On My Honor

I went to Book People Monday evening for a book signing. Governor Rick Perry was signing copies of his new book called On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting for. I picked up a copy for myself and another for my nephew Cameron who is an Eagle Scout. There was quite a crowd there and lines were long, but the Governor was cordial and I was able to get my photo taken shaking his hand.

As March Madness approaches I am always in the mood to read a good book or two about college basketball. Last year I read an excellent book, The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty by Adrian Wojnarowski as well as John Feinstein’s Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four. While Feinstein’s books are always well-written and his insights into the NCAA basketball championship were fascinating, the St. Anthony’s book was absolutely inspiring, and I sent an email to the author to tell him so. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great basketball book to get them primed for March Madness, even though the story revolves around a Catholic high school in New Jersey.

This year I selected two books: Bob Knight: The Unauthorized Biography by Steve Delsohn and Mark Heisler, and Bill Little’s Hoop Tales: Texas Longhorns Men’s Basketball – Great Moments in Team History. I’ll be the first to admit that Texas doesn’t have the legacy of a school like Kansas or North Carolina when it comes to basketball, so it’s not surprising that this book is only 168 pages long. The Knight book was an impulse selection based mostly upon his decision to retire this year. I’ve read about half of it. While interesting and certainly more up to date, it pales in comparison to John Feinstein’s excellent Season on the Brink that chronicled Knight’s 1985-1986 season coaching the Hoosiers.

I won’t deny that freshman Michael Beasley of Kansas State has incredible talent and certainly deserves consideration for player of the year honors in NCAA basketball. But maybe he needs a PR handler to help keep him from making declarations like this before a game like he did last night.

Beasley was held to 5 points in the first half, and 17 for the game as the unranked Nebraska Cornhuskers sent them home with a loss that cost them a share of first place in the Big 12.

My vote for player of the year goes to Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina. Check out the highlights from the ESPN video on this page. Hopefully the people who vote for the ESPN and AP Player of Year awards and the Naismith, Wooden, and Rupp awards were watching SportsCenter last night to see Beasley’s bold commentary and Hansbrough’s actions that speak louder than words.

When I played Little League my Dad was careful to explain that competition is good and winning is great, but how you play the game is what people remember. There are plenty of examples of professional and collegiate athletes and coaches who seem to have forgotten the concept of sportsmanship. Tonight I watched Dick Jauron, head coach of the Buffalo Bills, call a timeout while Nick Folk, the Cowboys rookie kicker, was kicking a 53 yard field goal to win the game. Nick then proceeded to kick another 53 yarder to win the game (again).

I saw the same tactic used by Florida Coach Urban Meyer and relished watching Wes Byrum, the Auburn kicker, nail his second attempt to give Meyer his first defeat at home. Meyer is lauded as a coaching mastermind and when I see him pulling lame stunts like that it’s a sure sign of desperation.

About the only thing that would have been more enjoyable in both circumstances would have been to have the coach call the last second timeout right before the opposing team’s kicker swings his leg and have the field goal attempt fail. Then since the attempt didn’t count (thanks to the timeout) the kicker gets a second try that sails through the uprights to give his team the victory. The first time that happens maybe these coaches who resort to such lame tactics at the expense of sportsmanship and their own reputation will think about all the ramifications instead of jumping on the “anything to win that there’s not a rule against” bandwagon.

My Fantasy Football team (the Garden Weasels) finally won a game! I’ve played in the same league for over a decade, and I think I’ve made the playoffs once. Of course every year I am convinced I will draft the magical combination of star players and breakout rookies who are on the verge of record-setting seasons that will win me the championship. And every year last year’s star doesn’t shine so bright once he’s my running back or quarterback (ie, Drew Brees this year) or an season-ending injury removes my top scorer in Week 2.

Our league is called the Apple Fantasy Football League (AFFL) because when David Bourland originated it back in the mid-90’s all of the participants were Apple employees working in Austin. Less than half of our 12 team managers are still Apple employees. David deserves a lot of credit for originating the league back when being a commissioner meant spending hours compiling stats and standings manually.

This week my 1-3 Garden Weasels battle the 2-2 Scotty’s Longpunters who will have Brett Favre at the helm. My QB this week is Vince Young. Drew Brees is getting benched this week which means that he will surely set league records against Carolina.

Alison plays shortstopAlison plays short

Last Fall Alison played on a baseball team for the first time and really enjoyed it. She was one of two girls playing for the Diamondbacks of the South Austin Little League (SALSA). SALSA is one of the oldest Little Leagues in Texas

This year SALSA launched their first ever girls’ softball team, and Alison decided to join that team rather than play baseball. The team is called The Swingin’ Bats and is coached by a former Stanford softball player and a current softball player, so the girls are getting first-rate instruction.

Last weekend the Swingin’ Bats played their first game at the home field of the Lake Travis Racers. The offensive showdown ended in a 15-15 tie. You can view pictures of the game here.