Category Archives: Sports

On the big stage

We should count ourselves lucky here, of course. After all, we did get a Monday night game here this season, against the defending world champion Colts, no less. As someone in the stands said (on their sign), “This game is HUGE”.

The Marines were in town, and they were serious.

Very serious.

Very, very serious.

After a lot of warming up, and a badly rendered version of the anthem – why do some of these performers think the anthem needs to be imbued with their own personal touch or vocal hysterics, anyway? – it was time to kick things off here.

I will say here that the Jags started off well: harrying defense, moving the ball fairly well. But the Colts, like the Patriots, are simply playing in an alternate universe from the rest of the football world at the moment, and those moments rushed right by. I was playing a little game, myself, testing the limits of the camera I was using and trying to think like the coaches by determining what play I would call, then following that player and trying to capture an action play.

It isn’t exactly rocket science to know Manning is going to throw a few passes. The trick is catching that pass (so to speak) in the air, as in this one. You can see the ball pass right by the defender’s hand.

Picking Greg Estandia to catch a pass, though, is something else, and not something most people would expect. Pregnant Sister gives Estandia a hard time, incorrectly. I like him (and picked him to make the team when watching the preseason games), and I’m glad he got some touches in this game.

Jack Del Rio was in a suit for MNF. The jacket he was wearing rapidly made an exit.

Another play call by me: Garrard to Northcutt. My sisters kept calling me a geek for some reason.

But I don’t care all that much. It just shows that girls know a thing or two about football, too.

These sorts of pictures also give you a good idea of how the blocking is in creating lanes for passes or running backs.

Fred Taylor.

Greg Estandia.

David Garrard gets some good protection.

“What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want?”

Maurice Jones-Drew was open for a checkdown and had some room in front of him, but Garrard threw it down the field.

Northcutt is becoming Garrard’s favorite target.

The problem with this is that other teams know it, too. That, combined with overthrows, leads to interceptions.

The Colts started playing their game. Manning was actually under center for a change.

They were driving to the end zone…

…and Manning took it into the end zone himself on a sneak.

Both Taylor and Jones-Drew had some nice runs…

…but it really turned into a one-way game…

…with some nice plays, like this one by Reggie Wayne.

The Jaguars scored their only touchdown on a Jones-Drew run…

…a call that was upheld on review.

Our mascot showed up to reward a row of seats with boxes of Bubba Burgers. Given the obesity problems in this country, and in this city particularly, an alternative would probably have been in order, but I like a burger every now and again myself, so I suppose I wouldn’t have objected if they’d selected our row. They didn’t. Bummer.

Manning is an intense player.

“Mind if I copy your homework?”

All his gyrations at the line must be old hat to opposing teams by now. Who knows how much of it is really a change of play or total bullshit? Does it matter?

Because he could probably do this with his eyes closed. And sometimes he does.

Tony Dungy is one of the most laid back coaches in history.

Del Rio was sweaty and unhappy as the game started closing down.

Manning watches the play clock tick down and calls for the snap with only a couple of seconds left.

Dallas Clark – a player the Colts need to make sure they keep after this season, along with Bob Sanders – gets the final score of the game.

In the end, another loss for the Jaguars, and they didn’t really put up a huge fight – at least, not as huge as I expected, given the potential meaning of this game. And now, it’s time to go work awhile longer here. And shouldn’t you be working or sleeping or doing something other than reading blogs?

Yes, I’m talking to YOU.

Jeff Garcia, Mr. Nice Guy

Preseason football can get rather ugly in the latter stages of the game. A lot of guys who will not make the team are in the game, fighting to show something that will enable them to make the practice squad or catch on with another team. Sometimes, that can be exciting. Mostly, it isn’t. Even with some regular players, sometimes the only excitement is wondering if they’re actually going to catch the ball. Matt Jones, we’re looking at you, One Catch, Zero Yards Guy. That first throw to you from Leftwich was his fault, but the other drops were on you. And why, while we’re on the subject, do so many players follow Leftwich’s amble back to the huddle? The guy looks and acts like he’s sleepwalking, and Matt Jones does that same slow jog back to the huddle. Hustle! You guys could learn a thing or two from someone like Nick Sorensen.

At the end of the game, the players head for the tunnels, or, in some cases, to the sidelines for interviews. Who showed up right in front of the section we’re in? Why, none other than Jeff Garcia. Aubrey skipped down to the rail and caught his attention while he was waiting for the interviewer to be ready.

“Jeff, Jeff! Can you look up?”

“Is that all the smile we’re going to get?”

As it turns out, no, it wasn’t. Stats for Jeff this evening: 6 of 6 for 43 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Very preseason-like. And even though his team lost, he flashed a big smile for Aubrey.

“Thanks, Jeff!”

Yes, thanks, Jeff. Made my sister’s evening by smiling for her. She wants to send you a thank you note. And she thinks you’re cute.

Super Sunday

Superbowl Sunday is a bona fide holiday around here: the championship game (which we always hope will be good and not a blowout) and also the true end of the football season (a sad thing indeed).

The broccoli gratin, having been eaten to the point of people scraping the last traces of cheese from the dish, had to be recreated for Sunday. Even with a smaller group, it didn’t last. Neither did the guacamole I’d made.

I also ordered some dashi and it arrived in time for Sunday’s bash.

This made a world of difference in the tempura dipping sauce, which was spot on. I made a lot of tempura, and by the end of the night, only a lonely green bean remained, having hidden itself under a tray.

A few hours before the game, I had gone to the store to pick up a few things, and decided that there was time for some braised short ribs. Got them browned, then sauteed some onions and garlic in the same pan, added some red wine, beef broth, spices, and a couple teaspoons of tomato paste, threw the ribs back in, and about two and a half hours later, had this.

Boy, were those good. I’ve been eating the couple that were left over for the past two days, with sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. It’s just as good now as it was Sunday, but I’m down to the last of it. Might be time to make more.

Football Sunday

Hey, did you hear that?

Sunday. Two weeks before the Superbowl. The NFC and AFC Championship games. A good day for some food, family, and friends, alliteratively speaking.

In the wee hours, as I was doing some work, I got a head start on a batch of roasted red pepper soup. By roasting some peppers, of course.

Those got to hang out while I got some sleep, but when I got up, the cooking began in earnest. Finished up the soup…

…made the guacamole so we’d have it by the time the first game started…

…and then started chopping up various vegetables (leeks, red and yellow onions, carrots, celery, garlic)…

…and even more vegetables (cabbage and bok choy)…

…for the spring rolls, some of which would also have shrimp.

I also started some vegetable stock, for my sister the converted vegetarian.

All the spring roll vegetables got a quick saute.

And then a wrap in rice paper.

Shrimp spring roll.

Waiting patiently for dinner.

We also had steamed cauliflower and broccoli.

And mango-mustard glazed chicken.

With the extra sauce from the chicken on the side, cheese sauce made by my sister, and a dipping sauce for the spring rolls (made by yours truly), it was time to eat.

It was also time to watch the very exciting late game, with the Colts and Patriots duking it out. For awhile, it looked like the Pats were headed to another big game, but the Colts pulled it out. We’ll see how they do in two weeks, and if the Bears can make a game of it.

Football haze

There is no better way – in my humble opinion – to start off the year than to have an entire day full of football bowl games, even if you are like me and have no particular favorite college team. Work is fairly slow (unless a server’s hard drive is in imminent danger of death, as one is today), and it’s usually a good day to do a little of this or that. For me, between working and moving accounts around, that means baking some bread for the carb fiends around this place. It also means making another batch of the maple-cornmeal biscuits to go with the traditional southern new year’s meal of black-eyed peas this evening.

My sister, lucky girl that she is, had the opportunity to go to the Gator Bowl in person, sit in one of the terrace suites, and be waited on while watching what turned out to be an exciting game. The rest of us had to be content with watching on television, which worked out well: we all got a lot of work done, watched a bunch of different football games, played with the dogs, packed some more holiday stuff to be stowed away until later this year, and in general had a day that wasn’t particularly frenetic but wasn’t so slow as to put you in a coma. And my mom made small meatloaves.

My mom loves hamburger: extra-lean, lean, chuck, round, whatever. If it’s from a cow and can be formed into a patty, fried, perhaps with some sauteed mushrooms and onions on the side, and maybe a pan gravy by yours truly, she’s happy as – well, happy as a pig in poop, I suppose, or as happy as one of those cows in the California cheese ads.

She has a recipe she sort of follows to make meatloaf these days, that is more meat than loaf, if you get what I mean. Make a few extra, toss them in the freezer, and it’s an instant fix for the beef-addicted.

We had meatloaf tonight, along with rice (with shallots and parm), black-eyed peas, maple-cornbread biscuits, and corn on the cob.

And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee for me today. Mom also fed the dogs Cheetos, because she’s a sucker for a cute face.

Right now, the cinnamon-raisin loaves have just gone into the oven. I’m not pleased with the feel the dough had as I rolled it, and I would not be at all surprised if there were gaps in the bread, because for some reason the dough just felt extra sticky and wet. Wet = steam = bad oven spring = gaps. Still, it will taste fine, and the fam will down it even if it isn’t perfect, but this tells me I need to work on this recipe a bit. I’m also going to try my hand at this no-knead bread that apparently everyone in the world knew about but me until today. Instead of kneading the bread, the gluten develops through an extra long rising period of about 18 hours. It would be rather handy to toss everything together and forget about it, instead of fussing with dough every couple hours – although that is part of the fun. Some days are meant for a hands-off approach.