Friday, February 1, 2013

Class Notes 1/28

If I'm Joe Biden, I don't like what I saw when I watched 60 Minutes last Sunday as I watched my boss, the President, yucking it up with departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  That can't be a good sign for any Presidential aspirations he may have.  SAG Awards were a snoozer.  The only awards season intrigue left for me is if Argo (Best Picture) and Daniel Day Lewis (Best Male Actor) complete the acting triple crown (Golden Globes, SAG, Oscars).

POLITICS:  Immigration Reform took center stage this week with a visible display of bi-partisanship.  While it was nice to hear members from both major parties come together and pledge that they believe comprehensive immigration reform can get done, I think partisan politics will eventually derail this legislation.  This would include items such as a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and the DREAM Act, which offers the chance of higher education for undocumented children born in the US.  I find it hard to believe that those who oppose immigration reform will all of a sudden be willing to bargain for a deal that would potentially widen the registration disparity between new Democrats and Republicans.  Monday's press conference which featured Senators Chuck Schumer (D), John McCain (R), Dick Durbin (D), Lindsey Graham (R), Robert Menendez (D), Marco Rubio (R), Michael Bennet (D), and Jeff Flake (R) was in effect symbolic for Dems in that they will continue to fight for citizenship and for Republicans it signaled that they are at least making the effort to be more inclusive as a party.  While Republicans were willing to smile and talk about optimism during the press conference, Rubio was quick to go on numerous talk shows with a much more tempered attitude.

Rubio is one of the "stars" of the Republican party who may have aspirations for 2016.  He will not be able to earn the favor of the more conservative, deep-pocketed parts of the party if he's known as one of the architects of reform that paved the way for millions to become citizens, the great majority of whom would register as members of the Democratic Party.  Ultimately, if this legislation does make it to the floor, it will die just like it did in 2005.  In 2014, Republicans will be able to say that they made the effort.  Only when locals in states like Texas, Arizona, and Florida mobilize to change the political climate will we start to see reform like this gain some traction.

SPORTS: The unofficial national holiday known as the Super Bowl is upon us, and it is a historic one in that the opposing coaches are brothers.  Jim and John Harbaugh prove the strength of genetics as both of them have taken the coaching DNA given to them by their father, and have risen to the top of their profession.  This Super Bowl also holds intrigue because we get to see if one of the all-time greats, Ray Lewis, gets to ride off into the football analyst chair with a win in the big game a la John Elway and Jerome Bettis.  I've been a fan of Ray Lewis since the U and continue to view him as one of the greatest leaders the gridiron has ever seen.  Speculation about his role in a double murder which occurred after he won his first Super Bowl in 2000 have resurfaced and that is fair given that two men died and there are key questions that remain unanswered.  I don't think we'll ever know the whole story about that night or the Dear Antler Spray Uncle Ray allegedly took to get back on the field this season.  None of that will matter, however after kickoff on Sunday, so here's how  I see it playing out so Ray Rice, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco and Co. will get to hold the Lombardi Trophy while the confetti drops: 

1.  Joe Flacco has to hit a big play early.  In any profession, think about what it does to your psyche to work hard,  and have success only to hear in evaluations that you haven't done well enough.  You're not elite though your record says otherwise.  This is what Joe Flacco has endured throughout his career, and through it all, he has not lost it, he continued to go out and win.  In this year's playoffs he has taken out the quarterbacks who will go down as the best of this generation, and now he's only one win away from joining the short list of active quarterbacks who have lead their team to a Championship.  If he hits a 30+ yard pass early in the game, then I think the confidence he has shown throughout the playoffs will continue.  He also has only been sacked once in the playoffs which has helped him be able to pick apart defenses.  Continued steady offensive line play will be critical.

2.  Ravens have to force the 49ers  to abandon the running game.  The reason that Colin Kaepernick is starting this Super Bowl over former starter Alex Smith is that between his arm strength and mobility, he makes the 49ers a more explosive, dynamic team.  He can run and breakdown defenses like he did against Green Bay or he can stay in the pocket and throw precisely as he did versus Atlanta.  All of what makes Kaepernick dangerous however, is set up by Frank Gore's running, and if the 49ers get down early and have to throw to catch up, then they lose the most consistent and stable part of their offense.  The 49ers offensive line excels at run blocking and their ball carriers averaged 5 yards per carry.

3.  Ravens have to win the Special Teams battle.  Jacoby Jones is an All-Pro special teams playeer who had one punt return for a touchdown and two kickoff returns to the house.  Conversely, the 49ers had no returns for touchdowns this year.  Ravens Kicker Justin Tucker has made 91% of his field goals this year while the 49ers kicker, David Akers, has only made 69% of his field goals.  Akers has been particularly sketchy on kicks over 40 yards.

ENTERTAINMENT:  After a shaky start, the Real Husband of Hollywood (RHOH) seems to have found its footing and BET appears to have a new hit show.  Entertainment Weekly dubbed the show a "must-see" and I won't be surprised to see more of Robin Thicke on the TV as he's had some of the funniest moments on the show.  Somebody please tell Nelly he doesn't have to try and act.  He's playing himself.


  1. As a Niners fan, it hurts me to read your assessment and I have to vehemently disagree. Although the Ravens have the sexy story of Ray Ray riding off into the sunset with his Lombardi, the reality is that their defense is older, banged up, and has lost a step with Suggs coming off an achilles tear, Ray Ray with his arm, Ed Reed with numerous nagging injuries, etc. The Niners are younger, faster, and are the only team in the NFL just as physical, if not more, on both sides of the ball. Down 17-0 in ATL, the Niners STILL ran the ball and chipped away at the lead, never wavering from their game plan. I don't see them abandoning the run unless we are talking under 5 minutes in the 4th and the Niners are behind by two TDs.

    As far as immigration reform, I agree with you 100%. I just don't see the reality meeting the sound bites currently being created.

    1. Wouldn't expect anything less than your full support of the 9ers. Im an east coast dude at heart, so I guess that's the bias I continue to roll with. Notice I couched my analysis in what would NEED to happen for the Ravens to win. I put my belief that the game will actually play out this way at about 60%. Overall I just hope it's a good game