If it wasn't for yesterday, I may have either committed suicide or homicide this weekend. Well, not suicide. Then I wouldn't be able to get to the office today and complain to all three of you people. So homicide. If it wasn't for yesterday, I probably would have murdered someone or something, that's how incredibly awful Friday and Saturday were.
On Friday, I headed back to my parents' house in preparation for Arkansas Fred to pick me up there at 9:30 a.m. Saturday to head out to Penn State. During the drive home, I listened as Cliff Lee got pounded for four two-out runs in the first inning. By the time I got to my parents' house and settled in, the Phillies were down 8-4 in the bottom of the eighth. Of course I watched the end, because what else would I do?
Though I had little hopes of the Phillies prevailing, I couldn't turn away. After all, this team has a penchant for coming from behind. After Sergio Escalona struck out the side to keep the game at 8-4 going into the ninth, the Phils started to get something cooking. Greg Dobbs finally resembled the pinch-hit machine of last year, leading things off with a single pinch-hitting for Pedro Feliz. Then Andy Tracy of all people got a pinch-hit single, putting runners on first and third with no one out. The comeback looked to be full on. But then Milwaukee brought in the second best closer of my lifetime, who got the third straight pinch-hitter, this time Matt Stairs, to pop out.
Still, the Phils had a shot, albeit a small one. Jimmy Rollins came to the dish down four runs and seemed to be playing things smart. He took the first two pitches for balls, going up 2-0, and looked as though he was wisely working Trevor Hoffman any way he could to get on base and bring the tying run to the dish. But of course he wasn't. That was all an illusion, because on the third pitch of the at-bat, Rollins swung at a low, inside pitch and popped it up. That's when I lost it, storming out of my seat and then out of the room ranting and raving: "Jimmy, you dumb fuck! You have to take a strike! Even if you hit a fucking home run there, you're still down a run, you moron! This team doesn't know what see a fucking strike means! You dumb asshole!" It was something along the line of that.
That play just drove me so mad. I really don't think this team does know the meaning of taking a strike. In that situation, down 4 runs, everyone on the planet knows the batter's job is to get on base to bring up the tying run, not to try to hit a three-run bomb so you can still be losing. Well, everyone but Jimmy Rollins. That stupid motherfucking completely extinguished any hope, as Shane Victorino grounded out to end the game. Stupid baseball by an 11-year veteran. Not a good start to the weekend.
And that was only the beginning. Arkansas Fred showed up at my parents' house shortly after 9:30 the next morning and we were off to seek revenge on Iowa. After a relatively smooth and uneventful drive, we arrived in State College with the rains falling the second we got there. With 7-plus hours to kill before we wanted to get to the game, we wandered around town a little bit before settling in an uncrowded bar so as to get a seat to drink some brews and watch some of the noon games. We settled upon the bar formerly known as Sports Cafe, now called the 797 Lounge.
Now, before the place went to shit, the Sports Cafe was pretty cool. It always had games on there, cheap drinks and a nice outside area to sit. It was a nice place to get drunk and watch games. However, now, I have to believe the place is poorly run. For starters, Arkansas Fred and I had a tough time determining if the bar was even open yet. The entranceway is pitch black dark, with no lights whatsoever. Honestly, it's like a bat cave. I'm not making this up. We almost decided to keep walking, thinking it was closed, before we noticed the small open sign in the window. Note to owners of pretty much any business: Don't make your entranceway all black with absolutely no lighting. People will logically think you're closed.
While the rest of the bars we passed by were pretty packed, we entered and to our delight found a bar with college football on the TVs, beer flowing and not a crowd in sight — unquestionably due to the horrible entranceway. We gladly took two empty seats at the bar, put down a couple beers and watched as Michigan struggled with Indiana. Then we decided we were hungry, but the food there was entirely too expensive, especially for a shitty bar that was poorly lit. So we instead headed over to Rotelli to take advantage of their lunch special — a half a sub, slice of pizza and choice of soup or salad for $6 — and high definition televisions. We ate and drank for a while as we watched Virginia Tech absolutely destroy Miami and stayed as long as we could since it was pouring outside. In fact, it had been raining nonstop from the moment we arrived and didn't relent all day and night.
Tired, worn out and still not even five yet, we decided to head to Arkansas Fred's car to gather our rain gear and then either find another spot on campus to watch the games or take a quick cat nap. Hell, we even threw around the idea of taking a nap in the car. We're old men, you know. And once we got to Fred's car, the rain began to fall even heavier, so we said fuck it and caught a few Z's. By the time we awoke, it was 6 o'clock and we were primed to finally make our way toward the stadium.
We ventured to Findlay Commons in East Halls for old times sake, bought some drinks and slowly walked around a bit. Finally, we got into the game about 50 minutes before kickoff to watch some warmups, rain still coming down. And it was during warmups that I should have known this game was not going to go well. In every passing drill, the Penn State players were dropping the ball left and right. No joke, in a simple drill where the receiver runs 10 yards down field uncovered and nabs passes from the quarterback, the ball was dropping to the wet turf way more than it was being hauled in. In warmups. Uncovered. Rain or no rain, that's just pathetic.
And pathetic was the theme of the game. Though we would all be fooled into thinking the opposite early on. Iowa received the opening kickoff and proceeded to go three and out. Starting at their own 21 yard line, the Nittany Lions went deep on the first play. Off play action, Daryll Clark hit a streaking Chaz Powell in stride. Powell pulled away from the defender and took it to the house. Just 2:34 in, Penn State was up 7-0, scoring on the first play from scrimmage, a 79-yard touchdown.
Just like that, it looked as though Penn State was primed to avenge last season's loss. And things looked even better after Penn State forced a turnover — an interception by Nick Sukay — on Iowa's ensuing possession and began to drive. Again starting at their own 21, Penn State methodically moved down the field, chewing the clock and getting into the red zone. But the drive stalled at the Iowa 11, and Penn State had to settle for a field goal. Still, after one quarter of play, Penn State held a 10-0 lead and had outgained Iowa 147-26. So far so good.
One problem, it was the final good thing to happen in the game. Penn State would not score again. Instead, the Nittany Lions turned the ball over four times and made mistake after mistake. And I hated every second of it. I hate the cold, rainy weather that is a staple of State College. I hate the offensive line, who can't block anyone. I hate the horrible special teams that surrendered a blocked punt that was returned for the touchdown. I hate the Tom Bradley's stupid zone defense that leaves gaping holes for quarterbacks to find receivers. I hate Josh Hull, who can't cover anyone, and I hate Tom Bradley for being so stupid as to leave Josh Hull in on obvious passing downs. I hate dumb penalties. I hate Daryll Clark's infuriating penchant for coming up small in big games, for routinely running himself into pressure, for throwing passes so mystifyingly horrible that it makes you wonder who he was even throwing to. I hate giving up safeties. I hate Iowa. Boy do I hate Iowa. I hate the band and its retarded band director that routinely plays music while Penn State is on offense and even WHEN THEY'RE FUCKING RUNNING THE NO HUDDLE JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU STUPID BAND DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE AND BEING QUIET WHEN YOUR TEAM IS ON OFFENSE I HOPE YOU ALL DIE HORRIBLE DEATHS. I hate stupid, jerkface, asshole "fans" who leave at halftime of a 10-5 game because it's too rainy and too cold — just fucking stay home then. And I really, really hate even more stupid, jerkface, asshole "fans" who fucking start singing and dancing along to faggoty Bon Jovi songs, stupid, out-of-place "Sweet Caroline" and every other horrible fucking song when your team just gave up the lead to go down 11-10 on a god damn blocked punt returned for the touchdown. I hate it all. I hate it all so very much. Why couldn't I have just gone to school in the south or in California or anywhere else where the weather is nice, the women are attractive and the football team doesn't suck horribly? Oh yeah, because I suck. Just like Penn State.
Outside of that first play, there was nothing worthwhile that happened. Iowa simply played better and smarter than Penn State. The Penn State offensive line is horrendous. Not a single player is even remotely good, Stefen Wisniewski included. Iowa's front four manhandled the horrific Penn State line. And Daryll Clark, for all the good numbers he's accrued as the starter, has not once beaten a single good team.
Last year against Ohio State, he played like shit. In fact, it was Pat Devlin who led the Nittany Lions on the game-winning drive in Columbus, not Clark. Against Iowa last season, he singlehandedly lost the game for Penn State. And in the Rose Bowl, he was unimpressive in a game that was never close. Then this season, after looking pedestrian against the likes of Akron, Syracuse and Temple, he made exactly one good throw against Iowa, which just so happened to be his first throw of the game. From there, he completely shit the bed: 12 of 32 (37.5 percent), 198 yards, 3 interceptions. Yes, the one interception went right through Evan Royster's hands, but the other two were just flat awful. Sure, Clark got hit a ton, but the fact of the matter is that he comes up small in the biggest games. Seriously, who has the guy beaten? Look at his wins as a starter: 2008, Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, Syracuse, Temple, Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, *Ohio State*, Indiana, Michigan State; 2009, Akron, Syracuse, Temple. The only respectable team in the bunch, besides Ohio State (where Clark sucked) is Oregon State. The rest of those teams were terrible. Daryll Clark hasn't beaten anybody, and more alarming, he's played horrible against good teams.
The guy had a tremendous 2008 overall, don't get me wrong, but he just isn't a smart quarterback. Who the hell was he throwing the ball to on that third-quarter interception? Why does he refuse to run when the open field is there? How many times have you seen him move directly into the pressure, stand stagnate when the rush is closing in? The guy has a horrible pocket presence, and it gets worse the bigger the game. Until proven otherwise, Daryll Clark simply cannot be labeled a big-game quarterback. Because he isn't. It sure would be nice if Penn State even had a backup to call upon when Clark plays as horrendous as he did Saturday. Although, when they did last year, Penn State still refused to pull Clark in favor of Devlin at Iowa despite the fact that Clark was throwing the game away.
Of course, Clark had plenty of help in giving the game away Saturday. I already touched upon the offensive line that just isn't very good, and then there was Evan Royster. The usually sure-handed tailback made two crucial errors as Penn State was driving in the 4th quarter attempting to come back. The first came early in the final quarter, when Daryll Clark found an open Evan Royster inside the Iowa 40 yard line. Clark fired a very catchable pass to Royster, but the ball went through his hands and tipped up, getting picked off. The interception was returned all the way to the Penn State 24 and three plays later Iowa got into the end zone to go up 18-10.
Then on Penn State's very next drive, after a 35-yard kickoff return by Chaz Powell and a late hit out of bounds put the ball on the Iowa 36, it looked as though the Nittany Lions still had a chance. On the first play, Royster finally broke free, scampering deeper into Iowa territory on a long run. But as he was hit, he fumbled. It was recovered by Iowa, and at that moment, the game was essentially over.
Sadly, it wasn't a bad game for the defense, but then again, I couldn't name you a single defensive player that had a good game. While the d didn't give up many points, the defensive line that had been so dominant in the first three games was silent. Iowa's experienced offensive line handled Ollie Ogbu, Jared Odrick and Jack Crawford easily. Ricky Stanzi was clean almost the entire game. There wasn't a signature player for the defense all night.
In the cold, rainy, sloppy weather, there wasn't really a single Nittany Lion that played well. Maybe Andrew Quarless, but his opportunities were limited. Other than that, it was much like last year. In terrible weather conditions, Iowa simply made fewer mistakes, played a cleaner game and came out victorious.
The loss, combined with the never-ending rain, made for a not-so-pleasant ride back home. The rain followed us the entire way home, and to add insult to injury, we found out the Phillies lost yet again, at which point I said, "Are they going to get swept by the Marlins and lose to the Astros too, like the Mets? This team sure is looking like the Mets the past few years all of the sudden." As you can tell, I was in a great mood.
Thankfully, yesterday gave me a reprieve from the awfulness. The Eagles came out and did exactly what they were supposed to do against the Chiefs, dominating in a 34-14 game that was never close. Actually, it was 14-7 at one point because Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg called the worst 4-and-1 play in the history of 4-and-1 plays. LeSean McCoy was running wild and the Eagles have a big offensive line and an actual, real fullback. Not to mention they've had tremendous success running the ball out of the wildcat. Yet when they had a 4-and-1 at the KC 44, they rolled out Kevin Kolb and had him try to make a pass. It did not work. What a stupid play call.
But that was really the only dumb thing about that game. The Chiefs are just dreadful. There isn't a single good thing I can say about them after watching that debacle they put forth. The team is bad. And the Eagles trounced them as they should, highlighted by DeSean Jackson's 64-yard touchdown catch.
I guess the groin is doing all right. The Eagles really had a field day. Against a horrible team, Kolb threw for more than 300 yards in his second straight game, becoming the only quarterback in the history of the NFL to throw for 300 yards in his first two career starts. Not bad. He finished 24 of 34 (70.6 percent) for 327 yards and two touchdowns, and added a rushing touchdown for good measure on a qb sneak.
The Seans each had themselves nice games as well. DeSean continued his ascent to an elite wide receiver, nabbing 6 balls for 149 yards and the aforementioned touchdown while LeSean picked up 84 yards on 20 carries in his first career start, scoring a touchdown himself.
And then there was Brent Celek, who had himself another excellent game, catching 8 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Celek is quietly putting up insane numbers, also climbing the ranks of playmaking tight ends in the NFL. Basically, he's becoming everything L.J. Smith was supposed to be. It's nice to see Celek blossoming early in the season.
Defensively, well, the line played outstanding, giving Larry Johnson absolutely no room to run whatsoever, and that allowed Omar Gaither to run around and make plays. It was the first time this season the linebackers made a true difference, and Gaither was the one making the majority of plays. Glad to see them take care of business rather easily against a clearly inferior team.
And to top things off, the Phillies finally won, bringing the magic number down to three, but again, it wasn't easy. After building a 6-1 lead, the Phils pitched it into a save situation to make it dicey. However, Ryan Madson actually did get the job done, and the Phils held on for the 6-5 win. Thank god. I don't think I could handle a Mets-like collapse, which it seems almost as if the Phils have been headed for this September. They better just take care of the Astros and get this thing over with. After all, they owe them.
I watched that ending at my grandparents' house, there for a family party. As the evening approached, two of my cousins decided they were going to Atlantic City, so of course I went along for the trip. I walked into the Taj with $200 dollars and walked out with $260 thanks to betting on trusty old red 19 at the roulette table. That put a nice capper on the night, though getting home at 1 a.m. made for a rude awakening this morning.
But hey, it sure as shit beats everything that happened on Saturday.