Okay, if this is a “rules broadcast,” to introduce strangers to the Arena League, then who better to impose upon for my liveblogging purposes than someone who’s never seen the friggin’ game. So I’m hanging out with my friend Pat tonight.
Lead in to the AFL? College Bowling, of course. “I like college bowling more than pro bowling, actually – it has more integrity,” says Pat. Maryland-Eastern Shore is your women’s bowling champion. Yes. This is terrifying.
But, everyone’s miked up, we’re at the Something-or-other Dome (Sprint Center) in Kansas City, and I’m going to document the exact moment that strangers lose interest in the AFL.
Ray Bently and Bob Wischusen are our guides. “Oh ho ho,” says Pat, “We’re going to have a ratings bonanza!”
The dimensions are described to my friends, who are speechless with what I assume is confusion
We’re doing this crazy thing … now:
Epilogue: Well, that was a fun evening. I think Mike and Pat were intrigued for the majority of the game, so that’s a plus. However, NFL Live started immediately after the game, and we both gawked at Maurice Jones-Drew, and realized that the NFL looks really fancy after watching the Arena League. In any event, I like the “Get Open” Play as much as anyone, so I’ll keep watching the AFL. Also. But I’m also really happy when “the outdoor game” comes back.
10:04: Meyer brings the ball out to the two yard-line, and Kansas City has time for maaaaybe two plays. Hitch route that buys a few yards, and we’re going to get the Silly Hail Mary! My favorite!
Ray Bentley doubts D. Bryant’s arm strength, and with good reason. His pass gets stuck in the iron, which is hilarious, and one of the Chicago players leaps up and plucks it out of there, which is also funny. Ballgame.
Chicago improves to 5-2, and Kansas City’s still really frickin’ bad.
9:59: Damien Harrell with the one-handed catch that’d be a highlight in any league.
:22 left, Michna has tons of time, Harrell gets separation, and drops the ball. Inconcievable!
With 11 seconds left, Chicago tries to bleed the clock, Pat’s telling me about Blockbuster’s ill-concieved (“reckless,” says the article) hostile bid for Circuit City, and it’s all very exciting.
Michna to the end zone to LaTendresse for the touchdown. Great play – LaTendresse was wide open, Michna threw a nice soft ball, and there are 6 seconds left. That should do it. 49-42, Chicago.
9:55: Chicago has less than 2 minutes left on the clock. Conceivably they could bleed-and-score, or score quickly and hope for a stop. Considering that it’s Michna – who’s been pretty solid tonight, but the decision makes sense – they decide to bleed it down to the 1:00 warning and try to score last. That’s what we’ll do.
9:48: Kansas City is still within striking distance. Bryant has been reasonably accurate tonight, and for some reason, the Chicago defensive backs aren’t keeping up. He goes for the long ball, Horacek doesn’t come up with the ball, but… there’s a penalty. Chicago roughed Bryant, and we’ll start again.
Two wild passes bring up 3rd and 10. Bryant pulls Baron offsides, which is a shame, because Frederick flinched, too. The 3rd and 5 is converted, first down, KC.
Moss just puts his shoulder down and powers into the endzone. Touchdown, Brigade. XP is good, 42-42 tie game.
9:40: Michna throws a dart for a dozen or so yards, down to the 5, and then throws a screen for no yards, and then a dump-off for negative a couple. 3rd and Goal.
Michna dances, throws a nice pass for the touchdown, but – of course – there are two penalties. Defensive Pass Interference and Holding (which elicits a “What the FUCK?” from somebody), so we’re going to go back to 3rd and a billion.
Another penalty! This is very exciting. Except for the fact that we haven’t had an actual play in about a year. The Sprint Center PA system blasts Cake’s “The Distance” which perks Pat right up for some reason. And, an incomplete pass from Michna will bring out Frantz for the field goal.
Blocked! Kansas City’ll take over at their own 2. 7:03 remains in the 4th.
9:39: The Kansas City onside kick is swatted 35 yards deep, and Chicago takes over with a short field. And…. there’s another penalty on the first down. Holding, first and 20, Chicago. Hooray.
9:33: Kickoff is returned to the 15. Clarification from the referees to Coach Ho: the CPR move was okay, but the second guy who came in and slapped the ball away wasn’t. It’s not a penalty, apparently. Maybe they just don’t want to teach kids bad CPR techniques. “Hey, kids, once you get them breathing again, don’t slap them across the room.”
Oh, there’s a game going on! Shit! Touchdown, Kansas City, and Unertl is out of position again (and fails to successfully commit defensive holding). Apparently, the receiver was going “too fastly.” Cool word, Ray. Or perhaps Bob. 42-35 Chicago.
9:30: Michna is stuffed on the keeper, and we agree that the better thing to do on the 1 would be to have the motion WR run into the defensive backfield and never snap the ball. Just have him run around until they threw the flag, and gave you a 5-yard cushion. Doesn’t matter. Dan Alexander’s in. Touchdown, Chicago., and they take a 42-28 lead.
9:21: 1) The fake toss/screen pass works poifectly for Chicago, who honestly has let Kansas City hang around for far too long. 2) It’s agreed that the Facebook “superpoke” application is dumber than the Treaty of Versailles.
Teriffic touchdown catch by… I have no idea. There’s a penalty, so fuck it.
Arena Referee Theater: “I have a defensive penalty.” “Well, I have offensive. We’ll have ’em offset.”
Dan Alexander, touchdown! No, wait, another penalty – holding – will erase that.
Referee What’s-his-face pinches the bridge of his nose like he wishes he had finished law school, instead of wearing a silly outfit on a tiny football field.
“All right, we have all sorts of stuff.” This is great. This is… I’m going to pull this off TiVo when I get home. I have no words. The net result is that intentional pass interference (is that a thing? Really?) puts the ball at the 1. Chicago tries to leap for the touchdown and is unequivocally denied. Annnnnd… the third quarter comes to an end.
9:19: One of the Kansas City CBs (Brown) comes up lame, like a horse, and will have to be put down.
9:12: Onside kick recovered by Kansas City. I have to give the ESPN team credit – their explanation of why Chicago’d go for it here is pretty solid. It did involve referring to “the element of surprise,” which is a little cliche, but what are you going to do?
Also good of them – the explanation of why the Mac LB wasn’t flagged for illegal defense (he was shadowing the fullback). It did, however, take them until
Oh, criminy: Kansas City’s field goal is missed, wide left, there’s a bit of a scrum, and KC ends up with it for the touchdown. The discussion between the officials over what the deal actually is (kick catch interference) is completely unintelligible, because various players and fans (I presume) are screaming about what “fucking bullshit” the interference call is. It just serves to make us really interested in whether or not NFL refs are equally confused when they huddle up. ANYWAY, the penalty is enforced prior to Kansas City’s recovery, so, Chicago gets the ball at the 5. Everybody that isn’t involved with Chicago is pissed.
We’re pretty cheerful, though.
9:10: We’ve digressed into discussion of the XFL, via their Wikipedia page, which says that they treated America to 12 weeks of “intriguing” football. That’s charitable. It did popularize the skycam, apparently.
9:05: We just had a discussion of what crossovers the AFL could have to boost ratings, a la Beckham playing in the MLS. We determined that if Shaq played, everybody’d watch. KC kicks off to Wise, he only has the kicker to beat, and he falls down in front of (Friend of the Blog) Peter Martinez. Yeesh.
Michana-Morgan, who makes 45 moves, and can’t quite escape. It’s 2nd and 2, Chicago at the 10.
A pitch play is… stopped enough at the 2. Chicago’s cranky, and turns that irritation into DaJuan Alfonzo barreling into the end zone. 35-28 Chicago.
9:02: 1st down, Kansas City inside the Red Zone, and we’re going to try a sweep play… No, it’s an iso, my apologies. Fredricks scores on the run. XP good, 28-28, and it’s a ballgame.
9:00: That got the room’s attention again. Kansas City now has a chance to tie the game. Wait a second… Frederick has dreadlocks that cover his nameplate as well? How am I supposed to tell them apart? By their giant numbers? I’m not a mathematician, here.
8:51: Chicago gets the ball to start the second half. They’ll start at the 10-yard line. Michna keeps completing little dump passes, and escaping tackles until… he fumbles. Disaster strikes! Boss tries to cut-block the blind-side rusher misses him, and Kansas City takes over.
8:49: We’ll try again with the locker room cam. And there is strategic discussion going on. How useful when it’s broadcast in “mumblevision,” as Pat has dubbed it. He also postulates that perhaps they would’ve had more success if they had hidden cameras. Somebody break something! COME ON.
Also, somebody has to tell Ray Bentley when they hit the dump button. This is now approximately the 75,000th time they’ve dumped language or state secrets or whatever, and we’ve resumed audio mid-sentence.
1-2-3 Brigade! vs. “WE DID NOT WIN THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE! 1-2-3 WIN!” Coach Ho is much more demonstrative than Coach Boredom and Ennui.
We’ve also probably lost our audience over here somewhat, as everyone has their laptops out and are discussing the Titanic, the Italian Prime Minister, and résumé re-structuring. Arena Football: catch the fever.
8:44: ESPN takes us into the locker room, where currently it is very boring. They’re having a casual chat in the Kansas City locker room. Annnndd…. they’re doing the same in the Chicago locker room. RIVETING.
8:40: Michna buys time – he’s mobile! – and then gets BRUTALIZED late, against the wall. He gets bent in half. Apparently, roughing the passer offsets offensive holding, we’ll do that again. On the ensuing play, Michna throws it directly to Kansas City. There’s some miscommunication there… oopsen. Interception, Kansas City. 4 seconds: will we see a Hail Mary? Please please please?
Kind of. Unertl intercepts the pass at the 1. It didn’t go off the net. Boo. That barely counts as a hail mary. Halftime.
8:35: Fun with miked up: Horacek pleads his case to the referees, to no avail. He would like more pass interference calls, please.
Dreadlocks guy – Gerald Brown –slaps the official! Awesome.
Unsportsmanlike conduct on the defense. That displeases the Kansas City faithful.
Brown apologizes to the official, and we have a discussion here about how saying “Look, I’m real sorry, I actually wanted to shove my opponent,” isn’t that much of a defense, really. Damien Harrell can’t get free deep, but nobody cares, because it’s… what, defensive offsides? Really? Eeeegh. True, Bob, the crowd is livid about the lack of a pass interference call.
8:33: Hey – it’s Charles Frederick! Where’ve you been all night?
Bryant to Horacek waaaay downfield. Pat cheers, until he realizes that Horacek isn’t on Chicago. “I thought one of the Chicago guys looked happy,” he explains. 28-21, and KC’s hanging around. Jeremy Unertl is usually more on top of those plays… Hm.
8:28: Kansas City has a long field – they’ll start at the 4. We’ve also learned that the officials have an awful lot of discretion in this game. That’s pretty silly. Bryant flips another 4-yard out, and gets his receiver pasted into the boards. Another wild pass, and that’s the one-minute warning.
“We’ll now play stoppage time the rest of the way,” says Bob. (I think. I don’t know who’s who – I’ll admit that.) I’m not sure that “stoppage time” means what you think it means, Bob.
8:26: Michna breaks two tackles and runs for the touchdown. The Kansas City fans say he’s out of bounds, the officials disagree, and the ESPN replay appears to confirm the official’s opinion. 28-14 Chicago, 2:29 remains.
8:20: Why is the AFL marketing to people who ride hoverounds? “Maybe they figure that if you’re watching the Arena League, you must be in some way physically incapable of changing the channel,” quips Pat. HUGE return by the Rush. It looks like the Brigade is going to be hard-pressed to keep this a one-score game. KC runs a zone (thanks, announcing team!), and Michna just dumps it underneath to Morgan.
“Cloud meaning the corner has the short route.” “What?” “As opposed to ‘Sky,’ which is when the safety has the short route.” “Oh.” You win this round, ESPN announcers.
“Is this consistent with ‘the outdoor game?'” asks Bob. It’s like when politicians refer to “[their] worthy opponent.”
Pass play fails, rush play fails, 4th and goal, Chicago… they’re going for it. And cursing, as the sound cuts out again. The Arena League goes MOS for dramatic moments, apparently.
8:13: The animations just collapsed on Bob. Or Ray. That was weird. But I did learn that the cornerbacks are the Boundary and… Field Corner? “Has the new Jack LB rule hurt or helped offensive play?” Ray… doesn’t really answer the question? I asked Pat if that explanation helped. “Oh, I’m sorry, I zoned out.”
Offsides and Pass Interference on Chicago, KC declines because it was a first down. A running play for 20-some yards? Wow!
“Running the Hoop” is explained to us. I still don’t know what it is. I was distracted by the news that Northwest and Delta are merging into one awful, awful airline.
Bryant to Horacek, and ESPN sits on the dump button for about 35 seconds, so we get no analysis at all. Whee! 21-14, Chicago. We’ve decided to discuss air travel here. I hold a grudge against Northwest for aiding and abetting the collapse of Midway Airlines in 1991
8:04: Greg, from Huntington, NY wants to know why there are so many passing plays in the AFL: “Because the ball’s always live, Greg,” says Pat with disdain. Return to the 20, Chicago goes to work. Running play! And the dump button!
Holy crap! Boss is a big young man. Catches the screen, and barrels over about 13 guys. Michna is 6-7. Michna flips the ball to Latrandesse – am I spelling that right? Defensive holding offset by offensive holding, we’ll redo.
Donovan Morgan scores, and FAILS to do CPR on the ball. Seriously, he does CPR, chest compressions, and then gets up, shrugs, and shakes his head sadly. That was hilarious. The (extra-long, thanks false start) extra point is good, and it’s 21-7, Chicago. Kansas City is not stopping Chicago’s offense in any way, shape or form.
8:01: Bryant hurls the ball into the 5th or 6th row. “Look! Souveneir is slang!” Thanks, ESPN. Next play: Bryant to the guy with dreadlocks that obscures his nameplate. Touchdown, Kansas City. Perhaps “sluffing” occurred. 14-7, Chicago, 13:38 left in the half.
7:55: These rules all sound like backyard football rules that you make up after an argument with somebody. “So what if I was out of bounds when I got the punt! There wasn’t anyone around me!” “Oh, fine, if you guys quit we can’t keep playing, so, do whatever you want.”
Joe Peters, DE, goes down with a somewhat nasty-looking injury to his… knee?
Bryant to Myers equals a first down (the first?) for Kansas City. The next play, Jeremy Unertl sort of interferes a little bit with the KC receiver, and while the fans see what we see, the officials do not. The first quarter ends 14-0, Chicago.
7:51: I did not know that the tight end had to identify himself. I’ve learned that. Michna to Harrell, wide open, touchdown. “Ooh, that was a smoothly executed play! That would’ve worked in football!” says Pat. XP is good, 14-0, Chicago. 3:04 remains in the first. Woof, that’s terrible coverage on the part of Kansas City. ESPN explains “Sluffing off” to us. I thought it was spelled “Sloughing off,” and Pat suggests that perhaps that’s how British Arena Football spells it.
7:45: Wise blows up the Kansas City returner, and they’ll get back on it. So far, the officials being miked up has been… just like regular football. They’re really hyping this locker room thing up. Hopefully halftime will see someone get shot. Annnnd… KC isn’t firing on any cylinders. The Brigade receivers are getting positively murdered on every play. Kansas City lines up in an illegal formation that I’ve never heard of (Tight end and motion reciever on the same side), and we get the “Field Goal” (not a punt! There’s no punting!) unit of Kansas City.
7:40: Michna buys time by scrambling for about 35 seconds, before a) firing a laser into the first row (Harrell fell down) and b) getting fucking blown up.
“Looks like the turf monster got him,” babbles… Bob or Ray in re: Harrell.
Michna to… seldom-used tight end, touchdown, Rush. “Michna looks like… somebody,” I comment. “A fetus?” suggests, Pat. 7-0 Rush.
7:35: We get the “no punting” rule not-explained to us. I clarify that a long field goal is live, so it’s basically a punt. But D. Bryant (Pat’s new
“This looks like football…” “It’s remarkably like football.”
“Even a field goal is like a stop in this game,” says Bentley, to general glee.
RUSS MICHNA! Oh noooo! Bonner’s hurt, so Michna starts, and pitches to Dan Alexander to get Chicago started.
7:32 PM: Meyers returns the kickoff. Holding, they’ll start inside the 5. “So… they can’t get tackled, they have to get forced into the sides?” asks Pat. Thank you, ESPN – you’ve clarified nothing. Madden ’98 graphics explain the sets for us, as well as high motion. Pat requests hi-def. I don’t disagree.
Does anyone know who this new QB is? D. Bryant? No first name? Just an initial? What the hell?