Miscellany: Mexico/Book Review/Mizzou/Playlist

The trip to Tulum was muy fantastico. I am overjoyed to report that The Lady Friend (henceforth known as The Wife) actually said "I do" and we are now happily married. In fact, as I write this, it's 9:15 on a Saturday night and she is already passed out on the couch. Married life is as exciting as I expected.

I'll be doing a series of day by day recaps of the trip as the week goes on; look out Internets.


I read a copy of Bryan Burwell's The Best St Louis Sports Arguments while on holiday. While I will never claim that it is the greatest book ever written, it did serve it's purpose, as I found myself passionately agreeing and disagreeing with many of Burwell's arguments.

Mark McGwire not belonging in the Hall of Fame? Disagree, to the millionth degree. Took a drug which nearly everyone else (pitchers included) was taking and finished with a 10.6 HR/AB ratio? In.

Not blaming Don Denkinger for the 1985 World Series. Completely agree. Blaming him for '85 is as dumb as Cubs fans blaming Steve Bartman for 2003. And the rednecks who sent Denkinger death threats are absolutely shameful and makes me agree with Burwell's assertion that St Louis is not the best baseball town in America; it may be a great baseball town in which we live, but until fan support can be adequately quantified, the random fandom ranking of "best" is absurd.

And of record keeping, Burwell's lean on Gold Gloves when ranking players disappoints me. Gold Gloves, and, really, all BBWAA awards, are a farce. The time has come for SABR or another organization to give out likewise awards so we no longer have to live in a world where Jimmy Rollins is considered the best player in the National League in 2007.

At times it seems as if Burwell is almost too ingrained into the mind of not the St Louis sports "fan" but the "fanatic." The average Cardinals fan does not want Tony LaRussa fired after every bad decision, but the normal message boarder or sports radio caller-in may. There is a big difference. I consider myself way too invested in the St Louis baseball Cardinals -- like Nick Hornby Fever Pitch invested -- however, I compare as nothing to the "people" who populate Cardinals, Rams, and Blues message boards (the moment I realized Viva El Birdos, a site I participate in frequently, had metamorphised from a blog to a fan message board was an odd moment; I loathe fan message boards, yet, I stay on).

This problem, of course, comes entirely from the anonymity which both radio and message boards provide. I may write articles and blogs and post (grudgingly, now) on message boards about my favorite team, but I do so using my own name. Anything which I may write, drunkingly, upsetly, ecstatically, comes back to my name. I must take, as does Burwell, complete accountability for my words. "G0CARdZZ190," "Pujo1s 1s a G0D," and the like do not. They are not real people, only counter identities of people who generally don't like themselves and/or refuse to be accountable for the actions which they take. Their voice is nil and should not be included in this book.

(Sweet fuck, I really get worked up about this. Anonymity has ruined the Internet. It could have been something.)

Arguments left me with two major bones to pick with Burwell. One is not even mentioning the 2000-2005 Cards as one of the best Cardinals eras in St Louis baseball history in chapter 14, but then saying that Tony LaRussa is the best Cardinals manager in history (which I agree with) in chapter 28. Somehow, that just doesn't add up.

My other point or ire, in another argument he makes which I agree with "Should the Cardinals Retire Willie McGee's Number" (yes. Yes they should), he writes:

"He (McGee) may not be the greatest redbird, but he is arguably the most beloved. So beloved, in fact, that Tim McKernan, morning talk show host on KFNS radio, started an online petition last year that now includes more than 7,500 signatures. McKernan's grass-roots movement seemed to have a big impact initially, when a city full of McGee lovers kept logging on to McKernan's InsideStL.com website and pledging their allegiance to the heart and soul of those 1980s championship teams by purchasing "Retire 51" T-shirts and joining the petition."

The problem here is that the movement was promoted by McKernan, but was the original idea of my Joe SportsFan cohorts Pat Imig and Josh Bacott and the shirts were designed by handsome man Matt Sebek. They pitched the idea to McKernan since he had the platforms, both radio and local web, to promote it and it was ran with back in that odd Cardinal summer of 2006. Now, I'm probably the only guy on Earth who knows this information, but it seems like an oversight Burwell could have easily avoided with a simple phone call to McKernan and he could have been able to give the original idea for the push to it's rightful owners.

Or perhaps I'm being too anal (that's what she said).

And, like most great bar arguments, there are many others which I ardently agree with (does Stan Musial deserve a better statue? Yes. The current statue encourages bad posture and makes it look like Stan's hands were three feet long. Should the Rams wear their throwbacks? Every Sunday) and forcefully disagree with (Old Busch beats New Busch, in the words of Lt. Sam Weinberg, everyday of the week and twice on Sundays. Get back to me after forty years of tradition and perhaps I will agree with you).

However, the last time I was in a bar argument and everyone agreed with each other I was strung out on mescaline in an opium den somewhere in northern India. Believe you me, that was no fun.

Arguments are the tequila shots of bar discussion.

Arguments does what it sets out to do: encourage debate and foment discussion. In that it succeeds. Is it a great book? No, but I doubt Burwell, whom I am sure did plenty of research and spent countless hours writing, set out to win a Pulitzer with this; In the end, it is, in all actuality, just a dude, sharing his opions.

However, Arguments is a nice light read and something which just about any hardcore St Louis sports fan would enjoy having on the top of their toilet.

And The Father In Law will be getting a copy of it for Christmas.


If I had to rank my favorite collegiate athletic programs it would go something like:
1. University of Illinois
2. University of Notre Dame
3. Bradley University
435. University of Missouri
9,000,000. University of Kansas

So while I am in no way, shape, nor form a Mizzou fan (in fact, come Dec 22nd, I will spit on my own sidewalk before a certain basketball game), driving around today in the Lou, running errands and getting lunch, the electricity in the air was palpable. As I wrote earlier, before tonight's kickoff, on the one message board I can stomach, if not enjoy:

"In four years of living in St Louis, I've never seen the town have such anticipation about any football game, let alone a college football game. This is a baseball town first, a hockey town second and a soccer town third. Football? Its off the map. Years of the football Cardinals ruined this town for pigskin. Hell, it took one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history for people to give a shit about the Rams.

College football seemed non-existent when I moved here in '04, which was a huge change from the four years prior when I was living south of the Mason-Dixon. Down there, it seemed religion, here it was about as popular as a pine wood derby boxcar race. While I'm sure I'm overstating this and probably offending some ol' die hard, when I got to St Louis, the overwhelming feel at the bars, on the radio, on the message boards, was that nobody here really gave a shit.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say people in these parts haven't cared this much about college football since the forward pass was invented a few blocks down the street. Or twenty or thirty years ago, maybe. Not sure, really; I wasn't a history major.*

It's giddy out there. It is new and fresh and foreign. Nobody knows really what to do or think or say; die hards and wagon jumpers alike. They just hop on and hope to enjoy the ride. A chance for Mizzou to play in the BCS Championship Game? Mizzou? In football? Really?

This is great for the city, for the metro area, and for the state which Abe Simpson will be dead in the cold, cold ground before he recognizes. This feeling, around town, is, as far as I know, completely and totally unprecedented.

And awesome.


Sticking by that. Great win over Kansas tonight. Although I remain, through and/or through, an Illinois fan, it is cool to see, in this city of bad vibes and constant highway construction, people, not just the old timers but the band wagoners, excited about anything, especially anything college football related.

Missouri is a 17 year old at prom, and we are about to be deflowered by the chance to play for the national title. It's exciting, confusing, surreal. And nobody -- nobody -- would have it any other way.

So, for once in my life, I will say: Go Mizzou. Good luck against the Sooners, Tigers. From your neighbors to the north-east, the guys who own rights over you this decade, with breath stinking of rightly earned Busch gold tops, we say:

Play for the title. I dare you. M-I-Z.

I made an imix of my wedding music*; walking down the isle (first two), into dinner music, into the first dance (La Cienega Just Smiled) slash parentsy dance (I've Been Loving You Too Long>You Are So Beautiful), into the r(c)ock out. If you want to listen, here ye be.

If you want to feel like you were at the wedding drink 12 mojitos and do 8 tequila shots while listening to it.

[see you all later this week with glorious tales of debauchery from south of the border.]

*Well, nearly all of it; some tunes just aint available on the itunes. It's a missing about eight.

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I, and pretty much all my fellow Canucks I've asked about this, am/are completely baffled by the American obsession with college sports. Up here they're about as popular as lacrosse. We can't figure it out. This week's Sports Illustrated has dozens of pages in their college basketball preview... like their college football preview, I flip right past it.

You folks are weird.
On behalf of America, I welcome you back, Alex. Congrats!
I dont think there's a better way to recap the trip than with pencil drawn cartoons.

Welcome back and congrats, Fritz.
Congrats Al! I'm really happy for you man. i wish i could have been there, it would have been nice to see you again. Hope all is well and that you aren't suffering too bad from travelers diarrhea. But then again, after OIF I i know a littly bit of poopy britches isnt gonna hold you down.
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"I'll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I recognize the state of Missouri."