August 14, 2009

Feuds of the Week is a collection of the week's most pressing matchups. Also, when read aloud, it synchs up perfectly with Dark Side of the Moon.

Michael Vick vs. Animal People

After weeks of speculation, Michael Vick has signed a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Obviously, his release and subsequent reinstatement have been a hot button issue -- some argue that time has been served and, thus, he should be allowed to play immediately, while others feel strongly that he should be banned by the NFL for his involvement in a dogfighting ring.

However you feel, Vick couldn't have ended up in a more interesting scenario. The PETA types will be out in full force in Philadelphia and in seven of the eight Philly road games (even animal lovers know to stay away from Oakland and the Raiders' fans).

The Verdict: It's no mistake that the organization founded on the ideals of defending and representing our country's most revered symbol has signed the embattled QB. Vick and the Eagles are a match made in football heaven, just like Michael Irvin's Injured Neck + Fan Cheering, or Santa Claus + Snowball Pummeling.

Matt Barkley vs. Aaron Corp

With fall camp opening for college football teams across the country, the sport's premier position, USC quarterback, is now up for grabs. Redshirt sophomore Aaron Corp was the announced starter after spring practice, but thanks to his knee injury this week, true freshman Matt Barkley now assumes starting duties for the couple of weeks that Corp is expected to miss.

Here's how it breaks down: Corp is going into his third year in the system and assumes the role of veteran. Barkley is the new upstart with the hype, the canon and the strong early performances. Corp brings steadiness and speed. Barkley brings through-the-roof expectations and surprising poise.

The Verdict: Does it really matter who earns the honor and privilege to be the guy who embarrasses Ohio State this year on prime-time TV? The important thing here is rich, private-school-bred quarterbacks from Orange County are finally getting a fair shake at USC. Heartwarming.

The Wrigley Beer Dumper vs. A Suitable Punishment

On Wednesday, during what appeared to be a routine deep fly ball near the Wrigley Field warning track, Shane Victorino was inexplicably showered with beer by a Cubs fan. Somehow, in the ensuing confusion, the wrong fan (but one who was also taunting Victorino) was taken away by security. Eventually, John Macchione, the true beer dumper, was identified and charged with "battery and illegal conduct within a sports facility."

At this point, everyone agrees that Macchione should probably be banned from not just Wrigley, but all MLB ballparks. While a ban certainly should be the penalty here, a special punishment should be automatically handed down anytime a fan throws anything at an athlete on the field.

The Verdict: Ban him from all ballparks, but let him perform his inevitable community service by assigning him the honorable duty of making sure the Wrigley troughs are clean and up to health code standards after every home game.

Kevin Youkilis vs. Rick Porcello

After watching the video of Youkilis charging the mound after getting nailed by some inside heat thrown by Tigers rookie Porcello, one thing is clear: Youkilis lost. Twice. If you're going to charge the mound, forget about throwing the helmet first; it's no different than throwing dirt in somebody's face. Cheap.

Despite the pre-fight helmet throw (missed, mind you), Porcello retreated and then swiftly took down Youkilis around first base. It's not at the Nolan Ryan/Robin Ventura level of the pitcher calmly taking down an enraged, charging hitter, but it's always better when the pitcher stares down a guy running at him and then immediate dismisses him.

The Verdict: The nod goes to Porcello. Here's to hoping all skinny pitchers get a chance to take down Youkilis, one by one. When the Giants play the Sox during interleague play, it's not unreasonable at this point to expect a Lincecum Suplex.

Watching Preseason NFL Games vs. Playing Madden

This is tough. On one hand, you get to watch actual people playing actual football. On the other hand, there seems to be a lot of guys from New Mexico State or UC Davis trying to make teams, and I'm not even sure if that's better than pixilated HD versions of Eli Manning or Patrick Willis running around following your every D-pad whim.

Preseason games also lead to unrealistic expectations for backups playing against other backups. At one point during Thursday night's Steelers/Cardinals game, I briefly convinced myself that last year's Super Bowl wouldn't have even been nearly as close if Dennis Dixon was under center instead of Ben Roethlisberger.

At the same time, Madden leads to the unrealistic thought that gamers know enough about calling plays that they could step in for an NFL coach in an emergency situation. I'm not saying I've had this thought, but I know people who ... OK, it was me.

The Verdict: It's close, but I'm going with the real thing here. Call me old-fashioned, but there's something special about the combination of sixth-stringers, empty seats and rusty announcers mispronouncing random words while inanely trying to fill airtime with 17 minutes left in a meaningless game. Wait, why am I doing either of these things?

Dan Rubenstein writes for and co-hosts The Solid Verbal college football podcast with's Ty Hildenbrandt. He can e-mailed here.

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