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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cooking with Banshee: Rotisserie Chicken

I know this recipe seems a little daunting at first glance.  It does require some specific equipment, but almost anyone who owns a gas grill can purchase a rotisserie kit at a reasonable cost.  And, this recipe alone will make the investment worthwhile.  Not only is the chicken tasty, but it is just plain fun to cook meat on a spit.

This recipe has a bit of a Mexican flair to it, but mostly it's just juicy and delicious.  Once the meat is removed, it can be used in all sorts of dishes.  Chicken salad and burritos are just two examples.

1 whole chicken
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup lime juice
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, cut in half
1 package taco seasoning

Thoroughly rinse the chicken under cold water.  Drain completely and pat dry.  Place the chicken in a baking dish and pour some of the lime juice over and inside the chicken.  Put your hand underneath the chicken skin and create a pocket between the skin and the meat.  Baste lime juice underneath the skin.  Rub half the chopped cilantro under the skin.  Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and baste with the remaining lime juice.  Thoroughly drain the chicken.  Rub the chicken skin with olive oil then rub with taco seasoning.  Stuff the lime halves and the remaining cilantro into the chicken cavity.  Secure the chicken to the rotisserie rod.  Truss the legs and wings with string.  Place the rotisserie rod on the grill.  Turn on the rotation and cook for approximately 90 minutes.  Internal temperature should be 170 degrees.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing

Are you ready for some football?  If it's Thursday, and you're talking about the NFL ... the answer for me is "no."  No.  I am not ready for NFL football on a Thursday night.  When Thursday night NFL first got started, most people, including me said that there couldn't possibly be anything bad about more football.  But, it turns out that Thursday night football football is like that second piece of cheesecake or that sixth beer.  Sometimes you really can have too much of a good thing.  Due to financial reasons and the need to fill their own network with programming, it seems unlikely that The League will stop playing on Thursdays.  But, here are a few reasons why this fan thinks the NFL should stick to Sunday and Monday.

UVA fans after Thursday night upset of FSU in 1995
1.  College Showcase.  There was a time when all televised football was played on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  And that time wasn't long ago.  High school football was played under the lights on Friday nights.  The big boys left that alone.  Then there was the dawn of college football on Thursday nights.  This was a chance for games that might get overshadowed on Saturday afternoon to get primetime, exclusive exposure on ESPN.  The ACC and the Big East were two conferences that embraced this stage early on.  And, over the years, they put on some good shows on Thursday nights.  But now, that exclusive college stage is gone.  Even when the NFL matchup may be blasé, it's still the NFL.  And, therefore, it will detract from the college boys' audience.

2.  Terrible Games.  Typically, the NFL releases its schedule in April.  So, way back in the spring time these Thursday night games get locked in as stand-alone events.  Anyone who has tried to make preseason predictions will tell you that it's extremely difficult to make long term predictions about what games will be entertaining match-ups at the halfway part of the season.  But, what's worse than that is that the quality of play is often very messy.  That's due to teams often only having three days to physically recover and mentally prepare after their Sunday slug tests.  But, doesn't the short week impact the college games I just extolled?  Probably.  But we don't watch college football for the perfection of play.  We watch it for the pageantry and the possibility of an upset.

(Bloomberg via Getty Images)
3.  Fantasy and Games.  Let's not kid ourselves.  Fantasy football is a huge part of the modern fan experience.  By the time the dust settles on Tuesday morning, and you have a chance to analyze what improvements your team needs, you only have 2 days to make adjustments before the Thursday night game rolls around.  That's barely enough time for players to clear waivers, let alone negotiate and complete a trade.  The Thursday games are also problematic for those of us who participate in weekly Pick 'Em competitions.  My league, like many others, requires all picks to be locked in before the kickoff of the first game of the week.  That gets increasingly problematic as the season progresses and injury reports get more complicated.  For example, this week, many of us will have to have our picks locked without knowing whether or not Peyton Manning will answer the bell for the Sunday night game against the undefeated Chiefs.  Sure, we might not know before 1:00 p.m. Sunday kickoffs, but we'd sure have a lot better idea than we'll have before we start scrounging up some pre-game dinner on Thursday evening.

Like, I said before, I don't expect the NFL to retreat from a territory where they have already planted their flag.  But, if any of y'all happen to have Roger Goodell's email address, please forward this on to him.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NFL Prediction Midterm Report Card

The best thing about sports is that there is an empirical stat that tells if you have succeeded or failed.  The worst thing about sports writers is that they get to run their mouths with no guide to judge their knowledge.  Well, I'm a prosecutor in my day job.  So, I believe in accountability.  Therefore, I put out a quarterly report card on my NFL predictions.

The NFL regular season is seventeen weeks long.  That makes it tough to decide when to publish a midterm report card.  I decided to wait until all the teams had played at least eight games.  After the first quarter, I gave my preseason predictions a grade of B-.  Mid term marks weren't so hot, either.

AFC East:  My preseason prediction for the AFC East was perhaps my boldest pick of the year.    Before the season started, I dove in head first to swim with the fishes.  I predicted that the Dolphins would win the division and that the Patriots wouldn't make the playoffs.  After four games, the Dolphins portion of the pick was looking pretty solid.  But, after starting off 3-1, Miami lost 3 straight games.  The Dolphins might have saved their season by beating the Bengals in Week 9 to move to 4-4, but they are now totally embroiled in the ugly Incognito/Martin mess.  The Patriots have also slowed down after a 4-0 start.  They are now 7-2 and are solidly on top of the division.  I didn't predict that, but I am not really surprised.  It's Brady and Belichick.  Winning is what they do.  The real shocker in this division is that the New York Jets are 5-4 and gaining momentum heading into their bye week.  I thought the Jets would be one of the worst teams in the league.  First Quarter Grade: B+  Midterm Grade C+

(David KohlAP)
AFC North:  As I predicted, the Bengals are on top of the the division, but mounting injuries making are making them look like less and less of a legit threat to make a deep playoff run.  The rest of the division is a muddled mess of mediocrity.  But, mediocrity might be all that it takes to get that final wild card in the AFC.  At 4-5, the Browns are still right there in the hunt.  Since the Browns were such a bold pick, I give myself some extra credit for having them still in the conversation at the halfway point of the season.  First Quarter Grade: A  Midterm Grade: A-

AFC South:  I started writing this column on Sunday night during the Indianapolis-Houston game.  At that point, the Texans were putting a beating on the Colts, and I had convinced myself that my preseason picks were actually reasonable and had written as much.  Then I fell asleep at the half.  When I woke up, I learned that Andrew the Giant led the Colts to second half comeback and basically cemented their strangle hold on the division.  So, I deleted everything I had written.  The Colts are a good team.  The Texans are a terrible team.  And my picks for this division are an embarrassment.  I gave myself an "F" for the first quarter of the season., and I certainly don't deserve anything better than that at the midterm report card.
First Quarter Grade: F  Midterm Grade: F

AFC West:  I take the blame when blame is due.  But, I also toot my own horn when it's appropriate.  And, it's appropriate in this division.  Like everyone else, I predicted that the Broncos would win the AFC West.  Unlike everyone else, I picked the Chiefs as a wild card.  Well, at the halfway point of the season, it seems to be a forgone conclusion that both of these teams will make the playoffs.  The Chiefs are 9-0 and actually lead the division.  But, they have had the benefit of a soft schedule thus far.  Therefore, the 7-1 Broncos are still in a good position to win the division.  These picks might have been a fluke after just 4 games.  But, after half the season, I feel that "prescient" is a better description.  If there was a grade higher than an A+, I'd give myself that.  First Quarter Grade: A+  Midterm Grade: A+

NFC East:  I don't know what to say about this division.  I'm pretty sure that my predictions haven't been very good so far.  The Redskins certainly aren't looking like they are poised to repeat as division champs.  But, RG3 is looking much better lately, and after winning two of their last three games, Washington still has a pulse.  The Cowboys are on top of the division, but they aren't doing anything to dispel my proclamation that they consistently find a way to ruin a good season.  Meanwhile, the Eagles are hanging in there.  Surprisingly, it's the Giants who are lifeless and hopeless at the bottom of the division.  So, while my predictions don't look solid right now, I'm not prepared to issue any written apologies to my readers just yet.  First Quarter Grade: B  Midterm Grade: B-

Injured QBs shaking hands (Morry Gash/AP)
NFC North:  Before the season started, I picked the Bears to win the division, and I predicted that the Lions would be the team that pushed the Bears.  I prognosticated that the Packers would miss the playoffs.  At the halfway point in the season, the whole division is at 5-3.  Well, the whole division besides the Vikings.  The Bears have already endured and survived a couple weeks without their starting quarterback.  The Packers are just heading into what could be a lengthy stretch without Aaron Rogers.  I dropped my grade a bit at the midterm due to the Bears lack of separation, but, because of those factors, I think this pick is poised to end improve as the year progresses.  First Quarter Grade: A  Midterm Grade: A-

NFC South:  Okay, if you read my preseason predictions for this division please avert thine eyes.  It's a horror show.  I though the Falcons were the class of the division.  And I thought that the Buccaneers would be a solid wild card team.  I could not have been more wrong.  Even though the Saints lost to the Jets in week 9, they have shown themselves to be the class of the division.  And, the Panthers at 5-3 have proven to be the only legit challenger to the Saints in this division.  First Quarter Grade: F  Midterm Grade: F

NFC West:  I picked San Francisco to win this division.  But, that had more to do with my analysis of the schedules than it did to do with my belief if he two teams.  I thought those teams were basically even, and, after nine weeks that appears to be true.  Frankly, I'm not sure why I graded myself so low in the last quarter.  With all the craziness in the NFL, even a predictable pick that comes to fruition deserves some credit.  First Quarter Grade: B  Midterm Grade: A

Overall Grade:  I did a little math, and it looks like my GPA would be a little under 3.0 at the halfway point of the season.  That's a C+ at best.  Not good.  I'll grant you that.  And not a good trend, eider.  But, There is a long way to go in this season.  My fate lies in the hands of the Redskins in the NFC East and the Bears in the NFC North.  If those two teams exert some dominance to close the year, I could still claim some bragging rights.  First Quarter Grade: B-  Midterm Grade: C+

Think I was too harsh or too lenient?  Want to make some predictions of your own?  Then, by all means, leave a comment and let me know.

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Winner, Winner!

Banshee Sports was born in November of 2011.  It's been a work in progress ever since then.  The name has been tweaked, and there has been a radical aesthetic makeover facilitated by the talented folks at Lunatorium Designs.  Banshee Sports celebrated its 2nd birthday by unveiling a new email subscription app.  But, even on your own birthday, it's better to give than to receive.  So, Banshee Sports announced that it would be giving away a 30 for 30 prize pack.  The lucky winner was drawn randomly from the list of email subscribers at the end of the month of October.

I am proud to announce that the winner is Al Burke.  Al provides calm and knowledgeable sports commentary on Twitter ... particularly on football.  If you participate in the wild world of Twitter then you know that "calm" is a supreme compliment.  As you can see by his bio, Al writes for a number of websites.  He also runs the Global Gridiron page on Facebook.  Mr. Burke was one of the earliest and most faithful supporters of Banshee Sports, so I'm excited that he won this prize drawing.  Also, Al Burke lives in Vancouver, so that officially makes Banshee Sports an international website.

For those of you who didn't win this time, don't worry.  There will be another give away in the spring.  So, go ahead and subscribe.  The prize will be good, but having the Wild Banshee's wit delivered to your inbox on a regular basis will be even better.

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