Before I get to my sports stuff, let me start out with a movie pitch. Please go see Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. You won’t be disappointed.
It’s a two-thumbs-up, five-star, 10-out-of-10, Oscar-worthy depiction of the most compelling figure in American history during a trying time when our nation was being torn asunder.
Daniel Day-Lewis does a marvelous job capturing the nuances and subtleties of the 16th President’s genteel, caring personality, high moral character, under-rated sense of humor, shrewd political brokering skills and steely resolve – all of which Lincoln called upon while attempting to pass the amendment to abolish slavery.
Relying heavily on historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s magnificent book, Team of Rivals, Day-Lewis nails all the minute details, including Lincoln’s plodding, labored gait, and his thin, reedy voice. Spielberg’s use of limited light is a great touch in this dark era before electricity, when candle power and lanterns provided the only illumination other than the sun.
Sally Field also does a superb job portraying Lincoln’s troubled wife.
In case you’re wondering, I took this photo of the Lincoln statue that rests outside the Maxwell School of Citizenship on the campus of my alma mater, Syracuse University. This may be one of those facts that interests only me, but there are at least 125 Lincoln statues across the United States. I plead ignorance, but can anyone tell me if there is one here in Rochester, N.Y.?
I go from Honest Abe to Reliable Ryan. (Talk about difficult segues.) That would be Ryan Nassib, Syracuse’s senior quarterback, who, lately, has been on a torrid tear. During the last five games, he’s thrown 12 touchdown passes and been picked off just once. More importantly, he’s engineered four victories during that en fuego stretch, including two dramatic come-from-behind victories as the Orange men have improved to 6-5 and are now bowl eligible.
As a result, Nassib has been shooting up the 2013 mock NFL draft boards. Although Mel Kiper Jr. rates him as a mid-to-late-round pick, others have him ascending much higher. Should Nassib continue playing well in Friday’s regular-season finale at Temple and in the bowl game and the all-star games to follow, his stock could continue to rise.
I don’t see him as a franchise quarterback by any means, but given the dearth of good quarterbacking in the NFL he should wind up on someone’s roster as a project. The thing I like about the strong-armed Nassib is that he has shown steady improvement. He is a far superior quarterback than he was at the beginning of the season, and dramatically better than he was last year. So, there appears to be a lot of upside here. And playing in Doug Marrone’s pro-style offense certainly has helped.
So the game of conference roulette continues with Rutgers leaving the Big East and Maryland departing the ACC to join the Big Ten that's on the verge of becoming the Big 14.
This most likely means that the ACC will add Connecticut to fill the void caused by the Terps move. That would give the conference a northern division that includes Syracuse, Pitt, Boston College, UConn and two other existing schools. Throw in the arrangement with Notre Dame, which will commit to playing five football games against ACC opponents each year in exchange for having a conference home for all of the Irish's non-football sports, and you have a distinct Big East flavor.
The loss of Rutgers, following the loss of SU, Pitt and West Virginia, leaves the Big East in shambles.
And something tells me the craziness hasn't ended.
Happy 92nd birthday to one of my all-time favorite athletes and one of the all-time nice people in sports – Stan “The Man” Musial. It still amazes me how underappreciated his career is. Had he played in New York or Boston, as his contemporaries Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams did, they would have been naming highways and tunnels after him.
Some of my most enjoyable memories of Musial are from the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies when he would entertain the crowd with a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his harmonica. I hope someone serenades him with “Happy Birthday” on his instrument of choice in celebration of his special day.
SHAMELESS PLUG: I’ll be signing copies of my book, Color Him Orange: The Jim Boeheim Story, at the Barnes & Noble on Erie Blvd. in Syracuse this Friday from 1-3. The hard-cover edition of the book sold out two printings last year and Triumph has published a paperback version this fall that includes a chapter on last year’s exciting and tumultuous season. If you’re in need of a holiday gift for that special someone, please stop by.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of you. I’m thankful for many things, including you taking the time to read my musings. Please take a moment tomorrow to pay gratitude for your blessings.