Thursday, December 30, 2010

NFL Picks Weeks Seventeen: In Which I Look Back on 2010

I'm not entirely sure how I did it, but after taking a few deep breaths and looking back, well, I'm not sure how I managed to come up with a nickname for each week of football picks that started with the phrase "In Which". Damn I'm good. It should be noted of course that this is one of the few that makes sense, and given that we're approximately 23 hours away from the dawn of 2011, well, it seems appropriate that I spent one last day checking out a brand new team I had never seen before. Granted, that this one team was the New York Islanders who don't play nearly as far from my home as most other new teams I've seen makes it less impressive, but if you understood the trials and tribulations that Debs Francisco and I undertook in our public transportation adventure to Uniondale, N.Y. and back, you'd understand why it was far more difficult than going to, say, Indianapolis.

Getting out to an Islanders game is, in fact, not even the least bit easy. Each leg of the trip from door to door took roughly two hours and 40 minutes and required going in the wrong direction at least once. Once there, however, Debs and I were not disappointed. Not only did we have fantastic seats, but, well, it was an awful lot of fun for a game I had no real vested interest in. While the Islanders won in a fourth-round shootout, with both goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Rick DiPietro standing on their heads the entire time, the real news of the night was that Sidney Crosby's 25-game scoring streak came to an end at long last. It's always fun to see a little bit of history.

I will say, however, the Islanders' postgame celebration was a bit much.

I've been told Nassau Coliseum is one of the more antiquated and awful arenas in all of sports, and I won't lie and tell you it isn't, but the atmosphere was tremendous last night, the setting intimate and fun, and the experience generally pretty enjoyable, even if the concourses felt like you were in a bowling alley from the 1970s. In many ways it felt like a Fenway Park for hockey, but without the charm. Many amusing things happened along the way and at some point I will have a full report ready for everyone, but for the time being, my trip to Nassau Coliseum, and my venture of the 37th different team I've seen in the flesh, is a nice capper to my year.

And what a year it was.

To really give you all the full treatment on 2010, it seems appropriate to do one of those ridiculous lists where I put in perspective just how many different teams I've seen, stadiums I've been to, cities I've visited and, what the hell, plane rides I've been on. Why the hell not? Here it goes.

2010 In Review

-- I saw 7 new professional sports teams (Philadelphia Flyers, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Twins, New York Islanders)
-- I saw 9 new stadiums both college and professional (Wachovia Center, Turner Field, Camden Yards, Dodger Stadium, New Meadowlands Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, Nassau Coliseum)
-- I saw sporting events in 16 total venues (Giants Stadium, Wachovia Center, Prudential Center, Citi Field, Turner Field, Camden Yards, AT&T Park, Dodger Stadium, New Meadowlands Stadium, TD Garden, Lucas Oil Stadium, Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Wrigley Field, Nassau Coliseum)
-- I visited 20 different cities (Philadelphia, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Tzfat, Eilat, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington D.C., San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Sonoma, San Luis Obispo, Boston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Chicago)
-- I spent time in 2 countries (United States, Israel)
-- I flew on a plane 20 different times.
-- I stayed in 13 different hotels, some of them amazing, some of them horrendously awful.
-- I passed through 14 different airports.
-- I attended 2 weddings.
-- I delivered 1 Best Man Speech.
-- I had 1 sibling get married.
-- I ate at 2 different In-N-Out Burgers.
-- I had 4 slices of Giordano's stuffed pizza.
-- I saw 1 football game in a baseball stadium.
-- I won 0 fantasy leagues.
-- I wrote 141 entries in this space.
-- I got 1 new job.
-- I traveled 2 times for work.
-- I started 1 tedious, boring and insignificant blog.

Busy, huh? Yes, I thought so, too. Don't worry though. It's almost over. 2011 is almost here and with that there will be a new 12 months filled with frantically planned trips to sports venues, more weddings, more plane flights, more general exhaustion and probably about four new page views at this blog by someone other than me. Can't wait.

To close 2010 out, here, for the final time this regular season, are your sure to be wrong football picks.

Last week: 9-7-0
Season: 119-112-10

NY Giants (-4) over WASHINGTON
ATLANTA (-15) over Carolina
Pittsburgh (-6) over CLEVELAND
Minnesota (+3) over DETROIT
Oakland (+4) over KANSAS CITY
Miami (+5) over NEW ENGLAND
NEW ORLEANS (-8) over Tampa Bay
NY JETS (even) over Buffalo
BALTIMORE (-10) over Cincinnati
San Diego (-4) over DENVER
Chicago (+10) over GREEN BAY
INDIANAPOLIS (-10) over Tennessee
Dallas (even) over PHILADELPHIA
SAN FRANCISCO (-7) over Arizona
Jacksonville (-3) over HOUSTON
St. Louis (-3) over SEATTLE***

***If it were possible for both teams to lose this game, I would pick that result.

That's it for me. Happy New Year, everyone. Bring on 2011.

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