After nine days of entertaining guests, life is back to normal. I enjoyed seeing all my friends and showing off the Venice area, but I’m exhausted. Too much food and wine has me worried about stepping on the scale. Running with this extra weight only adds to this daily challenge, while swimming has been sporadic during this disruption of the routine. I’ve been to the ballpark, played pickle ball, been to a blues festival, ran a 5k race, went on an eco-tour, frequented numerous restaurants/bars, sunned on the beach, sampled wine, and sat in front of the TV watching tournament basketball. In the process, I’ve also celebrated an IU victory, suffered through a miserable season-ending loss, and went to a Beauty and the Beast performance. This morning I slept in a bit, struggled through my run, and got back to swimming a few laps.
It’s another day of round-ball action, as #3 Purdue battles #6 Texas for a spot in the Sweet 16 and a chance to spoil the Cinderella run of the St. Peter’s Peacocks. The Boilers knocked out Yale while the Longhorns overtook Virginia Tech. In other games of conference interest, Michigan upset Tennessee yesterday, while today’s slate for the other BIG survivors shows Illinois playing Houston, Ohio State meeting Villanova, Michigan State facing Duke, and Wisconsin tackling Iowa State. It’s a BIG day of basketball!
I’m back at the computer keyboard, banging out the highlights of the past week with friends. I missed a few events of the seventies in the process, with 1978 as the year smallpox was eradicated and 1979 was when the U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan, just like current Soviet aggression in the Ukraine. I hope we can soon see peace and the end of Covid, as they both continue to haunt my life with higher prices and social restrictions. Last night at the theatre, a group of neighbors were having a conversation during the intermission. They had all lowered their masks for the discussion, but the guy next to them complained to me when I did the same. It’s rare when a Florida venue has a mandatory mask policy, but this was done to protect the unvaccinated children and apparently was part of the actor contracts. Yet, they weren’t wearing masks on stage. This didn’t make sense to me, along with $4.09 for a gallon of gas, but clearly told me that things were definitely not back to normal!
I have been to many IU-Purdue basketball games in my lifetime and have never seen the Hoosiers lose – neither at Mackey Arena or Assembly Hall. Of course, I haven’t gone in many years, especially during this recent streak of 9-straight Boilermaker victories. I would have liked to have been there last night when the Hoosier fans stormed the court, something that Bob Knight would have never have approved of doing. His philosophy was to conduct yourself as if you’re expected to win. However, considering the past five years, I admittedly had no expectations for a win.
The #4 Boilers have bullied the Hoosiers of late, and Rob Phinisee knows better than anyone, having never beaten them in his four years of school. He grew up a Lafayette kid and raised eyebrows with his decision to go to Bloomington. Last night, for the first time, he felt that he had finally made the right choice. His heroics of “Rocky-like” proportions, ended the Black & Gold domination. “Phin for the win!” It was perhaps even more dramatic than Christian Watford’s dagger against top-rated Kentucky eleven-years ago, but nowhere in comparison to “The Shot” by Keith Smart to win the 1987 National Championship. I was there in New Orleans for that historic moment.
It was JUST Purdue this time, another BIG Conference victory, but for hungry, deprived IU basketball fans, it was the sweetest moment ever. It might mean an elusive NCAA Tourney bid for the Hoosiers, regardless of the outcome of the re-match at Purdue, a team that could go on to win it all. After all, the 1981 I.U. National Champs lost at Purdue by two-points, before the 3 was ever a factor, and cruised through the tournament. I’m actually hoping for the same thing to happen for Purdue this year. They are a good enough team to finally hang their own banner. However, let’s take this moment to celebrate. Take that you BIG Bully!
On June 19,1926, DeFord Bailey became the first African-American to perform on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. The Opry house has since moved to Opryland, but the historic Ryman Theater, that housed the Opry acts through 1974, is celebrating its 130th anniversary. It will be part of our summer tour up through the Midwest that also includes Panama City, Tuscaloosa, Indianapolis, Mackinac Island, Cleveland, Canton, Asheville, and Hilton Head. We plan to take the Nash Trash Tour, a comedy show on wheels through the key sights of the city on that Tennessee stop along the way. A night at the famous Grand Hotel is our ultimate destination, and the northernmost point on our drive. Other Michigan city destinations will include Ludington, Petoskey, and Traverse City.
We just returned from Vanderbilt Beach and Bonita Springs after an overnight stay with Indy friends and lunch with hometown Elkhart acquaintances. My wife is hosting a bridge club this afternoon, while I try to figure out what happened to my whiskey delivery from Flaviar? They report it delivered and signed for two weeks ago. I have video of the delivery person who set off my Ring doorbell and walked away with the box since no one was home. It required a signature, so I’ve been waiting for the second attempt, but Sonic Transportation claims the delivery was made. Someone will probably lose their job over this, but I hope they enjoyed my spirits.
I probably would have needed that sedative spirit tonight for the I.U. vs. Purdue basketball game, but I have other liquids to ease the pain. I have a bad feeling about this one after nine straight Hoosier losses. It will be tough for the Hoosier big men, TJD, Durr, and Race, to contain the #4-ranked Boiler twin towers of Williams and Edey. The “Good Guys in Crimson” also have Jaden Ivey and Sasha Stefanovic in Black & Gold to contend with on the perimeter. I’m certainly tired of losing to Purdue, and the only hope is that IU has not yet been defeated at home this season. When I most desperately need them – Where are my spirits?
I woke up again this morning with a sore throat, probably an indication that my Covid test results will come back positive. However, my run this morning was the best my body has felt in some time, so maybe I’m already on the path to recovery. There was little back pain and no trouble breathing. It was day #4,752 of “The Streak” to kick-off the New Year. I’ll continue to take it easy the rest of the day – more Bowl games to watch, as the National Championship has come down to a SEC showdown. IU also has a basketball game against Penn State tomorrow afternoon if it isn’t cancelled. It’s hard to anticipate and get excited about anything these days with the dreaded virus looming. Purdue ended their football season on a positive “note” in the Music City Bowl against Tennessee.
A college fraternity buddy sent me a New Years greeting this morning, reminding me of a hometown party I supposedly took him to when we were Freshmen. At least I think it was New Years Eve 1969 but could have been 1970, more than 50-years ago. It was before drugs were ever a factor in my life, and a friend of mine’s Italian mom would let us drink alcohol if we were confined to her home. There were no girls at any of these basement parties that I can ever remember, except Eleanor. We were still of course underage but with her supervision things never got out of hand. Probably the most exciting part of the evening was a game of RISK, seeking World domination. Either year, Notre Dame would have played Texas in the Cotton Bowl, so we probably stayed the next day to watch it. I hated ND back then, but any good Catholic family like this one would have supported the Irish. It was in a time when a Bowl invitation actually meant something.
IU did not earn a bowl invitation this year after a disastrous season that had high expectations. Purdue certainly added a exclamation mark by reclaiming the Bucket. I haven’t been to a Bowl game since New Year’s Eve of 1993, 28-years ago. The Hoosiers lost to the Hokies in Shreveport, but we salvaged the occasion by making it to the streets of New Orleans for a midnight kiss from strangers plus a reward of beads, a memorable New Years Eve. Last night was not so memorable with both of us a bit under the weather. A bottle of bubbly and a tasty pasta put us both to sleep early. I woke up near midnight but just before the ball completed dropping the TV timer shut off automatically. Welcome 2022!
I try to start each day with a little history lesson in conjunction with the number of my blog post. In this case, I take you back to the year 1884: “May 17 – Alaska becomes a United States territory. June 13 – LaMarcus Adna Thompson opens “Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway”, one of the earliest roller coasters, at Coney Island, New York City. August 5 – The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor.” I also forgot to mention in yesterday’s ramblings that the Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883.
I hope to get to Alaska in 2022, leaving only Maine on my 50-state bucket list of visitation. The cruise we are taking will make four stops in the vast territory that has now been part of the United States for 137-years and officially became the 49th state in January of 1959, 62-years ago. We then cross just south of the Bering Strait at Dutch Harbor into Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia, ending in Toyko, Japan. According to the Viking Cruise site, only 284-days to go until launch in Vancouver, B.C. It will be a memorable way to see the high seas.
Continuing with yesterday’s rant, I am a bitter man about sports. This is nothing new, stemming from years of envy of other fans while my teams always seemed to fall short. I’m tired of losing to Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and Wisconsin – not to mention every other BIG program. Purdue finally achieved #1 status for the first time in history, but I felt resentful. After IU basketball lost at Wisconsin for the 19th straight time, I also felt hopeless. There should be little satisfaction in knowing the the Boilers lost last night on a last second shot by Rutgers – their claim to #1 short lived. Yet, it brought a certain sense of relief, but only because I don’t know any obnoxious Rutgers’ fans. It puts Baylor in the driver’s seat with a chance for back-to-back titles.
In recent years, I’ve seen IU lose to Maryland for the NCAA soccer crown. I’ve watched the endless streak of victories by Purdue over IU in basketball. I’ve been through a winless conference season by IU in football, after silly expectations of a potential championship. Even the bucket went back to West Lafayette. I’ve witnessed the string of coaches that have come and gone at my Alma Mater after failing to be competitive. In the process, other schools have surpassed us in prominence and this has led to great anguish and disappointment.
Once again, a Thomas Edison invention, the phonograph, is the highlight of the year 1878, while in 1879 he first demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public. Also of interest, “milk was sold in bottles for the first time and infielder William White plays in one game for the Providence Grays and in conjecture becomes the first African American to play MLB.”
Race results have been compiled from yesterday’s Tomahawk 5k and I finished 143rd overall out of 400 participants. My time of 42:24 put me 6th in the M 70-74 division out of 8 finishers. One woman out of 14 of the same age group had a slightly better time than mine by 8 seconds to top her division. She was also two years older to give her even more credit. I ran this morning with the #2 finisher in the M 60-64 division to stretch my personal streak to 4,725 consecutive days. “Run…Forrest…Run.”
It’s “Football Sunday” with hopes of breaking my Fantasy team’s losing streak. Da Bears have experienced a similar streak of misfortune that will probably continue this afternoon against the winningest team in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals. Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, and Cincinnati firmly cemented their spots in the College Football Playoffs last evening. The Portland Timbers are hosting the MLS Cup with a chance to claim their first title since 2015 but Oregon State fell short in their quest to make the College Soccer Cup. It will be Washington, who knocked off IU, Clemson, ND, and Georgetown. Three of the four matches went to penalty kicks to determine a winner, while only Washington scored more than one goal in a 2-0 victory over St. Louis, bidding for their record 11th National title.
IU Basketball ended their sad streak of 6 consecutive BIG losses dating back to February with a much needed win over Nebraska yesterday afternoon. They play Wisconsin on Wednesday in Madison where the Hoosiers face a streak of eighteen straight losses dating back to 1998 when the Kohl Center first opened. The Badgers are fresh off a Maui (Las Vegas) Invitational Championship and a 13-point victory over Marquette. Wisconsin’s only loss this season was a 2-point setback #12 Houston in the Maui opener for both teams. Since 2002, the Badgers are 28-6 over IU. Prior to that they were 49-90 all-time. It’s not likely that this horrible losing streak will end this season, especially considering Indiana’s performance against Syracuse in its only road game so far. The odds are heavily against us!
A bit of history about 1872: “Ulysses S. Grant defeats Horace Greeley. Women’s suffrage: In defiance of the law, American suffragist Susan B. Anthony votes for the first time (on November 18 she is served an arrest warrant, and in the subsequent trial is fined $100, which she never pays).”
Each post now represents a year of “modern” life as we approach the Twentieth Century but still 149 years from 2021. Christmas decorations are starting to go up in our home. It was much easier to get the storage boxes out of the garage rather than behind the locked cages of last year’s apartment. We also have more room to display some of our collection. My wife still respects our informal prenuptial agreement of no excessive decorating, although I must admit that the lanai would be the perfect location for a tree. Am I getting sentimental in my old age?
Yesterday, was a great sports watching day even though my favorites didn’t fare so well. Technical difficulties prevented my watching IU soccer lose in the last minute to Washington in the Sweet 16. I could, however, clearly see the hamulating defeat that the football Boilermakers laid on my Hoosiers in the Bucket game. It had been ten years since IU went winless in the conference, and I had thought those days were behind us. From an IU fan standpoint, the day improved with both a men’s and women’s basketball victory, as was expected. The real excitement was watching Michigan beat Ohio State and Alabama pull off an incredible come-from-behind win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Oregon also beat Oregon State in the Civil War.
Today, the Colts meet the Buccaneers, a game that will have some impact on my Fantasy match-up, with Rob Gronkowski and Carson Wentz playing for the opposition. The Colts are riding a three-game winning streak, highlighted by Jonathan Taylor’s 5 touchdown barrage last Sunday against the Bills. Tom Brady and company have lost two of their last three as we head into the last seven games of the season when he is typically at his best. The Bears get the day off after a thrilling Thanksgiving Day victory, while I might leave the dark confines of my office to watch today’s games in the sunshine by the pool. Back in 1872, Columbia and Rutgers met in the first ever college football tie 0-0. It’s Sunday and Trash Day, but football comes first!
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!
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!
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.