Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Dad, Mother's Day and A Five-Year Anniversary

Today is Mother's Day, but I'd like to take a second to talk about Father's Day.  Ten years ago, I wrote a blog post about my dad and fathers for Father's Day.  My mom would tell me that my dad really, really, really enjoyed the post and felt proud.  Here is the entire post I wrote back on June 18th, 2006:

Happy Father's Day to everyone.  If you are reading this blog, then you probably are a sports lover.  And if you are a sports lover, chances are that your dad had something to do with it. 
Sure, you're name isn't Ken Griffey Jr. 
Or Barry Bonds. 
Or Moises Alou.
Or Peyton Manning. 
Or Eli Manning. 
Or Tiger Woods. 
Or Venus Williams. 
Or Brent Barry. 
Or Kobe Bryant. 
If you are....then my blog is doing better than I thought. 
You aren't though.  But that doesn't mean that the seeds of your sports life weren't sowed by your dad.  Whether it is watching the game with him....playing catch....learning what 1/2 game in the standings are....or that feeling when you were small that your dad was the greatest athlete of all time [and, to the dads, the feeling you get when your kid thinks that].  
My dad certainly was that.  He taught me about sports, mainly baseball and football.  He was the manager of my Little League team.  If you've ever played for your dad in any know how hard that is.  You can't  Your dad is probably harder on you than anyone else on the team 'cuz he expects more.  And your teammates give you crap because your "daddy is the coach".  
He showed up at all of my football games [even the ones on the road in the rain].  Even though I wasn't on the field that often.  He went to a few basketball games as well.
He did teach me all those rules.  I probably know more useless rules in baseball than anyone should.  I know that throwing your glove at a batted ball is an automatic triple.  He told me so.  He told me that there still was a NFL team in Tampa Bay....even though I never saw them on television.  I know how to keep score in a baseball game and I used to [back when I though baseball was thegreatest] sit in front of the TV and keep the scoring book of the games.  
As far as playing pool, he taught me everything without really saying anything.  He only gave me tips if I asked for them....but was willing to show me anything if I was willing to watch.  And whenever I played him in pool, I wanted to beat him more than anyone else I played.....just because, well, there is nothing like beating your dad at  He taught me what betting lines were....and the over/under.  He taught me how to play Euchre [a card game for the uninitiated].  He kept me away from soccer.  We played baseball and football on Intelevision...and then Atari.  
But not everything is shared.  He is a Carolina Panthers fan.....I am a Washington Redskins fan.  He is a Indiana Hooiser fan [really, a Bobby Knight fan]....I am a North Carolina Tar Heel fan.  I love the NBA....I don't think he ever watches it.  He was a mechanic....I can't tell you what anything is under the hood of a car [unless it is already labeled, but I still don't know what it does].  
And that all is just sports.....but this is a sports blog.  But many times, with fathers and sons [and daughters], sports is the perfect place for getting together.  It's a chance for dads to pass on their knowledge to their kids and watch them learn and grow on the field of play.  For kids, it's a great chance to learn something that didn't involve a school book or homework.  It's a chance for kids to be in awe of our dads and a chance for dads to still think they "got it". 
Either way, I wish all the dads a Happy Father's Day!!!  And wish all the kids great memories of the days learning about the things they know now.
Hard to believe it was 10 years ago I wrote that.

My dad would die five years later ... on May 8th, 2011.  Five years ago today.  That date was also a Mother's Day like today's date is.   My dad had been in a bad way for quite some time and his suffering ended on that date.  One thing I will always remember is that in that hospice room, my mom mentioned that it was the first time in a looong time that her two children and her (at the time) three grandchildren were all together with her on Mother's Day.  Didn't realize it until then, but she was right.

At that time, I was fostering a little girl that we have had for just four months (she was 16 months old at the time).  We had no biological children and were trying to build our own family.  It was the second and last time she met my dad as we took a quick weekend visit to see him a month earlier.  I was a very new dad.  In the five years since his passing, we adopted that little girl.  We are currently fostering another child who we've had for 16 months (he's 18 months old).  And we actually got pregnant and had a child of our own.  My dad's first name is his middle name.

So as a father of three, today means a lot as does actual Father's Day.  For one, today is Mother's Day and my wife is a fantastic mom who does what it takes to make sure the kids are exposed to many things.  I think of my mom who has done a great job building her life since dad passed.  Plus we are reminded of that day where my dad left us.

Also, I'm a dad now with a son of my own.  I want to make sure he learns the life lessons ... and sports ... like I did.  I want to pass on those semi-useless facts to him like my dad did to me and I'll say them just as smug.  I'll tell him like I am Phil Jackson, Joe Gibbs and Tommy LaSorda rolled into one guy.  To him, I know it all even though I kinda don't.  Especially if any of my kids want to play soccer.  They may be on their own.

Happy Mother's Day, mom!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Where Should The Big 12 Expand?

The Big 12 is apparently looking at expanding to, uh, 12 teams.  Yes, the ten team league with a twelve team name is looking to expand.  Football is running this, per usual, but it is the fact that the league is worried about getting left out of the college football playoff.  So adding teams is going to be tough.

This isn't like the last few rounds of conference realignment.  Schools are kind of set in the major conferences and there isn't any likely big time candidates to move.  No Nebraska, Syracuse, Louisville, Maryland, Colorado, Missouri or Texas A&M that is willing to bolt.  No Big Ten or SEC school would leave their leagues and it wouldn't seem as if the Pac-12 is nervous about losing a member.  The Big 12 could send feelers to ACC schools Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech to see if there is any interest but that probably will be fruitless.  So the Big 12 must not only find solid football members but ones in smaller conferences.

So who could be the candidates to join the Big 12?  Here is my rankings: