Monday, January 15, 2018

Avoiding the Tampa Serial Killer at Busch Gardens

Just kidding about the the Tampa serial killer.  Well, not kidding about his existence, just kidding that we just avoided him.  Let's forget about him for a second, though, since he was captured the week before we arrived.  Our fourth annual winter vacation took us this time around to my Brother's house down in Tampa and my Mother's rental house just outside of Orlando (for another time).  It seems like just yesterday that my brother up and left Oregon and moved to Tampa, but it was almost a year ago.  Jeez, how time flies. 

We were all excited to escape the cold here in Boston and spend some time underneath the lanai.  The first thing that I wanted to do with the kids though was to go to Busch Gardens.  Not that I wanted to ride the rides anymore; I'm too old and fat for that anymore - but I wanted the kids to have some fun so they would keep coming with us on our vacations (Note that I did not necessarily feel this way at the end of the vacation...).

Tampa, FL.  10am.  Thanks to some deft half price tickets from my Florida-resident brother, the clown car was loaded up for the day as we drove across town to the park.  It was warm and sunny, and the kids were trying to decide what they wanted to do.  But the adults wanted to get away from the throngs near the entrance, so we moved toward the safari train.  Watching hippos and giraffes slowly amble by as the conductor was tooting his horn to make them move, I was instantly reminded of our Christmas Eve at my Mom's retirement community a couple of days earlier. 

As we moved toward the other end of the park, I started reminding G and DLG about that time 5 years ago when G and I went on the same water ride at Animal Kingdom 5 times in 20 minutes.  DLG, thinking she missed something, asked me if we could go on this water ride.  I think it was called white water rapids, or something benign like that. 

"Yes!" I answered.  I'm not sure if I was slyly smiling or not at that point, but  I didn't have the heart to tell her that we were going to get really wet.  I mean so wet that we would regret not wearing slides or some other shoes that could get soaked.  While not a ride that would scare the crap out of someone, I did instantly regret going on this ride at the beginning of the day.  I spent the rest of the day walking around barefoot as I tried to dry my shoes out.

Fast forward to after the aforementioned soaking, DLG and I caught up to the rest of the family.  The kids' aunt, a notorious roller coaster hunter, talked the kids into going onto Shiekra, one of the 200 foot drop rides.  I merely said that it wasn't that bad.  Honestly, I had no idea, but they weren't going to find out milling around the table we were stationed at.  It was also the ride with the shortest wait, which is what I always look for.

90 minutes later.   I guess that line wasn't as short as we thought.  The kids were still talking about the ride and how it was a lot worse than they thought (whoops!).  After some more searching around for a ride, we settled on taking the tram around the park in order to get over to the gaming area. 

As the kids aunt and uncle went to get a beer, G and C shot three pointers at the basketball court, while DLG was trying to scale a rope walk.  Oh great, an opportunity to win some cheap crap that I had to find room for on the flight home.  And wait, I had to pay even more for them to do this stuff?  Really?

The only thing that stopped the games from continuing was the impending darkness and my empty pockets, so we joined my brother at the beer gardens.  We were all tired from the sun and the walking around so it was nice to get a drink and people watch.  Finally, we called it quits and took the long walk back to the car.  What a great time I thought to myself as I was continuing to air out my sneakers from the ride 6 hours ago.  Note to self for next time.   

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Is Isaiah Thomas a Forgettable Celtic?

It's Isaiah Thomas' first game with the Cavaliers tonight.  I have to admit that I totally forgot that he hadn't played a game since hurting his hip in the playoffs last year. The boys both ask me when and where the game is on.  I'm mildly interested, but only because there is no football on.  It's really tough for me to watch the Cavs unless they are playing the Celtics.  It's not that I dislike the Cavs, I just don't like LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Jr Smith and Kevin Love.  I guess I just don't like the Cavs.

"I think ESPN or TNT."  I answer looking around at espn.com.

"It's his first game back." C tells me, in a way to explain his interest.  I thought the Cavs were going to play Jose Calderon at the point all year, I thought to myself.

IT4 in Happier Times
We then watch a preview where IT asks the Celtics not to give them the video montage during the game tomorrow night.  Incidentally, he has decided not to play against the Celtic in the second game of the back to back, so we'll have to be satisfied with watching him play against the Blazers.  The report then goes on to show a Twitter war between Thomas and some hockey tool named Jimmy Murphy who called for Thomas to get over himself.  For Christ's sake!  My question is...who cares?  He was with the Celtics for two and half years.  And while he averaged 25 points a game, the Celtics didn't win any championships with him in the line up.  To get to the Warriors' level, the Celtics had to blow things up, use their considerable draft assets and look for a charismatic superstar who can bring the bench players with him.  This is today's NBA and no offense to him, but Thomas' 25 points a night were never going to be enough.

It's in this backdrop that I switch the game on.  Thomas isn't starting, but that does not surprise me.  He comes in in the middle of the first quarter and proceeds to score 8 points on 2 of 6 shooting while handing out 2 assists.  Surprisingly, he has neither a block, steal nor a steal in the first half.  He did pick up a technical foul though.  The Blazers win the first half, 56-53.  I started thinking about where he would be placed in the list of all time Celtics.  Let's just say he would not be placed that high.  Oh Yeah, Damian Lillard is leading the Blazers in scoring with 19 points.  I forgot to mention that the Cavs are not playing against themselves.

I turn the game back in the second half just in time to see the IT timeline.  Drafted at the second round by the Kings (of course the Kings screwed this one up), Thomas was then shipped off to the Suns in the hopes of winning the NBA Championship (just kidding).  While he was a two time all star with the Celtics, I had forgotten that he averaged 20 points a game in Sacramento too.

As the game goes on, IT looks rusty and is being outdone by another former Celtic - Jae Crowder.  I wonder if Jimmy Murphy chirped Crowder about cheering for Gordon Hayward on his way out of Boston.

Anyway, Thomas ends the game with 16 points and 3 assists.  The Cavs, led improbably by Dwyane Wade start pulling away from the Blazers and end up winning by more than 10 points.  And I finished a Cavs blog without talking about LeBron more than just a passing mention of how I think he sucks.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Lonzo Ball is (Somewhat) Overrated - Celtics Recap

"You want to see the Lakers?" I asked G incredulously when he said that he wanted his Christmas Present to be the Celtics game against the Lakers.

"Yeah, Dad.  I want to see Lonzo Ball"  Now I know that Ball was one of G's favorite rookies, but it was odd to me that he wanted to focus on someone who was such a high profile reality star.  If I had a dollar every time that G showed me a scene from "Ball in the Family" on Facebook Live, I would have several dollars.

Saw this look a lot after turnovers
I suppose that I had interest in seeing this train wreck play basketball.  Between his ugly shot, his even uglier mug and the possibility that his Father Lavar would create a scene in the hallowed Garden, my interest was actually pretty high.  (Unfortunately, we learned later that Lavar was in China with his younger son LiAngelo - is that his name - so theatrics was not in the cards for us here in Boston).

While the Celtic were in the midst of a great nine game winning streak after starting the season 0-2 in the aftermath of the Gordon Heyward's broken ankle, we discovered Al Horford was going to miss the game, and Jayson Tatum was also gimpy.  This game, which at the beginning of the year would have been a 30 point blowout, it was possible that the Lakers could make a run.  It would have to be the Kyrie show for us to win.

8pm, Boston MA.  The Garden seemed electric on this otherwise sleepy Wednesday night.  The fans were anxious, just like us to get a look at the Lakers' savior.  And as he was warming up pregame, I told C that he missed 10 shots in a row.  C was unimpressed with my skepticism.

"I've seen him make three in a row" C retorted.  Maybe I was distracted by all of the booing.  Even during warm ups the crowd was booing Ball every time he touched the ball and cheered every time he clanged a three hard off of the iron.  I swear that I still had not seen him make a shot...and it appeared this huge guy in a gold baseball hat agreed as he was yelling at Ball about 10 feet away from us.

The booing continued every time Ball touched the ball.  As the team's point guard, the booing was incessant.  I don't understand all of the hate, but this definitely took  a toll on the young Lakers as the Celtics jumped out to a 33-16 First Quarter lead.  Even the guy in the golden baseball hat was having a good time.

And then with the Second Quarter, the Celtics started going cold.  Tatum left the game in after two rotations halfway through the quarter and the Lakers were starting to heat up - even Ball and his crappy looking shot was banging them home.

Eventually, the Celtics started pulling away and won the game 107-96.  It really was closer than that.  Ball finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists.  He also had 4 blocks and 2 turnovers.  Not a bad game, but G then goes after the game. 

"I think I wanted Dennis Smith, Jr.'s jersey for Christmas."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Could the Dodgers and Astros World Series Be the Best Since 1986?

Hey, I get it.  Last years world series was really good.  And the Cubs broke its 500 year world series drought.  2014 was also good as the San Francisco Giants beat the Kansas City Royals in 7 games.  The 1997 World Series and the 1992 World Series had exciting back and forth games. Kirk Gibson gave us one of the most iconic moments in World Series history with his Game 1 walk off home run off Dennis Eckersley that everyone keeps talking about 30 years later.  John Lackey, Edgar Renteria, Kirby Puckett, Joe Carter and Jack Morris are all World Series heroes.

Verlander looking distraught.
But if the 2017 World Series goes to 7 games, The Dodgers and the Astros may have the best combination of Game 7 heroics, back and forth games and heroes since the 1986 World Series. They may also have the most slicked up, juiced baseballs in history. Bruce Hurst was the best pitcher outshining Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden.  The Mets came back from 2 runs down in Game 6 and 3 runs down in Game 7 to win the Series.  While I am partial to Red Sox World Series, the 1986 World Series is my favorite Series of all time, perhaps until this year.

Game 1 finally saw Clayton Kershaw break out of his "David Prician" post season slump.  What does "David Prician" mean?  What if I told you it means the same thing as "Chris Salian" and "Rick Porcellian."

Game 2 featured 4 home runs from the 9th inning on as Carlos Correia, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Yasiel Puig all connected to tie the game or take the lead.

Game 3 was not the most memorable game...well unless you count the questionable racial epithet thrown at Yu Darvish by Yuli Garriel (See you Game 6 net year Yuli!!)

Game 4 Saw the Dodgers break away in the 6th inning with an extra base hit barrage in the 9th inning while Dodgers' pitcher Ale Wood was taken out of the game after giving up one hit (Home Run) in 5 and two thirds innings.

Game 5 was considered one of the best games ever played.  The Astros came back from a 4-0 deficit against Clayton Kershaw.  The Astros also came back from a 7-4 deficit later in the game.  Not to be outdone, The Dodgers came back with 3 runs to tie the game 12-12 in the 9th inning.

What will Game 6 bring tonight on Halloween (DLG requires me to bring up Halloween and I'm writing this blog).  Verlander is going for his first World Series title to go with his Hall of Fame Career.  The Dodgers counter with curveball specialist (and Red Sox cast off) Rich Hill, who is trying to make the ultimate comeback.

And the home runs shall fly.  Dodgers 7, Astros 5.  See you tomorrow for Game 7.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Kyrie Irving Era Has Begun and LeBron James Can't Stand It

Of course LeBron James had to make it about himself during the Kyrie story.

"Oh my knee!" James weasels as the camera shutters are furiously fighting for his attention.  "Oh I don't think I can play until I decide that the attention is squarely focused on me, then I can play."  James can't fool me with his inside voice.  This is not Irving's homecoming as much as it is James'

Who cares if its Kyrie Irving's first game in Cleveland since the big trade?  LeBron still wants to show Irving the car keys that he's missing out on.  And just to make a loss a little more plausible, James' faking of an injury is such a LeBron move.  I'm just surprised it wasn't "cramps."  Nevertheless, James wants Irving to know that he is still the little brother on the Cavs' Court.   

But let's get back to Kyrie.  Is Boston demonstrably better after the trade?  The answer is no, unless you count the fact that Isaiah Thomas is out until January with his hip pain so we wouldn't have had a point guard for the first 4 months of the season.  Imagine Derrick Rose in a Celtics uniform?  I know I'm glad I don't have to.  In a star-driven league, though, the Celtics have risen to the top of the Eastern Conference - hurdling over the Cavs because of the trade.  While the Celtics bench was blown up in order to sign Gordon Hayward and make room for Kyrie Irving, and Tyrion had many highlights in the past two years, the starting 5 has markedly improved and, at the end of the day, that is what matters when its not about the team, it's about how well your best three players can share the rock.  Let's face it, an imp and a deep bench was not going to get the Celtics anywhere except a blowout in Game 4, 5, 6 or 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  Something had to be done and Danny fished out a gold mine in what would have been a lost year.

But now with the resurgent Big 3 (Trademark pending), the Celtics are poised to jump over the LeBrons and fight the Western Conference Champions.  And tonight is the start of the new Era in Celtics' basketball.  Let's go the live blog.

Kyrie with First 2 points of the season?
And of course Kyrie scores the first two points of the season (although you wouldn't know it by the TNT scorekeeper who had the following scores in the first 2 minutes of the game.

Cavs 2-0
Celtics 6-0
Tied 4-4
Celtics 4-3

What? I don't know what's going on.  The announcers have it right.  This seems like the start of an All Star Game.

And just like that, the Celtics' season is all but over.  I hope Gordon Hayward is OK.  That sucks.