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Back in business for 2014

Another year is upon us with fall camp starting on Monday and I’ll be back to regular posting at least a few times a week between now and when the Bears wrap up their Rose Bowl winning season on 1/1/15 (ahhh… wouldn’t that be nice… OK back to reality).

Of course, commenting requires info/stuff to comment on and to that end, it’s nice to see how many practices are open to the public this fall, although I wish it was back-loaded instead of front-loaded. (see here for details.) Unfortunately I’ll be lucky to make even one of them… although I might be able to get one in. Nevertheless my data will mostly be limited to what I read from others.

Speaking more broadly about the upcoming season, I think what I’ve been working through in the off-season in my mind is how to set my expectations appropriately. What do I reasonably want from this season?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • First and foremost I want to see something that is for the betterment of the student athletes. When they look back on this 10, 20, even 50 years down the road, they validly look at their time at Cal as something they’re glad they had in their life.
  • Second, I want to have an enjoyable time watching and thinking about Cal football, with my family, particularly with my sons. Saturday’s in Strawberry Canyon can be a great joy.
  • Third, I want to see a strong effort on the field. I want to see a team that has little to regret when the game is over. If they lose, it was a noble effort. If they win, it’s something we can all be proud of.
  • Finally, I want to see a team that gives me hope for the future. I want to see a team that is improving and that’s there’s reason to believe at some point in the not too distant future I can have more specific goals for the team than the above.

I very specifically don’t have a win total I’m shooting for nor specific games I want them to win. But I’m pretty sure that all the above goals won’t be met without at least a few wins and far more competitive games than we had last season.

Any thoughts on those goals?

(More specific posts on various units, predictions and projections to come.)

Closing up the season posts

I’ll have a few posts in the next week or so:

  • Big Game OTRH Podcast
  • Overall analysis of what went wrong
  • What changes I suggest
  • Blogging plans for the offseason

Back in business

Sorry for the slow week+ of non-blogging. Between my brother visiting from Massachusetts, arriving in town the day of the WSU game, and the trip down to LA for the UCLA game and to go to Disneyland, I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging.

What I will say is that if you find yourself overly depressed about the Bears, I have a suggestion for you: Go do something else. I love my Golden Bears, but every time I find myself getting overly depressed about their failure, reminding myself that this team is not my life by going off and doing something else, is the best medicine. And it was in this case. I love my family. I live a blessed life in so many different ways. And I’m looking forward to another pleasant evening in Strawberry Canyon on Saturday… maybe the Bears will surprise me and win this one. Or maybe they won’t. But in either case, I’m going to go and enjoy myself with my awesome family.

So, unless your last name is Dykes or Buh, perhaps some other distractions between now and Saturday is what the doctor ordered for you too.

Updates/fixes

It’s long overdue, but I’ve cleaned up a couple things:

  • The links on the sidebar now only reflect current information and have updated links. If you have anything you’d suggest I add, please let me know.
  • The schedule/standings on the sidebar is now correct. That’s much more difficult than it may seem as I do that all programatically and it auto-updates the scores/standings as the games finish. It broke sometime last year for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, but it doubly broke over the summer when the source of my data changed their format. I spent a number of hours getting my code working again. (We’ll see tomorrow if I got everything right – I think I did.)

Just an FYI.

Torrents of Cal games?

All the old torrent sites seem to be down (or moved?). Anyone know how to get them? Post a comment or e-mail me at blog @ excusemeformyvoice DOT com.

Update on 9/3 @ 8 AM: Looks like the main site from last year is back up.

1st protest idea

Thanks to David, I think we have a first protest idea. Everybody brings a cheap backpack to the game to dump on the security personnel. David suggests some… ehem… “creative” things to put in the backpack. I’m not willing to go quite that far to put something in it so inflammatory. But I do think filling them with something is a good idea, at a minimum so that they take as much room as possible, but also to identify them as part of the protest.

It could be as simple as popcorn. Any ideas?

Looking quickly, this was the cheapest backpack I could find, for those who may not have an old one they’d be willing to donate to the cause:

Amazon – Everest Brown backpack: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IFCGA4/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A1IP5Q3GWK9OUR

Who’s with me?

Comments turned back on

Oh for the love of Pete! Yet again (probably during some wordpress upgrade) the setting requiring that comments come from logged-in users turned back on without my permission. Since I don’t HAVE ANY (except for myself) it means that no one can comment.

It’s really frustrating because I can’t see it happening, because I’m logged in as me, so the comment fields show up fine. I have to purposefully logout to see it or go to the comment settings page, which is a pain.

Luckily there are enough of you out there kind enough to send me an e-mail that I find out about it before too long. It’s turned back on now, comment away!

Update at 11:30 AM: And the “auto-moderate” is also now turned off. You’re comments will show up right away.

Back in business

OK, it’s time to get this show back on the road. I wanted to start earlier in August, but it’s been a really busy month.

So what can you expect from me this year? In a lot of ways, more of the same. I’d be interested in feedback on whether the On The Road Home podcast continues to be appreciated. I’ll be going to 2 (UCLA, Stanford), possibly 3 (Colorado) of Cal’s 5 road games, if that helps bias people one way or another. I’ll of course be going to all the home games. But in addition to that, I plan the following, weekly:

-Pre-game prediction post
-Post game wrap-up
-2 to 5 commentary posts
-(Maybe) a video review of the game (mostly game footage, not my ugly face)

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to make it to practice this year and looking at the next two weeks, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it before the season starts. Nevertheless, this year there is more info out there on practice than there has been in forever, so there’s plenty out there for me to comment on.

Is HydroTech my alter ego?

Saw Hydro’s last post on CGB, including this tidbit:

I have not ONCE ever stopped watching a game early. No matter how bad the loss. No matter how painful it was to watch. Yes, I’ve sat through the drubbings we received from Oregon in 2008 and 2009. The USC losses where we were competitive for about half a quarter. Watched all that [redacted]. Except for this game. For the first time in 11 years I turned off the TV and went about the rest of my life like a Cal Football game wasn’t on.

The same is true for me.

I was there when the clock expired against Oregon just over a week ago, when everyone else had been frozen out. I sat through the 2009 Oregon drubbing (although we won in 2008, so he’s misremembering that one). I’ve also never left or turned it off.

But on Saturday night, watching via a crummy streaming connection and getting tired, I asked myself what the point of this was during the 3rd quarter and I turned it off and watched a movie.

When both HydroTech and KenCraw do that, it’s time for a coaching change.

While on the topic of HydroTech, it appears he’s turning in his blogging keys and moving on with his life.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for his years of service to the Cal blogosphere and wish him the best of luck in his culinary endeavors. Your voice will be missed Hydro!

My momma always said…

If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all…

…and there’s nothing nice to say.

Frankly, it’s been a rough couple weeks all the way around, ever since I got home from Salt Lake City. Pretty much ever since I got off the train I’ve been in over-drive for work, trying to get on top of all the things that need to get done, many of which that are now overdue. Even worse, the near-term future doesn’t look any more hopeful. There’s not an obvious light at the end of my work tunnel, that I can see anyway.

It’s one thing to push really hard when one is motivated or even when one is filled with joy, but it’s a far more difficult slog when the things that usually lift you up are instead crumbling down around you.

Thus, while I have a fairly firm no politics or religion policy on this blog, a policy that came after years of seeing the problems with doing it, (What I’ve learned is that while my faith is the most important thing in my life and I will never shy away from sharing it, there are times to let separate spheres remain separate.) today I’m briefly going to break my rule, not to evangelize (in fact quite the contrary), but to share why I don’t feel much like blogging about our beloved Bears.

One of the key principles of Christianity is hope. A mistake lots of people make about hope is to confuse it with delusional optimism. Instead, hope is not blind… it sees all that is going wrong and honestly faces reality. However, hope still overcomes. Hope refuses to despair in the face of troubling realities. When one believes in miracles, in an afterlife and in a loving God, one need not despair in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

As a bit of an aside, it’s actually one of the great thing about sports, is that it is a place where there are so many opportunities for hope. If nothing else, there’s always next season, right?

Nevertheless, because hope is not blind, unlike the Fox News set that delusionally thought that Romney would win on Tuesday, I had no such false illusions. Actually, it goes far deeper than that. I not only thought he would lose, I also had no illusion that Romney was a candidate worthy of being disappointed in his losing. Frankly, he’s the worst of the Republican party and a sign that the party is completely untethered from reality and also from the key principles that should motivate them.

Sadly, the alternatives are far worse. I’m sure there are plenty of Obama fans amongst my readers, so I’ll refrain from giving a long litany of why, despite how horrible Romney is, I could never throw my support behind Obama. Thus, I’ve got nowhere to turn. For those who’ve never been in this place, let me tell you, it’s quite depressing when everything you see on the ballot is the wrong choice. Frankly, it’s hard to see any reason to be hopeful, politically speaking.

When that’s the case, it’s nice when some other aspect of one’s life can give one reason to hope. And so I went to last Friday’s game against Washington hoping for a reason to hope. What I instead witnessed was a similarly disgusting display of incompetence from both teams.

Frankly, the parallel was too much to bear. Two teams, both too incompetent to watch and the team I root for (at this point the analogy becomes weak, as I don’t really “root” for Republicans, but for truth), is the loser, the more incompetent between two bumbling, pathetic teams. Man… this sure sounds a lot like the current political climate to me.

All of this is a long way of saying that between being extremely busy at work (and without much hope of that changing), having very little free time for my mind to find something to be positive about, and my favorite pass-time being so utterly depressing and hopeless, the Bears have very purposely been the furthest thing from my mind.

Because the truth of the matter is that football is just a game, politics is generally just a different game that has less impact than the pundits tell us (at least in a free country), and there is much to be both thankful for and hopeful about.

This life we have is a beautiful and hopeful one, and I refuse to let a game rob me of that hope and joy.

I’m sure the day where I can have hope in our beloved Bears is not too far away. Theoretically it could come as soon as Saturday night, even if the Bears lose. Anything from a strong performance by Bridgeford, or a repeat of 2010 where the Bear defense does what no other team has been able to pull off (did you know that Kelly’s Ducks have only been held below 19 twice? The 2010 game against the Bears, and Kelly’s first game in 2009 against Boise State.).

But even if it doesn’t come Saturday, hope will return to Cal football, likely sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, until either that happens or I get a strong injection of hope from some other aspect of my life that makes it easier to stare into the current Cal abyss, you probably won’t see a lot of posts out of me.

…at least until Saturday night.

One more excuse…

It occurred to me that I have one more excuse as to why I haven’t been posting this week… The Oakland A’s! With their historic comeback and playoff appearance, I spent my little free sports time, watching them in the playoffs.

Luckily for this blog, the A’s inability to beat Verlander (and might I say that the 5 game series is a big advantage for a team with one dominant pitcher, who can ensure they win 2 games, requiring the opponent to sweep the other games) doomed the A’s to another one-and-done playoff appearance. Thus the Cal Bears will have my full undivided attention from here on.

Been quiet…

Yes, I had great plans Sunday morning. Off to Church, back home, post the podcast, write 3 or 4 posts… it was a great plan.

But somewhere between Mass and getting home, watching my 14 month old daughter playing in the family room, I decided to spend the day loafing around and playing with the kids. I’m sure most of you understand.

Then Monday morning came and it has been a really busy week at work. Lots of deadlines next week that must be met, etc..

The downside is that I now have two podcasts that are of dubious value. The more disappointing of the two is the Ohio State OTRH podcast, which has sat on the audio recorder for a month now. The UCLA podcast is just beginning to get stale. Are people still interested in them? Let me know in the comments.

Otherwise, expect a couple of posts between this evening and tomorrow previewing the WSU game and then hopefully I get back on track next week with posting.

My time with the uber-weathy

For those of you who went to the game yesterday, I’m sure you noticed the numerous times they talked about the special things they were doing for season ticket holders. One of them was that 200 ticket holders were getting their seats upgraded to either the Field Club or University Club for that single game.

“That would be really cool”, I thought to myself. “But there’s no way they’re going to give those to any of us in the Gold Zone.”

So you’ll imagine my surprise when just before the end of the 1st quarter a lady came up to us, asked us if we were season ticket holders and gave us tickets to the Field Club. AWESOME!

We were in section G, row 10, seats 7-9 (there were only 3 of us at the game). That’s on the 45 yard-line.

The entrance to the clubs is not on the concourse level, but the “ground floor” plaza level, so we went down the stairs. Outside the club entrance, there are tents where you show your tickets and they give you wrist bands for entrance into the clubs.

Field Club is the lowest of the 3 clubs, yet season tickets cost between $2700 and $4100 a year. That’s just a *slight* increase from the $225 (and only $125 for the kids) I’m paying in the Gold Zone.

When you enter the club, there’s this very fancy large room with concessions around the perimeter, and two bars in the middle. And I really do mean the word bars. I had assumed that they would just have a couple of beer options. Not at all. It’s a full bar that could mix up most hard drinks. I think they all still come in paper cups however…

I toyed with the idea of getting a drink (when else would I ever get a chance?) but decided against it.

The room is surrounded by lots of televisions, covering not just the Cal game, but many of the other football games going on. I didn’t see it, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had some of the baseball going on as well.

From the club, you can enter the stand at the bottom and go up from there into your seats.

The seats are standard ballpark affair down in the Field club. I think they’re more plush up in the Stadium club and then the University Club is something entirely different and for the truly uber-uber wealthy. The spacing didn’t feel any more generous than a normal stadium, but that’s obviously more than we get in the Gold Zone (excepting me in the 1st row and the extra space that gives me). I actually felt boxed in as the only way we were getting in and out of our seats was to ask the 6 people between us and the isle to stand up, which I hate doing.

(As a quick aside, yesterday morning I had the temptation to bring a tape measure and try to get over to section EE to measure it. Oh how I wish I had, so I could have measured the Field Club seats!)

Row 10 is pretty low, but at the 45 yard-line it’s not nearly as bad. I would still want to be up at row 18-20 at a minimum. I’m very glad I didn’t take the seats in EE in row 8 when I was picking my season tickets. That said, the 45 yard-line is s SWEET place to be.

Considering how many open seats there are in the section, it’s a strong temptation to figure out how I could pay to sit there. But it’s just SOOOO out of range, the temptation doesn’t last long. Of course if it was significantly cheaper, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one considering upgrading.

But it is VERY nice and if you’re someone who has that sort of disposable income, it is definitely worth considering. They’re definitely going to take care of you if you do.

Firing Tedford discussion embargo lifted

OK, I am officially lifting the embargo on the ‘Fire Tedford’ discussion. Today’s performance was dreadful. What’s worse is that it was both uninspired and uninspiring. You’d think a coach on the hot seat would have a little more fire in his belly. Tedford seems woefully uninterested in how terrible this team is.

Best mp4 players for TVs

Looking for some advice…

Now that I’m getting most of the games via mp4 files, I’m looking for a good/easy way to view them on the TV. Any recommendations on boxes/solutions that will play mp4 files, ideally from a windows share?

Cheap but functional… no need for attached storage, I already have an always up computer in the house that can host the files.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Podcast later this evening.

I recorded my OTRH podcast on the road yesterday, but didn’t have a chance to put the intro and closing on and to clean up the noise/audio. That will have to wait until this evening as I’ll be at Church for most of the day with various activities and then have a few more pressing things when I get home. Expect it later this evening.

4 part series on new stadium to come

This week I’ll be rolling out a series of posts on the new stadium:

Part 1: A long time in the making
Part 2: A trip down memory lane
Part 3: Wonder and Awe, what makes it so great?
Part 4: The house that Tedford built

I’ll be rolling them out about one a day throughout the week.

Back in business

I spent a lot of time over the off-season thinking about whether I wanted to continue this blog. Who was I writing for? Who was benefiting? What’s the value? Is it worth my time?

Frankly, CGB has sucked a lot of the fun out of casual blogging. They’ve got more posts about more things by lots of good writers who have lots of good things to say and are often very good writers. There’s just no way I can compete. At the same time, I’m not interested in a big group blog. I’ve got certain standards and issues I’m not willing to compromise. So the way I see it, I can either hang up my hat or I can re-adjust to a format that’s not trying to compete with CGB.

Here’s how I intend to do that:

  • “One man’s opinion”: The years of working for Rivals got me in a rut of trying to make sure everything I said was 100% defensible and being very cautious with my words. That’s in the past. This blog is now just “one man’s opinion” and you’re going to get ALL of it. To be clear: As a devout Catholic I find verbal charity and treating the players with respect and honor to be of the up-most importance, so you’re not going to see trash talking. You’re also not going to see a lot of rebutting other opinions or getting into protracted back and forth arguments with anyone. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, including me… so this is where you’re going to hear it, ALL of it.
  • More off-topic posts: I’ll be posting more of my personal thoughts on things outside of the Cal Bears. Two things I won’t be covering are religion and politics. I’ve learned that those need to be separate. But you will see more off-topic posts about various things that interest me. My family, cool articles, whatever. I’m sure 80+% of the posts will still be Cal Bear related, but there will be more variety.
  • Doing less: Sorry, no pick’em this year. No stats page. No edited podcasts (although I think Jason and I will continue to do our mid-week podcast and my OTRH podcast is likely to continue in un-edited form). More grammatical and spelling errors. Just simple posts that I can get up quickly with less effort. My goal is 4-5 posts a week plus whatever un-edited (at least on my end) podcasts result.

So, with that introduction, here are the posts to expect this week:

  • Ode to my ’97 Jetta
  • I donated $1200 and I didn’t even get a lousy T-Shirt
  • Excited about the return home and my new seats
  • 4 new Pac-12 coaches, playing 3 of them
  • Road trips: Going to all but 3 this year

GO BEARS!

In hibernation until fall practice

Thanks for the comments of concern about a lack of posts. It’s nice to know our commentary is desired. It’s been a busy off-season for me and frankly I haven’t felt like I’ve had anything meaningful to add to the conversation of Cal Football.

Well, that’s not quite true… I had a fair amount to say about the spring game, but it was also a busy time and it is too late now.

Looking at the packed calendar for the summer and knowing the lack of meaningful news between now and fall practice, We’ll be back when fall practice starts.

Congrats to NoBetterThanSolid

Because post-season games are not in the Pick’Em league, the league wrapped up last Saturday. A big congratulations goes out to repeat winner NoBetterThanSolid, the first repeat winner since DuckAndRun won the first two years. NBTS didn’t start out the season well, but played strong down the stretch to take over the lead. Another late surger: Ted Miller.

Of course nobody ever beats the Betting Line (Vegas ALWAYS wins), but we won’t include them.

Here are the players who won individual weeks:

  • NoBetterThanSolid: 3 week wins
  • kencraw (that’s me 🙂 ): 2 week wins
  • cpoff: 2 week wins
  • kwest80: 2 week wins
  • ChrisNguon: 2 week wins
  • philip: 1 week win
  • jsnell (co-blogger): 1 week win

Thanks everyone for participating!