Burnt Orange Glasses: The Binds That Tie

In his political and pop-culture infused off-beat commentary, Jeff Conner examines the Texas baseball team's rise from the ashes, while simultaneously managing to connect the whims of the posters on the Inside Texas message boards to Einstein's "Grand Unification Theory."

The fascist rag known as the "Lubbock Avalanche Journal" used to carry a kid's puzzle on the cartoon page. It showed two drawings, and the astute reader was supposed to identify six minute differences between the doodles. To make it challenging, the differences would be minor – a pile of books with three versus four volumes, a character wearing a short tie contrasted with a long tie, etc. How appropriate, since nitpicking and finding tiny, inconsequential distinctions between things is a favorite activity of the Lubbock City Council.

In his later years, Albert Einstein worked on a theorem called the "Grand Unification Theory," referred to by some as the "Theory of Everything." This scientific proposition would have been a (literally) universal one, searching to show the ultimate relationship between gravity, electromagnetism and all other known cosmic forces in a simple "E=MC2"-type formula. Einstein never successfully completed the Unification Theory, but reportedly obsessed over it until his death in 1955. Unfortunately, all this went completely over the heads of the Lubbock City Council, who debated the issue and voted by a 5-2 majority that "Albert" was in fact the name of the pig on the 60's TV comedy "Green Acres."

All joking aside, what these seemingly unrelated stories tell me is a simple, powerful, and direct message: finding the small, petty differences between us is a game for children, and finding the common connection between seemingly unrelated items is an act of genius.

I advance this principle only with some degree of trepidation. Disagreeing with people and splitting hairs is one of the primary reasons Longhorn fans log onto Inside Texas. It is fun to debate, banter, quibble and spar prosaically with our peers. I want to hear your take on all things burnt and orange, and give you my point of view. The IT Forums are our own little corner of the First Amendment, part of the great melting pot of ideas envisioned by America's Founding Fathers and spurred on by internet technology.

Lately, however, there have been some fairly vicious attacks on fellow Longhorns on various topics – the role of John Chiles, Spurs versus Mavericks, and Coach Mac's abilities as a recruiter. Going after the occasional Dirt Burglar, Gomer, or Prophylactic who wanders onto our playground by happenstance is perfectly acceptable. As Don Zaluchi said in "The Godfather," "They're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls."

As fans of my beloved, mighty, fighting Texas Longhorns, please remember we all wear burnt orange and are all paddling in the same direction – something about crushing our enemies, to see them driven before us, and to hear the lamentations of their women. We are bound by our common loves and hates, and let's face it, we T Sips are extremely good haters. Let us keep a little perspective and remember we agree on ten thousand things and disagree on two dozen. OK, three dozen. But still, we are held together by what we have in common; we will call our commonalities the binds that tie.

As a result, attempting to draw blood with personal, hateful ad hominem stabs at fellow Longhorns not only seems counterproductive, but against the spirit of Inside Texas. We have roped at this rodeo before, with Clendon Ross previously temporarily suspending the posting privileges of several of our more acid-tongued members. Remember folks, someone disagreeing with you does not make them a brain-dead moron.

That would be only when they disagree with ME.

Speaking of being disagreeable, our amazing Longhorn baseball team heard some Gomer women's lamentations during their weekend sweep of Texas A&M. The Aggies, who had been on an incredible conference tear, hit a bit of a slump even as the Good Guys appear to be peaking for the season. In my unfaithfulness, I sincerely thought we would be doing pretty well to win even one game against the Big XII-leading Farmers during the three-game series.

Silly me.

Baseball fans have waited patiently as the 2008 Horns floundered, biting our collective tongues over excessive fielding errors, relief pitching meltdowns, and the inability to hit with runners in scoring position. We believed this was a talented team with returning pitching talent and the chance to break a two-year hex and advance past an NCAA subregional. This weekend we finally lanced the boil, so to speak, letting out the foul-smelling pus and fetid infection of the horrific Missouri series, a home sweep by Oklahoma State (which actually turned out to be a pretty darn good team), and losing the middle game of damn near every conference weekend series.

And it could not come in a better way against nicer people. The Aggies lead the conference in almost every important batting statistic, but the Horns' much-maligned pitching staff held them to 2, 2, and 3 runs, respectively. Burnt Orange hitting was clutch, giving us critical, take-the-fight-out-of-them insurance runs in the 7th inning Friday, the 6th and 7th Saturday night, and Travis Tucker's sacrifice fly in the 8th and Russell Moldenhauer's two run moon shot in the top of the 9th Sunday. Yeah, during Moldenhauer's rainbow I screamed at the television, scared the Chihuahua, and made my wife frown and sternly lecture, "I don't care for all the screaming." Best of all, we committed no errors the entire series.

That's some fine baseball, and we are justifiably proud of our guys. Omaha still seems farther away than a mere 16 hour drive, but if you are going to peak, this is the time of year to do it. As Coach Augie noted, "The whole thing's coming in sync. It's like an orchestra. All of them had instruments, but all of them had different songs they were playing, and it didn't sound too good."

Perhaps the music analogy might work on IT as well. But instead of an orchestra, where every note is preordained and carefully scripted, perhaps a jazz band might be more accurate. We all move to the same beat, but everybody gets their own 64 measures to improvise on a common melody. It's all cool, as long as we're all playing the same song.

For instance, Santana's "Winning."

Hook ‘em.


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