All you need to do is WIN WIN WIN no matter what! [NBA FINALS GAME 7 PREVIEW]

Champions Collide in Game 7

Champions Collide in Game 7

So we’ve come to the very end of the road for the 2013 NBA Finals. Down to one game to decide who’s the better team, the aging San Antonio Spurs led by 36 year old PF Tim Duncan and Coach Gregg Popovich or the Miami Heat led by defending MVP PF LeBron James and Coach Eric Spoelstra.

As much nail biting and anguish as I’ve gone through so far, now that I think of it, I can’t really ask for much more than this. There has been plenty of excitement, overtime games (like last night!), coming back from double digit deficits in the 4th quarter(Spurs, Heat, Warriors), Cinderella stories (Warriors, Nuggets, Chicago, Rockets), and tons of action and captivating moments from any number of NBA All-Stars. Now that everything is just about finished, we’ve got one more game left to preview.

Tomorrow night, Thursday June 20th, 2013 at around 8:30 pm EST, the Heat face the Spurs in a one game winner-take-all death match, at home in Miami, for all the marbles.

I don’t want to hear anything about who’s getting old, or who can’t make big time shots, who’s favored to win by how much, none of that matters anymore. Any team that takes another team to 7 games in the NBA Finals has played their hearts out and should be considered a great team in my book. That being said, only one team is going home with the crown.

Who’s it going to be?

-Keys to Miami Winning the Game:

1. Aggressive, intelligent, gambling, trapping, suffocating defense. This team is younger in age nearly across the board than the Spurs, who are also quite good defensively. The major difference is the athleticism and youth to be able to take shots at knocking balls loose, doubling players in the corners and still being able to get back to interior defense to force the ball back outside.

Too many times this series Miami has been forced into a react-only mode, allowing the extremely intelligent and veteran Spurs to have their pick of who to take the shot at any given moment. They will need to play stifling defense, making blocks here and there and getting offensive rebounds regardless of playing without a true center. Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen and CB3 will have to focus and bring their A game to fight for every rebound.

2. The King must show the Spurs what they get for attempting to defend him. LeBron James is not just another NBA Superstar. He is not an aging Tim Duncan or even a Tony Parker, meaning he is SUPPOSED to get 25-7-7 a game. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. With Wade being slowed by a knee injury and Bosh being well Bosh at times, the game will swing on his ability to get his teammates open looks, driving through traffic to make tough baskets with touch, and drawing fouls while doing so.

I couldn’t say it more clearly than this:

LeBron James is not Magic Johnson. His entire team plays better when he’s attacking the defense, drawing triple coverage on one side of the basket while making astute, non-lazy passes to the open shooter whether it’s Mike Miller, Ray Allen, or one of the other Big 3. If he starts off as slowly as he has over the past couple games, if he can’t be decisive and quick to allow open looks, he will have to rely on his supernatural ability to make his own shots and put the team on his back. It’s time.

Now all you have to do is win.

3. Cover those Amazing Bench Players! Not enough can be said about those Spurs shooters coming off the bench to give their aging “Big 3” a rest and support. Danny Green and Gary Neal have been playing light’s out throughout this series. There have been times during this series when they were either open or barely covered, and they made Miami pay big time at the end of quarters, on buzzer-beating shots, on way downtown threes and desperation shots. Miami must force them to put the ball on the floor to at least give them something to think about. If they are open or even allowed to make lightly contested jump shots immediately after getting passes, this game will be much more difficult to win.

4. Play like every game might be your last. Tomorrow really will be the last game of the year for both teams win or lose, but this has been a troubling portent of disaster throughout this series, and even back into last series against the Indiana Pacers. Just because you won one game does not mean you can rest on your laurels and play the next one at a leisurely pace.

This kind of thinking led to Miami being defeated by the Dallas Mavericks in year one of the Big 3 Era. They were comforted and secure after leading the Mavericks 2 games to 1, let their foot off the gas pedal, and ended up losing 3 straight games to close out the season. The reason they managed to eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder last year in 5 games comes down to their ability to shut out distractions, focus on what needs to be done on the court, and trust in their teammates and their own abilities without rest or break.

100% Focus.

No Twitter feeds, no Facebook messages, pokes, or likes, no charity golf tournament or youth basketball league. Not even phone calls or text messages from their girlfriends, wives and family (outside of emergency calls), were allowed, a self-imposed restriction for reasons of (DUH!), WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP!

There are no more second chances to be given, no mulligans or do-overs for whichever team loses in game 7. Miami is more than capable of taking the Spurs down big time tomorrow night, but it’s going to take everyone playing through pain and suffering for the Big 3 to successfully defend their crown.

~Michael

Wong_83@Hotmail.com

LBJ Dunks on Spurs

[PS: Ok, maybe their championship last year had a little to do with LeBron taking less 3 point shots, working on his inside game with Hakeem Olajuwon in the off season, learning to use his body to shield shots, posting up and playing fundamental “big” basketball. It just didn’t fit with where my flow of thoughts were going a little earlier, so meh, just deal with it. -Mikey]

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Basketball, Drinks, Love & Hate – Mikey’s Life: June 18th, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything since my life just hasn’t felt normal in quite a while. I’m still working at the Red Parrot, I’m still watching the Heat in the NBA Finals, I’m still taking care of Maximus Reed Wong, but other then that it seems like my life hasn’t quite moved much lately. 

Almost as if time isn’t passing as it quickly as it should be. 

Let me start off with those subjects I just talked about in further detail before we continue. 

Starting with the dog first, for those of you who are new to my blog, Maximus Reed, aka. Max, Stinky Max, The Rat, is my nearly 1 year old Rat Terrier. He’s the only dog I’ve ever seen that has a bunny tail that wags so hard that his butt wiggles back and forth when he’s excited about something. He’s happy for the most part but just like me seems to be saddened by something missing in his life. He’s gotten a lot bigger in the past several months, most likely because mom and dad have been feeding him rotisserie chicken and cheese (at just the right temperature and shredded to just the right size btw) all the time. We all try to run with him at least once a day, and i’m trying to get my mile time down to under 7. 

A man has dreams to you know? As long as I’m smoking cigarettes (yes I went back to smoking menthol cigarettes) I doubt I’m going to get it down to under 7 without really pushing myself. I really don’t want to put in to much strenuous cardio at the moment since it’s so hot and humid outside. Luckily Max doesn’t really have sweat glands so he doesn’t stink regardless of how long he runs around.

We both enjoy the time together alone.

It gives me time to think, time to remember pain, time to compose myself so that I can spend another day numbing myself and sealing my memories in a compartment. The rest of the time I choose to force myself to appear happy and unaffected, but it’s really hard when everyone around you spent every moment creating physical reminders for every single memory. Max has even had some bad dreams lately where he seems to be crying out or barking at something in his sleep. It’s fairly disturbing to see a dog running on his side while asleep, especially when his claws are up against your back. If only there was something I could do for him. I’ve tried telling him in the past that he wasn’t abandoned, that he was only a casualty of a war between his parents, an innocent bystander hit by shrapnel.

I’m not sure he understands.

As for Miami, they are currently losing to the San Antonio Spurs 3-2, and tonight is game 6, the first of two finals games at home in Miami. I’m not really worried about them tonight since they almost never lose two post season games in a row, That would set up game 7 with the championship on the line, and this is where my nerves start getting to me.

So what’s the problem Miami? 

It’s not like you don’t have the offensive firepower or the current and 4-time MVP on your team, Lebron James. There are good shooters all over the team that can hit 3-pointers (Ray Allen, Mike Miller, LBJ, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, etc.), as well as multiple big time players that can penetrate to the basket or make the mid-range jump shot as well (Chris Anderson, Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, Allen, LBJ, Wade, Bosh, etc.). So why do you look so confused when it comes times to make decisions in your half court offense, especially when your coming off a win? Did you somehow think San Antonio, with most of the star players having been a part of at least 3 of the past 4 championships, was going to just beat themselves with mistakes and give you a freebie? The saddest thing is that even with Wade’s knee injury, this team is supposed to be dominant enough to handle any championship-level team.

Instead they find themselves on the brink of elimination against a much less dangerous Spurs team, one without Tim Duncan playing at an MVP level, where Giniobli was averaging 7.5 points per game up until game 5, and Tony Parker their star point guard has been hampered by a hamstring injury. Imagine if this was the 2003 or 2005 Spurs team that swept Lebron’s Cavaliers or the younger team that massacred the Nets 4 games to 1.

If this Heat team can’t step up their game, focus and concentration for 2 games in a row, at home no less, what makes you think they could beat them when they were at their best? LeBron’s legacy is on the line tonight and on Thursday. Wade has 2 championships and a Finals MVP already next to his name. Bosh isn’t really expected to carry this team to victory. (not to mention he hasn’t had a 30 point game this entire postseason).If he wins, he’s 2 and 2 in championships and can finally exorcise the demons surrounding his postseason play versus San Antonio. If he loses he’s 1-3 all-time and his reputation will take a huge blow. This team was the favorite to the win the championship at the start of the playoffs, he will possibly never have a better chance to win another one than with this team built to win championships. 

All we can do is watch and pray.

So what else is new? 

Not much has happened at the restaurant other then building up our Arlington location, oh and we’ve started our regular/VIP customer program with GetPerka.com. I’ve come up with several new drinks over the past couple weeks, such as a Passion fruit Basil Mojito, a Sweet & Sour frozen Mango Margarita, and several Fruit-infused cold Sakes. Other then that I’ve just been putting in the hours, counting the time until I can get off and go home so I can drown myself in reading materials or watching countless animes/reading mangas. 

My grandmother is back in the hospital again, on my father’s side of the family. They live all the way across the country in Los Angeles, so for us to take an emergency trip would be super expensive at the last moment. We talked to dad’s siblings and other family members that live over there and thought maybe she would be better or at least up to waiting several more days before my entire immediate family takes a flight (and time off) across the US. It doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen now, she’s really weak and hasn’t been eating very much. As long as she continues down that path, she has only a very small possibility of ever fully recovering, so I think it’s time we made that trip. Wonderful, what else does God have in store for me?

I finally realize something that I had locked away for a long time prior to being in my past relationship. I know now why I had stopped caring, why I had treated my ex’s and girls in general like useless garbage, cheating on them and barely acknowledging their or my own feelings. It’s so much easier to stay out of the fray, to look down on people with a cool sense of superiority than to let them into your life. That way no one can hurt you. 

Nobody can tell you they love you, and that they are the only one meant for you and turn around and hurt you worse then anyone before. Nobody can look you right in the eyes and tell you they miss and care about you while secretly calling the police on you and hoping you would die or go to jail. If you can treat your dog this way, what else are you capable of? If your so worried about taking pictures of everything and loading them up on your social media sites, how can you turn off everything and not even wonder what has happened to them?

I’ve went out with several girls over the past month or so and tried to forget the past but it seems that everywhere I go there’s another picture frame hidden behind a desk, on the top of a banister or tucked in a box of forgotten memories. Whenever I focus on what I’m feeling  at the moment, I realize that I currently feel nothing but regret and pain. Wouldn’t it have been better if I had never come to this realization at all?

I think I would rather have been stabbed or shot like some of my other ex’s have done to me then for this particular outcome to happen.It’s as if all the colors of spring and summer have been bleached from my surroundings. White looks like Grey, Yellow looks like dull Orange, and black looks even darker. My hands waved in front of my face move in slow-motion and without any enthusiasm, almost as if I was walking in a nightmare but can’t wake myself up. I want to say something or do something that will restore me to full health, but I cannot even face my demons without the threat of police intervention. 

Have I ever told you how much I hate the police in my county? They are some of the most corrupt officials I’ve ever met. 

I haven’t even picked up a piece of jewelry or read a book about jewelry since I was forcefully removed from my own home. I’m not even going to go into the reasons why, suffice it to say that lies were spoken and trust was betrayed for this to occur.

I’m sure I will eventually move on and find some sort of minor happiness in my life, but I doubt I’ll ever be the same. It pains me to smile. I will never fully trust anyone ever again until I have dealt with these demons of my past, I might never even love anyone outside of my family. If this type of person could be corrupted by whatever reasons into actually hurting me intentionally, what hope is there for any normal women to be what they say they are.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of faults. I’ve lied (rarely), and been lazy, haven’t taken responsibility or been there when I was supposed too, taken care of everything a man should take care of, and yelled and made a big deal out of things when I should have been there to listen. I’ve hurt people and not been aware of their feelings before, especially those who I claimed to love. But there are certain principles and guidelines that can never be stepped across. Once you’ve done certain things, they cannot be taken back. Words are just words until the police get involved, or until someone snaps and gets physically damaged, and we’re not talking about restraining someone. We’re talking about killing someone with your bare hands, or accidentally shooting them with a gun or stabbing them with a knife. You claim that you’ve been hurt, but how much worse were your failed marriages? 

So which one is it, both cannot be true. Either she lied about her past, and made me spend much of the relationship attempting to repair things she overstated/overreacted to OR it’s true and yet somehow it’s conveniently forgotten all the times I spent planning out dates, buying cards/flowers, cooking her dinner, visiting and being humble and polite to her family, or just flat out spending my waking moments with her. 

What about love? You were barren prior to my touch. It’s just that simple. Nobody loved you or your insecurities, nobody kissed the cut on your lip or the scars on your womb. Nobody appreciated you trying to cook them burnt eggs and spam, or took you out on Valentine’s day. 

“I’ll never forget all the things you’ve done for me. I appreciate everything. I’ll show you I do.”

So where is your memory?

I never thought I’d be so gullible. Me? I was untouchable, infallible, I always had an ace up my sleeve (someone I slept with that I could use as ammo when the inevitable break-up occured). 

Maybe it’s better if I just live in fantasy land, reading and watching anime and living vicariously through the stories of others. Maybe with time I will fade away until I become nothing more than a ghost, feeding off the emotions and memories of others and gaining strength from negative emotions like jealously and hate. 

I’ve done it once, so why can’t it happen again.

 

~Mikey

Wong_83@Hotmail.com

Out For the Season: That’s So Amar’e!

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Dear Knicks Fans,

Pardon me but why have you NOT sent this man packing already? Amar’e Stoudemire is in my opinion one of the most overrated and overpaid players in the NBA. He disappears from games when the Knicks need him the most, he’s immature and often throws tantrums when things don’t go his way, and most importantly HE’S INJURY PRONE!!! I’d put more exclamation marks after injury prone but I think everyone already gets my point.

Let me give you a few examples.

I’ve been watching Amar’e play in the league since way back when; I’m talking years ago when he and Steve Nash formed one of the most dangerous duos in the NBA under the offensive guidance of head coach Mike D’Antoni. He became known for his chronic knee problems, among other things that have kept him from playing a full season since.

That’s not completely fair. For the record, here is a list of seasons which resulted in an injury, games missed, and resulting surgery:

2003 – Sprained Left Ankle (27 games missed)

2004 – Inflamed Ankle (2 games missed)

2005 – BOTH Knees Injured (microfracture surgery on left, arthroscopic surgery on right. ALL but 3 games missed)

2007 – Sore Right Knee (3 games missed)

2008 – Partially Torn Iris, Detached Retina (eye surgery, protective goggles. 29 games missed)

2010 – Sprained Right Big Toe, Sprained Left Ankle (combined 4 games missed)

2011 – Bulging Disc, Self-Inflicted Cut (latter sustained during playoffs)

2012 – Left Knee Injury (first 30 games missed), Right Knee Debridement (possibly out 6-8 weeks)

This doesn’t mean this man isn’t a total warrior and competitor. I can’t begin to imagine playing through all the pain and injury this man has, especially while performing at such a high level. His career average of nearly 21 points per game, nearly 8 rebounds and 2 blocks looks even more impressive considering how often he’s been out. That doesn’t change the fact that you can’t help your team if you can’t stay on the court.

Bottom line, Stoudemire has only played start to finish in 3 out of 11 seasons in the NBA. 2 other seasons he only missed a couple of games but that only makes it 5 out of 11 seasons, or a 55% chance he there for a significant amount of time. Wonderful.

Now that he’s 30 years old, all those surgeries and all that cartilage and tissue removed from both his knees is going to start catching up with him. No longer is he dependable as a major cog in New York’s offense. Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton and a number of other less important (and much, much less expensive) options are playing better basketball around him. All of this adds up to less playing time, and eventually a high probability of Stoudemire getting traded to some other team. So why does this mean so much to me that I’d even take time out of my busy schedule to write an article about him?

First of all, let’s make this abundantly clear. I am NOT a New York Knicks fan. I do not want them to do well, I do not want them to win a championship, and I don’t even want them competitive in the East.

I am first and foremost a Miami Heat fan, and have been since right around the time that Dwayne Wade got drafted out of Marquette. I liked them even more when they won a championship with Shaquille O’Neal, and when they somehow juggled numbers so that they could bring in Chris Bosh and Lebron James, well that was just icing on the cake. I have no emotional attachment to anything that happens north of the Maryland/Virginia area in terms of professional basketball, and therefore shouldn’t care less about Amar’e’s career.

And yet I do. When he’s on his game, he’s one of the best in the NBA. When he’s not hurt, his shooting percentage, scoring, rebounds and blocks per game all consistently rank in the top 10. He makes the game look so easy at times, ever since he started playing basketball at the ripe old age of 14. He won more awards and did more in 2 years of high school than kids who have played and studied the game their entire lives.

Perhaps that’s why he has appeared immature and sullen at times, at heart he’s still a child.  struggling to learn how to act and live without ever really having a strong male role model. I don’t know if I believe in all that “psycho-babble,” but yet it still rings true in at least this one case. It doesn’t excuse him for his irrational temper tantrums, such as when he busted up his hand against the fire extinguisher case after a playoff loss to Miami last season, but it does help fans such as myself to understand the reasoning.

Otherwise, he’s just another overpaid, selfish, conceited, self-absorbed professional ball player. I’m hoping that’s not the case for his team, the fans, and most importantly his sake. The road to an NBA Championship goes through Miami. They’re going to need him to accomplish that.

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Congratulations Baltimore, the newly minted 2012 World Champions!

This is my shout-out to the 2012 World Champion Baltimore Ravens, the best team in the NFL. Finally you did it! Against all odds, you got to the mountain top, taking the hardest possible route through the playoffs to boot. All I can say is WOW. You did it for us, you did it for Ray Lewis, and you did it for Ed Reed. This is just a list of thoughts I’ve been gathering for such an occasion, I figured there’s no better time to share them with y’all than right now, while the memories are still fresh and the celebration is still rampaging through Maryland. In CatonsvilleArbutusBaltimore CityReisterstown, Columbia, Ellicott City, Turf Valley, Glen Burnie, Pasadena, Clarksville, Silver SpringWhite Marsh, Bel Air, and everywhere in between, the streets filled with Purple & Black flags, streamers, hoodies, jerseys, hats and anything else that the team can put their stamp on. So what should we remember from this historic trip through the playoffs? Here’s 10 things I took away from our romp through the playoffs.

1. Can anyone else in the modern era say they went through Tom Brady & Peyton Manning to get to the Super Bowl? That’s a combined 7 Super Bowl appearances, 4 Super Bowls, 3 Super Bowl MVP awards, and 6 Regular Season MVP awards between them.

2. Nobody can deny Joe Flacco his Elite-status any longer. 11 Touchdowns, 0 Interceptions in 4 Postseason games. I think that speaks for itself.

3. Baltimore’s defense, the same defense that struggled the entire regular season, was also the main reason we just won the championship. It still wasn’t as dominant as it’s been in past seasons but came up big on numerous occasions against Indianapolis, against Denver in overtime, definitely against New England, and even at the end of the Super Bowl against San Francisco. The Last Stand of Ray Lewis indeed.

4. I’m still not convinced the power outage right after halftime in the Super Bowl wasn’t some insidious plot hatched by a vindictive 49ers fan. According to Entergy Corp., the company in charge of providing and maintaining power for Mercedes-Benz Superdome Stadium, an electrical device installed expressly to prevent such power outages was the source of the Super Bowl Blackout. HELL NO, that’s the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard plenty of lame excuses. Mainly coming from me in a vain attempt to not go to school.

I imagine a rabid 49ers fan, dripping with red & gold apparel, creeping through the labyrinth of stadium corridors while gripping a chainsaw. Maniacally. He had plenty of time to plan his terrorist plot considering his team hadn’t scored but a pair of field goals the entire 1st half. Watching the game on his smartphone, the score becoming more and more lopsided by the minute, his frustration and necessity to help his team growing by the minute, the Jacoby Jones kickoff-return for a touchdown was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Two things, my family always tells me I’ve got the most vivid imagination, and hell, I would’ve done the same thing if my team was down 28-6 in the Super Bowl. The NFL was just happy to have a more competitive game, so they kept the whole thing hushed-up and made up some random “device failure”-excuse instead.

5. Speaking of Jacoby Jones, I sure hope we have enough Cap-space next season. Can you imagine the Baltimore Ravens without Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger, or Matt Birk? I mean Birk’s getting kinda old but still. The same thing happened the last time we won the Super Bowl, in 2000. That time we figured out ways to keep most of our team intact, at the expense of forfeiting the 2002 team. A balance must be struck between paying players what they’re due for years of faithful service, and cutthroat business tactics to ensure continuity, like the New England Patriots. They don’t really pay anybody, especially not homegrown talent. Look at WR Randy Moss or WR Wes Welker, WR David Patten, and TE Benjamin Watson. Rather I should say they don’t pay anyone what they’re worth.

6. I’ve said this before but Joe Flacco deserves every penny of a 100+ million dollar contract. He’s not worth more than say Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but pretty close to it. Look at it this way, if we don’t pay him 17+ million dollars a year, with most of the money back-loaded and an enormous signing bonus, we’re still going to have to use the franchise tag on him or chance him skipping town to a team starving for decent quarterback play. The franchise tag would still cost almost 16 million in pure, guaranteed money, and that way we wouldn’t be able to use the tag on someone else extremely important to the continued success of the Ravens.

Someone like one of the players I listed in the previous paragraph.

7.  I know Terrell Suggs has been playing with his arm nearly falling off for over half a season, and Haloti Ngata has been more banged up than a hooker by the Slap-Chop guy, but can we please get some pressure on the opposing QB? Paul Kruger led the team with 9 sacks in the regular season, and 2.5 in the postseason. To put this in perspective, Broncos LB Von Miller  had 18.5 sacks in the regular season, 49ers LB Aldon Smith had 19.5, Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware had 11.5, which is an off-year for him, and Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil had 11. If we’re not going to pay Paul Kruger, I’m pretty sure we won’t, somebody is going to have to take his place.

8. Oh and another thing about Joe Flacco. Did anyone else see him sleeping on the sideline during the power outage? What’s that about? I was probably the only person on Earth screaming at the TV-screen when I saw him lounging around, cool as a cucumber. No wonder our offense was so slow out the gate during the 2nd half. If not for the defense stepping up, especially Jimmy Smith, everything could have gone so terribly wrong. I know I’m nitpicking but still.

9.  Statistics my ass. Everyone and everybody is using their considerable brainpower to come up with new analytical statistics in a vain attempt to predict the future of football. “This quarterback or that one is elite because of his true QBR or true yards per attempt.” If we used even a portion of that computing power on say, Cancer research, we’d all be immortal by now. “Turnovers are divided into different categories of harm. Some can even be beneficial.” I read that in ESPN Insider a couple of weeks ago. All I can say is REALLY? Maybe NFL teams should turn the ball over on purpose sometimes. Yeah right.

10. I leave you with this final thought… for now. Does any team have better fans than Baltimore? The people who run M&T Bank Stadium projected 25-30,000 people max to show up for the free-admission fan celebration on Tuesday. Do you have any idea how many people showed up at the stadium alone, not to mention the parade route?

200,000 people packed the stadium and its immediate surroundings. Police acted as crowd control since the stadium authority couldn’t handle all the crazed fanatics climbing over the entrance gates. Hundreds of thousands more called out of work sick *cough cough*, just to see Ed Reed walking down the street with a camera strapped to his Django-style hairdo. Every window of every building along the parade route was open and filled with screaming fans, including the church. Everyone sure loves the Baltimore Ravens, even if many of them are just bandwagon fans.

Either way, we gladly embrace all football fans who want to convert. Just make sure you keep your purple & black jerseys on, regardless of whether we do well next season.

Baltimore Makes Statement in Denver!

As LeBron James would say, “Witness.”

Its that simple. No other single word could define the excitement I felt after watching my hometown hero Baltimore Ravens knock off the highly favored Denver Broncos 38-35. Nothing in the world feels nearly as good as victory narrowly snatched from the jaws of defeat. 

The mood in the crowded restaurant bar I watched from went from one extreme to the other. In one second a bar filled with grown men went from jubilant cheering to openly crying and back again. This is how it went throughout the night.

I was so nervous through the entire game that I got home afterwards and immediately feel asleep from sheer exhaustion. My heart pumped inside my chest like a car engine. I screamed and screamed and screamed at the referees,  well we all did,  cursing the head referee’s family for making calls in Denver’s favor all game long. 

None of the bias and one-sided rulings mattered in the end. The Ravens won!!! Somehow someway they took on Peyton Manning’s offense,  Von Miller’s defense, the special teams unit, and even the referees. I told everyone we could outplay the Broncos in Denver and noone believed me.  WITNESS.

What does this mean in the grand scheme of things?  Can we expect great things from this suddenly confident Ravens squad in the near future?  Absolutely. 

Without a doubt.  The quarterback play in the NFL doesn’t come any better than Manning and his 4 MVP awards.  Bookends Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil came into the game with double-digit sacks, with Miller seeing a regular season record for them.  Their kick returner, whose name I can’t even remember(Trindon Holliday),  returned a punt AND a kickoff for a pair of touchdowns against us. Tell me the last time you saw a team do that and LOSE.

It all goes back to Ray Lewis, his impending retirement, and his belief in God. 

The defense, much maligned and ridiculed throughout the regular season, is doing much better ever since Ray came back to active duty. Terrell Suggs is almost back to 100%, while Paul Kruger’s breakout season continues.  The pressure from them and Haloti Ngata can be seen in the resulting turnovers from Peyton Manning.

To put everything in a nutshell,  We needed everything we could get to win this game.  The atmosphere was so tense it was almost like we were playing in the Super Bowl.  As rewarding and enjoyable as this win was,  the only thing I’m really worried about is our opponent next week. 

Because we pulled out all the stops,  I’m hoping we didn’t use up all the gas in the tank battling in Mile High Stadium.  I mean it was between 9 and 13 degrees F last night on the field,  with the wind chill making it feel like -2 degrees. Playing a tough opponent in inclement weather with 10 total touchdowns,  73 total points scored, and multiple ties or lead changes can cause severe emotional distress.

If I was exhausted than imagine how they felt after the game.  Now they have a week before they play another strong playoff-caliber team. Another road game. It’s going to take a complete effort again to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. 

WITNESS. I am.

(Note: There are other contributing factors to the Ravens victory that weren’t mentioned, such as Joe Flacco being decisive and not throwing any picks, Denver kicker Matt Prater missing a long field goal, the Ravens offensive line actually blocking, and Michael Oher not sucking too badly.  ;))

Not Such a Happy New Year for Baltimore.

Baltimore Ravens

 

If you’re a Baltimore Ravens fan like I am, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Our team is a reasonably acceptable 10-6, especially when compared to any number of other quarterback-hungry teams in the NFL. Unless you consider that we are 1-4 in the last 5 games, including two divisional losses to the Steelers and Bengals respectively. Not a great way to end the regular season by any measure.

Usually around this time of the year, I’d be giving thanks to the football gods, whether or not they exist, for helping my team continue as one of the NFL’s elite when it comes to making the playoffs year in and year out. Only teams like the Philadelphia Eagles under Andy Reid(before this season), the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick, New Orleans and Indianapolis Colts(with Peyton Manning) could claim as many consecutive playoff appearances. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still giving thanks for not being a fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars or Carolina Panthers. Thanks for not having Kyle Boller as my starting QB, and thanks for having Justin Tucker instead of Billy Cundiff as our kicker. I don’t want to seem ungrateful but something just feels different this season. Kind of like having a dozen snakes crawling around in my stomach, telling me something is wrong with the greatest team to ever play professional football.

I know that sounds biased but since I don’t really care about any other team than my Ravens, I don’t really care. Taking a look at some of the other teams that are joining us in the playoffs, especially troubling are the Denver Broncos and the Patriots. We got beaten down like a red-headed stepchild a few weeks ago by Peyton Manning and Co., and it doesn’t look like our defense has figured anything out since then. Princess Brady is throwing like an MVP candidate again this season, and if we couldn’t seal the deal last year when our defense wasn’t ranked in the bottom half of the league, I don’t see how we will this year.

Sure could use a miracle right about now, God.

Until the past couple weeks, Houston and its brutish manchild at defensive end, J.J. Watt, looked like they could beat the snot out of  the rest of the NFL. They sure did when they played us earlier this season. They plain embarrassed us, winning by only around 30 points. Big deal, right? WRONG. For all the faith and bravado I usually have in my team, all the blustering in the world isn’t going to change the fact that we are having trouble on both sides of the ball. Even if we take a Mulligan on this week’s game at Cincinnati, I mean we did sit our starters, we still went 1-3, losing all 3 by a combined 12 points. I don’t feel like there’s a single easy win available on our playoff schedule. Especially not on the AFC side. At times like this, you really gotta dig down deep and ask yourself the following question: “If the Ravens play their absolute best on Sunday, will it be enough to win if __(Insert Team Here)__ plays their absolute best as well?” By now your probably getting that wiggly feeling in your stomach as well… if you didn’t already have it before and were just ignoring it.

I guess the only thing we can do this year is remember the good times we had over the past couple years. Especially last year. Both the Baltimore Orioles and the Ravens were amazing success stories in 2012. The Orioles performed way beyond my wildest dreams, even going so far as to crush those irritating Texas Rangers in the wildcard round. The Ravens came a Billy Cundiff untied shoelace away from possibly going to the Super Bowl. I know, I know, anything can happen on any given Sunday.

So do you really believe this team has a real chance to win a championship this season?

Here are a few final questions and thoughts:

Can Flacco not give up too many Saccos? (Note: That’s such a terrible line, yet it’s so catchy and everyone says it around here.)

Can Torrey Smith be consistently good for 4 straight games?

Can Michael Oher do anything other than beat up drug dealers in a movie based loosely on his life? (Zing!) Can Terrell Suggs regain his form that got him a defensive MVP award ?

Are Ray Lewis & Ed Reed too old to play solid Ravens football?

Can Justin Tucker, as amazing as he’s been in the regular season, keep his cool in the playoffs?

Can new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell run an effective offense with two weeks under his belt?

Read, React, Response and Comment. Oh, and ENJOY!

~Michael, WONG_83@HOTMAIL.com