Hosting a beef rib cookoff without John Mueller taking part is like lurching off from the starting line in a drag race without Big Daddy Don Garlits screaming nitro in the next lane.

Or throwing a foot race with Ben Johnson minus the horse needle shootups.

The dark prince was taking a breather?

But without him there, the king of the beef rib ceremony is bereft of meaning.

Word on the street has it that Mueller was approached but failed to respond to the challenge.

Given his disdain for the Chronicle his reticence comes natural.

After all, what does the crowned king of the beef rib have to gain by competing?

If he wins, it merely affirms what we all already knew: the man's ribs are nonpareil. If he loses cries of "the fix was in" would erupt from his camp with much toppling of police cars and smashing of windows taking place in East Austin.

To be fair, the margin between Mueller's bones and Micklethwait's is razor thin. Depending on the day of the week one man could very well best the other.

Mick Vann, the organizer of the event, is a barbecue veteran having eaten from the finest smoked meat parlors in Texas since Moses was young. And he assembled a row of heavy hitters to compete in the shootout.

Minus John Mueller.

scrumptiouschef@yahoo.com