Friday, November 25, 2022

Hello Columbus

The Ohio State University football team faces the University of Michigan Wolverines on Saturday in a battle between the #2 and #3 teams in the college football rankings. So this seems like a perfect time to share my experiences visiting Columbus and attending the Ohio State-Arkansas State September...two months ago! 

For some background, I attended grad school at Ohio State and went to most of the home football games while I was there. I consider myself a Buckeyes fan, though I don't go out of my way to watch each game now. The team went 6-6 and 8-4 in my two years in Columbus. While this record might be fine in some places, this was unacceptable at Ohio State resulting in the firing of coach John Cooper, and I received emails about the coaching search process. The November 18th, 2000 game against Michigan (where the Buckeyes lost and I got hit in the back of the head by a Sprite bottle because someone was trying to hit a Michigan fan and missed) was the last time I attended an Ohio State football game. In addition, the last time I visited Columbus was for a friend's wedding when The Moose was only a few months old. He's 11 now.

For a few years, my grad school friends and I discussed having a reunion. It finally came together over the summer when we agreed to buy group tickets for a football game. Ohio State tickets are EXPENSIVE! There are no discounts for group sales. We got 20 tickets in groups of 2 and 3 several rows apart but all in the same section. My seats with The Moose and Pedro Tulo were located in the last row of the stadium. With only bleachers, the positive is that we were able to lean back against the wall. The negative is that The Moose is not a big fan of heights. When we went to Toronto this summer, he had no interest in going up the CN Tower. While I knew he didn't like heights, I didn't realize that he really didn't like heights, and I had no idea we were in the last row when we purchased tickets. He ended up being okay though he asked several times when we were leaving which was completely unlike him at a sporting event, and we walked down the steps very slowly when exiting the stadium in the fourth quarter.

* The Ohio State band is awesome. I can watch them do Script Ohio for days. They also performed a "karaoke" medley, so my friends who are Pitt fans will appreciate that they played Sweet Caroline.

* Switching away from football, while I didn't have the chance to show my kids everything I wanted to in Columbus, getting ice cream at Graeter's was a must. So good!

* Back to football, OSU wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. is really, really good. He had 7 catches for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns in the game.

* Wearing an Art Schlichter jersey is a bold move. For those of you not familiar with Schlichter, he was a 4-year starting quarterback at Ohio State before getting drafted #4 overall by the Baltimore Colts in 1982. He was a massive gambler well before sports gambling became legal and got suspended by the NFL. He has been in and out of jail throughout his post-NFL career and was just in the news again last month. Again, quite the bold move to wear his jersey.

* We had brunch before we left Columbus at The Original Pancake House. The waiter made a mistake with the order and gave The Moose an order of hash browns and eggs and buckeye pancakes. He had absolutely no chance to finish the massive amount of food!

Overall, the trip was fantastic. It was great seeing friends from grad school and meeting some of their family members for the first time. I hadn't seen most of them in over 20 years. I also stayed with and saw friends that I've known since elementary school and earlier. It's nice to reconnect with people from your past and who have known you for years. Oh, I also met some hedgehogs, so I'll give a plug to the Handful of Hedgies Facebook group for hedgehog rescue and services in central Ohio.

Go Bucks! Beat Michigan!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

2022 World Cup Predictions

The 2022 men's World Cup begins on Sunday, November 20th. That's today if you're reading this shortly after this post has been posted. I wrote a full preview of the 2018 World Cup four years ago, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to put together such interesting facts as the lightest and heaviest players and identifying players named after food this year. I highly recommend checking out that post though. It might be one of the best things I've ever done on this blog. The Thorgan and Eden Hazard joke alone is worth it! Anyway, this year, I decided to ask some friends for their predictions and thoughts on the games.

Matt - Pittsburgh Riverhounds' Director of Communications

Josh - Founder of Josh's World and always up to participate in any of my collaborative blog posts.

The Moose - My 11 year old son

John - Big Croatia fan.

Sean - That's me. Hi! I write this Sean's Ramblings blog and recently applied (again) for media credentials for the Oscars.

Mike - One of regulars on one of my favorite podcasts, Owls Americast. It's a podcast for Sheffield Wednesday fans.

Nick - My brother. He decided to add his own questions and predictions at the end.

Justin - Another Owls Americast regular who you can regularly find at an ice rink.

Matt Gatjka - A jack of all trades. He calls hockey and soccer games and is a certified golf fitness specialist.

1. Who will win the World Cup?

Matt - It seems like the South American powers are the trendy pick, but I'm going to go out on a limb with a repeat for France. I know they bombed out the last time they were defending champs in '02, but with the attacking firepower they have, they're never going to be out of a game.

Josh - U-S-A! U-S-A!!!! Wait, is this men or women?

The Moose - I think France will win the World Cup

John - Belgium.  Yes, I know I tweeted earlier this week that Belgium would underachieve again this year.  I'm still picking Belgium.

Sean - Argentina. It will be a storybook ending to Messi's international career.

Mike - Argentina...Despite being ready for the all North American final that the world wants to see, it'll probably be a European giant who already has multiple stars on their crest. But let's be romantic: Argentina beats Brazil in the most watched final in history.

Nick - Brazil

Justin - No clue - most open tournament since 2006. Gun to my head I'll say the Germans surprise. (Sean's note: Do the Germans ever surprise?)

Matt G. - The Netherlands hasn't lost a match since (literally) last year, and I live in the Dutch bubble of West Michigan now, so I'll go with it. Oranje! Also, they'll throw in a heartbreaking defeat of the USA in the Round of 16 just to rub it in.

2. In the 2018 World Cup, 6 of the 8 quarter finalists were European teams. How many teams from Europe will reach this year's quarterfinals? 

Matt - I'll say 5 European teams, 2 South American and one Asian team make up the quarters — I liked Senegal making a run out of Group A until the Mané injury news

Josh - I am confused, why are there teams from England, Wales, and Scotland? If they just combined as UK, would they dominate? Oh, sorry to answer the question...5.

The Moose - 5 teams

John - I have five, plus two South American and one African.  For the record, none of the five are Croatia.  I am now banned from eating stuffed cabbage for the next 4 years.

Sean - 5. I really want to go with 3 or 4, but I don't see that happening.

Mike - Five. See above. I suppose that's France, Germany, and Italy. add Spain and England, and either the Netherlands or Belgium. This is where someone will go look at the groups and the brackets and tell me why that combination is impossible.

Nick - 5 - Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, England and Denmark

Justin - 5

Matt G. - I'll go with four Europeans teams in the quarters this time around. Two from South America, one from Asia, one from Africa. (Sean's note: This is the first prediction that isn't 5. Hooray!)

3. How far will the United States advance during this tournament?

Matt - Sadly, I'm not as bullish as some on the U.S. team. They're inexperienced at this level and a bit tactically naïve, so I think they get bounced from the group stage but learn some good lessons for the Aaronson/Adams/Pulisic generation to take into 2026 on home soil.

Josh - All the way! I actually have no clue how this works. It is not like a March Madness-style single elimination tournament, right? They do weird pool play. I do not know, they will advance just far enough that people will get sort of excited, and then lose to Benin.

The Moose - I think the United States will make it to the quarterfinals.

John - They'll finish second in their group and lose in the first knockout round.

Sean - I think they get out of the group stage, but lose in the round of 16.

Mike - Finish 3rd in group. The all North American final that the world wants to see is Canada and Mexico.

Nick - Hoping they make it out of the group stage.  Truthfully I think they will be knocked out by goal differential and Wales will advance.

Justin - Round of 16.

Matt G. - I spoiled this a couple of questions ago, but the USA will advance for the first time since 2010 -- actually just two World Cup appearances ago, but it sounded dramatic -- by drawing both Wales and England, then beating Iran. I'm actually semi-excited about this group, if only because we're young and you can always dream on young teams. Also, the expectations aren't high at all. I don't remember being this carefree about a USA team at the men's World Cup for as long as I've been watching. Feels like a recipe for a little bit of success. But they'll lose in the Round of 16.

4. Who will be the World Cup's top goal scorer?

Matt - Leo Messi and Cody Gakpo — both are drawn into groups where they can pump in some goals and advance, so I'm predicting a swan song and a coming-out party to be joint top scorers.

Josh - I would say Kylian Mbappe is probably the best bet to win the coveted Golden Boot. I totally cheated and looked up best odds, and took the guy with a cool name.

The Moose - Neymar

John - This one is tough, I think... I'm going to take an aging Lionel Messi.

Sean - In 2018, Harry Kane won the Golden Boot with 6 goals, but I'm pretty sure that 4 of those came from the penalty spot. That seems like cheating. Since I have Argentina winning it all, I'm picking Messi since he's going to be the one taking penalty kicks.

Mike - Logic...the player who kicks PKs for the team that relies on PKs to win and will make a deep run. So it's Alex Morgan. (Or Harry Kane - but everyone picks Harry Kane.) Karim Benzema because France will make a run and he was unstoppable in the UCL and Sean just told me he's injured. Just put me down for Neymar.

Nick - Vinicius Jr.

Justin - Messi

Matt G. - If the Dutch are to win their first World Cup, someone like exciting winger Cody Gakpo will likely lead the attack. I'll say he gets the Golden Boot with six goals in seven matches. (He already scored in the opening match vs. Senegal, so this is totally cheating.)

5. The World Cup in Qatar is taking place in November and December because it would be too hot for matches played there during the traditional June and July timeframe. Qatar is still a warm place. What will be the highest temperature recorded during a World Cup match?

Matt -  I'm going to say 91. It'll be warm, but not stiflingly so for most of the tournament.

Josh - Qatar is still a warm place. What will be the highest temperature recorded during a World Cup match? 95.3

The Moose - I think the high will be 91

John -  91 (I have a better chance of getting this right than maybe any of the others!)

Sean - 88 just so that I can say Muuuuuuuuuuuth!

Mike - 80 degrees...but what's the question? Temperature on the field during a match? Temperature for that city during a match? Trick doesn't matter. It's not the heat, it's the humidity. In 2019, World Athletics held their Championship in Doha in October. I remember it being bad, but not awful inside the stadium (which will also host WC matches). They did run marathons on the roads. Twenty-six miles starting just before midnight. 86 degrees and 70% humidity for the women. 18 men and 28 women didn't finish their respective races...but that was midnight in October. So if I math that out to December: 80 degrees

Nick - Going with at least one match that hits 104.

Justin - 88 degrees Fahrenheit

Matt G. - Looks like temps are going to be lingering in the 80s at midday for the next couple of weeks, so I'll say 87 degrees will be the hottest. Which reminds me I was just playing golf in shorts less than two weeks ago, only to dig out nearly two feet of snow last weekend. Good time to hunker down in front of the tube!

6. Better joke subject: Referring to the country Wales as whales or singing "I Ran" by A Flock of Seagulls for any mention of Iran?

Matt - Not Ghana go there. (Sean's note: This is the winner!)

Josh - And I ran, I ran so far away...

The Moose - Stop it, Dad!

John - Look at those two fat English ladies over there.
- Wales.
- Look at those two English whales over there.

Sean - Definitely whales. I mean, how will the US get by the Wales defense? They're huge!

Mike - Whales because my temperature answer was too long. And the heat talk made me want to think about the ocean and not Iran.

Nick - Whales

Justin - Neither

Matt G. - My son is pretty obsessed right now with playing iPad games where he tries to spell out country names after being given the flag. That is so say, I've gotten really good at spelling every country in the United Nations at this point. That is to say, Iran is one of those I can easily talk him through. Also, I think of that Lonely Island song about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that samples Flock of Seagulls whenever I hear 'Iran.' The Whales thing is lame. Is that a thing?

7. Will the USA, Mexico, and Canada combine for 20 or more tournament goals in the tournament?

Matt - No. I'll guess 15 between them.

Josh - Yes

The Moose - I think no.

John - I'm taking the under on this one.

Sean - No. Mexico has really struggled lately, and while I'd like to see Canada go far, they aren't winning a lot of 4-3 matches.

Mike - Nine match minimum. Twelve matches in the best case. Nope. 15.

Nick - No

Justin - No

Matt G. - I'll say the USA gets six, Mexico gets five and Canada gets three. So if my math is correct, no.

8. Arguably the most important question. On Saturday morning Eastern time November 26th, Sheffield Wednesday will face Mansfield Town in the second round of the FA Cup. Who will win and will the World Cup delay the start of the France-Denmark match until this one ends?

Matt - 3-1 Owls, and I might have gone back to sleep before then because Australia/Tunisia is at 5 a.m.

Josh -  I have no clue what any of this means. Like there are words and I know they mean things, but none of it means anything to my non-soccer brain. In fact, every time you would write about Sheffield Wednesday, I was confused. I thought it was like Taco Tuesday, Thirsty Thursday, or Sunday Funday. I was too embarrassed to ask about Sheffield Wednesday. 

The Moose - This is a dumb question.

John - Sheffield Wednesday is playing on a Saturday? This is enough to confuse Ted Lasso.  Sheffield Wednesday wins 2-1 and FIFA will absolutely delay the start so that France and Denmark's players can watch Sheffield Wednesday win it in stoppage time.

Sean - Wednesday will win (Go Owls!), but the World Cup will never delay the start of the match...unless a few Wednesdayites storm the field in Qatar causing a delay,

Mike - Wednesday win 3-1. The second part is a moot point because here is no TV or stream and with Twitter going down, we’ll only know who won by reading a paper newspaper the following morning which is how the good Lord wanted it.

Justin - Wednesday will win and FIFA will erroneously start the (very exciting) Denmark/France match instead of respecting the Massive FA Cup game.

Matt G. - Sheffield Wednesday might be the most English-sounding club name in soccer. Wow. How would they not win this very important match?

Nick - No

Nick then continued with all of this:

Other predictions/ questions 

Who will sport the best haircut?

Biggest upset: Ecuador defeats Netherlands 2-1,  France is knocked out before the QF.

Which country will sport the best and worst Jersey? (US for the worst)

Biggest controversy:  France will protest Qatar policies on migrant workers,  LBGTQ issues and womens rights.  Isn’t that what France is known for ?  Revolutions?

Other controversies:  Switzerland vs Serbia will end with at least 4 red cards, 2 red cards  which will come via VAR.

Qatar will advance out of the group phase.  No home team has not advanced out.

Asia will have a good World Cup with Japan, and S Korea advancing to the finals. (Sean's note: This makes no sense if he picked Brazil to win.)

Senegal will advance the furthest of all African teams. Yes,  I know Morocco and Tunisia are in Africa.

That's enough from my brother. I'll add one more prediction that South Korea will make a deep run in this tournament. I've started watching Squid Game, and no one is going to mess with that team!

Enjoy the games and feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below.

US team photo by Getty Images

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Ithaca College Football

While this blog has never had its own niche, there have certainly been plenty of extremely niche blog posts. This is one of them. On Saturday, the 9-0 Ithaca College Bombers football team faced off against the 9-0 Cortland State Dragons at Yankee Stadium. You read that correctly. Yankee Stadium in New York City. Yes, it's a baseball stadium, but they also host the annual college football bowl game, the Pinstripe Bowl. 

Cortaca 2019 was held at MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. I was part of the crowd of over 45,000, the largest ever for a Division 3 football game. It was a unique experience for the game to be played in an NFL stadium right outside New York City, and I figured that this would be a once in a lifetime chance to see Cortaca played somewhere other than Cortland or Ithaca. It was awesome! Because that game was only 3 years ago, I didn't feel the need to travel back to New York City to see Cortaca again, particularly since I was going to be out of town the weekend before (to not see bats in Austin, Texas). Even though I didn't attend in person, David Boreanaz did because you have never seen the two of us together at the same time. Coincidence or maybe this blog should really be called David's Ramblings? 

The Bombers won the Cortaca game 34-17 to cap an incredible undefeated season. Woo Hoo! They also earned a spot in the Division III football playoffs and will face The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on Saturday, November 19th in Ithaca. While I contacted the UMass Dartmouth football team and athletic department to help provide a preview of the game, I did not receive a response. Therefore, I'm doing this all on my own, meaning that most of the information is accurate, but I make no guarantees.

- Ithaca finished 10th in the final regular season rankings. Despite finishing 9-1, UMass Dartmouth didn't even fall into the "others receiving votes" category of the rankings. EIther there is no respect for the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference or all the voters think the entire league are Massholes!

- UMass Dartmouth is not Dartmouth College, which is an Ivy League school in New Hampshire. I wonder if UMass Dartmouth hopes that people confuse the two.

- UMass Dartmouth is located in southern Massachusetts not far from Martha's Vineyard and about a 45-minute drive from Newport, Rhode Island. It's about an hour from Cape Cod and slightly longer to Boston. Looks like a beautiful part of the world though I recommend visiting in the summer and early fall and probably not in January or February!

- The school's athletics teams are the Corsairs. I didn't know about this name until about 15 years ago when a friend made a blog called Corsairs Affairs which included some posts about the Pittsburgh Pirates. Corsair is another name for a pirate. So while Wednesday, November 16th is Talk Like a Pittsburgh Pirate Day, there is no Talk Like a UMass Dartmouth Corsair Day.

- The Corsairs can score, putting up 42.1 points per game. QB Dante Aviles-Santos leads the offense with 294 passing yards per game, and the Bombers better cover WR Angel Sanchez who leads the country with 138 receiving yards per game. I don't know if leading the country is for D3 colleges or all college football.

- In looking at famous UMass Dartmouth graduates, I don't recognize any names but a lot of people probably know Carmella from WWE. Oh, Jim Perdue of chicken fame might have received a Masters from here. Actually, I take what I wrote back. I recognize one name and I'm sure the school doesn't want anyone to associate his time in Dartmouth with the institution. One of the Boston Marathon bombers was a student. Let's change the subject.

My guess is that Ithaca will be favored to win based on the rankings and the fact that the game is in New York. Actually, this doesn't seem like a fun commute for the Corsairs. It's about a 6-hour drive without stops from Dartmouth to Ithaca or you'd have to fly from Boston or Providence though the only flights into Ithaca are from Newark or Detroit. Is the team driving to Boston, flying to Newark, and then flying to Ithaca? Or are they flying into Syracuse through one of the three New York City area airports and taking a bus from there? Whatever they do, a football team traveling from Dartmouth to Ithaca doesn't sound like fun. Advantage Ithaca!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Austin Bats

Austin is the capital of Texas and is home to the University of Texas and a thriving music scene. It definitely seems like a great place for young professionals (basically, I’m way too old for the bar scene) and is a bit of a foodie town too. With all of these trendy restaurants, I joked with some friends that I saw a unique, local Chinese restaurant called P.F. Chang’s. I got a laugh.

The city is also famous for North America's largest urban bat population, many of whom live under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin. I figured this was a must-see activity during my recent time in Austin. Since I was in Austin in early November, I was worried that the bats would have flown south to Mexico for the winter, but I had some time one evening and the bridge was only about a half-mile from the hotel, so I decided to check it out.

I got to the bridge around 6:35. There were people gathered on and around the bridge with more arriving as it got closer to sunset. There were also several large boats filled with people, so in my mind, with a few hundred people on land and on water, some of the bats were still in town. Meanwhile, there was lightning in the distance but with no thunder, no rain in the forecast according to my weather app, and no one leaving, I stuck around.

There are bats in my neighborhood in Northern Virginia. I regularly see them on my golf course walk at dusk. At around 7:15 in Austin, it was beyond dusk, and there were still no bats. I thought about leaving but decided to wait a few more minutes. At 7:24, I felt the first drop of rain and started walking/running towards the hotel. It was too late. About a minute later, the downpour began. I made it about a block or two and found an awning to stay under until the rain slowed down. The awning was across the street from the downtown Austin P.F. Chang’s. Yes, the restaurant was mocking me.

Despite the weather app on my phone saying that the rain would stop in 8 minutes and then indicating that the weather was clear, the rain did not slow down. After about 20-25 minutes, I decided to call a rideshare even though I was only about 4-5 blocks away from the hotel. After waiting about 7 minutes and the ride still not arriving, the rain actually did slow down. I cancelled the ride (a waste of $6) since I thought it was ridiculous to get a car for a 2-minute drive. I started walking and immediately stepped into a puddle since there's no adequate drainage with so much rain so quickly. And then the rain picked up again. I didn't get back to the hotel until after 8:00 and still managed to get soaked.

Back to the bats, either they already flew south to Mexico for the winter or knew it was about to rain and figured they would just stay under the bridge and let the idiot humans get wet. Either way, I felt like Dean Keaton at the end of The Usual Suspects. THERE WERE NO F'ING BATS!

(This video is definitely not suitable for work or kids.)

Monday, November 07, 2022

No One Cares About This Post

Prior to the November 2020 elections, I asked a bunch of people to share their predictions about the results. It went really well and was a lot of fun. Therefore, I thought I would try again with the November 2022 midterm elections. I asked friends, political science professors, and journalists to share their predictions and got no responses. Maybe people are just tired of politics and the never-ending commercials. Maybe people didn't want to put predictions on record. I guess it doesn't matter the reason. I'm not going to focus on the people who didn't participate. Enjoy!

Josh: Writer of Josh's World, multiple winner of annual best blog award, and always game for whatever blog idea I have. 

Rich: One of my favorite follows on Twitter and co-host of the podcast Why Bloody Valentine 

Sean: That's me. The author of this blog. Thanks for reading!

1. What party will control the House after the November elections?

Josh: The Republicans will take control of the House

Rich: I think the Democrats somehow hold onto the House, but it will be very, very slim.

Sean: While the talk has been about the economy of inflation, I think the Democrats will hold because of abortion.

2. What party will control the Senate? Please provide your prediction for the actual split too. (For example, 51-49 and which party will have more seats.)

Josh: Democrats 52-48

Rich: GOP for sure taking back the Senate. I'd say probably 52 - 48, but I would be shocked if they scored 53 or 54 seats.

Sean: Dems 52-48.

3. Who will win the Pennsylvania Senate race between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz?

Josh: Fetterman. I do not think the debate will hurt Fetterman as much as pundits are saying. I think most people have made up their mind, plus many people empathize with someone who had a stroke and is expected to make a full recovery.  

Rich: Sadly I think Oz wins. The stroke was a real killer for Fetterman's campaign and now we find out he hasn't worked in a factory?????

Sean: Fetterman. I think he gets a boost from Obama and Biden campaigning for him and enough people not wanting to vote for a New Jersey guy.

4. Who will win the Georgia Gubernatorial election between Stacey Abrams and the incumbent Brian Kemp?

Josh: Brian Kemp, but it will be incredibly close again.

Rich: Brian Kemp. Won't be terribly close. This race is too far off from Abrams' peak popularity.

Sean: I think Kemp will win, but I also think Warnock will hold off Herschel Walker. I just don't understand how a split result could happen. Seems like everyone voting for Kemp would vote for Walker and everyone voting for Abrams would vote for Warnock.

5. Five states (Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Maryland) have ballot measures to legalize marijuana? How many will approve these measures?

Josh: 4. Arkansas will be the weird one.

Rich: I think we get three. Maryland, Missouri, and one of the Dakotas.

Sean:  Definitely Maryland and probably Missouri. You know what? It's going to pass in all 5.

6. Will California voters approve Proposition 27, the Legalize Sports Betting and Revenue for Homelessness Prevention Fund Initiative? (The amount of money put into campaigns for and against this proposition - over $383 million - is staggering!)  

Josh: California's voters can be weird with their propositions. I am going to say No

Rich: Yes. 

Sean: There are more commercials for sports betting than there are for elections. Plus, every sports network shows lines for all of the games. California voters will want in and vote yes.

7. In arguably the most important measure on any ballot in November, will Maryland Question 1 to rename the Maryland Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Maryland and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland pass?

Josh:  Oh definitely, Supreme Court of Maryland just sounds better. Every state should get together and come up with a naming system for the courts to keep it consistent. 

Rich: Earth shattering stuff here. I think it will pass. I mean it makes sense. I also can't imagine anyone being super fired up to vote for or against this so who the heck knows?

Sean: Yes, but I really hope there's a strong write-in vote for Supreme Courty McCourtface!

8. Please feel free to share any other thoughts or opinions about the 2022 elections.

Rich: I don't think it is going to be the bloodbath the media is seemingly hyping up for the Democrats, but they're obviously going to lose ground here.

I said at the beginning of election season if only one of them could win I'd rather Shapiro win and Fetterman lose and I think that's what we will see.

The GOP has gone full idiot with candidates like Mastriano and Walker and it's distressing to say the least.

You can listen to my horror movie podcast on all major Podcast apps. Just search Why, Bloody Valentine. New episodes from 03:00 AM every Monday, so you can have em with your breakfast.

Sean: Please feel free to share your predictions in the comments below. I'm also really excited for the end of political ads for a while.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

My World Cup Broadcasting Application

A friend recently texted me from his son’s soccer game asking for clarification about a call made by the referee. The defending player passed the ball directly to his goalie who picked the ball up within the penalty area. The referee correctly stopped play and awarded a free kick to the attacking team. He incorrectly gave the team a direct free kick from within the penalty area when it should have been an indirect free kick. Any direct free kick within the penalty area would be a penalty kick, but a pass back to the keeper would never result in a penalty kick.

I understand that I’m really getting into soccer rules/laws here and probably lost many of you. However, my friend asking for a rules clarification gave me an idea. NFL games always have officials available to discuss rules or provide opinions on certain calls. Dr. Joe Machnik has done this for World Cup matches too. Maybe Dr. Joe needs some help for the upcoming World Cup. Therefore, I am here to offer my services. Here are my credentials:

* I’ve been a certified United States Soccer Federation referee since 1990. 

* I’ve served as a referee or assistant referee in hundreds of games.

* I received high praise for my work as the center referee for three Under-9 tournament games this summer.

* I showed restraint in not issuing a yellow card on Sunday to an Under-13 boy who tried to block a goalie's punt. While I gave him a stern talking to, I probably should have issued a card proving that I constantly evaluate my performance.

Sure, I've never worked as a referee for a professional match, but do casual soccer fans really want that? Why not have your "Average Joe" ref discuss calls? Actually, I have an ever better idea. My brother has probably worked more games than me as a soccer referee including many college games. Put the two of us on TV together. There will be lots of inside jokes that no one will understand as we make fun of each other. It will basically be the Manning-cast but without anyone knowing us or with any broadcasting experience. What could go wrong? I look forward to hearing from you, FOX Sports! 

The photo above is from a friend who shared this picture on a kid getting a yellow card for fouling her son. I hope there's a picture somewhere of me issuing a card taken by a satisfied parent!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Sean Goes Camping

Pedro Tulo joined Cub Scouts this fall, and he recently had his first camp out. Now my idea of “camping” is staying at a Hilton-brand hotel. Since a Hilton credit card is the one I primarily use, I somehow managed to reach Hilton Honors’ diamond status despite rarely staying at hotels. My theory is that the Hilton rewards program upgraded me and many other members during the start of the pandemic. While my diamond status is nice, I’ll probably revert back to being a Gold Member again soon.

I got off topic. That happens. Anyway, we borrowed a tent from the father of one of members of Pedro Tulo's den and borrowed pads to put under the sleeping bags from our friends. Yes, we actually own a few sleeping bags. We packed way too many supplies for only being away for one night and arrived at the campsite. We found the Cub Scout pack and started to unpack. See what I did there. Pack and unpack in the same sentence. Clever! Then we put the tent together. And when I say "we," it was mostly the dad who had the tent. I have no idea how to pitch a tent. 

We (again he) finished just in time for a pack hike/service project, which consisted of the kids picking up litter along the way. By the conclusion of the hike, I was exhausted and ended up with over 15,000 steps for the day. However, this didn't include the thousands of steps I walked and ran being a soccer referee in the morning. Maybe not the best decision to do both except for my theory that I would be so tired that I would sleep really well that night. That plan worked perfectly from about 9:30PM to 2:00AM. The last 4-5 hours of attempting to sleep were miserable. I was cold and/or couldn't get comfortable. Mattresses are definitely not overrated! Around 5:00, Pedro Tulo woke up and seemingly asked me every 20 minutes about the time. We woke up for good around 6:45 and left after breakfast.

Overall, Pedro Tulo had a great time though this experience confirmed that camping out is not for me. I mean, I'm sure that I'll do it again when there's another pack overnight in the spring, and both the hike and campfire program by the scouts were nice, but I'm not a fan of sleeping in tents. And on the ground. And in 40-degree weather. A bed with a working HVAC unit is fine by me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

My Umpiring Debut

The Moose had his last regular season baseball game of the fall season, and there was only one umpire. As one of the few non-coaching parents at the field minutes before first pitch, I volunteered / was volunteered to serve as the field umpire. The only complication was that I was with five year old Luigi. After making sure he was happy with paper and crayons and a few of The Moose's teammates' mothers fine with keeping an eye on him, I agreed to help. 

Although I have worked as a soccer referee for decades and have watched baseball since I was younger than Luigi, being an umpire was a brand new experience. The biggest challenge was that I had no idea where to stand. The home plate umpire told me to stand on the first base line with no runners on base. This way I could see if the runner was safe or out for a close play at first. Then, I should move to close to second base with a runner on first and at the edge of the dirt between the shortstop and third base with a runner on second. Of course, I then had no idea where to go with a runner on third (or second and third). 

My entire goal was not to make a mistake and make sure Luigi was okay. In the first inning, one of The Moose's teammates beat out an infield single by a few steps. I signaled safe with no objections or complaints by any players, coaches, or parents. Later, I called out the same teammate attempting to steal third base. I was in a good position (I think), and it certainly helped that he was tagged out and wasn't close to touching the base on the slide. Meanwhile, Luigi was content on the bleachers, though I panicked at one point when I looked over and didn't see him. It turned out that he ran to get a foul ball and gave it to the coach before returning to his crayons. At the end of a half inning, I checked on him, and he said that he needed to use the bathroom. Of course he did! There was only one porta potty and a short line, and he said that he couldn't wait, so I took him over to a wooded area. He thought going to the bathroom outside was the funniest thing ever. After he was done (including cleaning his hands), I returned to the field though after the game had already resumed. At the end of the inning, I switched with another parent to sit with Luigi.

A few notes:

* The lead umpire told me that I had the authority to call the infield fly rule if the situation presented itself. Later in the game, I completely forgot if the infield fly rule applies if there are runners on second and third. (It does not.) Fortunately, a pop up did not occur.

* The Moose asked me after the game why I stood there with my hands behind my back. I told him it was because I didn't know what to do with them, and it didn't feel right keeping them in my pockets.

* The Moose's team won 18-8 (and it wasn't that close) with 33 stolen bases. I should mention that "stolen bases" include anytime there was a wild pitch or passed ball, which happened a lot in this game. 

Playoffs start soon. If asked, I would definitely help out as a field umpire again. I'll pass on calling balls and strikes though.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Women's Volleyball Is Fantastic

As a student at Ithaca College, I attended most of the home football games and several men’s basketball games. During my senior year, a family friend was on the gymnastics team (and ended up being the Division 3 champion), so I went to a few of their meets. Otherwise, I didn’t go to any other games and matches. Between other activities and academics, I just never attended a soccer game, swim meet, lacrosse game, etc. I mention this because I really should have taken advantage of this when I was in college. I guess I was too busy winning intramural co-ed soccer championships!

Several months ago, I learned that the Ithaca College women’s volleyball team was playing a match in Arlington, Virginia against Marymount University. I had no recollection of an IC team playing in the DC area since I’ve lived here over the last two decades, so I wanted to go and support my alma mater. So on Thursday evening, I went to my first volleyball match since high school (and possibly ever) and took The Moose with me and met up with my friend T. We sat next to a few other people wearing Ithaca College gear who turned out to be parents of some of the team members. I really appreciated them answering some of our probably ridiculous questions. (While it was mostly me asking what happened or what was the call on the previous play, I also learned that a ball that hits any portion of the ceiling, including one that went through a raised basketball hoop, is still in play.) 

Over the last few years, I've followed the University of Pittsburgh women's volleyball team as they have been nationally ranked. I watched their Final Four match, which didn't start until after 10:00PM even though they played in Columbus, Ohio, on ESPNU last spring. Still, attending a volleyball match live is an incredible experience. The Ithaca-Marymount match is probably the most exciting live sporting event I have attended since the Max Scherzer no-hitter (also known as the Jose Tabata game). There's constant action. No one takes a point off. Players dive all over the court and sprint all over the gym. There's so much energy among the teams. It also helped that after being down two sets, Ithaca rallied to win 3-2. Go Bombers!

(This would have been an unreal picture if not for the guy walking in front of me!)

A few notes from the match:
* Some of the IC parents yelled Go Bombs during the match. I've never heard an IC team referred to as the Bombs, so it definitely threw me off. I liked it!
* All of the substitutes stood on the sidelines during the entire match. While I guess most football players stand as well (though they probably sit in the locker room at halftime), I don't remember seeing this in any other sport. You would think a player coming off would want to sit and rest for a few points. Or maybe I'm just old and need a break in the middle of my pickleball matches!

* I was impressed with how calm Ithaca coach Johan Dulfer was during the match. It was super exciting and stressful (especially for the parents behind me), yet he just seemed calm and even-keeled. 
The Moose was really impressed by Ithaca's #14 (Maddie Cox). We think she played every single point. He regretted not going up to her and saying hi after the match.
* I still don't understand why one (and only one) player on each team wears a different jersey from everyone else.

* I've never noticed this before, but the entire team switches sides after each set. Not just the players. The entire team/bench/coaches switch sides. 
This was match point.

More information about the game including stats are available from Ithaca and Marymount. I definitely need someone to explain the stats here. Is there analytics I should know or learn?
Again, Go Bombers!

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Found In My Basement: Missed Opportunity

The Moose recently had to do a project discussing his family history. I unsuccessfully searched for a family tree I made for my own elementary school project, but it wasn’t needed as he got more information from talking with his grandparents. In the meantime, I came across the book The Odyssey which I read in 10th grade. (Or at least I was assigned to read in 10th grade.) Inside the book was this folded coupon:

Since I still have the coupon, I guess this means that I never redeemed it for the free quiz answer. Who knows where this could have led if I turned the coupon in to the teacher? Maybe this could have improved my 10th grade English grade. This could have led to increased confidence in reading and vocabulary resulting in better SAT verbal scores and helping me get into an Ivy League school. Naturally, I would have made connections with the brightest minds of my generation and got a job after college making 7 figures a year. I could be on Wall Street or a think tank or even running my own business. This really could have been some type of journey or maybe another word for adventure that I can’t think of at the moment.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Post Malone Wears A Penguins Jersey

Grammy-nominated artist Post Malone performed at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Wednesday along with his multiple face tattoos. Since he wore a Penguins jersey, I’m excited to share this brand-new Celebrities in Pittsburgh Gear post.

My only disappointment is that he wore a “Post” jersey instead of honoring Pittsburgh-born and former Pittsburgh Penguin Ryan Malone by wearing a #12 Malone jersey.

You can see other celebrities in Pittsburgh gear by clicking here.

Photos by @tallcathy and 96.1 KISS

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Shana Tova From National Football League Teams

Happy New Year! Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began on Sunday night with many Jews around the world attending services or celebrating with friends and/or family on Monday. Inspired by @soccer_rabbi’s search for new year’s greetings by soccer/football clubs in the US and England, I was curious to see which NFL teams posted Rosh Hashanah messages on their social media pages. Here are the results:

That’s it. Of the 32 NFL teams, only 4 posted any type of Rosh Hashanah message on Twitter. While team sites were extremely busy posting information before, during, and after games on Sunday and then post-game interviews, pictures, etc. on Monday, I expected more than four. (At least one for the thumb!) Rosh Hashanah is a really big deal for Jews, significantly more important than Hanukkah which often gets lumped together with Christmas in America. I’m now a little curious how many teams post some type of Hanukkah message in December. My guess is that it will be more than 4.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Rosh Hashanah 2022 / 5783

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Sunday night, so I'm just in time to share videos to celebrate the new year. I don't know what's happening this year. A Cappella groups like six13 and The Maccabeats don't have new videos, and there is not nearly the overall selection of fun and/or meaningful videos compared to previous years. I guess New York Mets fans are happy though.

While the most "rocking" video I could find doesn't even seem to be about Rosh Hashanah, the production by/for the Miami Boys Choir performance is remarkable.

If you want to see more kids performing music, here you go:

Enough about music. Maybe you want to know more about Rosh Hashanah. Take it away Houston.

Maybe you want some recipes.

Well, I think that's about it. Oh, I'm sorry. YouTube has plenty of videos about Rosh Hashanah and the rapture. Apparently, this gentlemen didn't have time to edit out his sneezing before discussing that the rapture is happening because Queen Elizabeth died.

We can't end on that video. Let's think about how the queen witnessed one of the most memorable games in baseball history with opera singer Enrico Pallazzo serving as the home plate umpire.

Happy New Year to those who celebrate! 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

My Wimbledon Lie

Serena Williams, arguably the greatest female professional tennis player ever, retired at this year’s US Open. She had an incredible career with 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most by any player in the Open Era. For years, I shared a story that I tried to see Serena and her sister Venus compete in a doubles match at Wimbledon in 2000. I recently found a journal I kept from my summer in England, and it turns out that this was a complete lie. Basically, I’ve been a lying liar for well over a decade. This is the journal entry:

Monday, July 3, 2000

I first tried writing this entry last night but was too tired to get very far. I spent this past weekend in London. I really enjoyed the tour J gave us of London. We went to Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Tower Hill Friday night. I also liked seeing the Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Madam Tussaud’s, and Madam Tussaud’s Rock Circus. (I got a picture with the Spice Girls.) The Tate Modern was not as enjoyable since it was way too crowded, and I got lost and passed the same exhibit several times.

While I enjoyed all of this, the highlight of the weekend was going to Wimbledon. Several months ago, when I first knew I would be coming to England, I tried to find the dates for Wimbledon. I realized that it was going to take place the same time I was in England, but I didn’t think I’d be able to go. I’ve played tennis since junior high and possibly longer before that. Although I never had a favorite tennis player, I enjoy watching the major events. I have always had a great deal of respect for professional tennis players because of how much time and energy they put into their games and their ability to seemingly hit the ball wherever they want and at what speed.

Anyway, let’s write about this past weekend. After unsuccessfully trying to get a ½ price ticket for a show, we each had different opinions about what to do. J got a ticket for The Graduate with Kathleen Turner. E and JK wanted to check out a museum. L and I decided to try our luck and see if we could get into Wimbledon. By the time we arrived at Wimbledon, there was an extremely long queue (line). We had nothing planned for the rest of the day, so we decided to stay. We queued at Wimbledon (I have a sticker that says this) for three hours before finally reaching the ticket office. The seats for Centre Court, Court 1, and Court 2 were already sold out, which we figured because Agassi, Venus Williams, and Tim Henman were playing, and it was after 5:00PM. General admission tickets were only 4 pounds ($6) after 5. Nevertheless, we were in and very excited. To quote L, “you couldn’t rip the plastered smiles off of our faces!”

We walked around for a few minutes trying to fully comprehend that we were really at Wimbledon. Then, we tried to find the best matches available on the other courts. Court 3 was definitely the best because after a Men’s singles match, Martina Hingis and Mary Pierce were playing doubles, followed by Martina Navratilova in a mixed doubles match.

This is the lie. I really thought we hoped to see the Williams sisters, but it was actually Hingis and Pierce. Both were amazing players but definitely not in the same category as Venus and Serena.

We made our way to Court 3 and watched two Swedes, Thomas Johansson and Magnus Gustafsson. It was a very even match. The problem was it was a very even match. It ended up going 5 sets. Because of that, the other matches were moved to other courts. At one point, we left to go see Hingis and Pierce on Court 6. It was packed. We could barely see the court and kept getting bumped. After we got a few pictures, we went back to see the Swedes. After Johansson emerged victorious, we started waiting for Navratilova. One problem: the crew started taking down the net. On the scoreboard, we saw the score of her match, and it said Centre Court. We decided that we had nothing to lose, so let’s try to sneak in.

I should mention again that we were smiling the entire time and every few minutes would remind ourselves that we were in fact at Wimbledon. Anyway, the Southwest entrance (or a different entrance, not exactly sure) of Centre Court was right behind Court 3. We walked right in. There were no problems and no one checking tickets. I learned later that this double match had been postponed by darkness the night before and had just resumed. We only missed a game or two and the score was 6-4, 7-6, 9-9. I should mention that it was Jan Siemerink and Miriam Oremans against Martina Navratilova and Mahesh Bhupathi.

Lie #2. I thought Martina played with Leander Paes. I really am a lying liar!

Did I already write that I was seeing Navratilova, one of if not the best women’s tennis players ever? Did I mention that I was at Centre Court Wimbledon? It was incredible! We were at the Mecca of tennis. The match itself was also great. This was Marina’s return to Wimbledon after retiring five years before. (Sean’s note: You can definitely see Serena returning to play mixed doubles in a few years, right?) The crowd (including us) was pulling for her. Between each point, we heard many people yell some variation of “C’mon Martina.” At one point, someone yelled “C’mon Martina’s partner!” Martina and Mahesh ended up losing a thrilling third set, 18-16.

Wimbledon was definitely the highlight of the weekend, and it may be the highlight of my summer. L and I had an incredible time, and the queue was definitely worth the wait. I can’t wait to see the pictures, and I am still on a high from being there. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be at Wimbledon, and I was there.

22 years later, I still haven’t been to a tennis grand slam. Or since I’m a lying liar, maybe I can claim that I’ve been to Paris, New York, and Melbourne for all of the Grand Slam events!

I'm thinking now that since Venus had a singles match that day, maybe Venus and Serena were on one of the side courts practicing, and we tried to see them. No matter what happened, I can no longer blame Thomas Johansson and Magnus Gustafsson for causing me to miss watching the Williams sisters play in person.