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Friday, February 04, 2005

INsite: The Pregame Tailgate (February 2005) 

The Pregame Tailgate
By Andrew Fox

After much thought I’ve come to the conclusion that February flat-out sucks. It has to be the worst month on the calendar. Every other month serves some sort of purpose, except for February. It has no get-off-of-work-worthy holiday, and February’s sports outlook, like the weather, is best described in a word: bleak.

For starters, the Super Bowl signals an end to real football, which means we won’t see another meaningful game for nine more months. Sure Austin has the Arena League, and UT spring football starts in less than a month, but those are fillers. It’s like you’re sitting down at the table for salad and bread, but you know that main course, a 16-ounce Porterhouse, isn’t coming out of the kitchen for a long time. It doesn’t matter how hot and buttery that bread tastes, you’re dropping $30 for the fat, juicy steak.

Pitchers and catchers report to major league camps in a few weeks, which almost means Spring. But full squads and preseason games don’t start until March bring its yearly renaissance. Longhorn baseball is underway now, and though a bright spot, it requires either braving a trip to Disch-Falk Field, where it always feels fifteen degrees colder than what the thermometer reads, or listening to Craig Way’s grating play-by-play on the radio. I’d rather take a foul ball to my skull.

Despite the hoopla of Rick Barnes’ recruiting class, Texas basketball lacks the excitement of the past few seasons. Maybe it’s PJ Tucker’s grade problems or LaMarcus Aldridge’s injury, but the Horns’ stretch run toward March Madness doesn’t really have the Forty Acres buzzing. Hopefully things could pick up come tourney time, once February’s death grip has ended. And as far as the NBA is concerned, we’ll have to wait until May before that matters.

Then there’s hockey. Without the NHL to fill the void… well, does anyone even notice? Good riddance, NHL. The only time I want to see hockey played in America is when the U.S. national team lays the wood to our neighbors from the North. Maybe we can keep the Ice Bats around, though, at least until resident goon Dallas Anderson can make his career jump to the Ultimate Fighting Championships.

So you see, there’s just not much to get excited about this month. To top it all off, Father Time (I assume he holds jurisdiction over the calendar) dictates that February present us with the most awful of pseudo-holidays: Valentine’s Day.

Do you think that Saint Valentine, all those hundreds of years ago, envisioned his martyrdom to eventually result in pre-pubescent, floppy-haired kids exchanging chalky candies with goofy sayings on them, while floral companies cash in on failing relationships by gouging people on half-dead roses? Val probably wasn’t a sports fan anyway, what with such a gooey non-masculine holiday celebrated in his honor, so don’t expect any pity from Heaven this month.

Imagine, though, if Cupid could work his magic for something worthwhile? Instead of hooking up attractive girls with every guy around except me, he could have gotten off of his fat rear end and launched a few arrows toward the UT campus. Might it have made some of the Longhorns’ high-profile academic casualties fall in love with going to class? C’mon Cupid, shoot a few more in their textbooks, just for good measure.

Cupid’s cherubic intercession could have come in handy for Astros fans, too, had he been able to make Carlos Beltran truly fall in love with Houston. Unfortunately that would have required chasing all of the snakes – such as Beltran’s agent, Scott Boras – out of baseball, and that really sounds like more of a job for Saint Patrick. Yes, once again February fails us. Is it March yet? Opinions? Questions? E-mail TPT at drewfox@gmail.com


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