Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Actually, it’s about ACC Men’s Soccer, but…

November 14, 2005

…but, they had the ACC Men’s Championship game on Fox Sports Net (local cable channel 50 in Apex) which was also being held at the SAS Soccer Park in Cary so you know I had to watch it.

While I never played any organized team sports growing up as a kid, not with the crippling rheumatoid arthritis I was born with, I did play some sandlot soccer as a kid in the 60’s when Pele’ was king and have been more than a casual fan of “real football” ever since.

The championship game today was between Duke and Carolina and when it’s the two of them, they could be playing tiddleywinks for all they care and there still would be blood on the floor afterwards.

I don’t know what it was today, but both teams seemed to languish on the field, to only half-jog instead of use their young-leg team speed to run around like the field like madman as they (and most college-level teams) are want to do, like they both had ankled weights around their collective leggings that never came off, so of course at the end of regulation it was a Zero-Zero tie and after two overtime periods also produced nada, it came down to that invention of modern attention span requirements, “the shootout”.

I’m of mixed feeling regarding the shootout, where each team takes five turns in turn shooting the ball one-on-one, five different players taking a shot each against their opposing team’s goalie and whoever leads at the end of five frames wins the shootout and therefor the game, but of course since it was Duke and Carolina playing it was 4-4 at the end of the regulation shootout and went into true sudden death at that point, Duke ultimately winning.

For purists of which I consider myself a half of one, soccer purist that is, the shootout is abombination of the true spirit of soccer, which is the greater wave of combined team effort over a longggggg game time should win and usually does.

However, all but purists love the shootout, since it takes the usual number of realistic scoring chances, say, uuyyhhhh, five per game during the course of sixty or ninety or however many minutes depending, and compresses those scoring chances into a head-on mano-el’-mano contest, okay, manio-el’-mano (pardon if my Espanol is rusty) for-all-the-marbles contest that takes less than 5 minutes as opposed to more or less two hours to complete. 99% of the fans love it, the TV production people love it, it is exciting to watch even if you are a purist, and for someone who’s never seen soccer in their life watching an exciting shootout for a championship just might spark the interest in watching the sport the rest of the world loves best, which is a good thing, never a ban thing.


The World Series, baseball, legacies and life

October 26, 2005

I admit that while I’m no great baseball fan during the regular season, oh, I’ll watch a Braves or Cubs game or two during the summer if one happens to be on, will channel surf in and out of a game now and then, out of cultural habit I do try to watch The World Series pretty close, watching 90%-95% of most World Series games while surfing in and out occasionally.

My father, Harold Craig, taught me an appreciation of baseball growing up that is one of his many positive legacies in my life.

Growing up in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, in 1939 as a young man of 18 years of age he was fortunate enough to be given two options that summer to escape the grinding poverty of the western NC Appalachians: 1) volunteer and join the Army, at a time when the US military was very small compared to 2-1/2 years later and they weren’t really seeking out recruits because of they didn’t need to because of The still on-going Great Depression, or 2) sign and join the Chicago Cubs organization and begin his apprenticeship in their minor league farm system, on the basis of their scouting of him playing local amateur and semi-pro ball, “Pop” being considered one of the best if not the best pure hitter that Wilkes County NC had ever seen.

He chose the Army, believe it or not, because even as a buck private the Army paid more than the Cubs offered him, offering him less actual salary than the Army and more importantly no signing bonus at all (this was The Depression, remember), so he picked the Army.

While in North Africa in 1944, Pop busted his right leg up in a bad Jeep accident which left said leg a full two inches shorter than his left one and effectively cut out any chance he would have to play pro baseball once his enlistment in the Army was over.

Still, and you know I have to brag on Pop some, at age seventy-seven as in 77 years young in 1998, he lead his church softball league (about ten teams or so if I remember correctly) in batting average with a solid .800, yes, eight hundred batting average and his slugging percentage was off the charts since basically every single hit went for extra bases (they allowed a younger “pinch runner” to run for him from home plate once the ball was hit) and most were actually home runs over the fence and into the woods.

I was talking with he and my mother about this mind-blowing fact the other day when she told me something I had never known before, that Pop was so good that some nutcase who played for another team had actually brought a pistol to one of their games and was brandishing it about, threatening to kill Pop because Pop’s team and Pop routinely embarassed them. Yeah, geez!

What life took away with that Jeep accident in North Africa in WWII, his promising baseball career after The Great War gone for good, it also gave back in his decision to become a plumber after he got out of the service in 1945 and served four years as an apprentice before he opened his own plumbing business in 1949, a circumstance which lead me to choose mechanical/HVAC/plumbing/etc. project management and senior-level estimating as a more or less primary career. If he had made it through The War intact and had chosen baseball over plumbing as a career, who knows how my own life would have eventually turned out. Such are the wheels of life, turning.

In 1964, I remember Mum & Pop buying us our first color TV, a giant piece of solid hardwood furniture with a Zenith 25″ color TV stuffed in the middle, that same-said TV cabinent I still have as a heavy-duty workbench in my shop with a giant industrial vice mounted atop it, just so “we can watch The World Series in color now” said Pop.

So, when my new-to-me wife (GRIN, Dear, just joking with ya’!) Kris and I set up housekeeping in our new home this past June, we having met on March 12th of this year and married on May 14th, what do think was the very first piece of furniture I insisted we buy together? Yep, a nice new 35″ flat screen Sony Trinitron for our nice new living room, with the pronouncement by me that “this is so we can watch The World Series and The Super Bowl (so, I’m a pro football fan more than a baseball fan, sue me) in style in ‘our’ new home”, Kris being a man’s woman and knowing and understanding and actually liking baseball and football and hockey too, very lucky for me. The son has grown into father, and father has grown into contentment.