This month we begin a new monthly guest written column aptly named “What Chaps My Taffy,” written by a close friend that will officially be known as “Emilio Gladstone.” What does the title mean? Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to get it. “Emilio Gladstone” is a stupid mixture of 80′s brat pack actor Emilio Estevez and Americas favorite mooch and lovable loser, Uncle Joey Gladstone from Full House. Uncle Joey wasn’t even those kid’s uncle, he was Danny Tanners bum friend who made crappy jokes and rocked a sweet “mullet.” But anyways, getting back on track “What Chaps My Taffy” will be a monthly column based on issues in sports that really get “Emilio Gladstone” all riled up. And have no fear, he is about six feet tall and maybe 160 pounds, so if this column isn’t doing it for you, feel confident that he can be brought down easily by means of physical force. We hope you guys enjoy this cynical take on Emilio’s issues in sports and welcome Mr. Gladstone to The Meat Locker Sports!
Guest Writer: Emilio Gladstone
As September begins, it means one thing: football season is upon us. Specifically for me, this means that college football is priority number one. I’m not knocking the NFL, but college football just does it for me. Trips my trigger…revs my engine…however you want to put it. It is the perfect Christmas present, adopting a three-legged puppy, and watching a fat chick fall in public all combined into one glorious feeling. And yet, as I gear up to root for my alma mater, Clemson University, on the football field, 20+ years of disappointing seasons has begun to take its toll. My cynicism and bitterness has built after getting my hopes up time after time only to have them crushed into nothingness by my beloved, yet consistently inconsistent, Tigers. These despondent feelings have set me to thinking about my other favorite teams and how they constantly disappoint as well. It really chaps my taffy that Clemson, the Atlanta Braves, and the Carolina Panthers continue to dash my dreams of sports glory (albeit vicariously) time and time again. Even my adopted MLS team, the Vancouver Whitecaps, are in last place in the Western Conference. Okay, I made that last part up. I had to Google what team was in last place in the MLS. Do I really seem like a grass fairy? But I digress… a brief history of my teams’ ineptitude is in order.
Clemson has been a second-tier football team (granted, there have been a few bright spots) since winning a National Championship in 1981, a glory that, though I still brag to my South Carolina friends about, occurred before I was born and if it wasn’t documented, I would chalk up as a legend invented on campus to keep hopes alive of winning the ACC (yes the friggin’ ACC) just ONCE. The most bitter of these memories of ineptitude? The loss to Alabama in the season opener of 2008, a 34-10 ass-whipping of our preseason number nine ranked team that began the Tide’s resurgence to the top of the college football world. Then there is the basketball team. They have lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in their last five appearances, this year being its fourth straight. Oh, they beat UAB in the opening round this year, you say? It doesn’t count because the “Opening Round” was just a ploy by the NCAA to generate more revenue for its corporate partners and slowly water down the Tourney by adding more teams (that SERIOUSLY chaps my taffy, but I will save this tirade for later). The Tigers still lost to West Virginia in the first round. And baseball….baseball is an especially bitter subject right now as the Tigers have never won a College World Series and have had to watch our arch rivals win the last two. Murderous thoughts directed at Ray Tanner are dancing through my head as I write…
The Atlanta Braves, despite being swept by the Cardinals over the weekend are twelve games back of the Phillies, a team that has followed the Yankee and Red Sox way of gobbling up every huge free agent in the hopes of buying a championship. The Bravos are a bright spot right now with a four and a half game lead in the Wild Card race but that brightness will more than likely fade when the playoffs begin. I can only imagine they will choke then as they did last year as I watched from the stands of Turner Field that epic Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Giants. Their playoff run ended the next night. And that is just last year. The Braves’ one World Series triumph during five appearances in the 1990’s is well-documented. I do remember that one sweet victory in 1995, but it is foggy. I was only ten and the four defeats are much more vivid in my mind.
Then there is the Carolina Panthers. Who gives Jake Delhomme a five-year contract extension with a guaranteed $20 million after he is so obviously washed up? They cut him the following year after a horrible season. Need I say more? Probably not, but I will. They made it to the Super Bowl in 2004 (and lost), the NFC Championship game in 2006 (and lost) with a 7-9 season in between. Since that NFC Championship appearance in ’06, the Panthers have been pathetic with a 37-45 record that includes a 2-14 season in 2010. Only one of those five seasons have they had a winning record and that year they lost to the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs. I would continue my rant in regards to drafting Cam Newton, but he surprised me by throwing for 422 yards in his first regular season game, so I will hold judgment until later. For now, he has applied a thin layer of Gold Bond on my chappage (figuratively, sports fans; no scandal
You can make arguments that I just set myself up for this. Clemson finds it hard to compete for talent in the South against the big-time SEC programs when consistently under-achieving with great players. I could rant about how they won’t pay for a coach, but I like Dabo Swinney as the underdog first time head of a program and am willing to hope he comes through. Whether he makes it or not, Clemson won’t pay big money for a coach as long as the current A.D. is there (Damn you, Terry Don Phillips). As a South Carolinian, I have aligned myself with the closest teams in geographical proximity in the professional sports world. The Panthers seem to repeatedly make bad decisions about personnel and, when they come through with an occasional run in the playoffs, they choke (I know, Vikings fans; your pain has lasted a lot longer, but I do relate). Small market teams in baseball can’t compete with the large market teams unless they catch lightning in a bottle as the San Francisco Giants did last year as they stepped on my Braves to do so. So, am I a glutton for punishment? Yes. I am not a fair-weather fan despite my cynicism. I wish I could hop on a few bandwagons. It might even make me happy temporarily, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I will still root for these teams and scream myself hoarse as I watch them strive for greatness…and fall flat time and time again. And that loyalty, while some may say is right and honorable, chaps the ever-living #%&* out of my taffy…