This morning was about as exciting as it gets these days. The money was deposited in our savings account to cover all the closing costs on our new Florida home and the builder took us on a detailed tour of the exposed wiring, plumbing, and structure. Our new home is slowly coming together based on the model we selected and the modifications that we arranged. Ten-foot ceilings, eight-foot doorways, a larger garage, upgraded appliances, and a pool are gradually becoming reality. I will share the floor plan and some photos with my friends shortly in a Zoom “Leadership Meeting.”
This afternoon, I will then put together a plan for to tomorrow’s baseball card show. I want to fill in some lineups for the 1954-1972 White Sox teams. I also added some photos to my Sherm Lollar collection this past week with some E-Bay purchases. Switching back and forth between hobbies keeps things from getting too routine. Card collecting, genealogy, and writing have been the mainstays of retirement. It’s been frustrating not being able to travel, as well, but at least a trip to Florida is only a week away. We’ll check out the house in person, visit with friends & family, drive down through The Keys, and spend a week in Miami. Florida is the one place that has been consistently open this past year, so we’ve managed three visits, including the cross-country drive.
It was another frustrating finish for I.U. basketball last night. A chance to beat Wisconsin in Madison for the first time in 23 years fell short in double overtime. We were on the verge of winning in regulation and overtime, but the second extended period was all Badgers. The next game is Sunday at Nebraska, with must-win expectations. The new year has not been kind to the Hoosiers with key losses in both football and basketball. At least, I have a new home to look forward to in March since Madness may not happen again for this very average BIG team. Today’s home inspection, however, has lifted my spirits about the future.
I got our first moving estimate yesterday. It was about what it cost for the first home I ever bought. This really tells me how old I’m getting. Our planned move to Florida is not until late March, so I will get two more estimates before a decision is made. We want to do as little packing as possible, but I’m also really wondering what else I have to do? It would not be a big deal to run over to U-Haul and get some boxes to save a few dollars. However, after so many moves in life, this one still seems daunting. I’m not sure if I have the energy?
I am doing some yard work today, as a favor to my wife’s oldest daughter. I haven’t had a yard of my own for over fifteen years. Advil will be my best friend this evening. Before that fun starts, I will have a chance to watch some baseball, as the postseason begins. The outfield grass is about the only yard that I really appreciate, and where the home run terminology “going yard” originated. Other common descriptions include “homer, dinger, tater, goner, bomb, moon shot, Ruthian blast, round-tripper, four-bagger, went deep, jack, and kiss it goodbye.”
Today, it’s the White Sox vs. A’s in Oakland. Oddly, the A’s are playing against the odds by starting a left-handed pitcher against a team that hits best against lefties. In fact, the Sox are 14-0 this year when facing a southpaw. I read last night that “old ballparks were typically oriented with home plate to the west, so that a lefty facing west would be throwing with his ‘south’ paw.” It was in the Shoeless Joe book I’m currently reading that later was adapted to become the Field of Dreams movie. It’s all about the Chicago White Sox team that became the “Black Sox” by allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series. By the way, my second new pair of Sox socks arrived in the mail yesterday. Maybe they’ll be luckier than the first pair when I wear them today?
It’s a beautiful day in Portland, especially considering last week’s smoky fog that limited visibility, followed by heavy rain. I feel good that yesterday I actually sold stock at a peak rather than my usual bad timing. We’re now all set to finalize deposits on the Florida build, leading up to the pricy, cross-country move. One car is already down there waiting for us. When all is said and done, there will be no yard for us to take care of maintaining. A homeowners association will handle that responsibility, but in the meantime I’ll put on my gloves and help others take care of their lawns when I can.
It’s the last day of the baseball regular season and I know who to cheer for today because there’s no Chicago Conflict. The Cubs have clinched their division with the Cardinals loss yesterday, while the White Sox still have a chance for the same top prize. It will involve winning against the Cubs coupled with a Twins loss to the Reds. My new Sox socks arrived just in time for the game today at Comiskey, so I can show my “support.” It’s exciting to have both of my teams in the playoffs, but to have both win their divisions in the same year would be the first time since 1906 when they ultimately met head-to-head in the World Series. A repeat of this is unlikely but still possible, even if the Sox fail to win tomorrow. I’m excited for the postseason possibilities.
The Cubs have nothing to play for today but pride, with not even a chance to even the Crosstown series of 2020 that the Sox now lead 5-2, including Summer Camp. They can’t move up or down in the seedings in the National League brackets. The Dodgers, Padres, and Braves will finish with better records regardless of the final scores today, so it’s assumed that the #3 seed Cubbies will rest their starters against the Sox today. The White Sox, on the other hand, have everything to gain, while keeping a hopeful eye on the scoreboard. They own the tiebreaker against the Twins, having achieved a 5-5 series draw but enjoy a better overall record in the American League Central. The victory over the Cubs last night ended a horrible 6-game losing streak, their longest of the short season. They could salvage this Titanic-like disaster with a win and a little luck. The Reds could suddenly become my favorite team if they could somehow beat the Twins and stay pace with Miami in the National League race. I’ll be waiting for the Final Score.
The Red Zone will keep me occupied today, as I keep an eye on the Bears and Colts while stuck with local broadcasts of the Raiders, Seahawks, and 49ers. On the basketball front, the Celtics have another do-or-die game against the Heat, both teams vying for the opportunity to meet the Lakers in the Finals. LeBron had another triple-double to upend the Nuggets last night. With regard to hockey, the Lightning failed to claim the Stanley Cup as the Stars prevailed in double overtime. Plus, when the final scores were posted yesterday, college football saw upsets of two top-ten teams and an incredible comeback by the Texas Longhorns.
It’s another exciting day of sports that we’re fortunate to at least be able to watch on TV. It’s surprising how smoothly the seasons have progressed, despite the initial pandemic panic that threated to cancel everything. We’re on the verge of crowning an NBA champion, Stanley Cup winner, and having a MLB postseason. Although the achievements in each sport will be tainted with asterisks, there will be a satisfying sense of accomplishment given the intense challenges. Yes, there will be a Final Score.
P.S. (Could stand for Post Season)
The Cubbies came out full strength, scoring 6 runs in the second inning behind Bryant and Bote home runs. The Final Score was 10-8, as the Sox fell short after stumbling behind early. They did rally with the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th. Too little…too late! The Twins lost to the Reds and the Indians beat the Pirates. It was a frustrating fall from grace for the hite Sox in the final week to drop from first to third in the division standings and plummeting to the seventh seed, losing seven of eight down the critical stretch. It sets the stage for next week’s A’s vs. Sox series in Oakland and Cubs vs. Marlins match-up at Wrigley. The Cardinals travel to San Diego, while the Giants and Phillies were eliminated in when each Final Score was posted.
The baseball season is now down to a long weekend, with the Sox and Cubs both in miserable slumps. As a pessimist, I should have anticipated this, but this season is unprecedented. It all started back in March when we were supposed to attend a Spring Training game between the two Chicago foes. It was cancelled, along with many of our plans this year. When the season finally officially began on the 24th of July, I did not have great expectations for the league to make it to the postseason. The Cubs jumped to the top of their division but stumbled against the slower-starting Sox in their first series. The Pale Hose finally claimed the top spot in the AL Central over the Twins and Indians, only to falter down the stretch. I’ve watched them go 3-7 against the Twins, Indians, and Reds in the past week or so.
The last two nights have been particularly painful for the White Sox, losing in walk-off fashion to Cleveland on both occasions. On the other side of town, the Cubs lost another one this morning, their third straight, to the last-place Pirates. They could have helped the Sox in the series before that against the Twins, but Minnesota took two of the three. They did top the Indians in two of three, after a 12-0 drubbing of the Brewers and a no-hitter by Alec Mills. However, the poor-hitting Cubbies are now in danger of being caught by the Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers. The Covid-plagued regular season ironically all comes down to a three-game series against the Sox at Comiskey (excuse me – Guaranteed Rate). For a historical first, they each play in role in the other’s playoff fate this late in the season. Sadly, I just watched the Sox blow another early lead by the Indians – at least it’s not the last inning last the previous two, although there’s still three innings to go. It’s looking like a repeat of last night’s disappointment, with the White Sox up by one again after a Yoan Moncada triple in the 7th. If the Indians make it a four-game sweep, the Sox could fall to a full-game behind the division leading Twins, who are idle today, and could potentially face the perennial powerhouse Yankees in their first post-season appearance in twelve-years.
On the other hand, if the Cubs lose all three to the Sox, they could be passed by the Reds and/or Cards. It will be a tough weekend about who to cheer for in each critical game? Allegiance could easily change depending on the circumstances. In a normal season, both Chicago teams would be facing division rivals rather than cross-town foes. It’s just another Covid quirk, that also includes a expanded 16-team Playoff field, empty ballparks, limited homefield advantages, and designated hitters for both leagues. The World Series will take place in Arlington, Texas, another deviation from normalcy. It’s been a tough year for baseball purists.
The Covid-Cardinals are of particular concern to me, with respect to the Cubs. The Red Birds have seven games remaining, while standing only one game behind the Cubs in the loss column. They would have to win all seven to pass the Cubbies, but also postseason seeds are at stake. Three losses to the Sox would give them 27 for the year, while San Francisco, Cincy, Milwaukee and Miami could also disrupt their current #4 NL placement, down from #2 just a few days ago. This weekend, and possibly Monday, determines who plays where, who, and when. I’ll have to wear a Sox sock on one foot and a Cubs on the other.
In other sports important to me, the Celtics are in trouble, while the Lakers dropped their first to the dangerous Nuggets, who have miraculously come from behind in their last two series. The Timbers won their second straight match, outdueling the regional rival Seattle Sounders 1-0 last night. Against all odds, each sport has somehow persevered over threats of the virus. Thankfully, there are live sports to watch every day, including both NFL and NCAA football. The Pac-12 announced today that they will join the other power conferences in pursuit of a 2020-21 National Championship. However, teams won’t start play until November 6th, with a 7-game schedule. They reversed their initial decision and joined the BIG-10 in delayed reconsideration. It sets the stage for college basketball to start, missing only a few non-conference games this year. But first, I’ll focus on a expanded baseball Playoff that involves a very rare joint appearance by both of my teams – Cubs and Sox.
P.S. The White Sox brought in a reliever named Bummer following a 4-run collapse in the bottom of the 7th to the never-give-up Indians. It seemed like an appropriate name to describe the bullpen in this series. The red-hot Tribe took a 5-4 lead in response to falling behind once again in the series. Hand then shut-down the Sox, with two strike-outs and a easy grounder to finish up the 4-game sweep. Cleveland is now just one-game behind the Sox and two short of the Twins, after 5 straight Pale Hose losses. I couldn’t be more frustrated after cross-town losses today at a time when teams need to be playing their best ball. Who wants it more this weekend – the Sox or the Cubs?