Friday, September 25, 2015

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

The other night I was thinking about the things I didn’t like about fall and I realized that last fall was possibly the greatest overall sports season of my life.  Almost all my teams did something amazing, it could scarcely have been more fun for me in the sports I played and there were so many moments which just made me proud to be a fan of sports in general.
                I don’t think I can talk about when things started getting better w/o adding how my signing on with Reading Corps and having something to go to every day, as well as a legit source of income, made me feel better overall.  But there were also a couple other endeavors which probably contributed equally to that feeling.  When Tom L. asked me to sub for his Fall League team.  And even though I hadn’t been invited to a team since high school, I just went out and had fun, not worrying about results.  Why would you when you’re a sub, anyway?  Then they made me part of the team and it was one of the most fun seasons I’ve had in anything for a while.  On top of this, I played a little pickup soccer, another thing I wasn’t afraid to throw myself into, given how the last year had gone.
                And once again The Big Hrbowski was in the Monday night RanHam League, which despite my continued improvement, I think, could probably be characterized as a disappointment.  As I’ve pointed out so much, one of the great things about being on a bowling team is all the things you can tinker with to get your team playing well.  The names, the music, the order, the balls, the amount of beverages. The problem last fall was that we were usually the only ones bowling on any given week, and rarely even saw the appearance of an opponent in another lane.  A couple times they had overbooked the alley as well, which pushed us back to where we just said Screw It and left.  But this year they’ve got new pin setters and we’re gonna do it right![i]
                Fall is when the best sports happens, IMO, and even beginning with the sports I wasn’t as invested in, it was amazing.  Being able to watch the Royals for so long was pretty amazing.  Yost is a terrible manager, so every time they advanced, it was all the more incomprehensible.  I loved the Wild Card game, and I would say I was rooting for them in that game, and in the playoffs after that.  But Game 7 couldn’t have been a more perfect cap.  The Royals and Yost did Royalsy, Yost-y things (bunting with one out, head-first slides into first) and made me kinda hope they lost. But then Gordon hits it and starts running at the very end and there were then always going to be what-ifs.  And even though the Twins weren’t in it, we got to watch former Twins be heroes, such as Josh Willingham and “Boom Goes the Delmon-ite” Young. [ii] This year, we’ve still got the Twins in the playoff chase and it’s now going to be really fun!
                Meanwhile, my Sounders, in the first season I really got to watch all their games, had one of the most excited final stretches of the season and came home with the Supporters’ Shield, aka Regular Season Championship.  Between that run and the playoffs, which ended against the hated Galaxy, I finally felt what it was to have a winning soccer team.  Meanwhile, closer to home, the Loons were doing even cooler things!  And losing in even more heartbreaking ways.
                John and Steve and I went to probably the coldest soccer game I ever hope to go to[iii] at the National Sports Center in November for the semifinal of the NASL against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.  It ended up having the most controversial ending I’ve seen, when the Strikers got a goal originally ruled offsides allowed in the final minutes to send it to extra time and eventually beat the Loons on penalties.  We ran into one of the leaders of the Dark Clouds, Raj, at the Riv later that winter and commiserated that abomination with him a little bit.
                And yet, having a good time at a cold, outdoor football game was still in the cards.  There have been a lot of good decisions my family made regarding Packers tickets in the past couple years. My mom trading tickets so we can have Gold Package games in the newly sheltered south end zone has worked out very well.  So has getting canvas bleacher-attaching folding seats. Both those helped Mike and ‘Eye even further enjoy the Packers’ trouncing of the Eagles later in November on their way to getting a first-round bye.
                And around that time, another out-of-state football team started their own improbable run.  When Ohio State’s QB went down the game before the B1G ‘ship, they didn’t think they had a chance.  But Then Cardale Jones turned out to be the best QB they have.  As in, they had potentially the three best QBs in the B1G.  That’s when even Katie got really interested in the new Playoff.  Which became absolutely the right move for the FBS. S-E-C! S-E-C!  Already ESPN’s getting excited about who every one of the conference teams won (because that’s difficult in the outta-conference week), and they have 10 teams in the top 25.[iv]  All I know is, as long as the Buckeyes play in Ohio and Urban Meyer is their head-coach, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.

[i] Update: TBH is not going to happen this year at this point, unless we can get at least one more person who can commit full-time- Any takers?
[ii] Story: we’re watching the deciding game of the Orioles’ Division Series at Ol’ Pickety when Delmon comes to the plate, bases-loaded, down 1. Bebop says what we’re all thinking- “Don’t throw him a first-pitch mistake”- and he immediately hits a double.
[iii] Besides maybe the Snow Game.
[iv] Though, again, they still have to play each other, so I’m pretty sure it’s just not going to stay that way. And I also feel like coaches are notoriously power-conference-biased.

Friday, April 3, 2015

My Reality Teams

Everything in my life relates to sports. I acquired a new cologne yesterday which was actually just an old cologne I had, but then lost since I’ve moved back home.  It was like getting an ace starting pitcher back who is coming off of Tommy John surgery.  It’s probably not the exact same as you remember, but he’s still better than anyone else you got, and gives your whole staff a psychological lift.  But the way I see it, you can’t build a whole rotation around just one.  Which is why I put together a five-bottle staff.
            When I lost my first bottle of Velocity (by Mary Kay) in the move from Nordeast back to the Old Homestead, I was devastated.  I even wanted to go out and get some bottle by some designer or other to replace it.  I think it cost me personally more than I’ve paid for any other of my bottles[i], but I will use it as much as I think is necessary, because it’s really the ace of the staff. (That’s something a smart manager would say, right?)
            Real by American Eagle is my first bottle, so it has paid its dues, and as much as any of the other members of this staff travels pretty well.  Doesn’t lose its head, er, cap too much when it gets caught in a tight spot.  The pedigree on it is pretty good, even though it comes from a team I haven’t had that much affiliation with otherwise.  But I think simply its presence in my arsenal gives all the other bottles a little more genuineness.
            Even though I’m not sure about its cowboy ways or upbringing, McGraw by Tim McGraw adds a little flavor and variety into this rotation, which it was previously lacking.  A solid enough number three in a rotation that could use a bit of wildness.  Could work on its delivery a little bit.  
            Affection by Mary Kay is for sure one of the best pound-for-pound workers that I can turn to, and it travels extremely well.  Despite its small size, I don’t mind using it as a starter on various nights while I’m in town, and often do use it in relief if we’re on the road and get in a jam.
            Ocean by Bath & Body Works is an absolute wreck.  It’s a pretty tall drink of water (or some kind of fluid), and despite its shiny exterior, just can’t bring the stuff anymore.  I’ll use it every sixth or seventh time out, but it’s still frustrating how often its mechanics come undone and it sometimes just makes me want to cut it completely.
Ties don't play baseball. That'd be dumb- the tie game is much more fast-paced and high scoring than that.  So when you play a game like that, you need more players.
            The red tie is what I’ve for a long time now called my Power Tie.  It completely holds down my ensemble and always shows up.  You notice when someone’s wearing a tie of that color, and though I didn’t think much of it when I first got it, this piece of cloth has done enough to lock down a job in the starting lineup for years to come.
            At the small forward position is my Paisley tie- simply put, any collection of this type needs something along the lines of a paisley, and this particular one doesn’t mess around.  It’s pretty solid because it’s almost a Tron-type version of one, with simply the paisley pattern in bright blue on a black background.  It’s gotten oohs and ahhs from onlookers before, and for being one of the first ties I bought, it’s really stood the test of time.
            The Grey Artsy tie is pretty expensive, largely because it’s made out of silk, but it’s also an abstract pattern.  I think of this as more of a “fun” tie, but make no mistake, this one shows up to play.  Given the color scheme, it goes with pretty much anything, and isn’t so wide that you miss part of the big picture.  As an added bonus, it’s a material that’s really easy to actually tie, so I don’t end up stressing it out too much.
            The Blue-Striped tie is one of the least distinctive ties I have, because like its brother the red, it relies on doing one thing well, and it’s something it doesn’t do quite as well as Red.  But because it can do it in the other direction and in a different color, it’s a nice complement.
            The newest tie I have is the Men in Blazers Warpig tie.  I just trotted it out for the first time the other day, and I really like how it showed up.  There’s nothing incredibly commanding about it, but it knows what it’s doing out there, and absolutely makes a statement.  It’s a style that will stick around for a long time, and, if anyone looks close enough, can serve as conversation starter, and maybe even a conversation continuer.

Unfortunately, not all the ties can make the starting lineup, but I have at least three or four more that are solidly in my rotation at this point.
            The Green Checked tie has seen better days, having gotten an irremovable stain in a place that’s almost too-noticeable to wear anywhere people might be interested.  But it for sure used to be in my top two or three favorite ties and I try to break it out occasionally for old-times’ sake.
            The Solid Dark-blue (I do hesitate to say navy) tie is another really good one.  Everyone needs a reliable solid, and this one is definitely the right color of that for me, although I could also use a lighter version at some point.  What I would say is there is a textured pattern in back that if it had any of on the front, would give it the leap into my top three probably.  But it’s also just kind of bulky.
            Finally, I recently broke out an old tie that I had not used for a while on a night that I didn’t think I would care what tie I wore, and it turned out pretty awesome.  It was a tie with a red and light blue small checker-type pattern on it and it worked well as a classy look, which isn’t too closely inspected. (Official name to come...)

Surely these must be the only two sports and accessories Buckeye has a comparison to sports for, huh?  Well, you’re out of luck, pal.  I have at least one more.

The quarterback of my Monday mornings, and Tuesday, Wednesday and every other morning that I’m here, is my New York Mug.  It’s a classic mug with a few years and some dings on it, but there’s no carrier of coffee, tea or other hot liquid which I would rather use than this guy.
            My sister gave it to me as a present (apparently she’s been to New York more times than anyone can remember), and I’ve had an attachment to it ever since.  I don’t just like that it has a matte finish and a cool script for the words New York.  I appreciate more than merely the alternatingly distinct and generic skyline circling from one side of the handle all the way around and ending at the other.  And I more than forgive a little knot in the ceramic of the bottom which may have scratched more nice tables than I’m willing to admit.  But there is also something very satisfying for me as a denizen of a mid-sized city like Minneapolis declaring that there are definitely places out there which I would enjoy visiting and to be reminded of that every morning.[ii]
            It is the quarterback of my lifestyle because if I’m forced to take another of my mugs, its really not the same.  A couple others that I’ve had have completely shattered, but I’m not going to put this one in a situation where that could happen and would rather subject one I don’t like as much, such as the Class of ’06 one.

[i] Nothing
[ii] Suck it, Chicago