Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Ranger season squandered

I'm watching the White Sox and Twins battle for the AL Central title, and it's stirring up some bittersweet feelings - more bitter than sweet - that another Rangers season has come and gone...

I spent Saturday evening at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., enjoying the Rangers final win of 2008. I witnessed back-to-back Rangers home runs, leaping out of my chair hollering, and I felt entirely alone. The 40,000+ in Angels Stadium sat quietly, apathetic to the blasts and really the outcome. The Angels were preparing for the playoffs. The Rangers were getting a few final reps in.

By the latter innings, eight of the nine starting position players for the Angels had been lifted from the game, getting backups some playing time and starters some rest. As for the Rangers, Michael Young still occupied shortstop. Josh Hamilton remained in centerfield. Hank Blalock held his spot on first base. They were finishing out their second-to-last game of the season, a season that once again would not extend into October.

The Rangers won the game, 8-4, and I even caught a ball flung into the stands by Milton Bradley (he spotted me wearing my blue Rangers jersey among a sea of red, and launched it to me 20 rows above the Rangers dugout) and got it autographed by Ron Washington.

Simply put: I want to be a Rangers fan. I support the team. I guess you could call me a fan. But what is there to be fanatical about in Arlington (at least until the Cowboys move there next year)? Each year, I'll go to a Rangers game or two. The past two or three years when I've been in the LA-area, I've made trips to Angels Stadium to see the Rangers play on the road.

But I can only really support this team if they provide something to support. The progress that some of the farm system players made this season - Chris Davis, Taylor Teagarden, etc - is extremely encouraging. Then again, I'm watching former Rangers prospect John Danks pitch for the White Sox in their 1-game playoff for the Division title, and he's shut out Minnesota through 7 innings.

The hitting has always been there in Texas. Pitching, ah, not so much. And once again, Rangers fans are being told to expect next season to be another "building" type of season. Not a rebuilding season, because you have to have been built before being rebuilt.

Cowlishaw described the suffering the Rangers fans and supporters must endure each season.
One hundred years is sort of a long time to wait between titles. Here's hoping that Chicago Cubs fans – most of whom I assume do not recall their team's last championship – finally get what they have been waiting for.

I was there in 1984 when the Cubs made the playoffs for the first time in 39 years. And after watching them dismantle the San Diego Padres in the first two games, you could feel that entire city just ready to go crazy for a World Series date with the Detroit Tigers.

By the way, Wrigley didn't install lights until 1988, so those three games at Wrigley would have been afternoon World Series games. You can't beat that.

Of course, it didn't happen. The Cubs crashed and burned three times in San Diego and Cubs fans were devastated and we got one lousy Detroit-San Diego World Series.

Since then, the Cubs have reached the playoffs four more times but never the World Series. Still haven't been since 1945. Still haven't won one since 1908.

One reason I want the Cubs to win is because Wrigley Field is simply the best place to spend an afternoon. I'm talking about any sport any time.

Another is that former Rangers Mark DeRosa and Alfonso Soriano are good guys.

But the main reason is so I never have to see the phrase "long-suffering" attached to Cubs fans ever again.

Cubs fans may have waited a long time. They don't know suffering.

Rangers fans know suffering.

Cubs fans, regardless of anything else, get to call Wrigley Field their own.

Rangers fans have a nice ballpark, but it's stuck halfway between two cities and is now dwarfed by the Cowboys' goliath of a stadium.

After a loss, Cubs fans can drown their sorrows in about 25 different bars, all walking distance from Wrigley Field.

After a loss, Rangers fans can, well, just go drown at Hurricane Harbor.

The Cubs used to have Harry Caray.

The Rangers have Jim Knox.

If the Cubs fail to win it all this year, they can look to 2009 with high hopes founded on a very good lineup and strong pitching.

The Rangers did fail to win it all this year, and Rangers fans are left to speculate how long they must wait for their highly touted Class A and Double-A pitchers to arrive in Arlington and deal with pitching in the Texas summer.

Or as general manager Jon Daniels put it Tuesday, "We're not going to say 2009 or bust."

The Cubs play to standing-room only crowds every day at home.

The Rangers played to two million empty seats this year at home.

The Cubs crossed the plate more times than any NL team this season. And they gave up fewer runs than any NL team other than the Dodgers.

The Rangers crossed the plate more times than any team in the majors this season. And they gave up 967 runs. That's 83 more than No. 2 Pittsburgh. And 296 more than the Cubs.

The Cubs' collapse in the summer of '69 has been immortalized to the point that their fans will tell you where they were when the Mets won it.

The Rangers' collapse is an annual event that takes place in obscurity because the local sports kingdom has suspended interest in anything that's not the Cowboys.

I saw an off-Broadway play in New York in the '70s called Bleacher Bums, written about the Cubs' fans who sit in the best seats in baseball day after day.

If there is a play about Rangers fans, I am going to guess it is off-off-off Broadway.

Cubs fans know that management will go to the wall for them. Only the Mets had a higher payroll in the National League this year.

The Rangers were 21st in payroll this season, and fans heard Daniels say Tuesday, "I've talked with ownership, and our payroll next year will be similar to what it was this year."

Cubs fans get the royal treatment from Sports Illustrated this week, honored with a cover story and the glowing words of our nation's finest sportswriter, Gary Smith.

Rangers fans get, among others, me.

That, my friends, is what suffering is all about.
A look at some of my other thoughts on the Rangers during the 2008 season (mostly written while I wasn't swamped with Long Beach Armada duties).
Mariners May Melee: Stupid Sexson
Rangers on the rise: Objects in Mirror
Fundamental flaws: Errors of their ways
I wish I had the energy to focus more on the Rangers - frankly working for a baseball team makes even following MLB results difficult. Then again, I wish the Rangers could just give me a reason to focus more on them. Perhaps in 2009.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scalped: Was 26, Dal 24

As my father reminded me several times this weekend, unpredictability is the norm when the Cowboys and Redskins play.  When the Cowboys went 1-15 in 1989, their lone win came against rival Washington.  Each time has several amazing comebacks against the other.  The Cowboys and Longley on Thanksgiving.  The Redskins in the Monday Night comeback.  So today when the last-place Redskins (and by last-place, I mean 2-1 with the only loss coming against the defending champion Giants) visited undefeated Dallas for today's game, I shouldn't have been shocked in the outcome.

Washington 26. Dallas 24.

But the Redskins and blossoming quarterback Jason Campbell used the national stage to let the country know that all the talk about "the big bad NFC East" isn't just talk.  Not only did Campbell display great maturity and poise compared to years past (think Eli Manning from '05 to '06), but he's showing an understanding of Jim Zorn's offense that now puts the 'Skins on par with the rest of the division.

Some thoughts from a game that brought back the reality of just how difficult the regular season is -- especially for a team in the NFC East...

Campbell (20/31 for 231, 2 TD, 0 INT) is four weeks into the season and has yet to throw an interception.  Last season, he'd already throw three through two games.  The former first round pick in 2005 is off to a great start.  With Santana Moss out wide and Cooley underneath along with Clinton Portis in the backfield, Campbell - like Romo - has solid weapons around him to succeed greatly in the NFL.

It helps that Campbell played against a defense that is averse to taking the ball away.  In 2008, the Cowboys are so far into the red in the turnover margin, it's not shocking that they lost on Sunday.  It's shocking it was only their first loss on Sunday.  Dallas is one of four teams that has yet to intercept a ball in 2008 (the others are Seattle, St. Louis and Detroit - a combined 1-9).  The Cowboys have also forced only two fumbles this season, ranking the bottom third in the league.  If Dallas doesn't start taking the ball away - not even frequently, just ever - then this season could once again end is disappointment.

The front seven once again terrorized an offensive line and quarterback.  Campbell's day wasn't a complete Sunday stroll.  One sack each for DeMarcus Ware and Chris Canty.  Plenty of pressure early in the game, but it seemed like the pressure faded as the game went along.

Jason Garrett and the offense did a great job of finding a way to get the ball into TO's hands.  After the Redskins were able to limit Owens to a fourth-stringers role in the first half (1 catch, 7 yards), Tony Romo used the third quarter to reconnect with the standout receiver.  Owens finished the game with seven catches for 71 yards and a TD, his fourth on the season.

Patrick Crayton reemerged on the scene after a quiet start to the season.  Seven receptions for 87 yards.  Good to see him back in the fold.  If the Cowboys offense is going to continue to be the driving force behind this team's success, it will be guys like Crayton and Miles Austin (3 rec, 45 yards, 1 TD on Sunday) who make the difference.  Role players.  Owens, Jason Witten, Marion Barber are expected to make things happen for Dallas.  Crayton and Austin will provide the extra spark.

After the Eagles' loss to the Bears, they sit at the bottom of the NFC East at 2-2.  The Cowboys and Redskins are now each 3-1, a half-game behind the idle Giants at 3-0.  Philly's loss against Chicago was the first loss by an NFC East team to a team outside the division.  The NFC South is the only other division without a team with a losing record so far this season.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

College Football: What a weak

The chaos began Thursday night in Corvalis, Ore., when unranked Oregon State upset No. 1 USC in a game that made me physically sick.  Forget the fact that Pac-10 officials can't properly determine a horse collar tackle (trust me, I have seen Roy Williams' entire Dallas Cowboy career, so I'm practically an expert), and ignore the fact that USC Offensive Coordinate Steve Sarkisian was trying to do his best Houston Nutt impression.  Oregon State flat out came prepared to face the nation's near-consensus top team.

The Trojans (now 2-1) now have a painstakingly difficult road to the national championship - let alone a BCS Bowl.  Of course, winning the conference title earns an automatic BCS berth, however the Trojans - participants in six straight BCS Bowls - would rather play in the big game.

But the Trojans left Reser stadium with not only a loss of their stranglehold on the top spot and inside track to the title game, but also without all-universe linebacker Rey Maualuga.  And now, with today's slate of Saturday games unwinding, the Trojans could find themselves slipping even further thanks to a schedule full of teams that have about as much consistency as jello.

Here's a quick look at the teams on USC's schedule and how they are doing today and this season:

Virginia (W 52-7) ... Record 1-3
Lost to Duke - yes, that Duke - almost as badly as they lost to the Trojans.  The Blue Devils demolished Virginia, 31-3, dropping the Cavaliers to 1-3 on the season.
(5) Ohio State (W 35-3) ...  Record 4-1
Thank goodness for The Ohio State University.  After the Trojans rolled the Beanie-less Buckeyes, OSU has put together consecutive double-digit wins (albeit over Troy and Big Ten bottom-feeder Minnesota) to improve to 4-1.  Next week, the Buckeyes travel to conference foe and (as of now) No. 9 Wisconsin.  If both USC and Ohio State finish the season with one-loss each, the Trojans will get the nod before the Buckeyes to go to the BCS title game.  It would be a much simpler process if it weren't for...
Oregon State (L 27-21) ... Record 2-2
...dam Beavers.  They played a great game Thursday, giving USC its standard "how did this happen?" loss of the season (see Cal '03, UCLA '06, Stanford '07).  The Beavers (2-2) will no doubt launch into the Top 25 this week, right before next week's date with ranked Utah in Utah.  Time for the Beavers to help USC's cause by proving the Pac-10's collective strength over a ranked team.

As for the teams USC has to look forward to...
Oregon (10/4) ... Record 3-1
Last week's loss at home to Boise State doesn't help the already image-conscious Pacific-10.  The Ducks finished non-conference play 2-1.  Currently leading the Cougars in Pullman, Wash.
Arizona State (10/11) ... Record 2-2
The Sun Devils are taking the week off after hosting preseason No. 1 Georgia.  ASU lost to the Bulldogs, 27-10, but give them credit for taking on a top team.  Their 2-1 non-conference record should gives the conference a boost, which is good considering the likes of...
Washington State (10/18) ... Record 1-3
...conference doormat Washington State.  Non-conference schedule includes blowouts to Big XII embarrassments Oklahoma State and Baylor.  If not for the Cougars 48-9 thrashing of Portland State (Portland is a state?), Wazzu would be winless in 2008.  With one more non-conference game to go (Nov 29 at Hawaii), don't expect anything Wazzu does to benefit the Pac-10's image.
Arizona (10/25) ... Record 3-1
Non-conference record of 2-1 includes a 70-0 win over Idaho (geez, USC didn't even beat them that badly last season) and  a 41-16 win against Toledo.  Zona did fall at New Mexico.  The Wildcats have been a tricky team the past few seasons, but 2008 will depend on they handle the teams they should beat - the same teams they've had trouble with in past years.
Washington (11/1) ... Record 0-3
Yes, they haven't won yet in 2008.  Two non-conference losses to then-No. 15 BYU and then-No. 3 Oklahoma didn't make things easy for the Huskies.  It's realistic for UW to pick up a non-conference win when Notre Dame comes calling on Oct. 25.  Decent chance to get a win tonight hosting Stanford, but definitely not a sure thing.
California (11/8) ... Record 2-1
Currently winning at home over Colorado State.  Traditionally a strong team nationally, but a loss to Maryland while being ranked No. 23 pushed them back outside the Top 25.  Eh?
Stanford (11/15) ... Record 2-2
Two wins at home.  Two losses on the road.  Surprisingly, the Cardinal opened the season with a win over this week's stunning Oregon State Beavers.  Look for the Cardinal to win again tonight at Washington.
Notre Dame (11/29) ... Record 3-1
Today's win over Purdue actually made the Fighting Irish seem like a football team.  The Irish play three Pac-10 teams this season including USC.  But if ND finishes the year ranked - yeah, I'm in shock that it's possible too - don't be too surprised.  Other than USC, the Fighting Irish may not play another ranked team in 2008.
UCLA (12/6) ... Record 1-3
As if the Washington schools weren't doing enough to hurt the image of the Pacific-10 conference!  Another loss today, this time to No. 25 Fresno State at home in the Rose Bowl.  After a brilliant overtime win over then-No. 18 Tennessee to open the season, the Bruins fell hard in a 59-0 groin-kicking loss at then-No. 18 BYU.  In all fairness, UCLA has had the most consistently tough schedule of any Pac-10 team to start the season (three ranked opponents in their first four games).  That sparkling win over Tennessee is ever-more appearing as a glaring aberration than the standard in Westwood.  My good friend Ed Hart summed it up best: Tough week to be a Trojan. Tough year to be a Bruin.
As for the rest of college football, USC is getting help across the nation as other top teams are struggling.  Here's a look at notable games already in the books today...
(4) Florida lost to unranked Ole Miss, 31-30 in the swamp
Michigan dropped No. 9 Wisconsin, 27-25, at the Big House
Navy (goes without saying they are unranked) wins at No. 16 Wake Forest, 24-17
No. 15 Auburn barely held on to win, 14-12, at home vs. Tennessee
Houston killed No. 23 East Carolina (it goes without saying a directional-Carolina not starting with "North" or "South" should never be ranked)
Speaking of: North Carolina defeated Miami (not Miami of Ohio, but the good Miami - err, once-good Miami), 28-24.  While neither team is ranked, it begs the question: what the hecks going on out there??
Maryland went to No. 20 Clemson and used 14 second-half points for a 20-17 win.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lion down on the job

Things in the city of Detroit have been bleak for quite some time. The economy is down. The auto industry is down. The Lions are down. But for the first time in years, there's good news in Detroit (of course, this doesn't take into account a recent Stanley Cup win by the Red Wings) as the Lions have fired President GM Matt Millen.

Matt Millen

Millen, a great sideline reporter but far from stellar team exec, led the Lions to a 31-84 record over his tenure, the worst record in the NFL over that time.  Now Lions fans might rejoice at this, however they can't expect things to turn around immediately as a result.

Certain winless teams try to add a spark by switching quarterbacks (Vikings, Rams), and that can usually do the trick.  Reason being is because the guys in the locker room view it as a spark, a quick fix switch that they can see.  It's a tangible change from a player's point of view.  Sometimes switching coaches can have a similar effect.  Changing front office execs don't work that way.

Nothing will really change in the locker room, and don't de surprised it the already downtrodden Lions see this as the ultimate waiving of the white flag for the 2008 season.  A new GM will come in and rebuild by putting his stamp on this team.  A new exec brings in his own coaches and players, tossing virtually everyone's role with the Lions up in the air.

So while perhaps even the most optimistic Lions fan (if there is such a thing) might see this as a reason the 0-3 NFC North cellar-dwellers can turn 2008 around, don't bank on it.  The Lions will limp along to the end of the season, at which time a new football guy will discharge large quantities of TNT into this franchise.  

It will take a great deal of time to undo all that Millen has created.  But, hey, the Lions are used to hearing how they aren't trying to win now (think Texas Rangers of the NFL).  So when the new GM comes in talking about rebuilding, Lions fans won't expect things to get better ASAP.

At least it can't get much worse.

VOW: Woody Dantzler

Before Felix Jones took a kickoff return to the house this season, the Cowboys hadn't had a kickoff returned for a TD since 2002. I remember being at this Cowboys game, and I still couldn't believe Dantzler was able to stay inbounds...

Past VOW

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cotton Bowl renovated now?

I didn't want to see the Cotton Bowl go, but in an age where stadiums full of history and tradition are closing down in favor of new super-venues, we must all realize that the wheels of progress stop for no one.

That's why I had to double-take when looking at pictures of the Cotton Bowl's new upper deck end zone seats.  This place is HUGE!  Heck, move the Cowboys back to Fair Park.

Well, we all know that's going going to happen.  The City of Dallas had its chance to land the Cowboys and return the team to its named city for the first time since 1970.  Instead, those that ran Dallas couldn't get things together, decided that there were more important issues, and they balked.  Jerry took America's Team to Arlington, and the new Cowboys stadium opens next year.  So then why did the City of Dallas decide NOW - with the Cotton Bowl (the game, not the stadium) moving after one more classic in Fair Park to Arlington - to renovate the 73-year-old stadium?

I remember my Dad telling me how they added the upper decks along the sidelines when SMU Football was the hottest ticket in Texas, and the Cowboys called the Cotton Bowl home for their first 10 seasons, but now with all that history moving away from Fair Park, what is the logic of the city sinking $50 million into the venue?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset that they did this.  I'm upset that they did not NOW and not seven, eight, nine, 10 years ago when the stadium could have been potentially saved.  I have to agree with Richie Whitt of the Dallas Observer as he notes that the new capacity is unnecessary and overblown (click for article)...
And don’t tell me the fifty mill is a wise investment. From my viewpoint here atop Mount Commonfriggin’sense, Dallas has built a bigger stadium to accommodate smaller games. Genius. Texas-OU is here through 2015, but the other games on the Cotton Bowl docket: Prairie View-Grambling, East Central State-Texas A&M Commerce, and Texas Southern-Pine Bluff. Combine those three crowds and you won’t touch 92,000.

Last call

You knew it would happen.  Frankly, I thought there would have been more arrests.  I do know that when Texas Stadium closes up at the end of this season, I don't know if I'm going to steal anything (frankly, I don't know what there is to take), but I do know I'll want to always remember the place that hosted so many great memories for me.  Can't say I blame these Yankees fans for wanting to save a little piece of history.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yankee Stadium

Once the Cowboys game ended last night, I flipped over to the Yankees-Orioles game to catch the ninth inning - the final inning - of baseball in Yankee Stadium.  If someone were unfamiliar with the history of baseball, or American sports in general, they probably could have watched ESPN's seven hours of pre-game coverage and gotten all caught up (I flipped back and forth during the afternoon football games to see the interviews with some of the greats who played at Yankee Stadium ... wow, that's a lot of greats).

Mariano Rivera took the mound in the top of the ninth, the Yankees leading 7-3.  When the game ended, he literally took the mound - or some of the dirt from it - in a small container to forever preserve and remember some of the history he made there.  Jeter left the game with two outs to a special ovation.  And when it ended, the moment caught everyone in what can only be described as a surreal daze.

The ESPN broadcaster Jon Miller just allowed the game to unfold, withholding comments for virtually all of the 9th, allowing the TV audience to soak it all in.  Fans cheered, but not a loud, raucous, rowdy cheering.  Instead, fans quickly allowed the joy of winning to succumb to the realization of losing.  Yes, the Yankees will have a new stadium next year, but this is THE Yankee Stadium, and the fans in New York and sports fans nation wide are losing it.

And as the players remained on the field, flash bulbs sparkled around the stadium and no one left their seat.  Fans seemingly refused to leave.  One sign hung up by a fan put it best: "LAST ONE OUT, TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!"  

Yes, they turned out the lights for the final time at Yankee Stadium last night, but the memories of the park will forever shine bright.  From Ruth's home runs, to the NFL's 1958 Championship Game, 26 World Series, and everything else, no one will forget Yankee Stadium's rich history.

From all the hoopla, it almost seemed as if the Yankee franchise was being contracted or dissolved.  It was as if the team was being relocated to a new city.  The players will still be there next season.  The monuments will be moved across the street next season.  They'll still play the Red Sox next season.  It just won't happen in the House That Ruth Built, as it did the previous 85 seasons.

So perhaps as people reflect on their fondest memories of Yankee Stadium, they should appreciate just how close a building, a structure, can bring people.  The greatest Yankee Stadium memory I have occurred in 2001 when President Bush threw out the first pitch for Game 3 of the World Series.  Regardless of your politics, every American - sports fan or not - can appreciate what that moment meant (go to 3:05 in the video if you don't feel like watching it all).

And that's really what that stadium has meant.  It's hosted so much history, and now, Yankee Stadium will become a part of history.  No longer will it be standing, but forever it will be remembered.

DAL 27 GB 16: Tundra torn up

A few thoughts after watching last night's Cowboys-Packers SNF match up...

Each time I heard someone bring up the fact that Dallas was winless at Lambeau Field, I couldn't help but laugh at how manipulatable statistics are.  Yes, the Cowboys had never won at Lambeau (0-5) until last night, but the team's they took up there, save the Ice Bowl, were horrible.  Also, the Cowboys had won some of the Packer "home" games played in Milwaukee when the franchise was dabbling with that.  

Terrell Owens is not the player I thought the Cowboys were getting when Jerry inked the 3-year, $25 million deal before the 2006 season.  He's better.  The man is a no-doubt Hall of Famer, and now I'm wondering if - considering how things ended in San Francisco and in Philly - T.O. would consider going into Canton with a star on the helmet?  Hmm.  Before you think I'm dreaming, consider this: Owens is 2nd all-time in TD receptions to only Jerry Rice.  Owens makes his teammates around him better because he's such an imposing figure at WR.  Jason Witten is a great tight end, but he and Owens are even better because defenses can't stop both of them.  And the two biggest plays Owens made during the game in Green Bay weren't even his two receptions.

When Romo threw his INT in the red zone (*cringe*), it was Owens who flew into the picture to catch the Packer safety from behind.  I don't know if the T.O. I remember hearing about from 49ers fans and Eagles fan would have exhibited that kind of hustle.  The Packers only got a field goal out of the ensuing drive.  When rookie Felix Jones broke a 60-yard run for a Cowboys TD, the only player on the field capable of catching him was Owens.  T.O. got down the field incase any blocking was necessary and escorted the former Arkansas Razorback into the end zone.  

Watching Tony Romo play football is fun.  Each time he drops back, I never know what's going to happen, but I like that ANYTHING can happen.  Just because he's dropping back doesn't mean he won't hand the ball to Barber or Jones on a HB draw.  Just because a defender has Romo in his grasp doesn't mean he won't escape from him to make a throw (and it doesn't mean the throw won't be to the other team, a la the Eagles game).  But more often than not, Romo makes watching Cowboys football edge-of-your-seat exciting.

The Cowboys are America's Team.  Did anyone else get the sense watching last night's game that recent regular season success is causing a revival in the interest in this team.  Regardless of if you love or hate the Cowboys, you WATCH the Cowboys.  They are a major focal point of the NFL.  And with all the recent success, a playoff run in not only overdue, but now it's seeming like something very, very realistic.  I think Kevin Burnett summed things up pretty well in talking to ESPN.com's Matt Mosley:
You get the get the feeling the Cowboys desperately want to fast forward to December, which has also served as their football purgatory. And that's exactly what Burnett talked about after the game.

"All this is well and good, but we wish we could throw all this aside and just go to the playoffs," he said. "All of this means nothing if we don't win a Super Bowl. I think we're becoming greedy players."
The season is still very young, and after seeing Tom Brady's season end in Week 1, no one knows how things will play out.  Who knows who will be healthy as the season goes (heck, the Jets were supposed to win it all in 1999 until Vinny got injured in Week 1 and the "Greatest Show on Turf" came out of nowhere with a former grocery-bagger-back-up-QB turned-MVP).  Point being, let's not get ahead of ourselves saying the Cowboys will be in the Super Bowl; football in January is not the same at football in September.  However, the way they are playing now, you gotta love their chances.

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