Monday, February 3, 2014

The Terrible Demise of Peyton Manning's Broncos

We watched the first half of the Super Bowl here at the Dave Cave, the boy and I. Mostly me, as he was doing his customary prowl of YouTube for more interesting things than football. Right before the game, I'd dug up a compilation of highlights from the Naked Gun movies as he'd never seen Leslie Nielsen open a bathroom door into someone's face.

Right after watching these, I switched on the game just in time to see the teams line up and, well, this...

Of course the rest of the night didn't go much better. So with apologies to one friend in particular, I'm going to suggest why the Broncos were so un-Bronco-like for the game.

Preparation matters, but there's such a thing as over-preparing. I'm thinking that with two weeks to get ready, the notoriously detail-oriented future HoF quarterback probably did a little too much. They weren't loose and they weren't flexible enough to deal with the best defense they faced all year.

I think the Broncos came out tight and dropped straight into clenching coal into diamonds territory. They'd spent two weeks hearing about what they needed to do. Compounding that with the insane media and fan focus on the game probably meant there really wasn't going to be a different outcome.

There's something to cramming for an exam, but at some point you're better off just getting some sleep. The Broncos seemed like a team that needed a little more down time and a little less Peyton leading into the game.

Now I'll go back to hoping the Giants trade into a better draft position and pick up Auburn's OT with their first round pick.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chili Cookoff Coming Up

I'm working up a recipe for the upcoming Halloween contest in the workplace. We did a cookoff last year for the fun of it, but this year it's an actual competition. Well, I say actual competition, but I'm being nice because I aim to dominate :)

This is my work-in-progress recipe. I call it...

Darkness Beckons

3 pounds ground chuck
1 pound country sausage
1 pound stew meat, cubed
1 sweet onion
Carroll Shelby's Original Texas Brand Chili Mix
1 can (15 oz. or larger) black beans
1 jar habanero sauce (to be determined)
12 orange or red habanero peppers, diced
Beef broth (I like Swanson the best)

Thoroughly cook and brown all the meats, add to the slow cooker. Dice and carmelize the onion, add to the mix, followed by the other ingredients, including all four packets that come with the Shelby's package.

For the habaneros I recommend using a food processor or other manual chopper. You'll want to minimize your contact with the peppers, even with gloves.

I use enough beef broth to provide a base that the sauce and natural pepper oils can simmer through without turning the chili into a soupy mix. A couple of tablespoons of masa flour can thicken it up if needed.

Cook on low setting for four hours, then refrigerate overnight. You'll have cooked the seasonings and oils through the meat and beans, then allowed the flavors to get more intense with their overnight stay in the fridge. Warm the chili and serve.

You may wish to warn people of the heat potential. Or, if you're like me, you'll want to have a video camera handy to catch the amusing reactions for your YouTube channel.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chess Queens, not Beauty Queens

The endless prurient fascination American society has with its celebrities who seem to be famous because, well, they're famous, might feel as though it has existed for as long as televisions have flickered in living rooms everywhere. Would it shock you, dear reader, to consider that the nation once held its collective breath over the potential outcome of a chess match?

Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter reminds us in a Bloomberg piece on Bobby Fischer vs Boris Spassky that we did thrill to each move and countermove of chess grandmasters facing off across a chessboard in Reykjavik, forty years ago:

The two best players in the world were playing 24 games in Iceland, and everyone paid attention. Strangers who had never picked up a chess piece discussed the match on subway trains.

Chess is a very hard game, and what is most remarkable about that summer is that people wanted to play anyway. They wanted their minds stretched, and were willing to work for that reward. The brief period of Fischer’s ascendancy -- he quit chess three years later -- was perhaps the last era in our nation’s history when this could be said.
One might suggest poker in recent years held a similar level of interest. Poker does involve a measure of mathematical and psychological skill, but chance does play a healthy role too. As much as some of poker's more outsized personalities think otherwise, no tournament they've played ever held the same import as two grandmasters serving as proxy for a bloodless confrontation between two dominant nuclear superpowers.

Personally, I think chess should be taught in schools at an early age, along with balancing checkbooks and long healthy walks. Could be some long term benefit there, really.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Movie Sign!

Spring is here, and we know what that means - $5/gallon gas is right around the corner, just in time for the summer driving season!

Oh, and there's also a bunch of movies coming out too. Makes me glad I'm a short walk away from a theater. There's ten movies I'm looking forward to seeing in May, June, and July. But not August. Have you seen the crap coming out in August? No, August is catch up with the Netflix queue month.

Before I hit my ten must-see (and I know you're sooooo anxious to know what's what), have to give a shout out to my pal Jason Lee Miller, currently blogging and crying at his journal Off Topic. The crying doesn't surprise me even a little bit. Go read him and cheer him up. Please. He has a wife and daughter in his grill 24/7. He needs the boost.

Now on to the cinema!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Saving Baseball

Yeah so I think there was a football game on Sunday night that a few people may have watched. I tuned in and out a few times, which was enough to realize the Steelers were playing a crap game. Bad time to do so, if you ask me.

So that's football over and done with for the season. If the NFL and the Players Association can't figure out what to do with about $9 billion dollars, Green Bay and the rest of the league may be playing golf for a while.

Or maybe they'll watch some baseball. Remember baseball? National pasttime? Long time baseball fan here, and guess what? Baseball is past its time. Football took over a long time ago.

The whole April to October (and beyond) season, with long games and less scoring thanks (likely) to some semblance of a performance drug testing policy, isn't what it was. We don't have the time or the desire to watch like people did in the pre-Super Bowl years.

I think baseball could be made more watchable if the sport had more urgency. A July game between cellar dwellers like Pittsburgh and Arizona isn't helping the game at all. You have teams playing out the string once the All-Star break ends. That kind of sucks.

To borrow an idea from ESPN radio talking head Colin Cowherd, baseball needs to own August. Long month, absolutely nothing going on. With a few other changes, I think we could get more baseball out of less of a season.

I'm making myself honorary commissioner for the rest of this post. Here's what I think needs to change.

First, the commissioner should have his "best interests of baseball" powers back. Having a commish who's tight with ownership and in no way empowered to lay down the law when needed doesn't help a sport that enjoys a massive antitrust exemption privilege.

Second, the National League adopts the designated hitter. It's 2011. It's been time for 30 years for them to do this.

Third, the first two weeks of the season will be played in as many indoor sites and warm weather cities as possible. Snow and football go together. Snow and baseball is just stupid.

Fourth, there will be a salary floor. Owners will have to foot a minimum payroll. Ones who can't do it, sorry, thanks for your time, your team is up for sale to someone who will spend the money. Why yes Mr. Cuban, your money is most welcome here.

Now here's the radical change, the shortening of the season, the elimination of baseball after Labor Day. We end the season on the last Thursday in July. We take Friday because hey, it's a Friday in July.

On Saturday, we start the playoffs. Not the weak version baseball has now. A Dave-approved rollicking free-for-all knockout tournament where every game every night means something. Each pitch, each at-bat, has urgency.

There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Using this year's calendar as an example, on July 28th, we rank each league top to bottom. The ten best teams in each league get to continue playing. The remaining teams go on summer break. Buh-bye.

On July 29th we rest, teams travel, Vegas sets some lines, and every sports media outlet can spend the day talking about the upcoming playoffs, on what would normally be a dead weekend unless Brett Favre starts hinting at playing football again.

So we've ranked our teams from one to ten. The first four days are for the play-in games. That's right, you survived past the 28th, now you have to win two out of three games in four days to continue. The 7-10 seeds and the 8-9 seeds play while the top six seeds in each League rest.

That covers July 30-August 2. On the 3rd, everyone is off. On July Fourth, fireworks, hot dogs, and more playoff baseball. The 7-10 winner plays best of three against the top seed, while the 8-9 winner gets the two seed. 3 plays 6 while 4 plays 5. That takes care of July 4-8. On the 9th, winners rest, loser head to the beach.

We've moved from ten teams to eight to four left in each league. Next up, best of five series, played over seven days, August 9-15. We've got the top team against the fourth-best, and the second and third best meeting on the field. We'll keep the 16th as an off day, and on the 17th, the semifinals begin.

We'll do best of five here as well. Either the most talented teams, or the hottest teams, will still be alive in the dog day afternoons of August. See that urgency yet? This isn't Indians-Royals grinding through meaningless games. We're in the meat of the playoffs.

Not much room for error with three out of five at stake from August 17-23. We'll keep the 24th for an off day after the League Championships are completed.

Now it's August 25th. End of summer. Lots of people back into a work/school routine. What's there to watch  in the evening? How about the World Frickin' Series?

This is it, the Fall Classic retired and reimagined. Best of seven, August 25-September 2. Champions crowned no later than Friday. Baseball ends on a sultry summer night, not on a November evening at 12:54 a.m. in freezing drizzle.

College football begins, then a few days later the NFL follows. Baseball isn't trying to fight the NFL machine any more. We just had a month of hopefully pressure-packed exciting and interesting baseball.

There's lots of unanswered questions. We're trimming several weeks of games. I see that as a good thing. We can have doubleheaders each week of the season, say on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We would have less bad baseball because we're shelving the teams that just can't cut it and focusing on the better/luckier ones at the end of July.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My not so Super pick

First time trying to blog from my phone. Super Bowl pick? Have to go with neither since both teams put my New York teams out. No? Ok. Steelers win 38-16.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

St. John's Returns?

I'm a long time fan of New York teams, and the recent down years of St John's in hoops play has been disappointing.

But they've followed up beating those hated Duke Blue Devils with a nice little nailbiter against Rutgers last night.

I'm doing Snoopy's Happy Dance. Picture that in your mind. You're welcome.