Archive for October, 2011
Friday, October 28th, 2011
There’s a baseball short story by W.P. Kinsella about a barnstorming baseball team that takes on the National League champions in an exhibition game. They manage to keep pace with the big leaguers through nine innings, then ten, and eleven…the game is being controlled mystically somehow by a native shaman of some kind – every time the pros manage a run or two, the shaman tries just a little bit harder in the bottom of the inning, and the amateur team always manages to tie it up. The game stretches on and on – the pro team never returns to the major leagues, obsessed as they are about winning the game, which lasts for months.
I can’t remember the name of the story, and my half-assed google efforts haven’t managed to turn up a title either. But it’s the kind of story, as Kinsella (Field of Dreams) wrote so often, that really illustrates the beauty of baseball – it’s a sport that theoretically could have a game that lasts forever. Sudden death applies only to ONE team in baseball - the home team, who bats in the bottom of the inning.
That was the kind of game we saw last night, one that reminded me of that Kinsella story. (I’m sure someone remembers it, somewhere, and will correct me if I’m wrong on any of the details. Or all of them. I read it when I was nine years old or thereabouts.) A three run lead in the eighth? Should be insurmountable. Two in the ninth? Almost impossible. Two in the tenth? Who’s gonna overcome that twice? No way.
So twice, the Cardinals are down two, down to their last strike in the game, the season, the World Series. And both times they come through to tie the game and push it onward – creating a game that not only felt like it would never end, but one that will certainly live forever in the memories of those who watched.
But it wasn’t the two miraculous two-out two-strike game-tying hits, or even the walk-off bottom of the eleventh home run, that I will remember. For me, one sequence of plays stands out for me in this game, one that should remind everyone of the beauty of baseball. And it happened in the fifth inning of what was, in many respects, one of the sloppiest, most error-filled games I’ve ever seen.
It’s the top of the fifth. Leading off the inning is Josh Hamilton, who hits a shot way up into the sky, a pop-up to the left side of the infield. He puts his head down and trudges toward first as David Freese settles under the pop fly, about to make a catch that is a sure thing even in beer league games and T-ball games around the world. And he drops it. This is where it all begins.
Now, who’s the goat on this play? Freese? Maybe, but not right away. Right away, the goat is actually Hamilton, who failed to put any effort into his run for first base, accepting the out without trying at all. When the ball falls to the ground, Hamilton is standing at first. With even a tiny amount of effort, he would be standing at second instead, in scoring position right away. If the next batter hits a single up the middle, and the Rangers get no runs out of the inning, Hamilton is the goat, not Freese.
Michael Young is the next batter. Instead of a single, or a double that leaves Hamilton stranded at third, he smacks a triple down the right field line, scoring Hamilton easily. Hamilton is now off the hook – he looks silly, but now Freese is the goat, as the Rangers are now ahead 4-3 and have scored what could be the go-ahead run in the Series clinching game thanks to the huge mistake by Freese.
The Cardinals get out of that inning, and have given up only that one run. They are still down 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth, and Freese remains the goat (or at least one of them – there were many mistakes), should they fail. And he delivers the two-out, two-strike, two-run hit that ties the game. Goat no more!
Top of the tenth. Josh Hamilton is up again. The Rangers’ best player, the heart of the team, who had shown such a lack of heart back in the fifth. And he becomes the hero with one swing of the bat, hammering a two-run shot to centerfield to give the Rangers back the lead, and likely to win the World Series. But the Cards tie it up.
And then it’s the bottom of the 11th, and it’s Freese again. Benji Molina is more important to the Cards. Albert Pujols remains the best and most feared hitter in baseball. Lance Berkman has had a better game and more clutch hits, including the tenth inning two-out two-strike two-run hit. But it’s Freese the hero. It’s Freese with the eleventh-inning walk-off home run. It’s Freese who will be remembered, and not for dropping a pop fly my kids would have caught. That’s the beauty of baseball. And that’s why this game was perfect. Game seven tonight!
Thursday, October 27th, 2011
It’s been a bad year for straight-up picking. Still going fairly strong in my suicide pools, but a 68-39 record is weak. Better though is my 60-45-2 record against the spread. So here goes once more…this is of course more for me than for you.
Indianapolis at Tennessee (9) – Remember last Sunday night? When the Colts gave up 62 points? Or maybe you remember the Titans giving up 41. Will this be a high scoring game between two bad defenses? No…remember, both offenses managed only 7 last week. Unless you’ve blocked all that out. Titans, 16-10.
Real final score – Titans, 27-10. The Titans needed only one thing to break out of their offensive funk – the Colts defense. I can’t wait for the Luck-Manning controversy…only nine weeks to go!
Jacksonville at Houston (9) – Yeah, Houston ran it up last week against the Titans. But knowing the Texans, that means they’re due for a horrible performance this week. And the Jags had their best game of the year in that ugly, ugly Monday nighter, they will be down as well. Texans, 17-13.
Real final score – Texans, 24-14. The Jags were down more than the Texans. Houston could very easily win this division this season. They could also very easily finish at 8-8 again. Actually, they could very easily do both.
Minnesota at Carolina (3.5) – Christian Ponder had a remarkably good game against Green Bay, and looks to be coming into his own. Carolina remains only as good as Cam Newton can play – and I think he will play just barely well enough to win against the Vikings D. Panthers, 21-20.
Real final score – Vikings, 24-21. Cam Newton DID play just barely well enough to beat the Vikings D. One bad call and one missed field goal, and the Panthers manage to lose again. Isn’t it kinda strange that all of a sudden people (me included) expect them to win?
St. Louis at New Orleans (13) – We won’t see a repeat of the 62-7 beatdown of Sunday night here…even against the awful Rams. But we won’t see a close game either. Saints, 35-17.
Real final score – Rams, 31-21. Wait…what? My hat’s off to anyone who saw this one coming. Then again, anyone who predicted THIS outcome likely knows nothing about football. Or is a genius.
Arizona at Baltimore (13) – I don’t imagine the Ravens will have another stinker like they did on Monday night. But with their offense playing as badly as it did, and their passing game in tatters, how are they getting 13 points? Ravens, 16-10.
Real final score – Ravens, 30-27. It took the biggest comeback in Ravens history to win this one – and suddenly, the Ravens may not be the best team in their own division any more. Next week could decide.
Miami at New York Giants (10) – The Dolphins were THIS close to their first win of the season last week against the awful Broncos. I actually picked them to win that one…ouch. And the Giants are quietly getting healthier and setting their sights on the division title. Giants, 24-10.
Real final score – Giants, 20-17. The Dolphins, despite their winless record, have kept many a game close this year. They’ll win one soon.
Washington at (Toronto) Buffalo (6) – The Redskins are starting to remember that they are the Redskins. And Buffalo has had a week to think about their recent slide. I don’t think the Bills have remembered that they are the Bills quite yet – I still believe. But off the bye week, they will be a little rusty and the Skins will cover a too-large spread in what isn’t really a Buffalo home game. Bills, 23-20.
Real final score – Bills, 23-0. Well, I got the 23 part right…the Bills first win in Toronto, Mike Shanahan’s first shutout as head coach – the Bills may be the best team in their division – ahead of the Patriots! Would you believe?
Detroit (2.5) at Denver – The Lions get back on the winning track. Three minutes do not a QB make, and the Lions defense is vastly different than facing Miami. Tebow will look dreadful for three and a half quarters again, and any miraculous comeback attempt will fall short. Lions, 30-23.
Real final score – Lions, 45-10. Once again, Tim Tebow looked pretty darn good in the final 40 seconds of the game after looking like a high school QB in the first 59:20. His miraculous comeback attempt THIS week fell 35 points short. That Lions D has swagger. I love it.
New England (3) at Pittsburgh – The Steelers may have won three in a row, but they have not impressed me. I worry more about New England coming off a bye than I should, so I’ll chicken out. New England, 21-20.
Real final score – Steelers, 25-17. I’m actually more concerned about Bill Belicheck here than I am anything else. How could the Master not challenge the Gronkowski TD? It would have given the Pats an extra two minutes, and could have avoided that unpleasant, lame onside kick series. Weird.
Cleveland at San Francisco (9.5) – The Niners had their first real statement game of the year last week – I am predicting a letdown. Not a big enough letdown to LOSE to Cleveland…but a letdown nonetheless. Niners, 23-20.
Real final score – Niners, 20-10. Well, Cleveland’s a mess, and the Niners are for real. That’s it.
Cincinnati (3) at Seattle – Seattle is vastly different at home (still) than they are on the road. That stadium is LOUD, it’s raucous, and it will make things very difficult for rookie QB Andy Dalton. Bengals defense keeps them in this game – but I smell a small ”upset”. Seahawks, 24-21.
Real final score – Bengals, 34-12. I still thought the Seahawks would pull out a win here until the final three minutes, when the Bengals blew it open. Dalton is the real deal, and the Bengals are good.
Dallas at Philadelphia (3.5) – The Cowboys are running hot and cold and have been all season. The Eagles needed that last win, and need this one just as much. I say they barely manage to get it. Eagles, 21-20.
Real final score – Eagles, 34-7. Yes, the Cowboys were awful. But the real story here is the Eagles are ON TRACK. I’ll be picking them from here on out. Except against the Packers.
San Diego (3.5) at Kansas City – One loss, against the Jets, and suddenly San Diego gets only three and a half at KC? Oh right…the Chiefs are riding three consecutive wins. That ends now. Chargers, 27-20.
Real final score – Chiefs, 23-20. Worst Day Ever, says Philip Rivers. Well, for him, it was certainly the Worst Play Ever. A snap? A snap? Just take it, fall over, and the game is won. The Chargers are just not impressive at all – yet. Of course they’re a second half team, but the Chiefs are in a tie for the division lead and are very hot.
8-5 straight up this week. Ugh. 76-44 overall. Ugh. 4-9 against the spread. Double ugh. 64-54-2 overall. Awful.
Monday, October 24th, 2011
He looks cute, doesn’t he? Unassuming, sweet, even innocent. But beneath the attractive exterior beats the heart of a sexual deviant. Yes, my dog Apollo is a rapist. We can’t bring female dogs into our house at all any more, for fear that Apollo will touch them inappropriately, stalk them throughout the house and backyard, and then hump them against their will.
When a dog kills another dog, it’s frowned upon. But when a dog commits a less clearly defined crime, there is little recourse. The Humane Society has stopped returning my calls concerning this matter, saying that they can’t lock up an animal for behaving in this manner. Even for a few days, you know, to scare him straight.
Not that he’s straight now, by any means. Apollo is an equal-opportunity rapist. When we stopped enabling him by bringing over female dogs, he reacted as many dogs apparently do to his suddenly same-sex environment – he started raping our other dog, Rocky. Our house is essentially a prison environment, you see.
I wish I could tell you that Rocky fought the good fight, and that Apollo let him be. I wish I could tell you that – but my kitchen is no fairy-tale world. He never tells us who did it, but we all know. Things have gone on like this for a while - a dog’s life consists of routine, and then more routine. Every so often, Rocky shows up with messy fur. Apollo keeps at him – sometimes he’s able to fight him off, sometimes not. And that’s how it goes for Rocky – that is his routine.
This is not to say that Apollo is entirely bad, through and through. He tries, very hard, to make his victims feel comfortable. He will always begin by licking their ears and trying to make them relaxed, but then his deviant instincts get the better of him and he goes for it. I realize that this is a poor distinction to make – date-rape is just as bad as any other crime.
I think Rocky, for one, is becoming accustomed to it. And although sometimes he bares his teeth and fights him off, more often than not he takes Apollo’s abuse with gentle good humour then goes off chasing his rope or his ball and forgetting the whole unpleasant incident. It’s my wife and me who are disturbed by Apollo’s actions, since we’re the only ones who know it’s wrong. And lately, Rocky seems to actually be asking for it. Which might be even more upsetting. Doggie Stockholm Syndrome.
Thursday, October 20th, 2011
The overwhelming opinion, everywhere around me, is that the people demonstrating on parliament hill, the people demonstrating on Wall Street, and everyone associated with this movement is a psycho, a lunatic, a lazy ass not willing to work for a living, or a silver spoon sleazeball with an outsized sense of entitlement. I think almost all of that is a load of knee-jerk stupid bunk from people who have the same reaction to all protesters.
Next time you hear someone complain about the bums hanging around downtown, and the “sense of entitlement” from people who ought to just get off their asses and get jobs, ask them about another protest. Any other protest. Darfur. Falun Gong. The G8, world hunger, Greenpeace, the seal hunt. Whatever. Do those people have the same opinion of those protesters? Nothing better to do, get a real job, go have a shower, sense of entitlement. Right?
Wrong. I will say this – a lot of these protesters ARE wingnuts. They dress up in weird clothes and do interpretive dances and shout poetry and in many ways are very, very irritating. But the thing is – they are RIGHT. There is a serious problem when 1% of the population controls 95% of the economy. Does anyone really believe that people are protesting this disparity because they don’t have a yacht and think they should get one for free? How the hell do you get that out of these protests?
And then there’s the argument that sure, the banks ARE to blame for SOME of the economic meltdown. But so too are the PEOPLE who bought houses they couldn’t afford. Okay. How much of that blame would you put on the banks versus the individuals who were sold something through a massive, pervasive corporate fraud? Maybe…99%? Sounds familiar…
The real complaint people might have about this 99% occupy Wall Street thing is that they have no coherent, real message. That’s the very thing I like the MOST. Sure – some are angry specifically at the widening income gap. Others are mad about the lack of bank regulations. Still more are furious because none of the corporate fraudsters that ruined the economy have been held accountable. Their messages are incoherent, impossible to categorize and stick into a neat little box, and inexplicable.
But is’t that completely appropriate? I, too, am very angry at the bankers and corporate tycoons that screwed up the world. But I, too, can’t explain why. I can’t explain credit default swaps. Neither can the protesters. Neither can you. There are like nine people alive who can explain them adequately, and eight of them became rich by using them to screw over the middle class. The other one is Warren Buffett.
So I love this spontaneous burst of rage. I love the incoherence and the fact that it makes little sense. I love the fact that some of the protesters are anti-capitalism and others aren’t. This is a protest that can’t possibly have an overarching controlled message. There just isn’t one to voice. But anger is approprate here, and voicing it at all is what matters.
In a way, this is the anti-Tea-Party movement. Both movements have maniacs who dress up in stupid costumes and do idiotic things. Both movements thrive on rage. And both have a number of detractors.
But the Occupy Wall Street movement is anger against right wing policies and corporations, whereas the Tea Party is an astroturf group started by right wingers and corporate money. The 99%ers are disjointed and chaotic, with no agreed-upon purpose. The Tea Partiers mostly agree on their main complaints and goals – and they agree, for the most part, on many other things as well (no separation of church and state, anti-abortion, pro-death-penalty, and Obama is the Devil).
And finally, the biggest difference is that the Tea Party has this amazing ability to conjure up fury and fight against their own best interests, at least financially. They fight FOR the banks, AGAINST regulation, and in the end against the middle class and the poor. Which of course make up at least 99% of the Tea Party.
The 99% movement, on the other hand, has just one thing in common, and one thing that unifies their purpose in any way. And that is the fight FOR the poor, and FOR the middle class, AGAINST a gigantic myriad of things that are currently ensuring that the income gap will get wider and wider and the economy will never recover. It may be a fight against an unknowable and invisible and impossible-to-identify-specifically enemy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fight worth having.
Friday, October 14th, 2011
We checked out the Chills For CHEO haunted house last night. It’s as amazing as it was the last time they did this – but much bigger this time, with more cool stuff inside. Stuff I don’t want to tell you about because that ruins the experience. But it’s scary. How scary? I made this tape last night, walking through the place with my wife and her friends Sara and Ashley -
Toward the end of the tape you can hear Randall and Doc, who had started out ahead of us but were going so slowly, and so carefully, and so apprehensively that we caught them about halfway through. By the way – when you go through this thing, don’t do like Doc and Randall, who were talking about everything as they saw it. I understand, talking is a good way to hide the fact that you’re frightened. But it ruins it for the people coming behind, who want to be surprised. Okay?
Truly scary, put together by amazing volunteers and actors who man the stations inside the maze, and very affordable – $10 for adults, $5 for kids who go through the less-scary kids’ side, and all proceeds go to the Doc and Woody Fund for the operating rooms at CHEO. It’s on Baxter Road, just behind the giant new IKEA. You can see it from the queensway, the big sign that says “Fun Haven”. A great night out, especially this dreary rainy weekend – open until 10 tonight (8 for the kids’ side), and all weekend. Here’s the website, you gotta check this out.
For the time being, I realize that you can’t play the audio file I included here. My hope is that someone will fix my blog while I am home sleeping today, and eventually it will work. Until then, just take my word for it – the girls screamed, it was scary, and a good time was had by all.
Friday, October 14th, 2011
So far this year I am a disappointing 42-26 straight up, but a decent 39-36-2 against the spread. And I have already won our workplace suicide pool after I took the Saints last week and everyone else took the Giants. Good thing I burned the Giants early, in Week 2! Here goes…
St. Louis at Green Bay (14.5) – Is any spread big enough for this game? The Packers go to 6-0 with ease against the banged-up, disappointing Rams. Packers, 42-13.
Real final score: Packers, 24-3. The real surprise here was that the defense managed to hold the Rams to just 3 points. End zone turnovers will do that.
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh (12) – I think the Steelers ought to win this game at home, but they haven’t shown me nearly enough this season yet to justify a twelve point spread. MJD will have a huge game again, and it’ll be a lot closer than this. Steelers, 23-20.
Real final score: Steelers, 17-13. It was a lot closer than 12 points. The Steelers truly don’t deserve any spreads this large, even against sub-par teams. Not right now.
Philadelphia (1.5) at Washington – Along with the Bills, the Skins have been the biggest surprise for me early in this season. And the Eagles are far and away the biggest disappointment thus far. That being said…I still think Washington will come back to earth, and I still think the Eagles will win this division. Of course, they have to win this game first. Eagles, 27-24.
Real final score: Eagles, 20-13. It begins.
San Francsico at Detroit (4) – The Niners proved me way, way wrong last week when I picked them to lose to the Bucs. How’d that turn out, anyway? I tuned out when they had a 37-point lead…I hate to pick against the Niners again, but…I just think the Lions match up too well on both lines to be denied. Yes, the Lions go to 6-0. Wow. Lions, 27-20.
Real final score: Niners, 24-19. Shouldn’t have picked against the Niners again. They are for REAL.
Carolina at Atlanta (4) – The Panthers have looked almost as good as the Falcons through the early going. Atlanta was an early Super Bowl favourite, now they are almost as disappointing as the Eagles. But at home, and against a rookie QB who’s still feeling out the NFL, they should be fine. And just squeak one out. Falcons, 30-27.
Real final score: Falcons, 31-17. It WAS in doubt until the final minutes…maybe Atlanta really has finally turned the corner.
Indianapolis at Cincinatti (7) – The Colts, still winless, ARE improving. And don’t let the Bengals’ top-rated defense fool you – they have yet to play ANY top-tier offenses. With Freeney and Mathis rushing a still-unproven rookie QB, I like Indy to at least keep it close. Bengals, 21-20.
Real final score: Bengals, 27-17. this was the most-winnable game I saw remaining on the Colts’ schedule. Could they go 0-16 without Peyton Manning? In a weird way, I kinda hope so!
Buffalo at New York Giants (3) – The Giants are favoured because they are at home, and people think the Bills are coming back down to earth. I disagree. I think there are still some serious flaws with New York, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and the Bills offense will have a great afternoon. Bills win outright. Bills, 33-30.
Real final score: Giants, 27-24. I really thought the Bills would come back to win after giving up only a FG in the closing minutes. Maybe the Giants defense is better than I thought?
Houston at Baltimore (8) – That loss to the Raiders – was it Houston playing down, Oakland playing up, or are the Raiders actually a better team? Or was it Al Davis? Like every other season, I don’t get the Texans at all, (or the Raiders for that matter) and I have no idea which team will show up anygiven week on their way to their customary disappointing 8-8 season. I’m guessing…the better Texans keep this one close. Ravens, 23-18.
Real final score: Ravens, 29-14. Bad Houston let this one get away quick in the second half.
Cleveland at Oakland (6.5) – Like I said, who frikkin’ knows which Raiders team shows up? Or which Browns team, for that matter. Here’s some total guessing – the Raiders will come down from their Al Davis-related high last week, the Browns will play well off the bye…and just barely lose. Raiders 27-26.
Real final score: Raiders, 24-17. It actually wasn’t even THIS close. The Raiders are, in fits and starts, putting together a pretty good team and could have a pretty good season.
Dallas at New England (7) – Remember last year? When Rob Ryan’s defense (he was with the Browns, remember) confused the hell out of Tom Brady and actually WON the New England game? Not that I have any confidence in Dallas or their offense, but this will be closer than 7. Patriots, 28-24.
Real final score: Patriots, 20-16. I love it when I’m so right. It makes up for the games where I am SO wrong. Like…
New Orleans (4.5) at Tampa Bay – The Bucs will be looking for redemption after getting hammered last week. The Saints too, for that matter, after barely escaping with a win. Saints, 30-23.
Real final score: Buccaneers, 26-20. Redemption for Tampa Bay, questions for the Saints. Maybe they really missed Sean Payton?
Minnesota at Chicago (3) – It was almost a miracle that Jay Cutler was sacked only THREE times against Detroit. Look for the Bears to try running it a lot, and only quick-hit passes. Which works perfectly for the Vikings, who still have a great run defense and a very fast pass rush. Vikings in the upset. Vikings, 21-14.
Real final score: Bears, 39-10. Dropped passes. Penalties. Missed tackles. Then, when they finally appear to have some momentum…they kick to Devin Hester. Whatever is wrong with the Vikings, it goes WAY beyond Donovan McNabb.
Miami at New York Jets (7) – The Jets have NOT looked good in recent weeks. Miami still has it in them to surprise a team or two, I think. But their defense ought to be way too much for Miami’s offense, and New York WILL win. Jets, 24-21.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
I have discovered my new favourite youtube channel. Remember that Taiwanese site that made awesome animations of notable events in the news? It’s like that…and it will be my favourite for at least another week, so I thought I’d share it with you now. I give you…the Bad Lip Reading channel!
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
I had an absolute blast over the weekend at the Arnprior fair grounds, as I attended the Fall Brawl dem0lition derby. I had actually just watched Grandview U.S.A., a silly movie from the 80s (just re-released on DVD yesterday, you demolition derby fans!) that had little to recommend it other than Jamie Lee Curtis’ young naked boobs and Patrick Swayze’s powermullet. See, Swayze is the superstar driver at the local demolition derby, and Curtis is the chick who runs the derby, cause that’s what her dead father would have wanted, and…I digress. Good boob scene, anyway.
I had laughed at the movie though because I thought it was implausible. I thought that demolition derbies were just people who showed up with old cars they didn’t care about any more, smashed them into each other in a ring, and then left their cars behind and went home. I didn’t realize they were actually competitive, well-attended events with prize money and fans and people who put a lot of time and effort into the cars! People care about demolition derbies!
Many of those people – more than 1,000, at least – live in Arnprior, and came out to see the Fall Brawl. Generous people, who put more than $500 bucks in a jug I took around the track to raise money for the Doc and Woody Fund for the operating rooms at CHEO. I hadn’t heard why I was taking the jug around, or what was happening, I just heard my name on the speaker and someone handed me the jug. It turns out it had something to do with a “powderpuff derby”, which was apparently me and several women. It consisted of everyone putting on cardboard boxes, and then the women knocked me over and sat on me. I’m still not convinced I ever understood what was going on there. But it raised $500 bucks! Somehow!
I had a great time walking around looking at the other derby cars and meeting the other drivers. There was a really nice guy from Quebec whose car said “fight woman cancer”. He gave me $5 right away when he found out I was doing this for CHEO, and he ended up in my heat with “CHEZ 106″ and “CHEO” emblazoned on the hood of his car. I think he may have actually gone back and spray-painted it on in the two intervening hours. Very cool.
Other cars had great stuff painted on them. Some professional stencils, other sponsors painted on with a paint brush, with occasionally accurate spelling. My favourites were two guys who had painted their phone numbers on their cars. One guy’s car said “Mr. Single”. They were my favourites because at first I thought – can that possibly work? And then I thought, two of them have done this. That means that somewhere, sometime, it actually DID work! For someone! Then I pictured the girls in the crowd with their cell phones out…maybe waiting there, thumb over the “send” button, waiting to see if the guy with the phone number car won his heat…that would mean he’d have an extra $100 and a trophy, which might make for a good date…
Then it was time for the real derby – there are rules and stuff! You can’t smash someone’s drivers’ side door. I guess that’s understandable, to avoid injuries. You are supposed to back into people, because that saves your car, and hitting them head-on can damage your engine. And you’re supposed to do a courtesy pass before starting to smash people. I guess that’s about it. Oh, you can’t gang up, and you can’t flip someone over intentionally. I think everything else goes.
Many people approached me to see if I was nervous. I wasn’t – I’ve crashed many a car in my life, and doing so on purpose couldn’t be that much different. You drive around. You smash stuff. How hard can that be? Also, I thought that the car the guys at Ed’s Auto Parts had built me was pretty much a tank, and few bad things could happen to me in that monster. I suspect the people asking me if I was nervous were doing so in order to make me nervous when I actually got in there – a lot of gamesmanship at these derbies, apparently – and there is more prize money at the Fall Brawl than at most of these things.
I watched some of the other heats, to see how people did it, and saw a couple of fires and a flip-over and a few violations and disqualifications. In the end though, it just looked like a lot of cars smashing into each other. I can do that. So I wasn’t nervous at all when I got in there. My two concerns were being able to drive with both feet instead of just my right foot, which was an unusual feeling, and being able to jam the car into reverse instead of park, which happened by accident quite often.
It began, and I drove around and smashed things. Driving backwards was hard, so I went for a few head-on collisions instead. After all, I was driving a monster Crown Vic ex-police car. I could survive a head-on smash or two. I got one guy pretty good, backed over another guy’s hood, then slowly drifted into the wall as my engine stopped. I figured I was out of it until Ed walked up on the sideline and told me I was stupid and I just had to press “start” again and the engine would catch. Turns out he was right, and thirty seconds later, after driving into the wall a couple of times and then putting it into park and then finally finding reverse, I was back in it.
I ended up finishing second in my heat. Thanks mostly, I think, to the badass car I had and the fact that I had taken a minute’s break by not being able to figure out the engine. At the end, I was pushed up against the wall by the eventual winner, and while trying to restart again and again, he was backing up and smashing into my car again and again. Two of my wheels ended up suspended on the wall, and I could no longer move, so I conceded. Then a backhoe came into the ring, pushed me off the wall and I drove out.
The car was still in great shape, apparently, although the wheels looked bent strangely to me. I could have driven again in the “grudge match”, which could have put me into the final, but I had to go – I had been there since 11:00, and it was now close to 6:00 in the afternoon. I expect with the grudge match, the engine blow-up event, the other heats and the finals the Fall Brawl probably went on until at least 9:00.
Big thanks to everyone from Ed’s Auto Parts – Ed, who organized the whole event and helped me a great deal – Richard, who helped build the car and worked on it so hard he ended up not being able to get his own ready in time for the event – Keith, who seemed pretty laid-back and good-natured about the whole thing, and was maybe the only person there who wasn’t constantly harping on how nervous I should be – and George, who was at his very first derby also, and reminded me of the coach from Bull Durham, when he was just observing the carnage and shaking his head at the silliness of it all. Great bunch of guys, and great people in Arnprior – when I left, they presented me with a cheque for the Doc and Woody Fund for $1,818.05, a huge donation from a great crowd. Thanks, Arnprior!