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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Week 9: Redemption Road

'cause all I ever have
Redemption songs...

We've all disappointed people in our lives, right?  Perhaps not to a "45-14 in Ann Arbor debacle" level but instances where one has had to rebuild trust or credibility.

For instance, I'll never get over blurting out the 1980 Winter Olympics 'Miracle on Ice" result to Lini, where an excitable, Boston-based Jerrence just had to tell someone, irrespective of whether they wanted to be surprised while watching on tape delay thousand miles away. Almost unforgivable.

Then there was the time an older Jerrence wrote an especially incendiary, if accurate, email to a client in China - where he had to go apologize in person. (He took days crafting that email so one can imagine the wordcraft... however misguided it might have been - my bosses loved it, SC Johnson less so.)

That was literally a 7,000 mile redemption road. And either ironically (or just an example of  'isn't Life crazy'), that client (a woman) ultimately became a really good ally when, later, I had a four month assignment in Shanghai.

C'mon, Jerry - let's get in the dorm... 
If memory serves, there was also a time where (Junior year?) Jerrence (who was not alone that evening) almost left Our Man Perez in a snowbank after a celebratory end-of-1st-semester-exams excursion to the bars.  

That would've been regrettable.

No surprise why I LOVE this book...

And it's still a family mystery why  The Fair Lisa married me, such was the periodic, profound disappointments my courtship presented to her.

The point (other than that I may be significantly more extreme on the standard bell curve distribution of 'flawed humans' than I realized) is this:  

Soundly beating a modestly talented Duke team on the road does not result in complete absolution for the mortal sin that was committed on October 26th.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph

As Jerrence watched the game, it became clear from the first offensive series:  the team looked more engaged, more aggressive, more confident... decisional... in their execution. 

Hmmm, he thought to himself.  That's new.

Still, he knew those efforts would do relatively nothing to edulcorate the Notre Dame fanbase in their attitude toward coaches Kelly and Long, and probably the QB as well.

They would likely remain in a bitter, prove-it-to-me mood for the duration of the season.

Actually longer.

Quote of The Day

"And though you think the world is at your feet, it can rise up and tread upon you..."

Ian McEwan

Did I mention that I think this book is one of the best written novels I've ever read?  And there's that road imagery again, full of surprise, looming disappointment and the implied question - what are you gonna do about it when Life does smack you down?

The ball's in your court, ND Football.

Game Observations

"Who are you?..
I really want to know..."

Don't get me wrong, Saturday was a blissfully stress-free, albeit unfamiliar,  viewing experience.  But even that doesn't come without some associated "where the f*** has this been all year" angst.  (I'm looking at you, offense,  since the D has been, more or less, pretty steady.)

So forgive me if I'm not yet able to say "we're cruising now!" - because I'm not sure what's real with this team.  Who they actually are.  It wouldn't surprise me if we revert back to your prior predictable alter ego.  

But hey, let's celebrate while we can.  Stick to basketball, Dookies.   

Other thoughts:

1.  Book.  Soooo much more decisive.  

2.  Long.  Why did it take nine games to figure out how to best use Book and Finke?

3.  RB's.   Perhaps it just Duke (though they were supposed to have a very credible D-line) but the RB's other than Armstrong looked pretty good. 

4.  Punt returns.  Have we returned to becoming Fair Catch U.?

5.  Tackling.  We are, to be charitable, hugely inconsistent.  Except for Alohi Gilman - he's consistently bad.

6. O-line.  Not a rhetorical question:  Does ANY team in America false start more than we do?  I bet there are Schools for The Deaf that false start less.

7. Score one for Rudy George?  Again, giving our QB perhaps more benefit of the doubt than is deserved, that last TD pass - the one where Brock Wright was WIDE open a few yards away from a closely covered George Takacs thought the ball went (successfully) to the latter - had to be a conscious choice.  

Q.  Why?!  It's not like he's a senior.  Weird. 

(BTW great catch, GT.)

8. Game of Attrition.  From here on out, the Irish will finish the season without four starters along each of the Offensive and Defensive lines:

  • Daelin Hayes (torn labrum)
  • Julian Okwara (broken fibula)
  • Tommy Kraemer (MCL)*
  • Robert Hainsey (fractured ankle)

he might be back for the bowl (but really, why do it)

Question of the Week

Looking ahead to this afternoon's game, I think I speak for most when I proffer that this is every season's ultimate love / hate game:  love what the opponent represents for our country, loathe a) their peskiness and b) the borderline dirty cut blocks that are the staple of their offense.  

So, from this week's Athletic Mailbag, how good is Navy, actually?

Buddy's Buddy

In the first of what could be... possibly... hopefully... a series of guest editorials, one Matthew Equanimeous Lindon, Esquire writes:

I saw the Duke game out of the corner of my eye during a dinner party last week, so I don’t have much to comment on.  All I saw was our young Quarterback passing and running around wildly and apparently successfully since they put up big numbers for him on the TV screen at the end of the game.  
More than that, he was smiling and joshing with his mates on the sideline, congratulating them on the team effort and he really seemed to be enjoying himself.  This seemed to be validating and vindicating for him after his terrible performance against Michigan, but it was to be expected after he finally got his Mojo back on the last drive against Virginia Tech.  
Run, Forrest, run!
This may be too much focus on one player and one position in one game but isn’t he the poster child for what this is all about; watching skilled young men come of age, despite the stiff competition, pressure and adversity they encounter, to become happy and successful in this game and the game of life.  
I felt proud for this young team which may not be top 4, or top 10 for that matter, but persevere to finish the season with character and discipline, pride, verve and style.  They don’t give up and I won’t give up on them.  We are in this together.  We are ND. 

True dat, Matt. 
Ian Book, your table is ready

Granted, it's the evening's first seating and you may likely be asked to leave in order to accommodate the prime time, more important customers - but let's revel in that you've made it in.

Cocktail of the Week
So, follow this train of thought:

>  Notre Dame plays Duke.
>  Duke is in the south (sort of).
>  William Faulkner wrote, incessantly, about The South.
>  I once took a Faulkner class with Jerry Perez.
>  Jerry Perez could kick the intellectual ass of any Duke literary poser.


As I Lay Drinking
As I Lay Dying (1930)
By William Faulkner

Faulkner wrote his 5th novel in about as many weeks, and it reads like it - inspired and wild, and spit out by 15 separate narrators in vexing, but thrilling , overlapping prose.  In a simple-enough-sounding story that follows one family on its journey to bury their mother.

Faulkner explores themes resonant with a post-World War II world, all rendered in his signature Southern style.  

Beat the heat with a party punch that ought to serve 15.  Or five, maybe, Stayer Lot attendees.   

* 1 liter whiskey
* 3  1/2 liters sweet tea 
* 1 liter cranberry juice
* 1 liter lemon-lime soda

Combine all the ingredients in a punch bowl and fill with ice.  Ladle into mason jars over fresh ice.  

Say RIP to your thirst.

Source:  Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita
by Tim Federle
Wager 2019 - Taking the Leap..

                                                                          Clowntime is over.
                                                                         Time to take cover.    
                                                                 While others just talk and talk
.                                                Somebody's walking where the others don't walk

Clowntime is indeed over.  We're approaching the point in the season where every game begins to really matter.  Lose and it's 'hasta la vista' Team 10.  Win and Team 8 also goes on the clock.

So much fun.

TC’s Keanu Analogy
ND Connection

The Matrix
 Okay, so I didn't entirely get this film's concept - just like I probably won't understand if / how we get to 11+ wins.  

But in our 'ends justify the means' world, who cares?  We won't.  The film's financial backers certainly didn't... 

Brian M
John P
Pat B

Spit the       Elder
Jim S
Daryl M
Dave M
Peter B
Paul B


 If one viewed this film in greater esteem, I wouldn't disagree.  I mean, Keanu + Sandy Bullock + Dennis Hopper + Jeff Daniels?  Hello...

The point is, like this film, 10 wins would be considered very satisfying to if not all, a lot of folks,  including me.

Dave G.
Bryan G
Tim C
Kevin C
Joe S
Bob J
Spit the  Younger
Jim B
Ward H
Jerry W
Tom F
Tim S
Mike G
Brian W
Dennis R
Ryan C


John Wick
 All you need to know is they killed his dog. Even for the professional hit man, that's harsh. 

All bets are off after that. 

Like this movie, a 9 win season will leave you conflicted - it could've been so much better.

But damn there's some fun bits mixed in.

Bill B.
Jim T.
Jerry P
Mike C.
Joel G.
Kevin M
Alex S
Gary H


Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Will you be happy with a 'regression to the mean' type season?

Of course not.

Just like I had such high hopes for this film - utterly ridiculous in every way possible, where one walks out thinking "WTF was that?" -- similar to a 7-8 win season.

John L
Ray V



Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
No one would ever call this great cinema but it was a bit of launching point for Keanu - and that's what one would hope 5 wins would be for ND... something to build on.


4 or less
The Replacements
Not, in fact, a bio-pic of the influential Minneapolis band (which, Keanu as Paul Westerberg would be BRILLIANT) - but rather a really bad football flick, even Keanu couldn't save this disaster.  

Honestly, there's no defense for this movie - just like a 4 win season.

Schedule - 2019

2      @ Louisville                W                    
14     New Mexico                W          
21    @ Georgia                     L                 
28    Virginia                        W                            

5      Bowling Green            W                           
12    USC                               W                                          
19     OPEN                                   
26   @ Michigan                  L                             

2      Va. Tech                       W                                  
9      @ Duke                        W                                  
16     Navy
23    Boston College                                          
30    @ Stanford                          

Schadenfreude of The Week

This time of year - when, after playing the Western Carolina Catamounts of the world, the SEC finally faces each other and screams 'strength of schedule' - thereby perpetuating the myth (?) that they're all awesome and hey, the final BCS four should really be LSU, Bama, Georgia and okay, maybe tOSU...

Yeah, right.

Okay, where was I?  

Oh yeah... this time of year, it's not a problem finding teams to revel in their losing.  This is the time of year when dreams get crushed, right?  "Close but no cigar."  Who doesn't love those kinds of stories, especially when it involves teams you really, really loathe.

So - this week:

1.  Alabama.  Did you know that,against the last two ranked teams 'Bama has played, they've given up 46 and 44 points?  And the narrative is that ND doesn't show up for big games?

BTW, I have COMPLETELY reversed field on my opinion on LSU's coach O - when he was at USC, total sleaze.   Now, lovable, often incomprehensible bayou sleaze. (Redundant?) 

Or maybe this is an example of 'the enemy of my enemy is my ally' but congrats, coach O.

And while I'm at it - nice Offensive Coordinator hire, coach O!  Let's hope our coach Kelly is taking note.

2.  Stanford.  File this under kicking someone when they're down AND LOVING IT.  Okay, I'm not proud about it.  Don't judge.  But let's hope this lack of success continues through the end of the month. 

3.  Michigan State.   I've lived / worked in Chicago long enough to remember when U. of Illinois sports - basketball and football were considered credible.  

That's decades ago.  

So to see Lovie Smith have some eye opening success of late (first, Wisconsin and now, Sparty) is pretty cool.  

And to have it come as part of an epic Mark Dantonio collapse is... fabulous.  

Terry's Trolls

With minimal fanfare:  

1.  Myles Garrett.   There's losing your temper, Myles, and there's freaking going TOTALLY UNHINGED.  


Especially given the in-game context... you're up by 14 pts. with, what, :08 left?!   And now you're gone for the season. 

At minimum. 

I read somewhere, "what if the QB on the receiving end of your helmet bludgeon had been Brady?  Rodgers?  Mahomes?  They'd be firing up Old Sparky.  

Instead, because you're super talented and the NFLPA will defend, you'll be back probably by Game 1 next year.   

Not sure your coach will, however. 

Add an asterisk in the record book? Probably not.
2.  Houston Astros.  It would appear we live in, increasingly, an "ends justify the means" world.  


But if true, however, one would have to give the Astros credit (?) for being ahead of the curve - stealing signs on the way to their 2017 World Series victory.  I found the following observation interesting (as well as the article here it comes from): 

"It's one thing to steal signs with your eyes.  We all do that.  It's another to do it electronically, and that's what they've been doing..."

3.  Malik McDowell. I am not such a complete tool myself to recognize that along the spectrum of exemplary bad behavior, more than a few of them likely represent genuinely sad, even tragic stories.  Such may be the case with Mr. McDowell, who is only here as an example of the Mark Dantonio Finishing School culture.

Fast summary:
  • 35th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, never plays a down
  • Arrested in February, charged w assault, resisting arrest and DUI
  • In April, charged w. receiving/concealing stolen property after being caught w. a stolen truck
  • Gets a 2nd drunken driving offense
  • Sentenced to 11 months in jail / 3 years probation

Coach Dantonio must be so proud.

Final Thought

As much as I love to mock the South* - and I really, really do - there's also an undeniable... is 'charm' the right word?

* I do not consider Florida part of the region (certainly not the west coast, Naples is basically Winnetka South).

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