Blues leave me red-faced

Herpes, malaria and AIDS spread from Raleigh to St. Louis.

The Blues clinched the Western Conference championship tonight with a 5-1 victory over the Sharks in St. Louis. That puts the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970, when St. Louis was swept by Boston, with Bobby Orr scoring 40 seconds into overtime of game four after he was tripped by Noel Picard. The picture of him flying through the air past a despondent Glenn Hall (lucky for Glenn, he started wearing a mask when he got to St. Louis, so his visage was unable to be captured on film) is one of the most iconic photos in all of sports.

By winning the conference championship, the Blues won the Clarence Campbell Bowl, named after longtime NHL president Clarence Campbell, the man in charge of the NHL when the Blues and five other teams came on board in 1967.

Last Thursday, Bruins captain Zdeno Charra treated the Prince of Wales Trophy like it was completely diseased when Boston completed its sweep of the Hurricanes in Raleigh.

I thought since the Blues were going to the final for the first time in 49 years, they would give their fans at the Enterprise Center something more to cheer about and skate the Campbell Bowl around the ice.

Nope.

Blues captain Victor Tarasenko and his mates treated the Campbell Bowl like it was the Prince of Wales’ Trophy equally evil twin. The Blues posed for a picture around the trophy, but nobody dared lay a finger on it.

PICK THE DAMN THING UP!

What, are the Blues blaming the Golden Knights’ loss in last year’s final on Deryk Engelland picking up the Campbell Bowl? In case the Blues (and Bruins) forgot, Alex Ovechkin PICKED UP the Prince of Wales Trophy, and his Capitals won the Stanley Cup.

The two years prior to that, Sidney Crosby picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy, but the Sharks and Predators avoided touching the Campbell Bowl. Guess who won the Stanley Cup each time? That’s right, the supposedly “jinxed” Penguins.

The Penguins have won the Prince of Wales Trophy six times. The one time their captain did NOT pick it up was 2008. Pittsburgh lost the final to Detroit. Crosby did pick it up the next year, and the Stanley Cup was soon back in Steeltown.

If the captains are that superstitious, then the NHL should stop presenting the trophies on the ice. Instead, just have the previous possessor of the trophy ship it to the current possessor.

I’m happy for my dear friends Larry and Lisa. Their Blues are finally going to play for the Stanley Cup after so much pain and so many close calls. Larry and I are also old enough to remember when the Blues almost moved to Saskatchewan, but were saved for Missouri by the NHL Board of Governors, who did not want to abandon a market with such loyal fans.

The Bucks sucked tonight. That is all I want to say about that. Then again, the winner of this series will be the Warriors’ sacrificial lamb.

Trophies carrying herpes?

Last night, the Bruins completed a four-game sweep of one of the teams in professional sports I despise the most, the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Bruins won the Eastern Conference championship and will await the Sharks or Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Sharks were gifted a victory in game three Wednesday when Timo Meier committed a blatant hand pass to Erik Karlsson, who scored the winning goal in overtime.

By winning the Eastern Conference, the Bruins were awarded the Prince of Wales Trophy. The Trophy was originally unveiled in the 1920s and given to the team with the best regular season record in the NHL, and it stayed that way until the first expansion in 1967. Then, it went to the team from the Eastern Conference with the best regular season record from 1968-74 before it changed to the team with the best record from the Wales Conference from 1975-81.

In 1982, the Prince of Wales Trophy and its younger cousin, the Clarence Campbell Bowl, were changed to postseason trophies. The winner of the conferences by those names from 1982-83 were awarded the trophies, then when the NHL went back to Eastern and Western for the conference names in 1993-94, the East champion received the Prince of Wales and the West champion received the Campbell Bowl.

Zdeno Charra, the captain of the Bruins, did not touch the Prince of Wales Trophy when it was presented to the team on the ice in Raleigh. The team posed for a photo around the trophy but nobody dared lay a finger on it.

Charra pulled same stupid S**T in 2011 and 2013 when Boston won the Eastern Conference. There’s some asinine superstition that you shouldn’t touch the conference championship trophy, and only the Stanley Cup should be touched.

I have no earthly idea when the conference championship trophies were treated like they had malaria, herpes and AIDS all at once. I find it to be so F***ING STUPID that I want to throw something at my TV every time I see players like Charra, Steven Stamkos, Dustin Brown, Jonathan Toews, Logan Couture and many others treat the conference championship trophies like they should be flushed down the toilet.

When the Islanders won the Wales Conference championship in 1982, ’83 and ’84, captain Denis Potvin picked up the Prince of Wales Conference trophy. In 1983 and ’84, the Islanders clinched the conference championship at Nassau Coliseum, and the Islanders had the unmitigated gall to skate the Prince of Wales Trophy around the ice, even though they won the Stanley Cup previously.

The Islanders swept the Canucks in the ’82 finals and the Oilers the next year. Yes, the Islanders lost to the Oilers in the ’84 finals, but Edmonton had the better team, and the Islanders were hard hit by injuries. FYI, Wayne Gretzky picked up the Clarence Campbell Bowl in 1984 in Minnesota after the Oilers swept the North Stars.

The last three teams prior to the Bruins who won the Eastern Conference–the Penguins in 2016 and ’17, and the Capitals last year–all went on to win the Stanley Cup after their respective captains picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy. And these were two of the biggest names to ever play in the NHL, Sidney Crosby for the Penguins and Alex Ovechkin for the Capitals.

In 2016 and ’17, the Sharks and Predators refused to touch the Clarence Campbell Bowl. Last year, the Golden Knights decided the Campbell Bowl was a fine reward, and picked it up, the first time since Jarome Iginla of the Flames did so in 2004. It was the first time both conference championship trophies were picked up since 2002, when the Red Wings (Campbell) and Hurricanes (Prince of Wales) did so.

Crosby did not pick up the Prince of Wales Trophy in 2008, and the Penguins lost in the finals to the Red Wings. The next year, Crosby DID pick up the Prince of Wales, and the Penguins beat the Red Wings. Crosby should have followed the lead of his owner, Mario Lemieux, who picked up the trophy in 1991 and ’92 and then led Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup.

It would be karma if the Western Conference champion picked up the Campbell Bowl and beat the Bruins. If the Blues win the West, I’m betting they do, because it will be their first trip to the final since 1970. If it’s the Sharks, I bet they treat the Campbell Bowl like herpes.

NHL teams should embrace the conference trophies. It means they have won TWELVE playoff games. That’s something special, I don’t care what sport it is. It should be celebrated.

Robert Kraft has yet to avoid hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy after his Patriots win the AFC championship. New England has won a lot more Super Bowls (6) than lost (2) since 2001. So why does Charra not follow the lead of the local football team?

Zion Williamson, sore loser

The New Orleans Pelicans won the first overall pick for the upcoming NBA Draft last night in the lottery.

I was very happy on two fronts.

First, I’m happy for the team playing in my native city.

I’ve been a Bucks fan since I was old enough to follow the NBA. The Jazz left the Crescent City four months before my third birthday, so I have no memories of Pistol Pete playing in the Superdome when the games actually happened. I thought the NBA was certifiably insane to let the Hornets relocate from Charlotte to New Orleans in 2002, because New Orleans, I felt, didn’t have the population nor the wealthy fans to support a team playing 41 home games per season. The Saints have enjoyed rabid support since their first season of 1967, but the Saints play only 10 home games (eight home games and two exhibitions which are nothing more than scrimmages under game conditions) a year. Prime seats for NBA games cost at least $300 per contest. Multiply that by 41 and you get the picture.

There was a time I believed the only reason New Orleans still had an NBA team was because David Stern felt sorry for the city after Hurricane Katrina. I believed for many years the NBA should have let the Hornets stay in Oklahoma City, where they played most of their games during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, which would have allowed the SuperSonics to stay in Seattle. But Stern (a) loved New Orleans and (b) loved Clay Bennett, who bought the Sonics and moved them to Sooner country in 2008.

However, I simply cannot ignore the place where I grew up and the state in which I lived the first 29 years of my life. I want the Pelicans to do well. I want them to win 80 of 82 games every season–the other two is when they play the Bucks.

The Pelicans were given the giant middle finger by Anthony “Unibrow” Davis when he demanded a trade to ONLY the Lakers or Knicks in January. Gayle Benson didn’t budge, and the Unibrow had to spend the rest of his season in the Crescent City, where he dragged down the Pelicans to a 33-49 record.

Benson was right to hold on to Davis. She cannot let the Pelicans get brutally robbed the way the Bucks were in 1975 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar forced his way out of Milwaukee with a trade to the Lakers, who sent the Bucks a bunch of nothing.

The Bucks weren’t the only NBA team the Lakers robbed blind in the ’70s; the Jazz gave away a first round draft pick for over-the-hill Gail Goodrich. That pick became the number one overall pick in 1979. The Lakers used it to draft some fellow named Earvin Johnson from Michigan State. The Jazz could have had Magic. Enough said.

New Orleans has some very interesting paths to take with the first overall pick. It could draft Zion and trade Davis for the king’s ransom he should bring in return; the Pelicans could trade the pick AND Davis and begin a massive rebuild similar to that the 76ers undertook at the beginning of the decade; it could draft Zion and then attempt to re-sign Davis, hoping to build a new Big Three with Zion, Davis and Jrue Holliday; or it could draft Zion and shop him to the highest bidder if it cannot resign Unibrow.

David Griffin, the Pelicans’ new Executive Vice President and General Manager, is the envy of his 29 counterparts across the NBA.

The other great thing about the Pelicans winning the lottery: THE KNICKS DIDN’T.

Few teams in all of professional sports infuriate me more than the Knicks. Never have liked that franchise. Hated it when David Stern rigged the first lottery in 1985 to allow the Knicks to take Patrick Ewing, then Ewing saying he would never have signed with the Pacers had they won the lottery that year. Hated it when former Knick great Bill Bradley preached socialism during his political career as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey and later as a failed presidential candidate.

I have really despised the Knicks for (a) hiring Isiah Thomas, a total douchebag on the court and an even worse piece of fecal matter off of it; and (b) having James Dolan as an owner.

To say Dolan is a douchebag would be saying Hurricane Katrina was just a little rain and wind storm. Dolan brings a new definition to the word “douchebag”. Between Dolan and Thomas, the Knicks should be sponsored by Summer’s Eve and Massengale.

Why Zion badly wanted to play for these supreme dickheads is beyond me, but he felt he would make upwards of $250 million in endorsements in the Big Apple.

When the Knicks didn’t win the lottery, Zion stormed out of the Chicago hotel where it was being held and presumably went back to his hotel to sulk to Coach K and his agent.

A trade to the Knicks isn’t happening. That team is so messed up it doesn’t have enough to offer the Pelicans. So Zion better accept he isn’t going to Knicks for awhile.

If Zion doesn’t want to play for the Pelicans, let him go to Europe. He wouldn’t be the first crybaby to demand a particular team not draft him.

One of the first known instances of this happened 50 years ago.

Orenthal James Simpson was so coveted coming out of USC that Philadelphia Eagles fans rioted in the stands at Franklin Field when the Eagles defeated the Saints in a December game, because it allowed the Bills to move ahead of Philadelphia for the first pick in the upcoming draft.

Simpson didn’t want to go to Buffalo. He hated the cold. He hated the East Coast. He wanted to be in a major media market. But the Rams, who shared the Coliseum with USC, weren’t going to sniff him unless they traded the Bills Roman Gabriel, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones and Tom Mack, and even then, the Bills may have said no.

Buffalo drafted Simpson. He held out as long as he could, but finally signed.

The Bills had it happen twice more to them within five years.

In 1979, they drafted Tom Cousineau out of Ohio State first overall after Cousineau said he had no desire to play for them. Cousineau went to Canada for three seasons before returning to the NFL and signing with his hometown team, the Browns.

Four years later, Jim Kelly refused to sign with the Bills after he was drafted 13th overall out of Miami. He played in the USFL for two seasons in Houston before coming to Buffalo when the USFL was awarded $1 in its 1986 antitrust case against the NFL.

The NHL’s poster child for draft shenanigans is Eric Lindros, who steadfastly refused to play for the Nordiques after Quebec drafted him first overall in 1991. He held out for the entire 1991-92 season before the Nordiques traded him to the Flyers for numerous players and picks.

In 1990, Todd Van Poppel was a hotshot high school pitcher in Texas. He told the Braves not to draft him, because if they did, he would attend the University of Texas. Atlanta honored his wishes and drafted this Chipper Jones guy. Van Poppel was drafted 12th overall by the Athletics, the 1989 World Series champion, and chose Oakland over Austin. I think the Braves won that won. Big time.

Professional sports drafts go against the American ideal of freedom of choice, but if they didn’t exist, players would simply sign with the highest bidder. In MLB, that would create gross competitive imbalance, because the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers would simply outbid the likes of the Astros, Cardinals and Brewers for the top shelf talent. The Yankees did it so well for so long that MLB finally instituted the draft in 1965. Once it began, the Yankees fell into a nosedive which didn’t end until 1976.

Nobody should feel sorry for a crybaby 19-year old who didn’t get his way and can’t play for the team he wants, at least at first. If Zion loves New York that bad, he can get a job in the Big Apple I’m sure, one which will pay less in a year than he would make in a single game playing in New Orleans.

Everyone has a price. Zion will eventually wise up. It’s all about the $$$$.

Two problems, one solution: back to Russell

I watched with interest since the beginning of 2018 as a new hotel was constructed in Salina off Magnolia Road west of Interstate 135. I was hoping it would be a Marriott-branded property, since the only Marriott in Salina for the past eight years has been the Courtyard at I-135 and Schilling.

Indeed, it was a Farifield. It opened earlier this year, and I decided to try it out last night.

The outside looks great. The rooms for the most part are fine.

However, I had more than one problem.

First, the elevator–the only one in the hotel–was out of order. My original room was on the third floor, which would not have been a problem EXCEPT for my large green suitcase. The prospect of lugging it up the stairs was unappealing.

The front desk moved me to the first floor…into a handicapped room, which I did not enter. I knew when I saw the hearing impaired sign that it was trouble.

I remember being assigned to a handicapped room on a road trip with LSU’s baseball team to Ole Miss. This was a dump of a motel, and being in a handicapped room wasn’t making anything better. Fortunately, they found a regular room.

The third time was the charm in Salina yesterday, but I was still unhappy about being on the first floor. It is usually much louder on the ground floor than on upper floors, and it was going to be worse in the morning, because the room was cattycorner to the breakfast area.

However, trouble struck when I got back from Buffalo Wild Wings.

The sink in the bathroom was completely stopped.

I tried to open the trap, but it would not open. I didn’t have my plunger with me, and I had no tool to try and pry the trap open.

I was reduced to bailing water from the sink with a plastic cup. Lovely.

It was at that point I decided to cut my stay short and return to Russell tonight.

Other than that, Salina has been good, between Buffalo Wild Wings and Amber cutting my hair.

##########################################################################

I have had it up to here with bugs doing suicide missions on the front bumper and windshield of my automobile. I’ve washed the car four times in the last three weeks, and it looks awesome…except for the bugs.

Looks like I will be using that unlimited car wash pass in Wichita and Kansas City quite a bit between now and early October.

##########################################################################

There will be new blood in the NBA Finals. The Raptors and Bucks begin their Eastern Conference championships series tomorrow night in Milwaukee.

The Raptors, who began playing in the 1995-96 season, have never made it to the final round. Their only conference championship appearance was in 2016, when they lost to LeBron’s Cavaliers.

Milwaukee has an NBA title, but it was all the way back in 1971, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was still Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson was playing point guard for coach Larry Costello. The Bucks made it back to the finals three years later, only to lose to Boston in seven.

Since then, the Bucks have only made the conference finals four times, losing to Philadelphia in 1983 and 2001, and to Boston in 1984 and ’86.

I’m hoping against all hope Portland can beat Golden State in the West. I’ve had it with the Warriors. They’re not as arrogant as the Patriots or Alabama football, but it’s bad enough.

##########################################################################

I was scared after San Jose beat St. Louis 6-3 Saturday in the NHL playoffs. Thankfully, the Blues bounced back last night to win 5-2 and now are even going back to Missouri for the next two games.

Just hoping Boston can finish off the jerks from Carolina.

##########################################################################

God, I’m going stupid. Just had a horrendous Countdown trivia game. My score of 8.825 was the lowest for a full game this year, and I think the lowest in two years. I could have scored that when I was 15. The silver lining was I wasn’t playing anyone, and I haven’t faced anyone in Salina since last year, and I have yet to draw an opponent in Hays.

Bounced back to 12.597 last game. Okay. Feeling better.

The good thing about going on trivia binges is it keeps me from giving in to temptation and disgusting things nobody should be doing on the Internet. Last May, I was in a very bad place, one which compromised my values, my finances and nearly cost me a lot more.

Not jamming with jalapenos, plus the dread of a Sharks-Hurricanes Stanley Cup fina

What is America’s obsession with jalapeño flavored stuff? I understand japalenos on Mexican dishes–even though I don’t like japalenos on my nachos, tacos or enchiladas–and jalapeño poppers at fast food and fast casual restaurants such as Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings, but it has gone overboard.

Case in point: jalapeño flavored M&Ms.

Just the thought of it makes me want to throw up.

Since when do chocolate and jalapeño go together?

M&Ms has come out with three new flavors, and stores across the country, including Kansas City, Salina and Hays, have large displays featuring them.

English toffee is delicious. I bought a bag at the grocery store in Hays a few minutes ago. Heath and 5th Avenue, both of which feature toffee, are among my favorite chocolate bars. Heath pieces used to be the only kind of candy I would get in a Dairy Queen Blizzard, although I’ve expanded my tastes to include many other flavors.

Thai Coconut? Mixed emotions. If it were just coconut, I would dive right in, because Mounds, which is dark chocolate and coconut, is another of my favorite candy bars. But the “Thai” part concerns me. I can eat the Thai curry wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, but many times, Thai is very hot. I’ll pass unless someone else offers them to me.

Jalapeño? Don’t get me started.

No. No way. I’m not touching that one with a four-meter pole.

My mother might like jalapeno M&Ms. She is a sucker for anything jalapeno. My father, however, has much more sense and avoids jalapenos on anything except nachos at a restaurant.

The craze to put out jalapeno flavored anything is similar to the sriracha craze of five years ago. Buffalo Wild Wings had a sriracha-flavored sauce out for a limited time in 2014, and I told Liz or Lisa or whomever was taking care of me to make sure I didn’t get stupid and order it. I didn’t.

I flat refuse to order anything with sriracha or jalapeno. I also will not touch the mango habanero sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings. I tried it once six years ago and swore NEVER AGAIN. I also tried the hottest sauce at BWW in 2008, and I said NEVER AGAIN. I can take heat, but not ridiculous amounts.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

The NHL is down to its last four teams in quest of the Stanley Cup.

I said after the first round I was hoping for a Bruins-Blues final. That is still a possibility.

Boston plays Carolina in the East and St. Louis faces San Jose in the West, with the winners matching up for the most treasured prize in North American professional sports.

I’d like to see the Blues reach the finals for the first time since 1970 for my two friends who love the Blues, Larry and Lisa. I’m not a fan of Boston’s sports teams, but I can tolerate the Bruins much more than most NHL teams, since they are an Original Six team.

San Jose? The Sharks are the reason why the Minnesota North Stars left for Dallas, so I have a natural disgust for them.

The Gund brothers became majority owners of the North Stars in 1978 after their franchise, the Cleveland Barons, were forced to merge with the North Stars by then-NHL president John Ziegler, since both were teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Ziegler was unwilling to abandon Minnesota, the most hockey-mad state in America, and frankly, neither were the NHL’s Board of Governors. After all, the North Stars were still drawing strong despite some very bad teams in the 1970s, while the Barons couldn’t draw flies during two seasons in northeast Ohio.

Now how does this tie into the Bay Area? The Barons originally began life as the Oakland Seals during the 1967 expansion which brought the North Stars, Blues, Penguins, Flyers and Kings into the NHL as well. The Seals were mismanaged throughout their nine seasons in northern California, at one point falling under the ownership of gigantic douchebag Charles O. Finley, the same many who screwed Kansas City royally by turning the Athletics into a clown show before moving them to Oakland after the 1967 season.

The Gunds became majority owners of the merged North Stars-Barons franchise, and by the late 1980s, they were itching to get out of the Twin Cities.

They did so by selling the North Stars to another turd, Norman Green, and Ziegler and Board of Governors granted the Gunds an expansion team, the Sharks, which played their first two seasons at the Cow Palace in the San Francisco suburb of Daly City before what is known colloquially as the “Shark Tank” opened in 1993. (Ironically, many in San Jose are scared the Sharks will move to San Francisco when the new arena built for the Warriors opens later this year, but that’s not likely).

Green was disillusioned by the North Stars’ home, the Met Center in suburban Bloomington, a stone’s throw from the former home of the Twins and Vikings, Metorpolian Stadium, which was vacated in 1981 and torn down in 1985 to make way for the Mall of America.

Of course, Green did what any piece of feces owner does, he begged the taxpayers of Minnesota to build him a new arena. When the people of Minnesota said no, he took the franchise to that noted hockey hotbed, Dallas, which was desperate to have a winning franchise, since the Mavericks were the worst team in the NBA at that time, several years before sugar daddy Mark Cuban cam on the scene

The same stubbornness of Minnesota voters nearly cost the state its other three franchises.

The Timberwolves were all set to move to New Orleans in 1994 before David Stern blocked the deal due to the shady finances of the ownership group who wanted to move the franchise from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to its mouth. The Minnesota legislature approved major improvements to the Target Center, and the Timberwolves have never threatened to leave Minnesota since.

The Twins were all but set to be contracted by Bud Selig following the 2001 season. Carl Pohlad, who owned the franchise at the time, was all but willing to give up and take the money. But the state said no, and courts within the state blocked MLB from contracting any team. The voters of Minnesota were chastened, and in 2010, Target Field opened.

The Vikings were all but gone to Los Angeles in the middle of the 2000s. Even though the Metrodome was built for them, not the Twins, they complained long and loud once Target Field opened, and the carping became worse after the Metrodome’s roof collapsed in December 2010, forcing the Vikings to move two home games (one to Detroit, one to the University of Minnesota). The Vikings got their new stadium three years ago, and it has already hosted Super Bowl LII and the 2019 Final Four.

I’m not a fan of California hockey. On the other hand, I can understand why the NHL wants to be in the Bay Area, given its population and disposable income. Plus, the Kings needed an in-state rival, although the Ducks came along two years later and gave the Kings one much, much closer to home.

As for the Hurricanes, I hate that the Hartford Whalers, who had the second best logo in all of professional sports (behind the Milwaukee Brewers’ “ball-in-glove’) left for a place which knew absolutely zilch about hockey, a place where it is impossible to play hockey outdoors (except in the winter in the far western part of North Carolina which is colder due to the higher elevation of the Appalachians), a place where anyone who isn’t following basketball during the winter is, frankly, out to lunch.

Fred Demarest, someone I knew from LSU and someone I like a lot, is an associate athletic director at North Carolina State. He has ditched the Devils, the team he grew up following in New Jersey and at William Paterson College, for the Hurricanes. I’ve had to chide him about this. I can understand him wanting to support the team which plays in the place he lives, but the HURRICANES? The slimy Hurricanes, who left Hartford despite strong support?

I do not believe hockey belongs in the south. NO. St. Louis and Washington is as far south as it should extend. I don’t care if Dallas/Fort Worth has 10 million people in the area. NO. And why does it belong in Raleigh, where Duke and North Carolina are king and always will be?

I was nauseous when Dallas won the Stanley Cup in Buffalo in 1999 on a goal which shouldn’t have counted. I was apoplectic when Tampa Bay won the Cup in 2004, and again when Carolina won it in 2006.

If it’s San Jose and Carolina in the finals, I will really be sick to my stomach. Boston and San Jose? GO BRUINS. St. Louis vs. either Eastern team? GO BLUES.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

I was scared the Bucks were going to choke it away after losing to Boston by 22 points on their home floor almost two weeks ago.

Milwaukee hasn’t lost since, and now it is in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001, and only the third time since last reaching the NBA Finals in 1974.

Rest in peace, John Havlicek, I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you play when you were doing your thing with the Celtics.

The Bucks, who won 116-91 last night to clinch the series vs. Boston in five, plays either Toronto or Philadelphia in the next round. Milwaukee has a bad history in the playoffs against the 76ers, but in many of the previous series between the clubs, the Bucks were the underdog.

My good friend Bill Franques and I are huge Bucks fans. He remembered the 1974 finals, in which the Bucks won Game 6 in double overtime in the Boston Garden on a skyhook by Kareem in the closing seconds, only to lose 102-87 in Game 7 at Milwaukee. That left Bill with a strong antipathy for the Celtics. I don’t have such an antipathy for the Celtics, but I badly wanted the Bucks to win this series.

Just had a Boston Celtics trivia question at Golden Q. It regarded Moses Malone and his stupid comment during the 1981 Finals, which he said after the Rockets won Game 4 91-86 that he could get four guys off the street from his hometown of Petersburg, Virginia and beat the Celtics.

Alrighty then. The Rockets weren’t going to beat Bird, Tiny Archibald and Robert Parish with the team they had, which was Malone, ancient Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich, spare parts (Mike Dunleavy, Billy Paultz, Tom Henderson), a servicable player who would never emerge into stardom (Robert Reid), so what made him think lesser men could do it?

Five years later, the Rockets had a better team, led by Ralph Sampson and Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon. But the Celtics were far better; they still had Bird and Parish, but Kevin McHale had emerged into a star, and Bill Walton enjoyed his best season since leading Portland to the 1977 championship. It would take a few years and more favorable matchups before the Rockets won titles in 1994 (the year NBC idiotically cut away from coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Finals except in Houston and New York to show a washed up football player fleeing from the authorities on the freeways of Los Angeles) and ’95.

Less than two years later, Malone was in Philadelphia, and two years after his ill-timed comment, he, Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney steamrolled the Knicks, Bucks and Lakers as the 76ers won their first NBA Title since coach Billy Cunningham played for the team in 1967, so it all worked out for Moses. Rest in peace, big guy.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

The Brewers have won five in a row. Life is good in Wisconsin. Will the Packers oblige? Still have four months to find out.

Sorry for yet another novella. I do that sometimes. No, make that more than sometimes.

Stealing for stealing’s sake

It’s sickening when possessions are stolen.

Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina has experienced this more than a few times recently.

When I arrived at 1400 today, I noticed nearly all of the tablets used to play Buzztime poker and trivia were gone.

Abby, the bartender whom I had a very pleasant experience with the last time I was here eight days ago, told me most of the tablets have been stolen.

I’m guessing there may have been a few tablets broken by rambunctious children, but none of the tablets were in bad shape when I was here in January.

Why the hell do people want to steal the Buzztime tablets?

If the thieves think they can get a cheap substitute for an iPad or a Microsoft Surface, they’re sadly mistaken.

First, there is no way to download any software to these tablets.

Second, the tablets are completely useless outside the restaurant. They are equipped with anti-theft trackers which will shut the tablet down when they are too far from the location.

Apparently, there are kleptomaniacs out there who get their rocks off by stealing anything, no matter how useless it is to them.

It’s like a man going into Target or Walmart and stealing tampons even if he doesn’t have a wife, daughter or other female relative. Or a woman who steals condoms when she has absolutely no prospects for using them.

Stealing is wrong. Why is it one of the Ten Commandments? But God, why steal things which are useless? I wouldn’t steal, period, but if you’re stealing food, you may have a good reason.

Luckily for me, there was a tablet available, and nobody else was playing trivia or poker. Looks like I’m going to have to have my burner phone which has the Buzztime app handy when I go here.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

I originally planned to go back to Buffalo Wild Wings at Shoal Creek (Liberty) and play until the evening, then drive back to Russell in the dead of night, because I had trouble waking up when I drove home Easter morning. However, as I was walking around two grocery stores, I realized I could drive to Salina and be home a lot earlier after playing there for a few hours.

I skipped all the Lunchtime games, barely making it to my destination before 1400.

Kansas City was very good this time. I got my car washed and the interior cleaned Thursday, but it rained Friday morning, so I asked for a re-wash, since the business guaranteed a clean car for two days. I got the free wash.

I opened Buffalo Wild Wings yesterday, something I haven’t done in ages. I stayed ten hours, the longest I have in a very long time.

The only faux pas was Thursday morning when I woke up at 0350 and left at 0545. I was feeling the effects from the lack of sleep all the way, but I made it in one piece.

The Kentucky Derby is about to start. Omaha Beach, the favorite for a long time, was scratched Wednesday. The three favorites are all trained by Bob Baffert, who is quickly becoming the Nick Saban/Mike Kryzewzski/Bill Belichick of horse racing, as in unbeatable.

Let’s play two, even though we would rather not

The Royals and the White Sox took a financial hit today, thanks to Major League Baseball’s insistence teams play 76 of 162 games within their division.

Due to the (grossly) unbalanced schedule, which took effect in 2001, teams make only one trip per season into the 10 cities within their league but not within their division, and vice versa.

When postponements occur in these situations, or to interleague games, it becomes a cluster you-know-what.

The Royals and White Sox, both members of the American League Central, were scheduled to play members of the AL East, the Rays and Orioles, respectively, Tuesday.

However, rain blanketed the Midwest, stretching from Chicago to Kansas City and well to the west, where many high school events in this part of Kansas were cancelled, including Russell High baseball and softball games.

Knowing Baltimore won’t see the south side of Chicago again until 2020, and Tampa Bay won’t be at the Truman Sports Complex until next year, the White Sox and Royals had to get these games in during the current series.

The Royals and Rays were scheduled for a four-game series, with a night game today and a day game tomorrow. A doubleheader is not allowed on a getaway day unless players on both teams vote to allow it. The players vetoed that idea, so there was no choice but to play a twinbill today.

As for the Orioles and White Sox, there was no choice. The White Sox play the Red Sox tomorrow.

Both the Royals and White Sox scheduled traditional doubleheaders, with one ticket good for both games. Both doubleheaders started at 1205 Central (1305 Eastern).

Traditional doubleheaders are even rarer in MLB in 2019 than the complete game, which is saying something. There was a time where the Sunday doubleheader, or the twi-night doubleheader on a Friday, were ubiquitous.

It’s all about the $$$$$ for professional sports owners in 2019. Combined with player’s unions which threaten legal action over the smallest quibbles, you aren’t going to find anyone who really wants to play a doubleheader, at least those employed by the 30 clubs.

Owners are dead set upon 81 dates for 81 games to maximize ticket revenue. Any reduction in playing dates, even for a Tuesday night game which may have drawn no more than 20,000, probably much less in Kansas City, irritates men like David Glass and Jerry Reinsdorf.

I’m surprised neither team scheduled a split doubleheader, where the stadium would have been cleared after the first game. There are provisions in the collective bargaining agreement governing split doubleheaders. It’s too cumbersome to go into detail here.

It’s a good thing Ernie Banks has passed on. He would not be happy with the lack of doubleheaders.

You’re not going to get rid of interleague play, so MLB should cut back the number of division games. For those of you who don’t know the real reason for the unbalanced schedule–to make sure the Red Sox and Yankees play 19 times a season–are living under a rock.

If MLB wants the Red Sox and Yankees to play 19 times a year, let them. THat would mean fewer games vs. the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays, and none of those teams would complain. But it’s criminal the Pirates and Phillies are in the same state yet play only once in each city per year.

Acting like garbage

The above photo was taken at Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina last night.

The purpose of the sign is to remind both customers and employees the latest possible birth date to be legally served alcohol.

It reminded me of one of my most embarrassing days, an embarrassment I created for myself and have nobody to blame but myself.

On April 26, 1998, I was in Gainesville for the final game of LSU’s baseball series with Florida. The Bayou Bengals and Gators were the top two teams in the Southeastern Conference, both ranked in the top 10 by all the major polls of college baseball at that time: Collegiate Baseball newspaper, Baseball America magazine, and USA Today, which was the coaches’ poll, the same way it was in football and basketball.

LSU won the first game of the series 13-5, but Florida came back to win game two 4-3. The winner of the “rubber” game would have the inside track to the SEC championship, although both would more than likely host an NCAA regional tournament in late May, barring a total collapse.

I was already a bundle of nerves. We were flying from Gainesville to Atlanta to New Orleans after the game, then taking a bus back to Baton Rouge, meaning we would not be home before 2200, and then the players, managers and myself would be in class the next morning.

The flight from Baton Rouge to Atlanta was my first time in an airplane since 1981. It was a harrowing ride for me. The Delta 727 hit turbluence and I was scared the plane was going to crash. Jeremy Witten, an outfielder for the Bayou Bengals, sat next to me and was doing his best to keep me calm, but to no avail. When the plane landed at Hartsfield-Jackson International, the players and some other passengers cheered. I’m sure those not on the team were glad I would never be in the same plan as them again.

I wanted to beg someone–Bill Franques, Jim Hawthorne, Jim Schwanke, Dan Canevari–to rent a car and drive from Atlanta to Gainesville, five hours on Interstate 75. Then again, I didn’t want to torture them. So I kept my mouth shut and trudged through the terminal to the gate.

The leg from Atlanta to Gainesville was uneventful, even though it was on ATR-72, a turboprop which became infamous when one crashed into a field in northwest Indiana on Halloween 1994 after wings developed on the ice. That crash killed 68 and forced American carriers to remove all of their ATR-72s from anywhere above the 35 degrees north latitude.

Gainesville is not one of my favorite SEC locales. I had nightmares about Gainesville from the infamously horrendous 1985 Disney World trip with my family, since our station wagon blew out a tire there and we were forced to wait three hours for a new one.

McKethan Stadium, Florida’s baseball facility, is near the bottom of my list. The grandstand is completely open, and there are huge picture windows in the press box which open and let in the heat. There is no air conditioning.

Fortunately, the first two games of the series were played at night, but the Sunday game was at 1300 EDT, and it was BROILING. And I had to wear pants, since there would be no time for me to change after the game.

But what was to come was the worst. And I will never live it down.

Late in the game when LSU left runners on base, I kicked a huge garbage can. Bill Franques and Jim Hawthorne were busy in the radio booth and they didn’t see it, but Florida’s publicity man, Steve Shaff, and a few of the Florida writers did.

I should have crawled into a hole. Had I been old enough to rent a car, I would have and driven back to Baton Rouge by myself.

I confessed my transgression. If Bill or someone else wanted to leave me in Gainesville, I would not have contested. I deserved to be deserted. But I got on the plane, and made it back to Baton Rouge without further incident.

That was one of about 384 incidents during my years with LSU baseball I regret. I want to go to the SEC tournament in Birmingham and apologize to all of those I wronged through the years. I am well aware many have moved on, I want to be able to at least look some people in the eye and say I’m sorry.

I returned to Gainesville and McKethan Stadium four years later. I was surprised I was not banned. This time, Bill and I made like Smokey and the Bandit and drove as fast as we could, taking liberties with the speed limit all the way. Bill’s second son, Benjamin, was born only three weeks prior to our departure date (not to mention their first son, William, had not yet turned two), and he did not want to leave Yvette any more than he had to.

The previous week, Bill was delayed at Hartsfield–Jackson trying to get to Knoxville, and it looked like he would miss the first game of the LSU-Tennessee series. However, the game was rained out, so he had a cushion.

Bill and I left Baton Rouge at 0600 CDT the morning of the first game. We were in Gainesville by 1600 EDT, three hours before first pitch. We made the reverse trip from Gainesville to Baton Rouge with similar alacrity, leaving the stadium at 1630 EDT and arriving at my apartment at 0005 CDT. LSU won two of three in that series, so the drive back was much more enjoyable.

I will never see McKethan Stadium again. It will be demolished after the 2020 season, and the Gators will open a palatial new facility in 2021, one where all the grandstand seats are covered. Hopefully LSU lucks out with the schedule rotation and does not have to go to Gainesville next year.

My last flight was April 4, 1999, when the LSU baseball team flew home from Knoxville. There was a slight bit of turbulence on the flight from Atlanta to New Orleans, but nothing like what we hit two weeks prior when flying in a puddle jumper from Memphis to the new Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Cave Springs, somewhere between Bentonville and Fayetteville.

Given security and the lack of leg room, I do NOT want to fly if I can help it. I prefer driving and getting to take as much as can fit in my car. Also, I’d have to drive to either Wichita or Kansas City (UGH!) unless I wanted to fly in a small plane from Hays to Denver to connect. Why bother?

A few random topics on a Wednesday evening

My humdrum life in western Kansas resumed at 1100 Sunday. The Seroquel I took to h help me sleep Saturday had me groggy. I was fading fast. I wanted to get home in time for lunch because my mother was cooking salmon and asparagus, two of my favorite foods. Plus, I had been eating nothing but White Castle, Taco Bell and Buffalo Wild Wings for 10 days, save for a Blizzard at Dairy Queen in Columbia when I met Bill for lunch on the first day there and a couple of hot dogs from QuikTrip. A home-cooked meal did me some good.

##########################################################################

Yesterday (April 23) was the 34th anniversary of the introduction of New Coke. Coke had been building up to the rollout of a new formula for three months, with Bill Cosby stating in commercials that New Coke would taste just as good as the original.

I recall New Coke being pretty good. I couldn’t tell the difference. I was unaffected by Coca-Cola bringing back the “Classic” formula three months after rolling out New Coke, because I would drink anything. Whenever I saw New Coke in stores for the next few years, I’d buy it over the Classic formula, although sightings of New Coke in metro New Orleans were few and far between.

What was funny was my father was drinking Pepsi during this period, and my brother and I were drinking Coke. Looking back on it, seems silly now. I don’t have a preference for Pepsi or Coke. I usually buy whatever is cheaper, although the Pepsi 2-liter bottles fit in the door of the refrigerator in my garage, while the taller Coke 2-liters do not. Heck, I think Kroger’s imitation of Coke Zero Sugar and Pepsi Zero Sugar is pretty good. There are some versions of pop I like, such as Dr. Pepper Ten, TaB and Pibb Zero, which only come in cans, although I haven’t seen TaB in quite some time. I like TaB because it’s sweetened with saccharin (Sweet and Low), which I find superior to aspartame and Splenda. I last saw a TaB 2-liter in 1997 in an Albertson’s in Baton Rouge.

##########################################################################

The Stanley Cup will remain in the United States yet again. The last Canadian team in the NHL playoffs, the Maple Leafs, choked away Games 6 and 7 vs. the Bruins. The Leafs have got to trade one of their big scorers for help on defense. I don’t care if it’s Austin Matthews, Mitch Marner or Mikael Nylander, just get help on the friggin’ blue line. And get a competent backup goalie. Heck, the Leafs had a better goaltending situation in the 80s with Ken Wregget and Alan Bester. Frederik Andersen is going to die if he keeps facing 50 shots a night like he has many times in Toronto.

The good news? The Predators and Golden Knights are also gone from the playoffs. Gary Bettman’s dream of the Stanley Cup residing in Vegas or redneck country is down to the Hurricanes, who play the defending champion Capitals tonight in Washington in Game 7. God, Washington had BETTER win. I have always despised the Carolina Hurricanes because they used to be the Hartford Whalers, whose logo is the second best in sports history, behind only the Brewers’ ball-in-glove which forms “M” and “B”. I’m not a fan of the Sharks or Stars, but they are far more palatable than Na$hville and Vega$, teams I cannot stand. And I certainly could stomach Ovechkin and the Caps much more than the friggin Hurricanes.

Na$hville, Vega$, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida are on my list of teams I will never, ever root for. Also on the list are the NFL’s Panthers, Buccaneers, Ravens, Dolphins and Patriots (as long as those two buttholes are there); MLB’s Reds, Orioles, Marlins, Rays and White Sox (at least as long as they keep wearing those disgusting black uniforms); and the NBA’s Heat, Magic, Nets, Knicks, Kings and whatever team LeBron is playing for. The Detroit Lions are on the list right now because Matt Patricia is a buffoon.

I’m hoping for a Blues-Bruins final. Even though Boston eliminated Toronto, I can stomach it because it was a fellow Original Six club. As for St. Louis, the Blues have not been to a Final since 1970, and they are 0-12 all-time in Finals games, getting swept in ’68 and ’69 by Montreal and in ’70 by Boston, when Bobby Orr scored the Cup-winning goal 40 seconds into overtime after he was tripped by St. Louis’ Noel Picard. The shot of Orr flying in the air is the most iconic photo in NHL history.

More importantly, two people I care about are HUGE Blues fans: Larry, my trivia buddy who I got to see last Friday, and Lisa Toebben Daniels, whom I miss greatly.

##########################################################################

The Bucks are resting up after sweeping the Pistons. Now they play the Celtics, who swept the Pacers, in the second round. Boston looked damn good in taking out Indiana, so I’m worried. I think this will be tougher for Milwaukee than Toronto or Philadelphia would be in the Eastern Conference Finals.

As for the West, who cares? We all know the Warriors will finish the Clippers tonight, then they’ll crush the Rockets, then either the Nuggets (hopefully) or Blazers. Why bother?

The NBA should let the Warriors have a free pass to the Finals, and have 16 other teams battle it out for the right to play Golden State for the championship. Would make things a lot more ##########################################################################

Today’s discovery: I can play Buzztime trivia in Hays.

The Golden Q, a popular hangout for Fort Hays State University students, is a new member of the Buzztime network. I have taken advantage twice today, first during a two-hour gap between appointments, and now. My favorite game, SIX, is coming up at 1930.

Now I don’t have to drive to Salina, or even farther, to play. That’s a relief.

The food is pretty good. One item I can’t find anywhere else: chicken gizzards. I’ll have to try the wings.

White Castle fades to black :-(

I finally ran out of White Castle today. 😭😭😭

I ate the last of the leftovers from Tuesday in my hotel. I ate White Castle for eight straight days–six in Columbia and two more days of leftovers in Kansas City.

I don’t know if I can eat another restaurant hamburger. As much as I love the Big Mac, it pales to sliders from White Castle, especially their impossible sliders, which are made from a plant-based material.

I’m going to miss the crab cake sliders and fried clams from White Castle. They’re gone after Saturday, since Sunday is Easter and Lent is over. They won’t be back until next February. I didn’t miss the opportunity to devour plenty of both.

I did not eat any other type of fast food in Columbia. After all, I can get Zaxby’s in Kansas City and Lawrence, Chick-Fil-A in Salina, Taco Bell and everything else in Hays, plus McDonald’s and Sonic in dear old Russell.

God I wish White Castle would open in Kansas City. You can spit anywhere in St. Louis and find a White Castle. That blows. I wish Raising Cane’s would leave and White Castle would take their place. I hate to rag on a Baton Rouge tradition, but when employees put their elbow in a vat of lemonade and film it for the Internet, I can’t patronize a place like that.

But here’s what baffles me: why the F**K is Dickey’s Pit Barbecue in Kansas City? Dickey’s should have been forced to shut down forever when a woman in Utah nearly died from drinking tea laced with lye. I’ve never eaten at Dickey’s, but it can’t be good. And I would never consider eating there in Kansas City of all places. 🥵🤮

White Castle would be far more popular in this town than that crap Dickey’s. And it would be a lot easier for me than driving two hours past Kansas City, although Columbia also has the lovely supermarket Schnucks, which I’ve found to be superior to Hy-Vee and Dillon’s.

##########################################################################

Today was laser hair treatment number five. I no longer look like a grizzly bear with my shirt off–not that anyone sees it. But I hated looking in the mirror at all that hair. Hated it. It feels so much better to use a backscratcher and scratch all skin instead of half skin and half hair. Next treatment May 23.

##########################################################################

I wasted much of my day at Buffalo Wild Wings (Shoal Creek, not Zona Rosa) playing trivia. But my last game is coming up and I’ll be out at 2030.

To iHOP or not to iHOP? Tomorrow is Good Friday and I probably shouldn’t indulge on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Then again, the rules about fasting on Good Friday have been flagrantly abused by most Catholics since 1967. Also, I will be in Hays Wednesday for a bunch of medical appointments. I can get iHOP on the way back to Russell.

My life is pretty boring. This blog post shows it.