Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday Talk

Sheez, has it really been 2 weeks since I wrote last?
Little League is getting ready to crank up so I know it will be further between posts. I believe the thing to do is to start a weekly catch-all post so I'm not so concerned about covering any given thing in depth, although I will be finishing up a couple of pieces in the next week or so that I've been piddling with for a while. One is about Ernie Shore, a historic figure in Red Sox history and in Winston-Salem history. The other is about my First Red Sox game.
For now, let's start with this past week.
The Red Sox are in full swing in Fort Myers. Manny is looking buff and Papelbot is already talking trash, so it's going to be a great season. Seriously, Manny is working out like a banshee and the results are obvious. He's definitely looking to up his value for that free agent off-season coming up. The team traveled to DC to meet the president this week. Manny didn't make the trip, way to "be Manny"!
First exhibition game is tomorrow. Can't wait to see highlights when I get home!
Down in Blue Heaven, the Heels are looking as good as they have all year right now, and they're still doing it without Lawson. If Ty comes back to full strength, which may be harder to do than say, he'll be coming back to a better team than it was when he went out. They should be damn near unstoppable!
The time Q (Quentin Thomas) has put in as the only true point guard left has been incredibly beneficial. He's playing like a true senior leader. Ty had to carry all the weight when we lost Frazor for the season because every time Q came in, things seemed to disintegrate. That apparently was just the result of not enough time out there, and maybe too much self-inflicted pressure trying to "be" Ty. With 6 full games under his belt now, Q is doing better than anyone could have hoped, and will be a bonafide 2nd option at PG, capable of spelling Lawson for plenty of minutes, which will probably be necessary as Lawson workd his way back into game condition.
Hansborough is STILL the hardest worker in basketball, and it is becoming almost routine for him to have games that would qualify as "once in a lifetime" for most people. Wake Forest threw MacFarland at him, State threw Grant and McCauley at him, no matter. He just keeps "being Tyler". (sorry Manny)
As I mentioned, Little League is just around the corner. We have enough kids for a 3rd team in the Jr's division (13 - 14) this year, so we're scrambling to find another manager. We actually are only 6 or 7 late sign-ups away from having enough for 4 teams and needing 2 more coaches. I and one other guy have been the only two for a couple of years now, and it's been several years since we've had a player's father as a head coach at that level. That's been kind of nice, but to my knowledge we don't have any other options. Maybe the coaches committee has someone tucked away I'm not aware of. If so, they'd better speak up fast, Bo (the other returning manager) and I hope to split up the teams and get started practicing in the next 4 or 5 days.
On the Home Front - had to run Sockette to the hospital yesterday. Seems she got dizzy and fell while heading to the bathroom. Probably nothing to get anxious about, but when you know all this shit is going on inside you, you just have to worry about what might be happening. They did a quick heart test and sent her home. Why would they look for anything more when she doesn't have insurance? I know, they might have done the same to anyone else, but I kind of doubt it. People don't just fall down for no reason, or maybe they do, but it would be nice to confirm that it was for no reason. There are plenty of perfectly good reasons for someone to fall down unexpectedly, most of which are not actually good.
She gets the week off from chemo this week, so maybe by next weekend she'll be up for riding down to Charlotte for the "Intergalactic Bead Show" that's coming! Yippeee! Actually, I fuss about it and am usually bored within minutes, but it sure is nice see her enjoy something for a while, and every time there are actually a few pretty damn cool things to see. It's a shame it's not this weekend, though. The Diamond Heels (UNC's baseball team) are in Rock Hill just south of town for a weekend tournament. We could do Beads and Balls.
All of these subjects include issues that are well worth delving into deeper - Family health and Health Care ; Little League and youth sports in general ; My Red Sox and the beautiful history of baseball ; those fabulous Heels, their female counterparts, and the Diamond Heels too - and I will....soon.
For now, Gotta go!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Heart Attack City!

OK, I've written about my Heels in 3 of my last 4 posts now, so this will be brief.........
After playing horribly for 37 minutes and looking for all the world like they were going to lose to home.... for the First in after 52 tries.......
Wayne Ellington started to look like the cool as a cucumber sharp-shooter he is. Danny Green started to look like the pressure buster we know him to be. Tyler was (forgive me Manny) being Tyler. Of course, he alone was himself in the Duke game. Quinton Thomas played even better in his 2nd full game filling in for Ty Lawson. Unfortunately for my poor aging heart, none of this happened until there were only 3 or 4 minutes left in regulation and they were down by 11.
The score was tied at 0 - 0, and never again until the Heels scored the last basket of regulation to send it to the 1st overtime. Clemson dominated every aspect until Ellington and Green finally started to get some shots to fall. That meant Tyler was able to get some better looks inside, and next thing you know they're in OT, then in a 2nd OT. Foul trouble and the inevitable pressure of history finally got to the Tigers and the Heels were able to pull out a 10 point win in double overtime.
It's been over for more than 45 minutes now, and my heart is still racing.
God, I love this team!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cancer Sucks

On the non-sports, but very combative, side -

My wife's battle with cancer is really hard right now.

She doesn't seem to be able to get any decent rest and never has any energy. She is in constant pain. The meds keep it bearable, but it's still always there, and it just wears on you and keeps you down.

She had a decent week last week since she got to skip treatment the previous Friday. By Tuesday she was raring to go and spent the whole day out and about, then came home and cooked a big meal. It was nice to see a smile for a change. We actually went out a couple of times that week and did some shopping, errands, etc.

After Friday's treatment this week, though, she was already feeling bad that night.

I knew she was feeling the effects, because she wanted to talk about the business of dying. It's not a pretty business. She's worried about the bills that will be left behind, and whether I'll lose the house. The hospital doesn't seem to be forcing the issue now, but she has apparently heard somewhere that they will do so with me after she's gone. I just tell her that she's going to outlive me, so SHE has to deal with it, which she will be able to do given the size of my life insurance policy :)
She doesn't seem to buy it.
It's Sunday and we went to have brunch with an old friend today in Greensboro, about 30 minutes away. Afterward we had planned to go to the giant monthly flea market there. We haven't been in about a year and she often finds old jewelry and stuff she can use in her beading work. After brunch, though, she was already feeling tired and didn't want to spend the entrance fee knowing we would probably not be able to stay very long at all.
I know she has cancer, and would have it regardless of the shape of our health care system in this country. But it's a shame that humans, members of the human race, children of the same god, get access to the best care available only if they can afford it

Oh well, we just keep plugging along and deal with it as it comes up, whatever it may be.


How 'Bout Them Heels - ?

Well, it happened. The Heels lost to Duke in Round 1 of the greatest rivalry in college sports - version 2008.
This means I had to go buy a new sweatshirt before Sunday's game. The old one is now toast.
It also means I have to listen to everyone, even Wake and State fans, rag on me until we play THEIR team. I feel fairly confident the ragging will stop after that. Hell, we've already walked all over State once this year, but I still got an earful Monday morning from our resident Wolfpack alumni at the Bagel Shop.
They lost without Ty Lawson, and the effect of that missing presence cannot be overstated. Ty runs this team, makes it go. Quinton Thomas did a great job of covering his absence, as well as anyone could be expected to. He played what might have been the best game I've ever seen from him, but nobody can replace Ty Lawson's speed and the chaos that he creates on the other team's defense. Q had 6 turnovers. Not too bad given Duke's defense, but Ty had only ONE turnover in the TWO games prior to the injury.
Would the Heels have won with Lawson there? Who knows? But it would have been a different game.
They lost while getting a COMBINED 11 points from Wayne Ellington and Danny Green, who normally average over 28 points between them.
Ellington had one of his worst games of the season, finishing with 8 points. He didn't make a single 3-pointer in 6 attempts. Towards the end, trailing by only 7, and with some momentum going the Heels' way, he launched one that would have brought the house down. It spun around the rim, went over half way down, then flipped out. It was just that kind of night for him.
Meanwhile Danny Green, who is critical to the success of this team with Frasor gone for the year, only scored 3 points. He got them on 1 lone 3-pointer out of 5 attempts, and went 1 for 10 total with no free throw attempts.
So, was this due to Duke's incredible defense, the missing playmaker for the Heels, their inability to handle the pressure as well as the Dookies, or just a bad night at the office?
Probably a little of all four.
I anticipate a different outcome in early March at Cameron Indoor Stadium. :)
In the meantime, I can't wait till tomorrow to get this nasty taste out of my mouth!
Clemson, prepare to go 0 and 53 in Chapel Hill, although I'm ALWAYS nervous about this game. I mean, the sheer odds alone say that sooner or later they HAVE to win one here. I just hope it's not this year!

Friday, February 1, 2008

How 'Bout Them Heels

My friends at JoS & RSFFPT have got the Sox news, what little there is, pretty well covered, so I thought I'd thump my chest a little about my other big passion - them HEELS!
The Tar Heels blew out Boston College yesterday 91 - 69. Tyler Hansbrough had his usual phenominal game, scoring a team-high 18 and pulling down 6 rebounds. The big news, however, is that Ty Lawson is back. He seemed to be easing up just a bit for a few games as the Heels played good, but not great, teams in the last 3 or 4 weeks. After the stinging home loss to Maryland he got serious.
At Miami he scored a sizzling 23 points while dishing out 10 assists against only 1 turnover. That was great but last night was better. He "only" scored 16, but once again had 10 assists and no turnovers. Let me repeat that. NO turnovers. This while playing 28 minutes against Tyrese Rice, one of the best guards in the conference, maybe the best after himself. Ty drove the lane, dished to his teammates, forced turnovers, and made shots when he needed to. He got to the free throw line 9 times, and made 8 of those attempts good. Rice did score 20 points, but the BC offense is geared to getting him shots, unlike Carolina's. And Lawson's defense held Rice to only 3 assists while he turned the ball over 6 times and commited 4 fouls. Lawson had 3 steals and only 1 foul himself.
Everyone saw the Hansbrough dunk. The one where he broke ahead of the crowd and got the monster 360 degree slam midway through the 2nd half. What most didn't notice was that the play was created by Lawson swatting the ball loose from Rice, staying after it, and finally diving on the floor to tip it out ahead of Hansbrough, who finished the job with the dunk.
It's so much fun to watch kids who are that enthusiastic and hard-working, even with a lead as large as they had at that time. I find myself physically jumping out of my seat and yelling numerous times during most games, often endangering my grandson's sleep if it's a later game. I hope all that work carries them a long way.
The BIG game is next Wednesday. I know, everyone thinks this Sunday is a big deal, but they just haven't seen Carolina-Duke. Pats will win big this Sunday, but there will be REAL excitement in Chapel Hill 3 days later.
I'm already getting jittery!