July was not good. Should have saw it coming.

July 2020 has a little more than five hours to run, at least for those who observe UTC -5. I won’t miss it.

I’ve been in quarantine since the evening of the 22nd, when my father revealed he tested positive for COVID-19. I haven’t seen his face since then, and I’ve seen my mother’s face for 10 seconds. I don’t want them in the basement, and I only go upstairs when they are asleep.

If there is a good time to be in quarantine, summer is it. I hate hot weather to begin with.

This July has been the rainiest month I’ve experienced in Russell. We need a drought. The rain has caused the humidity to soar to levels similar to what I see in Kansas City during the summer, and that makes a bad situation worse.

On the other hand, I should not have expected the seventh month of 2020 to be good.

When July has started on a Wednesday, at least as long as I have lived, has usually been bad.

Prior to this year, the last year July started on Wednesday was 2015. That was a disaster to say the least, between the infamous incident with a then-employee of Buffalo Wild Wings location #0296, the continued deterioration of the relationship with my former supervisor, and my finances going straight to hell.

The Buffalo Wild Wings employee, who no longer works for the company, still thinks I’m the biggest jerk on earth. My former boss died in October 2017, two years after our final conversation ended with us cursing each other out, and my finances still suck.

In 2009, I was passing blood in my urine throughout Independence Day weekend in Kansas City. The day after Independence Day, I drove myself to the emergency room at St. Luke’s Northland in extreme pain after passing kidney stones. Fortunately for me, I was back at my hotel in four hours, although in pain until the next morning when I had a prescription for painkillers filled. It’s the last time I was in the hospital for something other than routine care or tests.

1998? The alternator in my car died the evening of the 13th at a Baton Rouge hotel on Airline Highway, a long way from my apartment at the time, which was south of the LSU campus. Bill had to drive me home, then was reduced to driving me around the next day, which happened to be his 35th birthday.

1992? The Steinle family trip to St. Louis started terribly, with a blinding thunderstorm as we drove north. Got lost on I-270 and nearly went into Illinois before taking the loop west and finding our destination. The next day, our Oldsmobile 88 broke down and we were stuck for several hours waiting for it to get fixed. My dad, brother and I went to two Cardinals-Braves games at Busch Stadium, but the seats were awful. The highlight of the trip was seeing Bill Clinton and Al Gore returning to a downtown hotel after jogging one morning.

1987? My father left the United States for the Netherlands on the 9th on company business, not to return until 29 August. I was also counting down the days for my time in hell locked in a child psychiatric hospital.

1981? Don’t remember much, but there were no Major League Baseball games due to players’ strike which began 12 July and didn’t end until the final hours of the 31st. Games didn’t resume until 9 August with the All-Star Game, while the regular season began again the next evening. Also, Prince Charles and Princess Diana wed 29 July, Peggy’s 17th birthday. I was also a month away from kindergarten.

Thank God 1976 was a leap year. Had it not, July would have started on Wednesday, and I would have been born three months prematurely, knowing my luck and my mother’s terrible habits.

Thank God it will be August shortly. As boring and bad as June and July have been, it can’t get more boring or worse, can it?

June 2020: boredom reigns supreme

June is normally a boring month in my life. High school sports are over until Labor Day weekend, so work slows down. The heat ratchets up, so I am loath to leave my basement. I have scheduled my visits with Dr. Jones and Dr. Custer to where they don’t fall in June.

The only thing breaking the June monotony has been an occasional road trip. Last year, that trip didn’t come until the very end of June and spilled into July. I recall it was terrible because most of the employees of Buffalo Wild Wings #0154 (Shoal Creek in northeast Kansas City/Liberty) took vacation, so nobody I knew was working.

This June, however, has been more boring than usual.

No work, thanks to COVID-19. Very few trips outside 1224 North Brooks, which right now isn’t so bad. No chance to spend money, and no dealing with the oppressive heat, which hit 39 Celsius (102 F) in Russell today and only figures to get worse in July and August.

Other than two visits with Crista and a few other trips to Hays for provisions, my only out of town trips were to Hutchinson on the 2nd and Salina on the 12th. I thought about a mid-month excursion, but decided against it.

Not much trivia. I’ve kept the Wednesday and Thursday night dates playing SIX. I’m playing right now since Brainbuster is on at 19:00.

I have not eaten in a restaurant since 17 February, when I met Peggy at the McDonald’s in Russell. I visited Old Chicago in Hays a couple of times in January, plus Minksy’s and Buffalo Wild Wings in Kansas City at the beginning of the year when my dad had to go to the KU Medical Center in KCK for surgery.

Eating out is not a big thing for right now. I’m not in the mood to go to the Old Chicago in Hays because I’m sure people I can’t stand will be there. Going in Salina will present the problem of having to choose between a very late return or fighting the blinding sunset. Also, I’ve stuffed my freezer to the point where it’s having trouble closing, so I’d better not let that go to waste.

I’ve watched The O.C. on what seems like an endless loop for the last three weeks. I’m sad Peter Gallagher no longer appears on Law & Order: SVU. He is the best reason to watch The O.C., the beauty of Kelly Rowan, Mischa Barton, Autumn Reeser and other ladies notwithstanding.

I’m also watching Monk again. I’m still in season one.

I’ve stopped watching Lifetime Movie Network. Besides, I don’t think there will be many, if any, new releases for the foreseeable future with studios shuttered for COVID-19. Many of the actors and actresses in those movies, as well as the studios, are Canadian, which will complicate matters since travel between Canada and the US is severely restricted, if not banned outright.

June boredom may not be the worst for me. Last Thursday (25 June) was the 16th anniversary of my first date with Renetta Rogers, the statuesque beauty whom I seriously thought was “THE ONE”. I can’t help but feel so helpless every time that anniversary comes and goes. I screwed that up so badly, and I deserve to be lonely. I am too stupid to realize it’s too late to find someone. I am going to die alone.

July will likely be more of the same. And August. And September. Heaven help me.

Father’s Day without baseball: un-American

Ah, Father’s Day. An observance I will never be a part of. I’m not going to be a father, which is not a bad thing. I would not want to pass my defective DNA to anyone. That would be grossly unfair.

This is my dad’s first Father’s Day without his father, who passed away 11 March at 97. He hasn’t said a word about it. I probably thought of it before he did.

For the first time since 1981, there will be no Major League Baseball on Father’s Day. The reason there wasn’t Father’s Day baseball 39 years ago was because the MLB Players Association went on strike 12 June and stayed out through the end of July, although games did not resume until 9 August with the All-Star Game in Cleveland.

Seven hundred twelve games were wiped out by the strike, which foisted upon us the comically bad split season, which cost the Cardinals and Reds, the teams with the best overall records

Ironically, Father’s Day in 1981 was also 21 June. Two other Father’s Days falling on 21 June produced MLB history.

In 1964, the Phillies’ Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game against the Mets at Shea Stadium. Bunning, a father of six, struck out 10 in the first National League perfect game since 1880 and the first regular season perfect game since 1922, when Charles Robertson authored one for the Tigers.

Of course, in between Robertson and Bunning, Don Larsen of the Yankees notched the most famous perfect game of all in the 1956 World Series vs. the Dodgers. It should also be noted Harvey Haddix pitched 12 1/3 perfect innings for the Pirates at Milwaukee in 1959, only to lose to the Braves.

The day after the game, Bunning was the New York Times‘ “Man in the News”, a rare honor for an athlete. On the same page as that item was a cigar advertisement with Phillies’ manager Gene Mauch, who has been described as the most successful manager to never appear in the World Series.

Philadelphia was a lead-pipe cinch for the World Series until the infamous “Phold”.

The Phillies led the National League (there were no divisions until 1969) by 6 1/2 games with 12 to play, only to lose 10 in a row (four to the Reds, three apiece to the Braves and Cardinals) and see their pennant dreams vanish. Mauch was widely blamed for pitching Bunning and left-hander Chris Short constantly on two days’ rest, simply because he didn’t trust anyone else on his staff. The only pitchers who could have possibly survived that workload are knuckleball specialists (Wilbur Wood, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield), and even then it would be dicey.

Hours after Bunning’s perfect game, something much more sinister took place in the piney woods of east Mississippi.

Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, led by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and trigger man Alton Wayne Roberts, who was dishonorably discharged from the Marines. It wasn’t until 4 August that the bodies were found in an earthen dam.

Six year’s after Bunning’s pitching gem, Cesar Gutierrez had his day in the sun.

The Venezuelan went 7-for-7 in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland. Gutierrez was 5-for-5 through nine innings, added an infield single in the 10th, then singled again in the 12th after Mickey Stanley put Detroit ahead 9-8 on a one-out solo home run.

Two players have gone 7-for-7 in nine innings: Brooklyn’s Wilbert Robinson in 1892 and Pittsburgh’s Rennie Stennett in 1975.

Sadly, Gutierrez was out of MLB after the 1971 season, and passed away in 2005 at 62. He only played in 190 games, but on one shining Sunday, he proved why sports are the greatest reality show of all.

I found out today that Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter (Birney), who portrayed parents Steve and Elyse Keaton on “Family Ties”, were born on 21 June 1947. No wonder they had such chemistry on the TV show. They share a birthday with Bernie Kopell (Dr. Adam Bricker on “The Love Boat”, 87), Ron Ely (“Tarzan”, 82) and Chris Pratt (41).

Unfortunately for Gross, Baxter, Kopell, Ely and Pratt, Jussie Smollett was born 21 June 1982. UGH.

Reduced to binging

My life has pretty much been in stasis since leaving St. Louis the morning of 18 May. There have been appointments with Crista, including my first in person since 2 March, the trip to Hutchinson and Wichita, and last Friday, an excursion to Salina just to do something different.

I was hoping for another trip to Missouri this month, but something happened which made it impractical. I’m not in the mood to go into it. The hot weather made the decision to cancel a little easier.

I have been reduced to binging on two of my favorite television series, Monk and The O.C.

I went through the eight seasons of Monk in three weeks. There was a time where I loved Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard, who turned 54 today) and I disliked Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram). When I first acquired the entire series on DVD, I started watching from the first Natalie episode, but eventually, I went all the way back get the full story of how Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) lost his job as a San Francisco Police Department detective, then returned to the good graces of Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford).

As I watched the Sharona episodes (the pilot through the ninth episode of season 3), I grew to appreciate both Sharona and Bitty, who portrayed Rockford Peaches right fielder Evelyn Gardner in A League of Their Own. Schram’s character was on the receiving end of the infamous line uttered by Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan, “THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!”

I began watching Monk on USA during the fifth season, which was my first summer in Kansas following Hurricane Katrina. I fell off the wagon near the end of the series, largely because new episodes aired on Friday nights when I was on the road covering athletic events. The DVDs got me back on the wagon, and now I can recall lines from many episodes.

In April, Jimmy Kimmel brought together Shalhoub, Howard, Levine and Gray-Stanford for a Zoom videoconference where they were in character from Monk. Adrian tells Randy he was down to his last 12 cases of wipes. Randy says Adrian is hoarding, but Adrian replies it’s not hoarding if he bought them 20 years ago. Natalie mentions she tested positive for COVID-19. It was nice to see them together again, but I wish Schram, Hector Elizondo (Dr. Neven Bell, Monk’s second therapist) and Emmy Clarke (Julie Teeger, Natalie’s incredibly intelligent and talented daughter) would have also appeared.

I didn’t watch The O.C. during its four seasons on FOX (the first two seasons aired while I was still in Louisiana; the third season premiered one week after I arrived in Russell). I began to watch The O.C. in the summer of 2009 when it aired daily on the now-defunct Soap Opera Network (SoapNET) along with One Tree Hill.

The only main actor from The O.C. I have watched regularly since the show ended is Peter Gallagher (Sandy Cohen), who appeared as Arthur Larson on Covert Affairs and William Dodds on Law & Order: SVU. Peter is tremendously talented as both an actor and singer, and it’s a travesty he hasn’t had a leading role in a major motion picture since Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989.

Since I first watched The O.C., I’ve had a huge crush on Kelly Rowan, who portrayed Kirsten (Nichol) Cohen. Kelly was born in Ottawa (the capital of Canada, not the one where Caitlyn goes to college) and was mostly an unknown, like the rest of the stars of the show excluding Gallagher. Kelly played her part flawlessly and with tremendous emotion and energy, and it’s a shame she hasn’t had another starring role either on TV or movies. If Kelly is a Senators fan, I’ll forgive her.

Three future leads of Pretty Little Liars–Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson and Janel Parrish–had guest appearances on The O.C. Benson and Parrish appeared in the same episode where Kaitlin Cooper (Willa Holland) throws a rager at Neil Roberts’ (Michael Nouri) mansion that is crashed by Ryan (Ben McKenzie) and Seth (Adam Brody), who go looking for their girlfriends, Taylor (Autumn Reeser) and Summer (Rachel Bilson).

I picked up One Tree Hill on the CW and watched the last three seasons as they unfolded. The last three seasons were missing something big without Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton Sawyer Scott (Hilarie Burton), but Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley James-Scott) and Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis) kept it going strong. Shantel Van Santen (Quinn James) was a great addition for the last three years, although many didn’t like her.

OTH is now on Hulu, not to mention I have all nine seasons on DVD, so I’m guessing it will be on my binge list soon.

The other two shows where I have seen every episode are The Brady Bunch and Law & Order: SVU.

Time to call it a night.

Another Kansas summer commences

Summer has arrived in Kansas. The broiler was turned up today in Russell, with a high of 36 Celsius (96 Fahrenheit), which is 9 C (13 F) hotter than it should be in the first week of June.

The hotter weather prompted me to wait until after sunset to make a quick drive to the UPS and USPS drop boxes in town. I almost went too late. It started raining in Hays 30 minutes ago, and the lightning was striking quite frequently to the west. Oops, the rain just started at 1224 North Brooks. As Maxwell Smart used to say, missed it by that much.

I have had no desire to leave 1224 North Brooks since getting home from my excursion Tuesday. It was hot enough Tuesday.

It was a good decision to not stay overnight in Hutch, because it was an easy drive there in the morning. I got there way too early, so I killed an hour plus at the large Dillon’s not too far from the clinic. Most people were not wearing masks.

The visit with my new health provider in Hutchinson–I have not ditched Dr. Custer–went well. Made a quick trip to Wichita to pick up a new seat cushion from Bed Bath and Beyond, get my car washed and make an Amazon pickup at a QuikTrip. I avoided the protest areas.

IF you want an opinion on what’s going on right now, don’t ask. Not providing it.

I realized Tuesday morning I normally would be writing summaries of how local schools performed at the high school state track and field championships the previous weekend. This year’s meet, originally scheduled for last Friday and Saturday, was cancelled in March when schools were shut down for the remainder of the year.

I HATED covering that event. Check that. I DESPISED covering that event with every fiber of my being.

It was two of the worst days of every year. If the weather was as hot as it was today, that made it a million times worse.

Fans rave about how much they love that meet, but they don’t have to dash between eight events going on at once, trying to photograph 15-20 athletes. Heaven forbid if you don’t get a picture of an athlete, because the family of that athlete will not let you live it down.

When I was taken off of event coverage in August 2015, I wanted to quit. Now I realize it was a blessing. A HUGE blessing. There are some events I miss covering. The two days of hell at Wichita State are two days I’m glad I’m sitting on my fat ass in Russell or somewhere else (the last three years, that somewhere else was–surprise, surprise–Kansas City).

June 3 and 4 are Desiree Days, since those dates are mentioned in Neil Diamond’s 1977 hit “Desiree”. It woke me up at 05:00 Tuesday. And I heard it again driving back to Russell.

“Desiree” is on the Neil Diamond playlist on my iPod. “Sweet Caroline” is not and never will be.

Saturday is Convoy Day in honor of the 1975 classic “Convoy” by C.W. McCall, which opens “It was dark of moon on the sixth of June in a Kenworth pulling logs…”

That’s all I have for now.

The calendar flipped! Let’s party!

If you know me, you know my headline is completely sarcastic. I hate New Year’s Eve more than any other celebration, and I believe it is so puerile to celebrate just because a calendar flipped and you’re putting a new year on checks.

If flipping a calendar was so huge, let’s do it after EVERY month!

I pray Bill DeBlasio will shut down Times Square in seven months and tell everyone to watch the ball drop from the comfort and safety of their residences while Ryan Seacrest provides play-by-play. Of course, there would be tens of thousands of morons who would flaunt that if DeBlasio issued that order, just like idiots did last weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks.

May wasn’t as bad as I feared. The week in St. Louis, plus two Zoom conferences with Crista and one with Peggy, helped the month go by quicker than I thought it might exactly one month ago.

However, the month ended horribly with what went on in Minneapolis last Monday and the subsequent protests and riots. Kansas City and St. Louis are among the places which have been victimized by looting. I’m leaving it at that.

There was a time where I would get on a soapbox and rant about anything political. Not now. If you’re looking for a hot take, I suggest you find another blog. You aren’t getting it from FOOTS PRINTS.

I have an appointment in Hutchinson tomorrow morning. I thought about going down there tonight to stay, but when I saw the volume of food I still had to clear from my refrigerator and freezer, I decided to save the money I would have spent on the hotel and rough it. That means departing before sunrise tomorrow to make it for 10:15, barring an unforeseen illness.

Why am I going two hours to Hutchinson instead of just going to Hays, or even Salina? It’s personal for me. Sorry.

I ate McDonald’s twice last week, both in Hays. It was the first hamburgers I ate from a restaurant, other than White Castle in St. Louis, since I met Peggy at McDonald’s in Russell in February. McDonald’s is much better able to handle mobile orders than most fast food restaurants, so I patronize them over other locations which can’t get their mobile/online ordering straight, or those which don’t have it at all.

Chick-Fil-A was the first fast food restaurant to roll out mobile/online ordering in 2015. I seemed to be the only person using it at the Kansas City location at I-29 and Barry Road, at least until 2017. The Chick-Fil-A in Salina lost my order more than once in those early years, and it angered me. But I have not had a single problem with Chick-Fil-A in three years.

The McDonald’s in Russell has some very old employees who probably don’t know how to turn on a computer. I have to go into the store to pick up an online order, something which wasn’t possible for over two months.

White Castle’s online ordering system is great, at least through the main website. The app is spotty, and often I cannot pay through Apple Pay because it gives me an error message stating “fraud”. Thank God my tablet can handle desktop websites.

I’m going to end my review of fast food ordering here, at least for this post. There is one restaurant which is so far behind the technology curve it’s downright asinine. I’ll reveal it later this week.

When I went to Dillon’s in Hays last week to pick up what few things I needed, I noticed all the maskless faces, a sharp contrast from St. Louis, where most people were compliant (or ALL were complaint in the case of Whole Foods). One man without a mask had two young daughters in tow, both without masks as well. I cringed.

I doubt the surgical masks I’m wearing could prevent the coronavirus strain which causes COVID-19 from getting into my airways. However, by wearing a mask, my sneezes and coughs go into the mask, not the air where they might infect others. It’s an inconvenience, but it’s one that is necessary. I don’t want to fathom the alternative, a strict lockdown under martial law.

It’s getting hot out there. June in Kansas. Yeesh. I knew it was coming. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

So long, St. Louis–for the time being

St. Louis (both the city itself and the county) will re-open tomorrow, just as I’m heading back to Russell. Even though I would like to stay, there comes a time when travelers must return home. Tomorrow will be that day for yours truly.

Even though there wasn’t much to do, this venture was a success. I got what I came for (White Castle, Pibb Zero, Vienna Beef Polish sausage, Nathan’s Famous bagel dogs, capicola and mortadella, steaks for Father’s Day), discovered some new things (provel cheese, soap at Whole Foods) and rediscovered something I really like (sushi, as long as it doesn’t have cream cheese).

The bad news? I won’t be eating White Castle or provel again until I return to St. Louis, save for the leftover White Castle I eat on I-70 west tomorrow and the 24 slices of provel I’m bringing back. The good news? Dillons in Hays sells sushi, Pibb Zero and the cold cuts are available in Salina (as long as Dillons keeps them in stock), and Whole Foods is in Wichita. I can also order soap online.

The hotel in Chesterfield is isolated from restaurants and stores, but I’m used to that at two of the hotels I frequent in Kansas City, one at Briarcliff and the other near Kansas City International Airport. There’s easy access to Interstate 64 from the Chesterfield hotel the same way I-29 is easily accessible from KCI and US 169 is easily accessible from Briarcliff to get me to I-29 or I-35.

I usually don’t like first floor rooms, but this week, it has made life easy. It’s near a side entrance AND the dumpster, a daily double. I bring my trash out each day and throw it over the doors instead of leaving it in the hallway and/or letting it pile up. The doors to the dumpster have been open the last two days, allowing me to dispose of boxes and the cartons the Pibb Zero came in. It will make loading the Buick much easier tomorrow–I won’t need a cart. With all the things I’m loading, it’s great to have a first floor room near a side entrance!

Here’s hoping the Cardinals will be playing at Busch Stadium by this time in July, and the Blues will be on their way to successfully defending the Stanley Cup. St. Louis loves its sports more than nearly every other major city in America, and without the Cardinals and Blues, something seems off in the Gateway City.

Coincidentally, I’ll pass by the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City (unless I detour at Interstate 470 in Independence and go around the south side of the metro area on Interstate 435 to Kansas Highway 10). The Royals are hoping to be playing at Kauffman soon, and the Chiefs want to start on time, which means they host the NFL’s first game of the 2020 regular season on 10 September vs. the Texans.

That’s it for me from St. Louis. But as MacArthur famously said, I shall return.

The NBA’s Memorex Moment

Forty years ago tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers were in Philadelphia, looking to defeat the 76ers in the sixth game of the NBA World Championship Series and bring the Walter Brown Trophy back to southern California.

If the Lakers wanted to avoid a seventh game at ingelwood less than 48 hours later, they would have to do so without the 1979-80 Most Valuable Player.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won his record sixth MVP as the Lakers went 60-22, one game behind the Celtics for the NBA’s best record, suffered a high ankle sprain on his left ankle during the third quarter of the Lakers’ 108-103 victory two nights prior.

Abdul-Jabbar played the fourth quarter on the injured ankle and scored 14 points in the stanza, giving him 40 for the night. The 76ers’ woefully weak center combination of Darryl Dawkins and Caldwell Jones helped Kareem’s cause. When Philadelphia finally upgraded its center situation three years later, the results were much different. I’ll get to that later.

On the advice of Lakers team doctor Robert Kerlan and trainer Jack Curran, coach Paul Westhead and the rest of the Lakers, including 20-year old rookie Earvin Johnson, made the cross-country flight to Philadelphia without the 33-year old legend, who was seeking his second NBA championship, but first since winning it all with Milwaukee in 1971.

Philadelphia was quite fortunate to be in a game six to be honest. They nearly blew a 23-point lead at Ingelwood in game two, and it took a late flurry in game four, highlighted by spectacular baseline up-and-under by Julius Erving, to pull out a three-point win. The Lakers won easily in games one and three, then won a tight game five.

Most national pundits believed Philadelphia would exploit Los Angeles’ hole in the midlde and sent the series back to California. The simplest option would be to move Jim Chones, the former Cavaliers All-Star, to center and insert Mark Landsberger at power forward.

However, Landsberger had been overpowered by Dawkins and Jones when giving Abdul-Jabbar a rest earlier in the series, and he forever became a highlight film staple after Dr. J drove around him in the fourth game.

Westhead and assistant coach Pat Riley made a bold move.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson wold start at center, allowing defensive ace and long-range shooting specialist Michael Cooper into the backcourt with Norm Nixon.

Magic was only 14 months removed from leading Michigan State to a 75-64 victory over Indiana State and its superstar, Larry Bird, in the NCAA championship game at Salt Lake City, the highest rated college basketball game ever, a distinction it still holds 41 years later.

Though not old enough to consume alcohol in most jurisdictions, Magic played well beyond his years the evening of 16 May 1980.

Johnson turned in the greatest individual performance in an NBA championship game, before or after, with 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists as the Lakers routed the 76ers 123-107 in front of 17,000 shocked patrons at The Spectrum. The game was tied 60-60 at halftime, but after Los Angeles scored the first 14 points of the third quarter, Kareem could celebrate at home, and mayor Tom Bradley could announce the exact date and time for the first victory parade in the City of Angels in eight years.

Too bad most of the United States could not watch Magic’s scintillating performance in real time.

CBS, which televised the NBA from 1973 through 1990, inexplicably chose to air game six of the 1980 championship series on tape delay.

The NBA’s television ratings were in the toilet, and CBS did not want to preempt prime time programming for a basketball game which might draw a third to a quarter of the ratings of one of its primetime powerhouses.

When games were played in the Pacific Time Zone, CBS aired them live at 23:30 Eastern/22:30 Central after the late news. The Mountain Time Zone was delayed by an hour, but the Pacific zone was delayed by three hours unless the local affiliate preempted the prime time schedule and showed the game live.

Los Angeles obviously aired the games live. So did Portland and Seattle, where enthusiasm for the NBA was unbridled. The Trail Blazers were Oregon’s first major professional sports team, and remained that way until the Timbers joined Major League Soccer. The Super Sonics were THE thing in Seattle, even with the Seahawks and Mariners both starting play in the late 1970s.

The other market in the west to air all games live? Las Vegas, for obvious reasons.

Games two and five started at 20:30 Pacific. Yes, they were live in Philadelphia, but how many people stayed up until 01:45 the next morning to watch them to conclusion?

Meanwhile, weeknight games in the other three time zones were tape delayed to air at 23:30 Eastern and Pacific/22:30 Central and Mountain. CBS pulled the stunt during game two of the 1979 championship series from Washington, but it DID air game five live nationwide.

In the 1980 championship series, games three and four in Philadelphia were played Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday at 15:30 Eastern and Sunday at 13:00 Eastern. CBS would not be as fortunate for game six.

On the surface, CBS’ choice was logical. Do not preempt two of your highest rated shows, The Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas, the latter ranking number one for all television shows in 1979-80.

There was one flaw in CBS’ logic the evening of 16 May 1980.

Dukes and Dallas were already airing reruns.

J.R. Ewing was shot on 21 March 1980, seven weeks before Earvin Johnson became truly Magic.

All three networks ended their 1979-80 seasons in late March or early April, fearing the Screen Actors Guild would go on strike in the spring or early summer. That came to pass in June, and it delayed the opening of the 1980-81 season until November (America didn’t find out Kristin Shepard shot J.R. until 21 November, two months later than CBS had hoped), December, or even January (NBC did not air the first episode of Hill Street Blues until 15 January, 10 days before it broadcast Super Bowl XV).

With reruns already airing, it would have hurt nothing to air the game from Philadelphia live at 21:00, but CBS figured old episodes were better than new basketball.

Again, if you were living in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas, you were in luck.

The other place to air the game live? Atlanta, where the CBS affiliate refused to show NBA games not involving the Hawks. However, an independent station figured the sports fans of north Georgia needed something other to watch than the pitiful Braves on WTBS, so it aired game six live.

Therefore, large markets like New York, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Washington, Baltimore, Phoenix and Miami were all out of luck. San Francisco and Phoenix, of course, could have aired the game live and only would have had to adjust the regular Friday night programming back at most 30 minutes for game overrun.

It was well past bedtime for myself and my brother. Then again, I doubt there were very many NBA fans in New Orleans in the spring of 1980, since the 1979-80 season was the first for the Jazz in Utah after five seasons in the Crescent City. Utah probably should have let the new team in New Orleans reacquire the Jazz nickname when they moved in 2002, but that’s too confusing to go into right now.

There were a lot of negative articles written about CBS tape delaying the deciding game of the NBA championship series, but it didn’t change anything, at least in the short term.

The 1981 championship series featured the Celtics for the first time since 1976, and the Rockets for the first time ever. Houston won the Western Conference at 40-42, defeating the 40-42 Kansas City Kings in the conference finals.

With a team from the Eastern Time Zone taking on a team from the Central Time Zone, it meant tape delay at least twice, and possibly four times if the series reached a game six.

The first two games in Boston tipped at 19:35 Eastern, meaning a four hour for those not in Boston or Houston. Games three and four from Houston were live on Mother’s Day weekend. Game three was the last Saturday game in an NBA championship series, and game four started at 12:05 Central so CBS could televise golf afterwards.

Game five tipped at 21:00 Eastern and aired at the standard 23:35 Eastern/22:35 Central.

The sixth and deciding game started at 21:05 Central, the latest start to an NBA championship game in the Central Time Zone. Boston won in six, the first of their three championships with Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.

Philadelphia and Los Angeles met again for the NBA championship with one major difference: all games were televised live on CBS.

The NBA agreed to start its regular season later beginning in 1981-82, allowing the championship series to be played after the network prime time seasons ended in mid-May. There were four weeknight games, including the clinching game six on 8 June, where the Lakers prevailed and left the 76ers as the NBA’s bridesmaids for the third time in six seasons.

The 76ers finally realized they needed a big change at center in order to stymie Kareem. Billy Cunningham made the biggest change he could by acquiring Moses Malone from the Rockets, and on 31 May 1983, Philadelphia had its first NBA championship in 16 years, sweeping Los Angeles.

The NFL and Major League Baseball would never dare to air any playoff game, let alone a championship contest, on tape delay. The NHL has aired just about every Stanley Cup Finals game live in Canada since the 1950s, but in America, its coverage has been far worse. Many cities had no NHL on television from 1976-79, and from 1989-92, most couldn’t see any NHL games because of an asinine deal with SportsChannel America, which thankfully no longer exists.

The German Bundesliga returned today, albeit without fans. But it’s LIVE SPORTS. NASCAR races tomorrow at Darlington.

Let’s hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel, although the alarmists hope we’re sitting at home twiddling our thumbs without anything to watch until 2021 or later.

Beards and no masks? I’ve got a REAL problem.

Day six in St. Louis featured trips to two supermarkets in St. Peters not too far apart. I counted seven people not wearing masks. All were male, and all but one had a beard.

It wasn’t the first time. In nine of the ten grocery stores I have visited in St. Louis, more than 80 percent of the maskless people were men with beards. I have rarely encountered a woman without a mask.

I told Peggy this. I prefaced it by saying she might not like it. Her son, Conor has worn a beard since he was in high school, and her three sons-in-law all have them, although Sam, Chelsea’s husband, does go clean shaven frequently.

I would trade my father’s facial hair for mine. My father could not grow a beard if he went without shaving for a full year. He tried growing a porn star mustache in November 1976, which looked pathetic. He had the mustache on the day of my baptism, and every time I looked at that picture, I didn’t know whether to laugh or gag. Sometimes I did both.

The only time I went an extended period without shaving was when I was in the hospital. The first time I saw my face in the mirror I nearly threw up. It was ugly. The most I ever go without shaving is one day. I don’t shave with the double edge safety razor every day right now, but I have a high-end Braun electric to touch up.

Notice I sad “9 of 10” grocery stores in the second paragraph. That’s because the 10th was Whole Foods, which won’t let you in if you’re not wearing a mask. The store provides masks, but if you don’t want to wear it, you have to leave immediately.

I don’t know how much the surgical masks I am wearing prevent against catching COVID-19, but they definitely prevent against sneezes and coughs spreading. I sneezed today in Dierbergs, and I felt good knowing the particles didn’t spread.

I feel better with the blue surgical masks than with a cloth mask. Two ladies were wearing Blues masks at Schnucks. Too bad I don’t know French or I would have said “Go Habs” in French. Montreal did beat St. Louis in both meetings this season, about the only thing that’s gone right for the Canadiens this season. Hey, at least it is still 23-1 Montreal over St. Louis in times winning the Stanley Cup.

N95 masks would be the best, but the doctors need them. I hope Dr. Custer and the rest of the staff at Hays Medical Center has been able to secure them.

I still have not seen blue surgical masks sold anywhere except Hen House in Johnson County, where I’ve seen them at the Leawood and Prairie Village locations. Speaking of Prairie Village, everyone who goes out in public in that city now has to wear a mask, thanks to an ordinance passed by the city council there.

I’m curious to find out how many people in Hays are wearing masks now. I’m going there Tuesday to Walgreens to pick up medication. I may stop at Dillons just for fun, because heaven knows I don’t need food after all I’m bringing back from St. Louis.

I gorged myself yesterday on sushi, plus I ate a salmon filet and grilled cheese.

The grilled cheese was not made of cheddar, swiss or provolone. I decided to try a St. Louis specialty.

It’s called Provel, and it’s a processed mix of the three cheeses I just mentioned. It is used as the main cheese (instead of mozzarella) by St. Louis pizza chain Imo’s, where pies are baked on a thin cracker-style crust and cut into squares. Many St. Louis residents swear by it and will never eat pizza without Provel, but others dislike Provel and want good old mozzarella.

The Provel grilled cheese was very tasty. I’m going to bring some back to Russell and have my parents try it. I’m not big on processed cheese; I will eat Velveeta and “American” cheese, but it is far from my favorite. However, Provel may grow on me and I may start bringing back lots of it from St. Louis, the same way I do things from Kansas City.

I skipped White Castle yesterday but went back today. Got a crave case (30), which will tide me over through today and tomorrow. I doubt I’m going out tomorrow, because the forecast calls for heavy rain. Monday is supposed to be the perfect day for an eight hour drive, with cooler temperatures and abundant sunshine.

One thing I am really hating about shopping right now is the ban on reusable bags. God I hate those flimsy plastic bags. I get a lot of angry looks from baggers and checkers when I request paper and not plastic.

Growing up in New Orleans, we didn’t have to ponder that question. If you shopped at Schwegmann’s Giant Supermarkets, you got paper and you liked it. The bags were so ubiquitous around the Crescent City they were known as “Schwegmann bags”. Unfortunately, Schwegmann’s went bankrupt and closed its last stores just before the start of the millennium.

Forty years ago tonight, a magical sporting event took place. Too bad few people witnessed it live. I’ll get to it in my next post.

Motorcycles more important than a pandemic? Maybe in Missouri

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of a day Boston sports fans treasure…and St. Louis sports fans want to forget.

On Mothers’ Day 1970, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1941 by completing a four-game sweep of the Blues in the Finals. Boston clinched the Cup when Bobby Orr, probably the greatest defenseman (defenceman for the Canadians) to ever lace up a pair of skates, scored 40 seconds into overtime of the fourth game.

The game-winning goal wrapped up a phenomenal season for the 22-year old, who became the first defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer (goals and assists), then took home the Norris (best defenseman), Hart (Most Valuable Player) and Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) trophies, becoming the first player to win four major awards in one season.

Orr’s backhand beat one of the game’s greatest goaltenders, Glenn Hall, but what was more memorable was the photo captured a split second after the goal. It shows Orr suspended in flight after he was tripped by the Blues’ Noel Picard. It is the most iconic photo in NHL history, and certainly one of the best-known photos in North American sport.

It took the Blues 49 years, one month and two days to even the score. Right now, the Blues should be defending the Cup in the playoffs, but of course, COVID-19 has put life as we know it on hold. If the NHL cannot complete the regular season and playoffs, will the Blues keep the Cup, or will the NHL require it go back to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto? The hope of commissioner Gary Bettman and every hockey player, coach and fan is the season is completed one way or another.

For once, I agree with Gary Bettman. Mark it down.

Speaking of St. Louis, your lazy blogger got up at 04:45 today and departed 1224 North Brooks at 05:30 for a trip to the far side of Missouri. This comes exactly three weeks after I left Russell for Kansas City.

My parents know nothing of where I am. They know I left this morning, but that’s it. Peggy knows where I am. Larry knows where I am after I just texted him. Crista will know tomorrow at 14:00.

After farting around in Kansas City for an hour filling up my gas tank, buying bread at Hen House in Leawood and purchasing treatment for scars left over from a grease burn at Target in Martin City, I was on my way to the opposite side of the Show-Me State.

One major difference between how Kansas and Missouri have responded to COVID-19 can be seen in the electronic road signs along Interstate 70.

In Kansas, all signs have now been targeted towards reducing the spread of the disease. Signs read “Wash Hands, Cover Mouth, Save Lives”; “If Fever Strikes, Stay Home” and other ominous messages.

Some of the signs say “Stay Home”, but I’m ignoring those. It has nothing to do with my parents. Seriously. It’s all me. They need a break from me every so often. EVERYONE needs a break from me every so often: Peggy, Caitlyn, Crista, Dr. Jones, Dr. Custer, Robb, Larry, Liz, Brenda…whomever. I can only be tolerated in small doses. It’s not their fault. They do their best to put up with me. All of them deserve sainthood.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly went too far too fast by calling off the remainder of the 2019-20 school year when she did. She could have waited a couple of weeks like most states, including the three which border Kansas. I’m surprised Kelly did not extend the stay-at-home order, which expired last Monday.

You would never know there’s a pandemic if you read the road signs on I-70 in Missouri, at least from Blue Springs to Wentzville.

None of this business about washing hands. None of this business about staying home. Instead, the Missouri Department of Transportation reminds drivers constantly to be alert for motorcycles and to share the road with Harleys and Kawasakis.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has been raked over the coals by the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for what they see as a lackadaisical response. The Star has praised Kelly while pounding Parson, and the same is true of the Post-Dispatch comparing Parson to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker., whose state is still under severe restrictions; however, if you took the Chicago area out of the equation, Illinois would be much closer to Kansas and Missouri in terms of cases and deaths.

Speaking of Illinois, it is forbidden for Kansans like myself, unless I want to quarantine for 14 days when I return to Russell. Believe me, there is absolutely nothing I want or need in Illinois, although it would have been nice to have the option to zip through on I-64 heading towards Louisville and Lexington.

If Kansas were still governed by Sam Brownback, or worse, Kris Kobach were governor, I can only imagine just how bad it might be in the Sunflower State. I’m guessing neither Brownback nor Kobach would have issued a stay-at-home order, and Kobach might have made it much worse by threatening to sue—or actually suing—the federal government. Notice I didn’t mention Jeff Colyer, who became governor after Brownback became an ambassador in 2017, because Colyer is far more level-headed than Brownback or Kobach and would have done something to head off the virus at the pass.

I don’t particularly like most of Kelly’s stances (I didn’t vote for any of the three major candidates for governor in 2018), and while I wish she would have waited a little longer to close schools—it probably would have happened regardless—her course was probably as balanced an approach as there could be.

The White Castle in Columbia provided a great caper.

I attempted to place an order for pickup before leaving Kansas City. However, I kept getting an error stating the restaurant would not be open at that hour. I was trying to place an order for shortly after noon. I used the app on both my phone and tablet, and then tried to order from the regular website as well, but nothing. I did, however, place a 16:45 order for the O’Fallon location.

I pulled off I-70 at a rest stop and e-mailed White Castle technical support, explaining I was getting a message that the location was closed. When I arrived in Columbia, there were numerous cars in the drive-thru lane at White Castle. I then called their customer support hotline to explain the online ordering snafu. I chose not to wait any longer, and instead got back on the road.

It turned out I was the one with the snafu.

The Columbia location—the farthest west in the United States as far as I know—is now closed on Monday and Tuesday. I received a reply from White Castle headquarters in Cincinnati which mentioned it, but gave no explanation.

I then shot back that there were cars in the drive-thru, but the representative told me the closure was true.

D’oh!

The good news? Wentzville was only 80 miles away. If I waited seven hours of driving (well, seven hours after leaving home; there was a lot of wasted time in Kansas City and at that rest stop 70 miles west of Columbia), I could make it 80 more miles.

Wentzville, a booming town in western St. Charles County 40 miles west of downtown St. Louis, provided me a good laugh or two.

The QuikTrip was one piece good news, two pieces bad.

The good: I could buy a fountain drink! I could not at any Kansas City location during my trip last month, nor could I purchase one today in Overland Park. However, I walked right up to the fountain like the pre-COVID-19 days in Wentzville. The differences: no styrofoam cups and no refills, so I had to buy a new cup and pour it into my black mug.

The bad…

First, the restroom was incredibly dirty. I have never seen a QuikTrip restroom that filthy. Never. And I have been frequenting QuikTrips for 14 years in Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha and (once) Tulsa.

Second, NOBODY was wearing a mask other than the boob from Russell. I’ve made the mistake of not wearing a mask at times, although when I nearly entered the QuikTrip in Overland Park, I caught myself and went back to my car to get it.

On to White Castle, and only the boob from Russell was wearing a mask. St. Charles County has greatly loosened its restrictions, so patrons can go into a restaurant to pick up food, although there is no seating. Six employees, no mask. Four other guests, no masks.

I put the maskless people behind me, because I was damn hungry. White Castle never tasted better.

The Schnucks in Lake St. Louis was almost the complete opposite of the QuikTrip and White Castle in Wentzville. Every employee had a mask on, and nearly every customer did, too. However, at the White Castle in O’Fallon, only the boob from Russell wore one, although no other customers entered during the 10 minutes I waited.

The outlet mall in Chesterfield is a ghost town. That’s because St. Louis County still hasn’t loosened its restrictions. But as long as White Castle, Schnucks and Dierberg’s are doing business, I’m a happy camper.

I’ve crossed the Missouri River on I-64 three times already. Over/under is 14 for this trip, which will go until at least Friday, maybe longer. My yellow rain slicker will get a workout. The weathermen and ladies are expecting a lot of rain in the Gateway City this week.

I’m not as tired as I could be after a long day. But it’s time for me to stop blogging for tonight.