A (Re)Introduction and the Best Debate is a Sports Debate

I am back, after a year with intermittent internet access, training stints across the country, and a reintroduction to academia. For those that do not remember me from my previous posts, I’ll go over the tale of the tape:

I am approaching 30 years old and am currently working as a server/bartender, and manager at Fleming’s Steakhouse. For those that aren’t familiar with us, think Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris. I am currently back in school after my stint at UT, working on a degree in Hotel and Restaurant management from the University of Houston. I have been involved in high end dining for eight years now, having started as a busser and line cook to learn both fine dining service styles and culinary techniques. I have also been in the service industry for 10 years, having worked as a server and bartender at numerous other restaurants while going to school in Austin. Though I am not by any means a culinary expert, I have developed a love for food and cooking. I hope to focus more on easy to prepare dishes that can be made for a family or enjoyed by a single bachelor and saved for later (that’s no knock on John — I’m one myself. That’s how I know what food they like).

Politically I am, I guess, hard to pin down. I am libertarian on most social issues, but lean left. I think that the free market is incredibly good at finding an efficient (as in cheap) solution to problems. I also think some issues are too important to leave to the free market. In other words, that it’s more important the issue be handled well than that it be handled efficiently. I include education, health care, national defense, and law enforcement among those. I’ve voted for exactly one Democrat in my life (that being John Kerry), and one Republican (Bob Dole). I grew up in various Houston suburbs, ranging from Pasadena (the foulest city on earth) to Sugar Land, Texas(a place I’m sure everyone here knows because of our most famous son), all the while in a strongly Republican household. At this moment I will say there is no possible way I am voting Republican this year. Oddly, the candidate I agree with the most is probably Ron Paul, though I am not in any way supporting him. I think he provides an incredibly important role in reminding the Republican party what it should stand for, but will never in a thousand years get the nomination. Even if he does, I’ll hold my nose and vote for Hillary because I am the polar opposite of Libertarian on the issue of health care. I think it is the biggest issue facing our nation and that it is the type of issue that can win someone the Presidency. I also breathlessly await the return of a competent cabinet to the executive branch.

That being said, I don’t think I’ll be focusing too much on politics (though I have to reserve the right to say that could change as the election approaches). I’ll be focusing on a food and wine blog highlighting some recipes and wines I’ve stumbled across. I also, as an American male, love sports. Baseball is my favorite, due largely to its historical power. Football is ingrained in a Texan’s DNA, and I am a University of Texas Longhorn. I was an Oiler fan before I could watch sports, as my Dad took me to games when I was in the womb, but when they moved that team to Nashville, I happened to leave for school that same year in Austin and abandoned the NFL for a few years. My relocation to Houston has me watching the Texans, at least, and really hoping they find their way. It’s hard being a fan of such a disaster, though. That being said, I offer a debate of what (American) sports mean in a global world for all the sports-as-life fans out there.

Matthew Yglesias wrote a piece on freedarko.com* comparing imperialist baseball to nationalist football.

the country is, at the moments, under the grips of a dubious false choice between baseball and football, between imperialism and isolationism. The term rankles many in the American context, but there can be little doubt that it fits.

Yglesias proceeds to argue that baseball was spread at the barrel of a gun to any states that currently play the sport (ignoring that Japan adopted the sport in defiance towards the US military forces stationed there), and further states that Bush is acting in baseball’s model:

in January of 2001, George W. Bush found himself inaugurated as President of the United States. Most observers assumed at the time that his foreign policy judgment would track the sort of prudent statesmanship associated with his father, with Bush family retainer James Baker, and with incoming Secretary of State Colin Powell. A more insightful observer would have noted that Bush was the first former owner of a baseball franchise to occupy the White House and known accordingly that his election, in fact, heralded a return to the imperialism of the McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt administrations.

The Democrats are football fans in this tortured metaphor:

Meanwhile, the powers that be would like us to believe that there is only one alternative. As hawkish senator Joe Lieberman told my colleague Jeffrey Goldberg when he was reporting for The New Yorker, “A lot of Democrats are essentially pacifists and somewhat isolationist,” with his particular beef in this instance being a Ted Kennedy proposal to deny Bush funding for the troop “surge” that took place earlier this year.

They want us to think, in short, that the only alternative to baseball’s dreams of conquest is the splendid isolation of football — America alone, padded and helmeted, marching to the beat of our own drummer while the rest of the world tries to figure out what a “yard” is.

Thus Yglasias completely ignores the fact that the first ever overseas NFL game was played last week in London, as well as the huge influx of NFL players from Samoa and other Pacific Islands the US took via the same policies Yglasias derided as imperialist.

I did enjoy his basketball comparison of “soft imperialism,” noting how the sport has exploded internationally without the US controlling the territories involved. I think this comparison is best made with multinational corporations however, particularly since the NBA is more accepting than the other big team sports in accepting garish product marketing schemes.

*For those that do not regularly read sports blogs, freedarko is one of the best. Bethlehem Shoals makes me enjoy basketball, a sport which I tend to believe has fallen below soccer as the third most popular in the country.

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26 replies
  1. 1
    Dreggas says:

    Umm first off pleased to meet you and being a food afficianado myself, as well as a cook I look forward to food and wine discussions.

    Second. Yeah Yglesias is pretty out there with the football metaphor for the exact reason mentioned.

  2. 2
    Doubting Thomas says:

    Welcome back Tom, I’ve been wondering where you’ve been.

    OT, but have you been watching “The Next Iron Chef” competition on the Food network, and if so what do you think?

    On the wine front, here on the Central Coast the latest rage is Rose’s and Spanish varietals. I remember you being into the grape, so what’s the rage in Texas????

  3. 3
    Buck says:

    Hell. I remember you. I wondered where you had gone. At some point in time Michael D slipped in here on me. I don’t know how I missed his arrival. Same way I missed your departure I guess.

    When it comes to sports if it ain’t football fuck it. That being said, in the upcoming BCS college football championship game will Ohio State get beat like
    A) a snare drum
    B) a government mule
    C) a red headed step child

  4. 4
    fuddmain says:

    That being said, in the upcoming BCS college football championship game will Ohio State get beat like
    A) a snare drum
    B) a government mule
    C) a red headed step child

    D) All of the above

    I’m a U of Florida alum, so it will be biitersweet to see someone else take them out to the woodshed.

  5. 5
    Tom in Texas says:

    Doubter — I love a Spanish Red. Rioja blends compliment about everything I eat, since they aren’t as heavy or tannic as most other reds that carry that spicy finish. In Texas we’re simply excited that the TABC cabal is finally allowing us to get Californian wines delivered. Finally Texans can join wine clubs. I haven’t been following this season’s Iron Chef. I am rarely home during the evening, and my DVR is almost entirely composed of games involving my favorite teams or my girlfriend’s serials.

    Buck–

    If it’s LSU Ohio State will lose by 3-4 TD’s. Oregon might be interesting. I think there is a better than even chance they lose to Michigan anyway, thus turning the entire season into a catastrophic clusterfuck. This may be wishful thinking on my part, however, since after that, they’d have to institute a playoff.

    And Dreggas — pleasure to meetcha as well.

  6. 6
    Abe Froman says:

    Food and Wine blogging, you had me at food. The misses is pregnant so wines are pretty much out the door for the next couple of months or so.

    Welcome (back).

  7. 7
    pharniel says:

    it’s always a great new years when OSU get’s man handled like the widestance team they are
    (personal note, I’m from ann arbor. Any town where it’s nto safe for me to walk in on ‘game day’ because i happen to live somewhere deserves to get worked over like [choose your innapropriate metaphor here])

  8. 8
    Andrew says:

    Tim in Texas?

    I thought Tim lived in Pittburgh?

  9. 9
    Alex Merced says:

    http://my.ronpaulspace.com/alexmerced/blog/

    Check out my Blog post on why ROn Paul has verrry good chances of winning.

    Also…

    Healthcare being the biggest issue?

    I understand why’d you say that, but people forget that if our foreign Policy and Fiscal matter aren’t in check there will be no country to give health care for. I go either way on health care, but the country itself need to be sustainable before that discourse. With the current monetary and Foreign policy our coutry is not sustainable and a federal healthcare plan would just tip the whole thing over at this point.

    Just some food for thought.

    Alex Merced – A Civil Paultard
    ——————————————————————
    ThisNewYearsDay – A Ron Paul Fundraiser
    http://merced2012.ning.com/group/thisnewyearsday
    http://bgsu.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9719196153
    http://my.ronpaulspace.com/thisnewyearsday

  10. 10
    fuddmain says:

    I think there is a better than even chance they lose to Michigan anyway, thus turning the entire season into a catastrophic clusterfuck.

    I’ll bet the BCS is sweatin’ bullets over the possibility of an Oregon vs. Kansas national championship game.

  11. 11
    RSA says:

    Welcome back, Tom.

    Dad took me to games when I was in the womb

    I like the ambiguity of this sentence. (That is, I’m assuming it’s ambiguity.)

  12. 12
    Tom in Texas says:

    I’ll bet the BCS is sweatin’ bullets over the possibility of an Oregon vs. Kansas national championship game.

    I’m pulling for UConn/Kansas myself. How many people would think it’s March already?

  13. 13
    Evinfuilt says:

    Welcome back. Sorry to hear you ended up in Houston, but not a bad restaurant to end up managing.

    I’ll make a minor push for you head to to UH and check out their masters program in HRM (doctorate about to be available there) :) Or at least check out any of their continuing education, and of course all the good speakers (and great Wine Tastings.)

    Oh, and pre-season NFL games have happened on London for many many years now :)

  14. 14
    Tom in Texas says:

    Dad took me to games when I was in the womb

    Trust me, he wasn’t taking my mom. Football bores her to tears.

  15. 15
    Detlef says:

    Tom,

    although I´m only an occasional poster, I do remember you. Welcome back!
    Saying that…

    Politically I am, I guess, hard to pin down. I am libertarian on most social issues, but lean left. I think that the free market is incredibly good at finding an efficient (as in cheap) solution to problems. I also think some issues are too important to leave to the free market. In other words, that it’s more important the issue be handled well than that it be handled efficiently. I include education, health care, national defense, and law enforcement among those.

    Shhh!
    Being a European myself, I´m looking over your list and concluding that you´re pretty close to the European political center. Which is totally leftist and radical if you only watch US main stream media.

    Don´t you know that these positions make you look “Old European”, maybe even “French” or “German” to your American readers? :)

    Sometimes I´m watching and reading US media and I´m left wondering why simple common sense and investigative journalism are in such short supply right now?

  16. 16
    RareSanity says:

    That being said, in the upcoming BCS college football championship game will Ohio State get beat like
    A) a snare drum
    B) a government mule
    C) a red headed step child

    D) a red-headed, government mule, wound tighter than a snare drum…

    If they play LSU, I agree with Tom 3-4 TDs. However, Oregon might put up enough points that you thought the Phoenix Suns were playing OSU.

    OSU couldn’t stop UF’s spread with Chris Leak runnin’ it, what the heck are they gonna do with Dennis Dixon?

    Answer…nothing.

  17. 17
    chopper says:

    man, posters just comin out the woodwork. christ, tom, i was wondering what happened to you.

  18. 18
    Tom Hilton says:

    Pleased to meet you, other Tom!

    The one time I was in Pasadena it seemed kind of nice (especially compared to the rest of SoCal). But then, we were on our way to the Huntington, so that may not be representative of the area as a whole.

  19. 19
    Dreggas says:

    Oh and Tom, silly question but: Fillet, Prime Rib or Porterhouse?

  20. 20
    Julie says:

    I’ll bet the BCS is sweatin’ bullets over the possibility of an Oregon vs. Kansas national championship game.

    I would pay good money to see that match-up.

  21. 21
    Chris Johnson says:

    Posters coming out of the woodwork talking gibberish. I’m beginning to regret my vote for BJ as top blog. What is this, Red Kos?

  22. 22

    When Nebraska starts playing Division I football again my level of interest will increase. Until then my black armband stays in place and the Wild Turkey comes out during the pre-game show. Maybe I’ll just go get waterboarded instead of watching the next game.

  23. 23
    Gus says:

    Just a minor correction. Baseball in Japan predates the war. American all start teams were barnstorming Japan in the ’30s playing Japanese college and all-star teams.

  24. 24
    Doubting Thomas says:

    @Tom Hilton: He’s talking about Pasadena, Texas not California. You are correct, though, compared to most of LA, Pasadena CA is a paradise!

    @Chris Johnson: I don’t know if you’re kidding or not, but give us a break! You can’t talk about the sorry state of political affairs 24/7. Food, wine and football is a welcome distraction every now and then. We missed Tom in TX cause he often provided that. Read a different post if you object.

  25. 25

    […] Tom in Texas put an intriguing blog post on A (Re)Introduction and the Best Debate is a Sports Debate.Here’s a quick excerpt:I include education, health care, national defense, and law enforcement among those. I’ve voted for exactly one Democrat in my life (that being John Kerry), and one Republican (Bob Dole). I grew up in various Houston suburbs, … […]

  26. 26
    Buck says:

    I think there is a better than even chance they lose to Michigan anyway, thus turning the entire season into a catastrophic clusterfuck.

    That would be even better than Pat R endorsing Rudy G.

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  1. […] Tom in Texas put an intriguing blog post on A (Re)Introduction and the Best Debate is a Sports Debate.Here’s a quick excerpt:I include education, health care, national defense, and law enforcement among those. I’ve voted for exactly one Democrat in my life (that being John Kerry), and one Republican (Bob Dole). I grew up in various Houston suburbs, … […]

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