Today's thoughts

Category: OLD SPORT SHORTS (Page 2 of 43)

An old guy’s perspective on all sports

Retirement is not without Hassles: The Big Dance #1629

It’s laundry day – how’s that for excitement! Yesterday, I did get out the apartment for some wine tasting at L’ Angolo and Eminent Domain. It was good to spend some time with two lifelong friends – our first get together since November. In the meantime, it’s been Zoom calls, phone, and text, as we suffered through the downfall of I.U. basketball.  The time together gave us a chance to discuss the upcoming NCAA tournament action and the uncertain fate of our Hoosiers as fellow alumni. There was little else to talk about.  I will miss them both when we move from Oregon to Florida in less than three weeks. 

The stress is building, as we continue to work on closing, packing, and traveling. I’m taking a break this weekend for some basketball games in Indianapolis, once I make my picks. A former business acquaintance in Austin lets me participate in her family pool. I’m sure they’re glad to take my money every year, so it’s become a tradition. With the cancellation of last year’s event, it was the first time I at least broke even. I’m inclined to pick the nine BIG teams to go as far as possible, but I’ll we’ve been able to see is them beat up each other down the stretch. There’s no means of comparing how they stack up to the other conferences, and frankly all I’m familiar with in making my selections. 

I leave Thursday night for my flight to Indianapolis, and will wait until then to fill out my brackets. Covid could become an even bigger factor in determining who will be able to play. For the first time in history, there are also stand-by teams in case any of the 68 invitees can’t participate. It’s been an unusual year in college basketball, culminating with the firing of both the Indiana and Minnesota coaches – more conference fall-out from the teams that failed to punch their tickets to the Big Dance. 

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: You’re Fired! #1628

Basketball is always the big news in March, and when you’re team isn’t in the tournament, all you can talk about it what went wrong.  A lot went awry at Indiana University. The only course of action for the fledgling Hoosier program was to fire the 10 million dollar man. Archie is out! One of the other mistakes after the Bob Knight era was the hiring of Kelvin Sampson, who ironically has his Houston Cougars playing at Assembly Hall (Simon Skjodt) in the first round of the NCAA tourney. Davis, Sampson, Crean, and now Miller – four strikes and you’re out!

It was a year when Bob Knight returned to Assembly Hall, tournaments cancelled, masks required, Trump fired, and a dismal finish in the BIG. An Archie Miller buyout was heavily discussed, but I didn’t feel the university could financially pull the trigger. I was wrong! As a good friend pointed out – all they needed to do was ask 7 million Hoosiers to each donate a $1.50! A new coach will undoubtedly be announced once a National Champion is crowned. Cheaney, Drews, Alford, and Smart – the list of potential successors is endless, but finding the right fit will not be easy. Michigan and Georgetown have had quick success with former players. While other teams are enjoying March Madness, only Indiana will experience true madness. The “Big Dance” for a new coach begins, if it hasn’t already been decided. Archie Miller – You’re Fired!

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: Fat Chance #1624

It’s depressing irony that four Indiana basketball schools will probably be playing in Dallas or done for the year while  the NCAA tournament takes place in their back yard. Only Purdue will represent what was once the greatest basketball state in the nation. Indiana, Butler, Ball State, and Notre Dame will all end the regular season with losing records. Will the NIT even have them? Indiana will probably finish 10th in the BIG with the first nine likely going to the Big Dance. Notre Dame is looking at 11th in the ACC, just  behind Duke that still has a slim chance of making the field. Butler sits at 10th in the Big East and Ball State 8th in the MAC. It was also a bad year for Valparaiso (10-18) and Evansville (9-16). Indiana State topped both of them in the Missouri Valley conference at 15-10 but tourney winner Loyola and runner-up Drake will probably get the nod. Could Dallas also be a destination for the Sycamores?

The #4 seed Boilermakers got a March Madness double-bye in the BIG battle and have a chance at favorable NCAA  placement in their home state if they win on Friday.  I will support them once I.U. has officially been eliminated, which will probably be sooner than later. Purdue will sadly be the sole state representative once the Big Dance starts next week. I hope to see them in person, fully vaccinated, when I travel to Indy on the 19th. Boiler Up and Go Ducks!

#10 seed I.U. plays #7 Rutgers tonight in the BIG tournament, facing the possibility of going 0-3 this year against the Scarlet Knights. If the Hoosiers can pull of the upset, they would face Illinois on Friday, who also swept them in the regular season. As poorly as the Hoosiers have played this year, two big upset wins could get them in with a 14-14 overall record, although they’d have to win at least one more to assure a .500 season. The conference games are in Indianapolis, after all, and maybe the rims will be kind for once. Fat Chance!

Retirement is not without Hassles: NCAA Bound #1623

Well, Indiana is not going to the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis but I am! A friend surprised me with tickets yesterday morning to the first rounds at Bankers Life and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. I’m amazed he got tickets considering only 25% capacity, but this was presumably repayment for taking him to the MLB All Star Game a few years ago. We had planned to go to Arlington a year ago for a Cardinals spring training match-up against the Rangers in the brand new Globe Life Park, but that game was cancelled like everything else last year. I was glad that he thought of me and will stay with a long-time friend in Indy who’s attended several tourney games with me. I will throw my allegiance this year to the Ducks, Zags, or maybe even the Boilers or Illini. 

At first I was reluctant to go, bitter about the I.U. season and their inability to go to the Indiana-based tourney – some of which will be held on their own floor. However, it’s a historic occasion with all 68 teams playing in the state. It will also add some excitement to Sunday’s tournament draw that will determine who we’ll be seeing on Friday, March 19th and Saturday, March 20th.  In addition, the games fall in a small window between doctor & dentist  appointments, my vaccine shot, closing, packing, and loading for the move to Florida. We’ll also pass through Indianapolis for the Final Four, but chances are slim for a ticket to that event. With tomorrow’s single-dose Johnson & Johnson appointment, I should be somewhat safe on the flight and at the various venues. 

March Madness started on a positive note with my high school team winning the Elkhart sectional. The merger of the two schools has once again made them sports competitive with success in both football and basketball this year. When I graduated in 1969 we were often a state powerhouse with enrollment exceeding 4,000, but the addition of a second school weakened both athletic programs. I’m glad they are now competitive, but disappointed that the once unique Blue Blazer nickname has be changed to the all-to-common, boring-roaring Lions. Why not Tigers or Bears? Oh My! Charger and Blazer fans are still revolting, but it’s still our team. They play a talented Gary West Side team in the regionals this Saturday.  I’m excited about going back home to Indiana and seeing some of the NCAA tournament action. Tourney Bound!

Old Sport Shorts: Hopeless Hoops #1619

It’s another lackluster Saturday with just a touch of sunshine. Normally, I might be excited about gameday and the I.U. vs. Purdue rivalry, but I’ve lost all hope, relying solely on the women for a victory. Yes, I’m a pessimist who typically forecasts doom, but I honestly don’t see a way. I’ve come to expect turnovers, missed layups, bad free throw shooting, and air balls. I don’t understand how these players can be exceptional in high school yet somehow fall apart under the guidance of coach Archie Miller. It seems like both Miller brothers are in jeopardy of losing their jobs, with Sean’s recent NCAA violation allegations. Miller Time (See Post #35) has turned into a really bad hangover at both Indiana and Arizona! 

Purdue football was mercifully saved from sure slaughter with the cancellation of the Oaken Bucket Game in 2020. There’s no such luck for Hoosier basketball – the game will tip-off as scheduled. I’m certain to hear from all my Purdue buddies before, during, and after the game, drooling with anticipation. I.U. is in danger of losing five straight conference games and nine straight to the #23 Boilermakers. Miller Time for the Hoosiers has never happened. The 60 point mark is the key with I.U. 0-5 this year when under and 12-8 with the over. The Hoosiers are 6-0 when they hold an opponent under 63. The January game ended with Purdue winning 81-69. It’s too bad there’s a time clock, thinking of the once popular Four Corner offensive stall also known as “Keep Away.”

I.U. was an unbelievably pitiful 2-20 shooting threes in their last game against Michigan State. They were 3-18 versus the Boilers in the first loss. How can these guys possibly be this bad and Purdue so good? Also, it’s not just a game here and there – it’s every game. This is why we probably should not show up on Gene Keady Court this morning.  To make matters worse, it’s also Senior Day, adding more fuel to the West Lafayette fire. I’m not sure I can even watch – perhaps my mask should cover my eyes instead of mouth. However, I will also need a gag to keep from scaring our dog once the basketball starts clanging off the rim. Please prove me wrong, but I’m embarrassed already of our consistent game of Hopeless Hoops.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Metal Detector #1618

I was like a human metal detector this morning, spotting five pennies and picking up a quarter and nickel. However, when I examined them at the end of the run, the nickel was actually a useless flat battery and the quarter turned out to be 200 pesos worth $9.55. This is one of my bigger finds if I ever get around to converting it. Unlike the photo featured for this post, I’m not exactly searching on a Mexican beach but rather the wet streets of downtown. In fact, my nice Florida tan has now faded to Portland pale. 

The smell of coffee was everywhere this morning along with the pleasant aroma of pot. I began to get hungry and thirsty, eyeing a familiar pink box of Voodoo Donuts along with anyone holding a warm cup of java. Before I stop next door for my two Leadership Meeting beers, I’m now tempted to go to Starbucks for a decaf caramel latte. It’s Friday and time to celebrate with Coors, companionship, and coffee. 

We got final approval for our loan yesterday. However, how can something be final if there are still conditions attached? They are apparently hedging their bet against us senior citizens without a steady paycheck. If I had this to do over, I would have purchased in the months before retirement while the paychecks were still coming in. They don’t seem to care how much you have in savings or how much you put down. It’s all about the paycheck that we all know could stop at any moment. Florida is still reeling from all the foreclosures in 2008.

I.U. basketball has only one chance for redemption this year with tomorrow’s game against Purdue. The #23 Boilers have won eleven of the last twelve and eight straight against the Cream & Crimson. The odds for a Hoosier victory are significantly reduced with Senior Night festivities at Mackey on Gene Keady Court. Archie Miller has been outcoached by Matt Painter every time they’ve met. My metal detector has a game prediction setting that is not beeping in favor of I.U., also facing its fifth straight BIG Conference loss. It strongly detects Gold. 

 

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!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Spam #1612

If it weren’t for spam I would be lonely. No one would call or even write. As it is, however, I get too much unwanted attention with at least a dozen daily attempts to extend my warranty, get more benefits from Medicare, or offer insurance discounts. Occasionally, there’s even some porn. My phone now tells me if it’s potential spam, but this has also caused me to block-out welcome callers. With everyone blocked, I now know that all my calls are spam. 

Today is an early Leadership Zoom call, as we reflect on the sorry state of I.U. basketball, struggling business, home improvement updates, and how much we miss live music. Another “Archie Miller must go” e-mail got through my spam filter. He should just resign and save us all a lot of money. It will take years now to restore “The Glory of Old I.U.” I give up on this season and will focus all my energy on fighting spam. 

Spam

I’d be lonely,
If it weren’t for Spam.
People who think,
I give a damn.

No one would write,
Or even call.
It seems these days,
No one cares at all.

When the phone rings,
It’s Medicare.
Or Life Insurance,
So please beware.

Extend your warranty,
Buy a discount card.
Another unwanted call,
Always be on guard.

Blocking them all,
Just won’t matter.
With endless lines,
To spread their chatter.

Annoying offers,
They’ll never end.
They’ve got your number,
Or e-mail to send.

You’ll unsubscribe,
Until you’re blue.
Or text STOP,
Delete them, too.

But they’ll be back,
To bug you more.
They might even knock,
On your front door.

With everyone blocked.
All my calls are spam.
If you need to reach me,
Send a Telegram.

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