Latest Sign of the Apocalypse

Reading this article in the Tennessean to keep tabs on how Vanderbilt was recruiting for football, I came across a quote from coach Bobby Johnson that made me look twice:

With Vanderbilt coming off a Music City Bowl victory and its first winning season since 1982, Johnson said the difference in this class is that signees are turning down offers to become Commodores.

Hope and change, people.  Hope and change.

Sports Brain Dump

Haven’t talked sports for a while.  Here’s a bunch to get you caught up.

  • I KNOW it’s all an illusion, but I absolutely love eating up the whole “Olympic Ideal”.  Let me hear those tympani and trumpets, and I’m glued to the set, watching a 12 hour taped-delayed broadcast of some sport that normally wouldn’t merit coverage on ESPN Ocho. 
  • I hope Danica Patrick jumps to NASCAR.  I’m done with the IRL, after they screwed Nashville over the way they did.  Besides, she always had trouble adhering to their ridiculous “no blocking” rule.  What kind of motor sport takes half the strategy out of the rules?  Besides, Danica already has the whole professional wrestling mindset that is neccessary to be a star in today’s game (Kyle Bush, anyone?)
  • I have this vision in my head.  Monday night, October 27, the Colts and Titans are locked in a tight game.  The Titans defense has frustrated Peyton Manning, as it has done the last few games.  The Titans are winning 13-10 in the 4th quarter.  Lendale White has been pounding the Colts with bruising 2 and 3 yard runs all night.  On 3rd and three, White lines up with Chris Johnson behind Vince Young.  Johnson takes the handoff (behind a lead block by White), gets behind the beaten down defensive line of scrimmage, and takes it to the house.  You might have seen Johnson’s speed on television, but I’m telling you, seeing it live is a mindblowing experience.  If he is used correctly, he’s going to be an unstoppable weapon for the Titans this year.
  • The Titans might still be below average at wide receiver this year, though.
  • Both of the above statements come to you courtesy of the standard disclaimer, “You can’t tell anything from one preseason game”
  • Some of you are so young, you don’t remember a time like this when the Braves sucked.  Now you know what I went through the first twenty years of my life.
  • Brett Farve is an egotistical weenie.  As a man, he cannot hold Steve McNair’s jockstrap.
  • Alexander Radulov is an egotistical weenie.  Take the money and run to your war-torn country, Alex.
  • Kyle Bush is a weenie who happens to be running away with the championship this year.
  • How the heck did David Gilliland survive this crash? 
Posted in Sports. 3 Comments »

Important (Part 3)

So, my Titans season tickets came last week, and I literally jumped for joy.  They are now in a safe place, arranged by date.  I’m very much looking forward to getting back into my football routine.

It’s so funny, in the off-season, you eventually emotionally forget why you got so worked up a few months prior.  At least until the first regular season game, then you remember.

Preseason games don’t count.  They are at night, and they are the only games I can attend where I’m not constantly stressed out about what’s going on down on the field.  I can leisurely evaluate the new players, enjoy the action, and speculate on what kind of team we’ll have this season.  This is how I watch NASCAR or baseball: casually.

However, once the NFL season starts, it’s a whole new ballgame, so to speak.

Every game, every series, every down is of utmost importance, (Unless of course, a team like Indianapolis is beating the Titans in a blowout – then, I’m disappointed, but I can watch a little more casually). 

I swear, sometimes I get so wrapped up in the utter importance of the next play, I come pretty close to losing my lunch.  It sometimes takes me hours to purge the stress from my body after a game.

And this is how I have fun 🙂

Only other sports fans will understand this strange phenomenon.  It isn’t until February (good season) or January (bad season) that I start to unwind from having been all wrapped up in the drama of it all during the season.

Then, of course, we have the second half of the Predators season.  My wife and kids don’t see the carefree me until at least May.

Sure, you can sit there and snicker, but I’ll guarantee there are things in your life that seem to be the most important thing on earth at the time – maybe the stress even makes you physically ill – and then later you wonder why you let yourself get so worked up about it.  On a less extreme scale, think of movies.  Any well made movie will get you excited or stressed out during the suspenseful parts, for instance.

Not to mention teenage drama, church drama, work drama.  And then later, you wonder why you let yourself get all worked up over it all.

But, probably nothing compares to how I get when the Titans are on TV.  My kids know to just avoid me.

Let the fun begin!

Chills At 4:30 To Go In The 3rd

I don’t care if you’re not a hockey fan.  You couldn’t watch the last 5:00 of last night’s Predators game without feeling an overwhelming pride, and maybe getting just a little tear in your eye.  The NHL has released the in-arena video from a spontaneous standing ovation given by the fans for the players during a TV timeout.  This wasn’t some contrived noise accompanied by music.   It was 17,000 Nashvillians spontaneously showing their appreciation for one of the scappiest sports teams ever assembled:

Click here to play video. (WordPress won’t let me embed, dang it).

It’s really hard to explain just what this team has accomplished.  I’ve been watching sports for well over 30 years, and I’ve never seen a team whose roster was gutted as much as the Predators even make .500 the following season, much less make the playoffs.  They are this town’s Gashouse Gang.  They are the embodiment of the movie “Major League”, complete with the threat of moving the team.

Despite all their troubles, the Preds scrapped their way into the 8th and final playoff spot last night (there is a slight chance they could even move up to 7th).  They will most likely play the Red Wings – who they actually have a pretty good record against this year.

This spontaneous noise you see in the video is a collective “Wow!” to the coaches and players, and a collective “Screw You!” to Jim Balsillie.

Watch the video.  Then, watch it again.  I only wish I had been there.

This Makes Me Smile

I know that what we’re looking at is a rich man who was given a chance to do something almost all of us only dream about because he has money and connections.  Nevertheless, watching this at bat by Billy Crystal just sends shivers down my spine:

 That he represented his generation well should be respected.  Heck, he looked better than Michael Jordan did.  Did I ever tell you that I was at the game at Greer when he came to town?

Anyway, if God ever came to me with an offer to exchange a major league at bat for a year of my life – I’d have to think seriously about it.  Happy birthday Billy!

Drinking The Junior KoolAide

Y’all indulge me in a little NASCAR talk.

 All of “my” drivers are getting old and ready for retirement.  Marlin, Martin, Jarrett – the end is near, and it’s no fun following drivers who are either part time or always finish 25th.  I knew going into this year, I’d have to pick a new driver to follow.

I knew I just can’t choose Jimmy Johnson – every time I see him, the word that pops into my head is “snotty”.  For that matter, that goes for Matt Kenseth too.

Jeff Gordon is too business-like for my tastes.  Watching him race, even when he wins, is like watching an assembly line.  An accountant assembly line.

Some fit into the jackass category: Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya.   I’m not talking about jackassery in the heat of battle – all drivers are guilty of that.  I’m talking about a general, proud of it jackassery.

Kyle Busch is fun to watch, but he drives like he’s insane.  He’s going to get somebody killed out there.  I like him, though.

I would cheer for open-wheel-turncoat, local favorite Dario Franchitti, but 1) He’s going to have some growing pains, and 2) he’s driving a Dodge.  Not a recipe for early success if you ask me.

I’ve decided that Kasey Kahne is the Danica Patrick of the NASCAR world.  Except he’s actually won a race or two. But, let’s face it, he’s more known for being pretty than winning races.

And I didn’t want to buy into the Earnhardt hype.  I don’t like being a joiner, or being considered ignorant of NASCAR intricacies and just choosing the most famous driver. 

But, today, I’m coming out.  I am a Dale Earnhardt Jr. Fan .  It actually started last season.  I follow the races on TrackPass Raceview (I highly recommend it to any fan; you “see” the race from a whole new point of view, literally).  Last year, after Marlin lost his ride, I had this really cool app, and no driver from whose POV I could watch.

Y’all, one week I switched to Junior’s view, and it was hard not to become a fan.  At the time, he was practically out of the Chase (NASCAR’s playoffs), but he was driving the wheels off his car.  He was doing things I had never seen from a driver before, and he would curse out his crew chief one minute, and apologize the next.  He wanted to win so bad, you could feel it through the computer screen.

Knowing he didn’t have to do this – he’s rich beyond measure, he had already announced he was switching teams, and the 07 season was all but mathematically out of reach – but he drove harder than any modern driver I’ve seen.  I’m told, this is what it was like to watch his father (with a bit of meanness thrown in).  Junior is a rock star, but at the same time, he’s human.

So, laugh at me if you will, but I’ll be following 88 this year.

Hip To Be Square

Every year, to make the Super Bowl more interesting, the folks in my department do “Super Bowl Squares”.*

I’m sure you’ve seen them: a 10×10 grid with randomly drawn single digits running along the x and y axes.  One team is the x axis, one the y.  Entrants pay $5 per square.  You choose which square(s) you want before the numbers are drawn.  Which numbers you end up with are completely chance.

At the end of each of the first three quarters, if the last digit of each team’s score matches one of your squares, you win $100.  If your numbers match the last digits of the final score, you win $200. 

I always buy 2 squares.  This year, my numbers are:

Giants 2, Patriots 7
Giants 6, Patriots 5

So for example, if at the end of a quarter, the score is Giants 16, Patriots 35, I win $100 ($200 if it’s the final score).

So, in the very unlikely scenario that the Giants sack Tom Brady in the end zone, that happy screaming sound you hear from an undisclosed location in Bellevue will be me.

*Yeah, I called it the Super Bowl.  Come and get me, NFL.

What I’m Reading

Yes, Kat, I do read.  I prefer non-fiction, especially biographies, which would be another interesting topic in and of itself.  I’ve noticed that the bloggers I know who write in a very matter of fact, almost dry way, love to read fiction.  And those of us with a flair for the dramatic seem to prefer non-fiction.  Maybe reading fills a deep need, and fills gaps we don’t even know are there?  I don’t know, I’m just thinking.

Anyway, I not only love biographies, I especially love baseball biographies.  I’ve eaten up books about Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson.  I had never before read a book about any of the much-hated Yankees, until now.  My wife gave me Luckiest Man , The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig as a gift, and it has been fascinating. 

I have learned quite a bit from this book, and not only just about Gehrig.  For instance, I had no idea that there was a real estate bust in Florida in the mid to late 1920’s.  The situation almost totally mirrors our current nationwide real estate slowdown.  I had no idea, but a lot of ballplayers lost a lot of money in that real estate crash, long before others lost even more in the stock market crash of 1929 (Hank Greenberg lost a fortune).

I learned that Gehrig had an audition to take over for Johnny Weismuller in the role of Tarzan.  He took several photos in a Tarzan suit, and upon seeing them, Edgar Rice Burroughs had this to say, “Having seen several pictures of you as Tarzan and paid about $50 for newspaper clippings on the subject, I want to congratulate you on being a swell first baseman.”  (Gehrig did end up in a supporting role in Rawhide). 

I’ve learned that Gehrig and Babe Ruth had a horrible falling out, and although the facts are unclear, it involved a cruise, and Ruth partying with Gehrig’s very drunk wife.  The whole thing was probably a misunderstanding, but the rift became large, and then later the two men said things about each other that no doubt caused more anger.  I hate how these things happen.

Gehrig’s parents were most likely illegal aliens.  No record can be found of their emigration.

Gehrig was a mama’s boy, a cheapskate, and a horrible interview.  I love how this book doesn’t gloss over any of those things, but the subject still comes off as sympathetic.  In fact, his work ethic (and pride in his work ethic) reminds me very much of the men in my family.  And, of course, having a loved one with a neuromuscular disease makes me even more interested in a man so great they still call the disease that killed him “Lou Gehrig’s disease”.

He lived in the shadow of Babe Ruth, then Joe Dimaggio, and never complained about it – even though his numbers were arguably better than each of them during the years they played with Gehrig.

I am a little over halfway through (I read at bed time, and the Ambien cuts me down to a page or two a night), and I have just gotten to the season (1938) when everyone knew something wasn’t right with Gehrig, but he hadn’t yet been diagnosed.  It’s funny, instead of sadness at this point, I am amazed.  His body was failing in 1938, and early in the year, he had the lowest batting average in the league.  Yet, the human body is an incredible thing.  As muscles failed him, other muscles learned to compensate.  He finished the season with a .294 batting average and 114 RBIs.

I want you baseball fans to think about that.  Those are great numbers for a healthy man.  But Gehrig was literally dying, and his strength and skill were so great that he willed himself to play better than most pros do, ever. 

Anyway, I highly recommend Luckiest Man to any baseball fan, or student of the 20th century.  I’m a little upset that I’ve discovered a Yankee I could actually like. 🙂

Cancelled Due To Lack of Appetizing Funds

There will be no Vandy/UT Slarti Party.  It would appear everybody has to clean out their sock drawer. 🙂

I think the fire kind of got un-kindled when Vandy lost that heartbreaker to Kentucky, and UT looked so strong against the Hogs.  Suddenly, the game looks like it might be another painful memory for Vandy fans.  We’ll see.

I still might take up Susie’s offer to have chili and yell at her TV this Saturday, though.  I’ll be seeing a lot of Susie this weekend anyway, since X-Alt plays a Sunday service at New Beginnings, then travels to Springfield to play another Soul Food Sunday up there (how the heck am I going to maintain my weight is all these churches keep feeding me? Praying for baked chicken…)

But first, I have to get over this nagging sinus infection.  Bleh.

Any Excuse For a Party

OK, Lintilla’s still sleeping off the anaesthesia, so we can’t commit to anything yet.  But, since Vandy/UT is going to be on Pay-Per-View, and since my house is still kinda clean from my party last Saturday, I’d be interested in how many of you would be interested in a viewing party at my place? We’ve comfortably hosted 25-30 people before, and we’ve even had a 50-person party one time, although parking got a little tight.

 I just thought it would be interesting to get 10-15 Vandy fans and 10-15 UT fans and cram them all into my basement/family room, screaming at the big screen.  Kids could watch Disney in the living room.   If nobody’s interested, or if too many people are interested, or if Lintilla’s not interested, we won’t do it.

But, I thought I’d put feelers out there, anyway.  Let me know if you’d be interested, and also if you’d be willing to pitch in a couple of bucks to help with the PPV.  Tell me if you’re a Vandy fan or a UT fan. (I know most of you are both, but for purposes of this game you have to choose.  Whose colors will you wear?).  We could do a BYOB.

I’ll make my decision by this weekend.  I hope we can pull it off!