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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sports Notes

First things first: Thanks for the good year, Wisconsin. You lost your bowl game, but we’re not bitter. I think Coach Bielema said it best: “I told the guys, I don't expect to see any smiles but I don't want to see anybody hanging their heads.”

See you next year, Wisconsin.

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I’m officially changing Larry Krystlaksjfniak’s last name. Until the team gets straightened out, I’m taking away his letters. He is no longer Larry Krystklasdfmiak, but he is now just Larry Krystiak. Larry, you have to earn these letters back.

When you look at this team, you see that they’re not bad. Sure, Bobby Simmons has been pretty average, but when they got him, he looked like a great player. Charlie Villanueva for T.J. Ford looked great at the time, because Ford’s spine can collapse like a travel cup at any moment. Now it’s Larry Krystiak’s job to get all these players working together.

The Miami game is a start, sure. They beat Miami in Miami. That’s great. Miami stinks this year, though. They only have Dywane Wade and that’s it. I’d hardly call beating them a resounding achievement.

Let’s hope they’re on their way.

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So, I brought up the differences in winning percentages between the Cowboys and the Packers opponents. By my admittedly rough math, the combined record of opponents that the Packers have beaten is 100-124 (.446). The combined record of opponents that the Cowboys have beaten is 121-135 (.472). The combined record of opponents that the Packers have lost to is 27-21 (.562), whereas the combined record of those who the Cowboys have lost to is 32-16 (.666).

You can’t really choose who you play. You can only choose how you play against those teams. Lest we forget, the ’72 Dolphins played versus two opponents with winning records.

However, opponent’s winning percentage is a really good gauge of future success. The Cowboys were good this year, undoubtedly. So were the Packers, but they still aren’t quite at that level. Just don’t be surprised if next year the Packers don’t have as great a record as this year.

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Congratulations also go out to Mike McCarthy, who finished second in Coach of the Year voting. The award went to Bill Belichick instead, but losing to a coaching legend is nothing to sniff at. You can’t really fault most voters for going with a guy who led a team to the first 16-0 regular season in 35 years, and has racked up 19 regular season victories in a row.

I’m excited to see how McCarthy fares as a playoff coach. As anyone who follows Marty Schottenheimer’s career can tell you, being a great regular season coach and being a great playoff coach are two separate things. So far, McCarthy has acquitted himself well in the regular season. We’ll see how he stacks up in the playoffs.

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I hope you indulge me a little bit, but I have to give out some end-of-the-year awards. I’ll call them the Eel Awards, which is what you get when you spell my first name backwards. We’ll just call them the Eelies.

It’s no secret that I love music, and this has been an unusually great year for music. I have to give my Album of the Year Eely to Arcade Fire for their amazing album “Neon Bible.” If you’ve never heard of Arcade Fire, look for the songs “Wake Up” and “Keep the Car Running.” If you can find the video on YouTube for “Rebellion (Lies)” you’ll also have a really good idea of what they’re like.

I also have to give an Eely to The Bourne Ultimatum. It’s rare when the third part of a trilogy wraps everything up so nicely, and gives you the payoffs you’re expecting. Bourne did all that and more.

In sports, my Eelies go to my current mancrush, Ryan Braun. Consider this: His OPS puts him in the company of Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. That’s the kind of player we have on the Brewers now.

In fact, Braun was good he almost overshadowed the recipient of my other Eely for Outstanding Achievement in Being Outstanding: Prince Fielder. It’s so easy to forget about the great season he had, but with a 1-2 punch like Braun and Fielder, this team should be good for a while, or at least until the Yankees pay them $200 million apiece.

My final Eely goes to the one, the only, Brett Favre. After a year where everyone said that he was done, he came back to prove the doubters wrong. Check that: He didn’t just prove the doubters wrong, he pantsed the doubters in front of their girlfriends at Homecoming, and the doubters ran to the boys’ room embarrassed while the rest of the class stood outside laughing at me. Them, I mean. Not me. That didn’t happen to me. (cough)