Friends, I’m happy to report we’re now firmly in the middle of fall. It happened. Summer has become but a distant memory as the chilling fingers of winter start to claw at our barely opened windows.
I mean, sure, we’re technically still in the front nine of autumn, but everyone knows that October is “fall,” November is “shitty fall,” and December is “the holidays.”
So yes, we’re in the middle of fall. This will be met with happiness by some, mild disdain by others, and if you’re my dad—who is a huge summer guy—bitter disappointment. However, regardless of which camp you…fall in, you have to agree we need to accept reality and embrace our current situation the best we can. We must appreciate all that fall has to offer.
What exactly does fall have to offer, though?
Like, so much. So much, in fact, that wondering what it has to offer should be replaced with debating what is the best thing it has to offer.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
I want you to know I worked really hard on that bracket.
The field has been narrowed down to 16 core elements of fall. Our four number one seeds are pumpkin picking, apple picking, pumpkin beer, and flannel shirts (with pumpkin picking being the number one overall seed).
The tournament is single elimination and winners will be selected just like fall weather: completely randomly and with little sense and/or reason involved.
Pumpkin Picking (1) vs. Letting Yourself Go (4)
How many pumpkins are officially too many pumpkins? Asking for a friend (a friend who is of the opinion there is no such thing as too many pumpkins).
As far as letting yourself go goes, I mean, beach season is over. There’s no real reason besides general health and wellness to keep up appearances.
We’re approaching layer season, so there’s no sense in maintaining pesky things like “abs” or “arms” or “pectoral muscles.” You’re keeping all that nonsense under wraps for at least five more months. What’s the point of maintaining a beach body once October hits?
Again, health and wellness. Now that I think about it, maybe you should at least keep up a few appearances.
Pumpkin picking advances.
Ghost Tours (2)vs Pumpkin Spice Lattes (3)
Pumpkin Spice Lattes feel like one of those things that sound cooler than they really are. Or maybe I’m missing something. Either way, you definitely hear a lot about them, but who is really looking to drink them on a regular basis while they’re around?
They have a shelf life that might be shorter than their actual shelf life (which isn’t very long to begin with). However, you have to give them credit for paving the way for Pumpkin Spice [Insert Literally Anything Here].
If we truly want to judge PSLs for something, it should be their influence on society, which is super impressive.
Ghost tours, though? They’re always a good time! You learn a little something, bone up on a city or town’s history, and make some friends (both dead and alive) along the way. You really can’t go wrong with a ghost tour.
The tour guide is definitely a deal-breaker, though. A good ghost tour guide possesses an inspiring mix of historical knowledge combined with a dramatic flair. A bad one makes you wish you had risked the eternal itchiness that comes with going on a haunted hayride instead.
Ghost tours advance.
Pumpkin Picking (1) vs. Ghost Tours (2)
I’m going to assume that there was a time way, way, way back in the day when pumpkin picking entailed just grabbing a pumpkin or two and then being on your way. As the father of a four-year-old, I can tell you that those days are long gone.
Pumpkin patches are there to entertain you for at least a couple hours and won’t rest until they’ve collected as much of your money as possible, preferably all in cash. It seems like pumpkin patches—along with dry cleaners—are one of the few remaining businesses in this country of ours that refuse to accept cards.
I’m not saying you don’t get your money’s worth, as a good pumpkin patch is a full-on immersive experience.
There’s the wagon ride that takes you to the promised land, offered either via horse-drawn carriage or pulled by a tractor. At the one I went to, we were greeted by a petting zoo upon arrival, complete with a goat liable to give you dismissive side-eye until you put some change in the machine and get some goat feed.
The petting zoo is a few feet away from the general store, complete with candles on candles on candles, as well as sayings written on distressed wood, ten-foot-tall corn stalks, and hay bales to display your pumpkin on.
And speaking of hay bales, how about a maze made out of hay bales or hay bales you can climb on or hay bales you can sit on while your kid climbs on the hay bales they can climb on?
Even better, if you want to take a hay bale home with you, you’re in luck! You’ll never be able to get the hay out of your car, but who cares, man. Now you have hay and earlier in the day, you didn’t have hay. Pretty sweet if you ask me.
With ghost tours, I have to be honest and tell you that I really feel like they’re kind of a lot of baloney. Cool stories, yes. But most likely not true stories.
I went on a ghost tour in Olde City Philadelphia one time and I came away with the understanding that the ghost of Ben Franklin is everywhere. I know he was a well-traveled man during his time on this planet but I’m just not buying it.
Ghost tours: dope, but also kind of a waste of money.
Pumpkin picking: actually not terrible if the weather is nice.
Pumpkin picking advances.
Apple Picking (1) vs. Foliage (4)
My main problem with foliage is that I feel like it should be called “falliage.”
For starters, it happens in the fall. But to make matters more confusing, “foliage” kind of sounds like “falliage,” especially if you’re saying it with any semblance of a Boston accent.
This is such an easy thing to fix. It blows my mind that no one has done this yet. It’s like this and the DH issue in baseball; two problems that could be solved so effin’ easily. We’re blowing it, people.
Apple picking obviously advances.
Chili (2) vs. Fall Cleaning (3)
Well, in both cases here, each one is going to inevitably result in a dump.
But seriously folks, I’d like to take a moment here to sing the praises of a fall cleaning. Spring cleaning is out here always getting all the love, but don’t sleep on the value of a good fall cleansing. It’s like closing the book on summer and all the monkey business that came with it.
Fall cleaning is a survival move, whereas spring cleaning is cathartic.
You’re cleaning up in the fall to better prepare yourself for winter and then spring comes around and, screw it all kids, we’re opening the windows and packing up all those effin sweaters and scarves. It’s almost beach season baby! Out with the old and in with the new.
But then fall comes around and that new stuff has worn out it’s welcome, and if it’s not trash, it’s definitely deserving of a spot down in the basement somewhere.
Now, let’s take a look at chili. Chili is great and all, but chili only lasts so long before you need a cleanse of sorts and need to turn to salad for a night or two.
It’s our first upset!
Fall cleaning moves on.
Apple Picking (1) vs. Fall Cleaning (3)
Going apple picking is great and all but it should be noted that you can also go pick apples (in a more abstract sense) at the grocery store and it takes half the time. You can get apple cider at the grocery store too. It might not be up to par with the kind of apple cider you can get at an orchard, but apple cider is apple cider, my dudes.
Plus, when you go apple picking, you always pick way more apples than you need. No one needs that many apples unless you’re involved in some sort of apple pie making operation and if that’s the case, god bless you. Apple pie is great. Much better than pumpkin pie.
I do enjoy apple orchards on Sunday mornings though, as everyone is out there yanking apples off of trees in the attire of their favorite NFL team. Or they’re wearing something plaid. Or a vest. It’s always one of those three.
However, if we’re being straight up, I think apple picking is overrated.
Now on the other side of the coin, I’m going to try and haul a hutch out to the street for fall cleaning and it’s going to be spectacular.
Fall cleaning with another upset!
Pumpkin Beer (1) vs. Corn Mazes (4)
Blueberry beer is gross. I said it and I stick by it. I don’t know if they make apple-flavored beer, but if they do, I bet that’s gross too. If I wanted an apple-flavored beer, I’d drink cider and I don’t drink cider, so ergo, I have no interest in apple-flavored beer.
I feel pretty strongly about beers with fruit flavors and generally steer clear of them. Pumpkin beer is different though (although I’m actually not entirely sure if pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable or owns some other kind of special designation).
Pumpkin beer is the lone exception. I don’t really know why. It’s not as if I’m a big proponent of the taste of pumpkin (although pumpkin bread is fantastic). I like pumpkin beer though. It just makes sense for some reason.
Corn mazes, on the other hand, make absolutely no sense. Why are we acting like corn mazes are fun? Corn mazes aren’t fun. It’s voluntary frustration. Why are we doing this to ourselves?
The problem with corn mazes is that in theory, they sound great. However, in practice, they’re junk.
There are four possible outcomes when a corn maze is involved:
- You make it out. Great. Congratulations.
- You make it out only after spending way longer than you should have in the corn maze. As a result, your friends have all left you and now you have to hitchhike home.
- You cheat to make it out, and while no one saw you cheat, you know what you did. Have fun living with that shame for the rest of your life.
- You don’t make it out and spend the rest of your life living in a corn maze.
Corn mazes are a scam and I don’t care if corn maze advocacy groups come after me for saying it.
Pumpkin beer might be a scam too, but after three or four of them, I’m cool with it.
Pumpkin beer moves on because corn mazes need to be outlawed.
Every Sport Is On TV (2) vs. Sweaters (3)
Be careful when you choose to wear a sweater in fall because while the morning might feel like sweater weather, by the time noon rolls around, things have changed and now you’re sweating a bit too much and wishing you had chosen something else to wear.
Save your sweaters for late fall at the earliest, people.
This is also a no-brainer. Have you not noticed that every sport is on television right now?
Sports on TV moves on.
Pumpkin Beer (1) vs. Every Sport Is On TV (2)
Just look at the facts.
Right now, we have college football Saturdays, NFL Sundays, and the baseball playoffs. Hockey is back and the NBA season is right around the corner.
Oh. Soccer. I forgot about soccer (although if we are going to forget about soccer, perhaps we should specifically forget about U.S. Men’s National Team soccer. Seems like a smart move).
As things currently stand, you could set up shop on your couch Friday night and watch sports straight on until Monday morning. If there are any blank spots, it’s all good. Comedy Central is probably showing 18 straight episodes of The Office.
While watching all these sports, there’s a decent chance you’ll want a beer or two. So let me ask you something, friends: if you’re sitting down to say, watch a college football game, how many pumpkin beers are you drinking before you’re sick of pumpkin beers and need something else?
Two? Three? It can’t be more than four.
The point I’m trying to make is that pumpkin beers are wonderful, but just like with apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, and any other fall-themed food or beverage, there’s a reason why they’re only around for a month or two. Any longer and it’s overkill.
Flannel Shirts (1) vs. Raking (4)
But Ryan, raking sucks. Why is it even being considered?
I’ll tell you why.
Because it’s a necessary evil and it should get some respect regardless of its suckiness. Plus, raking is a great way to get a little exercise and some fresh air. And don’t forget to say hi to the neighbors you won’t see for months until spring comes.
Raking is not terrible.
The first time.
Raking is terrible the second time you rake because leaves are assholes who don’t all fall at once.
Flannel shirts 100% move on.
Halloween Costumes (2) vs. Haunted Hayrides (3)
I think my best Halloween costume ever was Barney Rubble, which I went as for a party my junior year of college. Last year I was Donald Duck because I’m a dad and do dad things now. To be honest, you couldn’t tell who or what I was. I had to explain, which is a big no-no when it comes to Halloween costumes.
If you have to explain who or what you are, you blew it. Go home and try again.
Therein lies the sneaky pressure of Halloween costumes. You have to nail it. If not, you look ridiculous. Even if you are trying to look ridiculous, you have to ace looking ridiculous. It’s a tough business. And all for what? Candy?
It’s worth it, but is it really worth it?
I’ll tell you what’s always worth it: an effin’ haunted hayride. No pressure there. Just prop chain saws and people jumping out of trees.
Halloween costumes become less enjoyable the older you get but haunted hayrides never lose their shine.
Haunted hayrides for the win.
Flannel Shirts (1) vs. Haunted Hayrides (3)
Well, you can wear a flannel shirt on a haunted hayride. That seems to be a point for flannel shirts.
However, I feel like a good haunted hayride requires it to be kind of chilly. Possibly too chilly for just a flannel shirt. I’m thinking at least a vest over the flannel shirt.
Is that a point for haunted hayrides?
Wait. Since when are we messing around with points? It’s a little late in the game to introduce that to the mix. With that said, it’s also worth noting that In a couple of weeks it will also be too late to go on a haunted hayride but it won’t be too late to wear a flannel shirt.
You know what? I like the points thing, and if we’re talking points for longevity, flannel gets one. I love a good haunted hayride, but truth be told, the last one I went on was kind of lame and they didn’t stagger the hayrides enough, so you could hear when the group in front of us got scared, ruining the surprise.
Flannel shirts move on to the finals.
Pumpkin Picking (1) vs. Fall Cleaning (3)
There is currently a Nor’easter raging it’s way up the East Coast, and as a result, backyards along the eastern seaboard will be overrun with fallen branches. There will be SO many branches that you won’t even be able to see the leaves. The leaves are there, though. Don’t get fooled.
Remember: leaves are assholes.
Now, thankfully we have something like fall cleaning to help you rid yourself of this branch problem—not to mention help you get rid of the random brush and debris that has been piling up in that dark corner of your backyard where that stuff resides.
Fall cleaning is a flippin’ godsend and I can’t stress this enough.
But come on, man. We’re talking about pumpkin picking and all the wonders that now come with pumpkin picking.
Wait. All the wonders?
What the hell am I talking about? Am I alone in saying that pumpkin picking is damn near overrated? Am I alone in saying that it’s kind of a rip-off that you need to hop on a wagon to pick the pumpkins and BOTH the wagon ride and pumpkins cost money? Am I alone in wondering what the hell are we doing with all of these pumpkins?
WHAT THE HELL ARE GOURDS AND WHY DO THEY EVEN EXIST?
I’m going to chuck a bunch of pumpkins out during fall cleaning and it’s going to be a blast.
Can’t wait, baby!
Fall cleaning advances to the championships.
Every Sport Is On TV (2) vs. Flannel Shirts (1)
I don’t know, man. It is hard to argue against the beauty that is the state of televised sports in the month of October.
Actually, I’m not even going to try.
Flannel shirts are comfortable and serve a unique purpose that I am thankful for. I will appreciate them while I enjoy no more than two pumpkin beers while switching back and forth between the SEC Game of the Week, baseball playoffs, and the Bruins game on a brisk Saturday night.
Sports on TV marches on to the championships.
For The Win: Fall Cleaning vs. Every Sport Is On TV
It’s hard to think of a downside to fall cleaning. It really is.
Throwing things out is the best. Getting rid of junk you don’t want anymore and is just taking up room—whether it’s in your house, garage, or backyard—is a sweet, sweet release.
Yet if there is a negative to fall cleaning is that in order to indulge, you’re going to be forced to miss some sports on TV. While there’s plenty to choose from, I for one don’t want to choose. Why can’t those branches and that damn hutch throw themselves out? I want to watch Premier League soccer in peace, not sporadically while lugging junk up from the basement that needs to find its way to the side of the road.
For as much as I love fall cleaning, it can be a bummer.
With all the sports that are on TV in fall—especially in October—it’s hard for it to be a downer. For instance, as a Boston fan, I didn’t need to get too down in the dumps about how the Red Sox season ended, because I can just turn my attention to the Patriots. And if (god forbid) the Patriots start to crater, the Bruins are off to a good start and the Celtics start up again soon. It’s an embarrassment of riches!
And it’s not as if it’s just limited to Boston.
Are you a Steelers fan bummed about losing Big Ben? Congrats. The Penguins look solid so far. Just watch them instead, and if that doesn’t work, Penn State’s doing all right.
What? Your beloved Redskins are still a dumpster fire? Good news: the Nationals definitely aren’t!
Sometimes being a sports fan means that you’re stuck in a storm, just looking for a dock to tie up to. In October, all there is are docks!
With all due respect to fall cleaning, spring cleaning might be better.
And watching sports in the fall definitely is.