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The proo is in the … spicy chili?

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to eat. I’ve often said that it’s not whether you win or lose, but where you eat before, during, or after the game.
My taste buds were in for an unexpected treat (and some heat) prior to Corydon Central’s football game against Paoli here last Friday night.
As I strolled into the football complex, Terry Engleman, president of the Corydon Adult Booster Club, invited me to help judge the second annual Panther Chili Cook-off.
What awaited in Panther Pavilion were 19 diverse bowls of chili. White chili, red chili, hot chili, mild chili, sweet chili, chili with and without noodles, chili with chicken, chili with meat, chili with no meat, chili with and without beans, watery chili, and chili so thick you could build a house with it.
Juan Rodriguez, Ed Runden and I were to grade each numbered crock pot of the tasty delight in five categories: aroma, taste, consistency, color and greasiness.
I ate about a half-bowl on each of the first five entries and then, realizing I still had 14 more recipes to taste, resorted to just a spoonful of each the rest of the way.
My personal favorites were one full of jalapenos and meat (not sure who made it, but you got my top vote), as well as a pot made by Doug Robson. Robson’s had a bit too much liquid for my liking, but the taste knocked my boots off.
Terry Haub’s white chili took the top spot. Congrats to her and special thanks to Engleman for the opportunity (even though lumbering along the sidelines for the game was made especially tough with my full belly).

The first round of the Major League Baseball playoffs kicked off yesterday, and that means it’s time to offer up my kiss of death to several squads.
My baseball prognostication is nowhere near as good as my high school pigskin picks (I’m 65 of 78 in football), but the late H.O. (Whitey) Jones used to do it here, and I feel the need to keep up the tradition.
In the National League, I’m sticking with my high-octane Braves ‘ like I have every year ‘ in their matchup against Chicago and its band of amazing pitchers. Note: if the Cubs win this battle, they are my pick to win the World Series.
In the other bracket, the Giants and this season’s M.V.P., Barry Bonds, should take out the hard-luck Florida Marlins with ease.
The Minnesota Twins will fight past the Yankees in the American League, where Oakland will come out winners over Boston.
Finishing league play out, Atlanta (or Chicago) will trip up San Francisco while the Twin-kies advance past the A’s (in a rematch that I watched in Minnesota earlier this summer) to the World Series.
And in the finals, the Braves (or Cubs) break their respective drought and boast of a World Championship.

Even if the Braves don’t score the World Series title, I’m still dancing over baseball bliss.
I’ve been playing fantasy baseball for about seven years with little or no success.
This season, however, was different.
One of my six teams ‘ the Louisville Sluggers ‘ actually won!
In a fantasy league, managers like me draft real-life major leaguers, and as those players go, our teams go. If Barry Bonds smacks a homer and gets five RBI, our team does, too.
I didn’t have Bonds. Nor did I have many top-notch offensive players (outside of Atlanta catcher Javy Lopez). In fact, as one eagle-eyed observer on a message board pointed out, four of my 10 starting offensive players were on real-life, last-place teams.
Go figure.
As in the real playoffs, pitchers such as Andy Pettitte (New York), Javier Vazquez (Montreal) and Russ Ortiz (Atlanta) carried me to the title.
So what does the win get me? Other than pride and an entry into a Winners’ League next season, nada.
In another free fantasy league ‘ in which prizes such as tickets, autographed memorabilia, and promotional items are awarded to top finishers ‘ I finished 10th out of about 125 other would-be rounders gurus. This league was filled with fans of the Richmond Braves (Atlanta’s AAA farm team) as well as Richmond’s manager, Pat Kelly.
I got as high as seventh in the league and fell to as low as seventeenth the past few weeks before closing out with a Top 10 finish.
Kelly, interestingly enough, finished ninth.