Friday, December 21, 2007

Pointless? Yep, But Still Fun

I was out of town last weekend. My daughter and I paid a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, and oh did it make us happy. I didn't accomplish any of the shopping I wanted to do, but oh well, it was better than watching the Cardinals fall to the Saints thereby ending their postseason chances.

So now, the Falcons make their way to Arizona. Boy, what a sad story Atlanta has been this year. If I weren't so partisan for the Cardinals, I'd have enough pity to hope that the Falcons could win a game, and I do hope for that, just not this week.

The team Arizona faces is only a shadow of the team that was already inept before Bobby ditched them. If this game is anything short of a blowout, then the Cardinals have not met expectations.

Merry Christmas, Atlanta. Keep your televisions turned off.

Monday, December 10, 2007

So What's on the Horizon for Next Year?

Well, the Cardinals are not yet eliminated, but they may as well be. For them to get that final wild card spot, they would have to be a full game better than Minnesota since the Vikings have the better conference record, and with only three games remaining, that means that the Cardinals would have to win out (very much possible) combined with the Vikings losing two of their remaining three. Let's see, who do they play? Their next two games are at home against Chicago and Washington followed by a road finale in Denver. Okay, it's possible, but it sure ain't likely.

As to yesterday's dismal performance by the Red Birds, well, that game got out of hand early and just stayed that way. We all certainly understood that the Seahawks would be hard to beat in Seattle, but I still held out hope.

You know, it occurs to me that I really don't want to even think about the game. Bring on the Saints.

Monday, December 03, 2007

There IS Joy in Mudville!

It's been quite the wet weekend in the Phoenix area, so mud is on my mind. Similarly, I'm now watching a Cardinal team that is way better than people realize.

Yesterday, the Cleveland Browns came into town with everyone believing that the Cardinals would get whipped. Why, people were shocked to see that Arizona was a one point favorite and thanking Vegas for offering free money.

We know different.

Think about it. Last week, if Neil Rackers makes a 32 yard field goal, this team is 7-5, not 6-6 now. In week 1, if Eric Green just knocks that ball out of the end zone as well, this team is 8-4. And in a bigger stretch, if Rackers hits that 51 yard field goal at the end of the Washington game, this team could be 9-3! But they keep finding ways of flying under the radar.

The Browns were purported to have an awesome offense. Four turnovers can really slow down an offense, but even when they weren't turning the ball over, Arizona's defense did a fine job of holding the line. Braylon Edwards had a big game (good thing, too, because I have him on my fantasy team), but Kellen Winslow, who had been averaging 5.6 catches and 79.5 yards per game was held to three catches for 35 yards.

But Rod Hood's two interceptions (one for a touchdown), were the crowning achievement. When the game starts out with a 14-0 lead, you know things are going well (don't talk to me about the Bears being who we thought they were).

Bonus Time: If the season ended today, the Cardinals would be in the playoffs!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Okay, I'm Ready to Talk Now

Last Sunday was painful. For the first time, well, in as long as I can remember, the Cardinals were double digit favorites to win, but they didn't.

You know, people will blame Rackers for missing the late field goal, and they would be right. People might blame Barr for a poor punt that resulted in a 49ers score, and they would be right. They might blame Warner for not getting rid of the ball when his receiver was not open, and they would be right. Or maybe they will blame Whisenhunt for not getting a run off with six seconds left in the game, and they would be right.

But people probably are not blaming the special teams coverage that allowed a long return or the secondary (Rolle) that tried to make a special play but ended up allowing a special play. The fact is that this was yet another game where a whole collection of things gone wrong each could have made the difference, but they just didn't happen.

So be it.

Now, Cleveland comes to town with a very powerful offense to test this injury riddled defense. Heck, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr are on my fantasy team, but I still expect a victory for the home team. Why? Because I do.

Let's face it. The Cardinals are saddled with deep injuries on defense, two of them to Pro Bowlers (as Cardinals, no less), so Cleveland should be scoring early and often. Meanwhile, Q is at reduced capacity as is Warner, so any betting man would be stupid to back the Cardinals.

Just look for the word STUPID stenciled on my forehead Sunday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Think We Won Yesterday

I remember watching the game. It was heaven! Even when Cincinnati got on the board first with that beautiful pass, I didn't panic. Hey, the Cardinals haven't broken out to early leads as a rule.

Then, everything fell into place. I especially enjoyed the announcers pointing out that Cincinnati was preventing plays of 20 or more yards right before Warner throws a 44 yard touchdown pass to Boldin.

Just as surprising was the presence of Eric Green. I was under the impression that he would be missing in action, but his presence helped make the difference on a day when a good secondary was vital.

But the kicker was Rolle. He was everywhere, and Palmer just didn't seem to be able to keep track of him.

That said, I watched SportsCenter this morning, and by the end of the broadcast, I learned nothing about the game. Zilch. Zip. At the end Kenny Mayne made a quip about the Seahawks winning and division winners not being pictured, but apparently the Cardinal game didn't even rate that much of a mention. Nope, it was too important to devote around 20 minutes to a 56-10 blowout in the night game. It was more important to show all of the excitement in the Oakland/Minnesota game. And the Giants/Lions game may not have been able to boast an NFL record setting performance, but they did score 26 total points in the game.

Still biding my time. Maybe ESPN will deign to cover the game in Seattle next month.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Some Fear. Not too much, but some.

The Cardinals have been very good this year at home. In four contests, the team is 3-1 having beaten Seattle, Pittsburgh and Detroit, all teams with winning records. The one loss is an anomoly only in that Leinart had been put on IR earlier in the week, and Warner was injured on the second drive requiring Tim Rattay, who had been with the team less than a week, to lead the offense. In other words, it really doesn't count.

But on the road, the team is 1-4 with that only win coming against a hampered Rams team. True, slight changes in single plays against San Francisco and Washington would turn that around to 3-2 (and a bad call on an Adrian Wilson hit would have sent the Baltimore game into overtime), but the bottom line is that the team performs less impressively on the road.

Into this, we have a trip to play Cincinnati. The Bengals are having a rough year. Their offense is as potent as ever, but the defense has been suspect. This plays to an occasional strength for the Cardinals in that Arizona's offense has also been playing generally well. Unfortunately, the real difference maker for the team has been their defense, and the team is hampered right now. A cornerback (Green) down, a safety (Wilson) down, a lineman (Berry) down...if (when?) this defense steps up Sunday, you'll have a real tale of performance.

It's time for the Cards to thoroughly demoralize a team. Go Cards!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"If we're not playing, Lloyd'll call you right back..."

Just over two years ago, I happened to be browsing the Arizona Cardinals web site and came across a press release. Alltel was publicizing a store in Chandler by having Kurt Warner visit, sign autographs and record voice mail greetings for customers. Being an Alltel customer myself, I immediately dropped what I was doing to make the 80 minute drive to the store.

Ever since, I've had to warn friends and acquaintances that if they hear Kurt Warner answering on my voice mail, they should still leave a message. It makes for a great conversation as well.

I now have a pool table with a Cardinals logo on the surface, a neon light of the logo, a vanity plate on my car and other knick knacks too numerous to list, but the one people notice the most is when they get my voice mail and often remark that the voice sounds just like the real Kurt Warner.

Well, Alltel is doing it again, and has promised to provide Anquan Boldin (a previous appearance had to be cancelled) for the very same purpose. A reschedule of Q's appearance has not been announced, but in the mean time, they've announced that Darren Woodson would be at their store at Superstition Gateway East (1959 S Signal Butte Rd in Mesa) this Saturday (11/17) from Noon to 2PM. Yes, he played for the Cowboys, but he's a local guy who also helped out ASU in his college days. He's a class act, and if you're as much of a football nerd as I am, this could be fun.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Well, That Was Fun

Over the years at Sun Devil Stadium, season ticket sales for the Cardinals were pathetic. Typically, fewer than 20,000 were sold, and the stadium was mostly empty for the majority of games. With the move to the new stadium, all of the long time fans were the first to choose seats, but there just weren't that many of us. As a result, scalpers (as well as fans who buy more tickets than they need) are a significant portion of the season ticket holder pool.

In other words, entirely too many of the fans around me yesterday were fans of the Detroit Lions.

I'm typically quite polite to fans of opposing teams. I wish them well but, of course, hope they go home unhappy. Yesterday, the Lions fans were dishing big time. It's curious, of course, since Detroit boasts a history every bit as inept as the Arizona Cardinals have provided. You would think that they would be more reserved.

I heard everything. They criticized fans for wearing Vanden Bosch jerseys (okay, they were right about that one). They laughed about the fans cheering rushes of six yards (I'll take six yard runs any time), and they kept pointing out that the Lions are 6-2 while the Cards are 3-5. Hey Detroit fans, your team is 6-3 now, and here's a prediction for you: your team won't break .500 this year. Dallas will beat you, Green Bay will beat you twice, San Diego will beat you, the Giants will beat you. Detroit will be lucky to finish 8-8. Enjoy our dust.

And a big shout out to the defense. Sure there were plenty of turnovers, but every time the offense gave up a big one (save that first one), the defense answered to deflate the opposing fans.

This was a wonderful game, and the crowd was an important compenent of that. Arizona now has a significant home field advantage. When the team keeps the lid shut on the house, the noice reverberates enough to rattle opposing teams. That was nice.

And finally about the rushing. The trash talk from the seat next to me continued laughing at the Cardinals until late in the game pointing out that Edge was not breaking long runs. Hey, buddy, gaining three is six yards better than losing three. On average, the Cardinals gained only 2.6 yards per rushing play. But that's 4.8 yards per carry better than the Lions' average of -2.2.

Warner did not appear to be fantastic on the day, but check that box score at the end of the day: his passer rating was 108.4. Wow!

This is a game to savor. With tonight's matchup, the Cards will either remain a game behind division leading Seattle and be more separated from 3rd place San Francisco, or they'll be tied for the division lead in a bunched up battle. I like the outcome no matter what.

Nice playing guys. I'll be living on this for several days.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Finally Coming Home

The Arizona Cardinals have won two of three at home, and the one they lost can largely be keyed to the need to use a quarterback who had been on the roster less than a week and had not been expected to play at all. This team is ready.

So in come the newly confident 6-2 Detroit Lions. They have enjoyed victories over Oakland, Minnesota, Chicago (twice), Tampa Bay and Denver while losing to Philadelphia and Washington. I'm happy for them, and I know that all NFL competition is good. But the teams they have beaten have 19 combined wins, barely more than three a piece.

I'm not saying the Cardinals are any better. Their three victories came over teams that have 10 combined wins (though I would say that Pittsburgh is tougher competition than Detroit has faced this season).

Both of these teams are blessed with relatively light schedules. Hey, that's what the system is supposed to do. The thing is, Detroit has the advantage of having the easier part of their schedule behind them while the Cardinals have the easy portion ahead. For the rest of the season, Detroits eight opponents average better than five wins each. Arizona's opponents average just over three wins each (Detroit has 6, Cleveland has 5 and no one else has a winning record).

This really has little to do with Sunday's game, but people are always looking at trends. This will be a matchup between two teams with very different trends ahead of them. I'm just glad the game is in Arizona where my Cardinals have been very formidable.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bandwagon In Repair Shop

PHOENIX, AZ -- The Arizona Cardinals have suffered a breakdown of sorts. Their bandwagon has been damaged and is in for repairs.

Said a source within the organization, "This thing has really taken a beating over the years, what with all the jump-ons in '98 simultaneously jumping off in '99, but this year has been unbelievably brutal." The source asked that he remain anonymous unless the team starts winning more.

This has been a remarkable season so far for locals who lack other means of transportation. The source continued, "For most years, when the local bandwagon gets deserted, the fans run to the Chicago, Denver or San Francisco rides, but they've been stalled for most of the season." Currently, the favorites among bandwagon riders appear to be the Packers and Cowboys.

Arizona's problem this year has been an unending series of starts and stops. With a new coaching staff, many had joined the bandwagon before the season started, but an opening night loss in San Francisco emptied the vehicle rapidly. When the team returned home and beat division rival Seattle the vehicle regained some of its original load.

The week three loss in Baltimore did not seriously impact the team since hope in the form of Kurt Warner in the hurry up offense seemed to make fans uncertain of the future, but a week 4 win at home over Pittsburgh brought fans on board in droves.

"I knew the bandwagon was having suspension problems, and I thought that Steelers game was going to be the straw that broke the camel's back, but she surprised me and kept tugging along."

Survival was sweet if short lived. Midway through the first quarter of the week 6 meeting against Carolina saw Warner go down to injury to join starter Matt Leinart on the bench while watching five day member of the team, Tim Rattay valiently attempt to command an offense he had just begun to study.

"It's the first time I know of where so many people jumped off all at once, and in the middle of a game at that!" With the vehicle moving at the time of the mass departure, the bandwagon spun out of control hitting a tree.

The team source indicates that a return to duty could happen as soon as this weekend but cautions that the normally calm streets of Detroit could be more treacherous than in previous years. The team is cautioning fans who wish to return to the bandwagon this week that they should wear seat belts at all times.

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's Just One Game

Yes, that's what I'll tell myself...yet's just one more game.

And fortunately for me, the team looked bad while losing. The defense gave up entirely too many yards, the offensive line couldn't open holes for anyone, Fitz inexplicably stepped out of bounds without being touched, and turnovers happened left and right.

Nevermind the blown call by the official who ruled that late pass an interception: 1) he was wrong but just should have been intercepted and 2) the Bucs were not playing well enough to require the Cards the display late heroics in order to win. This game was just plain ugly.

I am a complete supporter of Kurt Warner. Still, I found myself wondering if perhaps Rattay should be managing the game while Warner's arm heals. No matter. Sunday will change things. Yes, that's the ticket. Detroit is always a pushover. What's that? They're 6-2? Boy, I feel like Sideshow Bob after stepping on a rake.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Going Down the Back Stretch!

I like how the second half of the season looks. Yes, I know, there is still one game left before the second half officially begins, but I choose to use the bye week as the divider.

I'm sure anyone who reads this knows that I'm as devoted a fan as there can be to this team. Heck, as I write this, I'm wearing an Anquan Boldin jersey (Emmitt Smith is in the wash, Leinart and my other other Boldin jersey go into the next load).

That said, I firmly believe that the Cardinals will win at least eight of their next nine games.

Okay, okay, when you've picked yourself off the ground, I'll continue.

It all starts this week with one of three remaining games against stiff opposition. Tampa Bay (and a road game at that) is not a pushover. That said, they just lost to a Jacksonville team that was minus all of their decent quarterbacks, either through cuts or injuries. The Bucs are without their best rushers, and while they have an outstanding quarterback, last week he revealed his humanity by being picked off for the first and second times this season. I see victory in the cards (pun entirely intentional...and now you can stop groaning).

Bump up that record to 4-4, and the remaining eight are: vs Detroit, at Cincinnati, vs San Francisco, vs Cleveland, at Seattle (the likely loss), at New Orleans, vs Atlanta and vs St Louis.

I'm counting 11 chickens in those eggs that I know will hatch.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Okay with This...Really...I Am

So I went into the weekend expecting trouble. Certainly, I always hope for a win, but I expected Rattay to start, and I expected him to play well for what he can given his limited exposure to the offense.

And while Warner was able to play the whole game, he was clearly degraded from normal Kurt. Sure, I wish either of those interceptions could come back and make the difference. And I wish that penalty had not hit so hard to allow the Redskins to keep driving to a score. And I wish Q had just thrown the ball a little higher. And I wish the field goal attempt had been just a bit to the right.

But I have a good feeling about the rest of this year. First, there's the week to heal followed by the Bucs who are having an off year. Detroit is doing well, but the game is in Glendale. I like our chances. Cincinnati, San Francisco, Cleveland: the toughest test would be Cleveland, but again, we get that one at home. Seattle on the road is a tough spot, but finishing with New Orleans, Atlanta and St. Louis is certainly advantageous.

An 11-5 finish is very realistic. I'm sleeping well for the next two weeks.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Okay, I Can Take This

Sure, the Redskins look better on paper.

They have a quarterback who's been with the team more than 10 days, they have a team with a winning record, they're playing at home.

Okay, this week has me worried.

I'm a very positive person. If you check my picks on's Pigskin Pickem', you'll see that I've picked Arizona to win this week, and I don't even get the nine point spread to help me. Sadly, that confidence does not mean I'm willing to put actual money down on them.

But I'm okay with this because the schedule is workable from here on out, and next week brings a bye to get some of the team healed a bit more. Bromo please!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Still In First Place

It was just last week when I joked to a friend that Oakland was in first place in their division with a .500 record.

Hey! The Cardinals are in first place.

It was also just last week that I complained about gamblers having no respect for this team, and I stand by that comment. Kurt Warner going down on the second drive Sunday made a huge difference in the outcome of that game. Still, it was a bitter pill to take, and this Sunday's game against Washington won't make life any easier.

So here we are, going against a team that stayed right with a strong performing Green Bay team on the road, we're on the road where we often play below expectations, this all has me worrying about a disaster.

Warner keeps saying he intends to play, but I'd rather he take another week off than rush himself back before he's ready. Frankly, if it wasn't for Kurt rushing himself back too soon while with the Rams, I suspect he never would have left that team. Anquan Boldin is making like he'll be returning to the lineup this week as well, but I'm pessimistic about that too.

No, this is a week when the defense needs to step up and play as well as they did against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Will it happen? I sure hope so. I'm hoping to avoid talking about a losing record for some time to come.

Friday, October 12, 2007

And The Respect Just Keeps On Coming...

...or does it?

First a note about last week's game. I committed a "Cardinal" sin by not watching the game as it happened. Instead of being at a television or stadium to watch the football game, I went off to Talladega for a NASCAR race. Okay, I'm not even a NASCAR fan, but my brother is, and I just wanted to see what all the hubbub is about. I can safely tell you that now, I can say I've done it, and I just don't need to do it again. I plan to write more about my trip, but that will be on my personal page over at No, I haven't written it yet, but it's a great story. Stay tuned.

But one part of the story involves going to the race and seeing a big yawner of an event punctuated by regular checks of the mobile web on my phone to see who was winning the Arizona/St. Louis game. Yes, while everyone around me was enthralled with a 30 car conga line, I was keeping up with the drive from the Fox Sports web site. I watched when I returned home, but knowing many of the details, the game lost a little in translation.

So, getting to the current situation, my two pennies on the Leinart situation: well, we always wanted Matt to have a season of observing and learning, and now that's not a choice: it's a requirement. Leinart is the future, Warner is the present, and I see good things for this team. Go Cards!

And that leads, of course, to the game with Carolina, a team that has been blessed with major problems at quarterback, the likes of which I would not wish on any team. When Leinart went down, the media reported that Tim Rattay and Vinnie Testaverde were being invited for a look. The local media (and fans like me) were nearly unanimous in saying we don't want to go older (Vinnie's a great quarterback, but he's older than I am, and that's not easy for an NFL player to say). As it turns out, Vinnie never even flew into town. Instead he signed with this week's opponent, and bizarre as it may be, he may even start on Sunday. I don't care how good he is, there is no way he can master a new offense in five days.

So the Cardinals are at home, their opponent has major questions at the quarterback position, and Arizona has been playing quite well lately. So why does the latest line say 4.5 points? Go ahead, football pundits, dismiss this team. Tell us how bad we are in January.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oh, What a Traitor I Am

There is no sport I love more than football. There is no sport I love as much as football. I think if I were to rank the spectator sports, it would be football, baseball a distant second, basketball in third, hockey in fourth.

You'll notice that nowhere in that list was NASCAR. I have only watched a NASCAR race from start to finish once. Sure, I listen when they get mentioned on SportsCenter, but otherwise, I just don't care. It is in that environment that I now reveal that I'm getting on a plane Friday morning for a flight to Atlanta, and I'll be attending the two races this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. I'm expanding my horizons.

But back to the important sport. The Cardinals travel to St. Louis to face the Rams on Sunday. You know, this is the third year that Kurt Warner has been with the team, and the Cards have been making this trip even longer, but never have I seen so much activity on the Rams bulletin boards suggesting that Arizona might actually be able to count the date as a home game. The city seems to love Warner, and amazingly, there still seem to be some Cardinals fans nearly 20 years after they last played there. Couple that with a Rams team that is beat up (I'm attributing the Frerotte start to Bulger's injury, and there's the missing Jackson), not stopping anyone, and no longer selling out their stadium.

I'm nervous, though, about Vegas finally jumping on the bandwagon. Arizona is a 3.5 point favorite on the road. I'm not saying I won't bet on them, but it was so fun when the team flew under the radar. There are still plenty of people who think beating Pittsburgh was a fluke and that the two quarterback system is a joke (I'm looking at you, Deion), but this is a team that's finally winning when they should. The only hurdle to overcome is overwhelming an opponent.

Here's hoping for an overwhelming win.

By the way, if you're a NASCAR fan, look for the huge person wearing the Boldin jersey in Alabama.

Go Cards! Oh, and go Diamondbacks!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oh Happy Day

What a day to be a Cardinals fan!

Sure, there was some early fear when Pittsburgh jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but that was such a brief period, it hardly rates mentioning.

I've been a fan of this team ever since they moved to Arizona. Never, during that period, have I spent virtually an entire game on my feet. The crowd was charged from start to finish, and they were personally responsible for three false starts by the Steelers.

This is a Steelers team that was favored by 6 points over the Cardinals (heck, the Cards have not yet been favored this year: will a visit to St. Louis fix that?). The only people who expected this result are the Arizona fans who have seen just how good this team is.

And quarterback controversy? What quarterback controversy? Yes, the team appeared to be more productive under Warner, but the plays called for him were designed to stretch the field more. Both of them looked good.

This team has been 2-2 before, but they didn't look this good getting there. Bring on the Rams!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bring 'Em On

I like the phrase, even though our president used it a bit irresponsibly a few years back (happy to see that he acknowledged this error, but as they say in "The Family Guy", I digest).

Over at ESPN, Chris Mortensen is picking the Cardinals. No one else is. In their Pigskin Pickem game, only two teams are picked less than Arizona (Denver, who plays in Indianapolis and Kansas City, who plays in San Diego). And in their Eliminator Challenge, Pittsburgh is the sixth most popular choice (Arizona is 4th least popular). Few are expecting a Cardinals victory.

I'm expecting one.

But then again, I'm delusional.

Still, this is a team with some of the most potent offensive weapons in the NFL. It's a team that passed at will (while Warner was in there) against Baltimore...not a defensive pushover. This is a team that is well balanced on both offense and defense (just need to lock down those special teams), and I like our chances.

Meanwhile, of course, Pittsburgh has been doing better in every category: scoring, offense, defense, wins.

Yes, we'll win.

Maybe I'll just place my bets on another game.

Monday, September 24, 2007

This is how conspiracy theories start.

I have an otherwise intelligent friend who believes that on 9/11/01, the US government fired a missile into the Pentagon and used a black airplane coordinated with explosive charges to bring down the World Trade Center. He's mistaken. And, by the way, for the legions of you who agree with my friend, post as many comments as you like. I can't seem to convince him of his temporary lunacy: I doubt I'll be able to convince you.

But maybe there's something to this conspiracy thing. In the first half of yesterday's game against the Ravens, the team was severely lackluster. Then Kurt Warner came in to save the day.

It was amazing. After spotting Baltimore a 23-6 lead, Kurt leads the team to 17 unanswered points. This game is headed into overtime. All the Cardinals need to do is prevent the Ravens from scoring in the final minute. They go into a prevent. After all, Baltimore has only limited opportunity to stop the clock. By keeping play in the middle of the field, things should go well.

Then the yellow hankie comes out. Adrian Wilson gets called for a hard hit that was completely legal. His shoulder hits the shoulder of Todd Heap very solidly. Curiously, the official sees him leading with his forearm to the opponents head. Replays clearly show that a) it was not the forearm and b) it was not the head. Merry Christmas, Baltimore. Have another 15 yards.

Games should never come down to a single play. When the game can hinge on whether or not an official blows a call, then your team has not won convincingly enough. Still, this single blown call was the difference between two teams playing for superiority and one team being handed three points.

I'm bitter. Still, it's only one game, and the Cardinals schedule still retains plenty of opportunity for improvement, but I wish a bad call had not overshadowed such brilliant performances by Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin.

On to next week...

Friday, September 21, 2007


I visited the blog of a Ravens fan today. I'll assume for the moment that he just doesn't know the correct spelling of the names of the quarterback or the senior receiver of our top two, but Rex, there is no "h" in Leinart and there is no "u" in Boldin. Now back to anticipating the matchup with Steve McHair and Ray Leuis.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Is It Too Much to Hope For?

So for the second year in a row, the Cards have started off the season with a 1-1 record. They also did it in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002. I look forward to the year when they duplicate the 1991 effort and start off with a couple of wins. What's more interesting about 1991 is that it was the last time the Cardinals had a winning record after three games.

Sunday is a big test, and America expects the team to fail.

This team has good rushing, a scary pass potential and an overachieving defense, but still only the Bills (playing the Patriots) and the 49ers (playing the Steelers) are considered longer shots to win than the Cardinals. Really?


I've had this argument with others who constantly point out that the Cardinals will not get picked to win until they prove themselves on the field. My position is that if you aren't willing to predict a win until the game is over, then you're an awful predictor.

The Cardinals will win this game, and for all of the people who have completely ignored the team, we'll all hear about how surprising this team is. It's only a surprise because you weren't looking.

Go Cards!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Don't Talk to Me When I'm Out of Town!

Okay, so I play pool for fun. I'm good, but I'm not great. Thankfully, handicapped leagues exist just for people like me (hoorah for APA). Last weekend, I attended the Southwest Challenge 9-Ball tournament in Las Vegas. My team did okay, winning three rounds but losing two. We finished in a 16 way tie for 17th place among a field of 118 teams.

Why is this important? Because it caused me to miss a home game of my beloved Cardinals for the first time since Larry Centers leapfrogged a Dallas defender on Monday night in the game that found its way into "Jerry Maguire."

So I'm on the road between Wickenburg and Surprise when my phone rings (4:21 PM local time). A friend asks, "How about those Cards!" I try to keep him from telling me any more saying I don't want to hear about the game (TiVo would tell me later), but he responds with, "Why? They won!"

So, for me, watching the game was somewhat anticlimactic. Sure, it went down to the final seconds, but I never had any fear. Even when Seattle took a 20-17 lead, I knew I had nothing to worry about. I guess it serves me right for missing the game.

The offense made me much happier, but I was disappointed with how well they were held back in the 3rd quarter. To watch the game, it should never have been so close. Still, a win is a win, and I'm quite pleased that the team is 1-1 after two games. I always have optimism about my team, but I'm still not brimming with confidence. I look forward to that changing next week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blank Slate

Yes, just a reference to a mediocre (but fun) movie with Dana Carvey, but quite appropriate to my outlook on the Seahawks this week.

I have to remember that the defense was quite good on Monday night, and that offense just wasn't the offense I've seen even over the preseason, so Sunday has to go better.

I watched much of the Seattle/Tampa Bay matchup, all the while hoping that the Bucs would pull out the game. And frankly, it wasn't settled until late. Seattle is not the same team that went to the Super Bowl. That combined with the home opener frenzy the Cardinals should provide will, I hope, mean getting a game in the win column for the good guys.

Yes, that's the ticket. I'll set aside the rose colored glasses some other day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I Just Don't Want to Talk About It...

...but of course I will.

I've been a Cardinals fan ever since this team moved to Arizona. Growing up in Dallas, Texas, I couldn't help but be a Cowboys fan as a child, and when we moved to Arizona in 1980, I had eight more years of rooting for the team I grew up with. But when the Cardinals moved to town in 1988, I knew I had to support the home team.

This will now be my 20th year of hoping for the best and always getting stabbed in the heart.

I need to be less defeatist. I need to have hope.

It isn't just that they lost, but how they lost. We all had our doubts about the defense going into the season but they stepped up! The Cardinals held the 49ers to 194 yards of total offense. For now, that makes Arizona the #2 defense in the NFL (behind Denver).

What I didn't expect was the anemic offense. This is a team with three, count 'em three, great wide receivers. But Boldin had 4 catches for 22 yards, Fitzgerald 3 for 20, Johnson 1 for 12. I'm pleased that the running game looked better, but Edge was still only good for 92 yards.

What disgusts me most is what I expect from those around me. The Phoenix area is a poor supporter of sports teams. No matter what the team, if they're having a rough spot, many so-called fans simply help to pile on. And for a football team that's had 18 rough spots out of a possible 19, it's tough to endure.

Still, the game was quite winnable, even very late. And is it just the first game of the season. I'm sure I could accumulate a list of the teams that lost their first game only to excel for the remainder of the season.

I can hope.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's Here! It's Here!

Yes, the 2007 season is finally ready to start, and as has been true of me for 20 years now, I expect the Cardinals to have a perfect season. My eternal optimism reminds me of an old joke about a novice chess player.

But I truly have reason to be optimistic. The team has a new coach that everyone seems to be getting behind. The draft went well, and hey, we even cemented the defensive line with Oakland's third round draft pick.

This year, the Cardinals get to close the initial weekend of action with the late Monday night game against San Francisco. A few years back, when Arizona showed a little promise, they Cardinals proved to be the only team that could lose to the 49ers during a year when San Francisco went 2-14. But for the last couple of years, the Cardinals have owned the 49ers. I like our chances. That said, gamblers don't like our chances making San Francisco a three point favorite. And Arizona is 40-1 longshot for the Super Bowl.

Won't they be surprised when we win all our games!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Preseason vs. the Texans

So the live football is upon us again! Oh, what a feeling to walk into the stadium and know that a new year has begun full of promise.

I had family visiting from out of town, so my caravan to the stadium carried a total of 11 fans, all destined for Section 111.

As to the action on the field, I was happy. So the defense looked porous. Clancy says it's because he's holding back. But the offense looked sharp, and the team did some good scoring. Next week is the bigger test, what with it being San Diego and 3rd week of the preseason. I'm ready for new action.

Extra for John: Ricky looked good on kickoffs but had a bad punt in there. He's clearly got an NFL future, but he is not likely to make this year's Cardinals squad.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Why Am I Uneasy?

So another season is upon us. My tickets arrived on Thursday, and I'm certainly ready for the season to begin, but my annual expectation of perfection just has not yet arrived. Or maybe it has, and I just don't feel it today. I don't know.

The tickets are in a nice book again, but this year's edition has smaller tickets with no embossing, no gift for all season ticket holders. It's clearly a cost savings measure, but it would have been nice to see the team at least maintain the standards of last year, given that the team on the field certainly did not impress.

My brother is coming for a visit in two weeks that will coincide with the first preseason home game. To make it an event, I bought 7 additional tickets on Stubhub (ripoff artists, but I'll be back) for my brother, his wife, my mother, my daughter, my nephew, my daughter's boyfriend and another of my daughter's friends.

So another season is upon us. Let's see how I feel about this after the Raiders game.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Three Months Again

It's the off season, so not much has happened in my football viewing life. The team has its new coach, the draft has gone by, but I just don't have quite the same feeling I used to have at this time of the year. Maybe I've just become more dead to the annual buildup of emotion related to the team.

I have made a purchase for my home, however. I added a pool table with the team logo on the cloth. If you're a casual player but a big football fan, this is a great addition. The image is dyed into a white, non-elastic cloth (the image includes the red background). But if you're a serious pool player, you'll find the cloth a bit fast for normal play.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Three Months Later...An Update

So, I haven't made a post in quite a while, but issues abound in the Cardinals universe.

Issue 1: New coaching: I like the hire (who doesn't?). Don't get me wrong, when they hired Dennis Green, I was at the front of the cheering section. Even now, I'm not convinced that Denny was so bad so much as he just had an unbelievable run of bad luck. That said, Whisenhunt excites me, so I'm ready for the new year.

Issue 2: Free agency: I wish I could say that I'm up on all the moves, but this year's crop of players just isn't as exciting as past years have been. Or maybe I'm just lethargic because I've spent the last month moving. In any event, this year won't be the same as last year, and a single signing so far of a Cowboys center I've never heard of isn't anything to write home about.

Issue 3: Ticket prices: Wow, did they ever go up! In 2005, I paid $61.20 per game (plus half the parking fee of $5 per game for a total of $63.70 per game) for tickets on the 30 yard line on the shaded side of the field. In 2006, that number went to $79.25, a 24% increase. And in 2007, the number jumps to $87.00, a 10% increase for a total two year jump of 36.6%. Just a couple of years ago, the average ticket price hovered around $40. Next year that average will be nearly $74. That's a lot of price hiking. And while I don't expect the team to take a hit for it this year, I'd be willing to bet that the season ticket base is not a sellout in 2008 without something drastic happening.

Arizona still has me, but at these prices, I'm suddenly considering getting into the scalping business for a game or two.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Little Down Time

With the season over (at least for us), I find myself thinking about this site a bit less often. Still, I get the great stories even when they go 6-10.

Recently, my brother paid me a visit. On Christmas Eve, we found ourselves at my house watching the Cardinals play the 49ers. It was a good game, and I cheered regularly. My brother, meanwhile, even though he isn't even a San Francisco fan, thought I was cheering extra because I knew he had picked the 49ers to win. I couldn't seem to make him understand that I would be cheering that loudly even if I was alone in the house. Oh, well.

So for the rest of his visit, he was a bit flustered which helped me beat him more than he beat me at pool (even though he is better than I am). As an aside, I'm quite the pool fan and play in local leagues. But the web site of the league operator leaves a bit to be desired, so I created a website named just so I could create a forum for pool players in Arizona. It won't be limited to APA discussions, but that's where my expertise is. We'll see what happens.