b The Longhorn Mafia <$BlogRSDURL$>

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Movies: Texas Texas Yee-Haw 

Tommy Lee Jones as a University of Texas cheerleader?

Sounds like a recipe for comical genius... or disaster... I can't really tell which one. Watch the trailer and discuss amongst yourselves.


Sports: f ESPN 

It's bad enough that Stuart Scott (not to mention the merry band of imitators that occupy the other anchor spots) and his repertoire of cheesy catch-phrases have made SportsCenter unwatchable, ESPN.Com has gradually expanded its premium content to the point that almost anything worth watching now costs extra. And with the growing tendency to replace actual sports programming with garbage like ESPN original movies and series, it all adds up to one sad conclusion...

...the ESPN empire has jumped the shark.

Now I know how all those metal heads and grunge rockers felt when MTV stopped having anything to do with music in the mid-90's.


Monday, November 29, 2004

Personal: Computer Woes 

So Thursday evening, my computer took a bath.

I was relieved to see that after much intense drying, it turned on. Unfortunately, though, it didn't emerged unscathed. For example, everytime I type the following keys: f, 2, 3, 8, 9, 0, j... I actually get: rf, w2, e3, i8, o9, p0, uj... It's rfun going back and deleting extra letters.... constantly.

Plus my "h" doesn't work at all. how do I type it then? More fun, I tell you. I get to copy and paste each time, which is made difficult by a mouse that is stuck in the middle of the screen, able to move vertically but not horizontally.

have you ever tried to surf the web using only the tab key and a half-functional mouse? It sucks.

So I need a new computer. I needed a new one anyway, as it's outdated and slow to begin with, but now I really do. To make matters worse, my TV conked out on me last week, so that needs replacing, too. Merry Christmas to me!


Random: Always a Bridesmaid 

Just like my Astros in the NLCS and my Horns with the BCS, I fell just short of greatness.

I was the runner-up in the most recent Caption Conest at Dummocrats. Yay me!

Thanks to President Bush and Chelsea Clinton for taking such an awkward photo. Thanks to Kris at Dummocrats for recognizing my near-greatness. And thanks to all the misanthropes and jackasses out there who, over the years, have helped me cultivate that acerbic wit, for which I'm so loved by the masses.

Seriously, though, I enjoy the contests and appreciate the pub.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Sports: NFL Week Twelve Predictions 

8-2 SU, 5-4-1 ATS last week.

67-43 SU, 54-53-3 ATS for the season.

On to Thanksgiving week:

Indianapolis [-9] at Detroit: Things I expect tomorrow -- 1 big lunch, 2 pieces of pie, 3 helpings of dressing and 4 Peyton Manning TD passes.
Colts 32, Lions 16
ATS- Indianapolis

Chicago at Dallas [-3.5]: Cowboys fans will be thankful just to not get beaten by double digits for the umpteenth time this season.
Cowboys 20, Bears 17
ATS- Chicago

Baltimore at New England [-7]: The Pats have so many ways to beat you, while the Ravens have... Jamal Lewis.
Patriots 26, Ravens 17
ATS- New England

Philadelphia [-7] at NY Giants: As bad as the Giants have looked lately, I'll bet Kurt Warner is happy to collect his check and stay warm on the sidelines.
Eagles 24, Giants 13
ATS- Philadelphia

Washington at Pittsburgh [-10.5]: Steve Spurrier is no doubt laughing his rear end off from his new home in South Carolina.
Steelers 23, Redskins 9
ATS- Pittsburgh

Tennessee [-1.5] at Houston: I'll give the Texans credit, they have a lot of fight in them.
Texans 17, Titans 16
ATS- Houston

New Orleans at Atlanta [-9.5]: Could someone please explain how the Saints won four games this year? Did they get to play a few of the directional schools?
Falcons 27, Saints 10
ATS- Atlanta

NY Jets [-3] at Arizona: The desert seems like a nice place to try and turn around a mid-season swoon.
Jets 23, Cardinals 14
ATS- NY Jets

Buffalo at Seattle [-5]: Koren Robinson's suspension aides fantasy players nationwide, who no longer have to risk starting him.
Seahawks 27, Bills 20
ATS- Seattle

St. Louis at Green Bay [-6]: Running game in the infirmary? Just let Brett Favre throw the ball and he'll find a way to win the game.
Packers 24, Rams 17
ATS- Green Bay


Longhorns: Ready for the Aggies 

If I were asked who I'd consider as Texas' biggest rival, I'd answer "Oklahoma" without thinking twice. But if you asked who I loved seeing Texas beat more than anyone else, then that honor would no doubt go to Texas A&M.

OU is a rival; Texas A&M is a gnat. They're the little kid down the street that knocks over garbage cans and throws rocks at your house because you wouldn't let them play with the big boys. They're Tonto to the Lone Ranger, or Robin to Batman -- the sidekick that sometimes has a moment, but ultimately remains in the background, where they belong.

Texas A&M owned us for a decade. That I freely admit. It was an embarrassing ten years for Texas football, and for many more reasons than just our inability to beat the Aggies. But that was the biggest black mark on Texas football's darkest time.

Those days are now long gone. The Horns have wiped the floor with A&M in recent years. Their two wins -- one against a 4-7 team and the other a contraversial one under the cloud of the Bonfire incident -- in the past nine years came by a combined 15 points. By comparison, the Horns' average win in that span has been by 21 points, and during the current four-game win streak Texas has outscored A&M 160-59.

In the last few years Texas has retired one Aggie coach (R. C Slocum) and rudely introduced the other one (Dennis Franchione) to the brand of football played in the Lone Star State. Our house, their house, wherever... the Aggies have been a non-factor, and that's the way it should be.

I'm sure that Aggies will fire back with Texas' inability to beat OU. The difference is that despite the crimson-and-cream roadblock that has derailed Texas' national championship hopes the past five years, the Horns always manage to get things back on track. We're not getting dominated by Utah, or finding ourselves engaged in an honest-to-God rivalry with Texas Tech, or losing to Baylor. Baylor!

Maybe Franchione turns that program around. I hope he does, if only so that we actually get to see an A&M game that matters. But it won't come this year, and until A&M wins the division or finishes in the Top Ten again, then the folks in College Station need to go back to polishing their 1993 SWC Championship trophy and leave the big-time college football to programs that live in the "now."

Aggie fans think they're team is going to come out on Friday and surprise Texas. I'll be surprised if they keep it within two touchdowns. With two of the greatest Longhorns I've ever seen -- Cedric Benson and Derrick Johnson -- playing their final home game infront of a raucous 83,000 at DKR-Memorial Stadium, there's no way this Texas team doesn't come out pumped and ready to win.

A&M has a few playmakers, including QB Reggie McNeal. Well Vince Young can play a little ball, too. With VY and Benson leading the way, A&M won't be able to stop a Texas offense that has rolled up more than 500 yards in each of the last two games. And what can you say about DJ? He'll sport #60 in honor of Tommy Nobis, and look for him to keep McNeal's happy feet in check. Unless Texas kills themselves with turnovers, then they'll simply have too many weapons for A&M to keep up. In the end, I like the Horns by a bunch. Texas 42, A&M 20


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Longhorns: Favorite Texas-A&M Moments 

For much of my younger years, my beloved Horns often spent Turkey Day looking up at the wrong end of the scoreboard. Between 1984 and 1994, Texas beat rival Texas A&M just one time. One freaking time.

Fortunately Orangebloods have seen a reversal of fortune since then, losing to the Aggies just twice in the last nine meetings. Because of the dominant streaks, however, the Lone Star Showdown hasn't really produced as many memorable games as the Texas-OU Red River Shootout.

That's not to say that great Longhorn moments don't exist. Here are my five favorites, in descending order:

5) Nov. 24, 2000: #12 Texas 43, #22 A&M 17 On the eve of the big game, my friend Paul told us about a dream he had that Texas SS Greg Brown would intercept a pass on the first play from scrimmage and return it for a TD. When it actually happened I was too busy celebrating to remember Paul's presience, but he reminded me later. Brown's TD reminded the Aggies that they hadn't won in Austin in six years and weren't destined to win on this day either.

4) Dec. 2, 1995: #9 Texas 16, #16 A&M 6 On the hallowed grass of Kyle Field, Texas claimed the final Southwest Conference championship. Ricky Williams led the way with 150+ yards, but ask any Texas fan about the play of that game, and they'll name Bryant Westbrook as the star. With the game all but wrapped up, Westbrook took aim at Heisman hopeful "'Lectric" Leland McElroy on an Aggie screen pass. Westbrook absolutely leveled McElroy and then proceeded to strut over his prone body. Texas strutted out of College Station as SWC Champs forever.

3) Nov. 24, 2000: #12 Texas 43, #22 A&M 17 After Brown's TD return, A&M managed to crawl back into the game. Then sophomore QB Chris Simms decided to flaunt his trio of bluechip WRs, tossing third quarter TDs to Roy Williams, B.J. Johnson and Sloan Thomas. Williams also scored on a reverse that left the punch-drunk Aggie faithful scratching their heads.

2) Dec. 1, 1990: #5 Texas 28, A&M 27 The Horns weathered an early 14-point deficit to take a late 28-21 lead. Then A&M marched down the field for the potential game-tying TD in the waning minutes. Rather than kick the PAT to even the game, A&M went for the win with a two-point conversion. Aggie RB Darren Lewis punished the Horns all day long, but on a toss sweep he ran into a 5'9" brick wall named Mark Berry. Berry stuffed Lewis at the two and the Horns held on to beat A&M.

1) Nov. 27, 1998: Texas 26, #5 A&M 24 Ricky Williams' second half fumbles made this game much closer than the scoreboard indicated. Yet no one will deny that this was Ricky's day. Early in the second period, he took a handoff and raced off tackle. Sixty yards later he dove into the end zone for a TD, in the process breaking Tony Dorsett's all-time NCAA career rushing record. As long as I live, I will have a hard time imagining any single sports moment (short of a Texas national title) eclipsing the elation that I, and 83,000 other fans, felt in those six seconds.


Longhorns: Texas A&M -- A Tradition of Excrement 

I know I've spent a lot of time the past few days griping about the ignorance of the BCS and Utah fans. But I'm done with that, because it is officially Aggie Week and therefore, I'm focusing all of my disdain for the next few days toward that blight of a school known as Texas A&M.

Texas A&M. P'Shaw.

There's an old joke that asks, "how many Texas A&M Aggies does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 50 -- One to insert the bulb and 49 to call it a tradition." In College Station, Texas, they certainly fancy themselves purveyors of tradition. Let's take a look at some of them:

The Corps: This glorified ROTC group exemplifies all that is wrong with Texas A&M. Whether it's showing their bravado by brandishing swords against opposing cheerleaders, or defending their field against opposing fans by inciting a riot, the Corp of Cadets frequently finds ways to embarrass their school. Don't forget the goofy little uniforms and buzzcuts. They're really sweet.

Revielle: As the highest-ranking officer in the Corps, all cadets are required to salute Revielle, and legend has it that if she barks during class then the class is immediately dismissed. She's a menacing figure on the Aggie sidelines, for sure, though I have to ask: if a ten-year old Timmy could handle Lassie without a problem, why does it take 20 cadets to guard Revielle?

Kyle Field: Hey, did you know that Kyle Field is a memorial to WWII veterans and no one is allowed to walk on the field? Hey, do the Aggies know that half the stadiums in America are memorials to veterans and their monument to poor architecture is in no way special?

Aggie Muster: Now this is actually a great tradition (all the lights on campus are turned out and a roll sheet is read of all former Aggies that have passed away over a given time period), so I won't rag on it.

Yell Leaders: Only men can be cheerleaders at Texas A&M. They dress up in ice cream uniforms and say things like "hullabaloo" and "whoop." There's no word on how many former yell leaders are now in therapy, or manning sno-cone stands across the Lone Star State. Yes, Ags, I know that current Gov. Rick Perry is a former Yell Leader, but future Gov. Kay Bailey Hutchison is a former UT cheerleader. Besides, erry has made a habit of flashing the "Hooke'Em Horns" sign at public gatherings. Good luck getting Kay to "whoop" any time soon.

Yell Practice: In case these college-educated students have forgetten how to yell, the Aggies hold a practice before each game. It's quite comical. If you've never attended, then read about it here.

Fightin' Texas Aggie Band: The Corps of Cadets consists of soldier wannabes, while the band consists of Corps wannabes. If you've never seen the Aggie band (or a junior high band perform a John Phillips Sousa medley) then you don't know what you're missing. As Trey McLean says in his weekly Texas Tailgate Talk, "Make sure you stick around and see the most heavily armed college band in the country turn to the right with predictable regularity and dazzling accuracy at halftime."

t.u.: In a clever juvenile manner, Aggies like to refer to daddy as "t.u." It's apparently funny to change the letters around in UT. I get that, because I love to refer to the Aggies as "m&a" and then snicker like a 12-year old girl.

TexAgs: The next time Bill Simmons updates his "unintentional comedy scale," I hope he's visited the forums here first, particularly the "rivalries" board. You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and penis envy.

The Aggie War Hymn: Hullabaloo Caneck Train Wreck. This boring 4/4 ditty takes twelve mintes to play, spouts off nonsensical words, reeks of obsession with the University of Texas, elicits nauseating mass swaying among Aggie fans and bears an uncanny resemblance to the theme from Yogi Bear, who is obviously smarter than your average Aggie.

Standing Up all Game: Strike another blow for creativity. Aggies stand the entire game, except when the opposing band takes the field. Imagine that. If someone learns of another school where students stand all game then let me know. Of course I'll need proof if I'm going to believe something so outlandish.

12th Man: The whole legend about E. King Gill and how he came out of the stands to help his team is an endearing story. In recent times, I'll bet any of a number of Aggie students could have come out of the stands and given a better effort than the Aggies in uniform.

"Spirit of Aggieland": Aggies never leave early, or so they say. But the past few years, a lot of them never showed up in the first place. And I saw plenty of empty seats in the fourth quarter of last year's 46-15 Texas win.

I could go on and on, as the Aggies only have a few hundred more traditions. But I hardly need to continue making fun of them when they do such a great job of making themselves look ignorant. However, there is one last tradition that, though the Aggies fail to embrace it, has become synonymous with Texas A&M University...

The Aggie Joke: My current favorite... Did you hear that they're relieved in College Station these days? Scientists recently announced that Mad Cow Disease isn't sexually transmitted.


Longhorns: Hell Freezes Over 

Noted Texas critic Trev Alberts opines:

I'm not on the [Utah] bandwagon! Never have been! All along I've said just because they go undefeated doesn't mean they deserve to be above a 1-loss BCS conf. team. If they played Texas 10 times they would lose 10 times. But I congratulate them and I hope they have a chance to play a good team. I hope they can play a big time team and see how they stack up.
(Emphasis is mine).

Someone check CNN; Perhaps Ted Kennedy has come out in favor of the President. Okay, this isn't a shock on that level, but Alberts has never been one to cut Texas, and particularly Mack Brown, any slack. While he has lightened up some this season, the former Cornhusker has riled Texas fans for years with often vitriolic commentary. For him to say that now surprises me, and it should serve to quiet some of the cockiness coming from the Great Salt Lake.

Of course it won't.


Monday, November 22, 2004

Sports: An NBA Hypothetical 

Here's a "what-if" for NBA fans to chew on:

What if a Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki had charged into the stands after getting hit by a full beverage on Friday night? Would the "ban Ron Artest for life" crowd advocate such draconian consequences toward either of them?

Ron Artest is a bad seed; I won't argue the contrary. He's been fined and suspeneded more times in the past few years than just about anyone in the NBA. He's selfish and represents much of what pro basketball's detractors find repugnant about today's NBA. But I don't think that what he did on Friday was the action of a "thug." It was a basic human reaction. He's just been involved in a hard foul with Ben Wallace, at the end of a rivalry game (quick aside: I saw one TV talking head label the original play a 'cheap shot" by Artest, thus removing any semblance of objectivity from said commentators reporting. Note to ESPN flunky: quit being the moral conscience of sports and stick to throwing out your lame catchphrases on Sportscenter) and his emotions are running high. Then he walks away and lets cooler hads prevail. For that much he should be commended. I'm sure I wasn't alone in thinking that the two were about to throw down right then and there.

It wasn't until some piece of crap fan launched a coke that Artest snapped. And before the "thug" comments start flying, let's ask ourselves: who among us have never snapped? It happens. And if it hasn't happened to you then I applaud your extraordinary skill of restraint, for you are indeed a unique individual. Yes, Artest is far from the model for class in pro sports, but any of a number of NBA stars could have easily done the same thing in the same situation, and for everyone that's using this incident to crusade against the likes of Artest, I simply ask that you attempt to view the situation with an open mind.

Back to the original question: What if Tim Duncan had been hit with a drink and subsequently bumrushed some pathetic lowlife fan? Well I would hope that any punishment doled out would be consistent from one player to the next, but I doubt that would be the case. Artest's sentence is harsh, but I'm okay with that, so long as it's fair. The next time this happens -- and believe me, as long as fans are permitted to behave like the fans in Detroit behaved, it will happen again -- I hope the NBA remembers Artest and hands down an equally firm decision.


Blog: Blogger Awards 

Nominations for the 2004 Blogger Awards are open at Wizbang.

Two quick comments:

1) This is not meant as a plea to nominate me, as this place is as run-of-the-mill as you'll find in the "blogosphere."

2) This seems like a more convoluted process than the BCS. Apparently anyone can nominate anyone, which has pretty much resulted in a lot of other pedestrian bloggers pimping themselves. And I have no idea how the actual selection works. Do people then vote after the nominations take place?

Anyway, since I do read a lot of other blogs, I thought I'd mention the sites that I think are most worthy in some of the main categories. The only problem is that I can't really decide which ones I think are most worthy. Baseball Crank? Alarming News? Dummocrats? The Fat Guy?

It's not exactly like trying to figure out who is my favorite: Bagwell or Biggio, but it's damn close. At any rate, they're all good choices, and a hell of a lot better than the crap I churn out on a semi-regular basis here (though I think my Astros coverage is pretty damn good). So go nominate one of those sites, and if there's some sort of vote after that, then go vote for one of them. Or all of them.

Or you could be boring and vote for InstaPundit.


Longhorns: A TCRM Zinger 

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I found myself laughing -- and not cringing -- at a Mack Brown comment in today's DMN. (bypass registration at Bug Me Not).

"The BCS is supposed to represent the top eight teams. It's not doing that. It represents the top two teams and a bunch of conference champions. I say give the conference champions a ring and a hug and let the top eight teams play."
(Emphasis is mine). Now some might say that because UT has gone eight years since winning its last conference championship, Brown's comment reeks of sour grapes. If that were true, though, I don't think he'd make such a broad statement. The folks in Athens, Knoxville and Boise would probably agree.

All in all, I don't really care. If you're not playing for the national title, then you're not playing for much anyway. But all of the talking heads should keep the reality of the BCS in mind the next time they go on TV and blast Texas for not ever playing in a BCS Bowl.


Sunday, November 21, 2004

Longhorns: Utah Fans are Funny 

So Texas is going to yet again find themselve playing in a sub-tier Bowl this season, despite finishing high enough in the rankings (that's assuming a win on Friday over Texas A&M) to qualify for the BCS.

That's okay. The Horns didn't take care of business against Oklahoma, so it's difficult to complain too much. But the over-exuberance coming from the Utah crowd is bordering on ridiculous.

The Longhorns have barely squeeked by a couple of mediocre teams, while the Utes have dominated everyone they've played.

I can't understand how Texas can get all of those 5-star recruits yet have such mediocre performance year after year after year. I bet A&M crushes you.

I've been to your campus and football stadium in Austin. I was surprised and was expecting so much more from a "BIG-TIME" program. Your staduim is a hunk of junk compared to Rice Eccles Stadium in SLC.

You don't deserve a BCS bid, if you do, I would love to see the Utes take it to the Longhorns in the Orange Bowl.
Now who has Utah played? A quick glance at their schedule shows Texas A&M and North Carolina as the only decent opponents, and NC just barely qualified for a bowl. And the only teams we "squeaked by" were Arkansas and Kansas. The Razorbacks treated that game as their Super Bowl, while the Jayhawks had the luxury of catching a flat Texas team a week after a thrilling comeback against Oklahoma State, and two weeks before the season finale with A&M. Besides, Texas did win both games, so who really cares? USC, Oklahoma and Auburn have all "squeaked by" some suspect opponents, so do the Utes think they can claim superiority over those teams as well?

Utah needs to be happy that they're in the BCS. Then they need to shut up. They're a second-rate team from a third-rate conference. If they really deserved to be in the BCS -- for a reason other than a pity selection garnered from excessive whining on the part of all the small-timers the past few seasons -- then they'd play in a real conference. The truth is that they need to hope that they can play a Boston College or Virginia Tech, because should they find themselves matched up against a pissed off, spurned Oklahoma or Auburn, they're going to get the ass-kicking that they so richly deserve.

Urban Meyer is a solid coach and Alex Smith has talent and moxie, but you put the Utes in the SEC or the Big XII and they're happy to end up in San Antonio or Shreveport. They simply don't have the horses to run with the big boys.

Utah wants to compare themselves to Texas? They do realize that the Horns play in the toughest division in one of college football's premier conferences, right? Yes, the Horns lost to Oklahoma. So have nine other teams. They also beat a good Oklahoma State team, a Texas Tech team that would probably run the table in the Mountain West, and don't forget the upcoming Lone Star Showdown with A&M. If you're counting, the Horns will end up playing five opponents that were ranked at one time. Utah? One.

These small conference teams don't know what it's like to play in a power conference, much less what it's like to wear a target on your back each week. Teams like Texas and Oklahoma are every opponents' big game. Hell, in 1997, three seperate opponents tore their goalposts down after beating a Texas team that finished 4-7. Utah ripped theirs down after clinching a conference title against a sub-.500 BYU squad. Does that sound like the M.O. of a big-time college football program?

One sign in the crowd at last night's Utah-BYU game said "Texas: Our FIESTA starts tonight." Does it? Celebrate while you can, boys. We've been there before, and we'll be back. In the meantime we'll go play another real team -- LSU or Georgia -- in the Cotton Bowl, content with the knowledge that ten wins and chance to host ESPN Gameday is a just a typical season, and not a flash-in-the-pan, once-in-a-lifetime fluke. Now go get your ass kicked in the Fiesta Bowl and fade back into mediocrity.


Random: Liberals Are Deluded, But They Make a Mean Burrito 

Funny t-shirt I saw tonight on the girl that made my burrito at Freebird's...

Democrats are Sexy: When was the last time you tried to get a piece of Elephant?
I wanted to comment on it, but she was liberal (pun intended) with the beans, guacamole and steak, and that's not always the case with the riff-raff that works there, so I let it slide.

Besides, it was kind of funny. It should be noted, however, that the girl in question didn't really embody the message on the shirt.


Friday, November 19, 2004

Sports: NFL Week Eleven Predictions 

Yo check it: 9-1 SU, 8-2 ATS in Week 10. Respect.

That brings me back up this week in my season totals: 59-41 SU, 49-49-2 ATS.

But it looks like a tough week.

(3-6) Dallas at (6-3) Baltimore [-8]: The injury sheet at Valley Ranch is longer than the one you might see at Ray Lewis' Super Bowl party.
Ravens 23, Cowboys 16
ATS- Dallas

(6-3) NY Jets at (4-5) Cleveland [E]: The only people not scratching their heads about NY's clock management last week were the guys from the 1972 Soviet Olympic basketball team.
Jets 23, Browns 20
ATS- NY Jets

(8-1) Pittsburgh [-4] at (4-5) Cincinnatti: Remember when Rudi Johnson was so good that he made Corey Dillon expendable? Remember?
Steelers 24, Bengals 10
ATS- Pittsburgh

(3-6) Tennessee at (6-3) Jacksonville [-3.5]: Remember when this was a clash that had a division title on the line? Remember?
Jaguars 20, Titans 13
ATS- Jaguars

(6-3) Denver [-4.5] at (4-5) New Orleans: At least Bayou State fans will get to see LSU win this weekend. Go to hell, Ole Miss, go to hell!
Broncos 27, Saints 17
ATS- Denver

(1-8) Miami at (5-4) Seattle [-10]: There's no truth to the rumor that Ricky Williams sent Dave Wannestadt an autographed hookah as a going away gift.
Seahawks 31, Dolphins 14
ATS- Seattle

(7-2) Atlanta [-2.5] at (5-4) NY Giants: The Eli Manning era begins; just not with a G-men win.
Falcons 27, Giants 24
ATS- NY Giants

(3-6) Washington at (8-1) Philadelphia [-10]: All of those punk-ass Redskins fans that laughed on Monday night will get a taste of what Philly gave Dallas.
Eagles 32, Redskins 13
ATS- Philadelphia

(5-4) Green Bay [-3] at (4-5) Houston: Two teams going in opposite directions.
Packers 26, Texans 21
ATS- Green Bay

(8-1) New England [-3] at (3-6) Kansas City: Last time they were on MNF, the Chiefs beat a pretty good Ravens team. Trap game.
Chiefs 24, Patriots 23
ATS- Kansas City


Football: The Case For a Playoff System 

If it's November, it must be that time of year that every sane person in America, i.e. those that favor a college football playoff, are met with the argument to keep the archaic bowl system alive.

Yes, a playoff would be revolutionary and change the fabric of the game. But it is long overdue, and unlike John Kerry, we actually do have a plan when it comes to this.

The Field: It's simple. You either have 8 or 16 teams, decided by a combination of the human polls and computer polls, with automatic bids given to conference champions. Yes, you will still have arguments from the 9th or 17th team in these equations, but isn't this better than the third best team or the fifth best team in the country griping? You have the griping every year in March, yes, but it dies down by the time the games get rolling.

The Excitement: No, you can't duplicate March Madness. But what you would have is about 15 or 16 games every postseason that matter, not just one. Is the college bowl system exciting as it is? Hell no. You go to a bar during lunch and see the Humanitarian Bowl on TV and ask the waitress if she can switch the TV to Fox News. The system as it is set up puts all of the importance on one game, with even great matchups in the Sugar and Rose bowls and such largely ignored because they simply don't matter.

The Playing Sites: I don't think you could incorporate the bowls into the system. You would have to do home fields. And yes, that opens up some debate, but it seems to work for every other major sport.

The Regular Season Would Be Better: This is the favorite argument of the anti-playoff folks. Somehow they try to convince us that Texas-Rice is exciting because it means something. But what they fail to realize is that a playoff would only enhance the regular season. Instead of scheduling Louisiana Lafayette, New Mexico State and UTEP as non-conference opponents, if you bring back the strength of schedule component, you would have teams scheduling much better. Imagine a USC/Florida State matchup. Or Oklahoma/Auburn. Or Texas/Michigan. And not in some meaningless bowl game in January, but in September. Some college basketball progams schedule ridiculous opponents to get their teams ready and to look more attractive to the selection committee in March. I think you would see the same thing here. Plus, you could have these matchups in January, instead of seeing Texas/some spare ass Pac 10 team every other year.

A playoff system wouldn't be perfect, but it would be a hell of a lot more complete than the current system. There is a reason that every other sport in America lets their championships be decided on the field, not in a mainframe. And that's because the competition is what makes the game great, but with the current system we are more worried about binary codes than we are zone blitzes.


Football: My Case Against a Playoff 

If it's November, it must be the time of year that every yahoo across America decided it's time to pimp his or her idea for a college football playoff. "it's so simple," they say. "The NCAA is crazy," they add.

Well I don't think it's so simple, and furthermore, I don't think a college football playoff will be nearly as rewarding as proponents think it will be. Here are a few hastily composed thoughts that I don't think the playoff proponents address when they lay out their plans.

How do you decide the field?: College basketball allows 64 teams and still there is grumbling each March. Football simply cannot have a field even half that big. So how do we decide who gets in and who gets left out? Eight teams or sixteen teams? Conference champions or strictly at-large? In any instance the polls -- both human and computer -- play an integral role. That opens up just as much controversy as we have right now.

You can't duplicate March Madness: We all love the NCAA tourney. It's great -- 64 teams, single elimination, two games a week... with office pools and marathon TV broadcasts, March Madness reprsents a gambler's and a sports bar owner's dream. But college football isn't the same sport. You won't have nearly as many teams, and with the smaller field, you'll never be able to manufacture the drama that b-ball junkies live for (e.g., the longshot upsets that define the early rounds).

Where do they play?: People always say, "use the Bowls as playoff sites." Well gee, I'm sure that'll work our great for all the fans that have to travel from Memphis to San Diego to Tempe on consecutive weekends. And when teams with less-entusiastic fanbases sell less than half their allotment for a Final Four game, I'm sure we'll all be excited to see half-empty stadiums on television. Even if they allow home fields, it just gives unfair advantages to teams that are ranked higher in whatever arbitrary system seeds the playoff field.

Meaningless regular seasons: With a playoff, Texas-Oklahoma, Miami-Florida State, Florida-Tennessee and all of those mega-rivalry games become moot. And teams like the aforementioned schools actually get an advantage, because they play earlier in the year, allowing plenty of time to bounce back in the polls, while others (Auburn-Alabama, Michigan-Ohio State, etc.) face a win-or-else situation with their late games.

I'm not going to argue that the BCS is ideal. But it's better than the regional match-ups the preceded it. And if a playoff ever becomes a reality, then I'll accept it. Let's not kid ourselves, however, by thinking that a solution is easy, or that we're anywhere close to having one.


Music: Congrats to Cruiserweight 

My good friends in Cruiserweight, one of Austin's most popular bands, recently signed with Doghouse Records. It's another step on the road to world domination for the pop-rock foursome.

Their debut Doghouse album, "Sweet Weaponry," comes out in February, but their first single is available online now.

Way to go, guys!


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Television: Blogging in the Spotlight 

Tonight's West Wing episode features a subplot involving White House Deputy Chief of Staff John Lyman as the target of a blogger, following a mishap at a car dealership. The pajama-posting wannabe journalist takes Lyman to task for test-driving an SUV right into an eco-friendly Prius. The incident doesn't sit well for critics of the Bartlet administration's lack of environmental focus.

It's nice to see the blogosphere wreaking havoc in fantasyland as well as the real world.


Random: Time to Build an Ark? 

Continuing on last night's weather theme...

Once the tornado nonsense ceased to be a threat, I met some friends out for a drink and it ultimately turned into an impromptu game of Hold'em. After seeing a late rally get me back to the even point, I decided to take off a little after midnight, feeling pretty good.

Then I walked out the door. The apartment complex's parking lot had a good two inches of standing water, if not more. Getting home was like driving through a swimming pool. Miserable doesn't even begin to describe navigating my car through that soup at 12:30. To make matters worse, I arrived home to learn that my power had gone out during the storm. Judging by my clock, it didn't come back on until almost 5. The rain, however, continued all night. The drive to work was just as schrecklich as the drive home last night.

Needless to say, I'm in a bit of a foul mood this morning.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Music: On the Road... 

I caught CMT's rankings of the Top 40 'Road' Songs on TV earlier.

A lot of it is what you'd expect: Amarillo By Morning, East Bound and Down, Route 66, Ramblin' Man, and of course, On the Road Again.

Here's their top ten:

10 Red Dirt Road Brooks & Dunn
09 Drive (For Daddy Gene) Alan Jackson
08 Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses Kathy Mattea
07 Lost Highway Hank Williams
06 Route 66 Asleep at the Wheel
05 I've Been Everywhere Johnny Cash
04 Take Me Home, Country Roads John Denver
03 Ramblin' Man The Allman Brothers Band
02 King of the Road Roger Miller
01 On the Road Again Willie Nelson
It's hard to argue with those selections, but I'd probably include a few (lesser-known, I realize) of my faves: W. Tx Teardops, by the Old 97's; Gringo Honeymoon, by Robert Earl Keen, and My Hometown, by Charlie Robison.


Random: Are You Serious? 

It's November 16, and there's a Tornado Warning in effect right now about twenty miles from Austin.

We have the weirdest weather in Texas.

It's certainly not weird to experience a tornado in Central Texas. I remember my parents scurrying my siblings and I into the closet when I was nine and a twister touched down a few blocks from our house, and I remember nervously waiting out an F5 that missed Temple, but leveled the poor folks down in Jarrell the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. But one of those was in May and the other was in June.

A tornado in November? Crazy.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Sports: Monday Night in Big D 

I hate the Philadelphia Eagles.

I hated them when Buddy Ryan offered his defense bounties to take out Cowboys players. I hated them when they booed Michael Irvin after his career-ending neck injury on the asphault turf that lined Veterans Stadium. I hated them when Andy Reid tried a Mickey Mouse surprise onside kick to open last year's game in Dallas.

I hated Troy Vincent. I hated Duce Staley. I hated Rich Kotite and his goofy mesh hat that accentuated how horrible a coach he was. I hate Terrell Owens. I hate Jeremiah Trotter. I hate green and silver together. I hate everything about the Eagles.

The Philadelphia Eagles can go to hell, which coincidentally, will freeze over before that suck-ass franchise ever wins anything of consequence. If the Cowboys don't win a single game the rest of the year, then I would be satisfied, so long as they kick Philly's ass tonight.

The Iggles have our number the past few years, but that's fine. Dallas has the number that matters: five. That's five world titles, you illiterate, Santa Claus-booing, battery-chunking Keystone State assclowns. Someday, when your team isn't busy choking in the NFC title game, you'll know what it's like to win your first.

F the Eagles. Go Cowboys.


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Longhorns: Still Exhaling 

UT's 27-24 win over Kansas was one of the stranger games I've seen.

In the aftermath of the controversial win, most of the fallout has centered around a single play: an offensive pass interference call that negated a late Jayhawk first down. Rather than having an opportunity to milk the clock -- possibly all the way to triple zeroes -- Kansas instead punted, and Texas drove for the winning score with 11 seconds.

Kansas fans have cried foul and KU coach Mark Mangino has cried "conspiracy." Both are utterly absurd.

For all of you Rock Chalkers, who think your team outplayed the Horns, take a look at the stats. Texas dominated you in total yards (581-348), and your column was inflated by a fluke 73-yard completion that led to the 23-13 Kansas lead. Two Texas DBs picked each other off, allowing KU's Mark Simmons to race inside the five, setting up the insurance score. Texas moved the ball at will almost all day, but consistently shot themselves in the proverbial foot with mental lapses and stupid penalties.

As for Mangino, he should concentrate on putting more food in his mouth, rather than that size 16 Nike. Officials decided the outcome? Maybe he watched a different game than the rest of us, but that game I saw had Texas penalized ten times for 103 yards (KU's total: three for 23). And take off the red-and-blue-tinted glasses, because your man blantantly pushed off on the third down play. Besides, if you can't stop a 4th and 18 QB scramble, then you don't have any business winning.

Kansas fans should take satisfaction in putting a scare into a much better team. Good job. Your mighty Jayhawks gave it their best shot against a team that was emotionally letdown after a tough win the previous week, but they didn't win. They didn't deserve to win, just like they didn't deserve to win the six previous games that they lost. There's a reason that Kansas is 3-7 now, and there's a reason that Texas is 9-1. Good teams find ways to win games like yesterday, and mediocre teams make excuses afterward.

As for all the blowhard Kansas fans that are wasting bandwidth complaining on the Internet message boards, get over yourselves. If anyone cared about your team (i.e., if you really had any real fans), then your stadium would have been more than half full for the first three quarters of Saturday's game.

I'm not going to say that I was 100 percent elated with squeaking out an ugly win against an inferior team, but I'm not going to whine about it either. A win is a win. Every good team struggles at some point during the season. USC had a similar game against Stanford a few months back, and Oklahoma nudged past Oklahoma State by the hair on their chinny-chin-chin. Does it matter? No. All that matters is that "W" in the win-loss column.

Granted the manner in which Texas won has, at least for the time being, hurt their BCS standing, but there's plenty of time for that to work itself out. a


Friday, November 12, 2004

Sports: Week Ten NFL Predictions 

It's getting messy, folks. Week Nine was embarrasing -- 3-7 SU, 2-8 ATS.

That brings my season total to:

50-40 SU
41-47-2 ATS

With two incredibly bad weeks in a row behind me, I have nowhere to go but up, right? Let's hope.

(5-3) Baltimore [-1] at (6-2) NY Jets: Chad Pennington won't play. Jamal Lewis apparently will. I might be falling for a trap.
Ravens 20, Jets 16
ATS- Baltimore

(7-1) Pittsburgh [-3.5] at (3-5) Cleveland: Smells like a letdown game to me. Plus I still don't think the Steelers are as good as they've looked.
Steelers 20, Browns 17
ATS- Cleveland

(4-4) Houston at (5-3) Indianapolis [-9]: Beating the Vikes had to be good for the Colts' confidence. That spells trouble for Houston.
Colts 30, Texans 17
ATS- Indianapolis

(3-5) Tampa Bay at (6-2) Atlanta [-3.5]: The Dirty Birds are for real, and the Bucs might still be savoring that home win against KC.
Falcons 23, Buccaneers 14
ATS- Atlanta

(4-4) Detroit at (5-3) Jacksonville [-4]: Jacksonville had an off-week to recover from that loss to Houston. Detroit hasn't looked good lately.
Jaguars 26, Lions 21
ATS- Jacksonville

(5-3) Seattle at (4-4) St. Louis [E]: The Seahawks aren't a good road team. The Rams aren't a consistent team no matter where they play. Toss-up.
Rams 21, Seahawks 20
ATS- St. Louis

(3-5) Kansas City [-3.5] at (3-5) New Orleans: Call me crazy, but I think that the Chiefs could still find their way into the playoffs.
Chiefs 24, Saints 20
ATS- Kansas City

(5-3) Minnesota at (4-4) Green Bay [-3.5]: There's absolutely no way Minnesota goes into Lambeau and wins without Randy Moss. No way.
Packers 23, Vikings 20
ATS- Minnesota

(3-5) Buffalo at (7-1) New England [-7]: The Bills and 'Boys are racing to see which team gives Dallas a better draft pick. Go Pats!
Patriots 28, Bills 17
ATS- New England

(7-1) Philadelphia [-6.5] at (3-5) Dallas: I think Dallas is ready to mail in the season. They showed no heart last week. None at all.
Eagles 32, Cowboys 10
ATS- Philadelphia


Baseball: Farewell to One of My Faves 

Brian Gunn at Redbird Nation is "retiring" from blogging.

That's a shame, because even though those damn Cardinals are the enemy, I enjoyed visiting Brian's site throughout the season. He always maintained a professional, thorough analysis of not just St. Louis, but also the entire NL Central. During the NLCS, his site was one that I checked at least five times a day.

Now if only he can get Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen to ride off into the sunset instead...


Politics: Delusional Dems 

Last night I hung out with a friend of mine, an ardent Democrat, who probably opposes the GOP as much as she actually supports her own chosen party. We usually don't discuss politics, because we disagree so frequently. But the barbs inevitably come out.

We were at her friend's volleyball game, and she noted that her friend's team had fewer players than their opponent. I remarked, "Just because you have more numbers doesn't mean you don't still suck." She replies, "yeah, like Bush." Ouch.

Later she saw that one of the players was constantly out of position, making bad plays. "That guy is horrible," she said. "He keeps going back and forth." My reply: "Yeah, kinda like Kerry." Needless to say she didn't see the humor.

That got us started down the political road. Before long she was touting Hillary as the next President, and I told her that I wasn't sure Hillary had enough mainstream support to be a viable candidate. "But who would have thought four years ago that John Kerry was a viable candidate?"

"He wasn't," I told her. "He wasn't even a viable candidate four weeks ago."

"He was good enough to get 48 percent of the vote against Bush."

I couldn't believe my ears. A losing margin makes one a good candidate?

Here's my question to Democrats: what does it say about your party, and the weak field of candidates that you produced, that President Bush -- who is literally hated by probably half of your fellow liberals -- not only won re-election, he did it fairly comfortably? The President won every state that he won four years ago and more, and in the process, he increased the percentage of the vote that he won four years ago in all 50 states. So despite the vitriol that this man has recieved from your camp for four long years, he still overcame it all to clinch a second term.

Between George Soros' millions, MoveOn.Org's blistering attack ads, consistently feeble approval ratings and a host of other obstacles, the President remained the President. Democrats shouldn't revel in the fact that Kerry won 48 percent of the vote. They should mourn the reality that comes from two consecutive failed should-have-been-slam-dunk wins.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Television: Instant Classic! 

Bill Simmons hasn't lost his touch after all.

His latest column for ESPN the magazine is probably the finest work that he's produced since shunning Jimmy Kimmell to return to his former job as an ESPN.com columnist. How good is it? Well let's just say that The Sports Guy does such a thorough hatchet job on the latest MTV Real World/Road Rules Challenge, that I might have to end my self-imposed moratorium on all MTV programming and tune in next time it airs.

Though I decided against watching any further RW/RR serials after it became apparent that the same people's same relationships would become an ongoing drama, I might make an exception. Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get to see The Miz, who seems to have made a career out of being an MTV has-been, get his ass kicked or something. Man, I can't stand The Miz (who bears an alarming resemblance to Astros pitcher Brandon Backe). I don't think Simmons does, either.

Because MTV keeps recycling this idea -- and thank God -- some repeat competitors have become "veterans," for lack of a better word. The sense of entitlement is alarming. Take The Miz, a four-season old-timer who recently joined WWE's Tough Enough, making him the Bo Jackson of trash TV. He carries himself like Patrick Swayze in the first 20 minutes of Road House. Can you really take pride in something this inane?

Tonya, if you can get this rock in your mouth, then God bless you.
The Miz has advice for the newcomers about the dangers of hooking up, the threat of alliances ... everything but how to fill out a W-2 form, since he'd have no idea how to do that. Now that the Sox have won the Series, "Will The Miz ever get a real job?" is the number one unanswerable question in life.
Like I said, classic stuff. Check it out.


War: Favorite War Movies 

In honor of Veterans' Day, I thought I might list some of my favorite silver screen depictions of American bravery and heroism. Ironically, though Veterans' Day is an offshoot of Armistace Day, commemorating the end of WWI, I know of no WWI movies, thus the list is devoid of any.

1. Saving Pvt. Ryan- From the hair-raising opening sequence to Pvt. Ryan's final salute as his fallen commander's grave, this film elicits so many emotions that attempting to write a worthy synopsis is folly.

2. Band of Brothers- Technically a mini-series, not a movie, but I don't care. This series captures the heart of the Greatest Generation: how tens of thousands of soldiers -- most no older than myself -- risked their lives to defeat the greatest evil the world had ever known.

3. Glory- The American resolve shines through in this Civil War drama. Even in our nation's darkest hour, the ideals on which it was founded were preserved. As a result, freedom rang in ways it never had before.

4. Full Metal Jacket- Though the second half dips too much into anti-war propaganda for my tastes, the first half provides a fascinating glimpse into the making of a warrior.

5. Patton- God Bless George Patton. Who could ever forget this quote: "Nobody ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

Honorable Mention: We Were Soldiers, The Patriot, When Trumpets Fade


World: A Great Day for our Jewish Brethren 

To commemorate the death of Yassar Arafat, I thought it appropriate to "fly" the Israeli flag here on the LM Blog.

As for Mr. Arafat, hopefully he'll soon have company (i.e., Osama bin Laden) in whatever realm of Hell the Devil has reserved for evil terrorists.


Random: T.D. Sanchez Wrap-Up 

It was a valiant effort, but in the end, the deficit was just too great. Trailing 19-10 in the final at-bat of the 2004 softball season, T.D. Sanchez could only manage six runs. The potantial tying run lined out to the second baseman to conclude a rough 0-6 Fall campaign.

Through four seasons in 2004 my softball team, T.D. Sanchez, compiled a 14-18 record, including a 7-1 Summer I championship. Unfortunately because of that we were moved up a league into high intermediate for the Fall season, where things didn't really go our way.

This was my first year on the team and I had a good time playing, even if my batting average might have hovered in the sub-.300 range. I like to think I made up for it with my savvy behind the plate.

I hope to make a few adjustments in the offseason that will help to improve my game for the start of the Spring league in February. They include: drinking a lot of beer and learning to hit better. I aim high.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sports: I'm Not the Only One 

At least one NFL writer shares my opinion that the NFL has been beyond boring this season.

3. The sorry state of the league: This has been one of the least entertaining NFL seasons in years. Every time I peek at a schedule, I'm stunned at how many bad games are on tap for the coming week. Part of that has to do with parity -- it's impossible to know who's any good anymore except for a handful of teams. Part of that has to do with injuries -- there have been so many this season that most teams are playing second- and third-string guys that probably wouldn't even be in the league. The game has become unwatchable in some places. And if you think I'm lying, you probably missed the 49ers-Bears Sunday Night football contest two weeks ago.
I used to wake up energized on Sunday mornings, ready to hit the local sports bar and pig out on pigskin action. This season, though, the only thing I've had to look forward to is my Longhorn football Saturday hangover wearing off.


Longhorns: The Attitude at the Top 

Mack Brown's attitude has always bugged me.

Whether he's calling every game "a big game," no matter the opponent, or describing UT's rivalry with Oklahoma as "playing your brother," he just doesn't seem to "get it," and I think I know what "it" is.

This quote, from Monday's AA-S Longhorn notebook, embodies that:

"I think he has to go to New York. Who else out there has been as consistent over four years as he has?"

Mack Brown, on Cedric Benson's chances to win the Heisman Trophy
That logic confounds me. Of course Cedric Benson deserves to go to New York; he's one of the elite players in college football. But who cares about consistency over a four-year career?

Greatness isn't about being consistent. Greatness is about rising to the occasion. It's about the moment. Consistency is nice, but it's not what you strive for, unless you're content with just faring better than mediocre.

Brown constantly reminds Texas fans that the Horns have won at least nine games each season since he took over. That's true. The Longhorns won nine games in 1998, 1999 and 2000, while winning ten last year and eleven in both 2001 and 2002. But in that span we have no conference titles or BCS Bowl berths. We've been a good team in every one of his seasons, but have we been great? Maybe, but we've never achieved greatness in any one season.

Brown doesn't seem to realize that.

It's not about just winning nine games, Mack. Ask your star RB. Watch him on the field. Cedric Benson doesn't want to be consistent. He wants to pile up yards and score TDs. He wants to go to New York and hear his name called as the best football player in America.

It's time to want the same thing Mack. Quit being consistent. Start being great.


Longhorns: Poor Greg Davis 

AA-S sportswriter John Bridges laments that Texas Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis "can't buy a break."

He helps to engineer the greatest comeback in school history, and yet no one wants to give him any credit. I guess that comes with the job of offensive coordinator.
You know what else comes with the job of offensive coordinator? Getting the team on the scoreboard. Texas could not do that even once against Oklahoma, though it seems that lesser offenses have scored at will on the Sooners in recent weeks.

I'm not one of those "Greg Davis is the Anti-Christ" types that uses any instance to berate the least popular coach on the Longhorn staff, but let's get real for a moment. Davis gets paid a lot of money. I will not have pity on him because fans discount his importance in a win he may or may not have had a lot to do with.

Personally, I wonder what percentage of the offensive playcalling Davis has even been involved with since OU. It's amazing that the vanilla gameplan Texas used in that game has since added chocolate, caramel, whipped cream and sprinkles. Where was the halfback pass in Dallas? What about the reverse end-around to Ramonce Taylor?

We could sit here for an hour and todd around what-ifs, and it doesn't change the fact that the Horns scored zero points in their most important game of the season. This team should be in the hunt for a national title right now. Instead we're hoping that Utah doesn't get out spot in the BCS.


Politics: Falwell at it Again 

There's no rest for the weary in politics. A week after President Bush's re-election, evangelical activist Jerry Falwell already has his sights set on four years from now, with the announcement of an "evangelical revolution."

Falwell, a religious broadcaster based in Lynchburg, Va., said the Faith and Values Coalition will be a "21st century resurrection of the Moral Majority," the organization he founded in 1979.

Falwell said he would serve as the coalition's national chairman for four years.

He added that the new group's mission would be to lobby for anti-abortion conservatives to fill openings on the Supreme Court and lower courts, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the election of another "George Bush (news - web sites)-type" conservative in 2008.
As someone who doesn't stand too far from Falwell on the political spectrum, I think this is a horrible idea. Except for the part about getting another Bush-like conservative elected in 2008, Falwell misses the mark.

This country has never dealt well with having things pushed on them. Remember Prohibition? That certainly prevented the evils of alcohol from infecting society, didn't it? Falwell's attempt to impose his values on the rest of the nation, in my opinion, can only hurt the efforts of those who are trying to really help change the direction of morality in our country at the grassroots level.

The Faith and Values Coalition stands zero chance of affecting change in society, if their means of doing so depends on frivolously amending the constitution and packing our courts with anti-abortionists. And with a polarizing figure like Falwell manning the helm, the group instantly hinders their credibility among many of the middle-of-the-road folks that they'll likely depend on for support.

Someday I hope that my fellow believers might try a new approach. If they don't, and America descends into a Godless state, then people like Falwell should be held largely responsible.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Random: 'Chili' Weather This Weekend 

So yesterday I came across this post over at Alarming News about an NYC Chili Cook-Off.

A Chili Cook-Off? Hell yeah! In NYC? Um, huh?

Sugar, lamb, veggies? Are we talking chili? But since they all seem like nice folks, and Karol's blog is one of my two or three favorites, I'll hold off on the Texas arrogance. After all, we apparently have horrible taste in pizza down here, and I can live with that.

Anyway, despite the suspect ingredients, the post made me hungry. I haven't had a good bowl of chili in a looooooooong time. You just can't eat it, as good as it is, when the temperatures still hover near triple digits. So I went to check this weekend's weather, and look what I found: Friday, 55/37; Saturday 54/40; Sunday 56/44.

Sounds like chili weather to me. I'm probably too lazy to organize a cook-off, but with an 11 am Texas-Kansas kickoff on Saturday, maybe I'll have to get some started before the game and let it cook all day. Mmmmmmm... chili!


Monday, November 08, 2004

Longhorns: Hitting the Hardwood 

Since TJ Ford electrified the Forty Acres by carrying the Longhorns to the Sweet Sixteen in 2001-02, many Orangebloods have openly discussed the possibility that Texas basketball might be closer to winning a national title than Texas football.

TJ's long gone, but coach Rick Barnes has himself a recruiting class this season that might just be the best since Michigan rode the Fab Five to the 1992 NCAA championship game. Texas, picked to finish third in the Big XII this year, begins exhibition play tomorrow night at home, before opening the regular season next Friday (complete schedule here).

I'm by no means a hardcore hoops guy, but there's no denying that Barnes has quietly put together an outstanding basketball program here at Texas. Even after losing four seniors from last season's Sweet Sixteen team -- Royal Ivey, Brandon Mouton, James Thomas and Brian Boddicker -- the Horns look set to make another run this year.

With a relatively young squad, Barnes will have to rely on streaky, yet talented vets like Brad Buckman and Jason Klotz to hold the team together while the freshman mature. I figure, though, that by the end of the year, Daniel Gibson, LaMarcus Aldrige and Mike Williams will have the Horns among the best in the country.

Predictions mean little at this point, but I'll make one anyway. I'm guessing that the Horns win about 23 regular season games and advance to the Elite Eight in March. Maybe I can come back the first week of April and apologize for selling Coach Barnes and his team short.


Politics: These People Make Me Want to Gloat 

The most recent cover of the Austin Chronicle, our "alternaive weekly" tabloid, showed President Bush as a faun, holding the broken horn of John Kerry, a unicorn, uttering a triumphant "Yeehaw." The accompanying blurb says: "After the horn of a unicorn is broken, darkness and winter descend on the world."

Funny... I seem to have noticed an abundance of beautiful, sunny days since America re-electted the President. Pity the poor liberals in their hour of "darkness."


Sunday, November 07, 2004

Longhorns: Simply Amazing 

I've attended many Texas games over the years, and what I saw transpire on Saturday night was a first. Texas trailed late in the second quarter, by a bunch, and I began to get visions of several meltdown Longhorn losses from the not-to-distant past.

In 1997, Texas was humiliated at home by unranked UCLA, 66-3, and in both 2000 and 2003, rival OU mauled the Horns, 63-14 and 65-13, respectively. All of those games were over before the halftime gun sounded, and with a 35-7 lead, it looked like Oklahoma State might follow suit.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable deficit, though, part of me thought "we can still win this game." I slightly inebriated heart shouted down a more level head, and somehow I remained optomistic. Forty-nine unanswered points later my friends and I were toasting a 56-35 win, the biggest comeback in Texas football history.

In more than 100 years of Longhorn football, no Texas team had ever erased more than a 19-point hole. Thus, "Amazing" doesn't even begin to describe how improbable a feat it is to storm back from twenty-eight down. For almost thirty minutes, the Horns could do no right. Then for the rest of the game they could nothing but right.

Texas scored on nine straight possessions, and QB Vince Young completed every single pass that he threw in the game's final two quarters. RB Cedric Benson found the end zone five times, and he extended his NCAA-leading rushing total beyond the 1400-yard mark. To top it off, the Texas defense that looked awful early held OSU to fewer yards in the third quarter than they has scored points in the first half.

For thirty minutes on Saturday, Texas fans saw complete domination from their team. OSU is no slouch, and the Horns lined up and ran roughshod over them. It was a statement game that proclaims Texas as a legitimate elite team in college football.

There's no way to know yet if the Horns will earn an at-large bid to one of the BCS Bowls, but if they continue to play the way did last night, the only thing that will stop them is a pity decision to give one of said bids to Utah. Kansas and Texas A&M should go ahead and resign themselves to the fact that they don't stand a chance against the Horns in the coming weeks.


Friday, November 05, 2004

Sports: NFL Week Nine Predictions 

Whew! Last week was ugly. 4-6 SU, 3-7 ATS.

For the season:

47-33 SU
39-39-2 ATS

AT least my reverse jinx worked for the Cowboys. Maybe it was Roy WIlliams' injury that really did it.

On to the games...

(6-1) NY Jets [-3] at (2-5) Buffalo: Curtis Martin is running like he was when he faced the Texas defense as a Pitt Panther.
Jets 27, Bills 16
ATS- NY Jets

(7-0) Philadelphia at (6-1) Pittsburgh [E]: The Keystone rivalry matches contender v. pretender. The Steelers will fold like Arlen Specter's GOP loyalty.
Eagles 22, Steelers 16
ATS- Philadelphia

(2-5) Washington at (4-3) Detroit [-3.5]: Even though he didn't play last week, Roy Williams is still a 100% badass. F Washington.
Lions 23, Redskins 13
ATS- Detroit

(3-4) Dallas at (2-5) Cincinnatti [E]: There's a medical crisis in Big D; there aren't enough hospital beds to hold the injured Cowboys players.
Cowboys 20, Bengals 17
ATS- Dallas

(2-5) Arizona at (1-7) Miami [-3]: That's not a misprint; the Dolphins are actually favored this week. And I'm... picking them?
Dolphins 21, Cardinals 20
ATS- Arizona

(3-4) Kansas City [-3] at (2-5) Tampa Bay: Watch out, the Chiefs finally seem to remember that they're a playoff-caliber team.
Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 21
ATS- Kansas City

(4-3) Seattle [-6.5] at (1-6) San Francisco: The Hawks have a good opportunity here to try and turn things around.
Seahawks 34, 49ers 20
ATS- Seattle

(6-1) New England [-2] at (4-3) St. Louis: More Jekyll & Hyde? St. Louis' football team or their baseball team (in the playoffs, that is)?
Patriots 27, Rams 23
ATS- Patriots

(4-3) Houston at (5-3) Denver [-6.5]: 6.5 point faves? Am I reading this right? Didn't the Broncos get blown out at home last week?
Houston 24, Denver 23
ATS- Houston

(5-2) Minnesota at (4-3) Indianapolis [-6.5]: Boy, I made a great call when I picked these bunch of lollygaggers to meet in Jacksonville.
Colts 31, Vikings 20
ATS- Indianapolis


News: Peterson Trial a Beatdown 

The fact that this circus will dominate headlines and news coverage for the next few days has me wishing that the Kerry camp would have strung out the election a week or two longer.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

INsite: The Pregame Tailgate (November 2004) 

(the November INsite is on stands now)

The Pregame Tailgate
By Andrew Fox

Well the Horns couldn’t solve the OU puzzle for the fifth straight year, even though they kept it close and had their chances. And the Astros got to the brink of the World Series before destiny decided it had better things to do. Yes, TPT fans, it’s been a rough month for me. As the great Chief Joseph once said, “my heart is sick and sad.”

I need a break from predictions and analysis and all the other great things that I strive for here each month, yet seem to fail in, miserably. It seems like a perfect month to dip into the “TPT Mailbox.”

D. Jones has a few inquiries: “What type of chance do you see for the Astros next year being that it is looking like they will lose two of their biggest players in Clements and Beltran? I don't think that it is any secret that Beltran is now going to be making "A-Rod". Should there be some kind of salary cap in MLB like there is in NFL? Who is the richest son of a b---- in Houston? Whoever they are they should step up and donate $10-20M to keep him.”

I think they’ll be fine, because I expect Clemens to return. I’d like to see Carlos back, but it’s unlikely, I admit. As far as a salary cap is concerned, an NBA-like soft cap isn’t bad, but I can’t think of anything else I despise in sports like the NFL’s hard cap. I don’t know about H-town’s richest guy. Maybe Mattress Mac?

Oh, DJ also wants to know, “How will married life affect Mr. Tiger Woods?”

Man, so much innuendo, so little time. Let’s just say that if I had Elin Nordgren on my arm, the, ahem, shaft on my driver would take a backseat.

Matt from Dallas checks in with an 80’s movie question: “Could Teen Wolf have been better than Michael Jordan?”

Great question. He might not have, but I can say with 100% certainty that Portland drafting Teen Wolf ahead of MJ wouldn’t have been nearly as egregious of an error as taking Sam Bowie in that spot. Looking back, Jordan and the Wolf could have been the 90’s version of Magic v. Larry.

Brooms sends in, not a question, but a suggestion. “In honor of your trip to Denver you could do a piece on ‘The whitest towns in America’. Denver is like a year round Peter, Paul and Mary concert. I have never seen so many pasty but otherwise non-descript people in my life”

So Denver is like England without the goofy accents? If Denver is bad, Boulder is even worse. Plus, they hate Texans there. I intend to represent with my Longhorn cap and a CD wallet full of rap music.

Jonathan in Round Rock asks, “Will Greg Davis be back? If not, who would be the leading candidates for his job?”

If Texas wins out, then I don’t see any major changes taking place, much to the chagrin of every Texas fan that watched our vanilla game plan produce no points against OU. If they don’t, and the offense costs us a win the way it did in last season’s Holiday Bowl, then I wouldn’t be surprised. Boise State’s Chris Peterson is a name that gets thrown around quite a bit. Mack made a great choice with Greg Robinson last offseason, though, so perhaps he’d raid the NFL.

Robbi, from the battleground state of Colorado, wonders, “At what time/day are we going to know who won the presidential election?”

Both sides are preparing for extensive litigation, so it could take well into November or December to decide this election. But I’m going to go the traditional route and say: this election will be over when Sen. Kerry calls President Bush to concede on election night around eleven o’clock, CST. Bush takes the Electoral College, 310-228. If you have Michael Moore in your death pool, then I also predict that is the time/day that he kicks the bucket, after choking on his pig sandwich.

J.G. asks, “In seeing how St Louis just folded in a very anti-climatic series do you think the Stros with Clements, Oswalt, and Backe could have kept the curse alive in Boston?”

I think Houston’s better starting pitcher would have gotten the World Series to at least Game Five. The thing is this; you can never tell what might happen in that setting. St. Louis looked like they just ran out of gas after the two tough losses in Beantown. Would Houston have done the same? I don’t think so. They had already faced a similar situation, and I think they would have been better-suited to erase a 2-0 deficit, especially with Clemens and Oswalt taking the hill in Houston.


Politics: See What I Had to Put Up With? 

Next month will mark the five-year anniversary of my graduation from the University of Texas. I often look back at my time there and wish I still could roam the campus each day, still somewhat sheltered from the "real world."

Then I read crap like this, and I remember how happy I was to escape the daily beatdown that was my daily dealings with the outspoken uber-liberal minority on campus.

The following was adapted from www.mapquest.com:

Drive 136.6 miles north from central Austin on Interstate 35.

Merge onto I-35W via the exit on the left toward Ft. Worth. Drive another 86 miles.

I-35W becomes I-35. Drive another 314.3 miles. Some portions of this road are tolled.

Merge onto Interstate 135 via Exit 42 toward Interstate 70. Drive north another 96.1 miles. Some portions of the interstate are tolled.

Take U.S. Highway 81 north toward Concordia for .3 miles.

Merge onto Interstate 70 via Exit 95B toward Hays. Drive west another 410.9 miles.

Take the E-470 Tollway exit (Exit 289) toward Colorado Springs for one-tenth of a mile.

Turn right onto E-470 headed north. This road is a tollway. Drive north for 25.4 miles.

Merge onto Interstate 25 via Exit 47 toward Ft. Collins. Drive north for 80.5 miles.

Merge onto Interstate 80 westbound via Exit 8B. Drive westbound for 388.5 miles.

Merge onto Interstate 84 westbound via Exit 168. Drive west for 593.1 miles.

Merge onto Interstate 82 westbound via Exit 179 toward Umatilla. Drive for 142.6 miles.

Merge onto Interstate 90 toward Seattle via the exit on the left. Drive west for another 101.3 miles.

Take the Interstate 405 southbound exit (Exit 10) toward Renton and Bellevue. Drive south for .2 miles.

Merge onto Interstate 405 northbound toward Bellevue and Everett. Drive north for 18.8 miles.

Merge onto Interstate 5 northbound toward Vancouver, British Columbia. Drive north for 94.3 miles.

Interstate 5 becomes Provincial Route 99 as you cross the Canadian border. Drive north another 27.2 miles.

End at Vancouver, British Columbia.

What else can we say?
I have something to say: Hit the road, assholes!


Politics: F Britain 

These guys do remember that we kicked their ass in two wars, and saved their ass in another two, don't they?

I like Tony Blair, but the rest of those soccer-playing, bland food-eating, no-toothbrushing wankers need to put down the Guiness and try a pint of shut the hell up.

image via Drudge.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Night Ramblings 

Electoral Count Thus Far:

6:26 PM
Bush 34
Kerry 3

Virginia is a bit of a concern right now. It is too close to call. This is a state Bush carried by 8 points in 2000 and is expected to win tonight.

6:40 PM

Bush 39
Kerry 3

Bush picks up West Virginia. No surprise there.

7:11 PM

Bush 74
Kerry 77

Still no shockers. Obama wins in Illinois. He's one to watch in 2008 or '12.

7:35 PM

Bush 102
Kerry 77

With 29% reporting in Florida, President Bush enjoys a 10% lead. He picks up Virginia. Interesting enough CBS has Bush with 108. The Cowboys Stadium leads 53% to 47% with just early votes having been counted.

8:36 PM

Bush 171
Kerry 112

Exit polling data is apparently turning out wrong, as the pundits are throwing them away in favor of the real results. No state has changed color from what it was 4 years ago thus far. It's still looking like win 2 out of the 3 of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and this election is W's. Ohio and Florida both are having absentee votes issues.

9:14 PM

Bush 193
Kerry 112

Bush leads the popular vote by about 5% at the moment. Florida should be close to being called, as President Bush holds a 5% lead (and has for quite some time) with 77% of the precincts in. You have to wonder if it will tighten up at the end like it did in 2000, though. He also holds about the same lead in Ohio with 20% in.

10:18 PM

Bush 210
Kerry 199

The electoral count is all over the map. CBS has Bush with 219, while Fox has Kerry with 144 (they are still thinking Bush can win California?). No state has yet changed color. Bush is close to claiming Florida even with the absentee voting issues. He's in fine shape.

10:54 PM

Bush 237
Kerry 199

ABC and CBS have called Florida for Bush. Kinda ironic that the two most left-leaning networks would call it before the others. Win Ohio and one or two other states and it's over.

11:40 PM

Bush 266
Kerry 211

FoxNews calls Ohio for Bush. The democratic counties started coming in and not making a dent in the overall percentage. All Bush has to do is win Alaska (currently leading 60-37) and another state and it's OVER.

12:01 AM

Bush 269
Kerry 211

FoxNews and MSNBC give Alaska to Bush. It's over. He's secured at least a tie, which will go to him with a vote by the House anyhow. Congrats, W! Now go make a victory speech and piss Kerry off! Just to be safe, New Mexico, Nevada, Iowa and Wisconsin are still very much in reach.


Politics: Signs and Wonders 

I just saw the following message spray-painted across the back of several political signs along MoPac Expressway in north Austin:

"Bush Rules, Kerry Drools"

No word yet as to whether or not Democratic lawyers will seek voter intimidation suits against the perpetrators of these heinous deeds.


Politics: Election Day! 

I cast my ballot at approximately 7:50 a.m. CST. Observations while standing in line:

- By 7:15 the line was already about 50 people deep. Apparently a lot of folks wanted to vote before work or school. I waited in line for about thirty minutes.

- The Travis County ballot was pretty ho-hum. There were only a handful of competitive races. Aside from the Presidency, the thing I was most excited about was voting against the Commuter Rail proposition.

- One poor girl waited in line as long as I did, only to learn that she was in the wrong polling place. In her defense, my neighborhood is confusing. There are three voting locations within about eight blocks, and the precinct lines are screwy. In college I lived no more than ten blocks from where I now live, and when I finally changed my address last election, I ended up in a different precinct.

- Two very vocal Kerry supporters stood in the parking lot of the church where I voted. They asked each and every person whether or not they had any difficulty voting. I wanted to tell them, "my only difficulty was that I could vote for the President but one time." I didn't realize that voter intimidation was something we had to worry about in my mostly geriatric neighborhood.

- Voting is a great feeling. Maybe not everyone looks at it like I do, but when I cast a ballot, I feel like I'm making a contribution to society. It's fulfilling a civic obligation, which I think far too many people take for granted.


Monday, November 01, 2004

Politics: More Predicitons 

My crystal ball tells me that the GOP will pick up one seat in the Senate, bringing their advantage to 52-47-1. A best-case scenario could see the Republicans picking up as many as four or even five seats, but that's probably just wishful thinking. It's unlikely, in my opinion, that the Democrats will do any better than maintaining the status quo.

I expect the competitive races to play out as follows:

GOP Hold (1)- Tom Coburn (OK) wins Rep. Don Nickles' seat over Brad Carson

GOP Gain (4)- David Vitter (LA) win's Dem. John Breaux's seat over multiple Democratic opponents; John Thune (SD) defeats incumbent Tom Daschle; Johnny Isakson (GA) win's Dem. Zell Miller's seat over Denise Majette; Jim DeMint (SC) wins Dem. Fritz Hollings' seat over Inez Tennenbaum

No Gain/Loss (2)- Mel Martinez (FL) loses bid for Dem. Bob Graham's seat to Betty Castor; Richard Burr (NC) loses bid for Dem. John Edwards' seat to Erskine Bowles

GOP Lose (3)- Pete Coors (CO) loses bid for Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell's seat to Ken Salazar; incumbent Lisa Murkowski (AK) loses to Tom Knowles; Alan Keyes (IL) loses Rep. Peter Fitzgerald's seat to Barack Obama;

The other 24 races are such in name only. Barring any huge last-day miracles, none of the 24 should see the incumbent lose.

A mere handful of the 435 House races are competitive, most of which are in Texas, due to the GOP's cunning gerrymandering of the Congressional districts. Republicans currently have a 228-205-1 majority, and I think that they probably pick up about six seats there.

A few post-Election Day wildcards remain, but I'll get into them at a later date.


Sports: The Sports Connection 

Peter King writes in his MMQB column:

Some 2,700 miles from Boston, I wore a small Red Sox-logoed fleece Sunday morning to breakfast at the Seattle Westin.

Guy in the elevator had a Red Sox cap and smiled broadly at me.

Waitress in Roy's, the equivalent of the coffee shop, said: "I couldn't get enough of that Yankee series!''

Two woman sitting nearby eyed my shirt, and as I went to the buffet line, one said, "I love Johnny Damon!'' Then she said, "Are you from there?'' I said no, but I follow the team. She said, "Is he married?'' I said no, but I understand he's getting married this offseason. She frowned.

Walking out of the hotel for the football game late in the morning, I encountered three Japanese men looking at a map in the driveway. One saw me waiting for my car. He smiled. "Schee-ling,'' he said, nodding quickly. I said, "Yes.''

I am three time zones away from Franconaville. Feels like three miles.
Isn't it amazing how sports can bring strangers together like that? On Sunday in Denver, Matt and I ate lunch at a local sports bar with several friends. He wore a Red Sox hat, and not long after sitting down, a guy in Sox hat and Patriots shirt walked by, tapped him on the shoulder and sai, "World Champs, man!"

Of course Matt, as his infrequent contributions here show, is forst and foremost a Rangers fan. But that guy didn't know. He saw the Sox cap, and it obviously meant something to him, especially since he's on the other side of the country.

It reminded me of an incident two years ago in Vegas. The day after Texas opened the College World Series with a win against Rice, I passed a guy in a Longhorn polo on the strip. We nodded and exchanged hook'em handsigns, and continued on, but for that moment it was like I was back in Austin.

I think that it's encounters like that, and the ones King mentioned, that make following sports rewarding.


Politics: My EC prediction 

I reserve the right to change this up until midnight tonight, but as of right now I'm calling it 269-269.

That's right, a tie, with the President carrying roughly 30 states in the House of Representatives' tie-breaking vote, thus clinching his re-election bid.

Bush takes Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, Arkansas and Nevada.

Kerry takes Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Iowa.

I can't seem to figure out how to link to my Opinion Journal EC Map, but I'll try again later.


Politics: Question for Republicans 

If the President doesn't win both Florida and Ohio tomorrow night, do we just stop watching the returns right then?

I'm sure that neither state will be among the first called, but honestly, if one of those two goes blue, especially early, then I think our guy might as well start working on his concession speech.


Politics: Life in a Battleground State 

This past weekend's trip to Colorado for the Texas-CU game marked my first-ever trip into a real Battleground State. Here in Texas we get the occasional political ad on TV, but with the Lone Star State solidly in the Red category, Texas usually misses out on the hardcore campaign elements.

That's not the case in Colorado. Though most polls show a slight lead for the President, Colorado is anything but a sure thing. And based on the activity I saw in Denver, the Kerry campaign recognizes that.

All weekend long I saw Kerry supporters man street corners, sporting their t-shirts and holding their signs. The roadways were lined with Kerry paraphenalia and until I saw a newspaper headline on the plane back yesterday that showed President Bush still ahead, I thought that the Dems might have snuck out an important swing state win.

All in all, I was very disappointed to see a lack of a Bush presence, while Kerry campaining ran amok. I hope that isn't the case nationwide, or it could be a very long night tomorrow for the Pachyderms.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?