The title of this latest offering is the start of a rather weak two line witticism that used to greet increasingly desperate visitors to one of the the mens latrines at my secondary school shortly after they had entered them. It was scrawled in black marker pen on one of those strange plastic clad metal walls that used to be in vogue in schools in the UK in the 80's.
It read as follows:-
Here I sit, bored as hell
Waiting for the freaking bell
Hardly Keats, although it may well have been Larkin, it was memorable for the sheer lack of ambition on behalf of its author as well as the startling lack of literary ability.
Set against a backdrop of stale urine, old cigarette smoke, institutional practicality and moronic vandalism, it could well stand tall as a vindication of that oft -used phrase that occasionally yes, modern life is indeed rubbish. Alternatively of course, it could just have been that an attack of dysentry caused some poor student to be commit his despair to the walls of lavatorial posterity as he failed to hand in his French homework.
I've always preferred to err on the side of caution however, and so I'll settle for the lofty (or was it deep?) motivation being one of sheer boredom.
And that's sort of how I feel about pre-season. buck without bang, pop without fizz, chow without mein, and more heinously, beer without alcohol, pre-season for the fan is an ultimately disappointing experience. Its an appetiser, designed to ensure that you enjoy the main course to an even greater extent than you would have done had you not endured the mundane nature of the starter.
Its about getting things out of the way whilst itself being gotten out of the way. A necessary tedium which irons out all of the wrinkles of the off-season in a way which pads the pockets of the league and advertisers whilst presenting an semblance of entertainment for the fan. It isn't, and doesn't pretend to be, anything else. Which is why reacting to it as if it is, contitutes a waste of valuable energy, not to mention vitriol, which is something we all need to be saving for the regular season.:)
Time and time again however, we see all sorts of reaction relating variously to, character, coaching, talent, playcalling etc, being generated by the results of games which history has proven on a number of occasions, bare little or no relation to regular season performance. In fact, given recent example, you could almost argue that doing badly in pre-season heralds regular season glory. Note I said almost however, what is important here is that ultimately, as said before, pre-season is a poor indication of regular season fate.
Evaluation is the key here, and what is not shared by the coaching staffs of the coaches concerned is the extent to which they are evaluating personnel for gameplans and schemes yet to be unleashed. As we're all aware, you don't always get what you deserve in the business of football, and personal performance doesn't always equal team success. We're not just talking about how many hits, sacks, catches or muffs, we're talking about how players respond to the 'imposters' of failure and success and some of the intangibles present therein. Its hard for us to judge that at a distance, so we can only trust those paid to do so to do it as well as they can.
My own feeling is that we'll be seeing an improved Ram team improve by as much as two games over last season. This is dependent upon team health of course, but it's eminently possible. If asked where I form such opinion, I refer to the evidence of last season over 16 games, against the additions and subtractions of the draft and free agency. Pre-season doesn't really enter into it to the same degree on the basis that you're not seeing the same coaching trickery or the same talent from whistle to whistle.
In saying this, I'm not insisting that mine is the only way of seeing it, I'm just questioning whether pre-season is really worth skewing your perspective over.
I'll wait for the bells to start ringing for real before I get off the 'seat' of judgement.