Today's thoughts

Category: Chicago Cubs (Page 1 of 21)


Retirement is not without Hassles: “Getting Closer to my Home” #1750

I finished my run this morning all wobbly-legged like those competitors you see at the end of the Boston Marathon just before they collapse. It was eighty degrees and 100% humidity with a light mist. I thought to myself: it’s just a leisurely 5k not a frickin’ marathon. What are you …seventy years old? Just yesterday, I still had a lot in the tank for the last mile, but today was a different story. I thought a lot about a friend of mine anticipating prostate surgery, and how lucky I should feel to just have to worry about another day of running. 

There are many familiar markers along the route I take, including a pot hole at the half-mile mark, a Dodge Charger that sits in someone’s driveway, the utility box that sits at one mile, two benches that I think of as benchmarks, and the Venetian bridge at the half-way point. When I pass them all the second time I know “I’m getting closer to my home.” Sometimes, even Grand Funk comes up in the music rotation to perform that very song as I make my way back. I’m a sweaty mess when I finally make my way to the pool – this morning in a light rain. Schnauzer Tally sat under cover rather than perform her normal lifeguard duties.

Tally had a big day at the beach yesterday. We even shared a Chicago dog even though today is technically National Hot Dog Day. The entry to Broward Beach is a dog park with secure fences to protect us all from the alligators that lurk in the surrounding swamp. The exit leads to a wooden walkway and access to the sand. It’s one of two dog-friendly beaches in our area. Tally can sit in the shade of our umbrella or romp with the other dogs, even though many of them actually get in the water. She stays on the fringe area, avoiding the water at all costs, just as she jokingly performs her lifeguard responsibilities with me while swimming in our pool. There was a brief moment where she tried to follow me into warm Gulf, but a wave soon sent her scurrying back to safety. 

We were all tired from a day in the sun, even more reason to get in under the covers at the standard 10 p.m. self-imposed curfew. It’s well past the time when most of our neighbors roll up their sidewalks. There isn’t a bedroom light to be seen when I take Tally for her final outing. Back in Portland, I didn’t have to stay up late to watch sports, but here most games don’t even start until 8 or 9p. I usually check the scores before bed time but typically have to wait until morning for the final results. I uncharacteristically took my phone to bed and happened to check it after doing some reading. The Milwaukee Bucks were about to claim their first NBA title in 50 years, so I stayed up for the celebration, monitoring it on the small screen. At the same time, both the Sox and Cubs were pulling off miracle comebacks. It was the most remarkable half-hour of TV sports I’ve witnessed in a long time. The Cubs scored 6 runs in the ninth to stun the rival Cards, the Sox came back to beat the Twins, and Giannis scored 50 to claim the crown. It made for sweet dreams – Grand Funk!

Old Sport Shorts: Home Run Derby #1742

A new Flaviar whisky shipment and the Home Run Derby kept me content last night. I also flipped over to watch the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team lose an unprecedented two straight exhibition games. We’re obviously no longer the world basketball power of years past. In fact, my whole perspective of the game has changed in the last twenty years with the demise of I.U. basketball and the rise of the rest of the globe. In some ways, the two are related with the failure to compete on the world stage of recruiting. For example, a team like Nigeria even a few short years ago was a non-factor on the court. 

Pete Alonso of the Mets won his second straight Home Run Derby crown last night, after the cancellation of the 2020 All Star Game competition. The #1 seed, Shohei Ohtani, was defeated in the first round. The tournament play-by-play with all the buzzers and whistles is a far cry from my memories the original 1959 duals on television. Hank Aaron made seven appearances, while Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays each competed five times. Wrigley Field in Los Angeles was the site of the broadcast. $2000 was the prize back then compared to the one-million dollars that Alonso raked in last night. As a kid, we’d get out our whiffle balls and bats to belt our own moon shots.

Tonight’s All Star Game will feature Shohei Ohtani in the dual role of starting pitcher and lead-off hitter for the American League. It signals the half-way point of the season with my White Sox leading the AL Central by eight games over the Indians. Other division leaders include the Red Sox, Astros, Mets, Brewers, and Giants. The Cubs were 2-8 down the stretch to fall to third in the NL Central. The Giants also have 57 wins to lead the pack but only a two-game lead over the Dodgers. Games will resume after the four-day break.

The White Sox have prevailed despite a plethora of serious injuries, including Nick Madrigal out for the season. Sluggers Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert have yet to return. The early sparkplug of the season was Yermin Mercedes whose star has tarnished and was recently sent down to the minors. Andrew Vaughn and Adam Engel have recovered from injuries to recently pick up the slack. Billy Hamilton and Seby Zavala have also filled in admirably. I’m off to see the Sox at Tropicana in August and then to Pittsburgh to cheer on the Cubs. I’m expecting to see the Pale Hose in the post-season mix but have lost some hope for the Cubbies. Trades in the next few months will determine the fate of this year’s World Series Champion.


Old Sport Shorts: CWS #1707

Last night I stayed up “late” to watch the Oregon State Beavers win their second straight elimination game in the ninth inning to continue their run for another College World Series (CWS) title. They did not have a great 2021 season with 23 losses but managed to eliminate #6 ranked TCU and forced a second game with Dallas Baptist last night in Fort Worth, a team that had put them in the loser’s bracket two days earlier. These two meet again this afternoon to determine who goes to the Super Regionals. Meanwhile, the #10 ranked Oregon Ducks dropped only 15 games this season and face LSU for a second straight day in hometown Eugene, hoping to punch their Super ticket. The Ducks were an unprecedented 5-1 against the Beavers this season and haven’t gone this far in the postseason since 2014, losing then to Vanderbilt. Two years prior they made it to the Super Regionals but no further. 1954 was their only trip to Omaha, while  1957 was their last conference crown.  

Watching the CWS brings back great memories of traveling to Omaha in 2018. (See Post #573). My good friend and I were going regardless of the fact that Oregon State might not even be there. Instead, they not only made the field but won the whole enchilada.  Since then, I’ve religiously followed the college baseball seasons of both the Beavers and Hoosiers. This year, the Ducks have really stood out, while Indiana baseball faded down the stretch and failed to make the first round of the tournament. The Beavers were fortunate to get the nod, going 6-8 in May to finish the regular season and finishing a disappointing 6th in the conference behind Arizona, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, and Arizona State. Indiana finished 4th in the BIG at 26-18, while Nebraska, Maryland, and Michigan got into the dance.  Last year Covid canceled the event. 

Nebraska, the BIG champion knocked off #1 Arkansas (Pig Sooie!) last night. They will play again tonight for the chance to move on. Michigan and Maryland both failed to advance to the Sweet 16. 8 teams will ultimately travel to Omaha and Ameritrade Field. It would be exciting to see both Oregon and Oregon State in the mix. Step one is tonight for both teams with the season on the line, along with the precious opportunity to continue playing in the CWS.



Retirement is not without Hassles: Box Score #1694

I’m now getting to the end of my chiropractor package, feeling the benefits of proper alignment. Today, I also pick up my car from the repair shop that wouldn’t have had a place in the garage anyways.  I finally got enough cardboard packaging  out yesterday to get my wife’s car back inside. We’re down to about 25 boxes yet to open –  most of those framed pictures. Time has passed quickly with 40 days now of living in our new home – a week with furniture. We’ve been so busy that we didn’t even get to the beach that had been a weekly tradition since our arrival. I’ve been in our pool every day – getting my money’s worth out of that decision. It’s the newest addition to the morning routine of stretching, running, swimming, and writing.

My son and I got the printer hooked up last night. I have some paperwork to complete before my first visit with the new doctor. Her name is Ann Piscitelli, a female first for me, but comes recommended. My oldest granddaughter also turns twelve this week and I have an appointment at the driver’s license bureau to celebrate. The will probably be a family get together this weekend. In addition, I’m looking forward to a Zoom Leadership meeting, where I’ll be able to catch up with my West Coast friends on IU and Oregon sports, the NBA playoffs, baseball, along with updates on home improvement projects. I’ve probably shown the most improvement this past week. 

White Sox Manager, Tony La Russa, beat his old team, the Cardinals, last night at Guaranteed Rate Stadium. I watched most of the game, at least to the point where Andrew Vaughn’s 2-run homer put the Sox on the board, but was sound asleep before the start of the Trailblazers vs. Nuggets basketball game. I saw this morning where the Blazers fell well short with no chance of “Dame Time,” and two days off before they meet again to break the 1-1 tie. Baseball wise, game 2 of the series in Chicago is tonight, along with a Cubs vs. Pirates match-up. The Sox win moved the Cubs closer to the first-place Cards in the NL Central Division standings. I’m trying to keep up with my favorite teams, but for me this past week a box score is simply the number of boxes left in the garage to unpack. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Happy Monday #1693

It was day #4,530 of the consecutive running streak, with some of the painful stiffness and soreness finally leaving my muscles. It could be the comfortable king size bed that is back in our possession, the visits to the chiropractor, or the extra stretching I’ve been doing. It was as good of a morning that I’ve had in months, after a well-deserved rest from unpacking last night. Instead, I watched 50-year old Phil Mickelson win the PGA Championship, Scott Dixon win the pole at Indy, the White Sox blow another game against the Yankees, and the Cubs eek out a series victory over the Cards. Most of my TV viewing of late has been sports oriented, despite the fact that I’m already missing the early start times of the West Coast. 

We’re scheduled for Disney World (my son-in-law has never been) over Christmas week and Tahoe in September. This will be additional time with my wife’s daughters and their husbands this year. We’ll see all of them in San Francisco and Portland in a few weeks, as we start to crank up the travel schedule. My wife is also looking to visit friends in conjunction with a couple nights planned for Florida’s  Singer Island in the next few months. Soon, we’ll use our Viking credits to rebook Egypt and other exotic spots that were cancelled during the pandemic. 

I’m picking up my grandson from golf practice this afternoon -my grandfatherly duty to start the week. He spends every other week with his mother up in Sarasota, about a half-hour north – so it’s constant back and forth for schoolwork, activities, and family obligations. I’m just trying to help. Tonight, I’ll be back in front of the TV to watch the White Sox and Cardinals. In this case, the Sox can help the Cubs before they eventually meet head-to-head later in the season. I’m also watching Skinwalker Ranch on the History Channel, but I’m not really enthralled with the alien story line. Even in all that time without furniture we’ve had a plethora of TV sets. However, with all the activities in the area it is not my primary go-to entertainment as it was in Portland. Happy Monday (Trash Day)!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Upcoming Travel #1692

It’s day five of unpleasant unpacking, with more than 30 boxes still sitting in the garage. Fortunately, one of our cars has been in the shop all this time for repairs. The Lexus is patiently waiting in the driveway for the space to open up. I borrowed my son’s massive SUV last night to haul boxes and packing materials to the dumpsters. He also installed our living room TV and hung a few brackets, hooks, and racks. He’s been handy to have in the neighborhood.

The Cubs and Sox both lost yesterday, as I also watched the first day of Indy 500 qualifications. These were rare moments of relaxation, as stiff and sore muscles continue to cause discomfort. At least the chilly pool water gives them temporary relief. All the boxes are now open but only digging down will reveal their true contents. The descriptions written on each one have proven to be both vague and deceptive. I’m guessing we have at least three more days of sorting through everything before we get to the actual picture hanging process. That will take another week.

We are taking a travel break in mid-June to celebrate my wife’s birthday. We’ll fly into Oakland for a few days and then head to Portland. This will give her a chance to visit with both daughters. I’m still not sure if we’ll get tickets to the Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon that was one of my original intents of the trip. We’ve held tickets for two years now, following the rescheduling of the event, but with limited seating capacity they started the process over again. We still haven’t been notified of the results – do we have tickets or not?

The state of Oregon still seems to be in a different world when it comes to Covid planning. First, it was the unavailability of vaccines, followed by indecisiveness regarding occupancy rates, and now mask usage protocol when it comes to those already vaccinated. Their ultra conservative approach does not seem to be generating results any different than those states that are fully open and functioning. I’m glad to be out of there, but am looking forward to the upcoming visit with family and friends. 




Retirement is not without Hassles: Rainbows and Unicorns #1690

I spent the noon hour with my youngest granddaughter playing in the lanai pool. It took awhile to coax her in the water but eventually she wanted to ride on the inflatable unicorn. It was one of those endearing Granddad moments that I’ve missed all those years living so many miles apart. It was one of several bonding moments over the last few weeks of living in Florida. So far, it’s been all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.

We’re down to under 50 boxes yet to unpack, maybe half-way done after 3 days of work. We deserve a few breaks now and then after forty-days and forty-nights of waiting for our possessions to arrive. Now that they’re here, it’s been box after box from morning to night, with a late night visit to the dumpsters for disposal of cardboard and packing materials. I caught another neighbor last night trying to be equally stealthy with a carload of crap. While my wife acts like it’s Christmas with each box she opens, I’m lugging in each one then being the trashman, painstakingly smoothing out the packaging, breaking down the containers, eliminating any potentially incriminating evidence that might be written on the sides, and hauling them out to the various construction sites once it gets dark. I’m spreading the wealth out to as many as six disposal containers to avoid over-filling or creating unwelcome attention from our association. 

There’s another granddaughter birthday yet to celebrate in May, the opening of the Indy 500 festivities that I’ll again observe from afar, Memorial Weekend in a brand new home (I’ve already found the flag), and baseball series featuring the Yankees/White Sox and Cubs/Cards. I’ll also pick up our repaired car next week that will be mostly dent-free and with a shiny new coat of red paint. It deserved a cosmetic facelift after getting all of us safely to Florida, through kidney stones, mountains, high temperatures, and 3,500 miles of highway travel. Soon, the reorganizing will be over and the painful relocation from coast-to-coast compete. I’m visualizing a future of strictly rainbows and unicorns!

Old Sport Shorts: We Are Marshall #1687

I was having another great sports evening, watching the Cubs, White Sox, and IU Soccer, but in the end it was spoiled. A goal with time running out in overtime gave Marshall University its first ever NCAA soccer title. It derailed what could have been a 9th championship for the soccer Hoosiers and sent me to bed shaking my head. IU was seemingly outmatched during the entire game and barely held on to get to overtime. Where did these guys come from? They took out #1 seed Clemson, perennial favorite Georgetown, the home town Tar Heels, and storied Indiana to sweep through the tournament. Another unforeseen ending to an already strange Covid disrupted season. 

Marshall has survived one of the greatest tragedies in sports history. The movie “We Are Marshall” depicts the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people: 37 football players on the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, along with five coaches, two athletic trainers, the athletic director, 25 boosters, and a crew of five. They’ve since achieved two NCAA Division 1-AA championships in football, but this is their first NCAA title outside of that sport – a long time in the making. It’s well deserved, even at the expense of my Alma Mater. 

Just like Marshall – “We’ll Be Back,” and eventually get our 9th. The Herd may very well develop into a national powerhouse in the sport with few seniors on their squad. Despite the Hoosier loss, there were several positive recruiting stories in both basketball and football yesterday, as a legitimate 7-footer and several football studs entered the university athletic programs through the portal. Plus, both the White Sox and Cubs won last night, with Oregon State product Nick Madrigal, the Pale Hose second baseman, getting his first Major League homerun, while the Cubbies felt the temporary pain of former teammate Kyle Schwarber’s (IU/Cubs/Nats) dinger. These Chicago victories were worthy of sweet dreams in lieu of the “We Are Marshall” nightmare.


Old Sport Shorts: Keep On Truckin’ 3 #1684

I continue to resort to the same headlines – in this case “Keep On Truckin'” – for the third time. I try to be clever, but there seems to be a reoccurring theme as the number of posts continue to add up. This will be the third time that I’ve used it, but in this case it actually refers to trucking rather than the music of the Grateful Dead or the Doo-Dah Man (Post #760 and Post#1603). The truck with our stuff should arrive within a week, the first sign that last night was going to be a good one. The good news phone call came when I was sipping on some Broken Barrel Whiskey as the red hot White Sox were losing the first game of a double header. They often say that good and bad news comes in threes, so after the dispatcher called with the report that our loaded truck would arrive in Tampa on Wednesday, it set off a wave of good fortune that continued through the rest of the night.

Whether or not it continues today I will soon find out. My run was painfully stiff, as soreness continues to rack my body. I’ve been doing exercises to offset the arthritis in my lower back, including the purchase of a body and back massage tool that resembles the hook of a shepherd’s staff at each end. It’s designed to reach those sore muscles and help them relax, recommended by my chiropractor. Today’s results were not encouraging. I go back again on Monday. However, with any sport or exercise there are always good and bad days. After 4,521 consecutive days of running, I should know as well as anyone. Regardless, last night was a great night of watching sports and the buzz was still there when I woke up this morning. 

It started with a Cubs victory, as their relief pitching continues to be strong. They’ve needed it since 9 or their last 11 games have been decided by one or two runs. They’ve won six of those for a May record of 8-3, putting them four games behind the first place Cardinals. However, the offense continues to struggle with a run differential of minus 5, compared with the Cards at +26. They play next weekend in St. Louis, the first head-to-head of the young season. 

I then turned over to IU soccer and watched the Hoosiers advance to the NCAA Championship in search of their 9th National Title. They edged out a tough Pittsburgh squad who dominated possession time but couldn’t score. The Panthers attempted twice as many shots but the Hoosier defenders prevailed. The Cream & Crimson, ranked #2, will face #10 Marshall in the Monday night finale.

At the same time the soccer game ended, the White Sox won the second game of the Kansas City doubleheader, going 8-2 in their last ten to keep pace with the Indians. The slugging Sox are +64 in run differential this season and just as exciting on the bases. Billy Hamilton has show some speed and promise, filling in for a number of serious injuries that have plagued stars like Jimenez, Robert, and now Abreu, So far, aging Tony La Russa has pushed the right buttons, although criticized for not knowing the newly established rules of doubleheader games. The Sox have so much depth that it doesn’t appear that there will be a La Russa-Pujols reunion in Chicago. I’m particularly impressed with rookie Yermin Mercedes and Oregon State product Nick Madrigal. The Sox are now referred to as the best team in baseball. Hopefully, that will continue.

To summarize the good news, our long delayed stuff  is within reach and sports are going my way. The Indy 500 is on the horizon and my wife gets her second vaccine shot today. Both granddaughters celebrate birthdays this month. The future indeed  looks sunny and bright here in our new Florida home. Go Sox, Cubs, and IU – and Keep On Truckin’.



Retirement is not without Hassles: Fry Day II #1669

About a year ago, 325 posts in the past, I wrote about Fry Day. (See #1344). We had started our Florida search for our forever home, but spent too much time in the car eating McDonald’s French fries. It had a much different meaning than today when we’re headed to the beach with our Fry Chairs, expecting to roast in the sun and surf. The search is over, construction complete, and we’ve moved in. The only thing missing at this point is our furniture, now two full weeks past due and still stuck in a Portland warehouse. We feel helpless in trying to rescue our possessions since numerous phone calls and conversations have been fruitless. 

Today we get a visit from the couple who inspired our retirement home decision. They were friends from our time in Decatur, Illinois but have since moved to Tucson, Arizona. They built a home in a Del Webb residential development that appealed to my wife and I. We have since followed their advise on looking for a resort community that fits our needs. The main difference is that their backyard is filled with cacti and succulents while ours is primarily water and a screened-in lanai. We also wanted to be near the ocean, so Venice became our #1 choice. These friends are traveling cross-country with children in Texas and the Carolinas, so they will stop in to check-out our new home. Sadly, it is like an empty tomb, without rugs, carpeting, artwork, and furniture. Not much to show-off!

We’ll return to Fins tonight for a sunset dinner after French Fries at the ballpark last night. Yesterday, I took the grandkids to the rooftop Tiki Bar to watch the Cubs play on the big screen. Unlike the night before, the struggling Cubbies were able to score some runs and eventually beat the Braves. The sunset was once again beautiful, but the kids a bit rowdy. I hope I can get used to it. Today, it will be the peaceful beach and bright sun. We’ll steer clear of McDonald’s, park our chairs with a Gulf view, and soak in some rays on a Friday Fry Day!

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