Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Montana Watch 2009

In my haste to beat the rest of the blogosphere to the punch with the news of Nate Montana's imminent transfer to Pasadena City College I didn't include much in the way of analysis or commentary on the move. Here are my thoughts on the matter so far:

I applaud Nate's desire to get on the field and compete. He didn't play a lot of football in high school, so he may just now be realizing that he really loves the game. Now that the competitive fires are burning, it may just be that he wants to leave no stone unturned in his campaign to win the starting QB job and get meaningful playing time. My concern about this novel move is that if he plays well at PCC he will undoubtedly get recruited by numerous other schools that could offer him a much better chance to play quarterback at the D-I level than Notre Dame can. Assuming that Nate plays really well at PCC, he'll return to Notre Dame in 2010 with three years of eligibility remaining (which assumes a fifth year would be granted), and

  • Clausen as the starting QB (if he doesn't leave for the NFL after this season); and
  • Dayne Crist either starting in place of a departed Clausen or sitting as the heir apparent (also with three years eligibility remaining assuming a granted fifth year); and
  • Freshmen Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees newly arrived on campus and chomping at the bit for practice reps and playing time.
For his gambit to work, Nate has to play well enough at PCC to put himself in a virtual tie with Dayne Crist in the competition to succeed Clausen as starting Notre Dame quarterback. Given Crist's 5-star recruiting rating and Parade high school All-American pedigree, it seems unlikely that Montana could play himself into that strong a position while missing the 2009 season in Coach Weis' system. But maybe that is exactly his plan. Maybe Nate and his Dad have had a chance to watch Dayne Crist practice and they feel like he is vulnerable to being overtaken by Nate if Nate can get some live-action experience under his belt. As unlikely as it it seems, part of Joe Montana's mystique was built on the fact that he was once buried at 6th string on the QB depth chart at Notre Dame, and was 3rd string at the beginning of the 1977 season when he ultimately led the Fighting Irish to a National Championship. In the Montana household, having just one guy (Crist) ahead of you on the depth chart might look like pretty good odds.

While I sincerely hope that Nate does return to Notre Dame for Spring practice, I am very worried that he might not come back. How tempting would it be for Nate if a dozen head coaches from solid programs are calling him and telling him he could be their starter in 2010 if he transfers to their school? The starter in 2010! Or, go back to South Bend and wait another year for Jimmy to leave and still have to beat out Dayne Crist.

Another aspect of this move which concerns me is that this feels like a bit of a loosening of Notre Dame's traditional stance on junior college players. To be sure, Nate's situation would be unusual, but on some level he wold return to ND as a junior college transfer. Would the University allow an exception for Joe Montana's son? Probably. Would that open the door to a whole new trend in Division I player development? Junior College feeder schools? Would Notre Dame really want to be part of that?

We only saw a little of Nate in the Spring game, but he looked awfully good in very limited action. He was 2 for 2 and seems to throw a very accurate and catchable ball (much like his Dad). I'd be very interested to see a little more of him in action. For those who might want to get a look at Nate this season, here is the 2009 football schedule for Pasadena City College:

Day Date Opponent @ Time / Score
Saturday Sep 05 +Mt. San Antonio Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Mt. SAC, Walnut 1:00 p.m.
Saturday Sep 12 +ECC Compton Center PCC Robinson Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Sep 19 +East Los Angeles PCC Robinson Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Sep 26 +Riverside Wheelock Stadium, Riverside Community College 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 03 *Bakersfield (NNC Opener) Memorial Stadium, Bakersfield 7:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 10 *Ventura PCC Robinson Stadium 1:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 17 *Allan Hancock Righetti High School, Santa Maria 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 31 *Moorpark PCC Robinson Stadium 1:00 p.m.
Saturday Nov 07 *Canyons PCC Robinson Stadium 6:00 p.m.
Saturday Nov 14 *Glendale Sartoris Field, Glendale College 7:00 p.m.

+ Non-Conference

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Cost Savings is not a Budget Cut

Included in Friday's lengthy post was an item about President Obama and his cabinet having missed the 90-day deadline for finding a whopping $100 million in budget cuts, as the President ordered at his first cabinet meeting in April. Well, in the name of fairness and completeness I want to note that the White House has finally released the list of so-called "budget cuts" submitted by the various Federal agencies.

The White House announcement is here. The list of "cuts" is here.

Bottom line: There is no $100 million in budget cuts. It's all a big con game. Rather than "cuts" the list identifies a long list of recommended "savings" that each of the agencies will achieve by operating more efficiently or at least less stupidly. But with the exception of a couple of instances where I would need more information, nobody's budget is being cut, nobody is returning any money to the Department of the Treasury, nobody's taxes are being reduced. Instead, cost "savings" are being realized in one area, and the agency will then turn around and spend those "saved" funds on something else.

By way of absurd hypothetical illustration, it is the equivalent of an agency saying they are going to save $10,000 by canceling all orders for the purchase of red jelly beans. Good for them! But what happens to the money? If they send the money back to the Treasury to pay down the national debt, then that's a real budget cut. But if they instead take the $10,000 they "saved" by not buying red jelly beans and issue a purchase order for $10,000 worth of Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, that's not a "cut." That's a re-allocation or a re-programming of funds. That's just choosing to spend the money available to you more wisely.

In personal terms, if my paycheck is reduced by $100, I have to figure out a way to meet all my needs, wants, and desires for $100 less than I did last pay period. That's a cut. But if I choose to instead cancel my newspapers and my premium cable channels in order to save $100, so that I can spend that $100 playing poker, that isn't a cut. That's simply spending smarter or changing priorities.

In quickly looking over the listing of $100 million in "savings" it is very clear that almost all of the list consists of decisions to spend available money more wisely or on a different set of priorities. There very few real "cuts" described.

Here are the only examples of actual cuts I found:

  1. The Federal Crop Insurance Board voted to terminate the Citrus Dollar Pilot Insurance Program in fiscal year 2010. I have no idea on earth what that is, but it was going to cost approximately $1 million in 2010 and now it will cost $0.
  2. The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation will delete for FY 2010 forty-four county crop insurance programs at a savings of $963,000.
I'm still not 100% sure these are actual cuts, because I don't know if the agencies involved have the authority to spend the saved money on other programs or if they have to give the money back to the Treasury. I also have a suspicion that these "savings" will never be realized because once the affected congressional representatives and senators find out that farmers in their districts are being hurt, they will engage in some legislative ju jitsu to force the agencies to spend that money anyway. It's likely that these agencies have been trying to terminate these programs for years, but that Congress won't let them.

As for the rest of the so-called "cuts," they fall pretty squarely within my jelly bean hypothetical. Millions and millions of dollars will be saved by "reducing travel costs" to specific meetings and having video teleconferences instead. Of course, the "saved" money will be used to travel to other meetings instead.

The Department of Commerce will save $131,000 by placing a moratorium on "unnecessary" office renovations. Wow. No word on why they were doing unnecessary office renovations in the first place, or who gets to decide which renovations are necessary. But rest assured that the saved $131,000 will get spent somewhere else, hopefully on something necessary.

HUD will save $1 million by removing 60 kiosks that have outlived their usefulness. The savings will come from reduced maintenance costs. I have no idea what a HUD kiosk is, but they apparently cost $16,000 a piece in maintenance costs per year. No doubt HUD will find a more compelling use for the money, but they won't see their budget cut.

Millions of dollars will be saved by reducing printing and mailing costs of various publications and reports and posting them instead on-line.

HUD will save $500,000 in FY 21010 by turning off the lights during non-working hours. That's gonna really pinch.

The Department of Justice is going to save over $500,000 in 2009 & 2010 by making two-sided copies instead of one-sided copies, sometimes.

The Treasury Department will save $40,000 in FY 2009 by recycling.

The Air Force thinks it will save $72,000 in 2009 & 2010 by installing Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) at select locations.

Are you impressed by how much money President Obama and his cabinet are going to save in 2009 & 2010? They scrubbed the Federal budget line-by-line and were able, in just over 90 days, to squeeze out almost $100 million in efficiencies!

The point of my original post on this subject was that there is no way President Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress are going to fashion a reformed health care system for the entire nation that can be two-thirds paid-for with "increased efficiencies." The exercise described above is a vivid demonstration of what "increased efficiencies" look like to a government bureaucrat. Two-sided copying, Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs, and turning off the lights when they aren't needed are not going to balance the budget, and they are not going to pay for a socialized health care system. The reality is, the private sector is way ahead of the government in recycling, two-sided copying, and turning off the lights. There is almost no way that any process will be made more efficient and more cost-effective by having the government take it over.

The government can give you less for less. But they simply cannot give you more for less.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nate Montana Transferring to ... Pasadena City College?!

Hot off the presses, the South Bend Tribune is reporting that Nate Montana, son of former Irish great Joe Montana, is leaving the University to play football at Pasadena City College, with the intent of possibly re-enrolling at Notre Dame in the Spring to compete for the starting Notre Dame job.

Two thoughts:

1. Wow.
2. Do NCAA rules even allow that?

Fine, thanks. How's your summer going?

I know I've been remiss in not being more active on the blog, but I have two problems. First, the things that have really been getting me fired up are all political, and I don't want to subject all of you to a steady diet of Obama criticism with no football posts to keep things on an even keel. So I have held my tongue, so to speak. Second, it is July and nothing much is happening on the college football front. Of course, I could post every day just to keep my fingers in shape and to hear myself talk, but I prefer to write substantive posts that are thoughtfully reactive to actual events rather than manufactured topics designed just to keep you visiting the blog. But football season is approaching, the camps are getting ready to open, and I think I can just detect that "new season smell" in the air. Today I just wanted to get back into the groove by clearing the decks with a collection of quick thoughts that have been occupying my mind lately.

1. I listen to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio as I drive to work each morning. Erik Kuselias is sitting in for Colin today, and he spent considerable time this morning talking about Florida QB Tim Tebow. He noted that Florida is favored by many to win the National Championship, and Tebow is favored to win the Heisman. If those things happen, Kuselias contends that Tebow would be the greatest college football player of all time, and that nobody else would even be in the discussion. I think Tebow is a very good quarterback on a great football team. Being on a great team gives you a chance to win National Championships. Being a very good QB on a great team gives you the chance to win Heisman Trophies. But being a very good QB on a great team does not make one the "greatest of all time." I like Kuselias a lot (very interesting guy, and very funny) but I think he is crazy on this topic. Off the top of my head I came up with about six players who are clearly greater than Tebow, and after a couple minutes research I rounded my list out at an even ten players. The following list is my quick and subjective opinion. I didn't even get into receivers, linemen, and defensive players. Just looking at QBs and RBs, here are my Top 10 College Football Players Greater Than Tim Tebow (In No Particular Order):

1. John Elway
2. Steve McNair
3. Colt Brennan
4. Billy Sims
5. Bo Jackson
6. Barry Sanders
7. Archie Griffin
8. Tony Dorsett
9. O.J. Simpson
10. Herschel Walker
How did I do?

2. I've been watching the Tour de France. Hey, It's freaking July! Alberto Contador is clearly the best rider this year. His performance in Stage 15, pulling away from the peloton on the final climb like the other riders were standing still was simply amazing. Lance Armstrong is riding very well and has an excellent chance of finishing on the podium in Paris, which in itself is very impressive. But Contador is the Big Dog now. By the way, Versus has been broadcasting the Tour in HD this year, and the French countryside is just beautiful. France has definitely moved up my list of places I want to visit.

3. Michael Vick is a free man, and the NFL Commissioner is expected to conditionally reinstate him very soon, permitting him to sign with an NFL team and go to camp, but not allowing him to play until after serving an additional four game suspension. Like a car wreck, I'm very anxious to see what happens with Vick. To me, he has paid his debt to society, so I don't have a problem with him playing football again. But I am very interested to see what team or teams are willing to give him a chance. How much will they pay him? What role will he play? How well will he play? To me, Vick's best asset has always been his speed and his running ability, and I think he'll be way behind the curve in the passing game. I think he can make his best contribution to a team as a return man and maybe a flanker/H-Back where the threat of a reverse or a Wildcat package would keep defenses off-balance.

4. Tom Watson, at 59 years of age, came within a gray whisker of winning the British Open last weekend. Great story. But did he or did he not just punk every other player in the PGA? How bad did it make Tiger Woods and every other young player on the Tour look to have gramps kick their collective ass around Royal Turnberry for four days?

5. The Over/Under win total lines for college football are starting to trickle out. So far, the O/U for Notre Dame is 8.5 games. I'll take the over. Notre Dame should win 11 games this year. Less than 10 wins may cost Coach Weis his job. To lose on the "over" the Irish would have to lose 4 regular season games. Where could those losses possibly come from? USC, Michigan, Michigan State, and ... B.C.? Pitt? Stanford? If Notre Dame loses four games against the 2009 schedule with this roster of players then new leadership would be required.

6. Where's Waldo? I think he's rooming with former USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate John David Booty. Do you remember how great J.D. Booty was at USC? How he was just waiting his turn to be the next Heisman Trophy winner at USC? Yeah, well he's still in Minnesota, sitting behind Tavaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels, and maybe Brett Favre on the Vikings' depth chart. I wonder if John David will give up his #4 jersey when Favre shows up in Mankato? And what about Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion Matt Leinart? Is he still sitting on the bench behind a 38-year-old grocery store stock-boy and Arena Football League league player Kurt Warner? Well, yes he is. All of which is a prelude to the question: How good is Mark Sanchez, really? Is he the next Carson Palmer? Or the next J.D. Booty? USC quarterbacks have the tremendous advantage of playing with a supporting staff of NFL-caliber players at every position. Their defenses are dominant. They are harassed in the pocket, and their receivers are generally wide open. They lose all those advantages at the next level. I still think Brady Quinn is better than any of the recent crop of USC quarterbacks, and I think we'll finally get the chance to see it this season. Go Browns!

7. Are you on Facebook yet? If not, you're just about the only one. Just a quick tidbit for you. My daughter will be a freshman at Notre Dame this year. (Woo-Hoo!). Earlier this summer she got her official Notre Dame e-mail address. The very first thing she did with it was to add it to her Facebook profile, so she could join the official Notre Dame network on Facebook. She also quickly joined the University of Notre Dame Class of 2013 group on Facebook. That group already has over 1,600 members. Think about that for a minute. Notre Dame enrolls about 2,000 students as freshmen each year. School doesn't start for this year's freshman for another month. There is no official University requirement or even suggestion that students should join Facebook. Yet 80% of this year's incoming freshman are already part of the ND Class of 2013 group on Facebook. That blows me away.

8. Speaking of Brett Favre. I really hope he plays. I love the NFL, although I'm not a huge fan of any particular team. I just love good games, and I love watching Brett play. I also hope he makes a decision soon, as I think it's a little unfair to the Vikes to keep them hanging this long. Of course, it has entered my mind that his "conflicting" emotions about whether he wants to play is really code for: "It's going to take more cash than what you've offered me to get me in purple."

9. I wrote previously about how cool it would be for Notre Dame to play Army in the new Yankee Stadium. Pencil it in. November 20, 2010. Road Trip!

10. Coach Weis and his staff have been working hard on the recruiting front, and the number of verbal commitments to the 2010 freshman class is already up to thirteen. This is great news as it shows that Coach Weis and Notre Dame can still attract quality kids to the University. I don't blog recruiting much, because (1) I have a life, and (2) I have a life. But seriously, it's a crapshoot. Projecting high school kids to the next level is very difficult. Kids mature at different rates. 5-star kids don't pan out. 3-star recruits surprise the heck out of you. Kids get hurt, buried on the depth chart, lost to academic or other problems. Think about this: We're all excited/anxious about how good Defensive End Justin Utupo will be and he won't set foot on campus until more than a year from now, and likely won't play significant minutes for two or three years. I'm still waiting to see how good Emeka Nwankwo, Steve Paskorz, and Mike Ragone are going to be, and they've been on campus since 2007. But I do have a couple thoughts on recruiting this year. First, a hearty OC Domer welcome to each of the thirteen verbal commits for 2010! I hope you all continue to feel the way you do about Notre Dame and honor your non-binding verbal commitment to the University. Second, I know it's early, and as I said I don't watch it that closely, but I get the sense this class so far is a little heavy on 3-star recruits and a little light on 4-star and 5-star players. Of the thirteen commits, we have one who is rated 5-stars on both Rivals and Scout, we have one who is rated 4-stars on both services. We have seven players rated seven total stars (4/3 or 3/4) on the two services, and six commits rated six total stars (3 & 3) on Rivals and Scout. I know the top 4- and 5-star kids tend to wait until later in the cycle to commit, but I would welcome someone pointing me to a good argument that we're right on target compared to Coach Weis' previous classes.

11. President Obama held a press conference earlier this week in which he urged Congress and the American people to pass a health care reform bill that hasn't even been written yet and with which not even he is familiar. In his remarks the President stated that two-thirds of the costs of implementing his proposed health care system would come from more efficiently utilizing the money that is already being spent on the system. In other words, the President is asking us to believe that the new system will be "revenue neutral" because a plan drafted by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and implemented by Barack Obama will achieve hundreds of billion of dollars' worth of improved "efficiencies" annually. When was the last time you heard of the government taking over a complex program and making it markedly more efficient? Are public schools more efficient? Are public hospitals right now more efficient? Does the Government erect buildings, stadiums, airports, etc... more efficiently than the private sector? But here's one data point to consider: In April, President Obama directed the members of his cabinet to find $100 million in budget cuts for 2009, and gave them a 90-day deadline to accomplish this task. At the time, everyone laughed because in the context of $1 Trillion stimulus packages, $100 million is a laughably small amount. Well, the 90-day deadline has come and gone and we're still waiting for the President and his cabinet to identify the $100 million in "cuts" for 2009. The White House has promised that the list of cuts is on the way. But the point is, $100 million is chump change, and the President is having a hard time finding $100 million in improved "efficiencies." If you can't easily identify $100 million is "savings" how do you expect us to believe you can magically produce hundreds of billions of dollars in annual savings in the health care sector? It is time for the American people to stop judging President Obama on his empty promises and to start holding him to account for his actual performance.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Got Tickets?

The results of Notre Dame's annual football ticket lottery are expected this week, and I'm sure many of you have your fingers crossed, hoping to beat the odds and score a pair of seats for the USC game on October 17. Good luck with that. But what will you do if Lady Luck doesn't smile on you and you get shut out (again) this year? The answer, of course, is:

NotreDameTickets.com has joined forces with OC Domer as a sponsor of the blog for the upcoming football season, and you can see their clickable ad in the side-bar, right below my Twitter badge. They have tickets for EVERY Notre Dame football game, both home and away. So if you want to see your Fighting Irish this season, whether in South Bend, Ann Arbor, Palo Alto, or San Antonio (wtf?!), visit their web site and browse the selection. Prices do vary of course depending upon the game and seat location, but you can lock in seats to a Notre Dame home game right now for just a little over $100. (The Home Opener against Nevada is as cheap as $106 right now, University of Washington as low as $117, Navy $115, U-Conn $114). Tickets for the USC game do run a little higher (okay, a lot higher) but they are available. NotreDameTickets.com even has some listings for 2009 season tickets, if you really want to do something special for the Notre Dame fanatic in your life.

I hope the ticket lottery works out for all OC Domer readers, but if you failed to send your form in on time, or if you just failed to get lucky, I hope you'll check out our newest sponsor (okay, our ONLY sponsor!) for all your Fighting Irish football ticket needs (Buy*Sell*Trade).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Should the Pope be fired?

It was heresy when the University of Notre Dame invited pro-abortion President Barack Obama to speak at its 2009 commencement a few weeks ago. To bestow such an honor on a (non-Catholic) public figure was an insult to pious Catholics everywhere and was an act of blatant disobedience to Church teaching. The controversy spawned a movement seeking the ouster of Father John Jenkins as University President. Alumni groups banded together to cease donations to Notre Dame. The intended recipient of the Laetare Medal (the highest honor the University bestows) snubbed and publicly embarrassed Notre Dame by declining to accept the award because of the Obama invitation. Thousands of articles were written, harshly condemning Notre Dame for its faithlessness, for selling out, for abandoning its Catholic tradition. Numerous American bishops joined the chorus of criticism and fed into the feeding frenzy.

Notre Dame and Father Jenkins weren't entirely without allies, but it can't have been easy to stand behind the original decision to have Obama speak. I'm sure there were moments when Fr. Jenkins was a very lonely priest.

So it was with great interest that I read today that during his trip to Europe for the G-8 summit, President Obama will take some time out of his busy schedule to drop by the Vatican and pay a visit on Pope Benedict. That's right, the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church is inviting pro-abortion Barack Obama over to his pad for a photo-op and a little one-on-one visit. I know His Holiness probably won't give Obama an honorary degree, but I'd still have to rate a private audience with the Pope as an extremely high honor.

[Insert sound of crickets chirping here]

So, is the Pope now a heretic too? Will the critics call the Holy Father's Catholicism into question? Will there be a campaign calling for his ouster, accompanied by a donation boycott?

I didn't think so.

You can e-mail your apologies directly to Father Jenkins at president@nd.edu.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

We hold these Truths to be self-evident

OC Domer is getting ready to get out and enjoy the long Independence Day weekend, but before I go I wanted to remind everyone what it is we're celebrating as we enjoy baseball, lacrosse, afternoon naps, barbecue, boats, beaches, and babes in bikinis.

We're celebrating the decision of the first brave Americans to declare themselves free human beings, independent of tyrannical, non-responsive, and over-reaching government authority. We're celebrating the decision of those brave men (and the countless men and women who followed them) to put their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the line in the name of liberty.

The questions Americans need to ask themselves today are: Are we still independent citizens who yearn to be free, to be responsible for our own lives and happiness? Or have we become instead subjects, willing to trade away our liberty and let the government be responsible for our lives and our happiness?

To me the most important part of the Declaration of Independence is:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
As Glenn Reynolds would say, read the whole thing. And have a Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Irish Training Camp Dates Set

Notre Dame has announced key dates for football training camp. The sourcing of the article is not clear, but here is what the Chicago Tribune is reporting:

Friday, Aug. 7: No practice -- it's the final day of summer school -- but Weis and his assistant coaches meet with the media for the first time. No players talk, due to exams and such.

Saturday, Aug. 8: First practice at 1:30 p.m. CT, selected players available to the media for the first time beforehand.

Sunday, Aug. 9: Another 1:30 p.m. CT practice, and the rest of the roster (except the freshmen) available to the media for the first time.

Thursday, Aug. 13: First double-session of training camp. Practice at 8 a.m. CT, then again at 4:30 p.m. CT.

Saturday, Aug. 15: Weis holds his annual open practice for the media. Expect enough minutia to choke a horse.

Monday, Aug. 17/Thursday, Aug. 20:
Two more double-sessions, and the 2009 captains and leadership committee meet with the media in between the Aug. 20 practices.

Friday, Aug. 21:
It's Freshmen Media Day... otherwise known as Manti Te'o Greeted By A Media Crush At Michael-Jackson-Funeral-Levels Day. One of likely two chances to hear from the freshman during the season.

Sunday, Aug. 23: This appears to the the Student Appreciation Day practice, open to the Notre Dame faithful on campus, starting at 7 p.m. CT.

Monday, Aug. 24: Weis gets the Irish into more of a game-week preparation schedule, starting practice at 3:45 p.m. CT. Preparation for Nevada likely intensifies starting now, if past form holds.

Saturday, Aug. 29: Last preseason session -- likely a game-day walk-through deal, going on precedent -- at 12:30 p.m. CT.

Sunday, Aug. 30: The Irish are off, Weis meets with the media at 3 p.m. CT -- his usual Sunday appearance time -- and the 2009 season is truly officially underway.

Mark your calendars!