Coach's Corner

I don't like peas. In fact, I detest them; fresh peas, canned peas, black-eyed peas, whatever. A pea is a pea is a pea. The way they squish in my mouth makes me want to vomit. Split pea soup is the grossest thing imaginable. Already chewed-up peas, spit into green soup. I've hated peas since the first hint of cognition. I guess canned peas were a big thing in the Fifties. Life Magazine must have extolled the virtues of those shitty little balls of mush, like we're bombarded with all the inedible, low-fat stuff we're supposed to eat today. Anyway, my mom thought peas were important. It seemed like we had them every night. I intentionally chewed a pea only once. That was enough. From then on, I either hid them in my bathrobe pocket, which could get pretty nasty when I forgot to take them out later, or, when cornered, I'd take a spoonful of the puke-green swill and wash them down, whole, with a glass of milk. For my 16th birthday, mom told me she'd never make me eat another pea again.

So I ask you, why is it that every chef in Texas thinks it's a clever idea to put peas in their rice? Why is this done? Mexican is the most consistent offender, but this disgusting affectation cuts across all genres of food. Must the plate have "color"? What's wrong with rice white or yellow or brown? Do chefs think peas are universally beloved? Don't they understand that I, for one, am out in the dining room picking through the rice, before I can touch anything else, making a little pile of those green shit balls on the side of my plate? No, it's not an especially refined sight. Mom would be appalled. But you reap what you sow.

Occasionally, inevitably, a pea will slip past my security. I'm hungry. I lose pea vigilance. No matter how much rice is in the way, I can still feel the revolting squish of the pea. I have a sophisticated, second level of pea security. I can, after a lifetime of people trying to trick me into eating that slime, detect and isolate a pea, even half-masticated, swallow it, and then finish the mouthful of rice.

This is a pet, lifetime peeve. We all have them. The difference between you and me? I've got a column. You don't. So perhaps I speak for you too. I want people in all Austin kitchens to understand that not everyone likes peas. I'm sure I'm not alone. Some might find peas acceptable, but what about the corn or carrots, which cooks also seem compelled to throw into rice? Rice is a good thing. I like rice. Plain. If I want peas, I'll ask for them on the side. Cut your food costs. Keep peas - no, keep everything - out of my rice. Thank you.

From one rotten thing to another: Is it possible that, within a relatively short period of time, say 20 years, professional baseball will become a second-class sport in America? I don't have a problem with Wayne Huizenga selling off his entire World Series roster. It's his team. It's been done before. The question is, who decided to give Miami a franchise to begin with? Baseball has a committee (of cocker spaniels?) to do these things. No offense intended, but have you been to Miami in the summer? I grew up there. It's very hot in Miami. It's very humid in Miami. It rains every day in Miami. Miami's built on a swamp. Mosquitoes like Miami. The "ballpark" in Miami is designed for football. They built a dome in Houston when the old Colt 45's discovered it was impossible to get citizens to come out in similar equatorial conditions. I knew about the climate in South Florida. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who noticed. Yet the cry went up that South Florida had to have baseball. They got it. Nobody came. Blame the fans? Hell no. Blame the idiocy of putting a team there in the first place.

Then, there's the long-dreaded nightmare, finally coming true, of the rich teams overwhelming the smaller teams. Look at the huge payrolls of the top teams: New York, Atlanta (new ballpark), Baltimore (new ballpark), and Texas (new ballpark). You catch the drift. A huge, local television contract and a new, state-financed ballpark are now necessary to pay big, which will, if you're lucky, lead to winning big. This is, in the long run, disastrous to the stability and viability of the game. Fans in midlevel cities, like St. Louis and Cincinnati, traditional hotbeds of the game, have to believe they can win, or why go to a game? The rest of the league can't just become a feeder of talent to the 10 big fish, so the smaller teams can keep their cash-strapped operations afloat. It's imperative to find some way to distribute the wealth.

Placing a franchise where fans might actually enjoy going to a game is common

sense, something that's obviously in short supply. Revenue sharing, on the other hand, is complicated. But the point is, there's no they to fix anything in baseball. The greedy, pig-headed owners are perfectly happy with no head. That way they don't have to ever think about anything because a headless body is, for the most part, quiet and dead.

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