Burnt Orange Glasses: The Right to Bear Arms

In his political and pop-culture infused off-beat commentary, Jeff Conner recounts his trip to Austin this past weekend to watch the Horns take on Baylor and addresses the rumors that have romantically linked him to Roger Clemens.

I want get this out of the way first. I know there have been wild, inaccurate rumors about the situation, and I want to deal with them in a mature, forthright, and straightforward manner.

As you are all aware, there have been news reports linking me romantically to Roger Clemens.

I think it is only fair that I get to explain my side of things. O.K., at first I was flattered. And maybe a little curious. There were some interesting moments when we both had to explain some awkwardly-located tattoos of cartoon characters.

But that's as far as it went. Seriously. I mean, where could the relationship go? We're both married, for crying out loud. He has kids; I have my journalistic integrity. Trust me, it never would have worked out.

I must categorically say: I NEVER had sexual relations with that right-hander.

To get away from the paparazzi, even if it was just for a short while, Mrs. Lubbock Horn and I took our annual spring pilgrimage to Austin this past weekend. Usually, we try to get Travis County early enough to catch the bluebonnets, but unscheduled conflicts kept us tied up until May. Still, the Indian Paintbrushes were reminding me of Lady Bird Johnson, and the weather could not have been better had we ordered it online.

Along for the ride was my wife's nephew, a nine year old who's just learning to enjoy the game of baseball. He's a pretty typical kid – video games, alternatively fighting with and doting over his twin little brothers, the attention span of an gnat on methamphetamine, drinking enough high octane caffeine drinks to keep a racing horse up with a nervous twitch all night.

We told the nephew ahead of time we would buy him one thing he wanted during the weekend, and he chose a UT ball cap. As a Longhorn trying to ultimately save him from doldrums of Red Raiderdom, I was pleased with his choice, but he went on and on about wanting a hat with a "straight bill." Personally, I have tried to ignore this little fashion quirk, like you try to ignore the smelly, disheveled homeless guy talking to himself out loud in the corner booth of the IHOP.

But, similar to American troops going through the Iraqi Republican guard like a laser through warm butter, hip hop culture has overwhelmed white suburban America to a degree impossible to ignore.

One proponent of the straight brim look is St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Anthony Reyes, who wore his starched bill and garish red-with-white stripes socks on the mound in the 2006 World Series. When asked about his stiff brim, Reyes claimed, "The hat helps me see a little bit, gets more light in, helps me see the signs." Yeah. Right. I always heard getting enough light was really tough outdoors in a Major League ballpark in the middle of a sunny summer day. No wonder batters hit all those home runs during the 1990's. It wasn't steroids or HGH; it was pitchers helplessly throwing in the utter darkness of a curved-brim baseball cap.

When asked how he gets him brim so straight, Reyes claimed, "You know, it comes out of the box flat. I just don't bend it." Considering that Reyes was recently demoted to the minor leagues, I can see why he feels that curving the brim of a baseball cap seems like a lot of work.

Call me old fashioned, but the straight brim looks worse than golfer John Daly and baseball analyst John Kruk back-to-back in a topless photo shoot. To my Caucasian eyes, a straight bill on a baseball cap is dumber than Britney Spears holding a bag of hammers.

The other odd aspect of this trend is the size of the hat. Evidently, if one buys a hat that correctly fits a person's skull, the bill will naturally curve. In order to keep the brim straight, at least on a nine year old with a sugar buzz, one must buy a hat several sizes oversized, cartoonishly too big, large enough to stick three fingers between the side of the nephew's head and the cap. We kept asking him if the hat was too big. It looked like a sombrero on his little head. The nephew kept saying, "No, it's too small."

In "The Art of War" Sun Tzu talks about picking your battles carefully: "He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight." This was clearly a fight we were not going to win, so we let the nephew choose his own enormous hat. He seemed happy, and I, along with my vinyl jazz record albums, Levi's 501 straight leg button fly jeans and Cormac McCarthy novels, lost yet another battle in the culture wars.

Speaking of fights we could not win, the Horns dropped the Saturday matinée of the three game baseball series against Baylor at the Dish. I had the fine opportunity to watch the game with DJBFootball and his son. Those of you who spend any time at all on this site know that DJB as one of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic Horns baseball gurus on the planet. We laughed, we cried, we kissed $7 a ticket good-bye. Other than the Horns' disappointing loss, it was a great day at the park.

DJB warned me before the game that Austin Wood might struggle. In his previous start, Wood threw more than 130 pitches, and that overexertion frequently causes him to struggle in the next outing with less than a week's rest. That's the kind of information you have when you love the game, watch the team on a very regular basis, and pay attention. Unfortunately, that criteria leaves me whiffing on two out of three, much like the Horns on Saturday with runners in scoring position. Heck, runners on third base. We left more people stranded than the cast of "Lost."

The loss Saturday was symptomatic of the Horns' season. Wood pitched a brilliant game right up to the top of the 7th, when the wheels completely came off and two Bears homered. Pitching Coach Skip Johnson made several head-scratching calls with relievers. We squandered multiple scoring opportunities with runners on third. We played extremely well at times but, like Barak Obama, could not close the deal in the face of Baylor's right to Bear arms.

Like my nephew's oversized hat, this season just doesn't seem to fit. Alternatively having problems with fielding, pitching and hitting, we are still waiting for that magic combination that will get this team hot at the right time of year. Time is slipping away, guys.

Just like Roger Clemens from my dreams.

Hook ‘em.

Jeff Conner's political and pop culture-infused Longhorn commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.

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