Monthly Archives: December 2015

Sparty washed away

Alabama and Michigan State each won a share of the 1965 college football national championship. The Spartans were number one in the final United Press International coaches poll, released following the end of the regular season, which was fortunate, since they lost the Rose Bowl to UCLA. The Crimson Tide won the title from the Associated Press, which took a poll following the bowl games. Alabama vaulted from No. 4 to No. 1 after No.2 Arkansas lost the Cotton Bowl to LSU, Michigan State lost to UCLA, and Alabama beat No. 3 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

Half a century later, the schools met in the Cotton Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal.

Somewhere in the heavens, Bear Bryant was grinning from ear to ear. Duffy Daugherty was crying in his Guinness. And maybe, just maybe, Frank Howard has a line to Dabo Swinney, because Dabo is going to need all the help he can get in the next 11 days.

Alabama crushed Michigan State 38-0, with Crimson Tide quaterback Jake Coker completing 25 of 31 passes for 286 yards. Calvin Ridley, who has stepped into the No. 1 receiver role vacated by Amari Cooper, now starting for the Oakland Raiders, caught eight passes for 136 yards and both touchdowns.

The only solace the Spartans can take away is they limited Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry to 75 yards on 20 carries. But it was a Pyrrhic victory, given Coker’s big night and the lack of offense produced by Connor Cook and his mates.

Michigan State has come a long way under Mark Dantonio. The bad news is it will have a devil of a time remaining amongst the elite of college football, as the Spartans play in the brutal Big Ten East, where Ohio State and Michigan have usually dominated.

Alabama now faces Clemson for the championship January 11 in Arizona at the Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium. The Tigers earned their berth in the final with a 37-17 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

Swinney was a receiver on the Crimson Tide’s 1992 national championship, and he was an assistant under Gene Stallings and Mike DuBose at his alma mater. It wasn’t that long ago Clemson was almost always on the short list of underachieving teams, but tonight’s victory not only improved the Tigers to 14-0, but it showed once and for all Clemson can win and win big when the chips are down.

Clemson will be playing for its first national championship since 1981, when Swinney was 12 years old and most of the parents of the current players were in elementary school. Alabama will be in its fourth national championship game since 2009, and Saban will be coaching for his fifth championship, three at Alabama and one in 2003 at LSU. If experience matters, then it should be no contest. However, Clemson really has nothing to lose, even if it is 14-0. Nobody outside of South Carolina (save Gamecock fans) is going to give the Tigers much of a chance.

It will be 2016 in 15 minutes in Tuscaloosa, Dallas and everywhere else in the Central Time Zone. Whoopee.

Thursday thoughts

I am back in Russell. I am done driving in 2015.The only question left is whether I will stay awake to greet 2016 in my basement in Russell, or will I fall asleep and skip it. Either way I am not watching Ryan Seacrest. I never watched the show when Dick Clark hosted it, so why should I bother now?

Prior to December 31, 1972, the only New Year’s Eve show was Guy Lombardo and his big band orchestra on CBS. Clark started his in 1972, and Lombardo died in November 1977, so there really hasn’t been crap except what has been on ABC. Johnny Carson, and Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon after him, showed reruns on New Year’s Eve, and same thing with David Letterman on CBS. Between Lombardo and Letterman (1977-1992), CBS had reruns or else let the local affiliates program the time around midnight.

Of course, nothing on TV tonight could ever be worse than the 2011 film New Year’s Eve. I saw trailer after trailer for the movie when I watched The Help, Horrible Bosses and Crazy. Stupid. Love. in theaters that summer. It  appeared to be nothing more than a bunch of big names thrown together at various places across New York City.

The cast included Jessica Biel, Sofia Vergara, Lea Michelle, Jon Bon Jovi, Hilary Swank and Seth Meyers, just to name a few. It also had appearances from–surprise, surprise–Ryan Seacrest and then-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

I stayed away from watching it in a theater, and I have had no inclination to watch it on HBO, Showtime, or on Blu-Ray. And from what most critics have wrote, it was beyond bad. One critic from Great Britain called it the worst movie ever.

The University of Houston has just won its first major bowl game since 1979. The Cougars defeated Florida State 38-24 in the Peach Bowl, allowing Houston to finish 13-1, the best record in school history.

The Cougars have become the standard bearer for the so-called Group of Five under coach Tom Herman, who had no head coaching experience exactly one year ago. After the Cougars fired Tony Levine, they hired Herman from Ohio State, where he was offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer’s national championship team.

Houston has been beyond irrelevant for the last 30 years. Obviously, the Cougars are greatly overshadowed by the Astros, Rockets and the NFL (the Oilers, then the Texans), and in the college pecking order, UH is far, far, far behind Texas and Texas A&M, and with the recent success of Baylor and TCU, the Cougars are behind them, and probably LSU, too.

The Cougars’ most recent major bowl game until today was the Cotton Bowl following the 1984 season, when Bill Yeoman’s club lost 45-28 to Boston College, led by 1984 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie. Houston won two Cotton Bowls previously, ousting Maryland 30-21 in 1976 and Nebraska 17-14 in 1979.

Houston’s program has committed major NCAA rules violations on several occasions throughout its history, first under Yeoman, then under his successor, former Redskins linebacker and head coach Jack Pardee. It was this sordid history that led both the Big 12 and the Western Athletic Conference to say no thanks to Houston when the Southwest Conference dissolved. Even SMU, less than a decade removed from the death penalty due to egregious football recruiting violations, was taken into the WAC, along with TCU and Rice, UH’s city neighbor.

Instead, Houston was exiled to Conference USA, a new league which was built more on basketball success (Cincinnati, Memphis, Louisville) than football. In fact, several schools–Saint Louis, DePaul, Charlotte–did not play football.

Houston got into the American Athletic Conference in 2013, but it is itching for a spot in the Big 12. The Cougars are going to have trouble convincing Texas and Texas Tech they are worthy, and TCU and Baylor might not be any more receptive. And Houston can forget about ever sniffing the SEC. Not good enough, and no way Texas A&M and LSU will share the fertile recruiting ground that is southeast Texas with another league school.

Today, Houston came up against a Florida State team that probably could have cared less. The Seminoles were not going to be jacked to face a team from a lesser conference, not after wining the national championship in 2013 and playing in last year’s playoff. Sure, this year’s Houston team may have been able to be competitive with Auburn in 2013 and Oregon in 2014, but Houston is a major step down from the Tigers of the Plains and the Ducks.

Oklahoma and Clemson are about to kick off. I’ll check in later.




The most overrated day of the year

I’m trying to tidy up and get organized before I leave Kansas City later this morning. I’m driving back to Russell today, meaning I will be welcoming 2016 at home for the first time in quite some time.

I was in Kansas City to ring in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. I spent New Year’s Eve at Buffalo Wild Wings in each of the previous two years. This time, I swore I would be out of KC early enough so I could be home, away from all the bullshit parties and drunken jerks who make New Year’s Eve my LEAST favorite day of the year.

What is the big freaking deal about a calendar changing? Tomorrow is another Friday. Nobody’s debts, yours nor mine, will magically be forgiven. Nobody will wake up 50 pounds thinner. The vast majority of people will have the same job, will be driving the same car, and living in the same place. The only thing I see different is the last two digits on the date change from “15” to “16. Wow. That’s something to get really excited about.

To me, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is about one thing and one thing only, college football. I could care less about the stupid ball dropping in Times Square. Besides, what good is it for those who are not in the Eastern Time Zone? When the ball drops, it will be 11 p.m. in Russell and everywhere else in the Central Time Zone. And even dumber, the ball drop is REPEATED for those in the other three time zones. I really want to watch a REPLAY of a ball drop, and I REALLY want to watch a REPLAY of a ball drop being counted down by Ryan Seacrest. F**K ME HARD.

Seacrest should not be hosting any New Year’s Eve celebration. What ABC did with Dick Clark should have ended when Clark suffered his stroke in 2004. I didn’t watch the bullshit before Clark had his stroke, and I didn’t watch it after, but from what I heard and read, it was very sad to watch Clark struggle so badly.

Enough wasting time about that crap.

To me, the lasting image of New Year’s Eve came in the final hours of 1994, when Amy Silberman was killed by a falling bullet in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Silberman came to the Crescent City with a group of friends from Massachusetts, and were walking along the riverfront near Jackson Square, home some of New Orleans’ most famous landmarks, including St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo museum, and Cafe du Monde, home of the world famous beginets

December is a great time to visit New Orleans, since you can actually walk around without being drenched in sweat after five minutes, as is the case from mid-March through mid-October.

Yet a bunch of thugs always see the need to fire guns into the air on New Year’s Eve. It isn’t limited to New Orleans, but it is one of the cities which have the biggest problems. Five days into 1995, Silberman was buried in her native Cleveland by her parents and brother. Sad. Very sad.

One year after Silberman was tragically gunned down, I feared for my own safety on New Year’s Eve. I would be returning home late following the Sugar Bowl between Virginia Tech and Texas. I held my breath at every red light, looked over my shoulder every time a car came close. My biggest priority was to get off the freaking streets. I did.

New Year’s Eve is for those with bad jobs who think they are somebody. Guess what? You will still have your bad job January 2. Yes, I really want to flush $$$$$$$$$ down the toilet to drink champagne and eat bad food at an overpriced party where I have to waste $500 on a wardrobe just to get in the door. Great use of money.

Save your money. Stay home and watch Oklahoma-Clemson and Michigan State-Alabama. Go to bed early. Start 2016 refreshed, not hung over.


Scrape, scrape, scrape

I am very, very thankful I get to park in a warm garage at my house in Russell. 

In case I had forgotten–and I hadn’t–I learned again this afternoon. 

My car was covered in snow from the hood to the trunk. All four windows were covered in a thick sheet of ice, and not only were the windshields covered with snow, but it was icy underneath. It was so icy that my trunk wouldn’t open at first. 

I warmed the car while I scraped for 15 minutes in order to be able to see. Two weeks ago when it snowed in Norton while I was watching the basketball games, I had forgotten to put a scraper in my car. Fortunately the snow was not that heavy that night, so I was able to run the defogger between games to see enough to leave the school, and then the snow fell off the car as I drove south on US 283.

Everything was fine by time I reached the Hy-Vee at the corner of Barry and St. Clair. I stopped for snacks, then went over to Buffalo Wild Wings at 1:30. One of my trivia buddies, Larry, was there, and we enjoyed a couple of quick rounds before I settled in for the long haul. 

Dawn and Robb showed up at 4 and we had a good time for 90 minutes. I told them the story about the two people sitting next to me Sunday who hooked up. They were as incredulous as I was. 

Right now, I’m trying to watch numerous things–my phone, my trivia tablet, LSU and Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl, and Kansas playing UC Irvine in basketball. But for some weird reason, the sound is on the Michigan State-Iowa basketball game. I know there a couple of Hawkeye fans sitting at the bar, but there have to be at least 50 people in the Jayhawks’ crimson and blue. 

I don’t know how much longer I’m staying. Part of me wants to leave early so I can get food at Chick-Fil-A or Outback before both close at 10. On the other hand, Taco Bell will be open late anyway. So I have options. 

Recalling Hendu’s strange Sunday

Dave Henderson, who played the outfield for the Mariners, Red Sox and Athletics during the 1980s and early 1990s, died Sunday at 57 from a heart attack.

Henderson figured prominently in another of the many childhood memories of sports I can readily recall.

Earlier this morning, I described an NFL game I watched at my maternal grandmother’s house many moons ago.

Now, I hearken back to a memorable baseball game I watched in the same house almost two years later.

The date was October 12, 1986. One day before my 10th birthday. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev were holding a summit in Iceland.  Miami and Penn State were headed for an epic college football showdown at the end of the season. Wayne Gretzky still played hockey in Edmonton, and Bird and Magic still dominated the NBA.

That Sunday, the California Angels were within one victory of advancing to the World Series for the first time since it began play in 1961. The Angels, led by manager Gene Mauch and several stars past their prime, including Reggie Jackson, Bobby Grich, Bob Boone, Doug DeCinces and Brian Downing, led the Boston Red Sox, powered by 24-game winner Roger Clemens, 3 games to 1, in the American League Championship Series.

All it would take is a victory at Anaheim Stadium, which the Angels shared with the Rams by that time, to move into the Fall Classic against either Houston or the New York Mets.

When the 1986 season opened, the Red Sox were deeply entrenched under the Curse of the Bambino, which took effect in 1920 when then-Boston owner Harry Frazee traded Babe Ruth, his star pitcher, to the Yankees. The rest is history.

Boston won the American League East in 1986, its first division title since 1975. Clemens, only three years removed from helping the Texas Longhorns win the College World Series, enjoyed what would be the best year of his lengthy career, going 24-4 with a 1.53 earned run average.

His signature game came on April 29 of that season when he struck out 20 Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. The Mariners’ starting center fielder that night, Dave Henderson, was strikeout victim No. 6, No. 13 and No. 18 against The Rocket.

Later that season, Henderson and the Mariners’ starting shortstop that cold night in Boston, Spike Owen, a teammate of Clemens with the 1983 Longhorns, were traded to the Red Sox.

Owen immediately stabilized a position which had been a weakness for Boston since Rick Burleson departed for the Angels. Henderson provided the Red Sox with much better defense in center field than Tony Armas, a man who was a born designated hitter long before anyone in Red Sox Nation could have dreamed of David Ortiz. Armas hit 43 home runs in  1984, but struck out way too much and was awful in the field. Boston was very fortunate right fielder Dwight Evans was one of baseball’s best defensive outfielders and thus tracked down numerous balls Armas missed.


Dave Henderson lived several lifetimes the afternoon of October 12, 1986.

With Boston ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Bobby Grich, who won Game 4 the previous night with an RBI single in the 11th, hit a long fly ball to center field. Henderson leaped at the wall in an attempt to deny Grich a home run, but instead, the ball hit off of the top of the webbing of Henderson’s glove and fell over the fence.

Home run. Angels 3, Red Sox 2. The Big A was in delirium.

One inning later, Rob Wilfong singled home two more runs, and the Red Sox were in dire straits, trailing 5-2 with only six outs standing between them and the end of the 1986 season.

Nobody scored in the eight. Angels starter Mike Witt, who pitched a perfect game on the final day  of the 1984 season at Texas and pitched a complete game victory in Game 1 of the 1986 ALCS at Boston, got one out in the ninth, but also gave up a two-run home run to Don Baylor, whom, ironically, was the AL’s Most Valuable Player in 1979, when he led the Angels to their first AL West championship.

Angels manager Gene Mauch lifted Witt in favor of left-handed reliever Gary Lucas, who would face Boston’s left-handed hitting catcher, Rich Gedman. Gedman was 3-for-3 on the day, but had a bad history vs. Lucas. Lucas hit Gedman, and Mauch immediately called for closer Donnie Moore.

Moore retired Evans on a popup, bringing Henderson to the plate. The Angel hurler got ahead in the count 1-2, but Henderson fought off the next three pitches to stay alive.

On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Moore threw a fastball low and in. Henderson swung.

The ball skied to left field. Downing tracked the ball, but when he reached the wall, all he could do is look up in disgust and then slam his glove into the fence.

Home run Henderson. Red Sox lead 6-5.

The Angels somehow pulled themselves up off the carpet to score once in the bottom of the ninth and tie the game, but in the 11th, Baylor was hit by a pitch, moved to second on an Evans single and third on a Gedman sacrifice.

Henderson came through again vs. Moore, lifting a sacrifice fly to plate Baylor and put Boston back on top.

California went down meekly in the bottom of the 11th. The Angels would soon be on their way to LAX for the cross-country flight they didn’t want to make.

The Angels would have been better off calling in two forfeits.

The Red Sox won Games 6 and 7 10-4 and 8-1. Boston was on to the World Series. The Mets would be the opposition. Most of you know what happened then.

The Angels would not return to the playoffs until 2002, when they won the World Series vs. the Giants. There hasn’t been a World Series game in Anaheim since Game 7 in 2002.

Boston won it two years later vs. the Cardinals, then added titles in 2007 vs. the Rockies–who wouldn’t come into existence until 1995–and the Cardinals again in 2013.

The Mets haven’t won a World Series since 1986, losing to the Yankees in 2000 and the Royals this past season.

Henderson won his World Series ring in 1989 with Oakland, when it swept San Francisco in the series interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Dave Henderson won’t be in Cooperstown. But for anyone who watched Major League Baseball during the 1980s, Hendu’s roller coaster ride in Anaheim won’t soon be forgotten.


It rang a Bell

In an utterly meaningless NFL game yesterday, the Bills defeated the Cowboys 16-6 in Buffalo. Both teams came into the game out of the playoff race, and neither can have a winning record, since the Bills are now 7-8 and the Cowboys fell to a wretched 4-11.

I guess Buffalo still has something to play for next week since if Rex Ryan can lead the Bills to victory over the Jets, Ryan may be able to keep his former employer out of the playoffs.

The Jets overtook the Steelers for the second AFC wild card when Pittsburgh lost in Baltimore and New York defeated the mighty Patriots 26-20 in overtime in New Jersey. New England won the overtime coin toss, but Mr. Sunshine himself, Bill Belichick, told his captains to kick off to start overtime. Ryan Fitzpatrick burned the Pats with the winning touchdown pass to Eric Decker (Mr. Jessie James).

Back to Dallas and Buffalo. Yesterday’s matchup brought me back to an earlier meeting between the two clubs.

The clubs played in back-to-back Super Bowls following the 1992 and 1993 seasons, the only time that’s happened, although there’s a chance it could this year if the Patriots and Seahawks oblige, although the Cardinals are in no mood to help their NFC West rival.

The first matchup was horrendous; the Bills turned the ball over nine times and lost 52-17, and it might have been worse had Don Beebe not knocked the ball out of the right hand of Leon Lett at the 2-yard line in the closing minutes, forcing a fumble which resulted in a Buffalo touchback instead of a Dallas touchdown. The second meeting saw the Bills lead 13-6 at halftime, only to lose 30-13.

Yet it wasn’t either Dallas-Buffalo Super Bowl I remembered yesterday while I sat in Buffalo Wild Wings watching the games.

It was November 18, 1984, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I was eight years old and in the third grade at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic school, about one mile from my home and only a few feet from the home of the Dauterive family.

My parents, my brother and I went to visit my maternal grandmother, who lived by herself in a shotgun duplex in the Algiers section of New Orleans, the part of the Crescent City which was on the opposite bank of the Mississippi River from the rest of the city. We would go over there on many a Sunday after lunch, but this time, we were there earlier, in time for the early NFL games to kick off at noon.

The early game on CBS was Dallas at Buffalo. The Cowboys were starting to crumble, but still had future Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Randy White, and were in the thick of a four-team fray in the NFC East with the Giants, Washington and the St. Louis Football Cardinals, who were having a rare good season.

The only race the Bills were in by November 18, 1984, was the race for the #1 draft pick. And thanks to Buffalo’s perfect record–the wrong kind of perfect–it really wasn’t a race.

Buffalo came in 0-11. The Bills’ standout quarterback, Joe Ferguson, was hurt. Their top running back of previous seasons, Joe Cribbs, had defected to the United States Football League following the 1983 NFL season, signing a contract with the Birmingham Stallions, a popular move given Cribbs starred at Auburn in the late 1970s. Buffalo’s defensive leader, inside linebacker Jim Haslett, was out with an injury. Nose tackle Fred Smerlas was getting absolutely bludgeoned, simply because the Bills lacked competent ends.

Ferguson wasn’t supposed to be the Bills’ starting quarterback in 1984.

That was supposed to be the domain of Jim Kelly, who was selected 13th overall by Buffalo in the 1983 draft. Kelly, who played for Howard Schnellenberger at Miami, refused to sign with the Bills and instead went to the USFL’s Houston Gamblers. He wouldn’t play for the Bills until 1986, and only after the USFL won only $3 in its antitrust case vs. the NFL.

CBS’ announcing team, Dick Stockton and Hank Stram, focused on the Cowboys in their opening spiel. The Bills were winless, and CBS probably resented having to cover a game in Buffalo. Since Buffalo is in the AFC, CBS had to only go to western New York twice a year at most. The game was blacked out in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse since it was not sold out, even though the Cowboys were in Buffalo for the first time since 1971.

Those who weren’t at what was then known as Rich Stadium (now Ralph Wilson Stadium) missed a really good show.

On the first play from scrimmage, Greg Bell, a rookie from Notre Dame who became an immediate starter following Cribbs’ departure for Alabama, took a handoff from backup quarterback Matt Kofler. Bell burst past the Cowboys’ defensive line led by White and Ed (Too Tall) Jones, outran the linebackers and left Everson Walls and Ron Fellows in his wake.

The 85-yard touchdown left the Cowboys, dressed in their unlucky dark blue jerseys, shell-shocked.

Bell finished the day with 206 yards on 28 carries, becoming the first opposing player to rush for 200 yards vs. the Cowboys since Jim Brown did so for the Browns two days after President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in 1963.

Buffalo 14, Dallas 3. Maybe the most embarrassing loss for the Cowboys to that point in franchise history.

The Bills ended the year 2-14. The consolation was the #1 draft pick, which the new general manager, Bill Polian, used to select Virginia Tech defensive end Bruce Smith. Once Smith, Kelly, Cornelius Bennett, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and all the rest of the pieces were in place, the 1984 disaster (and the one glorious afternoon) were a distant memory.

As for Dallas, the decline was on whether or not anyone knew it. The Cowboys finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1974. They won the NFC East in 1985, largely by going 3-1 vs. the Redskins and Giants, but in 1986, Dallas finished 7-9. In 1988, the Cowboys went 3-13, and two months after the season ended, Tom Landry was unceremoniously fired by new owner Jerry Jones, who hired his college roommate, Jimmy Johnson.

Later that afternoon, I watched the 11-0 Dolphins lose 34-28 in overtime at San Diego when Buford McGee rumbled 25 yards for a touchdown.

The next night, the Saints won their first Monday night game, defeating the Steelers 27-24 in the Superdome. I couldn’t watch, because the game was blacked out.

Any Given Sunday? It was never more on display than November 18, 1984.




Sunday, silly Sunday

The last Sunday of 2015 is one I won’t soon forget.

I frittered away another eight and a half hours of my life at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa. Actually, it was very enjoyable. Got to spend the day with some very nice people, as in the employees, as well as my buddies Dawn and Robb Amos, whom I didn’t know last year at this time. If I had to pick two people I’m very glad I met in 2015, they would be at the top of the list. It didn’t start so well, especially my meltdown in April on Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season, but it’s been wonderful since.

There was a couple challenging me at trivia yesterday. At first, they were keeping up in the shortened lunch games, which are seven questions compared to 15 in Countdown. But I posted a perfect score (7,000) in the final lunch game at 1:45, then proceeded to serious ass kicking in Countdown for three games.

With the Chiefs playing at noon and a big game between the Packers and Cardinals at 3:25, it was full. The bar was packed, with no seats available. From noon until a little after 6, a gentleman wearing a Steelers hoodie sat at the barstool to my right. I expressed my sympathy as his team was losing to Pittsburgh’s hated rival, the Baltimore Ravens, who have been a train wreck this season, but somehow beat the Steelers twice. The same Steelers who beat the Cardinals in October.

Except for the guy next to me, nobody in the establishment shed a tear for Ben Roethlisberger and his mates. The Steelers’ loss, combined with the Chiefs’ 17-13 victory over the Browns, meant KC was playoff bound, regardless of what happens next week to the Chiefs at Arrowhead vs. Oakland. Andy Reid’s team can still win the AFC West if Denver loses either to Cincinnati tonight or San Diego next Sunday, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders.

Meanwhile, I got to know Ashley, the girlfriend of Lazlo, one of the employees at Buffalo Wild Wings. She was pulling hard for the Seahawks, who were struggling against the Rams in Seattle. Her family was at the game at CenturyLink Field, and to add insult to injury, it was a typical Seattle day: lots of rain. Ashley was impressed with my trivia knowledge, and she also helped me with a few answers in my friendly battles with Dawn and Robb.

The Cardinals surprised the hell out of me yesterday. I never dreamed they could have beaten Green Bay as badly as they did. With Tyran Matthieu out for the season after tearing knee ligaments last week in Philadelphia, I feared Aaron Rodgers might shred Arizona’s weakened secondary.

Rodgers hardly got to test the secondary. He was sacked eight times and under pressure almost all game. The Cardinals returned two fumbles for touchdowns and had no trouble whatsoever in a 38-8 rout. I’ve been watching the Cardinals for over 30 years, and I’ve never seen them look that impressive against a quality team. The only game which comes close was the 2008 divisional playoff game when they went to Charlotte and shredded the Panthers. If the Cardinals are in Charlotte Jan. 24, it will be for a trip to Santa Clara and Super Bowl 50.

As for the Pittsburgh fan, I’ll say he enjoyed the second half of his stay much more.

The Steelers fan went to the restroom shortly after his team lost. He asked me to guard his beer, which I did. Meanwhile, a fashionably dressed lady walked in and sat down two seats to my right. When the Steelers fan returned to the stool to my right, he and the lady began talking.

They kept talking. By 5:45, it had progressed to kissing and playing footsie.


The making out part didn’t throw me–I saw a woman with a hand all over a guy’s privates at the Buffalo Wild Wings in south Overland Park in January–but what did was two married people who didn’t know one another a little under three hours earlier were going at it. And she did not take off her wedding ring.

I felt a bit like a social leper. I guess I’m person repellent. I guess I have something to discuss with Crista at our next session.

On the other hand, I was in my little zone playing trivia, and if it weren’t for Ashley and I striking up a conversation, and Dawn and Robb showing up, I probably would have been in my zone until I left the place at 7:30.

I hated leaving at 7:30. I felt like I abandoned Lindsey, who was behind the bar at 5 after taking over for Seekou, who was fabulous as usual.

I beat the bad weather back to the hotel and enjoyed my strip from Outback Steakhouse. I may be getting intimate with my room at the Courtyard Briarcliff today. The weather looks bad.

I’m glad the last Sunday of 2015 at Buffalo Wild Wings was 1,000,000,000,000% better than the first one (Jan. 4), when was asked to leave after melting down. That’s progress.

Storm brewing

So far, so good in Kansas City. The drive from Russell yesterday morning was uneventful. I stopped in Junction City at Starbucks for an egg nog frappucino, then made it to Zona Rosa a few minutes after 10.

I was in Buffalo Wild Wings from opening at 11 until a few minutes before 8. Sat at the bar and played trivia for nine hours straight, and my brain was just about fried. The last four hours was all college football trivia. For me, all but about six of those questions were like shooting fish in a barrel. My LOWEST score for those games was 13,534 out of 15,000. I had two perfect scores and one where I was only 21 points shy of perfection.

I had great service behind the bar yesterday. Lindsey Taylor McClain had the bar from opening until 4:30, and then she turned it over to Sekou and Ethan Hoyle, who were outstanding up until the time I left. Lindsey was very grateful for the nice tip I left her. She needs it, because she has an 18-month old boy at home.

Speaking of Buffalo Wild Wings and kids, Lisa Toebben’s due date is Wednesday. She and Jeff already have a name for their boy, Liam Gearhart Daniels. He should be really cute, although I hope he doesn’t have the vision problems his parents have. I know all about genetics and eyesight–my dad is very near-sighted.

I can’t help but think to Colorado Springs and Elizabeth Psenski every time I’m at Buffalo Wild Wings. For two years, seeing her always made my day that much better, no matter how bad it was.

I’m going back today to watch the Chiefs-Browns game and other NFL action at noon, then Packers-Cardinals at 3:25. I better enjoy today, because I might not be back tomorrow.

A winter storm is coming. The biggest problem for Kansas City will be ice, the worst of which is expected between midnight and 9 a.m. God I hope not. Ice is the worst. At least there is a little traction–not much–on snow. Ice? Good luck.

As long as I can get there Tuesday for LSU’s game vs. Texas Tech, it will all be good.

UCLA should be embarrassed. Losing to a 5-7 Nebraska team in your home state? Georgia State also lost to a 5-7 team, but the difference was, the 5-7 team, San Jose State, was better. Central Michigan, you’re on alert tomorrow against Minnesota in Detroit.

Westbound…then eastbound?

I’m leaving Kansas City for Russell today as I had planned. However, my stay there might be shorter than I had originally planned.

Mother Nature is whipping up an intense winter storm which is forecast to arrive Saturday. I watched the KWCH weather report online a little bit ago, and it looked especially bad for Dodge City. One model has the worst in a large swath of western Kansas, with the eastern extent of the heaviest snow to US 281, which would be Great Bend, Russell, Osborne and Smith Center from south to north, then extending west to the US 83 corridor between Oberlin and Garden City. The second model was an east-west axis, with Hutchinson and Wichita getting slammed, but the snow extending to Hays and Russell at the north end.

Yikes. The last thing I want is to be marooned at home for a few days, possibly without power. Maybe I have to get out Christmas day and stay one more day. Right now, the plan was to go over to KC Saturday and stay until New Year’s Eve morning.

Kansas City might get snow, too, but if I’m not too far from services along I-29, it might not be so bad.

Right now, first things first. Like getting home.

I had two good days at Buffalo Wild Wings. Robb and Dawn Amos showed up yesterday and we had a great time. I saw Dana Tepenney, whom I had not seen in a long time, which was great. She came to check in on her fiance, Ronald Groves, who was working. Ron was one of the first people I met when I started going there, and I’m glad I did.

UPDATE: The National Weather Service in Dodge City is predicting blizzard conditions as almost certain along US 50 between Syracuse and Kinsley, which would also include Garden City and Dodge City, plus Lakin, Holcomb and Cimarron. US 50 isn’t a great road to drive on a good day. I can’t imagine what it would be like in that weather.

Time on my hands

The good news about getting your work done a day early: it’s done. Nobody will be mad for having it done early.

The bad news about getting your work done early, espeically when you’re four hours from home: now you have a long day to kill.

I’m finding this out right now. I was done before 9:30 and was ready to go at 10. I watched the first half of The Price Is Right, but got bored, so I got out of the room. I got to Buffalo Wild Wings at 11:30, and now I’m going to settle in for a long day of trivia. Dawn and Robb Amos are supposed to come around 4. 

I was poooped by time I left at 9:30 last night. I was dozing off. Tori caught me at least once. Then again, I was up constantly since 3 a.m. and drove four hours east. I should have been tired.

I was glad I came in yesterday. Got to see several people I had not in a while, including Shannon and Jaclyn.  

Back to Russell tomorrow. Hopefully back to KC at some point. I’m not staying through the New Year, though. I have no intention of starting 2016 the way I started 2015. 

Thing is, 2015 was pretty good at points. But after July 18 at 1 a.m., it went straight into the toilet and never recovered. Actuallly, it got much worse. Much, much worse. This isn’t the worst holiday, surprisingly. It’s been worse.