Seven From Heaven

nyclightning

As many of you know by now, the Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals last night, besting New York’s Rangers 2-0 in the seventh and deciding game of their Eastern Conference series. They await either Anaheim or Chicago, who play their Game 7 tonight.

It’s also a big moment for the Lightning in terms of where they stand against the other area franchises, the Bucs and the Rays. The Lightning become the first of the “big three” to play in multiple championships of their respective sport. Only the old Tampa Bay Rowdies played in multiple championship games, winning the 1975 Soccer Bowl (as an expansion team), then appearing in the NASL’s big game again in 1978 and 1979, losing to the New York Cosmos and Vancouver Whitecaps, respectively.

I like the Lightning’s chances to go all the way and hoist the Cup a second time regardless of who they play, but I am a little biased on the subject.

The Old Ball Game

I had an ever changing view of the Rays-Mariners game, May 27, 2015.
I had an ever changing view of the Rays-Mariners game, May 27, 2015.

I didn’t know when I woke up yesterday that I’d be making another pilgrimage to Tropicana Field, about seven miles to my south. I like it that way, really. Nothing to lose sleep over, nothing to get excited about. But with the game not televised locally, I joined 10,000 or so other fellow Rays (and a few Mariner) fans at the old dome near downtown St. Petersburg.

Going with my mother and her boyfriend (a former semi-pro ballplayer), I made my way to the left field party deck just in time for Chris Archer to deal the first pitch in what would turn out to be a classic pitchers duel. (won by Seattle 3-0 on a 9th inning Nelson Cruz homer) I make it to my seat, eat the two soft tacos I got from the Taco Bus vendors, drank my all-you-can-drink Pepsi (I don’t like drinking beer at the ballpark, as I might be needed for directions after the game off of Google Maps, always seem to get lost getting out of the park…), and I’m sitting up there all alone for the first three innings.

I call my mother while the fourth inning is going on, and of course she’s mad at me because I was where I was supposed to be at, and they weren’t. The boyfriend had corrupted her into getting seats behind third base at ground level, and they wanted me to join them. I wrestled with the ethics of getting a seat that I didn’t pay for, but with such a small crowd, I went ahead.

Laying low to avoid being busted by the ushers, I sat there and got a close-up view of the game, but the boyfriend wasn’t done. He wanted my mom to get a seat right up close to the Seattle dugout, which she did. Inside, I’m cringing. What if we get busted? Do I employ a Twinkie defense? Plead temporary insanity?

The game ends, with the Seattle fans at the Trop wanting to mob Felix Hernandez for the complete game shutout he pitched, a rarity in today’s brand of baseball. Despite the petty larceny of grabbing seats that weren’t ours, I enjoyed the afternoon. I just wonder with so few going to the ball game how long the Rays will be here in Tampa Bay without a new ballpark and a secured future.

By the way, what’s wrong with the current park?

When A Must Win Game Goes Unwon

If the Tampa Bay Lightning fail to make it to the Stanley Cup after Friday night, they will rue the opportunity they had last night at the Amaile Arena.

They trailed 2-1 going into the third 20 minute period, but left being cannonaded by Ranger goals, suffering a 7-3 loss that evens the best-of-seven series at three games each. The Rangers, who have won six straight seventh games in a playoff series, never having lost a game seven at home, now have that seventh game at Madison Square Garden.

While the fans, media, and players know that these respective streaks are on the line, the pucks, sticks, and other hockey equipment that will be used do not.  Remember that each game, as they say in gambling, is an independent trial. If you go out to Las Vegas and hit ten straight sevens on the craps tables, the dice don’t care about you hitting an eleventh seven in a row.

Lightning fans: keep your chins up, and remember that they can still win Friday and set local sports history.  None of the “big three” franchises (Bucs, Rays, or Lightning) have made it to two championships in their respective histories. It can still happen. Don’t look at Friday night with dread, look at it instead as opportunity.

Remember Those Who Served Everyday

I’m not the most conservative man in the world, nor am I the most liberal. But as I get older, it dawns on me that people my age or younger don’t seem to respect history as much as the older (or as Tom Brokaw would say, the greater) generations.

Memorial Day just passed as I type this, the 25th such holiday since my father passed in early 1991. It will be the first of many 25th’s without my dad around over the course of the next year.

When he was 18, he served in the Army in a ski patrol unit in Colorado. While we won the second World War (otherwise, I’d be speaking to you in German or Japanese now if I had existed), our country didn’t fare well in snowy conditions. Thus the formation of this particular part of the service as an effort to make the country more able to be more mobile in future wars.  He was also photographed for Life magazine while he served, though I’ve never seen the particular photo in question. If anyone has a collection of those mags laying around during the post WW2 40’s, I’d love to see if I could find it. Fortunately, he never served in battle as he was still not of age when WW2 drew to a close.

My dad always loved watching skiing when it was on TV, particularly the tour events or Olympic events ABC used to have. One day when I was a kid I asked him about why he liked skiing, and he told me about his Army service. A kid from Florida like me had a hard time wrapping my head around something like that.

It is a good thing that we remember those who served on Memorial Day and the weekend that surrounds it. I just think they should be remembered more, and given better wisdom by their governmental leaders.

The Wrong Priorities

One of my former classmates was pointing out this week the futility of this “Click It or Ticket” campaign.

During the holiday weekends of summer, the various state and federal highway patrols and “keepers of the highways” remind everyone it’s mandatory to buckle up when you drive. Unless you crash in a way where your body becomes a projectile, the only person harmed by this transgression is yourself, maybe the people you’re in the car with. It used to be you could only be cited if you violated another rule, but they changed that to where not wearing a seat belt is the only thing a cop needs to see to pull you over.

What my former classmate pointed out is that texting while driving is a much more clear and present danger, but where are the laws and the penalties for doing that? Where are the commercials promising harsh penalties if you’re caught texting and driving?

I know that texting is something that can easily be covered up by the driver involved in a crash, but come on. If we’re going to legislate against stupidity, then legislate all the stupidity, and not pick and choose the stupid.

The Last Of Letterman

“What you can’t do is throw coffee.”

David Letterman did his last late night show on CBS last night after over three decades on CBS and NBC before that. Anyone remember that Letterman had a daytime talk show on the Peacock Network?

My first memories of Letterman revolve around Andy Kaufman and his many gimmicks, one of which was wrestling women on stage. He took said gimmick to Memphis, Tennessee and “ran” (which I use in quotes because we’d find out many years later it was all scripted) into a wrestler named Jerry Lawler. The two appeared on Letterman’s NBC show, and Lawler wound up slapping Kaufman. Again, some thought it was unscripted, and those thinking that way were duped big time.

Anyway, Kaufman goes on a huge rant, with audio censors earning their pay bleeping out all the cursing the comedian was doing, calling Lawler something rhyming with a trucking mass hole.  Andy then throws coffee at Jerry before the much larger pro wrestler chased him away with a few strides in his direction.

Afterwards, Letterman gets off one of the funniest lines he’s ever had:

“I think you can use some of those words on TV.  But what you can’t do is throw coffee.  I’ve said it over and over again.”

Farewell, Dave.  You’ve earned your retirement, and best wishes for your future.

Kicking Ice And Taking Names

dabolts

I haven’t talked about the local hockey team that much this year, the Tampa Bay Lightning. If you don’t follow NHL hockey, let me just say they’re having an outstanding year. Currently they’re one of the last four teams in the playoff race, battling the New York Rangers to determine the Eastern representative for the Stanley Cup championship series, with the series tied at one game apiece in a race to four games to determine the series winner.

Hockey has always gone over well here, going back to the Suncoast Suns of the early 1970’s at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg. Now, the Lightning may be on the verge of being the first major sports franchise in this area to have won multiple championships. The Bucs only won one Super Bowl in 2003, and the Rays got to the World Series in 2008 before losing to Philadelphia’s Phillies.

Game 3 is tonight on the NBC Sports Network. Looking forward to some more ice kicking. Here’s hoping they do well.

Finding The Culprit

To update my Windows 10 problems and travails…

I found the culprit as to why it (Windows 10) was running so wonky.  It was the Avast Anti-virus program.  I removed that, and everything started to run as normal.  I use other programs (like the Obit Malware Fighter, Advanced System Care, and Windows Defender) as substitutes, and they run without making the computer slow or wonky.  I don’t do my banking online (I do it on ATMs or the IPhone), and I stay away from shady looking websites.  Those two things ALONE will keep your computer safe to a greater degree.

For some reason, the various anti-virus software makers out there aren’t Windows 10 compatible yet.  More of a reason to avoid the “builds” and wait for it to be completely ready later this year if you can do so.  I wasn’t so lucky, and made a foolhardy decision, and hopefully I can avoid further trouble in the next few months.

Haircut 100 Plus ???

  

Yes, I know I currently look like Roger Sterling’s bastard child. But three times a year, I get a haircut. Usually once at the start of the year or before the holidays, once around May, once around September or so. 

I don’t usually do this with great relish or ceremony. My hair doesn’t need a lot of pampering either, just the basic Walmart cut will do. 

The lady who cut my hair either has been or will be an auto racing pit crew member in another life.  She cut my hair rapidly and had me on my way. Gave her a nice tip. 

Now, back to civilization. 

Mad Men

A few years ago, I thought The Sopranos may have been the best TV show I have ever seen.

Then I got hooked on Breaking Bad.  Now, I’m watching Mad Men wind down.

It’s funny how the “heroes” you see on television these days are actually anti-heroic.  Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper, even to a lesser degree Peggy Olson can sprout fangs.

It’s their anti-heroism and their flaws that make these characters (and remember people, that’s all they are: characters) so addicting to watch, I think.

The finale of Mad Men should be a good one, although I think they cancelled it a little too soon.  Would have liked to have seen the show make it until at least 1975 or so.  Roger Sterling doing the disco would have probably been a hoot to watch.