The Couch Slouch

The Slouch takes a blow-by-blow look at the Super Bowl

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Super Bowl 54, in contrast to the Senate impeachment inquiry, felt like a fair trial: unmistakable video evidence, plenty of witnesses, a definitive and satisfying conclusion.

It wasn't as high-scoring as that last 51-49 Senate vote, but the Kansas City Chiefs' 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers was certainly more exciting and less predictable. And assuming no foreign intervention, who wouldn't back a Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid ticket in November?

As usual, I took in all of Super Bowl Sunday and took copious notes:

2:03 p.m. ET: I prefer pregame studio shows that are inside of studios.

2:08: Jimmy Johnson: "In Miami, [you get] whatever you want." I just want to get out of town.

2:12: Chris Myers reports that Mahomes will be on the first Chiefs bus to leave the hotel. He's QB1 – what, he was gonna take Uber?

2:35: We see Mahomes getting on "Team Bus 3." That ain't Team Bus 1, Chris.

2:52: They say calling it the AFL-NFL World Championship Game was clunky. As opposed to, say, Super Bowl LXXXVIII coming up in 2054?

3:02: The only thing worse than seeing Gronk in a bowtie on Super Bowl Sunday is seeing Gronk playing on Super Bowl Sunday. So I guess I'll take it.

3:05: The only thing worse than seeing A-Rod in a PED football jersey on Super Bowl Sunday is seeing A-Rod in a PED suit outside of J.Lo's trailer on Super Bowl Sunday.

3:08: Curt Menefee: "Who doesn't love Big Papi?" Uh, Curt, over here…over here!!!

3:36: President Trump is interviewed by Sean Hannity, eerily reminiscent of Mister Ed chatting with Wilbur Post.

4:15: Family issues – Daisy wants to watch Puppy Bowl while Toni says I'm in the doghouse.

5:38: Fox is a very profitable network. It should throw some of those profits next time into ensuring a glitch-free production.

6:28: Flyovers seem so 20th century.

6:32: Since when did the coin toss become Woodstock?

6:41: They are talking officiating just before kickoff – this is never a good sign.

6:57: Touchbacks turn me on.

7:10: Down 3-0, Chiefs go for 4th-and-1 from 49ers' 5-yard line. I would've kicked a field goal; I always take the points, particularly if they're keeping score.

7:27: Ahead 7-3, Chiefs go for 4th-and-1 from 49ers' 19. I would've kicked a field goal; I always take the points, particularly after two divorces.

7:38: There's a fullback from Harvard in the game? And he scored a touchdown? This sounds like one of those elite media hoaxes.

7:46: Troy Aikman: "[Jeff Wilson Jr.] puts his foot in the ground." Where else would you put your foot?

7:47: Martin Scorsese for Coke Energy? Aw, geez. What's next, Sir Thomas More for Snickers?

8:00: There is offensive pass interference, and then there's he-barely-touched-the-defender-and-I've-seen-much-worse-not-called offensive pass interference.

8:07: I feel absolutely no guilt drinking an Orange Crush during the Pepsi halftime show.

8:19: I also feel absolutely no guilt texting Gloria Estefan during J.Lo's booty jig.

8:43: Bud Light Seltzer? I don't think so.

9:01: Jimmy Garoppolo, like Tom Brady, is just too pretty to hit.

9:25: Chiefs still running the ball, down by 10 in the fourth quarter. Are they playing five quarters this year?

9:32: When Chiefs offense gets in gear, they look like the Rockettes on ice.

9:44: The tomahawk chop seems so 17th century.

9:46: Chiefs were down 24-0, 17-7 and 20-10 in this postseason; they made more comebacks than Richard Nixon.

9:47: No replay controversies? THIS IS AN OUTRAGE.

10:11: Frankly, this seems like a better way to decide a winner than the Iowa caucuses.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Is the SEC's Wild, Wild West football coaching lineup shaping up like the cast of some old-fashioned Western featuring Nick Saban as the no-funny-stuff Sheriff, Sam Pittman as the dutiful Deputy, Gus Malzahn as the bi-spectacled Doc, Ed Orgeron as the keg-chested Barkeep, Jumbo Fisher as the friendly Mercantile Owner, Lane Kiffin as the shady Card Shark and Mike Leach as the pontificating barbershop Philosopher? (Steve Owings; Spokane, Wash.)

A. Sounds like a remake of "The Wild Bunch."

Q. Your dog Daisy and my pooch Plexi both have 25-word vocabularies. If they collaborated, could they write this column during your next vacation? (Jack Drury; Lavale, Md.)

A. While they both have the vocabulary to handle my job, they are uniquely unqualified in one key area: Without any thumbs, neither canine can operate the clicker. No TV, no column.

Q. Do you see any reason why NBA arenas are still encouraging fans to chant, "DEFENSE DEFENSE?" (Paul Ferko; Parma, Ohio)

A. They get thirsty and order more beer.

Q. How long before MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred proposes the Senate's questioning protocol as a way to eliminate sign-stealing? The catcher passes a card to the batboy, who runs it out to the pitcher. (Rick LaDuca; Ashburn, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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Mattress Mack and the Astros host Pearland Little League at Wednesday night's game. Photo by LittleLeague.org

Sure, it’s impressive that the Astros have made four World Series appearances in recent years, but they’re not alone. There’s another baseball team around here that’s also headed to its fourth World Series since 2010.

Pearland defeated Oklahoma, 9-4, on Tuesday to win the Southwest Regional and qualify for the Little League World Series starting Aug. 17 in South Williamsport, PA.

Most fans and media say the Little League World Series is held in Williamsport, but it’s South Williamsport, just a 5-minute stroll across a bridge over the Susquehanna River in north central Pennsylvania.

Pearland is on a torrid 13-game winning streak that swept through district, sectional, state and regional tournaments to earn the Little League World Series bid.

Here’s how difficult the road to the Little League World Series is. There are 15 teams in MLB’s American League. If the Astros finish with one of the two best records, they’ll have to win two playoff series to play in the World Series.

Little League is a little bigger than MLB. Little League is the largest youth sports organization in the world, with 2.5 million kids playing for 180,000 teams in more than 100 countries on six continents.

Pearland, representing East Texas, had to defeat All-Star teams from West Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas and Colorado to win the Southwest Regional. The Little League World Series will host 20 teams - 10 from the U.S. and 10 from international regions.

If you have children that play Little League, or you’re just a fan, attending the Little League World Series should be high on your baseball bucket list.

I covered the Little League World Series in 2010 when Pearland made its first appearance and made it all the way to the U.S. championship game. It may have been my most fun assignment ever.

The Little League World Series is played by 11 and 12-year-olds in Little League’s major division. When ESPN and ABC air these games, they’ll present the players as innocent little kids, like Beaver and Wally or Tom and Huck. They’ll show the kids playing Simon Says with the Little League mascot called Dugout. They’ll ask the kids who’s their favorite big leaguer.

I was a Little League coach. I followed Little League All-Stars across Texas all the way to South Williamsport. These kids are absolute baseball maniacs with $400 gloves, $500 bats and Oakley sunglasses. I thought the Astros might call and ask where they got their super neat equipment.

Especially in Texas, these kids are built tough with long ball power and play year-round travel baseball with high-priced private coaches. This isn’t a choose-up game in the park where kids play in their school clothes, one kid brings a baseball and the players share bats. I looked at some of the Little Leaguers and wondered if they drove to the stadium.

I half-expected, when ABC asked who their baseball idol was, they’d answer “me!”

Here’s how seriously good these kids can play the game. Justin Verlander throws a 97-mph fastball. That’s pretty fast. It’s not rare anymore for a Little League pitcher to reach 70-mph on a fastball. The Little League mound is 46 feet from home plate. A 70-mph pitch in Little League gets to home plate in the same time as a 91-mph pitch from 60 feet 6 inches in MLB.

In 2015, a pitcher named Alex Edmonson fired an 83-mph heater at the Little League World Series. The reaction time a Little League batter had against Alex’s pitch was equal to a Major Leaguer trying to hit a 108-mph fastball. Good luck with that. Alex pitched a no-hitter and struck out 15 batters in six innings at the Little League World Series. Now 20, Alex is a relief pitcher for Clemson.

The Little League World Series is a trip. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Philadelphia and drive to South Williamsport. I sat next to CC Sebathia’s mother on the plane.

Admission to all Little League World Series games is free and snack bar prices are reasonable. A hot dog is $3. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited.

The first Little League World Series was held in 1947. Only 58 players have played in the Little League World Series and later played in MLB. The most famous are Cody Bellinger and Jason Varitek. Only two players from the Houston area made the leap: Brady Rodgers and Randal Grichuk both played on the 2003 team from Richmond, about 30 miles from Houston in Fort Bend County.

While you’re in South Williamsport, you should visit the Little League museum and Hall of Excellence. Among the inductees: Presidents Joe Biden and George W. Bush, Astros manager Dusty Baker, Kevin Costner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dick Vitale, Rob Manfred and someone who’d later play stadiums in a different way, Bruce Springsteen.

Speaking of Springsteen, I shattered a record at the 2010 Little League World Series. The record was Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. I was talking to a Little League executive while teams were warming up on the field. Born in the U.S.A. came over the stadium loudspeakers.

I told the executive, I’m a big fan but maybe this isn’t the best song you should be playing. The executive asked why not? Well, you might want to listen to the words. Born in the U.S.A. is a depressing song about a U.S. soldier who is sent to Vietnam and can’t find a job when he gets back home. It’s not exactly Yankee Doodle Dandy. You have teams from Asia here (Japan won the tournament that year). The executive said, please tell me you’re kidding. Here’s one verse:

Got in a little hometown jam

So they put a rifle in my hand

Sent me off to a foreign land

To go and kill the (what is considered a slur for Asians).

Later I got an email from the president of Little League International.

“Quite honestly, I've never listened closely to the words of Born in the USA. I see clearly how it is offensive to our Little League friends from Asian nations. I have directed our folks who coordinate the stadium music to discontinue playing it in the future.”

Play Centerfield by John Fogerty instead. The message of that song is, “put me in coach.” Little League couldn’t say it any better.

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