For those unlike me that work, it’s the first day of the week. It’s often difficult for me after three full years of retirement to distinguish one day from another, but it definitely felt like a Monday. Traffic was heavy and bunched together, so I had to dodge a lot of vehicles and bikes on day 4,033 of my consecutive running streak. A train made it impossible to cross a busy intersection and many stop lights were not in sync for me. As a result, a ran 3.25 miles rather than the 3.1 standard that I’ve set for myself. With snow in the forecast, it portends to be a difficult week on the streets.
The Academy Awards nominations were announced this morning, and my wife and I are relatively current on this year’s productions. This past week we streamed both The Two Popes and Marriage Story. Today, we plan to see 1917 and get back in the habit of justifying our Regal annual pass investment. We haven’t been to a movie since Richard Jewell just over a month ago. Kathy Bates was nominated for her role as his mother. We have yet to see Parasite, Little Women, Bombshell, Harriet, or Pain and Glory. With unlimited access, there’s really no excuse for not sitting through them all in the next few weeks.
Tonight is the College Football Championship with L.S.U. battling Clemson. It seems like it’s taken forever to get here, much like the drawn-out drama of each year’s Superbowl. There’s now a chance for a redo of the very first one in 1966, then called the “AFL–NFL World Championship Game,” between the Chiefs and the Packers. Admittedly, basketball is still my favorite sport, despite the lack of success by my favorite teams. The season goes by as quickly as the action on the court, unlike baseball that seems to never end. It’s still a great sport for a nap and filled with great history. I will watch football tonight out of curiosity, since most of the Vegas money seems to be on L.S.U., while title experience favors Clemson. Once again, the BIG and PAC12 conferences failed to make the finals and “The South” continues to dominate. Good thing it didn’t happen in the Civil War! I still think it’s odd that Oregon, one of the states that was least affected by that battle, uses “The Civil War” to hype the in-state rivalry in sports and academics between the Ducks and Oregon State Beavers dating back to 1894.
We’re trying to organize a Holiday family trip to Kauai to round out our travel year. It was more “affordable” to go mid-December rather than Thanksgiving or Christmas, so it now depends on the work schedules of my step-daughters and their new husbands. We can take advantage of the Marriott Vacation Club for a record fifth time this calendar year, having also already booked condos in Orlando, Vegas, San Francisco, and Bali. With my wife’s recent retirement, this is her year to celebrate and spend some of the IRA savings she has accumulated through the years. We’ll also use Marriott Bonvoy points as part of our summer trip through Glacier National Park via stops in Walla-Walla and Spokane Washington. It will then extend into Canada and three nights at the historic Prince of Wales hotel that is not yet a Marriott property. It probably will be someday!
In a few weeks, we’ll be in Las Vegas at the Westgate Resort. At first, I was disappointed that this was the best choice that I had when it came to timeshares near The Strip, but I was grateful to just be able to use my Marriott Vacation Club points at all. I had failed to properly bank them and after pleading with organization officials was given the option of transferring them to Interval International. It cost me $300 for a week’s stay at a resort that I was not at all familiar. However, yesterday, I was listening to the radio and they had on the director of their Superbook, the largest in the world. I was suddenly excited to be staying in a sports haven that also features Barry Manilow to entertain my wife.
I’m not much of a gambler, but you would think that I’ve absorbed some knowledge with all the games I’ve watched or attended. However, the teams that I choose to follow have not been very successful of late. The question is would I pay big bucks to see them win? Also, are sports for pleasure or profit? For example, I could bet on Indiana University Basketball to lose and knowing my luck they would win. In this crazy scenario, I would be paying for a victory. Certainly, if I bet on them to win they would lose for sure – the double whammy. This strategy reflects my overall pessimistic mindset with regard to sports. If I become personally interested in a team, they typically lose.
Last night, I became excited about Oregon women’s basketball team and their chance to become #1 after the University of Connecticut home winning streak of 98 consecutive games finally came to an end. The Ducks were poised to take their lofty position atop the polls with a victory over Arizona. Instead, they opened the door for in-state rival Oregon State to capture the cat seat. Thanks to my support – they lost. As further proof, with me on their side, the Bears, Colts, I.U. football, I.U. soccer, Oregon State baseball, Cubs, and White Sox all saw disastrous endings to their seasons. Could betting have changed some of these outcomes?
Right now, I’m watching I.U. Basketball off to a great start against Ohio State. As has been typical this year, they will soon go into a long shooting slump. I probably should bet on it! They barely got by Northwestern the other night and failed miserably at Maryland. It’s getting embarrassing to watch this team miss free throws, turn the ball over, and slack-off on defense. They at least have a chance to win at home, but on the road these problems compound. Before this game is over this morning, I’ll be in the car on my way to a baseball card luncheon. The good news is that I won’t have to watch them fall apart in crunch time. Odds are that they won’t disappoint when I’m not watching. Go figure?
I was so impressed with the Duck women last night. They played like a team, hit their shots, and took advantage of free throws. I wished the Indiana men could consistently perform like that. The I.U. women’s team is also playing well, ranked in the top 12. As I pay more attention to them, they will probably struggle, as did the Ducks in the last half. Right now, as predicted, the men have gone cold and their lead has suddenly evaporated. They’re missing free throws and are 1-17 with an air-ball from the field in the last ten minutes. Is this a self-fulfilled prophecy or just a sure bet?
In the words of Yogi Berra, “it’s like deja vu all over again,” as I.U. basketball stumbles in Madison for the 18th straight time. It then looked like an unforgettable day for Badger’s fans when they took a two touchdown lead over the Big, Bad, Buckeyes. Instead, they were just as discouraged as most Hoosier fans by the end of the evening. At least, Indiana did not play football yesterday!.
After the I.U. 80-64 victory over Florida State earlier this week, I felt the possibility that the Wisconsin curse could finally end. After all, even the Cubs finally succeeded. Despite my pessimistic mindset, I actually thought that I.U. basketball had finally turned the corner and was headed in the right direction. Instead, I think that yesterday’s 84-64 thrashing set the program back twenty years. 1998 was the last time that the Indiana team plane flew away from Madison with a victory. I was 48 years old and could still remember winning championships in the era of Bobby Knight. Now, it seems like a distant memory with little hope.
If there was another game today, I’m not sure I could watch. My mind echos with Cheesehead laughter that turned to giddiness in the first quarter of the BIG championship game. A 21-7 halftime lead made me think of the enthusiastic alumni buzz at the A Bar here in Portland where they gathered for the game. This in total contrast to the shock at Ladd’s, Buckeye headquarters. I’m sure hundreds were in attendance at each location, when the I.U. alumni association can barely get a hand-full of supporters for a game-watch anymore. I’m sure that after a few days of mourning, I’ll saddle-up for another Indiana television broadcast. I doubt, however, that I go out in public to watch it.
Granted, I was not confidently decked-out in I.U. gear yesterday, touting my team colors with pride at Buffalo Wild Wings. I watched the game with two friends and knew that after the opening five minutes we were not prepared to compete, let alone overcome the “Cheese Curse.” Other I.U. alum gathered separately around the city, and probably stayed away from our occasional hang-out Ladd’s, thoroughly infested with Ohio State faithful. Gleeful Buckeyes watched their team crush Penn State in basketball 106-74 and then win a 3rd straight BIG football title. Even in envious spite, it was hard for me to “Say Cheese,” considering the beating that my pathetic Hoosiers took earlier in the day. I was trying unsuccessfully to choose between two evils.
As the Wisconsin round-ball lead over Indiana grew insurmountable, we turned our attention to the the L.S.U. vs Georgia S.E.C. title game. Both of my friends have deep Oregon roots and began bemoaning the Ducks late season loss to Arizona State. After this week’s huge, dominant Oregon victory over #5 ranked Utah, it was becoming apparent that Georgia would slip out of Playoff contention and their spot could have been taken by Oregon instead of Oklahoma. As it turns out Oregon plays Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Too bad it’s not the Cheese-It Bowl. The Ducks’ could of-would-have-should-have factor was just one more thing to infringe on our Wild Wings beer buzz. At least, the fan interest of my buddies extends beyond my sole Indiana focus. I often wish that I had gone to Grad school so I’d have a second team. Through the years, I’ve tried to adopt home town favorites like Illinois, Texas, Oregon, Oregon State, and even Purdue, but I’ve never gotten wrapped-up as a bonafide fan. It’s only I.U! I’ll have to loyally wait for our 19th attempt to break the dreaded “Cheese Curse.”