Joe Paterno died today. One of the greatest college football coaches of this generation, perhaps of all time. And yet he was forced from his revered position under a black cloud for supposedly doing nothing and allowing an evil man to continue his depradations. By my view he did what he was supposed to do and reported what he had been told, which is 2nd hand information, to the people who are in charge of investigating such matters. What they did or didn't do was criminal but the resulting firestorm engulfed the entire administration and to appease the critics, the board of trustees fired Joe Paterno.
While he didn't do nothing, in many people's opinion he also didn't do enough. I'm sure at least part of the problem was due to the fact that many good people, people of morals and convictions, cannot conceive the depravity of those who are evil. Unless they actually witness that kind of poison first hand, they often can't believe a friend, acquaintance, or person known to them is actually not the person they appear to be and capable of such heinous acts. So Joe Pa probably could have done more to make sure something was done about Sanduskey besides his resigning as coach, but I think its very possible he just couldn't see his friend and associate in that kind of light. And in my opinion, he was scapegoated by the Board of Trustees at Penn St. Not without reason as Joe Pa was a lightning rod for the Sandusky scandal. Guilty or innocent, having him on the sidelines put the scandal out front and center every Saturday. But I gotta believe his good name was severely damaged and almost destroyed by this scandal and while lung cancer killed him, losing everything he was known for and being forced to leave the way he did could not have helped him. I do think the past 6 months took the life out of a guy who lived to teach young men how to play football and how to live. Facing this killing disease and with his reputation tarnished as well as being forced out of doing what he had loved for the past 60 years had to suck the life out of him. While I've never been a Penn St fan, I had always admired Paterno for his demeanor and how he never got flustered no matter how bad things could get. As a teacher of men, he was a class act according to all who played for him. As a cancer survivor I know how scary that diagnosis is and yet you never heard a word about it from him while this whole ordeal played out in the media. As I said, he was a class act.
Now back to my original thesis as I'm sure I've bored you enough. The triumph of evil. It's up to all of us to recognize it and do what we can to stop it. Many of us are only peripherally aware of what evil really is. We see it on the news and online but we don't see it on that close a basis. Unless we are unlucky enough to experience it or see it first hand we don't really get it I fear. Cops, soldiers, and victims do. The rest of us often don't. The PQ used to be a court clerk. She saw the evidence, the crime scene pics and got to sit within 10 feet of some pretty nasty people. When I met her she was anti capital punishment. Now she knows about the evil that men (and sometimes women) do and she is very much in favor of capital punishment.
And what about on the poker table? While our opponents are not necessarily evil, they are the villains in our universe. They'll steal your chips if they get the chance. You can't always prevent them but you gotta make sure you don't make it easy on them. I'm not saying you have to call em down with 3-5 off but you need to make sure they can't raise your blinds with impugnity also. And when you have position on them you have to make them pay for raising crap out of position. Too often we get passive in games and tourneys when we are faced with a real loose aggressive player. But you can't give in here. Every once in a while you gotta point the gun at their head and let them know there is a price in chips for raising you as you are coming for them. They don't know what you have and usually they don't have much. If you've been tight for awhile, a healthy raise or reraise will get some respect. It's risky, maybe he actually has a hand, but you gotta take that stand, even when you aren't catching cards. But whatever you do, remember you're the good guy (or gal) so don't do nothing and let evil triumph.
Last night the PQ and I hit the poker tables again. Neither of us were at our best as we were both a little tired. I spent all day Tuesday in Lakeland at a gun show, looking at tools to help me defeat evil if I should ever run into it up close and personally. I did not make a purchase however. The PQ went even further to Orlando for our niece's day at cello camp. She is a pretty good cellist and there were 20 or kids from different high schools around the state for a bit of instruction and work from some really fine musicians. She did very well the PQ said. Anyway I got home a little after 5 and got about an hour's nap in before heading to the poker room. The PQ went straight there from Orlando and didn't get there till almost 8 pm. I was playing Omaha 8 by then and didn't feel up to playing a tourney so I didn't join in but she did. She played well and final tabled it again but just missed cashing going out 7th. She had to struggle with a short stack for quite awhile and went out when her AK did not improve against 88. I was up early in Omaha, then went cold and lost all of my winnings plus half my stack before making it up at the end. I finished up a whole 10 bucks which beat losing. I'd have done a whole lot better but for my last 2 hands. I folded a straight into a flush on the board and it turned out 4 other people in the hand did not have the flush. Damn. Right after that I flop the broadway straight with KJ23. I bet every street and the turn and river are the 8 and 4 of spades and I lose the high hand to the ace high flush. Of course there was a flush that time. At least I did make the nut low with the 23 so I made money cuz a bunch of people stayed in the whole way.
This one lady directly on my left was an example. She was willing to push or call down with flushes but not with the nut flush. Now I made some chips with non-nut flushes but you have to be careful there. Cuz some guy with A3 of spades beats your KQ every time on the flush. She had about $400 in front of her and was preparing to leave but decided to play a few more hands. She got a little pissed when she got unlucky and lost some chips so she stayed to make them back. And gave them ALL away. I had already seen how she would push non nut flushes if you let her think she was ahead. So when I won a hand with a Q high flush when everyone folded, I showed it to let her think I did the same. I don't usually but I had a good read on the hand and was pretty certain I was good. Everyone folded even though there was a low on the board and I didn't have a low hand. I figured I could use that to my advantage later. I did.
Late in my session I am down and pick up 2559. Crap hand but I'm in the big blind so I see the flop with 6 others. Flop is a bingo, 556 with one spade. Since I'm early to act I check. I don't want to advertise this hand yet. It gets checked around to a lady one off the button who bets. I call with 3 others including my friend to my left. Turn is a spade jack. I almost bet then but didn't and it gets checked to the same lady again. I think about check raising there but I'm next to act and there are 3 more to bet behind me so I decide to call again. Possibly a mistake as I think I get called by low draws and maybe by spade draws there. But maybe not if they put me on JJ with a made full house. Lady on my left calls as well as another guy. River is both good and bad. A seven of spades. Puts a low on the board so this is almost definitely a split hand. Good thing is it put a flush up as well so I can get callers from low draws as well as flushes I hope. I take a chance and check because I can see the lady to my right still wants to bet. She does and this time I check raise. Lady on my left calls for the last of her chips as well as the original bettor though the other guy reluctantly folds. Original bettor has A2 of spades for the nut flush and nut low, I flip over quads, and lady to my left has KQ of spades along with a 24. She put in the last of her chips on 2nd best flush (with a paired board) and a so/so low. And called all the way with nothing made and only 2 not great draws. And she had done that for the past hour or so in giving away all her chips. Works in Hold em to not have the nuts or nut draw but in Omaha, it'll get you killed.
If you ain't got the nuts, you ain't got shiatTo finish let me look at today's games a little. I'm rooting for the Pats but I'm unfortunately picking the Ravens today. I just think this game is going to be about defense and turnovers rather than offensive prowess. Yes the Pats are a points machine but they aren't a speed machine and unless you can run well, you can't beat them without someone who can stretch the field a bit. To win Brady has to get hot and complete passes BUT if the Ravens can get a pass rush without having to blitz it puts a lot of pressure on the NE receivers to get open quickly. I like Gronandez abilities in the passing game but you can't get tight ends open down field on seam routes without time and if Brady is on his ass, he isn't throwing long to any TEs. So that leaves him Welker and Branch, neither of whom sets a land speed record when they run. And passing into tight windows can lead to bad things like pickoffs.
Will NE be able to run on the Ravens? That is the X factor. Other good running teams have been able to move the ball on the ground this year against them. But to call NE a good running team is a bit much. So a big day from Brady is just about a necessity today.
On the flip side, Baltimore has a good running game. They can and have won without much from the QB. Which is a good thing because they haven't gotten much from him lately. NE will sell out to stop the run, they have to. And like Pittsburg vs Denver, they may get burned by that tactic. Baltimore does have a speed receiver in Torrey Smith which can cause problems in a 1 on 1 matchup if (and it's a big if) Flacco can deliver the ball. I'm guessing Joe plays better than he did last week and that's the difference. If NE can get ahead by more than a TD and force Baltimore into a passing contest they win, if not I give the edge to Baltimore. Turnovers will be the difference maker I think. A close game where Baltimore can go to Rice and use play action to hit a home runs to Smith is what I see. Possibly in OT. I hate the Ravens but the PQ hates NE, even though she knows her wonderful hubby grew up 20 minutes from Foxboro.
In SF, I want to pick the Giants. I do but I'm taking SF. Lord crucify me now if I'm gonna take Alex Smith in 2 big games in a row. And really if you had to take the better QB, you have to pick NY and Eli Manning. He has looked great over the past 4 or 5 weeks and played a near perfect game in GB last week. Also, in a receivers matchup, the only SF receiver who would start for NY is Vernon Davis the tight end as the Gmen have excellent wideouts while the best you could call the SF receivers is non-descript. But people seem to forget the Gmen have had problems all year stopping the run. They were lucky to play a Packer team that hasn't run well all year in the playoffs and even there they won due to the Pack receivers not being able to come up with catches they had all year long. And pressure on the QB from the D line. SF won't fall into that trap I think. They will give to Gore, give to Hunter, give to the United Way to win.
NY has a good running tandem in Bradshaw and Jacobs but they have had problems blocking for them most of the year. Eli has taken over the Manning mantle as best QB in the family, mostly due to injury, but also due to his stellar play down the stretch this year. The Giant receivers are all healthy at the same time for the first time since the season started making them hard to defend. If Eli gets time to throw, he can definitely beat up on the SF secondary. If they can run enough to set up play action throws and give Eli time to throw, they can win this. Drew Brees proved you can throw on SF if you get time. Eli may not be Brees but he's played as well of late. And endorsing Alex Smith to win again makes me sick. He's the Michael Corleone of the bad QB doghouse. Every time he is getting out they suck him back in. But I am holding my nose and taking SF to negate the Giant pass rush by running and making enough big plays to win. And like Alex Smith, isn't Eli due a bad game at some point as well? I hope I'm wrong as I would love to see a Pats/Giants rematch.
One final note on Super Bowl contenders. It is rare in this day and age for a coach over 55 to win a Super Bowl. The last time was 2008 when NYG won with 61 year old Tom Coughlin and they beat a coach who was almost 56 himself in Bill Belichick but prior to that we go all the way back to 2000 and 63 year old Dick Vermeil. Coaching is a young man's game it seems. The hours, the passion, it's just hard to maintain, especially after you win like Coughlin and Belichick already have. I am in awe of how Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick do what they do to get their teams to perform. But I think we have the brothers Harbaugh in the Superbowl this year. Call the Superbowl No Country for Old Men II. I don't think I want to watch myself.
Won the Academy Award & Penelope Cruz.