Sunday, February 27, 2011

This is not 'Nam, this is Fandom; There are Rules

You know how people say "the clothes make the man?" Well, in a certain way (and if I'm permitted a shameless rhyme), you can amend it to say "the clothes make the fan." Those of us who call ourselves devoted sports fans end up dedicating a significant portion of our wardrobes to attire of our favorite teams. Just like anything else when it comes to fandom, there are rules to be followed when wearing fan attire. I've touched on this before, but at this point it seems something more along the lines of a manifesto is warranted. (And for the record, that is a picture of Brady Quinn's sister Laura, now married to AJ Hawk, at the Fiesta Bowl 5 years ago when she wore the half-Brady Quinn, half-AJ Hawk jersey you see there and became an overnight celebrity thanks to ABC's camera crew. I just wanted to include that picture because I find it funny that she and AJ Hawk probably pretend not to be home these days when Brady calls or wants to stop by. You can imagine it.)

-No cross-pollination, aka wearing two different teams' gear at the same time, unless extreme circumstances call for it. This especially goes out to people who wear an NFL jersey with the hat of the favorite MLB team. Focus on one at a time.
-If attending a game, positively do not wear something that depicts a team from a different sport from the one you are witnessing. No Eagles shirts at Phillies games, no Mark Sanchez or Eli Manning jerseys at Yankees games, etc. One exception would be if attending a college game and wearing apparel of a different program at the same school, i.e. an "XYZ University Basketball" hoodie at an XYZ University football game.
-Avoid wearing multiple articles of the same team's clothing on non-game days. The "decked out" look works for a kid, not an adult. Once again, this is only on non-game days.
-Keep things as authentic as possible, within budget of course. I'm not telling you to drop $175-$200 on an authentic baseball jersey that is so nice that you feel obligated to carry it around in a garment bag (although if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up), but let's stay away from the Wal-Mart jerseys that make you look stupid. And if you happen to root for a pro team who goes NNOB (no name on back, in uniform speak), then you shall not wear a jersey with a player's name on the back. Obviously with NCAA jerseys it's a different story because you can't buy those jerseys with player names on the back. Since the other three major leagues mandate names on the backs of jerseys, baseball is the only sport where this really comes into play. Mainly, this is a memo to fellow Yankee fans out there: if Derek Jeter simply wears the #2 on his back, then all you should be wearing is the #2 on your back. I'll gladly make an exception for the player t-shirts with a name and number on the back - those are fine. But a jersey with an unwarranted name on the back? Not fine.
-Another big issue while we're on the topic of authenticity: no hats, jerseys, shirts, or anything else that is not in team colors. I can't stress this enough. It's fine if you're a girl and you like Shane Victorino and want to get his jersey or t-shirt; just make sure it's not pink, green, black, or any other color that Victorino himself does not wear out on the field. And do not get me started on the 67,000 different colors you can buy New Era baseball hats in now. I don't care if you want a jet-black Phillies hat because it looks better with most of the clothes you wear. The team chooses their colors, not you. You choose to root for that team, then you commit to those colors. End of story.
-I shouldn't have to say it, but personalized jerseys with your own name on the back are a no-no once you pass age 10.
-Since that last item was definitely the least original in this post, I'll now offer my most original. Say you own the jersey of a player who no longer plays for your team. As long as he is still active and playing for another team, you have to mothball the jersey. You give off an air of indirectly rooting for another team if you continue to wear the jersey. Once that player retires, you can go back to wearing that jersey if the player was worthy enough. As much as I loved my Jason Giambi Yankees t-shirt, it's just best for everyone if that thing stays at the bottom of the drawer while he's still playing elsewhere. Once he retires, the shirt can go back into the gym rotation. A major exception would be if you choose to wear the jersey as a silent protest of your team letting that player go. An example of this would be if you were a 49ers fan and kept wearing your Jerry Rice jersey during his "oh, I guess he wasn't washed up after all" productive few years in Oakland immediately following the end of his 49er days.
-On the matter of throwbacks: toe the line carefully. One time in college, I spotted a kid on campus with a sweet powder blue #19 Lance Alworth Chargers throwback. I stopped him to compliment him on the jersey, but more importantly to ask him what, if anything, he knew about Lance Alworth. I don't even need to tell you how underwhelmed I was by the response. If you are going to wear a throwback, then come prepared with a respectable level of knowledge about whichever player you're wearing. Can't guess within 20 of how many home runs Mike Schmidt hit in his career (548)? Don't know which Super Bowl Roger Staubach was named MVP of (VI)? Then don't wear the jersey. Because I'll find you.

I'm sure there are things that I've left off the list or that you may disagree with, so have at it below if you are so inclined.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5 Tickets to Paradise

 I did not take quite the same approach as Lou, I concentrated on games only in my lifetime.  Thjs wasn't really intentional but rather just happened.  I also avoided Michigan and anything relating to a United States Men's team.  Most of you can probably come up with your own five that are better than mine and I encourage you to do so in the comments.  No matter how much mine lack in Championship quality, you cannot deny you would have had a great time at all these events.  I tried to imagine being at the event that day and celebration in the aftermath.  On campus events are worth more than games played at neutral sites.

In no particular order.

September 4, 1993 Jim Abbott's No Hitter.

When I think of a no hitter, the first picture that always comes into my mind is the one above.  I suppose you might say this is cop out because Abbott went to Michigan, but that has got nothing to do with it.  First of all like Lou mentioned earlier, I too love low scoring baseball games that are dominated by pitching.  The prospect of seeing a no hitter at a baseball game is on my mind everytime someone completes three innings of no hit ball.  When you go to baseball games as a kid you dream of catching a foul ball, seeing your favorite player do something spectacular, and witnessing something historic. A no hitter or perfect game is the coolest thing I can think of bearing witness to.  The drama in the final innings would be electric, especially at Yankees Stadium. 

The Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race that I think just about everyone who reads this blogs wishes they would have won for one reason or another.  Abbott had been shelled by the Cleveland Indians in his previous start and had to go right back and face them on this day.  He would walk five batters and strike out only three while getting 17 ground ball outs.  Abbott never really had the Major League career he seemed capable of given his dominance at the amateur level and the fact that he skipped the minors, but on this day he had his moment. 

Everyone knows that Abbott was born with one hand and the overcoming of his limitations are part of the reason he serves as a motivation speaker today.  My dad used to tell me when Jim Abbott was pitching on TV because I was curious how a guy with one hand could be a major league baseball player.  I would hope for a ball to get hit to him to watch him move the glove from his nub (PC be damned) to his hand.  It was fascinating and he was an easy guy to root for.

February 2, 1995 UNC 102 Duke 100 2 OT
Game Story from Wiki

With Coach K on leave of absence for the year, the Blue Devils suffered through their worst season in well over a decade. They seemed out-manned on their home court from the opening tip, falling behind 26-9 in the first half, highlighted by alley-oops by Carolina's Rasheed Wallace and a reverse jam by Jerry Stackhouse over two Blue Devils. However, Duke rallied in the second half and led by as much as 12, before North Carolina staged a rally of its own. The two squads exchanged leads four times at the end of regulation before heading into overtime. With three seconds left in the first overtime, Carolina led 95-92 and sent Serge Zwikker to the foul line with the chance to ice the game for the heavily favored Tar Heels. However Zwikker missed both free throws, setting up Duke's Jeff Capel for a running, 37-foot heave that tied the game as the buzzer sounded, sending Cameron into a state of euphoria. With the game still tied late in the second overtime, Donald Williams scored for the Heels and Jeff McInnis stole the inbounds pass for an easy layup, putting North Carolina up 102-98. Duke answered with a basket of their own and after stopping the Tar Heels, had a chance to force a third overtime or win the game outright. Nevertheless, Wojo's jumper missed and Greg Newton's putback drew nothing but air, preserving North Carolina's 102-100 victory.

I have always wanted to go to one of these games and this is the best one I have seen in my lifetime.  The game wasn't overblown with hype at this point.  It was even on ESPN 2 and Dickie V and whoever was doing the game with him were forced to do the game from the rafters.

Virginia 33 Florida St. 28 November 2,1995

On the first memorable Thursday night college football game in ESPN history, Virginia snap Florida State's 29-game Atlantic Coast Conference winning streak and probably ended the Seminoles' bid for a national championship.
Tiki Barber had 311 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns, and the Cavaliers stopped second-ranked Florida State a foot from the goal line on the final play for a 33-28 victory.  The game was well played on both sides of the ball and had an exciting finish that the refs got right before the era of replay.  Warrick Dunn took a direct snap from about the six yard line and came within inches of breaking the plane with the football.  His helmet had crossed the line but not the ball.  It was Florida State's first ACC loss since joining the league in 1992. The Seminoles had won their first 29 ACC games and were in full dynasty mode.  They wouldn't lose in the league again until 1998.

See Bo Jackson Play

How do you pick a Bo Jackson moment?  Which one stands out?  You hear so many stories about him that you think they can’t possibly be true.  Monday night football against the Seahawks where he destroys Bosworth and his hype en route for running for 220 yards.  A game against the Orioles in 1989 where he called timeout in the the batters box, didn’t get it and hit a home run anyways.  How about hitting 3 home runs in Yankees stadium and then injury his shoulder diving after a ball that would turn into a inside the park home run for Deion Sanders and never getting the chance to hit a 4th.  There are simply so many Bo Jackson moments that would make up a highlight reel in his career.  One of the biggest regrets I have as a sports fan is never seeing him play.  Granted I was young, but I became fan of the Raiders because of him.  I cheered for the White Sox growing up as well.  It would always have been difficult to see him play because I was 7 when he retired, but I should have pushed harder to make it happen.  I remember being really jealous of my uncle who saw him crack a HR at Camden Yards. 

If I could go back to one Bo Jackson moment it would be April 9, 1993.  Bo hasn’t been the same since destroying his hip in playoff game against the Bengals on January 13, 1991.  Despite playing in limited action in 1991 baseball season, Bo sat out all of 1992.  He steps up to the plate at Comiskey Park against the Yankees in a pinch hit situation, his first plate appearance of the season, and cracks a home run.  Can you imagine the satisfaction he must have felt?

The Day the Hawk Died
La Salle vs. St. Joseph’s February 19, 2008 at the Palestra

A classic example of why school doesn’t always come first.  It was my junior year at La Salle and we had yet to beat St.Joes.  St.Joes had had tons of success and would go onto the tournament this season as well.  La Salle seemed on the cusp of breaking through and needed a big time win to excite the fanbase and validate the hype Coach Giannini had created for his program. 

For people who didn’t go to a Big 5 school its hard to explain the rivalries but surely you can recognize how 5 schools in close proximity with varying degrees of academic reputation could lead to heated battles.  For me, playing St.Joes was always personal.  My high school was a feeder into St.Joes. My girlfriend went there.  I chose to be different and head to the La Salle.  Students who went to La Salle were looked down upon by St. Joes students.  Our school was in a bad area, our school was second rate.  Needless to say we developed an inferiority complex to a degree.  We didn’t think our school was better or worse than St.Joes but that was/is the perception in my circle. 

Most of my friends were going to the game, except for a few poor finance students who had a then important exam the next day.  We made the disciplined decision to gather and study in the dorm rooms.  Inevitable we flicked the game on at 7PM while we at takeout.  La Salle was double digit underdogs although I can’t recall the exact line.  We were already a semi jaded group of fans after having watched 2 ½ years of La Salle basketball to know that rarely do they upset anyone.  La Salle had not beat St.Joes since 2001.  This day was to be different though and there was little studying that would be done.  La Salle was going toe to toe with the current Philadelphia darlings St. Joes.  Could this finally be the year?

Well you already know that it was or I would not be writing this. It was the back and forth flow of the game, the red hot shooting from La Salle, and the furious finish that made this game so memorable.

La Salle 90- St.Joesph’s 89.
It was without a doubt the biggest impact a La Salle team had on campus in my 4 years at the school.  We were not going to accomplish much studying this night. We watched the team return on the bus and went to a house off campus to talk to people who went to the game.  I cannot even tell you what was on the test the next day and I know it did not go very well but it doesn’t matter now and it should not have mattered then.  I should have been there and it grates me still 3 years later.

Honorable Mention
1.  Liverpool is on their way out of the Champions League before the knockout stage, they need 3 goals against Olympiacos to go through on goal differential and Steven Gerrard delivers a the third in dramatic fashion......which drives Liverpool on a run to the Champions League Finale.  2. Liverpool trails 3-0 at half to AC Milan and score 3 in the second half and eventually lift the cup for the fifth time on penalty kicks.
3. Bills-Oilers 1992 Wildcard Playoff game- This was headed for the list until I found out the game wasn't even sold out.  The game was blacked out locally of course.  It was an unreal comeback done with injuries to two star players but the no sellout thing bothered me.
4. Princeton goes backdoor to beat defending National Champs UCLA. 1996 NCAA Tournament
5. Crabtree and Texas Tech beat Texas
6. Stanford shocks the Trojans (Oct. 6, 2007)
The 41-point underdog Stanford enters its game against No. 2 USC in the Los Angeles Coliseum with most pundits giving the Cardinal the proverbial snowball's chance in hell of even staying in the game, much less winning. But coach Jim Harbaugh's squad converts a fourth-down touchdown pass with 49 seconds remaining to seal the impossible victory - and end USC's 35-game home winning streak. In Vegas the moneyline is off the board.  Stanford is playing there back up QB.  The defensive line for Stanford is tearing into the backfield on almost every play. It was great watching this on TV, but it would have been amazing to be there, if only to avoid maybe worst broadcast production this side of Pam Ward.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Five Tickets to Paradise

In many ways, viewing a sporting event on TV can be a considerably more enjoyable experience than viewing one in person. You're in the comfort of either your own home or your favorite bar, without having to be concerned with traffic, weather, parking, $10 beers, bathroom lines, obnoxiously drunk fans, etc. You get ten times the replay angles and explanations (good or bad) from the broadcasters, and you usually get those views from a better angle than what your stadium seat would provide. But sometimes, well, that whole new attitude of "HDTV makes it pointless to attend a game" is pure garbage. Sometimes, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that can equal the feeling of being in that packed house, and you don't care how much that hot dog just cost or how long it's going to take you to get home. It's the reason I still go to 10-15 major pro and college sporting events a year, and spend vacation-caliber money to do so.

As a collaborative effort of the blog that has been in discussion for several weeks, all three of us in the near future will give you the top 5 sporting events we wish we could have seen in person. They don't have to have taken place in our lifetimes - in fact, several of them probably won't have. There were going to be a few overlaps along the way (i.e. the Miracle on Ice) but we've managed to avoid them by ceding them to whomever out of me, Kevin, and John were considered the most qualified to write about the event in question. The only other major qualification I've laid down is that no one can use a cliché game, so any instances of one of our favorite teams winning a championship or clinching a championship berth are out. Sure, I'd obviously love to have been at the 1992 NFC Championship Game, or Game 6 of the 1977, 1996, or 2009 World Series, or Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (among others), but we like to dig a little deeper than that around here. If you're still reading and haven't skipped down to the list yet, then thank you, and enjoy my Top 5.

5. 1991 World Series, Game 7
For my money, it doesn't get any better than a 1-0 baseball game - between any two teams and at any point in the season, for that matter. The game hangs in the balance on every pitch, no matter the count, the batter, or the baserunners. But an extra-inning, 1-0 affair taking place in Game 7 of the World Series? And wait, what's that you say? The starting pitcher for the winning team went all 10 innings? Oh yes, please, sign me up for this. Between the lines, Game 7 of the 1991 World Series between the Twins and Braves makes a strong case for best World Series Game 7 ever (especially among those who believe 1960 and 2001 never happened). Not only did you have the 10 scoreless innings from Jack Morris that singlehandedly keep him in the Hall of Fame conversation. You also had a fresh-faced John Smoltz nearly match the old master Morris frame for frame, as well as the famous Chuck Knoblauch deke play on Lonnie Smith that kept the Braves off the board in the 8th inning (at the 5:00 mark of the video). And remember, all of this came on the heels of Kirby Puckett's 11th-inning walkoff bomb in Game 6 the night before. Over time, this game has come to symbolize for me the end of a baseball era that I just barely missed, since the onslaught of juiced players and juiced ballparks had hit full swing by my first full season of baseball fandom in 1993. In this age of immaculately designed retro-modern stadiums, I kind of wish I could have experienced a little more of the mid-'70s-early-'90s years of cookie cutter stadiums, Astroturf, and the predominance of speed and defense. How cool must the scene in the Metrodome have been that night?

4. 1986 Masters

First I have to say that attending a golf tournament can be quite the hit-or-miss venture. You're never guaranteed a great field of contenders or even a decent view of the pivotal shots. But at Augusta National, I'm not sure how much any of that really matters anyway. Imagine the backdrop provided by the most picturesque eighteen holes in America. That's worth the price of admission alone. Now throw in the greatest golfer of all-time -at age 46, mind you- coming back from a 4-stroke deficit by littering the place with a 65 in the fourth round. What Jack Nicklaus did at Augusta in 1986 is even more impressive when you take a look at some of the other names that rounded out the Top 10 in that Masters. Golf fans understandably remember Greg Norman for blowing the 54-hole lead, but Nicklaus also surpassed Tom Watson, Nick Price, Seve Ballesteros, and Tom Kite on that Sunday, all the while with his own son caddying for him. The thing that separates a golf gallery from the crowd at any other sporting event is how there are only a few opportunities to let loose between shots until you have to quiet back down again. You exert the same amount of passion in about 1/4 of the time. On top of that, Jack owns Augusta. He's the king there. Witnessing Jack Nicklaus win a Masters must be like seeing Sammy Davis, Jr. at the Copacabana. People who bought tickets to the 1986 Masters probably considered it a great chance to see the world's best golfers go toe-to-toe and to maybe see Nicklaus play a few solid rounds in his old stomping grounds before he eased into the Senior Tour. What they got was the moment that cemented the Golden Bear as the best of his, or any, generation. I just wish that I a.) weren't four months old at the time, and b.) had one of those tickets.

3. Super Bowl XXV

The only Super Bowl to be decided by one point, Super Bowl XXV had the country at the edge of its seat for a multitude of reasons, many of them much larger than the back-and-forth game between the Giants and Bills in Tampa. Lest we forget, this Super Bowl was played against the backdrop of the Desert Storm conflict in January of 1991. Fittingly, it featured two teams with red, white, and blue color schemes, as well as Whitney Houston's stirring rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," still the best to ever be sung before a sporting event. And as a nice contrast to the so-much-larger-than-life-you-forget-it's-a-football-game Super Bowls of recent years, this one was played in the modest accommodations of The Big Sombrero, sans the overload of luxury boxes and indifferent corporate stuffed-shirts in the stands. In a nutshell, this was the best Super Bowl ever played. Outside of that nutshell, it was the best coaching job ever delivered by the best football coach of the modern era. Sure, Bill Walsh was more innovative and won more championships than Bill Parcells did, but I'd like to see him win a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and against an offense (Buffalo's no-huddle) that was still revolutionary at the time. Everyone who plays against a potent offense tries to follow the script that Parcells wrote for this game - pound the hell out of the ball and keep the opposing offense off the field. What was different about the Giants' plan in this game? It actually worked. The Giants set a Super Bowl record by keeping the ball for over 40 minutes, and the Bill Belichick-led New York defense did its part in holding Buffalo to 17 offensive points and kept the Bills from getting as close as they'd like to have been for the attempt at the game-winning field goal with 8 seconds left. I think you know what happened after that.

2. 2001 World Series, Game 5
You may think I'd want to have been at this game solely for the game tying two-run bomb hit by Scott Brosius with two out in the ninth (the second straight game it had happened, for those who are less informed). But shortly before that home run, amidst the intimidating backdrop of Yankee Stadium on a chilly November evening, seven weeks after 9/11, with the tattered flag from the World Trade Center flying behind the left-center field fence, something happened that Yankee fans should never forget. Win or lose, it was the last home game that Paul O'Neill would be playing before retiring. In the top of the 9th with Arizona ahead 2-0, it began to sink in that O'Neill was conceivably standing in right field in Yankee Stadium for the last time. With that, the right field Bleacher Creatures, for whom O'Neill had become a patron saint due to his hard-nosed style of play, began chanting his name, a chant that would soon spread throughout the building. The chant got louder and kept going for the remainder of that half-inning, creating a scene that still stirs me almost a decade later. Yankee fans get a bad name a lot of the time because there are so many spoiled bandwagon jumpers who think the baseball world revolves around them. This instance is the first thing I point to in defense of Yankee fans as a whole. The combination of spontaneity and raw emotion in that scene is a testament to the knowledge and passion of most of those who occupied the old Yankee Stadium, and those who unfortunately may have been priced out of the new Yankee Stadium. You wouldn't see that chant in Boston. You wouldn't see it in Philly. You wouldn't see it in Chicago, Detroit, or St. Louis - and you definitely wouldn't see it anywhere on the west coast. There's only one place in the world where something like that would happen, and it's at 161st St. and River Avenue in the Bronx.

1. 1954 World Series, Game 1

This moment is my #1 for reasons similar to why I put Game 7 of the 1991 World Series on the list. It's equal parts ambience and athleticism. The above video alone should make it easy to understand this game's ranking. However, there are a few things lost in the utter brilliance of Willie Mays' over-the-shoulder catch in the 8th inning. First, one of the top 3 defensive plays of all-time took place with two men on base and kept the score 2-2 until the Giants would win in the 10th and go on to sweep the Series. Also, if you know me personally, then I've probably had the "what other time and place would you like to live in?" discussion with you at some point. For me, it always comes back to 1950s New York. For even just a day, I think it would be really something to get on a packed subway in a suit and tie and go sit in the stands for an afternoon World Series game among thousands of other people also dressed in suits and ties. Maybe it's romanticized a bit too much, but there's something about that era that just clicks. Finally, like I've said time and again, there is an element to witnessing a baseball game in person that provides a different type of upgrade over television from the other sports - and that's not even considering being able to see this game in living color as opposed to the iconic-yet-grainy 1954 footage we've been seeing since we were kids. I want to put myself in one of those seats at the Polo Grounds and rise as the ball as crushed into center field, feel my heart sink momentarily when it looks like it's either off the wall or gone, and then see Mays with a beat on it and try to track if and where player and ball will intersect. That "oh no....wait, wait a second, Willie's got a shot at it, Willie's got it!" moment is why I firmly believe the best afternoons are the ones spent at a ballpark.

Honorable Mention: 1998 World Series Game 1 (Yanks score 7 runs in the 7th inning and erase any concept of anyone beating them that year), 1992 Duke-Kentucky Regional Final at the Spectrum (the Christian Laettner turnaround jumper at the buzzer), 1992 Bills-Oilers AFC Wild Card Game (Buffalo comes back from 35-3 halftime deficit), 2008 Memphis-Kansas NCAA Finals, either of the Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston fights in the mid-'60s, October 2007 Cowboys-Bills Monday Night game (the Nick Folk, before he was body-snatched, makes a 53-yarder twice in a row at the gun to overcome seven Dallas turnovers), 1979 Cotton Bowl (a flu-stricken Joe Montana leads Notre Dame to 23 fourth quarter points to beat Houston 35-34 as time expired).

Guinness Isn't Heavy

After about 8 years careful research, I have come to the conclusion that Guinness is my favorite beer. This was not an easy decision to arrive at. It's like forcing a parent to proclaim which child is their favorite. Bros don't like Guinness. This isn't your older brother's Natty Ice. Guinness isn't some sort of generic light beer. The Guinness drinker is a certain kind of man. If the Guinness drinker happens to be a woman, get yourself in there. Guinness is the grilled chicken breast of beer. If Jack LaLanne drank Guinness, he would still be alive. Too soon for a Jack LaLanne joke? Doesn't matter, he would want us to drink Guinness. Who is the Guinness drinker?

The Guinness drinker doesn't wear a winter hat in July, nor does he wear a backpack anywhere. Those who drink Guinness don't do so because Guinness is from Ireland. They simply drink Guinness because of it's greatness. Also, those who partake in Guinness consumption are not necessarily of Irish descent. Additionally, a tattoo of the Fighting Irish leprechaun on your calf is not a prerequisite to ordering a pint of Guinness.

Please understand that Guinness isn't heavy. Sugary girly drinks are heavy. Margaritas and White Russians are heavy. White Russians from The Taproom in Haddon Twp are particularly heavy. A pint of Guinness (16 oz.) contains 125 calories. A 1.5 oz. Margarita packs 185 calories. "But, Guinness makes me feel full". Give me a break.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Since We Do Not Have Delicious: Story from the Past

Drop the chalupa

Kansas DE suspended after altercation at Taco Bell

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Saturday November 20, 1999 02:27 PM

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A 270-pound University of Kansas football player got stuck in the drive-thru window of a Taco Bell when he tried to charge employees who left the chalupa out of his order, authorities said.
Dion Rayford, a 6-foot-3 senior defensive end, was suspended for the game Saturday against Iowa State, the last game of his college career. He was released on his own recognizance after appearing in court Wednesday on charges of disorderly conduct, having an open container of alcohol and misdemeanor damage to property.
An innocent plea was entered for Rayford, who had started all 11 games this season.
Rayford, 24, allegedly became angry about 2 a.m. Wednesday when he didn't get the chalupa.
He tried to climb through the 14-by-46-inch drive-thru window, said Lawrence police Sgt. George Wheeler. But the window couldn't support Rayford and broke, Wheeler said. Rayford was stuck hanging halfway.
"When you take a big guy and put him through a small space, something's got to give," Wheeler said.
The night manager, Tiffany Holly, and three other employees locked themselves into an office, said restaurant manager Tito Lopez.
None of the employees were injured.

"I'm disappointed for the young man, and frustrated as a coach to be put in the position to suspend someone from the final game of their career," said Kansas coach Terry Allen. "But we can't tolerate that type of behavior in our program."

Hat Tip (

Things We Should Probably Do: Vacations

Man it’s fun to plan for trips and you might as well keep crossing off the bucket list.  At this point in my life I’d prefer going on a trip with a few friends.  It would be better if it weren’t the default Vegas selection too.  I’m planning on making one this year if anyone is down. 

In no particular order,

Pamplona, Spain

Running of the Bulls July 6-14

No alcohol is allowed to run with the bulls.  The San Fermin festival had over 1 million people last year.  Chance of Death is greatly exaggerated, but people speaking Spainish could be problematic. Trip can include visits to Madrid or Barcelona


Munich, Germany
16-18 day festival held each year irom late September to the first weekend in October. It is one of the most famous events in Germany and the world's largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year.

Drawbacks would be German speaking people and presumably bad food.  Also being drunk is something that can be accomplished stateside.

Liverpool/London, England

So I want to watch some English soccer matches, and you want to see Europe.  I’ll do whatever you want to do there if we see 3 matches.  Times are somewhat flexible.


Preferably we bounce around the country.  The trip would be probably be longer than the others due to travel time.  Costs are high but it would be several trips in one.  Outback one day, Sydney the next, take in some Rugby. Times are flexible.

Stateside for the less Adventurous

First of all it’s a given that I will be at college football games this year so that is not included here.

Travel to see Phillies play a series on the road

This is inexpensive and can be done in any more city in which I haven’t been too.  Unless it’s Chicago and its Wrigley. You can plan other events besides drinking in here as well.

Camping/Ice Fishing/Skiing

All of these are weekend trips that would be relatively inexpensive.  I’m not sure how fun they would actually be but I have never done the first two.

If you have any other ideas, fire away in the comments.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Breaking News: Sweet Caroline Dead

Sweet Caroline was found dead in a New York City bathroom at 8:14 AM this morning.  She was 41 years old. Sweet Caroline is survived by Neil Diamond and the entire city of Boston.  Police have not commented on the details of her death thus far.

Update 1:  Sweet Caroline had fallen on hard times and was believed to have been stressed out.  Friends say that she was having disagreements with Neil Diamond for years.  According to friends, Diamond had grown tired of Sweet Caroline always spending late nights at the bar and various sporting events.  Sweet Caroline resided in New York City, but was frequently in Boston.  Monday night, Sweet Caroline attended a charity function at the Kennedy Hotel.  Police are interviewing Harold Rumlin, better know as Mr. Met who is believed to have been one of the last people seen with her. 

Police would not say whether or not foul play was involved in the death of Sweet Caroline and will await the autopsy results until commenting further.

Update 2: Neil Diamond met with police today on his own behalf and had some choice words for Red Sox fans.  "Caroline used to be such a sweet girl and that's why everyone adored her so much.  But we had our differences over the years.  Boston fans were ruining her, and we argued a lot about that.  They never cared about here they way I did.  I hope they rot in hell.  They runied her life.  Every summer that past, Caroline sounded less like a New Yorker and more like a Bahstonian.”

Police have named Neil Diamond, Mr. Met, and Trot Nixon as persons of interest.  There are no supsects at this time.  Police are still gathering infromation at this time. Should you have any information please leave it in the comments.

Snowflake Series: Limbo Mode

Most of the readers of this blog have experienced it, are experiencing it, or will experience it.  It’s a time of limbo.  You are trying to cling to friendships that have been forged in high school and college but it gets harder and harder.  People are getting engaged or are locked into serious relationships.  You relocated for work or to have more fun.  You are either moving on to the next phase of life or clinging to college days.  There is no wrong answer but not everyone chooses the same thing. 

In the last year everyone writing on the blog has moved.  One of our readers said he felt like Smalls in The Sandlot when everyone moved away.  Some of us have changed jobs or will change jobs shortly.  Life is moving pretty fast and it’s hard to know what’s best.  When friends tend to drift from your life, people tend to cling to the few they have left around.  If they are running out of friends they may decide the single life is pretty lonely and start a relationship. Right or wrong who knows.  You try to catch up with people as much as possible but it’s never easy.  People say they will catch up or hang out but it’s not the same.  It’s no one’s fault because everyone has to do what is best for them.

I’m going to choose to enjoy the drift.  I have some ideas of what I want to do next but nothing is in stone. The key is to be open to whatever may be next and just try to do what you think will make you happy.  Keep in touch with your good friends the best you can but do what’s best for you ultimately. 

Building the Perfect League Structure

"The real season doesn't start until the playoffs" This has been said by countless players, fans, and media type about most sports.  Yes the playoffs matter the most, but this statement condemn the leagues themselves.  The regular season should matter, but unfortunately this is not the case in some professional leagues. Here are the current playoff systems in the major sports leagues and my suggestions to improve them.

Now: 82 game season, 30 Teams, 2 Conferences of 15, Top 8 in each conference make the post season.

It's hard to argue that the regular season matters all that much for probably 8 teams a year that could walk their way into the postseason.  Sure there are team that's are fighting at the end of the season to be a 7 or 8 seed, but how often does a 7 or 8 seed make it past the second round.  Cinderella does not exist in the NBA.  So many teams make the post season, so the interest doesn't really wane as much in some cities.  Or at least that's the NBA theory and it's short sighted.  Fans want to watch games that matter and few ultimately do in the NBA.  So you may have already tuned the league out all together. Gate receipts are important, but TV is where money is for the league.  Why would someone tune in to watch the Heat and Nets play 4 times a year?   Yes, the NBA has a bad reputation because of a perceived lack of effort and lack of defense but if the games matter more I would think the play would pick up.  You could also reward teams for finishing 9 vs. 10 in the league with monetary bonuses.

It will never happen proposal : Do away with conferences, play 58 games (each team home and away once)
8 Teams make the postseason. Every series is a best of 3.  1vs8 and so on. Same home court advantage rules apply.

Now: Same as NBA across the board, except silly shootouts to break ties.  84 Games instead of 82 though.

Hockey is probably most random for determining outcomes.  I would guess that in hockey more than any other sport, the team that deserves to win does not.  How often do you see a team doubled in shots and scoring chances and lose?  Usually its because of a deflection or something fluky too.  This makes it hard to determine a proper champion and the Stanley Cup playoffs rarely go according to script.

It will never happen:  I know I know the Stanley Cup playoffs are perfect, but they render the regular season virtually useless.  I'm in favor of keeping series at 7 games and cutting the playoff teams to 12 incorporating byes for top teams, or simply dropping to 8 teams. 

32 Teams with 12 making the playoffs, 16 game regular season for now

The NFL playoff system is one of the better ones but no playoff system is perfect year in and year out.  Sometimes the most deserving team is not going to win, but that is what makes sports interesting I suppose.  Is it really fair that the Giants beat a previously undefeated Patriots team to win the Super Bowl despite having lost to them at home in the regular season? To me it feels wrong no matter how yummy Belichick's tears taste.  The Giants still did the impossible and you have to give them a ton of credit. 

The bye structure for the playoffs work well.  The best teams are appropriately rewarded with a an easier path to the Super Bowl and a home playoff game against the a opponent based on seeding.  The only issue I have with the NFL playoffs are guaranteeing a playoff spot to a 4-team division.  Divisions should probably be larger but its hard to do that evenly with 32 teams.  So instead I would like to see the there not be an automatic births and home playoff game for divisional winners.  It would seem cold not to allow a divisional winner into the playoffs but the Seahawks getting in at 7-9 can't happen.  You also have to question the point of divisions when the Raiders can run the table (6-0) in the division and not make the playoffs.  Perhaps I can concede that the divisions remain in tact to protect some rivalries but perhaps you are not guaranteed the post season for winning your division.  Finish with a winning record or watch someone else take your place.

162 games, 30 teams, 8 make the playoffs

Some people on this blog would say the baseball playoff are perfect.  It is true that it works well but I terrified of the prospect of the playoffs getting expanded.  This would further harm the integrity of the regular season.  I am not even a fan of the Wild Card but I can deal with it.  The marathon season in baseball is a thing of beauty and I'd hate to see it harmed by more teams polluting the post season.  I want it to be a big deal when the Yankees and Red Sox are fighting for the post season.  Expanded playoffs would farther guarantee their appearance.  It could also mean that a red hot team could pick off the team with the best record in baseball in round 1.  The league season is long enough to decide who the best teams are so I prefer them to be exclusive.  Baseball feels different in the postseason because your weaknesses are exposed (usually pitching).  Thoughts on if this is a good thing?

College Basketball

345 Teams, 68 make Tournament

The ever expanding NCAA Tournament will continue to be fun but for the elite teams the regular season becomes more and more meaningless.  Some of the elite teams can get bounced from the tournament making them feel like they have accomplished little on the season.  This is often harsh, but it makes the tournament exciting to the casual viewers of the sport.  While the NCAA tournament is insane and the best team may not always win, the champion is always deserving for having marched through 6 straight games victorious.

NCAA Football
12 Games + Conference Title Game, BCS Title Game

This is a playoff system that people can't stand. To hell with you casual fan.  The BCS is far from perfect.  The old bowl alliance may be better still, but the bottom line is every week in the season matters right now.   When actually determining a National Champion, how often does the best team win it? Most of the time? Say 2 out of 3? Can we at least agree that this is on par with other sports if not better. Does anyone think the Giants were the best team this past season? But yet they won the World Series.  How bout the 2006 Cardinals? The majority does not argue who wins professional sports titles because there is a playoff, so the winner of said playoff must be the best.  Bullocks.  Muckrakers like Dan Wetzel can bitch all they want and drum up controversy for book sales and to further their careers but a 16 team playoff with all league champions is dumber than any playoff, in any league. 

The BCS can be improved upon though.  If I said otherwise I would be as big a dolt as the people that argue for a 16 team playoff.  I argue against a playoff in college football because I know that when it does come, it will bastardize the regular season and be as poorly constructed as everything other playoff system in America.  However, here is my official endorsement for you college football playoff to be constructed and never changed.

6 teams make the post season. #1 and #2 receive a bye. #3 hosts #6 and #4 hosts #5.  The championship game is at the Rose Bowl and it never rotates to an indoor NFL stadium.  Neutral bowl sight games deep in the south get shot straight to hell.  Ohio Stadium hosts a game in December and the Florida Gators will freeze because the Buckeyes earned that home game in the regular season.

This year's system
#6 Ohio State @ #3 TCU
#5 Stanford @ #4 Wisconsin
#1 Auburn and #2 Oregon receive byes.  (This idea is not my own, it was created by

In this system marquee games have meaning, unlike the annual Orange Bowl match up.  The BCS essentially dies but the bowl system remains in place and bowl match ups are just as meaningful or meaningless as before.  


The biggest problem with professional sports organizations and the NCAA (if you think there is difference)  is that they crave the casual fan.  The casual fan is where the money is made.  Dumbing down regular seasons and banking on explosive TV contracts for post season is something that has been picking up steam for years.  This is always going to harm the integrity of the game.  I think it harms the long term viability of the leagues but that's based on nothing.

No playoff system is perfect year in and year out.  Some years the BCS gets the title game right, like this year.  Some years its hard to say who deserves to go over who.  The NCAA Basketball Tournament is fun, but makes the regular season meaningless for elite teams because does it really matter if your a 3 or 4 seed.  The NBA and NHL playoffs are too long and too drawn out because too many teams make the playoffs.  MLB and the NFL work pretty well but could use a few tweaks or at least could be stopped from getting out of hand.  It has been touched on before but I love the idea of English Premier League Soccer where you play each team once home and away, team with the best record at year end wins it.  This isn't always perfect either if the second place team sweeps the first place team it feels cheapened.  The reality is no playoff system will be perfect year in and year out.

In the interest of fairness, I think most of us would like to see the best team win the title.  The most deserving team should win it all and it should be clear.  The regular season should matter and you should be rewarded for finishing atop the standings in the regular season.  Playoffs should be exclusive and it should be a big deal when you reach them.  The teams that reach the playoffs should all feel they have a legitimate chance to beat anyone and win the title. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Patrick's New Haircut

Well, I typically lambaste remakes. However, the "My New Haircut" remake craze on YouTube is just too tasty to resist. People with no lives have flocked to join this craze as if it were the western US during the gold rush. I too have packed my wagon and have gone west in search of gold. Recently, I had the idea of putting together an American Psycho rendition of our dear "My New Haircut". Without any further ado, I give you "Patrick's New Haircut":

Sussudio playing in background at a yuppie bar

You know what this is? This is my new $500 Christian Cora haircut. You know what that means? I'm getting two $1000 hookers tonight. My associates, they have the same haircut, they're getting $1000 hookers tonight. I have the best seating arrangement in here. I'm going to talk about my job to every piece of ass that comes through that door. I'm gonna talk about it until everyone knows I work on Wall Street for Pierce and Pierce. If they've never heard of it, they're fucking ugly bitches. (cut to scene of Patrick doing the "fuckin skanks" gestures except he says "fucking ugly bitches"). If one dickweed in here mistakes me for that dickhead Marcus Halbestram, I'm gonna return some videotapes.

Cut to scene of Patrick working out to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then freaking out when he's rejected by Dorsia's maitre dei

Cut to scene of Patrick in his office:
I'm in control! I'm in control baby. (picks up empty mineral water bottle) Fuckin mineral water! Where's the god damn mineral water Jean??? I told you to get me some mineral water!!! And limes!!! Fuck!!

cut back to fancy restaurant

Yes I do cocaine and psychiatric prescription drugs. I eat that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don't workout at a gym. People aren't worthy of seeing how jacked and tan I am. Every morning do my stomach crunches,I can do a thousand now.

Cut to scene of Patrick at his apartment




Back to bar
I'm gonna get high and have obscene fantasies of brutal, rough sex tonight. I'm drinking J&B straight and vodka on the rocks. J&B straight...I don't shower in thatshit. Because alcohol dries your skin out and makes you look older. J&B straight! J&B straight! J&B straight!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Big Game

We've reached the Super Bowl and all the glitz, glamor and Dallas ice storms that come with it. You know how I feel about the event in general, but once the coin is tossed there may not be a more anticipated four-hour stretch of the sports year. Between the lines, Super Bowl XLV may actually live up to its hype, despite the overload of "storied franchise" headlines we've been fed over the past two weeks. At the very least, the game is assured to be pleasing from a visual standpoint, as the Packers and Steelers have two of the NFL's best uniform combinations (and for a shameless plug, check out your boy getting his name mentioned in Uni Watch here). Anyway, with a little bit of luck I'll crack the dreaded .500 mark for the postseason and end up with a (barely) profitable NFL season.

Green Bay (-3) over Pittsburgh
I probably had this pick made up in my mind before the matchup was even set. I've picked both for Green Bay and against Pittsburgh this entire postseason. To me, winning a Super Bowl comes down to being able to put together four solid quarters and get a big-time, momentum-turning play at the right moment. The Steelers have managed to win both of their playoff games despite playing a putrid first half against the Ravens and an equally putrid second half against the Jets where they were quite fortunate that Mark Sanchez's helmet communication system stopped working down near the goal line. The Packers come in flying high, winning five straight games and getting near-flawless play from Aaron Rodgers and their defense. The two-week layoff between the Conference Championship round and the Super Bowl always intrigues me in terms of coaching and how each staff chooses to approach the game after they have 18-19 games out there on film already. The issue (as I've said numerous times) with facing Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense often lies with how much pressure you plan to put on him - forcing Big Ben to buy time outside of the pocket can often be a death wish. Fortunately for the Packers, the strengths of their defense play very well into that hand (similarly to the Jets, who only gave up just 17 offensive points in a valiant effort two weeks ago). You figure the Packer cornerbacks can deal with Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders down the field, which leaves the linebackers and safeties to deal with Heath Miller and Hines Ward over the middle. If I'm Green Bay, I'll take my chances with the same approach the Jets used and hope that my secondary continues to play out of this world. On the other side of the ball, I won't be surprised if the Packers change everything up and go with a run-heavy approach early on (yeah yeah yeah I know the Pittsburgh run defense only gives up 62 yards a game), if only to try to keep the Steeler defensive backs from getting into a rhythm. In the end, covering the whole field when Green Bay does stretch it out will be too tall a task for Pittsburgh. My gut says a long Greg Jennings touchdown in the fourth quarter puts this one away. Packers, 31-20.

Last Week: 1-1-0
Postseason: 5-5-0

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shit I Like Doing

Hi, I'm John. I like to get up after about 6 or 7 hours of recuperative sleep, have great morning sex, go downstairs and eat a hearty breakfast while sitting on the sofa watching sportscenter and scratching my balls. My english teachers of yore would be appalled at the length of that run on sentence. That sentence ran a marathon. Anyway, after about 11 AM, I'd probably be ready for more sex so my head is clear for a solid workout. I believein working out and taking care of myself. Sex with a random hot chick at the gym mid-workout would be sweet, but not always necessary. Once I'm through with my workout, time to go home for a chocolate protein shake. I prefer chocolate protein powder. Once I'm showered, I like to sit in my boxers watching YouTube and listening to music played at the appropriate level. I like to do what I want when I want to do it. I don't want to hear any shit about being emotionally unavailable. I like to Guiness too.