Tag Archives: David Cone

Living up to the Hype

7 Dec

I’d heard about this Oklahoma Joe’s spot even before I had moved to this part of the mid-west. Everyone who’d talked about it made it very clear that I needed to “eat at the “gas station one” to get the best experience.

Circumstances led me to accompany a friend out to K.C. and sure enough it turned into a trip to Oklahoma Joe’s.

When we pulled into a nearby parking lot, and I saw the line that was wrapped around the building, I had a feeling that I knew what was in store for us (Apparently the line is never that long during the weekdays and Saturday was black Friday weekend). I had only seen lines this long at amusement parks and Franklin’s BBQ in Austin. I knew it had to at least pretty good. K.C. knows its barbecue so I knew the food would be good. The question that was begging to be asked was where did it rank in the pantheon.

It wasn’t quite the spectacle that Franklin’s lines can be. No college kids were throwing around footballs, drinking beers from a coozie and sitting in banana chairs. The line consisted mostly of families and older people. I felt self conscious about my buddies drinking Hamm’s while we were in line but no one said anything. Eventually (almost an hour later) when we got inside they had started going to the bathroom to transfer their beers from the cans into a styrofoam cup.

There were lots of framed articles hanging on the walls, restaurant reviews by celeb foodies like Anthony Bordain. He said that the BBQ at Oklahoma Joe’s was the best in the world. This made me wonder if he’d ever been to Texas because I had two places I could think of off the top of my head that belonged in the pantheon of all time greatest smoked meats.

I decided I wanted to try everything so I ordered a combo ham and turkey sandwich, a sausage link, a half slab of ribs, and some brisket. I went ahead and grabbed some sides, potato salad, beans and rice, and dirty rice.

I sat down to eat with my buddies, who’d both bought the “Z man”sandwich, barbecued brisket topped with fried onion rings and a slice of provolone cheese (I got to try a bite and it was legit to say the least)–kind of sister sandwich to Franklin’s Tipsy Texan.

The Turkey and Ham were underwhelming. A little dry, so I added some BBQ sauce to it for taste. The BBQ sauce by the way, was some of the best I’d ever had.2013-11-30 16.00.02

The ribs were pretty phenomenal. Better than Smitty’s but not quite as good as Franklin’s.

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The brisket was good, but thin. The slices weren’t quite as thick as the slices you get at Smitty’s, with the extra smoky marbles of fat hanging off the meat.

The sausage was really good. As good as Smitty’s or Franklin’s. I couldn’t think of anything negative to say about their links at all. By the time I got to it, I was so full and wasn’t able to dig in. I did eat some for breakfast the next day and it was hitting on all cylinders.
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“Okie Joe’s has Smitty’s and Franklin’s beat is their side dishes. Their sides are overwhelmingly better than either Texas establishment. The dirty rice was mouth watering, the potato salad was flawless, and the red beans and rice was so full of flavorful heat.

So who has the best food? Well depends on what you want.

Smitty’s meats are so good that it doesn’t matter if you like the sides or not. Franklin’s lines makes going there a real turn off, and the food is not quite as good Smitty’s. Okie Joe’s is well rounded and the meats are almost as good as the former two places.

If they were college basketball players, Smitty’s would be Julius Randle, meaty and impossible to not drool over–not nearly as much fanfare as the other two spots. Franklin’s would be Andrew Wiggins with a ridiculous amount of hype preceding it, and high admission prices and lots of media attention. A little underwhelming once you get to finally see what its about, but not cause of the quality–simply because of all the hype.
Okie Joe’s is Jabari Parker, extremely well rounded and excellent, the best right now with the least amount of development needed to be NBA ready.

But if you asking me what I prefer: well I like meat and Smitty’s has the best meats. I’m not waiting in line for 2 hours just so I can eat delicious sides. I can make delicious sides in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Franklin’s is good but it seems silly to wait 2.5 hours when you can drive 20 minutes to Lockhart and get better meat for less of a wait.

Smitty’s is still the champion in my eyes, but Okie Joe’s is a close second and definitely lives up to the hype. The Z Man is definitely one of the better culinary creations this side of the Mississippi. The “Z-man” may be the best thing to come out of Missouri since Mark Twain and David Cone.

First Love

22 Jul

the moment my love for a certain  Algerian was cemented.

the moment my love for a certain Algerian was cemented.

The first baseball game I ever went to was in the spring of 1989.
It was an Astros game at the Astrodome versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Some old school cats in that game. Had no idea I was seeing THE Barry Bonds, back then. I was in fourth grade and was more interested in this older gal Peggy, than in seeing Craig Biggio, Glenn Davis, and Bill Doran eek out a win.

She was kind of a fan, and her older sister was a big fan and they were both really kind to me, and somehow I became interested in baseball. Thus beginning a 15 year affair.

I started playing that following year and got my hand eye coordination good enough to play in a few all star games as a teenager before the pressures of high school sucked the joy out of playing (and sometimes living).

For a long time I hated my father for putting so much pressure on me to be a good player, and I grew to hate him even more for trashing my collection of baseball cards as a kid.

Recently though I realized he might have done me a favor. I used to view those cards as a gateway to my youth. Seeing the old cards of Cal Ripken Jr. Bob Tewksbury, or Lance Blankenship still bring about memories of riding my bike to the card shop and plopping down some moulah for the chance at a Darryl Strawberry in Dodgers uniform…….

but now…… not quite the same…….

two strike years lost, and a huge steroids scandal has jaded me a bit.

Finding out about the ‘roids made me feel like James Spader character in Sex, Lies, and Videotape, when he finds out the girl he had on a pedestal fucked his college buddy behind his back.

Names came up and more names came up and everything jsut kind of made sense. All the talk about juiced balls, and all the on the field, bench clearing brawls were suddenly put into a different context.

But in a way i’m like so what? How many of us are on performance enhancing drugs? I’m sitting here writing this blog (and about to work on a short story) with the help of two gigantic, 16 ounce Red Bulls.

So what if it takes years off my life? I have to get this stuff done. And maybe that was the thinking during the Steroids Era. Getting it done, putting up stats and being as good as possible while you still have the chance, because when your career is over, its over, and no one thinks about you because there will always be another player to eclipse your statistics.

So in a way I get it, but still, it takes a little of the luster off the game I had held in such high esteem.

I guess aging does that to you. You get a different sort of perspective on things, and players become people, fucking up like everyone else but having it appear in headlines everywhere.

Players die, players retire, players go bankrupt and get divorced.

I finally learned to seperate what a player does on the field with the off the field stuff.

True Lenny Dykstra had one of the most phenomenal post season runs I’ve ever seen (and should’ve won the ’93 MVP in my opinion), but does that make him a decent human being?

Even if there weren’t the scandals and the strike stuff, it seems inevitable that I’d outgrow the sport. The last world series I watched with any interest was the last one with the Yankees, in 2003 when they lost to the Florida Marlins.

Even back then my interest was waning. A friend of mine once remarked that baseball was too slow for him, and boring, and I told him I liked the pace of the game, that I found it relaxing.

But that changed. Maybe my life got more complicated and the pace of basketball and international soccer resonated more with me, or maybe baseball really did become boring.

I just noticed that going to the game and sitting still for three hours became harder and harder. Unless I went with a friend, I found myself falling asleep in my chairs, a bit too relaxed by the near silence of crowds, smell of chalk, grass, and roasted weiners and peanuts.

The days of visiting cities just to watch a game in their ballparks are over. Tickets are too expensive and I don’t know any of the players out there anymore.

New and exciting NBA players have won me over, and the intensity of international soccer draws me away from the stop and start of baseball and football.

Besides I can’t stand all the constant advertisements that bombard you inside and outside the stadium. All the parks are owned by banks, and billboards dominate the venues, it used to be a simple church organ between innings and a generic wall. Now every outfield is sponsored by TBS or Staples, or Taco Bell.

In 2006 I fell in love with a certain soccer player who reminded me of a certain hockey player I had a man crush on.

Zinedine Zidane took the French national team as far as it could go without winning. Displaying the characteristics of something I’d recognized. Armed with deft passing skills, a steely glance, and a champion’s cool, I found myself wrapped up in the ’06 World Cup, realizing that the intensity of the fan base was a major attraction to the sport.

No matter where I was, no matter the nationality of a person I came across while traveling, I found that soccer was an interesting starting point to engage a complete stranger (often foreign) in conversation.

That combined with countless hours of playing the FIFA video game with my roommates in Austin, got me to start tuning into UEFA Leagues and Champions Leagues and I’m a full fledged fan now, even if Zidane retired.

So it goes. Old relationships die, new ones start up, right?

I went to a Tulsa Drillers game tonight with teh kids and it was fun. I didn’t know a single player’s name, and didn’t care. I was just watching baseball. Didn’t care about stats or anything, just enjoying the fundamentals of executing a bunt, or a double steal, and witnessing the beauty of a 6-4-3 double play.

It was great. Tickets are cheaper at minor leauge games. Less frills between innings, better seats, less lines for cheaper concessions, and real fans.

The kids were ready to leave after six innings and I didn’t blame them, baseball is a slow and often boring game. Kind of like 1,000’s of people sitting down to watch a chess match (although I rather enjoy chess).

Its not for everyone and maybe not for me anymore, but I will always look back in fondness at certain players and moments I was lucky enough to witness.

I got to watch the two greatest World Series of my lifetime in 1991 (Twins-Braves Smoltz and Jack Morris 10 inning duel) and 2001 (Diamondbacks-Yankees 7 games extra inning affair as well).

I witnessed in person a perfect game thrown by Randy Johnson with a high school teammate in Atlanta in 2004.

I got to see Bo Jackson, George Brett, Matt Williams, Andre Dawson, David Cone, Nolan Ryan, Carlton Fisk, Roberto Alomar, Rickey Henderson and Dennis Eckersley play ball at one time or another.

I’ve been to Wrigley Field, Turner Field, Dodgers Stadium, Roylas Stadium, The Sky Dome, the Astrodome, Ballpark in Arlington. I’ve been on the field at Oakland Coliseum. I even took a plane to Pittsburgh to see the Pirates game. I was a huge fan of the sport.

I enjoyed just coming to the game and sitting for hours, watching and thinking, and talking ball.

And as much as I loved watching, I enjoyed playing even more. Just stepping across the chalk lines brought a smile to my face. I miss having teammates and having reasons to high five, and focusing on tendencies and stealing bases.

Had I known how much focus, and preparation went into being a good player, things may have been different for me. I wish I’d have known just how much of playing the game (and even living life) was mental.

I certainly regret not getting the most out of my ability. Its tough knowing that I wasn’t as good of a player as I could’ve been. I’m thirty years old now, and in what should be the peak of a player’s athletic conditioning and career.

I’d like to think I’d join another men’s league and play until I’m seventy like Bill “the Spaceman” Lee. And if not that then at least coach a bit. Who’s to say what will happen.

I can say that the only way you’ll catch me at a major league game is if someone I know is playing on a major league ballclub. Its refreshing to say that I have better things to do than to spend 30 dollars on a seat in a ballpark named after some corporation.

That’s too expensive of a nap. I’d rather just turn on the television and fall asleep on the couch.

Canadian Bacon

13 Jul

Big Bear!! Big Bear!!!! Chase me!!!!!

Big Bear!! Big Bear!!!! Chase me!!!!!

Top 13 reasons why I love Canadians:

1)Bret “Hitman” Hart (My favorite wrestler of all time)
2)Toronto Maple Leafs uniforms (and Felix “the cat” Potvin)
3)The Band
4)Do Make Say think
5)Wolverine (from the Yukon and favorite comic book hero ever)
6) Broken Social Scene
7)Mark Messier (We have the same birthday)
8)1992 Toronto Blue Jays (David Cone was a stud and another Capricorn)
9) Arcade Fire
10)Neil Young (more on him later)
11)Kids in the Hall
12) John Candy
13) Godspeed You Black Emperor

I’m sure I’ll find more reasons on my next visit in August. That’s right bitches.

“I’m going back to Canada on a Journey Thru the Past. Will I still be in your heart and on your mind?” ~Neil Young~