Saturday, November 29, 2014

On Jump-Roping and Gender

I remember a day in third-grade gym class. Our gym teacher, Mr. Banks, set up stations with different activities. One of these stations featured several jump ropes. I saw a couple of girls playing with them, and (probably in a futile attempt to rock some 8-year-old swag) I went over there and grabbed a jump rope myself.

I looked at the jump rope quizzically, the way a zoologist might look at a new species of snake. Before I knew it, Mr. Banks came over and steered me away.

"You don't want to play with that," he said. "It's for the girls. Why don't you go over to the pull-up bars?"

That was my entire life experience with jumping rope until last month, when I was taking a Boot Camp class at the gym. In this particular class we were required, among many other ass-whooping activities, to jump rope 100 times.

This, of course, was traumatic for me, not having ever successfully jumped rope. The big mistake I made was failing to realize that you're not really "jumping." You're only supposed to hop high enough off the ground so that the rope can skip underneath your feet. For me, this is very counterintuitive. When I jump, I don't cheat myself -- it's like I'm trying to leap out of the building. And so I'm jumping as high as I can and it's only a matter of time before I land awkwardly and feel a serious twinge of pain in my calf muscle. I've pulled my calf and I spend the rest of class doing the various exercises while limping around the gym.

Several days of ice and aspirin ensue, and the calf muscle gradually feels better -- until the end of the week, when I hop on the treadmill and after about 10 minutes of running tweak the calf muscle again. More ice. More aspirin. Feeling better and then the following week I'm doing box jumps at Boot Camp and again I feel that twinge in my calf.

He's probably retired now, maybe he's even passed on, but I'm pissed at Mr. Banks. I'm not saying I would've become a jump-roping legend -- I may have decided jumping rope wasn't for me, regardless of what he said. But, looking back on it, I can't believe a teacher would propagate those kind of stereotypes. And it clearly steered me away from jump roping, which, years later, came back to bite me in the ass (or, I suppose, calf).

I'm also pissed off at myself. Because nothing Mr. Banks said should've made me averse to jump-roping. Even when I was 8, I had that "question authority" mentality clearly ingrained in my head, and I should've asked myself, "Why?" It's a big part of training in the boxing circuit. And I shouldn't avoid something just because someone labels it as "for the girls." I practice yoga fairly regularly, and after some initial awkward feelings on my part I've become very comfortable taking classes even though I'm usually the only male in the class. Part of me feels like, by letting Mr. Banks talk me out of trying to jump rope, I contributed to sexism in society, and that makes me mad at myself.

This past week was the first in about a month in which my calf was 100% twinge-free. I was able to go to Boot Camp and jump on the treadmill without any trepidation. I'm going to be careful when jumping rope, I've gotten a lot better at it but it's still an exercise that I need to take slow. Jumping rope is clearly great exercise for anyone of any gender, no matter what Mr. Banks believes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NFL Week 13 Predictions

The worst part of Thanksgiving Week: for the rest of the season there's a full slate of games. No more bye weeks.

This is exhausting.

Anyway, my picks:

Lions 28, Bears 25 -- Bears lose because they got their asses kicked slightly worse in Foxboro than Detroit.

Cowboys 38, Eagles 33 -- Went to bed Sunday night, Giants were moving the ball up and down the field, I'm like "Giants are gonna win" and I started to drift to sleep. Woke up the next morning and Dallas had won. Then again, Philadelphia doesn't suck....

49ers 20, Seahawks 17 -- Jim Harbaugh even surlier than normal when he can't have Thanksgiving dinner with brother John.

Ravens 32, Chargers 14 -- All four AFC North teams are 7-4 or better. But thanks to tiebreakers, if the season ended today, only the division-leading Bengals would make the playoffs. But don't you worry. The 7-4 Chargers (who would qualify for playoffs under the above scenario) and their maddening inconsistency will change that.

Bills 13, Browns 6 -- Detroit's best NFL team in 2014: the Buffalo Bills (2-0 in Detroit this season).

Titans 24, Texans 10 -- Tough week. Texans QB Ryan Mallett out for season after sustaining torn pectoral muscle before last Sunday's game vs. Bengals. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt out for season after sustaining crushed ego following 43-24 loss last Sunday vs. Eagles.

Colts 34, Redskins 21 -- Also benching RG III in favor of Colt McCoy -- Subway.

Giants 24, Jaguars 20 -- If only Odell Beckham Jr. could coach as well as catch.

Panthers 31, Vikings 17 -- How bad is the NFC South? Carolina Panthers, on a five-game losing streak, had a bye last week and nearly leapfrogged over Falcons and Saints into first place.

Steelers 27, Saints 24 -- The NFC South is dead to me: two of my three losses last week came picking NFC South-AFC North matchups. Then again, Steelers lost to the lowly Buccaneers....

Rams 20, Raiders 14 -- When both these teams played in Los Angeles, people in Los Angeles still didn't care about this game.

Bengals 16, Buccaneers 13 -- I see Cincinnati is on one of those "We don't suck" streaks again.

Cardinals 40, Falcons 37 -- Seriously, I'm not kidding, the Panthers could be in first place after Sunday.

Packers 31, Patriots 27 -- See my Week 9 Patriots prediction: "My heart says New England. But I just can't. Not quite yet."

Broncos 35, Chiefs 28 -- Starting to be bearish on Denver, but hey, Kansas City lost to the Raiders last week.

Dolphins 23, Jets 3 -- As a friend of mine pointed out today, Jets play better when they don't show up.

LAST WEEK -- 12-3

SEASON TO DATE -- 118-57-1

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NFL Week 12 Predictions

Yeah I've been really frustrated lately. Not at my picks (which have been pretty good). I have some other good blog ideas, but they would take a little more time to write and I've been so crazy-busy with life lately and I just haven't had the time to sit down and work on them.

I promise you, they are coming.

(I mean, football season will eventually end.)

Anyway, this weeks picks:

Chiefs 17, Raiders 7 -- There's a Twitter site that tweeted recently that the Raiders have the longest current losing streak in the NFL. Well no shit! They're the only winless team in the league. By definition they would have to be.

Falcons 23, Browns 7 -- Here's how bad the NFC South is: the division-leading Falcons are 4-6, at one point went 50 days between victories, and are 4-0 in the division and 0-6 outside the division. "Yeah," say the Browns in their rebuttal, "but we handed Jacksonville its only victory of the season."

Bills 9, Jets 6 -- Here's the good news for the Jets: they'll be playing in 5 feet of snow, but their offense never scores anyway so it won't be affected by the weather.

Bears 27, Buccaneers 15 -- Probably missing out on an Upset Special here, as I kinda feel like Lovie Smith would love to stick it to the team that fired him a couple of years ago. Alas, Buccaneers already reached their win quota for November (1).

Cincinnati 20, Houston 19 -- Ryan Mallett threw his first career TD pass to defensive lineman JJ Watt, which is quite a coincidence. I'm pretty sure Andy Dalton's first INT returned for a TD was to Watt.

Colts 28, Jaguars 25 -- A scoring error was caught midweek that lifted Jonas Gray's rushing total against Indianapolis last Sunday night from 199 to 201. Jaguars hoping a scoring error will give them two additional touchdowns this week.

Packers 24, Vikings 3 -- Here's how bad the NFC South is: Falcons allowed 41 points to Teddy Bridgewater-led Vikings in his first start.

Patriots 28, Lions 21 -- Fifth consecutive matchup between these two teams that has been in either that season's Week 12 or 13. Three of the previous four were Detroit's annual Thanksgiving Day home game. Gobble gobble.

Eagles 15, Titans 13 -- Titans are 2-8. And to think they opened the season by beating Kansas City (who's now 7-3). And to think I correctly picked Titans to win that Opening Day game.

Chargers 31, Rams 17 -- St. Louis keeps knocking off good teams (Seahawks, 49ers, Broncos). Unfortunately for Rams, Chargers are only an average team.

Seahawks 33, Cardinals 28 -- Arizona beats everyone except last year's Super Bowl teams.

Broncos 17, Dolphins 7 -- Broncos did beat the Raiders, but they're 0-2 in November against NFL teams.

49ers 35, Redskins 8 -- That awkward moment when Redskins owner Dan Snyder says, "JAY Gruden? Oh, I thought we hired JON Gruden as head coach."

Cowboys 24, Giants 21 -- Me: "I feel like Cowboys are long overdue for a bad loss." A Friend: "Didn't they lose to the Redskins a couple weeks back?" Me: "Oh yeah, right. Never mind, then."

Saints 35, Ravens 22 -- Here's how bad the NFC South is: the division is 1-8-1 against the NFC North, and the one win comes from the 2-8 Buccaneers beating the Steelers.


SEASON TO DATE: 106-54-1

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NFL Week 11 Predictions

I screwed up. I promised a non-football related blog last week before this one. Then I forgot about how busy this week was going to be for me. Oops. I suck.

I will make the same promise again for next week. Which probably means nothing to you.

But, hey, at least I went 11-2 last week (and who the hell would've picked the Jets to beat Pittsburgh anyway).

This week's picks: 

Dolphins 19, Bills 14 -- Two teams I hate, two teams that suffered tough losses last week, hopefully one of those tough losses sends that team into a downward spiral.

Panthers 45, Falcons 28 -- Imagine of Matt Ryan could throw against his own defense every week?

Bears 34, Vikings 17 -- Bears defense is the Jay Cutler of defenses.

Browns 27, Texans 17 -- Brian Hoyer vs. Ryan Mallett to determine who looked better on the sidelines backing up Tom Brady?

Chiefs 42, Seahawks 24 -- Pete Carroll denies reaching out to put feelers on Randy Moss' interest in coming out of retirement. Of course he didn't. Any good Seahawk would call Steve Largent first.

Saints 26, Bengals 6 -- New Orleans, at 4-5, is in first place in NFC South. If the Saints were in the AFC Central they'd be in last place. Alas, Andy Dalton played like he was on crack last Thursday so I go with New Orleans here on principle.

49ers 48, Giants 14 -- Giants collectively need to see a shrink.

Broncos 36, Rams 33 -- Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Peyton Manning is throwing better than he ever has. He watched tape of the Broncos-Patriots game, right?

Buccaneers 19, Redskins 13 -- If only Jon Gruden still coached Tampa Bay, this could be the Gruden Bowl -- and people still wouldn't care about the outcome.

Chargers 40, Raiders 34 -- Chargers were so bad against Miami, a San Diego fan blocked me on Twitter when I made a comment about it. Raiders fans should be blocked on principal alone.

Lions 45, Cardinals 21 -- Detroit has lost five straight vs. Arizona. I should pick against them just for that, but....

Packers 27, Eagles 24 -- Should be a hell of a game, which means it probably won't be....

Patriots 31, Colts 28 -- I'm probably jinxing the Patriots. I hate myself for that.

Steelers 30, Titans 7 -- Who scheduled this game for Monday night, anyway?



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week 10 NFL Predictions

Before I go into this week's picks, a promise -- I will blog about something other than football before next week's games.

Now, some predictions: 

Bengals 35, Browns 23 -- I can't figure out the AFC Central, kind of like how most people can't figure out me.


Ravens 27, Titans 26 -- Tennessee is 2-6 but not in last place in its division. Ravens are in last place in their division with a 5-4 record. Call it the Ray Rice Factor. Karma's a bitch.


Chiefs 17, Bills 16 -- Two up-and-coming teams. Game could be closer than Massachusetts gubernatorial election, minus the negative campaign ads and boring personalities.


Lions 23, Dolphins 8 -- Miami took advantage last week of a warm weather team (Chargers) taking a long flight to play on the road. Exactly that Detroit will do this week against Miami.


Cowboys 21, Jaguars 19 -- The bad breaks keep on coming for Jacksonville: NFL rejects Jaguars' petition to have this London game played under rugby league rules.


49ers 31, Saints 15 -- Saints are in first place in their division with a 4-4 record. San Francisco is 4-4 but in third place in its division.  Call it the Ray McDonald Factor. Karma's a bitch.


Steelers 19, Jets 16 -- Rex Ryan has a way of getting 2014 Jets to play hard against Super Bowl-winning QBs (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady) but fall just short. Fat Rex Ryan, Circa 2010, would've found a way to get 2014 Jets to win those games.


Falcons 27, Buccaneers 14 --  Falcons laid 56-14 whooping on Tampa Bay earlier this year. That said, Falcons are not a very good team. Karma's a bitch.


Broncos 37, Raiders 20 -- Raiders suck. That is all.


Cardinals 20, Rams 14 -- Rams have upset both the Seahawks and 49ers in the past three weeks. Therein lies the Catch-22: once people notice you're sneaky good, though, you can no longer sneak up on anybody. 


Seahawks 30, Giants 28 -- Funny how after Richard Sherman started talking too much about how teams never throw against him, teams started throwing at him with success just to shut him up. Karma's a bitch.


Packers 35, Bears 28 -- It's getting personal in Chicago, where former linebacker Brian Urlacher says he "hasn't played like an elite quarterback." Now Urlacher says in Cutler's guest appearance in an episode last year of The League that Cutler "hasn't performed like an elite actor."


Eagles 20, Panthers 9 -- Every time Steve Smith scores a TD for Baltimore, a part of Cam Newton dies.