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Retirement is not without Hassles: Alaska Here We Come #2146

We arrived in Portland just before midnight and have been on the go ever since. I met up with a friend first thing on Thursday to make the drive to Netarts Bay. We spent the night there with two small mishaps. First, the bed in the camper collapsed on me in the midst of a drunken stupor, causing me to humorously  wake-up disoriented on the floor. Secondly, the cat bit and clawed me to raise concerns about “Cat Scratch Fever.” I was already feeling a bit of hypochondria, with the potential of a positive Covid test that could have ruined our cruise plans. The unprovoked cat attack just gave me something else to worry about. However, there was undoubtedly enough alcohol in my blood stream to prevent any virus or infection. 

My time in Oregon was certainly blessed with good sports fortune. Hoosier football won an overtime  thriller over the Hilltoppers while we were watching the Ducks beat BYU in a McMinnville bar called Two Dogs. The White Sox beat the Guardians and took two out of three from the Tigers. The Timbers tied with Columbus, while Oregon State Beaver football won in their stadium while theirs is under construction. Fantasy Football is leading going into tonight’s Bears vs. Packers game that could prove that the Monsters of the Midway are indeed for real after an undefeated preseason and opener. The only of my favorites to fall short were the Colts and the already eliminated Cubs.

We both passed our Covid tests today and will make our way to Vancouver tomorrow on another First Class flight. It will be an early morning run tomorrow after an eventful afternoon touring the Nike campus. I’ve managed to get my miles in despite the drastic changes in time zones and routine. Alaska here we come. 


Old Sport Shorts: College World Series Memories #2052

I have fond memories of the College World Series or CWS for short. This dates back to living in Austin in 2009 and watching the Texas Longhorns make it to the final game in Omaha. They had won it in 2002 and 2005 under coach Augie Garrido, so expectations were high as we followed them throughout the season at nearby Disch-Falk Stadium. I can remember sitting in a bar with a friend for the final three games culminating with a disappointing 11-4 blowout loss to LSU. At that time, I thought it would be really cool to make the trip to Omaha. 

The CWS tends to be more of a Southern and West Coast tradition, since the last Big Ten team to win it all was Ohio State in 1963. Indiana made the final 8 in 2013, adding to my interest in going to the event. When we moved to Oregon, I adopted the Oregon State Beavers who had won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008. In 2018, a good friend and I decided to make the trip to Omaha and were rewarded with a somewhat surprising Oregon State presence. (See Post #1707). It was a remarkable experience watching the Beavers ultimately win it all after moments of Arkansas triumph and obnoxious chants of Pig-Sooey! Because of some rain delays, I did not get to watch the championship game but listened to the final innings when I arrived back in Portland. Beaver catcher and tournament MVP, Adley Rutschman, was just called up be the Orioles a few weeks ago to make his Major League debut. It’s fun to follow these kids from college into the pros, as was also the case with Indiana’s Kyle Schwarber, Dansby Swanson of Vanderbilt, and Jackie Bradley, Jr.  of South Carolina.

I’ve continued to follow the CWS games on TV every year, starting with the initial NCAA seeding. Indiana has not been back since, and once again the BIG will  fail to have a presence. My Hoosiers were eliminated in the conference tourney by Iowa and never make the field of 64. Unfortunately, Oregon State games are often televised too late for me to watch on the East Coast. I was able to watch them beat Vanderbilt on Sunday afternoon and advance to the Super Regionals (Sweet 16). They will play the first game of a best of three series against Auburn on Saturday night starting at 10:30 p.m. my time. I will probably find out the results by monitoring my phone sometime in the middle of the night. Hopefully, they can get back to Omaha and the game times will be earlier. I will not be there this year, but the memories remain. 


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.



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.


Retirement is not without Hassles: Back Home Again in Portland (but not for long) #1632

I’m back home again from Indy with a busted bracket, hangover, and little sleep. Not quite as bad as the 1987 Final Four in New Orleans, but 34 years older and out of drinking shape. O’Reilly’s Irish Pub turned out to be our rendezvous spot between games. My friend who secured the hard-to-get tickets was following Illinois to their disastrous end, while my Indy buddy and I saw an assortment of teams live at both Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker’s Life. Purdue failed to please, falling to The Mean Green, as the sole representative of the state’s once-renowned round-ball heritage. IU stumbled once again and missed the Big Dance altogether. Oregon’s opponent was eliminated by Covid and the only other Beavs fan I met was due to a rest room break at a bar appropriately called The Wild Beaver. I was wearing my Oregon State baseball shirt. 

The three flights in from Portland to Indianapolis went relatively smoothly but sleep was hard to come  by. A 5:30 a.m. run through a nearly abandoned terminal at O’Hare got me through the night – that’s 2:30 a.m. Portland time! The first stop after the airport was The World of Beer where I enjoyed my first cold one. Former IU star Dan Dakich hosted a live radio show that was organized by another friend of mine. I tried my best to work in some of my oldest media pals into our fast paced schedule while I was in town, while grabbing some BBQ wings. The Day 2 lunch was at the Workingman’s Friend with other dudes from my past. Next, on the agenda were stops at The Yardhouse, Slippery Noodle, Harry & Izzy’s, and 10 West. For me, it was an exhausting trip down memory lane in the town where I spent 15 years of my life. I was proud that the Hoosier State could pull off this basketball extravaganza, but without the packed arenas and screaming crowds these efforts were futile.

Over the two night span, I got together with 7 fellow basketball buds and made a few phone calls to those who couldn’t be there. Everyone was curious about the unprecedented experience of all these games in central Indiana, but the crowds were disappointing and the venues seemingly empty thanks to Covid. Zip ties were used to disable seats that were strategically socially distanced. At first, it looked like you could move down to empty chairs closer to the courts, but you couldn’t sit in them. Entire sections were blocked off and the atmosphere was sadly sterile. Plus, the mask patrol was monitoring everyone on cameras and warning us of ejection. I’m sure the players were glad to have live supporters, but their voices were lost in the  cavernous void. It was better to stay home and watch the action on TV, because the party crowds on the street or in the stands were sorely missing. A year ago downtown Indy was bustling with activity even on a normal day, but the tourney came off as a ghost town despite all these teams and fans in attendance.

One of my highlights of being back home again in Indiana was a bacon and maple cream long john, made by a popular donut spot. This was a late night surprise left on the doorstep of my good friend’s condo. His place is a bit far from the downtown action, so he did a lot of shuttling us around. We had a great time as always, bemusing about the miserable IU season and speculating on a new coach. March MADness took on new meaning with the anger we expressed in both 2020 and 2021. I’m home and back in the blog business, with lots of good weekend memories. 

Old Sport Shorts: Beaver Fever #1627

I can’t help think back to the TV show Leave It To Beaver starring Jerry Mathers (As “The Beaver” Cleaver). It aired from 1957-1963 in glorious black & white. Ipana toothpaste might have been a sponsor with a mascot named Bucky Beaver.  Since this is a family blog, I won’t get into any other childhood Beaver references. All silliness aside, our move to Oregon seven years ago put me in touch with both Beaver and Duck sports, so I’ve become a fan. I’ve visited both campuses and watched both schools play on several occasions. As a Hoosier, I liken it to the rivalry between Purdue and Indiana, but instead of an Old Oaken Bucket, it’s a Civil War. 

A few years ago, I followed the Baseball Beavs to the College World Series in Omaha with a good friend. We also watched both basketball teams play at the Moda Center for two of Phil Knight’s Nike Invitationals, the first to celebrate his 80th birthday. We then saw the defending national champion Beavers play at T-Mobile Stadium in Seattle, along with our Alma Mater, Indiana. In addition, there were Oregon State baseball games at Ron Tonkin Field, home of the Hillsboro Hops, that we attended. I even saw the team play at Surprise Stadium in Arizona for a preseason tournament. 

It was almost exactly a year ago that I was on a flight to Phoenix with the Beaver baseball team. In route, all their games were cancelled along with Spring Training and the NCAA basketball tournament thanks to Covid. Next weekend, I finally get to go to a live sporting event after this year-long hiatus. Despite only 25% capacity, we have tickets to the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis. Today’s Selection Show will determine if I’ll get to see the Ducks or Beavers play. They are my dogs in the fight. (See Post  #1626).

The Beavs had to win the Pac12 title to make the Big Dance, a remarkable feat they pulled off last night. Three straight victories over UCLA, Oregon, and Colorado elevated their overall record to 17-12, while claiming the conference automatic bid. It was their first ever Pac12 tourney crown, earning the ticket to Indianapolis. Mine was hard to come by, but not that hard! I’ll pack my Beavers and Ducks gear and take-in the tournament aura in my former hometown. I’ve got Duck Dreams and Beaver Fever!

Old Sport Shorts: Dog In the Fight #1626

It’s March and on the last two days of the regular season I don’t have a dog in the fight. I.U. was the first to be eliminated. Their season is mercifully over. Purdue was beaten a few days ago by Ohio State. The undefeated Zags easily won their tournament a few days ago so they aren’t playing this weekend. The Beavers beat the Ducks in basketball, while the Ducks prevailed in baseball, a rare flip-flop of program strengths. My four most hated teams are battling it out for the BIG bracket title, a tournament that I.U. has never won since inception. Not much to look forward to over the next few days except the tourney draw. 

When I get to Indianapolis next weekend, I will struggle with allegiance. The Ducks and Boilers will get another chance for post season glory, while the Zags should cruise through their first two games. Oregon State will only get in, despite three straight Pac12 wins, if they beat Colorado today, a team they’ve lost to twice. The number 12 has been added to their jerseys as a reminder that they were picked to finish last in the conference by the pre-season pollsters. They could win the Pac12 tourney for the first time in program history. Now that’s a fighting Dog!

The Hoosiers were the worst kind of dog, finishing with six straight conference losses, rather than peaking for a March Madness run. They face an off-season of uncertainty as Archie Miller’s fate is determined. Trayce Jackson-Davis will not be back though I don’t see much of a future for him in the NBA. He certainly got to the free throw line frequently but the rim doesn’t favor his short game and he can’t shoot well from the charity stripe. He could be a star if he stayed in college two more years, but Archie is not a teaching coach. The G-League is his certain destiny. The only guy that did hit free throws this year, Al Durham, could come back for another year – but probably won’t. I’m not at all looking forward to next year without the shooters, big bodies, or innovative coaching that can effectively compete in the BIG. Unless there is change, my hapless Hoosiers are nothing but a barkless dog without a fight!

Old Sport Shorts: Jealous! #1613

It was no coincidence that I chose a “Jealous” graphic with a green background because I’m Green with Envy. Too many programs in the BIG conference have now surpassed my Indiana Hoosiers in building success. A team that I grew up with and saw win National Championships and even go undefeated is now in the bottom tier and in danger of not even going to the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year. As I watch this morning against Michigan, I’m preparing myself for a third straight loss and what will probably extend to five before the BIG tournament. All the pregame talk is about #3 Michigan and not even any speculation for an I.U. upset. I’m jealous!

Once upon a time, Michigan was a triple victory on the way to a 1976 National title at 32-0. Purdue was at the very least a split every year, but Coach Archie Miller has not been able to beat them, with only one last chance this season. It could very well be the last few games we’ll even watch him as the Indiana coach. Juwan Howard has risen to the top of the BIG in his first year as coach, while Archie is in his fourth year and dwindling in the conference basement. Each week another team breaks out of a slump against the Hoosiers. The last two games they’ve built big first half leads only to fall apart in the end. Other teams can make free throws or three-point shots and take care of the ball. Not I.U.! I’m no longer mad – just Jealous!

The Oregon Ducks are making a stretch run, Purdue is solidly in the tournament field, Gonzaga is undefeated, but Indiana is on the outside looking in. I’m Jealous! More and more Indiana high school stars are going to out-of-state schools, if not they want to go to be a Boilermaker. The Hoosiers can’t hit the side of a barn or defend against the three and seem to just be going through the motions. I miss the days of good fundamental basketball, but mostly I miss winning. Other teams are winning – I’m Green with Jealousy!


Old Sport Shorts: Favorites #1463

Baseball and cold pizza, two of my current favorites, came together for lunch yesterday, before the yard work started. The White Sox were up against the higher-seeded A’s and playing on their home turf. I’ve never been a fan of the once Kansas City now Oakland A’s, but since childhood the White Sox have always been my favorite. Catcher Sherm Lollar has perpetuated this relationship since 1959. Granted, I’ve strayed to the Cubs at times when they were winning, following suit with my son and dad. I’ve been fortunate to see both Chicago favorites first-hand in World Series victories. 

Lucas Giolito pitched seven innings of perfect baseball and the Sox bats were hot in a 4-1 victory. The lucky socks proved their worth. Today, I’ll wear a Cubs sock on one foot and the Sox sock on the other, hoping for the Chicago sweep. There will be no fans to interfere with any Marlin foul balls, reminiscent of Steve Bartman in 2003, so there should be no excuses for anything less than a Cubbies “W” at Wrigley.   

I do have a busy today with a second moving estimate, Cubs & Sox baseball, dinner to cook. and the first game of the NBA Finals, in addition to the eight televised MLB playoff games. LeBron has oddly become a basketball favorite of mine, even though he’s never played for the teams I support, with the exception of the Olympics. Part of this is the lack of respect he gets, especially from Michael Jordan fans. In my opinion, they are equal greats from separate eras. Comparisons are unfair, especially considering that there wasn’t nearly as much free agency in the Jordan era and contact rules were vastly different. 

While championship match-ups were being determined in baseball and basketball, the Tampa Bay Lightning claimed their second Stanley Cup title. I’ve officially adopted them since we now own property in Florida, along with the Rays, Buccaneers, and Rowdies. Having now owned homes in six states, I’ve amassed quite a collection of teams, improving my chances to win something…anything. Chicago is still my favorites sports town, with the exception of the Bulls. Michigan teams don’t count. The Portland Trailblazes have now replaced the Pacers as my favorite NBA team. When it comes to college football, I lean to the Texas Longhorns and Oregon Ducks, even though my pigskin favorite will always be the hapless Indiana Hoosiers. Soccer favs are the MLS Portland Timbers and Indiana University, while my vote for college baseball goes to the Oregon State Beavers. College basketball is hands down Indiana, as well. I do enjoy sports of all kinds and genders, but do not have as strong of allegiances. I also know the teams and players I hate in any given league – but this is all about favorites. 

I still have fond memories of watching a White Sox playoff game back in 1983 from a motel room in Indianapolis. I was down there from Ft. Wayne on an overnight business trip and played hooky for the afternoon game. It was players like LaMarr Hoyt, Floyd Bannister, Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Ron Kittle, as I check the memory banks of Wikipedia. Tony LaRussa was the coach of this team that won their division and made it to the American League Championship, losing to the Orioles after winning the first game of a series of five. The Orioles went on to win the World Series. It was the first time the Sox were in the postseason since the 1959 World Series, featuring for me a home run by Sherm Lollar. They wore the patriotic uniforms with SOX in block letters on a blue stripe, trimmed in red, across the chest. They’ve brought them out on several occasions this year – one of my least favorite looks!

2008 was the last White Sox postseason win, falling 3 games to 1 against the Rays in the opening series. They did win the division that year. The team featured Ozzie Guillen, Jermaine Dye, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, John Danks, and Mark Buehrle, along with Manager Ozzie Guillen. The Sox were eliminated on the day I started work in Austin, Texas, one of my least favorite jobs. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Marriott #1186

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! 

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