Commenter Clarence Swamptown will delight you with his borderline inappropriate takes on just about anything in life. He's been doing this for almost exactly a year now, and we have to think almost everyone agrees his weekly segment has been a great addition to this blog. As always, his thoughts on sports and life in general do not necessarily reflect those of RandBall or the Star Tribune. Clarence?


Hello everyone, my name is Clarence Swamptown, and I like Jerry Kill.  I realize that this is not a popular sentiment amongst Gopher fans (*dodges Stub & Herb’s barstool*) or the local media (*dodges buckets of fried chicken*).  I realize that the internet wanted Mike Leach, alumni wanted Marc Trestman, Sid wanted Jeff Horton, and those with poor listening and/or reading comprehension skills wanted a laundry list of coaches who didn’t want the job (Harbaugh, Petersen, Hoke, ∞).  I was personally starting to get excited about Paul Chryst, and if the choice was truly between Kill and Chryst, I wish they would have chosen the latter.

That said, a lot of Gopher fans are acting like a spoiled teenager who didn’t get a new BMW for Christmas.   “BUT WE WERE PROMISED TUBBY SMITH”, they say.  Tubby Smith was lightening in a bottle.  The football equivalent of Tubby Smith was the original goal until every potential Tubby-like coach turned down the job. Jerry Kill has a chance to rebuild this program to a respectable level (like he has done everywhere else) so that someday a Tubby-like coach might actually want to come here.  That’s the new goal.  It’s not a brand new BMW - it’s more like a used Volvo - whereas Tim Brewster was a crappy Fiat with huge speakers and no engine.  Instead of complaining that Jerry Kill is not Mike Leach, let’s celebrate that Jerry Kill is not Tim Brewster. Please understand that I am not letting Joel Maturi off the hook.  The Randball proprietor can attest that for more than a year he has deleted entire Clearance Clarence posts because of their Maturi-related vitriol.   It stinks that we need to settle like this. Let’s hope the football program is at a point where a Tubby-like hire can happen at some point.  Until then, I fully support Mr. Kill and hope for the best.  Ski-U-Mah.  On to the nonsense….
* Country & Western Song of the Week:  In an effort to combine Randball’s terrific Page 2 Top 5 segment, the award-winning “Today’s Unimpeachably Great Song (TUGS)” on randballsstu’s Twitter account, and the decidedly average Clearance Clarence Country & Western Song of the Week, I have been asking fellow Randballers to provide their Top 5 C & W songs of all time.  To date, Randballsstu has provided his Top 15 list and Newbier has provided his Top 5 Christmas songs.  Then I completely forgot to ask anyone this week, and Newbier stepped up with the actual Top 5 list he culled at the last-minute last week.  You can never have enough Newbier:
Via Newbier: Clarence got in a jam and I needed to redeem myself with Stu.  Here are my Top 5 C&W songs of all time.  I hope this helps:

5) Thunderstorms & Neon Signs  - Hank Williams III.  Really any Hanky III song can go in the 5 spot.

4) The Ride  - David Allan Coe.  Truth be told, if this were a conversation with just Clarence, a couple of songs from Coe's 'blue' albums would have been in the mix.  But this one's great.

3) The Rodeo Song - Gary Lee and the Showdown (Not Safe For Work).  I am reminded of The Rodeo Song every time I imbibe excessively.  But that is a story for another time.

2) This Cowboy's Hat - Chris LeDoux.  Silence on the Line was a very close second for the #2 spot and if that song doesn't make you cry, YOU'RE NOT A MAN!  Anyway, I have a cousin that sings locally and I worked with him for a brief time when he once opened for Chris LeDoux.  I was backstage when a large, burly man came by and said 'howdy'.  It the single greatest moment in my life.  What?  I know I got married and had a son.  So?  I also tried to flirt with his daughter, to no avail1.  His death was the actual day music died.  God Bless Chris LeDoux. 

1) Ramblin' Man - Hank Williams Sr.  I kind of boxed myself into putting Hank Sr. at #1, after Stu's list.  But I own it.

1 By flirting I mean standing a few feet away, doing something else, and looking awkward.
Clarence’s Thoughts:  1) The jukebox at the Farmington American Legion has David Allen Coe, including the blue stuff.  2) I met Chris Ledoux in 1995.  His last words to me, truthfully, were: “I gotta get back to Wyoming.  Heifers are calving.”  It sounds dirty but it’s not.
* Just How Stupid is Clarence Swamptown?  I am an ever-expanding cosmos of stupidity, so let’s resurrect the wildly popular “How Stupid is Clarence Swamptown” for the holiday season.   A few of the previous segments are available here and here
I wasn’t raised in a family of world-travelers, and that sheltered childhood certainly hasn’t helped my stupidity.  No one in my family had ever been to California, except for my uncle Earl, who was briefly stationed there before Vietnam.  A long time ago for our honeymoon, my wife and I rented a convertible and drove around California for a week.  In Bakersfield I had my first ever experience with a “Pay Before You Pump” gas station.  Somehow I had never heard of the concept before that day.  Here’s a transcript of the situation:
Me: (Walking into the store)  Sir, pump 4 doesn’t work.
Clerk: Really?  How much did you pay?
Me:  I haven’t paid yet.  Like I said, it doesn’t work.
Clerk: You have to pay for it to work.
Me:  How do I know how much to pay if I haven’t filled up yet?
I slowly backed out of the store and drove to the next station down the street, where this dialogue was repeated with another clerk.  He looked at me like I was wearing overalls and holding a jug with XXX painted on the side.    Eventually I figured out what was going on, filled up with gas and continued our honeymoon trip across California.  The event provided my new wife with a brief glimpse into the stupidity she would be dealing with for the rest of her life. 
*Outstate Bar of the Week:  The Commander, Breezy Point, Minnesota.
What is the bar famous for?  Located north of Brainerd and just down the road from Breezy Point Resort, The Commander is a perfect nickname for my ex-girlfriend well-known hotspot for vacationers looking for strong drinks and live bands.  They have a meat raffle on Fridays, bingo on Saturdays, and this weekend you can stick around for the unique big-brass sounds of Big Toe and the Jam.  That’s a nice little weekend right there. 
Can I watch the game there?  It’s a huge building with lots of televisions.  A game is always on.
Can I watch the NASCAR race there?  Yep.
Do they have a website?  Yes.
What bar games are available?  They have every bar game imaginable, but wouldn’t you rather dance to some random band’s cover of Strokin’ by Clarence Carter?  Me neither, but an obscure section of Minnesota’s smoking-ban law requires every outstate band or deejay to play Strokin’ and The Electric Boogie at least once every night.   
* Surprising Moments in Minnesota Sports History:  Last week we began exploring surprising moments in Minnesota sports history with an overview of the Tier II Hockey Tournament in 1992.  This week we’ll cover the state’s brief experiment with mandatory baseball mouthguards:
Baseball Mouthguards (1994):  Mouthguards have been understandably required in hockey and football for as long as I remember, and the Minnesota State High School League currently recommends mouthguards for any sport with any level of potential contact, including basketball, soccer, volleyball, softball and baseball.  In the spring of 1994*,  acting upon advice of dentists, the MSHSL required mouthguards for all high school baseball players. Not just batters and pitchers – all players on the field were required to wear a mouthguard.  FUNNY, these same dentists also recommended the use of fitted mouthguards, conveniently available for purchase at your local dentist office.  This imaginary baseball mouth-injury epidemic was quickly replaced by the very real threat of players running at full-speed for fly balls  and nobody peeling-off because “I GOT IT” became a muted “igothith”.  The mouthguard experiment lasted roughly one month into the baseball season before it was eliminated completely. 
Your thoughts on Jerry Kill, Newbie’s list, my stupidity, THE COMMANDER, and baseball mouthguards are welcome in the comments below. 

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