Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Major League Baseball Playoff Preview

There are many reasons to watch the 2008 Major League Baseball playoffs with great interest. None of which include the fact that we finally have a post-season without the Yankees. Or Jose Guillen for that matter, which really pisses me off (but if you don't think a Royals fan can be overly excited for a 2009 season featuring The Mexicutioner, Zack Greinke and the enigma that is Guillen, well then you probably don't care about that shit that James Earl Jones says about hope in baseball). Here's what really has us excited about this post-season:

  • Harold Reynolds: Lost in the big mystery about why Harold was let go from ESPN is , he's really fucking good on television when talking baseball. TBS has let Harold do some in studio work (as in the All-Star Selection show) and be the color guy (like he did tonight for the White Sox/Twins AL Central tie breaker). And he's good at wherever they put him. I know Tim McCarver has his critics (we'll get to him later), but seriously, over the past 10 years, who's been better on television covering all things baseball? We're glad HR is back with TBS's under-rated coverage of the playoffs. He'll make staying up late for a West Coast game worthwhile. Famously harassed a woman on a flight to Omaha into marrying him because "she had nowhere else to go."

  • Dick Stockton: Mostly known for his NFL and NBA work, but let's face it, he's as good as it gets for play-by-play. Also married to Lesley Visser, who was the Erin Andrews of her era. Stockton did the Twins/Chisox game tonight with Harold. If you can't enjoy Stockton providing your play-by-play, there's no hope for you. Probably means you don't watch Mad Men either, which is what this blog is more or less going to be all about over the next month, and that would mean we don't like you.

  • The Cubs Factor: Good God, is there a more nervous bunch of perennial favorites going into the post-season than Cubs fans? The Cubs finish an incredible season and have home field advantage through the National League, and you won't find a more rabid bunch of folks looking for Steve Bartman's head if Derek Lowe shuts them down in Game 1 of the NLDS. But I still say there's a conspiracy factor in place about MLB scheduling those September Cubs/Astros games at Miller Park, close enough for Cubs fans to travel in droves, as it became clear that the Yankees were going to miss the October parade. I wonder who Bud Selig would really root for in a Brewers/Cubs NLCS.

  • Manny Ramirez: You really want to rain on a Red Sox fan parade? Suggest a Red Sox/Dodgers World Series, with Manny coming back to Fenway for Games 1 and 2. That's a long way from happening, but consider that Manny will be at Wrigley for at least 2 games, and he's suddenly woken up since the trade to Los Angeles. Is there a better first round series than the Dodgers/Cubs series, even if the Dodgers got in by playing in such a weak division (as Hank Steinbrenner would like to remind anyone and everyone)? Has parlayed the whole "Manny Being Manny" myth into a justifyication in wearing uniform number 99 with the Dodgers.

  • Joe Torre: This is the 14th straight year that Torre has managed a team to the post-season. And he's on the Veteran's Ballot for next year's Hall of Fame vote. And in case you haven't heard, they're tearing down the old Yankee Stadium. Torre is likely going to get in the Hall, and go in as a Yankee. What if he brings some of that playoff magic he had during that late 1990's run with the Yankees? What if Torre and Manny start the World Series at Fenway? Torre knew what he was getting into when he took the Dodgers gig. He had the chance to win the weakest divsion in baseball, and then got Manram gift wrapped to him at the trade deadline. And if he somehow punks the Cubs and the Brewers/Phillies winner, what does the Yankee brass think? This is now the third different franchise Torre's led to the playoffs. But the Yankees think they're better off without him.

  • Lou Piniella: Sweet Lou took a lot of (deserved) heat for the way he handled Carlos Zambrano during last year's Division Series. Like Torre, this is also the third franchise Lou's brought to the post-season dance, but anything less than a World Series at Wrigley is considered a failure. And imagine if Lou takes them there, but faces the one team that he couldn't get over the hump in Tamp Bay...

  • Kerry Wood: It's now been ten years since Wood pitched what has to be one of the all-time greatest games, when he struck out 20 Astros on that chilly day in Chicago. He's now the team's closer, but a 9th inning with Wood coming in to protect a one-run lead had more drama than Don Draper talking his way back into Betty's bed on Mad Men. And this is now Kerry Wood's 4th trip to the post-season with the Cubs, which is something sort of a miracle.

  • CC Sabathia: He could very well start every game in the post-season and nobody would be surprised. And if the Brewers get past the Phillies, you're sure to see a "Sabathia signs with the Yankees for 7 years/$140 million" before December headline. Also: Fat.

  • Jamie Moyer: He's 46 years old, which means he's the same age as John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling on Mad Men. I figured Slattery was easily in his 50's. If the Phillies are down 0-2 to the Brewers, they'll be counting on Moyer to bring them back to life. Is married to the daughter of Digger Phelps, which doesn't win him any fans. And he's also older than...

  • Greg Maddux: This story from bleedcubbieblue.com sums up all you need to know about Maddux: "'Watch this, we might need to call an ambulance for the first base coach.' On the very next pitch Hernandez drove a line drive into the chest of the first base coach, who, fortunately, wasn't seriously hurt. John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Kent Mercker and others sitting around were needless to say completely freaked out. Maddux explained that Hernandez had been jammed inside by Braves pitchers for the whole series and he could tell from the shift in his batting stance he was going to rip one towards the first base coach's box." Would rather be playing golf with John Smoltz and Tom Glavine right now than worrying about whether or not he's on the Dodger's post-season roster.

  • Brett Myers: Beats his wife; Was sent to the minors mid-season, and is somehow now considered a feel-good story regarding the Phillies; Again: Beats his wife. The worst thing we can come up about Zack Greinke is that he thinks Brad Pitt's acting career peaked with Legends of the Fall. And we're supposed to root for Brett Fucking Myers?

  • Ken Griffey, Jr.: I could really care less whether he plays in a World Series. Seems to live off the fact that he's more "user friendly" than the more talented Barry Bonds, but everyone glosses over what a dick he's been. One can't help but realize the similarites between Griffey finally getting post-season glory to when Frank Thomas had to sit on the bench when the White Sox finally won their title in 2005. Reds fans are secretly hoping he breaks his leg.

  • A.J. Pierzynski: Confirmed prick, but very proud of it. He will undoutbedly be a part of some sort of bizarre controversy, one that will make Dick Vitale shout for 10 straight minutes next Monday on ESPN's Mike & Mike Radio Show.

  • Jermaine Dye: One of my all-time favorite former Royals, who I once went out of my way to heckle until acknowledgement because I was pissed he was traded for Michael Tucker. Has a bizarre scar on his face that makes him even more likable. If he were playing right field for Boston, there would be Hall of Famer stories written about him.

  • The Rays: Not really the "feel good" story everyone wants you to believe. If they were so "feel good", the Trop would sell out every game and they'd have somebody other than Dick Vitale as their spokesperson. A real "feel good" story would be Zack Greinke starting Game 1 of the ALDS for the Royals, more worried about Brad Pitt and the box office for Burn Before Reading and the Mexicutioner ready to save the day. There's really nothing to like about the "Devil" Rays.

  • <Ozzie Guillen: The world would have been better off with his team blowing the game tonight against the Twins. Now MLB has to worry about a possible Rays/Angels ALCS. Without Jay Mariotti to kick around, what can Ozzie give us?

  • Josh Beckett: Is hurting more than Bosox fans want you to believe, but now that the Red Sox have become the Yankees, who cares? Also: White Trash.

  • Neil Diamond: Penned a song about Caroline Kennedy that has become a Fenway Park anthem, and is wondering when all of the residuals kick in; Probably wondering why the Reds never adoped "Crackin' Rosie"; hates Saving Silverman, and wonders why his management staff let him appear in the movie.

  • Mike Scoisscia: Is hated by one Jose Guillen, which makes him public enemy number one one our list; gets credit for being a good manager despite the fact he works for an owner who over-pays for talent; Also: fat.

  • Francisco Rodriguez: Just a little too eager to own one of the most over-rated records in all of sports; Like CC, is playing for a big-time contract, which the Yankees will be happy to pay him; Like Stallone, probably doesn't need to wear those glasses.

  • Torii Huner: Is secretly laughing at everyone who thinks he needs that extra "i" at the end of his first name; Has agreed to blog this post-season at mlblog.com, and has Rob Neyer pulling hairs over the fact that he still doesn't draw enough walks in the "Moneyball" era.

  • Prince Fielder: Hates his dad, who was a very good player for some very bad teams; Subscribes to what the common folk refer to as a vegan lifestyle. Despite all of that, still: fat.

  • The Brewers "Now or Never" Stance: You have to at least admire what the Brewers are doing with their "All In" policy here. They fired their manager with less than two weeks to go in the season. They've asked poor CC to pitch every other day. Their team very well could look worse than your 2007-09 Kansas City Royals. And here they are, in the post-season. Considering this is the first time since 1982 the Brew Crew has made the play-offs, even if they get swept by the Phillies this is worth it.

  • Brad Lidge: Francisco has been getting all of the press, but the best reliever (other than the Mexicutioner of course) in baseball in 2008 has been one Brad Lidge. He'll get no Cy Young support, even though he should be the clear winner of that award. Lidge had an incredible season for Philadelphia, but everyone's memory of Lidge is that playoff monster he gave up to Albert Pujulos a few years ago.

  • Jon Lester: Sure he survived lymphoma, and will start Game 1 of the ALDS against the Angels. I love this from wikipedia regarding his no-hitter against the Royals this year: " It was also only the second no-hitter ever pitched against the Royals". I'm still trying to figure out what's worse: The fact that the Mets have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter; or that the Royals have only been no-hit twice in their rich history.

  • Terry Francona: Yankee fan thinks more of him than they do of Torre, despite the fact that Torre won four titles for the Yanks but Francona has won two in Boston. Is never going to stop chewing tobacco, and considering that Curt Schilling simply refuses to stop blogging, who can blame him?

  • David Ortiz: The most beloved Red Sox player of the past 25 years, despite the fact that he has no business even trying to play first base should they make the World Series; Misses Manny Ramirez more than he'll ever admit; despite the cries of Bosox fans, is not getting close to Cooperstown, no matter how much he smiles for Bob Costas during interviews.

  • Jason Bay: Wondering why he still has to play games into October; Hits his knees every night that he's no longer a Pittsburgh Pirate; wonders why Dan Shaughnessy follows him around everyday.

  • Cal Ripken, Jr.: Still pissed that brother Billy has the baseball card where he's holding a bat that has "Fuck Face" on the end of the bat; wishes Dennis Eckersley would start drinking again if only to add to the TBS studio crew's broadcast; secretly texting messages to Derek Jeter about missing the post-season for the first time in his career.

  • Chip Carey: Is never going to make anyone forget about Harry or Skip; despises the fact that everyone wishes Stockton could do play-by-play for every game; understands that anyone who willingly goes by the name of "Chip" is instantly hated.

  • Tim McCarver: Despite his critics, is an extremely competent analyst; told Bob Gibson a hitter was "colored", only to have Gibby reply, "What color is he?"; has to share a little too much time with Joe Buck over the next four weeks, which gives him a pass; famously called out the Yankee's wrong defensive shift in the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

  • The "Windy City" Series Element: More likley to happen than one might think. The White Sox get to play a DEVIL Rays team in over their heads and the Cubbies have that home field advantage through the NLCS. In an election year that saw the heavily favored Diamondbacks miss the playoffs, what would an all-Chicago series do for Obama's chances right before the election?

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Mad Men: Six Month Leave

    Mad Men took a week off to celebrate their much deserved Emmy wins, but somebody forgot to tell the folks over at ON DEMAND, or at least the Cox Cable people. They kept tonight's "new" Mad Men episode, "Six Month Leave" available for viewing free the entire week. They didn't have the HD version available, however, which for this show is saying something as it sparkles all the more in high def. So for those who couldn't wait until 9pm tonight, there was the opportunity to watch it anytime you wanted the past 7 days. We mentioned that Mad Men has been on an incredible roll this season, and that continues with their latest offering (and if you haven't seen tonight's episode yet, everything following has to be considered spoiler material, but really you should be upset that you could have watched it on your terms anytime over the past week; in fact, it's still available for FREE on demand even now. But again, stop reading now if you haven't watched the episode).

    "Six Month Leave" finds Don and Betty dealing with their separation after the fall out that was last week's episode. But more importantly, this episode is about how everyone reacts to two big events: The shocking suicide of Marilyn Monroe and how it affects the female characters; and what happens when a drunken Freddy Rumsen literally pisses his pants at work.

    The episode begins with Don, coughing while finishing off the morning's first cigarette, getting the paper outside of his hotel room, reading the headline, "MM: ACCIDENT OR SUICIDE". The parallels between Monroe's demise and Betty's own free fall at home are scary as we cut from that newspaper headline to a disheveled Betty wanting to do anything but find a reason to get out of bed, a far cry from the woman who was so excited to get dressed in the montage from the beginning of an earlier episode this season called "Maidenform". Betty pays no attention to her children, spends her days drinking wine and passing out on the couch, never bothering to make the bed she once shared with Don. She even hears a news report about Marilyn's passing while she wanders about aimlessly and lifeless in her home. Like her friend at the stables told her weeks ago, she's sad, but the first half hour of this episode shows she way past sad, and January Jones plays her with such succinct devastation you can't help but think Monroe's suicide is some sort of red herring.

    Peggy's reaction to the Monroe news is what we've come to expect from her as she and Don talk about it in the elevator only as something to just to pass the time. But she impresses Don by saying, "We're lucky Playtex didn't go for that Jackie/Marilyn campaign. We'd have to pull everything indefinitely." Don's facial expression to Peggy shows how impressed he is that she thinks like that, while the other women in the office are in tears over the news. Peggy takes to her career like Don would (he himself had the exact same reaction after the American Airlines crash during the season's 2nd episode, telling Paul to pull all of the Mohawk Airlines ads immediately). Joan keeps her true feelings to herself, lying on Roger's couch when he's supposed to be out for cocktails at 4:30. When Roger walks in on her crying, he can't believe that even "Red" is moved to tears by Monroe's passing ("She was a stranger. Roosevelt...I hated him, but I thought I knew him."), and consoles Joan by telling her in regards to Marilyn Monroe, "You're not like her. Physically, a little bit." No matter, Joan is visibly shaken by the news. "This world destroyed her," she tells Roger sharply, echoing her own feelings of sadness after being passed over for the television department position in last week's episode. "Someday you'll lose somebody...and realize how painful it is." Many female fans have been worried about Joan's character ever since "A Night To Remember", some even wondering about the Marilyn Monroe comparisons before this episode.

    But the real life-changing moment for Sterling Cooper happens during what's at first one of the funniest scenes in the series' short history. Salvatore, Peggy and Pete (and why is it when those three are together in a scene there are great comedic moments?) go into Freddy's office to prep for a meeting they have with the fine folks at Samsonite. After pouring Sal a glass filled to the absolute rim with whiskey (Bryan Batt's expression while holding the drink and saying, "Thanks Freddy" is priceless), Freddy decides to piss his pants in the middle of show prep. He did at least have the common courtesy to do so with his back to his three colleagues, but each of their reactions tells you everything you need to about each character. Sal finds the whole thing absolutely hilarious, Peggy wants to sweep everything under the rug and move on, while that snake Pete already begins thinking how he can turn this opportunity to his advantage. Freddy goes over to pass out as his desk, and Pete immediately seizes the opportunity. "He can't leave this room," Sal suggests. Peggy says they should tell Don, an idea Pete immediately throws cold water on.

    Those in the "Pete Is A Weasel" camp get further confirmation in this episode. Pete finds the one other person who will find Freddy's act "disgusting" in Duck, and they rat poor Freddy out to Roger. Peggy was the only one smart enough to realize they should have let Don know, as we learn from Jon Hamm's frustrated expressions when he gets blindsided by Pete and Duck going to meet with Roger about the pants pissing incident without him. And if you don't think this will further make Duck public enemy number 1 in Don's camp, you haven't been paying attention. Something is slowly brewing between the two, and there may not be enough big accounts around for Duck to bring to the agency to keep him off Don Draper's shitlist. Don also laughs when he hears the Freddy pants pissing incident, and doesn't think it's anything to get worked up about. Roger tells them they need to cut Freddy loose (but "he can still give blood" for Don's blood drive) for "conduct unbefitting". Don wants no part of this, partly out of loyalty to Freddy and knowing how important his job is to his identity, but mostly because Pete and especially Duck are so in favor of gunning for him. "The other agency's will laugh about this," Roger warns, "But the clients, they already think we're all like that." Don agrees to go with Roger to dinner and give Freddy a "six month leave", which everyone knows is a polite way of firing, and provide the guy a proper send-off. And it's not like Betty has opened the door back for Don to come home anytime soon, so he doesn't need to get permission to enjoy a night on the town.

    It's worth noting that the actor who plays Freddy, Joel Murray, is the brother of Bill Murray, which explains why Freddy's character has been one of the most beloved on the series. This doesn't make Freddy's exit from Sterling Cooper and the show any easier. Murray and Hamm have a great final scene together, when Freddy says to Don, "I'm not kidding. What am I gonna do...If I don't come into that office everyday...who am I?" Don himself knows the feeling, and as he and Roger continue drinking after sending Freddy home, he finally admits to Roger that he's staying at the Roosevelt, away from Betty and the kids, but hasn't felt sad about it at all. It's one of Draper's most honest moments. Marriage isn't a necessity to him, although he's not as sharp at the office after sleeping at the Roosevelt instead of Betty's bed. Don doesn't realize it at the time, but he's selling Roger on the idea of being happier away from marriage. "Moving forward" is something Don Draper has always been about, and he's taking the same attitude towards his separation. Roger takes the advice to heart while seeing his own escape, and the episode ends with Mona confronting Don about "encouraging" her husband Roger to leave her after 25 years of marriage.

    Great moments and Notes:

    • Don telling Peggy she was basically getting Freddy's job after her presentation to Samsonite, but not before reminding her he didn't appreciate being "ambushed" by Pete and Duck. "Don't feel bad for being good at your job," Don tells her after she expresses feeling bad about Freddy. Peggy's becoming a Draper clone in a lot of ways.
    • Don noticing Jimmy Barrett at the underground bar, then giving him that "Archibald Whitman punch" to the face. Jimmy had that coming for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was confirming Don's affair to Betty, but there was justice in him getting clocked in front of Freddy, who was passed out drunk when we first met Jimmy making fat jokes to Mrs. Schilling. Nice touch in having Floyd Patterson in the same bar.
    • "I thought you could talk anyone into anything?" Betty to Don after he suggests he doesn't have the time to fight with her if her mind's made up about him not coming back home. Maybe he really is happy to just live at the hotel.
    • Don Draper about how to explain the separation to the kids. "I'm working on an account and they have to put me in Philadelphia, and I'll be home every weekend." This impressed Betty, somewhat: "Did you just make that up right now?"
    • Great showcase for John Slattery as Roger. One of his best lines, about Freddy pissing his pants: "Can't even tell Cooper about this. You know his whole thing with germs." Roger also knows how to bring levity to something as permanent as a firing. "Freddy, there's a line, and you wet it."
    • Freddy realizing it was Duck behind his dismissal: "He's as dry as a bone, he doesn't understand this business."
    • Just when we start to worry about Betty falling into the same traps that Marilyn Monroe did, she sets up that lunch with Sara Beth and that stable boy Arthur. She totally did this as a way to ruin Sara Beth's "perfect" marriage, as Betts is in no mood to see any married couple be happy.
    • Yes, those extra shirts that Jane bought for Don to have around the office were from Menken's, which explains why he wanted no part of them. Given his current marital woes, he doesn't want to be reminded about his affair with Rachel.
    • One of the great things about Mad Men are the little things that can happen in a small scene like the one with Don, Peggy and the doorman on the elevator. "Suicide is disturbing," says Don about the Marilyn Monroe news. After losing his brother the same way, he would know. Also liked the doorman's "Some people just hide in plain sight" and "I just keep thinking about Joe DiMaggio" lines.
    • Peggy is still calling Don by his first name instead of Mr. Draper, at least at the beginning of the episode.
    • We finally get to see hints of real emotion from Peggy in the office. She feels horrible about Freddy, who was the one who discovered her talent for copy writing in the first place. And she's also livid at Pete for selling Freddy out. Pete settles her down by reminding her they'll both be getting raises, and he doesn't feel bad "at all" by getting ahead by throwing Freddy under the bus.
    • Don is as secretive about his marital spat is he is about his past as Dick Whitman. Jane gets on his bad side by trying to learn more about his personal troubles, which he washes right away. "I'd also avoid giving me concerned looks" he reminds Jane. Betty's the same way towards the separation, spurning offers for help from her house keeper, suggesting she just hasn't been getting enough sleep (Insomnia is something Monroe complained about to her own therapist back in the day, the similarities between the two are downright eerie).
    • Like The Sopranos did with the titles of their episodes, the Mad Men episode names always have more than one meaning. On surface, it would seem that "Six Month Leave" is just the term Roger and Don use to let Freddy go easy. It could also apply to how long Don and Betty remain apart. This is a show that doesn't neatly tie everything together quickly, and tonight's episode is further indication that a lot more will happen before Betty takes Don back in. There are many other ways to take the meaning of the title "Six Month Leave". I think the title reveals the importance of the Freddy incident in how it's the final straw for Don in regards to Duck Phillips. The whole idea regarding the concept of what "Six Month Leave" implies is just how these characters don't want to face the hard core reality. Rather than cutting Freddy completely lose, Roger and Don worded it as something like a vacation, where he can dry, up, come back and have the door completely open. And even Freddy knows it won't be.
    • Roger again: "My podiatrist went to Hazleton, came back with some great stoires. He only drinks beer now."
    • One of the final scenes showed the creative staff presenting new ideas to Duck, with Don Draper no where in the meeting. The smart money is that Don didn't know about this meeting -- something Duck lined up behind Draper's back -- and you know this is very well the final nail in Duck's coffin once Don hears about it. If Peggy truly learned from keeping the Freddy incident from Don, she's certainly going to let him in on this meeting, one where at least nobody pissed their pants. Somebody else green-lighting a creative concept -- especially Duck -- will not play well for one Don Draper.
    • And just so we're clear on Duck being on borrowed time, let's consider all that Don holds him responsible for:
    1. The losing of Mohawk Airlines, when Duck suggested SC had a legitimate shot at landing American Airlines. Something he never had a shot at considering he didn't know the actual decision makers and his lone contact there got fired.
    2. Making Don's creative team come up with an edgier campaign for Playtex. Like Peggy said, even if they went for it, they'd be pulling their ads now.
    3. Calling Don out in front of Betty about the Heineken marketing idea. Betty was going to find something else to serve as the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of confronting Don about Bobbie Barrett, but wasn't it awfully convenient to have Duck Phillips start that fire, right in the Draper house?
    4. Duck's determined insistence on getting rid of Freddy.
    • Speaking of Don exacting on revenge on those he feels wronged him, it isn't just the slow build before Duck's eventually exit from Sterling Cooper. You have to figure Don Draper's got a lot more work in him to destroy Jimmy Barrett than that Archibald Whitman move at that bar. Remember the infamous "I will ruin him" move he pulled on Bobbie Barrett a few episodes ago. When the opportunity presents itself, Don will find a way to kill that TV show "Grin and Barrett" and find a more user-friendly spokesperson for Utz Potato Chips. Even if Don doesn't think he can find happiness in a family life he already had, Jimmy broke two major rules, spreading the gossip to Betty and then confronting Don about it when he least expected it. Betty already freaks out when an Utz commercial with Jimmy as the spokesperson airs on television. How will she react when he's the star of his actual series?
    • Monroe's suicide was August 5, 1962, which means this season has taken us from Valentine's Day, 1962 to Marilyn's shocker in nine episodes. Four more episodes are set for this season. Matthew Weiner has made no secret about how this season has been about dealing with a loss of innocence amongst these characters, and the thinking has to be that the season finale will at least mention the Cuban Missile Crisis. Or if he wanted to bookend the American Airlines crash from earlier in the season, he could bring in a storyline about the November 23, 1962 United Airlines crash.
    • More about Jon Hamm, who's star continues to rise with every episode. We mentioned before he used to be in Fantasy Football leagues with ESPN's Bill Simmons. Rich Eisen also let everyone in on how Hamm used to play poker with their group when he was a struggling actor. Hamm's getting to be such a big deal that he's now slated to host Saturday Night Live on October 25th. But not everything is going Jon Hamm's way: He's a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan.

    Game 4: Virginia Tech 35, Nebraska 30

    The most telling moment of the new Nebraska football era came following this past Wednesday's practices. Bo Pelini was short with the media, calling the sessions "average at best". Away from the cameras, the coaches were livid at all of the mental breakdowns that took place on Wednesday from all players (Cody Glenn's name came up an awful lot). Wednesdays can be the worst day of the work week. You don't have the enthusiasm that Thursday brings, or the "let's just get this weekend started" spirit of a Friday. And this Nebraska team had two full weeks of practice to get ready for what was their first real game of the year. But Pelini and staff at least acknowledging the Wednesday worry was a good sign, and it confirmed my belief that Nebraska would be able to beat a very good Virginia Tech team in Lincoln.

    In fact, we figured Tech was the one game on a tough remaining schedule the Corn would find a way to put together a nice victory. Oh sure, many columnists are acting proud that "at least the Huskers didn't get blown out". Seriously, are we at that point STILL? Are we giving this coaching staff a pass for the entire year here? This was a loss, one where those mental errors that caused headaches for Pelini on Wednesday cost the Corn last night. And now Nebraska has a brutal stretch of games for the rest of the season, and even after 9 ranked teams lost over the weekend, there's only one game on the Husker schedule (Iowa State) that feels like an easy lock.

    In a way, a lot of us underestimated Virginia Tech because of their season opening loss to East Carolina. We assumed that THIS was the game Nebraska could somehow squeak a win out of, before getting thumped by Missouri next week and then Texas Tech on the road. And oh by the way, everyone was (and still is) openly concerned about Missouri fan taking over Lincoln next weekend. The real shock was how well Hokie fan traveled. They were out big time in Lincoln both Friday and Saturday, day and night. I must say, for all the credit Husker fans get for being among the "nicest" in college football, these Va Tech fans are certainly an amiable lot.

    Here's the major problem, one we've been pointing out for weeks: Barney Freaking Cotton. The 900 pound elephant in the room is the offensive line, something that was supposed to be one of this team's strengths. Somehow, Cotton has made the offensive line worse than it was LAST year. The Huskers can't run the ball. They won't run the ball. And this is a disaster. Let's call a spade a spade here. Pelini obviously brought a couple of coaches to his staff out of pure loyalty or to please some of the masses (we're not just looking at you, Barney Cotton, but Ron Brown as well). You have to think Pelini is seriously overly concerned about Cotton not being the right man to rebuild his offensive line. No matter how well the defense is -- and make no mistake, the Huskers have a decent one in the making and are at the very least going to do their part in keeping Nebraska in every game -- a non-existent offensive line is going to be the difference between an 8-4 season and a 6-6 or even worse record.

    Oh, but let's not forget that Bo Pelini did have his own moment that could have very much cost his team the game. Husker Nation has taken to Pelini's passion and enthusiasm, going back to when he got in then Kansas State coach Bill Snyder's face after the 2003 NU/KSU game. Pelini's temper cost him last night big time when he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the fourth quarter, giving the Hokies easy room to tack on a clinching touchdown. The ironic thing is that Pelini was right to be angry (Ndamukong Suh was flagged for what was incidental contact, giving Va Tech a first down they clearly didn't deserve and sealing the Huskers fate). Pelini's outburst gave Tech a first and 10 on the Husker 11-yard line. Instead of forcing the Hokies into a field goal, Pelini's unsportsmanlike conduct put the Husker Defense in a bad spot. I'm sure Husker Nation is divided on how they feel about Bo going batshit crazy over that call. Some are pleased that Pelini stood up to the Atlantic Coast Conference officiating crew, and see this as some way to bring the entire team together. Others are livid. It reminds them of Billy C's throat slashing against Oklahoma back in 2005. They recall Osborne getting upset over a bad call, but never to the point of getting flagged for it. Pelini's got a lot of Lou Piniella in him, something we like about him quite a bit.

    This week's odd Husker Sideline Guest: Rush Limbaugh. This explains why Pelini had such a short fuse last night.

    Here's your Pollyanna-esque promising segment of the Husker program. This team is at least going to be competitive against everybody. Out of all things that came out of last night's loss, you can't say the entire game wasn't entertaining. Which will sure make for a more fun season than say having a team throw up 76 points on you. So after tuning up against those three pansies for the first 3 games, the Corn got a legitimate test last night. They have one of the top quarterbacks in college football, who probably isn't utilized to the best of his abilities (a lot of that can be attributed to the offensive line, and some whispers suggest Joe Ganz has a minor injury that impacts his game sometime). Nebraska's defense, as predicted, is inspired. The Shatel's and Sipple's of the world are somehow suggesting Nebraska passed this test. The idea however is to actually win the game. Until that happens against a team that isn't Iowa State this year, the Huskers haven't passed any tests.

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    Paul Newman (1925 - 2008)

    Nobody would ever think to put Paul Newman in any death pool, frankly because nobody could imagine a world without him. We lost Newman late yesterday at the age of 83. He left one of the greatest bodies of film work of anybody, and we've also been fond for the way Paul Newman handled himself away from his movie work, and it's worth noting our own favorite Newman moments both on-screen and off (and we won't include all of the obvious ones you'll be hearing about over the next few days) This list by no means does Newman's career and life justice, it's just our own personal highlights:

    • "Where the Hell Are The Singing Cats": Paul Newman made a surprise appearance on David Letterman's very first show in 1993 when Dave took his act to CBS and the Ed Sullivan theatre. In the middle of the audience, a surprised Paul Newman stood up and asked Dave, "Where the hell are the singing 'Cats'?", acting confused that he wasn't at a Broadway play. Letterman and Newman shared a love for auto racing, and Paul would make numerous appearances on Dave's show through the years.
    • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Really the start of the whole "buddy picture" genre, as Newman and co-star Robert Redford have such an easy chemistry it's impossible to note enjoy every frame of film. The movie holds up incredibly well (this despite the cheesy Burt Bacharach ballad "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"). So many great scenes to choose from. No DVD collection should be without this one. Also one of the greatest endings in movie history.
    • The Verdict : George Clooney is on record as saying Newman's role in this courtroom drama is his favorite of all-time, which is saying something considering what a huge movie buff Clooney is. What could have been standard courtroom fair is elevated by a remarkable performance from Newman, who loved to play flawed characters and not hide any of their warts. Here he again plays a heavy drinker. The fact that Newman was on record saying how much he enjoyed drinking doesn't take away from what's probably his greatest performance.
    • Nobody's Fool: Perhaps my personal favorite Paul Newman movie. He plays an old small-town loner, distancing himself from his son but trying to reconnect to him and the grandson he never knew. Newman so perfectly captures a character we all know in real life, only considered to spend the majority of his day drinking, but charming enough to convince Melanie Griffith to show him her tits.
    • Slap Shot: The role for which Newman says is most similar to his own personality, that being of the vulgar, second-rate hockey coach. As far as sports movies go, this one holds up comedically like Caddyshack and will go down as the best hockey movie ever made, no matter what the masses think of Miracle as a film.
    • Iconoclasts: The Sundance Channel's original series that pairs two people for an hour and basically has them walk around and tell stories about their lives. One of their first episodes featured Newman and Sundance co-star Robert Redford. Almost 40 years after Butch & Sundance, they both still have a genuine chemistry off-screen. They share stories about George Roy Hill (who directed both in "Butch & Sundance" and The Sting, as well as Newman in Slap Shot). It's a great peek into how Newman in particular spends his days, and how Redford marvels at how much Paul enjoys his life of philanthropy, watching films and spending time with his wife of 50 years, Joanne Woodward.
    • The Hudsucker Proxy: Yes, Newman was in a Coen Brothers movie, sharing top billing with Tim Robbins. And somehow Newman as Sidney J. Mussburger fits right at home in the Coen's world. Not one of the most beloved Coen Brothers works, but as with most of Newman's films, it's aged very well.

    Both Newman and Redford spoke for years of wanting to do one final picture together, but they just couldn't find the right script. You'd like to think Paul Newman died with no regrets, but I'm guessing he would have loved to have one more great film moment wtih Redford.


    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Never Trust the Crab Legs at the Mirage

    Our favorite video of the year, only it's from 2003. And our salt throwing folks from you tube can't stop us. This was on their site earlier today only to disappear some hours later. But that won't stop us from keeping something like this from the public, something you didn't know you wanted to see until today. Please stay with the video for the entire clip, it's already a classic. Proof that George Brett is the greatest (s)hitter who ever lived.

    George has always known his shit, and this video only enhances his legendary status in our book. It's almost like Brett was dressed in full uniform for a spring training game ten years after he retired just so he could tell that true story. Just enjoy, and be more satisfied the next time you think you should feel guilty about taking that double tapered shit. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!

    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    Mad Men: A Night To Remember

    There are times in the best television series' history where they hit on all cylinders and go on an unprecedented run that defines them. Like an album where you want to listen to every song, a television series has a period where they hit one out of the park every time. Seinfeld had a run like this (I'm thinking around season four, with "The Virgin" & "The Contest" that carried over through season five). The Sopranos had a lot of streaks like this, most notably in their final nine episodes (the only had one clinker in the middle during that run). The Larry Sanders Show had a lot of streaks like this, until Garry Shandling's fight with Brad Grey got in the way.

    Mad Men is on one of these streaks, and it's beyond impressive, let alone the fact that I seem to be one of the few who actually watches (although we are a passionate lot). I still maintain it takes a lot from The Sopranos, but Mad Men creator and creative spark plug Matthew Weiner learned a lot from David Chase, and when a show is going like his is, it doesn't really matter where inspiration or learning comes from. I've said many times I thought Weiner saved his best work for Mad Men as I wasn't terribly impressed by all of his work on The Sopranos. But now it's very clear: Weiner learned so much during his three seasons with Chase & Company. He's also incredibly smart, and having his own vehicle to call the shots let's his own vision come through. And with season two of Mad Men, he's got the show on an incredible creative roll. One where you want to re-watch all episodes, anticipating a new one like you do with a show you really get into. But the biggest compliment to pay to what Weiner is doing with this season is that not only is every episode great, each one actually gets better every week. By God how else you can leave such a remarkable impression?

    Which leads us to tonight's Mad Men episode, "A Night To Remember", which when we do our continuous Sopranos comparisons, was on par with that show's "Whitecaps" episode, where Carmela finally hits her breaking point with Tony about his infidelity's and throws his shit to the curb. "Whitecaps" was a high water mark for The Sopranos, as we never really thought Carmela would ever call T out for his shit, never mind the fact that it was Edie Falco's and James Gandolfini's finest hour. In Mad Men, we never expect Betty Draper to bust out hubby Don in the same way, but mostly it's because this series is set in the early 1960's, still a few years before Tammy Wynette would spell out "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" in song as the word itself was still taboo.

    Another difference between "Whitecaps" & "A Night To Remember" is that at that point in The Sopranos run, we were all quite enamored with Tony Soprano. Despite all of his faults, his charisma still won us over. We always rooted for him, or at least understood him. That's a big difference between Mad Men and The Sopranos in their main characters. We certainly know enough about Don Draper (played by John Hamm, who continues to put on an acting clinic even though he isn't in Gandolfini's league). He's a phony through and through, a self made man, taking on an entirely new identity in reinventing himself. We get that he was the product of "those two sorry people" as his parents. The biggest difference between Don Draper and Tony Soprano is that we got further insight into how Tony lived inside that head of his with his weekly visits to his psychologist. Don Draper/Dick Whitman isn't afforded this luxury, because again this is (at this point in the series) 1962, and even when Tony first sought out Dr. Melfi, he did so at first in silence as it would have been seen as a weakness around his work. Something that his Uncle and Mother held against him, as they both came of age in the early 1960's as well. Tony kept Melfi around because it was really the only place he could be completely honest, and it also gave us as viewers further insight into what made him tick. We all saw something in us in Tony, even if we didn't murder our best friend on a boat or watch our father cut off some guy's finger.

    Don Draper can't have any moments of honesty like that because he's living a lie. He's living the life of a dead guy, reinventing himself after a fallen soldier because he couldn't stand or figure a way to lead the life of Dick Whitman. Lying is just something he has to do to live as Don Draper, so carrying on affairs is just part of the package. It's what he does. Like Tony, he's incredibly effective at his job, always the smartest guy in the room. It's the domestic stuff that gives him the biggest headaches. Tonight's episode doesn't offer us any new way to relate to Don Draper, and we certainly don't like or root for him like we did Tony. We can be impressed with his poker face in looking Betty in the eyes and saying he never fooled around with Bobbie Barrett (and January Jones as Betty's line of "How could you...she's so old!" was one of many laugh out loud moments). Or how easily it is for him to sell the Heinekin folks on how to deliver their product to the masses. The bottom line is we still have a lot to learn about Don Draper or really Dick Whitman. Like Chase before him, we don't know exactly where Weiner is taking us, but he's obviously going to bring more of Dick Whitman's dark past into focus.

    What happens now is anyone's guess. Certainly Betty could do exactly what Carmela did, and realize it's just easier to keep the devil around than officially make him your enemy. As devastating as Carmela's meltdown was, it didn't have the slow, psychological burn that Betty's did. From her literally throwing up in Don's new car last week to drinking the day through in last night's dress while going through Don's clothes and desk in tonight's episode, Betty could really use her own Dr. Melfi. Like Carm, I figured it could all be about status with Betty, but there's clearly something more going on with her. She knew Don had fooled around before, but having someone else bring it up to her like Jimmy Barrett did put her in quite a tailspin. And yes, there is quite a similarity between Carmela hearing about Tony's fucking around from his former mistress and Jimmy telling Betty that his wife has been screwing her husband. January Jones is only 30 years old and seemingly came from nowhere (or at least bit parts in forgettable movies), but she took full advantage of her moment tonight.

    What else from "A Night To Remember"? Actually quite a bit, as there were two other major storylines that perked up. The two "other" women who make the show (Joan Holloway and Peggy Olson) were also stripped of their masks a lot more. In Peggy's case, she's called out by Father Gill (played by Tom Hanks' son Colin). Again, the comparison's between his character and Father Phil from The Sopranos are inevitable, as Gill has something a bit more on the brain. He even ends the episode rocking out to Peter, Paul & Mary's "Early In The Morning", as the tension leading up to him breaking out a guitar left us thinking instead that he was going to find some pornography to jerk off to. Peggy's been trying to take Don's advice and simply learn to forget anything too painful that should leave a mark on her, but it's pretty obvious she's not going to be able to do that. She's another one who's eventually going to throw everything up, and it can't be pretty when the time comes that she can't keep it in any longer.

    Joan is somebody who would be running a Sterling Cooper in 2008. But she's got to stay just enough under the ceiling before breaking it in 1962, what with having an affair with one of the agency's partners. Joan is wickedly smart, knowing everything that goes on in that office. So you know she's ready to bust out (like she is in one of those accentuating outfits) in a big way when given the opportunity. She got her chance tonight, reading television scripts and understanding where "As the World Turns" was going, how it could affect the agency clients. Of course those clients immediately fall for Joan when they meet her, and both Roger Sterling (don't worry, we'll get to him in a minute) and Harry Crane recognize this, fearful that they don't want Joan to get any "bigger" in their arena, figuring a way to get her back to Office Manager. Joan is ahead of her time. She doesn't really want to settle on her fiancee of a doctor, and deep inside knows she can do what the boys do, even better.

    Roger Sterling (played with ultimate charm by John Slattery) is this show's Uncle Junior. He and Don have a Junior/Tony relationship in a way, although Roger is clearly not jealous of Don's talents. He just wishes he were as young as Don. But like Junior, Roger gets all of the best lines in the show, and you need look no further than his "Duck...Crab" introduction tonight for proof. The Roger Sterling character needs to remain in every episode, and here's hoping that last season's heart attack doesn't suggest he's going to batty like Junior did towards the end of The Sopranos and limit his appearances.

    We also get to learn more of Herman "Duck" Phillips tonight, a character introduced late last season who is the Richie Aprille/Ralph Cifaretto of the series. He's somebody who increasingly gives Don Draper fits, and like Richie and Ralph his character is incredibly fascinating especially giving the time he's living in. Duck had a big battle with the booze, losing his family over a mysterious circumstance at a previous job. In a world where any problem or even meeting is taken care of with some good stiff drinks of whiskey, even at 11am, Duck is an extremely lonely man doing anything else to try to fit in. He takes a drink from an empty glass tonight during a toast, and sips on only tomato juice while all of the other high powered executives get loaded before Betty's well thought out geographic dinner party. The past few weeks have suggested that Duck is back on the booze when he's alone (even though we don't actually see it, editing and actor Mark Moses eyes reactions suggest this). How he somehow keeps from joining the other guys for a celebratory drink in this world, I haven't a clue. The hope is we learn more about Duck's previous job's incident, but you just know like Richie and Ralph, he won't be around for the series entire run. Let there be no mistake, Don has had enough of Duck's shit.

    Like The Sopranos, Mad Men offers many moments of humor. Tonight's best line comes from Account Executive Pete Campbell. When he sees Peggy bring Father Gill into the office, he remarks, "Look at this...Did we just get 'Miracle Whip'?" to colleague Ken Cosgrove.

    I've been recommending Mad Men to everyone since I finally got into it when AMC did a free on-demand High Definition marathon. You can watch all of season two's episodes, commercial free, the same way. And really that's the only way to watch it, as the visuals are so remarkable that high def is the only way to go. But by all means, get into this show and thank me later.

    Game 3: Nebraska 38, New Mexico State 7 (Special End of the Exhibition Season Edition)

    The big talk during the week regarding Husker football had to do with the impressive list of non-conference opponents on the schedule for future years. Who knows what things will look like in 2014, or who will still be around (the smart money suggests this blog isn't one of those things). We do know that 2014 will mark the 30th anniversary of Tom Osborne's signature moment (the decision to go for 2 points and the win instead of the extra point to tie the game in the 1984 Orange Bowl), and it's also the year Nebraska has Miami scheduled for one of their non-conference opponents. I cannot wait to have Michael Irvin and Ray Lewis as special guests on the visitor's sideline at Memorial Stadium.

    This was a hot topic because last night was simply going to be an easy tune up, as the Corn would be sharpened and focused following last week's lackadaisical effort. The first three games of the 2008 non-conference schedule have been a rebuilding program's wet dream. How the Corn got these three consecutive games at home, mixed in with a bye week to get ready for the start of the "real" season and Virginia Tech, is something we really need to have explained. I'm very confident that if Bo Pelini and Steve Pederson were ever to cross paths, Pelini would immediately curb stomp Stevie P's pompous mouth. But after he counts how many teeth he knocked out, Pelini should thank him for this comfy little three-game set-up for his first head coaching gig.

    So here sits a Husker Nation, with a feel for their new football team in the same way a fan would feel after their NFL team goes 4-0 in the Pre-Season. Sure, it feels good, but you really don't have a fucking clue going into the real season. And make no mistake, that's what Virgina Tech at Nebraska will be in 2 weeks. It's Pelini & the Corn's first real test. The second half of last week's game was no "test", no matter how anyone's trying to spin things. Nobody outside of Lincoln gives two shits about what's happened the last 3 weeks at Memorial Stadium. Beat Va Tech, for a matchup of unbeatens when Chase Daniel and a wild Missouri army come to town, and then you'll have everyone's attention.

    The last three weeks again showcased how much of a hard on this new regime has for wanting to merge with the marvelous Huskers of yesteryear. Many former players went on record about how much of a disconnect they had during Billy C four years of loitering. So Osborne and Pelini have made it their point to not only let basically any former player run free through Memorial Stadium on game day (I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised if Grant Wistrom was allowed to actually play on a few series last night), but remind everyone of how great things once were and what they could be again. And this mentality has spread EVERYWHERE. The last three games have all been on pay-per-view, with color commentary from a former player known for saving Osborne's final season, and the only commercials during these games have been advertisements for the UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA. Promos complete with TO getting carried off the field after winning his first National Championship and Johnny Rodgers finally getting his diploma. Seriously, if you're the University, you've already making a nice chunk of money from everyone ordering these games. You could have printed money by selling a few commercials during the games, no? Don't try to say there was no interest or time available. During half-time last night, sideline reporter Larry Punteny interviewed former Blackshirt Jason Peter for what had to be 10 minutes, and he was able to show off his book -- TWICE. We got the memo, everything's back to normal in Husker Land, but can we please take Don Draper's advice and move in one direction, forward?

    But does the embracing of the old school mean this team has to run the fucking option? Because this offense has made it fairly clear that they have no desire to ever run one again. Joe Ganz can certainly run, but he looks about as comfortable trying to make an option play work as Dan Fouts would. That's not suggesting Ganz is only an asset throwing the ball (because last night proved he can go receiver if need be), it's not even a knock on him at all. This isn't an option offense. The option isn't only a play, it's the name of your entire offensive identity if that's what you choose. Osborne and even Solich teams ran effective option plays because that's what they DID. Their entire philosophy was built around that. You need no further proof of this than to have a flashback to Joe Dailey trying to navigate Billy C's West Coast Offense. Dailey and that entire team was made to run an option offense. So if Pelini and/or Shawn Watson really want to excite Husker fan with an option play, they'd better change and build the entire ship to go in that direction. But if running a few option plays is something just to satisfy some of the old guard, cut the cord now.

    So with a much needed bye week, we still don't know what to expect. The Corn could very easily get embarrassed in their next three games. The smart thinking is that Nebraska will beat Virginia Tech (Pelini and staff with an extra week to prepare will make all the difference), play Missouri closer than expected but lose to a very good Tigers team, and then lose in a wild shoot out at Texas Tech (a tough draw for your first road game). Another thing we've learned over the past three Saturdays is that we're all relatively patient with Pelini. Sure, he had everyone scared shitless at the start of that 4th quarter last week. The lollipops and roses came right back last night. That happens when you get what you want, which is finally seeing something that resembles a sort of running game. At this point, the main concern for Husker Fan should be keeping a wild group of Missouri fans quiet when they come the Lincoln.

    I do love how pissed off Pelini gets whenever somebody brings up a "name" for an offense for any team. He doesn't like the term "Spread" offense. He really doesn't want to give any offense any sort of name. He just wants to move the football by whatever means necessary, which makes for fun theater when a media rep brings up a name for any sort of offense.

    Another fun aspect of the Huskers "exhibition" season: Watching Joe Ganz slowly realize he doesn't have to come running to the head coach after every single play, something Billy C infamously did with Joe Dailey.

    Before I forget, why did I just now learn that Clarence Thomas of all people is a Husker fan? How did this happen? (I know now, his wife grew up in Nebraska, forgive me for being the only person who didn't know that little tidbit of information). Not only is he a fan, but he got to be an Honorary Coach last night, and he showed Ekeler-esque levels of enthusiasm after some plays. What does Anita Hill think of all of this?

    You have to feel better about being a Husker fan than an Ohio State fan right now. The Buckeyes are officially where the Huskers were in the late 1980's. The only difference is TO didn't have that National Title that Jim Tressell reminds everyone he won in his second year as head coach. And Nebraska didn't have a national voice to hype them further like the Ohio State University does with Kirk Herbstreit. But really who cares now when the Corn has Clarence Thomas roaming the sidelines?


    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    Game 2, Nebraska 35, San Jose State 12 (Special "Keep A Good Thought" Edition)

    The dissection of Game 2 of the Pelini era will be begin right after we get our heads around the idea of Cody Glenn, NFL Linebacker.

    You could tell from as early as 8am that this was going to a much different day than last Saturday. Maybe the intensity level of home games can be attributed to how fans have decided which ones really matter. It's become obvious that in Husker Fans eyes, there are only 5 of the 8 home games that matter: Last week, Virginia Tech, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. That's it, that's the list. Lincoln bar owners, who got kissed with all-day enthusiasm and a license to print money last weekend, were openly disappointed in the smaller crowds yesterday. We talked to at least five different downtown bar owners, and the overwhelming agreement is that they all expect a big kiss for the 8 home games this year after losing their asses from the horrible October of 2007. How anyone can expect record weekends (which last weekend certainly was) every week in this insane economy is unreasonable. But the downtown bar owners are like Husker fans: Don't just win, but win big.

    It's also worth noting that on Friday, the big buzz, after San Jose State returned a large portion of their tickets, as that the Memorial Stadium sell-out streak could possibly be in jeopardy. Out of all the games on the Corn schedule, this was the easiest ticket to get. No fear, the remaining seats were gone quickly, but still, if there was a game everyone was going to sit out, this was it.

    Which leads us to our actual football game. The entire lackadaisical attitude seamed to reach to the actual team as well. The Corn looked uninspired, sometimes unmotivated, especially on offense. If it weren't for some defensive adjustments, memories of the 2004 Billy C Southern Miss game were coming back. If you take away the two big touchdown returns, a very scary final score of 21-12 would have had an entire Husker Nation up in arms. Not to mention that poor kicker San Jose State trotted out on the field (and they may have just left that kid in Lincoln for all we know). It was an ugly game all around. The thinking going in was that this would be the game where the Corn tried to establish a running game. Didn't happen. Joe Ganz streak of 300 yard passing games ended. But the really big stat from yesterday that has Pelini and company worked up is this one:

    12-103. Twelve penalties for 103 yards. Pelini and his staff took the blame for those, promising to fix it after the game. And let there be no doubt they will.

    What should have everyone concerned is that the offensive line, as it is right now, is not one constructed to put together a serious running attack against anybody. This isn't one of the glory days "Pipeline" offensive lines. Part of that is the way the old coaching regime constructed it. Which again goes back to how important it is that Shawn Watson stuck around for at least this season. The Corn is going to have to use the best of the WCO mixed in with whatever Pelini wants to add. So the idea that some incredible rushing game needs to be established is going to be serious work in progress. We said early on that we were very underwhelmed about bringing Barney Cotton back as Offensive Line coach. Out of all the things you can point to that need fixing in Lincoln, this one sticks out the most.

    We all expected things to turn around on the defensive side, and they certainly are. That was the idea from the start -- get the defense house back in order. I'm not worried there, Bo & Carl and the rest of the defensive staff flat out know how to make defensive adjustments.

    The overall mood about an hour after the game was, "Well, at least we're 2-0". That is something, but the 2008 Huskers are supposed to be 3-0 going into Virginia Tech. And then they'll have two weeks to prepare for the Hokies. But yesterday, the "a win is a win" mentality swept through Lincoln. Maybe that's a hangover from all the shit that Husker fan went through the past few years, hell even during Solich's turbulent run. Could be the playing field in all of College Football has leveled a bit. It hasn't leveled THAT much, and the fourth quarter clearly proved that, as Nebraska separated itself from San Jose State. But the lack of crazed enthusiasm that accompanied Bo's first game from the fans can't spill over to the actual team on the field.

    Special "What Would Have Happened If Last Year's Staff Were Still Around" Outcome: The defense wouldn't have been in position for that first quarter interception return. The D would have allowed a few more big plays. And it really could have been another 2004 Southern Miss game all over again. NU 27, SJS 23 (and an overly concerned Husker Nation would have breathed a sigh of relief that San Jose State really had no kicking game).

    Matthew McConaughey "No worries, no worries, there is a siesta in the making even as we speak" Moment: The Half-time score of NU 14, SJS 9. "They'll make adjustments at halftime" was the rally cry.

    The "Time To Panic" Moment: The End-of-the-3rd Quarter Score of NU 14, SJS 9. This marked the official end of the Pelini Honeymoon phase.

    Tony Soprano "We're All Fucked" Moment: SJS's new kicker nailing that field goal early in the 4th quarter, making the score NU 14, SJS 12.

    Bob Dylan "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" Moment: NU's 21 4th quarter points after that field goal.

    Friday, September 05, 2008

    Not racist in Councill Bluffs

    I just thought this story was hilarious. The homeowners claimed that a black doll on a cross in the front yard was not meant to be racist. Then at the end take a look at the dogs name. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!