Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! It's 2009!

Lots of stuff I've wanted to blog about but haven't found the time as Christina's iTouch transfers songs so my computer, I figured I'd take the time to type some stuff out.

First off, it's already 2009? That is mind-boggling.

New Year's Resolution: Lose weight and be a better husband

...are we supposed to make this stuff known? oh well, who cares.

Anyway, I need to do a better job balancing work, play and home....and it can be tougher than one might think since I do them all in the same place. Work out more, aye aye....should be THAT hard to do (right?)...the other part - concerted efforts are already underway.

Been away for little bit, (not that you'd know, since this is a static post....)...I just bought my nephew R2D2 for his birthday, which is January 5th. I sure hope he likes it, but I have a feeling that a voice activated Artoo will be a hit. Especially since Zack got Clone Wars Light-saber battles for the Wii for Christmas.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The '08 Christmas "Haul"

Well, once again Santa was quite generous to the Miccarelli household.

The "Boys" probably got more treats than any other canine in Japan. Plus they made themselves right at home in the new throws and blankets we got for Christmas:

Meanwhile, I had quite a haul: a personalized Eagles jersey, a robe, slippers, Eagles blanket, a bunch of news TV series DVDs (Christina always goes overboard on those), a couple of Phillies t-shirts! (HA, I think I got more Phillies stuff for Christmas than Eagles stuff - that'd be a first!), and some Alaska stuff (incuding a sweet cutting board).

The "biggie" was the new 120Gb hard drive for my XBox 360 and Christina getting a copy of Fable II for both of us. I also got Resistance 2 for the PS3 and we got each a decent amount of new Blu-ray movies, including all the "superhero" ones: Iron Man, Hulk, Batman: Dark Knight, and Hancock.

After all the gifts were opened up, we had a LOT of "stuff" laying about, as you can see here:

So we got all that cleaned up, and then made the Christmas ham, and Christina made a great bread pudding, and we had "too good" a meal and watched Wall-E, which is yet another awesome Pixar movie. Neither of us had seen it before, so that was nice.

I also transferred all my stuff to the new Xbox harddrive, and began installing my favorite games directly to it, which should save on some wear-n-tear on the system. Then we went and saw "Four Christmases" at the base theater, came home, and I started uploading videos and that sorta thing, while Christina watches another movie I got her: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. That sorta bring this blog right into the here and now....
So I will embed another cute video from this morning

Monday, December 15, 2008

Eagles Stay Alive in Playoff Race

Well the Birds didn't get that much help this weekend. Atlanta beat the Bucs and Dallas man-handled the the Eagles' path to the playoffs is officially out of their hands. They have to win-out (That means beat the Redskins in Washington and Dallas in Philly -- no small task) and get help in the form of either a Falcons loss or a loss by Tampa Bay....because if the Bucs and Falcons both win-out, they'll be 11-5 (imagine that, three 11+ wins in a single division, and would squeeze out the Birds, as their best possible record in 10-5-1 (oh damn that Tie with Cincy!!)

The good news? The Redskins blew their season on Sunday by losing 20-13 to the aforementioned Bungles...and the Saints? They got toasted by Chicago last Thursday night, so they're out as well...

The bad news? A little strife in "mi casa" because I will rooting for the Vikings beat the Falcons next weekend, which would devastate the division hopes of the Chicago Bears (hometown team of Mrs. Ranter....). I don't like "rooting" for something to happen that would screw with the Bears, but its pretty much how it has to be...The Eagles need some help and I will take it anywhere we can get it.

But what about the Eagles games versus the Cleveland Browns???
They squashed the Brownies 30-10, but it wasn't a complete white-washing. The Eagles scored just 2 TD in 7 trips to the red zone, so its no joke to say the Eagles could (or even SHOULD) have scored 40+ in this game.

The KEY play to the game though came on yet another end-of-half gaffe by the Eagles. Twice this season the Eagles have executed an excellent two-minute drill and gotten within scoring position for a FG. TWICE the opposing team (first the 49ers, then the Giants) have blocked said FG and returned it for the TD. Now the Eagles have some survived those huge momentum swings and won both games, but its an ugly, ugly, disheartening thing.

This game shaped up to have a similarly devastating end: The Eagles drove the ball on the Browns and were looking to add to a 17-3 lead....Westbrook just barely missed the end zone on a run and the Eagles were forced to take their final timeout with :09 left in the half. So on a 2nd and a foot the Eagles tried a fade route to Hank Basket...the problem, it wasn't much of a fade, and the CB snatched the underthrown pass and started streaking up the sideline...the O-Linemen missed him and there was only one man with a shot at preventing another late-half blunder-turned-TD: Westbrook...#36 had the angle and chased the Brown Db down the sideline and made him slow up...the Db gave Westie a pretty decent stiff-arm and broke free inside in the Eagles 30 yard-line, but it gave Basket and TE Brent Celek time to catch up and shove the guy out-of-bounds at the 5-yard line and saved a sure TD.

Why was that important? It kept the score 17-3 for one thing, and with the Browns getting the ball to start the second half, the last thing the Eagles needed was the Brownies going into the half-time only down 17-10 and feeling like they were right in the thick of a game that has no business being in.

Well Westbrook prevented that from happening.

My other star players:
McNabb - precise from the get-go, Dononvan may have thrown that one bad pass, but overall, he threaded some serious needles last night, including an awesome strike to Kevin Curtis for a TD on the Eagles first drive of the game.
Stewart Bradley - he made some key stops in the run game and finally nabbed an INT this season, after closing real close earlier on
B. Dawk. - He played another solid game and my favorite Eagle of all-Time recorded his 181st game played for the Birds - breaking the team record of Harold Carmichael.
Jason Avant - Had a record day for him and he came up with big 3rd down catches all game long.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Birds Still Have Life

I got up at 01:30 Monday morning to "prepare" for the Eagles-Giants tilt today/yesterday. That may seem absurd until you realize it is just 90 minutes before game time here in Japan. Hey, I need time to make some friggin' coffee and wake the hell up, ya know.

Well I am very happy to report that unlike the past few early Monday morning, the Eagles did not play like I feel getting up in the middle ass-crack of the night. They played with a calm, methodical "let's get it done" attitude with a surprisingly patient, and ultimately effective balanced offensive attacks that managed to squeeze out 20 points in a wind-blown Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands. By contrast, the defense played agitated and pissed off, a stark turn around from the relatively meek front that allowed the Giants 400+yards and 36 points just a month ago.

Heck, it is wasn't for a garbage time drive and late TD that made the final 20-14 score seem a lot closer contest that it really was, the Eagles D would've pitched a shut-out. Heck they did for the first 59:45 of the game -- the lone Giants score prior to the last second TD was a blocked FG returned for TD.

And as the game rolled along, I saw some things I haven't seen in a long time: The Eagles give another team a dose of its own medicine - balance offense and stingy D. The Offense was really the key. They actually played an effective, ball control game against one of the better defenses in the league. Case in point: The Giants' blocked FG at the very end of the first half gave them a huge momentum boost going into the locker-room. But the Eagles had played it smart, and would be getting the ball to start the 3rd quarter. The kicker (pun intended): The Birds would have to go against the wind in the 3rd qtr and play with the wind in the 4th...So the Eagles needed to keep the ball away from Eli Manning and the Giants O in quarter number three to prevent NY from capitalizing on its blocked FG and using the good wind to engineer a drive and seize control of the game.

So I, nay we, finally got to see what I am sure many of us wished for countless times this season - The Eagles showing they have to ability to DRIVE the ball when they really need to. The situation didn't call for McNabb to come out slingin' it against the wind, and I was preparing myself mentally for the big let-down and watching 5 throw a flutterball or watching the Eagles simply unable to get that all important first down. And boy, was I happy to be disappointed!!! The Eagles came out and controlled the clock, ramming the ball down the Giants collective throats...YES the initial drive ended in another failed FG attempt against the wind, but it chewed over 7 minutes off the clock and served notice that the Eagles weren't about to let the Giants keep the wind in their sails.

The Giants got the ball at 7:57 (there's that time again) and held onto it for a whopping 3:18 over the course of 6 plays before a punt. Whoop-de-doo. The Eagles took the ball back and kept in the 13-minute mark of the 4th qtr, because that was when Westbrook put a big "fuck you" stamp on the game for the Giants with a back-breaking 40 yards TD reception on a 3rd and 11 play.

The Giants would have one more chance, and it came on their next possession. They drove the ball a little , held onto to for little bit going against the wind in the 4th, but blundered to their 3rd failed 4th down conversion attempt to hand the ball back to the Eagles 4 minutes later. And what happened then. Eagles leading by 10, 17-7, with 9 minutes left in a critical ball game? Well, the way this season has generally gone, I think most of us wouldn't have been surprised to see the Eagles try 3 straight passes and then punt the ball back with something like 7:30 left on the clock and Eli readying the troops for another run at the Eagles D.

But lo' and behold, something miraculous happened. The Eagles RAN THE BALL, actually it was a nice balanced mix, but the Eagles ground out the clock, churning 7 of the final 9 minutes off the clock with the sort of punishing ground game most of us would normally credit the Giants with having and scoff when mentioning the Eagles offense. The drive ended with another Akers FG, giving the Birds a 20-7 cushion.

The Eagles then gave the Giants 70 garbage time yards playing prevent D...yeah it skewed the yardages stats (but heck even with the final 70 the Giants only amassed 211 yards *only 8 more than Brian Westbrook had all by himself!), but it was sacrifice the Eagles were willing to make because they played a yards for time game with the Giants O. The Eagles gave up the middle of the field because it ragged the clock down and refused to allow the quick score. By the time the Giants O managed its first points of the game there were just :15 ticks left on the clock. So while I HATE the prevent D. It did the job today.

So now the Eagles stand at 7-5-1, and you know the strangest thing of all, they are back in the NFC hunt. Sure the Giants won the division by virtue of the Cowboys woeful come-from-ahead loss to the Steelers later in the afternoon, but the Eagles are by no means as out of it as they looked just two weeks ago. Losses by the Falcons (8-5), Cowboys (8-5), Redskins (7-6 and now a half game back of Philly) have created a veritable log-jam. Toss in the 7-6 Bears and 7-6 Saints, and the loser the Carolina-Bucs game on Monday night, and there will be at least 7 teams vying for two spots down the stretch. Whew...holy crap, and the Eagles play two teams they'll have to beat the NFC will be playing each we'll see who can stand the heat as the weather gets colder.