Today's thoughts

Category: OLD SPORT SHORTS (Page 1 of 49)

An old guy’s perspective on all sports

Old Sport Shorts: Take that, you BIG Bully! #1927

I have been to many IU-Purdue basketball games in my lifetime and have never seen the Hoosiers lose – neither at Mackey Arena or Assembly Hall. Of course, I haven’t gone in many years, especially during this recent streak of 9-straight Boilermaker victories. I would have liked to have been there last night when the Hoosier fans stormed the court, something that Bob Knight would have never have approved of doing. His philosophy was to conduct yourself as if you’re expected to win. However, considering the past five years, I admittedly had no expectations for a win. 

The #4 Boilers have bullied the Hoosiers of late, and Rob Phinisee knows better than anyone, having never beaten them in his four years of school. He grew up a Lafayette kid and raised eyebrows with his decision to go to Bloomington. Last night, for the first time, he felt that he had finally made the right choice. His heroics of “Rocky-like” proportions, ended the Black & Gold domination. “Phin for the win!” It was perhaps even more dramatic than Christian Watford’s dagger against top-rated Kentucky eleven-years ago, but nowhere in comparison to “The Shot” by Keith Smart to win the 1987 National Championship. I was there in New Orleans for that historic moment. 

It was JUST Purdue this time, another BIG Conference victory, but for hungry, deprived  IU basketball fans, it was the sweetest moment ever. It might mean an elusive NCAA Tourney bid for the Hoosiers, regardless of the outcome of the re-match at Purdue, a team that could go on to win it all. After all, the 1981 I.U. National Champs lost at Purdue by two-points, before the 3 was ever a factor, and cruised through the tournament. I’m actually hoping for the same thing to happen for Purdue this year. They are a good enough team to finally hang their own banner. However, let’s take this moment to celebrate. Take that you BIG Bully!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Where Are My Spirits? #1926

On June 19,1926, DeFord Bailey became the first African-American to perform on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. The Opry house has since moved to Opryland, but the historic Ryman Theater, that housed the Opry acts through 1974, is celebrating its 130th anniversary. It will be part of our summer tour up through the Midwest that also includes Panama City, Tuscaloosa, Indianapolis, Mackinac Island, Cleveland, Canton, Asheville, and Hilton Head. We plan to take the Nash Trash Tour, a comedy show on wheels through the key sights of the city on that Tennessee stop along the way. A night at the famous Grand Hotel is our ultimate destination, and the northernmost point on our drive. Other Michigan city destinations will include Ludington, Petoskey, and Traverse City. 

We just returned from Vanderbilt Beach and Bonita Springs after an overnight stay with Indy friends and lunch with hometown Elkhart acquaintances. My wife is hosting a bridge club this afternoon, while I try to figure out what happened to my whiskey delivery from Flaviar? They report it delivered and signed for two weeks ago. I have video of the delivery person who set off my Ring doorbell and walked away with the box since no one was home. It required a signature, so I’ve been waiting for the second attempt, but Sonic Transportation claims the delivery was made. Someone will probably lose their job over this, but I hope they enjoyed my spirits. 

I probably would have needed that sedative spirit tonight for the I.U. vs. Purdue basketball game, but I have other liquids to ease the pain. I have a bad feeling about this one after nine straight Hoosier losses. It will be tough for the Hoosier big men, TJD, Durr, and Race, to contain the #4-ranked Boiler twin towers of Williams and Edey. The “Good Guys in Crimson” also have Jaden Ivey and Sasha Stefanovic in Black & Gold to contend with on the perimeter. I’m certainly tired of losing to Purdue, and the only hope is that IU has not yet been defeated at home this season. When I most desperately need them – Where are my spirits?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Welcome Distraction #1923

It is a cloudy “Matinee Monday,” a good afternoon for indoor entertainment. Tomorrow, we head to Vanderbilt Beach, about an hour-and-a-half south of us for a reunion with Indianapolis friends. We got together last year about this time of year, as they take a two-week break from the cold before heading back to WORK. I can barely remember the meaning of that four-letter word. Obviously, they are a bit younger than we are. We’ll spend the night, with Tally staying with a new sitter, a neighbor from the dog park. The folks from “Schnauzerville” where she likes to go are on a cruise, but it’s good to have multiple options for pet care as much as we’d like to travel. On Wednesday morning we’ll drive into nearby Bonita Springs and meet some hometown friends for lunch. She was the wife of a good high school friend who died  several years ago and has been in a new relationship for awhile. I’ve yet to meet him, but soon will, since they too are getting away from the chilly Indiana weather. 

Florida is a great place to renew acquaintances with the Midwest snowbirds. I guess at one time I could have been considered such an animal, but I’m now a full time resident. I was pretty far removed from my Hoosier friends, living both in Austin and Portland for the last dozen years. Only rarely did we have visitors, but I had the good fortune of knowing several Oregon Hoosiers, dating back to high school. I miss hanging out with them, especially “Leadership Meetings” at Buffalo Wild Wings. They’re coming down here for Spring Training, plus I’ll visit them in Portland come September. 

We got some of the fliers out yesterday for the Neighborhood Meet-up in a few weeks and will see a lot of them tonight at the events center for a movie one of them produced. It could be two movies in one day for my wife and I! As a result, I will miss some of the IU basketball game tonight, but have a feeling that this may be a good thing – we have little to gain and a lot to lose. The team has not won a BIG road game in nearly a year, plus Nebraska is last in the conference. If we lose this one – all hope is gone. It will be better to simply monitor the score and keep my comments to myself. Getting together with these new neighbor friends will be a welcome distraction. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: On The Losing Side #1920

Another decade has passed in “Blog World” as I move into the “Roaring Twenties.” In the real world I’m also in the Twenties – year 2022. “The Roaring Twenties, sometimes stylized as the Roarin’ 20s, refers to the decade of the 1920s in Western society and Western culture. This period saw the large-scale development and use of automobiles, telephones, films, radio, and electrical appliances in the lives of millions in the Western world.” 

I live in many worlds, including those revolving around writing this blog, the Ban(n)ister family, my  running streak, sports, reading, and watching TV. However, in reality, it’s all about my marriage, my son and his family, as well as getting settled in a new home. Tonight will be “Date Night,” but I will not be my wife’s date and we missed “Sunset Tuesday” and “Tourist Thursday” due to other obligations. The upcoming weekend is completely free for once. 

I gave blood yesterday, while my wife added another bridge class as she continues to learn the game. She’s out the door again for an Aqua Fit class after her morning routine with Tally at the dog park. This afternoon she has a tap class and in the evening an event at the Venice Art Museum with girlfriends. She’s incredibly active in retirement, while I limit my exercise to an early morning run and swim. Interaction for me is limited, while she drives our social engagements. We’ll soon be having another “Meet The Neighbors” gathering in early February.  I’m in mourning after last night’s IU basketball loss at Iowa, something I’m getting used to, although it’s unsettling to be frequently on the losing side. 

Old Sport Shorts: Undefeated #1917

USC and Baylor, the only undefeated teams of the early 2021-22 basketball season, both fell this week. This preserves the multi-decade streak of the 1975-76 Indiana University Hoosiers, the last college basketball team to finish the regular season and tournament unblemished at 32-0. It’s now been 46 years since this unbeatable perfection has been tied. “Five teams have finished the regular season undefeated since 1976 — with the most recent being Wichita State in 2014, Kentucky in 2015 and Gonzaga in 2021. Two of those teams — 1991 UNLV and 2015 Kentucky lost in the Final Four.” UCLA is the only other university to have achieved this level of NCAA greatness – 1967 (30-0), 1972 (30-0) and 1973 (30-0). The record lives on, at least another year.

After two straight BIG home victories, the Hoosiers seem to be back in winning form this season and competitive in the conference at 2-2. After their recent performances, many expect them to finish in the Top 5, while the top half would get them in the Big Dance for the first time since 2016. They still have to prove they can win on the road to earn an evasive NCAA tourney bid (their 40th in history), and they have to break Purdue’s recent domination that now stands at an embarrassing 9-straight dating back to 2016. That sole Hoosier victory was in Bloomington, stopping another 3-game Boiler winning streak. It’s hardly the perfection that I once experienced watching them lose only one game in two full years just after I graduated. 

Coach Mike Woodson, not to be confused with fellow Hoosier (Martinsville and Purdue) John Wooden, has produced a remarkable start in restoring the “Glory of Old IU.” Woodson has legendary status as a player, but far from achieving that level as a coach, and probably never to be associated in the same sentence with names like Knight and Wooden.  Right now, all we can say is that he’s a few letters from being Wooden. Also, as we all know, it was Coach Wooden that directed those great UCLA undefeated teams. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Sunshine Skyway #1915

1914  saw the beginning of what became known as World War I, after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austrian throne was assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrillo Princip. It also saw the first airline to provide scheduled regular commercial passenger services with heavier-than-air aircraft, with the St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line.”

As Wikipedia went on to point out: “The St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line (SPT Airboat Line) was the first scheduled airline using a fixed wing aircraft. The airline provided service between St. Petersburg, Florida and neighboring Tampa across Tampa Bay a distance of about 23 miles. It was in service from January to May 1914.”

The route that this flight covered is now drivable over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the modern link between Tampa and St. Petersburg. We drove it last weekend to get to Comic Com. It goes right past Tropicana Field  where the Tampa Bay Rays beat the White Sox last season. “On May 9, 1980, Harbor Pilot John Lerro was guiding the ship MV Summit Venture under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge when storm winds pushed the vessel into the southern span. A chunk of the span came down. Vehicles fell into the water- a truck, five cars and a Greyhound bus. Thirty-five people died,“ once again according to Wikipedia. I can’t help think about it every time I cross.

As the war raged on in 1915, “the second year of the First World War, included the first German Zeppelin raid on England, the Gallipoli Campaign and the Battle of Loos. The first German Zeppelin raid on the east coast of England; Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn are both bombed.”

Speaking of a different kind of war, I watched the Paramount Plus adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, reminiscent of our current battle with Covid. King happens to live in this part of Florida, at least part of the time and is just as vulnerable as the rest of us. Fortunately, Coronavirus isn’t as deadly as Captain Trips, the fictional illness that he created. 

We had lunch at Brown’s Food Factory, another mobile restaurant that visits our resort community on occasion. Today, it was a spicy breaded tenderloin that pleasantly didn’t include a long wait in line. We’re still looking for something to match the Indiana tenderloins that we enjoyed at places like the State Fair, Murphy’s Steakhouse, and The Mug & Bun.  The closest we’ve found so far is nearby Darrell’s Restaurant.

Georgia is the new NCAA National Champion in football, a status that had eluded them since 1960, sixty-two-years ago. They gained revenge over an Alabama team that had beaten them for the SEC crown a month or so ago. Maybe 2022 will also be the year of the White Sox, as we once again cross the Skyline Bridge to watch them play?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Feeling Good #1913

Ten straight days without alcohol is an impressive start to the New Year, although I can’t say the same about sugary sweets. Any consumption restraint on my part is a sobering thought. I am expecting a Flaviar whiskey delivery today, but it will stay in the box for at least a few more weeks until this streak is broken. My running streak now stands at 4,761 days and counting. 

As far as the year 1913: “February 1 – New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, having been rebuilt, reopens as the world’s largest train station. February 3 – The 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, authorizing the Federal government to impose and collect income taxes. February 4 – Rosa Parks is born.”

Today is “Matinee Monday” with plans to see the The King’s Man. It will remind me of a tough day in my marriage many years ago when I was banned from the house. I spent two nights sleeping in the Starbuck’s parking lot near our neighborhood, not knowing where to go, and two more in the car in the underground lot of my office building, thinking my sentence would surely soon end. I showered at the office, after completing my run each morning, and went to my desk like nothing was different from any other day even though I was embarrassed. I retreated to the movie theatre on Saturday for a nap and watched three movies in a row, including the first King’s Man: The Secret Service and Fifty Shades of Grey. I must have slept through the third because I can’t remember what it was. After that, I went to a downtown Marriott hotel to complete my full week of homelessness. Thankfully, there have been no other marital issues since that time nearly 7 years ago. 

My wife and I finished episode four of 1883 last night and another couple Peaky Blinders’ shows before realizing there was no water. It turned out to be a city issue that affected several neighborhoods and was restored an hour later. IU won its second straight BIG match-up against Minnesota yesterday, in the midst of the NFL final games that determined the Playoff picture. The Colts were eliminated and the Bears lost again, but this did not detract from the euphoria of watching winning basketball. Now, if the Hoosiers could just pick up a road victory, my overall perspective on life would be glowing. My mood tends to still be strangely dictated by what happens on the basketball court – so I’m feeling good today. 



Retirement is not without Hassles: Over The Hill #1910

In 1910 war was declared on Germany and the U.S. entered World War 1. Both my grandfathers, William J. Johnston (1918 at age 22) and Ross A. Hancher (1917 at age 22), fought for our country. Thank you both for your service and for being great role models for me in life. We would come together as a family when Ross’ daughter, Catherine, married William’s son, Burton in 1946. I was then adopted five years later, along with my younger sister, added in 1955. I thankfully avoided military service.

I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon for my annual wellness exam. I’ve not been having any major health issues other than the self-imposed stiffness and soreness associated with running every day. My first acupuncture session earlier this week proved relatively ineffective. I have another attempt scheduled for next week, along with a chiropractor appointment. An eye exam is also planned for later this month. With all this attention to my health this month, I’m sure they will find something wrong. I give blood next week and have passed two Covid tests already, so I’ll certainly have my share of New Year poking and prodding. I’ve managed to stay away from alcohol as part of my January resolution, but sweets consumption has actually gotten worse. 

We continue to watch Peaky Blinders on Netflix about British spies and gangs. As far as TV sports, IU won a big basketball game over Ohio State last night, bolstering my fading hopes for an elusive tournament bid come March. Football also signed a promising QB prospect, a transfer from Missouri, so things are looking up in Bloomington. Culturally, we spent yesterday afternoon, Tourist Thursday, at the Venice Art Center following lunch in their café. We also signed up for an Eagles cover band concert here in the community center – After Eagles. Florida is known to be the cover band capital of the world, probably since a majority of the aging population can’t see or hear clearly, so these copycat groups sound better to them than they actually are. We were not pleased with the Journey/Styx act that we saw here a few months ago, so maybe we aren’t as far “over the hill” as some of our Florida peers. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Welcome 2022 #1904

I woke up again this morning with a sore throat, probably an indication that my Covid test results will come back positive. However, my run this morning was the best my body has felt in some time, so maybe I’m already on the path to recovery. There was little back pain and no trouble breathing. It was day #4,752 of “The Streak” to kick-off the New Year. I’ll continue to take it easy the rest of the day – more Bowl games to watch, as the National Championship has come down to a SEC showdown. IU also has a basketball game against Penn State tomorrow afternoon if it isn’t cancelled. It’s hard to anticipate and get excited about anything these days with the dreaded virus looming. Purdue ended their football season on a positive “note” in the Music City Bowl against Tennessee. 

A college fraternity buddy sent me a New Years greeting this morning, reminding me of a hometown party I supposedly took him to when we were Freshmen. At least I think it was New Years Eve 1969 but could have been 1970, more than 50-years ago. It was before drugs were ever a factor in my life, and a friend of mine’s Italian mom would let us drink alcohol if we were confined to her home. There were no girls at any of these basement parties that I can ever remember, except Eleanor. We were still of course underage but with her supervision things never got out of hand. Probably the most exciting part of the evening was a game of RISK, seeking World domination. Either year, Notre Dame would have played Texas in the Cotton Bowl, so we probably stayed the next day to watch it. I hated ND back then, but any good Catholic family like this one would have supported the Irish. It was in a time when a Bowl invitation actually meant something. 

IU did not earn a bowl invitation this year after a disastrous season that had high expectations. Purdue certainly added a exclamation mark by reclaiming the Bucket. I haven’t been to a Bowl game since New Year’s Eve of 1993, 28-years ago. The Hoosiers lost to the Hokies in Shreveport, but we salvaged the occasion by making it to the streets of New Orleans for a midnight kiss from strangers plus a reward of beads, a memorable New Years Eve. Last night was not so memorable with both of us a bit under the weather. A bottle of bubbly and a tasty pasta put us both to sleep early. I woke up near midnight but just before the ball completed dropping the TV timer shut off automatically. Welcome 2022!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Maybe Next Year? #1886

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886, while 20 African Americans were massacred in Carrolton, Mississippi and riots broke out in Seattle over anti-Chinese sentiments. Nothing seems to have changed since the Civil War, extending into the present day. Statues are being torn down – it’s a good thing that Lady Liberty is on an island. Deadly tornados ripped through the Midwest yesterday with little bias over who was affected. I was home most of the day, feeling a bit under the weather, but this morning’s run and the accompanying sweat seems to have flushed the troublesome bug out. I wish it was that easy with racial bias!

We salvaged a couple of pool lounge chairs from a distant neighbor, saving the expense planned for next year. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  We simply now need to buy some new cushions and our outdoor furniture needs will be mostly complete. It’s difficult to get new stuff anyway with shipping backed up for months. This will serve our needs until something better comes along, a practical find for my wife. With a sunny forecast, I intend to watch today’s IU game on the lanai and perhaps take another dip in the pool. 

I suffered another heartbreaking loss yesterday, to add to my sports frustration. The Portland Timbers lost the MLS Championship  to NYC in a shootout, after a dramatic come from behind tying goal in regulation. IU, Timbers, Bears, White Sox, Cubs, Colts, Pacers, Trailblazers, Ducks, Illini, Beavers,  and Longhorns – my long list of losers that I’ve adopted in our many moves from state to state. Little luck in recent years cheering for these favorites. Maybe Next Year?


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