Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Men Worry About

SNAP: The calm before the storm.
Back story: For Oklahoma’s first game of the year against Tulsa, a few of Lindsey’s friends showed up ninety minutes early to SNAP (the new OU bar on 14th Street), and still couldn’t find a seat. This game (Florida State) was 1000x bigger. I told them I’d show up at 5:30, by myself (kickoff was at 8:15). They all laughed. I wasn’t kidding.

Back story 2: At 5:00, my cable went out, and when I called Time Warner Cable to figure out the problem, nobody picked up. Nothing gets my blood boiling like Time Warner Cable. If you ever have ANY alternative – FiOS, DirecTV, aluminum foil – take it. Time Warner Cable will pry your heart from your chest like a linebacker forcing a fumble.

5:32: I arrive at the bar, 2 minutes late, and on edge about my cable. Not sure if you know this, Time Warner, but they play football on Sundays, too, and now I have no TV.

I’m the first one at the bar. Waitress shows me the nine tables reserved for the OU game. Tells me I can sit at any of them, then watches curiously as I sit at all of them, testing optimal viewing angles.

5:36: I choose the center table, which was my first instinct. It’s benches (instead of chairs), but it's close enough to all the surrounding TVs to watch without squinting, and there were 3-4 afternoon games I was still interested in.

5:37: Another OU fan shows up. See?? 5:30 wasn’t so early after all. We chat for a second before retreating to our tables. She says “I didn’t want to take any chances after last time.” I pretend like I was there last time and nod. Neither of us want the conversation to last any longer than it has to.

5:39: She secures a corner table. Terrible choice.

5:58: Katie, president of the OU alumni club and friend of ours, comes in and grabs a center-right table, decorating it with crimson pom-poms and other assorted OU swag. Katie is no joke.

6:07: More and more OU fans shuffle in, and Mike isn’t one of them. He promised me he’d be here by 6. How am I supposed to save 3 tables and watch 3 games at the same time? This isn’t some fancy dinner or Broadway play I don’t want to see. I care if you’re late.

6:09: A couple OU fans grab one of the tables I was hoping to save. I don’t try and stop them. I’m alone and helpless.

6:10: Waitress asks me if I want anything. Yeah, for Mike to show up. 

"OU was your REAL school, Mike, and you're taking it for granted!"

6:11: A girl sits at the other table I wanted to save, but is suspiciously interested in the Virginia Tech game. I have a hunch she went to Virginia Tech. I ask her. I’m right. She apologizes for sitting at one of the OU tables. I tell her don’t be sorry and don’t ever get up. This was the break I needed: She’ll occupy that table, and then leave when the Tech game gets out of hand. And the Hokies are up by three touchdowns.

6:12: Manager comes by and asks how many people I’m with. ‘A lot,’ I say. He asks how many ‘A lot” is. I say 20. I have no idea how many people I’m with. I just want him to go away.

6:13: I text Mike: “You better have a good excuse.”

6:17: Val arrives with Jenny. THAT A GIRL, VAL!!! I had no idea she was considering coming this early. Lindsey and her friends joke that Val’s perpetually late. Not when it counts, she isn’t! I sit Val and Jenny with the Virginia Tech girl.

6:21: Mike shows up with Chris and Shrode. You’re a real bastard, Mike, but sit down. Let’s watch some football.

6:23: Lindsey shows up, seven minutes EARLIER than she told me she would. Impressive performances from all the girls today.

6:31: It’s getting pretty crowded, and the manager asks me if he can put some “loose change” (OU fans who didn’t know anyone and weren’t here with a group) at our table. No.

6:35: I have to pee, but I worry if I get up he’ll put the loose change there anyway. I look at Lindsey. She’s stressing too.

Lindsey: My hands are dry.

6:40: Greg texts and says he'll be here at 7:15 with a few friends.
6:41: Chad says he’ll be here at 8.
6:42: Ramsey texts from Philadelphia and tells me he can't see.
6:50: Maria asks why we chose seats without backs. I don’t respond.

7:00: I reluctantly go to the bathroom, wishing I had taken the drug Lindsey works on.

7:05: Lindsey says she now has to go to the bathroom. I tell her not to linger. Maria won’t sit down, either. I ask her why she can’t just sit and stop mingling. “I’m the Vice President! I have to mingle.” Fine.

7:15. SNAP is packed. Hundreds of OU fans, and still an hour to go until gametime. Mike asks me for an offensive and defensive key to the game, and an MVP.

Landry Jones taking care of the ball, containing E.J. Manuel’s scrambling…and Me.


NC State/Cincinnati vs.... Nothing (Thurs, 8:00 ET)
Come on, College Football. Lindsey makes dinner plans and this is the best you come up with? Oh well, guess I'll be watching.
EDGE: NC State/Cincinnati

UCF/BYU vs. Going Out to Dinner (Fri, 8:00 ET)
See? Even this game would've been better.
EDGE: Going Out to Dinner

USC/Arizona St. vs. Johnnie's Birthday Party (Sat, 10:30 ET)
Me: They don't happen to have TVs at this bar, do they?
Johnnie: No.  
Me: : (
EDGE: Johnnie's Birthday Party


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Team Pictures

Coach Priore
You might not think coaches care much about team pictures, but they do. My college coach, Chuck Priore, was an eloquent man, and I remember him giving us a heartfelt pep talk the day before we took ours.

"If you're gonna be in this picture tomorrow, you better not fuckin quit."

And honestly, I don't blame him. I'd say the same thing if I were a coach. The team picture is the face of your brand. And it's usually on, like, the third day of practice. You don't want to pick up the photo at the end of the season and find someone next to you who went through 800 less practices than you did.

In football, how you look is important. Or at least that's what I had to tell people when I worked on Gillette.

It's certainly all our girlfriends care about. I saw Lindsey for the first time in ten days on Monday, and the first two things she said to me were "Hi!" and "You need a haircut, like now." I'm not sure about the order.

I was thinking about team pictures as I surveyed my fantasy league this morning after a brutal opening week loss. How did my league do in their team pictures? Horrible! Almost no one even bothered, instead opting for a generic Yahoo-provided helmet with a lightning bolt on it.

Seriously? You've got the whole internet to play with. Just pick something. There's a real void in creativity and effort in my league, and I hate it.

But some people care. This week I play Ramsey, who chose this picture, one of my personal favorites, as a reminder of the day in Palm Beach he told us he "doesn't do sunscreen".

And then there's mine, in honor of Coach Priore: My QB1 drunk at a college party.

God bless him.

"Roethlisberger, you better not fuckin quit."


LSU/Mississippi State vs. Millionaire Matchmaker (Thurs, 8:00 ET)
As I hogged the TV to watch both Monday Night Football games, a visibly annoyed Lindsey asked me if there were other games this week she needed to be aware of. I quickly flagged this one.
EDGE: LSU/Mississippi State

Boise/Toledo vs. Maria's Birthday Party (Fri, 8:00 ET)
Ah, where it all began. Fortunately she planned this party smarter, knowing Saturday night is the OU-FSU Game of the Century (Week).
EDGE: Maria's birthday party

Oklahoma State/Tulsa vs. Going out after the OU game (Sat, 11:00)
What I love about Oklahoma is that they would delay the start of this game just so everyone in the state can watch OU. Now THAT'S having your priorities straight.
EDGE: Going out after OU game, hopefully to a place with TVs.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2-on-5: Did They Cry?

To borrow from's neat little "5-on-5" feature -- where 5 NBA sports writers take on 5 NBA topics, I'm doing a "2-on-5" here on FVG, featuring me and Lindsey. In this episode, Lindsey and I recall 5 famous scenes from 5 famous sports movies, and discuss whether we cried* or not.

*Crying defined by eyes welling up. Tears dripping is a bonus, but not required.

A League of Their Own

There's no crying in baseball, but there is at the end of this movie...
SCENE: The Rockford Peaches reunite to open the Women in Baseball exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

DID HE CRY: Yes. Consistently, and surprisingly. I always say to myself, "The reunion's not gonna get me this time. It's just a bunch of old ladies." But then there I am, bawling like Evelyn after missing the cut-off man.

DID SHE CRY: Is that the scene with all the old ladies? And they go to the Hall of Fame and sing? Oh yes, I cried.

The Sandlot

SCENE: Scotty, now all grown-up as the Dodgers play-by-play announcer, calls a game as Benny "The Jet" steals home. 

DID HE CRY: Of course! Benny was so good to Scotty (remember when he fungoed the ball right into his glove?), and look how well it worked out for them. All great young baseball players should befriend geeks with erector sets. It's good karma.

DID SHE CRY: My second-favorite baseball movie after League of Their Own (I only like two baseball movies). The end didn't make me cry, though -- I was distracted by how big the bill of his hat was.

Field of Dreams

SCENE: After a whole movie of seeing dead people without help of Bruce Willis or Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Costner finally gets the moment he's been waiting for: A catch with his late father.

DID HE CRY: Even though "the catch" is kind of drawn out and awkward, yes. Every time. 

DID SHE CRY: I haven't seen this movie. One of them's supposed to be dead?

SCENE: After Vince Vaughn ignores Coach Devine's orders and throws a touchdown pass in a game Notre Dame already had wrapped up, the crowd starts chanting Rudy's name, Coach finally puts him in, and Rudy brings down the house with a game-ending sack after Georgia Tech curiously forgets to block him. Cue the super: "Since 1975, no other Notre Dame player has been carried off the field."

DID HE CRY: ARE YOU KIDDING????? First of all, you could do an entire crying column from this movie alone (scene where he finally gets into Notre Dame, scene where prep team coach tells him he makes the real team, scene where they clap for him when he comes back to practice after briefly giving up, scene where all the ND players put their jerseys down so Rudy can play in their place), but the tears this scene induces washes them all away. This is the scene that makes you pause and ask yourself, "Is this...the greatest movie I've ever seen?" If your answer is yes, I'm not gonna argue.

DID SHE CRY: I love this movie! And I definitely teared up at the end. After all that hard work and constantly being told he couldn't do it, he went out and for one perfect moment, all was right in the world and Rudy did it! Amazing.  

5. And finally...
SCENE: OK, fine -- this is actually a UCONN 2011 National Championship Highlight Film. I hadn't seen it in a while.

DID HE CRY: No tears, but wonderful, wonderful chills.

DID SHE CRY: I'm not watching this.

Crying Standings: Matt - 4, Lindsey - 2


Saints/Packers vs. Fashion Night Out
(Thurs, 8:00 ET): I have no idea what Fashion Night Out is or means, but it's got some nerve trying to co-opt NFL Opening Night.
EDGE: Saints/Packers

Cowboys/Jets vs. Lindsey Comes Home (Sun, 8:20 ET): Lindsey gets back from her trip to Colombia Sunday night. Yay! The later, the better!

Dolphins/Patriots vs. Our First Night Home Together in Two Weeks (Mon, 7:00 ET): These are the matchups you dread, boyfriends and girlfriends. I cannot miss my team's season opener on Monday Night Football, and she will not be happy about it.
EDGE: Dolphins/Patriots 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Conflicts of the Week

Sayonara, Dark Period.
It's baaaaaaaack!!!!!

We've survived another offseason, boyfriends and girlfriends. And let me tell you, this one wasn't easy: We almost lost the NFL.

But we didn't! And so now, as promised in my Last FVG Pick Ever column, we're gonna do something a little different this year. Instead of picking games against the spread, which I clearly have no business doing (but will never stop trying!), I'll be ending each post with something I actually HAVE earned the right to forecast:

I introduce to you, "Conflicts of the Week".

After the weekly entry takes a look at the big picture topics going on in the FVG world, "Conflicts of the Week" assesses what's happening right now on the ground: We'll put individual games up against whatever might keep us from watching them. Then we'll forecast a winner.

Here are this week's examples:

Conflicts of the Week

UNLV/Wisconsin vs. Millionaire Matchmaker (Thurs, 8:00 ET). I have no idea why Opening Night games get worse and worse every year. But I also know that under no circumstances will I ever miss them, even if Patti does happen to be taking on "The Chauvinist and the Playboy". 
EDGE: UNLV/Wisconsin

TCU/Baylor vs. Quality Time Night (Fri, 8:00 ET). Traditionalists like 437-year-old Beano Cook can't believe two colleges in Texas would schedule a game on the night that belongs to High School. FVG can't believe they would mess up the weekly schedule. I'm not supposed to have this problem, remember? Luckily for me, Lindsey's on vacation.
EDGE: TCU/Baylor

Akron/Ohio State vs. Going to the Beach (Sat, 12:00 ET). There's obviously a whole bunch of games at noon on this first Saturday of football, but none good enough to leave the beach...
EDGE: Going to the Beach

Minnesota/USC vs. Staying at the Beach (Sat, 3:30 ET). ...Until 3:30, when Robby's new school opens up against the Gophers.
EDGE: Minnesota/USC