Posted in Indianapolis Colts, sports

FOOTBALL AND THE POSSIBILITY OF "WINTRY MIX"

This coming Wednesday, we might, and I repeat, might, get a bit of what the weather forcasters like to call, “wintry mix.” What this means is that they’d like to say we’d get snow, or sleet, or rain, but to tell the truth, it’s going to be something in between. Of course, the worst will happen while people are trying to get to work. Then again, I live for the possibility of seeing a snowflake in Houston every year.

And now, I am set to watch a divisional playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens. It is my hope to see the Indianapolis defense rise to the occasion and to see the Colts get one step closer to the Super Bowl. My roommate thinks I’m delusional, and I may be, but I would still love to see it happen!

The sky is darkening and I must brace myself for a big weather change. I was hoping this warmer weather would last a few days longer so my cold… or allergies… well, so my callergies would taper off a bit before this cold snap hit.

I look forward to sweater weather once again, though, and by Monday I will have it.

Posted in Houston Astros, sports

STILL PROUD

In a state where football is the sport, baseball cracked through in past week to dominate the headlines here in Texas. The first two World Series games were held in Houston last week to sold out, frenzied crowds. Though the Astros were swept, they were in each game to the very end, giving fans the drama, the excitement, and the frenzy usually reserved for football.

I am proud of the team, though they ran out of steam when it counted most. On June 1st, local sportswriters had written the team off as dead, and though their season appeared to be over to the public, the players reached deep inside themselves to elevate their game and catapult themselves, by the last hair of their playoff beards, into the World Series.

Somebody has to lose, but for one shining moment, the Astros showed the state of Texas what it feels like to be winners.

NLCS Champions. Not too shabby.

Posted in Houston Astros, sports

WORLD SERIES!

The Astros are in the World Series! I really want an NLCS champion t-shirt, but alas, they keep selling out of them before I can even think about going to get one. It’s amazing to see all the signs and painted windows in cars supporting the Astros. People are going crazy.

I am picking the Astros in 5. Mostly, I just want them all to shave. Only one or two Astros look good with that much facial hair. The rest of the guys are all resembling Grizzly Adams or a few serial killers I’ve seen on posters at the Post Office. (Just kidding guys!)

It’s been a great ride, from worst to first this year. I look forward to a great series!

Posted in sports

WAY TO GO, DANICA!

A 23 year-old woman led the Indianapolis 500 today for several laps and eventually wound up in 4th place. She kicked some serious Brickyard booty! Congratulations to Danica Patrick on a great race.

The Indy 500 was a big part of my childhood. Every Memorial Day weekend, we were glued to the TV or listened on the radio at my grandpa’s lake house while we swam in the chilly waters of Lake Webster. When I went to college (about 40 miles north of Indianapolis), the Indy 500 took over the airwaves at the beginning of May with daily reports from the track as the teams practiced and qualified.

The racing families move to Indy and spend the entire month there. The kids finish the school year with tutors and basically have their summer camp early. After the Indy 500, the racing schedule goes full speed ahead, so this is a great opportunity for the drivers to spend time with their families and the kids to spend time with each other. I have watched many Indy reports on what the “Indy Kids” do with their time in Speedway.

And yes, there is a part of Indianapolis that is called Speedway. It is an incorporated portion of the city that includes the Brickyard and some of the surrounding area.

All that said, I actually got to go to the Indy 500 in 1990. It’s my one and only big-time race experience. Arie Luyendyk won his first Indy 500 that year. A friend of mine from high school picked me up on her way to Indy, fulfilling her promise to me that someday she’d take me to the 500 (her dad got free tickets every year). Our seats were across from pit road, and for me watching the action on pit road was just as fascinating as the race itself.

Regardless of the point of view the seats provide, attending a race in person gives the full effect of what goes on during the race. You can smell the hot rubber on the race track, the smoke during the cautions, and the aroma of hotdogs and brats cooking from the infield.

The cars whizzed by so fast I could hardly keep them in focus, which is an effect I’ve never gotten from watching a race on tv. The cars are going over 200 mph, pulling up to 4 g’s in the corners. The buzz the engines create sticks in your spine for days after the race is over.

While I cannot afford to attend every race or sporting event I’d like to, I try to see each type of sporting event I follow live at least once so I can add those memories and sensory overloads into what I watch on tv. I still haven’t been to an NFL game, but I hope to someday. Attending the Indy 500 is one of my favorite memories from my college summers. Each time I watch or listen to the race, my brain takes me back into the memory of an incredible experience.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I got one of the worst sunburns of my young life that day, but it was all worth it for the experience. And, YES, I did use sunscreen for all the good it did.

Come to think of it, I remember it was also the day I learned that Milk of Magnesia takes the sting out of sunburns.

Ah, memories.

Posted in Houston Astros, sports

I FINALLY MANAGED TO GET MYSELF ON TV

First of all, I’m still proud of the Astros. So proud, I climbed up on the roof of the church I work for and allowed myself to be photographed by tv cameras from helicopters… I should explain. Let me back up.

Wednesday, October 20….

Today it was Go Astros Day in Houston, which means you get to wear your Astros shirts and stuff to work. The pastor I work for is a HUGE fan so he said we could all wear our Astros stuff to work.

He asked us to pose for a group photo this afternoon. There were 25-30 of us and after we got the group shot the pastor had to run off to a meeting. The photographer and the head of our graphics department had this brilliant idea to get another group shot on the roof of the church with the downtown skyline in the background.

We (about 20 leftover from the first group) all trek up to the sixth floor and then up one more floor to the roof. May I mention here that it was 94 degrees when we were doing this? On the roof, there is a place that sticks up yet another floor that can only be reached by LADDER. The photographer (great guy) Jack says, “Let’s go up there.”

To my surprise, nobody argued with him. Four of the group are majorly afraid of heights, but hey, we’re saluting the Astros and we’re not working. Let’s go.

I am mildly wigged out coming down ladders, but I decided I wasn’t going to wimp out, so up I go… knowing a return trip would be necessary. Many of us commented as we cheered the height phobics on that this was a great bonding experience, sort of like a ropes course that you send all your employees on so they can learn to get along. It was really fun, though, and really lifted morale.

Here’s where things get interesting… An accident had occurred on the freeway next to us so there were no less than four news helicopters in the area. As we are getting the group shot ready, they notice that there are PEOPLE on the roof of the church.

So, here come the helicopters. The police dept sends their chopper over because well, I’m told it’s normal terrorist activity to try to enter a large building through the roof. Perhaps the other helicopters radioed them that there were people on the roof of the church (the police even called the security people at church to ask what the crack we were doing up there), but no matter how they found out, they came to check us out and waved to us when the saw the Astros signs. I’m glad they didn’t hear my smart aleck remark — saying that we should tell them the pastor made us drink koolaid and sent us to the roof… ha ha.

The news helicopters see us nut jobs up there with our Astros shirts and the ‘GO ASTROS!!” letters. (By the way, if you live in Houston and you see it, I’m holding the A). Fox News zoomed in on us and the helicopter got so close so the camera guy could zoom in. We were going nuts.

Before the game started, here in Houston, Fox (the local news) was showing an interview with Carlos Beltran and then had a shot of us on the roof before they cut to St. Louis. I haven’t seen it but many of the others I was up there with have. Too funny. I finally managed to get myself on TV… even if it was acting like a complete lunatic.

And, even if the Astros don’t win tomorrow, I’m still glad I overcame my fears and climbed up on top of that hot roof.

But the Astros WILL win tomorrow so what am I talking about?!

We were also on the news the following morning. Some of my friends saw it… too wild. That night, I was at the grocery store and the kid sacking my groceries and I start talking about the crazy things people were doing to salute the Astros. I asked him if he saw the people on the roof of the church and he said, “those people are idiots!” Imagine his face when I told him I was one of those idiots. At least he laughed.

Posted in Houston Astros, sports

HOORAY FOR THE ASTROS!!

Congratulations to the Houston Astros… after decades of post-season teasing and futility, they finally came through! After Sunday’s game, I wasn’t so sure. I was having flashbacks to all the times the Astros have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but tonight… tonight they won in a decisive, commanding fashion. WOO HOO!!

Posted in commentary, sports

THE OLYMPICS ARE HERE…

… and not ragging on NBC, but I really miss ABC coverage of the Olympics. Not sure why. Bob Costas is a perfectly adequate host, but there’s just something missing in the NBC broadcasts.

On Dish Network, there is a channel, (#147) that offers Olympic highlights, and on one screen you can see what all 6 NBC networks are offering. You can switch to any channel and hear what’s going on without leaving that screen. It’s pretty cool. I’ve been there a few times already.

I’ve been trying to stay away from the newspapers because they post results as they happen, not as NBC shows them. Of course, Athens is about 7 hours ahead of us, so unless I can watch tv at work, this is the only way to watch the “prime time” events.

Personally, I love the opening ceremonies with countries like Eritrea, Lichtenstein, Cook Islands, and Palau, who have less than five athletes participating. These people are more than excited to be at the Olympics. You can see the joy and wonder on their faces.

My favorite country, though, was Iraq. Their athletes used to be tortured on a regular basis by one of Saddam’s sons. There was no joy in participation, no thrill of victory, but plenty of agony for them for each defeat. This year, however, the Iraqi athletes were “smuggled” out of their own country for their safety’s sake by Italian peacekeepers in their country. Their soccer team won their first match against Portugal, which was “loaded” with three star players from the English Premier League. Yet Iraq was victorious. They tasted yet another victory, and their countrymen rejoiced. I think it’s a safe bet that these athletes are grateful to each person who helped give them their freedom, regardless of whether there were WMD’s in their country or not.

The Iraqi athletes paraded in and they seemed overwhelmed and awed by the whole atmosphere. The crowd greeted them with cheers and applause. The team members’ smiles made me tear up. Wether or not they medal is of no consequence. They can go home and hold their heads high and they will not be tortured or punished, they will be heroes to every Iraqi child (and some adults all over the world as well).

That, my friends, is what the spirit of the Olympics is all about.

Posted in commentary, sports

“WARDROBE MALFUNCTIONS” AND OTHER LAME EXCUSES

Even people who didn’t tune in to the Super Bowl at all knew what happened by the time I got to work today. If the whole purpose of the classless stunt pulled by Janet and Justin (J & J) was to get some publicity and get people talking about them, it worked. Most of what I heard today, even from people I know who are hard to shock, were stunned silent after the halftime show ended last night, and it wasn’t just J & J’s fault. The lyrics to every song included sexual references, but because we have become such a visual nation, I think that increased the shock when Janet’s sleazy dancers appeared and then the wardrobe malfunction happened.

The FCC is now involved and what maybe started as a classless, tasteless stunt is going to cost someone big bucks. I think it should start with the performers, but given we live in a society where accused (innocent until proven guilty) rapists, murders, abusers and pedophiles — who just happen to be professional athletes or celebrities — roam free (because they have the money from their celebrity) and even continue to play and perform, I doubt much happens to J & J but a momentary public shunning and maybe some embarrassment. I think Viacom (who owns CBS and MTV) is going to get a huge fine… but that’s about it.

When Janet’s new CD comes out, will people buy it? Yes. As memorable as the wardrobe malfunction was, the public’s memory is so short, so forgiving, so willing to look the other way, even when a woman’s breast is bared in an attempt to shock 100 million people (that included many children). Besides, it’s easier to forget about it because that’s what the majority will do… the high road, the right thing, is always tougher and is always represented by the minority. Morals just aren’t cool. Nipple shields and wardrobe malfunctions are.

Janet’s new single was coincidentally shipped to radio stations this weekend. Her name was mentioned millions of times today — more press than she’s received in years. The only way to stop this behavior among celebs is to not buy their product when they act like their brains were sucked out of their heads… but that doesn’t happen. If people stopped buying Madonna and Britney’s “music” after their recent stunt, then the next time an opportunity to prove their lack of morals and class presented itself, they might (okay, that’s a stretch, I know) think twice.

This will not be the end of Janet’s career, or Justin’s. They will rise back to the top faster than you can say Dixie Chicks.