Monthly Archives: October 2015

You wouldn’t want my life. Seriously. if you did, then you’ve got problems. Serious problems.

If this has not been the worst week of my life, it is very close to the worst week of my life.

It all started at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. My birthday. I discovered my iPod had been stolen from my car. I didn’t realize it Sunday evening and Monday, simply because I hardly spent any time in the car after I arrived in Kansas City at Buffalo Wild Wings in Zona Rosa. I know for a fact I had the iPod on the trip from Russell to Kansas City, because I played music on the iPod for nearly the entire drive. I only switched to the radio to listen to the Chiefs pregame on 101.1 FM.

I was only in the car Sunday night to drive from Zona Rosa to the hotel on Tiffany Springs Parkway. I made the round trip Monday. Then came Tuesday, when I discovered the iPod and the cable to connect it to the car stereo were gone. I searched frantically over every square inch of the car, then I returned to the room to look for it again, and found nothing.

I told my father about it, and he called me an idiot. I felt like an idiot. He just reinforced it.

It got much, much, much worse. American Express threatened to cut off the only credit card I had working. I had a terrible time at Buffalo Wild Wings, because it was getting way too crowded, and then an asshole who smelled worse than vomit sat down next to me. That’s when I got up and left. Did not say goodbye to anyone.

I got so angry Tuesday I left a message for Crista back in Hays. She couldn’t understand it because I was crying so much. She got in touch with me the next day as I was leaving town.

The last three days have been hell on earth. I have not left my house since getting home. In fact, I have spent all but a few minutes in my basement, either crying, wondering how pathetic my life is, or doing everything I can NOT to watch sports.

I watched the Falcons-Saints game Thursday night, but I have not watched one minute of sports since. Not one pitch of the Royals-Blue Jays series, and I certainly am not watching the Mets-Cubs series, because I absolutely despise the Cubs and loathe the Mets. If both teams could somehow be ruled ineligible, that would be heaven on earth.

I have noit watched any college football. None. I’m going to have to check the scores for the football contest our newspapers conduct, but that is it. I am certainly not watching the NFL tomorrow, even though the Fox affiliate is showing the Cardinals-Steelers game at noon.

I have nothing left to live for. Why bother? My life is hell. I’m going to tell Dr. Custer Monday I refuse to take any more medication. Just going to let diabetes and high blood pressure eat up my body and take me when it’s time to die. I’ll see Crista because she is the only person on earth I can trust. I can’t trust my parents, that’s the hell for sure. I don’t know why they just don’t move to Tennessee to be with my brother and his family. They clearly think nothing of me.

If you had my life, you would feel hopeless. You really would. Don’t say otherwise because that would make you a bald-faced LIAR.

Birthday memories, part one

I officially turned 39 at 9:16 a.m. Central Time. There were days when I didn’t think I would make 29, much less 39.

Actually, I almost didn’t make it much past 28. I came down with pneumonia and a collapsed right lung the Friday before Thanksgiving in 2004. Stupid me didn’t go to a doctor until the following Monday, and it nearly cost me my life.

That’s another story for another day. Right now, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane for birthdays past.

On the day I was born, the first micrograph of the Ebola virus was discovered by Dr. F.A. Murphy, who was working at the time for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Today, he’s a professor of microbiology at the University of California at Davis, best known for producing Ken O’Brien, the quarterback the New York Jets selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, passing on this guy Dan Marino. Never heard of him.

Speaking of Atlanta, maybe I should have gone to Georgia Tech instead of LSU. Tech was founded on October 13, 1885.

Hours after I was born, the Kansas City Royals won Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium, 7-4. The win staved off elimination for the Royals, who were in Major League Baseball’s postseason for the first time. The next night, the Bronx Bombers won the pennant when Chris Chambliss hit Mark Littell’s first pitch of the bottom of the ninth over the right field fence, just out of the reach of the leaping Hal McRae. Royals manager Whitey Herzog contends that if his standout center fielder, Amos Otis, would not have been hurt in the first game of the series at Royals Stadium, maybe Al Cowens, forced to move from right to center in Otis’ place, catches Chambliss’ ball.

Herzog may have had a point. McRae rarely played the outfield after he was traded from Cincinnati to Kansas City, spending most of his Royals career exclusively as a designated hitter, the scourge of baseball. If McRae wasn’t good enough to play the field, he shouldn’t have been playing. Period. Karma, Whitey. Karma.

My last birthday party was for my seventh birthday in 1983. It was at Showbiz Pizza, which was the competitor to Chuck E. Cheese in the 1980s. Rosemarie Renz (Huget), who is my oldest (in terms of years knowing her, not age) friend, was at the party. I’ve thanked her for it.

I watched Game 4 of the 1984 World Series between the Padres and Tigers on the afternoon of my eighth birthday. Yes, I am old enough to remember when some World Series games were still played in the daytime. In 1985, the Cardinals-Royals series featured seven night games, and there has only been ONE day game in the Fall Classic since, Game 6 of the 1987 Cardinals-Twins series. In 1985, Missouri had a dry and mild October, so there were no weather worries. However, that isn’t always going to be the case.

Speaking of 1985, October 13 of that year was something else.

Since it was a Sunday, my mother cooked pasta, and then we went to her mother’s house, a shotgun duplex in the Algiers section of New Orleans. My brother and I flipped (literally flipped, the TV didn’t have a remote control) back and forth between the Saints-Raiders game and Game 5 of the American League Championship Series between the Royals and Blue Jays. During halftime of the football game, Brent Musburger announced on the NFL Today that Vince Coleman, the Cardinals’ speedy left fielder, had broken a bone in one of his legs after he got rolled up by the tarp at Busch Stadium. Coleman was out for the rest of the National League Championship Series, which the Cards won in six over the Dodgers, and the World Series. Most baseball fans know how THAT turned out, especially those in St. Louis and Kansas City. The football Cardinals began a steep decline that day, losing 30-7 to the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Big Red went from 3-1 to 5-11 and coach Jim Hanifan was fired. By 1988, the football Cards were in Arizona.

I spent part of my 20th birthday (1996) at the Superdome with my dad watching the Saints play the Bears. New Orleans won 27-24 in a battle of two forgettable teams.

Eight days later, the game became significant.

Following 19-7 loss to the Panthers in Charlotte, Saints coach Jim Mora resigned Oct. 21, walking out of his press conference after reading a short statement. In the locker room in Carolina, Mora ripped his team, saying they didn’t do “diddly-poo” offensively and calling the effort “horseshit”.

The game we witnessed vs. the Bears was Mora’s 93rd and final victory with the Saints. He would coach the Colts from 1998-2001, getting Peyton Manning’s career launched.

Peyton Manning was born March 24, 1976 at Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans. I was born in the same hospital. I’m sure Olivia Manning’s birth suite was far more palatial than my mother’s.

That’s a good place to stop for now. Part two to come.

Goodbye, Ball Coach

Steve Spurrier woke up this morning as a former football coach (and full-time golfer).

Spurrier, AKA “The Ole’ Ball Coach”, announced his retirement last night. He is stepping down immediately from his post at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks are 2-4 overall and 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference. Spurrier’s final game on the sidelines was last Saturday in Baton Rouge, where South Carolina lost a “home” game to LSU 45-24. The game was originally scheduled to be played in Columbia, but due to severe flooding across much of the Palmetto State caused by Hurricane Joaquin and a stationary front, the decision was made last Wednesday to shift the game to Louisiana.

In nearly 26 seasons of coaching college football, Spurrier won 228 games at Duke (1987-89), Florida (1990-2001) and South Carolina (2005-15). In between Gainesville and Columbia, he had two-year stint with the Washington Redskins, where he went 11-21 before resigning at the end of the 2003 campaign. Spurrier led Florida to the 1996 national championship and five SEC championships, and guided South Carolina to back-to-back 11-win seasons, the first in school history.

Spurrier was an All-America quarterback for the Gators under the late Ray Graves, winning the 1966 Heisman Trophy and guiding Florida to victory over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl in what turned out to be the final game for the Yellow Jackets’ legendary coach, Bobby Dodd, whose name now adorns Tech’s stadium in Atlanta. Spurrier didn’t reach his pro potential with the 49ers and Buccaneers, but he stuck around 10 years because he certainly a cut above quite a few bozos who played quarterback in the NFL at that time, and he could also punt.

Those who are old enough to remember (read: 40 or closing in on 40) recall Spurrier coached for three seasons in the United States Football League with the Tampa Bay Bandits. The Bandits were arguably the most successful team in the spring league, at least at the box office, where the team routinely outdrew the Buccaneers, whose fans were beyond fed up with cheapskate owner Hugh Culverhouse. How bad was it for the Bucs? After winning the NFC Central in 1981, they would not experience another winning season (the 1982 strike-shortened season notwithstanding) until 1997, the year AFTER Spurrier coached Florida to its first national championship. I’m betting some of his better Gator teams would have been able to keep up with the Bucs of the mid-1980s, at least for a half.

When he was with the Redskins, Spurrier was ridiculed for not working hard enough, for playing too much golf, for delegating too much to his assistant coaches. That’s what I really like about Spurrier: he knows his limits. He knows that football is still a game, even where it is a religion, as it is at every SEC school, save Kentucky. He knows the importance of family, and always made sure his wife, Jeri, and the spouses of his assistant coaches were always welcome on the team charter. You certainly won’t find that in Manhattan, Kansas, where Bill Snyder works at least 20 hours per day and demands his assistants do the same. You won’t find it in Tuscaloosa, where Nick Saban wants his assistants to eat lunch at their desks like he does. Gerry DiNardo was a classic workaholic when he coached LSU from 1995-99. It didn’t get him far.

I thought of something last night when I heard the news. I realized Spurrier is the most notable coach who coached his last game at LSU.

Ironically, Spurrier’s predecessor (at least, permanent predecessor) in Gainesville, Galen Hall, also coached his last game in Baton Rouge, when Florida, led by Emmitt Smith, defeated LSU 16-13 on October 7, 1989. Hall was forced to resign four days later due to numerous NCAA rules violations. Those violations landed Florida on probation, and Spurrier was called in by then-Florida athletic director Bill Arnsparger, LSU’s coach from 1984-86, to clean up the mess. Spurrier not only cleaned up the mess–Florida was never investigated by the NCAA during his tenure–he won and won big. For that, he will always be revered in Gainesville, save for those Florida State and MIami alumni in the city, and rightly so.

The last LSU coach to coach his final game in Death Valley was Mike Archer, who was forced to resign with two games left in 1990. The Bayou Bengals defeated Tulane 16-13 to send Archer out with a 27-18-1 career ledger.

Speaking of the Green Wave, five coaches have ended their tenures in the Big Easy in Death Valley. Two, Andy Pilney and Tommy O’Boyle, were on the wrong end of 62-0 games in their finales in 1961 and 1965, respectively. Vince Gibson, meanwhile, led 28-point underdog Tulane to a 31-28 victory in 1982 over an LSU team which was going to the Orange Bowl and one week removed from routing Florida State 55-21.

Houston Nutt, like Hall and Gibson, won his last game coaching Arkansas in Tiger Stadium. The Razorbacks won 50-48 in three overtimes, yet LSU somehow won the BCS national championship, defeating Ohio State in New Orleans less than seven weeks later. It took losses by Kansas (KANSAS??!!!!!), Missouri (not even a tiny dot on the SEC’s radar in 2007) and West Virginia (not remotely interested in the Big 12 yet) for it to happen, but nobody’s coming to Baton Rouge requesting Les Miles relinquish the crystal ball.

South Carolina became the third Power 5 school to change coaches in less than three days. At least Spurrier left of his own volition.

That wasn’t the case at Maryland and USC, where Randy Edsall and Steve Sarkisian were terminated.

Maryland’s program got much better for kicking Edsall to the curb. He is a grade-A TURD. He left UConn without telling the Huskies face-to-face following their Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma on New Year’s Night 2011, instead flying directly from Phoenix to College Park for his introductory press conference with the Terrapins.

Edsall is such an uptight douchebag he makes Nick Saban look like the second incarnation of Bob Hope. He is all about rules, rules and more rules, and a coach can get away with it when a coach wins as much as Saban has at LSU and Alabama. When someone does it at a mediocre program, which Maryland is, it’s petty. Edsall would have made a former Maryland coach named Paul Bryant blush.

The Terps got what they richly deserved when they fired Maryland alum Ralph Friedgen following a 9-4 season in 2010. Edsall was 22-33 in College Park, and nobody in the Big Ten “Fears the Turtle”.

Sarkisian was fired after only 19 games at USC due to a substance abuse problem. Rumor has it he was intoxicated during the Trojans’ Sept. 26 game at Arizona State. It’s a sad ending for the former BYU quarterback and Washington coach, who called USC his “dream job”.

Don’t cry for Mr. Spurrier. I’m sure he’ll be spending plenty of time at Augusta National, where he is a member. Maybe someone will ask him to caddy for The Masters in the near future. That would be a sight to see Spurrier in one of those white jumpsuits.

Sunday before sunrise

I haven’t done this in forever, but here goes.

I’m leaving Russell before sunrise so I can get to Kansas City at 11 a.m. when Buffalo Wild Wings opens. I haven’t been to the Zona Rosa location since August 4, but I figured i’d better go for my birthday, which is Tuesday.

it will be a crazy day. The Chiefs play the Bears at noon, and the Royals play the Astros in Game 3 of their American League Division Series at 3:10. The game is not available on cable in western Kansas, since it’s on MLB Network. I understand MLB’s desire to put games on its own channel, but that seems kind of cheap for baseball to do it. I can understand the NBA and NHL, simply because of the volume of games, and frankly, a lot of games don’t hold a lot of interest outside the locales of the teams.

If Major League Baseball is the national pastime, it should be available on a national network. Why isn’t ESPN televising this? Or Fox Sports 1?

I’m planning on staying through Wednesday evening, then coming home. I can’t stay through Thursday morning due to my appointment with Dr. Custer in Hays at 8:40 a.m. No way I’m leaving Kansas City at 4 a.m. It’s much easier driving east than it is driving west, trust me.

Time to get in the shower and get out. See you on the other side of the state line.

Not a Cubs fan

Some of the most insufferable fans in American professional sports will not shut up.

Chicago Cubs fans, whom I have found to be arrogant, overbearing, and sometimes delusional during my 30-plus years of following Major League Baseball, are now rubbing it in.

All because their team won ONE GAME.

The Cubs won the National League wild card game last night in Pittsburgh, 4-0. The Pirates have got to feel cursed. Three consecutive years in the playoffs, three consecutive appearances in the wild card game. The first one went well, defeating the Reds before losing to the Cardinals in five games in a National League Division Series.

The last two years, the Pirates have not scored in the wild card game. They were shut out by the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner last year, and this year, they fell victim to the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta, who is being touted by fans on the north side of Chicago as the second coming of Ferguson Jenkins, the Hall of Fame pitcher who spent the best years of his career with the Cubs in the 1960s and 1970s.

I have long since had it with people calling the Cubs “lovable losers”. To me, they are not lovable. We get the Cubs slammed down our throats, nearly as much as the Yankees and Red Sox. At least the Yankees and Red Sox have won the World Series recently.

The Cubs? Have not won the World Series since 1908. That’s right, 1908. Teddy Roosevelt was president. JFK, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan had not been born yet. Neither had George H.W. Bush. World War I was still more than five years away. Arizona and New Mexico were not states.

The Cubs haven’t been to the World Series, period, since 1945. They have been to the playoffs a few times since I began watching baseball.

The first time in my lifetime was 1984. The Cubs were on TV nearly every day on WGN, the Chicago superstation. It was great to have Major League Baseball on nearly every day during the summer doldrums, but WGN’s attitude that the Cubs were the team you should love and everyone else in the National League was evil got nauseating. Harry Caray may have been a great showman, but as an announcer,it was way too much.

When the Cubs blew a 2-0 lead in the NLCS (1984 was the last year the league championship series were a best-of-5) and lost to the San Diego Padres, I wasn’t crying. The Cubs got their just desserts for their arrogance. After winning Game 2 at Wrigley Field, all the talking heads on WGN could discuss was how the Cubs matched up with the Detroit Tigers, who were on their way to sweeping the Royals in the ALCS. A few days later, Cubs fans were crying, and the Padres were playing the Tigers.

I’ve seen and heard way too much about Steve Bartman, the fan who was wrongly blamed for costing the Cubs a trip to the 2003 World Series. If the Cubs were such a great team in 2003, they don’t give up eight runs in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the NLCS to the Marlins. And if even if they lose Game 6, there’s no reason the Cubs couldn’t win Game 7.

Bartman did NOTHING WRONG. He went for a foul ball in the stands, just like any fan would. Moises Alou, the Cubs’ left fielder who bitched and moaned about Bartman committing fan interference, probably could not have caught the ball. He let the incident affect him the rest of the series, and when the Cubs lost the series, I couldn’t shed a tear, even though I am not a Marlins fan, either.

This year, Cubs fans are once again pushing themselves as the greatest team in baseball. They are now crowing they will crush the archrival Cardinals in the division series, the Mets or Dodgers in the NLCS, and then whatever poor sap team wins the American League in the World Series. I’m sure Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has already planned the parade route.

Cubs fans are taking on the same arrogant tone as Bulls fans did when Michael Jordan played. Then again, Bears fans did the same thing during their dominant 1985 season.

Enough is enough. Cubs fans are talking the talk before walking the walk.

Flip it

I said I was going to post more often after my long hiatus. So much for that. Maybe I’ll turn over a new leaf now that the calendar has flipped to October.

Ah, October. New fiscal year for the United States. Pink everywhere because it’s breast cancer awareness month. It seems like so many people I know have their birthdays in October. My birthday is also in October. My theory: people like to stay inside in January because it’s so cold, and there’s only so much television a couple can watch before the natural urges kick in. Let me leave it at that.

I actually had a decent September after the hell that was August, especially the first half. Save for a rant against my parents for not wanting to get DirecTV at the house so I can watch NFL Sunday Ticket, no major blowups. Certainly none at work. Even though I haven’t been to a single event, I haven’t missed it one bit. In fact, I’m enjoying the time at the house.

This is an “open” Thursday, as I’ve established a routine of therapy in Hays with Crista every other Thursday. Last week, the batteries on my voice recorder suddenly died, but fortunately, I had my phone, which has a recorder app. I’m recording my sessions with Crista, and during October, I’m going to start transcribing them.

I’m going to Hays anyway today, because I promised Peggy Cox I would see Norton play volleyball at Hays High this afternoon. The Bluejays are probably going to have big trouble with Hays, Abilene and Salina South, but I want to see Peggy and Caitlyn, because I haven’t seen them since July 8, when I had lunch with Peggy, Caitlyn and Raegan Vanderplas.

I am feeling nauseous for some reason. I think it’s my medication. Dr. Custer told me two weeks ago it can be a side effect of what I’m taking, mostly two medications for diabetes, Metformin and Farxiga. It’s not going to keep me from Hays today.

Speaking of which, I’ll be leaving in a few minutes. I have to make one quick stop in Hays before going to the high school for the volleyball matches.