The NFC Debugged and Translated in Time for the Playoffs

The NFC playoff picture is starting to come into focus after the 11 weeks of the season. The New York Giants look like a lock in the NFC East. The Giants had the advantage of an easy schedule. The Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles have had problems coming down the stretch after many experts felt they would at least challenge the 2008 Super Bowl champs.

The NFC North will only get one team in. The only team that will not be in play for the postseason will be the Detroit Lions. The Lions have been playing like a Division III school full of walk-ons and former high school stars living in the past. The Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and the Minnesota Vikings are all tied at the top with average records. The Packers have a good young team that can be a no show sometimes. The Bears have been playing with a defense that may be too old for the Cover-2. The Vikings have a stellar defense and an All-World running back, but lack the quarterback to run a modern offense.

The Carolina Panthers are in the lead in the NFC South. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their incomprehensible offense that still manages to score more than 14 points a game somehow. The Bucs are not alone in the chase for the division lead. The Falcons are not too far behind. The team is young, but talented with the potential. The Falcons and the Bucs are both fighting it out for the division and a possible wild card spot. The Saints have proven they can pour on the points, but cannot stop anybody.

The Arizona Cardinals are apparently for real, at least for the NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and the St. Louis Rams have no chance of challenging anybody but the Lions.

The NFC looks like it has three teams set for the playoffs, the Giants in the east, the Panthers as the wild card or the leader in the south, and the Cardinals in the west. The two other spots are there for the Redskins, the Cowboys, the Bucs, and the Falcons to take. Personally, I believe the Bucs are going because of their defense and Cowboys will make it by some sort of Madden-influenced turn of the schedule.

These next six weeks will interesting as always with every looking for Giants tickets no longer to see if the team is for real, but to see if they can catch a glimpse of one of the best teams in the NFL. The diehard fans will pin their hope on Cowboys tickets and the Carolinas will be searching for Panthers tickets to see a real playoff race down the stretch.

Reality Wins Over Fantasy on Stage

Perhaps the most popular musical of the times is story not about a far away made up place like Oz or a biography of a pop group from the ‘60s, but of the theater of war in the Pacific in World War II.

It is perhaps a testament to the consciousness of the American people that as the political and world conflicts take a greater toll on our lives, that we mimic that presence with an awareness that extends to our entertainment.

South Pacific could not have chosen a better time for a revival. The story of a nurse from Arkansas who must learn to accept her new lover’s past interracial relationship that has yielded two children and a solder waiting to embark on a secret mission behind enemy lines who has a decision to make with the new romance to an island girl hits many chords with the public.

The impending doom and travesty of war and its toll on the human condition, physically and mentally, and the questions it forces everyone to ask about their beliefs and the consequences of their actions is undeniable in this production.

While people buying Wicked tickets may be able to ignore the transference of ill-conceived judgment based on skin color or where people are from, the issue is nakedly at the forefront of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 Tony Award winning musical.

Nurse Nellie Forbush must make decision in the face of the possible loss of life when she decides whether to accept that the local French plantation owner, Emile de Becque, has had two children with a Polynesian woman. There is no ignoring this issue. It is the subject of song and dance in this stage masterpiece.

There is no tossing aside the decision Lt. Joe Cable must make when he knows he must leave for a life-threatening mission after falling for Liat. He knows that if he marries her, then his dangerous mission affects another life other than his own.

The musical brings race and war to every audience member’s mind. The additional development in which Barrack Obama, a multi-racial individual, has successfully become the first non-white person to win the presidential election makes this story even more appropriate.

The world has changed. Mixed-race children are no longer hid, but there is still a great deal of racism that must be overcome and it became an issue that took on more than the topic of affirmative action in a debate. Now the United States of America has entered a new age and these racists thoughts that showed there insidious head during the election.

South Pacific has long been a prized story by theater lovers and now it has a new national audience that is face with the questions and dangers regarding prejudice in the real world context. The musical now serves as a reminder of how far we have and have not come in the land of the free.

Find South Pacific tickets to see the powerful show live and do more than just read about it.

The Mighty Have Fallen, but the Meek are Still Going Strong

Major League Baseball has two leagues and those two leagues have two different teams that first come to mind. The American League, the dominant league so far this century, has long identified with the New York Yankees. But, as the times have changed, so has the Yankees fate.

The team ended its era of domination poetically with a failed attempt to crawl back into the American League East. The Yankees began their rise to the top of baseball with the acquisition of Babe Ruth in 1920. He became the first in a long list of sluggers to lead New York to 26 World Series titles.

After Ruth came Lou Gehrig, after Gehrig came Joe DiMaggio, after DiMaggio came Mickey Mantle, after Mantle came Reggie Jackson. The list goes on and on and the team kept on until the end of the 20th century.

Since 2000 the Yankees have been in the relatively new position of chasing the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees kept on spending money on bats, collecting a dream fantasy lineup over the seasons. This past season the House that Ruth built saw its final year and ended it with a team that oddly only had a single viable slugger, Alex Rodriguez.

Empires rarely end gracefully and this was not the exception. The team has to do a lot of reverse the culture they have created. They have to stop spending so freely. The pursuit of C.C. Sabathia is an expensive one, even if it is to fix a major deficiency in the starting lineup. The end appears to be near as the Yankees franchise may simply need a full regime change to avoid a messy fall with an expensive roster and suddenly much more competitive.

On the other hand, the National League has long celebrated the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have built an empire of a different kind. This team has become part of baseball lore as the team that cannot win.

The Philadelphia Phillies may have had an equally painful history, but the Cubs have had more troubles in the last few decades. The failure to make good on the promise of the most balanced roster in both leagues is only the latest in sharp pains to their fans hearts. The thing is that the Cubs actually have a shot of developing a new history of winning.

Chicago can start anew if they simply forget the previous 99 years and think of 2008 as year one of the Cubs chance to make the 21st century a clean slate. The Phillies have been winning since 2001 and took those next eight years to build to an eventual championship.

The Cubs have a lot going for them. They have a stellar lineup with Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano. They have a great starting rotation with Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, and three solid three through five guys.

This coming MLB season could see the mighty fall from the national sports consciousness and the loveable losers stick around. See if I am wrong with Yankees tickets for the new stadium or Cubs tickets for a potential third straight season in the playoffs.