Archives for the ‘Sports’ Category

Negligent Discharges

Author: From • Jul 20th, 2017
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports
In the approximately nine years I've been playing gun games, I've seen a few DQ's for safety reasons. (The percentage of DQs to shooters is actually quite minuscule.) These are typically 180° violations, or negligent discharges when reloading or moving. In the interest of full disclosure, my own DQ was for a dropped gun. There's a reason for the strict safety rules in USPSA and IDPA and a reason all gun handling happens under the watchful eye of a safety officer. Thanks to those strict rules, the sports have an excellent safety record. Even experienced competitors make mistakes, and when it happens, it's only right that they are done for the day. It hurts, but if your brain isn't fully engaged, it could hurt even more more.

What brings this to mind? Recently, for the second time in about two years I witnessed a negligent discharge, up close. Neither was during a sanctioned match. The first time was when I arrived at the range as an acquaintance was leaving. He knew I was fan of SIG Sauer guns, and wanted to show me a SIG he had with him. We stood at the back of his pickup truck, he uncased the gun and went through his clearing routine; rack the slide, then drop the mag and pull the trigger. The round went right into the bed of his truck. Fortunately, I was very aware of his muzzle and had positioned myself to his side. This man is a very experienced shooter and retired federal law enforcement. 

The most recent occurrence was at another shooting club. I was standing at my car going through the gear I was going to need for shooting that day. Suddenly I heard what sounded like a gun shot, though the sound was somewhat muted. There was a bit of commotion two vehicles over, where I saw two men looking through the cab of their truck. I later heard bits of a conversation regarding "lowering the hammer on a 1911." 

Both of these events occurred at a gun club, but away from the firing line. Both events occurred at the gun owner's vehicle. Both shooters were showing the gun to someone or (apparently) otherwise distracted by another person. I've often remarked that one of the reasons I dislike "gun free zones" and gun shows is that people are fiddling with guns in their cars. There are times when I need to remove a firearm from my belt while in a vehicle. I strive to be attentive and undistracted when I find myself doing that.

Firearms are tools. In fact, they are relatively simple tools. And those four rules work pretty well. 

Closing the book on the Red Sox

Author: From • May 18th, 2016
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports


Baseball has been one of my passions since I was about 5 or 6 years old. I clearly remember anxiously awaiting my Dad to bring home the Stars and Stripes from the base in Spain so that I could read the box scores and keep up with the Red Sox. My father, and his father, are from Boston. I was born a Red Sox fan. I remember the agony of 1975, Bucky Fucking Dent, Bill Buckner, Aaron Fucking Boone, and of course the pure, unadulterated joy that was the 2004 post-season. I still have 5000+ baseball cards from about 1975 through about 1982 in boxes in my closet. Until this season, I re-watched Keeping The Faith every Spring just prior to Opening Day. I cried as I watched it every Spring, just to prior to Opening Day. I never got around to my annual re-watch this year because I was too busy obsessively keeping up with the English Premier League, but we will get to that in a minute.

Although never an obsession, my interest in the NFL has been waning over the last several years too. I’ve been thinking a lot about why that is. What could have changed that caused a 48 year old dude to suddenly become a passionate EPL fan while drifting away from the two sports that he grew up with? I think several things are at play here, some external to me, and one issue that is all about me.

The problems with MLB and NFL have been well documented so I probably don’t need to rehash them here. There is a lot going on with the major professional sports to cause a thinking person to lose interest. However, I want to focus on the personal side of this, what happened to me to cause me to drift from my one true sports love.

I think it all goes back to 2004. I grew up a passionate Red Sox fan through the 70s and 80s, and continued on as an adult through the 90s. Even with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th and Foulke on the mound in Saint Louis 1 out away from a World Series sweep, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, because the other shoe always dropped on the Red Sox. Of course it didn’t that year, and that changed everything. A few years later the Red Sox were up against Colorado and I wasn’t even worried. I was totally relaxed through the World Series, not that the Rockies ever seriously threatened.

My love affair with the Patriots is similar. They were pretty much the laughing stock of the NFL when I was a kid. While all my friends in junior high had their Cowboys and Steelers logo jackets from Sears (remember those?) I had a Patriots jacket. I took a lot of abuse for that jacket, but it never occurred to me to jump on a bandwagon and follow a popular or winning team. It took character to stick with the Red Sox and Patriots back then. I was proud of that character, and in a way I was a character in the story of the ever suffering Boston sports fan. Let’s face it, the Patriots are the bad guys today. They win, the push the envelope on the rules, and their coach is kind of a dick.

And that, I think, is the crux of the change. It doesn’t take character to be a Red Sox or Patriots fan these days. Hell, we’ve become the very thing we used to hate; the big money, well run teams that are always in the running. (Ignore the last two years for the Red Sox). The story of the Red Sox and Patriots that I loved ran its course. That book is completed. It’s on the shelf. I can pick it up and remember it fondly as I thumb through the pages, but I never experience the joy of reading it for the first time again. The story of those teams now is the story of big money well run franchises. Where is the fun in that?

I’m always the first person up on Saturday morning, when soccer is on here in the US. At first it was just background noise while I messed around online, read, or whatever in those quiet hours I had to myself on Saturday mornings. However over the course of last fall I found myself watching with more and more interest, starting to understand and appreciate the game of soccer. Then I started looking forward to Saturday and Sunday mornings, so I could drink tea and watch soccer. After a while I started thinking about finding a favorite team. I did some research and immediately ruled out the big money teams that always win, so no Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Manchester City. I thought I would be a Liverpool fan because of the Red Sox connection, but actually that seemed to turn me off. I decided to just relax and try to watch every team and see what happened. What happened is that I started seeking out the Southampton Saints each week. So I did some research on their background.

Their story is that as a smaller city on the South Coast of England they will never have the money of the London based teams, so they put together one of the premier youth development programs to make their own talent. They went bankrupt a few years back and got bounced all the way down to League 1. New management put a 5 year plan in place to get back to the Premier League, they did it in 3. Now after 4 straight years in the EPL, they’ve finished higher every season, this year finishing 6th, only 3 point from a Champions League slot. It’s a team that lives on the edge, having to sell off players before they get too expensive and reinvest in younger players. They are basically the Tampa Bay Rays of EPL, and I fell for them hard.

And that is when I made the connection between the Red Sox, Patriots, Saints, and Purdue. I’m a tortured sports fan. Sure, tribalism and regional pride play a role in the teams we choose to love, but for me it’s the story arc. Apparently I like tragedies, and the Red Sox and Patriots are no longer tragedies. Getting to know some Southampton fans on Twitter it feels like the comments section at Soxaholix pre-2004. Sure they are having a great year, wonder how they’ll screw it up? We had a great season, wonder who they will trade away in the off-season? It all sounds very familiar. It sounds like home, metaphorically speaking, in a sports sense.

So what happens if Southampton pulls a Leister and wins it all next year? Well, we all know that won’t happen, and even if it does I’ll always have Purdue. They can always be counted on to break my heart.

Note: I have not abandoned the Red Sox. I have my MLB.TV subscription and I’m quite enjoying this season, with Ortiz retiring and two minimum wagers in Holt and Travis in the starting lineup. But then, the Ortiz retiring story is kind of a tragedy, right? But it's not the same. The passion is gone. I don’t expect it to ever come back.

Good Beer and Sports Celebrity Sightings

Author: From • Apr 26th, 2016
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports
A lack of blogging recently isn't an indication of a lack of life activity, just the opposite in fact. It means I've been too distracted by life to sit down and write. We were out of town last weekend, in part to attend the Spring Game at VA Tech. I was pleased we had reservations at the same hotel at which we found good beer last year. Before I even checked in at the front desk I detoured to take a peak at the taps in the lobby bar. I was not disappointed.

Colleen and I visited lobby bar in the evening to relax over a few beers. Three of the offerings were old favorites, along with one new to me beer. I tried a sample of a local beer, River Company Dumpster Dog Porter, but opted to go a more hoppier route. Colleen enjoyed a pint of the Porter. I couldn't resist a pint of an old favorite, Loose Cannon from Heavy Seas, and later a pint of Bell's Two Hearted Ale.

As we were enjoying our drinks and talking with other guests, there was suddenly a lot of excitement in the lobby and bunch of folks leapt from their seats. Buffalo Bills Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was checking in to the hotel. He posed for a few selfies and things quieted down. For a bit anyway, until Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Smith walked in. He too posed for selfies and signed autographs and the lobby calmed once again. Seattle Seahawks player Kam Chancellor also made a pass-through of the lobby.

The commonality among the players is of course, they are all VA Tech alumni, in town for the Spring Game. In all honesty, if it wasn't for the other fans at the bar, and some quick Google searches, I wouldn't have known who they were, not being a big sports fan. Nonetheless, it added some excitement to an already enjoyable Friday evening.

Picking an English Premier League Team

Author: From • Feb 4th, 2016
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports

Back before Christmas I realized that I was regularly spending my weekend mornings watching the Premier League. Yep, without trying or even noticing, I had became a soccer fan. So of course at some point I need to pick a team to follow. I have, of course, read Bill Simmons on the subject, and I generally agree with his key rules.

  1. Avoid bandwagonning at all costs. We all hated that guy that became a Red Sox fan in October 2004, or a Cowboys fan in the 70s, etc. BTW, spell check is insisting that bandwagonning is not a word. If not, it should be.

  2. Avoid teams in danger of not being in the Premier League next year. Not because I have anything against the Champions League, it's just a practical matter in that I can't see the lower league games here in the US. If my team gets relegated in 5 years I'll deal with it, but it would be tough in year one of fandom. I take fandom seriously, and I'll be all-in for life once I decide.

Simmons had some other concerns about the team being somewhere he'd like to visit, worrying about the celebrity fans, and not picking too tortured of a team. Those are secondary issues for me. I went to Purdue, and I was a Red Sox and Patriots fan through the 70s and 80s. I do tortured sports fan well.

I'm also not in a hurry to pick a team. I'm content to just enjoy watching the games this season to see what happens. But I am making some progress on picking a team.

No bandwagons.

That rules out Chelsea, Man U, and Arsenal. Hugely popular with all the money is sort of an automatic turnoff for me. Maybe that is why I've never dated a supermodel?

Avoid the relegation zone.

Newcastle, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Swansea City, Norwich City, Bournemouth. Newcastle could get in the running if the survive the season, as they have some serious hardcore fans, which I appreciate, and they are sponsored by the beer, which is a fine reason to support a team.

The contenders

Leicester City - Leading the EPL at the moment, in their 3rd year back in the top league. The Cinderella aspect of their run certainly could be appealing, but it hasn't really caught my interest. Also could be a bandwagon candidate if they win it all this year, and I don't think I'm going to make a decision before then.

Manchester City - As the less successful team in Manchester, they are sort of the Mets to the Man U Yankees, which should make them appealing. Yet I was rooting against them when I watched their match recently. So probably not.

Tottenham Hotspur - On the short list. I have enjoyed watching them play, like the aggressive style while still playing good defense, and really, could their name be any more British sounding?

West Ham United - For whatever reason I was rooting for them over Man City last week, but that was the first time I had ever even thought about them, so probably not, although if I find myself actively rooting for them again soon I may need to elevate them to top 4. Also, they are the favorite team of Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, so there is that.

Liverpool - Also on the shortlist. Yes, they are Big 4, but they are one that hasn't won anything recently, but might be on the verge soon. As a lifelong Red Sox fan I have a compelling reason to follow Liverpool, although I have to admit in watching them twice now I haven't felt the emotional pull I would expect. Maybe that is me rebelling against the obvious choice.

Southampton - On the shortlist. Originally I was taken by the home fans singing of "When the Saints Come Marching Home" in one of the first games I watched. Didn't expect to hear 30,000 English soccer fans singing that song, even though the song's providence probably is British. Got bonus points for beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford and causing the fans to jeer the own team. Admittedly, that seems to be happening a lot to Man U this season.

Stoke City - Don't think I've seen them play yet. No opinion.

Watford - Same as above

Crystal Palace - A friend described them as the KC Royals; young, don't have the money, but find a way to win. It sounded appealing but in watching at least one match I haven't felt any pull towards them.

Everton - Eh, so Sylvester Stallone is a fan.

West Bromwich Albion - Who?

Also, I loved the transfer period. In America the last place teams in any sport start giving up and selling of stars for future stars at about the 2/3 point. In EPL, the bottom teams go on a spending spree to buy their way to safety out of the relegation zone. It's been really fun to watch. Alas, Newcastle's spending spree may not do them any good as they dropped their first match 3-0 to Everton after the spending spree.

So at the moment it's probably between Southampton and The Spurs. Subject to change, of course. If you are an EPL fan feel free to make your case for your favorite team.

Update: After watching the 30 minute special on Southampton's rise from League One to Premier in 3 years, and reading about the cool investment they are making in US youth soccer, I'm all-in for Southampton.

Go Saints!

Ego Crusher

Author: From • Aug 5th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports
Just as soon as I'm feeling pretty good about my shooting, I come across this video.

Yea, that's a 1,000 yard shot, off hand. With a revolver. On the second try. 

The man is a machine. I'm pretty jealous of his ammo shelf too. 

Oh, Canada! Free Beer!

Author: From • Feb 12th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports
A recent Twitter post from the Winter Olympics has gotten a lot of attention this week. According to the post, the Canadian Olympic team has a unique beer fridge that can only be unlocked with a Canadian passport. The only reports I've seen on this supposed beer fridge are repeats of that lone Twitter post. I was skeptical at first, not seeing any pictures of beer actually being vended. But I recently came across this commercial Molson posted last year.

Assuming it's the same fridge, I'm sure it's a big hit with the athletes.

I recall (way) back when I was in high school. I worked at an auto parts supply store. There was a soda vending machine in the store that always had one selection marked "Out of Order." What I later learned was that the owner stored his beer in the machine to keep it cold. If you were to put enough quarters in the machine, and pushed the "Out of Order" selection, a cold can of beer would be dispensed. It's too bad I didn't like beer back then!

Homefront IPA

Author: From • May 17th, 2013
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports
Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland, VA is announcing the upcoming release of Homefront IPA. Proceeds from sales of Homefront IPA will go to support Operation Homefront, a charity that provides emergency assistance to our military heroes and their families. The efforts of nine participating breweries are coordinated by Hops for Heroes, which was co-founded by Center of the Universe.

In a press release, Center of the Universe announced this year's Homefront IPA ambassador.

Baltimore closer Jim Johnson is proud to support “Hops for Heroes” and Homefront IPA and thanks Center of the Universe Brewing Company in Virginia for their efforts.  
Ashland, Virginia, May 2: Hops for Heroes and Homefront IPA are proud to announce the support of Baltimore closer Jim Johnson and name him ambassador for the charitable efforts in Virginia.  
Center of the Universe Brewing Company, located in Ashland, Virginia will release Homefront IPA on Thursday, May 23rd at the Richmond Flying Squirrels Stadium. They will also hold a special event in their tasting room on Saturday, May 25th with all proceeds benefitting Operation Homefront. 
Other baseball ambassadors will be announced in Washington, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

COTU founder, Chris Ray is a former pitcher for Baltimore, Seattle, Texas and San Francisco. Appropriately, Homefront IPA is aged on Louisville Slugger maple bats. 

Run n’ Gun

Author: From • Apr 23rd, 2013
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports

Not exactly USPSA.  

Gnat Shooting

Author: From • Feb 28th, 2012
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports
Now this looks like fun. In a twist on shooting clays, "Gnat" shooting lets participants take aim at a specially designed remote controlled airplane. The sport was developed in, of all places, the United Kingdom. The target plane, which flies at speeds up to 80mph, has 10 flash pads attached to its underside that explode when hit. Hitting three pods at the same time can even bring down the plane.

"Real planes. Real Shotguns." Sounds like real fun.

Spring Training Thoughts

Author: From • Feb 4th, 2012
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, Sports

Pic from Red-Sox vs Nats

I exited the office early today and took in a couple of hours of sun and baseball with the Red Sox and Nationals. The Red Sox won, not that it matters in a Spring Training game. I left in the bottom of the 7th when both teams on the field were mostly guys who will not be on the MLB clubs in 24 hours.

A few random thoughts that crossed my mind as I enjoyed the game.

  • need to follow baseball more, and politics less. Especially this year.

  • $8.00 for a Miller Lite is freaking crazy. I didn't partake.

  • The $50 seats are nice, especially when you only paid $10 for it.

There were a lot of young kids with Dads there. However, the Dads are failing as the kids had no freaking idea about baseball. I taught the 5ish year old next to me to yell Yoooouuukkkk. What kind of Dad brings a child to a game unprepared to show proper respect to the Greek God of Walks?

California Girls may do it for the Beach Boys, but I'll take a woman in the Red Sox Jersey any day. There is no contest between the Red Sox girls and Nationals girls. The female members of Red Sox Nation win in a landslide that would make Obama - Santorum look close.

Opening Day is Thursday. Play Ball!