Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A few comments about supporters culture and USA v. Mexico

USA v. Mexico - Crew Stadium - September 10, 2013

So tonight our brothers and sisters in arms march into Crew Stadium – what has become a horror house for opposing teams, especially Mexico, in large part due to the efforts of said brothers and sisters in arms. Here are a few notes and a request as it relates to tonight's festivities.

It all began in 1994 with Mark Spacone and what became Sam’s Army. That develop through the Major League Soccer supporters groups, survived the debacle that was France ’98, and had continued until the Hexagonal round of the 2002 World Cup qualifying.

La Primera

It was February 28, 2001. The US was playing Mexico in the opening game of the round, at home, with a complete lack of history of a home field advantage against their neighbors to the south.

Once again, the Original House that Uncle Lamar Built stepped to the fore to start a new chapter of US soccer history. After opening in 1999 as the first ever First Division-level soccer specific facility in the US, it now was going to be the USSF’s first effort at a true-blue home-field advantage.

As history showed – and will show again tonight – the answer was a dramatic YES!

Not only did the team win the game in dramatic fashion, but they did it in front of a loud, boisterous fan-base that stood and screamed its support throughout the match despite the freezing temperatures.

Dos A Cero

The 2-0 scoreline became “Dos A Cero” – a chant that was solidified that following World Cup when the US once again beat Mexico, this time on the biggest of stages by the same score. Oddly enough, it continued when once again the US won their home Hexagonal qualifier, against Mexico, in Columbus, by the score of 2-0 not only in 2005, but also in 2009.

That is three games, four years apart, against the same opponent at the same venue.

How can you not predict a 2-0 scoreline again tonight?

Especially when by all appearances, this will be the largest US supporters section to ever see USA-Mexico?

Massive Growth

Spurred by the continued growth of the game (broadcast NBC for the EPL, hello!), MLS and the success of the team, and salvaged by the emergence of a new supporters group, the American Outlaws, support for the US has continued to build geometrically, with some truly fascinating showings of late. The largest in recent times was the Gold Cup match in Seattle where a massively pro-US crowd of 41,000 showed the world that El Norteamericanos were no longer just an emerging supporters culture, but was able to be as strong as any in the world.


So this is your background for tonight’s game. If you are there, soak it in as this is one of those truly unique moments in time, and is automatically historic. As historic as the crazy game against Costa Rica in Denver earlier this year, or the US fans who have traveled to Azteca or the World Cups – especially 2002 and beyond. Make the most of it.

I know many of you there, and wish you the best. Obviously, I wish I could be there with you, but I have one of the newest fans of the US to nurture as he just turned four weeks old…. I am asking you to remember that it is the shirt first, our brothers and sisters second, and nomenclature last. Do whatever is necessary to make sure the boys on the field have no doubt how much love and belief there is for them in the stadium!

Upcoming Articles

Kyle updates
After the Aggie-Bearkats game last Saturday, a preview of the Texas A&M v. Alabama game.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Aggies v. Bearkats - the last warm-up before the Game of the Year

Big entry today – lots of stuff about this Texas A&M team, especially with no update since the demolishing of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl…

As we are on the doorstep of the second game before what will no doubt be one of the key games of the 2013 college football season – September 14, 2013, Texas A&M hosting the Alabama Crimson Tide in a rematch of their epic 2012 battle, a game that was the Tide’s lone blemish on another national championship season.

That game had a series of interesting pre-conditions. ‘Bama had just played their “game of the year” against LSU, beating the Tigers in Death Valley with an amazing comeback victory. The Aggies were upstart success stories in the SEC – but surely not good enough to beat Alabama on their home field.
But in what was the coup de gras of an amazing season for the Aggies, a complete team effort, led by a motivated Johnny Manziel and fueled by a smash-and-grab first quarter, did just that – defeated the undefeatable.  For the Tide’s sake, it did not cost them a shot at the national title, much to the chagrin of many outside the SEC, but it took Oregon losing to Stanford at home and Kansas State being beaten by Baylor to make it happen.

As for the Aggies, they went on to see their redshirt freshman quarterback win the school’s second Heisman Trophy. Combined with a crushing defeat of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, what began as a perfect storm ended with just about a perfect season: filled with success, but just enough room for improvement that there was hope for raising the bar in 2013.
Manziel, the 2013 Offseason and August 31, 2013

Of course, the off-season was anything but simple – the actions and antics of its quarterback led to much ado about nothing in many cases, but much ado about (probably) something in two instances – the Manning Quarterback Camp and autograph-gate. And then you had last week’s game against Rice and the taunting penalty.

So quick thoughts on all that. First, the vast majority of it is stuff I attribute to the rare situation of a *returning* Heisman Trophy winner, who just happens to have the money and brashess to spend it living life to the fullest. All the talk of how he was out on the town at sporting events, etc. – put the can of jealousy down and slowly back away, people.

Second, though… The Manning Camp – that was a professional situation that Manziel let get away from him. That is something that does not reflect well on him or the school. Don’t take the position if you aren’t going to treat it as seriously as you do playing for A&M, please.

Third, the whole autograph thing. I have my opinions on what happened, but like many others, it is just an opinion - with no facts to back it up. I will say this, though – that sure wasn’t an example of avoiding the appearance of impropriety. Here is another place where Manziel could have done himself and the school a huge favor by thinking and making smart decisions.

As for the Rice aftermath, I don’t read as much into things as most seem to be. An ultra-competitive guy was goaded into mouthing off. Clearly, the Rice players (plural) weren’t just standing there holding hands, but at some point, where are his teammates to get him back to the sidelines?

A Current Conclusion on Manziel

I do find myself seeing a lot of irony in people who lauded Michael Jordan for being hyper-competitive and one of the biggest trash talkers in the game ripping Manziel for giving a little lip to a team he was cutting up like tissue paper that had the audacity to try to get under his skin. Not knowing what was said, I have no idea if he went too far. Seeing how Sumlin reacted, my thought is that he did go too far. On the other hand, don’t we think we’re blowing the mistake a bit out of perspective when people are talking about not voting for the guy who was hands-down the best in the game last year because he got a 15-yard taunting penalty?

Oh, there is the issue of autograph-gate. And I can see some people not voting for him because of that, and I don’t entirely blame them. The situation smells like a guy who got away with something that he engineered to get away with from the beginning. It doesn’t sit well with me, especially considering that as Aggies, we have so much going for us in terms of the opportunity to shine in a new spotlight. Why take the risk?

But at the end of the day, the process was followed, and a decision made and agree to and all parties moved on, so that is the end of it. Enough. Back to football.

Reviewing the Rice game and looking at September 7, 2013

And so we look now at Sam Houston. This is a very strong FCS side. Strong enough to make the championship game the last two years. And one that gave the Aggie second unit fits in the second half of last season’s matchup, especially the defense. This will be a strong test – not in the “they might lose” sense, but rather in the “bring your best every play or you will get embarrassed or hurt or both” sense. (Sorry Janice, I can’t say with seriousness that your Bearkats can win… not unless the Aggies just really throw up all over themselves….)

It should prove another good “walk-thru” for the Aggies, and a chance at redemption for a defensive unit that really dropped its shorts the week before against the Owls. Make no mistake, Rice is better than people gave it credit, and when the Aggie defense played the way they did, I was not surprised that they got carved up. And Sam Houston will do the same thing if the A&M defense doesn’t shore up its gaps.

As for the offense, it will also be a good challenge – a final sharpening of the knife, so to speak. I don’t know about you, but personally I was very impressed with the offensive line against the Owls. I mean, we knew going into it that the wide receivers were going to be good and the running backs were arguably the deepest pool of talent in the SEC. But an offensive line that lost the best in the game last year looked like its old 2012 self by the second quarter despite the new faces. Thank you to the Matthews family!

Am I too much of a geek for getting excited about our punter? Goodness-gracious, that kid can drop the ball wherever he wants. What a weapon, especially against a team like Alabama! And certainly, seeing the other parts of the special teams (for the most part) play well was a great sight to see.
But make no mistake – Alabama is going to look to punch the Aggies in the mouth first this time, and it will be up to the defense to take that blow. The nice thing is they have some of their own challenges as evidenced by struggles in their only tune-up for the big game against Virginia Tech, but I am afraid that most of that was due to the strength of Tech’s defense, not Alabama’s weakness. And either way you slice it, the fact is that the Aggie defense is not as strong as Tech’s. The ability to slow Alabama down will be what decides the game, not the ‘Bama defense against Manziel.

And another reason I was glad to see the Aggie success on special teams? The way the Alabama special teams units flat out embarrassed VT’s vaunted unit. For those paying attention, you know that Tech has had a great reputation in that area of the game, and against the Tide, they were shown the door. I will tell you right now, the Aggies are going to need every ounce of success via the special teams units they can get.

The Big Picture

Why is this game so big? Because it is one of a very, very small handful of games that Alabama might lose. And the same can be said of the Aggies. (Eight home games? Really?) The winner of this game very well could win out and play for a national title.

Both A&M and the Tide have games against LSU and Old Miss to worry about before the SEC Championship game, but not much else, although early returns from Auburn and Arkansas indicate that they will not be nearly the pushovers they were last year. The Aggie do have banana-peel games against Vanderbilt and Missouri as well, but at the end of the day, the team strong enough to win on the 14th should be strong enough to win out other than LSU and against the Rebels.

Either way, the 14th is going to be one of the “Christmas for college football geeks” games. Clearly, it is one of a handful of games – along with LSU v both of these teams, as well as SC-Georgia, Stanford-Oregon, the SEC Championship Game, possibly the ACC Championship Game – that will decide who plays for the national title via the Bowl Championship system.

Quick note – do NOT underestimate LSU. Their schedule – along with Florida’s – is atrocious, and that might prevent them from winning the division, but those who think “oh, they lost so many talented players on defense” forget that there is talent galore in that program and more importantly, by the time they have to play the Big Boys, they will have had enough games to learn their craft well enough that they can call themselves LSU defenders with the pride that should accompany the descriptor.

The Bottom Line

There are two things that will control the outcome of this game. The first is as described above – the Aggie defense’s ability to slow and sometimes stop the Alabama defense. The second is if Saban can become the first coach to stop Johnny Football from getting the Important Third Down that he always seems to be able to get.

Seeing how competitive Manziel is – to a fault, in some instances – I just can’t see it. His work to improve what was already a successful passing ability in the offseason, and the clear results you saw in certain moments against Rice, tells me that if Saban tries to do what Sam Montgomery said had to be done to Manziel (make him a pocket passer), his secondary, good as it is, will get eaten up.

As a reminder, here are a few clips worth reviewing. Part 1Part 2Part 3 Simply put, he is that X-Factor. How many times do you see him make plays that college football players simply do not make? And to say he might be a touch motivated is more than a slight understatement.

And to add to it, I don’t think that ‘Bama has ever played in front of a crowd like the one they will face on the 14th. No one has – because the 12th Man will never have had as much a reason to be as hyped, as focused, as intense as they will that day. It will be something to behold, and it will affect the game.

So I’m calling this 28-24, Aggies over Alabama. How things play out against LSU later in the season – or the games v. Old Miss, Vandy or Mizzu – we can discuss later. But for this game, with a win, the Fighting Texas Aggies are going to be the best team in college football. No reasons to dismiss, no excuses. Both teams coming into the game with eyes wide open, no lack of awareness of each other, no reasons to be distracted or thinking about last week or any other game. The team that has one three of the last four national titles will fall to the team that beat them last year. Imperfect though the Aggies (mostly on defense) might be, they will have beaten that juggernaught twice in a calendar year.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Baby Kyle is HERE!

Baby Kyle Is Here!

As some of you already know, Baby Kyle joined us on Monday after a lot of hard work, pain and effort – but he joined us happy and healthy, and Janice is doing well. I want to talk about so much – what an experience. And I’ll definitely detail all of it over time.

Figuring out how to organize my thoughts, share them in a reasonably digestible way, within whatever “free” time I have – quite the challenge! I wish I could promise more detail other than I will share it as quickly as I can, but as I am sure you understand, I now have an extra mouth to feed, diaper to change, body to wash, etc. And he is SO CUTE!

So I will finish what I was writing about as we went into last weekend to finish the story through at least today. That way those interested can read about the beginning of the inducement on Saturday, the labor on Sunday, the birth on Monday and all the craziness since. (Well, probably not all the craziness…)

That being said, this blog has in the past been more of a vehicle for me to share a few windows into my life rather than a regular blog – a lazy-man’s website – but this experience seems to lend itself to more regular check-ins. No promises, but I do think I am going to try to post more regularly.

The focus might change a bit – Kyle seems a bit important now (understatement) – but I will still post about other things such as music and sports. For example, I can’t wait to talk more about how the music therapy aspect of the birth of Baby Kyle went – which will be an interesting exploration of some new music I hadn’t experienced before, but also a completely different level of musical experience.

On the sports side, I sure wish FC Dallas were playing better, but hopefully the fresh faces and returning depth (from injury, national team duty and acquisition) will allow them to get healthy and sharp. I am excited about what the Stars have been doing. I am glad to see the Rangers pull out of their seeming irreversible auger-in. I am excited about A&M football, but concerned about a certain Derek Jeter fan….

But back to the star of the show – here are a few pictures of our new, wonderful baby boy – Kyle David Lindstrom:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Baby Kyle Update - August 10, 2013

Baby Kyle Update

August 10, 2013

So here we are - we are set to go in to the hospital tonight (Saturday) in preparation to be induced on Sunday. This is just a quick note about the events of today, and a thank you to everyone for all the help and support and love being sent our way. As I said on Facebook a few days ago, we have such a great circle of friends and family.

We were able to get a good night’s rest, and per doctor’s orders, Janice has been eating well today. My parents came up from Austin and we went with them and Janice’s parents for lunch. It was nice to see the family getting together like that.

We had another conversation with our advisor, Kate Taylor, and feel like between her, other friends (yes, including you, Carolyn D!) and the medical providers at our hospital and with our OB-GYN, we are in great hands. (BTW, to hear Janice’s radio show with Kate back in February where they talk about music therapy and childbirth, go here or use the link below.)

You can see Kate Taylor's business Facebook page here.

Now we are off to a birthday party for one of Janice’s brothers, then back to the house for a bit of a nap and one last check to make sure we have everything, then on into the hospital for what we hope is some basic medication, a good night’s sleep, and then tackle the Big Push tomorrow. It is a small thing, but if we are lucky, Kyle will be here in time to watch the FC Dallas match against LA….. But frankly, FCD better win. Kyle and his mother are grouchy when FCD doesn’t win and that’s no way to start off in this world, is it?