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Ladies and gentlemen, the final official weekend of summer is upon us. Fall is already in the air, and so is football… and it is a truly glorious thing. Beyond it being the final weekend of summer, Friday also marks an unofficial holiday… “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day!” You wouldn’t guess it from my very German last name but I’m as Irish as they come… not 100%, but pretty darn close. So knowing that we’re inching our way closer to my favorite holiday of them all, well that puts a smile on my very Irish face.
It being Friday and all, it’s that time in the week when I hit you in the face with a healthy dose of TV talk, otherwise known as “The Couch Potato Report,” C.P.R. for your sports-lovin’ hearts. This week’s edition is decidedly heavy on the pigskin, as we wind down the baseball season (for some, sooner than others), and wait with anticipation for the upcoming hockey and basketball seasons to get rolling. But hey, focusing solely on football for the time being, well that is A-O-K by me.
Before we get to the weekend TV picks however, indulge me for a brief… ok, not so brief… paragraph as I go on a slight tangent. This note admittedly doesn’t have a ton to do with sports, but in many ways, there is a tie to the local college football world, so I feel it’s worth mentioning. Thursday, we lost arguably one of the greatest music educators around, Mr. George N. Parks. Parks, who served as leader of the UMass Minutemen Marching Band, died after suffering a heart attack while with the band in Ohio, in route to this weekend’s football game at the University of Michigan. During his 33 years at UMass, Parks rose to national prominence as a recognized band leader, taking the “Power and Class of New England” to new heights in Amherst. The band received numerous accolades under Parks’ direction, including the 1998 Louis C. Sudler Trophy, the nation’s top college marching band honor. Now honestly, in many schools, young and old, musicians are looked upon negatively… student athletes and the “popular crowd” snub their nose at the “band geeks.” But Parks helped build a culture in Amherst where you couldn’t help but honor and respect the members of the award-winning UMass band. The campus would buzz about the band’s halftime performances, and crowds of fans would often stay after football games, just to hear the band play an encore of their show. I didn’t know Parks well, but I did have the pleasure of meeting him and studying with him a few times as a high school music student, and this much I know. His dedication and enthusiasm for music education was truly unparalleled. Parks was just 57 years old, and leaves behind his wife, Jeanne, and two children.
Thanks for that minute of your time… now on with the TV picks.
Sunday at 4:15pm on CBS
It’s early I know, but this is probably the most hyped game thus far on the NFL schedule. New York faltered in their opener, losing an ugly 10-9 game to Baltimore, in a match-up that featured plenty of defense, and even more awful offense. The Pats on the other hand, came out with guns blazing, racking up 38 points against the Cincinnati Bengals, downing T.O. and Ochocinco, 38-24. The New England and New York rivalry has plenty of story lines to follow, but the bottom line is this: the Jets can’t afford to fall two games behind the Pats in the division this early. This will surely be a hard fought battle, and I don’t see a way that it’ll be a blowout in either direction. It’s a game we all circled when the schedule came out. We’ll all be in front of the TV for it, I’m sure.
Sunday and Monday night, on CBS, FOX, and ESPN
There are a few good match-ups on the Week 2 schedule in the NFL, beyond the highly anticipated Pats-Jets showdown. On basic cable packages in this area (according to Yahoo! TV, at least), we’ll be shown a pair of 1pm games on Sunday, with Miami traveling to Favre Country to take on the Vikings on CBS, and Dallas hosting Chicago on FOX. The featured game on NBC’s Sunday Night Football pits Manning vs. Manning, as Eli and the Giants square off against Peyton’s Colts, who are looking to rebound from a surprising Week 1 loss in Houston. For the Monday night game, ESPN gives us the defending champion Saints, heading west to take on the San Francisco 49ers. I’m also told that on many cable services, the NFL Red Zone Channel will be offering a free preview this weekend. The Red Zone Channel flips around to all of the afternoon games, showing every touchdown in every game. It’s a fantasy footballers’ dream! As the TV types say, “check your local listings for more information.”
Friday night and Saturday, on several networks (CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, Versus, CSN, etc.)
Here in the Northeast, we generally don’t go hog-wild for college football, mainly because we don’t have a marquee school that’s a football powerhouse up here. Penn State is probably the closest big name college football school to us, and personally, I can’t root for anything from Pennsylvania… it just feels unnatural to me. Sure, Boston College tries to be relevant, but disappointment is always inevitable for BC fans when it comes to most sports, excluding hockey of course. But what our area does have are a lot of “transplants,” people from all over who have come to the Boston area for school, work, or otherwise. So bars all over will still be filled to the gills with college football fans on Saturday, to watch their favorite teams. This weekend unfortunately, there aren’t many big games on the schedule. The only game featuring two ranked opponents isn’t on until 10:30pm Saturday night, when #9 Iowa takes on #24 Arizona. Other relatively interesting games Saturday include Florida facing Tennessee in an SEC match-up (3:30, CBS), Clemson and Auburn in a battle of two Tigers (7pm, ESPN), Texas going up against Texas Tech (8pm, ABC regional coverage), and Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish taking on Michigan State (8pm, ABC regional coverage).
Saturday at 2:30pm on NESN
The United Football League kicks off its second season this weekend, with five teams vying for the coveted William Hambrecht Trophy. Yup, you heard me… I said “coveted.” Hey, I don’t necessarily covet it, but hopefully the teams in the league covet it… or at least, wouldn’t mind if they won it. Saturday’s opening contest will feature New England’s UFL representative, the Hartford Colonials, hosting the Sacramento Mountain Lions. The UFL has had pretty good luck snatching up some of the NFL’s former talent, and many former NFL’ers will be highlighted in this opening game. Hartford’s roster includes former Florida State Seminole standout Lorenzo Booker, former Patriots tight end Tyson Devree, and NFL veteran QB Josh McCown. Sacramento is led by former NFL head coach Dennis Green and former Pro Bowl QB Daunte Culpepper. I know, the UFL can’t hold a candle to the NFL yet… but get ahead on studying the UFL now, because with there potentially being no NFL next fall, knowing the UFL players ahead of time will do you a lot of good as you prepare for your UFL fantasy draft. Yes, the phrase “UFL fantasy draft” just was typed… I know, it sounds ridiculous to me right now too. But if there isn’t an NFL season next year, you better believe “UFL fantasy draft” is going to be a phrase that won’t be so uncommon.
Friday and Saturday at 7pm, Sunday at 1:30pm, all on NESN
It’s “magic number” time in Major League Baseball, as teams make their final push for playoff positioning. The Sox, while still mathematically eligible for a playoff spot, have very faint hopes of that becoming a reality. With just 16 games left on the schedule, Boston faces a 6-game deficit in the wild card race entering Friday’s series with the Blue Jays. Just when the Sox have lost you, they pull you right back in, as they are riding a four-game winning streak heading into Friday, a streak they’ve built while on the west coast. All hope is not totally lost just yet, but ask the average member of Red Sox Nation if they think their team has a shot, and the most common response from even the die-hards will likely be, “The Sox are still playing games? Don’t bother me with that $%#!, when’s the Pats game on?”
Normal weekly time is Thursdays at 10:30pm on FX, but replayed this week on Saturday morning at 1am
Now granted, by the time this article hits the site, it’ll be Friday and you would’ve missed the season two premiere of “The League,” so my timing on this is admittedly awful, I know. But ask anyone who saw the brief six-episode opening season of this funny sitcom, and you’ll figure out why it’s worth staying up until 1am Friday night to see the season two opener. You don’t have to be a fantasy football junkie to like this show… in fact, you don’t even have to be a football fan at all… but it helps. There aren’t any big name actors featured on the show, but the ensemble cast really is very talented. There isn’t a character on the show that doesn’t have the potential to make you “LOL,” as the kids say. Watch it, you’ll love it… if you don’t love it, you have no sense of humor, and if you don’t have a sense of humor pal, well then you are no pal of mine!
Theaters everywhere, beginning Friday
This movie is set in Boston and has Ben Affleck in it… so people will go to see it just for those two reasons. But I’m going to see it because I hear there’s a scene towards the end where they blow up Fenway Park. For those of you who know me or who have read past articles of mine, you may recall that I am probably the biggest Fenway Park hater around. Why people flock to that dump, game after game, to sit in overpriced, uncomfortable seats that more often than not, face left or right field and not home plate, is something I truly will never understand. So to see Fenway Park blown up on the big screen will bring me pleasure to no end. I also hear that this is a legitimately good movie too, beyond the whole blowing up of a “sacred, historic baseball landmark” thing.
Tags: Auburn, Ben Affleck, Blue Jays, Clemson, College Football, Daunte Culpepper, Fenway Park, George Parks, Hartford Colonials, Jets, Josh McCown, Michigan State, NFL, Notre Dame, Patriots, Red Sox, Sacramento Mountain Lions, The League, The Town, UFL, UMass, United Football League