Monthly Archives: August 2008

Comfort Food

I found this recipe on the back of a package of Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Noodles. It turned out pretty well and was very flavorful, so I thought I’d pass it along. The following is my version as I adjusted some of the ingredient measurements. I did not eliminate any of the ingredients from the original recipe, just the amount of each.

Chicken & Broccoli Noodles Dijon

8 ounces egg noodles (this recipe would probably work with a variety of pasta types)
1 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli cuts (I used frozen, but you could probably use fresh)
1/2 – 3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1-1/2 cups water
3 T Dijon-style mustard
1-1/2 T flour
1-1/2 T lemon juice
3 tsp. Chicken flavor bouillon granules or 3 cubes
8 ounces sour cream

In large pot, cook noodles according to package, adding broccoli to water during last 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain noodles and broccoli in colander. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and cook and stir chicken 5 minutes or until browned. In small bowl, combine water, mustard, flour, lemon juice, and bouillon; mix well. Add to skillet; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in sour cream, noodles and broccoli; heat through (do not boil). Refrigerate leftovers.

Searching For My Care

UPDATE: Now that was impressive. Can we keep it up?

—–

This is probably committing some cardinal sin against the Alabama family, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

The new football season starts Saturday night against Clemson, and I can’t get myself to care. With this season I will have invested the better part of the last 13 college football seasons on loving Alabama Football unconditionally. That may seem like not a lot of years when you consider how long Alabama’s been playing football, but the way I invest my time and energy with the teams I love…that 13 is in dog years. I’ve loved them through a lot…too much to list here. But, I gotta say, I’m not feeling it this year. I’ve been trying for the past couple of weeks to figure out why I’m so blase about the season starting, and I think I’ve found my answer.

I care too much and I’m wondering when I might start seeing a return on my investment. I’ve watched some of the best players in the country sign letters of intent to play at Alabama and then watched them fall incredibly short of what they promised they’d do. The last two recruiting classes (including this year’s freshmen) have been among the best in the nation. I’ve seen spurts of greatness…of what was expected from them, but not consistency. I miss consistency. And being consistently inconsistent does not count.

I think what bugs me the most is that I can see their potential. I can see how good they can be. I know how well they can play. But none of that seems to show on the field at game time. If you can play at a certain level, then go out there and do it. I’m disgruntled that I care more than they seem to.

Let me set the record straight here. I’m not expecting them to win every game they play. I know how difficult that is. But I am at the very least expecting them to put up a fight. Last season and the season before that it seemed like there was a lack of passion. That Saturday was just another day at the office. The players didn’t seem to care if they lost…just when it was time to hit the showers.

Here’s the thing. I expect them to wear the Crimson with at least a marginal amount of pride. I don’t wear my college colors just to wear them. I wear them in support of what I think is one of the best colleges in the country. I wear the Crimson because I know the history that lies beneath it. I wear the Crimson for every alumni who came before, during, and after me because wearing that Crimson is a privilege, not a right. And especially, when you wear the Crimson in official jersey form, you are representing every single player who came before, during, and after you. THAT SHOULD MEAN SOMETHING.

It hurts me as an alumni and as a fan that I care more than the players appear to. It’s like letting someone walk all over you and forgiving them for the umpteenth time expecting things to be different the next time, but nothing ever changes. So, I’m not willing to be hurt any more. I’m not willing to be walked all over. I’m ready to be impressed. I’m ready to see the nation’s #1 recruiting class prove to the college football world why they received that ranking. I’m hopeful I’ll find that this season, but forgive me if I brace myself for the fall and ease into the season with great caution.

Again, I’m not asking for a win every game, I’m just asking that we care when we don’t.

The Road to Detroit

I promise you I am only going to say this once until we actually get to March because I’m already tired of hearing all the speculation and expectation surrounding the UNC Men’s basketball team.  Yes, I know the team is so deep with talent it’s sick.  Yes, I know that nearly every sports outlet is predicting them to win the National Championship in March going so far as to say they’d be failures if they didn’t (an opinion I greatly disagree with).  Most people are saying that the guys chose not to go to the NBA so they could come back and win a National Championship.  Well, quite frankly if you are a D-1 basketball team and your goal this season is not to win a national championship, do us all a favor and don’t step out on the court.  Just forfeit the season.  If any team has an ultimate goal out there other than to win the greatest prize in NCAA basketball, why are you playing?  Now realistically I know that every D-1 team cannot win the championship, but that doesn’t mean it should not be your goal.  That said, it’s a long way to March and winning a national championship is incredibly difficult.

This team of all teams, painfully, knows that:

 
No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Yr. Hometown (High School)
2 Marc Campbell 5-11 175 G JR Raleigh, N.C. (Ravenscroft)
40 Mike Copeland 6-7 235 F SR Winston-Salem, N.C. (R.J. Reynolds)
32 Ed Davis 6-10 220 F FR Richmond, Va. (Benedictine)
11 Larry Drew II 6-1 180 G FR Encino, Calif. (Woodland Hills Taft)
22 Wayne Ellington 6-4 200 G JR Wynnewood, Pa. (The Episcopal Academy)
4 Bobby Frasor 6-3 210 G SR Blue Island, Ill. (Brother Rice)
1 Marcus Ginyard 6-5 220 G/F SR Alexandria, Va. (Bishop O’Connell)
13 Will Graves 6-6 245 F/G SO Greensboro, N.C. (Dudley)
14 Danny Green 6-6 210 F/G SR North Babylon, N.Y. (St. Mary’s)
50 Tyler Hansbrough 6-9 250 F SR Poplar Bluff, Mo. (Poplar Bluff)
5 Ty Lawson 5-11 195 G JR Clinton, Md. (Oak Hill Academy (Va.))
35 Patrick Moody 6-4 195 F SR Asheville, N.C. (T.C. Roberson)
15 J.B. Tanner 6-0 185 G SR Hendersonville, N.C. (West Henderson)
21 Deon Thompson 6-8 240 F JR Torrance, Calif. (Torrance)
24 Justin Watts 6-4 205 G FR Durham, N.C. (Jordan)
30 Jack Wooten 6-2 190 G SR Burlington, N.C. (Williams)
44 Tyler Zeller 7-0 220 F FR Washington, Ind. (Washington)

Every single one of those guys, with the exception of the freshmen that I haven’t seen play, yet, are champions in my book already.  They have made me proud every time they stepped out on the court if for no other reason than they never gave up until the final buzzer sounded.  But if, in fact, seniors Mike Copeland, Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Patrick Moody, JB Tanner, and Jack Wooten plan to leave their mark on UNC in a big way, this is the road they must take:

So, I promise you, I will not speak about the Tar Heels winning a national championship, again this season until it actually does happen.  I can’t promise I won’t talk about how they play in each individual game, but it will certainly not be an opportunity for me to say, “if they play like that, they’ll never win the championship.”  One game at a time is the only way to play.  Here’s the thing, if you take care of business on the road to Detroit, then there should be no surprises for the sports media in Detroit.  

Parting Shots

Finally, I can return to my regularly scheduled bedtime now that the 2008 Olympics are in the books.  I’m still sad that they’re over because they were so much fun to watch, but I’m glad I’ll get a little more sleep now.

I got my Sports Illustrated in the mail on Friday with that beautiful picture of Michael Phelps on the cover.  The magazine is under lock and key now.  🙂  Maybe I’ll let people touch it, but only if they wash their hands first.  Despite him being the only Olympian on the cover, the articles inside covered a multitude of memorable moments from the 17 days.  However, the most disturbing fact I learned reading the magazine was the 9.5 average number of condoms provided to each athlete in the Olympic Village.  At first I was appalled that the provision was made, but then I guess I had to err on the side of they might as well be safe if such a need for the condoms arose.  Alas, the thought of the condoms being available to those little 9 year old Chinese gymnasts just broke my heart.

All in all the 17 days was a blast despite the sleep deprevation and the years I lost off my life in the first 9 days.  Here are a few final images from the last weekend in Beijing.  Again, thanks to Yahoo! Photos and their affiliates for the pictures.

  • As always, the Olympic Flame burned bright for the duration of the games.
  • USA Decathlete Bryan Clay wins gold.  He was so far ahead of the silver medalist going into the final event (1500 meter distance running) that he only had to finish the race to win the gold.  Guess he got a nice 1500 meter victory lap. 
  • Rounds 1-5 of the men’s 10m platform diving had the Chinese sweeping the diving gold medals.  That is until Matthew Mitcham stepped up for his round 6 dive.  Luxin Zhou of China cracked the door wide open for Matthew to take the lead when he dove anything but textbook on his round 6 dive.  Matthew Mitcham, thinking he was just trying to keep the silver medal, gave it all he had and dove himself right onto the gold medal platform drawing four perfect tens from the judges.  All this from a kid who quit diving in 2006, returned to the sport 9 months later in 2007, and battled depression.  Well played, Matthew.
  • Following the tragedythat struck the family of the men’s indoor volleyball coach at the beginning of the Olympics, his team pulled through in the biggest of ways and won the gold medal.  If you needed a comeback story for these games, look no further than Hugh McCutcheon and his volleyball team. 
  • USA women’s basketball brought home the gold for the sixth time (fourth straight) beating Australia in the finals.
  • Continuing with girl power, the USA women’s track 4×400 relay team powered past Russia to win the gold medal giving Sanya Richards her gold to take home to fiance Aaron Ross’s super bowl ring.
  • Not to be outdone, the USA men’s basketball team finally “redeemed” themselves and beat Spain in the gold medal game.  USA’s first gold in men’s basketball since 2000 and thirteenth gold overall in our 16 Olympic appearances in the sport.
  • Also not to be outdone, the USA men’s track 4×400 relay team ran away with the gold medal setting an Olympic record and beating the silver medalists from the Bahamas by nearly 3 seconds.  Usain Bolt was not on the Jamaican team.
  • Kenya won its first ever Olympic gold medal in the men’s marathon.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The country that notoriously wins the NY, Boston, and Marine Corp. marathons had never won an Olympic gold in the sport until Samuel Kamau Wanjiru crossed the finish line at an Olympic record time of 2:06:32.  Per tradition, he received his medal at the closing ceremonies.
  • David Beckham, loyal Londoner that he is, took part in the closing ceremonies as the symbol of the Olympics being passed to his home country for the 2012 games. 
  • In London, Michael Phelps was there to receive the hand off from Beijing.  Apparently while sightseeing, he ran into a huge crowd of reporters, but he only had time for one interview.  He gave it to a 12 year old girl who was doing her first interview.  I know…AWWW.  In Beijing, we saw his endurance and versatility collection.  I suppose London we’ll see the Michael Phelps sprints.  After which, he can retire and stop eating 12,000 calories a day. 
  • And finally, the flame was extinguished to be lit next in Vancouver in 2010 for the Winter Games.

Private Beach

Do, or do not.  There is no try.

Not to be outdone by Misty and Kerri, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser complete the American sweep of Beach Volleyball beating Brazil in 3 sets.

I May Be Sick

I think I may be sick. I don’t usually believe anything that’s written about a Colts player until it is addressed by the Colts themselves in a press-conference or on Colts.com. But this new report has my stomach turning over in knots.

FROM MIKE CHAPPELL OF THE INDY STAR As for being ready for the Colts’ nationally-televised opener against the Bears, Manning offered optimism, not a guarantee. “That is my goal, to be ready for that first game…it has been my goal all along,” he said in his first interaction with the media since a July 24 conference call. “Hopefully it continues to progress up until that point.” Manning was unable to predict when he might be cleared to practice. He also didn’t know how much practice time he would need to get up to speed for the Bears game. Manning has been working extensively with Erin Barill, the Colts’ director of rehabilitation, following Barill’s exhaustive regimen. “I’ve had a tough month,” Manning said. “It’s truly been a challenge for me, certainly something totally different than I’ve had to ever experience. Just constant rehab.” He has worked at regaining the range of motion in his left knee, done some throwing to keep his arm in shape, is lifting weights and has been able to do some light running. He did some light throwing at Lucas Oil Stadium and walked around the field with a wrap on his left knee, but no noticeable limp. “As far as when and how much time I’ll need, we’ll just kind of have to wait and see for that,” Manning said.

I talked to several people in the NFL yesterday who know things and they assure me that Peyton Manning’s knee is a huge concern for the Colts. Apparently Manning had to go through another procedure on his knee to clean things out after having his bursa sac removed last month. What is the most concerning is not the second operation (which the Colts are denying), but that they cannot control the swelling in Manning’s knee and any physical movement causes MORE swelling. Once he returns to the game, gets hit, has to place a load on the knee, and drive the ball, there can be swelling. All I know is that there is MUCH more here than meets the eye. Manning has the trainer come over to HIS home for rehab and is rarely seen. Now, I have been with some big-time quarterbacks in my career like Joe Montana and Rich Gannon and never have they rehabbed from home. I thought this was not an issue and that Manning would be back. However, after talking to my friends in the league, it’s clear that this is a HUGE concern short- and long-term for the Colts.

Found via National Football Post.

Olympic Quick Hits in Pictures

Special thanks to Yahoo! News and their affiliates for the pictures.

  • USA Women’s Eight Rowing team took home the gold for the first time since the 1984 Los Angeles Games winning by nearly 2 seconds. 
  • Shawn Johnson wins gold in the balance beam final.  I haven’t been that proud of one of our girls in gymnastics on the beam since Shannon Miller.  Way to go, girl!
  • Jonathan Horton goes big to win silver on the high bar.  I was incredibly impressed with his courage to give it everything he had with a brand new routine and leave it all on the mat. 
  • Stephanie Brown Trafton wins the gold medal in the discus throw.  Her first throw landed at 64.74 meters and no other competitor came close to that mark throughout the remaining rounds.  The silver medalist only came within 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) of that first throw.
  • Matt LaPorta (my fellow Charlotte High School alum) was part of that nasty brawl that was supposed to be a baseball game between China and the USA.  He got hit in the head, which was finally enough for the umps to eject the pitcher who’d already hit a couple players earlier in the game.  Matt got a slight concussion and scared me half to death when he was lying on the ground; however, he should be ready to play in the semifinal game.  Make us proud, Tarpon!
  • Germany’s Matthias Steiner won a gold medal in the Men’s +105kg weightlifting with a total of 461 kg, 203 kg and 258 kg, (approximately 1016 pounds).  He lifted nearly 18 pounds more than the silver medalist on his last clean and jerk to haul in the gold by 1 kg (2.2 pounds).  On the medal stand he held a picture of his wife Susann who died in a car accident last year.  I cried right along with him.
  • Congratulations to the gold standard in Women’s Beach Volleyball, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.  They never once looked rocked by their capable opponents sticking with them through both sets.  They played like the champions they are and brought home the first repeat gold medals in their sport.  Way to go, ladies.
  • Usain Bolt.  This picture says it all.  He even made Michael Johnson proud.  I just hope we don’t hear in the future that he had a little help in the performance enhancement department.
  • USA Softball ends their three Olympic gold medal streak with a loss to Japan in the gold medal game.  Still a great job, ladies.  Hopefully we’ll see them back in 2016 when the sport is eligible to be added back to the Olympic games.
  • USA Women’s soccer win third gold medal.  That was meaty, and I don’t even like soccer.
  • On a different note, but still sports related.  RIP Gene Upshaw.  He passed away at the age of 63 from cancer as the current head of the NFL players association.  He had some rough history with the older retired players who disagreed with his decisions on providing them with benefits and health care.  But he was also a strong voice for current players with the competition committee and the collective bargaining agreement.  He was also a hall of fame and seven time pro bowl selection as guard for the Oakland Raiders.  He will be missed. 

Mike Luckovich

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal Constitution published on August 13th, which would have been after his 10th and 11th Gold Medals.

Making Memories

This week’s SI on Newsstands this Friday

I am too young (imagine that) to have seen Jesse Owens, Babe Didrikson, Nadia Comaneci, and Mark Spitz make Olympic history, and I don’t readily recall Mary Lou Retton (I was only 6).  But, years from now when someone asks me what my greatest memories are of the Summer Olympic Games, I will tell them about Shannon Miller and the balance beam.  I will tell them about Kerri Strug and The Vault.  I will tell them about Michael Johnson and his gold shoes. I will tell them about Gary Hall, Jr. and his back to back Olympic reign as the fastest male swimmer all while battling diabetes.  I will tell them about Carl Lewis, period.  I will tell them about Greg Louganis who won two gold medals in diving after hitting his head on the springboard during preliminaries complete with concussion and stitches.  I will tell them about the original Dream Team.  I will tell them about Derek Redmond whose father helped him finish the 400-meter semifinals after Derek tore his hamstring roughly half way through the race.  I will tell them about Flo-Jo’s nails and the 100m dash and her sister-in-law Jackie Joyner-Kersee and her two golds in the heptathlon.  And, I will tell them about Michael Phelps. 

Vodpod videos no longer available. 

I carried a little piece of paper in my blackberry holder this week with all his events listed on it with space to list his times for his heat, semifinal, and final in each event.  He swam 17 times in 9 days over a total distance of 3300 meters (a little over 2 miles) in a total elapsed time of 31 minutes 16.73 seconds (for the relays only his time and distance are included).  The first verse of the National Anthem was played 7.94 times (the first time they cut off the music after “land of the free”) for a medal ceremony in which Michael had a gold medal draped around his neck.  Let’s put that in perspective.  In any given regular season of the NFL, a team hears the National Anthem played 16 times.  For that team, 8 of those times (or half) are at home.  So, basically the same number of times that say Vince Young will hear the National Anthem played in the next 4 months during the regular season at LP field in Nashville, TN is the same number of times Michael heard the anthem between August 10th and August 17th while standing on the top step of the medal podium.

I know the arguments will go on forever about whether or not he is the greatest Olympian of all time or even the greatest athlete.  Shockingly, I stand on the side of him NOT being the greatest Olympian of all time because it’s too subjective when you cross sports.  I don’t think there is one greatest Olympian.  Some sports don’t even offer the opportunity to win 8 gold medals.   I do believe that at this moment he is the greatest swimmer of all time, and quite frankly I think the only individual who will top these 8 gold medals would be a Michael Phelps coached swimmer.  For the time being, this is a great story and a great memory.  Over those 9 days he broke 7 world records and 1 Olympic record in the medal races.  In every event, his semifinal was faster than or equal to his heat (with the exception of the 100-meter fly) and his final was always faster than both.  Incidentally, I realized that the Sports Illustrated cover he was on last week hit newsstands on Friday in the US, the same day he swam that 100-meter fly.  So, 8 gold medals won, 7 world records set, 1 Olympic record set, and 1 SI cover jinx conquered.  As of roughly 11am this morning, for this Olympiad, Michael is tied with South Korea and Japan for number of gold medals and is tied with Romania, Poland, Kenya, New Zealand, and Kazakhstan for number of total medals.  If you take Michael’s medals out of the US total, China is leading the Medal Count by 5.

However, he didn’t do this alone.  He has Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones, Jason Lezak (especially), Nathan Adrian, Matt Grevers, Benjamin Wildman-Tobriner, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens, Peter Vanderkaay, David Walters, Erik Vendy, Klete Keller, Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Mark Gangloff, and Ian Crocker to thank for the three relay gold medals as each of them either swam the qualifying heat and/or the final for the US relay team in the 4×100 and 4×200 free and 4×100 medley.  I have read a lot about how this is the Phelps Era and that the Olympic field would be a lot different if he weren’t competing.  So, I’d like to take a moment and recognize Alessio Boggiatto (Italy), Jean Basson (South Africa), Moss Burmester (New Zealand), Thiago Pereira (Brazil), Ian Crocker (US), and the relay teams of Italy (twice) and Russia.  Those are all the swimmers that finished 4th in the races Michael Phelps or the US relay team won.  If you take Michael and the US out of the equation, these people win bronze.  Furthermore, Laszlo Cseh of Hungary (who was a joy to watch) stood next to Michael with a silver medal three times and can probably hum the US National Anthem for you.  Also three times of the eight, a US swimmer stood on the bronze medal stand.

In the end, this is one of the best Olympic feats of all time.  He won by large margins leaving his competitors in the wake of his splash.  He won by small margins giving the Omega timekeepers a workout.  He won with his teammates and cheered them on every step of the way.  He won alone with only his stroke count and Lil Wayne in his head.  He won with his eyes closed.  He won with a smile.  He won with disgust.  He won with excitement and screams.  He won eating 12,000 calories a day.  He won using every muscle in his body churning at unfathomable rates.  He won for himself.  He won for his family.  He won for his coach.  He won for his teammates.  He won for his sport.  He won for his country.

I’m sure this list of memories will grow, but for now when someone asks me what I remember from my lifetime of Summer Olympic Games, I will tell them about Shannon, Kerri, Michael (Johnson), Gary, Carl, Greg, The Dream Team, Derek, Flo-Jo, Jackie, and Michael (Phelps).   I’ve taken that piece of paper out of my blackberry holder, but I can’t bear to throw it away.  It’s sitting on my desk as I type this reminding me that dreams, no matter how big or seemingly impossible, can come true.

Cavic Speaks

I found this on Milorad Cavic’s website. This is very interesting as the commentators last night told us that his coach filed the protest on his behalf, but as you’ll see in #3 neither he nor his coach filed the protest. In any case, what he says here is very kind and respectful:

Success!!!
Written by Milorad Cavic    Saturday, 16 August 2008

I did it!!! I won an Olympic medal everybody! I’m sorry to brag, but I’m sure you all will forgive me just this one time!
So, allow me to clear some things up:
1. The Media’s Manipulation and Misinterpretations: It never ceases to amaze me that garbage that reporters will come up with in order to make a story. Seriously. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m very respectful of others. I’ll admit that I’ve got bad blood with one person in the world, but that’s really it. I would never do anything to trash my competitors with seriousness, or to belittle them. If you were there to hear my media interviews, you’d know how much respect I’ve got for Michael Phelps. For a lot of reasons though, its easy to see why many reporters would pick up on anything negative and use it to support their imaginations. Am I a bad guy? No, not even close. I’ve got no criminal record, never got in trouble in school for anything (ever), and never got into a fight. Hate me for having some disagreements about some foreign policies, or for posting up some fast times, but I’m anything but a punk. I’m cool with all of my competitors that have even met me for a second. I like to think I’m easy going and easy to talk to… don’t imagine reasons to hate on me.
2. On winning a SILVER medal: I am completely happy, and still in complete disbelief that I was able to achieve this feat! I’m not joking… It’s a tough loss, but I’m on cloud nine. I congratulated Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman. I’m just glad the race was fun to watch for everyone. It was a pleasure for me, really.
3. Filing a Protest: Yes, as you all saw, I almost won the Gold, and if you ask me, the clock does not lie. I had nothing to do with this filing, and neither did my coach Mike Bottom. This is just another attack on my coach who has done never wronged anyone in swimming, except coach foreign athletes (non-Americans) to Olympic medals. You all have to understand that any coach would have done this for their swimmer if there were any possibility of error, but I’m sorry to disappoint, it was my Olympic committee and swimming staff who did the filing. We’re not “sour grapes” and we’re not “pissed”… If you ask me, it should be accepted and we should move on. I’ve accepted defeat, and there’s nothing wrong with losing to the greatest swimmer there has ever been.
4. So what now? People, this is the greatest moment of my life. I’ve finally achieved what I’ve worked so hard, and for so long to do. Let me enjoy this for a little while. I’m going back to Belgrade for a year after the Olympics. Its time to take a break and figure out the next thing to do!