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Category: OLD SPORT SHORTS (Page 1 of 58)

An old guy’s perspective on all sports

Old Sport Shorts: Who’s Next? #2444

Three straight final game losses to Purdue sealed the inevitable firing of Indiana football Coach Tom Allen. I will miss his spirit on the sidelines and find the decision futile. I.U. will not only lose nearly 20 million dollars (nearly 400k for every loss) in the buyout but also flood the portal with transfer prospects. Will it do any good? No! Indiana is now nothing more than a soccer school (8 national titles and perhaps another in the works). Trophies for Swimming (6 straight), Basketball (5), Cross Country (3), Track & Field (1), and Wrestling (1) are now gathering cobwebs in the display case. Women’s Basketball has probably the greatest potential and football the least. A new coach is not going to make the slightest difference, especially considering that the program has had 29 different leaders since it began play in the 1887 season. Only six have led the Hoosiers to postseason bowl games, including Tom Allen who is now yesterday’s news.

1967 was the last Big Ten Conference football title under John Pont that led to the sole Rose Bowl appearance. They lost 14-3 to U.S.C. and O.J. Simpson. Starting next year, the Hoosiers and Trojans will become conference foes. If it weren’t for visiting Ohio State, Memorial Stadium would never be packed, and most of the regular I.U. fans would never leave the parking lot tailgates. When I was a season ticket holder back in the 80s, we defined today’s meaning of social distancing. One coach, Terry Hoeppner, sadly died before he was fired, while offensive coordinator Bill Lynch took over to lead the 2007 team to a 7-6 record and a trip to the Insight Bowl

Back in 1957, Coach Bob Hicks went 1-8 in his only season for the lowest winning percentage of all time. At the other extreme, Coach Madison G. Gonterman lead the Hoosiers to 12-3 over two seasons (1896-7). Coach Bo McMillin had the longest tenure, lasting for 14-years, but Coach Bill Mallory led I.U. for the most games (149) that included six different bowl games. I traveled to two of those in these glory years (Liberty and Independence).

Coach Kevin Wilson resigned amidst “philosophical differences” in 2016 after a Pinstripe Bowl appearance in 2015. Allen replaced him, starting with the Foster Farms Bowl, his first loss of 49 total to Utah 26-24. His last loss was this past weekend’s Purdue game, a battle between two eight loss teams, where I.U. was flushed down the toilet, in what should have been coined the Tidy Bowl, and the losing coach removed from the job. 

Arthur B. Woodford was the first I.U. football coach (1887-1888), followed by single season campaigns by Evans Woolen and Billy Herod. The team then went two seasons without a coach, compiling a 3-6-1 record. In 1894-5, with multiple coaches, they went 4-7-2, so show me where I.U. coaching matters! Some of the more recognizable coaching names for the Hoosiers, thanks to modern day broadcasting exposure, included Lee Corso (10 years), Sam Wyche (1), Cam Cameron (5), and Gerry DiNardo (3). This group combined for a pathetic record of 70-140-2. Other Hoosier losers included Coach Phil Dickens (1958-64: 20-41-2), Coach Bernie Crimmins (1952-1956: 13-32), Coach Clyde Smith (1948-1951: 8-27-1), Coach Earl C. Hayes (1931-33: 8-14-4), Coach Harlan Page (1926-30: 14-23-3), Coach Bill Ingrim (1923-25: 10-12-1), Coach James P. Herron (1922: 1-4-2), and Coach Clarence Childs (1914-15: 6-7-1).

Through the years there were a few winning coaches that should be recognized for achieving the nearly impossible at I.U. 1895 through 1913, four coaches totaled 80 wins, only 52 losses and 10 ties. The combo of Coaches Winchester Osgood and Robert Wrenn (1895) went 4-3-1, just before the afore mentioned winner, Madison G. Gonterman, took the helm. He was followed by Coach James H. Horn (1898-1904) who led the team to a 33-21-5 record over 7 seasons. Coach James M. Sheldon then won 35 games against 26 losses and three ties. It was truly the good old days. From 1916-1921, Coach Ewald O. Stiehm added 20 victories and one tie while losing only 18. That takes us full circle to Coach Bo McMillin’s 63-48-11 success from 1934-1947. If my math is correct, since that time, and just beyond my lifetime, fourteen coaches, all with losing records, have managed just 290 victories and 9 ties while losing 507 times. Who’s next?




Old Sport Shorts: Knight’s Out #2428

Bob Knight came to Bloomington to coach basketball just after I did, at an age only 11-years older. I watched many of the specials on his life after his death yesterday. The most touching moment was his return to Assembly Hall for the first time in twenty-years to be honored at half time of the Purdue game in 2020. I was watching from a Las Vegas Casino, just before Covid shut everything down. Otherwise, it may never have happened!

I only talked to him twice in my life. The first was a short exchange during the 1998 Maui Classic that my wife and I attended. The last was a fairly lengthy conversation at a private affair in the kitchen of a Texas politician that he supported back in 2012. It was the night that Neil Reed died, and his speech was abruptly interrupted by that urgent phone call. He quickly left the event without an explanation. A friend of mine who played for him remained close after graduation and attended several reunions with him and his teammates. He credits Coach Knight for getting his career started. 

He was adamant with his players about attending classes and ultimately graduating (most did), supported the I.U. library, and numerous other educational causes. He was both tough and personally supportive of those around him. He threw a chair, supposedly head-butted a player, and was involved in previously mentioned choking incident. It was hard to defend these actions, whether true or not. The public perception was that he was a bully with a quick temper, but privately he was much loved. He expected to win, but never crossed that line of inappropriate recruiting that was too often fashionable at the time. 

He was a winner and a brilliant basketball strategist and described by most as larger-than-life, although he did not appear that way at that only Assembly Hall public appearance. He looked fragile, as my father did later in life. as he tried to shake his fists to fire up the crowd. His complexion was ruddy and voice a bit hoarse, but it was still a great moment. We all knew that he wouldn’t be with us for long, and now just three years later he’s gone. He apparently made some Mike Woodson practices, spent time with Gene Keady, and began to show signs of dementia. We were lucky to see him again in Bloomington after the way he was treated during the firing. It should have been handled differently and, if so, it would already be Bob Knight Court with a statue out front that would all have been celebrated with him. Instead, it’s Simon Skjodt Arena, with videos of Knight’s numerous achievements, and the players now wearing a RMK uniform patch. 

Many more Coach Knight tributes will obviously come as time passes, but the last few decades have been miserable for me without his presence. These are honors that I care more about than he probably ever did, giving all the credit to his players while drawing all the attention away from them to allow them focus on winning, as they did a lot! We’ve gone through coaches like sand through the hourglass, have lost our winning edge, and can no longer find our way in even in the BIG Ten Conference, let alone become a factor in the national picture. Hopefully, Coach Mike Woodson, one of his numerous prodigies, can channel his presence and return the Hoosiers to former glory. He’s the future – Rest in Peace Coach -Knight’s Out!


Old Sport Shorts: I.U. World Series #2422

One Indiana University Hoosier made it to the World Series this year, although he didn’t fare so well in his quest to get there last night. With a two game and home field advantage, I fully expected I.U. alum Kyle Schwarber and his Phillies teammates to get there again, instead it was Andrew Saalfrank, also an I.U. alum and the Arizona Diamondbacks moving on for the first time since 2001, their 4th season in MLB and their only other trip to the Fall Classic, when they beat the Yankees in Game 7. It also took 7 games to win the NLCS. It will be a battle between two Wildcards!

Here’s a recap of the first encounter between Schwarber and Saalfrank, as described by Doug Haller of The Athletic:

“A rookie left-hander, Saalfrank had been with the Diamondbacks for six weeks, promoted from Triple-A Reno. Throughout the playoffs, he had played a key role in Arizona’s bullpen, avoiding trouble, pitching out of jams. Dating to his Sept. 4 promotion, he had not allowed an earned run in 14 appearances.”

“Saalfrank, 26, took the ball. Lovullo patted him on the leg. Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera did the same. Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber, the hero of the National League Championship Series through two games, stepped in. The two had a connection.”

“Saalfrank and Schwarber both attended Indiana University. Schwarber was four years older, but Saalfrank had met him early in his college career. Schwarber had been a star from the start, an offensive force. Saalfrank was more of a late bloomer, stuck in the bullpen until an injury to a starting pitcher forced him into the rotation.”

“It changed his career.”

“On the mound in Game 3, with the score deadlocked 0-0, Saalfrank started with an 83-mph curveball that sailed outside the strike zone.” 

“Saalfrank walked Schwarber.”

He then walked him again in Game 7 and the prior batter, allowing the potentially winning run at the plate with no outs. That was the end of his night, immediately relieved by Kevin Ginkel who preserved the victory with three strike outs, including Bryce Harper. It was Ketel Marte, the NLCS MVP, that turned out to be the real “Mr. October” instead of Schwarber or Harper. 

As a personal side note, I worked with the Saalfrank family in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, while I was in the radio business at WMEE/WQHK. They owned an advertising agency called Saal. Andrew is from nearby Hoagland and pitched for I.U. before being drafted in the 2019 sixth round by the Diamondbacks. 


Old Sport Shorts: I.U.’s Kyle Schwarber #2421

I found this Kyle Schwarber bio on from 2014. He wore jersey #10 for the Indiana Hoosiers before switching to #12 for the Cubs, Red Sox, Nats, and currently the Phillies. He might have asked to continue with #10 in Chicago, but the uniform number was retired in honor of Ron Santo back in 2003. 

“Selected in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft (fourth overall) by the Chicago Cubs, the highest draft pick in Indiana baseball history … Two-time First Team All-American and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honoree … In IU history, ranks fifth in slugging percentage (.607), sixth in home runs (40), eighth in hits (238) and tied for eighth in triples (12) and runs (182) … All-Big Ten honors all three years … for career batted .341 in 180 games played.”

2014 – JUNIOR

“Johnny Bench Award Finalist … First Team All-American (Baseball America and Perfect Game), Second Team All-American (Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and ABCA/Rawlings) … First Team All-Big Ten … Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player and Big Ten All-Tournament Team on Big Ten charts, ranked first in slugging percentage (.659), on base percentage (.464), runs scored (66), home runs (14), total bases (153), walks (44) and total plate appearances (280), tied for first in triples (6), second in hits (83), third in batting average (.358), fifth in RBI (48), tied for fifth in doubles (16) and sixth in at bats (232) … In IU single-season history, ranked tied for tenth in runs (66) … Big Ten Player of the Week (March 3) … reached base in all five plate appearances in win at No. 9 Louisville … accounted for eight runs in two-game sweep in Louisville … team-high 23 games with multiple hits, including three contests with career-high four hits … in four NCAA Regional games, recorded 10 hits, seven RBI, one double, one triple and two home runs.”


” Selected as the best catcher in the country by Perfect Game and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, earning First Team All-America honors from both entities … named a Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper … chosen as the NCBWA’s District V Player of the Year … also picked up First Team honors for both the ABCA/Rawlings All-Mideast Region and All-Big Ten squads … paired with Sam Travis to become only college teammates to compete for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team over the summer … led the Big Ten with 18 homeruns (3rd nationally), 65 runs (13th), 152 total bases (16th), .647 slugging percentage (19th), .456 OBP and 42 walks … his .366 average, 54 RBI and 86 hits each ranked third in the conference … the 18-homer total is slotted sixth all-time in school history … fielded .989 on the season … earned a spot on both the All-Big Ten Tournament and All-NCAA Bloomington Regional teams …’s Central Regional Player of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week on March 11 after destroying Florida for 10 hits, four RBI and four runs scored in a road series victory … racked up seven hits, six runs and four RBI in series sweep at Iowa … blasted a no-doubt homer in the bottom of the 10th vs. Michigan, setting up a walk-off win for IU later in the inning … went on a 10-game postseason hitting streak which included four long-balls, 11 RBI, 14 runs scored and 14 total base knocks … clobbered a pair of cloud-scraping homers in an 8-6 win at Nebraska on the Big Ten Network … whacked homeruns in back-to-back games four different times, including twice in the postseason … Indiana went 46-13 (.780) in games he started and 3-3 (.500) in games an injury held him out of the starting lineup … an Academic All-Big Ten selection.”


“Tabbed as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper … voted All-Big Ten second team catcher … unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman squad … three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week honoree (Mar. 5/Apr. 30/May 21) … ranked in the conference’s top-10 of seven offensive categories: five triples (2nd), 51 runs (t-4th), 47 RBI (t-5th), 118 total bases (t-5th), 15 doubles (t-6th), eight homeruns (t-7th) and a .513 slugging percentage (9th) … threw out 27 attempted base stealers, second-most in the Big Ten … added nine stolen bases, a .300 batting average and .390 on-base percentage … numbers exploded in Big Ten play; hitting .376, slugging .624 and reaching base at a .464 clip during conference action … stroked nine doubles against Big Ten foes, the seventh-most in school history … started all 60 games, 54 behind the dish and six in the corner outfield … second on the team with 21 multi-hit and 13 multi-RBI games … batted .364 (24 of 66) with runners in scoring position … drove in four runs three times, including a grand slam at East Tennessee State … scored one or more runs in 12 consecutive games during late April/early May … scored at least once in 35 of 60 games.”


“Led the Greater Miami Conference with a .474 batting average, eight homeruns and .643 on-base percentage as a senior … also recorded 28 RBI and 11 stolen bases in his league’s Co-Player-of-the-Year-winning season … four-time team MVP … a second team All-Ohio linebacker selection.”


“The son of Greg and Donna Schwarber … has a brother, Jamin, and three sisters, Alicia, Kelly and Lindsey … born on March 5, 1993 … majoring in Recreational Sports Management. He was born in Middletown, Ohio and played for Middletown High, same school as I.U basketball’s Butch Carter.”


Old Sport Shorts: Mr. October or November #2420

Jose Altuve has added to his postseason legacy, cracking his 26th playoff HR (a 3-run blast) in the ninth, leading the defending Champion Astros to a 3-2 series margin over the Texas Rangers. This was after Texas had won the first two games. Talk about “clutch” in his quest for “Mr. October” status. (See Post #2418). He moves within 3 of all-time post-season HR leader Manny Ramirez, tarnished by two suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs. Moments later, Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies put one over the right center wall to surpass fellow left-handed sluggers Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle in the post-season Home Run Derby, his 19th from that side of the plate and fourth of in this year’s NLCS, all in the lead-off position, another record. In addition, Kyle ties right-handers Albert Puljos and George Springer, surpassing Carlos Correa and Nelson Cruz, establishing himself as a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate.

Schwarber can it the long ball and the dribbler off the end of the bat that led to the first run in game 5. The question then became can the Phillies hold on to the early lead for once or will the DBacks stage another comeback? It’s an understatement that reliever Craig Kimbrel has been a disappointment as he was for the Cubs and White Sox whenever I watched him pitch. I would doubt he gets another chance in this series if Manager Rob Thomson wants to keep his job. 

In the top of the 6th, Kyle Schwarber, wearing uniform #12, hit another bomb, his 5th of the NLCS and 20th overall, tying Derek Jeter. Harper matched it later in the inning, after stealing home in the first and joining Randy Arozarena as the only two players in history to do both in the same postseason game. These are “Mr. October” feats above and beyond Reggie Jackson!

Before this historical moment, I never paid much attention to the #12 jersey that Schwarber wore, unlike my childhood fascination with Sherm Lollar back in the 60s who donned the #10 that I since favored. Both Lollar and Schwarber were catchers, by the way, although Kyle now serves a DH role, and was used by the Cubs as an outfielder. I looked back through some of Schwarbs baseball cards, dating back to the I.U. days (2012-2014 when he hit 40 homers for the Hoosiers and wore #10 like Sherm). His USA Baseball, collegiate national team number was 44 in 2014, the year he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. Schwarber may have requested #10 when the Cubbies called him up, but that uniform number was retired in honor of Ron Santo back in 2003. 

The Phillies held on to win game five 6-1 and will have two more chances for a World Series spot when they return to Citizens Bank Park. Unlike the previous night when Schwarber’s run-scoring walk should have been the game winner prior to Kimbrel’s blown save, the bullpen did its job. Hopefully, Philly will advance and likely get a second chance against the Astros, allowing Schwarber and Harper more chances to rewrite the record books and ultimately outdo Houston’s esteemed advisor, “Mr. October” Reggie Jackson. There could even be a “Mr. November should this year’s series lasts longer than four games!


Old Sport Shorts: Mr. October #2418

This is a post that I hope to continue to expand upon, as Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies becomes the second player to have his own category on my blog, along with Sherm Lollar. Neither of these guys are exactly household names, but they are near and dear to me. I’ve been following Schwarber since his playing days at my alma mater Indiana University. Lollar was a childhood hero. Both played for multiple MLB teams during their respective careers and have won World Series rings, while Schwarbs, as I call him, still has a lot of history to make. 

“Mr. October” was the title earned by Reggie Jackson “for his clutch hitting in the postseason with the Athletics and the Yankees. He helped Oakland win five consecutive American League West divisional titles, three straight American League pennants and three consecutive World Series titles from 1972 to 1974. He then helped New York win four American League East divisional pennants, three American League pennants and back-to-back World Series titles, in 1977 and 1978. He then assisted the California Angels in their two AL West divisional titles in 1982 and 1986 and served as an advisor to the 2022 World Champion Astros, his 6th title (at Kyle Schwarber’s expense).

There have been recent references to Kyle Schwarber as the new “Mr. October,” after he tied New York Yankees legends Jackson and Mickey Mantle with 18 post-season home runs following two dingers the other night in Philadelphia, “the most by a left-handed batter in Major League baseball history.” Plus, in his case, there’s more work yet to do with at least two more games yet this month. Plus, Reggie took 77 games and Mickey 65 to reach the 18-mark, while Kyle did it in 60. Schwarber also earned me free Taco Bell food with a rare stolen base in last year’s World Series. (See Post 2186). Kyle is an all-or-nothing hitter with too many strikeouts and a hitting average below the Mendoza level. 

Schwarber’s long-ball heroics started eight years ago when he hit a solo homer for the Cubs in his second post-season at bat back in 2015. He also is the sole owner for lead-off dingers with four, after struggling earlier this month in the Divisional round of the playoffs.  Jackson hammered three consecutive home runs at Yankee Stadium in the clinching game six of the 1977 World Series. So, the word “clutch” adds immensely to Jackson’s October legend, while Schwarber has been upstaged by his teammate Bryce Harper when it comes to game-winning efforts, so far. This is the downside of serving as a lead-off hitter. Plus, this year’s World Series run for the Phillies could easily extend into next month, so either of these stars could claim “Mr. November.”

Other contenders for “Mr. October” include Manny Ramirez with 29 post-season homers, Jose Altuve (25), Bernie Williams (22), Derek Jeter (20), Albert Pujols & George Springer (19), and Carlos Correa & Nelson Cruz (18), while Randy Arozerena totaled ten during the 2022 season alone. Bernie Williams tops everyone with 80 post-season RBIs, all according to Baseball Reference. To Tell the Truth, will the real “Mr. October” please stand up!

To be continued…..


Old Sport Shorts: Pick ‘Em Poorly #2403

We choose our teams from the area where we live, the schools we attended, and outside influencers that cross our paths. I grew up in the Chicago area (northern Indiana) with a father that was a Detroit sports fan and neighbors that were Bears and White Sox supporters. My folks graduated from Indiana University and even baby pictures showed me in I.U. gear. They were able to win for many years with even me as part of their fan base but have fallen on hard times over the past 35-years of my life. 

The Elkhart High School Blue Blazers were my hometown favorite. The only Indiana professional sports franchise was the Pacers, until the Colts showed up in the middle of the night. Nowadays, there are women’s teams and minor league teams, but the state is still primarily influenced by Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati teams. Hockey and soccer were not of interest to me until later in life, while I began to follow the Cubs since my dad and son were big fans. With my record of losers, I’m sure I’ve done them no favors in climbing on the bandwagon.

As a kid, I was drawn to players like Johnny Unitas of the then Baltimore Colts, Sherm Lollar of the Chicago White Sox, and Mike Ditka of the Bears. These attractions were likely due to the influence of television. For Lollar, it was the 1959 World Series against the Dodgers. Unitas joined the Colts in 1959 and Ditka the Bears in 1961, all in my vulnerable pre-teen years when I established initial fandom. “Johnny U” was the only one on a team outside my geographic circle. Ironically, the team moved to Indianapolis, as Peyton Manning eventually took his place in my heart, wearing that classic white helmet with the blue horseshoe. My dad talked me out of being a Yankees fan, despite my love of Mickey Mantle. They wouldn’t have probably won as many rings if I had stayed on board. 

Of all my teams, Indiana University basketball under Bob Knight is undoubtedly my most successful sports allegiance, witnessing three national titles, the most memorable in the stands when Keith Smart hit the winner. If I had chosen Notre Dame or Purdue, I would have seen personal glory in other sports, particularly football. I’ve tried to root for these teams, but negative childhood vibes have gotten in the way. It’s odd, because I’ve worked near both campuses and have had personal ties, so I should naturally be more supportive. My cousin played for the Irish and his father was an assistant coach, so it was the first stadium I ever visited, one of my treasured memories of going to games with my dad. I also interacted with Purdue coaches, like 
Tiller and Keady, and players such as Drew Brees, but my dad hated both schools, so I loyally followed along. 

As we moved from place to place, I adopted the local teams, but only rarely was it productive. The Illini were much less successful than the Hoosiers. While living in Austin, I did watch the Texas Longhorns win a College World Series title on TV and then saw live and in person the Oregon State Beavers equal that baseball achievement in Omaha, while working in Portland. I also followed the Portland Timbers when they won the MLS championship in 2015. The Oregon Ducks had their moments in football and basketball, but never won all the marbles. I even favored the Mariners in nearby Seattle, but they remain the only MLB franchise to have never played in a World Series – my kind of team. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013 but have been unable to repeat since I became their adoptive fan. 

Most all my favorite memories of my father are around attending sporting events, including the infamous “Hamburger” outburst. We went to high school games, ND Stadium, Comiskey Park, Riverfront, and Wrigley Field together. Saw “The Monster” explode with fireworks, celebrated those NCAA Championships of our IU Alma Mater, had lunch with Jim Coker of the Phillies, watched an angry Lou Pinella throw first base at an umpire, and witnessed Sammy Sosa top Babe Ruth’s HR record. Outside of sports, I remember carving our YMCA Indian Guides totem pole, along with a related overnight campout and our pinewood derby entry. We also traveled to Akron as a family to watch my good friend Tim Steffen compete in the Soap Box Derby nationals. Who could ever forget our lengthy station wagon journeys to Yellowstone, Wall Drugs, Mackinac Island, The Wisconsin Dells/Locks, Mt, Rushmore, Englewood, FL, and Gulf Shores. 

I never had success in the fantasy leagues or on betting in general, too often choosing players that ended up injured or performed poorly. I tried to stay out of my son’s selections, even though he invited me to be part of his team, a mistake he will learn to regret. We’re off to a bad start. Unfortunately, like father – like son. 

As far as professional sports, I have only gotten small doses of victory, otherwise it has been a miserable relationship. The Pacers have never won an NBA title, but the Colts did win a Super Bowl in 2007. Unfortunately, it was against my Bears, so it was a game of mixed emotions. The Bears won it all in 1986 and I reacted with my own “Super Bowl Shuffle.” The White Sox finally won rings in 2005 and the Cubs did it in 2016, games I was able to attend. That’s only 3 Chicago titles in 60 years of following these teams. That’s 171 losing seasons, including this year. The Bears are already 0-3, while the Cubs have dropped their last four as a potential playoff contender, and the long ago eliminated White Sox have only won four of their last ten. I logically should have been an obnoxious Bulls fan, but I spared them the “Johnston Jinx.” I really know how to pick ’em, don’t I? 

Old Sport Shorts: Get Hot Now #2397

I’ve done too much whining about my health lately, so I need to change gears and move forward. Sports have always been a great distraction, so my Saturday started with College Gameday. For a first time in years, Alabama doesn’t seem to be much of a factor, much to the dismay of my half-sister. Maybe the BIG Ten Conference will be a factor in determining the national champion. It’s been nine years since Ohio State won it all. They also did it 2002, and Michigan claimed half the title in 1997, while Nebraska was #1 in 1995 and Penn State victorious in 1986, prior to both joining the conference.  The South has prevailed!

IU plays Akron this evening in a must win game to even have a small chance for a Bowl bid. Purdue is equally impotent after a conference loss to Wisconsin last night. Moving to the West, I will enjoy watching the Oregon Ducks battle Colorado in afternoon “Prime Time.” At least the Buffalos have made college football interesting under the influence of Deion Sanders, a man who lacks no confidence. Former IU QB Michael Penix, Jr. is now a Heisman Trophy favorite after transferring to the University of Washington two years ago. Both Oregon and Washington are soon headed to the BIG, with the hope that more member teams will eventually put the conference in the CFP picture, or will the South rise again?

Going South seems to work for baseball and football, where warmer climates mean more outdoor practice time. Fortunately, basketball is an indoor sport, so Indiana still has a chance to return to greatness. Geographical advantages regarding sports do not extend to the Pros, although Tampa Bay and New Orleans has made the South Superbowl proud. As for baseball, Houston and Atlanta are recent World Series winners and current contenders from South of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Cubs could use a little Southern Comfort and Hospitality in Atlanta next week after a slippery September. They are in danger of finishing the season like they started it – poorly (going South). As they say down there, “Ya’ll get hot now, you hear!” 

Old Sport Shorts: Relevant No More #2391

I’ve only managed 41 posts in the last 90 days, less than once every two days and far from my initial daily retirement commitment. I’m definitely slowing down in old age with little eventful to write about and a lack of motivation. The Georgia Southern vs. Wisconsin football game is apparently more important to the BTN viewers than the IU vs. Louisville match-up. Another slap in the face to Hoosier football, as I’m forced to watch the stats on the app, as was the case with IU soccer last night in their BIG opener against Wisconsin. I didn’t miss much since the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Plus, IU has yet to sign a player for next year in basketball, as top recruits continue to visit the facilities, but no one as yet committed. Am I worried yet? The first of the targets, Jaedan Mustaf, just signed with Georgia Tech.

Shohei Ohtani has just cleaned out his locker in Anaheim and is headed back to Japan- his season over and future in question. I have one more card coming in the mail, touting his stolen base and home run achievements, but injuries have not allowed him to fulfill record expectations. Will he have surgery and land with another team next year? Is his 2023 MVP crown now in jeopardy?

Can the Cubs hang on to the Wildcard and somehow make one last run against the Brewers for the division crown? The Brew Crew has gone 7-3 in the last 10 games while the Cubbies, while I’ve been paying attention, have slipped to 4-6. I should probably shift my allegiance to Milwaukee to put the jinx on them. My fortunes in sports continue to lead to disappointment. The poor play of Da Bears and reduced expectations only adds to this despair. Fantasy team injuries could jeopardize this week’s match-up with “Listed as Questionable,” a team name synonymous with my lack of luck. I need some good news to pick up my spirits that are bogged down with medical concerns and restless nights. 

I had another rough night’s sleep between many trips to the john and fears of my computer/phone being hacked. MonopolyGO continues to be a welcome distraction. This evening I’m spending with a group of satisfied UConn fans, defending NCAA Basketball Champs. It’s been 36-years since I’ve had that glow about me. At least, the Patriots are struggling this year, to keep them somewhat humble. My lineup of teams don’t seem to be relevant anymore!

Retirement is not without Hassles: REally TIREd MENTally #2388

I’ve really tapered off on my writing these past few weeks. I’ve also lost my appetite for TV shows, having wasted so much time streaming series after series. Now, I’m hooked on MonopolyGO, focused on getting to that next level. There must be a better use of my days than stupid video games. Admittedly, life has lost some of its luster with a pending prostrate procedure, heart catheterization appointment, and probable surgery. Any of these medical actions could jeopardize my Running Streak, that now stands at 5,372 days and counting. I thought I was a pretty healthy guy, but 72-years of wear and tear on my body is taking its toll. 

On a positive note, if my running streak ends, I will likely move on to some other addictive activity. Without the worry of injury to end the running, I might take up Pickleball or get back into skiing. Obviously, Florida is not an ideal location for fun in the snow. I was reminded that we are headed to Oakland in December with just a three-hour drive to Tahoe, so I just might consider finally achieving that 70+ Ski Club commitment. There is life beyond running, or so I’m told!

Since I last reported, IU football won its first game, and my son’s fantasy team was victorious in the NFL openers. The Bears and the Colts were not so fortunate. The Cubs, who I admittedly gave up on to start the season, are in strong contention for a Wild Card spot even if they can’t catch the Brewers. The disappointing White Sox have already been eliminated from post season play. 

Shohei Ohtani has not played in over a week, falling behind the Braves’ Greg Olsen in the Home Run Derby. I have built a collection of over 150 Topps Now cards honoring the Ohtani, Babe Ruth-like achievements in the first few years of his career. His pitching season is over with 10-victories, but his claim to AL MVP might be threatened if he misses more games. His career high in homers is 46 and stolen base best is 26, both set in 2021. The Angels franchise HR record is 47 by Troy Glaus. Ohtani was on track to top both of these marks before this recent injury – he’s day-to-day. I have taken the collection to Blue Breaks, the local sport card shop, to get an appraisal on what it might be worth, having invested about $1500 in the project and numerous hours in monitoring the Topps site for purchase opportunities. It’s just another addiction that I’m tiring from!

“Tiring in Retirement” or “REally TIREd MENTally” might be the best descriptions of my recent attitude. As a distraction, we set up another Marriott Vacation Club (or in this case Sheraton) mental-health getaway for the first weekend in January. A group of neighbors will share our 3-bedroom Orlando condo to do Universal Studios, the Kissimmee Mecum Auto Show, and celebrate the New Year, along with a birthday. It will fill that travel gap between Oakland (maybe Tahoe) and our Cross-Atlantic spring cruise, once my medical woes have hopefully been resolved. 


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