b The Longhorn Mafia <$BlogRSDURL$>

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Politics: The First Debate 

Work precluded me from writing a presidential debate preview today, and truthfully, I'm not all that interested in watching it. But the Astros have an off-night, so I figure I'll tune in.

No live blogging for me. Stephen Green has you covered much better than I could.

I'm assuming that afterwards I'll have a few thoughts.

First thought: Where does Kerry stand on Iraq this week? My friend Robert just called to ask me, so that he could track any flip-flops. I think he's currently anti-Iraqi War. We'll see.

The aftermath

Antiseptic... mostly boring... much more style than substance...

It looked to me like two soccer teams playing to a 0-0 tie instead of trying to go for the goal. Maybe give a slight edge to the President. But I'm a Republican, so go figure.

Fellow Austinite (I think) The Swanky Conservative was live-blogging as well. He has a boatload of good content. My favorite line describes Sen. Kerry:

But he didn’t say what the F the plan was. I’m tired of him. Hold the elections now because I’m tired of this pessimistic know-it-all who can’t make up his mind where he stands on an issue.


Sports: Just Dreaming... 

Saturday's Texas-Baylor game starts at 11:30. I seriously doubt I'm still in the stands by the end of the game. Most likely I'll either be back at our tailgate or in the Ex-Students' Association, watching the other games of the day on TV.

I just noticed that Houston's game with Colorado starts at 6:05 that night. Figuring in travel time and stops for gas or whatnot, I'm thinking that it's entirely possible to attend both games.

Anyone have Astros tickets?


Astros: A Winning Attitude 

Not only are the Astros doing the right things on the the field lately, they're saying the right things off of it.

Lance Berkman, on last night's egde-of-your-seat win against St. Louis:

"There was never a point I thought we were going to lose."
Craig Biggio:

"We know what's at stake. We believe in ourselves. We believe in the guys in here."
Manger Phil Garner:

"We're playing now like we're not going to get beat. When the pressure has been greatest, we've gotten it done."
At this time last year, Houston entered the final three games tied with Chicago for the division lead. They promptly lost their next two, while the Cubs won theirs to clinch the division.

Even when they were tied, it just felt like Houston was living on borrowed time. The Cubs had a swagger about them that made me feel uneasy. In the pit of my stomach I knew that Houston would fold. Not so this year. This team has battled against adversity since May and for all the trials and tribulations, here they are now: sitting atop the standings with a playoff berth in their grasp.

They know it. They feel it. They want it.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Astros: It's Never Easy 

You simply can't lose you're composure when you're facing Scott Rolen. Roger Clemens did that and now a 4-2 Astros lead is a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the seventh.

No poker references tonight. I'll just say that sucks. Just like the Cubs.

Jeff f'n Bagwell!!!

If there's been one constant in Houston's season, it would have to be a steady stream of vile, unfair, over-the-top criticism of Jeff Bagwell from a large contingent of Astros "fans."

Well to everyone (and many of them can be found here) that that has gotten their kicks all season long by taking potshots at my boy Baggy, I have one thing to say:

Fuck you.

That "non-clutch," "over the hill," "overpaid," "needs-to-sit-down-to-make-room-for Mike Lamb" first baseman -- the one that has only been Mr. Freaking Astro for more than a decade -- has now saved this team's ass, and playoff hopes, on consecutive nights.

Tonight it was a line drive off of the left field wall to drive in Willy Taveras. Lance Berkman's follow-up double was enough to get Bags in from first to make it 6-4 Astros. That's called hustle boys and girls, and Jeffrey Robert Bagwell has given you that day in and day out since 1991.


Last month there was a thread on Hornfans.Com, just before the final four-game series of the year with Chicago, discussing Houston's chances at the Wild Card. I believe that the Astros trailed Chicago by six games at the time. I made the comment that if Houston took three of four, they'd win the Wild Card. Damn, I wish I had saved that thread (they expire after 30 days).

It's been a long and often painful road this season, but with three games to go, Astros fans can finally feel confident in this club's chances to make the playoffs. In some respects, it still feels like they've underachieved, but I don't think that's true.

Only the most optimistic of Houston fans expected them to run away with the division. Most figured that the team would win 90-95 games and figure into the mix with a handful of other good clubs. That's exactly what they've done. At worst they'll enter Friday's series with Colorado a game behind the Giants. At best they can have a game lead on Chicago and San Fran.

It's going to be a wild weekend.


Astros: Bitter? 

Larry Dierker:

With all the great teams I had when I was managing, we never got past the first round of the playoffs. It would be just like the gods of the game to take this broken ballclub into the first round and beyond.
(emphasis is mine)

Note to the BBGs... Please take this insult as an opportunity to send Houston to the World Series, just to spite Dierker. He'll get over it and Astros fans will gladly sacfrifice a newborn bear in your honor.


Politics: Wictory Wednesday! 

I'd like to think there's more at stake this election that what my friend Kevin claims.

Those kooky Libertarians.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Astros: Getting Grayer With Each At-Bat 

In my eyes, nothing in sports rivals the intensity of a one-run baseball game during a playoff situation. With one pitch fortunes can change so drastically that they often more resemble the river card of a high-stakes no-limit hold'em game than any other traditional sports situation.

Football and basketball have their intense moments, I admit. But theirs aren't decided by the one-on-one duels that mark so many great baseball face-offs. With no time limit or game clock to affect the outcome, baseball so often comes down to that singular moment -- pitcher versus hitter -- in a battle of determination and wits, which plays out on its own timeline. Each pitch leaves you breathless. Each swing could be "the one." And when your season is on the line, it's as nerve-wracking an ordeal as you'll find in sports.

The Astros face that ordeal tonight. Clinging to a one-run lead in the late innings, every pitch has me on the edge of my seat. Literally. I feel the gray hairs multiplying.

Burn and turn

Top eight. Two on, two out. One ball, two strikes. Astros leading 2-1.

Brad Lidge gets Albert Pujols to ground into a fielder's choice. You know what that is? That's Johnny Chan seeing his aces hold up against Phil Hellmuth's kings.

Think so?

"The crowd is really into it. This is playoff stuff."
-Astros color man Bill Worrell, commenting on the crowd noise right before Jeff Kent walked to load the bases in the eighth.

Unfortunately the Astros get no insurance. Edmonds, Walker, Renteria in the ninth. That's an ace going up against a possible full house.

Still alive!!!

A line drive and two strikeouts clinch a 2-1 win. Brad Lidge has proven himself as clutch as anyone in the league right now. With a Cubs loss tonight, Houston has pulled to within a half-game of Chicago.

We're not there yet, Astros fans. But the Good Guys are better off now than they were yesterday, and that's all we could have asked for. To keep the poker theme going, we're all in with a flush draw, going up against Chicago's pair of cowboys, and we just got number three on the flop. Another win tomorrow means we get to see the river this weekend.


INsite: The Pregame Tailgate (October 2004) 

(The October INsite hits stands on Friday)

The Pregame Tailgate
by Andrew Fox

As I sit down to write this column the number four sticks out in my mind. Have you ever stopped to wonder what is so special about four? Why is it, specifically, that so many significant events occur once every four years?

Take 2004 for instance. This past winter we added an extra “leap day” to February. In August athletes from all nations convened in Greece for the Summer Olympics. And in November, millions of Americans will cast ballots to determine the next president.

All are meaningful, but it’s another four-year cycle that weighs on my mind this month. My inner Pachyderm’s mantra of “four more years” will have to go on the shelf as I travel to Dallas next week, because the 2004 Red River Shoot-Out has arrived. Like every other Texas fan, I’m hoping to see the Burnt Orange bleeding of the past four years cease.

Four years. It’s hard to comprehend. The University of Texas has seen Oklahoma walk out of the Cotton Bowl with bragging rights four years in a row. For the Longhorn faithful, that stings more than a George W. Bush inaugural speech in the Michael Moore home. But it’s the reality that we face as the two Big XII titans prepare to face each other again this season.

“Four more years.” Don’t think that some Sooner entrepreneur hasn’t put that phrase to use. I expect to see plenty of crimson-clad vendors on the State fair's midway, hawking T-shirts or koozies emblazoned with that poignant reminder of Oklahoma’s 21st Century dominance of Texas.

I just hope they exhaust their supply, because that dominance ends this year.

As the final seconds tick away on Oct. 9, “four more years” will become a historical footnote in this storied college football rivalry, taking its place alongside the ghosts of Barry Switzer and Peter Gardere. Texas is going to stun the Sooners and the entire college football world.

Before you say that I’m crazy (I might be) or rash (I definitely am), consider this: Oklahoma has never beaten Texas five consecutive times. I know the arguments for why Texas cannot win this game, but frankly, that fact is all I need to know to counter that we will.

Fifteen years ago, Oklahoma walked into the Cotton Bowl seeking their fifth straight win against Texas. No one even expected the unranked Horns to keep it close. They did more than that, winning 28-24 with a late touchdown pass from Gardere to Johnny Walker.

The next year Gardere led the Horns to another upset victory, 14-10, with more fourth quarter heroics. In 1991 the Texas defense led the way. Bubba Jacques’ late fumble return for a touchdown gave Texas a 10-7 win. Gardere’s arm again proved golden in 1992, when he capped off a career of Sooner mastery with a 34-24 win.

I’m not so stuck in the past as to think that the Horns are going to automatically reel off four in a row to answer Oklahoma’s current streak. I know, however, that this series has always been streaky, and it isn’t necessarily the best team that always wins. Texas wasn’t in 1989, that’s for sure. Oklahoma wasn’t in 1997 either, when they upset Texas for their first win of the season.

Bob Stoops is a major upgrade from the Gary Gibbs and John Blake teams that played in those respective games. Mack Brown, however – despite his faults – is an equal upgrade from the David McWilliams-led teams that ran off that leap year’s worth of upsets, and he’s at least marginally better than John Mackovic, who engineered the ’97 debacle.

It’s true that the 2004 Red River Shootout won’t be decided by a history book. History will play its part, though, and when combined with the Horns’ newfound power rushing game and the shifty ability of QB Vince Young, history will repeat itself.

At least I hope so, because I can’t take another four years of this.

e-mail TPT at drewfox@gmail.com


Sports: NFL Week Three 

See, I knew I wasn't as bad a prognosticator as last week suggested. My record in Week Three:

7-3 ATS
7-3 SU

That brings me back to respectable figures on the season:

15-15 ATS
17-13 SU

My Week Three thoughts:

- Before you Cowboy haters start in with the "lucky" comments, keep in mind that Dallas played almost the whole game with their backup CB. Pete Hunter isn't the second coming of Neon Dieon, but there is a reason that he won the job over Jacquez Reese. Reese's inability to cover down the field let the Skins get back into that game.

- That said, huge win for the 'Boys in a hostile environment. A friend remarked after the game that I should "enjoy the Vinny train while it lasts." More than half the league has QB issues, so if Testaverde slumps later this season, that doesn't necessarily doom Dallas' playoff hopes.

- Two teams with no QB issues: Indy and Green Bay. Wow. Why is there even any talk of Brett Favre retiring? I think he could roll off of his deathbed and run that offense. As good as Favre was, though, Peyton Manning played even better. If the Colts can somehow keep from having to travel to Foxboro, then I don't see anyone knocking them off come January.

- Are the Chiefs really 0-3 bad? They seem to find ways to give away games. Domanick Davis did squat against their porous defense and the Texans still found a way to win. Greg Robinson has to feel relieved that he's in Austin and not Kansas City.

- The rest of the NFL now knows why Texas fans referred to Roy Williams as "The Legend."

- Before the season my friends scoffed when I said that Miami might not win five games. I'm starting to think I overrated them.

- Jacksonville might be the ugliest 3-0 team in NFL history. Kudos to Jack Del Rio, however, for finding ways to win tight ballgames. The Jags are the anti-Chiefs.

- If Jacksonville's the ugliest, Seattle is the quietest 3-0 team. They're outscoring opponents 65-13 so far, but they're not as glitzy as Indy, nor as gritty as New England, so they don't get as much attention. I know a lot of people picked Seattle to win the NFC, but I think that has as much to do with no other contender emerging, save for Philly, and they're victims of that whole "fool my three times..." argument. The Seahawks look like they're on their way to twelve or thirteen wins.

- Chris Brown, Thomas Jones and Curtis Martin... I know it's only three weeks, but who expected these three guys to be among the NFL's top rushers?

- I think that there's a decent enough chance now that every NFC East team wins at least seven games. The Giants don't look as bad as I thought they'd look. Any bets on who falls off first: Vinny T or Kurt Warner?


Monday, September 27, 2004

Random: E-Mail Difficulties? 

I just got the weirdest e-mail in my Gmail account:

From: ANDREW S FOX <address deleted@students.wisc.edu>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 14:03:07 -0500
Subject: forward?
To: address deleted@wisc.edu
An e-mail from an Andrew Fox, apparently sent to himself (i.e., Andrew Fox), which somehow ended up reaching me (you guessed it, Andrew Fox). It had no body, just that cryptic subject.

Even weirder, it seems he tried again:

From: ANDREW S FOX <address deleted@students.wisc.edu>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 14:32:05 -0500
Subject: will I get this?
To: address deleted@wisc.edu

I'm baffled by this one, so I reply:

From: Andrew Fox
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 14:35:56 -0500
Subject: Re: will I get this?
To: address deleted@wisc.edu


On Mon, 27 Sep 2004 14:32:05 -0500, ANDREW S FOX
<address deleted@students.wisc.edu> wrote:
> dammit.
No reply back, but then I get this:

From: ANDREW S FOX <address deleted@students.wisc.edu>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 14:35:32 -0500
Subject: hope this works now?
To: Andrew Fox <address deleted@wisc.edu>
So in the span of thirty minutes, I get three out-of-the-blue e-mails from some guy that happens to share my name (the first and last name anyway).

Strange is the only way I can describe it.


Television: Giddyup! 

As George Costanza might say, "I'm back, baby!"

Well, not all the way back, but for all of us Seinfeld fanatics out there, we'll get something of a fix this Thanksgiving. Jerry and the gang will reunite on NBC "for a special Thanksgiving Day retrospective on the smash hit "show about nothing," the network said Thursday."

Like millions out there, I still watch Seinfeld regularly on the syndicated re-runs. Between TBS and the local Fox affiliate, the show airs up to four times each day here in Austin, and I'm sure we're not the only market that gets a daily overdose of the best show ever.

Now I'll have something else to look forward to Thanksgiving weekend, besides the Cowboys and the pre-Texas A&M tailgate.

Related Seinfeld Grateness: No more than twelve hours before I read about the Thanksgiving special, I had the opportunity to see my all-time favorite episode: "The Betrayal," better known as "the backwards episode." Elaine takes the gang to India for Sue Ellen Mishkie's wedding, but the show starts at the end and proceeds in reverse, using captions to tell when each scene takes place.

I know the episode turned some fans off, but I thought it was genius.


Sunday, September 26, 2004

The LM Gets TV Exposure 

That's me with the 40 Acres T-Shirt and that is Drew to my left with the faded orange hat.

About time we get some face time on regional TV.


Friday, September 24, 2004

Sports: From the Gridiron to the Battlefield 

Captain Frank Myers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a letter to Alabama head football coach Mike Shula:

What we are doing here is very serious and important, but what you are doing there is important also. For we do not only fight to free other people from oppression, we fight to protect what we love about America. College football is part of what we love. That’s why the soldiers seem so happy now that their beloved teams are playing. It reminds us of the good, fun things about our country we love so much.

I’m not saying college football is as important as fighting a war. After all, while a 19 year-old kid in Bryant-Deny stadium was returning an interception for a touchdown, a 19-year-old kid in Baghdad was returning small arms fire. I’m simply writing to make sure you know that what you’re doing really lifts our spirits. You have definitely lifted mine.
Excellent read.

Before the Sept. 11, Texas-Arkansas game, walk-on RB Ahmard Hall led the Longhorns on to the field with the Amereican flag. Hall is a vteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, who is attending UT on his GI Bill. After college he'll serve two more years in the service, but before he returns to the battlefield, he'll compete for playing time on the Forty Acres. Now I haven't met Mr. Hall, but I get the feeling that he would agree with Captain Myers. College football is one of the great traditions that makes America what we are, and letters like the one above reinforce that.

Captain Myers, I'd just like to say two things to you, sir: Thank you and Roll Tide!

(link via Scott Elliott)


Astros: Shame on Me 

With two lackluster efforts behind them and a series sweep seemingly imminent, I turned off the TV in disgust last night. San Fran led the Astros, 3-0, and Houston didn't look like they even wanted to play.

This morning my co-worker, Fred, a big Dodgers fan that told me a few days ago he was certain that SF would overtake LA by the end of the week, made a beeline for my cube as soon as I walked in. I expected him to boast about his presience.

Fred: So what happened in that Astros game last night?
Drew: They couldn't hit the ball is one thing.
Fred: No, what about the ninth inning?
Drew: What about it? I stopped watching after the sixth.
Fred: ESPN said they won, 7-3.
I checked Astros Daily and sure enough, they came back with a five-run ninth. Considering that Houston hadn't done squat with the lumber since the first inning of Tuesday night's game, I couldn't bear to watch them check-swing and strike their way right out of the playoff hunt after six innings of brutal baseball.

Yes, I turned the game off. I'm a horrible fan. Maybe they came back just to spite me and every other fan that gave up on them last night. If so, good for them. I'll admit I was wrong. I'm proud to say, however, that I've never really given up on them for good.

Before the game last night I watched my new Star Wars DVD set. I started off with Empire Strikes Back, because it's the ultimate Star Wars movie. At the point when Han Solo maneuvers the Millenium Falcon into an asteroid field with the Imperial armamda in pursuit, C3PO begins to relay the minute chances of surviving such a decision.

"Never tell me the odds," Solo shoots back. I feel that manager Phil Garner would say something similar, and with just as much fiery determination, if you were to tell him that the odds are still stacked against his club. The Cubs hold a two-and-a-half game lead in the Wild Card standings. The Giants remain a half-game back of them.

But Houston didn't quit when they were four games below the break-even point last month. They didn't quit when Pittsburgh took two of three from them two weeks ago. And they didn't quit last night when they trailed 3-0 after six innings last night.

We're down to the final ten days of the season. San Francico's a non-factor, really, because their six games with LA will likely result in the division winner (LA leads by one-and-a-half games) knocking the other team from Wild Card contention.

Houston has nine games, and the Cubs have ten. With NY and Cinci on the schedule, Chicago will probably take five of their next seven. That means that Houston must win five of their next six to have any chance. That would leave them two games back heading into the finale. Sweep the Rockies, hope that Atlanta takes two of three from Chicago, and then go beat the Cubs and punch that playoff ticket.

Don't tell me the odds.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Sports: NFL Week Three 

I got clobbered last week. One-and-freaking-nine against the spread. I fared slightly better straight up. This week I expect to bounce back, though the schedule doesn't look all that favorable.

In case you're curious, I haven't actually bet any of these games. Because the wagers I do make are through a friend's (gasp!) bookie, and I've been out of town the past two Sundays, I've been waiting for a weekend in town to bet. It's not as much fun when you're not camped out at a sports bar with all of your games on TV.

I did make it out to a local spot to catch Monday Night Football. My proxy bookie won $930 on Sunday and planned to let most of it ride with the Vikings-Eagles game. Another friend of ours threw in $250 and just for kicks, I tossed in a ten-spot, so in all the three of us had a grand spread out across three bets: (1) $250 on Minnesota to cover, (2) $250 teaser parlay on Minnesota and the over, (3) $500 on the over. We missed all three, because the Vikes failed to put the ball in the end zone on two trips to the one.

Gambling the NFL is tough.

Last week:
SU: 4-6
ATS: 1-9

[1-1] Pittsburgh at [0-2] Miami (-1): Rookie Ben Roethlisberger gets the start for the Steelers and he'll likely be the best QB on the field. He'll face two banged-up Miami CBs, and the Phins still have no semblance of a running game. Steelers 20, Dolphins 13
ATS- Pittsburgh

[1-1] Cleveland at [1-1] NY Giants (-3): The Browns are about one more injury away from fielding an XFL squad. Jeff Garcia proved to be the anti-Daunte Culpepper against Dallas last week, and now he's lost his TE (Kellen Winslow) and their best OL (Ryan Tucker). Turnovers decide this one, and I like NY's defense a little bit more. Giants 16, Browns 10
ATS- NY Giants

[1-1] Baltiomore (-3) at [1-1] Cincinnatti: B-more's best target (TE Todd Heap) won't play, and QB Kyle Boller isn't that good anyway. Carson Palmer, however, might just be after all. I'll take the best back, and that's clearly Jamal Lewis. Ravens 14, Bengals 13
ATS- Cincinnatti

[0-2] Houston at [0-2] Kansas City (-7.5): Who expected either of these teams to be 0-2, much less both of them? If Priest Holmes' tender ankle holds up -- or if Domanick Davis continues to put the ball on the turf -- then the Chiefs pull this one out. I figure at least one of the two will prove true. That's a big spread, though, for such a porous defense. Chiefs 24, Texans 20

[1-1] New Orleans at [1-1] St. Louis (-7): The Saints fans that laughed at Miami when Ricky Williams retired probably don't think it's so funny anymore. Deuce McCallister is out for a while, and Aaron Brooks isn't going to beat the rams all by himself. Rams 30, Saints 20
ATS- St. Louis

[1-1] Chicago at [1-1] Minnesota (-9): That's a big spread and the Vikings made me look bad last game. Come to think of it, so did the Bears. Does lighting strike twice? Nope. But Randy Moss is as quick as lightning, and he's going to strike a lot more than twice on Sunday. Vikings 34, Bears 14
ATS- Minnesota

[2-0] Philadelphia (-4.5) at [2-0] Detroit: I love Roy Williams. But he can't throw the ball to himself, and I don't have a lot of confidence in Joey Harrington's poise amidst the Eagles' pass rush. Kevin Jones will have to put up a monster game for Detroit to upset. Eagles 26, Lions 17
ATS- Philadelphia

[1-1] Green Bay at [1-1] Indianapolis (-6): Last week the Colts looked like the team I picked to win it all. Ahman Green and the Edge present an intriguing RB battle, but will James play? I don't think it matters. Colts 24, Packers 17.
ATS- Indianapolis

[0-2] Tampa Bay at [1-1] Oakland (-3.5): Jon Gruden benched Brad Johnson last week, but plans to start him against the Raiders.It wasn't an abberation, Jon. Johnson really is that bad. Based on general principle (and a resurgent Rich Gannon) I'm going with Oakland. Raiders 23, Bucs 13
ATS- Oakland

[1-1] Dallas at [1-1] Washington (-2): The Skins destroyed Dallas, 42-0, when I played this game in Madden 2005. Vinny T looks much better in the real world, fortunately, than in the Madden universe. If the O-Line can keep LaVar Arrington from camping out in the Cowboys' backfield, then Dallas has a chance to win. Good luck. Redskins 17, Cowboys 16
ATS- Dallas

Season totals:
10-10 SU
8-12 ATS


Politics: Drawing O'Reilly's Ire 

On his radio show today, Bill O'Reilly took WaPo columnist Dan Froomkin to task for what O'Reilly obviously felt were disparaging comments in Froomkin's Thursday edition of "White House Briefing," a column that he writes on the paper's website. O'Reilly called Froomkin a "liar" several times and he made a crack about Froomkin not being on his "level." He also repeatedly pronounced Froomkin's name with a scoffing accent on the last syllable.

What incensed O'Reilly so much that he led off his show with this segment? Froomkin wrote to viewers who tune in to Fox News to see the popular cable news host's interview with President Bush: "Don't expect hardballs." Oh, and he labeled O'Reilly as an "unabashedly conservative commentator."

Pretty benign stuff, if you ask me. I can semi-understand O'Reilly taking exception with a jab at his interviews. I've watched his show countless times and if anything, I think he's tough on his guests. In fact he's often tough to a fault. He doesn't hold back criticism of the President either.

For someone that's not "on his level," though, I think that O'Reilly is making way too much of the column, and what amounts to fairly innocuous barbs. His chagrin at being labeled a conservative honestly baffles me. O'Reilly isn't so far right as the "ideologues" he assails on his show, but there is absolutely no way that he can credibly claim that he isn't a conservative. And if he can, then perhaps he should have refrained from taping the promo line for local affiliate KJCE-1370, in which he tells listeners to tune in to the Radio Factor on "Austin's conservative voice."

Before moving on, O'Reilly stated that he intends to make an example of Froomkin on The Factor tonight, in the closing "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day" segment. If you ask me, I think that O'Reilly's making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill. It's typical of his shtick lately. For whatever reason, O'Reilly feels the need to perpetuate his "me against the world" crusade on a daily basis, and I'm growing tired of it.


Longhorns: Saturday's Forecast 

85 degrees, 50% Chance of Rain, Some Heavy.

So let me get this straight: Hurricane Ivan hits Florida, does its thing, changes course, heads back out into the Gulf, and now looks like it's going to hit the Texas coast, meaning we get a weekend full of its rainy remnants?

And Jim Garrison thought "the magic bullet" took a crazy course.

Normally I enjoy rainy games, and this weekend's Texas-Rice contest would be no exception, if it weren't due to a little bit of history. Ten years ago, the Horns visited Houston as the team most considered the favorite to win the Southwest Conference.

Then it started raining. And it kept raining. And it rained some more. The sloppy conditions killed Texas' running game, which gained about 10 yards on the flooded turf of Rice Stadium, and the James Brown-led passing game that had propelled the Horns past OU a week earlier couldn't rekindle the magic. Rice beat Texas that night, 19-17, for the first time in decades. The Horns dropped two of their next three and ended up in the Sun Bowl instead of the Cotton Bowl.

I like to think that our running game has improved since then, but playing in a monsson can be a great equalizer. With an already thin RB situation, I'd hate to think of Cedric Benson slipping and sliding against eight-men fronts on a soggy turf.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Politics: Corso and Kerry 

Kris at Dummocrats is attending ESPN Gameday on Saturday morning and she's taking suggestions for signs.

Her Wisconsin Badgers host the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium, so if you have any witty ideas that combine football with a political slant, go post it in the comments section.

I left two yesterday:

Badgers and Bush: Making Opponents see RED in 2004


John Kerry: "I was for the BCS before I was against it.

I'll have to make sure I tune in to see if any make the cut.


Movies: May the Force Be With Me 

Why do I get the feeling that myself, and every other poor ($46 poorer, anyway) soul that has purchased the new Star Wars DVD Collection, are victims of the ultimate Jedi mind trick?

I've watched every one of these movies at least fifty times, and I'm sure that I've seen the original film on some two-hundred-plus occasions. Twice before I have bought commemorative Trilogy collections, and here I am again putting more money into Darth Lucas' already overfilled pockets.

Will we ever again see a phenomenon such as the Star Wars saga hijack popular culture? It really is amazing to think of what firm -- and consistent -- grasp it has held on our society over the course of the last twenty-seven years.


Politics: Wictory Wednesday! 

Yetserday I was reminded that the deadline for registering to vote is fast approaching. A colleague at work called to check on her registration and learned that since she had never changed her address after moving a while back, she was not registered to vote here in Austin.

If you voted in the primaries then you're set, but if not, it doesn't take long to check. Oct. 4 is the last day to register for this November's election, so it's a good idea to take care of this now. The official B/C'04 site has a voter application form that you can fill out and mail in. You might also google "(your county) voter registration" to find a local registrar's website. Some counties (Travis County, which includes all of Austin, is one) allow you to check your registration and, in some cases, register online.

Don't put this off. It's easy and won't take more than a minute or two. Make sure that your friends, especially the ones in Battleground States, address their registration as well. Polls show the President with a solid lead, but they won't matter on Nov. 2, if we don't follow through and mark those ballots.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Movie Review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow 

I honestly had no idea what to expect from Sky Captain. My initial recation, based on the first trailer that I saw in the Spring, was that this movie would rank among the corniest, worst films of all time. As I saw more previews, I became more intrigued. Over the course of the last month, I've ended up eagerly anticipating its release, but with the slight fear that it could still be a muddled mess of schlock.

Not the case at all. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a surreal wonder, a painting brought to life. Its stunning visuals, straightforward story and subtle blend of genres should appeal to all walks of filmgoers. From comic book fanboys to sci-fi followers and classic film enthusiasts to art house snobs, Sky Captain's variety of elements offer one of the most unique movie-watching experiences that I've had in some time.

I could try and re-hash the story, but it's not the story that makes Sky Captain succed. It's not bad, mind you, but I didn't walk out of the theater in awe of the script (though I was impressed with the vast amount of allusions and homages). No, this movie wows you with an aesthetic presence that is so difficult to adequately describe that trying is futile. Don't think, though, that I'm propping it up based on looks alone.

Your average Summer blockbuster gets by with booming explosions and state-of-the-art CGI, which it uses to supplement bad dialogue, cheesy characters and an overall lack of substance. This film uses its effects to creat an ambience that furthers the story. Its past-meets-future environment brings the characters to life.

Despite somewhat cliched personas and stand-by plot devices (e.g., love triangles, a stand-offish hero, etc.), Sky Captain's cast delivers solid performances. Jude Law nails the role of Sky Captain, and his chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow's sassy Polly Perkins never grates or grows stale. Throw in the charming Frankie Cook (Angelina Jolie) and whiz kid sidekick Dex (Giovanni Ribisi), and you have a crew that's ready to save the world.

But save the world from what? That's one place where Sky Captain bogs down. It doesn't spend a wealth of time developing the who, what, why and how of the diabolical plot that faces the fearless foursome. But it's not so egregious as to detract from an overall enjoyable experience. 8/10


Baseball: Triplets for the Twins 

Minnesota clinched its third consecutive AL Central division title last night.

Three in a row? Wasn't it just three years ago that Bud Selig floated the idea of contracting this franchise? The sad thing is that I'm more than just a casual baseball fan, and I hadn't even realized that the Twins were on the verge of such an impressive feat. They get no press down this way, and though I remember them playing in the ALDS a few years back, you never hear them mentioned in the discussions of the best teams in baseball.

It makes me wonder: When the Astros were in the midst of their own division championship streak (three in a row from 1997-1999), was the rest of the country as oblivious/apathetic toward Houston as they seem to be toward Minnesota? This is, after all, a franchise with two World Championships.


Movies: 80's Cold War Movies 

Eighteen years late is better than never, you might say.

Last night I watched, for the first time, a classic 80's movie that some of you may have seen once or twice before: Top Gun. How could I have gone so long without seeing such a popular movie? Beats me. If I ran off of a list of other "I can't believe you've never seen that" movies, the ensuing firestorm would probably eat up all of Blogger's bandwidth.


Top Gun. "I feel the need... the need for speed." It had some good lines, some good action scenes, and a few cool characters. In all I rate it a solid movie. But I have to disagree with my buddy Robert, who contends that Top Gun out-ranks all other 1980's Cold War movies.


First off, what makes a 1980's Cold War movie a 1980's Cold War movie? Beyond the obvious, which requires some form of U.S.-Soviet conflict or tension, this specific genre has to tug at you in some way. These movies play on your fears and they fill you with pride. They draw you to tears or they make your blood boil. But no matter the emotion, they stay firmly grounded in the 1980's. That means lots of big hair, synthesizer soundtracks, and all that other stuff that made movies in that decade, well, quintessentially 80's.

With that in mind, I offer my Top Five 1980's Cold War movies:

1. Rocky IV- It's close, but Rocky pulverizing Drago in front of an arena full of Russians represents everything that's great about American optimism in the 1980's. The big, bad Russians looked invincible, but our scrappy warrior never backed down. David slaughtered Goliath with will and heart. Is there any doubt that this movie singlehandedly led to the downfall of the Soviet Empire just four short years after its release? The only knock on Rocky IV is that the 1980's other symbol of American resolve, Ronald Reagan, didn't have a part.

2. Red Dawn- Talk about American resolve, this time the Russkies get the best of us. But a group of high schoolers show that when you mess with America, we mess back. Charlie Sheen and Patrick Swayze (does it get more 1980's thnn Patrick Swayze?) band together to fight the commies in this classic. Wolverines!

3. War Games- The only way you get more 1980's than Swayze is with Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman. Can anyone between the ages of 25-35 think about tic-tac-toe without wanting to make a crack about Professor Falken? These days it's lunacy to think that a kid on a dial-up connection could cause WWIII, but back then what did we know? Every day we lived in fear that an accident could trigger a global thermonuclear launch.

4. Top Gun- Not enough anti-Russian/brink-of-WWIII elements to rank any higher. Yeah, Maverick shoots down a few Migs over the ocean, but ho hum. A great 1980's Cold War movie should make me want to piss on Lenin's grave. Top Gun does get major style points for its 80's flair. That makes it a classic.

5. 2010: The Year We Make Contact- I chose 2010 because it's so deeply rooted in the escalating conflict between the two Superpowers. It really shouldn't rank among the Top Five. It's like ranking the Big XII this year, where there's Oklahoma and Texas, and then everyone else. After the Top Four on this list, it's everyone else. I wanted to make a Top Five, though, and 2010 beats Superman IV or Invasion USA.


Politics: What Are the Odds... 

...that this Docu-Drama (aka Forgerygate) costs Dan Rather his job?

I figure that CBS will probably stick by him, but you never know, right?

If they do can him (I mean, ahem, if he resigns), I won't shed any tears. My late uncle attended Sam Houston State with Rather and he never cared for him very much. If Scotty were still alive today, then I imagine that this whole fiasco would seem (pardon the pun) rather amusing to him.


Politics: Kerry Speaks About Terror/Iraq 

Senator Kerry addressed NYU recently in regard to the War on Terror and his views about war in Iraq.

I'm not going to do a Stephen Green-worthy fisking job, but I do take exception with some of his speech.

In fighting the war on terrorism, my principles are straightforward.
The first thing I think of when I think of John Kerry is most certainly "straightforward." Um...

As president, I will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies. But billions of people around the world yearning for a better life are open to America's ideals.

We must reach them.

To win, America must be strong. And America must be smart
Define "doing whatever it takes." Because I believe that doing whatever it takes means putting American interests over world opinion, and acting unilaterally if necessary. The United Nations is not our government.

The greatest threat we face is the possibility al-Qaeda or other terrorists will get their hands on a nuclear weapon.
Maybe. I think we face a lot of threats. A nuclear Iran is one of them. South Korea remains a threat, though I don't think they're an imminent one at this point.

To prevent that from happening, we must call on the totality of America's strength.

Strong alliances, to help us stop the world's most lethal weapons from falling into the most dangerous hands.

A powerful military, transformed to meet the new threats of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Well if Kerry thinks he's going to bring Germany, France and Russia on board with us, then more power to him. Otherwise, he should look at our current coalition and see what "strong alliance" we've yet to forge. And if he's truly interested in building a stronger military, then maybe he should vote for their funding next time.

National security is a central issue in this campaign.
Actually it's the central issue. President Bush isn't going to argue with that point, which is why, I think, that he put it at the forefront of his campaign since day one, instead of pimping something he was involved with more than a quarter century ago.

We owe it to the American people to have a real debate about the choices President Bush has made, and the choices I would make, to fight and win the war on terror.

That means we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq
Yes, you do owe it to the American people to have this debate. The President agrees. In fact, as my morning campaign update stated, the first Presidential debate on Sept. 30, will focus on such foreign policy matters. For the record, the President has openly spoken of his choices for months, while Senator Kerry was stuck in 1972.

Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.
If we're willing to "do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies," then "the prospect of a war with no end in sight" is just a simple reality. The only "crisis of historic proportions" is that there are millions of sick Islamifascists that want to kill us for no reason other than we're us.

We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever-widening war zone.

In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times - a 400% increase.

Falluja, Ramadi, Samara... even parts of Baghdad are now no-go zones, breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers
As long as we continue to kill and pursue terrorists, the war zone will continue to be "ever-widening." This isn't 1945. We're not marching toward Berlin, against an enemy that occupies borders. The insurgency is going to grow. The war zone is going to widen. And unless we continue to hunt these vermin down, it's going to widen to our own doorsteps.

Violence against Iraqis, from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation, is on the rise.

Basic living conditions are also deteriorating
Iraqis lived like kings during Saddam's regime, didn't they?

Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees.

Children wade through garbage on their way to school.

Unemployment is over 50%.

Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing US convoys.

Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq.

Schools, shops and hospitals have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails
According to this ABC News report, unemployment actually sits at 70%. That's horrible. It's climbed a whole ten points since before the war. Workers also have seen wage increases in the post-war period, though Senator Kerry neglects to mention that. There's nothing like hypoble-filled rhetoric to get a crowd buzzing, is there? I'm sure that plenty of Brooklyn children wade through garbage on their walk to school, too. And while sewage flooding Baghdad streets presents a problem, it also plagued Iraq prior to the war. Do we now blame President Bush for Saddam Hussein's neglect of plumbing maintenance?

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war.

The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure
It seemed to serve as a reason in regard to Slobodan Milosevic. As far leaving America "less secure," I'm not sure how he reaches that conclusion.

At home, the American people are less likely to trust this administration if it needs to summon their support to meet real and pressing threats to our security.

Abroad, other countries will be reluctant to follow America when we seek to rally them against a common menace - as they are today.

Our credibility in the world has plummeted...
Well boo hoo. The world thinks we're not credible. John Kerry's going to fix that, is he? I think that rest of the world is going to find him about as credible as Americans find him trustworthy.

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed.

This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candour, arrogance and outright incompetence
Substitute "America" for Iraq and "campaign" for "administration," and I swear Kerry would be talking about his own Presidential bid. Seriously, John Kerry is bemoaning someone else's arrogance.

Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise.

We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all-time low...

The president's policy in Iraq precipitated the very problem he said he was trying to prevent.
If he thinks that our actions in Iraq were the catalyst for all of this, then I truly do fear the consequences of a Kerry administration. I would hope that we've united our enemies, by the way. It makes them easier to kill.

Two years ago, Congress was right to give the President the authority to use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable.
I cannot believe that anyone takes this guy seriously. How do you ramble on for twenty minutes about everything that's wrong about the Iraqi War, yet then maintain we were right to go to war. He continues to say that he would have done things better, but he never says what, specifically, he would have done differently. Does anyone look at this transparent shell of a chandidate and honestly believe that he belongs in the White House situation room?

First, the president has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don't have to go it alone. It is late; the president must respond by moving this week to gain and regain international support.
WE'RE NOT "GOING IT ALONE." From where should we seek this international support? France? Germany?

At every critical juncture in Iraq, and in the war on terrorism, the president has made the wrong choice. I have a plan to make America stronger.

The president often says that in a post-9/11 world, we can't hesitate to act. I agree. But we should not act just for the sake of acting. I believe we have to act wisely and responsibly.

George Bush has no strategy for Iraq. I do.

George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going. I have and I will continue to do so...
Blah blah blah. You know, when Martin Luther King, Jr., told America that he had a dream, he proceded to tell us what the dream was. John Kerry keeps saying that he has a plan. Apparently it's a secret plan.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Movies: Upcoming Titles 

According to my IMDB voting history, I have seen twenty-one movies (just counting 2004 releases) this year, though I'm sure I might have forgotten to rate a movie here or there. Nevertheless, at the risk of sounding like a trendy movie snob, I have to say that 2004 has been a weak year for film. Right now I'd rank my top five as:

1a. The Passion of the Christ
1b. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Miracle
4. Kill Bill Vol. 2
5. Troy

The first four were solid; number five an example of mediocrity rising above a lot of garbage. I'm hoping that some of 2004's remaining releases might salvage a crappy year at the movies, and I still have a few already released titles that I'd like to see.

In theaters now:

Garden State- I've heard nothing but good things about this movie, though I have no idea what it is about.

Before Sunset- My Rhetoric & Composition prof at UT required us to write a paper about Before Sunrise, the original on which this sequel is based. It was a typical Richard Linklater film, full of witty dialogue and empathetic characters. I imagine this one will follow suit.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow- It has the potential to be a train wreck, but Sky Captain's look and feel intrigues me.

Upcoming (subject to grow):

The Forgotten (9/24)- I enjoyed The Butterly Effect earlier this year, and this thriller looks like something in the same vein.

Ladder 49 (10/1)- In a post-9/11 world, how can you not want to see a movie that heroicly portrays firemen?

Friday Night Lights (10/8)- I've read the book and I visited Odessa in the glory days of Permian football. Good or bad, this film should more accurately portray the grandeur and pageantry of Texas High School football than that abomination, Varsity Blues, did.

Finding Neverland (10/22)- Before my family had a VCR, we had a record player, and the most often played record was Disney's Peter Pan. Maybe I still have a soft spot for the story, but this drama about Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie looks interesting.

Be Cool (November)- This sequel will most likely disappoint (as sequels are wont to do), but I'm willing to give Chili Palmer a chance. Get Shorty is one of my faves.

Ocean's Twelve (12/10)- See above. Again, though, I'm willing to take a chance on this sequel, especially since the entire cast returns.

Meet the Fockers (12/22)- Yet another sequel. I'll admit that the preview I recently saw left me unimpressed. This might drop from the list by December.


Blog: 'Five questions for bloggers' 

Karol has a survey for her blogging readers:

1. Why did you start a blog?

2. Do you have a blogmother/blogfather?

3. Has it helped/hurt/had no effect on your professional life?

4. Do your 'real world' friends know that you blog?

5. Do you have a blog crush? And ladies, you know who you are, please don't everyone call Ken Wheaton at once.
1. I'm still a journalist at heart, even if I'm a lazy one (which probably explains why I've never gone into "real" journalism, save for an internship and some stringing work). Blogging looked like a fun way to voice my opinions. As I've mentioned before, I'm a regular at several UT message boards, which is not too dissimilar from blogging, though I prefer the control (for lack of a better word) that blogs offer.

2. Not sure what the question means. My most direct influence for starting this blog was my friend Joanne. I jumped on the blog-reading bandwagon either late last year or early this year, but didn't think of starting my own until she started hers and convinced me to do so.

3. Probably hurt. I used to blog a lot more during work, but the last few months have been hectic and I don't have time to do both as much. You could say that working has hurt blogging more than the other way around, since I infinitely prefer the latter.

4. Most of them do. The ones that don't probably don't know what a blog is anyway. Now my family is a different story. I think I told my brother about it, but he's spent maybe a total of 20 minutes online in his lifetime, so I don't care if he knows. I'm not sure I'd want the rest of them logging on.

5. I can't say that I do.


Movie Review: Mr. 3000 

Baseball movies often either hit home runs (Major League) or strike out miserably (Rookie of the Year). Sometimes, though, one will find its way through a hole in the infield for a solid, if unspectacular, base hit. That's Mr. 3000.

Bernie Mac plays Stan Ross, a Barry Bonds-like, me-first slugger, who after amassing base hit number 3000 -- one of baseball's magical plateaus -- inexorably decides to retire. He leaves the Milwaukee Brewers in the heat of a pennant race and spends the next nine years profiting off of his accomplishment with a number of "Mr. 3000"-themed businesses, all the while awaiting a phone call from the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Then the unthinkable happens. A clerical error shows that he actually fell short of 3000 hits, and thus Mac attempts a comeback at age 47. The Brewers, languishing in fifth place and playing in front of sparse crowds, insert Mac back into the lineup after the September call-ups. That's not the unthinkable, though.

Mac's quest to get three measly hits turns into a month-long saga of redemption, with ex-girlfriend Maureen (Angela Basset), a hard-nosed ESPN reporter covering the story, and his teammates, who disapprove of Mac's arrogant demeanor. From there the story takes a predictable jaunt down "Baseball Movie lane" and arrives at its conclusion without making you roll your eyes too many times at the parts that bad baseball movies usually butcher.

Sure it's cliched and relies too much on unimaginative stereotypes. But when you throw in a healthy dose of Bernie Mac being Bernie Mac, you can salvage a script with more wood than a Louisville Slugger. Mr. 3000 loses a point, however, for its climax coming in a Brewers win over the Astros. 5/10


Friday, September 17, 2004

Sports: Home of Champions 

In about fifteen minutes I'm headed an hour north up I-35 to watch my old high school -- the fightin' Temple Wildcats -- play their 2004 home opener against Pflugerville Connally.

It's hard to believe that ten years have passed since I last set foot in Wildcat Stadium as a student. I've only been to two games in the past five or six years, and with Texas having the week off, I figure I'll skip ACL Festival and go watch a little Texas HS Football instead. Go Cats!


Sports: The Week That Will Be (9/18) 

Last Week: 4-3 ATS 4-3 SU
For the Year: 7-6 ATS 10-3 SU

Well we made it back from the land of Ozarks and pork rinds without incident, although we certainly would have liked to have Frankie Francisco'ed a few people. But all in all it was a great trip.

Last week was an interesting weekend, as several top teams saw their Orange Bowl hopes diminish but their Independence Bowl hopes take off. Texas Tech is apparently trying the "LM Approach" as they are shooting a lot but no scoring.

Okay, yeah, I don't shoot that much either.

Anyhow, last week ESPN announced that they are going to launch a new network in the Spring called ESPNU, which will focus on college sports. It will show games, replay of games, college-oriented programming, and much much more.

Sadly enough I have not yet been approached about running the entertainment side of ESPNU, but thought I would brainstorm a few new ideas for sitcoms, dramas and specials to fill the time between Cal-State Fullerton softball games and Hofstra field hockey on ESPN the Trey.

The Benefactor: A new reality-based series where Casey Clausen, ex University of Tennessee quarterback, opens his home to 20+ Volunteers recruits and picks which one will get his posh 2004 Ford truck and sweet apartment that he earned as quarterback of the Volunteers.

Lost: [Insert Greg Davis punchline here]

CSI: State College, PN: Forensics experts try weekly to see if Coach Joe Paterno is indeed still alive.

The Next Great Champ: Another reality series where contestants are urged to make ridiculous wagers such as $5 to see if someone can get a punch in before they are knocked out...

Father of the Pride: Mack Brown has nothing on these guys as Bobby Bowden takes Mark Richt under his wing and tells him that long losing streaks to rivals are okay and that they need to keep their pride.

2 Simple Rules to Getting a Football Recruit: This new show will focus on Gary Barnett who says, "Get 'em drunk and let 'em screw."

Alias: Chris Rix, now 0-5 against the Hurricanes, shows viewers each week just exactly how he gets around Tallahassee without being mobbed.

Arrested Development: Ever wonder how those Aggie football recruits train while behind bars? Wait no further...

The Bachelorette: Following in the footsteps of New York Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer, Cleveland Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia chooses from a pool of 20 guys...

The OC: In the luxurious county southeast of LA, college offensive coordinators Greg Davis of Texas, Norm Chow of USC and Boise State OC Chris Peterson all strive to live their lives amongst the trials and tribulations of living among the rich and famous. Norm Chow is the cool kid on the block, Davis the miscast and Peterson just hopes to survive the stalking of some guy named TSD.

Queer Eye for the Head Coach: It's a happy gay time as 4 gay guys take a head coach at a major university and give him a complete makeover. The pilot episode features Ohio State University Jim Tressel and those gay ass sweater vests. Oh wait, I guess he doesn't need the help. Mark Mangino?

That 70's Show: A look at the annual Texas A&M/Oklahoma matchup.

Jackass: A look into the daily life of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.

Everyone Loves Baylor: This show is a showcase for the second teamers on each squad and for Heisman Trophy candidates.

Extreme Makeover: Live from Lincoln, NE.

American Bandstand: Watch as drunk Longhorn fans dance in front of the band after big wins. First week: Fayetteville, AR.

Real World: San Diego: Starring Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns.

On to the games...

Maryland @ West Virginia (-7):

Maryland had questions on defense coming into the season, and wins over Northern Illinois and Temple have done little to alleviate that, especially on the ground.

West Virginia's defense hasn't been sparkling, but their offense has, as they are currently third in the league in rushing.

See paragraph above.

West Virginia 34 Maryland 24
ATS - West Virginia
SU - West Virginia

Ohio State (-1.5) @ North Carolina State:

This was an overtime thriller last year, as Ohio State stopped TA McClendon on the goalline to preserve a win behind some questionable play calling by the NC State coaching staff.

NC State returns most of their offensive line and T.A. McClendon is back but of course, let's all say it together....injured (You can count on several things in life....reporters will stand outside in hurricanes, there will be traffic when you are late, there will be a gay guy on every Real World and T.A. McClendon will be injured). If NC State can run the ball like Marshall did against Ohio State, this one will be a mild upset.

I hate to go against Ohio State's lucky ass, but...

North Carolina State 27 Ohio State 20
ATS - NC State
SU - NC State

LSU @ Auburn (-1.5):

This one might be postponed due to Hurricane Ivan. If so I might pick a replacement game before Saturday.

I think everyone is jumping the gun a bit on LSU. Yes, they looked lackluster against OSU, but let's remember they are the defending (co) national champions.

Auburn lost a lot from last year on defense, and while they have Carnell Williams, they were still inconsistent on offense last year.

They are still the champs until they are knocked off.

LSU 24 Auburn 20

Florida @ Tennessee (-3):

Both teams are going through a bit of a rebuilding year, as they both lost 13 starters from last year's teams. Both feature young quarterbacks, as Florida has super sophomore Chris Leak under center and Tennessee has the two-headed freshman monster of Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge.

Florida might be a slightly better team at this point, but give me the Volunteers at home in front of 100,000 against a young Florida team.

Tennessee 24 Florida 14
ATS - Tennessee
SU - Tennessee

Clemson (-1) @ Texas A&M:

Clemson has experience and speed on offense, while the Aggies have a serious lack of speed on defense. Killer combo.

The Tiger defense is vulnerable, but can the Aggies do anything about it? Or will they even be in the game for it to matter?

The no huddle offense that Clemson features will wear down the already thin Aggie defense. Potential for a blowout here.

Clemson 41 Texas A&M 24
ATS - Clemson
SU - Clemson

TCU @ Texas Tech (-6):

When is Texas Tech going to start scoring??? They are #1 in pass offense, #13 in total offense, but only #57 in scoring offense.

TCU has a pretty good offense themselves with the QB tandem of Gunn and Hassell and the RB duo of Hobbs and Merrill.

This one will be a shootout but Texas Tech finally gets their scoring offense going. Now if only I could.

Texas Tech 51 TCU 40
ATS - Texas Tech
SU - Texas Tech

Oregon @ Oklahoma (-28.5):

What the hell?

Oregon loses to Indiana at Autzen Stadium, one of the supposedly toughest places to play in all of collegiate football?!? How does that happen?

Turn the ball over 7 times. The Ducks had nearly 500 yards total offense but couldn't hold on to the ball.

Oklahoma's defense looked a bit shaky against Bowling Green. Not shaky necessarily by everyone else's standards, but by theirs. And for that reason a spread like that is a bit big against a decent team such as the Ducks.

They will put some points on the board.

Oklahoma 44 Oregon 24
ATS - Oregon
SU - Oklahoma

For entertainment purposes only. Take your money and buy some ACL tickets.

Random Hot Dallas Chick


Politics: 'Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day' 

Though I don't usually purchase books until they're released in paperback, I think I'm going to have to buy Joe Scarborough's new release, Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day.

Scarborogh Country, in my opinion, is far and away the best show on cable news. This book looks like a winner as well.

Scarborough shares the fruits of his experience in Congress (which he entered as part of the Republican Revolution of 1994 as a 31-year-old reformer). He shows how Washington truly functions by taking you behind the closed doors of Congress, into Oval Office meetings, onto Air Force One, and deep inside the corridors of power to which few Americans are ever granted access. He recounts what happened to the idealistic conservatives who were elected to Congress with him in 1994.
As soon as I get the chance, I'll give it a read and post my thoughts. If any other Scarborough fans have checked it out already, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.


Sports: More NFL Week Two Picks 

A friend of a friend is running a Confidence Pool, which I entered. The past few years I've organized a weekly Pick'em contest at work, but it's just too much of a hassle to continue doing. I'm glad I can just sit back and lose my five bucks each with, without having to remind people to make their picks, or pay their money.

Confidence pools are a little different from regular Pick'ems. You pick all of the games, of course, ranking them from 16 to 1, in order of your, er, confidence in each prediction.

My Week Two picks are as follows:

16: Green Bay over Chicago
15: New Engalnd over Arizona
14: Washington over NY Giants
13: Kansas City over Carolina
12: Buffalo over Oakland
11: Cincinnatti over Miami
10: St. Louis over Atlanta
9: Baltimore over Pittsburgh
8: New Orleans over San Francisco
7: Seattle over Tampa Bay
6: Dallas over Cleveland
5: NY Jets over San Diego
4: Houston over Detroit
3: Jacksonville over Denver
2: Tennessee over Indianapolis
1: Minnesota over Philadelphia


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Random: 1000! 

Today marked a milestone, of sorts, for me. I made my 1000th post at Hornfans.Com. It's not a significant plateau, considering that some site members have rung up totals approaching 20,000, but since I joined the site in 1999, it's about time.

Honestly, I'm sure that I reached 1000 long ago. Between a site crash in 99 that wiped out all user info, and two other instances where I changned screen names, I probably had at least a few hundred posts that aren't included in my current total. This is the official count, though, so we'll just go with it.

Too bad Longhorn Fan Zone isn't still around. I'd be approaching 11-12,000 posts by now.


Poltics: Prove This One Wrong 

The Politburo Diktat:

John Kerry took money from the North Vietnamese for his Congressional testimony.
In the grand Dan Rather manner of shifting the burden of proof, the Commissar continues...
You disagree, comrade? Prove it wrong!
For all the barbs made toward them, bloggers by and large are a creative, funny bunch.


Sports: Week Two NFL Picks 

All lines taken from America's Line.

[0-1] Miami at [0-1] Cincinnatti (-5): Have faith, Phin fans. Your running game has a savior! Well, no, your running game has Lamar Gordon. He's better than Travis Minor, I suppose, but what can you do? No matter who you bring in, you're downgrading the position. And what about that pitiful QB situation? Steamin' Willie Beamon those guys ain't. Bengals 21, Dolphins 13
ATS: Cincinnatti

[0-1] Carolina at [0-1] Kansas City (-6): If John Fox remembers that he has two solid RBs, then maybe Carolina has a chance. But remember what Ahman Green did on Monday night, and then keep in mind that the Panthers now face Priest Holmes. The Chiefs have won thirteen in a row at home, by an everage score of almost twenty points. Great googly-moogly! Chiefs 27, Panthers 16
ATS: Kansas City

[1-0] Denver (-3) at [1-0] Jacksonville: Quentin Griffin treated the Chiefs the way he used to treat Texas, but Jacksonville hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in sixteen games. Jake Plummer won't get away with left-handed interceptions from his own end zone this week. The Jags squeak out a defensive win at home. Jaguars 17, Broncos 14
ATS: Jacksonville

[0-1] Indianapolis at [1-0] Tennessee (-1): Who was the last Super Bowl champion to open 0-2? Dallas in 1993? Though the game features two of the best QBs in football, a pair of Week One 100-yard RBs wil decide the outcome? Edgerrin James fumbled away a win last week against the Pats (I bet he would have hung on had it been a bag of KB instead of a football), while Chris Brown proved how valuable Eddie George wasn't. Brown outduels the Edge in Nashville. Titans 26, Colts 23
ATS: Tennessee

[0-1] Chicago at [1-0] Green Bay (-8.5): There are three times I'd never bet against Brett Favre: (1) on Monday Night Football, (2) at home against the Bears, and (3) in a beer-drinking contest. He got number one out of the way last week, and like clockwork, he'll take care of number two this weekend (literally, if he combines it with number three). Expect vintage Fav-ruh this weekend against a Bears' secondary that ceded 185 yards to Joey Harrington. Packers 31, Bears 14
ATS: Green Bay

[0-1] Houston at [1-0] Detroit (-3): This is a tough one. The Texans disappointed with their first opening day loss in three years, against San Diego. The Lions surprised with their first road win since the Clinton administration, against Chicago. Conventional wisdom says the Lions should roll, right? In the NFL, though, conventional wisdom is worth about as much as an aging veteran's contract. Houston 20, Detroit 17
ATS: Houston

[1-0] Pittsburgh at [0-1] Baltimore (-3.5): Something tells me that Jamal Lewis will bounce back from last week's 57-yard outing against Cleveland. The Steelers gave up just 61 on the ground to Oakland, but Tyrone Wheatley and Huggy Bear, Jr., are not Jamal Lewis. Jerome Bettis put up one of football's strangest stat lines last week: senev carries, one yard, three TDs. The Ravens won't give him that many goal-line opportunities. These two teams hate each other, and I feel bad for any man that draws the ire of Ray Lewis. Ravens 16, Steelers 13
ATS: Pittsburgh

[1-0] St. Louis at [1-0] Atlanta (-2.5): St. Louis hasn't lost to Atlanta since 1998. They might not be the Rams of a few years ago, but Mike Martz can still throw some weapons at you. Mike Vick, while potent, is struggling with the West Coast offense. Rams 30, Falcons 20
ATS: St. Louis

[1-0] Cleveland at [0-1] Dallas (-4.5): Did the Browns trade for Randy Moss this week? No? Whew. Cleveland shut down Jamal Lewis last week, and that's an impressive feat. But Old Man testaverde has life left in that arm, and if Cleveland expects to face another one-dimensional offense, then another 300-yard passing game could be in the cards. Julius Jones' availability will be the key for Dallas. Cowboys 21, Browns 17
ATS: Cleveland

[1-0] Minnesota at [1-0] Philadephia (-3.5): Since the ground has yet to freeze, I'm inclined to take the Vikes. Both QBs will probably light up the Philly skyline, but I think Daunte Culpepper is heads and shoulders better than Donavan McNabb. He only needs to be a little better for Minnesota to win this one. Vikings 31, Eagles 27
ATS: Minnesota

Season records:
7-3 ATS
6-4 SU


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Politics: 'Wictory Wednesday' Has a Challenger 

While searching for fellow Texas bloggers last night, I came across the Lone Star Left's answer to Wictory Wednesday -- Texas Tuesdays.

"Turn Texas Blue Again," the logo states. I salute the lofty goal that my fellow Texans have set, no matter how contrary their politics are with mine. Perhaps that's because I don't envision losing any sleep that they'll succeed. Nothing short of another Reconstruction will turn Texas even a bright shade of purple, much less blue.


Longhorns: Luck or Skill? 

Memo to all of those Arkansas fans, who discredited Texas' 22-20 win with taunts that the Horns were "lucky": Read Bill Simmons' new ESPN column.

He might just be sticking up for his team, but Simmons also makes a valid point (one that he should remember if and when NY eliminated his red Sox in the playoffs).


Politics: Wictory Wednesday! 

We're less than seven weeks from Election Day.

Last Wednesday I mentioned some of the key Senate races that could prove crucial in the GOP's quest to maintain control of Congress (I'll admit that I borrowed the idea from WW organizer PoliPundit). Today he takes a closer look at the potentially biggest prize this election season: reigning Minority Leader Tom Daschle's South Dakota seat.

Challenger John Thune has a slight lead right now, but Daschle is an incumbent with more money, so that can change quickly.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Astros: Moment of Truth 

Maybe that title is misleading. With eighteen games remaining, tonight's series opener with the Cardinals isn't a must-win. It is, however, a need-to-win.

So come on Astros, go win it.

Not misleading after all

The Astros' season just came down to one pitch. Brad Lidge, who should have never gotten close to the bullpen mound, much less the actual one, blows one by So Taguchi to close out a 7-5 win against the Redbirds. Houston had squandered a 7-1 advantage, and with two men on -- in scoring position, no less, due to a wild pitch -- St. Louis had climbed to within a base hit of what would have been a demoralizing blow to Houston's playoff hopes.

Surrendering late-inning comebacks is a part of baseball. Every team blows games over the course of a major league season, but when you're fighting for your playoff life, giving away six runs in the last inning is the kind of setback that can kill confidence and send team into a spiral.

Lidge's final pitch, a 2-2 fastball in the dirt, was indeed a moment of truth. Even taking away the lingering effects of a collapse, a loss would have dropped Houston two games behind San Francisco.

The five-game set in Pittsburgh wasn't kind to Houston. Yeah, they went 2-3, and ceded the wild-card lead that they had forged during the twelve-game win streak. Winning tonight, though, puts them in position to make something positive happen here in St. Louis.


Sports: Changes I Would Make 

1. Exempt NCAA football from Title IX: I'm all for females competing, but football brings in all of the money for almost every major college athletic program. Colleges shouldn't have to cut men's programs to ensure equality among scholarships, simply because they cannot afford to add the requisite number of female sports.

2. Ban aluminum bats: This isn't the problem that it used to be, now that the NCAA has regulated the standards on aluminum bats. We no longer have to endure 21-14 College World Series finales, but there's still something about the ping of an aluminum bat that seems sacrilegious.

3. Halt expansion: Bud Selig's plan to contract two major league baseball franchises didn't fly, so we're apparently stuck with a lot of bad franchises in pro sports. Until such time as these perennial loses can be contratced, or relocated to new cities, all pro leagues should stop expanding.

4. Release college football polls in October: Now that the BCS relies so heavily on the two major polls, it's time to stop basing the NCAA champion on arbitrary rankings that have more to do with last year's results and this potential, as opposed to the current season's on-field merits. Delaying the first poll until the first week of October means that good teams might not face such long odds of reaching a BCS Bowl.

5. Raise the mound: Major league hitters are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before, so maybe it's time to help the pitchers. Raising the mound would help give some of those overmatched arms a little boost.

6. Add a BCS championship game: Rarely will you see more than four teams enter the bowl season with national championship credentials. Why not seed the top four before the BCS, and then allow the two winners to play a title game one week later? It's less complicated than a full playoff, while maintaining the history of the bowls.

7. Punish the coaches, not the schools: How many times do college coaches cheat, only to leave their former team to face the consequences when they bolt? When a program draws the wrath of the NCAA, due to the violations of a former coach, they should not incur crippling penalties, unless proof exists of wrong-doing that extends to the upper levels of the administration. The coaches at fault, however, should receive suspensions, or be forced to take the terms of their NCAA sanctions with them to their next job.

8. Institute a soft cap in the NFL: Had the NBA's salary cap been in effect in the NFL, we'd still have the Cowboys and Forty-Niners battling for NFC Supremacy. Yes, I'm bitter.

9. Eliminate Interleague play: Does anyone at all care anymore?

10. Ban all old-style Astro-Turf: Thankfully, fewer and fewer teams still cling to this relic of 60's-era innovation. I know that my Astros are to blame for setting the trend of injury-promoting carpets, but they switched to natural grass five seasons ago. For those in climates that make growing grass difficult, the revolutionary FieldTurf (used in places like Nebraska) surfaces mimic the properties of the real stuff.


Longhorns: Does He? 

Not surprisingly, this site is the #5 link for the Google search, "Greg Davis Sucks."

If we don't score more than 13 points against Oklahoma this year, expect that ranking to climb higher.


Sports: Changing the Rules 

USA Today writers offer ten changes they'd like to see made in sports. While I agree with some of their ideas, I have a few issues with others.

No. 10: Drop the possession arrow in college basketball
No complaint here. Make every tie-up a jump ball.

No. 9: Change the NFL overtime rule to give each side at least one possession
A happy median has to exist between the flawed OT rules in both college and pro football. The NFL's system isn't the sideshow that you see in the NCAA, but it's inherently unfair for the team that faces the unlucky prospect of losing a coin toss. I never understood why sudden death couldn't include the provision that if a team surrenders a TD on the initial OT possession, they still get the opportunity to score themselves.

No. 8: Lower ticket prices
Right. Let's force owners to drop ticket prices, because that really fits into our capitalist economic system. Hey, I'd love to spend less money each Fall on Longhorn games, but are high ticket prices really that big of a problem?

No. 7: Pay college athletes in revenue-generating sports
Once we start paying college athletes, I'm sure that ADs will make lowering ticket prices a priority. I do think that athletes deserve a little something more than what they get. After all, a promising engineering or business student can hold lucrative interships, while athletes can't even work part-time jobs. But paying athletes opens a Pandora's Box, and limiting payments to just those in revenue sports sounds even more problematic. Some sort of sensible stipend seems like the best course of action.

No. 6: Cut player salaries/institute hard cap
Now we delve into typical sportswriter garbage. Players make to much money! For shame! I think sportswriters make too much money. If any of those hacks could run a 4.4 forty, then I guarantee you they'd tout the capitalistic merit of free enterprise. I'll agree that salaries are somewhat ridiculous, but look what the hard cap has done to the NFL. Parity has become so prevalent that it's almost impossible to sustain a lengthy run of success. Good teams see their rosters dwindle, not because of age or injury, but mostly because of financial reasons. The hard cap is a detriment. If a salary cap is necessary, then I'd prefer to see teams adopt the NBA's soft cap. At least teams that make investments in developing players can keep those players if and when they ultimately reach their potential.

No. 5: Enforce penalties to stop fighting in the NHL
The NHL faces bigger problems than this these days, like, for instance, staying in existence. I'm not convinced that eliminating fighting is a good thing anyway. I've read the argument that without fighting -- hockey's self-policing system -- cheap shots are more likely to go unpunished, thus raising the level of dirty play.

No. 4: Drop the DH in baseball
No problem here. The DH eliminates strategy, and turns baseball into home run derbey.

No. 3: Shorten all seasons except for the NFL's
Wow, yet another incentive for owners to slash ticket prices. Honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing baseball revert to 154 games, if only to more accurately compare stats (in relation to records) between eras. But shortening seasons simply for the sake of making them shorter holds little merit. If someone doesn't have the attention span to maintain interest, then buy a PS2 and any of a number of sports titles. You can simulate full seasons in minutes.

No. 2: Test for performance-enhancing drugs across sports
It's a noble gesture, but beyond that, how does drug testing ultimately benefit sports? Someone can always find a way to beat the system.

No. 1: Devise a Division I-A college football playoff system
It sounds great on paper. Then you look at making it happen and it's a lot more complicated than it sounds. Of course you can't convince the hardcore playoff afficianados of that. Personally I think that the most realistic option involving college football would be to extend the bowls by an additional game and match up the two highest-ranked teams following the BCS in a championship game.

Later today I'll post my own list of changes I'd like to see made in sports.


Politics: Not Much to Say 

For the past week or two, my posts have all been sports-related. Part of that is due to the beginning of football season, and part of it is due to the Astros' resurgence.

Mainly, though, I just haven't had much to say on the political front. Since President Bush's post-convention bounce, most of the news on the political front has centered around the kind of trivialities that mar campaigns. I honestly don't care about Dan Rather's documents about Bush's service, and whether or not they're authentic. And John Kerry's swift boat service ordeal jumped the shar weeks ago.

I'd just like to know who bases his or her vote on this kind of "news"? Call me when the debates start.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Sports: Not-a-Fan Fans 

This section of Peter King's weekly "Monday Morning Quarterback" column has me scratching my head a little.

Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week

Thirtyish Man, a full four sheets to the wind, sitting two stools down at the Winking Lizard in downtown Cleveland Saturday night around 10:30: "You a Browns fan?''

Me, trying to watch Red Sox-Mariners: "No, not really.''

Thirtyish Man: "Ravens?''

Me: "Nah. I like football, but I don't really root for one team.''

Thirtyish man: "You gotta like somebody!''

Me: "No I don't.''


Thirtyish man: "I don't believe you."
I, too, know people that love football and don't cheer for any particular team, so I believe him. The behavior, though, baffles me. It's not that you can't just like football, but if you don't have one team that supercedes every other team, then what real joy do you take from it? It's like not having a favorite band.

I'll watch the NFL because it's a game and I enjoy watching. But unless the Cowboys are playing, or I have a bet riding on the outcome, it's really not that big of a deal.And as far as college football is concerned, I've gotten to the point where I don't even care to watch if the Longhorns aren't playing, unless the game in some way affects them.

Any casual fans care to explain to me what I'm missing? I'm curious. If you don't have a sense of loyalty to one team, then what draws you to the sport each week?


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sports: I Wonder What the Big XII Would Represent? 

Kris at Dummocrats offers up a funny comparison of Big Ten football to Middle Eastern politics.

Though they're not in the Big Ten, I'm going to go ahead and make one addition to Kris' list: Oklahoma. Let's just call them Al Qaeda.


Sports: NFL Week One Picks 

My Week One picks (if you don't want to scroll down two entries):

SU: 6-4
ATS: 7-3

A few thoughts:

- Even though they lost, 35-17, I'm encouraged by what the Dallas offense did today. Vinny looked sharp, and Antonio Bryant appreantly learned how to catch a football over the offseason. Not every team can line up Randy Moss to destroy your defensive gameplan.

- Washington's defense is better, but not so dominant that they should be able to shut a team down the way they did to Tampa today. Might Chris Simms find his way into the Bucs' plans a little sooner than expected?

- If Jamal Lewis intends on playing the rest of the season the way he did today, then it really won't matter how long his trial lasts.

- How many suicide/survivor pools saw half their fields eliminated today when Baltimore and Houston lost? Mine saw six of eleven fall.

- I don't know about breaking the single-season rushing record, but Priest Holmes could very well top 2,000.

- Note to CNNSI's Peter King: MVP QBs don't throw interceptions from their own endzone when trying, amidst a stiff pass rush, to force passes with the wrong arm. Jake Plummer? Please.

- Not too many thoughts this week, as our return trip for Arkansas meant we couldn;t watch many games. I'll try to do better next week (depending on whether or not I attend Austin City Limits Festival).


Longhorns: Strangers in a Strange Land 

In the past forty-eight hours, I've spent approximately nineteen hours riding in a car, six hours sleeping, eleven hours drinking beer, and four hours watching the Texas Longhorns rumble with the Arkansas Razorbacks. A quick look at the rest of the trip, by the numbers:

0: Number of congratulatory Arkansas fans after the game.

1: Attempt at physical abuse by an Arkansas fan. On our walk into the stadium, a female Hog fan brushed past me and "accidentally" elbowed me in the middle of the chest as she scurried by.

2: Instances in which someone shot us the finger, and one actually came on the highway en route to Fayetteville.

4: Times we had to pay a toll on crappy Oklahoma roads.

5: Exits that we missed between Dallas and Fayetteville and back.

7: Approximate age of the youngest fan to give our group the "horns down" sign.

8: Total number of hours spent in our Ft. Smith, Ark., hotel room, an average cost of $7.50 an hour.

10: Approximate number of blocks we walked, joyously, from the stadium back to our tailgate site.

13: Approximate number of times my friends and I were called "losers" by creative Hog fans.

18: Price, in dollars, of a case of beer in Fayetteville.

20: Minutes spent celebrating on the field after the win by the elated throng of bleacher Longhorns.

30: Approximate number of Texas fans among the 500 people occupying the North end zone bleachers.

74: Approximate number of times surrounding Razorback fans said that Texas couldn't run on their defense.

188: Rushing yards for Longhorn RB Cedric Benson.

1200: Approximate number of miles driven on the weekend.

1,357,937: Approximate number of times we saw the "horns down" sign.

Quotes of the Weekend

"Shut up, you've been cheating all night."
- Female Razorback several seats over, after Texas fans complained about a bad call.

"Mack Brown can't even beat Kansas State."
- Random guy in a stadium bathroom prior to the game. For the record, Texas has beaten K-State two straight times.

"Hey, y'all drove a long way to get your ass kicked."
- Random guy in a convenient store parking lot.

"You should get the loser kind of beer."
- Random Arkansas guy outside of a liqour store, apparently thinking that I asked him, and not Matt, what brand of beer we wanted.

"Since it's Sept. 11, can we all at least agree, 'f Al Qaeda?'"
- Matt, to an angry Razorback couple on the walk back to our car.

"Y'all are the first Texas fans I've met that aren't pricks."
- Teenage Arkansas fan at the RV lot where we tailgated.

"Please tell all of your friends that no one peed on you."
- Teenage Arkansas fan's girlfriend's mother.

Impressions of Reynolds Razorback Stadium

The locals insisted that their crowds are rowdier and louder when they play in Little Rock, but I have never seen a more passionate, more raucos environment. The stadium doesn't look that large, but its record crowd topped 75,000. Their "hog calls," which they do before kickoffs and at other frequent intervals, showed the kind of spirit and passion that makes college football such a great experience.

Despite the horror stories, we didn't get hit with any whiskey bottles, nor did we get threatened by any drunk Hog fans. There were several instances of unsolicited insults prior to the game, but all things considered, it was a relief that those represented the worst of it. Arkansas fans really do go overboard with the annoying "horns down" sign. Everytime they ran for more then three yards, or stopped us for less than five, they'd flash that at us. And two particularly dopey rednecks seemed intent on leading the bleacher section in giving them. They both had their heads painted red. One sported a mohawk and wore a hog nose, while the other had a greasy mullet dyed red, with various witticisms painted on his shirtless torso.

The game

It was ugly -- uglier than those stupid hog helmets that Arkansas fans wore. For whatever reason we abandoned our running game for the entire second quarter, and allowed Arkansas to get back into the game. Our overabundance of penalties hurt us all night, too, particularly on our second drive of the second half, when we had a chance to blow the game open. Instead of going up 29-17 with a touchdown, a false start penalty forced us into a field goal attempt that sailed wide left, keeping the score at 22-17.

The defense played better, I though, than the stat sheet indicated. Matt Jones is a solid QB, and he simply makes things happen. When we had to have a stop, the Texas defense answered the call. His scrambling ability set up a number of misdirection opportunities, and led to some big gains for te Razorback offense. Fortunately we won't see that kind of two-dimensional QB again until Missouri, and the Tigers don't scare me nearly as much as Jones and Arkansas.

I'm still scratching my head as to why we chose to attempt a two-point conversion in the third quarter. That missed conversion could have cost us the game. I don't agree with going for two at any point before the fourth quarter, unless you're trailing. Fortunately it didn't matter.

I'm sure that some people will cite the close win as evidence for why Texas isn't a top-echelon team. On a weekend, however, when Michigan loses to unranked Notre Dame, Georgia and Ohio State both survive scares to unranked teams, and the top three teams in the Big XXII North -- Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas State -- all lose games they were expected to win, just getting that "W" was enough for me. Razorback Stadium was electric, and Arkansas was pumped up like they were playing the Super Bowl. They wanted that win, but as is not always the case with a Mack Brown-coached team, Texas wanted it more.

I'll take it.


Friday, September 10, 2004

Sports: NFL Week One 

For the past few seasons I've run a weekly "pick'em" gambling pool at work. After decreased participation in the latter half of last year, coupled with my desire to go out on top (I won the yearly title in 03), I chose to retire as the resident wannabe bookie here at work.

I still have the itch to pick games, though, so I might as well make a few picks here each week. Don't expect a detailed column like with Matt's "The Week that Will Be." I don't have that kind of motivation, nor do I want to steal his thunder.

Anyway, here are my picks on the top ten games of the week. Lines courtesy of America's Line.

Tennessee(-3) at Miami: This game was moved up a day to avoid Hurricane Ivan. You could send the Titans there now and the outcome would be the same. Steve McNair or Jay Fiedler? Not even a comparison. Titans 24, Dolphins 13
ATS: Tennessee

Dallas at Minnesota(-5):
Vinny's looked good in camp, and I'm excited to see what Julius Jones can do. But as much as I love Pete Hunter, I feel a big day coming from Randy Moss. Dallas will hold their own before the Vikings break it open. Vikings 27, Cowboys 17
ATS: Minnesota

Tampa Bay at Washington(-2): Joe Gibbs returns to coaching and gets boy-wonder Jon Gruden in his first game. Tampa will struggle to move the ball against a revamped Skins D. Clinton Portis is overrated, but he'll eke out enough yards to win in a defensive battle. Redskins16, Buccaneers13
ATS: Washington

Baltimore(-3) at Cleveland: Jamal Lewis used the Browns as aspringboard to 2,000 yards last year. Can he do it again? Kellen Winslow better watch those crossing routes against Raw Lewis. Lewis might not be a soldier, but he's a warrior. Ravens 17, Browns 6
ATS: Baltimore

Jacksonville at Buffalo(-3): Two solid AFC sleepers with good, young talent. I like Fragile Fred to outduel the dual threat of Travis Henry and Willis McGahee. Jaguars 24, Bills 21
ATS: Jacksonville

Detroit at Chicago(-3): This actually isn't a marquee game, but I look forward to seeing one Longhorn (Roy Wiliams) burn a fellow Longhorn (Nate Vashar) at least once. With the home field, I think Chicago wins, but barely. Bears 24, Lions 23
ATS: Detroit

Houston(-4.5) at San Diego: LT might be the NFL's most complete back, but Domanick Davis will put up better numbers on Sunday. The Texas haven't lost a season opener, and they have yet to play a team as bad as San Diego. Texans 27, Chargers 10
ATS: Houston

Seattle(-2.5) at New Orleans: The Seahawks are the trendy pick this year, but Matt Hasselbeck and Shawn Alexander are the real deal. So is Duece McAllister, but with my man Marcus Tubbs in Aaron Brooks' face, I expect the Seattle secondary to turn in a big play ot three. Seahawks 31, Saints 20
ATS: Seattle

NY Giants at Philadelphia(-9): This is one of those games where I wouldn't be upset if the stadium collapsed. Donavan McNabb is not as good as his press, but Kurt Warner is just awful. The Iggles get at least one defensive TD. Eagles 34, Giants 17
ATS: Philadelphia

Kansas City at Denver(-3): The Chiefs and Broncos are always good for a MNF thriller. I don't believe the Jake Plummer hype, but the KC defense can't be much better than it was last year, when it was horrible. As long as Priest is healthy, though, KC can out-shoot Denver. Chiefs 34, Broncos 31
ATS: Kansas City


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