Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The "Friendly Confines" of JerryWorld...

Ramblings Post #379
Where I been? I want to say I've been writing. I started the sequel to my alt-1960's tale The Grand Berber Most Divine, only this time the protagonist has a new challenge: family. It's tentatively titled The African Riviera Most Resplendent. But that's stalled for other reasons. And I did actually go to see Sporty. But that's a post I keep re-hashing in my head. And I'm leaving the Ranch. But that's also a whole other deal. So what I'm going to do is go with the familiar. No, not politics, although whenever I run into whoever is running the DNC some words will be spoken, believe that! No, I'm going to do football. It's just so soothing. Or at least it's supposed to be.

Ron Rivera is out at Carolina because the Panther's owner David Tepper has stated clearly that he will not accept the idea of mediocrity for his team. Ron Rivera and Jason Garrett started at roughly the same time, 2011 and have similar resumes of just above a .500 record and three division titles. Neither one's team is playing that well this season either.  The one notable exception is that Ron actually took the Panthers to a Superbowl. We're still waiting. 

As I was pondering this, it hit me. Kids, I hate to say it, but the Dallas Cowboys are apparently the Chicago Cubs of the NFL.

Allow me explain. The Cubs play baseball in the Windy city of Chicago at 1060 West Addison, the venerable Wrigley Field. (Elwood Blues does not live there). They went 108 years without winning at the championship level until three years ago in 2016. But Wrigley Field stayed a hot ticket all those years the Cubs cried about about that epic drought. The games broadcast on WGN, the merch sold like hot cakes and with no need to really improve the product because people came anyway, the owners were practically printing money in the dugouts. There were valiant efforts, of course, and on more than few occasions the team had a loaded roster and won many games but just couldn't bring it home, which only endeared them to their audience more.

Sound familiar?

The Dallas Cowboys are the number one brand in the NFL, far and away. The next three in order are : The Steelers, the Packers, and whoever is winning this season. Seriously. And like the Cubs, the fans are still talking about the last championship twenty five years ago and every flash of brilliance is met with the phrase "We're going to the Super Bowl!" They win just enough to make you mad. The team seems to keep a loaded roster, draw more primetime eyes than any other team in the league and JerryWorld may as well be a cathedral to the sport. It also stays packed. To the rafters.   

Sound familiar?

But for the Cubs it wasn't until they changed coaches in 2014 that things started to fall their way. With Ron's departure in Carolina, and Garrett's contract up at the end of the season, will the Jones boys get the hint? The players are frustrated, as are the fans. We lost to the Jets. I mean damn. (Okay, Philly lost to the Dolphins, but we can't count on that every week. LOL.) The Cowboys lucked into a season where everyone in their division but them are rebuilding or (also) struggling, so they're still driving the bus of their own destiny. And with the pieces they've assembled, they've got a shot at doing something great in the next few years. But not with their current head coach, who may get the un-coveted Marvin Lewis designation this off-season if things go wrong...for the fans.  

Dallas Fans waiting on the Jones Boys to get it right.
And this choke-hold on that branding spot and all the associated perks means the incentive to win a championship boils down to ego on the part of the owner.

Barkeep. If you could put a bottle of the Pappy Van Winkle aside for later, that would be swell. For now, vodka and OJ, two cubes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Thank you Mr. Witherspoon.

The first thing I saw when I checked my social media feeds today was that John Witherspoon had passed. So today did not start off well at all.

Witherspoon was kind of comedian who showed up and took over. From my first real memory of him in that Robert Townsend film where he spoke the immortal line, "Hoes gotta eat too!" he was a scene stealer. From his funny and yet still poignant Pops in the Ice Cube franchise Friday, to his stint in as the father of the Wayans Bros to his absolutely genius turn as the voice of Grandpa in The Boondooks, the man knew how to command attention. Even a quick turn in the classic comedy Boomerang still lives with as all, because everybody knows you got to "coordinate!"

And unlike so many long time actors who spend too long in the dirty jungle that is Hollywood and have become wrapped up in themselves (out of self preservation), I understand he was a voice of wisdom to many a young funny person trying to get to the next level. He still did stand-up, that harshest of comedy outlets where you can literally feel the audience. And there he was the wise man guiding the upcoming through there storms. Witherspoon went from Richard Pyror, then Eddie Murphy, the Wayans, and Jay Pharoah and Kevin Hart. His career spanned generations of laughter.  And the whole time he was outrageous and hilarious.

You sir, shall be missed.

Monday, October 14, 2019

So, this..

Ramblings Post #378
Find joy where you can. Find it in the warmth of the morning toast. Find it in the crisp of a cup of coffee. Find your joy in the morning jog, the desk for work, that traffic still irritates you for it means you care. Find your joy in faces of friends, in the smiles of children, in sunset. But not football, not if you're a Cowboys fan. 

Dallas has made painfully clear why last years swap of a first round draft pick for Amari Cooper was a good deal for them. Without a serious number one receiver on the field and healthy, there is no pressure to make defenses to slide back. Dallas is right back where it was last season before the trade, with defenses loading up the box and stuffing Zeke and the run game on sheer headcount alone. The offense that should put thirty-five up per game is bogged down. Along with a defense sorely lacking in confidence, to say that I am disappointed by the outcome of the Cowboys-Jets game is an understatement.

The fucking Jets?

I am certain that Shannon Sharpe and Stephen A. Smith are having a grand old time with this. Despite losing by a less than three with a missed field goal on the books - and we cut Dan Bailey - it won't matter. A loss by one counts the same as a loss by four touchdowns. And despite the division being weak and still sharing the lead, things don't look that great going forward. Better teams have to be faced in the coming weeks, and this turn of events...the inability to proceed minus a key player...does not trend well. At this point even Jerry Jones has admitted the team isn't as elite as we all thought it was. Good? The personnel alone make it good, but elite teams find a way, and we're still looking at the GPS.  

The fucking Jets?

I'm firm believer that on any given Sunday any team can be any other team. The football doesn't bounce straight, and neither do the circumstances surrounding it. As much as we consider skill, injuries and and little tiny things like a missed tackle here, a blown assignment there, a bad read and suddenly you're down (or up) by two scores. It happens. A lot of times the difference between a good team and bad team are just those moments. Elite teams keep those mistakes to minimum. And right now my Cowboys aren't doing a good job of that.

I had hoped that this was kind of long term strategy that learning the Philadelphia had lost and being unconcerned with the other two teams in the NFC east that the coaches had sat Amari because they figured the game didn't matter. He's been having foot issues so why not. But this is the NFL. All the games matter. And anything can happen. I like to think we're better than this. I would sincerely like to have the Cowboys prove it. 

The fucking dog-ass Jets?

Barkeep, I need the strong stuff. The 151. No chaser. I need to sweat this out.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

They're playing basketball....

Ramblings Post #377
This post should be about the impeachment "inquiry", but it's not. This should be about the latest goings on at the Ranch, but it's not. This should be about my terrible diet as of late, but it's not. This should be about why I haven't posted in a month, but it's not. This should be about what TV shows I'm watching and my take on them, but it's not. This should be about the Cowboys - who are still going to win the Superbowl - but it's not. This should be about Sporty, but it's not. This should be about gearing up for a write my ass off this November, this time for sure, but it's not. So, what is it about? The WNBA. Why? Because. 

I watched part of a game of the WNBA championship last week. I was flipping through some channels and came across it, and sadly, like it was a meeting of high scoring Division III rivals. It promised to be exciting, but only if you were aware it was happening. That I was not aware, or that it didn't seem to be a prime time event was also clear. But many years past, in the long long ago, my high school girls basketball team won the state championship and the school had buses to the games and everything. Those ladies could ball, I kid you not, and that game was exciting. So, in memory of them I sat down and watched for a while. 

First, is the camera angle different in the WNBA, or are the fellas just that much bigger? When I watch an NBA game, which I do from time to time, the players seem proportional to the court. It's more than likely that it's because I'm used to how it looks. The men's game looks familiar. By contrast, watching the women play the court looked huge if not enormous. It felt as though they'd stuck an extra five feet on both sides and along the length. And the angles of the shots seemed deeper, as though the camera was positioned higher up, or maybe off to the side of where I normally expected it to be. Or maybe it's just that most NBA players are 6' 4" and up and the WNBA players are (mostly) six inches or more shorter.  

Then there is the actual game-play. And it could be just me again, but I think the NBA includes more isolation basketball. Now, while the three ball has migrated to the WNBA (and college, and high school and the mini basket on the trash can), that superstar single match-up game doesn't seem to have made the trip. Or it could have been the cameras. The women seem to have much more perimeter passing, less pick and roll and way less clear outs. Or maybe it just looked that way because of all the up and under layups. I mean, because the rim is still 10' I expected an increase in the number of layups, but there was much less jump shooting than I imagined. I was expecting sharpshooters, but the only time anyone consistently took a jumper was from three point land.

Other than those two things it was  just like I remembered. Dives to the floor, blocks, fast breaks and lots of hustling. Just "plain ole good ass we-in-it-to-win-it basketball. But it just felt different.     

Again, it's not that I've never seen women play sports before. Girls high school team won state champs, were more popular than the boys team. I used to watch Sporty play women's tackle football - full pads, full speed. So it's not that.

Or is it?

I need to think on this. Barkeep, can I get a lemon drop. Yes, I said a lemon drop. What's wrong with that?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September 11

It's been eighteen years.

Still can't really watch anything about it. Still get too worked up. It's my generation's "where were you moment?"

World Trade.
Should have built four new towers, all 120 stories. Dammit.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Did not see that one coming...

Ramblings Post #376
Sport is BIG. Real BIG. Sport crosses lines that other subjects can't cross and brings together people who otherwise would have nothing in common. It unites and galvanizes. And understand in Europe it can lower GDP, cause wars and make people question their whole reality. Which makes me wonder if the amount of crazy we have about football in the South is just the right amount of crazy? 

In the midst of being take away lots of positives from the Cowboys pre-season play, 34-0 versus the Texans, and starting to get excited again for college football as Florida survived Miami in a barn burner, a blurb dropped on the crawl that made me pause. Andrew Luck announced his retirement. 

Wait, what? 

Andrew Luck was not even really in the prime of his career, as for me a QB doesn't really get rocking until he's 31. (Note: Yes, this means that Patrick Mahomes may be not allowed to be second halves by then - by a new NFL fairness rule or something). With all the injuries he'd already been through, and with the way the league is, one could figure that another rehab was par for the course. But his calf injury was lingering too long and despite QBs now playing into their late 30s and now 40s, don't get it twisted: Always be kind for you never know what battle someone else is waging. 
First, if Andrew Luck feels the need to retire, then he should go enjoy his life. That's it. Football ain't everything and injuries can continue with you long after you've hung up your helment. Most of those who made the snide comments about how he needs to man up haven't played the game. They don't know. Everyone who suits up isn't going to bite off the end of their finger or play though a broken neck for sake of the team or the game. Or be expected to do it three or four times. But it was that he said that his enjoyment of the game was gone was more telling to me. It takes a special mindset to suit and then run full speed into another person or let yourself be run at with the intention of full contact. Or go out in front of 80,000 screaming fans to be tested to your peak physically and mentally for three hours. Doing it and not feeling that joy, a sense of accomplishment or that it's your purpose, is just unfathomable. If the challenge leaves him empty, then it was past time to leave. 

My suggestion to him is go get healthy, rest his soul and the figure out what's next.  It might be going into real estate, or youth sports or back to school. After being away for a while you might even want to get back into football, who knows, but the important thing is the get your mind right first. This is admittedly less than perfect timing, at least from a team point of view, but then when is it ever the right moment? Better he leave now and give them a chance to mitigate than find himself unable to muster up that certain something in a crucial tight game moment.   

But more importantly I'm worried about Sporty, who is a big Colts fan. I have actually purchased Colts paraphernalia for her. For several seasons. I know she's not happy right now. Do you think now would be a bad time to suggest maybe becoming a Cowboys fan? Yeah, probably a bad time.

Barkeep. A tall cold one for Mr. Luck. May the next leg of his journey bring him peace. And no, that wasn't a joke about his calf injury...