Monday, October 9, 2017

Chorizo Sloppy Joe

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Diamondbacks

It looks like autumn, even if the temperatures don't exactly feel like autumn. The sunsets are a little more golden, the leaves are starting to accumulate on the lawn, and the baseball is full of drama. 

The Dodgers-Dbacks has been the least drama-filled series so far, but all that could change if Arizona wins tonight. (After all, all Los Angeles has done so far is win at home. That's what they were supposed to do.)

This is exactly the kind of moment for which the Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish: to take the mound in a close-out game against Zack Greinke. 

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I saw a this jar of Sloppy Joe sauce on sale at Sprouts the other day. I haven't had a Sloppy Joe in my adult life. I figured why not try one?
  • For extra flavor, I decided to use chorizo rather than ground beef. 
  • I caramelized an onion for thirty minutes, then broke apart one pound of chorizo and cooked it in the same wok, which took about ten minutes. 
  • Then I dumped in the jar of sauce and let it all simmer for twenty minutes. 
  • I used a bolillo roll - a shorter version of a baguette, popular in Mexican bakeries. I sliced it open and dumped in a generous amount of the meat and sauce. 
  • I then topped it with queso blanco and pickled jalapeños. 
  • It may have been a long time since I've eaten a Sloppy Joe, but I feel confident saying this was the best of my life. 
  • Because of the Mexican influences, I considered calling this a Sloppy José. I thought that was clever. Then a quick Google search revealed that Rachel Ray came up with that idea years ago. So... no fucking way. 

NOTES ON THE GAME:
  • I've never been to Chase Field. When it opened it was called Bank One Ballpark. In my early 20s, I moved to Colorado and opened a checking account with Bank One. They offered me two tickets to a game at Bank One Ballpark or a record player. I chose the record player. I didn't own any records but Phoenix was 800 miles away. I never really thought about what a strange promotion that was until just now. 
  • Chris Taylor leads off with a double and comes around to score after a fly ball and groundout to first. That's some old-school run manufacturing, but the run counts just the same. 
  • It takes Greinke 29 pitches to make it through the 1st. That's not good. 
  • Ketel Marte drops down an outstanding bunt to break up Darvish's perfect game... with one out in the 1st.  
  • Announcer: "Some might say [Chase Utley's] the guy who started the wheels rolling in the changes to the slide rule at second base." Yes, some might say that. Also, everyone might say that. 
  • 25 pitches in the 2nd for Greinke. 54 after two innings. That's really not good. 
  • The Yankees beat the Indians to force the deciding Game 5 on Wednesday evening. That will be fun. 
  • The Dodgers are laying off everything outside of the strike zone so far. This is some ridiculous discipline. I have to ask... is anyone in their dugout wearing an Apple Watch?
  • (Probably not - the Dodgers are 0-5 with RISP. They should be up by more than 1-0.)
  • Darvish threw seven pitches in the 3rd. How envious do you think Greinke is?
  • After 4 innings, Greinke has thrown 88 pitches... but he's only allowed two hits and it's still 1-0. You don't see a line like that very often.
  • He couldn't skate by forever, though. Cody Bellinger doubles up the lead on a crushed home run. 2-0 Dodgers.
  • In the bottom of the inning, Bellinger falls over the dugout railing to make a catch that we will be seeing on highlight clips for years to come. 
  • Greinke comes out to start the 6th - despite being over 100 pitches - and immediately surrenders a home run to Austin Barnes. 3-1 Dodgers. 
  • Darvish is done in the 6th after he hits Christian Walker in the helmet. The crowd boos loudly, as if Darvish intentionally hit a .250 hitter with a two-run lead in a playoff game. 
  • Tony Cingrani comes in, throws two pitches, gets the double play, and gets pulled. What exactly does a relief pitcher do when he's pulled after two pitches? Does he take a shower? Does he get a massage? 
  • Maeda and Jansen pitch scoreless 8th and 9th innings, respectively, and the Dodgers complete the sweep. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chicken Karaage with Swiss Chalet Sauce

 THE GAME: Twins vs Yankees

On the last night of spring in 2003, I sat in the Epicenter and watched Ervin Santana throw the best game I have ever seen in the minors. I don't remember his final line (and I can't find the boxscore anywhere online) but I think it was 7, maybe 8 innings pitched, and one hit.

But more impressive than the numbers was the movement on his pitches. He was 20 years old and throwing not only blazing fastballs, but major-league-quality sliders. He only started 20 games for the Quakes - then the Angels High-A team - that season before moving on to AA, and in less than two years he would make his first start in Anaheim.

"This kid is going to be a superstar," I said that night to my dad and my friend Tom.

Was I right?

No.

But... Ervin has played fourteen seasons, made two All-Star teams, made 98 million dollars, and pitched the first Angels no-hitter I ever saw.

So it's definitely been a good career.

And tonight he starts against the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. It seems like everyone has written in the Yankees to advance, but that's why they play the games.

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I mentioned last month, when writing about The Big Mc, that my friend Marina had brought me back some condiments from a vacation to Canada. A packet of this dipping sauce mix from Swiss Chalet was included. 
  • I have never been to Swiss Chalet. Until she gave me this packet, I had never heard of Swiss Chalet. It's a casual dining chain in Canada. Their specialty appears to be rotisserie chicken, though this sauce seems to be served with everything on their menu. 
  • As per in the instructions, I brought the powder (and some water) to a boil and then let it simmer. 

  • I took four pieces of boneless, skinless thigh-meat chicken, and trimmed the excess fat. I prefer white meat chicken to dark meat, but when you're frying it, always choose the latter. White meat chicken usually turns to rubber when fried. 
  • How long do you think it took me to grab this jar of "Triple Garlic" teriyaki sauce off the shelf the first time I saw it? That's right, less than one second. 
  • I marinated the chicken overnight in the sauce, adding only some fresh ginger. There may be an Asian food that is better without ginger, but I haven't encountered it yet. 

  • I drained the chicken, tossed it in potato starch, and fried it up for roughly five minutes. 
  • It was the best karaage I've ever made. It was in the Top 3 that I have ever had, anywhere. 
  • The Swiss Chalet sauce was kind of like a light gravy. Or perhaps a spiced broth. Either way, I really enjoyed it with the fried chicken. I'm not sure if I would enjoy it with rotisserie chicken - and I'm definitely not sure I would enjoy it with french fries - but the salty tang of the sauce did a nice job coating the crunchy chicken. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Yes, the Yankees are one of my five least-favorite teams in baseball... but I have to admit: I love it when there is October baseball in the Bronx. (Unless Bob Costas is calling the game.)
  • Commercial Note: ESPN has been running a commercial for several days with the voiceover "No fear: The American League Wild Card Game, Tuesday night." Sorry... but what the fuck does "no fear" mean? Are there some kind of new rules this year? Does the losing team get fed to the lions? Are they forced to sit out the 2018 season? What exactly is there to be afraid of?
  • Christ, ESPN just called Yankee Stadium "one of the great sports cathedrals of all time." No, it's not. It was built eight years ago. It has hosted one World Series. There was a Yankee Stadium that saw the Yankees win 26 World Series, but that was across the street and it was torn down .
  • I was kind of hoping that the Yankees would win this game, just because I think they will provide a tougher matchup for the Indians… but screw it, now I want the Twins to win, just to depress everyone at ESPN.
  • Brian Dozier leads off the game with a homer for the Twins. If this games ends 1-0,  I will buy a Twins hat and wear it for one week.
  • Eddie Rosario hits a line-drive homer that may have peaked at 25 feet. That's not a home run in any other stadium in baseball. 3-0 Twins. Good, I really didn't want to buy a Twins hat.
  • Former Yankee Aaron Boone: "This is the ultimate nightmare happening in the first inning." The woman in line ahead of me at the grocery store today was buying flowers for her daughter who was at the massacre in Las Vegas on Sunday night. But sorry about your nightmare, Aaron. 
  • Severino has been yanked after 1/3 of an inning. This game is going to last five hours, isn't it?
  • Ervin issues a leadoff walk to the Yankees. Those never come back to bite you, right?
  • Didi Gregorius hits a three-run homer. Tie game. Ervin Santana immediately gave back the 3-0 lead his team got him. Not a single Angels fan anywhere in America is the tiniest bit surprised.
  • The first inning finally ends after something like 55 minutes. 
  • The two teams almost made it through the second inning without giving up a homer. But Ervin allowed another one with two outs. 4-3 Yankees. 
  • The teams have combined for FOUR home runs in two innings. The starting pitchers combined for 2 and 1/3 innings. 
  • Aaron Judge hits a homer in the 4th inning. It's another one of those classic Yankee Stadium homers - it barely cleared the fence in left; it might not even be a double in any ballpark on the West Coast - but it still counts the same, and Judge runs around the bases screaming like he hit a 500-footer. 
  • Semi-random question: Is there any way Bryce Harper doesn't sign with New York in 14 months? If he's healthy, will he hit 75 homers in this park?
  • Finally we've reached the midway point, two hours and twenty-four minutes after the broadcast began.
  • No runs were scored in the 5th inning. I didn't realize that was allowed. 
  • I'm trying really, really hard to come up with a scenario in which either of these teams takes three out of five games against Cleveland. 
  • I cannot.
  • I've written many times that despite the fact I have watched thousands of games in my life, I still often see something for the first time. The Twins batter was just tagged out after he completely missed stepping on first. Like, it wasn't close. 
  • Chapman coming in to close for the Yankees. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Yankees win 8-4. The only thing really surprising is that the game finished in about four hours. I thought after the first two innings that we were headed for 5+ hours. 
  • I guess a team that finished 17 games back in their division shouldn't be in the postseason. Who knew?

Friday, September 29, 2017

KFC Georgia Gold Chicken Sushi

THE GAME: USC vs Washington State

I have no idea what is going to happen with this game. Like, none. 

Washington State appears to have an outstanding offense. Luke Falk is still their quarterback (which is hard to believe, as I feel like he's been there at least 8 years) and he's damn good. Meanwhile, USC's defense has not been as good as expected, and the game is in Pullman. The place will be rocking. So a WSU victory would not surprise me. 

On the other hand, USC has played a much tougher schedule than WSU. And it's always a mistake to overlook an undefeated team simply because it hasn't looked as good as you expected; the obvious question becomes "If they're winning every game when they don't look dominant, what happens if they do play up to their potential?" So USC - and especially Darnold - playing their best game of the season and winning would not surprise me, either. 

Either way, I expect both teams to put up a fair amount of points. I'm really looking forward to this one. (And, I've gotta admit, I love having a big game on a Friday night.)

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • For years, KFC was my least-favorite fast food chain. I won't go into all the reasons, I'll keep it short: I thought all of their food sucked. 
  • Then, at the beginning of the year, they came out with Georgia Gold Chicken. I freaking love this stuff. I mean, the chicken is mostly the same below-average stuff I dislike, but the sauce is addictive. It's a honey mustard with, as far as I can tell, a lot of brown sugar and a little bit of oil. 
  • I've tried multiple times to clone the sauce to make a dish of my own, but I just can't get it right. So I decided to pick up an order and just use that instead. 

  • I pulled out a sheet of nori and topped it with sushi rice.
  • Then a layer of KFC's cole slaw - I'm not a big fan, but it comes with the chicken so I figured I might as well use it.
  • I placed the biggest of the chicken tenders on top. 

  • I rolled it up like any other sushi roll and sliced it with my sushi knife. 
  • And, since I love that sauce so much, I took the extra out of the plastic KFC tray and drizzled it over the "sushi."
  • I was worried that this might suck. It did not. It was absolutely fantastic. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • In the first two minutes of the broadcast, the announcers have mentioned the "PAC-12 After Dark" gimmick twice. I know it sounds kind of corny, but I like it. (I especially loved it years ago when I was on the East Coast for a couple of football seasons - it was always fun to end the evening with a late-night football game from the West.)
  • I met a bunch of WSU fans in Pasadena two years ago the night before they played UCLA. They were nice people, but extremely arrogant football fans, especially considering they haven't won the Rose Bowl since 1916. 
  • WSU is in Pullman, WA. It's the only PAC-12 city to which I have never been, and I cannot foresee any circumstance in which that changes. 
  • On WSU's first possession, a receiver dropped a touchdown on third down and they had to settle for a field goal. On their second possession, a receiver dropped a first down pass and they had to punt. They can't afford to do that too many more times. 
  • Darnold just threw his 7th INT of the season. He only had 9 all of last year. 
  • Woah - the mayor of Pullman is also the PA announcer at the stadium. That makes me happy. I wonder if he's also tax collector, captain of the fire brigade, and chairman of the non-partisan Anti-Chinese League. 
  • The announcers just made a point about how USC is using three backup offensive lineman... and then Ronald Jones breaks off an 86-yard touchdown run. 
  • And then the announcer mentions McDonald's in the same sentence as Whataburger, Popeyes, and Five Guys. This is obviously the B team tonight. 
  • On WSU's first play from scrimmage after the SC touchdown, USC intercepted the ball at the WSU three-yard-line
  • WSU holds them to a field goal. That was huge. (17-10 USC instead of 21-10.)
  • WSU scores a touchdown with 13 seconds left in the half and we're tied at 17 at the break.
  • WSU's last two punts went 19 yards and 17 yards. I'm not sure I've ever seen two back-to-back punts so awful.
  • USC kicks a field goal and it's tied at 20 after three quarters. This hasn't been as exciting as I'd hoped for. Both teams have made several errors and look out of sync. 
  • The teams traded touchdowns and it's tied again with five minutes left, which means the 4th quarter is already more exciting than the whole 3rd quarter was. 
  • WSU opted to take a field goal and a three-point lead rather than go for it on 4th-and-2 from the 15. Not exactly the ballsy move for a "pirate" like Mike Leach. I always knew he was an asshole; I didn't realize what a phony he is, too. 
  • Darnold fumbles the ball and WSU recovers. That saved Leach from having to answer why he went conservative. I was sure USC was going to drive the field and win. (Just like the Patriots did to the Texans last Sunday in a very similar scenario.)
  • WSU wins 30-27.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Jalapeño Fritos Crunch Burrito

THE GAME: Angels vs Astros

It's been more than two years since the Angels have been on Sunday Night Baseball.

Because they've been anywhere from lousy to... mediocre.

But a couple of weeks ago, ESPN decided to showcase the Angels and Astros on this season's final broadcast of Sunday Night. Because at the time, the Angels were in possession of the second Wild Card spot, and it looked like they might make a run at the first spot. This game looked like it might be a big one.

And then the Angels went 4-11 to fall out of the Wild Card race.

So, like, nevermind this being an important game.

But, as I wrote, it's been two years, so I'm gonna watch.

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • I don't like the beef they use at Taco Bell. I imagine this isn't a shock to anyone - their number one priority is cost, not quality. But I do like their seasoning. So sometimes I buy a packet and make it with USDA Prime beef from the butcher. 

  • Cheddar is far from being my favorite cheese, but damn, it's delicious with ground beef tacos or burritos. Tillamook's "Extra Sharp Cheddar" is my first choice for such occasions. 
  • I went to the Tillamook factory once when I was a kid. I don't remember much about it other than all the employees wearing hairnets. I wish I could look at the photos my parents took, however for some reason they decided that they would take slides instead of photos that vacation. "Whenever we want to look at photos from this trip, we can have a slide show!," one of them exclaimed. Almost 30 years later, you can probably guess how many times that's happened. (Hint: zero.) Whatever, I digress. 
  • Dave's Gourmet Korean Food has featured here before. Their products are the best, and the pickled jalapeños are no exception. 

  • I'm not a huge fan of regular Fritos, but tI love the other flavors. Chili Cheese might be my favorite, and Bar-B-Q isn't far behind. I've only had these Spicy Jalapeños Fritos once (tonight), but I love them as well. 
  • The best Fritos I ever had? Texas Grill. When I was a freshman in college there was a vending machine right outside my dorm room that stocked Texas Grill Fritos. They had grill marks on them. I'm not making that up. I don't think I've ever encountered a single individual who even remembers them, much less loved them. Here's a picture, lest you think I'm just making this up: 

  • So everything - seasoned meat, cheese, pickled jalapeños, Jalapeño Fritos, and a drizzle of street taco sauce - went into a large tortilla.
  • It was the best burrito I've had this year. 

NOTES ON THE GAME:
  • The Twins gave the Angels every chance to take the Wild Card this past week. All the Angels had to do in the last 6 games was go 3-3 and they would be right in the thick of it. They went 0-6. Yes, they were playing the Indians and Astros, the two best teams in the AL, but still, 0-6 is atrocious.
  • That being said, I hate the Wild Card - especially the second Wild Card -  so I can't really complain. The Angels are 19 games back of the Astros. They have no business playing October baseball. 
  • Ditto the Twins, who are 16 games back of the Indians. Some people call me a "baseball purist" and love to talk about how much more exciting October baseball is with more teams. And they're not wrong. However, it comes at the expense of the regular season. I could write 10,000 words on the subject, or I could just say that no team that finds itself 16 games back in the last week of the season deserves a chance to play in the World Series. 
  • Not surprisingly, the announcers start the broadcast by talking about how great Mike Trout is. Dan Shulman just called him "vintage Mike Trout." This confirms something that we already know: these guys pay no attention to what's going on with baseball west of the Mississippi. Hell, probably not even west of I-95. 
  • Mike Trout's numbers for the season look good, but that's because he was absolutely fantastic earlier in the year. For the last five weeks, he has been average by most standards, and downright lousy by his. Five weeks ago, Trout's average was .348. At first pitch tonight, it's .307. It is not easy to lose more than 40 points off your average in August and September.
  • But even his batting average doesn't tell the whole story. Trout has played 921 games for the Angels. I would guess that I have watched 850 of them. I have never seen him look worse than he has over the last month. Part of it is bad luck - his BABIP over that period is comically bad - but overall he just looks lost. Staring at meatballs right down the heart of the plate. Swinging late. Popping up balls he normally crushes. It's unexplainable; it feels like more than just slumping.
  • (Then he gets a double with his first hit tonight.)
  • In 20 games batting cleanup with the Angels, Justin Upton is hitting .282 with six homers. Not Hall-of-Fame-level, but a massive step up from the Ghost of Albert Pujols.
  • Of course, almost anyone would be an improvement over Albert, who is having the worst season by a 37-year-old in the history of baseball
  • ESPN shows a clip of Pujols's home run off Brad Lidge in the 2005 NLCS. I never get tired of seeing that. What a monster shot. 
  • Woah - the Astros just got 2 two-out hits and ran themselves out of the inning: Altuve got caught between third and home. I did not expect that.
  • Aaron Boone: "I didn't realize how special Simmons was until we saw the replay." Yeah, because you only pay attention to the AL East. We've been over this. 
  • The Angels get their first run when Bregman tries to go for the double play instead of getting Maldonado at home. Huge break for the Angels and horrible decision for the Astros. Maldonaldo would have been out by 15 feet. He's the slowest Angel I've ever seen not named Pujols. (Earlier this year, Maldonado hit into the first triple play I've ever seen an Angel hit.)
  • Here's the shift the Astros use on Pujols. Correa plays 190 feet from home in left field - because Pujols is so slow he can be thrown out from there: 
  • Tyler Skaggs hits his second batter of the game with two outs. I doubt he'll ever be as frustrating as C.J. Wilson, but sometimes my emotions watching him are the same: he's got such good stuff, and yet he's so scared to go after hitters. He's much more inclined to nibble around the corners of the plate. 
  • As soon as I finish typing that, Skaggs gives up a home run to the next batter. 2-1 Astros. See, Tyler, this is why you don't try to be cute with two outs. 
  • And then TWO more walks and a double. 4-1 Astros. 
  • So, a hit-by-pitch, home run, two walks and a double, all with two outs. You know what? Maybe he will become as frustrating as C.J. What a pussy. 
  • Trout with his second hit of the game (after going hitless the last two).
  • Two out and two on with the Angels down by two and Pujols coming up. There was a time when opposing fans would be terrified in this circumstance. But it's been a while. (Hey, at least Albert can't ground into a double play - something which he leads the league in this year, yet again.)
  • Three consecutive walks to Pujols, Phillips, and Simmons. Tied at 4, bases still loaded. 
  • This game has been going on for two hours and we're only at the halfway point. 
  • Another Aaron Boone gem: "The Astros are a team that, if they went on to win the World Series, it would not surprise me." They have the third-best record in all of baseball, behind only the Indians and Dodgers. No, it would not surprise me, either. 
  • The Angels leave two more on base in the 6th. They are now 0-10 with runners in scoring position. 
  • The Angels finally get a hit with a runner in scoring position in the 7th. Unfortunately, that runner was Pujols, so he had no chance to score from second base. 
  • Luis Valbuena hits a two-run double on the 11th pitch of the at-bat. I've been watching Valbuena (or Nobuena, as most Angels fans call him) all year. He's hitting .194; he's been truly terrible. That was easily his best at-bat of the season. 
  • 6-4 Angels. This is their first two-run lead since last Saturday. Talk about a lousy week.
  • That lasted... one pitch. Cam Bedrosian came in for the Angels and George Springer hits the first pitch for a homer. One fucking pitch. 
  • Justin Upton got that run back with his 7th home run of the month and 3rd in two days. I never thought I'd see the month when Justin Upton was doing more for the Angels than Mike Trout.
  • Blake Parker gets the save in the 9th inning and the Angels finally get a win for the first time in eight days.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

GameDay Eating vs. McDonald's McDouble

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Phillies

If you told me that Clayton Kershaw has a losing record against two National League teams, I would have two reactions.

The first would be to say "Really?" This is the seventh season in a row that I have considered him the best pitcher in the NL.

My second reaction would be to try and guess the two teams. It wouldn't be one of the teams in the NL West; the more Kershaw has played a team, the more likely he has a winning record, obviously.

My first guess would have been the Cardinals. I don't have any regular-season anecdotes, just the memory of Kershaw struggling against the Cards in the postseason, so it would seem a logical guess. (And also, you've probably figured out, an incorrect one: Kershaw is 6-5 against St. Louis.)

My next guess would have been Cincinnati. Again, no evidence off the top of my head, but Great American Ballpark is a homer-happy park, so I would have guessed maybe he'd had a couple of bad starts and has a losing record against the Reds. (Again wrong: he is 3-2 against Cincinnati.)

It turns out his losing records are against the Pirates (2-3) and Phillies (3-4).

But the Phillies this year ain't what they have been. So I'm guessing it doesn't happen today.

I decided to do another competition this evening. For National Cheeseburger Day, I'm taking on one of my favorite fast food cheeseburgers.


NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I've mentioned before that I'm not really a McDonald's fan, but for some reason I love their McDouble. 
  • The beef I used is USDA Prime from my local butcher. I grilled it on cast iron, rehydrated some onions, and used Bubbies pickles. 

  • Two patties and a slice of McDonald's cheese weighed 2.54 ounces. How the hell is that possible? One-ounce burger patties?
  • I thought I was making my patties ridiculously small - please believe me when I say that I have made more than 500 burgers in my life, and never have I made a burger patty this small - but mine still clocked in 3.74 ounces, a full 68% larger than McDonald's. 
  • I used a slice of Tillamook cheddar.

  • I'm not scoring this one round by round, because if I did, what I'm about to tell you won't make any sense: I liked the McDouble more. 
  • Every ingredient I used was higher quality - with the possible exception of the bun; I love McDonald's regular white buns - and it's possible that if I served these two burgers to ten friends, every single one of them might prefer mine. 
  • But when combining everything together, the McDonald's burger always provides an umami sensation that my burger just didn't. 
  • I can make a burger that I vastly prefer to the Big Mac - as I did a couple of weeks ago. I can make a version of the Double-Double that I like more. Five Guys, Fatburger, Shake Shack... all great burgers, but I would not be afraid to go up against any of them. But I'm not sure if I can make a better version of McDonald's $1.39 burger.  


NOTES ON THE GAME
  • Chris Taylor hits an inside-the-park home run on the second pitch of the game. How many inside-the-park leadoff homers have you ever seen? Alcides Escobar had one in the World Series two years ago; that's the only other one I can remember. 
  • Justin Turner hits a (traditional) homer run on the 5th pitch of the game.
  • Kershaw gives up an infield single in the first inning that bounced off his glove. That's just bad luck.
  • Chase Utley gets a standing ovation from the Philly fans. So Santa Claus gets booed but Utley and Mike Trout get cheered? That's cool with me. 
  • The last Dodger to lead off a game with an inside-the-park homer? Dave Roberts in 2003. How do you like that?
  • Puig hits into a 5-4-3 double play. Has he gotten slower? (Mike Trout certainly has, so it's possible Puig has, too.)
  • Joe Davis just asked if Orel Hershisher could name the four pitchers who have each won four or more Cy Young Awards. It took him several hints (and wrong guesses) to get them. That surprised me. 
  • Philly gets their second hit - and first non-lucky one - in the 4th inning. Dammit, Clayton, pull your head out of your ass!
  • Justin Turner just made one of the longest throws you'll ever see from third to first base. That's worth seeking out the video if you have a spare moment. 
  • Kershaw has loaded the bases in the 6th - and two of them came on walks. I have a bad feeling about this. He's missing his spots. 
  • Yep, sure enough: the next batter hits a grand slam. That's the first grand slam Kershaw has given up. In his entire career. It's been that kind of September for the Dodgers. 
  • That was the 104th batter Kershaw has faced in his career with the bases loaded. The previous 103 had hit .193 with 34 strikeouts and, obviously, 0 home runs. 
  • The umpires come out in the top of the 9th to check the Phillies pitcher's hat. It's covered with rosin and Hershisher starts complaining about how that shouldn't be allowed. Finally Joe Davis quiets him by saying "Right... it's been checked at this point." Translation: "Shut up and stop whining, Orel."
  • Granderson with a solo homer with one out. The Dodgers have two outs to get one run. 
  • They cannot. Phillies win 4-3. They got all the runs on one pitch. 
  • Kershaw wasn't great in that 6th inning, but the offense scored two runs in the first five pitches and then nothing until the solo homer in the 9th. 
  • If that doesn't cut it against one of the worst teams in baseball, that probably won't cut it in the postseason. 
  • Any rate, Kershaw is now 3-5 against the Phillies and I was totally wrong about him having a great game.
  • The Dodgers are now 5-13 in September. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tri-Tip Sandwich

THE GAME: Packers vs Falcons

I was all set to watch and write about the Dodgers vs. Nationals on Sunday Night Baseball. As I have written, that's probably my favorite show of all time; there is nothing better than an ending the weekend by relaxing with some afternoon/evening baseball. And those two teams have long been my pick for the NLCS - the Nationals were my World Series pick last year; the Dodgers this year - so it was a no-brainer.

But two things changed my mind. First, Kershaw is pitching against the Phillies tomorrow. Kershaw is one of the great pitchers of all time and the Phillies are one of the two worst teams in baseball this season. That sounds like a more fun game to blog.

Secondly, more importantly, yesterday was the worst decision I have ever made in more than a year of this blog. I thought Louisville was going to give Clemson a good game and I thought USC would manhandle Texas. The former was no contest; the latter was one of the most exciting games I have seen in years.

My instincts failed me. So I'm not trusting them tonight. It's NFL instead.

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • Tri-tip is a triangular cut of muscle from the bottom sirloin of a cow. There is not much fat to it, hence not a lot of flavor, so for a long time it was a relatively worthless cut of cattle. Then someone figured out that if you cover it with spices and cook it to medium-rare over oak, it yields a delicious steak. 
  • My technique - which I employed on Saturday for some friends - is too grill it indirectly with a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red wine. The corners will be medium, the rest of the meat getting progressively rarer as you move towards the center of the cut.
  • There was plenty left over, so this evening I carved it up and bought a fresh roll at the market. 

  • I steamed the meat for five minutes to warm it up. Under no circumstances would I reheat this in the microwave - more than any other cut of meat, tri-tip becomes rubber when you reheat it that way. 
  • I then placed two slices of Muenster cheese on top of the meat and threw it under the broiler for three minutes. 

  • Gates BBQ's original sauce is probably my favorite tomato-based barbecue sauce in America. (Some days it's Rudy's "sause," from Texas - but it's ALWAYS one of those two sauces.) 

  • A local supermarket labels this "Chinese" cole slaw. I have no idea why, other than I guess because it's got some crunchy noodles in it. Whatever, it's still delicious. The sweetness of the slaw is a nice contrast to the peppery barbecue sauce. 
  • As often happens with leftovers, this sandwich was much better than the meat had been on Saturday. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I was in high school the last time Los Angeles had two NFL teams. I had totally forgotten how much it sucks to have to watch the local teams on TV when there are better - or at least more interesting - games. Now I remember. Instead of getting to watch the Cowboys at Broncos today, I was shown the Rams and Redskins. 
  • Local commercials - especially on radio - tried to convince us over the last week that the Rams are good this year because they beat up on the (literally Luck-less) Colts last weekend. To the surprise of no one, they lost at home to the Redskins today. 
  • I've been to Georgia five times, but never Atlanta. It's the 38th-largest city in America. The only larger cities to which I have not been are Detroit and the Texas trio of Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Austin. Just thought I'd share that with you. 
  • Al Michaels informs us that this is Mike McCarthy's 12th season with Green Bay. It's funny how fast time goes by as you get older. It seems like McCarthy was just hired maybe 5 years ago. Back when I was a teenager, Mike Holmgren was the head coach for only 7 seasons, but in my memory it feels like he was there 20 years. 
  • It's tied at 7 after one quarter. Neither team looking all that great, but Green Bay looks flat-out bored.
  • 24-7 Atlanta at the half. Aaron Rodgers is 10/18 with 1 interception. That's pretty awful. Did I choose the wrong game for the second night in a row?
  • Atlanta has this game won, right? I'm trying to remember if they've ever blown a big lead before.
  • Commercial Note: Man, Wienerschnitzel is really pushing their "gourmet sausages." I was thinking of hosting an Oktoberfest BBQ in a couple of weeks - to watch college football and MLB playoffs - with some of those bratwurst I wrote about yesterday. But maybe I'll just get Wienerschnitzel catering. 
  • Rogers opens the second half with a fumble - more precisely a perfect lateral that hit the ground - and Atlanta recovers and takes it in for a score. 31-7. 
  • BTW, there is a Chick-fil-A in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but like all Chick-fil-As, it's closed on Sundays. Which means it will be open for exactly one Falcons game this year - a Thursday night game in December. 
  • Chick-fil-A's honey mustard is my favorite fast food honey mustard. That doesn't have anything to do with this game, but there really isn't much else to say. The Packers are getting their asses kicked. 
  • Down by 24, Green Bay kicks a field goal on 4th and goal. That's the spirit, guys. Now you're only down 21. 
  • (The Nationals are beating the Dodgers 7-1 at the moment, so this isn't nearly as egregious as yesterday's decision.)
  • All of a sudden the Packers have scored two touchdowns and it's an 11-point game. I cannot tell you how much I would love to see Atlanta blow a 24-point lead here. (But I would be shocked if that happened. )
  • Yeah, Atlanta wins by 11. It really didn't even feel that close. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Currywurst

THE GAME: Clemson vs Louisville 


It was overcast all morning, with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures in the afternoon - a nice break from what has been a very warm summer. It's not exactly autumn - it doesn't really feel like autumn here until the last week of October or so - but if you squinted your eyes just so, it wasn't too hard to pretend. 

So I decided to make one of my favorite autumn football eats: bratwurst. 

Part of me wants to watch USC vs. Texas just out of nostalgia for that epic Rose Bowl game almost 12 years ago... but I really don't think it will be much of a game. (I've hooked up my desktop monitor to the Roku, and I'll be streaming that game without volume, but I'm expecting USC's offense to absolutely steamroll the Longhorns.) 

Clemson and Louisville on the other hand? The defending National Champions on the road against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner? I can't pass that up. 

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I picked up a few bratwursts at the butcher, and grilled them in the cast iron pan, with about half a bottle of beer to steam them as well.
  • When finished - it took about 15 minutes - I cut them up into thick pieces. 

  • The wine country of the Central Coast, the Columbia River Gorge, and the French Quarter are my three favorite places in America. But not too much further down the list would be the 50%-off shelves at Cost Plus World Market. That's where I found this bottle of sauce a couple of weeks ago. Currywurst sounded much better than just bratwurst on a bun. 
  • I poured a little less than a cup of the sauce into a small pan, threw in a few hunks of brats, and heated it until it was all warmed through. 
  • Then I sprinkled some curry powder over the whole thing and dug in. I absolutely loved these. I can't wait to make them again (I still have more than half the bottle left) when it actually feels like autumn. 


NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I got up at dawn and watched all of College GameDay. Did anyone else catch (64-year-old) Rick Pitino wearing a skintight Lamar Jackson jersey? That was... interesting. 
  • Damn, the other TV is showing Vince Young and Matt Leinart sitting at a table in the shadow of the Rose Bowl talking about the 2006 game. I have to remember to go back and watch that segment. 
  • Speaking of SC, the Coliseum looks packed with people having a great time and getting ready to watch an entertaining football team. Basically the opposite in every way of what it will look like for the Rams game tomorrow. 
  • Only four minutes into the game, Clemson goes for it on 4th-and-1 instead of taking the easy field goal. God I love it when teams play aggressive and coaches show faith in their players. No wonder Dabo Swinney's players love playing for him. 
  • Clemson's Tanner Muse is ejected for targeting on what appeared to be a gentle head-butt. Am I the only person who feels like targeting penalties are getting absurd?
  • Either way, the call stands and after the penalty yards are marked off, Louisville scores a touchdown on the next play.
  • I've now put the Rangers-Angels on my laptop, so I'm watching three games at once. It's like having one of those $60k video walls (only slightly less expensive).
  • Clemson's wide receiver got more wide open than I've seen a receiver in years. 79-yard touchdown. 16-7 Clemson. 
  • Another field goal for Clemson and it's a 12 point lead. Meanwhile... USC and Texas are tied with 4 minutes left in the first half and Parker Bridwell is perfect through 4 innings for the Angels. Now, I don't expect either of those two latter things to last a whole lot longer, but they're sure as hell more entertaining than Clemson methodically taking apart Louisville.  
  • (Bridwell gave up a double in the 5th and USC and Texas combined for three touchdowns in the final 2 minutes and 40 seconds of the half.)
  • A few minutes into the 3rd quarter and Lamar Jackson threw a pick-six. 26-7 Clemson. This game has lost its spot on the main screen. It feels over. 
  • 33-7. 
  • Meanwhile it's 14-10 USC and 1-0 Angels. I chose to focus on the wrong game tonight. My bad. 
EDIT 9:31 PM: USC and Texas are going to a second overtime. Yeah, I chose poorly tonight.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Asian BBQ Mini Corn Dogs

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Giants

Very few words in the English language are as overused as "unbelievable." 

The word, according to Merriam-Webster, means "too improbable for belief." Yet when it comes to sports, I hear the word on a daily basis. Just yesterday, I heard a highlight show refer to Cole Beasley's catch in the Dallas-New York game as "unbelievable." 

Really? An NFL receiver catching a football is too improbable for belief? 

It was certainly a cool catch, no doubt. You don't see catches like that every weekend. But it's not like he caught the thing while wearing handcuffs. It's not like he jumped 15 feet in the air. He put his hands on the ball, it bounced around, and he secured it. I had no trouble believing that it happened. 

Anyway, you get the point. There's pretty much nothing in sports that is unbelievable. 

That being said, what's happening to the Dodgers right now is damn close.

Let's cut to the chase: from June 7th-August 6th, the Dodgers went 43-7, the best 50-game stretch since 1912. Sports Illustrated put them on the cover, asking the very legitimate question: "Best team ever?"

But in the last 17 games the Dodgers have lost 16 times, the worst stretch of any team in baseball this season. Their only win? A 1-0 victory that I wrote about on September 1st. Last night the Dodgers lost their 11th game in a row, their longest streak since 1944, when they were still in Brooklyn.

The amount of good luck you need to win 43 out of 50 games is staggering. The amount of bad luck it takes to drop 16 out of 17 is also not small. The odds that both things will happen to one team in a three-month stretch? Well, it's... you know. 

As Brad Pitt said in Moneyball: "How can you not be romantic about baseball?"

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • I discovered mini corn dogs - they were called corn dog nuggets - almost 30 years ago at a hole-in-the-wall hot dog shop in my local mall. They quickly became one of my favorite things in the world and all these years later I still love them.
  • Years ago, Foster Farms came out with a frozen version that you can fry up yourself at home. That was one of the top 5 days of my life. (I exaggerate... slightly.)
  • When preparing to fry them, I always defrost a handful in the microwave for a minute at half-power, otherwise the frozen little weenies inside the corn batter don't cook all the way through once they hit the oil. And nobody wants a frozen little weenie.
  • After the defrosting, I fry them in oil for roughly four minutes at 375º, until they turn golden brown. 

  • Back when I was a kid, ketchup and yellow mustard were all I wanted with my mini corn dogs. Actually... now that I think about it, that's about all I wanted with everything I ate. But these days, especially when watching a game, I like to add a little more flavor to my food. 
  • I mentioned Hoboken Eddie's last month when I ate some poutine poppers with their "T-Bone Tickler." He makes some of the best sauces you will every try. Tonight, I opted to use the "Asian BBQ" sauce. As soon as the mini corn dogs came out of the oil, I blotted them on a paper towel and tossed them around with the sauce. 
  • A sprinkling of sesame seeds went on top, along with some chopped green onion. 
  • On the sides of the plate, I squirted a few lines of extremely-hot wasabi, because why not?
  • These were... unbelievable. (Just messing with you. They were extremely delicious, though. I could have eaten at least 25 of them. Which is why I only cooked 10.) 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I feel lucky to have seen Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux in their primes. I would put Kershaw's prime as the third-best I have ever seen. (With the caveat that it's possible he's still in his prime. Who knows where I will view his career when all it's over?) If anyone is going to stop this freefall, it's Kershaw.
  • Of course, I said the exact same thing last Thursday and Kershaw didn't even make it out of the fourth inning. Because that's how bad things are for the Dodgers right now. (Before that, the team had won the last 16 games that Kershaw had started.)
  • The Angels are playing the Astros tonight: Justin Verlander vs. Garret Richards. If Kershaw wasn't pitching and the Dodgers weren't in the middle of this historic funk, I would be watching that. 
  • Speaking of impressive streaks, the Indians just won their 20th game in a row, tied with the 2002 A's (from the above-mentioned Moneyball) for the most in AL history. 
  • AT&T Park is a beautiful place to watch a baseball game but it's unquestionably the worst at which I've ever seen a football game. From where I was sitting, I could not see any action inside the 15-yard-line of the nearest end zone. None of that was mentioned when I bought my two tickets (which together cost over $200). I was not impressed. 
  • Johnny Cueto has not looked sharp through two innings - he even walked Kershaw - but the Dodgers have stranded four runners and failed to capitalize.
  • Pence and Panik both assumed the other was going to catch Puig's two-out pop-up. Dodgers have men on second and third now with two outs. It doesn't seem like an exaggeration to say the Dodgers HAVE to take advantage of that mental error.
  • Nope. Dodgers load the bases and Grandal strikes out. If you're keeping score at home - though there's no need to, as I'm doing it for you - that's seven left on base through three innings.  
  • Cueto has thrown 77 pitches in only three innings, with three hits and three walks... and yet the Dodgers don't have a run. That's not good. 
  • Oldest rule in the book: if you don't take advantage of the mistakes your opponent makes, you'll pay for it. San Francisco leads off the bottom of the 3rd with Kelby Tomlinson hitting a homer off Kershaw. I had to look up how to spell his first name because I'd never heard of him before tonight. 1-0 Giants.
  • Chase Utley crushes one into the bay, Kershaw hits a double, Seager sacrifices, Puig hits a massive two-RBI double, and it's 4-1 Dodgers. 
  • If they blow this lead with Kershaw on the mound, the team has more problems than any of us realize. I'm guessing they don't, however. Kershaw has only thrown 37 pitches. It feels like he's gonna cruise for the next five innings.  
  • Sure enough, the Giants gets a double and a single in the bottom of the inning but don't score any runs. That's the kind of thing that's been happening to the Dodgers the last three weeks. (And the Angels all season.)
  • I've only had SportsNetLA for a couple of months? How frequently do they use that godawful camera angle from behind the catcher and the umpire? They just used it twice with Kershaw pitching in crucial moments in the 6th inning. It is the worst camera angle I have ever seen for a televised baseball game. Who the hell thinks that's a good shot?
  • The Dodgers have gotten one more run and the Giants two more. 5-3 as we go to the 9th.
  • The Giants load the based with a couple of infield singles with one out and Buster Posey at the plate. It had to happen like this, didn't it?
  • We know how much heart these Giants players have, despite their terrible record this season. What I want to know is what these Dodgers are made of. Are they really going to blow a three-run lead at AT&T? Or are they going to say "enough is enough"?
  • Jansen strikes out Posey and Hundley. Dodgers win. The streak ends. 
  • That felt like a playoff game. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

 THE GAME: Patriots vs Chiefs

The NFL is back. That doesn't please me in the same way that the return of college football did last weekend - and certainly not nearly as much as the annual return of baseball every spring - but there is something decidedly comforting about it. 

The County Fair is going on. Traffic in my neighborhood becomes miserable between 2:30 and 3:30 in the afternoon as the elementary, middle and high schools - all within a four-block radius of me - get out at the same time. At night, I turn off the AC and open the windows. 

These are all reminders far better than an arbitrary date on a calendar: summer is over. It's football season. 

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • Enchiladas are the first dish that I ever learned to make. (Unless you count cheese-and-mustard sandwiches. I do not.) My grandmother showed me and two friends how to make them when we were 11 years old and, for some reason lost to memory, we had to make them for our sixth-grade class.
  • My grandmother was a wonderful woman, however she was from the Midwest - born during the Great War and a teenager during the Great Depression - and she had almost no idea what she was doing when it came to Mexican food. So even though she taught me the basics for making enchiladas, I've never again made them using her recipe. Tonight was no exception. 
  • I bought two chicken breasts from the local butcher - already marinated - and roasted them in the oven. 
  • I also purchased a bottle of the marinade that the butcher uses.
  • I shredded the cooked chicken with two forks, threw the pieces in a bowl, and added another half-cup of the marinade. 

  • La Reina is a tortillaria established in East Los Angeles in 1958. I have never had better flour tortillas out of a package. 
  • I've written about Uncle Ben's "Ready Rice" before - the Jasmine and "Spanish Style" rices are a guilty pleasure of mine. 

  • I mixed the heated package of rice with the chicken, layered a good amount into flour tortillas, rolled them up, and placed them in a baking dish. 

  • I baked the rolled-up tortillas in the oven for 20 minutes, until they just started to become golden brown, then I pulled them out. 
  • Unlike the tortillas or rice, I have no preference as to the kind of enchilada sauce I use. Sometimes it's red, though when the enchiladas are chicken, I usually use green. 
  • I emptied the can of sauce over the tortillas and topped it with a mix of shredded cheeses, then put it back in the oven for another few minutes. 
  • At this point, I check on the enchilas every couple of minutes. You want the cheese to melt, of course, but you don't want it to melt too much, otherwise it turns into a pool of grease. 
  • Once the cheese had reached the perfect amount of melt, I removed the dish from the oven, topped it with a generous amount of fresh cilantro, and used a spatula to load two big pieces onto my plate. 
  • I then drizzled it with a bit of "creamy street sauce." I won't lie - this had much less to do with flavor than appearance. There were so many flavors going on here that a bit of insipid, creamy sauce was not noticeable. 
  • This particular batch were the best enchiladas I have ever made. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I turned to NBC just in time to see them starting to recap the Super Bowl. I immediately turned. It still makes me want to throw my remote control. As I wrote last February, I have been watching better teams choke against the Patriots for more than 15 years now, but I will never, ever see anything like Atlanta blowing a 25-point lead in the second half of the Super Bowl.
  • Oh Jesus Christ. I turned to the U.S. Open for a few minutes before turning back to NBC, hoping to watch some football. Instead it's Mark Wahlberg live at the stadium, introducing a video of Super Bowl highlights. Maybe watching this game was a mistake. Maybe I need to cross Patriots games off my list this season - just like I have UCLA football - until the playoffs. (For, uh, the Patriots... not UCLA.)
  • I hope this game is really close in the 4th quarter and it comes down to a battle of wits between Belichick and Andy Reid. I feel like there's a good drinking game to be invented there. 
  • Maren Morris is singing the National Anthem. She's a country singer, though I had to Google her to learn that. On ESPN College GameDay Saturday morning, the guest picker was also a country singer of some renown, and I had never heard of him either. I'm not sure if I just don't know anything about country music these days, or pop culture in general. I'm guessing it's the latter. 
  • The Patriots get the ball and score in less than three minutes. Seems about right. 
  • Kershaw is pitching for the Dodgers in 80 minutes - maybe this game will be over by then and I can watch some baseball. The Dodgers have lost 11 of 12 games; the only game they've won in that stretch was Kershaw's start that I wrote about last Friday. 
  • WTF? I went to get a glass of water, came back 90 seconds later, and New England still has the ball. 
  • Ah, apparently Kansas City's rookie running back, Kareem Hunt, fumbled the ball. In four years of college, wanna guess how many times he fumbled? Zero, of course. But, you know, it's against the Patriots now, and even rookies know that they're supposed to make mistake after mistake against New England. 
  • The Patriots now have a 32-yard field. Screw the Dodgers at 7:10 - this game might be over in time for me to watch Pawn Stars at 6. (KC actually stopped them on 4th-and-short.) 
  • Commercial Note: Is a dramatic miniseries on the Menendez Brothers something that the public has been clamoring for? They killed their parents, they confessed, it went to trial anyway, and then they were convicted. Am I missing something? What could a miniseries add to the subject 28 years later? (Or are people just fascinated by psychopathy and greed and there is always a market for both?)
  • Both teams have had impressive drives. New England leads 17-14 at halftime, but after what happened in the first five minutes, Kansas City should consider that a major victory. 
  • I turned to the Dodgers game at halftime. Kershaw has given up 3 runs in the first inning. The Dodgers have plenty of time to stop this free-fall - especially once Seager and Bellinger are healthy - but it's still something to witness. The Dodgers from early June to late August were one of the four greatest teams I have ever seen. 
  • Back in the football game, Alex Smith connects with Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown and suddenly the Chiefs are up 21-17 with 9 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. 
  • Commercial Note: Tom Cruise is playing Barry Seal in the new movie American Made. Back in 1991, there was a made-for-HBO movie called Doublecrossed with Dennis Hopper playing Barry Seal, and I absolutely loved it. (Of course, I was 12 years old; I also loved professional wrestling and wearing MC Hammer pants.) 
  • A quick Google search reveals that you can watch the whole movie on YouTube. Now I know how I'm spending my Friday night. 
  • Patriots score again. Kansas City got called for two penalties that gave New England first downs on the drive. It looked like they were good calls, but still, Kansas City has been called for 12 penalties for 119 yards. New England has been called for two penalties for 35 yards. Typical New England home game. 
  • Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt team up for a 78-yard touchdown pass, annihilating former Bruin Cassius Marsh on the play. 28-27 Chiefs in the 4th quarter. This is a much better game than I anticipated. Sorry for being a dick to you earlier, Kareem.
  • NBC with a great stat: the Chiefs have three drives of 90+ yards tonight. They had one in all of 2016. 
  • My new favorite player Kareem Hunt with a rushing touchdown. 35-27 Chiefs. There is no possible way Tom Brady can come back from this. 
  • (For the love of God, that was a joke.)
  • 42-27 Kansas City. They have carved up New England's defense tonight. 
  • That's how the game ends. That was more enjoyable than I ever could have imagined. 
  • Still, does anyone expect that the Patriots won't be in the AFC Championship Game in January? You're crazy if you do. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Watermelon BBQ Meatballs

THE GAME: UCLA vs Texas A&M

I have no idea what to expect of UCLA football this season. I mean, Jim Mora is still the coach, so it's a fair guess that they will lose a few games to inferior teams, not beat any superior teams, commit a lot of penalties, play mediocre defense, and, if everything goes right, play some bowl game in the Southwestern United States on a random night in December.

NOTES ON THE FOOD

  • I've lived all but four years of my life within 60 miles of the Rose Bowl - the vast majority of it within 10 miles - and I don't ever remember humidity like we've had over the last 48 hours. (My friends reading this in Oregon, Texas and New York might not have heard, but we are in a massive heat wave all over the state. San Francisco set a record on Friday at 106º.) 
  • I've had this bottle of watermelon BBQ sauce since last summer but haven't opened it until today. The cool, sweet taste of watermelon sounded like a good complement to my beloved meatballs. 
  • I baked the meatballs in the oven for 45 minutes then blotted them on a paper towel to remove the grease. Normally, I enjoy the fat that melts away from beef and pork, but in this case I didn't want it to distract from the flavor of the sauce. 
  • I tossed the balls in a bowl with the sauce, plated them, and added cold crumbles of queso fresco.
  • They were phenomenal. I split them with two other people and we all agreed that I should have bought a second package of meatballs. Next time. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I met a lot of A&M fans in Old Town Pasadena last night. They were a very nice group of people. 
  • For the record, I'd say the Alabama fans were the nicest I've ever met, with Nebraska fans coming in second. Oregon and Fresno State are easily the worst.
  • Apparently Jim Mora claims he "doesn't feel a lot of pressure in Westwood." Yeah, I wouldn't think so. UCLA tolerates and excuses mediocrity in their football program in ways they never would in basketball. Four years ago, Ben Howland was fired as the head basketball coach after winning the PAC-12. Meanwhile, in football, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel were allowed to lead the program for a combined nine seasons. In five seasons, Mora hasn't beaten a single top 10 team and yet here he is back for year six. 
  • Lots of people - not just UCLA fans but in the media - have said that they love UCLA's new Under Armor uniforms. I wonder if they mean they like the actual color, or if they just like the fact that it's a return to the uniforms of the 80s. I'm not a fan.
  • On UCLA's first drive, they had a first down on A&M's 12-yard line and settled for a field goal. Classic Jim Mora team. 
  • On A&M's first drive, UCLA committed a personal foul out of bounds. Classic Jim Mora team. 
  • UCLA fumbles on consecutive offensive plays and A&M is now up 17-3. 
  • 24-3. If this were the last game of an injury-filled season, UCLA's lethargy and apathy would make sense. But for the first game? This performance is just... weird.
  • I wrote last season - Jesus, I've been doing this blog for more than a year now - that until Rosen stops throwing off his back foot when he's rushed, he will never be the great quarterback that everyone has already anointed him. It seems no one else has told him that yet. 
  • 31-3. Jim Mora is staring ahead glumly. He's probably thinking Hmm, let's see, who can I blame now? I'm on my third offensive coordinator and third defensive coordinator in six seasons. All the players have changed. And yet we still play like complete pussies.... Do you think anyone is going to figure out that I'm the only common denominator? 
  • UCLA safety Jaleel Wadood made a tackle 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage then started gesturing wildly with his hands as if he'd just made a game-saving tackle. Dude, you're down by 28 at home in the first half. Pump the brakes.
  • The Angels lost 2 of 3 to the Rangers this weekend, despite scoring 22 runs. The Dodgers have lost 8 of 9 games. The weather, as I mentioned, is miserable. The largest fire in the history of Los Angeles is burning at the moment. There are lots of weekends in my life that I would love to relive. This has not been one of them. 
  • I guess UCLA turned it over again, but I'll be honest: I've been watching West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech for the last 15 minutes. It's tied in the 3rd quarter and is much more entertaining than this UCLA game.
  • To be fair, Kangaroo Jack is more entertaining than this UCLA game. 
  • Also, the Yankees and Red Sox are playing on Sunday Night Baseball. I'm going to watch that, too. 
  • Last season, I didn't give up on UCLA football until the fourth week of the season (when they blew a lead to Stanford with twenty seconds left). This season I didn't even make it to the fourth quarter of the first game. 
  • I'm probably not going to watch any more of their games this season. I suppose Dan Guerrero could do something to show the fans and alumni that this level of play just isn't acceptable - i.e. fire Coach Mora. 
  • But that's the thing - like I wrote earlier, I feel like this level of play is acceptable to the school. 
UPDATE: After I stopped watching, UCLA scored 35 straight points to win (after A&M lost their starting quarterback). Cool, I guess. I imagine that will be all the ammunition needed for Mora to keep his job all season. His next win over a Top 10 team will be his first.