Since I had a free Friday evening last week, I decided to head to catch some playoff high school football. The son of a friend plays for AA Blanco and their game was in Bastrop. You may remember that Bastrop is the town that had such a terrible fire earlier this fall. Because of the lack of rain, there has been a burn ban in most of Texas. With the recent rains, I guess the burn ban has been lifted. in the Bastrop area. The Bastrop school district has recently built a very nice stadium that is what you would call a "rural" area. I guess the local farmer had all of his trash that he has not been able to burn, so he decided to burn the trash on Friday night. I was amazed that as we sat in the stands watching a playoff game, plumes of smoke billowed across the stadium. As bad as it was for the spectators, I can't imagine how it was to play and breathe the smoke. I still cannot get over how stupid this was. For the record, Blanco was completely outclassed by a very talented Hempstead team.
I admit that I am an old guy and I absolutely hate what professional athletes have created. We have gradually seen TD celebrations evolve from an innocuous spike of the football to an all out look at me attitude. I really don't have too much issue with a professional player making a fool of himself, but what I dislike is how these actions have affected the college and high school game. The rule makers in the NCAA are pushing back and their rules are also being adopted by high school associations across the country. Here are two instances of these rules that I find totally offensive and troubling.
Here is Boston Cathedral High QB Matt Owens breaking away for what probably would have been the clinching TD in the state championship game. With his team trailing 18 to 16 and only minutes left in the 4th quarter Matt raised his fist in triumph. The referees correctly ruled that this was an unsportsmanlike penalty and disallowed the TD. The next play, Owens threw an interception and the game ended in an 18 to 16 loss. This was not a taunting action, but a celebration. But the rules state: "any attempt to draw attention to yourself, whether it is pointing the finger, raising a fist or anything like that, is a penalty. We've been instructed to call it when it happens, it's zero tolerance now." I understand zero tolerance and I appreciate the attempt to regulate the game. However, these are high school kids and not professionals.
Jonathan Gray is a blue chip recruit headed to the University of Texas. He appeared headed for several Texas high school records until his ejection last week against Stephenville. From everything I have heard, Gray is a good kid. It is a bit disturbing that the first unsportsmanlike penalty was because he reportedly made a throat slashing gesture. I did not see this, but of course this has to be penalized, even if it was not directed at someone. The penalty that got Gray booted from the game was the high stepping into the end zone. This is a game and is supposed to be fun. I see nothing wrong with this. If you try to mandate all of the fun out of the game, I am afraid that you lose much of the spontaneous emotion that makes football such a popular game.
I think most football fans were happy to see the Lions moving quickly toward relevance again. It was obvious last year that the Lions had accumulated a talented group of players and that the future was bright. This year started off well for Detroit, but suddenly...things are not so good. Talent is necessary to compete in the NFL. But, so is discipline. We have talked about Suh's stomp of a Packer, but the problem appears to run deeper. The Lions were competing with the Packers until Suh took them out of the game. Against the Saints, penalty after penalty cost the Lions more than 100 yards in yardage. What is lost in this equation is how many yards the yellow flags prevented the Lions from gaining. I watched a Lion flip the ball into a defenders face. Another Lion player takes a shot at a Saint right in front of an official. But the most telling penalty was Pettigrew giving a ref a shove. The Lions can compete with the best teams. Now it is time for Detroit to learn learn how to win. As we have all been told; you play to win the game...Lions, take that giant chip off your shoulder and play smarter football.
Tony Romo has taken much heat for choking in December. The loss to Arizona can not be put on Romo. This loss goes entirely on the Cowboy coaching staff. I thought the play calling in the second half was terrible. With two great running backs, Dallas never ran a screen pass to either. As bad as the second half was for Dallas, Romo's great pass to Dez Bryant put the Cowboys in field goal range with 26 seconds left and two time outs. You have to call a time out there Jason. There is no other way to do this. You call a freaking time out and then throw a 6 yard pass in the middle of the field, call another time out and then kick the game winning field goal. What bothers me more than Garrett icing his own damn kicker is that he does not even seem to understand what he did wrong. Admit your mistake and move on. Garrett had no explanation after the game and his lame excuse only made him look the fool. Congrats to the Cardinals for taking the ball in OT and ramming up the Cowboys tail.
I think that the Cowboys still have a decent chance to win the division. But, the Giants game against the Packers last week reminded me of a game against an undefeated Patriots team a few years ago. The Giants had already clinched a playoff spot and all of the experts suggested that the Giants should rest their players. The Giants suited all of the players and almost beat the Patriots. A slightly different circumstance, but the Giants have the ability to take two games from Dallas. I will say, Dallas really needs a victory against New York on Sunday or Jason Garrett will probably be looking for a new job at the end of the year. Isn't Garrett a Princeton graduate? I really thought those Ivy leagues guys were smart enough to know when to call a time out...or at least smart enough to admit when they should not.
It is a bit difficult perhaps to think about baseball with winter upon us. But the MLB winter meetings are in full bloom in Dallas this week. Jose Reyes is a Marlin as well as Heath Bell. If the Marlins have their way, one Albert Pujols will be also be playing in Miami for the next 10 years. The Marlins have offered Pujols a 10 year deal, but because some of the money is deferred, the deal still does not make Albert the highest paid 1B. The Marlins are leaning heavily on Albert and apparently this deal has a deadline. The Marlins are anxious to add a few pitchers to the roster as well. I wonder if the name change also changed the habit of blowing up the team after they win?
Oh and the Astros will suck again this year...
It may be winter, but spring is just around the corner...I can't wait! What a nice red snapper she has...
That's all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey:
If they ever come up with a swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be Laughing, Then Jumping Off Something.
I bet when the neanderthal kids would make a snowman, someone would always end up saying, "Don't forget the thick, heavy brows." Then they would all get embarrassed because they remembered they had the big hunky brows too, and they'd get mad and eat the snowman.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own...