Have a nice day. No really.

King James decided to head South. And I don’t care.

It is doubtful that I am the only person in the country who doesn’t care that LeBron James took his act to Miami. He’s from Ohio and knows how crappy the weather is in Cleveland, even though the game of pro basketball is played indoors. Too bad, actually. The NBA ought to have some outdoor games like the NHL does with their Winter Classic — the 2011 game is New Year’s Day at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. I would love to see Shaq and Kobe and some of the big men shoot it out in Lambeau Field in January.

Of the most popular pro sports, basketball is my least favorite. That is part of the reason I didn’t care one way or the other about the super-hyped LeBron Sweepstakes. Sure it was a lot about LeBron saying: “Look at me.” Although the whole deal with Dewayne Wade and Chris Bosh along with the possibility of Hall of Famer Pat Riley coaching, if he returns to the bench from the Heat front office, could turn out to be one of the most brilliant moves in professional sports. Or not. I just don’t give a flying puck.

One thing I will say for pro basketball: Stamina. But that is a quality required in large doses in many other sports, yes, even in futbol. Oh, and there is one more word essential to the NBA: Money. Lots and lots of money.

Those poor schmoes in Cleveland who had their hearts broken by LeBron King James, one has to believe, just didn’t have enough money. What makes a young man stray long distances from the only home he has ever known? Money. Or the military. Or a two-timing girlfriend. Or college. Or the circus. Or San Francisco. There is a long list after all. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the “Deal of the Century” involving the Miami Heat doesn’t evolve around money. But I don’t think so.

That is because money is so, so important to so, so many people. Why this woman from the billing office of a local Catholic hospital was just plain un-Holy this morning when she called me out of my late-sleeping slumber and asked why I hadn’t paid my bill. The reason was that it was a worker’s comp claim my employers owe. But you’d have thought I had taken all of the money straight out of this woman’s pocketbook and snatched one of her babies. She ended the phone conversation with one of those really snide “Have a nice days.”

I had a lady tell me “Have a nice day” at the dump other day. As a matter of fact, she got really into telling me to have a nice day and then finally said she hoped God would take away my pain that made me so angry. I told her that He needn’t bother, that my pain would disappear in about 10 seconds when she was no longer in my rear view mirror.

Well, I’ve strayed off the path now. My whole train of thought has just jumped the tracks and started folding down a cliff like a Cajun accordion at a fais-do-do. Ay-yee!

It is time to put a merciful end to this post. So keep cool and well fed. Until next time, this is your old buddy EFD saying “Your feet only smell when someone can smell them.”

Fall down, go boom

The title says it all. It looks as if the Big 12 Athletic Conference is about to fall down, go boom.

Funny how one school starts talking. The others start talking. Pretty soon you got a lot of chaos and an athletic conference ends like a pair of old, ragged underwear. Not a pretty sight! The Big 12 seems as if it is folding before our very eyes. Colorado has accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10, Nebraska could joint the Big 10. The Pac 10 would also like to have Texas, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

How old is the Big 12 anyway? Like 15 years old, or something? It came as a merging of some Big 8 and Southwest Conference schools. Some didn’t get to come along to the big party from the SWC like Rice, SMU, TCU, Arkansas. Hey, it couldn’t have been the Big 16 could it?

Of course some of these schools are matched sets because of rivalries. You can’t have Texas without Texas A & M and vice versa. Ditto for Okie and OSU. Or even Texas Tech and Texas A & M.

Then there is “poor” little Baylor at Jerusalem on the Brazos. With Ken Starr as its president. What would Ken Starr do? WWKSD? Impeach ’em. Impeach the whole mess of them, that’s what.

"It's time to bring in the 12th Man."

I say have an all Texas conference: Texas, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, Rice, Baylor, SMU, University of Houston, UT El Paso and maybe rotate two of the bigger but less well-known schools for a ninth and tenth every couple of years. University of North Texas one year. Texas State the next. Lamar, once it gets its revived team on its legs. Stephen F. Austin, I’m kind of biased there, of course. Maybe the two that does the best drawing revenue and, of course, plays well might just get tenure. Texas football is where it’s at!

But that is as likely to happen as Bear Bryant returning from the dead and herding all the young Aggie team out to Junction for practice.

Money is what it’s all about. Who gives the best deal with the most TV appearances, bowls, all that jive. Forgive me for being football-centric but that is all I really care all that much about when it comes to college sports. I know basketball is huge, Texas and Rice, big time in baseball and Baylor? Tort law and intelligent design?

This will either be really good for college, especially football, or really bad. I can’t see how it might turn out in between. But that’s me.

Who Dat fever: Riding the bandwagon with no remorse

Edited version: I missed an “I.” It’s XLIV instead of XLV. And 44 instead of 45. But what’s a year or two among good Romans? And, if there happens to be any Indianapolis  fans out there, here is a little tune to get stuck in your head while the Saints are winning.

This year, unlike many years before, I am pumped up about the Super Bowl.

What is this, the 42nd National Football League championship, or XLIVif you like the NFL’s Roman numeral version? I am sure there is some reason why the NFL has used Roman numerals all these years, but I don’t know why and don’t care. I just know that I probably haven’t really looked forward to watching the Super Bowl — for football and not the commercials — since probably No. XX. That was when Mike Ditka’s wacky bunch of Chicago bears, including Jim McMahon and William “Refrigerator” Perry as well as superb running back Walter “Sweetness” Payton played and beat New England.

There is some irony in that particular game as it relates to XLIV. That game was played in the Louisiana Superdome, home of NFC champs the Saints. Also, the Bears’ defensive coach, who said that the team had wasted its draft pick earlier that year on “The Fridge” Perry, was none other than Buddy Ryan, whose son, Rex, was head coach of AFC championship loser New York Jets. Buddy Ryan is a whole ‘nother story in itself. All the ties are like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only its not.

Wonder if the referees stopped at Best Buy in Beaumont on the way to Miami?

But yeah, I plan to be in front of the TV starting about 1 p.m. Sunday to catch all the hype leading up to the game. That is because of the New Orleans Saints. I suppose I have been rooting for the Saints since they returned to play in the Superdome after the devastating Hurricane Katrina. I know that isn’t being a fan for very long in their 40-something year history, but after all, they really sucked for so many years.

That sounds rude, I know. But I am not the only one on the Saints’ bandwagon who is riding along and doesn’t, frankly my dear, give a damn what anyone says.

I saw the evacuees from Katrina pouring across the Texas line into my area of Southeast Texas. Then, they had to evacuate once more as Hurricane Rita pounded just about the easternmost fourth of Texas. Even though I was 80 miles away from the Gulf during Rita, it was “hurricaning” outside. Then came Hurricane Humberto in 2007, which I slept through. Next was Hurricane Ike the following year which I watched for most of the night as it whipped through Beaumont.

Fortunately, I didn’t suffer much from any of those storms except for the lack of electricity for a number of days. But my neighbors in Southeast Texas  and Southwest Louisiana did, some greatly. So you might say my cheering on the long-suffering Saints was a matter of “hurricane-related empathy.”

It is going to be a more difficult task to root for the Saints too, because they are playing the Indianapolis Colts. I like them as well. Or rather, I like Peyton Manning, who many think IS the Colts. But I will not have near the difficulty in loyalty that Manning’s family will. Dad Archie, of course, was the Saints quarterback in the bad old days. Thus, Giants quarterback and Peyton’s brother Eli, and non-pro football brother Cooper, all have ties to the Saints. So did Petyon. Rick Reilly, the ESPN Magazine scribe who is without a doubt one of the best sportswriters around these days, wrote a piece on ESPN.com the other day about the Manning family’s dilemma. It sounds damn near excrutiating, not only because of their family ties to New Orleans and the Saints, but because of what it means for the Saints to be playing in the Super Bowl after years of failure and then Katrina.

“In summary,” wrote Reilly, “you must either have had your heart removed by corn tongs or be in the Manning family if you’re not pulling for the Saints.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Will the games of Cowboys past haunt Vikings?

Around these parts — meaning just about all of Texas except maybe El Paso — when someone talks about “the game” they mean the Dallas-Minnesota matchup come high noon (Central time) Sunday. I say most of Texas except El Paso because I know it is home to many San Diego fans since El Paso is almost as close in distance to San Diego as it is Dallas and may well be much more near culturally.

I suspect the “the game” reference probably holds true in the Twin Cities  where the folks have more reason than most cities to hold a grudge against Texas. There was a little play that became known as the “Hail Mary Pass” in 1975 in which Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach hit wide receiver Drew Pearson on a 50-yard desperation pass. Pearson caught it and backed into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Vikings players and fans protested then and now that Pearson was guilty of offensive pass interference on cornerback Nate Wright who fell to the ground during the reception. The TD knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs.

As an aside, some nastiness ensued after the play including a ref getting struck on the head by a whiskey bottle thrown from the stands. The assault knocked the zebra out with his wound requiring 11 stitches.

Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News points out a laundry list of other reasons why Texas is the source of some understandable animus in the Twin Cities. This includes Dallas stealing the NHL team, the lopsided trade to Dallas for Herschel Walker and former Vikings owner and Texan Red McCombs threatening to move the team unless he got a new stadium. All in all it sounds more like a plot to an old “Maverick” episode than sports.

Despite the animosity and the fact its the Cowboys the Vikings that are up against each other in the NFL Wild Card match, the game has some interesting pieces involved. This includes the aged Brett Favre who still can throw a football pretty far and the Cowboys QB Tony Romo whom I heard a sports commentator on the radio today describe as a “cute puppy with  his hat on backwards.”

Seriously, Dallas has come a long way. I might even root for them. I am not one of those Cowboys bandwagon fans. I once long ago was a fan then I got turned off by that whole “America’s Team” thing. Since then I pretty much hated the Cowboys until that loudmouth Terrell Owens left. I would like to see coach Wade Phillips do good. As  I have mentioned before he is from my area — having graduated in the same Texas county in which I reside (Jefferson) at Port Neches-Groves High School. Plus, he is the son of probably my favorite all-time coach, Bum Phillips, who helped the Oilers provide some excitement in their games.

At the very least I plan to watch the game. As for the others, well New Orleans is my favorite NFL team left right now since the Texans didn’t make the playoffs. In the AFC, since the Texans didn’t have the cards in their favor I guess either Indianapolis or San Diego would do as my preference. I would like to see a New Orleans and Indianapolis Super Bowl or a Saints-Chargers Super Bowl. So many times though, I don’t get what I wish for so …

Have a fine football weekend.

Houston VA: MEDVAMC H1N1 AFT; Plus: Time for 'Horns HC Muschamp?

A memorandum dated Jan. 4  from Adam C. Walmus, director of the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC)  in Houston, and e-mailed Jan. 8 by MEDVAMC spokeswoman  Bobbi Gruner announces vaccinations are now available for the 2009 H1N1 flu virus.

All I can say to this is reflected in one of the acronyms used in the headline above, AFT. The acronym, pronounced in the phonetic alphabet we used in the military, is pronounced “Alfa Foxtrot Tango.” I don’t know if that is a widely-used acronym but it’s one I chose to use of the ilk popularized in the Stephen Coonts book and later movie “Flight of the Intruder.” That acronym was “Alfa Mike Foxtrot,” for “adios mother f***er.” I use the acronym “AFT” to mean “Alfa Foxtrot Tango,” to stand for “about f***ing time.”

I am sure there is an explanation why just now, in January 2010, the H1N1 shots are now finally available. The VA has known about the so-called “Swine Flu” for quite some time. A Houston VA press release from October noted:

“The H1N1 Flu is of concern to experts in the medical community because it is so new that very few people have any protection or “immunity” which means the virus may easily find vulnerable people to infect. As a result, it may spread rapidly to large numbers of people. Therefore, health care facilities may find it difficult to care for large numbers of patients with severe illness.”

The October release went on to say the hospital had received 300 doses of the vaccine and listed the priority of those who should get the vaccine. What they didn’t say was did the patients in those priority groups actually receive the shots? What do you want to bet that if I asked the Houston VA who, in fact, received the 300 initial doses I would be told that information cannot be released due to privacy laws?

I said there was probably an explanation why it’s taken so long to get the H1N1 shots to the general patient population within the MEDVAMC kingdom which includes outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Lufkin, Conroe and Galveston. I didn’t say it was a good explanation.

Fortunately, no large outbreaks of the Swine Flu have occured among veterans in this portion of Texas, at least no large outbreaks that come to mind. But the H1N1 is still a pandemic so it’s fortunate there aren’t more dead, especially older or our youngest, veterans.

When the pandemic is over, I hope the VA as a whole will do a thorough after-action review of their reaction to the outbreaks. I’m sure they will, but hopefully it will be honest and not just the same old glazed over horse s**t one seems to see coming from one VA report after another. The whole VA pharmaceutical system needs a careful going-over as well.  I can’t help but think — with such vast differences in medication given from one VA hospital system to another — that the acquisition of medications might be ripe for some kind of corruption. I’m not saying that’s the case, but it’s a suspicion.

Nevertheless, it’s AFT that the Swine Flu shots are available and unless I get the flu first or the VA runs out, I plan to get my vaccine during my next regular appointment in two weeks.

Something’s rotten in Austin

Only a few thoughts to follow up on last night’s “Pasadena Massacre.” I am talking about the Citi BCS National Championship in which Texas QB Colt McCoy was knocked out of the game the first rattle out of the box. I think The Regents should just pay Mack Brown all those millions and move defensive coordinator and heir-apparent Will Muschamp up to head coach.

Man, the game just turned to Bevo poo after freshman Garrett Gilbert was sent in to replace McCoy. I don’t fault Gilbert. I think he showed some flashes of not-badness. It just seemed the game had been choreographed like a Broadway production starring McCoy and the stand-in hadn’t been properly trained to know where the other cast members were supposed to stand.

Gilbert made a few bad passes. He was supposed to, he is a freshman. He also threw some passes that should have been caught. It was if the hearts and souls of the remaining offensive players flew off to the locker room when McCoy departed with his injured shoulder.

Although the score, 37-21 Alabama, doesn’t really reflect it, the Texas defense looked pretty awesome. Alabama QB Greg McElroy was sacked a season-high five times. That is why I think the loss falls mainly on Mack Brown. It was like he never thought of the possibility his star quarterback and field marshal would get hurt. And since the defense was the bright  spot for Texas and that Brown has made defensive guru Muschamp his replacement, Brown should have himself replaced, at head coach at least. They could keep Brown in recruiting and PR. He seems to really excel there.

After watching the game, I believe that Texas could have won if McCoy had not been knocked out of the game. But that’s not a given. Running back Mark Ingram brought back visions of “The Earl of Texas,” that being Earl Campbell. Both were backs which reminded me of Hurricane Rita blasting her way through the Pineywoods. There wasn’t anyone able to stop her. The same goes for Earl and the Tide’s Ingram. As I heard one caller to a sports talk show say this afternoon, the game was one “played by boys against men.” In a way, the caller was right.

Still, you have to wonder what would have been had McCoy not been injured. And you wonder what round McCoy will go in the NFL draft who picks him. Also, I heard it said that Alabama’s McElroy had never lost a football  game since the eighth grade. How do  you think he will feel when he gets to the NFL and finally loses that first game?