In Garage, Winterizing
By Tony Kornheiser
Whenever I'm feeling blue, I go bowling. I love bowling. Honestly, I can't think of anything that makes me happier than bowling -- rolling the big ball down the alley, and knocking the pins every whichway.
For me, there's nothing quite so sensual as waving my right hand over that forced air to dry my fingers, then picking up that smooth, round bowling ball, gently inserting my third and fourth fingers, then my thumb, cradling the ball in my left hand, taking a deep breath, and exhaling purposefully as I look for my marks on the right side of the lane, then beginning my deliberate five-step path to ecstasy . . .
Hold it, Tony! Hold it just a red-hot minute here! You don't really believe you can get away with this preposterous, self-indulgent bowling column, do you? Save your bowling fantasies for Chris Schenkel. This is Tuesday, Bandwagon Day. Whattsa matter, chump, can't face the fact that your sacred Redskins went into the dumper?
The dumper? A field goal with 13 seconds left, on the road, against a 10-6 team, with many of the regulars on the bench, in a meaningless game? This is in the dumper?
Excuses. Excuses. Admit it, your Bandwagon blew its engine. It's got metal fatigue, and you're trying to bail out with a bogus bowling column. That won't wash.
I guess I got some 'splaining to do, Lucy.
Who did John Brandes think was back there, Ralph Sampson? If Kelly Goodburn doesn't leap up to snag that snap, it goes all the way to Trenton.
Then again, if A.J. Johnson didn't get flagged for unsportsmanslike conduct for "failing to make an effort to immediately return inbounds," Brandes doesn't have to re-snap, and Goodburn's original 52-yard punt stands up, and the Iggles are done, goodnight, Irene. What kind of rule is, "failing to make an effort to immediately return inbounds"? What if someone on the Iggles sideline engaged him in interesting conversation? What if he took a moment to ponder what the initials A.J. stood for? What's the purpose of this rule anyway? Were players wandering off for long periods of time? Was it like a religious retreat? Who wrote this rule, Judge Crater? (This was not the best of days for Mr. Johnson. Later in the game he tried to scoop up a fumble rather than flop on it -- risking a penalty for failing to turn in the direction of the skid; a little Minnesota humor there.)
And what befell budding wideout Mark "The Tick" Adickes? (Thus nicknamed by legendary wide receiver and mentor, Russ "The Flea" Grimm.) Talk about the agony of delete! That six was On The Board! "I felt confident," The Tick said in the locker room after the game. "I came off the line well. I was wide open. And the ball was in the air. It seemed to be arriving in slow motion. It took forever to get to me. My whole life flashed before my eyes waiting for the ball to get there. I remembered every mistake I ever made, back to little league." Adickes grinned and went on, "It hit me in the wrists, then slowly slid down my stomach and through my legs." Indeed, as the ball came out, it seemed like Adickes was Horton hatching an egg. Rolling his eyes, Adickes said despairingly, "It's not enough that I missed it, but I had to possess it for a while."
Ah, beautiful losers. Which of course brings us to the Venturi Update: Rick "It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" Venturi and his Colts fulfilled expectations on Stupor Bowl Sunday, losing to Tampa Bay, 17-3, to give Venturi a 1-10 record at Indianapolis, 2-44-1 overall as a head coach. Venturi's Colts playbook is being sent directly to Canton -- China, not Ohio. In honor of Venturi, who is no longer staring at 2-45-1, but more likely at unemployment, one final review:
Most points, 485. Beat Kelly by 27, Moon by 99 and Montana by 485.
Alas, not fewest points allowed. Redskins fell behind Cha-Chingsters with 12:08 left in the season after Philly's second touchdown.
Greatest point differential, 261, the approximate number of holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.
Before we convene this week's meeting of the Coach "Joe" Gibbs Whoa Nellie What Happened To Our Momentum Orchestra, featuring the novel woodwind sound of Seth Joyner, who bent Jeff Rutledge's face mask into a clarinet, let's examine the notion of exactly what was lost in Philadelphia, beyond one game.
The Redskins came out of the game healthy. They move to the playoffs, where they can get wealthy -- and they didn't needlessly expose Rypien to an overload of Gang Green, which was wise.
"Guys came into the locker room throwing helmets because they hate losing," Eric Williams said. "But in terms of the big picture, it was sort of like the last preseason game. You take your starters out because there are more things, bigger things down the road . . . . In a sense, losing your last game may be better, because the light is a lot brighter on every player after a loss. The coaches will chew you out, and you'll stay attentive."
The Bandwagon (copyright Anthony I. Kornheiser, notwithstanding cheap shots from the ethics police, U.S. Copyright Office, 11501520071) regrets that as a result of a 180-degree reversal of form in the fourth quarter, it cannot offer passage to Jeff "Got No Time" Kemp and Fred "Got No Hands" Barnett, and indeed prefers not to see either of them again -- or Otis "My Man" Smith for that matter. That frees up some space. Assuming nobody's jumping off, The Bandwagon welcomes Dave and Betsy Hansgen, whose chicken wings are hot enough to melt Minneapolis snow, Anna Burchick, Bradley R. Friess, Kurt and Kathleen Grimwood, who pledge to make up a batch of "Snowshoe Grog" (don't ask), Colleen Sonosky, Ronn Lonon, Stuart T. Stringer, Jeanine Martin, Perry Cottrelle, Arizona's John F. Schluth Jr., Jakarta's (Jakarta!!) Marty Robinson, NFL Films' Steve Sabol, Joyce Small, Brian Colligan, The Ghost of B Tier, Steve Heller and nurses Judith Griggs and Sharon Keller, who will care for the wounded if we skid off the road and into a glacier.
Undoubtedly, some people (me, Monty, pick me, me!) will wonder -- now with two losses -- what should be done with The Bandwagon, whether it should be chopped up and sold for scrap, or sent to the shop for repair, or customized to look like a giant aerosol can of hair spray, roomy enough to fit the entire Redskins team, and sent as tribute to Jimmy Johnson? The Bandwagon: Do we dump it, or pump it?
As always, we sought out Russ Grimm for guidance.
"Put snow tires on that bad boy. We've got three big games to go." Broadway Russ smiled and guaranteed it.