Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Weekend in Review

2001 ND Role-Playing Power Forward Edition

NCAA Football

USC 23, Cal 17: USC was once again "just good enough," even with Aaron Rogers's 23-23 start. If they kept up this level of competition, they'd definitely go down once or twice. However, saving a surprise from Notre Dame or UCLA in the last two games of the Trojan season, USC has an easy ride from here on out.

Tennessee 19, Georgia: Well, I was wrong. I thought UGA would be the team to beat this year. However, they play in the tough SEC, where teams are continuing to beat the crap out of each other. If USC had a schedule that read Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, Florida - well, we wouldn't be calling them the best team in the country then.

Auburn 52, LaTech 7: OK, let me rephrase that. If USC had Louisiana Tech's schedule - then we wouldn't be calling them the best team in the country.

Purdue 20, Penn State 13: A close win against a team that hasn't been given too much credit vaults Purdue to #5. The next two weeks are at home against Wisconsin and Michigan. Assuming Lloyd Carr doesn't baby Chad Henne, these next two games will be a great test of Purdue's legitimacy and of Kyle Orton's Heisman hopes.

LSU 24, Florida 21: What a comeback drive by the Tigers. Once again, no one's safe in that conference.

Wisconsin 24, tOSU 13: So, not picking up Ben Roethlisberger and Brady Quinn was a good idea for the Ohio State offense? Perhaps not.

Oklahoma State 42, Colorado 14: Wait, what? OK State was #21? What's going on?

Texas Tech 70, Nebraska 10: Note to ND Athletic Department: if the football team goes 7-4 and 6-5 and gets invited to a bowl against a team like Texas Tech, Boise State (Boise's not a state), or Fresno State (Fresno's not a state) - decline! For the sake of the program, decline!

Army 48, Cincinnati 29: Well, first of all, congrats to Bobby Ross. Second of all: "Cincinnati is no longer a cupcake." Riiiight.


Steelers 34, Browns 23: So, who was the best quarterback taken in this year's draft? I know my answer to that question, even if he "only" had 231 yards this week. Meanwhile, Cleveland looks absolutely lost out there. I'd go into detail, but then I wouldn't be able to finish writing about my trip highlights before it's time for work tomorrow morning.

Patriots 24, Dolphins 10: Tom Brady had a whopping 76 yards passing. If Bill Belichick was a coach on the hot seat, this would just be another ugly win that moved him closer to a firing. But, since he's a winner, it's just another case of knowing exactly what it takes to win and doing it.

Rams 33, Seahawks 27: Seattle rolled out to a big 24-7 lead at the half, and the Rams looked like they could do no good. But then, the Seahawks decided to play ultra-conservative on offense, and slip into a soft zone on defense. Considering a) St. Louis's hole on defense is its secondary, and b) Marc Bulger and Mike Martz's offense is built around picking apart lazy defenses, of course it was all over for the Seahawks. Bulger threw for about 275 yards in the second half/overtime, and outscored Seattle 26-3.

49ers 31, Cardinals 28: Arnaz Battle has a 71-yard punt return for a TD, and it's not even mentioned on SportsCenter, or in the postgame recap? Oh, why would it, when Tim Rattay has 162 of his 417 passing yards dumping the ball off to Eric Johnson.

Ravens 17, Redskins 10: Hey, I wonder who they're going to mic up for this game? I can't wait to find out! Dah.

Titans 48, Packers 27: So, you're Brett Farve. You're defense sucks, so you try to do everything yourself. Then, you realize that doing everything yourself causes you to suck.

MLB Playoffs

Red Sox over Angels: This was the battle between Gammons's team and the most Gammonsesque team out there. The Angels, despite their World Series win a few years ago, were still the Who Dat team as far as marketability went. Hampered by the injury bug and a rotation that can't contend with Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez, Anaheim fell to Boston.

Yankees over Twins: Harold Reynolds laid into Ron Gardenhire for his use of the pitching staff. Joe Nathan went 3 innings - 2 more than he's used to or has ever gone before - in game 3, and was gassed at the end. Johan Santana pitched game 4 on three days rest, the first time in his career he's ever started on short rest. As a result, he could only last 5 innings in a game where a long, strong start was what the Twins needed. Then again, when Santana and Nathan are really the only go-to guys on your staff, there's not much you can do.

Cardinals over Dodgers: Bud Selig must be having a field day with the drama in this year's playoffs. Case #1: this battle of traditional National League powehouses. Even with the powerful Cards on the verge of a sweep, Lima Time comes out of nowhere and wills LA to a 4-0 shutout. But, in the end this "Nintendo lineup" (a phrase coined by Geoff Jenkins after Larry Walker was added in St. Louis's #2 slot) was just too much for a surprisingly weak Dodger pitching staff.

Astros over Braves: The drama continues. Now, it's the "they're not supposed to be winning anymore" Braves against the "playoff 'B' curse." Not only were the Astros left for dead at midseason... Not only did Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio come up huge... Not only did they do so in the face of friend Ken Caminiti's sudden death... But the world finally got to see the newest Killer B - Carlos Beltran. To top that all off, it took all five games of the series - including a few last at-bat wins. And, if I may be Gammonsesque for a second, allow me to give it up for young Houston starter Brandon Backe, who has been just great lately - including a spot start that won the Wild Card in game #162 of the season.

Red Sox vs. Yankees: Oh, like we didn't see this coming. How can the Yankees win? By being the Yankees. How can the Red Sox win? Curt Schilling will have to be healthy, and they'll probably need two wins out of him. Pedro Martinez will have to figure out the Yankees - at best he'll go 1-1, and the Sox will need that one win. Then, the Sox will need to pull out a surpise win from out of nowhere - maybe Bronson Arroyo and his cornrows can answer the call.

Astros vs. Cardinals: You know, when I think about it, this series will be much better than most people think. Everyone knows the Cards are a juggernaut, but let's take a look at the Astros. They have pitching - Pettitte, Clemens, game 5 winner Oswalt, and, oh yeah, that Backe guy. Good pitching beats good hitting, especially in the playoffs. Add to that some surging superstars - the three killer B's. Plus, the Astros win in the X-factor department with the token "overly fired up old Hispanic bench infielder" in Jose Vizcaino. While Tim McCarver is going on and on about Bernie Williams's speed (actual quote) in the postgame, I'll be flipping over to see how this one turns out. (Of course, the Braves did take the Astros to 5 games, so maybe I'm an idiot and this one will be over soon.)


The celebrities and quasi-celebrities who have been spotted at Notre Dame football weekends this year (not counting pep rally speakers, unless they were run into on the street). I know I'm forgetting people, so feel free to fill me in.

Michigan: Dick Vitale. Spotted outside the Bookstore Friday evening, he asked the Bones and several other bandos to play the Victory March for his grandkids. Martin Inglesby. Spotted hanging outside of Legends on Friday night with a random ex-small sport athlete, much as they hung out outside DeBartolo while at school.

Purdue: Rick Mirer. At Corby's Friday night with his wife and parents (at least I'd assume). Mirer is currently a 3rd stringer with the Lions, but is originally from the Elkhart/Granger area.

Stanford: Kelley Siemon. Spotted standing 3 feet from Kanka and Dave at The Backer Friday night. Kanka: "This is up there with the time Alicia Ratay touched my arm at Heartland. Kelley also stayed to watch Trombone Circle Saturday morning. Dave (to Kanka): "She must have come back to look for you." Pat Hayden. Spotted by Kanka walking towards the Dome on Saturday morning, dressed in mismatched, undersized sweats, as if he was 7. Kanka: "I didn't know if I wanted to say, 'hi, it's nice to meet you,' or punch him in the mouth." Harold Swanagan. "Booty" was at The Backer Saturday night. Ruth Riley. Spotted walking in front of Sarah Paulson and her friend Kristen at one point during the weekend. Sarah (not knowing who she was): "Wow, she's tall." Kristen: "That's Ruth Riley." Sarah: "Oh."

Other Stories and Quotes from the Weekend

  • Well, this isn't about the weekend, but this is a rambling. You've probably seen the Bobby Knight quote in the top right corner of this page - "We all learn how to write in the second grade. Most of us move on to greater things." In the 50th Anniversary SI, Steve Rushin was quoted with this comeback: "Most of us stop throwing chairs and calling ourselves 'Bobby' in the second grade, too." Now, flash forward to SportsCenter's Scottie Pippen Top 10, in honor of the former Bull's retirement. In it, they make light of the time when Scottie (Oh, is that an 'ie'? Isn't that even more childish than a 'y.'?) threw a chair! He only threw one - but that's the same amount of chairs that Coach Knight ever threw. The difference between Knight and Pippen? Pippen doesn't upset the media by pointing out their obvious stupidity. Good good, go kill yourself.

  • And another non-weekend rambling. Jamal Lewis's official charge was "felony use of a cell phone," for using his phone to help arrange the drug deal. You wouldn't believe the number of citizen's arrests I would have made on this charge if I would have known about it earlier.
  • OK, so I stayed in Aflac's room this weekend. Now, this past weekend was Browns-Steelers weekend, and Aflac happens to be from the Pittsburgh area. I show up, and his parents are there. "Hey, we made up the futon for you already!" Steelers blanket. Steelers pillow. "I brought up the pillow especially for you this weekend. We even have a night-light for you." A Steelers bar sign, of course. For the record, I threw my sleeping bag over the Steelers blanket to avoid contact with it. For the record, the karma didn't help.

  • Friday night it was of course The Backer, which featured the now infamous femullet lady, and Katie Alpha trying to Ellen-dance to make me feel at home.

  • Saturday started with much Bones and much tailgating. Unofficially, the Bradley-Fitzgerald-Schmitt tailgate was also the KankaNation One Year Anniverary Tailgate. Oh my, has it been that long? Anyways, I digress. I believe it was Mrs. Schmitt who was the first to ask when I would be moving out east. Oh well, with free food and free Cold Ones, I couldn't complain.

  • Meg: "The agreement is that I'm only married to him [Mike] until he dies." Kanka: "Is that why you're trying to speed up the process?"

  • After Ellen told me once again that I was too skinny, someone decided to ask me if I had 6-pack abs. Either that was a joke, or those football jerseys are waaay too flattering. At best, my abs are a pair of 20-ounce plastic bottles. (At worst, they're one of those 2-gallon Gatorade bottles Darrell used to carry everywhere.)

  • After all the bando stuff, it was time to head to the game. Little did I count on the general stupidity of large groups. Had people actually thought to use all of the gates, I may have gotten to see all of pregame. But no, no. At least I was fortunate to share a pair of excellent last-row seats with loyal KankaManiac Nick Schumacher. How often can you spend an entire game discussing everything that the NDNationers would be complaining about after the game.

  • Come the third quarter, after an ND touchdown gave the Irish a 10-9 lead, we decided it was time for nachos. As Stanford drove down the field, we drove down to section 4 to meet one Jon Byrer. The Bones were very fired up when I announced, "Bones! We give you our nachos!" Even the younguns (aka all those people I don't know) were very fired up about the gift. Ah, the tradition lives on.

  • After the game, we met back at the tailgate area to prepare for dinner. Now, being a former manager, Ellen got to assign herself each piece of clothing that the teams got. So, as the sun went down, Mrs. Fitzgerald started to pull numerous adidas fleeces and jackets. And they just kept coming! I should have just kept mine - no one would have noticed.

  • After some waiting, cleaning up, and general breeze-shooting, it was time to meet Brittany and the Alaskan at dinner. "I bet they'll be at the bar," someone mentioned. Good thing I didn't bet against it.

  • Having recently come back from Panama, and since no less than 6 parents were present, Klondike of course had his A game going. Of course, I don't know if he could top Ellen's "bone-meat" comment. Stop saying dirty stuff for a second!

  • After dinner, we stopped by the Varsity Club, where the Fitzgeralds were staying. Wow, that place was like a field trip of ND football history.

  • Of course, then it was off to The Backer once again. There, we of course ran into several managers ("Kelly's a spy!"), danced to "Escape," and sang along with some great New Jersey-genre music. Oh, and in case any of you missed it - apparently, NBC did a feature on Katie O'Sullivan during the game on Saturday. I caught it on replay at The Backer, so I couldn't hear anything, but still cool nonetheless.

  • Sunday morning, I decided to go to 10am at the Basilica. I was ready at 9:15, but thought, nah, that's too early. As it was, I got there at 9:35, and it was already standing room only. That was the largest Basilica crowd I have ever seen. The lesson: on a parents' weekend, get to the most popular mass early. Or, stop by Fr. Jay's Saturday postgame mass in Morrissey.

  • The celebrant at the mass was one Bishop Jenky of the Diocese of Peoria. Now, why would a bishop come all the way from Peoria to say mass at Notre Dame? Well, he could be a football fan, but he also happens to be CSC (that's Latin for Holy Cross, for those of you who are counting). Mike and Meg, that sounds like good karma for your recent move.
  • I didn't quite get on the road in time to pick up the beginning of the Browns-Steelers game. I thought about checking out a little bit of the Lewis interhall game, just to see if Yonto was there as well, and I probably should have. Ugh, it was already ugly when I picked it up at halftime.

  • In case you were again wondering, it's AM 670 out of Chicago that carries the Sporting News' in-progress NFL highlight show. Again, a very interesting listen, and a job I'd just love to have.

Whew. I've probably forgotten a ton, but oh well. See you again Friday morning with the ND-Navy preview.