Monday, August 27, 2012

An astonishing record of achievement from the west Texas plains

Coaches Tippy and Patty Browning with members of the LHS volleyball team after 900th career win (photo credit Lamesa Press-Reporter)Everyone thinks his hometown is special.

Everyone's right.

My hometown of Lamesa, Texas, is special in many ways, and I'm prompted today to put aside politics and law and everything else I usually blog about to extend my warm congratulations to two long-time Lamesans for reaching an amazing pair of career milestones:

Last Friday night, the Lamesa High School Golden Tornado girls' volleyball team beat Van Horn in the Crane Tournament. It was the nine hundredth career victory for Patty and Tippy Browning, twins who've been coaching Lamesa High School girls' athletics teams for forty-five years:

The Vega natives, 900-448 through Friday, made history and have collected a lot of accolades while coaching in Class 3A and 4A before moving to Class 2A this season. The sister duo has earned 21 district championships, and a UIL Class 4A state championship in 1986 along the way.

But the Brownings were quick to divert the individual praise to, what they both said, was a more vital cast of characters.

"The 900th win isn’t the important thing," Tippy Browning said. "The important thing is the history. Without history you don’t have tradition. That tradition is what I feel got us 900 wins. It’s not our 900 wins, it’s 900 wins for the countless student-athletes that have come into our program and created that great tradition and pride."

The Brownings are ranked No. 14 on the all-time active coaching wins list according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Over their coaching career, the Brownings have averaged 20 wins per season, which is a level of consistency most coaches never reach.

I recall when another legendary Lamesa coach, the late and much-loved O.W. Follis, reached his 800th career win as the Golden Tors' head basketball coach; by the time he retired in 1982, he'd gathered 857 career wins. The Brownings' career win total is just as amazing a statistic, and they certainly share the same very rare company.

A Lamesa store window supports the Golden TorsAs amazing as such statistics are on their face, it's what they imply, the story they merely hint at, that is genuinely astonishing. But with just a moment's reflection, anyone who's ever been, or known, a high-school girl can immediately appreciate the patience, the dedication, the love of teaching and of sports, that these numbers bespeak.

Lamesa is a small town, and I live on the far side of Texas from it now. But I'm tickled that the internet and social networking lets me keep track of this kind of news, and I'm happy to extend my congratulations to Coach Browning and Coach Browning! There are a lot of Lamesa ex-pats scattered all over Texas and beyond who are very proud to help you both celebrate this accomplishment.

Posted by Beldar at 09:40 PM in Sports, Texas | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Easements and beaches

I was just now skimming my email, in which I found an invitation to watch a continuing legal education program on important recent decisions of the Texas Supreme Court. One of the cases that's to be discussed is Severance v. Patterson, __ S.W.3d __, 2012 WL 1059341 (Tex. Mar. 30, 2012), whose holding the invitation describes as follows:

Private beachfront properties on Galveston Island's West Beach are not impressed with an easement that rolls or springs onto property. Never previously encumbered, although the law allows the State to prove an easement, as would anyone else.

And so help me, I couldn't stop myself from making and posting this:


Posted by Beldar at 04:29 PM in Humor, Law (2012), Sports, Texas | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, October 02, 2009

Blame where due

Of course, it's entirely George W. Bush's fault that Chicago didn't get the 2016 Olympic Games.


UPDATE (Fri Oct 2 @ 12:32 p.m.): I wrote the one-sentence post above as a joke, based just on reading a news headline on my Blackberry over lunch. But when I turned to the New York Times' report on the International Olympic Committee's decision — which reportedly left the U.S. bidders "stunned" and refusing comment, Chicago having been considered "a favorite" and certainly unlikely to be eliminated in the first round of voting — I found that our chattering classes are already hard at work laying the groundwork for the finger-pointing that I thought would be only parody (italics mine):

The 10-person Chicago bid team, led by the president and Mrs. Obama, put on a presentation heavy on emotion and visual images without getting too deep into he details of the bid.

“To host athletes and visitors from every corner of the globe is a high honor and a great responsibility,” Mr. Obama whose Chicago home is a short walk from the prospective Olympic Stadium. “And America is ready and eager to assume that sacred trust.”

In the official question-and-answer session following the Chicago presentation, Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.”

Mrs. Obama tapped the bid leader Patrick G. Ryan, so Mr. Obama could field that question.

“One of the legacies I want to see is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world,” he said, before adding that the White House and State Department would make sure that all visitors would feel welcome.

And from the Chicago Tribune's telling of the same tale (italics again mine):

The city's presentation ended at 2:52 a.m., with President Obama answering a final question from the floor.

The question: Sometimes foreigners entering the United states can go through a rather harrowing experience. With the influx of so many thousands of people during the Games period, how do you intend to deal with this?

Obama responded: "One of the legacies I want to see is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world."

He pledged the "full force of the White House and the State Department to make sure not only that these are successful Games but that visitors all around the world will feel welcome and will come away with a sense of the incredible diversity of the American people."

Perhaps with the Bush administration in mind, he added: "One of the legacies, I think, of this Olympic games in Chicago would be a restoration of that understanding of what the United States is all about and the United States' recognition of how we are linked to the world."

Yes, in the Gospel According to Barack, all in America before The One was darkness and evil, but now all is hopey-changitudinous goodness. Even direct intervention by The One Himself wasn't enough to overcome the lingering poison of Boooooosh!

From the first NYT article quoted above, however, we can find an entirely sufficient factual rebuttal to this particular "Blame Dubya" argument: "New York’s bid was eliminated in the second round of voting for the 2012 Olympics." Even in 2005, then — post 9/11, with Dubya still at the helm nationally, and with both Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg leading the presentation — the U.S. fared better in the I.O.C.'s deliberations, at least making it to the second round of voting.

UPDATE (Sat Oct 3 @ 7:45 a.m.): One of Rich Lowry's email correspondents complied a fabulous "Top Ten" list of reasons why Chicago didn't get the Olympics, and guess what's Number One? Elsewhere, InstaPundit links Dana Loesch, who links quoting disgraced U.S. Senator Roland Buris as saying "that the image of the U. S. has been so tarnished in the last 8 years that, even Barack Obama making an unprecedented pitch for the games could not overcome the hatred the world has for us as a result of George Bush." also attributed the same statements to Burris, but someone on Burris' staff had the good sense to scrub the Bush-blaming from his official press release congratulating Rio de Janeiro for winning the competition. (Jokingly or not, the WaPo's Dana Milbank in turn blames ... Burris!)

Posted by Beldar at 12:14 PM in Current Affairs, Humor, Obama, Politics (2009), Sports | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mike Leach's misplaced pique

Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach threw a middle-sized fit Saturday night during Tech's 34-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns, insisting that the officials had improperly frustrated an attempted trick play by the Red Raiders. According to the Dallas Morning News:

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was upset with the officials at halftime.

On the final play of the first half, Tech quarterback Taylor Potts pretended to take a knee before dropping back for a pass. Replays showed Potts' knee never touched the turf, but the officials blew the play dead.

"We never took the knee, and they whistled it down," Leach told ABC as he left the field.

Coach Leach could also be seen berating the officials immediately after the call, although the exact wording of his shouts wasn't audible on ABC Sports' broadcast sound feed, and I don't know if there was profanity to go along with his arm-waving. And Leach's fussing, combined with the replay, apparently convinced at least some observers that the refs had treated the Raiders unfairly. The Houston Chronicle's David Barron wrote, for example, that the "Red Raiders were waylaid by a potential borderline call by the officials that short-circuited an attempted trick play in the final seconds of the first half." Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's website likewise noted that the "Red Raiders were irritated with the way the first half ended," and at least implicitly blamed the refs by pointing out that "a television replay showed Potts’ knee never touched the ground." Tech trailed Texas 10 to 3 at the half, so if the trick play had gone for a touchdown, that presumably would have resulted in a half-time tie and an even closer second half than that which actually ensued (the 'Horns didn't put the game away until the final 90 seconds).

But while Coach Leach was right that Potts' knee never quite touched the turf, he was dead wrong to fault the officials for blowing the play dead. There can be no doubt whether this was a deliberately called trick play — Tech telegraphed that by taking a timeout with one second left in the half before they tried it, and Leach could be seen giving detailed instructions to Potts that were clearly too complicated to be "Take a knee and let's go to the locker room, son." And as it was in fact executed, there likewise was no doubt whatsoever that Potts was deliberately trying to make it look to the 'Horn defenders like he was merely taking a knee to run out the clock, and the rest of Potts' teammates were cooperating in that farce. Based on the simulated kneel-down, the refs made exactly the right call:

From the NCAA Football 2009-10 Rules and Interpretations manual, Rule 4, Article 3, entitled "Ball Declared Dead," provides in pertinent part as follows (at pages FR-79 to -80, corresponding to pages 82-83 of the .pdf version):

A live ball becomes dead and an official shall sound his whistle or declare it dead:


o. When a ball carrier simulates placing his knee on the ground.

During the third quarter of the Tech vs. Texas game, the ABC announcers said they'd been informed by a representative of the officiating crew that the ruling was based on a Big 12 Conference rule, but so far I've been unable to find anything online to support that; I suspect they meant to reference the NCAA rule, which would be binding upon the Big 12 Conference anyway. The NFL also has a similar rule for simulated kneel-downs during the last two minutes of each half according to the most recent version of the Official NFL Rulebook that I could find online (from 2006). See Rule 7, Section 4, Article 1(b) (at page 45, corresponding to page 53 of the .pdf file).

It's not hard to understand why both the NCAA and NFL rules forbid the kind of trick Coach Leach was trying to pull. Certain types of deception are fundamental to football — the man in motion, the shifting formations; the disguised blitz; the pump-fake before a handoff to a running back, or the play-action pass preceded by a fake hand-off; the double-reverse, the halfback pass, and the flea flicker; the onside kick and the fake punt. All of these deceptive moves prior to or during plays, and many more, have their place. Indeed, we saw many of them at one point or another during this very game.

But when defenders reasonably believe the QB is taking a knee, they also reasonably expect to be penalized if they even touch him. It's fundamentally unfair to let the QB claim immunity from a normal hit while leaving him free to throw a touchdown; and if QBs who genuinely are taking a knee aren't protected while doing so, they will be much more likely to be injured. Moreover, defensive players all over the field relax and let down their guards when they have good cause to believe a play is over and that the ball is dead; players are, in general, far more vulnerable to injury when taken by surprise; and the same downfield block that might have merely knocked a prepared player off his feet becomes a career-ending spinal cord injury on the wholly unprepared player who's walking back to the defensive huddle (or to the locker room). We penalize the team whose punt returner tries to advance a punt after signaling "fair catch" for similar reasons — not because the rules are trying to crush all excitement and deception from the game, but because certain types of exciting deception are both unfair and unreasonably dangerous.

Of course, I'm a Longhorn loyalist and alum, but I'm generally a fan of Coach Leach and the Raiders when they're not playing Texas. Overall, they played a great game again this year, for which I congratulate them. Still, one might reasonably expect all NCAA Division 1 head football coaches to know what's in the rulebook. One might reasonably expect such a coach not to unfairly blame the refs on national TV for properly enforcing the rules as written. And those expectations might be especially appropriate for an NCAA Division 1 head football coach who's also a lawyer: Mike Leach earned his Juris Doctor degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1986.

Coach Leach owes a public apology to the referees from this game.

Posted by Beldar at 04:33 AM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Great competitors among Rockets and Greyhounds

Most Houston sports fans, including me, are reveling in one of the most satisfying Houston Rockets wins in many years — a thorough drubbing of the perpetual rockstar team of the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers, by a final score of 99-87 that somewhat conceals the Rockets' overall domination (including a 29-point lead in the early fourth quarter). The Rockets are still decided underdogs. But for all the reasons I'm normally not a big fan of the NBA, I particularly enjoyed this game.

With the Lakers already leading the playoff series 2-to-1 and Rockets star Yao Ming out for the remainder of the year with a broken foot, the Rockets were widely expected to politely roll over and die. Instead, they thoroughly embarrassed the Lakers with a combination of aggressive and consistent defense, textbook hustle and teamwork, and unlikely heroes — chief among them point guard Aaron Brooks with 34 points and forward Shane Battier with 23 points, 15 of them on 3-pointers. Four different Rockets were in double-figures, even though arguably the most high-profile Rocket on the floor, guard Ron Artest, had a poor offensive day (only 4 for 19 for 8 points). The Lakers gave up 11 turnovers, most of them early in the game when the outcome was at least arguably still in doubt, and they let their frustration show with two technical fouls. With his teammates' help, Battier — who in my humble opinion is the smartest and most underrated player in the NBA, and therefore among the most appealing underdogs to root for — also held Kobe Bryant to a pathetic 15 points, turning the Lakers' superstar into a complete non-factor. Very sweet!

But even that was not, to me, quite as sweet as the performance on Friday of the Johnston Middle School Greyhounds in the HISD-wide "Name That Book" competition. The third-place finish city-wide, on the heels of a second-place result at the initial competition during the previous week, marked Johnston's best showing in sponsor and JMS librarian Delores Sellin's memory. And among the celebrants was my youngest, Molly, fourth from the left (with the purple sleeve) in the photo below:

JMS 'Name That Book' team after winning 3d place in HISD on May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there, and especially to my ex. (The promised review of the new Star Trek movie will probably have to wait until next weekend; we rearranged some schedules to guarantee her some extra snuggle-time with four kids who are increasingly hard to get all together in one place at one time.)

Posted by Beldar at 05:30 PM in Family, Sports | Permalink | Comments (8)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Beldar & daughter catch the Houston Dynamo's season opener

Molly Dyer at Houston Dynamo season openerLast night, I attended my first-ever professional football game — errr, well, perhaps I should say professional fútbol game — along with my youngest daughter, Molly, and several members of her middle school soccer team. It was the season opener for the Houston Dynamo, the 2006 and 2007 Major League Soccer champions.

As arranged by their coach, Sarah Rogers, Molly and her teammates (along with several other young teams) were invited onto the Robertson Stadium field at the beginning of the game to make a "spirit tunnel" to welcome the visiting-team players to Houston — in this instance, last year's MLS champion, the Columbus Crew.

Molly and I could have a good time going just about anywhere, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the game. The amount of sheer athleticism — speed, body control, and ball-handling dexterity — was obvious even to as unsophisticated a fan as I am. Having the big-screen monitor in the south end-zone on which to watch replays of the most spectacular moments was also a big plus, since it's all too easy to be looking around elsewhere at the particular moment something spectacular happens.

The crowd was a much broader cross-section of Houston than you'd typically see at a Rockets or Texans game — and much more family-oriented. And with just over 16,000 in attendance, Robertson Stadium was full enough to feel like there was a "big crowd," and yet there was enough room for people (including their kids) to wiggle and spread out a bit.

Molly_at_Dynamo2-400x300 And it was a happy, friendly crowd — with everyone enjoying a beautiful clear spring evening, and lots of very good-natured home-team spirit. All in all, in comparison to other professional sporting events I've been to, I think this was probably the most ... mellow.

Of course there were pretty young women — not limited to the Dynamo Girls who danced at halftime.

The game ended in a 1-1 tie, and it seemed to me that both teams were indeed pretty evenly matched. To invoke a Darrell Royalism, a tie may be like kissin' your sister, but losing is like having to kiss your grandmother, and this was better'n that.

Molly and I resolved to see more Dynamo games this year, and to drag some of her siblings along next time to get them exposed to the sport at this level too.

Posted by Beldar at 07:47 PM in Family, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Takedown and pin

Regular readers, long-suffering souls that you be, may recall this same handsome young man's photo in a post from last February that also included a video clip. Through an act of great self-discipline, I'm going to limit myself to no more than two posts, and only a later one with video, in which I will permit myself to brag on that same young man's wrestling during this season, at least through the district competition next month. (But If he advances from that meet, all bets are off, and I may blog about his achievements with uncontrolled euphoria.)

Bellaire High School wrestler Adam Dyer at Cypress Fairbanks High School wrestling meet, January 9, 2009

My sixteen-year-old son, Adam Jackson Dyer, is in his second season as a wrestler on Bellaire High School's varsity team. November, December, and January have been busy months in the 2008-2009 wrestling season, and my personal goal as a fan and supportive parent this year has been to make it to all of their matches — which partly explains my infrequent blogging lately. All of the matches so far are really just preparation for the "official" competition through the Texas University Interscholastic League in February: Wins and losses now do affect one's seeding for the district UIL meets, but they're mostly just for practice and "mat time." The entire Bellaire team is much improved this year, in large part thanks to the efforts of its coaches, Dr. Marcellars Mason and Coach Greg Menephee, and team captains including the incomparable Jonathan Eagleson, who's such a long-time and close friend of the Dyer family that he, like his older brother Christopher, is almost like a surrogate son/brother. And with their help and the further experience he's gotten so far this year, Adam has advanced considerably in skill and confidence as a competitive wrestler.

Although I'm trying to catch up, I still don't know enough about the sport to provide much insightful commentary. Here, though, are a series of photos from a dramatic meet this past Wednesday, January 14th, at which teams from St. John's and Bellaire visited Kinkaid.

Kinkaid and St. John's are both exclusive private schools with superb facilities and long traditions of both athletic and scholastic excellence. I gather that they're arch rivals of one another, so it was gratifying, and somewhat amusing, to hear each of them root for Bellaire's wrestlers against the other's. Adam had a good night against both opponents' in his 152-pound weight class, winning both matches with pins even though both of his opponents were solid wrestlers who obviously were highly motivated and had been well coached. These images, screen-captures from an HD video, can only give you a hint of the speed, power, and controlled violence in these matches.

The first screencap is mid-way through the second two-minute period against Adam's counterpart from St. John's — the first period having expired with each wrestler tied in points and neither showing a particular advantage over the other. In this shot, however, at 7:40:17 PM, Adam (on the left, in the singlet whose red stripes extend down his leg on both sides and with the gray shoes and green ankle band) has just managed to get the grasp he'd been seeking on his opponent's neck. (Note: Wrestlers make incredible faces and noises, most of which are evidence of concentration and effort, but some of which indeed are evidence of pain and frustration. I have yet to see a parent of a wrestler dash onto the mat to "save" his or her child, but I am thoroughly convinced that every parent watches every match with, proverbially and metaphorically, his/her heart in his/her throat, praying that no one will be injured and that the pain will soon end.) 


Below, at 7:40:18 PM (fractions of a second later), Adam (behind, facing camera) is beginning to twirl his opponent around to his right, still with that same headlock grip.


By 7:40:19 PM in the next screencap, below, Adam (right) is continuing the twirl, but beginning to exert twisting pressure too.


By 7:40:21 PM in the next screencap, below, Adam's opponent (right) has slowed the twirl with a strong plant of his left foot. Unfortunately for him, that becomes the pivot point for what's about to happen next.


Below, still at 7:40:21, Adam (in back, mostly hidden in shadow) has his opponent mid-flip onto his back. More than any other moment, this screencap tells the tale of this entire match. Note the full extension of Adam's left leg, from which he's launched this move.


And in the screencap below, at 7:40:22 PM, Adam's opponent has been taken down — cleanly, without injury, but in a hard twisting fall that could not help but knock a fair amount of wind from his lungs. Adam has already continued spinning around so that his body has ended up perpendicular to his opponent's as his opponent landed on his back:


Fractions of a second later — at 7:40:23 PM as measured by the camcorder from which these screencaps were taken — Adam (on top) is trying to turn this take-down into a pin. His opponent struggles valiantly, slamming his left foot to the mat, and next the right, wriggling like a fish, rolling hard from shoulder-blade to shoulder-blade to keep both from touching the mat and Adam from achieving even a moment of control. The opponent knows, surely, that he's in trouble, but he's not quite finished yet. If only Adam loses his grasp, or sneezes, or the second period expires — something ....


But Adam permits no escape, no reversal — at least not this time. The combination of physics, geometry, and through them, wrestling technique will have their inexorable way. By 7:40:25 PM — a mere eight seconds after this sequence of screencaps began — Adam (on top), as shown in the screencap below, is on the toes of both feet, with his knees off the mat, forming the widest possible triangle to concentrate all of his weight and force and will-power chest-to-chest on his opponent. His opponent is short of breath, without leverage, without ready means to escape the hold Adam still has on him, and unable to resist all that pressure. Adam has demonstrated unequivocal control. And moments later, the referee pounds his palm to the mat to signify the pin:


I'm not posting these screencaps under the illusion that this is a "perfect" or even "exemplary" set of moves. I pretend to no objectivity, I admit to overwhelming bias, and I and still have only the slightest knowledge of wrestling's basic vocabulary and concepts. Indeed, I'm probably going to embarrass my son, whose knowledge is still fledgling but vastly exceeds my own, by overt mistakes or less obvious omissions in my descriptions here. As does he, I have enormous regard for the opponents my son has faced, including this young man from St. John's; this match could easily have gone the other way in just as short a time, because they were well matched. Nor do I intend to disparage anyone who's a participant in or fan of more popular sports like football or baseball, for I knew nothing of serious wrestling as I was growing up, and like most Texans I thought there were really only four sports: football, basketball, baseball, and spring football.

But in addition to my natural fatherly pride that my son is applying himself earnestly and with good results to this endeavor, I can't help but marvel at the purity and elemental beauty of this old, maybe oldest, of sports. It seems so simple, with two evenly matched young men (and, indeed, sometimes young women) holding each other at arms' length as they do halting, asynchronous dance steps around one another — and then suddenly one of them who knows even a little bit about what he (or she) is doing suddenly does something which looks like magic, just a glimmer too fast to even catch on slo-mo instant replay sometimes — and WHOOPS!, the other guy (or gal) is on his back, pinned. Low-tech and old-school. But way cool.

Posted by Beldar at 12:39 PM in Family, Sports | Permalink | Comments (10)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Grats to the Red Raiders

It turns out that losing the national election did pretty much take my mind off my Longhorns losing to Texas Tech.


[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

Congratulations to Coach Mike Leach and his Texas Tech Red Raiders on their last-second come-back win over the No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns by a score of 39 to 33. Tonight they were the better team, and Leach and his staff out-coached Mac Brown and his. This is probably the greatest win in the history of the Tech football program, and now their challenge — in which I wish them the very best — will be to prove that they're more than just spoilers.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 04:47 AM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Politico-sports metaphor for the day

Sarah Barracuda to Barack Obama, re basketball nets, in one of my guest-posts today at


[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

"Barack Obama and I both have spent quite some time on the basketball court," Palin told a raucous crowd of more than 5,000 at the convention center. "But where I come from, you have to win the game before you start cutting down the net."

GOP Veep nominee Sarah Palin, campaigning today in Tampa, Florida.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 07:38 PM in 2008 Election, Obama, Palin, Politics (2008), Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

'Horns are for real

I sing the praises of Colt McCoy and the Longhorns, who were 57-31 victors over Mizzou on Satureday night, in yet another guest-post at


[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

Tonight QB Colt McCoy of the #1-ranked Texas Longhorns, playing against the #11-ranked Missouri Tigers, completed 29 of 32 passes (91%) for 337 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed for two more TDs. Final score (in a game nowhere near as close as the final score suggests): Texas 57, Mizzou 31.

Texas QB Colt McCoy completes a pass over a Mizzou defender (photo: Billy Smith II/Houston Chronicle)

Props to Missouri for a noble effort, but congrats to the 'Horns and young McCoy for another impressive win.

Hook 'Em Horns!

Now I know there are some die-hard UT-haters out there, but surely most folks can take some derivative pleasure this weekend in the grace and success of a talented young man named "Colt." I certainly have!

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 01:43 AM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday best wishes

In my latest guest-post at, I ask the timeless question: "How 'bout them Longhorns?"

Congrats to them on their 45-35 win over the No. 1-ranked O.U. Sooners. I'm enjoying a beautiful and relaxing fall day today, and I hope you are too.

(I couldn't abide by the red-and-white theme at Hugh's blog today, though, without inserting this burnt orange graphic to express my mood.)


[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

I know that for some folks, Saturday is another workday. But this Saturday has been a wonderful day for me, at least, to take a breather from bad economic news and fierce political argument.

And how 'bout them Longhorns? On this perfect fall day in Dallas, two highly-ranked teams of college athletes from, respectively, the University of Texas at Austin (my college and law school alma mater), ranked No. 5, and Oklahoma University, ranked No. 1, squared off in their annual football rivalry, the Red River Classic. They delivered a gem of a game — a Texas win this year, 45 to 35 — that did honor to all concerned and certainly entertained everyone who watched.

Hook 'Em Horns!

Remember to take time to enjoy the good times within even these intense times, friends and neighbors. I hope you all have found some means for release and relaxation on this fall day in a country we love.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 03:59 PM in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The McCain-Palin campaign on offense

I love metaphors. I especially like elegant metaphors, which can include sports metaphors.

I'd previously made the point that the Palin choice was definitely not a Hail Mary (which is a desperation play), but I'd characterized it as a long bomb (on first down, from mid-field). So I was interested in this post by Jonah Goldberg on The Corner, in which he reprints a reader email arguing that Gov. Palin's addition to the GOP ticket isn't a single play, but a different sort of "game changer." I think that's right.

Jonah's correspondent suggests that the proper metaphoric term is the "West Coast Offense," which isn't bad. And Alaska does have a fabulous, fabulously long west coast.

But given that Gov. Palin was a high school track competitor (she continues to run regularly) and a life-long hunter, the better and more elegant metaphor is obviously:

The Run-and-Shoot.

Posted by Beldar at 07:59 AM in 2008 Election, Humor, McCain, Palin, Politics (2008), Sports | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, July 21, 2008

And the band marched on

On Outside the Beltway, Dr. James Joyner posted today a story (with an embedded video clip that, alas, appears to have already been zapped from YouTube) entitled Army Band Hit By Skydiver, Marches On. It reminded me of an incident that I witnessed in Austin at the Texas/Texas A&M football game during Thanksgiving Weekend in 1974.

I was a high-school senior visiting the UT-Austin campus where I planned to enroll the next year. And I already had my application on file to join the Longhorn Band's trumpet section (following in the footsteps of my older brother), so I was certainly looking forward to the halftime performance of the Showband of the Southwest (not pictured below!).

Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, 2007

It was a cold, blustery day, and the portents were grim. A&M entered the game as heavy favorites with only one prior Southwest Conference loss (to SMU) and a high national poll ranking. The Longhorns' season, by contrast, was already a comparative disappointment that included a remarkable loss to Baylor in Waco. Eaking out a tie for second place and spoiling the Aggies' post-season bowl plans was the best we UT fans could hope for. But the Texas/Texas A&M game was, after all, a yearly rivalry that dates back to 1894, the third-longest among NCAA Division 1-A teams. Whatever's happened earlier in the year, neither school ever has any difficulty in gathering up enthusiasm to play the other.

If I recall correctly, the Ags fumbled the opening kickoff and it was returned by UT for a touchdown. The Horns kicked off again, and on the Ags' first or second play from scrimmage, Texas intercepted and ran it back for a TD. Again Texas kicked off, but after another Aggie fumble, their stunned defense managed to hold the Horns to a field goal. Thus was the highly-favored A&M team down by 17-0 less than two minutes into the game. The game went on to be a UT rout, 32 to 3. With the loss, the Aggies' Cotton Bowl plans evaporated, and in fact they went to no bowl game at all that year. (The Horns went on to the Gator Bowl, which but for the lesser bowl prestige, the LHB vastly preferred to yet another trip to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl anyway).

The Aggie Band, however, insists that they have never lost a half-time, no matter what the scoreboard reads.  And by some very specific and narrow standards, that's probably true. Although we in the Longhorn Band often kidded and teased the Fightin' Aggie Band, beneath that we held a genuine respect for their great tradition and their marching precision. As to their creativity and their overall musicianship, eh, not so much. But they did the particular things which they prided themselves on doing very well indeed.

In particular, the Aggie Band drills and drills on marching in big, traditional block-band formations — none of this modern stuff with curved lines! Precise six-to-five strides, straight lines, and sharp corners are their stock-in-trade every year. Per a Wikipedia entry:

The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band (also known as The Noble Men of Kyle or the Aggie Band) is the official marching band of Texas A&M University. Composed of over 400 men and women from the school's Corps of Cadets, it is the largest military marching band in the world. The complex straight-line maneuvers, performed exclusively to traditional marches, are so complicated and precise that computer marching simulations say they cannot be performed.

Almost always, the final rank of the Aggie Band is filled with spectacularly polished sterling silver-finished sousaphones (which are basically tubas reshaped by John Phillip Sousa for marching) that gleam in the sunlight. All the members of the Aggie Band make crisp military turns, but the sousaphone players execute two exaggeratedly sharp 90-degree turns during every counter-march: Stomp-WHIRL!-stomp-WHIRL!

The photo above is from the 2007 Texas/Texas A&M game, and I think their uniforms as shown there may have changed substantially since 1974. But this photo gives you some idea of how impressive their merging rows of marching brass can be — especially those sousaphones, which are generally carried by especially beefy young men.

On this ill-fated day for the Aggies in 1974, however, one of their bandsmen — a senior, so identifiable by his beautiful and highly polished riding boots, and by his position on the far west of his rank, closest to the home-field press box — had apparently failed to tighten carefully the set-screws that attached his sousaphone's bell to the rest of the instrument. Or perhaps he had assembled it perfectly, but there was a materials failure in the screws or the flange. In any event, as his rank finished one of the Aggie Band's signature counter-march maneuvers, he snapped off one crisp 90-degree stomp-and-pivot, performed the second stomp, and immediately executed the second whirl — at which moment his instrument's entire bell detached itself from the rest of the tubing that wrapped around his body and was flung violently into the air.

The bell sailed a good ten yards in the air, vivid silver flashing against the green astroturf. It landed on an edge, twirled in a circle, and finally rolled to a rest. The entire Aggie Band continued marching down-field without it. The poor senior remained on that same exposed, trailing corner of the block formation, looking oddly decapitated. The 60,000+ Texas fans rose as one, howling with laughter and pointing. But to the Aggie senior's credit, he kept his composure, pretended nothing had happened, and finished the rest of the performance without a missed turn or any other screw-up.

After the Aggie Band finished in its traditional manner — a mass, screaming charge to the sidelines upon an abrupt cut-off in the "Aggie War Hymn" — that silver sousaphone bell still remained on the field, just outside the near hashmark at about the 20 yard-line. The crowd waited. And waited. Wally Pryor, the Memorial Stadium announcer and the Voice of the Longhorn Band, waited too. The Longhorn Band, as representatives of the home team, was to perform next, but the LHB drum major was not about to lead it onto the field while that silver bell remained. The Aggie Band had put it there; the Aggie Band was going to have to see to its removal, and there weren't going to be any distractions permitted.

Finally, some poor Aggie Band underclassman was dispatched to run out onto the field and retrieve the bell — again to laughs, jeers, and cheers from the hugely amused and highly partisan fans. The competition with the Aggie Band always sharpens up the LHB's own marching, and on this day, they both entered and left the field triumphant.

"Pooo-oooor Ag-gies," the Longhorn crowd sang near the end of the game. I sang along and laughed too, but I certainly empathized more with the poor Aggie sousaphone-playing senior than with the Aggie football players. I hope that guy, whoever he was, went on to a great career and a great life, and that he has a great sense of humor. If, as is likely, he served as an active-duty military officer, I would bet that everyone and everything under his command remained button down and screwed on tightly.

Posted by Beldar at 09:49 AM in Family, Humor, Music/Arts, Sports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A soccer game on a steamy spring afternoon in Houston

The drizzle earlier in the afternoon hadn't been enough to wash the high-count grass and tree pollen out of the air. With brilliant shafts of late afternoon spring sunshine now wandering across the soccer field, this was definitely a "two coats of sunscreen" day, and you you could almost, but not quite, see the clouds of humidity just above the grass. Of course, no one who really knows Houston would have mistaken today for August, but the conditions were still far from ideal. And when the other team's bus driver took them to the wrong middle school, the prospect of a win by forfeit for the home-team Johnston Greyhounds grew more attractive, at least to the adult fans present.

Still, the other team wanted to play, and this was already a make-up game for one rained out earlier in the season. Anyway, the seventh and eighth grade girls on the Greyhounds hadn't signed up for varsity soccer just to compile a record. They wanted to play too. And so they cheered when the other team's bus finally hove into view.

The littlest Greyhound had already renewed her generous coat of sunscreen. She demonstrated once again for her dad how well she'd learned (from him, or at least with his encouragement) to rinse her mouth with a huge gulp of tepid water. She gargled, and then spat it onto the ground with such forceful defiance as to mock the very idea that boys, or men, might also try to play this game from time to time.

During the first minute, the Greyhounds squelched an offensive threat from their opponents just in front of the home goal, and the visitors had all turned tail to trot back onto defense. Except somehow, the ball was still on the ground, rolling uncontrolled and fairly slowly. Rolling right into the Greyhounds' goal. Visitors 1, Home 0.

The next five minutes of the first half featured several sharp battles for control at midfield, during three or maybe four of which the littlest Greyhound, a defensive mid-fielder, charged into a clump of taller, heavier girls sprinting with the ball toward the Greyhounds' end of the field. Each such encounter ended with the littlest Greyhound sprawled or sitting on the ground, sometimes with and sometimes without an opponent there too, but always with the ball safely diverted way upfield. The visitors began to look at her like she might be slightly crazy, maybe dangerous, certainly fierce and fearless — even though one good, strong breeze would have seemed likely to blow this seventh-grader (who could easily pass for a fourth-grader) off-field like a dandelion puff.

It was still 1/0 at the half, despite most of the first half having been played near the Visitors' goal and in their end of the field. After that flukey first score, the Greyhound's goalie had only touched the ball about three times total. But in the second half, I don't think she touched it at all; the Visitors never had a serious shot on goal.

Roughly four minutes into the second half, the Greyhounds had a corner kick-in. The Greyhounds' strongest kicker boomed a line drive just about six feet above the ground, but with a wicked spin that brought the ball arcing back slightly toward the far corner of the goal. In a split-second, instinctive reaction, one of the Greyhounds' eighth grade captains leaped into the air and executed a perfect header, sending the ball slightly up but at a sharper angle — directly into the top back corner of the Visitors' goal. The whole play took less than a second, and if we'd caught it on video, it would be climbing up the YouTube popularity ratings tonight.

That electrified the Greyhounds — and indeed, it was their most exciting goal so far this entire season — and also unnerved the Visitors. The Greyhounds' next two (and final) goals followed within the next three minutes; each was on a perfectly executed set play, culminating in a deft pass from the center forward to a trailing wing with an unimpeded shot at the goal.

The Visitors had more raw athletic ability, and they were bigger and about as fast. But they lacked both finesse and fundamentals, and more importantly, they lacked teamwork. After the Greyhounds' all-stars highlight-film (if only we'd had video!) first goal, though, you could see the Greyhounds' confidence grow with every successive minute. Their faces reflected new confidence that yes, these techniques can work! and yes, we're a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts!

The final score was Visitors 1, Greyhounds 3. And overall, it was an entirely typical girls' soccer game, pretty much like hundreds of others played around the country and the world today.

My own voice is gone tonight and will be hoarse tomorrow, though, and I wish I had even a photo or two of the Greyhounds in their new, deep-purple jerseys, black shorts, and purple socks. If you haven't guessed, the littlest Greyhound — the one whose size-smallest jersey reaches almost to her knees and whose butt was covered in mud and dust by halftime — is my youngest, Molly (age 13).

Molly's other news of the day was that she had received the results of her class' most recent Stanford Achievement Tests. She'd been frustrated by this test for the last couple of years, because in each of those years she'd had one subject or another (a different one each year) in which her scores didn't quite reach the PHS ("post-high school") level. This year, though, Molly had all PHS scores. (Q: "So, kid, are you ready to just skip high school?" A: "Naw, high school will be too much fun to miss it, Dad.") That, plus some good defensive play and a team win, made today a good day for her, which in turn helped make it a good day for me, too.

Posted by Beldar at 10:48 PM in Family, Sports | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Why is this young man's hair mussed?

This is my younger son, Adam, age 15, in a photo snapped earlier today.  Adam's a freshman at Bellaire High School here in Houston. On Saturdays, it's not uncommon for his hair to be mussed. But the reason his hair is mussed in this particular way on this particular day is pretty cool, in my admittedly biased opinion.

Adam Dyer, in a pensive moment

The first picture in this series showed a particular species of "hat-hair" that may be called "wrestler's headgear hair." But below is a full-length photo of Adam taken in his headgear and his Cardinals-red and black singlet, just before his last bout today at the Butler Fieldhouse, site of the 2008 wrestling competition for District 23, which includes Bellaire High School.

Bellaire High School varsity wrestler Adam Dyer, just before his final match of the day

My older daughter Sarah, a Bellaire High School junior, also lettered on the wrestling team last year, and although this year she's been concentrating on French and drama, Sarah (shown below) is still among the team's most devoted and enthusiastic fans:

Sarah Dyer, former Bellaire varsity wrestler, now a junior

Also present for the day to root for Adam and his teammates, pictured below during one of the many moments of downtime inherent in such competitions, were my older son, Kevin (now a sophomore at the University of Houston), and my younger daughter, Molly (someday to be part of the BHS Class of 2013, but for now a 7th grader at Johnston Middle School, where she plays soccer). My ex (not pictured) finished with her Saturday patients in time to join us in watching Adam's final match, so Adam's entire family was there for him today.

Molly and Kevin Dyer

In the earlier photo of Sarah, the broad-shouldered young man shown from behind is Jonathan Eagleson, a sophomore who lettered as a freshman last year, and who is definitely one of the Bellaire team's most talented wrestlers this year.

Tragically, near the end of a very successful day at a preparatory meet a week ago, Jonathan injured his collarbone, and while we're hoping for a full recovery in time for next season, he couldn't compete for the Cardinals today. But Jonathan (who's also pictured below with Sarah and Adam today) is a natural leader among his teammates; so of course he and his dad Bary were there with the rest of the team at 6:45 a.m. for the weigh-ins, and the two of them, along with Jonathan's mom Guinn, were among the last folks out of the building at day's end. (Bary and his brothers were all wrestlers in their day, too, so he knows lots more about the sport than I or most parents do.) The Eaglesons have been treasured family friends for many years — Jonathan's older brother Christopher, now a sophomore at Rice University, graduated with Kevin from Bellaire in 2006, but they'd been classmates and close friends quite literally since their kindergarten days. Jonathan and Sarah are also great buddies. He's been a terrific role model and mentor for Adam in wrestling this year, and we're enormously proud of him, too!

Sarah and Adam Dyer, flanking injured hero and close friend Jonathan Eagleson

The Eagleson family joined ours in a happy dinner tonight to celebrate Adam's best day so far as a wrestler, one that will win him a varsity letter jacket: Although several other competitors on Bellaire's very young and hungry team placed as high as fourth today at district, Adam was the only member of the team who'll be going on to the Region III competition.

The photo below shows the three top finishers in the men's 140-pound category: District Champion Joey Ducker of wrestling powerhouse and overall meet winner Westside High School (center); second-place finisher Luis Guzman of Sam Houston High School (right), who'd defeated Adam in an earlier match but injured his collarbone in the finals against Ducker; and third-place finisher Adam Dyer of Bellaire High School (left), who'll go to next weekend's regional contest as District 23's first alternate in the 140-pound category. We certainly wish young Mr. Guzman (who is a classy and talented athlete) a quick and full recovery, but if he's not able to compete, Adam will do his best in trying to represent our district along with young Mr. Ducker.

Top three finishers among the men's 140-pound category: Ducker (center), Guzman (right) and Dyer (left)

By then, with luck, I may be able to update this post with a video of Adam's thrilling final match, including his winning pin of a talented opponent. And if Adam does wrestle again next week, maybe I'll manage to get a decent action photo or two. (Which will definitely require a tripod: I was shaking too hard and yelling too loudly today to get anything remotely close to a publishable photo during any of the matches themselves!)


UPDATE (Mon Feb 4 @ 7:00pm): Here's a .pdf scan of the Houston Chronicle's report of the results (which also shows how thoroughly Westside High School dominated this meet; Westside's coaches have been good friends to the young Bellaire program). Here's a .wmv video clip (3:24 min.) of the match in which Adam pinned the wrestler from Davis High School, Alex Argulles, who ended up in fourth place. At the start of the clip, you see Adam getting some final words of encouragement from Bellaire assistant principal Marcellars Mason, who's been coaching this year's team along with Trey Herrmann. And here's another .wmv video clip (0:55 min.) of the awards ceremony. The videos were done by Adam's older brother, Kevin, and it's his voice you'll hear narrating. (The whoops at the end of the match were his mom, though, and the loud whistles were me.)

Posted by Beldar at 10:49 PM in Family, Sports | Permalink | Comments (11)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A good football weekend for Beldar

I dunno about y'all, but I watched four halves of football on TV this weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed three of them. How 'bout them (second-half) Longhorns (with a come from behind 34-13 win over a valiant TCU Hornfrogs team)? And how about them Texans (with a convincing 20-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs)? I didn't watch the Cowboys beat the Giants tonight — too busy catching up on the TiVo'd morning talking head shows, cruising the general news on the net, and blogging. But I'm perfectly pleased for them to have won, too.

Posted by Beldar at 11:21 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Of Thompson and Clark and sports metaphors used in politics

At Outside the Beltway, James Joyner's post today is the latest of many I've seen comparing Fred Thompson's entry into the GOP presidential race this year with Wesley Clark's entry into the Democratic presidential race in 2000, but Dr. Joyner's, quoting one from blogger Publius at Obsidian Wings, is considerably more thoughtful than most of the previous comparisons I've read. Dr. Joyner notes that the "gap from any job to the presidency is wider than any other career progression I can think of," but apropos of today being the beginning of the NFL's regular season, he employs a sports metaphor, with this conclusion:

Thompson (and Clark before him), though, are like the rookie who missed training camp because of injury or a contract holdout. I can’t think of a single case where one of those guys did well his first season.

My response (in a comment there, reprinted here with slight modifications):


I agree that there's a huge "gap from any job to the presidency," but we're actually talking here about the gap from something else to credible presidential candidate.

Thompson's coming at that gap from the position of a twice-elected senator. He may not have a history at funnel-cake stands in Iowa, but he does have a history that includes small-town barbecue joints scattered across Tennessee. That was a while ago, though, and his previously demonstrated skills in those contexts may indeed be rusty, and the menu of key issues now are different.

Clark had been in the very top tier in his career, but having never run for any elected office, he had nothing remotely comparable to being a presidential candidate, or any kind of candidate, in his background.

So if you want to extend your sports metaphor, Thompson's in the position of a high-draft pick quarterback from, say, the University of Tennessee being expected to start at quarterback in the NFL. Clark was in the position of a third baseman from the New York Yankees being expected to start at quarterback in the NFL.

Clark was an absolute political novice. He may have been a good general (although I have my doubts about that), but not even his biggest fan can suggest that he came to the presidential campaign as an Eisenhower- or Grant- or Washington-like conquering warrior and savior of the nation. He never had a snowball's chance in hell to compete in the toughest political race imaginable. He's a political punch-line now, but anyone who ever took him as anything other than a political punchline was, with due respect, being naïve even before his campaign imploded on contact with, well, actual politics.

Thompson, by contrast, has at least as good a chance as Peyton Manning had as a rookie at Indianapolis:

Peyton Manning was the first draft pick of the 1998 NFL Draft, selected by Indianapolis, and started immediately for the team. Manning passed for 3,739 yards with 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. He set five different NFL rookie records, including most touchdown passes in a season and was named to the NFL All-Rookie First Team. [But the] Colts finished 3-13.

How much does being a veteran presidential candidate help? Perhaps not very much: Among the Democrats, the only candidate who has, in his or her own right, been on a national ticket is John Edwards, and his campaign has gone nowhere and has little prospect of going anywhere. On the GOP side, the only repeat candidate is John McCain, who's widely perceived to be doing substantially less well in this campaign than he did in 2000.

However, while she has run in exactly as many senatorial elections as Thompson (two), Hillary Clinton's campaign reflects her and her staff's experience with Bill Clinton's two presidential campaigns. It ought not be a surprise to anyone, then, that her campaign has been ruthless, disciplined, and nearly error-free. To extend the sports analysis further, she's been on a team that twice won the Super Bowl, but just not as the starting QB. It remains to be seen whether her experience will continue to allow her to cruise to a Clinton family three-peat. But objectively, she is, and she is performing like, the most experienced major presidential candidate from either party right now.

Finally: The NFL regular season started today, but the political regular season hasn't. All you have to do is look at the bloated roster to see that the cuts haven't been made, and while there might be season-ending injuries in these preliminary skirmishes, there hasn't been a delegate awarded yet, much less a presidential elector. Fred has a little bit of time to sharpen up, but he has to use it productively.

Posted by Beldar at 03:49 PM in 2008 Election, Politics (2007), Sports | Permalink | Comments (9)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Dear alma mater

It makes me angry that I cannot listen to Longhorn football games for free on the internet (via, for example, the normal internet feeds from a dozen different radio stations in your sports network) when those same games are broadcast for free by radio. I'm perfectly willing to listen to advertisers. But I'm not willing to listen to advertisers and pay Yahoo! another $5/month subscription fee for that privilege. (Much less am I going to pay $30/game for pay-per-view.)

No more contributions to U.T. from Beldar while that's the case. You're already taking in $107 million through the athletics department for 2007-2008. Quit nickel and diming your fans, punishing them for preferring 21st Century technology over 20th Century technology.

Posted by Beldar at 06:49 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

World Series (Central time zone)

Thank you, St. Louis, for a good series. The Cards are a classy team.

But we've been waiting the whole franchise lifetime for this one.

Way to go, 'Stros! The whole City of Houston just exhaled.

Posted by Beldar at 10:56 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (65)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

'Horns 25, Buckeyes 22

Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed makes a touchdown catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter against Ohio State on Saturday (AP photo)With due and genuine respect to my blogospheric friend Hugh Hewitt — who's as loyal a Buckeye football fan as Ohio State University could ever want — and to the Buckeye players and staff, who played hard and well and again showed themselves to be an extremely classy institution ...

But how 'bout them Longhorns?!?

Wow, that was a fun football game to watch! And for an early season game, even between the No. 2- and 4-ranked teams, it was exceptionally well played overall by both teams. My quick post-game thoughts and TiVo-assisted armchair quarterbacking:

  1. Texas' overall talent may make the 'Horns a genuine challenger for the national title, but the 'Horns special teams have got to improve, dramatically and fast. That there were no missed extra points tonight was the minimum acceptable improvement from last week — one that could have been outcome-determinative in a close game like this one. It looks like David Pino has earned another start as the PAT and FG placekicker. But Ohio State enjoyed superb field position almost all night long, mostly due to kickoff and punt runbacks.

  2. Bless his heart, but it's time to drop Selvin Young off the first team. His durability is still suspect, and he's in a butter-fingered slump; and it may be a moot point if Young's injuries would sideline him anyway. But regardless, Jamaal Charles ought to be the starting running back next game.

  3. Texas' bend-but-rarely-break defense won this game. Ohio State will make lots of big plays this year against less talented, less quick defenses.  As brilliant as Vince Young often was, though, the defense's holding the Buckeyes to a school-record number of field goals, especially after Longhorn offensive miscues, was the difference tonight. And nobody realized it at the time, but the key play of the game turned out to be the deflected second-down pass with 5:45 left in the 4th quarter — completed, but for a four-yard loss from the Texas 29 to the Texas 33-yardline. It ended up being just enough to throw off-target, barely wide-right, OSU's final (and would-have-been clinching) long field goal attempt two plays later.

  4. The record Ohio State crowd — 105,565 — was impressive even by Texas standards, and the Buckeye fans deserve plaudits along with their team.

  5. But bigger plaudits to the Showband of the Southwest, the University of Texas Longhorn Band. There's of course no way in the world to overcome the kind of (legitimate) homefield advantage that Ohio State had tonight. But former Longhorn head coach Darryl K. Royal got it exactly right back in (if I recall correctly) about 1968, after a road loss before frenzied fans at Texas Tech, when he said that in a hostile stadium like that one, the Longhorn Band is worth seven points. That was one of the last times the team traveled to a big game without the Band, but I was sure glad the Band was in Columbus tonight — especially early in the second half. (My theory is that the LHB is most important just after a huge Longhorns screwup that would otherwise, in the face of the energy surge from a huge, hostile crowd, be overwhelmingly demoralizing. The sound of "Texas Fight" and those LHB drum cadences remind you of who you are, of where you're from, and of the days you've seen and will see again, back at DKR-Memorial Stadium, where the huge crowd is adoring.)


UPDATE (Sun Sep 11 @ 9:15am): John Bridges on one of the Austin American-Statesman's blogs reports  that

[a]fter all the brutality on the field tonight, the Ohio State band capped it all off with a classy move.

The stands were empty of Buckeye fans — only the celebrating Horn folks remained — when the Buckeye band launched into a version of "Texas Fight."

Nice way to honor the team that handed Ohio State its first home nonconference loss in 15 years and its first home night-game loss ever.

I agree, and I'm not surprised. OSU's band has always had a great national reputation among folks who follow such things; when I was in the Longhorn Band back from 1975-1980, we considered the Buckeye band to be among our national peers. My guess is that this was a more likely intended as a gesture of mutual respect and friendship to the Longhorn Band in particular as than as a tribute specifically to the Longhorn football team. But however it was intended, it was indeed classy. And unlike the spontaneous Rice band, the MOB, who might be bold enough to improvise a public performance without sheet music distributed in advance, it's very unlikely that the OSU band would undertake a gesture like this one if it had not been specifically planned and prepared for in advance (and they probably were planning to make it either "win or lose"). I hope OSU brings its band to DKR-Memorial Stadium when they complete the home-and-home series next year.

Posted by Beldar at 11:31 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

How 'bout them Longhorns?

This is what the good folks of Austin will be seeing in the sky tonight:

The UT Tower, lit after an NCAA national championship

Wish I could be there to see it, but I feel good just knowing it will be there. Congratulations to the Texas Longhorn baseball team — 2005 National Champions!

Posted by Beldar at 05:28 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Two Yalies pay tribute to Jackie Robinson

On tonight's PBS News Hour, I just watched two Yalies, tall men in good suits, speaking about Jackie Robinson. As described elsewhere:

Bush and Kerry ... shared the same stage at a U.S. Capitol ceremony honoring Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947 by becoming the first black player in baseball's modern era. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress can give.

Both men spoke eloquently in the short video clip I saw, but only one man used short sentences and plain, powerful words. One seemed to me to have a special gleam in his eyes that bespoke an involvement with and passion for baseball and its heroes. The other seemed to me to be reading a prepared text in that sonorous, somnorific drone we all came to know so well last year.

As the ceremony ended, the man who sounded less like a stereotypical Yalie was standing by Jackie Robinson's widow, applauding with the crowd. He spotted someone in the audience, made eye contact, nodded toward a back exit, and clearly mouthed the words, "You wanna ride?"

One of these men paid tribute from the heart to an American hero, and his ego and personality are completely compatible with thinking of someone else's convenience (could have been Laura's, could have been some aide's, I dunno) despite his high office, weighty responsibilities, and busy schedule. The other man showed up for a photo op, and will be forever associated with the phrases "Do you know who I am?" and "That son-of-a-bitch ran into me!"

I've been thinking I ought to update my banner image at the top of this page, just because it's been there since before these two men squared off in the November election. But I think I'll leave it there a while longer.

Posted by Beldar at 06:50 PM in Politics (2006 & earlier), Sports | Permalink | Comments (7)

Friday, November 26, 2004

About that Longhorn one-point safety

I don't do a lot of sports blogging as a rule. I'm a fan, but in moderation, and don't bring any particular knowledge or skills base to my sports blogging.  But today's Texas A&M versus Texas game may be an exception — one in which the game officials needed a lawyer on the spot to help persuade the ABC Sports commentators that the officials knew whereof they spoke.

As best I could tell, here's what happened:  Early in the second half, Texas blocked an Aggie punt, recovered it, and advanced it for a touchdown. Texas' regular placekicking holder was out with an injury; the backup holder bobbled the snap and Texas' placekicker muffed the Point-After-Touchdown kick, booting it through the offensive and defensive line into (but not all the way out of) the end zone. One of the Aggie defenders recovered the live ball — took possession of it, and advanced it out of the end-zone (trying for a two-point counter-conversion) — and then fumbled it back into the end-zone.  [Update (Sat Nov 27 @ 2:40am): But see the update below: The AP says the ball never quite made it to the A&M end-zone before being recovered by the A&M player who fumbled it into the end-zone.] Thereupon it was recovered, either by himself or by another Aggie, who was immediately tackled in the end-zone. The officials' ruling — to the complete perplexity of the ABC Sports broadcasters — was to award Texas a one-point safety, tying the score at 13-all.

A one-point safety?!? Now if that's not enough to send a lawyer-fan to his web browser, I dunno what is! And of course the place to go is the official NCAA website, specifically to the .pdf file containing the 2004 football rules.

There, on the 101st page of the .pdf file (internal numbering FR-100), we find Rule 8, entitled "Scoring," in which section 1 decrees:

Scoring Plays

ARTICLE 1. The point value of scoring plays shall be:

6 Points
Field Goal
3 Points
Safety (points
awarded to opponent)
2 Points
Successful Try Touchdown 2 Points
Field Goal or Safety 1 Point

A "regular" PAT would be a "Field Goal" during the "Try Down" that comes after a touchdown (per Rule 8, Section 3), and a two-point conversion would be a "Touchdown" during the "Try Down." The one-point safety (which I've highlighted in red print in the table above) is an example of a "rouge" that occurs during the "Try Down." helpfully explains about "rouges" in general:

A rouge is scored if the ball can not be returned out of the endzone. Fieldgoals are live and can be returned for a touchdown. Should the defending team not return the missed field goal out the end zone a single point is awarded to the kicking team.

For example: The first team kicks to the second team. A player on the second team attempts to catch the ball in his team's endzone, but fumbles the ball and is subsequently tackled. The other team scores a rouge, as the ball became dead in possession of a player in his own goal area.

[Update (Sat Nov. 27 @ 1:30am): But see Voice of Reason's comment below, justifiably quibbling with my use of the Canadian-rules term "rouge" for this situation, and my reply immediately below that comment, which contains more quotes from the official NCAA rules, secondary source and historical references, and contrasts with the NFL rules.]

Conclusion: Although it didn't figure in the final outcome ('Horns 26, Ags 13 — Hook 'em!), the refs got it right. And all the rest of us have learned something today!


Update (Sat Nov. 27 @ 2:20am): Here's the AP's explanation, as carried in the Austin American-Statesman:

But Texas holder Matt Nordgren dropped the snap, Dusty Mangum kicked the ball into the line and it rolled away just shy of the goal line. In the ensuing scramble for the football, officials ruled that A&M had gained possession of the ball then fumbled it into the end zone.

A&M safety Jaxson Appel recovered the fumble just before several Texas defenders pounced on him.

Game officials conferred for about a minute before ruling that the Longhorns would get a point for downing Appel in the end zone. The mostly orange-clad crowd of 83,891 exploded into cheers once the scoreboard recorded the point, tying the game at 13-all.

But then the AP report cites the NCAA rule for regular 2-point safeties. Heh. I'll claim my post as another episode of blogospheric accuracy outdoing the mainstream media.

Posted by Beldar at 05:31 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (18)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Love ya 'Stros!

First things first:  Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals — a classy, gutsy team with first-rate fans and management that certainly deserves to represent the NL in the Series, based both on its season-long and playoff series performances.  They've proved themselves a better team, if by a razor-thin margin, than the very fine team the Astros had turned into by season's end.  And as a devoted National League guy, I'll be rootin' for St. Louis over the BoSox.

But now my main point:  Damn, I'm proud of my hometown team!  Proud fit ta bust, yessir. 

You've provided entertainment.  You've provided thrills.  You've been great role models as sportsmen for hundreds of thousands of kids — four of whom are mine.  No fan has the right to expect a world championship, ever, but everything which any fan could legitimately expect short of that, you've given the City of Houston, and your fans elsewhere in Texas and beyond, this year.

Rocket:  I've been watching you since you were at UT.  You're a genuine sports hero for the ages, and such a Texan.  Whether you hang it up or come back, we Houstonians, we Longhorns, we fellow Texans are and will always be grateful that you came out of retirement for this season.  Hook 'em!

To Phil Garner and every other man jack on the team and in the organization, from the batboys up to Drayton:  There's no shame in this loss.  Nobody doubts that you guys were entitled to be there in Game 7.  And nobody doubts that the Astros will in due course play in the Series, but we'll be with you through thick and thin until then.

Posted by Beldar at 10:30 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (9)

Best line I've heard today

But the Yankees, who won the first three games in the series before going to lose four straight, had more runs in the series (45-41), which means the Sox may have a pennant, but they lack a mandate.

— James Taranto, writing, one presumes, from New York, in today's Best of the Web.

Congrats to the BoSox on an incredibly gutsy performance.  Here's hoping for a Sox-'Stros Series.

Posted by Beldar at 03:53 PM in Humor, Politics (2006 & earlier), Sports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, October 18, 2004

How 'bout them Astros?

Woohoo!  What a game!

Brandon Backe making a pitch en route to a one-hit 3-0 shutout victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, which the Astros now lead three games to two.  Jeff Kent won the game with a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.

Posted by Beldar at 10:28 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (9)

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Afghan elections

AllahPundit has a good post up on the Afghan elections, with pix.  InstaPundit of course has pix and links too.  The Commisar says, and I agree, that

[i]n October, 2001, when we started bombing the Taliban, that felt pretty good. But this is better. A lot better.

The Argus has lots of fabulous election pix — the antidote to videos of beheadings.

And special presidential envoy and U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad writes in a fact-filled article in the Wall Street Journal Online

The best market test to understand how Afghans view the future is the fact that 3.3 million refugees have returned from Pakistan and Iran since 2002 — the largest voluntary repatriation in history. These refugees would not return unless they believed the quality of life for their families is better in Afghanistan.

Distressed people vote with their feet — they flee.  Hopeful people also vote with their feet — they return.  And when they've returned, they vote with ballots.  (The absence of refugees flowing out of Iraq is a key reason why I refuse to accept the relentless mainstream media spin about how awful things are there.)

President Bush's remarks today get this exactly right:

We're getting close to voting time here in this country.  But who's counting the days?  (Laughter.)  There was voting time elsewhere in this world today.  A marvelous thing is happening in Afghanistan.  Freedom is powerful.  Think about a society in which young girls couldn't go to school and their mothers were whipped in the public square.  And today, they're holding a presidential election.  (Applause.)

The first person to vote in the presidential election, three years after the Taliban ruled that country with such barbarism, was a 19-year-old woman, an Afghan refugee, who fled her homeland during the civil war. Here's what she said:  "I cannot explain my feelings, just how happy I am. I would never have thought I would be able to vote in this election." She's voting in this election because the United States of America believes that freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.  (Applause.)  And today is an appropriate day for Americans to remember and thank the men and women of our Armed Forces who liberated Afghanistan.  (Applause.)

Whether Dubya wins or loses, this is an accomplishment — for him, for his administration, for our military, for our country, for our allies (yes, even Germany and France) who've helped in Afghanistan.  Whether you pray to Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, "Reason," or whomever — if you have anyone to whom you pray, ever — then today's a day to give a prayer of thanks.

Posted by Beldar at 04:21 PM in Global War on Terror, Sports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Screaming for a snarky caption

Kerry:  "Blue!  101!  Blue!  101!  Hut-hut-hut!"

Aide with hand cupped to ear:  "Did I just hear someone predicting our electoral vote count?"

Kerry, outside his campaign plane before departing from Tampa to Orlando for a campaign stop on Friday, Oct. 1, 2004.  Yahoo News caption: 'Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry plays football whilst on the campaign trail. More than 62 million US viewers tuned in to the first of three presidential debates in this year's election campaign, making it the most watched since 1992, according to Nielsen Media Research (AFP/Luke Frazza)'

I'm sure you can do better than my feeble captioning effort, with a picture like this to work from.  (Just keep it reasonably non-profane, please.)

Posted by Beldar at 07:09 AM in Humor, Politics (2006 & earlier), Sports | Permalink | Comments (51)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Needs a snarky caption (sports edition)

This is actually not a photograph from Sen. Kerry's preparations from the upcoming presidential debates:

Reuters' caption: 'Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (R) gets a pass away ahead of the rush from his brother Cam Kerry (L) during a game of touch football on the Esplanade in Boston, Massachusetts September 25, 2004.'

But even with no Photoshopping, it does have many possibilities for imaginative captioning.

Posted by Beldar at 05:34 PM in Humor, Politics (2006 & earlier), Sports | Permalink | Comments (36)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Lambert/Lambeau Field: Does Kerry have SwiftVets on the brain?

CBS News' Steve Chaggaris files this campaign report (hat-tip to Jim Geraghty's Kerry Spot):

On Wednesday, Kerry made his third visit to Green Bay, Wis., this year and made it a point to focus on the main thing the city revolves around: football and the Green Bay Packers....

As he was taking questions from the audience, he referred to the legendary Packers stadium, Lambeau Field (which has been called that for 39 years) as "Lambert Field."

If the voters catch wind of that gaffe, it could take Kerry another three visits to Green Bay to make up for it.

So why was Kerry thinking "Lambert" instead of "Lambeau"?  Could it be that while his body was in Wisconsin, his mind was in Eagle Point, Oregon?

Robert E. Lambert doesn’t plan to vote for John Kerry.

But the Eagle Point man challenges claims by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that there was no enemy fire aimed at the five swift boats, including the one commanded by Kerry, on March 13, 1969 on the Bay Hap River in the southern tip of what was then South Vietnam.

Lambert, now 64, was a crew member on swift boat PCF-51 that day. The boat was commanded by Navy Lt. Larry Thurlow, a now-retired officer who questions why Kerry was awarded a Bronze star for bravery and a third Purple Heart for the March 13 incident.

"He and another officer now say we weren’t under fire at that time," Lambert said Wednesday afternoon. "Well, I sure was under the impression we were."

Lambert’s Bronze Star medal citation for the incident praises his courage under fire in the aftermath of a mine explosion that rocked another swift boat on that day 35 years ago.

"Anytime you are blown out of the water like that, they always follow that up with small arms fire," he said.

Thus does the Jackson County (Oregon) Mail Tribune utterly scoop (hat-tip to my commenter "GT" for this link earlier today) their esteemed competition Newsweek, who reported today:

Lambert’s military record shows he retired from the U.S. Navy in 1978. Efforts to trace him have been unsuccessful.

This as part of Newsweek's own rather unsurprising "discovery" (also reported by the Mail Tribune) that Lambert's Bronze Star citation — exactly like Thurlow's and Kerry's — references enemy fire during the Bay Hap River incident in which Kerry rescued Rassmann.  Pardon me while I yawn — that's been assumed by folks actually following this story in the blogosphere for about a week now, and we've moved on to the still unanswered question of who wrote or provided the information for all three citations, and whether that information was or wasn't accurate. 

Blogosphere to Newsweek: If the Navy citations were conclusive, we wouldn't be having any of this discussion, 'cause nobody doubts that Kerry did get the Bronze Star.  You guys are so missing the point, it's almost as pathetic as the LAT, who's still stuck on the "all Kerry's crewmen support him" canard.  And way-to-go blogosphere:  15 Technorati hits at the moment for the link from the Mail Tribune, all bloggers; no relevant hits on Google News for "Lambert 'Eagle Pass.'"

Lambert's name must be added to those of other Swiftees who contend that there was hostile fire of some sort during the general timeframe and general vicinity of Kerry's rescue of Rassmann.  I'm sure Kerry doesn't mind not getting Mr. Lambert's vote, but is damned glad to have his supportive recount of events.

As such things go, Mr. Lambert's version — "Well, I sure was under the impression we were [under fire]" — is considerably less dramatic than Kerry's "about to get a bullet to the head" version.  Mr. Lambert's follow-up comment will lead some to wonder whether he actually has a specific, detailed recollection, or whether he's speculating — genuinely giving an "impression — based on what was usually the case in ambush situations. 

Without meaning to diminish the luster of the Mail Tribune's scoop, I'm left reading this press account, like the recent press accounts of Bill Russell's tale, with the intense, overwhelming desire to examine any of these witnesses thoroughly and competently under oath — not to smear anyone or discredit anyone, but just to find out the exact scope of what these men can actually tell us!  Color me not necessarily skeptical, but just very, very frustrated.

Does anyone following this slow motion train wreck think John Kerry doesn't have SwiftVets on the brain these days?  "Lambert Field."  I'm sure the ghost of Vince Lombardi got a good chuckle out of that one.

Posted by Beldar at 09:33 PM in Humor, Politics (2006 & earlier), Sports, SwiftVets | Permalink | Comments (24)

Friday, August 20, 2004


I'm a multi-tasking kind of guy.  I usually have five or twelve browser windows open while I'm blogging.

Sometimes I get confused, especially when I'm tired.

So tonight I'm clicking around the net, checking to see what other bloggers have to say about the SwiftVets vs. Kerry controversy, and I tool on over to Power Line for about the 43rd time in the last 24 hours.  And I find myself ... distracted.

So about 93 slides into the Yahoo/AP slideshow, I'm pretty sure that I've found at least one of the NYT reporters who wrote their story on the SwiftVets:

I'm pretty sure it's the one in the orange at the back.  Unless I'm confused.

Posted by Beldar at 12:39 AM in Humor, Sports, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, August 16, 2004

Spin in your grave, Uday! Spin!

Members of the Iraqi delegation pose with members of the United States' delegation during the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Friday, Aug. 13, 2004. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Posted by Beldar at 07:58 PM in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Update re Kerry's Secret Service codename

In February, I posted "What Secret Service codename for Kerry?," in which I speculated on the moniker that our brave Secret Service agents who are protecting Candidate Kerry might assign to him for their radio communications.  Tradition requires that Democrats who are protectees be given codenames beginning with the letter "D," but neither I nor my commenters could come up with a genuinely memorable and apt D-word.

However, my quest — and perhaps the Secret Service's? — has been fulfilled.  Comes now The Sporting News columnist Dave Kindred:

Here in the Toy Department of life, where we play with sticks and balls and cars that go boom-on-fire, it's always entertaining to keep track of our political heroes' athletic achievements, such as George W. Bush falling off his bicycle onto his schnozz.

Imagine my delight, then, to see John F. Kerry throw out a ceremonial baseball at Fenway Park....

Though Kerry scored three goals to help Yale University's soccer team defeat Harvard in 1966, his Scottish soccer coach once told him not to "diddle with the ball," a scolding that led to the nickname "the Diddler." ...

As Kerry came out of the Red Sox dugout to do the first-pitch honors, he carried the ball in a way that foreshadowed the achievement to come. He carried it pressed against his palm with his fingers wrapped all the way around it.

A baseball is God's perfect invention. It fits precisely, cozily, wonderfully, in the space between one's thumb and index and middle fingers.

Perched there, it is supported by the side of the ring finger. Someone once said, and maybe it was Yogi Berra, "Anyone who carries a baseball stuffed against his palm and enclosed by all his fingers is a rink-turning kitesurfing diddler."

Kerry didn't go all the way out to the mound. Perhaps he took a touch of advice from aides who had seen him warm up. He stopped maybe 45 feet from home plate. From there he threw the first pitch.

I say "threw" in the kindest possible way. Here's what Kerry did: He raised his right arm to its full height. From up there, in an athletic movement seldom seen on a baseball field, he let the stiffened arm fall forward. At the same time, he splayed open his fingers in a way that allowed the ball to fall out. It bumped against the ground short of the catcher and in the right-hand batter's box.

Now, anyone working in life's Toy Department dare not suggest that a presidential vote be decided according to how a candidate throws.

Still.  President Bush threw a World Series strike from 60 feet 6 inches while wearing body armor the month after 9/11. And he threw another strike opening this season in St. Louis.

So if we need a fastball at Osama bin Laden's ear, I know which guy I want on the mound.

A-yup.  "Diddler."  Suh-weet!   (Hat-tip to the temporarily perma-linkless Hugh Hewitt.)

Posted by Beldar at 08:27 PM in Humor, Politics (2006 & earlier), Sports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, March 19, 2004

Sen. Kerry's faceplants on vacation

Whether it's clearing tough central Texas underbrush or snowboarding down Sun Valley's Bald Mountain, Americans like to see their Presidents and Presidential candidates engaging in vigorous exercise. I suppose it's a tribal thing — we like to know that "the chief" can throw a silver dollar across the Potomac or split rails or hunt bears. Seeing Nixon walk on the beach in black wingtips was disquieting.

So like the rest of the American public, I'm glad to read that Sen. Kerry is having a vigorous vacation. He deserves it — taking every position on every issue is doubtless stressful. But can someone tell me why this haughty, French-looking Senator can't even hit the slopes without raising new doubts about his personality and character?

Per the NYT:

On his first full day off, though, Mr. Kerry awoke determined to hit the slopes of Mount Baldy.

The image-conscious candidate and his aides prevailed upon reporters and photographers to let him have a first run down the mountain solo, except for two agents and Marvin Nicholson, his omnipresent right-hand man.

His next trip down, a reporter and a camera crew were allowed to follow along on skis — just in time to see Mr. Kerry taken out by one of the Secret Service men, who had inadvertently moved into his path, sending him into the snow.

When asked about the mishap a moment later, he said sharply, "I don't fall down," then used an expletive to describe the agent who "knocked me over."

I've never snowboarded, but I skied regularly for over twenty years — got pretty good at it, in fact, for a Texan. Anyone who's done the sport knows that especially on spring break week, Dude! you're likely to be knocked down by someone else and, even if you're very good and very careful, also likely to knock someone else down. Happens every day, every hour.

I've been called a few expletives on the slopes. And I've had occasion to call a few others by them. But even when I really needed a vacation very badly and hit the slopes pretty tightly wound, I tried to distinguish between, say, someone who knocked me over because he was hotdogging recklessly and someone who was a more innocent victim of fate and physics. I've never had someone following me around whose sworn duty is to jump in front of a bullet aimed for my heart; and I suppose even someone doing that duty could manage to be unpleasant and annoying, in addition to having a momentary lapse of perfect judgment about where to be placed or moving to avoid all collisions.

But still.

And remember that quote, "I don't fall down"? Per the SF Chron, presumably describing a different run on a more challenging slope:

Kerry, his snowboard strapped to his back, hiked past 9,000 feet on Durrance Peak, then snowboarded down the mountain, taking repeated tumbles. Reporters counted six falls, although Kerry was out of sight for part of the descent. To be fair, other skiers tumbled as well.

I guess he doesn't fall down in the same sense that he voted for the Iraq reconstruction appropriations.

Hey, there's no shame in falling — as with aircraft and landings, any fall you can ski away from is a good one. If the conditions are challenging or you're pressing the limits of your skill, you're gonna have some tumbles. And every skier knows about the snow gremlins who can grab one of your edges and cause a fall even when you're a good skier on an easy slope — or heck, standing in the lift lines (not that Kerry likely did much of that). I've got hours of videotape of myself and family and friends bidding for blooper-reel fame.

But why would you ever say "I don't fall"? To a newspaper reporter? Doncha know they're going to be waiting, watching, clicking, counting? Shades of Gary Hart!


Update (Fri Mar 19 @ 8:45pm):   Drudge says that the expletive was "son of a bitch." Coulda been worse, I suppose. Kevin Whited at Reductio Ad Absurdum and Hindrocket at Power Line have posted reactions similar to mine over this story, and Hindrocket's post also has a great photo.

Update (Sat Mar 20 @ 4:25pm):   An ABC news reporter confirms the NYT story in their permalinkless The Note, including — sadly — the lack of humor in Sen. Kerry's reference to the Secret Service agent:

As Senator John Kerry carved his Burton snowboard down a green rated Upper College run, another skier interrupted his stride, colliding with the presumptive Democratic nominee at 9,010 feet.

The slope-cade of two Ski Patrollers, several Secret Service agents, two journalists, one camera and one Kerry aide suddenly came to a halt. The Massachusetts Senator lay on the ground, removed his Smith sunglasses, and surveyed the damage.

Assured that the ABC News camera accompanying the entourage had not captured Kerry's fall, the Senator glared at your sloping Noter and assured, "I don't fall down. That son of a bitch ran into me."

The Noter doesn't identify the collision as being with a Secret Service agent, but the Boston Globe's article does. Seems the basic facts aren't in dispute.

Update (Sat Mar 20 @ 11:30pm):   Moxie's reaction is also similar to mine, and she includes a nice bit comparing Sen. Kerry's reaction to that of Dubya falling off the Segway scooter last year. Of Sen. Kerry, she asks, "Is this a man you would trust to watch your pets — let alone run our country?" Actually, I'd be afraid he'd try to teach my pets to speak French and Italian.

Roger L. Simon writes of this incident, "Maybe it's just me, but it bothers me more than his flip-flopping, which is SOP for many politicians." And one of Roger's commenters reminded me of this personal anecdote about Sen. Kerry from columnist Dave Barry:

In conclusion, I want to extend my sincere best wishes to all of my opponents, Republican and Democrat, and to state that, in the unlikely event I am not elected, I will support whoever is, even if it is Sen. John Kerry, who once came, with his entourage, into a ski-rental shop in Ketchum, Idaho, where I was waiting patiently with my family to rent snowboards, and Sen. Kerry used one of his lackeys to flagrantly barge in line ahead of us and everybody else, as if he had some urgent senatorial need for a snowboard, like there was about to be an emergency meeting, out on the slopes, of the Joint Halfpipe Committee.

Posted by Beldar at 07:02 PM in Current Affairs, Politics (2006 & earlier), Sports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Tuesday Morning Quarterback's revenge

Per the New York Daily News,

The curtain's coming down for Michael Eisner.

That was the word from Wall Street yesterday after Comcast launched its $54 billion hostile bid for Walt Disney.

Corporate governance law expert Professor Stephen Bainbridge of UCLA, long a critic of the imperial reign of Eisner, has a perceptive writeup of the story, its causes, and its implications:

Bad management is just another form of information that efficient markets are able to process. When a declining market price signals shirking by directors or management, among those who receive the signal are directors and managers of other firms, who possess the resources to investigate the reason for the potential target's deteriorating performance. Sometimes it will be something that is beyond anybody's ability to control, such as where highly specialized assets are languishing because of a permanent shift in consumer demand. Sometimes, however, it will be due to poor management, which presents real opportunities for gain if the personnel or policies causing the firm to languish can be corrected. A successful takeover gives the acquirer the ability to elect at least a majority of the board of directors and thereby control personnel and policy decisions. The resulting appreciation in value of the acquired shares provides the profit incentive to do so. It is partly for this reason that we refer to the takeover market as "the market for corporate control."

Michael Eisner's Disney looks like a ripe candidate for a disciplinary takeover....

The long-term problem at Disney has been that virtually every mechanism we have for holding boards accountable has failed. Director independence failed because the board has been comprised of nominally independent folks who in fact were cronies of Eisner or know-nothing ceremonial directors. Shareholder activism failed because it never made a serious dent in the board's complacency. Litigation failed because the board was willing to pay zillions to Ovitz, Katzenberg, etc.... SOX and the other post-Enron reforms failed because Eisner is so good at boardroom politics that he was able to use even those reforms to further entrench himself.

There is one tool left: Have somebody buy the company and fire Eisner.

Driving home last night, I heard some "expert" on NPR question whether potential acquirer Comcast, a large cable TV company that "brings sex, nudity, and violence into people's homes," was an appropriate candidate for acquiring Disney. I thought that pretty ironic. It was, of course, TMQ Gregg Easterbrook's attack on the gratuitous violence of a Quentin Tarantino film from Disney's Miramax subsidiary that not only got Easterbrook fired from his spot as a columnist for Disney subsidiary ESPN, but also got everything that Easterbrook had ever written for ESPN "disappeared" from its website in a twenty-first century retaliatory act of "nacht und nebel." Eisner's spinmeisters spun some unfortunate loose language of Easterbrook's as being "anti-Semitic" as their purported grounds to fire him, but I doubt they'll be able to make such a claim to fend off Comcast's takeover bid.

Disciplinary takeover. Heh. Easterbrook, who also writes a blog for The New Republic and whose TMQ column has a new and better home at, has to be enjoying this. I know I am. Easterbrook is probably cackling like Rafiki did when Simba returned to cast out Scar in "The Lion King." And if by chance his employment at ESPN left Easterbrook with any Disney stock, I'll bet he'll enjoy tendering it into Comcast's bid.

Posted by Beldar at 04:27 AM in Current Affairs, Humor, Sports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Super thanks!

I'm watching the Super Bowl while blogging.  I don't much care who wins. 

But I'm very proud of my adopted hometown of the last 23 years.  I think we "done good" in putting this thing on.  (I say "we"; my sum total contribution was in politely chatting with a small handful of visitors I've run into in gas stations or drug stores, but I did make sure to "put my smile on" and welcome them, per Mayor Bill's instructions.)  I'm thankful to everyone who has worked to make the event a success —

  • I'm thankful to those who put on the pregame tribute to the heroes of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

  • I'm thankful to Houston native Beyonce for not overdoing the artistic styling of the Star Spangled Banner, and to everyone in the stadium who cooperated in the patriotic flash-card display.

  • I'm thankful to all my fellow Houstonians who've shown hospitality, and especially to the hundreds or maybe thousands of volunteers whose work has made this shindig possible even though they didn't get complementary game tickets and maybe even are missing seeing the game on TV.

But most of all, I'm thankful to everyone — from Houston to Kabul and Baghdad — who've literally put their lives on the line to make sure that some crazy bastards who hate America and hate freedom haven't been able to crash an airliner into Reliant Stadium, or sneak a fragmentation bomb onto one of our new lightrail trains, or otherwise deliver some tragedy into the midst of the festivities.


Update (Sun Feb 1 @ 9:30pm):  And hey, it turned into a heckuva good football game too!  Grats to the Pats; and grats to all those who took Carolina and the points.

Posted by Beldar at 06:59 PM in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 29, 2003

TMQ finds a new home

You'll recall, faithful readers, that BeldarBlog duly lamented "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" columnist Gregg Easterbrook's firing from after remarks in a movie-review blogpost that were deemed anti-Semitic (or in the alternative, anti-Eisner-and-Weinstein/Disney-and-Miramax, which I continue to believe was the determinative factor).  My recommendation to him was "to find a better outlet for Tuesday Morning Quarterback," to play the free agent market.

Financial terms are undisclosed, but TMQ has reappeared among's weekly features — with the Week 13 report here.  Bless their hearts, the good folks at believe in embedded photographs of cheerbabes, with links to same!  And Easterbrook's urbane, smart-ass, and oftentimes astute and funny comments read the same as well. 

Congratulations, Mr. Easterbrook.

Posted by Beldar at 07:32 AM in Sports | Permalink

Monday, October 20, 2003

Easterbrook is Easterbanished: TMQ cut from ESPN roster over "anti-Semitic" blogpost

Gregg Easterbrook is a senior editor at The New Republic, whose online edition sponsors his new blog, too-cutely named Easterblogg.  ("Gregg" with two g's at the end, ya get it — huh? huh?)  Easterbrook has a quick mind and broad tastes that include professional football in all its gory glory, so until now he's also contributed a weekly column to ESPN's website, writing as the "Tuesday Morning Quarterback."  I'd link you to one of his TMQ columns, except — it seems that Michael Eisner and his minions have zapped them all.  Yeah, it appears that they've fired Easterbrook — and not just fired him, they've disappeared him — or at least his name from the masthead and all traces of his columns from the ESPN website!  Nacht und nebel!

Why?  Well, they didn't say, but one presumes it's because of this blogpost he wrote about Miramax's new picture, "Kill Bill." 

Easterbrook expressed a pretty pointed opinion that that "Kill Bill" stinks, that its director Quentin Tarantino stinks, and that Miramax stinks for sponsoring Tarantino's mindless über-violence, and that Harvey Weinstein and Michael Eisner — respectively the CEOs of Miramax and its corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company — stink for letting Miramax sponsor Tarantino's über-violence. 

Easterbrook didn't just pan the movie, its director, its studio, the studio's corporate parent, and their respective CEOs, though — he managed at the same time to point out that (gasp) Weinstein and Eisner are both Jewish:

Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice.

With these sentences, Easterbrook has generated The Perfect Scandal for Our Times™!  I can tell it's perfect because when I try to figure out which of my regular archival categories to select for this post, I could pick just about any of them except "Texas Redistricting"!

Oh, glorious potential for mixed metaphors!  Armchair quarterback, political pundit, and corporate blogger — slain on the swift sword of politico-religious (or religio-political?) correctness, his prompt and conspicuous apology notwithstanding.  We know Easterbrook must be guilty and evil because the Los Angeles Times tells us if he walks like an anti-Semite, talks like an anti-Semite, and quacks like an anti-Semite, Disney can fire his ducktailed ass from its ESPN subsidiary's website in the proverbial Los Angeles minute (which is really shorter than a New York minute, except that it's done in film-school slow-motion so you can see the blood splatters more clearly).

Andrew Sullivan bemoans this as an assault on blogging, and links an online petition protesting Easterbrook's firing from ESPN.  Along with some other far more notable bloggers, I duly signed the petition — I enjoyed reading the TMQ column, especially the bits about the NFL cheerleaders.  But I'm having second thoughts about having done so — ummm, about signing the petition, that is (not reading about NFL cheerleaders).  In fact, I may start a petition to force the folks to institute a delete feature!

Easterbrook's apology suggests that in another medium — one less instantaneous than blogging-without-a-net (no editors! it's the nature of the beast!) — he'd have managed to avoid any anti-Semitic clichés:

Where I failed most is in the two sentences about adoration of money. I noted that many Christian executives adore money above all else, and in the 20-minute reality of blog composition, that seemed to me, writing it, fairness and fair spreading of blame. But accusing a Christian of adoring money above all else does not engage any history of ugly stereotypes. Accuse a Jewish person of this and you invoke a thousand years of stereotypes about that which Jews have specific historical reasons to fear. What I wrote here was simply wrong, and for being wrong, I apologize.

Eh.  I've seen worse.  In the days when I, a Texas gentile, was a partner in a largely Jewish New York-based law firm, I've probably said worse myself (although the Texas-New York culture clash was a far bigger problem than the gentile-Jewish one). 

Mr. Easterbrook, if I may play Wednesday Morning Quarterback (although it's a Monday today):   Do you think it's an accident that Disney keeps Miramax as a separate brand so it can channel its sex-and-violence content to the viewing public of the world without tarnishing Mickey's image?  We all know better. 

But you don't tug on Superman's cape, and you don't dis the Mouse{*} — not if you're eating at the Mouse's training table, anyway.  Mike Eisner and Harvey Weinstein are indeed loathsome individuals, but that has nothing to do with their being Jewish, or religious, or even male — their greed and their pandering to feed it has entirely to do with their being human, and by injecting religion into an area where it doesn't really fit, you gave them an excuse to whack you.

Which, of course, is their absolute commercial right to do, First Amendment notwithstanding (and having absolutely nothing to do with this).  I don't doubt that leading blogospheric expressers of Jewish outrage like Roger Simon (here, here, and here) and Meryl Yourish (here, here, here, here, and here) were sincere in feeling offended, and are now sincere in their regret that ESPN has knocked TMQ out of its lineup.  (Prof. Reynolds, of course, has a wide variety of pertinent links on InstaPundit, along with some commentary.)  But one would have to be naïve indeed to think that to the powers-that-be at Disney, the religious issue was anything more than a pretext for what was actually a reaction to Easterbrook-as-film-critic.  It doesn't have to be about Eisner personally.  No, Easterbrook had it right the first time, if he'd just omitted the religious references — it's all about profits.  The Mouse is ruthless.

So, TMQ, you screwed up; you threw a pick into double coverage, they ran it back for a score to win the Super Bowl.  Yes, blogging is like speaking into an open mike on national television, and you of course knew that — but then again, that excitement, that danger was part of the attraction that caused you to chose a career that has you walking on tightropes, dealing with hot topics like politics and race and religion and NFL cheerleaders with or without breast implants.  If you'd wanted dull and secure, you'd be a judge like the Official Easter-Brother.

So twist your jock back into position, locate your helmet, and trot off the field with dignity, sir.  Disney is damn near boycott-proof, Eisner and Weinstein will get another bajillion despite running the stock price into the ground; tain't nuthin' to be done with, to, or about them. 

You still have your day job.  And Mr. Easterbrook, you ought to find a better outlet for Tuesday Morning Quarterback.  TNR probably isn't the place.  But then, neither was the ESPN website.  ""?  How very Nineties; how entirely pre-blogospheric.  Stop apologizing (not to say you shouldn't have, but just that you've apologized enough already), shrug off the hit, and play the free agent market, man!


{*}    "Don't dis the Mouse" is a much politer version of the conventional wisdom supposedly imparted to all employees of The Walt Disney Company's famous theme parks, when they're warned that their public and private conduct must be above reproach.  And while looking for the corporate website for Disney — not the "view the latest trailer/play the latest game/here's our flash animation and oh by the way we gave up and hired HP to run our website for us" stuff — I found one lovely page with a lovely quote from the company founder, whose spin-in-his-grave rate doubtless gained another 1000 rpm when "Kill Bill" came out:

"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse." - Walt Disney

Sorry, Walt.

Posted by Beldar at 07:10 AM in Current Affairs, Film/TV/Stage, Humor, Law (2006 & earlier), Mainstream Media, Sports, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Melancholy (football) baby

I'll never root for Oklahoma University's football team, but I can certainly appreciate talent — in the athletes and the coaches — when I see it.  The Sooners beat the 'Horns like the proverbial redheaded stepchild this weekend, and the 65-13 score gives an entirely misleading impression:   the game was not that close.  My congrats to the OU coaches, team, and fans.  And then the Titans whipped the Texans, albeit by normal instead of cosmic proportions; I still vaguely root for the Titans because of their Oilers history, and I wasn't surprised by the result, but it still left me grumbling. 

The dog — who has never gotten the concept that when she and I are the only living things in the room, I might scream with rage without being enraged at her, poor thing — probably suffered more than I did, but we'll both get over it, I 'spect.

Posted by Beldar at 08:59 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Baylor 42, Colorado 30

Baylor BearsAlthough I very much enjoyed a three-week stay on the campus of the University of Colorado in July 1985 for the National Session of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, I've never been a fan of Colorado sports teams — too much trash talk for one thing.  And I have two nieces and a nephew who either are or have recently been Baylor students. 

So I can't help enjoying 19½-point underdog Baylor's 42-30 win over the Buffs in Waco this weekend.  Baylor has had so much bad news lately, and while it's completely unfair, it's nevertheless true that negative publicity in connection with a university's sports program can affect campus morale and self-image just as powerfully, or moreso, as positive publicity.  Go Bears!

Posted by Beldar at 02:20 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Texas 24, Kansas State 20

hookem.gifThe 'Horns looked pretty good this afternoon against the first top-flight team they've faced since Arkansas.  They showed some poise to come from behind in the fourth quarter, although it looked like they were losing as many of the matchups in the trenches as they were winning.  Freshman QB Vince Young is just amazing to watch — and he appears to have ankles made of indestructable rubber. 

One has to hope this win will be a confidence builder, because they're going to need to be confident and at their very best against OU.

Posted by Beldar at 09:29 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Metrosexual backlash

The best line I've seen lately is from Stacey Pressman's article on ESPN's Page2 called "Nothing sexy about metrosexuals":

Call me crazy but I don't ever want to hear my boyfriend utter the word "jasmine," unless he's apologizing for something he did with a stripper.

Posted by Beldar at 07:42 PM in Current Affairs, Humor, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Lawyers who are unclear on the concept of "helping" their clients: Clarett v. NFL

In Friday's New York Times, you will find this article:

Alan C. Milstein has had his share of emotionally charged legal cases. There was the lawsuit he filed against the University of Pennsylvania on behalf of the family of a young woman who died after undergoing a gene therapy experiment. And there was the suit against the manufacturer of an anthrax vaccine after an American soldier who had received injections died.

These were tragic tales involving power and its use. In reciting them, Milstein makes what seems to be an unusual connection, comparing them to his current high-profile client: the suspended Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett.

Milstein's argument is that the NFL is breaking the law — illegally conspiring in an unreasonable restraint of trade — by refusing to draft football players who aren't yet old enough to buy a draft beer:

Milstein is suing pro football over its eligibility bylaws, which prohibit a player from entering the N.F.L. draft until he has been out of high school at least three years. Clarett, a sophomore who was suspended for the season by Ohio State for rules violations, is suing to become eligible for the league's draft next April.

If you are an utterly craven, utterly shallow, utterly shortsighted bastard who's wrapped up in your own reputation and income to the complete exclusion of your nominal clients' welfare, then you might manage to persuade yourself that you'd be "helping" the boy who is your own client, and other boys like him, by going to court to establish that physically advanced and talented 18 year old boys are eligible to become instant boy-millionaires.  You could perhaps continue to "help" your client by, say, introducing him to several bookies and a crack-cocaine dealer while you're at it.

But if, as a lawyer, you have any kind of a clue about what is in such a client's genuine best interest, you will instead tell him, "Son, you have just blown what is probably the best opportunity you could ever have hoped for to pursue a sports career because you thought none of the normal rules of life apply to you because you're already so special.  Even if I could win your case for you against the NFL, what you need is not a multi-million dollar sports contract.  You need to focus on continuing to attend school for the next year and perhaps getting a good part-time job in which you can prove to yourself and your team and the world that you can be a responsible grown-up.  At the end of which time, if you've stayed in shape, your team will probably take you back for a second chance that you might, by then, have earned."

Ask Spenser Haywood whether you need to be careful what you wish for.

Posted by Beldar at 11:57 PM in Law (2006 & earlier), Sports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Texans 21, Dolphins 20!

Amazing!  What a great road win over a team expected to be a Super Bowl contender! 

texans.jpgThe Texans showed remarkable poise in coming from behind, and the stats indicate that the win was no fluke:   more total offence, rushing, passing, first downs, and time of possession; fewer penalties; and no turnovers.  The defense held last season's NFL rushing champion, Ricky Williams, to 67 yards on 17 carries and forced three Miami turnovers.

Most incredibly (given last season), the Texans gave up no QB sacks!

Update (Sun Sep 7 @ 9pm):   I hate to be tetchy, but isn't this a backhanded insult? 

"The way we were playing today, it wouldn't have mattered who we played," [Dolphin head] coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We would have lost the game."

This definitely lowers my opinion of Coach Wannstedt.  And there's still more billboard material for the Texans:

Cornerback Sam Madison blamed himself and his teammates, instead of crediting the Texans.

"A lot of people put us on a pedestal and we didn't go out there and live up to that," Madison said. "We gave them one.... We could have played a peewee team and we still would have lost."

And from a story entitled "Miami talks trash, Texans laugh last":

A humble second-year franchise playing at highly touted Miami, the Houston Texans were the biggest underdogs of the NFL's opening weekend.

That made them mad. So did the Dolphins' trash-talking during pregame warmups.

"One of their players said, 'I'll see you after today's practice,"' Houston's Jabar Gaffney said. "That was their thinking — they were looking at us like this was just a little practice."

Trash talk before the game is one thing.  After you've been beaten fair and square, NFL protocol demands that you at least pretend to respect the victors, even if in your heart you think you lost because you stunk.

I expect the Dolphins will do better as the season progresses.  But yes, today, they did stink — and I'm not talking about their play on the field, but rather, their sportsmanship from the head coach down.

Posted by Beldar at 03:29 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)