The Good, The Bad, (and the Ugly)

July 3, 2010

The Good:

With World Cup and Tour de France active, along with MLB, kudos to NBC for coverage of the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field today.   It is difficult to find T&F events covered at all, and this one was covered reasonably well, except

The Bad:

Tom Hammond.  Know the voice, Wikipedia tells me “play-by-play announcer for NBC Olympic coverage since 1992”.  So after a fine Bowerman Mile won by Asbel Kiprop, I have to react to the lamest piece of sports reporting I’ve heard in a very long time:

“Yet another sub-four minute mile in the Bowerman Mile”.

Pretty Ugly:

Hammond was a ten-years old when Roger Bannister broke the barrier in 1954!  56 years later it is common place.  There has never been a super-four minute mile at the Pre Classic.  Yet another?  Step it up.


June 3, 2010

Memories of Ken Griffey, Jr., The Kid.  Back-to-back home runs with his father in 1990.  The remarkable 1995 season.  Saving baseball in Seattle.  Breaking our hearts in 2000.  And his return, in 2007 still with the Reds and then with his signing in 2009 to end his career here.  These and others will quickly displace the sour taste of this odd, last season, seemingly with a clubhouse not infected with his visible joy for the game.

And so my memories of 1995.  Griffey played only 72 games, out with injuries.  His batting average that year was his lowest as a player in Seattle (of course, until his return in 2009).  Not surprisingly, the Mariners struggled mightily and were 13 games back on August 2.  8-1/2 out on my birthday August 29 (Thank you for reinforcing my precision recall!).   But for me, 1995 was a busy summer of research, the year of our research cruises for “Mixing Zephyrs“.  25 days in late May into mid-June and 14 more the latter half of September.  My attention as the Mariners steadily rallied was more on being ready to sail on September 15 fully prepared to capitalize on a very interesting result from the earlier leg: tidal triggering of flow perturbations.  But underneath, knowing that as we sailed we were just 5 games out.

At this point I’ll borrow a piece of writing I did in 1997, again while at sea in September in the midst of our second run at the playoffs.  This appeared in a web-based logbook on September 16, 1997 (they were not yet called blogs!)

Baseball Blues For a basefall fan, there is no worse time to be at sea than September. The pennant races are tight and after faithfully following games, scores and standings, we are now cut off from newspapers, television, and KJR Sports Radio 950. We get word from friends of most Mariners scores, less often the Angels score, and with increasing frequency, happily, a magic number. But all the substance and subtlety has been lost…who pitched? who’s injured? how many HR does Junior have? who will we be playing come playoff time? why did Lou bring in the right hander with 2 outs in the 7th and the tying run on 1st?

Likewise, once we sailed in 1995 we barely knew what was going on other than that we were winning and steadily: 4 back, 3 back, 3 back, 2 back, 1 back and then on September 20, tied for first.

My colleague Marv Lilley and I were going wild.  With the standings tied we had to have playoff tickets.  And we knew our wives were not going to be much help; in fact, mine would be no help!  But after a ~$100 phone call (calling from sea at that time was $10/minute) the administrator of our department stepped up for us and we secured rights to four strips of tickets, way out in left field at the Kingdome, a couple of rows from the top of the section.  All we needed was to actually keep winning.  By the time we stepped off the ship, up 3, then slipping to finish tied at the end of the regular season.  Monday, October 2, one game playoff, Randy Johnson phenomenal, AL West Champions.

No need for me to recount the baseball side of the Yankees series.  Marv’s family and my family alternated nights, with Marv substituting for Tobae on my nights.  (Tobae finally did go to one game in the ALCS and I believe I heard her cheer.)  My best memory was after Game 2 waiting at 3rd and Jackson for a bus back to UW.  Marv was astounded by the fascination of Daniel and Mark (then 7 and 6) with the parking meters.  We are such a rural family that they had never seen one!

Closing this post by returning to the cruise calendar.  ALVIN Dive 3000 occurred on September 20, the day the Mariners tied up the standings.  My “Apollo 13” experience, Dive 3004, was on September 24.  Lost to Oakland, up 2.  It must have been the baseball euphoria that got me back in ALVIN for Dive 3005, when we captured the chemical evidence that substantiated our temperature data…zephyrs were mixing, but not at all in the way we had imagined.  Once the ALCS was over, and baseball buzz subsided, I reflected on my Apollo 13 day…and not happy over the complacency around safety, I haven’t been in ALVIN since.

Thanks Junior!

Ski Helmets

January 2, 2010

Yesterday’s New York Times contained an article on “Helmets Becoming More Common on Ski Slopes”:

once used exclusively by professional and competitive amateur skiers or snowboarders, helmets have become far more common across the United States and are now widely considered to be a critical piece of equipment, even for novices

This seems like an article that could have appeared in Canada’s Globe and Mail many years ago.  Whistler became our ski resort of choice in the mid-90s and we were awakened to helmet use upon enrolling Daniel and Mark in ski school.  The first two years we were able to sign a waiver so that they could ski without a helmet, but by 1997 it was policy at Whistler Mountain and so the helmets went onto the boys.  Not surprisingly, there was great resistance to wearing them except when in ski school.  Tobae and I added helmets to our gear in 1999 so that we had some credibility to go with our authority.

The article overly focuses on whether a helmet will help prevent death.  Skiers and riders prone to running into trees will likely not benefit.   But in a sport where falls are common, a helmet certainly lessens the severity of injuries.   I was glad I was wearing mine when I was run over by a snowboarder in 2006, with one point of landing being my head.

What is missed entirely from the article is the best reason to wear one is the comfort it brings.  Hard shell, well insulated…so much warmer and drier than a knit hat.  And subtle benefits for those of us that wear glasses under our goggles which creates many issues with condensation.  And while Tobae’s first helmet is now retired, it was quite the fashion statement, worthy of the Beach Boys:

Tobae's Leedom Ski Helmet

Improbable Win

October 12, 2009

After an undergrad/grad/postdoc career in Division III, Washington Husky football was a strong attractor when I arrived at UW in 1981.  I miss perhaps one home game a year.  I’ve seen great stretches…I still wear my “ThreePeat” sweatshirt vintage 1993 Rose Bowl…but more recently seasons of frustration, capped with the 0-12 record in 2008.

Like many fans, I was not expecting the coaching change to yield the dividends we’ve seen.  It was reasonable to wonder whether we would win 3 games this year, much less be 3-3.  But the great effort in the loss to LSU to launch the season and the stunning upset of USC brought optimism, tempered by being run over by Stanford, not executing in South Bend, and reinforced by the first 56 minutes of Saturday night’s game with Arizona.

Many amazing things on the road, but what followed Saturday ranks as my most memorable home Husky moment.  Down 33-21, some fans had seen enough. Only this close because of two remarkable goal line stands…did we learn something from ND?  An efficient drive to make it 33-28.  And then on the first play of the Arizona possession after the kickoff, right in front of me, “the play”.  Arizona receiver falls, pass bounces off his foot, caught by Husky linebacker Mason Foster and returned for a touchdown, two point conversion, 36-33.  A few plays later game sealed with a fourth down interception.

Worth watching on YouTube.  In this set of fourth quarter highlights, “the play” begins at 2:44.

The Zone

September 8, 2009

I’ve enjoyed the pre-game Husky Huddle held in the Dempsey Indoor, northeast of Husky Stadium.  Good place to meet ahead of a game, hear the band, get into the excitement of the day.  And we have held an annual alumni event for friends of the School of Oceanography the last several homecomings.

So I was chagrined by the thought of change.  No more Husky Huddle.  In its place…The Zone…an open air festival on the east practice field.  Sorry this is Seattle.  Its rains.  There are some covered areas, but they would have held about 15% of the people in a good downpour.  This is not a good idea and a step backward.

It was worse.  A line to enter, to get banded as over 21.  A line to buy tickets for food and drinks.  A line for drinks.  A line for food.  With drink in hand, can’t be in the line for food.  Elbow to elbow in the over 21 area.  Vast areas beyond.  Horrible traffic flow for folk with seats on the north side of the stadium.

Add the pretension.  Over the top is catering by Metropolitan Grill with the Filet Mignon sandwich.  Please.

So note to DSW.  Bring back some sanity…