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Soup of This Day #120: And The Public Don’t Dwell On My Transmission

January 12, 2012

WACA Ground c1910
The WACA Ground in Perth, Western Australia, c1910. Although the ground was originally built on a swamp the pitch has been anything but that – It’s a not as hard and pacy as it was 10 years ago but it’s still got some bite – Coloured image: Unknown, c1910.

Almost all of my tips for the Wild Card playoffs in the NFL this weekend past came good. To be fair the 3 I got right based on my limited knowledge were not exactly picks demonstrating an uncanny genius – New Orleans has been invincible at home this season and despite an early scare against Detroit, prevailed handily off the back of Drew Brees’ arm. The Giants looked good as well, stifling the Falcons at Giants Stadium whilst the Texans got their 1st playoff win with a comfortable outing against Cincinatti.

The 1 I got wrong was Pittsburgh travelling to Denver. The game was tight and the duo finished regulation time locked at 23 apiece. We thus got a 1st chance to enjoy the new extra time rules. No longer can a team play for a safe field goal and then walk off. Now, if a team scores a field goal, the opposition gets an opportunity to go for a drive as well. If instead of a field goal a team gets a TD then it’s all over. Of course this is dependent upon what quarter of the moon we’re in and how many goats each opposing captain can provide as dowry but I’m sure the gist is clear. Or not.

Seriously guys, just keep tacking on 10mins until 1 team edges it or another passes out with exhaustion.

Anyhow, Denver got 1st possession and decided to foregoe the safe drive option. Instead they went for a TD. On the 1st play. Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas – 80 yards for a TD and the game, just 11s into OT. Magic.

It might have been abracadabra from the Broncos but it was harsh on the Steelers. They had gone 12 and 4 through the season but had been edged out to 2nd in AFC North behind the also 12 and 4 Ravens. Denver meanwhile had edged pretty much everything this season, riding 4th quarter nail-biters to an 8 and 8 record. They then edged a 3-way with the Chargers and Raiders on count-back for the lead of AFC West and thus scraped in to a home playoff against the Steelers, a team who had won a whole 4 games more and had a 179 point differential over them.

This is the risk you run in a competition where Divisions are 4 to 5 teams and there are only 16 games across the season. Maybe it’s a case for re-alignment? Had there been a 16-team AFC with 6 playoff qualifiers then Pittsburgh would have qualified 3rd – They’d still be a Wild Card team but they’d have got a home game for their efforts and it’s probably worth noting at this point that every 1 of the home teams won in this Wild Card round. Denver would not have made the finals at all.

My calls for the Divisionals – In the AFC the Patriots to mercifully end ‘Tebow Time’ for this season as Denver crash back down, almost a mile in fact, to earth in New England. Houston may push the Ravens but Baltimore should have the goods in the other match-up. In the NFC the Saints at the 49ers is tantalising but I reckon the Frisco defence has the edge against a stellar New Orleans offence (Brees). Meanwhile the Giants will need luck to take down the Packers and maybe even then Green Bay will be too good – The Packers for mine.

Please don’t take any of that to the bank – I’m an armchair critic here and my padded seating is somewhere between 10 and 20 thousand kms away from the games.

Something I’m a bit closer to is the 3rd Test between India and Australia. It’s only a few kms down the road from here, at the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) Ground, and it gets under way tomorrow morning. Australia handily won the 2nd Test, prevailing by an innings and 68 runs on Day 4 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Of particular concern for the Subcontinental visitors is that India’s pace attack was ordinary, allowing Australia to bat just once for 659 runs whilst taking just 4 wickets. To be fair their medium pace and spin attacks were worse, taking no wickets in that mammoth total – I’ve just focused on the pace guys because the WACA has turned out a hard, fast and bouncy pitch. Australia’s pace attack meanwhile took 18 of the 20 Indian wickets in Sydney and even with the loss to injury of young tyro James Pattinson they will be licking their lips. Expect some short, sharp chin music from the Australians and a Test that lasts just 3 days before Australia extends to a 3-0 record in the series.

So home teams have the edge in my prognostications but it hasn’t all gone against tourists of late. Liverpool FC, battling a slew of off-field dramas, travelled to Eastlands to face League-leading Manchester City in the 1st leg of the League Cup semi-finals last night. It was the 2nd of 3 matches between the 2 over 3 or so weeks – The 1st stoush, also at Eastlands, January 3rd, ended in a comfortable win to City, 3-0. I haven’t seen the highlights but Brother of Longworth72 has and he helpfully pointed out that, ‘City looked good.’

Thanks for that bro.

The blue half of Manchester didn’t look good last night. Liverpool made the running early and came away with a deserved penalty, duly converted by captain Steven Gerrard, in the 13th minute. Liverpool could have and should have had more but that was it for the game for both sides and the Reds will be the happier side returning to Anfield for the January 25th return with an away goal and a lead over the Citizens. True, it is the less desirable of the Cups on offer in 2012, the FA Cup being the 1 to win, however Liverpool have gone 6 years without silverware and they have a real shout at making the Final against some Championship opposition (Crystal Palace or Cardiff) in February.

It’s nice to just be reporting on football when referencing Liverpool FC. No off-field drama today.

Of course the Boston Red Sox are still in the off-season and so the only drama they can generate is off-field. Not that they’ve been big on drama over the holiday period. Some have gone so far as to label them boring as they have made no big money moves, preferring to snap up low-cost, under-the-radar type players if they are available. Low maintenance professionals seem to be on the menu this time around, rather than a wallet-exploding Carl Crawford type deal. About the only point of interest this week has been the suggestion that Johnny Damon is a solution in right-field.

No. Just no.

Fenway, where Johnny Damon should not return as part of a Red Sox roster, shares something with the WACA, where balls will bounce past batsman’s noses this weekend. Both sporting grounds are built on reclaimed land. In Fenway’s case it was built on the marshy fens in Boston, near to the Charles River, opening in April of 2012 -This year Fenway will mark it’s 100th birthday. The 1st match at the WACA was played some 18 years prior (1894) on reclaimed swamp in East Perth but the ground, located close to the Swan River, has hosted Test match cricket only since 1970. In 1979 Western Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee strode out to bat at the WACA for Australia against England with something unusual – An aluminium bat. He hit the 1st ball he faced for 3 runs – His captain Greg Chappell thought it should have gone for 4 and sent out a wooden bat. Meanwhile the English captain Mike Brearley thought the aluminium slogger was damaging the ball and complained to the umpire. Lillee had to give up his bat, which he did by hurling it in disgust and a few months later they were banned for good from all forms of the game. You won’t see an aluminium bat at Fenway in a MLB game either – They’re banned from that league as well.

Dennis Lillee will have a roll to play tomorrow – Since 2004 he has been the President of the Western Australian Cricket Association. The aluminium though will be limited to drink cans.

And The Public Don’t Dwell On My Transmission

5 Comments
  1. Denver crashing back down “almost a mile in fact.” Great line. Yet, I no longer can doubt the angelic power Tim Tebow can unleash at a moment’s notice…which is usually all he is good for in a game…but all that it takes to get a “W.” The NFL Playoffs should be great theatre this weekend.

    • Planning on catching the Pats and Broncs – Sunday morning our time. Hoping for a good game but fear the Pats will make Tim pay for the 3.8 quarters of mediocrity.

  2. I’d like to see Johnny Damon on a couch eating popcorn and making the occasional live phone call to Jerry Remy to complain about the good old days.
    Can I get a second?

    • As long as we don’t have to hear Damon’s ego complaining I’ll endorse that future. Given that teams went to watch Manny I reckon though that someone will take a gamble on Johnny.

      What odds Baltimore or Toronto?

  3. I’ll second that!

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