On Closing 2009

As 2009 approaches its end, I find myself in a melancholy mood. I know happiness will ring abound at midnight, but the end of a year is a chance to look ahead and look back. At least today, I’m looking more back.

I, like many, enjoy seeing the bits about the top stories of the year, the greatest accomplishments, and those reminders of the celebrities who passed away – which is always a reminder on ABC’s This Week. But the passing of the famous also serves other reminders; such as

  • The many others famous in their land that passed away throughout the world, yet whose name and accomplishments were totally unknown to me.
  • The many non-famous that lived their life in such a way that their goodness is still alive in others.
  • The families of all who lost someone and the range of emotions they carry.
  • Those who passed from needless acts.
  • Those who passed from an empty life and without the knowledge of others … and the list can go on.

These aren’t my normal New Years’ Eve thoughts, but they are something to ponder. Meanwhile, I hope everyone has a safe evening, joys at midnight, and much happiness in 2010.

On My Sports Decade: 2000-2009

The close of 2009 marks the end of the 21st century’s first decade. Instead of developing a debatable list of the decade’s top sports stories, here’s my personal top sporting stories for 2000-2009. The non-prioritized list looks at broad events in my life as a sports fan.

Reds Achieve Mediocrity
As a long-time Reds fan, I’m troubled by the floundering franchise. After starting the decade with a 2nd place divisional finish, the Reds ended the decade with 9-straight losing seasons. Ownership by a local philanthropic legend actually helped the organization as a whole after Marge’s penny-pinching charade, but MLB results were lacking. Although new ownership is local, they are still asking fans to buy more tickets so they can raise payroll. Sorry guys, that strategy doesn’t work

Bengals Rise to Respectability
Marvin Lewis began as coach in 2003 vowing to make a change. After a pathetic 1991-2002 run, the Bengals are at least respectable – look at the season records yourself. After all, I really believe that most fans will hang their hope on competitiveness … a chance at winning – and the Lewis era has achieved that. By the way, the 2005 edition was an awesome offense.

The Rise and Fall in Clifton
Clifton is the part of town containing the University of Cincinnati. Basketball has long been king of the hill, and the Bob Huggins era brought success and excitement. With one big swoop, he was gone, the team dismantled, and forced to start over. Coincidently, the rise of UC football began – and who would have ever imagined the heights they’ve reached. It may be short lived (yet it may not be), nonetheless, it has been exciting run for this season ticket holder!

Continued XU Success
Although Xavier and UC are located only miles apart, in some ways, they are on opposite sides of the world. Nonetheless, their basketball rivalry is intense and exciting. Skip Presser coached the XU to start the decade, yet Thad Mata (Ohio State) and Sean Miller (Arizona) followed. Those 10 years produced 8 NCAA bids, including 2 Elite 8s and a Sweet 16. Wow – good luck Coach Mack.

The Urban Legend Begins
Urban Meyer’s first head coaching job was at my alma mater – Bowling Green. His first year (2001) produced the biggest turnaround that year (from 2-9 to 9-3). His fast-paced style changed the way MAC schools play football. Although he left for Utah after two seasons, my wife and I traveled to Purdue and witnessed the 2003 Falcons score late in the game to beat the Boilermakers – and to think that two weeks later BG had the Buckeyes on the ropes late in the game.

Tiger’s Dominance
Current news aside, Tiger Woods has (without question) risen golf’s popularity. His competiveness and success is unbelievable. What a treat it was for me to attend 2 days of the 2007 Bridgestone Invitational. Yes, he won that one too.

On Cincinnati HS Sports
The Cincinnati parochial high schools are noted for their successful sports teams. Football, basketball (boys and girls), and volleyball lead the way. Teams as St. Xavier, Elder, and Moeller get nation attention and college recruiters flock to the area, yet it was a smaller school (Roger Bacon) that beat LeBron James’ team in the state finals of his junior year.

On Bud Baseball
Despite Bud Selig, baseball continues to be popular. Despite its goofy economic structure, attendance continues to rise. Despite baseball’s double standards, Bud Selig continues to prohibit the Reds from retiring Pete Rose’s number.

On the Olympics
The decade gave us 5 Olympics games (Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Turin, and Bejing) and countless number of heroes and moments. Enough said.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 46

On Priorities of Politicians
The more I observe our political system at work, the more I realize what it’s all about. Although in the last presidential campaign John McCain used Country First, reality is that Country is way down the list with self, party, special interests, and contributors getting the highest priority. Moreover, people wonder what’s wrong in Washington and politicians wonder why many voters become disenchanted.

On Bank Loans
Amidst the growing list of banks repaying their government loans, where are the calls of Fascism? Oh, they are the ones crying wolf in another topic.

On a Recent 60 Minutes
The Dec 20th edition of 60 Minutes very interesting. The first segment was about the economic impact on Wilmington, Ohio due to the closing of a major employer. Since Wilmington less than an hour away and I know affected people, it found it humbling.

The second segment was about the Orthodox Church, whose main office is in Turkey with its Muslim population in the high 90%. The segment showed Turkey’s ancient ties to Christianity. Amazing – especially the information about Capadocia! To see the segment, forward the video to around the 15-minute mark. Otherwise, see images of Capadocia here.

On the Big Can’t Count
The 11-team Big 10 Conference is considering expansion. Interestingly, there’s a report out of Chicago stating the conference will examine expansion to 12, 14, or even 16. The demise of Big East football is getting closer.

On Bias in College Voting
Everyone knows that voters don’t show bias or favoritism in college polls and awards. Point in case. In the recent AP Coach of the Year balloting, the top 3 vote getters were Gary Patterson (TCU – 21 votes), Brian Kelly (Cincinnati – 19 votes), and Nick Sabin (Alabama – 14 votes).

Let me get this straight. Nick Sabin received 14 votes for leading a pre-season top-5 team to an undefeated season over Patterson, whose team pre-season ranking around 17; and Kelly, whose team was unranked.

Verdict – Guilty and case closed without appeal.

On a New Header Cometh
Following the swap I did last January, sometime on January 1st I plan to reveal a new header. Please stop by and give me your thoughts.

On the Glory of 25 and 50 Years Ago

I earned by undergrad degree at Bowling Green State University, thus a proud Falcon. The end of 2009 marks the end of celebrating two monumental sports moments from years gone by: the 1984 NCAA Hockey Championship and the 1959 NCAA Football Championship.

I imagine someone is scratching their head about the 1959 gridiron feat because references list Jim Brown-led Syracuse as national champions, but the Falcons were the NCAA College Division (Small College) champions. The team numbers are impressive: 9-0-0 and outscoring opponents 274-83 … and to think that rival Toledo scored 21 points while the defense held 6 opponents to single digits. Here are some notes about the personnel.

  • Coach Doyt Perry led the BG for 10 years with a .855 winning percentage (77-11-5) and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame
  • Bernie Casey (RB) was an All-American, the ninth pick of the NFL draft, and had a successful career with the 49ers and Rams
  • Jack Harbaugh (QB/DB), had a successful college coaching career and father to John and Jim
  • Ron Blackledge (TE/DE) had a successful coaching career and father of Todd
  • Larry Smith (WR), served as head coach at Tulane, Arizona, USC, and Missouri
  • Jim Young, assistant coach, served as head coach at Arizona, Purdue, and Army; member of College Football Hall of Fame
  • Dick Young, assistant coach, served as AD at BG, Oklahoma State, and Washington State
  • Dave McClain (QB) coached at Ball State

Here’s a short article about the team. By the way, the players above and below with hyperlinks are enshrined in the BGSU Hall of Fame.

Twenty-five years later (1984) the Falcon icers won the national championship. Although BG had a stellar record (31-7-2) and ranked #2 in the final poll, an OT loss to Michigan State in the league championship game sent BG to Boston to face the Terriers in two-game total-goal series. Having lost by 3 the first night, BG roared back to win by 4.

A rematch semi-final win over MSU then vaulted the Falcons into the finals. Trailing by 3 to Minnesota-Diluth in the final period, the Falcons roared back to tie with 1:47 left, and then eventually winning in the fourth overtime!

Here are some of the roster notables.

  • Garry Galley (D) – 18 years in the NHL
  • Dave Ellett (D) – 16 years in the NHL
  • Gino Cavallini (W) – 8 years in the NHL
  • Iain Duncan (W) – 4 years in the NHL
  • Todd Flichel (D) – 3 years in the NHL
  • John Samanski (C) – 11 years playing in Europe
  • George Roll (W) – Head coach at Clarkson
  • Jerry York (Head Coach) – Currently head coach at Boston College where he has also won a national championship

See the full roster
Read about the season

On Merry Christmas 2009

Christmas Eve may be my favorite day of the year. Not so much in a family way, but after the hectic shopping season, I like driving past shopping areas and seeing empty parking lots. That calm simply subdues the frantic nature of the preceding days.

Many of you have given me a gift by simply stopping by and possibly commenting. I’m touched, humbled, and grateful for your time: Tim, Rad, Dave, Joe, Maxi, David, Ryan, Beeze, Larry, Paulette, Mo, Frag, Brad, Michelle, Randy, Dwain, 3rd Stone, CCC, Chris, CJ, JD, Chuck, Luke, Jake, Rod, Al, Larry, Kebby, Dan, Charles, Kelly, Tim, Tori, Diana, Lisa, Cam, Jerry, Hooper, Walter, John, Bobby, David, Brian, Steve, KJ, Blask, Carol, Jane, Paddy, Jason, Alex, Ben, Matt, Sharon, Stan, Kelly, Tom, Adam, Andy, whoever I left out, and whoever read and never commented.

As I’ve said before, my work schedule has strained my posting and my visits to the blog that help in my learning. I miss visiting you, but a special thanks for your continual visits here.

Although I wish Merry Christmas to all, I also extended greetings to you in whatever your tradition! Meanwhile, my Christmas gift to you is three minutes of Carol of the Bells by the fantastic Celtic Woman.

On a Tragic Bengal

Cincinnati Bengals Chris Henry’s death was tragic. There is no doubt that he had issues, but he was sincerely trying to improve. At certainly was not at the pinnacle of human behavior, he vastly improved from where he was.

After he broke his wrist in the Baltimore game, I immediately wondered what would happen to him. After all, football gave him two things that he needed and used: structure (through the disciplines of being on an NFL team) and support (through the other players who sincerely watched and helped him). To me, the fact that the accident happened in Charlotte speaks volumes about my thoughts.

The reaction by two individuals and one general group caught my attention. The group were the many who were very against him in the past suddenly did an about face. You know the type, so elaboration is not necessary.

Many often criticize team owner Mike Brown for the franchise’s low achievement. I have often said that two of his biggest faults and two of his strengths are qualities that most people want in others: loyalty and opportunity – the latter being giving another chance to someone because he saw the positive that could come out. Regarding this accident, I am sure Mr. Brown hurts.

It was also interesting to watch Chad Ochocinco. For all his self-center antics, there is no question in my mind that Chad felt a deep loss. The game in San Diego is the first one I can remember when Chad did not bring attention to himself. The guy who would rather pay a fine for doing something goofy after scoring instead of donating to a charity, stayed focus on the team and his fallen teammate. Maybe it took Chris Henry to show give Chad some perspective on life.

On Another Holiday Music Bit for Monday

One thing for sure – the holiday season offers many musical opportunities. Last Monday I offered Alchemy Handbells with their hectic rendition of a tune from the Nutcracker. Thanks to the glory of mining You Tube, I discovered another Alchemy gem – but this time as a trio. Not only watch with amazement, but also listen!

Have a great and safe week.