Today's thoughts

Category: Old Sport Shorts (Page 1 of 30)

Old Sport Shorts: Sherm Lollar Guy #1328

In these times of no baseball or other popular sports, it’s important to savor the past and why a silly game has so much personal meaning. I blame it on my dad, taking me to games as a kid. High school basketball in our hometown, Notre Dame football, and occasional trips to Chicago for the Cubs or White Sox were bonding moments for us. I used the same magic on my son. I can remember fiddling with the TV antenna to watch a game with either of them, although we had an electronic rotor by the time I became an adult. It sure beat aluminum foil or climbing up on the roof. My son also got to see NBA and college basketball, NFL football, auto racing, and soccer with me. We still share an interest in baseball cards, but he’s more for the Cubs than my White Sox.

My dad started as a Tigers fan, but eventually became a die-hard Cubs supporter. As a grandfather, he lured my son to the Cubs side. I had no choice but to play along, although my loyalties still lie with the Sox. It all comes down to one man, that I’ve never met, but a childhood memory keeps our relationship strong. In the 1959 World Series in glorious black & white, Sherm Lollar hit a home run against the Dodgers, and even though they lost the war, it was at least a battle won, and a lifelong attraction to the number 10 that he wore on his back. 

Some may joke that I’m still obsessed with this man who has been dead for 43 years. I did see him play with my dad several times at Comiskey Park, and still know the line-up of those White Sox teams of the 60’s. It wasn’t for another 46 years before they got back the World Series and actually won. I was there for two of the games in the sweep of 4. It’s too bad Sherm couldn’t have been around. Cancer took him at the early age of 53. Although, he did get a World Series ring in New York before he joined the Sox, and one more with the Orioles as the bullpen coach. It’s also a shame that more catchers have not been voted as Hall-Of-Famers, because they are the heart & soul leaders of any team. The glory always goes to the pitcher. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will ever get the defensive credit that he’s long overdue. 

I’m not a wealthy man that can spend a lot of money on baseball cards and memorabilia. They were like gold to me growing up, even though I abused a few Yankees on my bicycle spokes. If I had extra money, I would spend it at the neighborhood store on bubble gum packs and trade the duplicates with my friends. As a retiree, I reverted back to childhood and joined a group of collectors, knowing that I couldn’t compete with their high-priced Mickey Mantles or Ty Cobbs. Fortunately, for me Sherm Lollar was not on the Cooperstown wall and therefore his cards were relatively affordable. As it turns out, however, there were hundreds of them made by various manufacturers over his 28 years of playing and coaching, not to mention photos, articles, ticket stubs, yearbooks, score cards, cartoon likenesses, promotional items, and ads. He was even a Trivial Pursuit question, beanie pin, card game, and coin.  Sadly, he never got his own bobble-head or figurine, but there were glasses, plastic cups, mitts, catcher’s masks, and stamps bearing his likeness and/or signature. At the end of his career he owned a bowling alley, and provided a post card for patrons to get his signature. I was able to secure one of these, after his nephew sold some of his personal collection. 

I have Sherm Lollar’s signature on cards, photos, scraps of paper, and baseballs. My rarest find is his uniform #10 from the first four games of 1956. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve spent over $4,000 on items that mean little to anyone but me. I will probably never recover that investment even if he somehow gets into the Hall. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much of a movement on his behalf. I care for his memory and family, but I could have never gathered so much of his past on my limited budget. Granted, there are famous teammates and fellow All-Stars of his on some items, adding to their value. I have him in photos along side of Yogi Berra, Bill Verdon, Al Lopez, Marty Marion, Minnie Minoso, Early Wynn, Frank Hayes, to mention a few. 

Over the past month, with little to do, I’ve added to to my Sherm Lollar collection, that has to be one of the largest in existence. A photo of him with Billy Pierce showing off #10, another with Frank and Brooks Robinson, plus a couple of magazine pictures have been recently added to my bulging notebook. A 1960 ticket stub, a team photo from the 1951 St. Louis Browns, and a couple additional magazine clippings are in the mail. Within reason, I’ve vowed to add whatever I can, because within my circle of fellow collectors, that I have been separated from during months of social distancing,  I’m known as the “Sherm Lollar Guy” and have the t-shirt to prove it!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Heavenly Hoops #1307

The strain and stress of isolation is beginning to distort my sense of personal privacy. I was always taught to refrain from discussing three controversial subjects in life: Religion, Politics, and Bobby Knight. These were the three most debatable subjects while growing up as a Hoosier. I was warned that each could easily destroy any good friendship and create irreparable alienation from others. Through my daily thoughts, I’m hoping to attract others to my words – not drive them away. With this in mind, I will cautiously step to the edge of the religious cliff and reveal some of my secrets. For those of you ready to stop reading, this is not about Coach Knight!

I know that we all would like to believe that after we die there’s a special place we go where we are rewarded for our goodness. I see it as the retirement party that I never had. A lot of things in life for me did not go as planned, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t turn out for the best. I never imagined that I would work for ten different companies, after my dad spent forty successful years at one. I never would have planned being married twice or moving over 30 times. Portland, Oregon was never on my radar, but Florida always was a Heaven on Earth and where I hope to retire next year. 

I attended church and vacation Bible schools while I was growing up in Indiana. I never had any issues with following the basic principals of the Commandments, even to this day. They are good rules to live by, and the common foundation of every religion. However, it was always disturbing to me that every organized group of worshipers seemed to portray a superior attitude in their beliefs. Like clubs, fraternities, and sororities, religious affiliation appears to divide more people rather than it brings together. From my perspective, it’s been a alarming observation that 30% of the world are Christians and 70% are arguably wrong. 

Heaven and Hell are the two choices we’re given, yet nobody really wants to go to Hell! Heaven could be really boring, filled with people that can do no wrong or at least never get caught. What would there be to talk about, and what does a two-bedroom condo cost there? Are there travel options to Hell and Back, just for a little variety? I’m not one to make fun of beliefs, but all this preaching about one God and two ways of spending eternity, leave me a bit baffled. 

I can see where each of us carries a little bit of our God with us at all times. This enables us to distinguish between “Good and Evil.” I don’t see where “going to church” or following a specific God should be like a Walt Disney World Fast Pass to Heaven. You might not even speak his or hers’ language. I think we’ve already proven that our personal prejudices have made it impossible to live peacefully together on Earth, let alone in some other Eden-like world. Like most everyone else, these are questions that I silently ponder every day of my retirement life. 

Every day could be my last, but I’m content with the way I’ve led my life. I know that when I close my eyes for the last time, I don’t expect to be transported to paradise, but I will be briefly reunited with those that I have lost. This is the one reward that I think everyone, regardless of good or bad merits, is entitled to experience. A final rush of remembrance. After that, it may simply be eternal sleep, which at times sounds pretty good after too many years of wondering what might happen next? 

I’ll save the heated subject of Bob Knight for another time, after I’ve gauged any negative reaction to these thoughts on the after-life. While there may be a place in my heaven for him, I’ve heard too many Purdue fans say, “he can go to Hell!” I think my first wife might have said that of me, but I don’t think she really meant it at the time. Hopefully, we’re both happier with the way things turned out. Life is not a fairy tale, so not everyone will have a happy ending. I hold no animosity for anyone or anything, and if there is a God, I would be the last one to try to upset them. Just get someone where I go that can win a few basketball games for me!

Old Sport Shorts: Opening Day #1306

A sad reminder of the state of our sports world arrived in the mail yesterday. I had ordered the Topps Now Opening Day card sets for the Cubs and White Sox, hoping to have them in time to take to Spring Training. Maybe use them for autographs? Needless to say, I’ve been anticipating their long-overdue arrival for months. The kid in me was excited to see which player had personally autographed his card, which is why I paid the overinflated prices. It was like a cheap prize in a Cracker Jack box, a unique bonus only because you found it. Last year, I got one signed by Ian Happ of the Cubs. Who would it be this year?

I still haven’t gotten my money back from the tickets I bought for that March Spring Training game that was canceled between the Sox and Cubs. When the cards arrived yesterday, it prompted another angry e-mail to the broker. Ticket-centers.com had assured a full refund in two to four weeks. It’s now been more than six weeks since the virus struck-out baseball, and they’re still stalling on reimbursement. In the meantime, Major League Baseball is already starting to issue refunds on regular season games that were missed in April. I feel bad for everyone associated with the game from both the financial and “love of the game” standpoints. The current state of the season is still up in the air, like a game-ending pop-up that never seems to drop. 

It was supposed to be Christmas, but when I finally unwrapped my card sets, I was immediately filled with disappointment. First, there were no autographs as I anticipated. Some of the photos looked like they were thrown together at the last minute, while there were definite short-cuts in the player descriptions on the back. This was on every Sox card: “With a burgeoning youth movement in full swing, the Chicago White Sox are ready to take the next step in 2020, after adding several key pieces to their promising core.” The Cubs offered: “With fan-favorite David Ross now at the helm, the Cubs will look to reclaim the top spot in the NL Central Division.” In my opinion, it was a pretty lazy effort in highlighting each respective player. Even though Topps surely struggled with player access, I still feel they need to do some make-goods to keep me as a customer. 

Baseball, like everything else, will never be the same, even when “normalcy” eventually returns. Discussions continue on playing this season without fans in the stadiums that surround Phoenix. It will be a far cry from my most memorable Opening Day at Wrigley Field on April 3, 1998 when they honored Harry Caray and topped the Expos 6-2. I still have the ticket stub and commemorative pin. Without people in the stands, at the least there won’t be annoying lawsuits from disengaged fans struck by foul balls. I suppose it would be better than no baseball at all, but the real experience is in going to the ballpark. I’m afraid the televised games will be as uneventful as the player descriptions on the back of my new cards. Plus, even if we could go to the games, it would take a six-foot pen to get an autograph. There may be an Opening Day, but there’s really no “open” about it.

Old Sport Shorts: The Numbers Game #1292

I did feel like an “Old Sport” in my running “Shorts” this morning, dragging a sore left leg and extra weight on top of my concrete-like feet. It was slow going on Day #4129 of “The Streak,” thinking of how much longer I’ll be able to maintain this daily routine. I think this viral threat has aged me both physically and mentally. It’s hard to get going every day in a fight against an enemy we can’t see coming. Some of my favorite past-times have been taken away in the process, including basketball and baseball just for starters. As I mourn the lack of sports in my life, I at least wanted to write about it today!

To think I was on my way to Spring Training and in anticipation of March Madness when this whole pandemic started. The hotel where we were staying would soon empty and the restaurants began to slowly shut-down. We got on a plane to fly back, leary of what was to come in the way of self-quarantine, social distancing, and protective gear. My reality was the fact that all sports stopped when at first play was restricted to just fans. At least, we’d be able to watch on TV, but instead we’re stuck on re-play. Out of habit, I continue to check the ESPN app, but unfortunately there’s little to report. 

I did run across Tim Kurkjian’s article about baseball uniform numbers and the greatest players in history to wear each one. It struck me because as a kid I was drawn to #10 when it came time to pick a uniform. It was because of my catching hero Sherm Lollar of the Chicago White Sox. I have his 1955 uniform in my collection, along with lots of cards, pictures, and stories about his career. I would imagine that many other kids made similar decisions in Little League based on their favorites

#10 in the article was assigned to Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves, a top-four Hall of Fame third baseman. He was born as I turned twenty-one. Sherm sadly died five years later. I’m sure there are those that adopted #10 based on Chipper’s popularity. Sherm, I’m sure was far down the list of those wearing the number, since he will probably never inducted into the Cooperstown Club. Chipper’s #10 was ceremoniously retired by the Braves, while infielder Yoan Moncada currently wears it for the White Sox. Sparky Anderson, Dick Howser, Phil Rizzuto, Ron Santo, Tony LaRussa, Tom Kelly, and Michael Young all wore #10 and were honored by their respective teams by not allowing others to ever wear it again. Howser, Kelly, and Young have yet to be inducted nationally. 

Kurkjiun reported that the Yankees were the first to put numbers on the back on their jerseys starting in 1929. “The numbers often corresponded to where the player hit the batting order, which is how Babe Ruth ended up with No. 3 and Lou Gehrig No. 4.” Other Yankees secured their place in numbers history with Derek Jeter #2, Joe DiMaggio #5, Mickey Mantle #7, Sherm’s rival Yogi Berra #8, Alex Rodriguez #13, Whitey Ford #16, and Roy Campanella #39. Many of my childhood baseball peers fought over Mickey and Yogi’s numbers, while #10 was usually always available. 

Some kids wanted to be #1 like Ozzie Smith or #6 Stan Musial, particularly if they were Cardinals’ fans. #17 Dizzy Dean and the Gaslight Gang was slightly before my time. If you were a Reds’ fan, Barry Larkin #11 or controversial Pete Rose #14 were probably your top uniform choices. Ted Williams wore #9 while Red Sox traitor to the Yankees Johnny Damon #18, Tony Gwynn claims #20, Roberto Clemente #21,Clayton Kershaw #22, “Say Hey” Willie Mays #24, Barry Bonds #25, Wade Boggs #26, and Mike Trout #27. They are each Hall-of-Famers on Kurkjian’s list. With the current trends in free-agency, it’s more challenging for a player to retain the same number throughout their career, particularly if it’s retired by the team they join. Big bucks have also been rumored to change hands during team transitions since the number is part of a player’s brand. 

In the higher ranges of uniform numbers, everyone wears No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. Hank Aaron wore #44 on his back, Nolan Ryan #30, Greg Maddux #31, and Sandy Kolfax #32. If you were into base-running speed you might crave the number 35 of Ricky Henderson fame. Orel Hershiser owns #55, the highest number on this particular list.  Other pitchers like Goose Gossage chose #54, Don Drysdale #53, CC Sabathia #52, Randy Johnson #51, J.R. Richard #50, Hoyt Wilhelm #49, Tom Glavine #47, Lee Smith #46, Bob Gibson #45, Dennis Eckersley #43, Bartolo Colon #40, Curt Schilling #38, spit-baller Gaylord Perry #36, and Tom Seaver #41. 

I’ve been skipping around quite a bit on the ESPN list with preference given to some of my more familiar favorites. For the record, these are all great players, with just a few yet to gain Hall-of-Fame status. The best defensive second-baseman in his opinion was #12 Roberto Alomar, Carlos Beltran tops those wearing #15, followed by #20 Mike Schmidt, #23 Ryne Sandberg of the Cubs, Bert Blyleven #28, Rod Carew #29, Eddie Murray #33, Big Papi, David Ortiz #34, Keith Hernandez #37, and last but not least Torii Hunter #48. At this stage, too many uniform numbers have already been claimed forever, so modern day players will have to start at #56 to make a lasting numerical impression. Who will be the first to wear #100 or #1000? Manny Ramiriez and Aaron Judge have already claimed #99, while Yasiel Puig wears #66. It’s a number game – what’s lucky for you?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Good Day #1284

As it turns out, I did see Ritchie Havens in concert. It was not some drug-induced hallucination from my college days. (See Post #1281). A friend who was also at that concert commented on my lack of recollection and it made me double-check my concert log. I keep it because of my aging memory, along with lists of books and movies. For some reason, the other day’s search did not uncover this particular show that also included Poco, Pure Funk, Atlan-tis, and Chase. Honestly, it was Poco that drew me to the event that was called Stonehenge III. It happened on 9/11/1971, thirty years before 9-11 was a date that we’ll never forget. Even the emergency phone number of 9-1-1 was just in the infant stages of development.

It’s always good to get an actual comment on this blog. Thanks, Dan! I used to get hundreds every day but they were mostly all spam. Now, I rarely hear from anyone, not that any more  inspiration is necessary to keep writing. I do this for me, just as I keep diaries, logs, and lists. It’s part of my daily tradition, capturing  thoughts usually generated while I’m running. I keep hoping that it will lead to a more serious writing project, but it at least comes in handy as a memory aid. I enjoy testing my memories while sharing stories and poems. In this case, my friend’s feedback let me tell “the rest of the story,” like radio legend Paul Harvey. “Good Day!”

Yesterday was Good Friday, while today is just a Good Day! People are joking about uncovering hand stamps that they got at nightclubs twenty-five years ago because they’ve scrubbed their hands so much! Mine are just rough and dry. I still cough when I go outside because of these allergies that I’ve somehow developed. Every time I cough I look around to see if anyone caught me in the act, diving for cover. Handshaking, Hugging, and Coughing are the three social evils of modern times. About half the people I see on my morning run are responsibly wearing masks – I have enough trouble breathing without one, so I go out of my way to maintain plenty of social distancing. 

It’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted anything about sports, categorized in this blog under Old Sport Shorts (I am an old sport and run everyday in shorts). I also must be a frustrated sports reporter wanna-be! Religiously, I check the ESPN app every morning to see if anything is happening. Indiana University basketball got a new recruit for 2021, a four-star true center out of Cincinnati Moeller High School. Even with so little going on, the news didn’t make ESPN, indicative of the fact that my college Alma Mater has unfortunately has long lost its national luster in everything but soccer. Regardless, I miss having live sports in my life! A REALLY GOOD day usually involves the anticipation of a GOOD game (and a GOOD concert). 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Canceled #1252

It’s been since 1987 that I.U. basketball ended the season with a tournament victory. I was there in New Orleans when Keith Smart hit the winning shot for our fifth national championship. Sadly, I took it for granted, feeling that many more would follow. Well, even more sadly it finally happened again, 33 years later but only because COVID-19 changed the game. First, just the fans were banned from attending, then the tournaments were CANCELED, along with every other event around the world. We’re now waiting to see how it affects the Olympics!

As far as I’m concerned, Christmas has been CANCELED. I can’t imagine how the student-athletes feel that worked so hard to finally earn their chance to go dancing; not to mention, those whose sports will never happen this year. To me, the greatest time of the year is March Madness which is now nothing more than March Sadness. I especially feel sorry for the IU seniors, Devonte Green and De’Ron Davis. They have the dubious honor of being the first 4-year IU players in the history of the NCAA tourney to never get an invitation. They are, however, part of the first team to go undefeated (1-0) in the BIG Ten tournament, a bracket-challenge an IU squad has never won. Any further advancement has been forever CANCELED!

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Phoenix with CANCELED plans to attend today’s originally scheduled game between the White Sox and Cubs. Instead, I’ll be going to an auto auction as the consolation prize. Baseball at least has been delayed…not CANCELED, as has The Masters and other major events that don’t involve students. I think we might also CANCEL our hotel room tomorrow night and go to Tucson early. I also CANCELLED my flight to Dallas next week for another Spring Training game that was CANCELLED. Where’s my rubber stamp?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Patchwork #1246

When you navigate the sidewalks of downtown Portland and the surrounding neighborhoods as I do every morning, you have to keep your eyes focused on the uneven concrete. I’ve had an occasional stumble and certainly don’t want to break my mother’s back. (See Post #1159). It’s often boring to stare at the ground, but precaution is necessary, so mind games come into play. I see the sidewalk as a giant checkerboard or patchwork quilt, maybe hopscotch is in order. Each square of concrete has been poured separately to facilitate replacement if a root disrupts the originally level surface. As a result, the sections are different shades of gray. I like to hit all the newer, lighter squares as I run my course. It keeps me safe and entertained.

I just completed consecutive day #4088, despite some hip problems, a cough, and last night’s time change. Despite the hour difference, I tried to stay on the same schedule, but psychologically it affects my daily routine. It was still relatively dark when I woke up with the sunrise now at 7:30 a.m. and sunset at 7:08 p.m. It gives us an extra hour of evening light, but is also a big disruption in everyone’s internal time clock. Even Google seems to be struggling this morning, stuck in a useless loop. I’m all in favor of eliminating this biannual adjustment. It’s time for a change!

“Date Night” was last night this week, a Saturday for a change. Both of us are recovering from colds, so our ambition has suffered. We did go out to see Emma at the movie theater and the Frozen musical, but found little other motivation to go out in the rain. We also did some dog sitting but even their outside activity suffered because of rainy skies. It will be good to soon be sitting in the dry Arizona sunshine and watching baseball. I suffered a bad sports day yesterday watching both the men’s and women’s IU teams stumble badly. The men’s tourney hopes were dashed, as surprise BIG Champion Wisconsin once again spoiled our sacred Senior Day. I remain in a sour mood, as I think about how the Badger Cheeseheads have dominated the Hoosiers over their last 25 match-ups. It’s also shocking to note that IU finished 11th in what was once the Big Ten Conference. It’s more than a “rough patch” that can only be repaired by restoring our tarnished reputation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Signs of Spring #1245

Will it be March Madness, Badness, Gladness, or Sadness? One sad note is that my Elkhart High School Blazers have played their last basketball game forever, eliminated in the Indiana 4A sectionals. From this point forward, they will be known as the Elkhart Lions. My son’s high school team, #1 ranked Indianapolis Lawrence North, escaped defeat by legendary Indianapolis Crispus Attucks last night to make it to their sectional title game. Their girls team already claimed their first state title last week. Ever since I was a little kid playing with an aluminum foil ball and a bottomless Quaker Oats container, the Indiana high school basketball tournament was always the first sign that spring has finally arrived. 

The second sign of spring was if I.U. was still playing basketball and Purdue wasn’t. However, that hasn’t been true for years. The two Hoosier seniors, De’Ron Davis and Devonte Green, have an opportunity today to at least get in the NCAA tournament for the first time in their college careers. Coach Archie Miller has also yet to produce a tourney-worthy team. Purdue has been there every one of those frustrating years, but find themselves in a bubble game today against Rutgers. IU has to beat Wisconsin to officially make their dreams come true. The game starts in a few minutes and will determine my mood for the rest of the day. If they fail, they at least have the BIG tournament next week to try to make the elusive field of 68 for the first time in four years. The IU women made the quarter-finals of the BIG tournament and play Maryland later this afternoon. Purdue has already been eliminated, another positive sign of spring. 

With the clocks “Springing Forward” tonight, it’s the start of an ominous week that also includes a full moon, Friday the 13th, conference tournaments, and Selection Sunday. We fly to Phoenix on Thursday for Spring Training games and additional fun in the sun, so regardless we’ll escape from the Portland gray skies and rain. Typically, Friday the 13th has been lucky for me, so I really can’t lose when we see the Sox playing the Cubs, my two favorite teams. I’d then like to see the week end with I.U. men in the NCAA tournament and Purdue on the sidelines – the true beginning of spring. 

Old Sport Shorts: The Chief #1239

Like a true masochist, I’m back in front of the television for another chapter in the “Season on the Stink.” The Season on the Brink was the John Feinstein book about Coach Bob Knight and the 1985-86 I.U. basketball team that lost to Cleveland State in the NCAA Tournament and finished with a 21-8 record. The 2019-2020 version of the team has played some really bad basketball but could still get to that respectable 20-win mark. They’ve been particularly bad on the road, with a trip to Illinois today. Fortunately, my wife and Tally are not here to witness the frustration that is sure to overcome me. Tally will not have to cower in fear as I scream about turnovers, missed lay-ups, poor free throw shooting, and off-balance bricks. I’ve already documented about how much they “stink” this year. (See Post #1237). 

It’s been a build-up of tension that began with the dismissal of Coach Bobby Knight 20-years ago. Twenty seems to be the magic number in this sequence of events that began in 2000. It wasn’t until 2020 that he returned to the court. Twenty regular season wins this year would be remarkable considering double losses to a mediocre Purdue team that foiled Knight’s big day. Instead, it was arch-rival Gene Keady that left with a smile on both occasions. There are three games left to get two victories, but today’s game at Illinois is the biggest opportunity to return to tournament glory. The team lacks confidence in a hostile environment, so “winning ugly” is their only chance. Otherwise, it will be another blowout loss, adding to the stink that already prevails. 

The Illini are 13-3 at home this year, so our chances are slim. In fact, IU only has 33% chance for victory, while it’s closer to 90% that the visiting Hoosiers will stink up the place and retired Chief Illiniwek will dance on their tournament grave. I’ve sat in only five different BIG venues in my lifetime, including I.U., Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State, and Illinois. Illinois is by far the most hostile, with memories of Eric Gordon’s rude reception after flipping his commitment across the border. He thrived on the controversy and it will take a similar performance from someone like senior Devonte Green to keep us in the ballgame. We can only hope. 

it was the most consistent half of basketball that the Hoosiers have played all year. I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off – but they never did! Does this mean that it will all catch up with us the second half? Can struggling coach Archie Miller lead his team to a strong first five minutes out of the locker room, or will they come out flat like they did in West Lafayette a few days ago? Then came the 7-0 Illini run, but IU countered with threes and got to 50 first. The race to get to the key 60-point milestone would determine the winner. Unfortunately, back-to-back turnovers destroyed any chance for Hoosier momentum, failing miserably to get us there first, while giving up one of our devastating 9-0 trademark runs. It was all seven feet of Kofi Cockburn down the stretch, as Trayce Jackson-Davis faded in comparison. Indiana played well and hit back-to-back threes before the broadcast signal went out and the screen turned to black. I had to quickly switch to my phone to watch the final :30 seconds. It came down to free throws and Indiana missing their first two of the game, as Trayce blew the chance to tie. From what I could see on the small screen, IU guard Rob Phinisee somehow muscled-away the rebound but slipped in the process, and Chief Illiniwek & Company put the game away at the charity stripe 67-66.

The only thing that “stunk” today was the outcome, although it was a valiant effort. Indiana has lost heartbreaking one-point games to both highly-ranked Maryland and Illinois, while nipping non-conference foe Notre Dame by a bucket earlier in the year. The other games haven’t really been competitive win or lose, while they are certainly overdue for a last second break. It’s tough to be both bad and unlucky in the same season. Also, TJ-D not only missed the clutch free throws, but also the head-to-head battle with Kofi for BIG Freshman of the Year. Will he come back another year? More importantly, will team fate change as they go into tournament play or does The Chief come back to haunt us on Selection Sunday?

 

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: It Stinks #1237

P….U…. is the only way to describe how Indiana played against Purdue last night. I gathered with friends at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the stink-fest, trying to think of it is as just simply another “Leadership Meeting.” I did not want to contemplate a seventh straight loss to the Boilermakers, especially considering they aren’t very good this year. A Hoosier victory would surely save Archie Miller’s job and guarantee an NCAA tourney bid. That seemed too good to be true! I was in fact prepared for an I.U. loss, but the overall effort was an embarrassment. We could not hit the broad side of a stinkin’ barn. 

Archie had already secured more years at I.U. with the announcement of another 5 star recruit. I’m still trying to figure out why he was drawn to the program? He made his announcement after attending the Penn State victory where the team showed hope, especially after just ending their road woes with a win at Minnesota. Two straight away wins was just too much to ask! Purdue had already experienced an uncharacteristic double home set-back, adding to the reasons why they would rebound against their in-state rival. And rebound they did 40-37! However, it was the 33% 3-point shooting that caused the biggest I.U. stink!

As expected, Purdue big men double-teamed Trayce Jackson-Davis and held him to 6 points and 4 rebounds. Back-up Brunk stunk once again, and De’Ron Davis didn’t get a single rebound. At the same time, I was having trouble with my Wild Wings app to add to the frustration. It inexplicably quadrupled our nachos order while I.U. fell apart going into halftime and started the second period scoreless for over 6 minutes. I had little appetite when all was said and done. I woke up this morning with a bad taste in my mouth with nightmarish thoughts of the stinking ugly loss. I.U. basketball is becoming a joke, with yet another road game at Illinois to go and two tough home games. To get to the Big Dance, we’ll need to win at least two, even though this is not a team that is worthy of  a post-season bonus. In fact, they may not win a tournament game, and face the risk of more stinking embarrassment to end the season.  

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