Countdown to a championship…or a choke

In approximately 10 hours, give or take, the Milwaukee Bucks will either be (a) National Basketball Association champions for the first time in 50 years, or (b) getting ready to fly to Phoenix for a seventh game vs. the Suns on their home court.

The Bucks haven’t been in this position since Mother’s Day 1974.
That was the date of the seventh game of the 1974 championship series, with the Bucks hosting the Celtics at the MECCA, the franchise’s first home.
The series didn’t lack for star power. Milwaukee had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge, plus original Buck John McGlocklin. Boston featured Dave Cowens, JoJo White, future Bucks coach Don Nelson and the ageless John Havlicek.
At this time, the Bucks were in the Western Conference, where they remained until the Mavericks came into the NBA in the 1980-81 season.
Boston won 68 games during the 1972-73 season, one shy of the record set by the Lakers two years prior, but choked in the Eastern Conference finals, losing in five to the Knicks, who went on to defeat the Lakers for their second title in four seasons.
Milwaukee won 66 games in 1970-71, its third season. The Bucks had little trouble in the playoffs, ousting the Warriors and Lakers in five apiece, then sweeping the Baltimore Bullets to set the record for shortest time from first game to championship.
Through the first six games in 1974, Milwaukee and Boston alternated wins, with the Celtics claiming the odd-numbered games and the Bucks the evens.
In the sixth game, Milwaukee kept its season alive when Kareem arched a 12-foot sky hook from the right baseline over reserve Boston center Hank Finkel, forced into action in the second overtime when Hall of Famer Dave Cowens fouled out. The Bucks prevailed 102-101.
Little did anyone know the Bucks would not win another game in the NBA championship series for 47 years and two months.
In what myself and Bill Franques call the Mother’s Day Meltdown, the Celtics won the deciding game 102-87.
Boston won titles in 1976, ‘81, ‘84, ‘86 and 2008 to go along with the 11 it won in 13 seasons from 1957-69.
Milwaukee took a nosedive the two seasons following, thanks to Oscar’s retirement and the trade of Kareem to the Lakers. The Bucks moved to the Eastern Conference with Dallas’ entrance and were a consistent playoff team, but were thwarted by the 76ers and Celtics, eliminated by one or the other every year from 1981 through ‘87.
By the mid-1990s, the Bucks were as wretched as the Clippers, Nuggets and other perennial losers. There was one brief moment of glory, a run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001, but for 25 years, basketball in Milwaukee was a distant third to the Packers and Brewers, and sometimes behind the Wisconsin Badgers as well.
Things got so bad for Milwaukee that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver gave the Bucks an ultimatum: build a new arena or lose your team. The good people of Wisconsin got the message, the Fiserv Forum was built, and now the Bucks are one win away from the title.

Speaking of the Brewers, I’m reminded of them as the Bucks prepare for what could be their championship moment.
In the 1982 World Series, Milwaukee held a 3-2 advantage over St. Louis after taking two of three at County Stadium. The Brewers, powered by Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, had proven they could win at Busch Stadium, as evidenced by their 10-0 rout in the first game.
October 19, 1982 was supposed to be the night Harvey’s Wallbangers were coronated as Milwaukee’s first baseball champion since the 1957 Braves.
Instead, the Cardinals crushed the Brewers 13-1, then won the next night 6-3.
Milwaukee did not return to the postseason until 2008, ten years after it moved from the American League to the National. The Brewers reached the NLCS in 2011 and ‘18, but have yet to get back to the final round. If the Brewers can find some offense to go along with their pitching, 2021 might be the year.

The Bucks need to take care of business tonight. No goofing off. No taking the chance on a game seven on an enemy court. Get it done.
The good news is the Suns’ history in this situation is not promising.
In its two previous appearances in the final round, Phoenix lost game six and the series, to the Celtics in 1976 and the Bulls in ‘93. The 1976 series featured the famous triple-overtime game five, voted by many experts as the greatest in NBA history.
Both of those games were in Arizona, so you have to hope the chances are even better of it happening in Wisconsin.

I guess I’ll be tuning in to the NBA tonight. If the Bucks lose, I definitely will NOT watch game seven. It would be too gut-wrenching.

Live from Phoenix, it’s Saturday Night (Basketball)!

Game five of the NBA Finals was played last night in Phoenix. Milwaukee won 123-119. More on that in the next post.

Oddly, it was the first NBA championship series game contested on a Saturday since game three in 1981, when the finals were known as the world championship series. Hard to believe 40 years passed between Saturday games, considering MLB and the NHL consistently hold games in their championship series on Saturdays.
In 1979-80 and 1980-81, the NBA started its season three weeks earlier than usual and ended on the last Sunday of March. Since only 12 teams made the playoffs in those seasons, and the first round was a best-of-three, the playoffs were shorter.
In 1980, only one series in the conference semifinals and finals went longer than five games, Seattle’s seven-game triumph over Milwaukee in the western semifinals. Both conference finals lasted five, with the Lakers blowing away the reigning champion SuperSonics and the 76ers steamrolling the Celtics in the first of three consecutive eastern finals between the ancient rivals.
This allowed the NBA to schedule the first two games of the finals in Inglewood for Sunday, May 4 and Wednesday, May 7, very reasonable. The first game was televised live coast-to-coast, but the second, which started at 8:30 Pacific (11:30 Eastern) was tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific time zones in order to not pre-empt CBS’ primetime schedule.
Following two days off, the series moved to Philadelphia. CBS gave the NBA an ultimatum with two bad choices: (a) play the third and fourth games Saturday and Sunday of Mother’s Day weekend, and we’ll televise both live, or (b) play Saturday/Sunday and Monday/Tuesday, and the weekday game will be tape-delayed everywhere except Philly, LA and any western market (i.e. NBA cities in those time zones) that will televise it live.
CBS chose a, so for the first time in 12 years, a game in the NBA’s final round was played on a Saturday.
The decisive sixth game, the one where Magic Johnson went off for 42 points while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sat injured back in LA, was only televised live in Philly, LA, Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, and oddly enough, Atlanta, where an independent station picked it up after the CBS affiliate, WAGA, refused to show it, even on tape-delay.
The same situation happened in 1981, with a more compressed schedule.
Since Boston needed the full seven games to oust Philadelphia in what has been considered by many the greatest playoff series in NBA history, the Rockets had to cool their jets in Houston. This pushed the first game back to Tuesday, May 5, with the second game only 48 hours after that.
For the third and fourth games at Houston, the NBA was faced with the same ultimatum from CBS, and again picked the back-to-back on Mother’s Day weekend for two live games, the only live games outside of Boston and Houston The other four were on tape-delay. The series took a mere ten days to complete, with the Celtics prevailing in six.
It could have been worse. In 1967, the 76ers and Warriors played a Sunday afternoon game in Philly, then flew across the country for a game the next night in San Francisco.

NBA commissioner Larry O’Brien, legal counsel David Stern and NBA owners were fed up after the 1981 debacle. They sat down with CBS and figured out how to get all NBA championship games back on live television, moving the season back to its traditional late October start date, meaning the final series would begin after the primetime shows had wrapped their seasons.
By 1987, CBS was televising conference finals games in primetime, and they became a staple of late May/early June programming on CBS, NBC and ABC until all weeknight NBA playoff games except the finals moved to ESPN and TNT in the mid-2000s.

Return to the Gateway City

NOTE: I am now posting this Sunday, two days after most of the action below occurred.

Is there a new rule which says I will encounter trouble driving to St. Louis?

Today, it wasn’t my car—thank God. The air conditioner is still humming one month after the compressor replacement on the other side of Missouri.
The problem occurred in Callaway County near the tiny hamlet of Williamsburg, 58 kilometers (35 miles) east of Columbia and 140 km (90 miles) west of the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium.
Traffic began to slow down shortly past the US 54 exit. Ten miles later, Interstate 70 eastbound became a parking lot.
It got to the point where I turned off my car for three minutes. Nothing moved.
I called the Missouri Highway Patrol (each state has a quick dial to its highway patrol; Missouri is star 55 and Kansas is star 47. The nice lady on the other end of the line told me a semi was on fire. I just sighed “oh boy” and hung up. No need to vent my frustrations on anyone.
The cab was no more. It was black rubble. I wonder how the driver got out without suffering serious burns.

I was about to turn east on Interstate 64 at Wentzville, but traffic was backed up onto I-70. I decided I wasn’t going to sit in any more traffic jams if I could help it, even if it meant wasting a little gas.
The good news—traffic moved steadily east on I-70 through O’Fallon and St. Peters.
The bad news—I didn’t realize Missouri Highway 370, which is a six-laned, controlled access route, veered north and not south toward I-64.
I figured what the heck, I’m here until very early Wednesday morning, why not take a tour of some unseen land in the St. Louis metro.
It rained HARD on 370 from I-70 across the Missouri River to I-270, where I wanted to get to in the first place in order to find my hotel. At one point I was down to 60 km/h (37 MPH), but some figured it was still okay to go 60 MPH (97 km/h) even with water ponding.

The rain has abated, so it looks like the Cardinals and Giants will get to play at Busch tonight.
Herb Vincent, my mentor at LSU who now works in the Southeastern Conference office in Birmingham, attempts to see the Cardinals every summer. I’m going to inquire about us getting together in 2022.
Larry, my trivia pal, is a huge Cardinals fan stuck in Kansas City. So is Lisa.
I went to the old Busch Stadium in 1992 to see the Cardinals play the Braves. The first game found my dad, brother and I stuck in the bleachers in dead center field, more than 150 meters (440 feet) from the plate. It was like watching ants. We had tickets for the second game behind home plate, but almost at the top of the stadium. Back then, I could not handle heights as well as I can now, so I was too afraid to watch and just walked around the concourse while my brother braved those bad seats. We all agreed we wouldn’t miss Busch when it was torn down in late 2005.
Busch Stadium was one of the three worst MLB stadiums I’ve been to. The others were the Astrodome and the first Rangers stadium in Arlington. At least the Astrodome was air conditioned. I won’t go into just how awful the original Arlington Stadium was—at least now.
The best MLB stadium? Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, with Houston’s Minute Maid Park a close second. Kauffman in Kansas City is far better than the ones I went to in St. Louis, Arlington and Houston, but well behind the current one in Houston and Pittsburgh.

Speaking of awful, this hotel is AWFUL. Cannot stream through the television. I have been able to do that at EVERY OTHER HOTEL I have stayed at in the past year except one—the Courtyard which is connected to this Residence Inn. Not saying it is life or death, but it would be nice to have that option in 2021. Worse, Amazon Prime is not offered as a streaming option through the hotel; only Netflix, which I find terrible, and HBO, which I am not paying an arm and a leg for.

UPDATE 1: I have figured out the TV situation. I have to unplug the main HDMI cable from the back of the TV and plug in the cable for my device. Not as easy as I would like, but it gets the job done.

UPDATE 2: As usual, St. Louis is giving me self-inflicted indigestion. White Castle, Imo’s Pizza, sushi (I’m partial to tuna and salmon) and a few other things do that. But I love them too much not to eat it, considering I cannot get it in Kansas City, much less anywhere in western and central Kansas…although Whataburger will be in KC by November (thank you, Jesus, I mean Patrick Mahomes II).

UPDATE 3: The Bucks are one win away from their first NBA championship in 50 years. More on that in the next post.

UPDATE 4: The Giants and Cardinals have split so far this weekend: San Francisco 7-2 Friday and St. Louis 3-1 Saturday. The Brewers have won their first two in Cincinnati against the wretched Reds. I have hated the Reds ever since I started watching MLB over 35 years ago for (a) Marge Schott, the racist anti-Semitic C**T who owned them at the time and (b) glorifying degenerate gambler and child rapist Peter Edward Rose. Very sad, because I have grown to admire Johnny Bench from watching highlights.

Peggy no longer MIA…but too many are

I no longer have an appendage dangling from my right arm.
My PICC line was removed Tuesday at the Russell hospital following my final intravenous antibiotic dose. I am still on oral antibiotics, but my life is a little easier now.
One of the biggest things I can do now without the line is shower easier. I had to wear a plastic sleeve on my arm to keep the line from getting wet. I was also wearing one on my right leg, although I didn’t discover until three weeks ago there was a cover for the foot only. I had the full leg one from when I was in a cast before the COVID pandemic in early 2020, and I just didn’t think to look for one that covered only the foot.
I probably could get away without the foot protector, but I’m playing it safe. Same with still wearing the earplugs to shower, although I worried the few times I forgot them. A friend of my dad’s had tubes placed in his ears, and when he didn’t wear earplugs, he got an infection. Nothing like that so far.

Unfortunately, the last person to see the PICC line other than my parents or the hospital workers was Peggy.
It was very fortunate. Seriously.
We saw each other for the first time in over 16 months this past Monday. It’s the longest we’ve gone without seeing each other since I moved to Kansas in September 2005. We usually would go three or four months from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next, but COVID threw a monkey wrench into everything.
I couldn’t attend Caitlyn’s matches at Ottawa this past season because it was strictly limited to family and students. I have not seen her since the Saturday before Thanksgiving 2019.
Peggy is healing after surgery on her right foot a couple of weeks after my operation. She came into Old Chicago in Hays on the same kind of knee scooter I used to get around the hospitals in Russell and Hays until recently.
I forgot how good Old Chicago was. It was my first visit since before the pandemic. It was so good I went back the next night and played trivia, since it’s the only location remotely close to me which has Buzztime. (Peggy asked that I not play so we could converse. I agreed.)

I’m now current with Peggy, Robb, Larry, the ladies at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek (Tina, Nikki and Ashley), Molly at Minksy’s (Lindsay got fired, which I was very sad to hear), and Morgan at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa. Seeing Morgan, who has been through things I wouldn’t wish on anyone, did my heart a lot of good. I worry about her sometimes. I haven’t seen Dana since before the surgery, but at least more recently than a lot of others.
Yes, I went to BWW Zona for the first time in almost two years last Saturday to meet up with Robb. Approximately 97 percent turnover, but that’s to be expected in the restaurant business in good times, but with COVID, it’s been more rampant.

Caitlyn is a big hole in my heart. Sadly, there are more.
I was hoping to see Bill in 2020 at another baseball series, but most of the season was wiped out. I couldn’t travel this year due to the surgery. Hopefully, our Bucks will finally get back to the NBA championship series, if not tonight, then Monday.
It has now been more than three years since my trip to Baton Rouge, where I saw Brenda, Dorinda, Bryan Lazare (whose larger-than-life father, Buddy, passed away last month in New Orleans at 94), Glenn Guilbeau, Kent Lowe, Jacques Doucet, Michael Bonnette, John Burke, Lyn Rollins, Ronnie Rantz and many others.
Dan Borne has treated me like COVID the last two years. That hurts. A lot.
Some of the old Kansas City faces are fading. I’ve gotten back in touch with Lisa, but still have not seen her since her wedding in St. Louis four years ago. I keep wondering where Liz is. Dawn has shut me out (and Robb too).
I have not seen Herb Vincent since the 2005 SEC baseball tournament, which was three months before Katrina. I have not heard from Wendy Wall since late 2003, and it hurts. At least I’m in touch with him and a few others from Baton Rouge, like Laurie Cannon (Moll) and Rebecca McCann (Campbell).
I haven’t been back to New Orleans since Katrina. I’m glad to have kept in touch with some of the people I went to middle school with. Jason Malasovich and his family was the last from the Big Easy I had contact with, three years ago.

I departed before dawn this morning for Kansas City. I got my car nice and spiffed up; the interior needed it badly. I stocked up on the whipped soap from Whole Foods I like, I returned an ill-advised purchase of a Chromebook, then got a personal issue taken care of. I’m driving back tonight. For some reason, I don’t have trouble falling asleep at night as I do in the morning.
The (DIS)-United States of America turns 245 tomorrow. I’m not proud to call myself an American. Not by a longshot. I am proud to say, however, I voted for NOBODY for president last year. If you don’t like it, tough.
Remember, tomorrow is INDEPENDENCE DAY in the United States. It’s the Fourth of July everywhere, including Kiribati, Niger, Uzbekistan, Cyprus, Guyana, Liechtenstein, Bhutan, Comoros, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu.

Foots is alive…somehow

If there were any rumors regarding the demise of the author of the Foots Prints blog, they were well-founded, but not true.
Yes, I had surgery on my right foot exactly three months ago. No, it isn’t an excuse for going this long without posting.

The surgery came quickly. I was at my usual Monday morning treatment on 15 March with Kelly Miller at the wound care center in Hays when she called Dr. Kirk Potter to set up surgery. Eight days later, I was under the knife.
I almost changed my mind. The Saturday before surgery, I had a terrible experience at the White Castle in Columbia, and I left a message for wound care stating I would not have the surgery three days later.
Fortunately, it got much better when I got to the White Castle in Wentzville, 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Columbia. I then decided to go through with the surgery.
I won’t be frequenting the White Castle in Columbia anymore. Not only did they lose my online order—which was confirmed by the company’s app—they told me to get lost and not come back. What the heck?
It was the first time I went under general anesthesia since I was in the hospital in late 2004 for pneumonia and a collapsed lung, a serious ailment which almost put me 2.3 meters (six feet) under less than two months after my 28th birthday.

Following the surgery, there was hyperbaric oxygen treatment in Hays and twice-daily IVs in Russell. The IVs were seven days a week; at least with the oxygen, I got the weekends off.
I had to interrupt oxygen treatment for two weeks when my left eardrum came close to rupturing. I had to have tubes placed in my ears to make sure they could handle the change in pressure in the chamber. They did, and my last treatment was 4 June.

Right now, things are looking up. I have an IV treatment this Tuesday (29 June) and another appointment with Dr. Potter 6 July. Then comes more routine medical appointments, Dr. Custer and Dr. Jones 14-15 July.

I was in hell—almost literally—last Wednesday.
I was planning to go to St. Louis for a few days to enjoy the things I can’t in Kansas City or points west: White Castle, Imo’s Pizza, shopping at Schnuck’s and Dierberg’s.
Everything was great until Columbia.
That’s when the air conditioner in my car dead.
I won’t repeat the obscenities I blurted.
I begged a Buick dealership in St. Louis to repair my car, but they said no, then accused me of screaming, which I wasn’t. I realize I have a loud voice and when I get accused of screaming, I feel worse than I already do.
By time this played out, I was at New Florence, 80 km (50 miles) west of St. Louis. I was sweating profusely by time I made it into town, and of course, I got lost trying to find the hotel.
The only good thing: White Castle.
As bad as Columbia to St. Louis was, St. Louis to Kansas City was worse.
Of course, there was a record heat wave over Missouri last week. The heat index above 40 C (104 F), and I sweated more than I have since my trip to Baton Rouge in June 2010.
I was LUCKY to get an appointment at Cable Dahmer, my regular service location in Kansas City, last Friday. Four hours and $1,500 later, life was back to normal, or at least as normal as it can be for me.

Stay away from me, please. For your health. And my sanity.

At this point, I wouldn’t mind going into lockdown again. It would save my blood pressure from shooting through the roof every time I’m in public.
Every fucking time I go to the medical clinic in Hays, I have to worry about some stranger stepping on the elevator with me. I despise riding an elevator with a stranger, especially a strange male, during normal times, but during a pandemic? HELL NO.
I had it happen Monday. Had to wait until two people got on the damn elevator before pushing to button to wait for the car to return.
Then in Kansas City, it has happened twice at the hotel. I have to get through tonight and tomorrow. I hate staying on the ground floor of a hotel, but it may be the only way to avoid the elevator.

Speaking of the hotel, Thursday morning was straight out of The Twilight Zone.
My laptop was off. I was worried it had randomly shut down like it sometimes does, but then I noticed the light on the power adapter which indicates it is plugged in was off. That really worried me, because I would be without the computer until I got back to Russell, where i have another adapter (I have two so I don’t have to keep unplugging one).
It got worse. Much worse.
There was no hot water. I took a freezing shower, then shaved with water barely above room temperature, which makes it much harder. I’m fortunate I didn’t cut myself.
The lights by the bed were so dim they were no brighter than a night light. The lights in the bathroom, kitchen and living area all worked. Just as I was ready to leave, I noticed the light in the refrigerator was severely dimmed.
Then the elevators were not working.
I was already a bit upset with the TownePlace at Briarcliff due to the TV turning off after a few hours even without setting up a sleep timer; the small luggage carts; and the lack of mobile key, requiring me to stop by the desk, which I find a great hassle, especially when you’re dealing with an unfamiliar clerk.
There’s so much to like about that hotel. However, it may be time for a break for a few months.

Back to my social distancing woes.
I went back to Buffalo Wild Wings Wednesday against my better judgement. I have done all I can to not make eye contact with Rita Roberts, the general manager. Seeing her makes me sadder and lonelier than usual.
No social distancing problems there.
Today at Minksy’s was a different matter.
Everything was fine until just before four when some strange asshole wanted to sit on the stool next to me.
I was pissed beyond belief. I hate sitting next to strangers to begin with. During a pandemic? I’m petrified.
I lost my mind. I dropped an f-bomb. I was that angry.
I moved to a table, which is what I should have done when Larry left at 13:30.

In January, I got to Buffalo Wild Wings late on the first Saturday of the NFL playoffs. The bar was full, so Tina told me I could sit at a table designed for six people.
Tina asked me if I would share my table with a group, and I did. Three times.
There’s just too much wrong with my life now to put up with the shit. I feel like the biggest loser.

At least I got my White Castle fix. Drove to the St. Louis area Thursday to go to Schnucks and Dierberg’s. Also got my car washed and bought Polo at their outlet store in Chesterfield. Ate a few sliders on the drive back. This morning, I had the crab cake sliders White Castle only sells during Lent. I am kicking myself for not ordering clams.
The Polo shirts are needed now because Lacoste shirts are too short in the torso. I have a lot of Lacoste shirts that don’t cover my gut. I am afraid to wear them now.

Time for a (short) break from KC

The first half of two weeks (almost) in Kansas City ends tomorrow morning. I have to return to Russell to pick up another week’s worth of prescription meds, go to an appointment Monday in Hays, and get clean clothes. I return to the big city by Monday night.
Friday was a major bust. Larry was too busy to meet at Minsky’s for lunch; besides, I had another case of indigestion, and I woke up very late. Must have taken two Seroquel by accident. I had enough energy to go to Overland Park and pick up an Amazon shipment at Whole Foods, then go to Best Buy to replace the keyboard I bought last week in Topeka, which malfunctioned after eight days. I bought the two-year warranty, so it didn’t cost anything.
When I got back to the room, I was spent. I ordered in, watched the new Bunk’d, then aimlessly sat in the chair at the desk watching TV and typing up work things.
Today I’m back at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek for the second time in three days. I’m seriously considering not coming back. It is very, very painful right now.

I am going to stop staying at that SpringHill Suites on I-435 across the highway from Worlds of Fun, probably for the rest of this year.
The biggest problem is the location. I-435 in that area is under severe construction over the Missouri River. When I departed the hotel just before noon, southbound traffic was backed up to the exit at Parvin Road/48th Street and slow all the way to the river, and probably south of it too.
If I want to go back into Kansas, or even to Columbia, this is problematic. I found a way around it when I went to Overland Park and Leawood Wednesday and Friday, but it is a pain in the rear. Going north on I-435 isn’t as bad, but southbound stinks. Really stinks. I’ve already devised a detour tomorrow morning.
The television is antiquated compared to some other Marriott properties, notably the SpringHill Suites in Leawood—where I’ve stayed twice this year. The Leawood hotel now has Chromecast, where I can cast any app, except AppleTV, to the TV from one of my devices and watch. The same thing is also available at an older property, the Courtyard in St. Louis County off I-270 in the Westport area.
I purchased a Chromecast unit for my basement TV. Love it. Going to install it for my parents in the living room soon, and maybe in my mother’s bedroom.
I decided Wednesday I couldn’t live without Chromecast so I bought one to carry around with me and plug in to the TV at the hotels without it, which includes the TownePlace Briarcliff, where my next stay is. Love the hotel, but the TV is a little outdated, plus it hangs from the wall, which means I’ll have to run an extension cord. That’s life.

I want to go to Columbia and/or St. Louis (actually, Wentzville will suffice) this week. Tuesday is out because of my appointment, and Wednesday would have to wait until I’m done with work. Then there’s Larry’s plans. I need White Castle right now. I’m hurting. Badly.

The horrible, no good, pitiful time between posts

Sorry for not posting for so long. Then again, what would I post about? Let’s see here…

WARNING: FOUL LANGUAGE COMING.
Trump? Narcissistic son of a bitch. Fucking cunt.
Biden? Lying son of a bitch dictator. Bitches about Trump executive orders, then issues more than any other president in first week of administration. The guy couldn’t wait three hours before issuing his first.
The riots in Washington? Both sides have to own it. Trump incited it, and lefties like AOC egged them on. The American political system sucks, and I hate this country more than ever.
Super Bowl? I hate the Chiefs, but I despise Tampa Bay just about as much as any other NFL team. I have hated the Buccaneers passionately since they treated Tony Dungy like shit. I hate Jon Gruden, I hate Warren Sapp, I hate Derrick Brooks, and I have nothing but disgust for Brady, Gronkowski, and Arians, the lying son of a bitch who told the Cardinals he was retiring for “health reasons”, then came back a year later with Tampa Bay. Fuck you Arians.
The Chiefs played like absolute garbage. Should have forfeited. Mahomes wanted to be with his bimbo fiancee as she was ready to give birth, Andy Reid wanted to be home to make 4,895 excuses for his criminal son driving drunk and almost killing a 5-year old girl, Kelce was bitching about anything and everything, and the Chiefs’ offensive line in the Super Bowl would have trouble blocking Raymore-Peculiar’s defensive line. In case you don’t know, Ray-Pec played for the state championship in Missouri’s highest high school classification in November.
The worst thing about the Chiefs looking so shitty was Brady won his fifth Super Bowl MVP, and the narrative of sycophant media calling him the “greatest of all time” was louder than ever. Please. Brady would have been toast if he had played in Johnny Unitas’ era, when receivers were physically beaten up and down the field and offensive linemen could not use their hands to block.
Even worse was fucking Aaron Rodgers, who is now a climate change expert just because he got engaged to actress Shailene Woodley. Olivia Munn and Danica Patrick are better off without the motherfucker. Besides, I like Willa Holland much more than Woodley as Kaitlin Cooper on The O.C.
I almost got a ticket. I pooped and peed in my pants when I was pulled over. Fortunately I was wearing pants. I have had a couple of incidents wearing shorts where the pee came flowing and got over things.
Valentine’s Day? Need I say more?
The brutal cold? So fucking what? I’d rather that than the heat I’ve dealt with all my life in Louisiana and Kansas. I hated being cooped up, but I didn’t want to subject my 17-year old car to those harsh elements.

I drove to Kansas City today just to get out of Russell and give my parents a few days without having to deal with me. They deserve it.
Everything was good until a few minutes ago.
A side entrance door would not open. Another one did.
Then an asshole whose mask did not cover his mouth tried to race in and get on the elevator with me. The motherfucker was outside smoking with two buddies, and I could smell the stench from a mile away. I panicked and accidentally hit the telephone button in the elevator. Fortunately, the door closed in the son of a bitch’s face.
I hate riding elevators with strangers, especially men. I don’t want to look at them, don’t want to talk to them, don’t want to smell them.
I despise cigarette smoking. Hate it passionately. It is so disgusting. People who do so, including my parents (my dad quit in September 1985; if he hadn’t, he would have been dead by 1995), are beyond stupid. Yes, Pete Rozelle, you were stupid. That’s why you died at 70. Yes, Bear Bryant, you were stupid. That’s why your retirement lasted four weeks. Yes, LBJ, you were stupid. That’s why you had a massive heart attack eight years before Lee Harvey Oswald (probably) made you president, and died before your 65th birthday.
With COVID, I do not want to share a confined space with anyone, period. If I were with someone I knew, I would ask them to ride the elevator first.

Tiger Woods was in a serious car accident today in Los Angeles. Of course, there was an outpouring of sympathy, with many calling him the “greatest of all time”.
Tiger still hasn’t matched Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championships. And the competition in Tiger’s best days was Phil Mickelson and a whole lot of nothing. David Duval and David Toms won majors in 2001. If you don’t follow golf, you must ask “who the fuck are they?”. Nicklaus had to battle Gary Player throughout his career, Palmer in his early years, Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros, among others, later.
Tiger is not a G.O.A.T. Neither is Brady.
I hope Tiger recovers from his injuries. But if he never plays another hole, I won’t shed a tear. I’ve had enough of this Tiger being the greatest narrative. Same with Brady. Same with LeBron. Same with Serena. Same with Alex Morgan and the US Women’s Association Football (I ain’t using the S-word) team. Same with anyone who voted for Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire or any other steroid user on their Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

I had KFC delivered to my hotel this evening. Great call. I grew up one mile from the first Popeye’s, which opened in June 1972, and I still love it. But KFC is a very, very, VERY close second, if not ahead of Popeye’s. My God, the KFC original recipe is incredible. Popeye’s, however, wins hands down with their sides, especially the Cajun rice and onion rings (where you can find them). KFC biscuits are just too hard to digest. Too hardscrabble. Save those for Cracker Barrel, which I find highly overrated.

That’s all for now. Maybe my next post won’t be so gloomy. Pray for it.

Ghosts of inauguration days past

Joseph R. Biden assumed the presidency at 11:00 Central Standard Time (12:00 EST) today. He becomes the 45th man to hold the office (Grover Cleveland was elected to two non-consecutive terms, and he is counted both 22nd and 24th; don’t ask me why), and oddly enough, the first from the nation’s first state, Delaware, which joined the union 7 December 1787, a few days before neighboring Pennsylvania.
He is the second Roman Catholic president after John F. Kennedy; coincidentally, Biden and several top-ranking governmental officials attended a prayer service at St. Matthew’s Cathedral this morning, the same cathedral where Kennedy’s requiem mass was conducted by Cardinal Richard Cushing 25 November 1963, approximately 70 hours after he was shot to death (supposedly by Lee Harvey Oswald) on Elm Street in Dallas.
I watched ZERO of Biden’s inauguration. I was somewhere between Hays and Russell when the oath was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. I had ZERO desire to watch, and I will not be searching the Internet to watch it.
I didn’t vote for Biden. I didn’t vote for his predecessor either. It’s so sad Biden was the best the Democratic Party could offer, but he was more palatable than the Democratic candidate of 2016. Had Biden said something before the Democratic National Convention, he could have saved the country from Hillary AND Trump. Too late.

As I cruised Interstate 70 towards Shawnee and then Leawood, I thought about where I have been for past inaugurations.
Since 1937, presidential inaugurations are held every four years on 20 January. Previously, 4 March was the date, but after a tortuous lame duck period following FDR’s election in 1932 and the end of Herbert Hoover’s presidency, Congress passed and the states ratified the 20th Amendment, moving the inauguration date ahead 42 days, while setting the meeting date of the new Congress to 3 January or thereabouts.
Why 20 January is used, I’ll never know. New Year’s Day sounds like a fine time to do it, but anyone and everyone involved with college football would raise hell. It would not be too hard to move back bowl games to 2 January every four years.
Better yet, why not inaugrate the new president as soon as possible? The 4 March date was designed to give newly elected House members and newly elected or appointed Senators enough time to get from their homes to Washington in the era before air travel.
The electoral votes can be counted by 1 December, and the new president can take office on 15 December. This way, you don’t have to go through the crap that Trump put the country through.

Kansas City reminds me I was in town four years ago when Trump was inaugurated. Larry and I were playing trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa, trying to avert our eyes from the big screen. We told Tori, the regular daytime bartender, to mute the sound and let me play the jukebox. She had no objections. Later that day, Robb and Dawn came in (they were still married and everything looked good for them), and they were despondent. Both of them were Bernie Sanders supporters in the primary and they absolutely loathed Trump. Three days after his election, I brought them some beer to help them drown their sorrows.

For both of Obama’s inaugurations (2009 and 2013), I was working at home. I recall being in my bathroom at 11:00 in 2009. I did not watch either ceremony.

I also did not watch either of George W. Bush’s inaugurals. In 2005, I was at work at Delgado Community College, and in 2001, I was at Lee High in Baton Rouge covering the annual Lee High (now Louisiana Classics) wrestling tournament for The Advocate.

I was in LSU’s sports information office the day of Bill Clinton’s second inaugural in 1997. Since it was Martin Luther King Jr. day, not everyone showed up; the only others there were Kent Lowe, Michael Bonnette and Jim Kleinpeter. Lowe and Bonnette were the media relatoins contacts for the men’ s and women’s basketball teams, respectively, at the time, and Kleinpeter was LSU’s beat writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. We went to lunch that day at Pizza Hut just south of the LSU campus.
Lowe is still in his position, Bonnette was promoted to the top spot in 2000 and still holds it, and Kleinpeter is now covering LSU’s women’s basketball for The Adovcate.
I was a junior at Brother Martin High the day of Clinton’s first inaugural in 1993. Since it was my lunch period, I did not have to watch, and I didn’t. Lucky for me, my social studies class was my first of the day and ended at 08:55.

I was in seventh grade at Arabi Park Middle when George H.W. Bush was inaugurated in 1989. It was cold and rainy that Friday. There was a “Mardi Gras Ball” that evening and a dance afterwards. A very awkward pre-teen evening for Foots, who was still three years away from receiving the nickname.
The next evening, I had to march with the band in the Krewe of Saturn parade in Kenner, which is on the opposite side of the New Orleans metro area from Arabi.
Super Bowl XXIII was that Sunday; I watched every play of the 49ers’ thrilling victory over the Bengals, which wasn’t cemented until Joe Montana hit John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining to cap a 92-yard drive. Cincinnati has yet to recover.
Four days after the elder Bush took the oath, serial killer Ted Bundy was executed in the electric chair at Florida State Prison just after 06:00 CST, ending his reign of terror for good. Bundy was officially executed for murdering 12-year old Kimberly Leach in Lake City in February 1978, but he also raped and murdered Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy in the Chi Omega house at Florida State hours before Super Bowl XII, and killed at least 40 women in the western United States from 1974-77.

I woke up in the dark the morning of Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration.
Reagan was officially inaugurated for a second term on 20 January 1985, but since 20 January was a Sunday that year (it was again in 2013), Dutch took the oath privately in the East Room of the White House at 11:00 CST, and the public ceremony was held the next day.
Super Bowl XIX was 20 January 1985. To celebrate Reagan’s second term, the man who played George Gipp on the silver screen was asked to toss the coin prior to the Dolphins meeting the 49ers at Stanford. There was a satellite hookup between the locales, and Reagan tossed the coin in the East Room when prompted by referee Pat Haggerty.
It was bitterly cold in most of the country that Super Sunday. It was chilly and foggy in Stanford, a fitting backdrop for the Dolphin defense, which was shredded for 537 yards by Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Dwight Clark and company. Dan Marino was pounded by a San Francisco defense spearheaded by future Hall of Famers Fred Dean and Ronnie Lott, and the 49ers rolled 38-16. Little did anyone know Marino would never return to gridiron football’s biggest stage.
Temperatures below minus-7 Celsius (20 F) are as rare in New Orleans as sightings of Haley’s Comet and four-leaf clovers, but lo and behold, it dipped to minus-10 C (14 F) in the early hours of 21 January 1985. The power at 224 Jaguar Drive went out, as it did for tens of thousands across south Louisiana.
The cold hit the Air Products and Chemicals plant at the northeast edge of New Orleans hard, and my dad had to go out there to check it out only a couple of hours after the Super Bowl ended.
Fortunately for my brother, mother and I, we had a way to keep warm.
My mother’s close friend, Wanda Pattison, had a gas furnace at her residence in Chalmettte, about 15 minutes from our house. We went there to keep warm, and the electricity came on just in time to see Reagan take the oath from Chief Justice Warren Burger.
It was so cold in Washington–minus-15 C (5 F)–the ceremony was moved from the West Front of the Captiol into the rotunda, the first time in memory the ceremony was held indoors. It should have been held indoors today.
U.S. Representative Gillis Long from Louisiana died the previous day, and Reagan asked for a moment of silence in his memory. Long represented the former Eighth District, which stretched from Alexandria south and east along the Mississippi River to St. John the Baptist Parish, from 1973-84, and previously in 1963 and ’64. Gillis was a cousin of legendary brothers Huey and Earl Long, and secured funding for an important Hansen’s Disesase research center in Iberville Parish about 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Baton Rouge; the center now bears his name.
Gillis ran for Governor of Louisiana in 1963 and again in 1971. He was third in the Democratic primary each time, with John McKeithen winning the former election and Edwin Edwards the latter.

I was not old enough to remember Reagan’s first inauguration in 1981, although I have watched it on YouTube. That day, the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran since 4 November 1979 were freed. Reagan announced it during his inaugural speech, and Jimmy Carter went to Germany to meet the freed men.

Speaking of Carter, of course I can’t remember his inauguration in 1977. It was my 99th day in this life.

If you have read to this point, I thank you. If not, I don’t blame you. I’m going full Porky Pig…THAT’S ALL FOLKS! (at least for now)

Buffalo stampedes ahead

The Buffalo Bills will be among the last eight NFL teams left following their 27-24 victory over the Colts today in western New York to open the NFL playoffs.
It’s the Bills’ first playoff victory since 30 December 1995, when they defeated the Dolphins 37-22 at home.
Chiefs fans were ardently rooting for the Colts, who would have come to Kansas City had they won. Instead, either the Ravens-Titans winner or the Browns (if they defeat the Steelers) are coming to Arrowhead. The Bills will host either the Ravens-Titans winner or the Steelers.

Just how long ago was the 1995 NFL season?
Buffalo’s coach was Marv Levy, who led the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-93 (all losses), but was on the downside of his coaching career, which ended after the 1997 season. Still, getting any team to four consecutive Super Bowls, especially one as downtrodden as the Bills were prior to his arrival during the 1986 season, is worthy of his bust in Canton.
How bad were the Bills before Levy?
Between 1966, the year after Buffalo won its second conseuctive AFL championship, and 1985, the Bills played in five playoff games, winning one, the 1981 AFC wild card vs. the Jets.
The Bills went 1-13 in 1968 and again in 1971, 2-12 in 1977, and 2-14 in 1984 and ‘85.
I’ll never forget the 1984 Bills started 0-11, then somehow beat the Cowboys 14-3 at home. I watched the game with my brother at my maternal grandmother’s shotgun home in the Algiers section of New Orleans, and couldn’t believe it when Greg Bell ran 85 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. By time we got home, the Bills sealed what likely was the Cowboys’ most embarrassing loss in franchise history at that time.

Miami’s coach the penultimate day of 1995? Donald Francis Shula.
Shula, who passed away last May at 90, coached his final game that day, ending a 33-year career which began with seven seasons in Baltimore and continued with 26 more in Miami. Shula coached Johnny Unitas at the beginning of his career and Dan Marino in the end, with Earl Morrall, Bob Griese, Don Strock and David Woodley in between.
The Dolphins needed to defeat the Rams in St. Louis on the final day of the regular season to qualify. It was Shula’s 347th and final win. Hopefully, his record for coaching is not broken by the jerk in New England.

Some of the rookies who debuted in 1995: Hall of Famers Curtis Martin, Terrell Davis, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks; Tony Boselli, who would have been in the Hall of Fame if not for injuries; servicable quarterback Kerry Collins; workout warrior Mike Mamula; and lesser lights Blake Brockermeier, Dave Wohlabaugh, Brendan Stai and Tyrone Poole.
Levy and Shula were not the only long-tenured coaches. Jim E. Mora was in his 10th season with the Saints. Marty Schottenheimer was in his seventh with the Chiefs. Ted Marchibroda was in the fourth season of his second tenure with the Colts. Bill Cowher (Steelers) and Mike Holmgren (Packers) were each in the fourth season. BIll Parcells was in his third with the Patriots, and Dan Reeves his third with the Giants.
Buddy Ryan was coaching his second, and last, season in Arizona. He was fired 12 hours after the Cardinals lost the last regular season to the Cowboys on Christmas night. The mastermind of the 1985 Bears’ 46 Defense never returned to football. Ryan passed away in 2018, but his legacy is far from dead, thanks to sons Rex and Rob.
The biggest news of the 1995 NFL season was the debut of the Panthers and Jaguars, the NFL’s first expansion teams since the Buccaneers and Seahawks of 1976.
The Rams played their first season in St. Louis under new coach Rich Brooks, fresh off leading Oregon to the Rose Bowl. Contiuining the tradition of losing football in the Gateway City established by the Cardinals from 1960-87, the Rams went 7-9, their sixth of nine consecutive losing seasons.
The Raiders played in Oakland for the first time since 1981 and collapsed down the stretch, losing their last six to finish 8-8.
The Browns were playing their 50th—and final—season at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (aka The Mistake by the Lake (Erie)). that November, Art Modell shocked the sports world by annoucning the Browns were moving to Baltimore for 1996. Eventually, Modell had to leave the Browns’ name, colors and history behind, and the franchise was renamed the Baltimore Ravens. The new Browns debuted in 1999 in what is now First Energy Stadium.

The Bills’ quest for their fifth Super Bowl berth died in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers prevailed 40-21 in the first AFC divisional playoff. The next day, the Steelers were gifted home field for the AFC championship when the Colts, led by Jim Harbaugh, downed the Chiefs 10-7 at frigid Arrowhead.
Pittsburgh survived Indianapolis 20-16, but only after Aaron Bailey lost possession of Harbaugh’s Hail Mary when he hit the ground in the back right corner of the end zone on the game’s final play.
The Steelers fought the Cowboys tooth-and-nail in Super Bowl XXX, but two pathetic throws by Neil O’Donnell resulted in two interceptions by Larry Brown, and Dallas won 27-17. No wonder Pittsburgh didn’t return to the Super Bowl until Cowher and the Rooneys drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

Buffalo needed something good to happen. The Sabres have been wretched for more than a decade. The Braves left when I was 18 months old, and the NBA will NEVER come back. The city has struggled economically for as long as I’ve lived. New York’s governors have favored the Big Apple for far, far, FAR too long at the expense of the rest of the state. And of course, there’s always the snow.
Maybe this will help the push for a downtown stadium, something Terry and Kim Pegula stress is vital for the Bills to survive. I can’t blame them, because the stadium in Orchard Park is older than me, opening with the double murderer’s 2,003-yard season of 1973.

I wouldn’t mind living in Buffalo. I’d trade the snowy winters for cooler summers, although the humidity would be more than Kansas.
I’d better enjoy these zero-degree days (Celsius, of course) while I can. The mercury will shoot above 20 soon enough and have me in shorts for seven months.