Thursday, December 29, 2016

Great Wolf Lodge is Not for Kids Over the Age of 12?

Great Wolf Lodge Day!!

At $500 a night, one would expect to be near a beach in Miami or a ski chalet in Aspen or perhaps a suite in Nantucket.  One would not expect  a random December day in Fitchburg.  But here we were in Fitchburg at Great Wolf Lodge.  A paradise for children of "all ages" featuring arcades, water parks, activities and restaurants.  Here is our review.

DLG and I arrive first and walk in to the front entrance.  We are met by a warm fire and frowning faces at check in.  The line must have been 40 people long and with kids running to and fro, no one seemed too thrilled.  Let me check to see where your Mom is, I told DLG, believing that she would take care of everything for us. 

Unfortunately, that would not be the case since C and G walked in and were startled by all of the little kids running around in painted faces.  G's memory of the place coming here with his buddies was probably much different since he did not come to this place during Christmas break.  But really, there are a lot of little kids running around.  We decide to get Mom involved with us.

At least it wasn't snowing.
And even she can't get anywhere as Mom finds out that our room is "almost ready" but there would be no guarantees.  Looking to avoid the lobby with the screaming kids (not ours at least) we decided to get something to eat and then head over to the arcade...

TWO hours later...the kids have spent all of the money that we gave them for the arcade games and Mom and I have two drinks in us - drowsiness starts to set in.  The kids have decided to pull their tickets together to get a mini basketball hoop, a bouncy ball and some cheap candy.  Sounds good to me.  Incidentally, C barely contributes to this endeavor since he spent most of his money on a claw game trying to win a watch that was probably made of plastic.  At least we were sitting near a pizza place that served beer on draft while they searched for the prizes.

The boys start roaming around after another 15 minutes and I decide to follow them.  We go to the other part of the lodge where there is bowling, mini golf and some other activities - none of which seemed geared toward kids older than toddler age.  The bowling alley was about half the size and the mini golf was similar to those derelict courses attached to Howard Johnsons. There was a mini rock climbing wall and a couple of rides.  Dave and Busters this was not.  Six Flags this was not.

"G, are you sure that this is the place you came with your buddies?" I wonder.  We get a laugh at the mini bowling especially, since it looked like it was geared for toddlers, just without the rails.  Maybe the water park will save us.  G seems incredulous that this is not kicking ass as much as it did before.  C seems somewhat disinterested by anything other than the Dunkin Donuts that was located on site (He must have gone there 4 times in 24 hours).

We get inside and C decides that he does not want to go on the water rides today.  It was tough to tear him away from his phone long enough to ask him if he wanted to go, although he was not causing any chaos either.  G, on the other hand, seemed content going with Mom's friends' kids who met up with us and led them around the water park. Once DLG put her bathing suit on, I could not find her as she zipped around the two room complex; she seemed fine with all of the rides and slides.  Mom tried some of the slides, I was just too cool.

We end up eating in the room after a couple of hours at the water park.  Although they seemed disinterested during the day, C and G at least looked tired (or maybe my eyes were blurry because I was tired, who knows.).  While I did not actually poll anyone, here are our ratings:

C:  5/10
G:  6/10
DLG: 7.5/10
Mom 5.5/10
JMR 4/10

Maybe I'm the kid that this park is not meant for?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Chris Sale Effect

The Chris Sale Effect. 

It starts as jubilation that the Red Sox obtained one of the best pitchers in the American League.  The pitcher who has finished in the top 6 in Cy Young voting every year since 2012.  The jubilation that the Red Sox now have three stoppers who can compete with the likes of the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers.  That was my initial reaction when I found out about the trade.  "We're going to the World Series in 207!" I thought to myself.

The Chris Sale Effect.

Chris Sale is BONKERS!
That overjoy was then overtaken by a general "meh"  He was barely the best pitcher on an underachieving Chicago White Sox Team in 2016.  Jose Quintana had a lower ERA and their WHIPs and SOs we virtually the same last year.  While he pitched the most innings he had ever pitched in one season, he still only managed to lead the league in complete games and batters hit by pitch.  Further, he has never pitched in a big game in his life, much less Game 7 of a playoff series.  And I've never been high on lefthanders.  Putting Jon Lester aside, righthanders are the pitchers who have the most success at Fenway Park.  Pedro, Clemens, Schilling, Porcello, Beckett and Lowe all had one thing in common.  Except for Lester, I can't think of any southpaw who has had success with the Red Sox since the days of Bruce Hurst.  And don't bring up David Price...

The Chris Sale Effect

Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech could be huge losses for the Sox.  We would have liked a power hitting infielder and power righty.  And while they both had warts - Moncada can't hit a curveball and might be stupid - Kopech is really stupid - they could both become superstars.  While I have not heard of the other two guys who were traded, the first two guys could be huge losses...Yuge!

The Chris Sale Effect

Then there is the batsh*t crazy player himself.  All the apologists were telling us he was just shooting his way out of the Southside.  I didn't believe it.  I think he is an attention-seeking diva.  The cut up jerseys, the tirades about kids in locker rooms, the hatred for throwback uniforms, the outbursts against Gatorade cans.  This guy is as loony as the day is long.  And Boston media-types are going to have a field day with this guy.  The happiest guy might be David Price who while he makes $30 million a year can finally say "now they'll stop bothering me"

And then there are the boys.  C wanted to talk more about Mitch Moreland and G was just pissed that we were losing Moncada.

The Chris Sale Effect, indeed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Does Steve Bartman Know What's going on in Chicago?

Here come the insufferable Cubs!  I'm not bitter because half of their good players came from Boston.  I promise.  I'm tired of listening to the Cubs talk.  I asked C who he was rooting for int eh World Series.  He scoffed and answered "Cubs!  What you want the Indians to win?"  No, I just don't care as much as everyone wants me to.

The Indians are not that much better.  They lost their last appearance on a walk off single to the Florida Marlins.  Add the fact that Lebron James is glomming on to the team with his Cavs buddies and the Indians are becoming insufferable too.  But we're not here to talk about the Indians.  Although I was expecting James to call Cleveland the "City of Champions."

The Cubs haven't been in the World Series since 1945.  They haven't won since 1908.  The Indians haven't won since 1948.  I get it.  These are Major league Baseball's longest champion  The desperation series.  The Suffering Fanbase Series.  THE FUTILITY SERIES.  Some team will have the longest Champion drought in two weeks.

Steve Bartman in Happier times.
Which brings me to one of the most fascinating stories in all of Baseball history.  Back in 2003, The Marlins (there they are again) were playing the Cubs in the NLCS.  The Cubs were a few short outs (5 actually, but that detracts from the urgency of the curse) away from going to the World Series when a foul pop was lifted into the Left Field stands.  Moises Alou was loping over to the stands know what happened next.

Bartman then went into hiding.  No one was sure what happened to him.  They made a 30 for 30 Film about him.  They purchased and blew up the baseball that Bartman could not grasp.  Everything an insufferable fan base would do make a buck or draw attention to themselves.  When the inevitable questions about Bartman surfaced in earnest last year when the Cubs made the NLCS, all we knew was that he remained in the Chicago area, he had a spokesman and he did not want to be involved anymore.    

When the Cubs made the series this year, chatter started about Bartman throwing out the first pitch of Chicago's first home game.  Uh, are you kidding?  What if the Cubs don't win the World Series?  What if Kris Bryant breaks a finger? What if Jon Lester throws a ball away on a come backer? What if Anthony Rizzo strikes out?  It's all Bartman's fault!  Throwing out the first pitch would have been the worst idea in modern history.  Not that Bartman gave it any thought, his spokesman immediately retorted that Bartman unequivocally wanted nothing to do with the Series.  He did mention that Bartman was rooting for the Cubs, although I think more to remove his curse than actually having a vested interest in the team's fortunes.

So here we are.  A vociferous supporter wanted nothing to do with his team's first world Series in 71 years because he was afraid of the backlash.  Maybe he should just come out and say he was rooting for the Indians and move to Northeast Ohio...unless the Indians lose.  Then he would be royally screwed.

Nevermind, stay in Chicago.  And accept the invitation to throw out the first pitch next year on Opening Day. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

2016 Sandwich Tournament Triumph

I had watched too many of these Sandwich Summer Blast Tournaments.  First C from when he was 9 years old until he was 12.  Then G at the same time.  8 years, really.  In those 8 years, I had seen 1 win.  1 WIN! And I had seen perhaps 18 losses and a couple of ties.  I wish I were exaggerating. 

Star of the Game
You see the Sandwich Tournament, held ever summer for 8-12 year olds, typically pitted some of the best teams in eastern Massachusetts against each other.  And while C and G both had good teams, they were no match for Walpole, Milton, Braintree and the Cape teams.  We just did not take baseball seriously enough in our small little corner of the world.

And 2016 didn't seem to be that different.  We went 1-2 in Williamsport and 1-2 in the Pembroke tournament.  And while we had a winning record in our regular season, the tournaments were where things could really be defined.  Was G's team a good team?  Or was it a team that excelled when it really didn't matter. Although I did not coach the team anymore, I was hopeful that some of the raw talent that I had seen would actually start to show itself.  And I really wanted to beat the teams that we normally lost to.

Thursday.  The draw could not have been better.  We drew the Sandwich B team for our first game.  Usually the worst team in the tournament year after year - well one of the worst teams - it would be nice to start the tournament on a high note and gain some confidence going into the weekend.  A 22-0 win did the trick.  G even got a star of the game award for going 4-4 in the game.  I think he was pissed though because he was thinking to himself that he would not get another one.

Saturday.  Usually moving day in this tournament.  We faced a tough Martha's Vineyard crew who had tied us two of the three previous years.  Not this time though as we proceeded to slaughter rule them 14-4.  The hitting was certainly off to a good start.  And the hitting didn't stop in G's start as we beat a hungry Westwood team 8-3.  G surrendered only a couple of runs and our hitting was instead led by the bottom of the lineup as a couple of kids who had never hit home runs before in their lives struck it big in this game.  We are now 3-0 and very likely the #1 seed.  I can see all of the other teams chuckling; thinking that this was a mirage...a joke.

Sunday.  And yes we were a #1 seed and got to face Sandwich B again.  Knowing that we would beat them handily, we started one of the pitchers who had never started before.  Although he gave up a couple of
runs, we still easily dispatched them 16-4.  Or something like that.  Come on.  Net up was Hingham.  Oh this would be a good game.

And Hingham would prove to be a good game...for us.  Notwithstanding that this team of clowns (not the scary clowns that are terrorizing college campuses, but the dumb clowns) brought in a couple of ringers to specifically play this tournament, they could not handle our lefty specialist.  And G hit a couple of ringers himself.  Our 13-3 win could not happen to a nicer crew of guys and kids.  Onto the semifinals.

And in the Semifinals, we would play arguably one of the best teams in the tournament, Walpole American.  They had one kid bigger than me and a couple of kids who looked like they played for Walpole High School.  But that was daunting to big G as he hit a 3 run Homer to give us an early 3-0 lead.  And while we would eventually enter the 6th inning tied 8-8 after we blew an 8-0 lead, our gutsy play would get us a to a walk off win, 9-8.  Onto the finals!

And what a finals.  G was going to be the starter for the championship game.  Honestly, I don't think I have ever been so nervous for one of my children.  but he was rocks solid.  Again, after the first tow batter reached base int eh First Inning, G came up and hit another 3 run Home Run, just like the game before!  YES!  And that was all we needed.  He pitched a great game (After pitching 4 innings yesterday against Westwood, he pitched another incredible 5 innings in this game, giving up just one run).  And Scituate came away with one of the most improbably Sandwich Tournament wins ever.  I mean ever!

And then after 4 games on Sunday, G, looking exhausted, asked "When is Cooperstown?"  The following week.  The following week. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ode to Cooperstown Dream Park - Part 2

It took over two years, but we're finally at Part 2 of the 2 Part Series of Cooperstown Dreams Park.  As you may remember, Part of the Cooperstown dream had C going with his 12 year old team to play in the National Tournament.  His team did really well, going 4-4 in the 5 day tournament, one of the best showings by a Scituate team ever.

But this team was shaping up to be even better.  G's team was coming off of a great win in Sandwich (more to come on that) and was riding a 7 game winning streak.  The team was led by some great hitting and pitching, including G's tournament clinching home run and 1 run effort in the Sandwich championship.

As with C, two years ago, G did not want to go for the 4.5 hour ride to Cooperstown with us, choosing to go with a buddy of his.   That's OK, more quality time with C and DLG for Mom and I.  Oh what will we talk about that they will cringe over?

Day 1.  After we got settled in the Motel, we made our way to the Ball field.  It was Skills Competition day. "Sadly" we missed this two years ago.  As with all preceding years, the skills included fastest runner (Roadrunner), home run derby (King of Swat), around the horn (Plus) and outfield accuracy (Golden Arm).  Uh, we didn't win anything, so I'll just move on.

Day 2. Sunday afternoon was our first game.  Ugh.  This one reminded me of the 32-0 beat down that c suffered in his regular season game.  This one was 24-3.  and when we put a weak pitcher in there to eat up innings, I was thinking the score was actually 42-3.  Nope, just 24.  The second game that night went better.  We had our best pitcher going against a team from Edina, Minnesota.  And with one of G's buddies going long with a game winning home run, we were again encouraged. 

Day 3.  But the good times didn't last after another beat down, slaughter rule game against Lincoln-Way Vipers, a team from Illinois.  Not a great start, going 1-2 in the first 3 games.  But then the turnaround happened.  Against a team from Ohio, the team was clicking on all cylinders as it won its second game 4-2.  Now we had our last two pool games against two of the weaker teams in our part of the group.

Day 4.  G's start.  It would be against the Atlantic Coast Black Sox, from Virginia.  He ended up pitching a complete game while getting two hits.  Although he gave up 10 runs in the 20-10 win, he did strike out 10 in his 6 innings and only gave up 3 earned runs.  What a great showing!  Now we're rolling.  3-2 with the weakest team up next.  Although we had our 4th starter going against them, I was confident that we would beat them.  The team from New Hampshire did put up a fight only losing to Gray's team by the score of 17-14.  Not bad, ending up 4-2.

Day 5.  Playoff day.  With a 4-2 record, G's team got the 42 seed and 3 byes.  It seemed like an eternity for his team to play late in the afternoon.  G played a team from California in the first round of the playoffs.  G pitched in his second game and got the win on a walk off.  battling a bad groin (ouch), G limped around the bases struggling to move.  But his curveball was working hard and led the team to the next round against a town team from Farmington, Connecticut.  That game did not go as well as G's team was finally knocked out in the fifth round 13-2. 

But g was finally ours again as he joined us for some food and slept in our motel room for the first time in days.  Asked how he liked it, and he told us that the food was just OK.  But in the same breath started regretting that he had to leave.  We were on the ride home and he was already saying that he missed it.

"Can we play catch when we get home?"

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Omaha Adventure Day 6 and Day 7

After a tough night where we stood (and sat) in the rain, we get up in the morning to go back to the fields for the tournaments last game(s).  I'm still thinking about why the game was cancelled.  If we win the first game, we play int he Championship.  If we lose the first game, we start on our trek home.  Unfortunately, since you see that I grouped both Day 6 and Day 7 together in one blog, you know where this was headed.

3rd Place Isn't Bad, I guess
Quick aside.  C's baseball coach always started the same kid in the big matchups.  If we had three marquee games all year, this kid pitched all three of them.  And he was not even in the team's rotation!  He would only pitch in the big games.  He was not trusted to pitch in the Division games that would get us into the playoffs, but once we got there...give the ball to him.  End aside.

This game was not going to be close.  We were playing the St. Louis Gamers, who scored 18 runs a game in the tournament and in the lead in group of games.  We kept it close though and ended up only losing 8-4. We made it game in the late innings as one of C's buddies hit our only home run of the tournament and we scored 4 late runs to make a game of it at the end. Not bad really.

And that's it.  I start to pack up the car and try to shuffle in the kids as quickly as possible.  I want to make it back to South Bend before the end of the night.  I give my World Series tickets to one of C's buddies who is not flying out until the next day, so at least someone gets to use them.  And our time of departure means that we are are driving through Chicago during rush hour.

"Come on boys, let's go." I implored as the boys were loitering around the ball field.  Finally, after about 15 minutes of pleading for mercy, the boys hopped in for the ride.  10 hours later we arrived in South Bend.  We went back to Legends for dinner and stayed at the hotel across the street from the hotel we stayed at on our way out.  I went down to the hotel gym and had the treadmills to myself.  I started thinking about the good times that we had.  Ping pong in Toledo, the Tiger's game, the inability to get to the Notre Dame, the three College World Series Games, the Tournament, all of the memories in between.  It started to hit me in a rush.  I had a great time.  Maybe the boys will think so when they get older, but i know that my time with them like this is starting to run out.

And as I wake them up the next morning I had the road to myself.  It was dark, early int eh morning actually and the boys were still asleep.  I had even more time to think about the last 6 days.  It was an adventure all right.  I hope they get the chance with their kids to do this. 

Now let's just hope a tornado doesn't touch down in Albany, Jesus!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 5 - Playoffs and CWS Game 3

Day 5 started innocently enough.  C's team went 1-1 in pool play and was the 6 seed playing early in the morning against the Naperville White Sox.  While not the greatest seed, we did get a bye into the second round.  If we won, this would be the only game we play.  If we lose then we have one more game, but might as well go home because we aren't going to win anything.

The team started on of its top pitchers after C and as a result, we jumped to a 5-0 lead in the second inning.  Naperville proceeds to score a couple of runs in the 4th inning to make it 5-2.  To give him a confidence boost since he got killed in the first game against California, the coach brings in C to get the save.  After two innings of shut out ball, we win 5-2.  Now we are the semifinals playing against the St. Louis Gamers.  A team that had scored a ton of runs, but whose pitching seemed a little suspect.  Unfortunately, we would not be playing again until tomorrow morning so we had the rest of the day off.

After some cajoling, C talks me into going to a lake with a buddy of his while G and I look and see what there is to do around the greater Omaha area.  We settle on going back to the motel and hanging out.  Now we will be doing this for a while so I check to see what the deal is with Game 3 of the College World Series. Coastal Carolina and Arizona are tied up at 1 so this would be the deciding game.

So we head back down to Omaha and do our thing.  We park, and walk to the restaurant.  It's a little earlier in the day so G is not complaining as much about the walk.  He actually a pep in his step.  I figured that we would eat and then see if we can get better seats than the bleacher seats we were given by the Tournament directors.

As we park, I see some activity at the box office so I was hopeful that I would be able to trade in these seats.  Braving the 95 degree sun, I rush over there with my crappy tickets in tow.  Satisfyingly, I was able to change the tickets for pretty good seats along the third base line.  We just have to wait for a little while since we were about 4 hours early for the game.

As C comes back from his lake excursion, we meet up and head into the fan friendly area which was adjacent to the ball park.  How did I not see this before I thought to myself.  With Wiffle Ball home run derby, radar gun and face painting, this was actually pretty cool. Watching C trying to break 80 mph in his flip flops cracked me up (didn't happen) and watching Gray trying to hit meaningless home runs in wiffle ball just made me shake my head.  At least we were there with friends - friends who liked to drink beer.  We walk around, getting the CCU logo painted on our arms (OK, that was just me, but it was DOPE)

After getting some dinner and finishing up with our wiffle ball, we get into the stadium.  As we walk around, there is a buzz in the air.  There is delay.  Maybe Omaha thunderstorms are different than around here, but I look up int eh sky and see nothing.  I look at the radar and see nothing.  I shrug my shoulders and sit down.  After about 30 minutes of waiting around, the rain starts.  Holy crap was it rainy.  We get drenched looking for a place to hide from the rain.  We settle in seats covered by a overhang.  After about 20 minutes, the rain lets up, but the game appears no closer to being played event though the sun is back out.

Finally, after being in the stadium for about 2 hours, the PA comes on announces that the game has been postponed.  That was not good news, since we were going to be making our way back tomorrow, unable to see the deciding game.   The only way we will be able to see it is if we win the championship and we are staying over anyway.

Crossing my fingers...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 4 Redux - College World Series Game 2

Game 2 of the College World Series was an adventure.  We were already in Omaha without tickets.  I expected that we would have to scramble around for seats as this was likely the only thing going in in Omaha that night (Turns out I was wrong).  C is with a friend so G and I start walking around to see if someone was scalping tickets. 

Finally, after not much luck finding 3 seats - Although I could have purchased 4 seats if I wanted them.  What a friendly scalper! - I suck up another purchase from Stubhub.  At least this was a cheaper alternative than Game 1.  So again we head to the basement of a downtown hotel to pick up the tickets from the same three friendly people we saw the day before.  G is exhausted since we walked a couple of miles looking for parking, tickets and dinner, while at the same time getting Stubhub.  So we stop at the same brew pub that we stopped at the day before.  Yawn, I guess (according to G).

After that dinner with C and his buddy, we head to the game.  We had similar tickets as Game 1 except a little closer to the first base dugout. 

It seemed like Coastal Carolina was ready for this game, moreso than last night.  They appeared more loose and excited to play. It didn't hurt that they had their closer starting tonight - Mike Morrison.  And was he throwing heat to begin the game! 

And while Arizona jumped to an early lead, Coastal Carolina capitalized on a dropped pop up by the Wildcats' third basemen to be in a position to score their first run in the Series. The Chanticleers' dirtdog, Anthony Marks - who was on base all 4 times he was up and just seemed to be a disruption every time he was up - drove in the first runs of the Series for CCU as his two run single after the dropped popup gave CCU the lead. When we left, and CCU scored 3 runs in the 8th, it was 5-2.  And while Arizona made it interesting at the end, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th, The Chanticleers lived to play one more game, taking Game 2, 5-4. 

Meanwhile, we are getting geared up for our own playoffs.  See you tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Omaha Adventure Day 4 - The Reckoning

2016 Slumpbusters...The Reckoning.  After three days of travel and three weeks worth of life experience - if G's constant questions of being robbed (first in Detroit, then in Council Bluffs) was any indicator, Day 4 of our Omaha Experience finally included some of C's baseball.  The Triple Crown Slumpbusters tournament was finally ready to go.

Two pool games and then the playoffs.  Wait, we traveled all the way to "Omaha" and we only play 2 pool games before the playoffs?  Well, at least this will give us more time at the Americinn.

Game 1 would be against this team from California - Phenom OC.  And C would get the opening start.  I was nervous the morning of.  I wouldn't admit it to C, but I was nervous.  I could only hold down 1 coffee from the local Starbucks and only one Chicken Salad Sandwich from the local Hy-Vee.  As we drive down to the field, I tried to impart some Fatherly wisdom.  Keep the ball on the outside corner.  Take your time.  Mix up your pitches against the middle of the lineup. 

"OK, Dad  I get it"  C moans.  Maybe he's nervous too...Nah, he's just tired of me talking to him.  No Frappuccino for you I guess.

As we get in for the early morning game, G and I drop him off with his team.  This is our first glimpse of some of the rest of the parents.  They were all impressed that we drove out here.  (And didn't kill on another is what went unsaid).

G and I drive around the Starbucks area and barely get back in time to watch the first pitch.  It would have been better if we didn't come back.  C's low strikes were not getting called strikes.  The first batter takes a 3-2 pitch the other way for a triple.  This does not give me the good vibes.  A couple of walks and a couple errors and a couple of hits later and the score is 5-0.  Uh oh.  C has his pissed off look on his face when he is ready to bear down, but the ump was still not going to call the low strike.  It didn't help my psyche that the California coach was being a prick - arguing balls and strikes, telling the ump that C's necklace ( a fighten necklace for crying aloud) and yelling at our players.

(Quick aside.  I usually don't blame the umpires, but if you don't call strikes on the lower half of the zone, I don't mind blaming you).

We get a couple of runs back in the inning, as the Umpire was just as tight with the zone with the other team too.  5-3 after 1.

Before the 20-8 Bombardment, or After...Lot of sun
The second inning really didn't go that much better as C gives up 2 more runs.  We're losing 7-3 going into the bottom of the Second.  After two outs are made and we score a couple of runs, C comes up for a second time with a runner at second.  He proceeds to drive in the tying run to make it 7-7.  Then C proceeds to steal second and third (Dad's wheels!) and then scores on a passed ball.  We're now winning 8-7. 

But the lead is short lived as we give up a ton of runs after C comes out of the game after 2 innings pitched.  He pitched well, just could not get any called strikes.  I'm usually not an apologist, but Christ was this a narrow Zone.  And our relievers did not do any better.  We make more errors, most of which could have been avoided.  We don't score any more runs and proceed to lose our first game 20-8.  Ugh.  C did get two hits though and made some dynamic plays.  0-1 in the two game pool.  Just like Women's soccer.

Game 2, while not as interesting, did lead to a win and a 1-1 record in pool play.  We played a team from Teas and proceeded to beat them 12-4.  I guess I should say that it was completely uninteresting as C (after talking some mild trash to one of the Texas kids) was then hit in his next at bat.  Apparently, this was true.  What a bunch of Wussies from the Lone Star State.  I guess things were more interesting!

We go into the playoff round starting tomorrow as the 5 seed.  Next up is the Naperville White Sox Black from Illinois.

Next up, Game 2 of the College World Series.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Red Bull Flugtag 2016 - Flight Day

Red Bull Flugtag 2016 was everything I thought it would be.  Listening to an ad for it on the SportsHub, I thought going to the Boston edition along the Charles River would be an interesting side note to our Summer filled with interesting trips.  I was generally familiar with the concept, although I did not know it was called "Flugtag."  The kids had no idea what we were doing. 

"Is this another beerfest?" C skeptically asked, thinking that every time we went somewhere outside away from our town, it usually involved something like.  No, and I don't think drinking alcohol and flying really go together.  Hey this isn't the Marshfield Fair!

The Flugtag Salute
And as we were driving in, I tried to talk the kids into the fact that Flugtag had its own hand signal.  I tried to sell them on the idea that the Mr. Spock "Live long and prosper" Vulcan Salute was actually the official hand signal for Flugtag.  But as Spock would do the salute with the fingers pointing, I did it with the fingers point sideways.  Well at least DLG fell for it, all while LC was snickering next to me.

German for "Flight Day,"  Flugtag originated 25 years in Vienna Austria as a lark for Red Bull.  But it was such a success that they decided to keep the tradition going.  Limited in wingspan and weight, these human-powered homemade flying machines would be helmed by teams of 5.  Usually with one pilot and 4 skit members.   Most teams don't take it seriously, and nor should they since homemade planes tend not to fly that far.  Dressing up in costumes seems more reasonable when faced with diving straight off of a barge 30 feet above the surface.

And was there a line to get in!  We were in midst of lumbermen with dirty beards and women wearing strange necklaces.  And while I wanted to make fun of them because they seemed to be everywhere, I came to the realization that I am a lumberman because I see them everywhere I like going.  But anyway, how about that line?  It seemed like we were in line for hours.  I think having one security check point when you are expecting 50,000 people probably was not the brightest idea.  But we told you to leave extra time for security, Red Bull people were telling us... 

Whether it was 2 Flug 2 Furious, or the Barstool Pirates or Something Wonderful (which was just a giant ad for LovePop greeting cards), there was flight machine for all three kids - well at least when they weren't asking for water, or Red Bull or something to eat.  My favorite was the team dressed as dinosaurs.  And while I have no idea what their team name was, I was intrigued by the dinosaur- themed contraption that we all knew had not chance of flying.  Looking back at the website, I think it was Dinosoars.  No really.

And with the winds whipping around - making things comfortable for us spectators - but downright dangerous for the pilots, it seemed that there was little chance of the record for longest flight (258 feet) being challenged.  We were laughing as one of the machines - I think it was the Murphy's Claw - not even get pushed off the platform and it was starting to fall apart.  The Barstool flight machine was just a pirate ship.  I think they just gave up.  Boston Creme Flies started going sideways while it was being pushed and ended up with negative distance. 

It was pretty funny.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 3 Welcome to Council Bluffs

After a relaxing night in South Bend, allowing us to charge our phones and get some sleep, we made our way to the last leg of the journey to Omaha.  I didn't have the heart to tell them that it was not really Omaha, but actually Council Bluffs, Iowa.  A sister city like St. Paul is to Minneapolis, Council Bluffs was our actual destination.  The boys would admit that stopping 20 minutes sooner was desirable, even though things were different when instagramming that they made it.

We get to our destination after hours and hours of corn fields (and Des Moines!).  We made our way to the obligatory fast food stop for lunch and went to the fields to see where they would be playing the next day.

"OK look, Dad, more corn fields!" G exclaimed as we drove the last mile to the fields.  Whatever, at least they have a three day break from driving.  Then we made our way to the hotel and their jokes immediately stopped.  Maybe it was the neo Nazi-looking bikers smoking outside, or the crazy looking lady hiding her smoking at the front desk, but the boys were PETRIFIED.  I laughed it off, but thought to myself - was the 100 dollars savings really that important looking at the other "guests?"

"Ah, Dad, when are we going to Omaha?" C asked me as he looked sideways at the obese people eating lunch at the common area that looked like Hee Haw's kitchen.

I had mentioned to them that we got tickets to Game 1 of the College World Series; a tilt between the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Huh?) and the Arizona Wildcats.  We're getting the tickets now, I told them. 

"Just a few hours away." I kidded. They were not amused.

So we get int eh car and make the 15 minute drive to downtown Omaha.  I was struck by the fact that while it was late afternoon, no one seemed to be walking around the office buildings.  Does anyone work or does the City take the week off.  Maybe they were at the Olympic swimming trials next door at the Century Link Center.

The lack of crowds made our walk from our dinner place (a surprisingly good Upstream Brewing Company) to the TD Ameritrade Center where the game was taking place that much easier.  Except for a couple of panhandlers, the only people we saw were the fans going to the game. And, although G was pissed that we were walking so far, it was a good idea since it allowed us to spend time together...just kidding I wanted to get some walking in since I was in a car for the last 72 hours.

The College World Series was going to be an interesting matchup.  Perennial Powerhouse, Arizona was looking for another championship, while Coastal Carolina was looking for its first NCAA championship in any sport in its history.  Coastal Carolina led the World Series in home runs and runs scored, but was facing one of Arizona's best pitchers, JC Cloney. A big lefty with an ERA under 3.00, Cloney was poised to give Arizona a Game 1 victory.  When I was watching him warm up, I thought he could easily be drafted in the upper rounds next year.

But before we could sit down and enjoy ourselves, we had to entertain C in his search for his teammates.  We looked high and low for his teammates, when he finally settled for hanging out with a couple of his teammates and friends.  After landing C about 4 rows in front of us, G and I sat and watched the game.  Sadly, G did not have any friends in Omaha.

Anyway, Cloney did not disappoint as he pitched a 4 hit shut out to lead the Wildcats to a 3-0 win. I wonder if C can be as successful in Game one of his tournament...we'll see!

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 2 Redux at Notre Dame

After leaving sweltering Motown behind, we continued on our journey to the promised land.  This would be the easiest day of our journey as I decided only to drive a couple of hours from Detroit to South Bend.  It was time to see Touchdown Jesus.

The game got out around 3:30.  Or that was when I told the boys we had to leave short of not getting our hotel room (wink, wink!).  That walk back to our car was one of the hottest 10 periods I had ever experienced.

All this way, and this is as close as we got...
A thunderstorm here or there (ever had the feeling that you should pull over and let the storm pass, but I was too macho to pull over...yeah me neither) did not derail our plans.  I wanted to get to the campus in time to see the stadium. When we get to Notre Dame the first thing G remarks about is the golf course right on the corner of the main street and the street leading to campus.  Even I was getting excited.

Then we come across the construction at the stadium.  No one told me that the stadium was under going massive reconstruction and rehabilitation.  We couldn't even get near the stadium.  The closest we could get was to eat dinner at the University-owned bar - Legends.  Bummer.  At least the beer and the food was good, even if no one wanted anything to do with us that late on a Sunday.

We got back to the hotel, watched Clayton Kershaw, plugged in our phones and got prepared to make the final stretch run to Omaha.  See you soon!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 2 Tiger Time and Touchdown Jesus

Day 2 of our Omaha trip has broken.

After dodging all of the Model As in the parking lot, we began our easiest day of our adventure to Omaha.  No 5am wake up calls and no 8 hour drives.  Today was going to be a leisurely trip to Comerica Park for the Tigers Game and then a trip to South Bend to get a picture of Touch Down Jesus at Notre Dam Stadium.

The day started innocently enough as I took a walk around the buildings seeing if any of the older gentlemen in attendance at the car show needed CPR or something.  Seeing that everyone was happy and healthy, I gathered the kids together to make the trip to Detroit.

"Dad, is it safe where we are going?" G asks as we drive out of Toledo.  Although he hasn't done his Summer reading, he apparently has reviewed guide books about how dangerous the mean streets of Detroit are - or perhaps he watched 8 Mile recently.

"No its fine." I explain.  We're parking next to the stadium and this area is a lot like Fenway.  I guess, I haven't been to Detroit since 1980.

"So we're not going to die?" C asks looking up from his phone.  No we're not going to Detroit, at least.

This goes on the entire hour trip up to Detroit.  Do they rob people at the ball park? Not that I know of.  Should we bring all of our stuff so it doesn't get stolen?  Sure, why not.  And the best one...why was that homeless guy sell you American Flag pins?  I was donating money to the homeless veterans.  So worldly. As we park our car, the boys are astonished at how many people are around.  The lines to get in near the Tiger are extra long for this Sunday afternoon game against the First Place Indians.  Justin Verlander is pitching though so the Tigers have a chance to get back one game against the Indians.

As we finally get in, we get the first taste of the heat we are facing.  It has to be 90 degrees out.  I'm actually not interested in drinking any of the Michigan beers that you can find at Comerica (yeah right), even though the craft beer stand is just 10 feet from the batting cages and pitching radar that the boys wanted to do.

After watching C throw 60 miles an hour and G throw 47 miles an hour (the gun must be wrong C rationalizes to no one in particular), we sit down at our seats.  Good seats, but we are nowhere near shade as the Sun is beating down on us.  Even the obnoxious Indians fan that I am sitting next to only yips and yaps occasionally even though the Indians come out hot against Verlander.

After we make our way around the field, looking at the plaques and statues in Right Field and enjoying some Mediterrean fries, we sit back down to watch the rest of the game.  This time, without mentioning anything to G, I have him sit next to the obnoxious Indians fan.  I tell the guy that I'm now sitting next to that that guy was a huge pain in the ass.  He smiles at me and then turns serious.

"Just wait," he starts to explain while bouncing a baby on his knee "a couple of more beers and the guys behind him are going to beat the sh*t out of him."

With that, I start to plan when we are going to move on to our next destination.  Verlander is getting killed (6 homers) and the Tigers are not keeping pace.  Meanwhile G is in some serious need of air conditioning as he continues to fan himself down with the Verlander poster he received as a free from the park.

"Can we go to Notre Dame now?"

Sounds like a plan (keep reading for part 2)  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Day 1 The Toledo Model A Club

It started innocently enough our adventure to Omaha.  I had decided that Toledo Ohio would be our first destination.  A mere 11 hours away "as the crow flies,"  Toledo seemed like a good idea.  When I was younger, my family and I went to the outskirts of Toledo to visit my aunt and I remember that the drive was a great adventure.  I didn't have Pokemon Go, Instagram or Snapchat then either.  How bad could it be for the boys?

We make good time through Massachusetts and the Albany area.  We stop at a couple of rest stops along the way, including a McDonalds that required us to go over a bridge over the thruway to get to it.  While the boys were struck at how fast the cars underneath them were going, I was just looking at my watch thinking "I really want to get there in time for the restaurant to be open."

After driving through the Buffalo region and a great ride through Cleveland seeing Progressive Field (Jacobs Field to me), Toledo seems just a stone's throw away. 

Finally, after 13 hours - that trip to McDonalds probably took an hour itself - we get to Perrysburg.  A little bit closer to us than Toledo, the boys were excited to be at the destination sooner than we thought.  Even better, the hotel was right off the highway.  Little did we know that we would be the youngest people there by about 30 years...

I don't have words to describe this scene.
The Model A Restorers Club had its annual rally in our hotel, at the same time that we stayed there.  While dodging guys in walkers and trying to navigate the "Model A Parking" signs we stop in to the restaurant, a quasi Irish pub that served the most American of pub fare. What the Hell is going on with all of the old people and older cars I ask the waiter in the nicest of terms. It seemed that we were just at the beginning since all of these guys and their trailers were just starting to grease things up.  Seriously, what the Hell is going on?

After listening to his answer, the waiter starts in with how we were in Town for a baseball tournament.  C tells him that its actually the College World Series in Omaha where we are going, and the guys starts going nuts.  He starts going off on tangents about Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo and he starts talking about how he goes to Cincinnati by himself to watch games.  While I acknowledge his flamboyance, the boys just think he's "crazy."

"I can't wait to tell everyone on Tuesday that I talked to a couple kids about the College World Series and they are going to be there!!"  the waiter exclaims.  C just shakes his head and laughs.  G is looking at his phone.  I order my Guinness and tell him that we have tickets to the Tigers game.

"Kate Upton is all I'll say"  he tells us as he walks to get more drinks.

After dinner, we take our weary bones (or is that just me?) and play some pool and ping pong in the nice indoor courtyard.  Overall, a nice place despite the fact that I was looking around to see where all oft he AEDs were...just in case.

Day 1 was in the books.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Omaha Adventure - Preface

7 Days.  5 baseball games.  3 Men. 1 Car. 

It would be a trip of a lifetime for C, G and JMR.  C's baseball team was going to a tournament in Omaha, Nebraska (well actually, Council Bluffs, IA) for the Slumpbuster Tournament.  The options included flying in or driving.  Being an "On the Road" kind of guy, I took the road less traveled and decided to drive.

It would take 3 days to get there and 2 days to get back.  We spent 2 full days in "Omaha."  Over the next couple of days, I will catalogue our adventures.

Would C hit a home run?

Would G be called up to play?

Would JMR find a Dunkin' Donuts?

Would all 3 of us come back alive - or would one or both of the boys be left in Nebraska?

7 days.  5 baseball games.  3 men.  1 car.   

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gordie Howe and his Hartford Whalers Legacy

RIP Gordie Howe.

A lot of memories came back when I heard of Mr. Hockey's passing a couple of weeks ago. 

My first hockey game was in his 51st year.  This was the Hartford Whalers' first year as an expansion franchise after having several successful seasons in the WHA.  A great portion of that success in the late 1970's was Gordie Howe.  And it nearly didn't happen.  After leading the league in scoring as a 40 year old, Howe's injuries forced him into retirement.  Only after having successful surgery on his wrist, and after yearning to play with his family, did Howe actually start up the second phase of his career in the WHA. 

After leading the WHA in points in his mid to late 40's with the Houston Aeros, Gordie and his sons migrated to sunny New England.  After playing a couple of seasons for the New England Whalers in the WHA, he made the jump with the newly minted Hartford Whalers to the NHL for the 1979-1980 season.

But on this night, we were watching what was clearly one of his last games. 

Maybe it was sport that he had trouble giving up, or maybe he wanted to play with his two hockey-playing sons, Mark and Marty, we were watching a man who loved the sport that he gave so much to.  We were also watching a man whose gray hairs out numbered his dark hairs skate around players literally half his age.  I don't remember him scoring that night of my first hockey game, and I definitely don't remember the Gordie Howe Hat Trick that he became known for.  But I do remember the helmetless head gliding around the ice and I remember him being an integral part of the playoff team that season.

I've spoken before about that long lost hockey stick that I received from Number 2, Rick Ley.  I had the choice of that stick or a puck signed by Gordie Howe (the Whalers practiced at the arena in my home town) But one of my best memories was seeing Mr. Hockey speak to our summer camp back when I was a mere 8 years old.  i also remember getting that prized photo with his autograph after his engagement.  While I can't find that hockey stick, and I can't find that photo, the memories will last with me forever.

As Gordie Howe retired from the sport, he became a great ambassador all the way up until his health problems caught up to him as he reached his 80's.  It saddens me to think about one of the icons of Hartford Whalers hockey being lost, but that sadness is fleeting.  But I think the memories of that first night watching hockey and that autograph will last with me forever.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bradley Jr, Betts and Bogaerts Are the Bash Brothers

The modern version of the Bash Brothers.  The first one recently followed up a 29 Game hitting streak with a towering home run against the Orioles.  The other is currently riding a 23 Game hit streak after hitting two screaming doubles against the same Orioles. The third just hits two line drive home runs as I sit here typing this. Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts have become the modern version of the Bash Brothers.

Thanks for the Roids Jose!
Now I grew up loving the original Bash Brothers.  Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were the stuff of legends.  They would anchor the Oakland A's fearsome line up through a string of World Series appearances, and the forearm smash they did after one of the them his a HR seemed to be a nightly occurrence.  I grew up a Red Sox fan, but my favorite baseball cards were that 1986 Donruss rookie card of Canseco and that 1985 McGwire USA Olympic baseball team rookie card.  They were my most prized possessions.  My friends and I would gamble for these baseball cards, usually by playing poker or pool.  Yeah we were kinda losers, but these baseball cards were worth 20 bucks back in the day!

Things started to change in the 1990's. Canseco wheels started falling off.  He bounced around a couple of teams, including the Red Sox, had a fly ball bounce off his head for a home run, and ultimately became a trolling D list celebrity.  McGwire went to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1997 and continued a prodigious home run stretch where he seemed to get 60 dingers every year.  The Bash Brothers, like all brothers, went their separate ways.

Then the whispers of Steroid use popped up.  They were just whispers until Canseco's bombshell "Juiced" hit the bookshelves.  Detailing rampant drug use amongst the biggest names in baseball, the Bash Brothers took on new meaning.  Neither of the Bros could escape.  Canseco of course admitted steroid use.  McGwire hid behind the veil of not talking about the past.  At this point, Bash Brothers were two dirty words.

Until the Killer B's came along.  Hey, they aren't going to hit 60 home runs or wear togas on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  But this is a different era in baseball.  Steroids have been reduced or eliminated.  While HGH is still around (with other drugs too), the level of drug use has been reduced to the extent that 25 home runs is a good power hitting year.  And these guys are capable of it.  Even C and G got excited about the hitting streaks.  Each one would tell me if Bogaerts or Bradley Jr. got a hit (or didn't).  The Red Sox did not capture their fancy last year, but now...

We are fortunate to have the Bash Brothers here in Boston.  They are likeable players on a team that for several years had been tagged as a very unlikable team.  The Red Sox are in first place despite having real struggles pitching.  Mostly due to the Killer B's the Red Sox have come back from the dead.  People are talking about them again. 

Let's just hope they don't pose like the Blue Brothers with bats

Sunday, April 24, 2016

DLG and the Winners of the Cape Cod Tournament!

After watching years and years of AAU Basketball and Baseball with C and G, I was finally ready for DLG to take her turn with AAU.  Joining LC's 5th Grade team - and with yours truly as the assistant coach - DLG was doing great as a fourth grader.  Even though she was still a little small to be a forward, she was always going after 50-50 balls, always getting big rebounds and always making the big pass when she needed to.

Although our first tournament ended 0-3, including a very tough loss in the first game of the season, the girls came to play in the second tournament of the season.  While I was watching baseball with the boys, DLG's team was mowing down the competition in Kingston.  First a 3 point win and then a 10 point win to go 2-0 on Saturday.  I was excited to coach the team on Sunday as we were facing a weaker team that needed a coach.  As LC agreed to coach the other team, I coached the girls.

We started out on fire going a three quarters court trap.  We jump out to an early 6 point lead.  DLG has 2 of the points on a nice put back rebounding on the weak side.  More up and down the floor as our lead widens.  DLG scores another basket, this time a little 10 footer.  The girl is on fire!  We are up 16 at the half.  LC is pissed since she really wanted to beat me, even though that would mean a loss for her team.

No such luck though as the girls extend their lead to 24.  DLG lays another one in to have 6 points for the game.  Working on a double double is she as her rebound totals go up as well.  We run out the clock to win by 26.  DLG ended the game with 6 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and a bunch of hustle plays on 50-50 balls.  Easily this was her best game ever.  On to the Championship Game!

After the fight (a story for another day that included a couple of 9th Grade girls teams) and thinking that we would face the press again in the Championship Game, we were set up to break their press.  We had 12 and 14 ready to go.  But we never needed it.  They played half court man to man which played right into our strengths.  We executed some good pass and cuts and scored on a bunch of offensive rebounds.  It was great to see as the girls pulled away to win the Championship by 13 points.

After going 0-3 in the first tournament, we come out firing in teh second tournament to go 4-0.  Great job by the team!     

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2016 Million Dollar Question - Warriors Vs. Kobe

LC is asleep.  DLG is asleep.  C is asleep.  G is taking a "nap" so he can watch both games.  In one of the biggest nights in NBA regular season history, the Warriors are in the Bay Area looking to beat the record for most wins in NBA history while at the same time, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant was playing his last game ever.  The games would both be televised so we could watch both.  Which would you choose?

Forget about the facts that the Red Sox are on, and that the Brooklyn Nets are playing for a possible 3rd pick in the NBA Draft, and that the Celtics are playing for home field advantage against the Heat - 5 points in the Third Quarter!.  The two big games are coming up late night.  The Lakers and the Jazz and the Warriors and the Grizzlies.  Which game would you choose.

Why not, him?
G wanted me to wake him up when the games started.  I'm debating it since it is a school night and 10::30 is pretty late.  I actually asked him which game he wants to watch and told me both.  I laughed.  But it is Kobe and the Warriors that we're talking about so I guess I'm not that surprised that he wants to watch both.  Which would you rather watch?

I don't know how long I'll watch myself.  I guess as along as I can legitimately stop G from waking up while the games started.  I told him that I would DVR both games.  Not good enough.  So I told him to take that nap and I will get him up.  No guarantees, but I will try.

Watching Kobe Bryant warm up on ESPN2 reminds me why I hate him.  Preening for the cameras, fans for some reason chanting his name, bricks raining from the baseline, fake fawning from the media, it was all there for us to cringe over.  Magic Johnson emceeing this affair is all we need to know about the cheese factor.  Shaq, Derek Fisher, KD, Dwayne Wade, I'm waiting, Dirk, Pop, KG (await KG?) Carmelo, Steph, LeBron, Pau Gasol, Lamar, and Phil Jackson, Jack Nicholson all said their good byes.  The chants of "Kobe" are making me hungry.  It's the Kobe Farewell Game.

Switching over to ESPN and it is still Kobe on that station as well.  Now the Warriors.  Let's here from Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Honestly, I feel a let down.  But that will remain to be seen. 

Kobe finally scores with 5:12 left in the first quarter, after going 0-5, he turns back the clock with a great backboard block and then a little floater on the other end.  He then follows that up with another another two points.  Then another 2 points.  He's going off!  He has 15 of his teams 19 points in the First Quarter as the Lakers are down by 2 after the First Quarter.  I guess I should stop disliking him now.  On a team with Nick Young and D'Angelo Russell, I have other Lakers that I can dislike too.

G still won't get up.

Meanwhile Steph Curry has 20 in the First Quarter as the Warriors take a 37-23 lead after the First.  He looks on fire tonight as he has made 6 3-pointers in the First.  I'm not sure what it means to have the best regular season ever if they don't win the NBA Championship, but that is just a detail that will have to work out.

And with that, with G still asleep, I decide to fight on another day.  You know, DVRs are useful for this purpose.

G is still asleep.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Celtics Halftime Show 2016

G's Town travel basketball team is a very good team.  Winning the league against much bigger towns in 2014 was matched by winning the State Championship in 2015.  Although we were unable to match those feats in 2016, we were able to participate in a Celtics halftime show.  Willie Maye, the Celtics dancers and some surprise special guests were in store for us this year.  Not only that, but the Celtics were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder, so there was a reason to watch the game too!

Butler (in Red) needed his bodyguard
As we did last year, at the start of the Second Quarter, we went down to the tunnel underneath the stands to wait for our turn to play basketball.  Willie was getting all of our names and was giving the boys the rules.  Make sure everyone scores.  Pass the ball.  Play defense like you would against a toddler (meaning no defense).  I then overheard one of the assistants tell the boys' coach - who is also a C-level executive with the Celtics - that the special guest would not come over until his bodyguard was ready.  Really?  I mean the boys look pretty tough, but he could probably still handle them.  But as the bodyguard came down the tunnel with him, I could see why he was needed.  If I had a lot of money, I would hire this guy too.  To say that this guy looked the part would be an understatement.  Sadly, I did not take a picture of him as that would have been a risk to my legs, arms and face.

After we shared that laugh, the boys started buzzing around.  Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis (who seemed ready to play next year) finally came over.  They started playing basketball with the boys.  We got a couple of pictures and shared another laugh when Dion Lewis told us not to put him net to our Center, who at 11 years old probably had 2 inches on Dion.

G Winning the Tip
After the pictures, and the Celtics dancers coming over, we got ready for our 8 minutes of glory.  The boys were again told to not play defense (taking us back to the time last year when G blocked a kid's lay up) and to move the ball around.  I also implored the boys to use "whatever move they use in Rec Basketball."  I was also curious to see if G did his Kevin Durant impression with his between the legs, behind the back dribbling move where he ends up farther away from the basket than when he started.

No such luck, as the boys seemed too nervous to do all that fancy stuff.  They were going up and down the court a couple of times and no one could make a basket.  As he is wont to do sometimes, G finally calls for the basketball.  Surprising us coaches, instead of launching an NBA 3, he takes it down the lane and his a little floater.  The crowd cheered and all the kids seemed to relax after that.  Scoring went up and down.  G took that ill advised NBA 3 pointer (hit iron but bounced harmlessly away).  That's my boy!

Although we weren't keeping score, it seemed like everyone scored and had a good time.  I will not bore you with the cliche that everyone won and that it ended in a tie.  But let's just say that we had a better night than the Celtics who got their butts kicked by the Thunder, losing by 26.

See you next year (hopefully).

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sport of (Bowling) Kings

I grew up with ten pin bowling.  I was even in a sports league on Saturday mornings and won myself some trophies.  But that was in Connecticut.  In Massachusetts, the sport is different.  Now instead of ten pin bowling with big pins and big balls, we were relegated to Candlepin bowling.  The bane of my existence really since Candlepin bowling is tough to bowl well.  Numerous splits, missed spares, infrequent strikes.  It just sucks really.

Well after numerous times trying to make a go of Candlepin bowling, we finally found ourselves staring straight at a ten pin bowling alley.  Kings is about 45 minutes from our house.  It features numerous bowling alleys, a game room and a big bar.

1pm.  Monday afternoon.  Although it was a holiday, we figured that it was not a major holiday so a lot of people would be working.  This, we thought, would be a great way to get some bowling in and spend time with the kids.

"The wait is about two and a half hours." the hostess explains as she hands us one of those light up buzzers.  The vacant look on her face matched ours.  Two and half hours to play a couple of strings?  Really?  But we have the JMR Rally to play.  This is too long!

Luckily, after LC calmed me down, there was a Yardhouse right next to us.  We figured that we could wait for an hour and a half to eat, drink beer while we were waiting and then head over to Kings when we were done.  It seemed like a perfect plan. 

And it worked to perfection.  We ate, and then rambled on over to Kings.  No sooner than we got our beers and sat down to wait then we were called to the alley.

"Wait, there are no guard rails?" my FOURTEEN year old son asks.  This might be a lot longer than I thought.  I think that on the inside as I give him a 12 pound ball to try on.  Give this a try, I think, as I shove the ball into his midsection.

The five of us would bowl two strings.  G would struggle falling behind the rest of us.  C would be right in front of him, although he was focused more on the speed of his delivery than pin dropping results.  DLG surprised us by showing poise and determination as she consistently scored 6 or 7 pins every time.  LC and I would battle it out to see who won the JMR Rally.  While my spin was still trying to find its way in Game 1, I dominated Game 2 - winning by 40 pins.

Although the kids were a little upset at how poorly they thought they did (although they didn't), we had fun.  Maybe I'll even give Candle Pin Bowling another try.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 Pro Bowl Answers All of the Questions

What a waste of time the NFL Pro Bowl is.  Understanding that the players don't want to risk a career threatening injury, the game is an emasculated version of tackle football.  On defense, you have to have four down linemen and 3 Linebackers.  You can't blitz or play nickel or dime coverages in a cover 2 or 3.  It is basically youth football. On offense, you have to have a running back and 2 wide receivers.  What better way to celebrate than a half hearted live blog? It is childs' play.  As it goes in 2016.

The Pro Bowl is making it more of a spectacle though by requiring that the players are drafted by Jerry Rice or Michael Irving.  A cheater and a drug addict are showcased as honorary captains.  And so it goes in 2016.

I asked G why he likes watching it and his offer was elusive.  "Why don't you like it Dad?  Its the best players playing against the best players!"  I get it.  Russell Wilson throwing it to DeAndre Hopkins is exciting yes.  But any pro Bowl with Eli Manning is not a pro bowl of the best players playing against the best players.  I see Eli get sacked with a quick whistle and I can't help but think that this is a sham.  Eli's career that is.  And so it goes in 2016.

And why are they punting in this game?  And why are they spending time talking about how the punter can punt it several different ways.

Wait, why are they treating the end of the First Quarter like the end of the half?  Even G thinks this is weird. Meanwhile, Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico are trying to talk to Michael Irving and we hear that his ear piece was taken off.  This is presumably because he is too fired up after they take a 14-7 lead, then a 21-7 lead.  He's going nuts.  And so it goes in 2016.

David Carr with a great throw to TY Hilton for the 50 yard touchdown catch.  That was then negated by instant replay.  Dean Blandino makes the call.  No Patriots involved.  This is surprising since I also hear the plays coming in on offense.  The Patriots must be involved with that.  And AJ Green with a great catch on a throw that was up for grabs.  Things are happening so fast.

And with that, G calls it quits.  I am not going to keep writing if he's gone.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hickory Hoosiers Pacers Via Text

Who knew that the one night that the Indiana Pacers would celebrate the 30th anniversary of the team that inspired the movie "Hoosiers" would be the night that I couldn't go to the Celtics game?  Who knew that the tickets would be really good, right under the basket?  Who knew that I probably could have gone because the conference call never really materialized and I was home by 6:30?  So many "what ifs" with no real answers.  Luckily, LC went to the game with C, one of C's friends, G and DLG. 

This all came about because LC's school was giving away tickets to see a singing group from the school sing the National Anthem.  One innocuous question to a friend of ours led to much better seats. 

And she was able to text pictures and tidbits about the game. Not to rub it in, I presume...

7:38 pm.  "Third Row Court side"

Hmm, Chris Mannix looks like a poor man's Bill Simmons.  But I know Bill Simmons and Chris Mannix is no Bill Simmons.

I then texted LC to tell the kids to stop using Snapchat as I get a text from our cell phone carrier about our data.  Wonderful.

8:02 pm  "I will give them a few snap chats tonight.  This is pretty cool."

8:15pm  "You've got to get powerball tickets"  My luck ran out when I was 14 years old.  Forget about it, although the sentiment is there.

I then asked her what side she was sitting on.  I then asked her if she noticed Indiana's uniforms.  Hoosiers is my favorite movie after all.

8:19pm.  "Where Pacers are shooting" then "to the left of the basket"  I start craning my neck every time the Pacers have the ball to see if I can see them, thinking that if i moved my neck in a certain way that the camera will turn to them from a different angle.

8:19pm.  "Oh yeah"  I guess she didn't notice the odd maroon and gold lame uniforms with the Hickory on it.  I guess she was just making me feel better or courting me when she said she liked Hoosiers too. 

8:30pm.  "Just on Jumbo from"  I presume that this was meant to read Jumbotron.  But Jumbo from is funnier and inserted here unedited.  This was one of the highlights of the game as I heard all about the embarrassment that the boys were caused by their dancing Mama.

I ask her then to get a picture of their uniforms.  this is what I got back from her.  A picture of the Celtics cheerleaders/dancers.

9:33pm  "These uniforms?"  She asks me.  Come on for crying aloud.  Just send me a cool picture of the Hickory High uniforms, please.  I have to admit, I'm unsure if they are posing for a picture here.  2 seem to be. Two seem not to be and one seems to be looking at the camera in a "Don't take my picture" sort of way.

She then obliged with a Hickory High picture.

10:13pm  "Got a good one."  That is a good one.  I have to admit that I am unsure who that is.  But it is still a pretty cool picture.  One correction.  It's the 30th anniversary of the movie, not of the team.  I guess that makes sense.  Those uniforms do not scream 1980's to me.  They really don't.

LC then sends me a picture of an oblivious C as two cheerleaders lean on his seat.  So oblivious that I won't post it.

Ultimately, I did not see the kids on TV, but everyone came home really excited about the game. I think DLG was still awake she was so excited about the food, the jumbo from and the game. Even LC had a good time and she didn't even know about the Hoosiers.  All because LC wanted to see some singing group members.  I'm bummed I couldn't go.