innova-Sean. It's nice to see sound a talented young artist think of me and all of the other people named Sean out there!

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The End of Deadspin

If you follow sports or the internet, you’re probably already aware of the situation that occurred last week at the website Deadspin. The short story is that new ownership of Deadspin directed the writers and editors to “stick to sports” even though the website’s most-popular articles were sports-adjacent and sometimes not about sports at all. As a result, everyone, or at least nearly everyone, resigned. (The longer version of this story is available on "The Washington Post" here and here and on "NPR".)

I just want to share my own personal experience with Deadspin. The blog/website debuted not long after Sean’s Ramblings started, and I read the site everyday for years. Some of the language on Deadspin could be R-rated, but I was able to check out stories by reading them on Google Reader. (I miss Google Reader.) The content was generally light and made fun of so many things that some people take so seriously in sports. Yet, powerful and insightful posts regularly appeared on the site. I would definitely say that Deadspin influenced my writing, particularly in my posts about sports. Most of my sports posts don’t discuss strategy or analysis and instead focus on lighter topics such as fun with names or commercials featuring athletes or even Pittsburgh athletes with other athletes and celebrities. I was also honored to have Deadspin link to several of my posts in its early days.

While I used to check out Deadspin multiple times per day, my visits to the site lessened over the years. Still, I continued to read as many Drew Magary posts as I could, and I learned about many stories/articles from friends sharing them on Twitter.

It seems that Deadspin is going to live on in the short term, but I can't see it being viable going forward. Replacing an entire writing staff and culture is going to be difficult at best. Plus, the core readers (and probably advertisers) are gone and aren't coming back.

My hope is that the writers and editors of Deadspin are able to create its own site. Perhaps they can add some of the writers from the late Kissing Suzy Kolber too. The writing and posts by these individuals are too good not to be shared and seen by a large audience.

Update: There's a Deadspin freelance account @UnDeadspin, which features the work for the now former Deadspin staff.