Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Weekend in Review

"No Fun(ding) in Band" Edition

NCAA Football

Georgia 45, LSU 16: This is the point where I realized that Georgia didn't lose too many people from last year (among others, QB David Greene is back), and said, "holy crap, they are really good."

Northwestern 33, tOSU 27: It was only a matter of time before the Buckeye defense would no longer be able to carry their offense, although they did try. A return and a turnover accounted for two of OSU's 3 TDs. It was also only a matter of time before Mike Nugent missed a clutch kick in OT, although the Northwestern O proved it wouldn't have mattered anyways.

Virginia Tech 19, WVU 13: Well, this was the only halfway decent team on the Mountaineer schedule, and they lost a close one. Hopefully the pollsters remember this game when they want to truly judge West Virginia's talent.

Auburn 34, Tennessee 10: Holy crap is the SEC good this year. Hopefully Ken Baer watched this one. QB Eric Ainge threw four picks and had a fumble. If played right, ND-Tenn will be FSU 2002 all over again.

Louisiana Tech 28, Fresno State 21: With LaTech's schedule the past few weeks, Fresno State's #17 ranking made them look easy. Of course, RB Ryan Moats's 236 yards also made Fresno State's WAC run D look easy.

BC 29, UMass 7: Do I need to start a weekly "The Big East isn't easy enough, so let's play a I-AA team" segment?


Browns 17, Redskins 13: This was by no means a pretty game, unless you're a huge fan of bad offense. On the positive side, the Browns once again had a good game against a great runner, holding Clinton Portis to 58 yards. The Skins' only touchdown came after converting a 4th-and-7 when the Browns came with an all-out blitz (somewhere, TMQ weeps). In the second half, the Browns offense finally decided to show up, and they put together two who touchdown drives. A shutdown D held a Washington mediocre offense to a single field goal in the second half, and the Browns escaped with a win in Cleveland.

Giants 14, Packers 7: Are the Giants that good, or are the Packers just that bad? The Packers have fallen apart after (or during) the Chicago loss. That, and Tiki (Ellen loves him) has been playing like a man possessed under Tom Coughlin's system. I give credit to linemen Luke Petitgout and Chris Snee. Well, no, I really don't want to give Snee any credit.

Broncos 16, Tampa Bay 13: I have a feeling I may get kicked out of the house if my dad finds out Quentin Griffin is on my fantasy team. That's how bad the hatred is. I'm still surprised my dad hasn't switched heartburn medicine after John Elway started endorsing his (ironically causing him more heartburn...).

Major League Baseball

First, Ichiro. He ended the season with 262 hits, breaking George Sisler's 84-year-old record. "But Sisler got his hits in a 154 game season!" OK, let's look at what should matter, than: at bats (I could go with plate appearances, but Baseball-Reference.com doesn't track the year-by-year leaders in that category). The most at bats logged in a 154-game season was 696 by Woody Jensen in 1936. Now, let's look at how many at bats Ichiro had when he got 257 and 258. He went into game 160 with 256 hits in 690 at bats. Starting the game with two hits in his first two at bats, Ichiro had 258 hits through 692 at bats. Argument over, hats off to Ichiro.

Twins/Yankees: Let me start by saying I don't want either of these teams to win. The Twins are a bunch of whiners who fold when the pressure to stay on top shows up. And, the Yankees are the Yankees. Any other team would be able to manhandle the Yankee pitching, but the Twins will most likely fall apart when facing the Yankee mystique - unless, of course, the Twins find some way to let Johan Santana pitch all 45 innings of this series.

Red Sox/Angels: Two great teams, but I don't know if the Angels have it this year. Bartolo Colon has been lost on the West Coast, and the team wasn't to deep in the rotation to begin with. The loss of Adam Kennedy and Jose Guillen was huge, so it's up to the Jeff DaVanons of the team to step up (and I won't be surprised when they do). Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez should dominate a five game series, even though Pedro isn't facing Cleveland. The Sports Guy does a good job analyzing this series in his latest column.

Dodgers/Cardinals: The Dodgers get screwed by the luck of the draw here. Unless Eric Gagne can become the entire LA bullpen, the Cardinals roll. Of course, if the Cards have the lead before it's even time for LA to go to the bullpen, it's over even sooner.

Astros/Braves: There's a theory that players whose names start with B fold in the playoff. The Astros have never won a playoff series with Bagwell and Biggio, so what did they do? Add a Berkman and a Beltran. Hopefully the B rule does not apply to ND alum Brad Lidge, who set a new record for K's by a reliever in a season with 157. This one will be close, but I think the Braves will once again just find a way to win this series, even with Jaret Wright as a #1 starter.

Finally, in case you missed it last week, here's how Cleveland pitcher Kyle Denney's night went after a no decision in his final start against the Royals. As is tradition, the Indians participated in some harmless fun by making their rookies dress up in various outfits for the bus ride to the airport. Denney wore a female USC cheerleader's outfit, complete with blonde wig and knee-high leather go-go boots. On the ride to the airport, someone shot at the Indians' team bus. The bullet flew into the bus and lodged itself into Denney's leg. The team trainers pulled the bullet out, and the veteran Indians players were nice enough to give Denney his regular clothes back for his trip to the hospital. Denney spent the night at a Kansas City hospital, but was basically fine. Here's the best part, though: the thick boots Denney was wearing most likely prevented severe damage by the bullet to Denney's leg. You can't make this up.

The part where I ramble on about my weekend at ND

Immediately upon arriving at ND, we reported to the stadium, where apparently the helmets are being painted during the day now. The managers have also moved the painting to an inner entrance ramp of the stadium, where there isn't a good view from outside the gates of the stadium. That, of course, didn't stop Todd from taking pictures. The outlet store was closed, but we were able to meet the band in front of the dome before Friday marchout. Good Lord, I don't recognize anybody anymore. We did visit the band's practice for a while, and there we ran into people we did recognize. First, it was Mothball, who is the Cal Ripken to Sam Sanchez's Lou Gehrig as far as consecutive years at ND go. We both were duped into buying $2 candy bars for some local parochial school. Mothball lamented that this was probably the 8th candy bar he's bought this season. Good, good. Next, who did we run into but Mike Hannigan. He is actually done at ND, but he was back in town for the game. Not only that, but he had passed the Bar earlier that same day. Congratulations, Mike.
From practice, we went to the pep rally - my first opportunity to see a whole one. We started wandering around the JACC, and I noticed that the trophy room was open. Todd started immediately photographing the Heisman trophies, as I wander around to check out the various other memorabilia. Then, who comes up the steps from Gate 1 but Justin Tuck and Mike Goolsby. Todd of course has to wish them luck. Soon later, a few more players enter, then a few more. Todd's right there, and he's like a 7 year old kid - loving every minute, saying hi, and wishing the players luck. Fortunately, Todd had studied the Michigan program on the way up, so he was able to put faces to names. We really lucked out by standing in the exact spot where the players come enter before the pep rally. Not even catcalls of "Freshman!" from a random student could deter Todd from his stargazing.
The pep rally itself was a good one. The skits featured a Chuck Lennon impersonator and a person in a #44 jersey (Tuck) playing like Terry Tate. "Tuck" took turns sacking Kyle Orton, Kelly Ripa, and a "nerdy pollster." Not bad. Then, it was time for the real pep rally to start. We were high in the cheap seats, but looking straight on at the podium. As the team came out, I see a familiar man in a familiar suit. "Is that Hank Aaron?" Yes it was! It was a great speech, and there were scattered boos from the crowd when he mentioned a "certain someone in San Francisco." Following Aaron was Mike Goolsby. The following is a paraphrasing of Goolsby's speech, but the length is about the same: "Wow, I can't follow Hank Aaron. Cheer loud tomorrow. Go Irish!" After Goolsby was receivers coach Trent Miles, who group up in Boilermaker country. He offered this anecdote from his childhood:
In class one day, as a big Purdue game was coming up that weekend, the teacher asked who in the class was a Purdue fan. Everyone raised their hands, except Miles. When asked why he didn't raise his hand, Miles explained that he was a Notre Dame fan. Probably pulling the Katie Alpha Face, the teacher asked Miles why he liked Notre Dame instead of Purdue. "Because my family likes Notre Dame." Flustered and upset, the teacher asked, "What if your family were morons? What would you be then?" His response: "A Purdue fan." Zing! Miles also ended his speech with the first a-bomb spoken at the pep rally podium since Rocky Boiman's graduation.
For Friday night, the decision was Corby's. Upon entrance, who do I see but Marcus Barlow. Marcus is happy to see me, but tells me, "I'm off to The Backer right now, 'cause that's how I roll." Corby's and The Backer in the same night? Brilliant! We make our way out to the patio, and Todd swears he'd seen Rick Mirer. He was right. I looked around a little, and we weren't the only group of guys having the "That's not him! Yes it is!" discussion. I had figured that Mirer had been cut in the preseason, but apparently he's the Lions' third stringer this year. It turns out he's originally from Elkhart, so I'd imagine he was in town visiting his parents (who were also there). Fantastic. Todd decides he needs to take a picture of Mirer by pretending he's taking a picture of Yonto and Jessica in front of the Corby's patio sign, and I decide I need to act like I don't know Todd. Then the rain started, so we decided to move to The Backer. There was a distinct lack of people that Ellen loves there, but it was still a good night.
Saturday morning brought another trip to the Alumni window. We were lucky, too, as they were down to single tickets as it got to my turn in line (we only needed one extra on top of the 4 I already had). After some wandering around, and a brat at the Fisher stand, we needed to wait by the dome for the rest of our party to arrive. While there, a man who looked like a bigger version of Darius Walker, complete with a navy "D. Walker 3" jersey, walked by. Right behind him was a man identified at the Washington game as Walker's dad - baseball cap, sideburns, 'fro and all. The jerseyed Walker must be Darius's older brother. Shortly after the sighting, Todd's brother, brother's fiance, and brother's fiance's 5-year-old son arrived. In case you're counting (and Paul Epstein tried), Todd is not related to the 5-year-old boy... yet. The rest of the party waited to watch the team come out of mass, while I wandered over to Concert on the Steps. There I saw two familiar faces. "Cronk! ... I mean... Cronks!" It was the married couple themselves, doing very well, thank you. After Concert, it was a quick stop at inspection (I had nothing), then off to the stadium.
We'll skip the game part about the game, but I will mention this: you should have seen young Noah's eyes light up while the band danced, just as they did when he looked up at the dome from the inside, and just as they did when the travelling band showed up right behind us to play the Victory March. Noah definitely knows the tune to the Victory March (and loves it), and he can sing along if someone else sings the words. Did I mention Todd's brother also watched Rudy with Noah on Thursday night? And that Todd gave him a kid's sized navy #1 jersey? This kid is going to be fired up about ND.
After the game, the rest of the party had to take off. I was able to get to Morrissey mass just in time. I believe the mass was said by Father Jay - a stocky man with dark hair and a beard, right? He even mentioned NDNation in his homily. How about that. Afterwards, everyone decided to sell me out for their girlfriends. Good good. So, I decided to randomly wander campus just like good old times. Excellent, even if it was boozeless. Just like old times, the night also ended with crappy network TV - this time a show called "She Spies." This show is almost intolerably bad, but they do get credit for throwing a "Who said that?" into a conversation - with the correct useage. Sunday morning was relatively uneventful, except for "goodbyes" that were really "see you next weeks."


  • To help fund a band trip to Tennessee, click here. I'm considering sending in the ticket money I would have used to possibly go to the Pitt game.

  • A scene from the Washington game: Klondike shows up at a place where the band is gathering. The first person he sneaks up on is Yonto. After greeting him, and everyone else he rememebered, Klondike looks around and asks, "hey, where's Yonto?" Uh, he was the first guy you saw, remember?

  • So, apparently there are postgame masses in the main rehearsal room of the band building now. The only thing is, the first time they had this mass, at the Michigan game, no one thought to first erase the Picks from the chalkboard. So, as Aflac's parents joined him for mass, they were greeted by this message, stretched across the top of the chalkboard in big letters: "ND: NUMBER OF PICCOLOS AFLAC HAS TRIED TO GET WITH. MICHIGAN: NUMBER OF PICCOLOS AFLAC HAS ACTUALLY GOTTEN WITH."

Ah, you've been great. I'll be back Friday morning with a Stanford preview, then I'll see most of you this weekend for the game.