Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday 10-28

The WIAA football playoffs begin tonight all across the state. Last year at this time, I went on a rant about how too many teams make the playoffs (214)--forcing kids to play three games in 11-days which increases their risk for injury. I still hold those beliefs--even as the WIAA considers expanding the playoff field even further.

This year I thought I would sing the praises of what I like about high school football: the incredible variety. This is especially true on the offensive side of the ball where this year alone I have done games with teams running the T formation, the flex-bone, the double wing, fullhouse backfield, Power I, pro set, spread and spread option. If you travel to the UP you would find teams running the single wing and the wing T--dinosaurs walking among us. About the only offense I haven't seen in a while is the true wishbone. I think coaches can't stomach the idea of their quarterbacks throwing forty pitches to running backs every night.

I like the great variety of players you see on the high school field as well. I've seen teams play with a 180-pound center lining up against a 265-pound defensive lineman. Where else can a five-foot-five running back dominate a night, or a 185-pound middle linebacker that hits like a 250-pounder?

Now if we could just find more kickers. There's no reason half the teams I've seen this year should have an offensive lineman kicking straight-on in the 21st century. Or having teams go for it on fourth and ten at the opponents 15-yard line because no one can make a 33-yard field goal.

So why not take time to catch a high school football playoff game the next few weeks. The price is usually less than five bucks. You'll see stuff that long ago went away on Saturday and Sunday games. And there will be more of them than we need this week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday 10-22

I may choose to go to the Fond du Lac City Council meeting tonight to voice opposition to the workplace smoking ban. That is if I finish up painting the nursery with some lead-based paint I found in the basement and chose to use instead of safe latex paint they make you buy at the store now. I think I'll also choose to drive to Fond du Lac in my Dad's 1965 Corvette Sting Ray--that runs on that leaded gasoline they won't let you buy at the pump anymore.

On the way there, I think I will choose to drive at 125-miles an hour--and I will choose to do so while traveling right down the middle of the road. And if anyone gets in my way--I will choose to pass them on the shoulder. You don't like it? Hey, there are plenty of other streets you can drive you know.

I'm probably going to be hungry, so I will choose to stop at a Bar and Grill to get something to eat. Since it's getting a little chilly at night, I will choose to park in those blue handicapped parking spots right next to the front door. To wet my whistle, I will choose some moonshine brewed in a still out behind the bar. I'd hate to have to pay extra taxes on my liquor. Maybe I'll get my order from a bartender who chose not to get a license from the city. And I hope he'll choose to serve me a glass that wasn't washed after it was used by the last customer.

To eat, I'll choose an order of Buffalo wings that the cook chooses not to cook to a proper temperature--who needs to worry about salmonella? And I hope the manager just dumps that used deep fry oil down the drain--and not into a grease trap. I also hope the kitchen staff chooses to let the Bleu Cheese dressing sit out on the counter for several hours before putting it in the little cup. Then I will choose to have pork chops for my entree--but extra rare--in fact cold in the middle. Trichinosis? What's that?

After supper, I'll choose to head over to the Council meeting. To save time, I'll chose to drive in a straight line--right through other people's yards.

Once at the City Council chambers, I'll choose to cut in front of everyone else waiting in line to speak to the Council. In my speech I'll choose to use profanity and maybe make a few personal threats aginst the councilmembers if they don't see things my way. And if anyone else speaks in favor of the smoking ban--I'll choose to punch them in the mouth. If you don't want to get punched in the mouth, then don't go the Council meeting.

When the cops come to haul me away, I will choose to remain silent. It's my right you know.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday 10-08

So how did you enjoy your Sunday without the Packers game? Based on the outcome, most Packers fans probably enjoyed not being able to witness what was going on. I know I didn't miss it one bit--what with playoff baseball, NASCAR, regular season hockey and the Cowboys game being on CBS. How about that, hockey was on tv in Northeast Wiscosnin and Packers football wasn't. The shoe really does fell better on the other foot. The only disappointment for me was missing the season premier of Family Guy on Sunday night. But not to worry, it will be repeated endlessly in the spring or in syndication.

In fact, I may not miss Fox TV until the World Series starts in two weeks--and then I can still listen to it on ESPN radio. So after that, who really cares if Fox is on cable or not? Outside of sports and the Sunday night cartoons, what does the network have going for it? American Idol? Please, I can get bad karaoke at half the bars in Oshkosh every other night.

The real issue here is: should cable subscribers pay for something they can get for free using a pair of rabbit ears or a roof-top antenna? Lin TV--Fox 11's parent company wants some money for re-transmitting its signal over Time-Warner. Some accounts have it being a penny a person a day, others have it at three-cents per subscriber per month. Either way, it's a cost you know Time-Warner will pass along to its customers.

I'm sure you're thinking "we already pay for a bunch of garbage stations already (i.e.: the five home shopping networks, the informercial channel, EWTN), what's a few more pennies a day to get Judge Judy?" But it's really the principal of the thing. These over the air channel are free--but they now want to charge you for them. If all the ESPN channels, Fox Business News, Fox Sports Wisconsin and The Golf Channel were all free and over the air, I wouldn't even have cable.

So hold firm Time Warner, the Fox 11 blackout hasn't deprived us of anything important yet--probably won't.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday 10-03

Whatever happened to real political debates in this country? I tried to watch the Vice Presidential candidates "debate" last night--but the format continues to bore me. "I'll say my carefully-crafted, well-rehearsed position statement--then you recite your talking points and then we'll move on the next topic." BORING!!! Town Hall Style debates are even worse, as the candidates stumble around the stage with their hand-held mikes trying to look like they are comfortable without a podium and a tele-prompter in front of them.

Here's my proposal: let's have one of the debates run like the ESPN talk show "Pardon The Interruption". For those who aren't familiar, PTI features Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon arguing over sports topics with a time limit on each issue and no moderator. There's even a handy "rundown" along the side of the TV screen to give viewers an idea of what's coming up next. They read e-mails from viewers, play the roles of athletes using "Heads on Sticks" and take sides in "Toss Up" questions.

My "PTI Debate" would start with the two candidates arguing the five biggest issues of the campaign. And note the term "arguing" meaning an actual exchange and response and even interruption of each other. Look for comments like "are you insane, 700-billion dollars for people who don't know how to borrow money?" and "Did you just say 100-years in Iraq?" When the rundown clock hits zero--they get the bell and it's on to the next topic.

Segment two is viewer e-mail. Each of the candidates take turns reading the questions and then they get four to five minutes to argue again.

Section three "heads on sticks". "Governor Palin, you are Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmidinijad. You want to destroy Israel and the US. Tell us why you fear the election of John McCain as President." Or: "Senator Obama, you are your wife Michele. She says she was never proud of America until you were nominated for President. Defend your girl."

It would be great. Real debate and argument about who is the better candidate--and in a format that today's two-minute attention span viewers would appreciate. And nobody from PBS in sight.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday 10-01

As the Milwaukee Brewers prepare to play their first playoff game in 26 years, I can't help but think back to 1982. I turned 10 years old that summer--the perfect age to have your team go the World Series. I remember a huge snowstorm and cold snap that went through the state the week of Opening Day--and how it seemed we would never be able to play ball outside.

For my tenth birthday I got a new aluminum baseball bat, a new Bill Madlock signature model Cooper baseball glove--and tickets to the Brewers game the next day at County Stadium. The whole family went along--including my grandparents. Mike Caldwell started for the Crew against the Indians on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in July. We had lower box seats down the first-base line. I even remember it was the NBC Saturday Game of the Week--so there was a national audience as well and a real electricity in the stadium. The Crew fell behind early, rallied late and Rollie Fingers came out of the bullpen to close it out. Even my mother got into the "ROLL-IE, ROLL-IE" chant. The win put the Brewers into first place for the first time all season.

The rest of the season just rolled from their. Unfortunately, I missed out on one of the greatest moments. My parents had a strict "in bed by 8:30 on a school night policy"--so I didn't see the Ned Yost homer over the Green Monster to beat the Red Sox and go up three with four to play. Maybee that's why I had such dis-like for Ned as a manager--it was really an unresolved issue with my parents.

Anyway, I sure didn't miss Robin Yount hitting two homers off Jim Palmer to pull it out for the Crew on the final Sunday in Baltimore. I can still remember being nauseous I was so nervous before that game. I can also recall sneaking a transistor radio and earpiece to school on the Friday of Game Three of the ALCS against the Angels so I could listen at school and on the bus ride home. The Brewers almost had their own Steve Bartman--as a fan in left field reached over the railing and took a fly ball out of Ben Oglivie's glove--giving the Don Baylor a grand slam that almost cost the Crew the game.

Right now, my wife is going nuts because I can remember all of these little details about sporting events that happened 26-years ago--but I can't remember to put out the garbage on Wednesday nights without being reminded every week.

Game Five of the ALCS will always be the high water mark for the Brewers franchise. Charlie Moore throwing out Reggie Jackson at third, Cecil Cooper telling the ball to "get down" in left to drive in the winning runs, Rod Carew grounding out to Robin Yount to end it, all the fans on the field. I'm getting a little choked up just thinking about it.

In a way, I was lucky the Brewers made the World Series when they did--because that was still when they played day games in the Series. That meant I got to watch all of games 3, 4 and 5--because they didn't start at 8:00. It also meant the Crew was ahead in Game Seven when I was sent down the hall. Don't tell my parents, but I actually laid with my head to the door that night listening to Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola describing the Cardnial comeback (thanks for nothing Bob McClure) and Gorman Thomas striking out to end it. I'm not afraid to admit, I cried after that. I just couldn't imagine they would lose.

And now they haven't been back since--until today. I always like to give you predictions--so here's mine for the Phillies series: Philadelphia in four. Sorry.