It would be wise if I wrote some form of blog, or at least a Facebook post of some substance, every morning. I generally awaken with my mind alive and body less so.
It’s not always about sports. For instance, this morning I thought about how the sheriff (or marshal) in virtually every old western TV series is the same. He’s a sympathetic, friendly sort who is keenly aware of the limitations of his job.
Marshal Micah Torrance (Paul Fix) in The Rifleman is Sheriff Roy Coffee (Ray Teal) in Bonanza is Sheriff Mort Cory (Stuart Randall) in Laramie. Matt Dillon (James Arness) in Gunsmoke differs in that he is the lead character.
They all went to the same sheriffing school, though.
Once NASCAR was over, or on open NASCAR weekends, I used to take my nephews and nieces on trips back when I had lots of frequent-flyer miles. Texas is playing Colorado in tonight’s Alamo Bowl. When Ray Phillips was a kid, twice we saw the Buffaloes play. When I took Ray to see his favorite NFL team, the Denver Broncos, play the Minnesota Vikings at the old (as opposed to the new) Mile High Stadium, Oklahoma was playing Colorado in Boulder and we went there on Saturday. Later on, when he decided to go to Clemson, Ray and I went to the CHAMPS Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., to see the Tigers take on Colorado.
My chief memory of the latter game was a quick trip to the bathroom after the game ended. In the final minute, Colorado had blocked an extra point that didn’t affect the outcome of the game. In the bathroom, Clemson fans were almost riotous in their anger even though the Tigers had won. That botched conversion prevented Clemson from “covering,” and lots of their fans had obviously wagered on the Tigers, who were 9-1/2-point favorites that won by 9 (19-10).
With the exception of Ray, who was and is an avid fan, the ballgames were for me. Niece Ella accompanied me to Seattle and San Francisco, where we visited all sorts of culturally significant sites. During the former, we watched Washington play UCLA, and the latter featured Arizona State versus Stanford.
Jake and I watched a series between the Montreal Expos and my favorite sports team, the Boston Red Sox. We were walking around the area of Fenway Park. I had just purchased Jake a cap and jersey. A white stretch limousine, which is something Jake had probably never seen before, pulled alongside in traffic, the sun roof opened, and several young men, likely inebriated, yelled at Jake.
“Hey, kid! Hey, you! In the Sawx shuht! Yankees? Yankees?”
Jake was a bit flustered. I leaned over and said, “Yell ‘suck’.”
“Yeah. Yell ‘suck’,” I said.
He turned to them and yelled “suck!”
“Good ahnsuh, kid.” The fan dropped back down, and the sun roof whirred shut.
“Uncle Monte,” Jake said, “aren’t they playing Montreal again?”
“Doesn’t matter,” I told him.
Before Ray decided to go to Clemson, he was a big fan of Florida, and we went to the Orange Bowl in what we didn’t know would be Steve Spurrier’s final game as head coach of the Gators, who played Maryland. In that it was the Terrapins’ first big bowl game in many years, there were actually more Maryland fans there than Florida fans.
It has now been 18 more years since Maryland went to a big bowl.
Before the game started, the stadium was alive with the drone of Maryland fans chanting, over and over, “Fear the … turtles!”
The Terps took the early lead. The Gators won 56-23.
In the second half, it was the Florida fans chanting “Fear the … turtles.” Ray joined in the satire.
My first bowl game was when I was a junior in high school. Some friends and I decided we wanted to attend one and decided on the Sugar Bowl, even though we had no idea which teams would be playing in it. Henry Blalock drove, and Roy Walker, Will Ferguson and I accompanied him all the way to New Orleans in Henry’s Chevy Nova. We got a motel room in Gulfport, Miss., and decided to take a dip in the Gulf, even though it was late December. Our swim was short-lived, as we quickly discovered the water was full of oil that had leaked from off-shore rigs within sight of the beach.
It was the last Sugar Bowl played at Tulane Stadium, then home of both the game and the New Orleans Saints. The gold Superdome was in the final stages of construction.
Nebraska defeated Florida, 13-10.
Can you imagine four high school kids, ages 16 and 17, being allowed to make that trip today? Had I been a bit older, undoubtedly I would have enjoyed myself more. We were the only teetotalers on Bourbon Street.