Sunday, November 15, 2009

EB and RU Roll Along; Robert Enke, 1977-2009

Joe Martinek

I was sick as a dog on Thursday night, so I didn't go to the Rutgers game. My father went, though, and he was very pleased by the Scarlet Knights' performance.

By the way, why do people say "sick as a dog" but also "healthy as a horse"? A horse's health is considerably more precarious. And one is alliterative, the other isn't, so that can't be it.

Anyway, Rutgers upset Number 24 South Florida. Crushed them, 31-0. This was their best performance of the season, by a long shot. They are now 7-2, guaranteed to get some kind of bowl invite -- unless the NCAA puts them on probation sometime in the next month. This is highly unlikely, since if RU were under investigation for any wrongdoing, chances are it would have been leaked to the press by now.


I felt a lot better on Friday. The hyperdensity in my sinuses vanished, my dizziness faded, and the worst of it was my usual November-to-January cough, the one that arrives before Thanksgiving and sticks around through Christmas all the way until New Year's. But I was functional again.

So what did I do? Naturally, I went to a football game and sat in the rain, wind, and by the second half cold for two and a half hours. A mass o' chism, I know. But how often does East Brunswick High School get a home game in the State Playoffs? This was only the second time in the last 19 years that we did -- and only the second season in 24 in which we won one.

I had to go see my EB Bears. They're not the team I've loved the longest, but they are the team I've been closest to, having been a student manager (not to be confused with any form of coach) for the baseball and wrestling teams back in the Eighties. It's the only sports institution (and sometimes it has seeed like a mental institution) where I've been involved from the inside of the organization, not just watching from inside the stadium or arena walls. More than any other team on the planet, this is my team. And of all teams I root for, it's also the one I share with the fewest people, making it seem even more like mine. I share this team with a few thousand, not with a few million.

This is the 1st time in nearly half a century of coexistence that both EB and RU are in postseason play in the same season. Ever. And despite the nasty weather, and the opponent being a creditable West Windsor team, we won 27-0, and advanced to the Central Jersey Group IV (largest-size school) Semifinals. A fantastic performance by the Bears, and a few of the few who braved the weather to show up said it was similar to RU's performance the night before.

It was our biggest point spread ever in Playoff competition, and it evened our all-time Playoff record at 6-6. Still, since New Jersey went to Playoffs to determine its high school football State Champions (or at least Sectional Champions) in 1974, there's only that one title, in 2004, which is the last time we made the Playoffs. We reached the Finals but lost in 1984 and '85, lost in the Semifinals in 1980, '87, '88, '90 and '94; and lost in the Quarterfinals in '98, the year it went from the top 4 teams making it to the top 8 -- under the current system, we would also have made the Playoff in '77, '78, '81, '86, '92 and '95. Still, 10 times in 36 years isn't bad. Several nearby schools have done better, but a few would love to have done even half as well as we have.

Next Friday night, the Semifinal presents us with a rematch against Sayreville. At their dump. I hate that place. The Sayreville students and parents are a bunch of arrogant schmucks. To make matters worse, due to the renovation of our field 2 years go, this will be the 4th time in a row that we play them away.

We shouldn't even be playing them. They're the top seed. Hunterdon Central of Flemington, the 3 seed, got beat by 6 seed Brick Memorial. This afternoon, 2 seed Howell hosts 7 seed Montgomery. The lowest remaining seed should be playing the highest-remaining. In other words, if Howell wins, then the Central Jersey Group IV Semifinals should be Brick Memorial at Sayreville and East Brunswick at Howell (6 at 1 and 4 at 2); while if Montgomery pulls off the upset, it should be Montgomery at Sayreville and Brick Memorial comes back to EB for a rematch of that shootout where they beat us last week (7 at 1 and 6 at 4). But the way the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association set it up, it's not about seeding, it's about brackets like the NCAA basketball tournament.

This isn't the 1st time the NJSIAA has screwed EB football over, nor even the most egregious such example. There are still some people angry over what they did to us in 1980. If I feel like it, I'll mention it this week, although I don't remember it happening but I do know most of the details.

Anyway, after Sewerville, the next game will be the regular-season finale, on Thanksgiving Day against Old Bridge, a.k.a. The Scum, a.k.a. the Purple Bastards. Thank God and the schedule-maker that we have it at home. I don't want to go to Sayreville and Old Bridge within the span of 5 days. It's bad enough my job is on the Sayreville-Old Bridge border, and that each of the 2 ways I can get to work by bus has to pass one or the other of their fields. But having to visit both in the span of 5 days? I still haven't gotten my radiation suit back from the cleaners!

Regardless of what happens against The Scum, if we beat Sayreville, then we advance to the Central Jersey Group IV Final against the Howell-Montgomery-Brick Memorial survivor, sometime during the weekend of December 5, most likely at Rutgers Stadium. So, as in 2004, we may end up playing a bigger game at that place this season than Rutgers does.


The Devils won last night, 5-2 at home over injury-plagued Washington. That's their 8th straight win. A bad as they were at the start of the season, losing their 1st 2 games at home to their two most hated rivals, the Flyers and the Rangers (who suck), they are now in 1st place in the Atlantic Division.

The night before, they won their 9th straight road game, one off the '06-'07 Buffalo Sabres' NHL record.

But the Nets fell to 0-9, losing 81-80 to the Miami Heat. Last-second shot by Dwayne Wade. So close.

Why do I even bother to pay attention? They're going to be playing their home games in Brooklyn in 3 years. Or maybe 4.

Or maybe not at all. There's a report on the Star-Ledger's website in which Mikhail Prokorov, the prospective new Russian owner, may move them from the Meadowlands to the Prudential Center if Bruce Ratner, trying to sell the team even as he tries to build the Atlantic Yards project (which appears to have been all he cared about all along, the dirty cunt), can't get that deal done.

Newark is a great basketball city. The Nets had two exhibition games at The Rock that had attendance comparable to the Devils' regular-season games against non-rivals. It's so easy to figure out, a Caveman could do it! Why can't Ratner?

Couldn't he make just as much money with the Nets in Newark -- and with all the questionable construction contracts floating around in New Jersey -- as he could with his Frankenstein baby in Brooklyn? Does he have to take the team I loved from 1977 to 2006 when he announced he was taking them away? Did I mention he was dirty cunt?


Last week, Robert Enke stepped in front of a train in Neustadt am Rübenberge in northern Germany, and allowed himself to be hit. He was only 32 years old, and left a wife and an infant daughter.
He was a goalkeeper for soccer team Hannover 96. (The name means that they were founded in Hannover, Germany in 1896.) Previously, he had played for his hometown team, Carl Zeiss Jena; for Borussia Mönchengladbach; for Lisbon, Portugal giants Benfica; and for Barcelona. He made 8 appearances for the German national team.

He had a history of clinical depression and panic attacks, and his depression got worse after another daughter died of heart trouble soon after her birth.

His death has shocked European soccer, and many of his teammates and friends have taken to social media, begging people feeling the same symptoms that he felt to get help rather than follow his path.


Days until the Devils play another local rival: 1, tomorrow night, against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Going for the record-tying 10th straight road win, but it sure won't be easy against the Broad Street Bullies and their crypto-human fans.

Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 5, this Friday night.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 6, this Saturday afternoon, up at Syracuse, a.k.a. Sorry-excuse.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 11. I want this one. Real. Bad. As much as I hate Sayreville, if we lose the Playoff game to them but still beat the Purple Bastards, I will glady take it.

Days until the 2010 Winter Olympics begin: 89. Less than 3 months.

Days until Opening Day of the 2010 baseball season: 141.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 146, on April 10, 2010 at White Hart Lane.

Days until the Yankees' 2010 home opener: 149.

Days until the 2010 World Cup begins: 209.

Days until the World Cup Final: 240.

Days until the new Meadowlands Stadium (still unnamed) opens: 264.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 545 (projected).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 727.

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