Archive for December, 2005

Bears game wrapup

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

UPDATE: updated to include my brother’s contribution to the trip

Well it seems of all the Cal Bloggerbacks that I read, I’m the only one who actually went to the game. So here’s a wrapup of both the game and the event:

My brother Brian and I left Sacramento on Weds. the 21st at 6 PM headed for Vegas after I had a long day of work trying to wrap things up before my Christmas break. Brian works an early day (5 AM to noon) and met me at my place for the trip after driving up from Oakland. 9 hours and a refresher clutch driving lesson for my brother later we arrived in Vegas (my first ever trip) and checked into the Hard Rock Hotel, the official hotel of the Cal Bears for the Las Vegas bowl. The Hard Rock Hotel is about 6 blocks off the strip and let me tell you it was DEAD. Granted, it was 3 in the morning, but there was absolutely ZERO sign of a partying Cal contingent. When I woke up, after remembering just how loud my brother can snore, I showered and we checked out of my room, the place had transformed itself into a Cal dominated hotel, but a very mellow one. I thought we were in Vegas?

Besides driving the strip to see the various hotels, Brian and I knew one of the important sights to see in Vegas was the buffet line. After a long decision making process including calling one of Brian’s long lost friends who lives in Vegas and accounting for Brian’s numerous food aversions, we ended up going to the MGM grand for a lunch. The cash register lady looked none to pleased to see us approaching, knowing it was a losing proposition to let us eat…

Tailgating at Sam Boyd stadium was relaxed and jovial. Cal fans just aren’t experienced tailgaters. May have something to do with the fact that there is no where to tailgate in Berkeley… BYU fans seemed to be similarly as inexperienced at tailgating because despite the fact that Cal fans were greatly outnumbered in the stands, Cal tailgaters outnumbered BYU tailgaters 2 to 1. The first true sign of us being in Vegas was the cadre of Cal fans (OK, only two of them) who came over asking for food because they spent all their money on beer.

Sam Boyd stadium is nice enough and has a TON more legroom that Memorial stadium. The entire seating areas is elevated, so even being in the 6th row, we had pretty good depth perception and no visibility problems. The stadium also has remarkably little sideline room so the stands are VERY close to the field. The TV announcers greatly over estimated the dominance of the BYU fans at the stadium. Basically the BYU fans took one side of the field plus the endzone while the Cal contingent took the other side (the second endzone having no stands). I’d say the crowd breakdown was 15K to 25K in BYU’s favor. While their cheers were loud, the fact that they were opposite the press box I think made them sound louder than they were compared to the Cal fans who were below and facing away from the announcers. In other words, Cal fans made plenty of noise. In fact, there seemed to be moments where the BYU players seemed a little surprised to hear so much Cal noise when they were expecting a home crowd.

OK, on to the game.

I think Cal played below their potential and BYU played above theirs. They also got some VERY generous penalty calls and Cal didn’t get any penalty breaks. Said another way, there was only one way this game could have been closer than the 35 to 28 Cal victory that occured: Cal turnovers. That is the #1 thing to be happy about in the game. Cal made ZERO big mistakes. No bad penalties, no turnovers, no special teams mistakes, nothing. In fact, the worst play of the game was a 50 yard pass play that the defense gave up. Other than that Cal made BYU earn every point they got and didn’t leave any points on the board that they should have got.

Levy played OK. Mistake free, no doubt, but his accuracy left something to be desired. It’s harder to see on TV, but receivers had to make a lot of corrections to get to his balls. In fact, the just before halftime touchdown catch and run was facilitated by a bad throw that required the receiver to make a correction (and the defender was unable to adjust). He also threw a number of low balls that hurt the ability of the receivers to get yards after the catch. All and all, he did his job, but he didn’t impress me for next season. I’d take him any day of the week over ‘booya in reverse’, but he’s not the QB who is going to take us to the Rose Bowl or to a National Title.

The BYU quarterback on the other hand was pretty darned good. He threw a number of VERY impressive passes and did a very good job of keeping out of trouble. One has to remember that both of his interceptions were off of balls thrown as he was hit. The reality was that he kept them in the game by making key throws to some VERY tight spots. The Cal DB’s did a very good job of pass coverage, particulary on the ouside and deep and the few passes they made there were because the QB threaded the needle. The one place the Cal defense could have played better was protecting the underneath passes to the TEs. A great deal of the offense BYU had came from those plays. For some reason Cal had a tough time adjusting to that. I think they were trying to get more pressure on the QB and as a result were one linebacker short on the underneath protection.

I watched the TV coverage of the game when I got home and laughed to see them spend time focusing on number 76 or “lunchbox” the offensive lineman of BYU. This guy was PATHETIC. He looked like a pregnant woman woddling on and off the field. He couldn’t block, was falling down all over the place, and was useless for just about anything. For those watching the TV coverage, they may have noticed that they didn’t focus on him later in the game. He was basically benched in the 2nd half for not getting the job done.

Looking forward to next season, I’m really optimistic if we can just find that QB to give us balance. Everyone knows Ayoob isn’t it and it is my opinion that Levy isn’t it either. We could be 9-2 with him but not the 10-1 we need to be to get to the Rose Bowl. I’m hopeful that either Longshore or Reed will be the QB we’re looking for. Everything else seems to be falling into place. We’ve got great and improving WR’s, the offensive line will have a lot of experience after this injury plagued year for the graduating seniors, we seem to have enough depth at our DB positions to make up for the loss of our safeties and our defensive linemen are all back next year. I don’t even need to mention how awesome Lynch and Forsett are…


The value of retreats and conferences

Friday, December 2nd, 2005

In our busy lives, it is easy to let “normal” activities dictate our calendar. This is even true when we plan our vacations. How often when we’re thinking of our next vacation, does it inevitably focus on relaxation, tropical locations, Europe or the other “normal” vacations.

But what about building up our faith?

While the daily and weekly and annual patterns of our faith do a great deal to help build our relationship with God, there is something unique that comes out of explicitely taking a vacation from our regular daily lives to go on a retreat or to attend a conference for the purpose of building up our faith. Towards this end I’d like to take a moment to speak to the LA Religious Education Congress that I have attended a couple times.

The first time I attended “Congress” (as it is usually called by those who regularly attend) I was overwhelmed by the number of people there and the number of options for activities to participate in. Which Masses should I go to? Would Tridentine or Celtic be better? What evening entertainment should I try out? The concert or the prayer session? Should I get up early to have some prayer time? And of course, what workshops should I go to? There were a number of workshops that I knew off the bat that I didn’t want to attend. Things like: “Soul Formation – the Foundation For Positive Self-Esteem Synopsis” (an actual workshop for 2006). No thank you, please keep your touchy-feeliness to yourself! But beyond that I wasn’t sure what I was interested in. So, when regisitering, I dabbled here and there to try different things and get a taste of everything.

That turned out to be a very wise way to go about it. Not only did I get the opportunity to discover more about what interested me, I also got an opportunity to stretch myself into areas I was less comfortable in. I learned about things I would have never thought to learn about. I also examined areas of myself I had never thought to examine before. Doing this forced me to grow.

And that’s really what a retreat is about: growing in one’s faith.

I haven’t made it to Congress the last two years but I am going to go in 2006. For me, that’s not going to be enough conference or retreat time for 2006 so I’m looking for something else to do. I recommend to everyone to try and do at least one retreat a year. There are LOTS of retreats out there with TONS of different themes. Some are very simple and are mostly an opportunity to go somewhere and pray. Others have workshops galour and a packed schedule.

You’ll have to decide for yourself what best fits you, but I encourage you to make the effort to go, no matter where it might be. Give Congress a try if nothing else. It’s only $20 a day!

The logic of abortion continues to extend into new territories

Friday, December 2nd, 2005

I read this news story, Ruling: Pregnant moms can harm babies at will, with horror. Yet again the mindset that until a baby is born they “aren’t a person” continues to rear its ugly head. However, it seems that we are SO blinded by this false perspective that we can’t even see when it doesn’t apply.

There is another premise of the ruling that I disagree with: that when she smoked the drugs that killed the already born child is relevant.

If a pregnant woman sets up a gun on a trip wire as she leaves the house knowing the next time the door is opened a shot will fire through the lower corner of the doorway (knowing that when her husband comes through the door the newborn in a carrier the newborn is likely to pass through the door in this location) should that woman be free from criminal prosecution when the child is killed because she set up the gun before the baby “became a person”?

Of course not!

Yes, there is a difference in this case in regards to intent, which is why the manslaughter charge is the right one instead of first degree murder. But none of this changes the fact that an action of the mother killed an ALREADY BORN child and therefore, even by our ridiculously lax standards, an “already a person” child. In other words, the fact that the child “wasn’t a person” when she smoked the drugs is not relevant because the child “became a person” before the mom’s drug use killed him.

I believe that in a world that wasn’t completely corrupted by this notion that a baby “isn’t a person” until it was born would not only see the falacy of the “isn’t a person” idiology but would have the clarity to see the false logic of the timeline loophole that is being used here.

Roe vs. Wade must end and it must end not only because it is a tragedy for unborn children but because it warps our ability to think clearly. Or as the best Catholic blogger on the planet, Mark Shea, puts it: “Sin makes you stupid”

Keep MASS in Christmas

Friday, December 2nd, 2005

For today’s (OK, it’s really yesterdays and there will be another one later today) reflection, I want to focus on the importance of Mass. We often hear the phrase “keep Christ in Christmas” from people who are frustrated with the over commercialization of Christmas. We hear this for good reason because many forget “the reason for the season” as they say. Heck these days Christians are fighting just to keep the word Christmas around as stores move to the slap in the face phrase “Happy Holidays”.

But lost in the phrase “keep Christ in Christmas” is the other half of the word: ‘mas’ which of course is a reference to Mass. Most people don’t know this but there used to be a number of ‘mas’ days. There was Candlemas celebrating the Presentation of Jesus in the temple as an infant. There was Michaelmas on September 29th to celebrate Michael’s victory of Lucifer. There was Childermas that commemorated the slaughter of the innocents by Herod. And there were others.

All of these celebrations/commemorations centered around Mass and with good reason. It is through Mass that Christ is made present to us in the Santuary, just like he was presented in the temple. It is through Mass that we celebrate Christ’s victory over death, just like Michael’s victory over satan. It is through Mass that we commemorate and tap into the slaughter of innocent blood in Christ that is our salvation. And finally, it is through Mass that we are able to recieve Christ in the Eucharist just as the world recieved Christ on Christmas day.

So as we prepare ourselves for the Christmas season in this season of Advent let us prepare ourselves not just for the celebation of Christ’s birth but also for that which he came into the world for: for Christ’s Mass.

(I give credit to The Fith Column’s blog entry How the Christians Stole Christmas for the inspiration for this reflection.)

Updated metrics for Pac-10 games

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

Sorry for the delay on this, it has been a busy week:

Well, I got both games right this week, although I SERIOUSLY underestimated Stanford’s ability to score. Why is it that they can’t score 10 points agianst Cal in two years but can put up 31 against Notre Dame. Cal must be better than ND…

Here are the updated metrics:
-Winning percentage: 71.6% (up from 70.5% last week)
-MVD: 14.4 (down (that’s good) from 14.7 last week with additions of 0 and 15 )
-TPD: 15.2 (down (that’s good) from 15.3 last week with additions of 8 and 21)

And seeing how there is only one Pac-10 game this week, I might as well do that prediction now:

UCLA 24, USC 38: UCLA will keep this game just interesting enough to merit a watching but USC will control the game from start to end by effectively running the ball with Reggie Bush and the precision passing by Leinart. There’s an outside chance that UCLA will get too desperate too early and turnovers will turn the game into a USC blowout before half time, but I think there will be just enough intensity on the UCLA sideline to keep the game respectible.

Tune in next week for the final regular season metrics (I’ll do metrics for the bowl games as well) and for an update on whether Cal ends up at the Sun Bowl with Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl or in the Las Vegas bowl because the Pac-10 got the BCS shaft yet again.