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What I did on St. Patrick's Day:
Jacksonville Icemen 5, Georgia Gladiators 4.
Minor league ice hockey might not sound an Irish way to pass the time, but they fight like true drunken expatriates. Saint Patrick would be proud.
This post is a little late, but I've had a busy weekend. Saturday night I attended the first University of Georgia football home game vs South Carolina. I was excited because I love night games, and the game had a 7PM kickoff. If I had known before hand that the game was going to take over 4 hours to play, I'm sure that would have dampened my enthusiasm somewhat.
Two things slow down a football game: scoring and penalties. And this game had both in spades. Thirty one points were scored in the first quarter alone. There were 24 penalties called in the game, 11 for us and 13 for them, for a total of 206 yards. Six of those penalties resulted directly in first downs. But we won, so I'd be a fool to complain. Besides, the game had just about everything else you could ask for: special teams touchdowns, long runs, long passes, blocked kicks, goal line stands, shouting matches between the coaches, last second drama. It was a good game.
I would not call Sunday's match up between the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons a "good game." The Dolphins flat out stunk. Sure, this was the first game of the season for both teams. The Georgia Dome, even when not full to capacity, can be a pretty hostile environment to opposing teams ("loud" is an understatement). But that's no excuse for four (4!) Dolphins turnovers and an anemic... well, everything. Just two years ago I watched an entire season in which the Dolphins won only 1 football game, and even then they couldn't even aspire to this level of ineptitude. I have a name for this level of failure: Pennington.
If you've been paying attention, you'll know that I've railed against Chad Pennington before. (On August 11, 2008, and January 4, 2009, to be exact.) While I have grown to admire his never-say-retire-while-they're-still-throwing-money-at-me attitude, his weak arm and failing body have hurt us in the past just as they cost the Dolphins any chance at winning today.
Watching the team warm ups, I noticed that Pennington's longest warm-up pass was exactly 15 yards. Pennington's longest pass of the day was almost exactly 20 yards in the air. My brother was quick to point out that on that pass, Pennington took three big steps forward before heaving the pass, and the ball still wobbled like a lame duck.
On the upside, on rookie Pat White's first play in a regular season NFL game, he heaved the ball an impressive 40 yards, overthrowing the fastest Dolphin receiver deep down the field. My brother went berserk, amazed that Pennington could launch the ball so far. He was heartbroken when I explained that Pennington had been replaced for that down with another quarterback. Though come to think of it, he may have just been upset that the coaches immediately put Pennington back in and never let White throw again during the game. In any case, at least it's good to know that there's someone on the team who can throw the ball, even if the coaches are determined to keep him off the field.
I should mention that these football games were the second and third sporting events that I attended this week. I also watched the Gwinnett Braves (AAA affiliate of the MLB Atlanta Braves) lose a playoff game 0-3 on Wednesday night. The Braves would go on to lose the series, and after watching them play in person, I'm not surprised.
The picture below gives a pretty accurate indication of the turnout for the game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barr (Pennsylvania) Yankees (AAA affiliate of the MLB New York Yankees). There were just enough people in attendance that team mascot Chopper the Groundhog was able to annoy everyone in attendance personally, one at a time.
Why a team named the Braves would have a groundhog for a mascot is explained only once you realize that the main thing that Gwinnett County has of any name recognition is a number of large shopping malls, and they make lousy mascots. General Beauregard Lee, the groundhog at Gwinnett's Yellow River Game Ranch is the state of Georgia's "Official" predictor of spring arrival. We don't care for Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil in these parts, especially if we're going to get beaten by Phil's state baseball clubs.
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