Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving No Longer a Texas Tradition

In the midst of all the Super Bowl pageantry last week, it was announced that the University of Texas will no longer play football on Thanksgiving Day.

Ok, so maybe it’s just this upcoming season that they are moving the game, for now; but in my opinion, it should be a permanent move. Texas fans have mixed emotions about having the game moved, and there are valid points on either side.

Ever since the game with A&M ended, attendance has gone down and TV ratings have followed. Part of that has to do with the Longhorns not being a very good team, but another part is because the NFL has taken over.

Texas and A&M arguably had the best rivalry in college football and dominated the state on Thanksgiving Day. Even the Dallas Cowboys were put to the back burner at times, depending on whom you talked to. But now, Texas plays either TCU or Texas Tech on the big day.

Who. Cares.

Aside from the loyal fans from each school, who do you expect to watch those games? With the NFL trying to take over Thanksgiving by scheduling big matchups on that day, it was time for Texas to move out.

They will still have a chance to be in the spotlight for a Friday afternoon game, though. You can expect the attendance to rise, especially from the students, and the ratings to increase as well. Texas may be a powerhouse for ratings, but even they can’t compete with the NFL without the help of A&M on Thanksgiving.

Texas Athletic Director Mike Perrin indicated that the move to play on Friday is essentially a trial, and that the game could move back to Thanksgiving Day soon. What a big mistake that would be.

The only way Texas or A&M will be relevant on Thanksgiving Day is if they played each other. That rivalry itself is enough to garner the attention of a big audience, no matter how bad both teams are.

But let’s look at some possibilities that could make the game relevant again, in the event that Texas does still want to play on Thanksgiving Day in the future:

  • Play against A&M. The schools aren’t close to playing each other at this time, but it’s really the best way to make the game on Thanksgiving relevant again.
  • Play a high quality non-conference opponent other than A&M. What if Texas played Notre Dame or Michigan or some other traditional powerhouse on Thanksgiving Day? That’s a game that people would tune in to.
  • Create a rivalry within the current conference. Outside of Oklahoma, Texas really doesn’t have a hated rival. And considering rivalries create themselves, you can’t put your finger on a team and declare a rivalry. That’s what Texas has tried to do with the Tech and TCU experimet, and it hasn’t worked.

So what do all of these have in common? The answer is tradition, or lack of.

People will show up and watch a traditional matchup between storied programs. Tech and TCU don’t do that for Texas. Just like LSU doesn’t do it for A&M. Thanksgiving Day is a tradition itself, so it would only make sense to play the game on that day if it was between two teams rich in tradition.

Considering it may be more likely to have Texas play against A&M again rather than a program like Notre Dame, we might as well shelve the discussion.

With all due respect to Tech and TCU, they just aren’t natural rivals right now and it just doesn’t feel right. It will take at least a decade of both teams being relevant nationally in order for the rivalry to bud naturally. But considering that none of the teams have been consistent lately, we are still at least a decade away from that happening.

The only logical way that you can “create” a traditional game is by playing it the way Texas and A&M did. Alternate playing each other home and away. If Texas wants to do that with TCU, great. Same with Tech or even Baylor.

Give people something to look forward to every year. If fans from TCU know they play Texas on Thanksgiving weekend every year, then the process of a natural rivalry budding will increase drastically.

But, we all know that Texas is arrogant and wants the spotlight on them, so expect them to keep the game at home on that weekend in the near future.

There’s still a long way to go before the Thanksgiving weekend game is relevant again, but not playing on Thanksgiving Day is at least a step in the right direction.

Feast Week

Well readers, week 12 is upon us and a slight shake up has taken place in the top 4 spots in the playoff rankings.  Kudos to the playoff committee for actually having the gonads(politically correct for nuts, balls, etc.) to investigate to the best of their ability and take action where it seemed to fit.  Unlike our “Commander(Pretender) in Chief,” Mr. Obama, God save our souls, I am impressed they finally reached down, “grabbed em(imagine that sight from Condoleezza Rice, gross)” and said “this is the direction we are taking.”  Now, not so fast!  I am not saying I am all the way on board with the committee at this point but I do like the fact that they seem to really be looking at everything they claim they are when it comes to ranking the teams.

I am also feeling pretty good about my last publication and the fact that I came pretty close with the information that I gave.  Let me do a little recap:  Clemson covered by double digits over Wake, Alabama looked like National Champions against poor Charleston Southern, Michigan State did what they needed to do and upset #3 Ohio State, Baylor topped OSU as the pokes defense stayed in hiding and Baylor’s offense kept rolling, Iowa continued to play good balanced football and produced a commanding win over Purdue, Oklahoma(minus Baker Mayfield in the 2nd half) squeaked by TCU(minus Trevone Boykin).

To keep my Ego in check, I mentioned there was a time when Boston College gave Notre Dame fits.  I really didn’t think this was one of those years!  I stand to be corrected as the Irish pulled this one out 19-16 with the luck of the leprechaun.  This was much closer than I had imagined and probably had something to do with their drop from #4 to #6.

I mentioned the powder puff scheduling of the SEC last week but Florida Atlantic gave the Florida Gators all they could handle before losing 20-14 in OT.  Is this a sign of the “great strength of the monster conference?”  Give me a break! Double amazement is the fact that the committee seems to have actually taken this mere scrape by the Gators into account and dropped them from #8 to #12.  I found this big drop rather unusual as the Coaches Poll had them at #9 before the weekend and still have them at #9 for week 12.  For those that are not aware, four of the committee members are from the coaching profession.  Just a little food for thought but don’t chew on it for too long as 99 out of 100 dentists have said that taffy is horrible for the teeth.

Now that my Ego is in check, again very unlike our present President, let’s take a look at how the new playoff rankings look and what I think can be expected in the near future.

Clemson Tigers

#1 Clemson

Clemson goes to Columbia to face a 3-8 South Carolina team that has had more than their share of problems this year.  The great Steve Spurrier resigned from the program in October and the program has been in dire straits since.  That being said, as long as Clemson isn’t looking ahead to December 5th when they meet a very hot and talented UNC squad for the ACC Championship, they should be in okay shape this weekend.  I have mentioned Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s emphasis to his players of a “game at a time” and this is definitely a week that he will need to ‘instill and drill” it into to those young men’s hearts and minds.  Clemson finishes the regular season undefeated and goes into the ACC Championship #1.

Alabama Tide

#2 Alabama

After their practice session on Saturday against an FCS team, the Tide roll into Auburn to take on a 6-5 Tiger squad.  Auburn has really “smelled” up the field at times this year.  I really thought Auburn would be competing for something larger at this point of the season and the staff and fans were right there with me.  I am going out on a limb, not too far, just a little ways.  Many things come together on Saturday that have proven time and again that Auburn might make this a game.  First, Alabama is coming off a game in which they really didn’t have to perform to get the victory.  Second, if Auburn can keep it close their fans can be a huge boost at home.  Thirdly, with nothing left of their season, Coach Malzahn(very sound offensive minded coach) and Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp are going to throw the “kitchen sink, bathtub and toilet” at Alabama.  Why not, they have nothing to lose!  Fourth, it would be real easy for the young Alabama players to be thinking ahead to possibly Florida and the SEC Championship.  And Finally, it is ALABAMA vs AUBURN in the Iron Bowl!  An “in state” rivalry such as this one produces unknown emotions and character for all of these young men and strange things can happen.  We see it every year.  Yes folks I am of sober mind and body as I write this(only because I have to go to work early tomorrow) and feel this could be a ball game that nobody is expecting.  Talk about screwing up the selection committee! Go Tigers!!

Oklahoma Sooners

#3 Oklahoma

With a victory over then #18 TCU last week, 10-1 Oklahoma jumps up four spots to #3.  Oklahoma survived the loss of their quarterback for the second half and barely escaped 30-29.  I was rather shocked at such a large jump by the committee.  It must be the fact of their strength of schedule and the win, even with the loss of their quarterback.  Great news for Sooner fans, quarterback Baker Mayfield has passed all concussion tests and is expected to start on Saturday.  Bad news, they are playing a very pissed off #11Oklahoma State team, in Stillwater.  This is a huge “in state” rivalry(known as the Bedlam series) and should produce an excellent game.  With no Big 12 Championship game, a win should secure a spot in the top four for the Sooners.  I am just wondering what the mind set of Baker will be during this game.  His girlfriend goes to Oklahoma State, plays on their volleyball team and is an avid Pokes fan.  Nobody knows what she promised Baker(behind closed doors) should he make it possible that her team comes out on TOP!  Just sayin! And YES my mind was in the gutter(similar to my Longhorn’s season) on that one.

Iowa Hawkeyes

#4 Iowa

Here come the Hawkeyes!  Moving up one spot from the #5 spot last week, Iowa continues to show balance on both sides of the ball.  That being said, they are going to be very challenged on the road by a very good Nebraska offense.  Ranked 36th in total offense, Nebraska is going to be the second best offensive team(Indiana #24) that the Hawkeyes have faced.  We are going to see just what Iowa is made of and Hawkeye fans are sure hoping not to hear or see the words, “here come the Hawkeyes, there goes the Hawkeyes.”  I am going to throw this out there, with risk of eating “ego pie” instead of the chocolate pudding pie(that I so dearly love) left over from Thanksgiving. Nebraska upsets Iowa by 3!  Regardless, Iowa has earned a birth and will play in the Big 10 Championship. Who they will face will be determined this weekend when Michigan State plays Penn State and Michigan plays Ohio State.  Michigan State wins and they are in the championship.  If Michigan State loses, winner of the Wolverines and Buckeyes will be seeing Iowa in the championship.

Michigan State

#5 Michigan State

Great win for the Spartans, knocking off last week’s #3 ranked and undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes.  Michigan State was able to get the win without starting quarterback Conner Cook. Utilizing the tandem of backup Tyler O’Connor and Sophomore Damion Terry, Michigan State was able to keep it close and give themselves a chance at the end, winning on a Michael Geiger 41 yard field goal.  Geiger was 8-13 on the year when he probably ended Ohio State’s championship hopes and kept his Spartans alive in the race.  Michigan State travels to Penn State to take on a Nittany Lion team that just can’t seem to get it together.  As mentioned, a win puts State in the Big 10 Championship.  A loss puts their season as just a memory!  I have a very good feeling that Michigan State finishes strong and will face Iowa for the Big 10 Championship.  If Michigan State wins the Big 10 they will have a strong resume for belonging in the final four.  I really like this Michigan State team and truly respect Head Coach Mark Dantonio.  Don’t count them out yet!!

Notre Dame

#6 Notre Dame

As the weeks wind down so does the teams that will have an impact on the playoff rankings and the final four candidates.  With that, I too will dwindle down to the teams that I think still have a shot.  The Irish dropped two spots from last week to the #6 position.  I think that was a little drastic but at the same time I think the committee really contemplated just where the Irish fit in the scheme of things.  If deemed a member of the committee, I probably wouldn’t have been so harsh on the Dame for playing close to Boston College because I know that the Eagles usually give them fits.  The Irish are now on the outside looking in.  They travel to Stanford, California to face the #13 Cardinals(9-2).  This is going to be a great test for the Irish and their last chance to give the committee any possible reasoning to jump them back in the hunt.  Stanford is a very solid squad and will give the Irish all they can handle.  It is going to take a pot of gold and all the “luck of the Irish” to walk out of Stanford Stadium as victors on Saturday.  This will definitely be a game I will watch!

Tony Romo

As I await the great feast of Thanksgiving, my thoughts ponder on the things that I am grateful for at this point of my life.  My list reads:  my two grown children, my two beautiful grandchildren, my family, college football, Obama’s last term, college football!  Is there a need for any more?  Oh yes I almost forget, college football!! “Happy Thanksgiving” readers and remember if you don’t choke on that drumstick, dry it out and beat a local Isis supporter with it.  “Peace in the Middle East!”

Thanksgiving Football is Tradition in Texas

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on everything that you are thankful for and spending time with your family. All of that is true in Texas as well, but there’s also some football involved.

Pretty much since the beginning of time, and whether you lived in Texas or not, you always knew that the Cowboys, Longhorns and Aggies were going to be on TV on Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, realignment in college football, along with hot heads in the administration departments, has squashed the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry. So does Thanksgiving football still have the same feeling?

Most Texans have grown up rooting for either the Longhorns or Aggies, but hardly ever both. However, there are a lot of divided households in that respect. Thanksgiving was always interesting when Texas and A&M played because of the unique rivalry. It was a time for about 3 hours when it was ok if you didn’t like a certain family member or friend. But once the game was over, everyone was back to normal. One side just enjoyed the evening a little more than the other.

The last time Texas and A&M played each other in football was on Thanksgiving Day in 2011, which ended in a dramatic 27-25 victory for the Longhorns in College Station. Since then, Thanksgiving just doesn’t feel the same.

Texas continues to play on Thanksgiving Day, but they rotate with playing against TCU and Texas Tech at home every year. A&M only plays LSU on Thanksgiving Day when they are the home team. It’s an awkward feeling in many ways.

First off, when the Longhorns and Aggies both play on Thanksgiving Day, and not against each other, you have to fight with your family for the remote. It’s inevitable that a second TV has to come into the equation.

Second off, does either fan base really get into the Thanksgiving Day game anymore? The Longhorns rotate playing against two other teams from Texas, but it’s clear that the game doesn’t have the same luster. The tradition was never having each school playing on Thanksgiving Day no matter what. The tradition was Texas and A&M playing against each other. Now that that doesn’t happen, it’s time to move on and not play on that day, or bring the game back for good.

It’s ridiculous that the administration at either school isn’t making a push to get the game back on. There’s plenty of room on the schedule for a non-conference game for each team at the end of November. There’s no rule that says that you can only play a conference opponent on the final weekend of the season.

Florida and Florida State play; Clemson and South Carolina play; Georgia and Georgia Tech play.

Each of those are non-conference games, but they are also in-state rivalries. I realize that there is money and a lot of other things involved when it comes to scheduling. But come on guys, let’s not schedule Rice or Western Carolina anymore to make room for this game to come back. Who here thinks that the Longhorns-Aggies rivalry would generate more money than A&M-Western Carolina in November? I must be missing something.

Until cooler heads prevail, it just doesn’t seem like we are anywhere near seeing these teams back on the same field again. The players want it back, the coaches want it back and the fans want it back. But until the higher ups at each school decide to quit acting like kids on the playground, it’s not going to happen.

In the meantime, we will continue to watch uninspired football on Thanksgiving Day and fight our families for the remote every other year. Instead of watching the game together, now we have to split the family up during game time. A&M fans don’t care about Tech or TCU and Texas fans don’t care about LSU.

To some point, they still want each other’s team to lose, but why? They have nothing to do with each other anymore from a competitive standpoint except for in recruiting. Most casual fans don’t even follow the magnitude that every game has with respect to recruiting. As a result, we have two traditionally passionate fan bases that are apathetic on Thanksgiving Day.

Maybe we should write a letter to each University and the conference offices saying that not having this game is tearing our families apart, because we don’t spend time with each other on Thanksgiving anymore. You think that would get them back on the field? Yeah, me either.

But at least we still can watch the Cowboys, right?

Inconsistency dooms Longhorns against TCU

Several positives can be found in the first season of Charlie Strong’s regime as head coach of the Texas Longhorns, but inconsistent play in basically all phases of the game is one issue that has stood out during what is currently a 6-6 season heading into the bowl game.

Entering the Thanksgiving Day game at home against TCU, Texas had lots to be thankful for. A three-game winning streak against Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State – two of those contests on the road – had clinched bowl eligibility for the Longhorns, which was quite an accomplishment considering they started the season 2-4.

Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes had begun to take more control of the offensive huddle and was seemingly coming of age as a signal-caller despite several ill-advised throws that ended up halting potential scoring drives or wound up in the arms of defenders. The defense, which has been a strong point for Texas all season, had been playing lights out during the stretch. But that all changed when Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs got off the bus at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on Turkey Day.

TCU could have looked past Texas because of the Longhorns record and rebuilding-mode status, but the Horned Frogs took control of the game from the outset and never let the home team back in. The Horned Frogs entered the match up in the fourth spot in the inaugural college football playoff bracket and definitely seemed ready to post a convincing win that could way the committee.

Consider that task mission accomplished, as TCU left Austin with a 48-10 victory. With the win, the Horned Frogs leaped over Florida State and into the third seed in the playoff rankings. TCU faces off with Iowa State on Saturday to finish out the regular season.

For Texas, the contest was a microcosm of the problems that have plagued Strong’s team throughout the 2014 campaign. Swoopes had an up and down effort against the Horned Frogs. He was Texas’ leading rusher with 61 yards on 15 carries, as Patterson’s defense focused mostly on controlling running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray. In all, Texas only managed 90 rushing yards on 36 attempts. Gray was held without a yard on 11 totes.

Though Swoopes had some success on the ground, TCU’s secondary was able to take advantage of several poor throws that were a result of constant pressure from the defensive line and linebacking corps. The Horned Frogs picked off Swoopes four times, while yielding only one touchdown pass and 200 yards through the air.

The Longhorns’ defense didn’t fare any better than the offense did, as TCU managed 368 total yards, with 135 of those coming on the ground. Once the Horned Frogs opened up a 27-3 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass by Trevone Boykin on the first play of the fourth quarter, the game was essentially decided.

Texas answered less than a minute later when Armanti Foreman broke free of the Horned Frogs defense for a 73-yard scoring pass, but TCU responded by scoring the final three touchdowns of the game to clinch the victory.

Though the Southeastern Conference gets tons of recognition as the best overall conference in the nation, Texas played one of the more difficult slates of any team in 2014. Five of the six losses this season came against teams that are currently ranked in the Top 25 of the college football playoff standings and the sixth team that defeated Texas – BYU – likely would be ranked if quarterback Taysom Hill hadn’t broken a leg against Utah State. Despite his absence, the Cougars are 8-4, with three of those losses coming right after Hill’s injury.

Early bowl projections have Texas locking horns with the LSU Tigers in the Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston, but rumors also have the SEC opponent being Arkansas or Texas A&M. Reports surfaced recently that the SEC doesn’t want to see Texas and Texas A&M face off in the bowl game because a potential loss by the Aggies would hurt their recruiting success of late, but fans on both sides of the historic rivalry want to see that game.

While it definitely would bring in loads of cash and ratings to both conferences, I tend to fall on the side that says the rivalry should die – at least for now. Later on down the line if officials decide to resume the match up, that’s fine by me, but both teams have a lot on their plate in the coming years. Texas opens next season at Notre Dame and will face California later in 2015, in addition to the nine conference games.

A&M officials have stated in statements to the media that the Aggies have a difficult enough schedule without adding another marquee match up, but I feel like in the end officials from both sides of the aisle will see the dollar signs and push to restart the rivalry.

Whichever way that domino may fall in the future, Aggie fans likely want to see Texas lining up across the field once again so us Longhorn fans can’t remind them anymore that Texas won the last meeting of the rivalry 27-25 at Kyle Field in 2011.

Thanksgiving Hockey Tournaments

The holidays should be a time to be thankful and share joyous occasions with family. Usually surrounded by loved ones, all families have their own tradition during the holidays. The food and the pageantry play a big part as to why Thanksgiving is a special time in the flurry that is the holiday season, but playing hockey in Southern California (and learning that most areas that have an ice rink), Thanksgiving is synonymous with Hockey. The holidays are a chance for children and adults to celebrate the time off and competitive hockey.

I have played in various Thanksgiving tournaments in my time. The level of competition differed, but the structure usually the same (as is the structure of any tournament). I remember a tournament in which I got a chance to watch an Anaheim Ducks game and play a tournament-winning game on the ice at The Honda Center. Woah! Play on the ice where professional athletes play? Sign me up. I got there naively walking through the executive entrance then was immediately guided to the proper place to be, the entrance by the zamboni with a curtained off area, taped-off areas with carpets, and dining room chairs teams used as a bench. Nonetheless, it was an extremely exciting opportunity. Then I got to talk with hockey-minded people who had also played the game growing up and who are still playing.

Spencer Platka is a close family friend and a fifteen-year old defenseman currently playing for the California Wave. Having a close relationship with the Platka family, I have been able to keep up on Spencer’s development having started playing as a young kid. Talking to his father, Robert, recently, he informed me that they would be traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada for the Thanksgiving tournament, Silver Sticks. Robert also went on to say that they have been doing Thanksgiving tournaments for years and this will be the first time the family will be traveling. After all, holidays are a time to be shared with family and your child’s coaching staff.

Another personal example is that of a fellow hockey enthusiast, Dennis. Dennis grew up playing ice hockey in Southern California and much like other children and teenagers in a hockey program there, Dennis played Thanksgiving hockey tournaments too. Playing in various Thanksgiving tournaments in the CAHA programs. Dennis also got to share special experiences similar to mine. Not only being able to compete against your peers in a weekend packed with hockey, one Thanksgiving tournament Dennis’ team made it to the finals and got a chance to play at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Prior to the building of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles in 1999, the Forum was an epicenter of sports and other high-end acts of entertainment. The Los Angeles Lakers were tenants of the Forum as well as the biggest music artists the world had to offer at the time. Having watched the game and getting to dress in the same luxurious locker room treatment I had received, Dennis got to play on the ice at The Forum. Dennis described special stories of players, Luc Robitaille and Bob Kudeslski, staying to watch them play and talk to them after the game. Dennis later went on to play in the WHL for the Seattle Thunderbirds. The same team that has produced current NHL players, San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon and Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich.

Thanksgiving hockey tournaments are not just a Southern California turkey day tradition though. Thanksgiving hockey tournaments are played all over the continental United States and Canada such as the Annual Fall Round-up presented by the Dallas Stars or the Pens Elite Girls Thanksgiving Classic sponsored by Warrior. At all levels, parents or bus drivers drive young hockey players to-and-from the hotel room, then the rink, then the diner, then the room, and then the rink before they can get into the bed they will be sleeping on that night just to wake up to something we are all very thankful for, Hockey.

Cleveland Indians Thanksgiving

 

First off, I want to wish all of you readers out there a Happy Thanksgiving!

For the first time in several years, Cleveland sports fans can actually be thankful for their teams. That got us thinking at MTAF: Cleveland — What would different members of the professional organizations be thankful for as they sat around the table sharing Thanksgiving dinner?

As a fan of the Cleveland Indians, I attempted to delve into the mindsets of several different members of the organization, trying to ascertain what they would be giving thanks for.

Chris Antonetti & Mark Shapiro

My first thought with regard to what Chris and Mark would be thankful for would be getting Terry Francona to come on board and coach the Tribe. But then I sat back and looked at the larger picture. If I was Chris or Mark, I would be thankful for how well the trades they’ve made over the past ten years have worked out. Just look at how a handful of the following trades worked out (in terms of production) for the Indians:

Year CLE Sends CLE Receives
2002 Ryan Drese & Einar Diaz Travis Hafner
2008 Casey Blake Carlos Santana
2009 Victor Martinez Justin Masterson & Nick Hagadone
2006 Ben Broussard Shin-Soo Choo
2006 Eduardo Perez Asdrubal Cabrera
2002 Bartolo Colon Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips & Cliff Lee

And those are just a few of the trades that have been made. Think about this: In a three team deal involving the Cardinals and the Padres, we gave up veteran pitcher Jake Westbrook and received 2014 AL Cy Young Winner Corey Kluber. Had Matt LaPorta worked out better, the Sabathia deal (which included 2014 MVP finalist and Silver Slugger award winner Michael Brantley) would have been seen as more genius than the Colon deal.

As Mark and Chris pass the gravy boat, they’re going to be giving thanks that so many of their trades worked out so well.

Terry Francona

As Terry Francona rides his scooter to the store to pick up cranberry sauce, I imagine he too will think about what he’s thankful for. I would venture a guess that he’s thankful for several things:

1. His health

2. Mickey Callaway

Tito has probably never worried about his health (see: Urban Meyer). I’m not old by any stretch (I’m 23). I’ve found out that older men are thankful for their health, regardless of how healthy they actually are. Next, Tito should be counting his lucky starts that he has Mickey Callaway sitting on his bench coaching up his pitchers. Think about 2013. Mickey Callaway turned around a struggling Ubaldo Jimenez into quite possibly the best pitcher of the second half in the American League. I feel that if Tito had started Ubaldo in the place of rookie Danny Salazar, the Indians may have gone on to be World Series champions. Then we look back at 2014 and (channeling my innermost LeBron here) not one, not two, but THREE examples of what Mickey Callaway can do. First, Corey Kluber. Mickey has said that he really didn’t have to do much with Klubes this past season. As much as I’d like to believe that, there’s a reason he’s the pitching coach. Mickey worked with Corey to develop his secondary pitches and propel him into the upper echelons of pitching talent in the MLB. Next, there is Trevor Bauer. Bauer’s problem in 2013 was consistency and immaturity. Unfortunately for Trevor, he is young and often impatient. He need time to develop under more mature, accomplished pitchers. He got that with Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber. This year, while he had his troubles, Bauer was much more consistent and flashed some of the greatness that made the front office go out and get him. Finally, we have Carlos Carrasco. Known affectionately as “Cookie” among die-hard Tribe fans, Cookie experienced many of the same issues that Bauer faced — inconsistency and maturity. Remember his ejection and subsequent suspension in 2011 against Kansas City? How about his ejection for plunking Kevin Youkilis in 2013? That wasn’t a wild arm. Tito and Mickey worked with Carrasco and put him in the bullpen in 2014 and boy, did he deliver. Carrasco was electric out of the pen and proved to be the long-reliever we needed, especially when one of our starters couldn’t make it out of the 4th or 5th inning. How many times can you remember Carrasco putting in three to four quality innings, saving our bullpen arms for the home stretch?

Finally, The Indians are thankful for YOU, the fans.

When you go to a game or buy a jersey, you help finance the continued journey toward that elusive World Series title. When you get on Twitter or Facebook and talk about the Indians, you help them make a branding impact on new fans or fans who just don’t know it yet. When you write odes to Tom Hamilton or romanticize what the Tribe means to you on a t-shirt, you help the Indians build an regional identity. In a city like Cleveland, our professional sports teams need their fans as much as we need our teams. In some ways, we define one another. The Indians wouldn’t have much meaning without us and we wouldn’t have much meaning without them. So when the front office, the coaching staff and the players sit around their respective tables to share food and make memories, they will probably reflect, even if it’s only for a moment, on what it means to put on the Tribe uniform day in and day out for the best fans in the major leagues.

As for me, I’m thankful for football, a lot of food and a day off to enjoy it all with my family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving fans. Enjoy your turkey.

Thanksgiving Playoffs: CFB Style

Applying the new college football playoff to Thanksgiving sides and desserts is not just fun, but delicious.
Applying the new college football playoff to Thanksgiving sides and desserts is not just fun, but delicious.

This year marks the first edition of the NCAA playoffs in which four teams will battle for the national championship. Since Thanksgiving is here, why not adapt the college football playoffs to Thanksgiving? That’s right, the top four side dishes and desserts will battle it out to see which dish is the Thanksgiving favorite.

I think you can tell a lot about a person by which side dishes they put on their plate at Thanksgiving. I particularly watch out for the people who only eat fruit salads or those traitors that fix ham instead of turkey. No doubt this column will elicit heated debate around the Thanksgiving table as you analyze your brother-in-law’s plate. Maybe this finally explains the behavior of your crazy uncle or cousin? Let’s find out who wins the Thanksgiving championship.

Championship Sides

Everyone knows the turkey is king of Thanksgiving (no questions). But you can’t have the star of the show all by his lonesome, the bird has to have some sides to keep it company. Here are the seeds for the sides bracket:

1)   Sweet Potato Casserole

2)   Stuffing (Stove Top)

3)   Macaroni and Cheese

4)   Green Bean Casserole

For those crying fowl (get it?), sweet potato casserole beat out mashed potatos in the regular season finale in the Potato Bowl. In the first round we have sweet potato casserole vs. green bean casserole in the battle of the casseroles. Green bean casserole is the underdog for sure in this matchup. Everyone loves the fried onion thingies that go on top but can that put it over the sweet potato? Green bean casserole puts up a spirited fight, but sweet potato casserole prevails to move on.

In the second semifinal, stuffing takes on its long time carb rival macaroni and cheese. Imagine Michigan vs. Ohio State or Alabama vs. Auburn. Stuffing is the all time favorite side. Whenever you see a picture of a turkey, stuffing is always there. Some people even stuff it inside the bird! Macaroni and cheese is the carb heavyweight. Our family recipe calls for almost a whole stick of Velveeta. Anything with that much Velveeta has to be awesome. Fighting down to the wire, late in the fourth quarter Stuffing rallies to secure their spot in the championship game.

In the carb national championship, sweet potato casserole takes on the traditional favorite, stuffing. Personally, this is a tough decision because I love both. This is one of those national championship games that go into overtime. It’s the sweet potato vs. tradition. In the greatest game to never be played, sweet potato casserole takes the championship.

Just Dessert

So you ate your fill of turkey and sides, now what? Perhaps after that carb coma wears off, the desserts take center stage. A meal as great as Thanksgiving has to go out with a bang. Here are the seeds for the desserts bracket:

1)   Pumpkin Pie

2)   Apple Pie

3)   Pecan Pie

4)   Sweet Potato Pie

In the first semifinal, the traditional favorite pumpkin pie faces its traditional rival, sweet potato pie. Although both pies are old time favorites and similar in most ways make no mistake, sweet potato pie is out for revenge. However, some things are just not meant to be and the pumpkin tradition wins out in the end as the national favorite takes its rightful place in the national championship.

The second semifinal pits a long-standing American icon against a southern favorite. Apple pie is as synonymous with America as Notre Dame football (see what I did there?) and is built into our identity (Forgive me but I had to throw in the Fighting Irish at some point). I mean apple pie is always paired with Mom so how can you pick against Mom? Like this. Pecan pie takes a back seat to no one. Pecan pie shows up at Thanksgiving and demands a place right next to pumpkin and forces you to choose. That’s why I love Pecan pie, it’s bold (also, that filling is pretty good too). Pecan pie shows up for the game and takes out apple pie in an upset and sets up a huge championship game against Pumpkin pie.

Some people live for dessert and this national championship is for you. Pumpkin takes center place in the American consciousness during the fall season. No matter where you go, you cannot escape it. I don’t see that kind of attention paid to Pecan pie. I don’t see pecan pie spice flavored drinks at my local Starbucks. Pecan pie laughs at the pumpkin. Pecans are kind of nutty anyway. That’s how they do things. Thanksgiving is like a business trip for Pecan pie. With that attitude, in the greatest culinary upset ever, Pecan pie takes down pumpkin pie in the greatest dessert showdown of all time.

Final Thoughts

Hope you enjoyed this fun look at Thanksgiving. In all seriousness, everyone here at College Football Roundtable wishes you and your family a great Thanksgiving. Take in some great football and go ahead and indulge in some additional sweet potato casserole and pecan pie. It’s ok because they are the champions. Have a great day and as always, Go Irish!

Don’t agree with my rankings? Send me your rankings and champions for sides and desserts on Twitter @Ir1shJedi

Photo Credit: Tim Sackton (Flickr) via Creative Commons (original image). License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Gordie Howe and Good Vibes

Gordie Howe is a bona fide legend. His career was defined through his brutally physical play, his unique scoring prowess, and most of all his unworldly longevity. Grit would be the word most fit to define this amazing man and how he handled any and all adversity. Even with his hockey career in the rearview mirror, grit is still his way of life.

 

Mr. Hockey’s career spanned longer than anyone else’s. Defying age and time, he played professionally from 1946-1980. He truly lived for the sport and for competition. Now, that competition is a battle for quality of life. In late October, around a month ago, Gordie suffered a stroke rendering him without the ability to walk or even talk. This was the latest in an extremely unfortunate series of strokes throughout the summer. But after all the physical play he dealt out and received over those amazing decades of hockey, do you think a series of strokes will keep his spirits down? That’s not the Gordie the world knows and adores.

 

This is the Gordie Howe that will live on forever in Hockey Valhalla. He still is tough as nails and he played the game how it was supposed to be played. Before all these soft rules came into play like wearing a helmet and goalie interference. He played the game like a real man. No cup, no facemask, no hugs required. Just pure old man strength and some savvy (dirty?) tricks just like the Hockey Gods intended.

 

photo cred thestar.com
photo cred thestar.com

So right now as you are preparing for Thanksgiving (or maybe you’re reading a few days later, no matter the point remains) send out some positive vibes to one of hockey’s greatest. When you carve the turkey, do it with Mr. Hockey in mind. When you sit down with family all around, say a little something for him. And when you sink into your couch with a beer to watch the Thanksgiving football games, drink an especially bitter IPA because that’s what Gordie would do. For this holiday season don’t just spread good vibes to your friends and family, but also keep the great Gordie in mind and help him with a strong recovery.

 

Mr. Howe, if you’re reading this, I’ve been ageing a potent Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA (they’re really frickin hard to get your hands on.) I was saving it for a special event, and well I can’t find a better reason to drink it than for you. A small gesture filled with loads of good vibes. Here’s hoping for the best and a pain-free recovery.

 

Steve Pinizzotto also just paid his respects in awesome fashion. Last week he made his 2014-15 season debut with the Edmonton Oilers. Keep in mind he is 30 years old, so this opportunity to get called up from the AHL affiliate was already special. So what did he do to give his team a spark? Easy, 2:27 into the game Pinizzotto dropped the gloves and gave Derek Dorsett a scrap to remember.

Now I suppose the fight wasn’t anything amazing. There were no wild haymakers, no true knockout, and it wasn’t that long either. But, what he did get out of it was the first of three criteria for his very own Gordie Howe hat trick. Now that is something truly special.

 

Then with just a few minutes left in the second period he found himself on a quick one on one rush. No time wasted here. Pinizzotto blazed by Kevin Bieksa, his former teammate, and let a howitzer wrist shot go. Next thing he knew the puck was nestled in the twine behind Ryan Miller and Steve had himself his first career NHL goal. Before this game he was just a 30-year-old NHL journeyman doing whatever it took to make it to the big show. Now as he entered the locker room before the final period of play he was just an assist short of completing a Gordie Howe hat trick.

 

As fate would have it, Pinizzotto would get the trick. He snagged the assist to complete it, and did all this within 4 minutes of total ice time. Now that’s making the most of your minutes. The goal he assisted on was scored by no other than a man named Boyd Gordon. Really!? Gordon was the final piece to this illustrious Gordie Howe hat trick. That’s almost too much coincidence here for me man. Was it Illuminati behind this night? Aliens? Perhaps it was just the universe delivering a special thank you to Gordie in the best way the universe could. A 30-year-old NHL journeyman who has gritted his way to the big show and finally notched his first NHL goal was the messenger. Pinizzotto embodies the grit that Howe played with his whole career. Boyd Gordon tallied the goal that gave Pinizzotto the assist. And it all culminated as a shout out to Gordie Howe for everything he has done for the sport, for the fans, and for the journeymen who play endlessly for the love of the game and the hope to just crack the big-time just once.

 

Thank you Gordie Howe. I know you’ll keep on fighting like you always do.

 

Post-Thanksgiving: Three Things I am Thankful For

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend with their families, friends, and most importantly great football to watch. I personally had a great weekend. It started with a heaping helping of drinks Wednesday night and then the flood gates were opened. Thursday was a day full of good company, great food, and even better football. All three match ups featured a lot of offense and exciting action while I slipped into my food coma for the night.

On Friday, I skipped the Black Friday shoppers acting like linebackers and I stayed at my sister’s to help with Christmas decorations in return for leftover turkey, stuffing, etc. That ended up putting me into another food coma and I crashed early falling asleep to Elf. Then the real weekend hit. And I had a lot be thankful for even after Thanksgiving was done and over.

1. Urban Meyer – Fresh off a 6-7 season the Buckeyes brought in Meyer and he has yet to lose a game as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Posting a perfect 12-0 record and beating the state up north helped the program avoid missing a beat and had they not been suspended from postseason play for one year they would be playing in the Big Ten Championship and most likely playing for a BCS Championship. If you think that Luke Fickell, or any other coach for that matter, could have gotten OSU to where they are now in one season, you are plain wrong. Just look at Meyer’s track record in his first season as head coach. At Bowling Green, he turned them from a 2-9 team to an 8-3 team in one year. At Utah he led the Utes to a 10-2 record after they finished 5-6 the year prior. Then at Florida he helped improve a 7-5 team to a 9-3 squad. And then he did what he did with the Buckeyes. Enough said. Thanks Urban.

2. No White Towels – This is obviously skewed towards the Cleveland Browns game yesterday in which they were supposed to have a promotion giving out white flags to try and erase the yellow Terrible Towels that Steelers fans wave as often as their team turns the ball over. (Yeah, I had to go there.) Though it is not the biggest reason why the Browns won yesterday. I think the fact that the Steelers were down to the antique Charlie Batch as quarterback and the Browns forced eight turnovers (which seemed as if they could almost never turn into points) were the main reasons for the Browns rare victory against their arch rivals. However, I think having the white flags would have upset the fans and they would have been more restless than they already are. I happened to be at the game yesterday and it was awesome to see the fans be so electric. Granted I still heard boos if the Browns didn’t pick up third and longs with their short routes. But as long as they were beating the Steelers the fans were still engulfed by the game itself. I am not sure fans would have been as into the game if they had to hold onto a white flag and be mocked by Steelers fans all day. It would have been more of a sarcastic crowd instead of a loud, engaged stadium. Thank you Browns promotions team for not waving the white flag.

3. Friends and Family – Sorry to get mushy here but I am truly grateful for my family and friends. I spent a lot of time and money with them this weekend. None of it I would have traded for anything in the world. They were the reasons I had people and places to watch the games and enjoy others’ company. I enjoyed the Buckeyes game with my sisters and brother in law…and Christmas Ale. And my uncle landed me amazing 30-yard line seventh row seats for the Browns game. To top it off I went with friends to tailgate and the game. Thanks family and friends!

*Honorable Mention: North Face Jackets – The game was by no means freezing, but having well insulated gear kept me from being uncomfortably cold.

What are you thankful for? Would the Browns have won with Roethlisberger playing? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.

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Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for the MTAF Podcast too. It’s on iTunes!

Be Thankful for: Family, Food, and No NBA

Thanksgiving is a time for gathering with family and friends, eating food, drinking beer, and watching football–not the NBA. Today TNT was supposed to feature a doubleheader of NBA matchups between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers and the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers. But thanks to the stubborn players union we will not have to worry about these second tier teams facing off at prime time during our Thanksgiving food coma.

Clevelanders have more than just no basketball on Thanksgiving to be thankful for. First, we do not have to have another Cleveland team let us down in 2011 and into 2012. The Cavaliers are in the midst of a huge rebuilding process that involves breeding young stars into hopefully superstars and getting the last drops of talent from our veterans on the team. That formula includes a lot of losses for Byron Scott and his team. We may say that we understand that the team is rebuilding, but that is what we said about the Browns. And as soon as they lose we want Shurmur’s, Holmgren’s, or a coordinator’s head. So to avoid the ridicule of Byron Scott, Dan Gilbert, or Chris Grant it is best to have our rebuilding year involve just what we wish for–no losses. Some may argue that this a great year to develop Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, but they are playing with enough NBA stars to keep their talent level high and possibly even raise it higher. Also, they have gone back to school in their time off, which is a huge positive for them.

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