Today's thoughts

Category: Old Sport Shorts (Page 2 of 30)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Good Day #1284

As it turns out, I did see Ritchie Havens in concert. It was not some drug-induced hallucination from my college days. (See Post #1281). A friend who was also at that concert commented on my lack of recollection and it made me double-check my concert log. I keep it because of my aging memory, along with lists of books and movies. For some reason, the other day’s search did not uncover this particular show that also included Poco, Pure Funk, Atlan-tis, and Chase. Honestly, it was Poco that drew me to the event that was called Stonehenge III. It happened on 9/11/1971, thirty years before 9-11 was a date that we’ll never forget. Even the emergency phone number of 9-1-1 was just in the infant stages of development.

It’s always good to get an actual comment on this blog. Thanks, Dan! I used to get hundreds every day but they were mostly all spam. Now, I rarely hear from anyone, not that any more  inspiration is necessary to keep writing. I do this for me, just as I keep diaries, logs, and lists. It’s part of my daily tradition, capturing  thoughts usually generated while I’m running. I keep hoping that it will lead to a more serious writing project, but it at least comes in handy as a memory aid. I enjoy testing my memories while sharing stories and poems. In this case, my friend’s feedback let me tell “the rest of the story,” like radio legend Paul Harvey. “Good Day!”

Yesterday was Good Friday, while today is just a Good Day! People are joking about uncovering hand stamps that they got at nightclubs twenty-five years ago because they’ve scrubbed their hands so much! Mine are just rough and dry. I still cough when I go outside because of these allergies that I’ve somehow developed. Every time I cough I look around to see if anyone caught me in the act, diving for cover. Handshaking, Hugging, and Coughing are the three social evils of modern times. About half the people I see on my morning run are responsibly wearing masks – I have enough trouble breathing without one, so I go out of my way to maintain plenty of social distancing. 

It’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted anything about sports, categorized in this blog under Old Sport Shorts (I am an old sport and run everyday in shorts). I also must be a frustrated sports reporter wanna-be! Religiously, I check the ESPN app every morning to see if anything is happening. Indiana University basketball got a new recruit for 2021, a four-star true center out of Cincinnati Moeller High School. Even with so little going on, the news didn’t make ESPN, indicative of the fact that my college Alma Mater has unfortunately has long lost its national luster in everything but soccer. Regardless, I miss having live sports in my life! A REALLY GOOD day usually involves the anticipation of a GOOD game (and a GOOD concert). 


Old Sport Shorts: Canceled #1252

It’s been since 1987 that I.U. basketball ended the season with a tournament victory. I was there in New Orleans when Keith Smart hit the winning shot for our fifth national championship. Sadly, I took it for granted, feeling that many more would follow. Well, even more sadly it finally happened again, 33 years later but only because COVID-19 changed the game. First, just the fans were banned from attending, then the tournaments were CANCELED, along with every other event around the world. We’re now waiting to see how it affects the Olympics!

As far as I’m concerned, Christmas has been CANCELED. I can’t imagine how the student-athletes feel that worked so hard to finally earn their chance to go dancing; not to mention, those whose sports will never happen this year. To me, the greatest time of the year is March Madness which is now nothing more than March Sadness. I especially feel sorry for the IU seniors, Devonte Green and De’Ron Davis. They have the dubious honor of being the first 4-year IU players in the history of the NCAA tourney to never get an invitation. They are, however, part of the first team to go undefeated (1-0) in the BIG Ten tournament, a bracket-challenge an IU squad has never won. Any further advancement has been forever CANCELED!

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Phoenix with CANCELED plans to attend today’s originally scheduled game between the White Sox and Cubs. Instead, I’ll be going to an auto auction as the consolation prize. Baseball at least has been delayed…not CANCELED, as has The Masters and other major events that don’t involve students. I think we might also CANCEL our hotel room tomorrow night and go to Tucson early. I also CANCELLED my flight to Dallas next week for another Spring Training game that was CANCELLED. Where’s my rubber stamp?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Patchwork #1246

When you navigate the sidewalks of downtown Portland and the surrounding neighborhoods as I do every morning, you have to keep your eyes focused on the uneven concrete. I’ve had an occasional stumble and certainly don’t want to break my mother’s back. (See Post #1159). It’s often boring to stare at the ground, but precaution is necessary, so mind games come into play. I see the sidewalk as a giant checkerboard or patchwork quilt, maybe hopscotch is in order. Each square of concrete has been poured separately to facilitate replacement if a root disrupts the originally level surface. As a result, the sections are different shades of gray. I like to hit all the newer, lighter squares as I run my course. It keeps me safe and entertained.

I just completed consecutive day #4088, despite some hip problems, a cough, and last night’s time change. Despite the hour difference, I tried to stay on the same schedule, but psychologically it affects my daily routine. It was still relatively dark when I woke up with the sunrise now at 7:30 a.m. and sunset at 7:08 p.m. It gives us an extra hour of evening light, but is also a big disruption in everyone’s internal time clock. Even Google seems to be struggling this morning, stuck in a useless loop. I’m all in favor of eliminating this biannual adjustment. It’s time for a change!

“Date Night” was last night this week, a Saturday for a change. Both of us are recovering from colds, so our ambition has suffered. We did go out to see Emma at the movie theater and the Frozen musical, but found little other motivation to go out in the rain. We also did some dog sitting but even their outside activity suffered because of rainy skies. It will be good to soon be sitting in the dry Arizona sunshine and watching baseball. I suffered a bad sports day yesterday watching both the men’s and women’s IU teams stumble badly. The men’s tourney hopes were dashed, as surprise BIG Champion Wisconsin once again spoiled our sacred Senior Day. I remain in a sour mood, as I think about how the Badger Cheeseheads have dominated the Hoosiers over their last 25 match-ups. It’s also shocking to note that IU finished 11th in what was once the Big Ten Conference. It’s more than a “rough patch” that can only be repaired by restoring our tarnished reputation.







Old Sport Shorts: Signs of Spring #1245

Will it be March Madness, Badness, Gladness, or Sadness? One sad note is that my Elkhart High School Blazers have played their last basketball game forever, eliminated in the Indiana 4A sectionals. From this point forward, they will be known as the Elkhart Lions. My son’s high school team, #1 ranked Indianapolis Lawrence North, escaped defeat by legendary Indianapolis Crispus Attucks last night to make it to their sectional title game. Their girls team already claimed their first state title last week. Ever since I was a little kid playing with an aluminum foil ball and a bottomless Quaker Oats container, the Indiana high school basketball tournament was always the first sign that spring has finally arrived. 

The second sign of spring was if I.U. was still playing basketball and Purdue wasn’t. However, that hasn’t been true for years. The two Hoosier seniors, De’Ron Davis and Devonte Green, have an opportunity today to at least get in the NCAA tournament for the first time in their college careers. Coach Archie Miller has also yet to produce a tourney-worthy team. Purdue has been there every one of those frustrating years, but find themselves in a bubble game today against Rutgers. IU has to beat Wisconsin to officially make their dreams come true. The game starts in a few minutes and will determine my mood for the rest of the day. If they fail, they at least have the BIG tournament next week to try to make the elusive field of 68 for the first time in four years. The IU women made the quarter-finals of the BIG tournament and play Maryland later this afternoon. Purdue has already been eliminated, another positive sign of spring. 

With the clocks “Springing Forward” tonight, it’s the start of an ominous week that also includes a full moon, Friday the 13th, conference tournaments, and Selection Sunday. We fly to Phoenix on Thursday for Spring Training games and additional fun in the sun, so regardless we’ll escape from the Portland gray skies and rain. Typically, Friday the 13th has been lucky for me, so I really can’t lose when we see the Sox playing the Cubs, my two favorite teams. I’d then like to see the week end with I.U. men in the NCAA tournament and Purdue on the sidelines – the true beginning of spring. 

Old Sport Shorts: The Chief #1239

Like a true masochist, I’m back in front of the television for another chapter in the “Season on the Stink.” The Season on the Brink was the John Feinstein book about Coach Bob Knight and the 1985-86 I.U. basketball team that lost to Cleveland State in the NCAA Tournament and finished with a 21-8 record. The 2019-2020 version of the team has played some really bad basketball but could still get to that respectable 20-win mark. They’ve been particularly bad on the road, with a trip to Illinois today. Fortunately, my wife and Tally are not here to witness the frustration that is sure to overcome me. Tally will not have to cower in fear as I scream about turnovers, missed lay-ups, poor free throw shooting, and off-balance bricks. I’ve already documented about how much they “stink” this year. (See Post #1237). 

It’s been a build-up of tension that began with the dismissal of Coach Bobby Knight 20-years ago. Twenty seems to be the magic number in this sequence of events that began in 2000. It wasn’t until 2020 that he returned to the court. Twenty regular season wins this year would be remarkable considering double losses to a mediocre Purdue team that foiled Knight’s big day. Instead, it was arch-rival Gene Keady that left with a smile on both occasions. There are three games left to get two victories, but today’s game at Illinois is the biggest opportunity to return to tournament glory. The team lacks confidence in a hostile environment, so “winning ugly” is their only chance. Otherwise, it will be another blowout loss, adding to the stink that already prevails. 

The Illini are 13-3 at home this year, so our chances are slim. In fact, IU only has 33% chance for victory, while it’s closer to 90% that the visiting Hoosiers will stink up the place and retired Chief Illiniwek will dance on their tournament grave. I’ve sat in only five different BIG venues in my lifetime, including I.U., Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State, and Illinois. Illinois is by far the most hostile, with memories of Eric Gordon’s rude reception after flipping his commitment across the border. He thrived on the controversy and it will take a similar performance from someone like senior Devonte Green to keep us in the ballgame. We can only hope. 

it was the most consistent half of basketball that the Hoosiers have played all year. I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off – but they never did! Does this mean that it will all catch up with us the second half? Can struggling coach Archie Miller lead his team to a strong first five minutes out of the locker room, or will they come out flat like they did in West Lafayette a few days ago? Then came the 7-0 Illini run, but IU countered with threes and got to 50 first. The race to get to the key 60-point milestone would determine the winner. Unfortunately, back-to-back turnovers destroyed any chance for Hoosier momentum, failing miserably to get us there first, while giving up one of our devastating 9-0 trademark runs. It was all seven feet of Kofi Cockburn down the stretch, as Trayce Jackson-Davis faded in comparison. Indiana played well and hit back-to-back threes before the broadcast signal went out and the screen turned to black. I had to quickly switch to my phone to watch the final :30 seconds. It came down to free throws and Indiana missing their first two of the game, as Trayce blew the chance to tie. From what I could see on the small screen, IU guard Rob Phinisee somehow muscled-away the rebound but slipped in the process, and Chief Illiniwek & Company put the game away at the charity stripe 67-66.

The only thing that “stunk” today was the outcome, although it was a valiant effort. Indiana has lost heartbreaking one-point games to both highly-ranked Maryland and Illinois, while nipping non-conference foe Notre Dame by a bucket earlier in the year. The other games haven’t really been competitive win or lose, while they are certainly overdue for a last second break. It’s tough to be both bad and unlucky in the same season. Also, TJ-D not only missed the clutch free throws, but also the head-to-head battle with Kofi for BIG Freshman of the Year. Will he come back another year? More importantly, will team fate change as they go into tournament play or does The Chief come back to haunt us on Selection Sunday?




Old Sport Shorts: It Stinks #1237

P….U…. is the only way to describe how Indiana played against Purdue last night. I gathered with friends at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the stink-fest, trying to think of it is as just simply another “Leadership Meeting.” I did not want to contemplate a seventh straight loss to the Boilermakers, especially considering they aren’t very good this year. A Hoosier victory would surely save Archie Miller’s job and guarantee an NCAA tourney bid. That seemed too good to be true! I was in fact prepared for an I.U. loss, but the overall effort was an embarrassment. We could not hit the broad side of a stinkin’ barn. 

Archie had already secured more years at I.U. with the announcement of another 5 star recruit. I’m still trying to figure out why he was drawn to the program? He made his announcement after attending the Penn State victory where the team showed hope, especially after just ending their road woes with a win at Minnesota. Two straight away wins was just too much to ask! Purdue had already experienced an uncharacteristic double home set-back, adding to the reasons why they would rebound against their in-state rival. And rebound they did 40-37! However, it was the 33% 3-point shooting that caused the biggest I.U. stink!

As expected, Purdue big men double-teamed Trayce Jackson-Davis and held him to 6 points and 4 rebounds. Back-up Brunk stunk once again, and De’Ron Davis didn’t get a single rebound. At the same time, I was having trouble with my Wild Wings app to add to the frustration. It inexplicably quadrupled our nachos order while I.U. fell apart going into halftime and started the second period scoreless for over 6 minutes. I had little appetite when all was said and done. I woke up this morning with a bad taste in my mouth with nightmarish thoughts of the stinking ugly loss. I.U. basketball is becoming a joke, with yet another road game at Illinois to go and two tough home games. To get to the Big Dance, we’ll need to win at least two, even though this is not a team that is worthy of  a post-season bonus. In fact, they may not win a tournament game, and face the risk of more stinking embarrassment to end the season.  

Old Sport Shorts: Crunch Time #1232

There are 5 games left for Indiana in the BIG this year and a coaching jobs is on the line. It’s Crunch Time! My schizophrenic Hoosiers haven’t figured themselves out yet. Will they be the aggressive Dr. Jekyll that beat Minnesota on the road or the mild-mannered Mr. Hyde that stumbled at home against Michigan? It all comes down to the man–the-middle, the Freshman center with the hyphenated last name, Trayce Jackson-Davis. Oh, and making those free throws.

What has happened to the art of the free throw? In today’s game, the dunk gets all the attention and apparently most of the practice. Two free throws are worth the same as a dunk. Just ask former Hoosier Steve Alford who perfected the discipline and inspired a famous mantra from Indiana fans: “Socks, shorts, 1-2-3 swish”. Before releasing a free throw, Alford reportedly told himself, “Soft over the front edge of the rim,” and some people believed they could see his lips move. He was not as successful as a coach, although many would still like to see him replace Archie Miller, who has failed to get I.U. to the Big Dance in his first three years at the Hoosier helm. 

It looks like formidable Dr. Jekyll has showed up to start the Penn State game, but there are two halves to play. All too often, Indiana has hit long scoreless stretches and squandered big leads in the Mr. Hyde mode. Although this game is important, it’s not quite as monumental as next week’s match-up at Purdue. Archie Miller has never beaten the Boilermakers and the loss in Bloomington a few weeks ago was crippling to his future. After yesterday’s Boiler loss to Michigan, Purdue has now lost two consecutive home games, and has failed to win at all since the Indiana game. They’ll be hungry for a Crunch bar when the Hoosiers come to town. 

I.U. takes a 13-point lead into the locker room against the Nittany Lions, but have lost their inside game. Devonte Green caught on fire from 3-point range and they’ve forgotten about Trayce Jackson-Davis. He only has nine points to match Devonte’s triple-3. Fouls have been a troublesome issue on both sides and I.U. has only converted on five of eight attempts. Penn State is 8-14, otherwise it would be a much closer game. Please make sure that Mr. Hyde does not make a second half appearance. He allowed the lead to shrink to 8 late in the first half before Devonte countered. It’s still disturbing that a 19-point bulge with two minutes left has now shrunk to 13. Penn State has yet to hit a 3 in only 6 attempts, while other teams have thrived on I.U.’s soft perimeter defense. Adjustments will be made. Will Archie and team be able to counter? Crunch Time is here!

Once again, Archie did not have his team prepared for the second half. It started with a 12-0 Penn State run coupled with that 6-0 run to end the first, as Mr. Hyde unfortunately refused to “hide.” Sadly, it’s a whole new ball game, with only a first half victory! I.U. managed to rebound and win the next two five-minute segments, but stalled just before getting to the critical 60-mark. My theory has always been that in college basketball the first team to 60-points usually wins. The Hoosiers get there first in this one, but the concern is still free throw shooting. A friend of mine coined it “Hack-A-Hoosier,” where the opposing team intentionally fouls to take advantage of the disturbing percentages.  Also, Penn State still hasn’t made a three! With a minute left, there are too many concerns, as Mr. Hide steps to the free throw line again. As it turns out, despite 17-27 from the charity stripe, they somehow win both halves and respond strongly to Crunch Time! Double-Double for Jackson-Davis. Go Hoosiers…now beat Purdue!




Retirement is not without Hassles: President’s Day #1226

President’s Day is not an official Holiday as most people think. Ask any Federal Employee and they will tell you that it’s still recognized as Washington’s birthday (February 22nd) that was moved to the third Monday of the month. They have the day off but you might not. It was only in the latter days of my career that I the companies I worked for recognized Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day. Anymore if you get the February holiday you also probably celebrate the January date as well – no one wants to be accused of discrimination. For many years in the workforce for me it was a long stretch between three-day weekends from New Year’s to Memorial Day. Now, in retirement, every day is a seven-day weekend.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were sometimes four-day weekends that no longer exist for me in retirement. Once again, every glorious retirement day is exactly the same, without the need to look forward to extra time off. When you step away from the workforce, I believe you have to give up the weekends, vacations, and holidays you looked forward to and simply look forward to tomorrow. However, some retirees may prefer to see President’s Day as a triple bonus – holiday, vacation, and 3-day weekend. Either way, it’s a great day for a great day. 

The Daytona 500 is a President’s-Day-Plus this year because of yesterday’s rain-out. I’m not a huge NASCAR fan, but after taking my grand kids to the race a few years ago, watching the broadcast brought back some great memories. I spent many years around the Indy 500 track, including the inaugural running of the Brickyard 500, so I’m at least knowledgeable about racing. I’ve attended every type of event from demolition derby, dragster, and stock-car to Formula One. I’ve also worked on a pit-crew, sold race sponsorship, and entertained in the suites. Motorsports have been been a big part of my life as many of my close friends, acquaintances, and co-workers have been involved. Naturally, I was recently saddened by the death of John Andretti and feel part of his racing family. He drove in his last Daytona 500 ten years ago and should be honored again today on the telecast. 

I’m still disturbed about IU’s basketball loss at Michigan yesterday, but President’s Day means that baseball season is starting. Indiana and Oregon State both won games on the diamond yesterday and Major League Baseball starts this weekend. Basketball will soon be thankfully over, although I will be attending the Women’s NCAA Basketball Regional to watch the 24-2 Oregon Ducks. It will likely be our last chance to see top Professional prospect Sabrina Ionescu on the college level. The 20-7 I.U. women should also make the NCAA field, while the men continue to falter. 

“I cannot tell a lie!” I will spend an unproductive President’s Day on my butt watching both the Daytona 500 and the timely History Channel presentation of Washington. I realize it’s a sharp contrast in interests, but will at least keep my mind off of a disappointing Hoosier basketball season. In addition, there’s not much of interest at the nearby movie theaters. There will be no mail today, as others get a pleasant taste of not going to work on a Monday. Outside the skies are blue with cool temperatures – at least there’s no rain. Happy President’s Day!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Tax Break #1225

For some reason, we’re getting a tax break this year. I honestly thought that I would break even like last year, but instead there’s a pretty substantial refund. Out of disbelief, I double-checked it several times. It will help with cash flow these next few weeks, without having to withdraw from the 401k funds that once you dip into disappear fast. Extra money always puts me in a good mood, but will it be enough to get me through the nationally televised I.U. at Michigan battle later this morning?

A tax refund only covers some of the sadness I felt this morning regarding the death of a former client and friend, John Bachman. I read his obituary on the Facebook group “I Grew Up In Elkhart, Indiana” just before I left for my morning run. He was instrumental in my life for two reasons. First, he made me look good in my first radio sales job and gave me life-long confidence to preform successfully in my career. His shop was my favorite call every week, sometimes daily because I enjoyed his companionship, as he purchased almost everything I suggested in the way of advertising and sponsorship that our small market station offered. He was my first experience with what we called “Co-Op,” as Panasonic paid for most of his advertising, making him like my personal Budweiser, who sponsors everything nationally! His business, located in a small cluttered garage, taught me to never judge the book by the cover. Most of his revenue came from the Recreational Vehicle industry and audio installations that he performed. He would benefit from all the Panasonic purchases he made on their behalf, which in turn became a massive advertising budget to promote his business that was three letters – maybe ACG (Audio Communications Group)?

The second personal “favor” John did for me was relieve the debt of my first wife’s small flower & plant business by subleasing the mall space that we had contracted for another year. He then opened his own audio store called Car Tunes, while we eventually sold-off Hall of Ivy for a heavy loss. At least, we were out of the retail business, and I was no longer working weekends and holidays in addition to my radio sales job. John was a year older than me in high school, but his future wife was in my graduating class. I had not seen either of them in well over 45 years, but have fond memories. I believe it was John’s advertising investments that helped us win a team sales contest and got me to Las Vegas for the first time. It’s sad and ironic to me that his death came just after we returned home from “The Strip.” I will be forever grateful to have known and worked with him, as I got my start in the media business. Rest in Peace, my friend. 

The I.U. basketball game is about to start, and I’m hoping for a rare away-game conference victory to go along with my tax break. At least, there was a break in the weather with some blue skies this morning. It’s good to be home from Las Vegas and have another day to “relax,” even though my blood pressure will be through the roof as I watch the game. My wife had suggested that I bet against the Hoosiers at the Sports Book, knowing that if we lost there would at least be a pay-out. I think I would bet against them today, despite their hot-shooting performance against Iowa. I’m not sure money can buy happiness when it comes to sports, but I do love a tax-break!



Retirement is not without Hassles: My Vegas Valentine #1223

I continue to monitor travel expenditures, knowing that $1000/day continues to be our exorbitant standard. (See Post #320). This is on top of day-to-day living expenses that do not vary much when you’re not at home, with the exception of food. Regardless, of where you are, you still have to eat, and it’s usually more costly on the road. In our case, the $1000/day rule includes transportation (airfare, rental cars, Uber, and gas), lodging, parking, gifts, dog sitting, souvenirs, food/beverage, gifts, side excursions, entertainment admissions, and tips. Our eight-day Las Vegas adventure was no exception, although we got away without airfare (miles), hotels (points), dog sitting (daughter), and parking (public transportation). We even took some of our own wine. At $650 per day including gambling losses, this trip was a relative bargain. However, if we had paid full-price for all these basic elements of travel, it would have added up to $350 daily, or right at that grand-a-day expectation.  

In our upcoming trip to Arizona, I’ve already “paid” for Spring Training tickets/parking, airfare (Alaska points), and 3-nights hotel (Marriott Bonvoy points). Our friends have a car and we’ll stay at their house in Tucson the remaining 4-nights. We’ll still have to pay about $500 a week for pet sitting, but somehow we’ll find a way to get to the $7000, 7-day level through exorbitant dining and shopping, It always seems to work-out to $1,000 a day. Same thing for our split-trips to Dallas (boys only) and Savannah/Hilton Head (girls only). It will easily be $500/day for each of us. Then it will be the two of us together for San Francisco in April and Bali in May, in each case utilizing Marriott Vacation Club timeshares that are “pre-paid” through mortgage and maintenance fees. This is a whole separate part of the travel budget that figures out to be about $540 weekly, whether we are staying at a Marriott property or not. As you can see, traveling is our biggest expense in retirement. But, it’s worth it. 

Traveling together to Las Vegas was our Valentine’s gift to each other this year. Here’s a poem to summarize our fabulous week:

My Vegas Valentine

I left “The Strip,”
Without a buck.
After a week of,
No gambling luck.

We saw the Canyon,
Walked a glass plank.
After I.U. hopes,
Drastically sank.

Michael Jackson,
Came back to life.
We celebrated love,
As husband and wife.

A return to the Chapel,
At the Bellagio,
Before we enjoyed,
Barry Manilow.

Joel’s rolls and,
Joe’s Stone Crabs.
Two dining highlights,
But hefty tabs.

A rose from Hugo’s,
Fremont Street.
Mobsters and Neon,
Made for sore feet.

Bouchon again,
Edge a first.
Two cases from Guy,
To quench your thirst.

Sushi in Paris,
Trevi in Rome,
Palaces and Castles,
It’s “no place like home.”

Elevator kisses,
Walks hand-in-hand.
Joshua Trees,
In dry, dusty land.

Titanic moments,
Annoying sellers.
Escape Artists,
Fortune Tellers.

Nineteen years,
Since vows were said.
“So Happy Together,”
To share a love bed.

Our stay at Westgate,
Did not endear!
A Grand Chateau awaits,
For our twentieth year.

Copyright 2020





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