Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Beer and football VI — week two

The game: Patriots at Bills
The beer: Ipswich Route 101 India Pale Ale
The result: Win, 40–32; Saints lose, 26–19
The commentary: "You guys mind if I run back inside for the last minute of the game?" With my mom visiting we retired to the back yard, the Pats seemingly in control with eight minutes remaining and an eighteen-point lead. But then the noises—"Gah!" "Noooo!" "Fuuuuuuck!"—were heard from neighboring homes. What's their problem? Did they pick the Dolphins or something? Might as well check my phone to see if the Pats game is over yet. "Gah!" Five minutes left and the Bills down by five? Refresh! Refresh! I could barely stand it at the two-minute warning and eventually begged off, leaving A. and my mom to watch G. hop around the yard and climb all over her new jungle gym (which was not assembled in time for her birthday party because, I don't know, weeds).

Minutes earlier A. and I were mourning the Saints' loss and my resulting exit from this year's knockout pool. "Well," I told her, "if only one of my teams could win today I'm glad it was the Pats." Next thing I know I'm muttering to myself on my way up the steps, wondering how it's possible for both teams to lose. TV: on. Sole hope was for Tyrod Taylor to continue exposing himself as not the bearded droid—now winning games in Jersey—Bills fans are looking for. And… wait for it… interception! Rex Ryan's hubris can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.

And the Saints? The Saints! Apparently they suck this year, as they did last year despite my lucky week-three victory before the hopelessness set in. On Sunday they took down ten of us. Ten! Ten! Others went out on the Seahawks in Green Bay, the Ravens in Oakland, the Titans in Cleveland and the fucking Dolphins in Jacksonville. All away teams, you say? The first two I can understand, as it's hard to believe both the Seahawks and the Ravens are winless. Still too risky this early. And the Titans? Who impressed the world by beating the (mostly) godforsaken Bucs last week? They're worth a pick? No. But hats off to the guy who trusted the barely-beat-the-Redskins Dolphins. Come on, man. Just admit you can't smell what the Rock is cooking.

The Saints, though, were This Week's No-Brainer against the lowly, Titans-fearing Bucs. One hundred percent of "experts," as collated by the helpful NFL Pick Watch, confirmed my decision and favored the Saints. I figured I'd move on to week three with, say, nine other people who were fine to play it safe like Swapnil in Project Runway. (Listen, Swapnil, I've liked your stuff so far but if you don't win one of the next four challenges you're going home after Laurie, Merline, Lindsey and Lindsey's ironic granny glasses. God, I hate her.) It's hard to be angry over a fluke result. Drag. However, with only two people (two!) moving on to week three unscathed (Bruno is officially out, wishing he'd saved his ridiculous Bucs pick for Sunday), I figure now's as good a time as any to throw twenty-five more units on the fire and keep things rolling lest my superior tracking spreadsheet go to waste. I have A's permission and I'd already sketched out the next three weeks anyway. Hubris indeed.

Up next: Oh good, someone scheduled a kid's birthday party on Sunday afternoon. Cheers!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Beer and football VI: You know, he shaves his eyebrows

Week one
The game: Steelers at Patriots
The beer: Samuel Adams Brick Red Ale
The result: Win, 28–21; Dolphins win, 17–10
The commentary: Where were you when Tom Brady's suspension was overturned? I was working from home so diligently that four hours went by before I broke for a late lunch and skimmed headlines on my phone. Oh, Roger. Already with the appeal. That was the best goddamn peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich I've ever had.

Thursday evening was spent at the Beantown Pub, where so many nights have turned ugly over the years. This was no different as I slept through my train station after midnight. Oops! We got out of work early to participate in some Amazing Race action—for the second straight year—and got soaked in the rain—for the second straight year. This time I remembered an extra pair of socks. Normally I would have ditched early to be able to concentrate on the game at home but I thought it would be cool to watch in a bar for the first time since the Misfits invaded New Hampshire. The outcome was much better this time, even if I had to leave before it was over and didn't actually catch up (all the way through again, since much of the pub time was spent asking if I was stripes or solids) until Sunday. What is there to say? Brady, Gronk, Edelman, Dion Lewis, even Amendola. Throw LaFell back in there in a few weeks and we're scoring thirty-five a game. But the defense? The defense! We might give up thirty-two. I'll leave the complaining for another week as this is one of celebration.

Celebration, yes, for the Dolphins defeated the Redskins in inglorious fashion. What is this, December? You're supposed to own September, fishies! It was a risk to rely on them in mark three of the knockout pool and I'm glad to never again be tempted. Twenty-five of us are competing this year and six others went along with me so I hope my practice of picking against losers doesn't catch on. Fucking Bruno, though. Bruno! He got knocked out last year in week one by trusting the Buccaneers and then ran some numbers, swallowed a shitload of pills and picked them again this year. Knocked out! This was my competition over the final four weeks? Good lord, you know he's going to buy back and take Cleveland or something this weekend. And probably skate by. Anyway, the no-brainer pick last week was the Packers over the Bears and three morons decided to blow those loads. Congratulations, you'll have to pick the Dolphins at some point if you go anywhere. Two more lost on the Seahawks and probably haven't bought back so we're down to me and twenty-two other stiffs. It's painful that four people should have gone out on the Cowboys—I will never, ever choose that team. At least two more are probably out after Chief–Broncos the other night. It feels like one of those games where people would have taken either team (rumors of Peyton's death may be exaggerated), but I can't know for sure because our administrator won't email with everyone's picks until after the weekend. That's a little shady, right?

In other household news (because the above action is riding on twenty of our household's units), G. has begun her second year of preschool. It's a new school in our new town and she has new (pink, stuffed) doggie Pickles to keep her company. "I'm nervous," she told me as we left the house. I was a shy kid too. Still, she put on a brave face and danced around the driveway like there were more ponies in the yard. It gets easier, baby.

Up next: Welcome to Super Bowl 50 in beautiful Orchard Park, New York. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Beer and football VI — training camp/the all-important third preseason game

The beer: Samuel Adams Rebel India Pale Ale/Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
The commentary: Welcome back! Is your favorite team the reigning Super Bowl Champion? Is your favorite team-oriented podcast making "Highway to L" jokes? Has your daughter not yet outgrown her team apparel from two years ago?

I'll keep this short with kickoff a week away. Training camp was all sunshine again as my dad met G. and me in the shadow of the Dana-Farber Empower Field House. To celebrate the Pats' fourth title, I will limit each photo caption to four words.

Imminent Super Bowl letdown?

Forget that, let's roll!

Again! Again! Again! Again!

Let me get that.

Is Joe Flacco elite?

Neat flowers. I'm hungry.

Dessert? Tuck in, then!

I impress even myself.

The practice session was tough to make out from afar, though my dad and I agreed that Gronk looks enormous from any distance, like he's fifty feet closer than anyone else. One drill seemed to focus on blocking field goals, to the point where either Gostkowski was deliberately kicking them low or Jabaal Sheard's blocker was deliberately letting him through the line. He looked like Lawrence Taylor out there. Hey, I'm just impressed my dad recognized who it was before I did. Who's the reader-less blogger in this family?

The above dessert was enjoyed at Gillette Stadium's Red Robin. I always thought it was a take-out burger joint but it also doubles as the only affordable restaurant within the Kraft Kompound (last year's Olive Garden and its authentic, straight-from-Palermo cuisine was a tad overpriced). To my surprise they had a decent beer selection (the Rebel IPA is nice), red balloons that hold their helium for days and weekend dads at the next table who put their phones down long enough to order a Whales Tale and then revert to Coors Light when the waitress says they've run out. The pro shop set me back a few bucks once G. spotted new family member "Huggle Buggle Bear," a hot pink bear in a Pats shirt that has already been stripped off. It was inevitable. I'm still looking for the simple "XXXVI XXXVIII XXXIX XLIX" shirt the waitress was wearing. Drag. Hey, speaking of shirts, PFW in Progress is jerking us around by claiming to choose from submitted designs for a shirt of their own. Here's my entry, followed soon by one that reads "Hey Fred, how's that bullshit shirt contest coming along?"

I impress even myself. I remember nothing of the all-important third preseason game. Do I ever? I am, however, fully aware that I have a four-year-old daughter and we rented ponies for her backyard birthday party. "That's a high bar," I told our friends who also have a four-year-old daughter.

Honest-to-god ponies! The novelty of a proper backyard at our new house, as opposed to our previous strips of lawn that were significant enough only to mow, may never wear off.

Bow and hat? Indeed!

Was it worth it?

Yes. (But never again.)

Up next: Tom Fucking Brady. Cheers!