Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy new stuff, and things

I'm going to be in Dallas, and likely not anywhere near Blogger, for a few days, so before I go, I'd like to do two things:
1) Wish you all a happy new year. So...happy new year! And thanks very much for reading my blog
2) Revisit some of 2007, because it was the most eventful year of my life. Here we go!

I had shoulder surgery two days after New Year’s. It sucked. What kind of idiot starts a year that way? However, having that operation meant that, in all likelihood, the rest of the year would be a whole lot better.

I spent most of that month either in physical therapy, or sitting in my room hating my life (or getting sick on campus buses...when the label on a painkiller says "take with food," they mean to take the damn thing with food. Don't disobey, or you might also get sick in a public space. Not pretty.). It didn’t help that my best friend and wonderful roommate had to move out, but my beslinged arm and I made it through to…

Typically my least favorite month of the year, but some cool stuff happened. Well, cool stuff happened on Valentine’s Day, but as far as I can recall the rest of the month was a waste. On Valentine's Day,
1) My physical therapist told me I could quit wearing my sling. I had grown a little bit attached, as it was a great conversation piece when I met Ryan Shealy for the first time. He and Ryan Braun signed it, so of course I still have it.
2) My brother proposed to his wonderful lady friend, and she said yes. (Yay!) More about them later.
And then Spring Training started! Yay again!

March Madness followed the typical custom of being Husker-less, but I participated in a pool or two nonetheless, and made a few bucks. The tournament kept me happily occupied as I waited for Opening Day. I think I probably went to school and stuff too, but that wasn’t important.

Here is a random picture of my roommate's cat in a box, to break up the monotony of the offseason.

April 2, 2007, was one of the happiest days of my life. Is there a way for a baseball nut to adequately describe the joy that comes with Opening Day? Before this year, I had never been able to make it to KC for the opener, but this year I said, “To hell with classes!* I’m not missing another Opening Day!”
So to Kansas City I went, along with two of my brothers and two of their friends. The weather was perfect, the BBQ was perfect, the game was perfect. Gil Meche made his Royals debut, and dominated the Red Sox. Manny and Papi went a combined 1-7 on the day, whereas the Royals worked together to score 7 runs. On that day, and only on that day, the Royals held a slice of 1st place in the AL Central. It felt wonderful, while it lasted.
April was also when I started my job with the O-Royals, which is the best job I’ve ever had, and I never want to give it up. I wonder if there’s an upper age limit for Powerade girls...

*This move resulted in my VisLit professor almost failing me. I think it’s because he hates me, America, and baseball…a lethal combination.

The school year ended, and my grades were decent. I finally moved to Omaha so I didn’t have a 55-mile (each way) commute anymore. At the end of the month, I jumped off the dugout onto the edge of a step and sprained the hell out of my ankle. It didn’t break, but I wish it would have.

I have a whole new appreciation for athletes who have to be on the DL a lot (I’m looking at YOU, Ryan Shealy). It sucks, even if you don’t actually play a sport. Not that the boys had many home games in June, because that was College World Series time at lovely Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. Because I was stuck in my house (or, again, in physical therapy, because the 20 weeks I did it for my shoulder weren’t enough for the year) resting the stupid ankle, I only made it to one game – the perverted-sounding Beavers/Eaters matchup. After the CWS, I finally got to return to work for the Powerade Power Team, after 32 days of sitting in my room hating my life (see a theme here?)

Scott Elarton gave up a bunch of home runs in the first 2 innings of the game on my birthday, so the O-Royals did not win for me (those jerks!). But I did get to wear a festive lei, so all is forgiven.

To make up for all the time they’re on the road during the CWS in June, the O-Royals played at home almost every day in August, and I worked every single game. I am not complaining about that; given a choice between working a game and having a day off, I’d take working 10 out of 10 times. Remember the proposal my brother made in February? The wedding was in August, on the one weekend in which the O-Royals were on the road. What splendid timing! The wedding was wonderful; everyone in both families was happy to welcome new members into the fold, and I was thrilled to finally have a sister after two decades of life with four brothers and no sisters.
August was also the month in which I got to meet Mike Sweeney. See, it always comes back to baseball.

The O-Royals were done for the season, so I moved back to Lincoln for another year of schooling. School is kind of lame, so I won’t bore you with the details. It was especially hard to transition from the fun and glamorous baseball life to the dull existence of a poor college student.
During September, Nebraska’s football team and fan base were excited to see what the super-hyped ASU transfer Sam Keller could do for our offense. He (and the rest of the team) looked mighty fine against Nevada (who, by the way, got in a bowl game despite being so thoroughly crushed by a Nebraska team who didn’t even have a ghost of a chance to get a bowl game. Silly, eh?), but started a steady decline after that, including an almost-loss to Ball State (who also got a bowl invite).

I don’t remember if anything happened in this month. I watched the MLB postseason and went to Husker football games, and I think that was all. Oh, my favorite sportswriter – the reason I even want to be a sportswriter – told me at some point during October that he thought I was a decent writer. That was pretty significant. I may have printed that e-mail and showed it to everyone I know. Unless that would be pathetic, in which case I totally kept my cool and went about my merry way.

Another boring month. Baseball ended, Nebraska’s football team was doing poorly, which led to the happy (for me) end of the Bill Callahan era. At least I had a new year of Nebrasketball about which to be excited. It’s head coach Doc Sadler’s second season, and many of the most ardent Nebrasketball fans are sure it’s the year in which Doc will lead us to the promised land, the Big Dance.

I grew up in a tiny town in the southwestern part of Nebraska, but I do consider Omaha my town too. So when, at the beginning of December, tragedy struck in an Omaha mall, I felt it too. That’s not supposed to happen in my town, right? After that, my petty hatred of winter seemed pretty small.
Now Christmas has come and gone, and it was awesome as always to spend time with my parents, all of my brothers, and my sister-in-law. On New Year’s Day, I will be going to Dallas for the national conference of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). If you are the praying sort, I'd appreciate a prayer or two for safe travel, and open hearts, and such.
Meanwhile, my dear brother is traveling through Europe, mostly in Italy. Color me completely jealous.

Yep, that was my year. I'm sure I left a thing or two out, but I hit the main points -- gaining a sister, meeting Mike Sweeney, and Opening Day. After reading that, you either "know" me a little bit better, or you feel like you've wasted your time. To ensure that it's the latter, I'll leave you with a random thought about Mr. Gerard Butler.

I think Gerard Butler is handsome. Very, very handsome. But I don't know that I would recognize him if I saw him on the street; he looks like a completely different (but still devastatingly good-looking) man in every movie in which I've seen him. In this photo, he's standing next to a poster of himself, and he still doesn't look like himself. How does he do that?

All right, if you're still with me after all that, I thank you for sticking around. Let's see what the heck happens to this site in 2008; I am hoping for good things, and maybe a few new readers (tell all your friends!), and that enough baseball happens in my life that you never have to hear my musings on Gerard Butler, ever again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Soul of Baseball

It embarrasses me a little bit to say that I just finished reading Joe Posnanski's book, The Soul of Baseball, for the first time. I mean, Posnanski is may all-time favorite sportswriter, the main reason I want to be a sportswriter too. I'm not entirely sure why I didn't get my hands on the book before "Santa" brought it to me yesterday morning. What kind of fan doesn't even read her favorite writer's book? I suppose I could have checked it out at my university's library -- I checked, and they do have it -- but I have a tendency to avoid the library, even though I love reading.

Anyway, what that all amounts to is the fact that I had Christmas music playing in the background as I read stories about Buck O'Neil and a huge cast of other people, from baseball greats to a random woman in a red dress. My music of choice this year has been a steady stream of Trans-Siberian Orchestra tunes. I've known about them for a number of years now, but this is the first year I have listened -- really, truly listened -- to all of their music and the messages behind it, and I've found a lot of similarities between their songs and Joe Po's stories about Buck.

One thing I love about TSO's songs is their insistence that everyone hold on to the wide-eyed magical feeling that surrounds Christmas when one is very young. The songs say that sometimes with lyrics, but the song "First Snow" says it best with no words at all. It sounds exactly like how it felt to be a kid and to wake up to find the yard and everything was covered with snow for the first time, and to want nothing more than to be outside, rolling in the snow, building things with it, catching it on your tongue, not caring how cold it might be outside or how slick the roads might be. Snow meant joy back then, and even though I mostly hate it now, in the few minutes of that song, I feel exactly like I did when I was little and I still loved it. The music is teaching me to recapture the joys of being a kid instead of the cynicism of being a starving college student.

That's what reading about Buck O'Neil feels like for a baseball-loving soul thirsting for goodness in an age of steroids, too-big contracts, and all that crap. This book invigorated my spirit in a way I forgot a book could do. I know in my head that I love baseball, and I'll tell that to anyone who will listen, but I think my heart had forgotten the true depth of the joy that the game brings to my life; simple things like seeing how many sunflower seeds I could spit into a bucket near my usual perch next to the O-Royals dugout, or the steady, comforting rhythm of batting practice.

I read all of TSOB in one day, begrudgingly putting it down only when I had to join my family for Christmas dinner and some card games. After that and some Wii-playing, it was back to the book. After several hours, nestled in my bed with my dog, Shadow, sleeping soundly on the floor next to me, I realized a had a bit of a headache so I looked away from the page for a moment. When I looked up, I caught sight of Shadow's back paw twitching just a little bit. As I watched, that one paw's tiny twitch turned turned into all four paws flexing back and forth, their movement rippling through muscles all the way up his legs. My stately, dignified, perfectly behaved 9-year-old black lab was staying young at heart too, by chasing squirrels in his dreams. And I got to see it; man I love my life. Anyhoodle, I will likely read TSOB again many times, but first I am giving everyone else in my family the chance to read it, so maybe their souls can feel as happy as mine does as we wait and we count days until we get to gleefully place ourselves where baseball, and the simple but deep joys that come with the game if you let them, are.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

....and to all a good night!

(Click image for full-sized version)
(Or click here for the alternate version I made for my Mom...Marky Christmas?)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Let's go bowling!

This year, I made my bowl picks based on the first random thought that floated through my brain when I read the matchup. This is partly because I've been busy with pre-Christmas stuff and finals, partly because my dad needed my picks right away to get them into a bowl pool, and partly because there's a good chance that my arbitrary picks will do me better than if I had spent more time thinking about the games.

Here's who I have winning, and why. You can skip around, just look at your team's game, or the big games, or whatever. Here we go:

Poinsettia Bowl Tonight, 9 pm Utah vs. Navy
I picked Navy
because I just got a feeling.
Actual result: Utah 35 - Navy 32. I'm 0-1

New Orleans Bowl Dec. 21, 8 pm Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis

I picked Florida Atlantic
because ...well? I don't know. I think it's because the last person I met from Memphis was kind of a jerk.
Actual result: Florida Atlantic 44, Memphis 27. Back at .500! Bowl Dec. 22, 1 pm Cincinnati vs. Southern Miss
I picked Cincinnati
because I finally know how to spell it. (What? Don't judge me.)

New Mexico Bowl Dec. 22, 4:30 New Mexico vs. Nevada
I picked Nevada
because I felt like rooting for the away team

Las Vegas Bowl Dec. 22, 8 pm BYU vs. UCLA

I picked UCLA
because I reeeeeally hate BYU. I mean, I hate them both, but I begrudgingly went with the Bruins because I see them as the (slightly) lesser of two evils.

Hawaii Bowl Dec. 23, 8 pm East Carolina vs. Boise State

I picked Boise State
because we all know they can make the bowl game magic happen.

Motor City Bowl Dec. 26, 7:30 Purdue vs. Central Michigan

I picked Purdue
because the voices told me it was the right pick.

Holiday Bowl Dec. 27, 8 pm Texas vs. Arizona State

I picked Texas
because Nebraska played so well against them. Better for the Huskers if the 'Horns see some success. Plus I typically root for the Big XII. However, I don't totally hate ASU, so I wouldn't mind being wrong here.

Champs Sports Bowl Dec. 28, 5 pm Boston College vs. Michigan State
I picked Boston College
because go Catholics!

Texas Bowl Dec. 28, 8 pm TCU vs. Houston
I picked TCU
because how could I pick against the Horned Frogs??

Emerald Bowl Dec. 28, 8:30 Maryland vs. Oregon State
I picked Oregon State
because I like their baseball team.

Meineke Car Care Dec. 29, 1 pm Wake Forest vs. Connecticut
I picked Wake Forest
because they were a Nebraska opponent early in the season.

Liberty Bowl Dec. 29, 4:30 UCF vs. Mississippi State

I picked Mississippi State
because I like the letter 'S'.

Alamo Bowl Dec. 29, 8 pm Penn State vs. Texas A&M
I picked Texas A&M
because go Big XII!

Independence Dec. 30, 8 pm Colorado vs. Alabama

I picked Colorado
because ...Again, Husker opponent, conference, yadda yadda...

Armed Forces Bowl Dec. 31, 12:30 Air Force vs. California

I picked Cal
because I already picked Navy to win their game, and I can't pick more than one branch of the military to win a bowl game.

Sun Bowl Dec. 31, 2 pm South Florida vs. Oregon
I picked Oregon
because I have a friend or two who are genuine Ducks fans.

Humanitarian Bowl Dec. 31, 2 pm Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State

I picked Georgia Tech
because I felt like it, gosh!

Music City Bowl Dec. 31, 4 pm Kentucky vs. Florida State
I picked Kentucky
because as my dad said, "Do you think ANYONE picked Florida State?" (Hi, Dad!)

Chick-fil-A Bowl Dec. 31, 7:30 Auburn vs. Clemson

I picked Clemson
because ...can't I just say "The Tigers" so I know I'll be right?

Insight Dec. 31, TBA Indiana vs. Oklahoma State
I picked Okie State!
because Mike Gundy is a MAN, and he's FORTY!

Outback Bowl Jan. 1, 11 am Wisconsin vs. Tennessee

I picked Tennessee
because I know a bunch of Vols fans.

Cotton Bowl Jan. 1, 11:30 Missouri vs. Arkansas

I picked Mizzou
because Husker opponent, nose-picking QB, Big XII team, all that jazz.

Gator Bowl Jan. 1, 1 pm Virginia vs. Texas Tech

I picked Texas Tech
because Conference, etc. Sorry, nothing witty here.

Capital One Bowl Jan. 1, 1 pm Michigan vs. Florida

I picked Florida
because I hate Michigan, I love seeing them lose. I also hate Florida, but I think Mr. Heisman Tebow should be able to take the Gators to one more win.

Rose Bowl Jan. 1, 4:30 USC vs. Illinois

I picked USC
because Illinois might be out of hilarious upsets. I'd love to be wrong though.

Sugar Bowl Jan. 1, 8:30 Hawaii vs. Georgia

I picked Hawaii
because it's the last chance for these guys to "prove" they belong in a big bowl. They've got a fire under their bellies.

Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2, 8 pm Oklahoma vs. West Virginia

I picked West Virginia
because I had to go against my "pick the Big XII rule one of these days. It's 2007; anyone could win any game.

Orange Bowl Jan. 3, 8 pm Virginia Tech vs. Kansas

I picked Kansas
because I want to believe that the team that so horribly destroyed my Huskers is good enough to pull off a bowl win.

International Bowl Jan. 5, 12pm Rutgers vs. Ball State

I picked Ball(s) State
because I'm still bitter about how they almost beat Nebraska. See my bias coming through?

GMAC Jan. 6, 8 pm Tulsa vs. Bowling Green

I picked Tulsa
because ...I have no idea. I don't know much about either team, honestly.

BCS "National Championship" Jan. 7, 8 pm Ohio State vs. LSU

I picked LSU
because screw OSU!!

So there you have it. If I'm wrong, you can laugh at me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's that time of year again

"If you want to arrange it, this world you can change it. If we could somehow make this Christmas Day last, by helping a neighbor, even a stranger. To know who needs help, you need only just ask." -Trans-Siberian Orchestra, "Old City Bar"

Whether you're of any religious persuasion or not, this is still a beautiful time of year in which anyone can -- and most people do -- show the best they have to offer for their neighbors. Yesterday I saw a cashier at my university's bookstore (typically an evil place, no?) skip her lunch break because she saw that her co-worker had a long line of customers and she didn't want anyone to be stuck in line all afternoon. A teller at my bank (another entity not usually associated with Santa's Nice List) took a few minutes to help me with my Spanish after I told him that my final in that class was tomorrow. It's the time of year when a lot of people remember that giving is really, really, really easy. Anyone can do it, regardless of age, abilities, income bracket, religion, or anything else. I like the little drummer boy; he gave everything he had to offer, even if it was just playing a drum.

So if all you have is a love for video games, there's a place for you too. Child's Play might be my all-time favorite charity. It was started in late 2003 by two gamers who were sick of the way their fellow gamers were portrayed in the media as bloodthirsty monsters, and the project grew into an overwhelming avalanche of gifts that required three separate moves into ever-larger storage spaces. At first they gave to one hospital, now they give to 45. Last year, the gaming community raised over a million dollars' worth of games, toys, and cash contributions. Can they do it again? I don't see why not; at this writing they stand at $851,000. If gamers -- people who are not typically thought of as the world's best philanthropists -- can do that, everyone else can too.

Whatever holiday you'll be celebrating in the coming weeks, I hope you have a good one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Because I love lists: What to do in the offseason

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” –Rogers Hornsby

With all due respect to Mr. Hornsby, there is a lot more to do in the winter than stare out the window and wait for spring. A fan can:

1) Actively count days/hours/minutes/seconds until Opening Day
2) Count days/hours/minutes/seconds until Pitchers and Catchers Report to Spring Training Day (Items 1 and 2 are wholly separate activities, each with its own level of almost frightening devotion to The Game.)
3) Start a trade rumor just to find out how far it will go (10 bonus points if it makes mlbtraderumors, eleventy billion bonus points if it makes the Hot Stove Report)
4) Follow other trade rumors that may have been started for the same reason
5) Hand-make Christmas cards for her favorite players
-- For added fun, include marriage proposals with cards sent to bachelors. See what happens!
6) Watch other sports and try to apply baseball statistics to them
7) Make enough money for great Opening Day seats by betting on fall/winter sports (Gambling problem? Call 1-800-BET'S OFF)
8) Re-create the 1986 season Strat-o-Matically
9) Create your own baseball awards
10) Create fantasy baseball teams, based on arbitrary categories. Examples: Tall guys, short guys (Dibs on Ozzie Smith!), the ever-popular "hot guys" category, players with long last names (Graffanino-to-Grudzielanek-to-Mientkiewicz sounds like a good DP combo to anyone else?), an all-Smith team (still don't want Jason), an all-Encarnacion team, you get the idea.

11) Engage in baseball trivia with friends and strangers alike at IHOP (best if done between the hours of 1-4 a.m.)
12) Learn a new language
13) Create a tapestry depicting your team's ballpark, made of sock lint
14) Attend classes, study hard, earn good gra--oh, who am I kidding? I could never get through that one with a straight face.

Basically, there isn't a whole lot for a hopeless baseball addict to do to get through those 182 days when the regular season ends and Opening Day finally dawns. I'm trying to make it, but it is hard to deny the fact that winter is long, and almost 100% crappy. I don't know what I can do to make the time go by faster. All I know for sure is that right now, I only have 105 days, 12 hours, 22 minutes, and 2 seconds left to burn.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

That did just happen

A lot of people didn't bother to make the drive from Lincoln to Omaha for this afternoon's matchup between the Husker men and #16 Oregon. They said it wasn't worth driving through fresh, wet snow to see Nebraska get embarrassed by a team that vastly outmatched them. If you know what's going to happen, why bother?

I'd like to direct those people's attention to Exhibit A.

I had a post all planned out in my mind that had something to do with how lovely it would be if the players on the court were the ones who decided the outcome of the game instead of the officials. The refs today were outrageously bad. I thought that if a ref took a bribe from one team, he'd at least try to hide the fact that he's doing his best to hand that team the game.

Fortunately for all of us (and the safety of today's officiating crew), Nebraska was, by far, the better team on the court at the Qwest Center today. To me, they won two games: One against Oregon, and one against the refs. Sure, they had their ugly moments, like Aleks Maric missing a wide open layup with under 2 minutes left, or Steve Harly fouling Oregon's Tajuan Porter as Porter sank a 3 to tie the game with 9 seconds left. Or all the travels, flagrant fouls, and even double-dribbles that Ducks got away with, or all the times Husker players were called for fouls when they were barely in the same neighborhood as the Duck with the ball. (For example, Ade Dagunduro fouled out today, but in a game with real refs he would have only had three fouls, and the dude from Oregon who threw Ryan Anderson to the floor three different times would have fouled out before halftime.) But it had more highs than lows, like Porter missing his free throw with 9 seconds left, allowing us to head to overtime, or Ryan Anderson nailing a three pointer to start the extra frame. Heck, I'm still on a high from the game, and it ended hours ago.

Yes, this game took its fan from some pretty harsh lows -- "Maric, how could you miss yet another layup?!?" -- to some lofty highs -- see again, Exhibit A -- and left many of us with the feeling that this could be The Year for the Huskers. Time, and the Huskers' performance in conference play will tell, but if they make it to March, you heard it here first.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The not-so-big reveal

So. Let's talk about the Mitchell Report. Was it wrong of me to expect more fireworks?

Sure, we got entertaining things like the fact that Jason Grimsley has ugly, girlie, tulip-laden checks (page 389 of the report), but nothing in it blew my mind.

Back in high school, I would sometimes ask lazy freshmen (we'll call them LFs) to write sports stories. "Hey, you little LF," I'd say, "Why don't you write a story about the track team?" They'd agree to do it, but we'd hit the deadlines for stories and my LF would have nothing for me. At the very last minute, the LF would give me a story in which she (it was almost always a she) had interviewed only one person -- her best friend, who happens to be on the track team -- and given me a really crappy story. But deadlines are deadlines, and we had to run something, so the crappy, one-source story would run.

That's exactly what this investigation looked like to me. One trainer. One clubhouse attendant. For what, exactly, was that $40 million? Was it really just so that Mitchell could bully two people -- and not even guilty players -- into some kindergarten-caliber tattling? I thought Mitchell could have...oh, I don't know...gotten legitimate sources from more than two teams, and maybe given a thorough report filled with something other than he said/she said tattling nonsense. Color me unimpressed.

Texas Gal over at Ladies... had this to say (nestled amongst a ton of other brilliance) about the report as a whole:
....the Mitchell investigation is horseshit. Incomplete, inaccurate, hearsay-filled nonsense with no teeth.
Yep, that about sums it up.

In some actual news, the Royals have traded Billy Buckner for Alberto Callaspo.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Wednesday afternoon, I didn't get to eat until after 2:30 or so. I was pretty hungry, so I went to the dining hall I can't stand, because it was the closest one still open. But what I saw when I entered the cafeteria was the shocking news....well, you know by now that I'm going to say it was about the shooting in an Omaha mall.

I didn't write anything here for several reasons. Part of it was that I had school things and social things happening, and part was that on Wednesday I just didn't know what to say. Wednesday turned into Thursday, and then it became the weekend, and I figured it was too late to say anything meaningful. And then I realized how utterly horrible it is that before the funerals have even happened, my MTV-generation mind has already classified this horrible occurrence as "old news," that people might be disinterested in a piece of writing about eight people losing their lives unexpectedly and, by my best judgment, unfairly.

The truth is, I'm angry at Robert A. Hawkins for senselessly taking 8 lives and his own. I didn't realize until tonight in my Bible study that I was still pissed off, that I hadn't moved on to whatever the next stage of grief is.

My brother described the shooting as "numbing and incomprehensible" in his post about the shootings, and that is right on. This kind of thing does not happen. Now I get it when people respond to tragedies with "I never thought this could happen to me." Why would anybody ever predict that they'd be a part of something so horrible, so thoughtless, so devoid of humanity?

I never wanted to know what it felt like to make phone calls to my friends and family and ask the question "is everyone alive?" but now I know. All because a young man -- he's my age, which is weird to me -- decided that the best way to become famous was to make it rain bullets in a shopping mall at Christmas time.

Hawkins said in his suicide note that he wanted to "go out with style." I've been racking my brains since Wednesday and I still can not think of anyone who thinks it's stylish to tear eight families apart during a time of year when things are supposed to be happy and full of love. Those victims were probably shopping for their loved ones, anticipating the joy that comes with giving a gift. Instead, they had everything taken away, all in the name of some demented idea of "style."

I'm hoping that I remember to remember all the people whose lives were torn apart by this shooting, even if CNN has quit updating their stories on it. I pray that I haven't lost touch with humanity to the point where I only care about something like this for as long as the news networks do, and then my attention turns to the next story, never to revisit this one. But mostly, I pray for the people who never thought that the last time they saw those 8 family members was the last time they'd see them, forever. Robert A. Hawkins has given them the least merry Christmas of all.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


A few minutes into today's Nebraska basketball game against Rutgers, I was afraid of the Scarlet Knights' offense. Really, really scared. I had watched them pour in threes during their pre-game shootaround, and was afraid they'd keep dumping those shots in once the game started. For a little while, they did. Nebraska looked a little bit helpless, actually. In the meantime, only two referees had taken the court, so the day looked like it was going to be a disaster.

But after a while, something started working, and the Huskers went on a 24-6 run to finish the first half. They had to; something had to happen for the Huskers to stay perfect at home. As they mounted this rally, all of Nebraska's players worked together in a way that surprised most of us in the Red Zone.

Example: Aleks Maric typically gets the ball inside, and no matter how many guys are on him, he'll try to force a shot. But the more time goes on this season, the more he's willing to kick the ball back out to a teammate on the perimeter rather than force a layup that will ultimately fail. It's fantastic, and it results in Husker wins.

During that run, the Devany Center became electric. Before the game, it seemed like the fans, even those in the Red Zone, were not in Game Day Mode. We didn't do our usual chants during the announcing of the Rutgers lineup. We only clapped weakly when the band played our fight song. But once the Huskers started battling back from a 15-8 deficit, the fans started noticing that this was turning in to a really good game. Gone were everyone's concerns about their upcoming final exams, and the hatred of the bitter cold outside. Funny how basketball can do that.

The Husker defense started to stick better than ever, and Rutgers struggled to even get a shot off on some possessions. I can't even remember the last time before today that Nebraska forced a shot clock violation. It was grand when it happened today, though. Sek Henry only contributed two points today, but they were my favorite two points of the entire game. In the height of the pre-halftime rally, Sek grabbed the ball away from a Rutgers player, stormed all the way down the court, and capped it with a dunk. That dunk took the crowd from "excited" to "elated."

But then...halftime. Halftime stopped the Huskers in their tracks, and had the same effect on the fans. The first few minutes of the 2nd half looked a lot like the opening minutes of the game; Nebraska gave up some really dumb turnovers and for a brief moment it looked like the lead we had taken in to halftime was slipping away. Fortunately the team woke back up, and came away victorious. In fact, fans were so assured of victory that people had already put coats, hats, mittens, and scarves on before the game hit its final minute -- a strange occurrence for Husker sports.

Regardless of how sloppy things started out, and how prematurely fans got ready to leave the Devany Center, the result was a Nebraska win, and a still-perfect home record. This was a lovely non-conference win, and much needed after Wednesday's disastrous overtime loss at Western Kentucky. The sentiment among most fans I know is that if Nebraska can beat Oregon next Saturday, the nation will finally see the Huskers in the NCAA tournament. Yes, Nebraska men's basketball. Yes, that tournament. If it is ever going to happen, this is the year.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So much for Andruw

Yesterday afternoon I wondered what the Royals would do with their outfield if they indeed landed Andruw Jones from Atlanta, but it turns out it doesn't matter: Andruw is now a Dodger.

And apparently, the Royals might not even have Jose Guillen right now, either. So what's happening? If the Guillen deal falls through, who is left for KC to pursue? In the same MVN article linked above, Craig writes that Fukudome is supposed to have decided between the Cubs and the Royals by about...4 minutes ago. I wonder when that decision will be made and/or broken. I will be mighty tempted to stay home from class to check the Hot Stove reports. (I likely will not stay home, though...hi mom!)

Anyway, I'm enjoying this rumor mill way too much. I suppose that's what have to do to get me through the remaining 116.5 days of the offseason. Sigh.

hot-Hot-HOT Stove

This is FUN. Watching winter trade season unfold is like watching a suspenseful movie. It's a ton of fun to conjecture and try to figure out what's going to happen, but ultimately all you can do is sit back and watch the plot reveal itself. It's not at all like watching a game, where you can affect the outcome depending on whether you're wearing your lucky underwear, had your official gameday breakfast, or are wearing your hat just right.

It's only Day 3 of this round of meetings, and already this offseason has seen more trade fireworks than all of last winter combined. So far it kind of looks like the Tigers are the big winners, after landing Miggy Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis without losing a single "big name" player. But word is that either the Royals are the Cubs are about to strike gold in the form of coveted Japanese player Kosuke Fukudome. And the Royals are still rumored to be in hot pursuit of one Mr. Andruw Jones, even though they've already signed Mariners castoff and notorious clubhouse bad guy Jose Guillen.

If it's true that KC is going to land Jones, what happens to the Royals outfield? A lineup with both Guillen and Jones would lend a lot of weight to the rumors regarding David DeJesus and Joey Gathright being traded. (I've also heard talk of Mark Teahen going to the Cubs for Matt Murton, but I don't lend that rumor a whole lot of credibility. Nothing against Matt Murton, I actually like the guy a lot, but it has been sad -- truthfully -- in many places that he is simply a right-handed version of Teahen. Hopefully GMDM is not that hell-bent on getting the letter "R" into Hillman's lineup cards.) Acquiring Jones would also mean that Emil Brown is gone for good -- good news for many of us.

By the time I click "Publish" for this post, some other deal will have gone through. Maybe Johan Santana will be with Boston in exchange for Jacoby Ellsbury (much to this guy's chagrin). Maybe Fukudome will have chosen an American ballclub with which to grace his presence. Maybe the Royals will have dumped Emil Brown. Already, the Royals have officially announced David Riske's departure for Milwaukee, a move we heard about Monday.

I don't know what's going to happen next. Things are just now heating up.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Riske to Miluakee?

Clark Fosler at Royals Authority has word that David Riske will be going away, after all. In the comments for this post, Clark writes:
On another note, Riske is gone to the Brewers, probably to be announced on Tuesday. Interesting turnabout - one of Allard Baird’s long sought after targets - Kevin Mench - may be the guy moved off Milwaukee’s 40 man to make room for Riske.
We'll see tomorrow, I suppose.

My brother Ryan had this to add:
if [Fosler's comment] is true, and Dayton is that shrewd, then the Royals will be in the playoffs before you graduate, Minda. No shit.

P.S. It's really fun to hear both Denny and Fred say the name "Mench."
I hope the first part is true, and I agree wholeheartedly with the postscript. It kind of sounds like "Maynch," but not quite. It's pretty entertaining.

More on the Riske move tomorrow, if it happens.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dear cable company

I will get back to baseball-related stuff on Monday or thereabouts, after a weekend in which I'm actually planning to get stranded out of town. See, a big old ice storm is looming over eastern Nebraska, and I have to be in Omaha tomorrow, but if I wait until tomorrow to drive there, I might get stuck and/or in a wreck. We try to avoid those.

But before I go, I'd like to let you all in on what I would say to the random guy at the cable company who hooked me up with a DVR box in August.

Dear random cable guy,
Thank you so much for telling me that the lovely low fee I'd be paying for my DVR service was temporary. It makes it so much easier to budget things when I know my cable bill will be doubling when the end of November rolls around. Your company (which I won't name, but it might rhyme with "Lime Corner") is so very courteous and you really consider what is good and fair for your customers.

Oh,wait a minute. You didn't tell me the price would be changing? Sorry, cable guy, I had you mistaken for NOT a lying, cheating bastard. It's really pleasant opening a bill that is double the amount I expected, with no notice and no explanation.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for being so honest and straightforward. It makes me want to do a lot more business with "Lime Corner Cable" in the future, and tell all my friends to do the same.

With hatred and contempt,

Now you know.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

When leftovers attack

I have discovered a sure-fire way to render somebody's brain completely ineffective, and it is completely legal. I also strongly advise against it in every way.

I speak of reheated egg rolls. This is not a knock on my roommate at all. We have a microwave for the purpose of enjoying leftovers at a later date; that's the point. I get that. But I was not prepared for the horrors of her reheated egg rolls last night. If you're unfortunate enough to have experienced this, you know that it is not just a smell; you can feel reheated egg rolls, you can almost see the stench, but you definitely cannot escape it. I've opened the windows and doors to try to air the room out, even though it's currently 20 degrees out. I've gone through most of a can of Febreze Air Effects, which usually does the trick.

But I can still smell it, 24 hours after the fact. What the hell, egg rolls? Why must you be such a terror? I hate you, reheated egg rolls!

Here's the thing; I have been completely unable to focus on anything all day. Even the Royals signing a pitcher I've been wanting didn't elicit more of an eloquent thought than, "Cool." For goodness' sake, I've barely been able to focus on an episode of Law & Order today. I want to get through all 10 or so episodes that are waiting for me on my DVR, but every time I start to get into Jack McCoy's badassery, the smell punches me in the nostrils, and I have to hit "pause" until I can see straight again through the nauseating essence.

So there you have it. A post about a blank mind and rancid cabbage and pork. ...yep.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

No doubt about it

Dear Bill Callahan,
I know you were doing an excellent job in every area -- you must have been, because you said so yourself, but please don't let the door hit you on your way out. We might miss those colorful comments about Oklahoma fans, because deep in our hearts we might agree with you, but we won't miss the way you ended long-standing streaks, the way you made our Huskers an embarrassment when they were once pillars of college football glory, the way you denied until your end that anything was even wrong.

No, Bill, you were not doing an excellent job in every area. How did you say that with a straight face a month ago? You brought down a dynasty. You recruited some of the best kids in the country, and wasted all of their talents. You introduced an offensive scheme that was...offensive. It didn't work out, but you never changed a thing. Please tell me how you thought that kind of stubbornness was going to do any good. Did you really think you were going to hang on to this job?

And did you not realize that your buddy Kevin Cosgrove's defense DID NOT WORK? I know he's your friend and all, but if he was a good a friend to you as you clearly were to him, he would understand if you let him go and got a new defensive coordinator. If he was a good friend to you, he would want your team to succeed, rather than fielding the worst defense in Nebraska's history. You let him put that defense on the field. You could have made a change, but you are too stubborn to do something good for the program when it's personally uncomfortable for you. Nice job, Callahan. Your friendship and loyalty cost you and Mr. Cosgrove your jobs, and cost Nebraska its recruiting classes for the next who-knows-how-many seasons. You embittered fans who previously would have sacrificed their firstborns for this team.

You know, I hate to lose. But thanks for losing yesterday, so all of the pissed-off fans around Nebraska could go to bed with smiles on their faces, knowing you'd be gone by sunrise. It was a pleasant way to wake up today.

Good luck in whatever you do next. Maybe the NFL will take you back, or maybe this whole "coaching" thing is not what you've been called to do at all.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving thanks

I'm typing this in the odd time between the end of football and when we're finally hungry enough for the pie that was ready by dinnertime. We never eat it until later, of course, but wouldn't it be sad to want pie right after Thanksgiving dinner and not have it ready yet? So year after year we make sure to have that pie baked and ready to go, but we never eat it till hours after dinner is finished. (And the turkey is done!)

I have a lot for which to be thankful this year. Both of my shoulders work, after over a full year of pretending to be left-handed because of an injury to the right side. I can even box on my brother's Nintendo Wii. That's progress if I've ever seen it.

In the last week, I've driven somewhere around 1200 miles in my aging Taurus, and it has carried me safely through all of those miles and many thousands before. Here's to many more miles.

Several rooms away, I can hear my brothers and my parents laughing about one thing or another while they eat their pumpkin pie. We're always laughing when we're together, so much so that my sides and face always hurt when we finally have to part ways. It's the best pain I could ever feel.

I have a new sister-in-law this year; after growing up with brothers, having Haley in the family is a welcome change.

The Royals are taking positive steps toward becoming something other than a joke. What's not to love there? Is it April yet?

And really, I have to be thankful that I'm a student at the University of Nebraska. $35 for a whole season of men's basketball? Yes please!

Lastly, I am quite thankful for pumpkin pie and Cool Whip. So I'm going to join my family in enjoying both.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Take THAT, communism!

Team USA brings home the gold!

Cuba did not!

Exclamation marks!

EDIT: I woke up this morning for the sole purpose of checking the IBAF World Cup results, then posted the festive hats here and immediately went back to bed. But here's how the Royals contributed:

Matt Wright and Neal Musser combined for 20.1 innings, giving up just one run on 10 hits in a total of 7 appearances between them. They walked only three, and struck out 17.

Here are the two Royals' individual numbers, with each appearance separated by a plus (+) sign.

IP .1 + 2 + 2 + 1
Runs 0 + 0 + 0 + 0
Walks 0 + 0 + 1 + 0
Hits 0 + 1 + 0 + 1
Ks 0 + 1 + 1 + 0

IP 6 + 3 + 6
Runs 0 + 1 + 0
Walks 0 + 0 + 2
Hits 3 + 1 + 4
Ks 5 + 4 + 6

Royals pitchers > the world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Wright man for the job

I have to quit with this Matt Wright pun thing. But he's my very favorite pitcher in the world at the moment, and I can't help myself.

Wright pitched six shutout innings to lead Team USA to a 5-0 win over the Netherlands yesterday (well, it's already tomorrow where they are, so maybe it was today? I'm so confused; hold me!). This advanced Team USA to the gold medal game. Fellow Royals pitcher Neal Musser joined in the shutting-the-opponent-out party by contributing a scoreless seventh.

Chant with me now:
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stuff happens in baseball, White House is upset.

These are stories in baseball, all with fun hats. Something festive for the weekend, y'know.

Barry Bonds' indictment is "a sad day for baseball"?
While I think it's absurd that the White House is now providing us with official statements regarding baseball, I agree that it's sad that baseball has come to the point of Congressional investigations, grand jury trials, and big-time indictments. But it is sad that Bonds was indicted? I don't think so; I thought it was more of a warm-fuzzy-feeling, victory-for-justice day.

Based on the information that I have, Bonds is either guilty of perjury, or incredibly stupid (hence his hat). I'm pretty sure that he is not stupid; at least not to the extent that unknowingly pumping that many steroids into his body would require. But I'm just a girl with a keyboard; I'm pretty sure that someone out there has a lot more information than I do. I only hope that it is all dealt with responsibly, and Bonds' celebrity status and home run glory are left out of all court dealings. If his impending legal process is not dealt with like John Q. Citizen's perjury trial, that would be a sad day for baseball.

Kenny Rogers dumps Boras

Good for you, Kenny Rogers. I hate what your now-former agent, Scott Boras, is doing to baseball. He's bringing all the yucky stuff -- the politics, the money, the hard feelings -- to the mainstream of baseball media. Not even children are immune to the behind-the-scenes stuff, most notably Boras' ridiculous hard-bargaining, that takes away the ability to simply enjoy our Game. I'd love it if agents like Boras weren't around. It is beyond ridiculous, and maybe even a little evil, that athletes make the kind of money that they do, and even if he were to retire today, Scott Boras could be given much of the blame for the extent of the money-grubbing.

So Kenny Rogers, for dumping Boras, I give you this poorly MS-Painted crown and medal. You win my "Favorite Person of the Day" award, which, yes I do bestow every day. And to only one person every day.

Oh! Speaking of the ridiculous amounts of money teams pay players...

Alex "The Waffler" Rodriguez crawls back to the Bronx
Wouldn't it be a cool world if every man could crawl back to his ex-girlfriend and get a 10-year, $275MM contract?

A-Rod: "Sorry Yankees. It's not's me. I just need some space. I need to see if there are any sexier teams out there. You dig?"
Yankees: "Okbye."
A-Rod: [later, feebly] " wanna hang out sometime? I kinda miss you; I miss your scent, and the way you sing to me, and the way you always pay me so dearly."
Yankees: [Shovel wheelbarrows full of cash to A-Rod; act as though nothing bitter happened between them.] Marry me!

And for his hat, ummm....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This will be quick, because I have a lot of school stuff going on this week. Normally school stuff gets relegated to a burner somewhere behind baseball, Husker sports, reruns of House, MD, and lots of Sudoku puzzles.

Hopefully y'all are aware that Team USA is mowing down much of the rest of the world in the IBAF World Cup. The team is now 6-1, and you can follow all the medal round action, as well as catch up on the games that have already been played, here.

And while you do that, I'll go learn Spanish.
UPDATE: I think I did well at the whole "Learning Spanish" thing. Hopefully my grade on the test matches the good feeling I have about it (for once).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Home sweet home

It's weird to be back in front of my computer after a long, crazy weekend. Around Nebraska football and basketball games on Saturday, and my brilliant idea of driving from Lincoln to Minneapolis and back for a concert last night, I feel like I'm a little bit behind everything happening in my own little computery world. So here's some catching up:

Joe Ganz? More like Joe MANz!

If you follow college football, you might have heard about the insane beating that Nebraska handed to Kansas State on Saturday. It was at least as crazy as the score indicated; I had the pleasure of seeing it from Row 3 right behind the "B" in the word "Nebraska" painted in the south end zone. Some of MANz's seven (yes, seven) touchdown passes happened about 10 feet from me, and I loved each one more than the one before it.

After last week's embarrassingly large loss to Kansas (no, I am not consoled by the fact that nobody has beaten Kansas. I still hate losing.), it was refreshing to see the Huskers play with some heart again, the way they did against Texas two games ago.

I am a fan of gentlemanly, sportsmanlike play, but I was not at all offended by some of the penalties called on the fired-up Husker players. Excessive celebration? At least we're in the endzone. Roughing the passer? That means our defense got through someone's line... Hallelujah! I think a lot of Nebraska's losses this season can be attributed to lack of heart. All season, the team has lacked the intensity and attitude to incur the types of penalties I just named. I don't want my Husker players to act like thugs, but it was kind of fun to see them, for once, showing up at Memorial Stadium with a little bit of attitude, that "swagger" that can make winning even more satisfying for this year's beleaguered Husker fans to watch. After that game, I finally feel confident that the Huskers can beat Colorado in the annual day-after-Thanksgiving meeting.

Incidentally, Joba Chamberlain paid the stadium a visit, which got people pretty fired up. Before they introduced him, along with his father, Harlan, the good folks at HuskerVision treated the 84,665 in attendance with a Chamberlain highlight video, complete with many of those trademark fist pumps from his Husker days and his magical time with the Yankees. When he walked behind the endzone, right under my seats, I very shamelessly yelled "Holy crap! It's Joba!" He turned and did a thumbs-up/gun finger gesture in my general direction, which was my first encounter with a Yankee player. I may hate the Yankees with the fire of a thousand suns, but I love Joba Chamberlain. All this stuff that's written about's true. It's all true; it's the story that brought tears to my eyes every time I heard it during Joba's time in a Husker uniform. I was thrilled with his visit to Lincoln this weekend so I had an excuse to spend some time thinking about some of the good that's left in the world, the good that is impossible to ignore even when it's wrapped in Yankee pinstripes.

A father who raises his son to sincerely say things like this is a father more kids should get to have:
"I wake up with two purposes each day: Make at least one person smile and have fun. If I can make a wisecrack or give someone a hug, that day's been worthwhile, even if I give up 15 runs. No matter how bad it is, it'll get better. I mean, look at this ."

His hand sweeps across a beautiful ballyard -- Comerica in Detroit -- shimmering beneath a cloudless August sky. "This is what I do for a living. I get to come here on a weekend day and watch a major league game for free -- and maybe even get to pitch in it. What could be better than that?"

Wow, that was quite a tangent. This post was really supposed to be about Husker football, and then basketball. My bad.

Yesterday three friends and I made a car trip to Minneapolis to see my favorite band, the Dropkick Murphys, in concert. I learned many things, like driving 900 miles when gas is over $3 a gallon was not the most economically sound decision I've ever made. In fact, it may have been the least so. At least I didn't get a speeding ticket -- I'm looking at you, Mr. Posnanski -- and my car behaved splendidly. And my map was reliable and despite the fact that I was navigating, we got where we needed to go and back without getting lost. The weather was unseasonably warm, and most of the people we encountered were kind, even if they were ridiculously shocked that actual people live in Nebraska, and would travel such a great distance for a show. One patron who was not so kind was this kid who apparently loves his elbows so much that he has to share them with everybody by keeping them in the air at all times. In a crowded nightclub, this meant that those lovely (pointy!) elbows were embedded in the side of my neck for most of one of the opening bands' sets. My attempts to dislodge the elbow from my throat ended in him glaring at me and digging it in more deeply. Sigh.

But the really cool thing about seeing this particular show was that it was Veteran's Day, and the Dropkick Murphys' beliefs about war and service are delightfully different from most punk bands. When they offered up a song as a tribute to veterans and to those who are serving right now, the club was transformed, almost as if by magic, from a venue full of all the usual moshing, nosebleeds and chaos that are usual fare for a punk rock show, into a crowd full of people who were belting out the words to the song in respectful remembrance of a lot of people who are normally not respected by such crowds. After the song was over, the chaos resumed, but those three minutes alone were beautiful enough to make the whole trip worth it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Must have done something Wright

Dear Matt Wright,
I hate puns, but your name begs for them. Please forgive me; I still think you're an awesome pitcher.



I've thought for a long time now that Matt Wright is a fantastic pitcher. All season long in Omaha, I loved watching him dominate the strike zone and make opponents' lineups look silly from top to bottom. As early as the beginning of June, I publicly heralded Wright as my favorite O-Royal. By August, I was relieved to see that it wasn't my imagination; someone else thought Wright's pitching deserved some attention.

And now it's November, and Wright was the Game 2 starter for Team USA. A bit of a fuss was raised about how long it took to come up with the starting rotation for the IBAF World Cup, but it looks like the decisions have worked well so far. And finally, in the wrapup from Game 2, someone else sees what I see in Wright:
Starter Matt Wright was great...


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What, exactly, is being exhibited?

On a scale of 1-10, because I really love scales of 1-10, I would say that my love for college basketball is somewhere around a 9.999998. Even if I don't know the ins and outs of every team the way I try to know, say, pro baseball, I still love the energy that exudes from college courts all around the country. It's one of those sports that I can watch at any time, regardless of who is playing.

However, I despise exhibition games. I didn't even really realize that until last night, when I caught Nebraska's exhibition game against Wayne State University. (It was NU's second such game, but I missed the first one due to academic engagement.) I happily indulged in all the spectacle of the Husker student section, known as the Red Zone. It was fun as always, though I was dismayed to find new bleachers with wide stairways that seem to cut down on the number of seats. On the other hand, the new bleachers have no gaps under the benches, so I will never again drop my coat, cell phone, rally towel, or pizza down to the floor.

Anydangway, I had this happy little vision in mind where I'd go to this game, and get a really clear sense of how the Huskers were going to be this year. But I forgot just how bad exhibition games were for that purpose. The opponents are small state colleges that, considering Nebraska is a Division I school, should not stand a chance. It could really be embarrassing for them. But nobody plays hard, so I'm not sure why it's given a title other than "scrimmage which some fans pay to attend." Most of the older players play like they take for granted that we know who they are and what they can do, and that brings the level of play of the younger players down a notch or two as well.

However, I saw enough last night to know I should be excited about two new faces on the Husker team this year. They're both small, scrappy guys who I'm guessing can put up a good fight. They are junior guard Steve Harley and freshman guard Cookie (yes, Cookie) Miller.

In addition to having hair I could be friends with, Harley (shown at right) has already shown he's willing to work hard, after pushing to finish enough school during the summer so that he could be eligible to attend the University. Even though last night was a "blah" exhibition game, I could see why the Sporting News said he's the #4 shooting guard in the country.

Miller's bio page describes him as "explosive," which is unfortunate because that's the word I wanted to use, but it's been done. But "explosive" is what he is, and I can't wait to see him get rolling once the real season starts.

Which reminds me (hat tip to Mikhail for this), the mascot of Presbyterian College, the team against which Nebraska opens the regular season on Saturday, is...the Blue Hose.

Like...this one?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

On renovations and HDTV

I'm not entirely sure what it was, but when I saw photos and videos of the (de)construction at Kaffman Stadium, I actually felt a little ill. This is how I've known The K for as long as I can remember:

The Kauffman Stadium that I've remembered my whole life doesn't look anything like this:

And definitely not like this one:

It feels kind of wrong. By the way, I am excited about the renovations. I kind of want to fast forward time a few seasons to see it when it's all done. It's going to be wonderful. But it's weird to see the images now (which, by the way, are from that show it in anything other than its be-crowned glory. I'm young enough that the Crown-and-Jumbotron combo is all I can remember, but I'm old enough that I have boatloads of those memories. It is, quite frankly, uncomfortable for me to see my stadium undergoing changes, no matter how spectacular the end result will be. (It actually reminds me a little bit of the endless road construction all over the state of Nebraska. Our motto with every project is, "This is annoying now, but it will be nice when it's finished!")

Is it appropriate to be this emotionally attached to a stadium? I don't see why not. Kansas City fans should be proud of our stadium: It's beautiful, loved by fans from all over MLB, and is not a stupid cookie-cutter. We may not have 50 flags boasting of pennant and World Series wins, nor more retired numbers than we have room to display, but it's still Our House. And not in the obnoxious, college football sense of the word. No, The K is "Our House" in the sense that we welcome anybody for an afternoon or evening of friendly enjoyment of the game of baseball. The K may not have a welcome mat and a cute little mailbox, but it is a friendly home just like the homes of KC fans all throughout the Midwest.

That much is not likely to change with the renovations. It will simply become a home like your cool, slightly-more-wealthy-than-most-of-us neighbor who was the first to get his paws on a sweet (and massive) hi-def TV. We'll still invite visiting fans over for the opportunity to enjoy a ballgame with us, but with the new scoreboard/video board, we'll all enjoy it in something that's higher definition than real life.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Eating my words -- sort of; the Husker edition

After Nebraska football's win over Iowa State a few weeks ago, it was entirely possible that the team would not win another game all season. Things were looking pretty grim at Memorial Stadium and around Husker Nation. The team hit the road after that ISU game, and fell pathetically to Missouri. They pulled out an ugly home loss to Oklahoma State, which led up to the dramatic firing of NU Athletic Director Steve Pederson. Many fans hoped that the naming of Tom Osborne as interim AD would help the Huskers manage a home win against Texas A&M last Saturday, but it didn't work that way.

The offense has incurred a lot of stupid penalties, like QB Sam Keller's tendency to earn delays of game. The offense has turned the ball over a depressing number of times, and the weary defense never earned any takeaways of their own.

It has been sad.

This weekend, the Huskers hit the road to take on the #19 Texas Longhorns. I'm not going to lie, I was not very optimistic about the Huskers' chances against their Big XII rivals; Texas was favored to win by 21 points. I wasn't sure how this game would turn out. I saw several possibilities -- I figured today's game could be a massacre, a blowout, an embarrassment...I saw a number of potential outcomes for Nebraska, but I was not hopeful that "win" was one of them. I told some of my friends this, but I added that I would be thrilled if I had to eat my words today.

This is me eating some of my words, but not all of them. Texas ended up winning today, but Nebraska was a team of which I was proud today.

Today's Huskers looked like they actually belonged on the same field as their ranked opponents. Though they really never started any drives with good field position, they marched; they made big numerous big plays for the first time all season. The defense showed they could do something besides leave giant gaps for the opponent to exploit, and finally used an aggressive blitz approach which has been missing all season.

Nebraska's drive at the end of the 1st half had me jumping up and down for joy. Despite inexplicably burning all of their timeouts early in the half, the Huskers forged their way down field to take a 10-7 lead with under a minute left in the half. For the first time since the season opener against Nevada, I was watching my team play like winners. They lost none of that momentum coming out of halftime, and pounded Texas with another touchdown to start the third quarter.

I think the Huskers got a little tired around the end of the 3rd, and when Texas scored their first touchdown -- their previous 3 scores had been field goals -- the Blackshirts just ran out of steam. That blitz which had worked so spectacularly in the first half started to turn on Nebraska, but such is the nature of a blitz.

I'm not pissed off about this loss like I have been the last three games. In the Mizzou, OSU, and A&M games, there were guys on the field in Nebraska uniforms, but I was sure it was not an actual football team. Today, the Huskers showed up, and played a tough game. I would call it a battle. Not a blowout, not an embarrassment, not a massacre. Good game, guys.

Final score:
Texas - 28
Nebraska - 25

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A personal note

It is necessary to occasionally include non-baseball things here, so that the title of this blog is not a lie. Therefore, I would like to wish myself two happy anniversaries:

Anniversary #1: One year ago tonight, I dove awkwardly after a ball on an ice rink and ended up with a torn labrum. This required surgery, and left me without my right arm for most of last winter.

Anniversary #2: Five months ago tonight, I jumped off the Omaha Royals' dugout awkwardly and sprained my ankle pretty badly. No surgery this time, but I was placed on the 30-day DL.

Two themes here: First, I do awkward things and get hurt. Second, these things happen on the 25th of various months. Perhaps I should stay indoors and sit perfectly still on the 25th of every month to avoid further mishaps?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sweeney home among those endagered by Cal. fires

When I heard about the fires in California, for some reason Mike Sweeney popped into my head. I of course knew he was a SoCal guy, and I wondered how or if the fires have affected him.

Turns out, very significantly.

"We only had time to grab what we could. We got our marriage certificate, the birth certificates, three wedding pictures and two pictures of the kids with Pope Benedict last year in Rome," Sweeney said Wednesday night. "That's all we have."

Sweeney has been told that nearly 50 homes in his community have been consumed by flames and nine were lost within a mile of his home. But he isn't sure about the fate of his house.

"I don't have any certainty. They're not letting any residents in," he said. "We're checking on the Internet and our home is not on that list, so we're very thankful."

Other ballplayers and their families might be in danger too, and David Justice's home has already been lost:
Players with the Padres and other teams who live in the San Diego area also have had to evacuate. Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek lives in the area, but Sweeney has not been in contact with him.

"David Justice lost his home; it was completely burned down," Sweeney said. "It's hit hard in the baseball community because so many live within two or three miles."

Maybe it's because my dad is a firefighter, but I just find news about people losing their homes in fires to be terribly sad. I'm going to keep an eye on this situation; hopefully no more families have to lose their homes, much less members of their families.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Six things

A few random things, because I really love numbered lists:

1.Once upon a time, I comforted myself by counting the number of teams who were worse than the Royals at the time:

-Kansas City SO far from the basement
I am NOT a fan of the worst team in baseball. Pretty much the entire NL West has a worse record. I'm pretty sure the Comic Book Store Guy from the Simpsons has the scientific name for a division like that:
"Worst. Division. EVER."

I found that little gem while I was waiting for the World Series to actually get here. You know, the World Series that features a team from the "Worst. Division. EVER;" the division that produced both representatives in the National League Championship Series.

So either I was horribly wrong about them, or the NL is really that bad.

2. The decision to sell tickets online is apparently NOT sitting well with fans of either team. My friend Gary was going to get tickets right on top of the Rockies' dugout, but that was before this online-only ticket sales thing was announced. Long story short, he does not have the hackeresque skills required to cheat the system enough to actually get tickets, so he is stuck watching on TV. This is sad, because Gary is probably the biggest Rockies fan I've ever met. He deserves tickets more than a lot of people I'm guessing will be there when the Series makes its way to Denver. On the Red Sox side of things, The Ladies... had a similarly frustrating experience, which they shared with us in humorous (and graphical!) fashion.

Hey MLB! This was a bad idea. Don't do it again, please and thank you.

3. I don't have a whole lot to say about the Royals hiring Trey Hillman as their manager, which is why I haven't written about it yet. What I know for sure right now is that I'm excited to have a proven winner on board. I would also very much love to have a Nippon Ham Fighters t-shirt.

If you want to see how the KC managerial move is somehow related to "pissing on the Constitution," read the comments on this MVN - Royals Authority post. It is awfully entertaining. But in all seriousness, Clark and Craig have provided some great stuff about the hire, so all the Royals Authority coverage of the topic is worth a read.

4. This one is sad. Like, 'I'm going to go cry in the corner' sad. The Nebraska Cornhusker volleyball team hadn't lost a match all season, and even more amazingly, had not lost a single game in the last 17 matches. But tonight, the Texas Longhorns swept my Huskers, handing them a huge loss. I don't think Nebraska will fall in the rankings, but I'm sick of losing things to Texas. They have broken up undefeated seasons for the Huskers several times recently, and I really hate them for it. (Well, I already hated Texas, but that's neither here nor there. The point is that I have a deep, burning hatred for any team that beats my Husker volleyball team!)

As I watch volleyball during commercials of World Series game 1, I can feel my heart slowly tearing apart. Stupid Longhorns. I've never seen Nebraska play like this; they normally have this confident air about them, like they're saying to their opponents, "Hi. We're here now, and we're going to stomp your faces in now. Okay? Buh-bye now." Tonight, they looked a little bit like their opponents typically looked: Lost, scared, and lacking confidence. I hope I never see that look again.

5. Who would have guessed that singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" at karaoke night was such a bad idea? Two of my brothers and I found that one out the hard way. The very, very, embarrassingly hard way. Never again.

6. There's only how many Octobers? Tell me again, Dane Cook. It's finally Game 1, and Boston is up 3-1 in the bottom of the 2nd. Thus far, it's really hard to tell if the long layoff harmed Colorado, or if Boston is just that dominant right now. This is one of those Series where I don't really care who wins. I have some good friends who are Rockies fans, and some who are Red Sox fans. From a historical standpoint, it would be cool to see Colorado go ahead and win, so I have more glorious details to tell my grandkids someday. But I see some short-term pros for having Boston winning:
- Josh Beckett said after the ALCS that he would dance right along with Jonathan Papelbon if Boston wins it all.
- My newest Halloween costume idea (the sliding shorts/goggles/dancing version of Paps) will be that much better.
- I have another excuse to blare Dropkick Murphys music 24/7. As if I needed any of the band will still be giddy from their team's victory when I see them play in November.
- Holly, TexasGal, and J-Money (of Ladies... fame) will be pleased.
- I can continue to say that the NL is weak, and shouldn't exist.
- I can feel better about the Royals, knowing that they beat the pants off of the World Champion Red Sox on Opening Day this season.

Either way, though...if I get a 7-game series, I'll be happy.

7. I know seven is not the same as the "six" suggested in the post title, but I had a late addition. I've added a new post label, called "fun stats." Go see!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Manny Being....aggravating

I'm about to do something I rarely do. I will take Manny Ramirez' side. You have probably seen or read what he said this week regarding tonight's game:
“We’re confident every day. It doesn’t matter. We’re not going to give up. We’re going to play the game and move on. If it doesn’t happen, who cares? There’s always next year. It’s not like it’s the end of the world.”

I will actually defend Manny here. What he said sounds a lot more harsh when it's typed than when you can see his exhausted face as he says it. It wasn't the absolute smartest thing to say during the race for a berth in the World Series, but it wasn't as horrible as some people are making it out to be. Manny is still doing what Manny always does -- he is hitting the ball, and being slightly more than motionless in the outfield. That's been working for Boston thus far, and that's what he will keep doing. Manny's attitude has always been laid-back; he's the anti-Chicken Little. Why is that well-documented fact more aggravating now than usual?

This is where my defense of Manny Ramirez stops. Even though it works for the Red Sox, I can't stand the way he plays, and I'll never be able to stand it. In tonight's game:

Top 3, 2 out. David Ortiz works a full count and eventually walks.

Up comes Manny; you know what usually comes next.

Ramirez hit what might have been a home run. The ball bounced off the top of the wall; replays showed that much rather definitively. But because the ball hit the top of the yellow stripe, and not anywhere else on the top of the wall, it was not a home run, and Manny ended up at 1st. Yeah, first base. The one that is 90 feet from home. For a bit of perspective, Big Papi scored from that same base on the play.

This is why I can't make myself like MannyBeingaDouchebag. If you watched any sports talk shows this week, you saw countless replays of Manny's Tuesday night home run. He celebrated as though he had just hit a walk-off to win the World Series, when in reality he had only cut his opponent's lead to four runs. I'm pretty sure the ball left the park before Manny left the batter's box.

That one was pretty ridiculous, but tonight's might have been worse, because Ramirez could not have been sure that that ball was a home run. He did not put himself in scoring position, when he should have been at 2nd easily. The score was tied at the time in a do-or-die game. How are Little League coaches supposed to tell their kids to run on all contact when the biggest stars in the game do not? Actually, Manny Ramirez does not run on any contact. He jogs, if we're lucky.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Those Rockies!

When I am older -- much older -- and I have grandkids with whom to share stories, I will tell them about these Colorado Rockies. I will tell them how Clint Hurdle led this team, I can't even type it without catching my breath in awe...21-1 to close out the regular season and sweep their way to the World Series. I will tell them about Matt Holiday, and those deafening chants of "MVP" that rocked Denver so hard. I might mention NLCS Game 3, how the whole game was played in a downpour, but those Rockies looked flawless anyway. How the entire team was named "Player of the game" in Game 4, and that didn't seem silly at all. Todd Helton, the beard. Troy Tulowitzki, the super-rookie. Manny Corpus, unstoppable closer. The frenzied fans.

All of this...this is why I love baseball. Todd Helton's face after he caught the ball for the final out was beautiful. They just showed a replay of that moment and it made my eyes go all misty. Helton is a grown man, a level-headed leader who has been around baseball forever. But in that moment, he was a little boy, lost in the wonder of his postseason dreams coming true. It was perfect.

I've never been a Rockies fan, but all of this Colorado success and their celebration is giving me goosebumps. Congratulations to the Colorado Rockies, and all of their marvelous fans. (Hi Gary!)

Happier times ahead for Husker fans

Steve Pederson will no longer be the Athletic Dictator -- errr, Director at the University of Nebraska.

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman probably had to work pretty hard to issue a statement that didn't include the words "program-killer," "idiot," or "Steve did absolutely everything wrong."
Perlman said he believes Pederson is no longer positioned to move the Athletic Department forward.

“We are of course disappointed about the progress in our football program. Steve has done many positive things for Husker Athletics during his tenure but I think only new leadership can objectively assess the state of our program and make the decisions necessary to move us forward,” Perlman said.
I heard an insider rumor earlier today that defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove and a couple other coaches will be removed within the next three days as well. That's not a surprise at all, unless you are surprised that we actually had a defensive coordinator on the field.

The same guy told me that someone whom Husker fans L-O-V-E will be filling in for some of the departing coaches. I won't name names, but it would be a blast from a much-more-pleasant past. The name might rhyme with, ummm...Mom Loz-norne. Just saying.

And speaking of the Huskers...apparently my roommate (from last year) and I are featured on the front cover of the Husker men's basketball media guide. I have not seen it yet, so this could be a very cool, badass thing, or very awkward. We'll see.

During one televised Husker basketball game last year, I got a text from my friend's little brother saying, "Minda was just on TV for like 5 minutes. Good thing there was no mic around cuz it looked like she was really mad at the refs." Heh.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The greatest fans?

A famous and beloved inscription above Gate 21 at Lincoln's Memorial Stadium reads, "Through these gates pass the greatest fans in college football."

But partway through Nebraska's brutal loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, I felt rather disappointed in Husker fans, maybe even more so than I am with the team for their awful performances in the last two games. The way the stadium full of so-called "fans" behaved on Saturday makes me wonder if Husker football fans of the last few years have actually been bandwagoners all along.

Before every game, many fans are given red balloons to let go of when Nebraska scores its first points. On Saturday, the Huskers took quite a while to get on the board, and a lot of folks gave up on those balloons, resigning themselves to release them after a rare 1st down instead. Would one of the "greatest fans in college football" show that much doubt that their team could score? What about leaving the game before it was even halfway over, or booing their defense?

It's disgusting. Yes, it is hard for me to watch Nebraska do so badly. I grew to become a football fan after watching the Huskers of the mid-90s dominate everyone they played. It was safe for me -- and all Husker fans -- to demand and expect excellence. Always. Today, the team doesn't quite live up to the standards of excellence we once pinned on them, but I still proudly call myself a Nebraska fan. I will never leave a game early; I have never believed in doing that, and I never will. I will never boo my own team, no matter how poorly they are performing. Booing is for only the most contemptible of figures (the ref who blew two big calls, the other team, and so on) and the team of which I call myself a fan shouldn't fall into that category.

Do I think Nebraska should have played better yesterday, and last weekend against Missouri? Of course I do. But I will not abandon them, not in this season or any other. I will not do anything to jeopardize the status of our mighty Sea of Red as "The Greatest Fans in College Football."

What I will do is make nifty signs to poke fun at the other team's coach.