Not that there’s anything wrong with that

elway xxxiii

Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway in Super Bowl XXXIII

The Broncos fresh off a win in Super Bowl 50 are looking for a quarterback now that Peyton Manning is hanging up his spurs. His back-up, Brock Osweiler is on to greener prairies in Texas leaving the team’s General Manager, John Elway, in a lurch.

I’m sure Elway can relate to the quarterback replacement dilemma after his retirement following the Super Bowl XXXIII win which brings me to my story.

In 1999, I was doing some consulting work for a non-profit in Boulder called Rock the Planet that used mountain climbing as a metaphor for positive youth development.

The group sent me on a field trip to attend a climbing wall convention in New York City.

It was the dead of winter. I made arrangements to stay with one of my college classmates who still lives on the upper westside between Broadway and Central Park on 72nd.

A couple days before my visit, he called and said he was deathly ill with a cold and made arrangements for me to stay at one of his friend’s short term rentals in Greenwich Village.

I arrived and was greeted by Jon who escorted me to the little studio, that he rented to me for a couple hundred bucks for the weekend. It was cozy but cold. By the time the steam heated up the small place, it was time for me to leave.

I don’t recall anything about the meeting I attended, but it was Super Bowl Sunday and the Broncos were playing. I didn’t know the neighborhood that well, since I normally stay a little further uptown at the Hotel Pennsylvania.

Near my room was a bar – or what looked like a bar. There wasn’t a prominent sign. Since neither of the New York teams were playing, I suspected the crowd would be light.

When I walked through the door, the place was rocking – loud music, people dancing. There was a TV behind the bar. I elbowed my way through the crowd, and sat down on an empty stool and ordered a beer. I asked the bartender to put on the game.

Meanwhile a couple guys walked over and sat down and struck up a conversation wondering what I was doing there. We had a couple laughs before they disappeared into the crowd.

Eventually, I noticed that the bar was not only full of mostly men, which wasn’t unusual, but there were men dancing with men and guys making out with guys in the booths.


The Stonewall Inn was ground zero for the modern day gay rights movement.

Turned out, I had stumbled upon the infamous and now famous Stonewall Inn.

Back in the summer of 1969, it became the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. In those days, police routinely raided gay bars, but on June 28th of that year, nobody cooperated and a riot broke out. The following morning thousands joined a protest on Christopher Street.

My college friend is gay and while frat brothers at a small Presbyterian college in the middle of Nebraska, sexual orientation wasn’t of much concern since it was an assumed heterosexual world there. I didn’t learn that my ‘mate was gay until we were well out of school.

Back in the late 1980s when I was living in Lander, Wyoming, I was out drinking with a buddy. After the bars closed we went over to his place. That was the first and only time I had been propositioned by a man. I told him I prefer women. He made it sound like being gay was a choice and tried to talk me into it,  “You might like it,” he said.

I told him I prefer women.

That was that.

I imagined he felt the same as when I was when a woman turned down my proposition. My sexual exploits aren’t anything to write home about. I don’t imagine they are much different that the rest of the people I’ve hung around with over the years.

What may be different, I do have a documentary movie in mind about personal classified ads and online dating. I’m of the age where I’ve had success and failures with both. I’m now getting up the nerve to ask some of the women I’ve met through those means whether they’d be willing to share their experiences  – not necessarily experiences with me, though.

I watched a documentary on HBO about gay online dating which included some bizarre stories.

The Stonewall Inn will probably be a part of this project in someway, but i probably won’t get around to it until the next Super Bowl because I’ll have to make a pilgrimage there.

By the way, the Stonewall was hoppin’ by the time the confetti was flying at the end of Super Bowl XXXIII. I was the only one who cared that the Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons 34 – 19. I got on the train and went uptown to Sardi’s to celebrate.

Purging baseball cards for the good of future generations

I put all my baseball cards from 1979 to 1998 in the neighborhood rummage sale.

Silver Sage Village is having a 16 household rummage sale on September 19th and everyone has been culling through their junk. My office mate moved to one he set up in his apartment and this has given me a good chance to go through my stuff.

I’ve been selling unwanted things on ebay, including parts of my sports card collection. My account is AnAmericanPlaceII which is an homage to social realism photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery in New York City.

In a past life, I had a sports card store front called Pine Riders in Riverton, Wyoming that opened during the sports card bubble in the late 1980s through the 1990s. The great thing about having a store like that was buying, selling and trading for my own hobby, as well as helping others support theirs. To this day, I’m amazed I was able to keep the doors open turning over cardboard worth a dime to a few bucks.

On Pine Riders opening day, former Yankees pitcher who won the decisive game of the 1961 World Series, Bud Daley, came over and signed autographs. I ran into Bud at the Wind River Casino when I was in Fremont County a few months back.

When I moved from Wyoming to Colorado over 20 years ago, I hauled literally a ton of cards with me in notebooks, boxes and brief cases that took up space in closets, crawl spaces and basements.

At the height of the card bubble, I had a colleague trade my entire collection of cards – complete sets from 1958 through 1998 – around 25,000 cards – for a handful of items that are of more interest to me and much less bulky to haul around. Among my newly pared down collection is a 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle card and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig autographs.

My friend Rodger McDaniel recently wrote a blog post about how he was once a millionaire before his mother threw away his baseball card collection with included a few 1952 Mickey Mantle cards. That Topps card is one of the few Holy Grails of the hobby. My mom, on the other hand, saved mine in a box which was the basis of my collection as I have continued it to this day.

Rodger’s lament is one of the classics.

In getting ready for the garage sale, I am doing my part to increase the value of the newer vintage of sports cards that are generally from 1980 to the present.

I realized I had no heart-felt feelings about them, like I do for the rest of my Yankees collections and started slashing and burning. I collect:

  • 1919 Yankees for no particular reason except that Chicago Bears founder George Halas was on that team and this also was the year of the Black Sox Scandal;
  • 1923 Yankees were the first to play in Yankee Stadium and won the first World Series title that year;
  • 1932 Yankees finished the season winning the World Series and highlighted by Babe Ruth’s supposed “called shot” home run for a sick kid and also the first year for Frank Crosetti;
  • 1961 – 1962 Yankees‘ third base coach was Frank Crosetti and this was also the first year I paid close attention to baseball mostly because of Maris and Mantle chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record;
  • 1977 – 1978 Yankees with Reggie, Reggie, Reggie!
  • 2001 Yankees since I went to New York for games 3 and 4 of the World Series a month after 9/11

I emptied out all my boxes of Donruss, Fleer, Bowman and Topps, cards, which in this day and age have little value to me personally or financially. The huge number of cards and sets and subsets became unmanageable. Now, I could care less about Harold Baines or even Mark McGwire who took a personal and professional nose dive in the wake of the performance enhancing drug scandals.

Those are all going to the garage sale along with hundreds more – George Brett, Nolan Ryan …

Free agency also screwed things up. It used to be a player stayed on the same team for his entire career. Now, a pitcher has a good year and gets traded.

I’ve always been a Yankees fan and many of those I’m tossing are of ballyhooed young players like Brien Taylor and Pat Kelly. I also have a lot of players like Joe Girardi who were okay, but not great players. I also had a lot of Girardi cards because he was one of the original Colorado Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft.

During this time period, I was in a rotisserie baseball league called the Buttheads. I always collected cards of the players on my team – the Yangs – which gave a bit of reality to the fantasy. I have a lot of Greg Maddux cards and Pedro Astacio, Denny Neagle (I was the only Butthead to select Rockies pitchers).

Why the Yangs?

In Star Trek Episode 52 “The Omega Glory” Kirk and crew find themselves in some alternate world where the good guys are the Yangs and bad buys are the Coms.

Back to sorting.

I’m a member of a facebook group called Baseball Card of the Day. Members post images of cards for various reasons, memories, updating about the status of their collections. Occasionally, there will be someone who talks about leaving their collection to their kids to pay for their college educations.

I say, do your kids a favor and cash in your cards while you’re still alive. If a guy like me who¬† has a pretty good idea as to how much a Frank Thomas 1990 Leaf card is worth and where I might find someone who would might buy it, an heir with no idea about the hobby will have a hard time figuring out how to parlay that 1989 complete set of Topps baseball cards into microbiology textbooks.

Baseball cards are for moms to decide to keep or throw away, it’s much less stressful.

By the way, If you’re holding a Joe Hesketh rookie card, it just went up in value because I threw mine away.

My top stories from 2014: Mork, Gutless NFL, Soft on Commies, Homeland and ISIS, Blues blow it, and more …

My yoga teacher at The Little Yoga Studio told a story about why we should avoid New Years resolutions about making us perfect, since we are imperfect beings.

My yoga teacher at The Little Yoga Studio told a story about why we should avoid New Years resolutions about making us perfect, since we are imperfect beings.

When I was working in the newspaper business, at the end of the year, the staff sat around and came up with the top news stories. I was the sports editor and came up with the top sports stories. The yoga teacher the other day was talking about how none of us are perfect. Rather than striving for perfection with New Years resolutions, we should figure out ways to work within our imperfections to make life better for ourselves and for others.

Now that I’m an arm chair journalist, here are my top 10 picks mostly about the foibles of people and how they may have an impact on our daily lives, in no particular order:

The GOP took control of the Senate with Harry Reid leaving as President Pro - tem and Mitch McConnell on tap to take the job.

The GOP took control of the Senate with Harry Reid leaving as President Pro -tem and Mitch McConnell on tap to take the job. (Photo Fair Use)

Democrats blow midterms, lose US Senate – The biggest domestic story that happened was on election day when the GOP took control fo the US Senate. Harry Reid is out and Mitch McConnell is in as President Pro-tem. Politicians like these two guys are an odd lot. Neither wants to budge from their¬† extreme positions. I wonder if McConnell will soften up now that he’s in charge. It was a weird election – stock market strong, gas prices low, unemployment rate low. As near as I can figure, the Democrats blew it by not getting out the vote. This midterm election was decided by 36 percent of the electorate. It will be interesting to see how things change starting in January.

Ray Rice, Janay Rice

Washed up Baltimore Ravens running back had a roller coaster ride after slugging his wife and getting away with it for a while until a movie surfaced of the bludgeoning.(Photo Fair Use)

NFL cuts DV perps slack – Having worked in the domestic violence prevention field for a number of years, I was intrigued by how incompetent the National Football League was in dealing with the Ray Rice issue. His domestic violence proclivity brought the issue to light in big time sports. Whether or not there will be any long lasting changes, we’ll have to wait and see. I have a MPA degree from CU – Denver in domestic violence prevention. One of my thesis advisors, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Executive Director Rita Smith is a member of the NFL advisory group. So far, the issue has become irrelevant with the playoffs on the horizon. Ray Rice still doesn’t have a job and unlikely to get one.

mr november

I was in Yankee Stadium when Derek Jeter was dubbed Mr. November during the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Photo Fair Use)

Jeter calls it a career –¬† He hung up his spikes after 19 years in pinstripes. This is the best “feel good” story of the 10 I picked. I think Jeter is truly a good guy. Playing shortstop for the Yankees was always my dream job, but it was always taken. I had a chance to watch him play a few times when the Yankees played the Colorado Rockies and in the 2001 World Series. It was scheduled later in October than usual because of the 9/11 attacks in New York. I was at the game when he was dubbed “Mr. November” after he hit a game winning home run to knot the series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at two games apiece. Derek says he wants to settle down and have a family. I imagine he’ll be giving a lot back to the community, whether it’s in New York or his home town of Kalamazoo Michigan.

NBC reporter Nancy Snyderman was one of the biggest stories when she broke quarantine and went to a coffee shop in her neighborhood and got caught.

NBC reporter Nancy Snyderman was one of the biggest stories when she broke quarantine and went to a coffee shop in her neighborhood and got caught. (Photo Fair Use)

Ebola non-story keeps voters at home – A couple of the cable TV stations had a heyday with a few people getting sick from ebola. You would have thought that ebola was spreading like weeds. When the election was over, suddenly, the US ebola epidemic was over – four cases, one death. Contrast that with the 30 pediatric flu deaths as of September 2014 and 36 states reporting widespread flu occurrences as December 20th.¬† Cable TV was also airing that Dustin Hoffman – Renee Russo movie “Outbreak” during this time period, just to get us all in the worst possible scenario mood. I hope people look at stories holistically, rather than in a reactionary fashion.

There was a big to do about "The Interview" which was reportedly the reason Sony's internet security was breached.

There was a big to do about “The Interview” which was reportedly the reason Sony’s internet security was breached. (Photo Fair Use)

Sony hacked, sets up “The Interview” publicity stunt – Everyone pretty much knows about the Sony hack job that’s been reported in the popular media. The FBI is still blaming North Korea because of the James Franco – Seth Rogen movie, “The Interview” about the assassination plot of the Kim Jung Un. Turns out, it may have been an opportune publicity stunt riding the wave of an inside Sony hack job by a band of disgruntled employees. Nonetheless, reading the private emails between angst – filled studio execs was quite revealing and entertaining. I’m planning a watch “The Interview” party on January 6th. Moral of this story is, don’t write down stuff you don’t others to see in emails.

A man backs away as law enforcement officials close in on him and eventually detain him during protests over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, Mo.

Ominous US Army surplus riot gear supposedly added to the schism between citizens and cops in Ferguson, MO (Photo Fair Use)

“Stand Up Don’t Shoot” “I Can’t Breathe” movement needs closers – This is another story that everyone must have heard a little something about. There is definitely more awareness about the “us versus them” mentality that is evident in at least some police departments. The unarmed black kid shot by a white cop in a suburb of St. Louis and riots and protests ensued around the country. I’m not sure where it all will be headed, but protesting and tossing cars will soon become old hat. The “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” movement needs some closers. Also on the shirt tail of this shooting is that of the band of cops who strangled a guy selling loosey cigarettes on a New York City sidewalk. That added fuel to the fire. I hope this movement doesn’t end up like Occupy.

The Showtime cable series "Homeland" has brought ISIS into the living room. Carrie picks off snipers.

The Showtime cable series “Homeland” has brought ISIS into the living room. Carrie picks off snipers.

“Homeland” CIA crew fights ISIS in our living rooms – I’m a big “Homeland” fan. That’s the cable TV series on Showtime that just wrapped it’s fourth season. Homeland’s Carrie – who has been dealing with bipolar illness – somehow keeps afloat in a very high stress job. She and¬†former CIA director Saul have normalized the US fight against ISIS and brought it into our living rooms. The last three episodes were about ineptitude in the US Embassy. In real life, the Islamic State, as near as I can figure is quite enterprising. They raise millions in cash from family oil fortunes; revenues from their own oil fields; contraband in the forms of drugs and stolen ancient artifacts. The US pulled out of Afghanistan, just in time to keep soldiers employed as the US re-escalates in Iraq and Syria. I can’t wait for the next season of “Homeland” to air next summer! I’m not quite sure what to think about the war with ISIS. It’s seems like another non-starter and a no-win situation. The US has less at stake since domestic fuel production is at an all time high.

The Mork and Mindy house in Boulder was turned into a shrine for the late Robin Williams.

The Mork and Mindy house in Boulder was turned into a shrine for the late Robin Williams. (Photo Fair Use)

Mork from Ork leaves this world – Around Boulder, this was a pretty big story since his 1970s classic sitcom “Mork and Mindy” was set in Boulder during the 1970s. He committed suicide, which is always too bad but he must have been fighting off demons. I don’t think he spent much time in Boulder during the series. Based on the tributes placed at the Boulder TV house, you’d think he flew in from Ork and lived in Boulder his entire alien life. I must admit that I made a pilgrimage to the Mork and Mindy house this summer – Nanu Nanu …! He could have been so much more prolific. If you feel like you need help for a mental illness, get to the doctor.

Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines were at the center of three air disasters this year. (Photo Fair Use)

Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines were at the center of three air disasters this year. (Photo Fair Use)

Asia-based airlines go down in flames with three disasters¬† – It wasn’t a great year for Asia – based airlines. This week, Air Asia flight 8501 was lost and the remains found in the Java Sea with no survivors of the 162 passengers on board . Malaysian Airlines 370 dropped off the radar screen and vanished with 239 passengers. The Malaysian transportation minister tried to stonewall the story but finally came around and said that no wreckage had been found. On top of that, Malaysian Airlines 17 carrying 298 passengers was shot down over the Ukraine by separatist renegades. These crashes certainly are not everyday occurrences, but give me a train ride any day!

President Obama and Pope Frances were involved in negotiations with Raul Castro to normal relations with Cuba. (Photo Fair Use)

President Obama and Pope Frances were involved in negotiations with Raul Castro to normal relations with Cuba. (Photo Fair Use)

Obama and Pope soft on the Cuban commies – This story just came out of nowhere, even though it was in the making for several months and included intervention by Pope Francis. President Obama announced that the full diplomatic relations would be renewed with the Raul Castro regime and that an American Embassy would be opened in Havana.

The Cuban baseball player market will be open with normalized relations between Cuba and the US. Sal Maglie played for a Cuban baseball team

The Cuban baseball player market will be open with normalized relations between Cuba and the US. Sal Maglie played for a Cuban baseball team.

The Cuban baseball player market will be open with normalized relations between Cuba and the US. There are a bunch of people who think this is a bad idea since they have been working on getting the government to change its tactics. The recent announcement, put the kibosh on their efforts.

The biggest benefit I see is baseball players won’t have to defect or risk drowning at sea in make-shift rafts. I went to visit family in Peru and flew on AeroPeru. The plane made a late night stop in Havana, not enough time to get off the plane, but I count that as being in Cuba.

The Little Yoga Studio is, in fact little, buck has a great welcoming environment for beginners to expert yoga practitioners.

The Little Yoga Studio is, in fact little, buck has a great welcoming environment for beginners to expert yoga practitioners. I like this place because of  the stories.

There are many more stories, but these are 10 I picked out as significant in 2014.

I picked stories mostly about people with flaws and I hope that we can learn from their stories.

My life in 2014 really wasn’t that memorable, but if you had some great experiences, good or bad I hope they will help inform your decisions and choices in 2015.



January bowl predictions – Oregon takes it all

mariota wyo Photo by Mary Jane Schulte Oregon News lab The December bowl games are nearly over. My guesses? So far, ot so good. If I were a betting man – I’d be broke. These early games are like betting on horse races in the middle of the week – the odds are all the same since the teams are marginal “also rans” in their conferences.

On December 20th, I channel surfed all of them. Over the last week I’ve caught parts of most of the others.

I was surprised to see that Utah is really good, but CSU played without coach Jim McElwain who bolted to Gatorville, Florida. That’s par for the course in the Mountain West Conference.

Wyoming coach Pat Dye took off for Auburn after one mediocre year with the Cowboys. He went on to get the Tigers put on NCAA probation in 1993 while athletic director and coach.

Wyoming coach Pat Dye took off for Auburn after one mediocre year with the Cowboys.

It will be interesting to see how Mike Bobo does in CSU.

He’ll be moving from a pretty good job as the offensive coordinator at Georgia to Fort Collins sight unseen with his family of 5 kids. He says CSU is his “dream job”. He’s been dreaming about getting $7 million for a five year contract.

Guys from the south have strong roots there. I remember when Wyoming hired Pat Dye. He bolted after one year to Auburn where he was athletic director and coach. In 1993 Auburn was put on two years probation.

Add CSU coach McElwain to that list. He came from Alabama before leaving for greener pastures in Florida.

back to the games, so far the biggest excitement was the fight that happened in the Miami Beach Bowl that cleared the BYU and Memphis benches.

BYU and Memphis cleared their benches and brawled after BYU lost to Memphis in the Miami Bowl. (Fair Use Photo By - AP)

BYU and Memphis cleared their benches and brawled after BYU lost to Memphis in the Miami Bowl. (Fair Use Photo By – AP)

Typical despicable BYU. Maybe it’s an ill-founded perception, but BYU teams are sore losers.

This is very ironic because BYU sports teams are purported to maintain high morals because of their attachment to the LDS church.

The college football championship quasi-tournament happens this week. I’m picking Alabama and Oregon with the Ducks winning it all on January 12th. Here are my guesses for the January games.

Outback Bowl – Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Jan. 1, Tampa, Florida (Noon ET)

G’day mates, the Outback Steak House Bowl features two great running teams. I watched the Badgers chew up Nebraska, but didn’t do that great containing Ohio State.

Auburn, is and also ran. This should be a pretty good game.
My Guess: Wisconsin

Good Year Cotton Bowl – Baylor vs. Michigan State
Jan. 1, Arlington, Texas (12:30 p.m. ET) 
This could be a high scoring game.¬† I watched Michigan State pummel Wyoming early in the season and haven’t seen Baylor. But the big question is, “Will the Goodyear blimp make an appearance?”
My Guess: Baylor

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl – Minnesota vs. Missouri
Jan. 1, Orlando, Florida (1 p.m. ET) 
Yet another chicken – related business sponsoring a bowl game. The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. It should be changed to the Chicken Bowl. I don’t know much about either of these two teams.
My Guess: Missouri

Northwestern Mutual Rose Bowl – Oregon vs. Florida State
Jan. 1, Pasadena
Oregon beat up on Wyoming early in the season. They are fast paced and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota can run and throw. Florida State controls the line of scrimmage and will have to contain the Duck’s quickness. These tourney games must need the big bucks and sponsored by insurance companies like Northwestern Mutual.
My Guess: Oregon

Allstate Sugar Bowl – Alabama vs. Ohio State
Jan. 1, New Orleans (8:30 p.m. ET) 
This could be a high scoring affair. Ohio State looked pretty good in the Big 10 championship game against Wisconsin, considering the quarterback hasn’t had but one start. The Buckeyes have been quiet this year. The tide will be “In Good Hands”.
My Guess: Alabama

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl – Houston vs. Pitt
Jan. 2, Fort Worth, Texas (Noon ET) 
I don’t know anything about this game. I wonder if sponsoring football games is an eligible expense in the Lockheed Martin government military contracts.
My Guess: Pitt

Taxslayer Gator Bowl – Tennessee vs. Iowa
Jan. 2, Jacksonville, Florida (3:20 p.m. ET) 
Taxslayer is income tax software. I haven’ t heard of it – Office Depot must not carry it. Taxslayer also is a NASCAR sponsor, which makes a little sense since the company is located in Georgia. Tennessee is the home team for this game, but I don’t think they’ll win.
My Guess: Iowa

Valero Alamo Bowl – Kansas State vs. UCLA
Jan. 2, San Antonio (6:45 p.m. ET) 
The low gas prices must not be a deterrent to Valero sponsoring this game. I went to the Alamo a few years ago and watched Nebraska beat Michigan State. Frank Solich was fired and interim coach Bo Pelinski won and went on to LSU. These two middle of the pack teams should provide an entertaining game.
My Guess: Kansas State

Ticket City Cactus Bowl – Oklahoma State vs. Washington
Jan. 2, Tempe, Arizona (10:15 p.m. ET) 
This game is sponsored by Ticket City, which is a ticket brokerage company. Ticket City is selling tickets for all the games and plowing profits back into the Cactus Bowl. A couple more middle of the pack teams.
My Guess: Washington

Alabama Power Birmingham Bowl – East Carolina vs. Florida
Jan. 3, Birmingham, Alabama (1 p.m. ET) 
This game didn’t have a title sponsor for a long time. I don’t know when the Alabama Power Company agreed to sponsor. Too bad it isn’t a night game with the stadium lights burning up a bunch of Kilowatt hours.
My Guess: Florida

GoDaddy Bowl – Toledo vs. Arkansas State
Jan. 4, Mobile, Alabama (9 p.m. ET) 
I don’t use GoDaddy for my web stuff. I didn’t know 4,000 people work there who manage 12 million users around the world. I know more about GoDaddy than I do about these two teams. I do know that when Wyoming fired coach Al Kincaid, he coached at Arkansas State.
My Guess: Arkansas State

National Championship Game – Alabama v Oregon
January 12, 2015 – Arlington, Texas
This will be a pretty good game. I think the conventional wisdom is Florida State and Alabama, but Oregon will surprise everyone.
My guess: Oregon

That’s the college season. This time of year, I start paying closer attention to pro football and college hoops.

Pitchers and catchers report in February.

CU worst college football investment – Forbes

The CU football team was ranked as the worst investment by Forbes magazine. (fair use photo by the Daily Camera)

The CU football team was ranked as the worst investment by Forbes magazine. (fair use photo by the Daily Camera)

There was a recent article in Forbes magazine that ranked the University of College football team as the worst investment in terms of budget spent ($51.4 million) to wins (seven) over a three year period or $7.1 million / win.

Contrast that with the University of Cincinnati that spent $1.6 million / win over the same three years.

“Across the last three seasons, no team has spent more per football victory than Colorado, our pick for the sport’s worst team for the money … To put that into perspective, Mississippi State has built a competitive SEC program while spending $44 million across the same time period,” Forbes wrote of its CU pick.

Utah split from the Mountain West and CU from the Big 12 to join the PAC 12 in 2011. Utah had a 9-4 season this year and defeated a highly touted CSU team in the Las Vegas Bowl last week.

Meanwhile, when will CU be a contender in the Big 12?

I think it will happen when CU starts bending the rules like all the other high-value teams do. Penn State was, pretty much, given the death sentence when one of Joe Paterno’s assistant coaches was busted for sexual assault. The Nittany Lions have bounced back.

Here’s an interesting scholarly article that studies the relationship between NCAA infractions and striving for BCS championships. Seems that the SEC has the highest number of violations followed by other BCS conferences, including the Big 12.

The paper’s review of the literature cites a study that finds that the benefits of winning games as a result of recruiting violations raises more money for a program regardless of the NCAA sanctions which may limit the number of scholarships. So breaking the rules is worth the risks.

The researchers also find that 77% of NCAA violations between 1970 and 2007 were accessed against BCS conference schools. Although the Big 12, Pac 10, Big Ten, and SEC have the highest mean violations per team member per year, these conferences also have the most football championships won from 1970 to 2007. From the 1970 to 2007 seasons, teams from the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac10, and SEC combined for 35 football national championships or co-national championships.

Buff Nation, can either have a corrupt program that has a good chance of competing for a national championship or a clean program that provides kids a good education and finish their football careers with degrees.

CU staff and administration, IMO, have the idyllic view that they can have a clean program and win, not with the best kids, but the best “good” kids.

The new BCS quasi-tournament national championship format¬† won’t reduce NCAA violations, it will only make cheating more enticing for the Mountain West, Conference USA and others when the playing field is leveled.

In college football, cheaters prosper.

Dec. bowl game guesses – lots of MWC teams and odd sponsors

In 2000 Hastings College classmates John and Julie Johnson played host to the Tostito Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix. Nebraska played Tennessee.

In 2000 Hastings College classmates John and Julie Johnson played host to the Tostito Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix. Nebraska played Tennessee.

In a past life, I was the sports editor for a small town Wyoming newspaper and tried to diversify the stories about little kid soccer games and high school sports with an annual “pick the bowl game winners” contest.¬† One of the local restauranteurs was also a big sports fan and donated a couple dinners for prizes.

This year, I noticed that there are a lot of Mountain West Conference teams in the December bowl games and made my guesses. I also think most of the bowl game sponsors are a little odd and fans know less about them than the teams.

I’ll pick the January games, including the BCS tournament games after Christmas.

Back in the 1990s, there were 19 bowl games. Today that number has grown to 38 and shows the parity in football these days.

Watching Barry Sanders was quite entertaining at the Holiday Bowl.

Watching Barry Sanders was quite entertaining at the Holiday Bowl.

bowl game tix

My pal, Ray Candelaria, and I went on a Bowl-a-thon to Memphis, Jacksonville and Miami.

I was a big college football fan back then having followed Wyoming to a couple Holiday Bowls the Las Vegas Bowl and a couple Copper Bowl games.

It was a good time to run into old friends. Cowboy football brought people together. I always saw Jim Izzo at the game. When a team has good and bad years, it’s tough to get any fan consistency.

One winter, a pal and I flew into New Orleans on Christmas day and road tripped to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis – also the first trip I made to Graceland; the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville – the first time I’d tried chitlins and hawg maw, the Orange Bowl in Miami – it was freezing that night.

I used to religiously follow Nebraska in the post season: Fiesta Bowl – met up with lots of college mates; Rose Bowl – Huskers blown out in the national championship game, Alamo Bowl – Bo Pelini’s first and last head coaching gig before working at LSU.

I’m onto other pursuits these days, but nonetheless, here are my picks for the December bowl games.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Nevada v Louisiana – Lafayette
Dec. 20, New Orleans (11 a.m. ET)
The game is sponsored by a big trucking company. R+L must be hauling a lot of stuff. Being a Mountain West Conference fan, I’m pulling for Nevada. That’s a team that’s bounced around conferences. I mostly remember them being in the old Big Sky Conference, like Wyoming was in the original Western Athletic Conference.

In these lesser bowls, organizers always have to pick a local team to guarantee attendance and Louisiana-Lafayette fits that bill this year.

The game should be a good one to watch since both teams play a wide open offense.
My Guess: Nevada in a high scoring game.

Gilden New Mexico Bowl – Utah State v UTEP
Dec. 20, Albuquerque, New Mexico (2:20 p.m. ET) 
A clothing manufacturer sponsors this game. I bet part of the sponsorship is cheap T-shirts. I indirectly advertise for the game, but too bad the tags are inside the shirt.

This is another Mountain West match up with Utah State taking on UTEP. The Aggies are another team that has bounced around having been in the Big Sky Conference. I miss UTEP, which also was a member of the Western Athletic Conference with Wyoming.

Utah State had an up and down season with a couple quarterback changes this year. If Utah State can take an early lead, that passing offense is tough to stop, considering the Miners are predominantly a running team.
My Pick: Utah State in a lopsided blow out

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl – Utah v Colorado State
Dec. 20, Las Vegas (3:30 p.m. ET) 
Have you ever heard of Royal Purple synthetic oil? Not me.
For a fan like me, this is a great throwback to the Western Athletic Conference in which both teams originally competed and evolved into members of the Mountain West Conference.

Utah fled for the PAC-12 during the big shake up in 2011 and experienced culture shock there. After a couple bad seasons, the Utes have turned it around, but still not at the top of the league. Incidentally, CU joined the PAC-12 at the same time and is still trying to find a football identity.

As opposed to Colorado State, which has been dominant under erstwhile coach Jim McElwain who took the Florida job and won’t be working.

My Guess¬† I think this is going to be a close one. I’m going with a better balanced Utah team

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl- Western Michigan v Air Force
Dec. 20, Boise, Idaho (5:45 p.m. ET) 
This potato group has been advertising on cable TV lately. This game used to be called the Humanitarian Bowl, which I thought was a little strange. It features yet another Mountain West Conference tie-in with Air Force making the trek to Boise. I don’t know much about Western Michigan, but Air Force has always had a great running game and this year has been no different. Air Force had a bit of a topsy turvy season having upset both Colorado State and Boise State – both teams had a shot at the At Large BCS football tourney spot.
My Guess: Air Force, but the game could be a yawner

Raycom Camellia Bowl – Bowling Green v South Alabama
Dec. 20, Montgomery, Alabama (9:15 p.m. ET) 
I don’t know anything about these two teams. What I do think is interesting about the game is its sponsor, Raycom. It’s a media conglomerate that owns a bunch of TV stations in the south and a sports media company that started up it’s own bowl game. The other interesting thing about Raycom, is that it is owned by the Alabama public employees pension fund.
My Guess: A shot in the dark with South Alabama

Miami Beach Bowl – BYU v Memphis
Dec. 22, Miami (2 p.m. ET) 
The American Athletic Conference puts on this game. The home team is Memphis. BYU was the most despised team in the Western Athletic and the Mountain West conferences. So much so, the Cougs bowed out because they didn’t like to play Wyoming in any sport.
My Guess: I don’t like to ever cut BYU any slack – Memphis

ESPN Events Boca Raton Bowl – Northern Illinois v Marshall
Dec. 23, Boca Raton, Florida (6 p.m. ET) 
This game is sponsored by ESPN. ESPN should sponsor all the games. I’m thinking I should get a bunch of indie producers and partner up with a public access TV station and organize a bowl game someplace. Marshall was close to getting into the national championship mix, but lesser schools with one loss don’t stand much chance. I don’t know anything about NIU except that they’ve won the Mid-America conference a bunch of times recently. This may be one of the better games of the post season.
My Guess: Whatever team gets the ball last will win, which I’m hoping is Marshall.

San Diego County Employees Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – Navy v San Diego State
Dec. 23, San Diego (9:30 p.m. ET) 
San Diego State is another Mountain West Conference mainstay. This is a home game for the Aztecs. There’s also a big US Navy presence there and should be a balanced crowd. The game is sponsored by the Credit Union and by the San Diego Bowl Game Association that also produces the Holiday Bowl. That’s a pretty good business – producing football games.
My Guess: San Diego State in a back and forth game.

Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl – Western Kentucky v Central Michigan
Dec. 24, Nassau, Bahamas (Noon ET) 
This is the inaugural game and a strange one at that. The People’s Republic of China built the stadium, but it only has 15,000 seats. That’s probably a good crowd for a cricket match. On top of that, the game’s presenting sponsor is Popeye’s. There are at least three chicken restaurants sponsoring games.

This one of those games that will be the game any lesser team will want to play. I don’t think there’s enough room for the Notre Dame or Michigan fans.
My Guess:¬†Western Kentucky, but I don’t know why.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl – Fresno State v Rice
Dec. 24, Honolulu (8 p.m. ET) 
It stands to reason that Sheraton sponsors this game. Fresno State was an early fave to win the Mountain West Conference, but I can think of worse places to play football on Christmas Eve.

It was all over for the Bulldogs when hapless Wyoming beat them 45 – 17 on national TV.

Wyoming and Rice were both in the reconfigured WAC that was way to massive of a conference. I always remember the Rice marching band as having played one of the more well known versions of “Louie, Louie.”
My Guess: Fresno State, even though the Bulldog’s don’t have much of a defense.

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl – Illinois v Louisiana Tech
Dec. 26, Dallas (1 p.m. ET) 
I don’t know much about either of these two teams except Lousisiana Tech scores a lot of points. The Illini play in the Big 10 and the game may be close. There must be a lot of successful chicken businesses in the south. This game is sponsored by one called Zaxby’s. I’ve never tried Zaxby’s Chicken.
My Guess: Louisiana Tech, but I think it will be close.

Quick Lane Bowl – Rutgers v North Carolina
Dec. 26, Detroit (4:30 p.m. ET) 
This is another one of those games that I don’t know much about either team. It’s the inaugural bowl game in the Silver Dome sponsored by Quick Lane, which must have something to do with the automotive industry. I did a little research and I didn’t know that Rutgers is in the Big 10.
My Guess: Rutgers

Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl – Central Florida v North Carolina State
Dec. 26, St. Petersburg, Florida (8 p.m. ET)
Times have changed. Bitcoin and Bitpay signed on to sponsor this game for the next four years, along with ESPN events. Visa must still think it has image problems – or maybe they aren’t allowed to squander the credit card 18% interest fees on football games. I don’t know if I’ve seen a bitcoin ad on TV.

All I know about UCF is that it has a huge presence in Florida and has produced a lot of rocket scientists and quarterback Blake Bortles.
My Guess: UCF Рthe Knights still have an explosive offense.

Northrup Grumman Military Bowl – Cincinnati v Virginia Tech
Dec. 27, Annapolis, Maryland (1 p.m. ET) 
I wonder why there isn’t a military connection to this game, since it also benefits the USO – maybe that’s Tech. The Hokies were involved in a big sex assault case a few years back that ended with SCOTUS gutting the Violence Against Women Act.
My Guess: Cincinnati

Hyundai Sun Bowl – Duke v Arizona State
Dec. 27, El Paso, Texas (2 p.m. ET) 
No American car companies sponsor games, which is a good thing. I haven’t followed either of these teams this season. With so much parity among the middle tier of teams, and so many deals between conferences and games, it’s tough to keep the games straight. The Sun Bowl is tied to the PAC-12 number 4 and an at large ACC team.
My Guess: Arizona State, for no particular reason

Duck Commander Independence Bowl – Miami Florida v South Carolina
Dec. 27, Shreveport, Louisiana (3:30 p.m. ET) 
This is another one of those games between middle of the pack teams from the ACC and SEC. If either of these schools were in other leagues they would be at the tops of their heaps. The game is sponsored by the Duck Dynasty guys. Who would have thought a duck call brand would present a football game. Logo on the hood of a NASCAR? Yes. Logo on a football scoreboard? No.
My Guess: Miami (FL) for no particular reason.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl – Boston College v Penn State
Dec. 27, Bronx, New York (4:30 p.m. ET) 
It stands to reason that New Era caps would be the main sponsor for the Pinstripe Bowl played in Yankee Stadium. If a bowl game can be held in New York in the dead of winter, a bowl game can be played anywhere. You have to hand it to Penn State for bouncing back like it has after that sex abuse coaching scandal there. Again, a couple teams from the ACC and BIG-10.
My Guess: Penn State is my sentimental favorite.

National University Holiday Bowl – Nebraska v USC
Dec. 27, San Diego (8 p.m. ET) 
I’m a big Nebraska fan and we’ll see how the Huskers play after Bo Pelini was fired. Big Red didn’t look that great in a few games, namely the Wisconsin thrashing.¬† I don’t think Nebraska has ever defeated USC over the years. This game is sponsored by National University, which is one of those big private colleges.
My guess:¬†USC is favored, but I’m going with Nebraska.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl – West Virginia v Texas A&M
Dec. 29, Memphis, Tennessee (2 p.m. ET) 
I haven’t been paying attention to the SEC nor the BIG-12. Another match up between two “also-rans”. It should be an evenly matched game.¬† Why do car oil companies and auto parts stores sponsor games, but American car companies don’t?
My Guess: Texas A&M

Russell Athletic Bowl – Clemson v Oklahoma
Dec. 29, Orlando, Florida (5:30 p.m. ET) 
When I hear Russell Athletic, I always think of jock straps.  Just another ACC РBIG-12 game. I have nothing on this.
My Guess: Clemson

Advocare V100 Texas Bowl – Texas v Arkansas
Dec. 29, Houston (9 p.m. ET) 
This game used to be the Independence Bowl. It’s sponsored by Advocare, which, I think, is a multilevel marketing company. This game is one that old time college football fans will appreciate. The Frank Broyles v Darryl Royal game was always a classic game. That will be the hype this time around.
My Guess: Arkansas in a squeaker

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – LSU v Notre Dame
Dec. 30, Nashville, Tennessee (3 p.m. ET) 
The housing business must be pretty good with a mortgage company sponsoring the game. If I’m a homeowner, I’d rather have a lower interest rate than sponsoring a football bowl. Even though Notre Dame was on network TV every Saturday I didn’t watch a complete game. I do know that LSU has a pretty good running game and a good defense.
My Guess: LSU

Belk Bowl – Louisville v Georgia
Dec. 30, Charlotte, North Carolina (6:30 p.m. ET)
Belk is a department store in the south. Business must be good if it is sponsoring a bowl game. It used to be called the Queen City Bowl, the the Continental Tire Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl. No wonder I have no heart in this one either.
My Guess: Louisville

Foster Farms Bowl – Maryland v Stanford
Dec. 30, Santa Clara, California (10 p.m. ET) 
This is another one of those games with an identity crisis now sponsored by a chicken company. It has always had some food sponsor being known as the Fight Hunger Bowl, then the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, then the Emerald Bowl, then the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl. Luckily hometown Stanford is playing.
My Guess: Stanford

Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl TCU v Ole Miss
Dec. 31, Atlanta (12:30 p.m. ET) 
TCU has Mountain West Conference history. I was happy that they had a chance to move to the BIG-12. The Horned Frogs were the class of the league. There was a controversy a few years ago when the Peach Bowl was set for a Sunday and Chik-Fil-A refused to play the game on a day the conflicts with church.
My Guess: TCU in a rout

Vizio Fiesta Bowl – Arizona v Boise State
Dec. 31, Glendale, Arizona (4 p.m. ET) 
Mountain West Conference Boise State gets a shot at the PAC-12 this year. Who can forget that trick play Dan Hawkins pulled on Oklahoma in a BCS Fiesta Bowl game a few years back to win the game? Bob Stoops was ticked. The game is sponsored by Vizio. In the past Frito Lay Tostitos were the long time sponsor until last year. I have Vizio TVs am I supporting the game in some way?
My Guess: Boise State is explosive, but I’m picking Arizona based on strength of schedule.

Capital One Orange Bowl – Georgia Tech v Mississippi State
Dec. 31, Miami (8 p.m. ET) 
I have a Capital One credit card. That means I’m a part of this game. I went to the Orange Bowl when it was sponsored by FedEx. This should be a pretty good game. Mississippi State was tops in the nation for a few weeks then faded.
My Guess: Georgia Tech

There you have it. I hope some of my pals from other parts of the country and more aware of their regional college football teams will chime in and give their views.

Preparation for the bowl season is exhausting.

I’ll give my guesses for the January games including the BCS tournament in a wrrk or so.

Memorial Day 2014


My uncles George Sakata, Rich Ohashi and Vince Ichiyasu were members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. My uncle Jake O’Hashi also served in the U.S. Army.

CHEYENNE, WYOMING – Memorial Day is upon us again. When I was a kid growing up here, the Japanese had a big carry-in picnic at Holliday Park – lots of sushi rolls, teriyaki chicken, abalone salad – bento box type food.

I think because this park is closest to the cemetery is why we all met there.

A couple of the guys brought over boxes and boxes of flowers. After the first go-around of food, everyone went over to the Lakeview Cemetery and placed flowers on all the Japanese graves. There wasn’t much reminiscing that happened, but that was just the “inscrutable oriental” way.

The Cheyenne Japanese community used to be fairly large. One of the gathering places was the original City Cafe that was run by Mrs. Shuto and later her son, Tommy.

lakeview japanese head stone

The Japanese grave markers in the Lakeview Cemetery. I grew up in the Cheyenne suburb Cole Addition Japanese Ghetto – Nakano, Kubota, Shiba and O’Hashi. It was also the home for several Greek families – Contos, Hatanales, Talagan, Mears.

Occasionally, my family went over there to watch black and white samurai movies and listen to music. In the back, the old guys were screaming and hollering during their rousing game of hanafuda (flower cards) that also involved slapping the thick cardboard cards on the table.

I didn’t learn how to play. I don’t think the rules were written down anywhere back in those days and I didn’t understand Japanese if someone tried to explain them to me.

Since I happened to be in town, I stopped over and decorated my family’s graves at the cemetery east of Cheyenne on the old Lincoln Highway. I overshot the exit on I-80 and on my loop back on Highway 30, I picked up a hitchhiker named Chris. He’s from Huntington, WV home of Marshall University (“We Are Marshall”).

suspect hynds building

Cheyenne’s finest questioning a guy sitting in front of the Hynds Building during the Cheyenne International Film Festival earlier this week.

He was walking back to the Pioneer Hotel from his job as an irrigator on a farm east of town. it would have been at least a 10 mile walk for him. He was lamenting about the high cost of housing in Cheyenne and that the Pioneer meets the needs of men who have jobs, but can’t afford traditional housing. He’s only been in Cheyenne for a month, but has noticed the discrimination that the Pioneer Hotel residents and homeless people face.

Anyway, he went to the cemetery with me while I decorated the family graves before I dropped him off at the Pioneer. He was looking forward to the extra day off after toiling in the fields. As we passed a convoy of Wyoming Highway Patrol, we both agreed that Memorial Day weekend would be a good time to be on foot and not driving a car.

When the Issei and Nisei generations started passing on, the Memorial Day picnic tradition pretty much stopped.

I was curious about Memorial Day and how it all got started. This is what wikipedia has to say about it:

original memorial day

The first Memorial Day was observed in Charleston, SC after the Civil War.

“The first widely publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. During the war, Union soldiers who were prisoners of war had been held at the Charleston Race Course; at least 257 Union prisoners died there and were hastily buried in unmarked graves.

Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865, which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled,

“Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 school children newly enrolled in freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, black ministers, and white northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field. Today the site is used as Hampton Park. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.”

I don’t think Memorial Day became “official” until several years later when the politicians took hold of it.

ohashi grave

I haven’t been in town for Memorial Day. I stopped by today and decorated my parent’s and the other family head stones.

There are still a number of Sansei in Cheyenne and the surrounding area, including my sister, some cousins and myself. My uncles and aunts and the Nisei generation don’t have the energy they once had for organizing any big activities like the Memorial Day picnic. Every year, I think about getting in touch with everyone, but I don’t have the energy for it either.

This has nothing to do with honoring fallen soldiers – but from here on out, Memorial Day will be memorable for me since my autoimmune health issues began shortly after I finished the Bolder Boulder 10K foot race in 2013. I’ll let you know how the acupuncture treatments are going.

Bolder Boulder Update

alan bolder boulder 2014

I ended up taking a swig of O2 coming up the final Folsom Hill, I’m still swelled up from the steroids.

After tapering off the steroids for my lung problem, It was an unknown adventure. My neighbor Henry drove my across the sidewalk neighbor, Jim and I to the Bolder Boulder start point. I was unsure how far I could make it since my practice is NOT to train for races. The only training has been occupational therapy walking from place to place.

When I dug my shoes out of the closet last night, I noticed that they didn’t quite fit right. My ankles are still swelled up for some unknown reason and the muscle mass of my feet was also less than it was – nothing a little cinching up won’t fix The last time I trained for a race was for a 5K in Lander many years ago, when I twisted an ankle. Since then, I’ve just taken my lumps during the real thing.

After making it past the first mile, I felt like I’d be able to finish the course. My practice is to film snippets of each of the¬† bands along the route, which slows down my pace a bit. My mission is to complete the race before the mop-up crew gets out there.

I’m 15 pounds lighter than I have been, but carried my oxygen bottle just in case. I did have to take a few boosted breaths midway up the Folsom Hill on the way into the stadium. Other than that, I felt pretty good. In the past, even last year, around the 5K mark, the interior part of my knee joint would begin to hurt and my thighs would cramp, but not today. I attribute that to eating better and not having so much crud built up in my scrawny muscles.