Monday, November 29, 2010


Autumn is simply a wonderful time of the year. Warm days, crisp nights. We have back-to-school, Veterans' Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, the World Series, elections, the Vols vs. the Crimson Tide, losses by Notre Dame, and enough colors in the leaves and fall sunsets to overflow a box of Crayola 64s.

As always, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor enjoys this time of year. Of course when Schaefer is available, the SHOF and SROH pretty much enjoy any time of year. For the purpose of this blog entry, I'll refer to the memorable events during the 61 day period of October and November as Schaefvember.

A photo recap of some great times the last two months...

SHOFers Philly and Uncle Dave with SROH member Rev. Randy at the October Charlotte NASCAR race.

Rev. Randy representing with the duck at Charlotte.

He also snapped this great photo of the famed 43 of A.J. Allmendinger. Its almost a visual, cryptic public service announcement: And remember, be sure to tarp your lid when you Wix your Dinger.
The Schaefer Hall of Fame was well-represented on the front porch with this self-titled jack o' lantern by SHOFer Cuba.

SROH member Lanie designed this throwback label beer wrap for a Halloween and a birthday party for Cuba's wife / SROH member Havana Montana.

Philly got a new patriotic koozie for his November birthday - complete with a lanyard. I'm hoping it came with a lawyer-required warning label cautioning the consumer to not hang one's self with it after cradling multiple Schaefers.

What better way to try out the gift than with the Granddaddy of American Beers.

Georgia Bulldogs fan and Schaefer Ring of Honor member, Bruton, eased the pain of the Dawgs' November loss to Auburn by washing down some steak and taters with a cold Schaefer.

I made my annual trip to Newark, NJ and NYC in early November. Ordinarily, toomuchcountry finds himself in the land of too much culture. But this time, I armed myself with better research. I surfaced a cool bar called the Spring Lounge in the East Village serving Schaefer by the can.

I loved their motto - Life is Short, Drink Early! At the Spring Lounge, you can certainly do so as it opens at 8AM Monday through Saturday.

Having a couple at a local establishment is one thing. Finding it available in larger quantities suitable for bootlegging back home is quite another task. With a tip from Tony, the hotel shuttle driver, I found a 30 box at the package store just a few blocks from the hotel. Apparently I crossed the city limits from Newark to East Newark during my stroll.

I thought the barbed wire fencing was a nice touch.

I looked in the cooler first. No dice. Scanned up and down 3 or 4 aisles of case after case of mainstream beer. Was just about to conclude I was SOL. Then an employee asked me if he could help - pretty nice and unexpected in Newark I'd think. But then I remembered I was in EAST Newark. When I told him Schaefer, he asked "do you mean this?" Sure enough, tucked between 2 large pallets of Budweiser and some other mainstream swill was three 30 boxes of Schaefer. I was elated.

The 30 box overlooking the Passaic River and the city of Newark.

After the photo shot above, I had to get them chilled for partaking later and a safe flight home.

I later found Tony in the lobby, thanked him for the suggestion, and tipped him a Schaefer Sixer for the idea. Figured it was just a neat thing to do, but he seemed to be touched by my offering. What I never saw coming was the hug he gave me! That's not something I'm accustomed to getting with my Hilton Honors membership.

After ensuring the cans were chillin', I headed off again to NYC. Destination this time: the Trailer Park Lounge. If there was ever a TMC place in New York, this was going to be it.

My research was solid - there it was on the sign - SCHAEFER. Wearing my SHOF Got Schaefer? shirt, I proudly ordered one. Unbelievably, they were sold out. Not a single one in the place. But at least I gave it a shot. The lack of Schaefer doesn't take away from the fact the Trailer Park Lounge is still one fine restaurant.

Sunday morning brought about a reunion between Trenton NJ's own 200WINZ and TMC. I comp'd WINZ a six pack of frosty cans. He comp'd me a Schaefer mug, a Schaefer tap head, and (most touchingly) his old man's Schaefer bottle opener. I'm honored to have it WINZ.

A week after our visit, 200WINZ enjoyed the Phoenix truck race while sporting one of the Schaefers I procured in EAST Newark, NJ.

As the end of November neared, it was time to be thankful...for family, racing, football, our unimaginable and unmatched nation, the men and women who stand a post to protect her, friends, nice racks, and Schaefer beer.

Philly converted his sis-in-law to Schaefer which prompted her to utter the greatest understatement of 2010: this is much better than Bud Light. Though if you look closely, it looks a bit like she's flipping the bird. WTH???

Speaking of flipping the bird, beer can poultry has it going on.

Once Thanksgiving day concludes, the leftovers are put away. They get a second, third, and sometimes a fourth life in the days to come. SROH Bruton said his favorite leftover meal is Turkey Soup (turkey, dressing, and gravy) with a side of olives and a cold Schaefer. While TMC is a Schaefer man to the core, turkey soup just...doesn't...belch....sound all...that good. Apparently, turkey soup tastes best if it is the same color as your countertops.

Once the turkey soup has been slurped, its time to settle in for College Football Rivalry Weekend. For Bruton, that means UGA vs. Georgia Tech.

As rivalry weekend progresses, its also a time to pine for racing season to resume.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Pre-Race: Thrill of Victory or Agony of Defeat?

As I type this, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are first, second and third respectively in the Cup standings. Its "all in" for the three of them Sunday at Homestead.

Jimmie Johnson drew first blood today by qualifying solidly in the top 10. Harvick went out second of the three, but he could only muster a start in the mid 20s. Hamlin went out last, laid an egg and now must start in the Back 40 amongst the start & parkers and racing tards.

I have no doubt the three of them are pretty keyed up about now - but likely none more so than Hamlin.

Consider this about Johnson:
  • JJ has won four straight Cups
  • Many folks have forgotten forget JJ finished a close 2nd for the Cup the year before he started the Cup-winning streak
  • His crew chief, Chad Knaus, has ice water in his veins.
  • The 48 has 3 level-headed teamies who know the overall objective for the company and could play the role of spoiler if called upon to do so. Wait - Dale Jr. works for HMS, right? Sorry - JJ has two level-headed teamies.
Harvick you say?
  • His car owner knows a thing or two about winning championships having won six of the big Winston trophies with a driver named Earnhart.
  • As the third dog in line, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
  • He plays head games at an exceptionally far better level than Hamlin or Johnson.
  • If he wins, his team gets to celebrate with an unlimited supply on his incoming sponsor, Budweiser, vs. his outgoing sponsor, Shell/Pennzoil.
And Hamlin?
  • Toyota hasn't won a Cup championship in its limited time in NASCAR.
  • A Virginia driver hasn't won the Grand National/Cup championship since Joe Weatherly in 1963.
  • The team's conservative call at Phoenix resulted in a loss of about 3 dozen key points, and the poor qualifying effort today is going to hurt his catching sight of the 48 early as well as a less-desirable pit stall.
  • One teammate cares little to nothing about the overall team. The other teammate will be too busy trying to keep his Adam's apple inside his driver uni to help 11 hang onto the 48.
So who do I pick? My pre-season pick for the Cup was: Denny Hamlin. In the office pool today for a winner-take-all on the champion, I drew at random: Kevin Harvick. But in the end, who do I now fear will win yet another Cup: yep, Big Johnson.

If Hamlin prevails, he'll be elated - as will I for having called for him to do so in February. If he loses - especially if its because of an avoidable error...

Well, check out Darrell Waltrip's reaction after losing the 1979 championship in the final race to Richard Petty. (DW went into the final race with a 2 point advantage over the King.) I'll hand it to Waltrip. He conducted the interview with digity. But the pain of seeing it slip away is so very real.


My Final Prediction

It's been real. It's been fun. It's been real fun--the 2010 Chase.

All 3 of the contenders will run in the top 10, with 2 in the top 5.

And as the sun sets in Homestead, FL on Sunday, the 11 FedEx team and Denny Hamlin will proudly hoist the Cup (it will always be the Cup to me, thank you very much).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You've made your bed, and now...

There was no steely-eyed confidence in Chad Knaus Sunday after Texas. The usual optimism was absent from the crestfallen face of Jimmie Johnson, as the ESPN crew caught up with them in the darkness among the haulers. A 9th place finish isn't all that bad, a manageable points deficit of 33 behind new leader Denny Hamlin, a surging team which was wearing cowboy hats and 6 shooters while Chad and Jimmie tried to choke back tears in front of the camera.

Chad Knaus, in spite of his occasional crossing the line, is a cool customer with laser guided bomb precision. But Sunday he blew it, and probably with it the 48 team's chance at an unprecedented 5th straight Cup.

After a couple bad pit stops which cost the 48 track position, he sacked the 48 pit crew in favor of the newly available 24 crew. The 24 crew did a fine job, a better job than the 48 crew had done, but the bed was made, and now Chad must lie in it.

You've heard of the law of unintended consequences. Chad is suddenly well aware of this law. I get what he was trying to do, win the race or at least improve the 48 points position. But what he actually accomplished is cutting off at the knees one of the best pit crews on pit road, with a vote of no confidence from their leader and coach. Like your dad taking you off the mound and handing the ball to your little brother.

Maybe if this was the last race of the season and you have to throw the Hail Mary. But this was the 3rd race from the end, they were running top 10, and basically even in points with the 11 all day. You might think about benching Peyton Manning in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl if he had a disastrous game, but you sure wouldn't bench him in the 3rd quarter of the wild card game, down by 1 TD, just because he threw his 2nd INT.

So now the inferior 24 crew will pit the 48 for the remaining 2 races. I'm not surprised this "permanent" change had to be made. But Chad panicked under pressure. I am surprised.