By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Andy Carlson has an important sounding title. He is the curriculum/assessment specialist for Havre Public Schools. It sounds like bureaucratic lingo to the average person - kind of like calling a janitor, a custodial engineer or me, a sports editor. But it does sound important, after all his job title does include the word "specialist." It means he specializes in something. What it is, I'm not sure.
When asked, Andy had a response he uses over and over to describe what it is he actually does at his job for people not associated with the school system.
"My job was best summed up a fourth grade student at Sunnyside," Carlson said with a laugh. "He said, 'You're the test man.'"
Basically, Andy handles all the standardized, national and local testing that the students in the Havre Public schools. You remember, the SRA tests that you took as a kid - the boring tests that took up three days worth of school and you never actually saw the results of - Andy is in charge of those tests.
"Nobody likes the test man," he joked. "The teachers or the students."
All kidding aside, we decided to give the test man, a test of his own and put him on this week's Armchair Quarterbacks.
I first met Andy when he was playing basketball for the Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team. He seemed normal enough at the time, he liked hunting and fishing and was pretty friendly. But I noticed one very bad thing, he always wore a New York Yankee hat and I've been skeptical ever since.
A Yankee hat? The guy was born in Klamath Falls, Ore. and raised in Auburn, Wash., which, even with my poor geographical knowledge, I know are nowhere near the Bronx. How can a guy from Washington forsake the Mariners for the Yanks?
"It's who your grandpa tells you to cheer for and it's whatever sweatshirt you get as a kid," he said.
Huh? What kind of crazy logic is this for picking a favorite team?
"My Grandpa Carlson said I should cheer for the Yankees because that's just the way it's supposed to be."
And the sweatshirt theory?
"My first sweatshirt when I was a kid was a Washington Redskins sweatshirt," he said. "My brother said that had to be my favorite team and I couldn't' change."
To his credit he hasn't strayed from those teams and you have to respect that he quit liking the Portland Trailblazers because he could never cheer for a team whose high point came when Bill Walton was playing for them.
Even though neither Yankees or Redskins are on this week's picks, he still felt it necessary to tell me that the Yankees would beat the Red Sox in six games and then win the World Series.
"It's just the way it is has to be, the Yankees are meant to win every year," he said.
Not that I wanted to know that. But he was on a roll, offering up more tidbits of information to me as if there might be a test afterward.
"Don Mattingly is the only number 23 in sports," he said. "The only number 23.
"If Paul O'Neill was still standing next to the water cooler in the Yankee dugout, they'd never lose a game."
He was rolling, and I didn't know how much more of it I could take.
"My wife (Christie) is Yankee fan too," he said. "She won't admit it but she's a diehard, she likes their uniforms the best. They are the best looking uniform of any sport."
Please make him stop.
"If I have to watch a World Series with the Marlins in it I will be ill," he said. "They haven't paid their dues, they just went and bought their whole team."
"Don't the Yankees do the same thing," I asked.
"Everyone accuses the Yankees of being this evil empire, when in truth, every player in their starting lineup with the exception of Aaron Boone came up in their farm system. Jeter, Posada, Soriano, everyone. Look at the Cubs just about every one of their starters played on a different team last season. People just want to make it seem like the Yankees buy all of their players."
I finally reached my breaking point and fired back, "What about their pitching staff?"
"There's Andy Petitte and Mariano Rivera," he replied.
"Well, nobody's perfect," he said.
Ahh, the rationalistic logic of Yankee fans.
It's difficult for me to take Andy's baseball knowledge too seriously. After all, I coached the Havre Northstars with him for two years. You could take what he knew about baseball strategy and it might fill a dixie cup, which he readily admits.
"I was probably the only baseball coach whose players knew more about the game than I did," he said with a laugh. "But you have to credit me and Mickey (Williams) getting sick to get you into coaching."
Indeed, I started coaching when the longtime Northstar coach suffered heart problems. And I have both of them to thank for five summers of temper tantrums, constant pouting, persistent whining and overall childish behavior - and that wasn't even from the players.
Despite his limited knowledge of baseball, Andy knew how to coach and motivate kids. And now he has one of his own to start coaching.
His son, Ethan, is 15 months old, and already Andy has corrupted him into wearing a Yankees hat and shirt in public.
Do the sweatshirt and grandpa theories apply for Ethan too?
"He can pick whatever team he wants," he said.
"And if it's not the Yankees and somebody like the Red Sox?" I asked.
"He can pick whatever team he wants, it just depends if he wants to sleep here or not," he said.
More of that astounding Yankee logic. But enough about baseball. This is a football contest and Andy had some specific reasons for his picks.
He went with Conrad over Cut Bank in a critical District 1B game because "my immediate boss' wife is from Conrad and there would be trouble if I didn't pick them."
Andy also went with Carroll College to beat up on UM-Western in a big Frontier Conference game.
"I was amazed at how fast Carroll is. If they have any weaknesses I didn't see them," he said. "They might be the best team in Montana. If ever there was a year to say something like that, this could be the year."
He also took the lesser of two evils by picking the Philadelphia Eagles over the Dallas Cowboys.
"It pains me to pick any NFC east team other than the Redskins," Andy said. "But I have to go with Philly because of my extreme hatred for the Cowboys."
Last week was fairly decent for the panel with all of us rebounding to finish with winning records for the week. Wells, Barry and Harvey tied with 13-5 records, while George, our guest Lance Reesor and I tied with 12-6 records.
As always, if there is somebody you feel should be the guest picker and more importantly, be made fun of, we are taking suggestions.