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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

War of the Worlds: Could it Happen Again?

Just in time for Halloween... Well, not exactly, but definitely suitable for Halloween: Radiolab's 2008 live podcast (from the FitzGerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, for all you "Prairie Home Companion" fans) about Orson Welles's "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast that aired on October 30, 1938, and reportedly caused wide-spread panic. What's fascinating is that although later commentators have argued that it couldn't happen again because we are far more sophisticated now than we were then, it has happened again: in 1949 (in Ecuador), in 1968 (in New York), and in 1999 (aka The Blair Witch Project). Here's the description of the podcast from the Radiolab website:
In our very first live hour, we take a deep dive into one of the most controversial moments in broadcasting history: Orson Welles' 1938 radio play about Martians invading New Jersey. "The War of the Worlds" is believed to have fooled over a million people when it originally aired, and it's continued to fool people since--from Santiago, Chile to Buffalo, New York to a particularly disastrous evening in Quito, Ecuador.
You can listen to the podcast at the Radiolab website ("War of the Worlds") or you can download it from iTunes. Thanks to Rob Schroeder for bringing this to my attention.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Dodgers: America's Team?

It has been said that folks who work "inside the (DC) Beltway" live in such a different world that they are completely out of touch with the rest of America, which is one reason why what happens in Washington often has little or no relation to what Americans want. However, after Dodger manager Don Mattingly remarked that the Dodgers were "America's Team," I couldn't help but wonder whether a similar beltway encircles Chavez Ravine (aka, Dodger Stadium).  If Mattingly truly believes that the Dodgers are America's team, then he's remarkably out of touch with the rest of baseball America, including the Yankees for whom he used to play.

Why? Because most baseball fans look unkindly on teams that attempt to buy championships, regardless of who it is, and the Dodgers' team payroll ranked only behind the Yankees in 2013 ("2013 Payrolls And Salaries For Every MLB Team").  Nor do we like teams where players stand at home plate admiring what they (mistakenly) think is a home run, jumping into an opposing team's swimming pool, or after hitting a home run, wiggling their fingers, impersonating Mickey Mouse. Rookies like Yasiel Puig can be forgiven for their youthful enthusiasm, but veterans like Adrian Gonzalez should know better (I wonder if that's why the Red Sox unloaded him).

Of course, a couple of rogue players does not a team make. In fact, for a team to earn the designation, "America's Team," one would have to take into consideration its ownership, fans, and history. And although I'm skeptical that there's an "America's Team," if I were forced to pick one, I'd probably choose, not the Atlanta Braves (sorry Braves fans), but the St. Louis Cardinals (as long as I don't have to listen to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver). As NYU President John Sexton, and life-long baseball fan, notes ("Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game"),
St. Louis has enjoyed a revered reputation for generations among baseball wags. As [Randy] Johnson... has put it, “It’s a fun city to come to because you know it’s all baseball.” 
And baseball there is played famously hard and well, from the spikes-high “Gashouse Gang” rowdies of the thirties to the mad dashes on the base paths of Enos “Country” Slaughter in the forties, to the elegance of Stan “the Man” Musial in the fifties, to the glare of fiery concentration on the face of the Hall of Fame fireball pitcher Bob Gibson in the sixties. Though the record must show that this border-state city was notoriously hostile to Jackie Robinson during his rookie year, the St. Louis tradition generally has been that the game is left on the field, that opponents are respected, that booing is for Easterners, and that rooting for the home team is no less intense during lean years. 
St. Louis may just barely be among the twenty largest metropolitan areas in the country, but in recent decades only the far larger-market Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have kept pace in attendance. When the Cardinals drew three million fans for the first time in 1987, only the Dodgers had done it. Their success was magnified by a famous radio station, WMOX, one of the first fifty-thousand-watt behemoths on the scene; in the years before the major leagues expanded, WMOX saturated the South; if you lived in Dixie, you were a Cardinals fan.
And a recent article in the NY Times ("Cardinals’ Strategy Replaces Big Names With Ingenuity") argues that the Cardinals organization consistently win, not because it chases after big names, but because it develops players "that most have never heard of -- like [Carlos] Martinez, their sudden setup man -- and unleash them on the opposition." Of course, one could argue that they did chase after Carlos Beltran, signing him to a two-year contract in 2011 for $26 million, but that was after they refused to pay their long-time star, Albert Pujols, the $240 million he ended up getting from the Anaheim Angels.

But, then again, I'm unconvinced that any team can be called "America's Team." One thing I'm convinced of, though, it ain't the Dodgers.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Does Recycling Paper Help the Environment?

It is not uncommon for folks to toss paper into a recycle bin and exclaim that they're saving trees (e.g., see the graphic to the right). In reality, however, they're not. The trees that are harvested to produce paper are grown specifically for the purpose of producing paper, nothing more. Thus, when we recycle paper, fewer trees have to be planted and grown. This, of course, doesn't mean that recycling paper isn't a good thing. It can help to reduce land-fill waste, and the energy used to recycle paper may be less than the energy used to grow, cut, and process trees destined for the paper mill.

It is also commonly believed that leaving the city and opting for the rural life is also good for the environment. But, it's not.  The per capita carbon footprint of people living in high rises is lower than those living in rural communities, primarily because in urban environments people share more resources (e.g., people who live in high-rises share the same plot of land as those above and below them; not so for folks who live in the country). And as I noted in a previous post ("Locavorism: Good for the Environment?"), it's better for the environment for people living in England to buy tomatoes grown in Spain than to grow it themselves because the energy expended to produce tomatoes in England is greater than the energy expended to produce it in Spain and ship it to England.

None of this is to suggest that pursuing practices that are good for the environment isn't a good thing; it's simply to note that some of those practices aren't as good for the environment as we often think they are.

All this and more is the subject of a recent Freakonomics podcast, "Why Bad Environmentalism Is Such an Easy Sell," which you download from iTunes or listen to at the Freakonomics website (where you can also find the transcript). It features economist Ed Glaeser, author of Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier. Here's a quote from Glaeser that serves as nice summary of the podcast:
I actually do believe that almost all environmentalists are motivated by relatively benign forces and they’re trying to do good for the world… But I do think that in the sales pitch, in the persuasion process, inevitably decision rules get simplified. Inevitably we move things down to sound bites, we move things down to simple implications. And sometimes these just mean that we get results that are less than perfect. In some cases we can get results that are completely the reverse of what we wanted.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Baseball As a Road to God

Here's a book, John Sexton's "Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game," that one doesn't have to be a person of faith and/or love baseball to enjoy. I suspect, however, that people aren't one and/or the other will not pick it up, which is too bad because it's a wonderful book. One doesn't have to be religious or a baseball fan to like it. In fact, the book has its genesis in a crack made about baseball by a student to Sexton several years ago (Sexton is a professor and the President of New York University). As Sexton tells it, a student approached him and said,
I hear you're a big baseball fan. I think the sport is silly and I don't understand why anybody would waste time on it. 
To which Sexton replied,
You are among the unwashed...   
If you will read twelve books that I choose next semester, I will direct you in an independent study at the end of which you will realize that baseball is a road to God.
And that independent study grew into the exceedingly popular (and hard to get into) class at New York University (NYU), on which this book is based.  Students read a wide variety of books and articles, such as Marcie Eliade's "The Sacred and the Profane," W.P. Kinsella's "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy," Rabbi Abraham Heschel's "God in Search of Man," Robert Bellah's "Civil Religion in American," Doris Kearns Goodwin's, "Wait 'Til Next Year," and Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea."

The book is divided into "innings" and includes reflections about the game's greatest moments, such as Willie Mays over the shoulder catch, Bobby Thomson's "shot heard round the world," and Derek Jeter's back-handed flip that caught Jeremy Giambi (not sliding) into home. Sexton includes a number of personal stories as well. For example, he tells of how when the Brooklyn Dodger's were two innings away from winning their first World Series, he and his friend Dougie each held one end of a 12-inch crucifix and prayed for a Dodger victory. And when the Dodgers won, Dougie let go of the crucifix, and "the law of physics drove the head of Christ into" Sexton's mouth, chipping his front tooth. Sexton "wore that chipped front tooth, unprepared, as a visible moment for nearly fifty years." He also relates about when in 2004 the Yankees led the Red Sox 4-3, heading into the bottom of the 9th inning of the fourth game of the American League Championship Series (with the Yankees leading three games to none), a number of VIP Yankee fans sitting around him started to leave early in order to beat the crowd out of Fenway. In response, he warned a friend, "If you go, you will reverse the Curse," and baseball fans know that the Red Sox came back won that game, as well the next three, and went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals for their first World Series championship in 86 years. The curse (i.e., the "Curse of the Bambino) was finally broken.

Using baseball as a touchstone, Sexton writes of saints and sinners, faith and doubt, conversion, miracles, community, and nostalgia. In writing about saints, he compares the selection of players to Baseball's Hall of Fame to the selection of saints within the Roman Catholic Church. And he compares switching his allegiance from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the NY Yankees to religious conversion, a "conversion" that took several years after Walter O'Malley took the Dodgers away from Brooklyn.  But I am not doing the book justice, so I'll let Sexton have the last word (pp. 215-217):
I have tried to show how many of the elements we find in baseball— faith, doubt, conversion, accursedness, blessings— are elements associated with the religious experience; that inside the game the formative material of spirituality can be found. In short, viewed through a certain lens, baseball evokes the essence of religion. If we open ourselves to the rhythms and intricacies of the game, if we sharpen our noticing capacity, if we allow the timelessness and intensity of the game’s most magnificent moments to shine through, the resulting heightened sensitivity might give us a sense of the ineffable, the transcendent...  
But in baseball as in religion, deep faith cannot exist unless there is doubt, its handmaiden; confronting doubt is a central challenge in both religion and life, from the earliest Christian theologians to the 1991 Braves and Twins. This journey takes many roads, but conversion is certainly one of them, and the last steps can be truly miraculous as well as inexplicable. But there is a fine line between agony and ecstasy. Had Willie Mays dropped that fly ball in 1954, Giants fans may well have considered themselves accursed rather than blessed. It helps as well when our heroes are good people and not simply accomplished. Without sinners, our saints would be unremarkable. For each Christy Mathewson, there is often a Ty Cobb. We also want to try to keep them alive, to revisit their stories, both to learn from them and to try to relive their magic. It is no disrespectful sacrilege to observe that Jews gather for Passover Seders each year to re-create the miraculous story of their release from slavery in Egypt and that Pirates fans gather every October to experience Bill Mazeroski’s home run again. And as in religion, some of the most meaningful experiences in baseball are not lived alone but are shared with communities— from a family to a team to a country— that unite us in concentric circles of relationship. 
My NYU course and this book are attempts at exploring the basic building blocks of a spiritual or religious life, finding them, perhaps surprisingly to some, in an institution associated with secular life. The nine innings of this book are an assertion— an affirmation— that there is a meaningful dimension of the human experience (whether seen in what we recognize formally as religions or in a secular pursuit called baseball) that cannot be captured in words. Francis Bacon once observed, “The best part of beauty is that which a picture cannot express.” This dimension, which coexists with the dimension of the known, the knowable, and the wonder of science, affirms some of the most important truths of our humanity, like the joy of love or thesignificance of our lives. This reflection won’t persuade those who are not at some level already aware of it. As Louis Armstrong once said of jazz: “If you have to ask what it is, you’ll never know.” 
In our times, it is fashionable to force a choice between the worlds of science and religion, of the mind and the soul. Either/ or. This, in my view, is a false dichotomy— and perhaps this collection of baseball stories analyzed through a lens (and an intellectual tradition) usually reserved for the study of what are obviously religious experiences can cause some to see why. I embrace enthusiastically the joys of the intellectual life; but I reject the notion that, as a consequence, I must forfeit the wonders of a deeply transformative religious life. 
Baseball calls us to live slow and notice. This alone may be enough— if it causes some to perceive the world differently and more intensely. The game answers the call issued by my late teacher, the Passionate (referring to the Catholic order) priest and cultural historian Thomas Berry, when he wrote that “when we see a flower, a butterfly, a tree, when we feel the evening breeze flow over us or wade in a stream of clear water, our natural response is immediate, intuitive, transforming, ecstatic. Everywhere we find ourselves invaded by the world of the sacred.”
P.S. Sexton is NYU's 15th President. He joined the University's Law School in 1981, was named the School's Dean in 1988, and became the University's president in 2001. He received a B.A. in History (1963) from Fordham College; an M.A. in Comparative Religion (1965) and a Ph.D. in History of American Religion (1978) from Fordham University; and a J.D. magna cum laude (1979) from Harvard Law School.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why Some Folks Give and Others Don't

I've written elsewhere ("How Religion Benefits Everyone, Even Nonbelievers") that it is well documented that people of faith are more likely to give to and volunteer for both religious AND secular organizations than are non-religious folks (see e.g., "Who Really Cares?" by Arthur Brooks, "America's Blessings" by Rodney Stark, and "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt). However, even within both groups, some give and volunteer more than others. Moreover, some types of solicitations (and solicitors) are more successful than others. In fact, scholars who have studied this have found that solicitations that make people feel good about themselves (warm fuzzes), that appeal to guilt and/or social pressure (e.g., Girl Scout cookies), that offer swag (e.g., t-shirts, mugs) in return for their donation, and/or offer the chance to win a prize (e.g., a trip) are more successful than those that don't. Interestingly, they've also found that attractive women (but not attractive men) are more successful in door-to-door solicitations than others.

All this is the subject of a recent Freakonomics podcast ("How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten"), which you can listen to at the Freakonomics website (see the above link -- you can also find the transcript there) or download from iTunes. Here's a brief description of the podcast:
In this podcast you’ll hear the economist John List, who is no stranger to this blog’s readers, give us the gospel of fundraising — what works, what doesn’t, and why. List and economist Uri Gneezy write about the science of charitable giving in their new book The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Jewish Christ

It is almost gospel among New Testament (NT) scholars that the idea of a suffering, dying, and rising Messiah who should be worshipped was not a notion that Jesus embraced but rather a story created (so to speak) by the early Christians in their attempts to explain the crucifixion and their experience of the resurrection. Thus, you find scholars writing about the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith or claiming that through literary license, Jesus "is made to confess what Christians had come to believe" ("The Five Gospels," p. 24). For example, in reference to Matthew 20:20-23,
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
Jesus Seminar founder, Robert Funk writes
Jesus' question about his cup and baptism is laden with Christian theological meaning, from the post-Easter perspective of Mark. The cup is that of the last supper... and of the ordeal in Gethsemane, and the baptism is a reference to his impending death, not a reminiscence of his baptism by John" ("The Five Gospels," p. 226).
Leave it to Daniel Boyarin, a Talmudic scholar, a Conservative Jew, and a UC Berkeley Professor, to challenge this assumption. He argues that ideas such as the dual godhead with a Father and a Son and a Redeemer who will be both God and man and will suffer and die as part of the salvation process "have deep roots in the Hebrew Bible... and may be among some of the most ancient ideas about God and the world that the Israelite people ever held" ("The Jewish Gospels," p.158). Here's a sample of some of Boyarin's claims:
On the other hand, Jews will have to stop vilifying Christian ideas about God as simply a collection of "un-Jewish," perhaps pagan, and in any case bizarre fantasies. God in a human body indeed! Recognizing these ideas as deeply rooted in the ancient complex of Jewish religious ideas may not lead us Jews to accept them but should certainly help us realize that Christian ideas are not alien to us; they are our own offspring and sometimes, perhaps, among the most ancient of all Israelite-Jewish ideas (pp. 6-7).
On the other hand, certain kinds of "liberal" Christian apologists... will have to stop separating out a "good Jesus" from a "bad Christ." I suggest that Jesus and Christ were one from the very beginning of the Jesus movement. It won't be possible any longer to think of some ethical religious teacher who was later promoted to divinity under the influence of alien Greek notions, with his so-called original message being distorted and lost; the idea as Jesus as divine-human Messiah goes back to the very beginning of the Christian movement, to Jesus himself, and even before that (p. 7). 
By now, almost everyone recognizes that the historical Jesus was a Jew who followed ancient Jewish ways. There is also growing recognition that the Gospels themselves and even the letters of Paul are part and parcel of the religion of the People of Israel in the first century A.D. What is less recognized is to what extent the ideas surrounding what we call Christology, the story of Jesus as the divine-human Messiah, were also part (if not parcel) of Jewish diversity at this time (p. 22).
Mark's saying about the Son of Man being Lord of the Sabbath is... a radical eschatological move, but not one that is constituted by a step outside of the broad community of Israelites or even Jews (pp. 69-70). 
This eschatological move is one that many Jews would have rejected not because they did not believe that the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath but because they did not believe that Jesus was the Son of Man (p. 70).
Jews at the same time of Jesus had been waiting for a Messiah who was both human and divine and who was the Son of Man, an idea they derived from the passage from Daniel 7 (p. 72).
If all the Jews--or even a substantial number--expected that the Messiah would be divine as well as human, then the belief in Jesus as God is not the point of departure on which some new religion came into being but simply another variant (and not a deviant one) of Judaism (p. 53).
Almost the entire story of the Christ... is found as well in the religious ideas of some Jews who didn't even know about Jesus. Jesus for his followers fulfilled the idea of the Christ; the Christ was not invented to explain Jesus' life and death (p. 72).
I submit that it is possible to understand the Gospel only if both Jesus and the Jews around him held to a high Christology whereby the claim to Messiahship was also a claim to being a divine man (p. 55).
The ideas of Trinity and incarnation, or certainly the germs of these ideas, were already present among Jewish believers well before Jesus came on the scene to incarnate in himself, as it were, those theological notions and messianic calling (p. 102).
It has been generally assumed by modern folks that Jews have always given [Isaiah 53] a metaphorical reading, understanding the suffering servant to refer to the People of Israel, and that it was the Christians who changed and distorted its meaning to make it refer to Jesus. Quite to the contrary, we now know that many Jewish authorities, maybe even most, until nearly the modern period have read Isaiah 53 as being about the Messiah; until the last few centuries, the allegorical reading was a minority position (p. 152).
Put simply, if Boyarin is correct, then the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of Man, who died and was resurrected, and who should be worshipped as God, was not a story created by Jesus' earliest followers. Rather, it was a story already present in Jewish thought before Jesus was born.

None of this, of course, proves that Jesus was the Messiah or was divine. For better or worse, that will have to remain an article of faith. It does suggest, however, that it is conceivable that Jesus and his followers thought that he was the Messiah and God-incarnate, which means that many of those sayings of Jesus that some New Testament scholars dismiss as unauthentic because Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man or conceives of himself as divine may authentic after all.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

What Not To Expect When You're Expecting

If you’ve ever been pregnant, or been close to someone who has, you're undoubtedly aware of what pregnant women can't do. They're not supposed to drink alcohol, change the cat litter, or have too much coffee. As it turns out, there isn't a whole lot of empirical support for most of these prohibitions. When Emily Oster, an economist at the University of Chicago's business school, became pregnant, she consulted a number of the self-help books and found that much of the advice was contradictory. So, being the empirical social scientist that she is, she examined the research on everything from drinking wine to weight gain. What she found was some of the conventional wisdom is based on inconclusive or questionable science:
Weight gain during pregnancy is less important than a woman's starting weight and not gaining enough may be more harmful. Light drinking is fine (up to two glasses of wine a week in the first trimester and up to a glass a day in the second and third trimesters). And much of the evidence supports having three to four cups of coffee daily, which made Oster very, very happy ("Coffee, wine and sushi! New pregnancy book says OK").
All of this is the subject of Oster's recent book, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong-and What You Really Need to Know, which has almost certainly upset the "what to expect when you're expecting" industry.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why Not Use P.E.D.'s?

On several occasions, I've written about the hypocrisy concerning the use of P.E.D.'s in sports (see e.g., "Cheating, Steroids, and the Hall of Fame"; "Lance Armstrong and Cheating"; "Cheating and Sports, Part I: What are the Rules about Breaking the Rules?"). In short, I've asked why are certain forms of cheating are allowed, then why isn't using P.E.D.'s. Or better yet, why are certain forms of performance-enhancing behavior acceptable but others aren't? As someone recently wrote to Chuck Klosterman, the NY Times Magazine's "Ethicist":
The argument against performance-enhancing drugs in sports is that the drugs give players an unfair advantage. But how do P.E.D.’s differ from Tommy John surgery? Or pre-emptive Tommy John surgery? What about rich kids? Is their access to superior coaching, facilities and equipment a similarly unfair advantage? In a society that embraces plastic surgery, Botox injections, Viagra and all kinds of enhancements, what moral line do P.E.D.’s cross?
Klosterman's answer is an interesting counterargument to mine, one that might have some merit ("There Are No Sound Moral Arguments Against Performance-Enhancing Drugs"). It's worth checking out.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

No Way to Run a Country

It's no secret that the current budget battle that has shut down the government hinges on a Republican effort to kill Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare. In short some (not all) Republicans want Democrats to agree to kill a piece of legislation that was passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the President, and later ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court. As Jon Stewart so humorously pointed out the other night on the Daily Show ("Rockin' Shutdown Eve"), that's usually more than enough for a law to be implemented, so it's no surprise that the Democrats didn't agree to meet the Republicans "half-way."

If Republicans really think Obamacare is bad for America, then they need to get rid of it the old fashioned way: gain control of Congress and/or the White House and pass a bill to repeal it. Until then, they need to stop holding America hostage just because they don't like it.  If they don't, the
Republicans are setting a precedent which, if followed, would make America ungovernable. Voters have seen fit to give their party control of one arm of government—the House of Representatives—while handing the Democrats the White House and the Senate. If a party with such a modest electoral mandate threatens to shut down government unless the other side repeals a law it does not like, apparently settled legislation will always be vulnerable to repeal by the minority. Washington will be permanently paralysed and America condemned to chronic uncertainty
 (The Economist, "No Way to Run a Country").
Is that what Republicans really want? I don't think so. Not really. Maybe a few do, but at some point in the future, the situation will be reversed. Do the Republicans really want to set this precedent? Do they really want to create a situation that could later be used against them? I would think not, but you never know.

Moreover, it strikes me as political suicide. Just as President Obama's approval rating was taking a hit, a handful of Republicans have managed to paint the G.O.P. as obstructionist and uncompromising.. Indeed, reports suggest that if House Speaker John Boehner allowed a vote on a budget resolution without conditions to come to the floor (one that did not require a scaling back or delaying of Obamacare), it would pass with substantial Republican support. I could be wrong. Indeed, some have pointed to the "benefits of intransigence" and how the shutdown has provided House Republicans with an opportunity to reassemble the federal government piece by piece ("Some in G.O.P. Try to Pick and Choose Amid Spending Fight"). I think they're wrong, but you never know. I've been wrong plenty of times before.

P.S. Recent polls (October 2-8) show that Republicans are getting slightly more of the blame for the shutdown than President Obama and the Democrats. A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday found that 30% percent of Americans blamed Republicans, up from 26%, while 19% blamed Obama and Democrats, up from 18%. Similarly, in a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 70% say they disapprove of how Congressional Republicans have handled negotiations (up from 63%), while 51% (up from 50%) and 61% (up from 56%) disapprove of how President Obama and Congressional Democrats have handled negotiations, respectively. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Will the Broncos Go Undefeated?

Will the Denver Broncos go undefeated this year? Will they become only the second team (the 1972 Miami Dolphins being the first) to complete an entire season undefeated and untied, including the playoffs and the championship game (i.e., the Super Bowl)? Although very few things are written in stone (ask Moses), as long as Peyton Manning stays healthy and with a little luck, there's a pretty good chance the Broncos will. Why? Because Peyton Manning is that good.

We learned just how good he is a couple of years ago when he missed the entire 2011 season due to an injury, and his team at the time (the Indianapolis Colts) fell from a 10-6 record in 2010 to a 2-14 record in 2011 (a year in which they lost their first 13 games). He's better than his brother, Eli, although Peyton's detractors might point to the fact that Eli has two Super Bowl rings and Peyton only has one, but all that goes to show that winning a championship requires a strong supporting cast and a little luck. Winning championships is definitely a sign of greatness, but it is only one. I mean, does anyone really believe that Trent Dilfer was a better quarterback Fran Tarkenton? But I digress.  My sense is that this year luck (and talent) are on Peyton's side. And as long as he and the Broncos aren't playing the Niners in the Super Bowl, I'll be rooting for them to do it.

P.S. The Broncos almost made a liar out of me in under a week. I suspect that they're defensive secondary is going to back to the drawing board after Tony Romo put up over 500 passing yards against them.