Friday, December 29, 2006

Maryland 24 Purdue 7

The score will show that Maryland won the 2006 Champs Sports Bowl 24-7 over Purdue. The Terps, coming off back to back 5-6 seasons, finished 2006 at 9-4. For Head Coach Ralph Friedgen, this was his 50th win. Earlier this month I wrote about Donnie Woods decision to skip his senior season and join the Army. Today I want to write about another favorite player of mine, Quarterback Sam Hollenbach.

Tonight he played a smart, gutsy game, shook off a couple vicious hits early and gutted it out to lead the Terps to a victory and a trophy in his final game. However, it almost didn't happen. In 2004 he was listed as 4th on the Terps QB depth chart and thought about transferring to another school. In that season's final regular season game, he was awarded the start against Wake Forest and led the Terps to a victory.

He wasn't guaranteed a starting job in 2005 and instead of transferring out, he decided to stay and fight for the startng QB job. He won it and basically learned on the job in 2005 while the Terps struggled to a 5-6 season. This season he was more comfortable at the position. Sure, he had his ups and downs but he showed poise and got the most out of his talent while displaying great leadership skills for the Terps. Oh yeah, on top of that, he's on schedule to earn a degree in Engineering this Spring. Just a great Terp who represented the university well.

After the Terps-Florida State game I was lucky enough to meet him in the locker room and I had him sign a program for Benjamin. Definitely one of my all time favorite Terp football players and someone I will be proud to talk about to Benjamin as he gets older.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

All it takes is a twist of the cap...

Since this is the end of another year, it's time for everyone to revel in the past year and celebrate a new year. That's all good, don't get me wrong. Year's ago this used to be my favorite time because I sure celebrated. Too much.

Christmas Eve I took Weena and Benjamin to a local country club's golf course to see someone I greatly admire, Jim. I wanted him to meet my family. Without his advice, assistance and guidance over the years I do not know if I would be in the position I am in right now. Jim and I are both recovering alcoholics.

I have almost eighteen years and Jim has close to fifty years. When I was very early in my sobriety I went to see Jim knowing he was sober. I always did things my way and something told me to go see him and for once, just shut up and listen. I did and later he suggested occupying my down time on weekends by working at the golf course. So for three years I worked my regular job at a bank and a part time job at the golf course on weekends.

During the slow times at the golf shop, we would converse and share thoughts on alcoholism. Call it a mini AA meeting if you will. This time period helped me greatly and without that I'm not sure I would have remained sober. At the time I went to see Jim, I missed the weekend revelry, missed the friends I had made, missed the bottled beer and missed the bars. AA meetings were very helpful, I was learning a lot there but at that particular time I needed more than just a roomful of drunks talking. The golf course offered me an opportunity to keep me occupied and I took advantage of it.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve with Jim meeting Benjamin and Weena. He could see the smile on my face as I introduced my family and he said softly "Program works". Absolutely and then we proceeded to talk more about our drinking days and ways. For me, it helps to talk about this a lot because it is a reminder of where I have been and also for me not to get too relaxed in thinking this is over with just because I have not had a drink in almost eighteen years. Jim asked if I have ever had someone tell me "Hey, you haven't touched a drop of alcohol in -x- number of years, you got it beat!"

Sure, that happens a lot I told Jim and I said I keep one thought in mind..."All it takes is a twist of the cap. A twist of the cap and I am on my way to losing all I had accomplished". See, I cannot have just one or two beers. Oh sure, maybe I could try but then my old way of thinking would eventually come back and I would be consuming six and twelve packs like I used to. I tell myself each day that today I will not drink.

It's a daily battle, something I don't have beat. See, all it takes is a twist of the cap....

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us! Thanks for the love, encouragement and support this year. Weena, Benjamin and I greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Getting Closer To Christmas Day!

We took Benjamin to get his second hair cut today and he was very good. He was his usual playful self tonight as you can see. You can cue the theme to the movie Jaws for the first photo as he was checking out the loot that was piled up. Normally I'm not the most gung ho person when it comes to Christmas, but this year has been different. For one, I have 125 Christmas songs on my iPod that I plan on playing throughout the weekend when people visit. Two, I have completed all of my shopping. For family members reading this in shock, I will write this again. I have completed all of my shopping. In year's past I usually start around the 21st.

Ho ho ho!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Today I Turn 45

I turned 45 years old today! Doesn't feel like I am in my mid-forties though. Not with a one year old son raise. I feel ten, fifteen years younger.

That said, look what I got for my birthday from Weena and Benjamin...

I am blown away by this CD. December 16-19, 1970 Miles Davis took what some consider to be his last great quintet into The Cellar Door, one of the premier music spots located on 34th Street NW (Georgetown), for a four-night stand. Musicians included Keith Jarrett on both electric piano and organ, Gary Bartz on alto and soprano saxophones, Michael Henderson (played with Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin) on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Guitarist John McLaughlin joined the band for the Saturday session, playing what he calls some of the most intense music of his career.

All Music gives this a five star rating. This will be in the CD player in my car this week.

Friday, December 15, 2006

From the Gridiron to the Army

One of the fun things I enjoy about being a season ticket holder to Maryland Football is I love getting out to the stadium early to watch the teams warm up. Over the past couple of seasons one of my favorite players to watch has been Guard Donnie Woods. He's been one of the Terps most consistent and toughest offensive linemen, playing the entire 2005 season with a banged up shoulder.

The other day I saw a newspaper article that Woods was leaving Maryland early, giving up is senior football season in 2007. He's not to jumping to the NFL for a chance at fame and the riches that come with being an NFL player. Instead, he's going to join the Army. Woods will graduate in May 2007 with a criminal justice degree. Then he's headed to Army Officer Training School with the goal of leading ground troops in Iraq. He will play his final football game in the Champs Sports Bowl on December 29th vs Purdue.

During my Maryland Football: Behind The Scenes piece I wrote back in October after the Florida State game, one thing I noticed when I was in the Terps locker room was Woods kept an American flag on his locker. His brother served two tours in Iraq and he comes from a military family.

He's giving up a fifth year of eligibility (He was redshirted his freshman season) because he fears another injury could make him unfit for military service. During that Florida State game, he suffered a neck injury and was medevaced to a nearby hospital. He's had a banged up shoulder and other injuries that offensive linemen get when battling in the trenches.

He's currently 6'3" and weighs 290. He plans on losing 60 pounds in the upcoming months to get to 230.

Since 2004 I've enjoyed watching him progress into a reliable starter during his Terps career and wish him the best. Good luck Donnie and thanks.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Christmas Pics

Christmas is getting closer and closer and packages are starting to arrive at the house for Benjamin. I think he understands something special happens soon. Benjamin likes to point to the Christmas tree when we light it up. I really hope the weather stays nice as I would love to walk him around the neighborhood in his stroller so he can see the light displays of our neighbors.

Right now he is so much fun to be around. He's learning more words and is into his Elmo books. He's racing all over the house now. Tonight at the Christmas tree I lost sight of him for a moment and he tripped over my foot and his noggin hit the floor. Lucky he hit the carpeted portion. A few tears later, he was back to his normal playful self. Meanwhile, I felt like the worst Dad in the world. It's tough seeing your son cry but it's going to happen a lot during the next few years.

The night ended with me taking him upstairs at his normal bed time. He associates me with play time and usually Weena puts him to bed. She was wrapping gifts for awhile, so we read and watched the Maryland basketball game. He knows the word "turtle" and said it a few times during the game as the Terps logo was flashed on tv. He'll be ready for the start of the ACC season in January!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cole Field House

I have four tickets to the Maryland-Mount St. Mary's basketball game at the end of this month. This game will be played at Comcast Center, which opened up in the Fall of 2002. Don't get me wrong, this is a beautiful facility to watch a basketball game in but sentimentally, it's just not up there with old Cole Field House in terms of tradition and memories. Cole Field House opened up in 1955 shortly before my Dad arrived at Maryland. Currently an intramural indoor soccer practice field has replaced the basketball court, and spaces along the perimeter have been reconfigured into classrooms and temporary office spaces.

Take a trip back to the glory of old Cole Field House, which hosted it's last Maryland basketball game in March 2002.

I have two pieces of the Cole floor here in my rec room. One autographed by current Head Coach Gary Williams and one autographed by the ol' Lefthander, former coach Lefty Driesell. The first game I ever saw at Cole did not involve the Terps but the then Capital Bullets, who played some games there in the early '70's. Cole hosted the 1966 NCAA Final Four, which Texas Western started an all black lineup and beat heavily favored Kentucky, which started an all white line up. Cole Field House also hosted the 1970 NCAA Final Four as well as several NCAA regional games including a thriller in 1991 where the first ever upset of a 2-seed at the hands of a 15-seed took place. Richmond defeated Syracuse, 73-69. Of course there were several thrilling ACC contests there, too numerous to list here and a great, great game in 1982 in which Maryland upset third ranked UCLA in double OT.

Whenever Lefty Driesell used to walk out on the court the band used to play "Hail to the Chief" and the crowd would just go crazy. Also, the band would play "Amen" when the Terps had the game just about wrapped up. When they would start that, the people would sing along with the band. That was a great Maryland basketball tradition.

When I met former Terp Lonny Baxter two years ago at my office one of his best memories was beating #1 Duke at Cole in 2002. That win was the first time they had beaten them at Cole during his four years there.

Other big events:
1972: A ping-pong match between the United States and the People's Republic of China is played at Cole, the first sporting event between the two countries.

1972: An exhibition of the Soviet gymnastics team, including gold medalist Olga Korbut, sells out the arena and is televised locally.

1974: Elvis Presley in concert.

1975: The first televised women's basketball game is played at Cole. Maryland loses to the defending national champions Immaculata 80-48.

Overall, 13 men's basketball All-Americans and 4 women's All-Americans have played there. Best one I ever saw: Len Bias, with a close second to Juan Dixon.

I went to a lot of games there but the one most important to me was February 19, 1989. This was my last day drinking and part of this day was spent at Cole Field House watching the Terps lose to North Carolina. I still keep that ticket stub from that day.

So why did I write about an old building? About two hours before the Maryland-Wake Forest football game two weeks ago, I'm pulling into the Terrapin Trail Garage when my cell phone rings. My buddy BC is calling me from inside Cole and yelling "Maryland basket by Lennnny Ellllmoreeeee!" That was pretty cool.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Present

One empty box = One airplane for Benjamin. Benjamin and I had a blast tonight just playing around with an empty box which is going to be used to mail presents. Sometimes I wonder which one of us is having more fun.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Classics From Christmas Past

The first photo is me at age three, taken in 1964. The second is in 1965. My Uncle Dave is fiddling with a Mustang model, my Dad is trying to figure out something by reading the instructions and I'm wondering when I can play with my loot. The gentleman seated in the chair enjoying his Christmas "iced tea" is my Grandfather Sam. We nicknamed him Grand Sam. Note the grin on his face. He's probably thinking I don't have to put together anything, I can just kick back and relax....I have great memories of Grand Sam. I always loved his baseball stories, which dated back to the 1920's. He died in 1987. I think about him often and will make sure to tell Benjamin all about him when he gets older.

Which brings me to the last photo from 1966 of my sister Kim and me. I think this was the year we were rugrats on the Santa stage and it took forever to settle us down to take the photo. Note my facial expression and Santa's.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Like Father, Like Son

The first picture is Benjamin at five months (March 2006) and the second one is me at almost four months (April 1962).

This week marks the one year anniversary of this blog. I never knew I'd keep this thing going for this long but it has been a fantastic way to let family and friends see Benjamin's progress. We have relatives and friends in various parts of the USA and all over the world from the Philippines, Canada and Kuwait. Norway, Germany and Spain and Australia also check in. I like the fact family and friends can log into this site and get the latest scoop on Benjamin as well as other things such as sports takes and whatever else is on my mind. I hope the content here is interesting and I appreciate all comments. I like to write and this serves as an archive for Benjamin to see just what went on during the first year's of his life.

In closing out 2006 I'll select various pictures of me as a little boy and will compare these with the hundreds of pictures I've taken of Benjamin since his birth. I also plan to scan in some pics of my Great Grandfather, Grandfather, Dad, me and Benjamin and will see if Weena would like me to include pictures of her family as well. Enjoy!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Santa Visit

Let me get this straight Santa. Every December we decorate our house with a tree and lights. You land a sleigh with reindeer on our roof, come down our chimney, eat cookies and milk AND leave presents???

Last night we took Benjamin to the mall to see Santa for the first time. Last year at this time he was a little over a month old, so we passed. I made a mental note then to take him on a slow night just after Thanksgiving because the lines were very long when I did my shopping in mid December. The pictures we got came out nicer than this scan did. Next year this will even be more fun when he understands a little more about Christmas and traditions our families have. He likes listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Look Who's Walking!

Each day Benjamin walks a little longer. A couple days ago he broke his record of five steps unsupervised with seven unsupervised steps. Now he pulls himself up, looks at me or Weena and just starts walking, often collapsing in our arms. Tonight he was on his feet for almost twenty seconds strutting around before landing on his rear. Each time he walks, Weena and I give him a round of applause. He's gaining confidence each day and pretty soon he'll be all over the place.

He's standing here admiring the Christmas tree

Walking around in the living room

Downstairs in the basement rec. room

Notice the positioning of his arms for balance.

A few tunes off my iPod to commemorate Benjamin's learning to walk...

I Walk The Line by Johnny Cash
Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come) by Bruce Springsteen
Giant Steps by John Coltrane
Growin' Up by Bruce Springsteen
Believe by Nils Lofgren
I'm Still Standing by Elton John
I'm Walkin' by Fats Domino
In Walked Bud by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers
Keep on Truckin' by Eddie Kendricks
Let's Go by The Cars
Steppin' Out by Joe Jackson
The Times They Are A Changin' by Bob Dylan
Walk Of Life by Dire Straits
Walking In Your Footsteps by The Police
Walkin' All Night by Little Feat
Shine Silently by Nils Lofgren

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tough Loss For The Terps

Wake Forest 38
Maryland 24

If you had told me back in August when the season tickets arrived the following would have happened I would have done back flips (That is, if I knew how to):

Maryland would go 6-1 at home, beating both Florida State and Miami at Byrd Stadium.

Play Wake Forest for the ACC Atlantic Division title.

Finish 8-4 and go to a bowl game after back to back 5-6 seasons.

Last night Wake Forest played near perfect football in beating the Terps. Maryland can't expect to win if you give up almost 300 yards rushing (Wake had 296). The Terps hung in there, but the three INT's by QB Sam Hollenbach was just brutal and two of those led to Wake touchdowns.

The Post recap is here.

In reviewing past Maryland Football history, the last time a game was played at Byrd Stadium with a title on the line was back in November 1982 when Clemson beat Maryland 24-22 for the ACC Championship. This loss hurts as opportunities like this are rare. However, this team is young, they only lose one senior on the offense and three on defense. They will be strong next season.

Speaking of the defense, that seriously needs to be addressed in the off-season. The Terps were outgained in total yards in 11 of 12 games this season and Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh could not figure out a way to stop Wake's ground attack last night.

Next up for the Terps could be the Music City Bowl in Nashville or the Meineke Car Care in Charlotte. Navy has committed to that game and it will have a huge regional following. My Dad said Maryland and Navy was a great rivalry when he was at Maryland and in 2005 these two teams met in Baltimore with Maryland winning barely.

So in closing, despite the loss I'm very proud of this team. They played hard and rewarded us fans with a respectable 8-4 season. I know I'll be back again screaming in section 19 next year for sure!

On a side note, before the game me and my friend BC picked up some Terps items at the store inside of Comcast Center. I bought Benjamin a Terps outfit and BC bought Benjamin a mini football. This morning Benjamin was saying "Ball!" after I gave it to him. Very cool. Benjamin always appreciates cool Terps items and says "Thanks BC!" Pics to follow...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of my favorite Norman Rockwell paintings...

We have lots to be thankful for...

Enjoy the day!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Terps: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Maryland 62, Michigan State 60
Terps at 5-0 off to their best start since '98-'99 after they win the annual Coaches vs Cancer Classic.

NCAA Soccer Tournament
Defending Champion Terps stunned in second OT by Notre Dame
Notre Dame 1, Maryland 0

Joseph Lapira scored with 3:04 seconds left in the second overtime to lift No. 12 Notre Dame to a 1-0 victory against No. 7 Maryland in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the first time the Terps had lost at home in the NCAA Tournament since 2001 and the end of the Terps run as National Champions.

"We showed a lot of resiliency and class throughout the year," Coach Sasho Cirovski said. "It's been a great year. We broke the all-time attendance record for college soccer. We helped elevate the significance of this sport not only here but all over the country. We have a lot of great young men who represent the best of Maryland soccer. We had an incredible run here and we're going to start another one next year."

If anyone who reads this blog is a Terps fan and has not been to a Maryland Soccer game at Ludwig Field, by all means head out there and support this team next year. It is one of the best experiences and costs about five bucks a game.

No. 21 Maryland Falls At No. 20 Boston College, 38-16
The Terps never got on track today as their first two possessions resulted in turnovers that Boston College converted into touchdowns. Three minutes into the game and it was 14-0 Boston College and it was pretty much finished. Yours truly did not leave the TV though. I hung in there until the end, that's what die hards do and I'm confident the Terps can bounce back next week. Now you have Boston College, Maryland and Wake Forest all tied at 5-2 in the Atlantic Division. Wake Forest lost 27-6 today to Virginia Tech. The Terps (8-3, 5-2) can still win the division if they beat Wake Forest next Saturday and BC loses to Miami.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Huge College Football Weekend

Benjamin and I will be camped in front of the tv tomorrow at noon to watch the Terps take on Boston College. Huge game for both teams (see earlier thread). We like the Terps in another close game, 20-17. In tomorrow's other Big Game of the Day, Benjamin took a moment to pick the team he likes....

He likes Michigan in a 27-24 thriller.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The ACC Football Championship Race

ACC Atlantic Division
Wake Forest 5-1 (9-1 overall)
Maryland 5-1 (8-2 overall)
Boston College 4-2 (8-2 overall)

ACC Coastal Division Georgia Tech 6-1 has clinched a berth in the Championship game, which is Saturday December 2 at 1:00PM in Jacksonville, FL

Remaining Schedule:
Maryland at Boston College 11/18 at 12:00PM, vs Wake Forest 11/25 at 7:45PM
Boston College vs Maryland 11/18 at 12:00PM, at Miami 11/23 at 7:30PM
Wake Forest vs Virginia Tech 11/18 at 7:00PM, at Maryland 11/25 at 7:45PM

Three different scenarios favor Maryland's heading to the title game:
• Maryland wins its last two games against Boston College and Wake Forest.
• The Terps lose at Boston College, but beat Wake Forest and BC loses to Miami.
• Maryland loses at Boston College but beats Wake Forest, BC beats Miami, and Wake Forest beats Virginia Tech. The Terps would win the resulting three-way tie because they would have the best conference record of the three teams.

Excerpts from coach Ralph Friedgen's 11/14/06 News Conference

Opening Statement: "Our kids seem to be excited, they had a lot of energy [Monday] night even though they were feeling a little sore and a little beat up. That comes from week in and week out playing tough opponents. We are looking to have a good work day today and are planning on having a good game this week."

On Boston College: "We are preparing for another tough game; Boston College is another fine football team with a very good balanced offense. Their quarterback is probably one of the better quarterbacks in the league and they have two fine running backs, they have a very good offensive line and very good receivers. Defensively, they are one of the better teams in the league also. On special teams, they have an excellent return game."

On the level of play this season: "I think our kids are playing tremendous. They are just playing with everything they've got and we are playing good teams. I was just told we have the seventh-toughest schedule in the country and we are 8-2. That speaks a lot for our players and what kind of kids they are."

On the success of the team: "I remember saying that way back when, that if this team experienced success we could be a very good team. I think we could still play better than how we are playing. We are finding ways to win and we are having the ball bounce our way, there's no doubt about it. I think it takes that to have a good season."

On the margin of error and its importance against Miami: "I don't think we had that many penalties, dropped balls, or turnovers. It was pretty good even though we didn't have that many plays. It's very important, there's no doubt about it. It has been on every level I have coached at and it is something I believe in very strongly. I think it is one of the reasons we won our first year here."

On the rest of the season: "I told them yesterday, `I could go through all of the scenarios, but I am going to keep it real simple for you. You win the next two games and you're playing Georgia Tech on December 2nd. That's all you have to worry about, win the next two games.' The game coming up right now is Boston College. That's all I am focusing on and all the rest of the stuff will take care of itself. We don't need to get into the `if this happens', let's go make it happen."

On Darrius Heyward-Bey: "I don't think he's even come close to touching his potential. He is still learning the position. He works at it every day and I think that's why he has really improved. He has become a better route-runner and has learned to catch the ball better. One thing he has is speed and that is something you can't coach. Hopefully he will continue to gain confidence from this and just get better and better."

On Donnie Woods: "All of the tests have come back negative. We are going to continue to monitor his progress. Right now he looks like he is doubtful for the game, but he's in good shape. He just came back from a specialist this morning and looks like he is going to be okay."

It's been a tough couple seasons for Maryland, finishing 5-6 in 2004 and 2005. Like I lot of Terps fans I was crushed when they got hammered like they did against West Virginia. They had a tough loss at Georgia Tech, but they have come together since. It's sure been a lot of fun in Section 19 Row EE this season.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Maryland 14, Miami 13

Exciting game in College Park today. Two teams just duking it out and in the end, the Terps held on again and won 14-13. Sam Hollenbach had two TD passes to Darrius Heywood-Bey. One for 65 yards and another for a school record 96 yards.

Miami played with emotion and guts throughout the game for their fallen teammate Bryan Pata, who was shot and killed outside his apartment on Tuesday. (Before the game there was a moment of silence for Pata)

Here are a couple stats that stick out: The Terps ran just 37 offensive plays while Miami ran 73. Miami held a 37:09 to 22:51 advantage in time of possession. 14-13 Terps is the only thing that matters though.

I really thought Miami would pull it out in the end. I was telling my friend John that I need to start carrying a heart defibulator to these games. The Terps Defense forced two turnovers late in the game. With three minutes left in the game, Terps cornerback Josh Wilson tipped a pass by Miami QB Kirby Freeman. The ball hung in the air forever and was picked off by linebacker Trey Covington. Sigh of relief #1. But wait, there's more. Maryland could not get a first down despite having two chances to pick up one yard. So the Terps were forced to punt and that's when the Terps Isaiah Gardner forced Miami punt returner Bruce Johnson to fumble with about a minute to play. Sigh of relief #2 and game over. In keeping with this blog's title one Terp who shined silently was punter Adam Podlesh. He was huge punting the Terps out of trouble in the 4th quarter.

Only bummer was that Terps offensive lineman Donnie Woods suffered a neck injury early in the third quarter. The Maryland trainers immobilized his neck and he was airlifted to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore. The stadium was eerily silent when this went on. Later while driving home I heard a radio report that Woods was able to move his extremities and he would undergo more tests later on.

The Terps are now 8-2 (5-1 in the ACC) and they have won five straight games by a total of 13 points. They could advance to the ACC title game December 2. Tough road ahead for them though. Next Saturday they are at Boston College and on November 25th they have their final home game of the year vs Wake Forest. Right now my voice is shot.

Mike Wise's column here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Random Pics

Nothing much going on this week. I'm still a little bummed D.C. United lost a chance to play for their fifth MLS Cup but I'm excited for the University of Maryland Football team. They are in the hunt for the ACC Championship. The Maryland Soccer team begins defense of their NCAA title they won last year and the Terps hoops team began play with two impressive victories vs Hampton University and Vermont. Plus it's been fun taunting some Dallas Cowboy fans at work after the Redskins beat them at the last second this past Sunday. It's also hard to believe that in two weeks Thanksgiving is here.

Right now Benjamin is doing his best to learn to walk and he's saying a few words like "Daddy", "Mommy", "Bye Bye" and he's waving. He also is learning how to shake hands, high five and he claps a lot. Definitely a happy little guy. He does have his unpleasant moments, such as his flu shot at the doctor's office yesterday and you don't want to be around him when he's got a diaper rash, but he's well behaved and a lot of fun to be around. Both Weena and I got through our rookie season as parents and we are excited to grow as parents as Benjamin grows up. The two of us had a tough decision to make last June regarding which day care provider to select starting last July. He was at a relative's house (she's a licensed day care provider) for a month but the commute was too much for all of us. After careful research, Weena and I strongly believe we made the right choice and the place we selected for Benjamin is just three minutes from home. More important, he's learning and developing a lot there and I'm having a blast picking him up every night and hanging out with his little pals. Easily the best part of my day.

Here are some random pics of the little guy I took this week.

Sacked out

I voted! Not really, Daddy did though...

Pajama Party!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happiness Is A Hug Away

Today I arrived at Benjamin's daycare and I am getting out of my car when I see him at the back door of his infant play room. He crawling around and pushing a little toy car. This door is an exit only from that room and you can get a good look at the inside of the room as you pass by.

I stop and he sees me and smiles and I wave to him and we are giggling at each other through the window. Then I wave and start to walk to the main entrance to go inside to pick him up. I see him starting to cry, so I walked back to him, smile and wave. I knew what would come next if I went away. We couldn't just stand there all evening, so I jogged to the main entrance door, punched in the code and signed him out. I hustled to the infant room where he was now being held by his teacher and still crying.

He sees me and smiles. He stops crying and starts grinning. I got him from his teacher and I wipe away his tears. He puts his arms around my neck and we had the best hug a father and son can have. For about three minutes we just held each other and rocked back and forth. I will always have this moment forever. Happiness really is just a hug away.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Interesting Weekend

A lot happened this weekend. First, we had guests in town from the Philippines. They are staying in Richmond until mid month and they took the train up to see us. One of the visitors, Melvin, is a huge NBA fan and his dream was to see an NBA game. He bought a ticket off eBay before he came to the USA and sat behind the Celtics bench. Your's truly accompanied him and I bought a ticket outside from a ticket entrepreneur. I didn't sit behind the Celtics bench. I was in the section where you needed to rent a mountain goat to get to your seat and if you wanted to dial my cell phone, unfortunately you would probably have had to use a 1 before the number. That's how high up I was. Melvin's favorite player is Gilbert Arenas and he did not disappoint, scoring 44 points in the Wizards 124-117 victory.

Before we went to the Wizards game, my Mom and Sister came over to see Benjamin and wish him a belated Happy Birthday. We had a nice lunch and after that, Benjamin opened presents from them and played with one he received from his Grandpa. Thanks Dad, he really loves this!

While Mom and my Sister were visiting, I had the Maryland-Clemson game on. The Terps won 13-12 on the last play of the game, a 31 yard field goal by Dan Ennis. I went nuts and while Daddy was celebrating, Benjamin was five feet away giggling at his goofy Daddy. That win puts the Terps at 7-2 for the year and still in contention for the ACC title.

Maryland kicker Dan Ennis watches his 31-yard, game-winning field goal split the uprights Saturday as Maryland wins its fourth straight game.

Then on Sunday after dropping our guests off at the train station, I settled down to watch the Redskins-Cowboys game at 1:00 and D.C. United vs New England in the Eastern Conference Championship at 4:00 PM.

Shortly after 4:00 PM, I went from euphoria as one former Terp, Nick Novak, kicked a 47 yard field goal to beat the Cowboys to a bunch of four letter expletives as another former Terp, Taylor Twellman scored what turned out to be the winning goal for New England over D.C. United four minutes into the game.

For the Redskins, maybe this propels them on a winning streak. For D.C. United, the season in which they had the best record in the league, they are left to ponder what if. They were unbeatable from May to mid July, but staggered home the final three and a half months of the season. A lot of questions as everyone is playing internet GM here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Justin Peters: Chasing the PGA Tour continued

It's been awhile since I wrote about Justin Peters, the professional golfer I met at the Booz Allen Classic back in June. Here is an update on Justin's progress to make the PGA Tour.

Right now he is in the first stage of PGA Tour qualifying. He's playing in the qualifier at Martin Downs Country Club in Palm City, Florida. There are other qualifers being held across the US. This first stage lasts from November 2-5 and the top 26 and ties here advance to the second stage. The first two days are in the books and Justin shot 69 & 70, three under par and that is good for 29th place. He's seven shots off the overall lead and one stroke from the top 26. I'll update his progress here on Saturday and Sunday.

To prepare for this, Justin played on the Florida Grey Goose Gateway Tour and a few other minor league events to keep his game in shape. Last week he qualified for the Nationwide Tour's Miccosukee Championship but missed the cut by three shots with a pair of 72's. He's got the game and the skills to make it out there. Now it's final exam time.

Saturday, Round 3 Justin had a 34 on the front and ballooned to a 42 on the back for a 76. Three holes on the back nine did him in. On the par 5 13th, Justin shot a 7, on the par 3 14th he bogeyed and on the par 4 15th he bogeyed. He was +6 over the final six holes.

Sunday, Round 4 Justin shot 71 today and with a 286 total, finished tied for 42nd and missed second stage qualifying by four shots. He played pretty well the whole week except for the closing six holes on his round Saturday (+6).

Not sure what's next for Justin. My guess is he'll continue to Monday qualify for PGA events and also play on the Nationwide Tour when he can. He turns 30 next year.

PGA Tour members Fred Funk and Woody Austin to name two have achieved PGA Tour success after they qualified when they were in their thirties. Justin's dream may have died hard today but hopefully he'll continue as long as he can to pursue this. Every time you see Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson lift a trophy, golf fans should take a moment to think about how tough the road to get on tour is. Then there is the quest to make enough money to remain on tour. Here is the best response I've heard about PGA Tour qualifying from a caddie: "PGA Qualifying is the final exam. Every year the questions on the test are the same. The problem is every year, the answers are different". Best wishes Justin. Here's hoping for a successful 2007 for you.

June 23, 2006
July 11, 2006
July 26, 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween From Benjamin!

He's a bumble bee and no, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are not recruiting Benjamin. While we are on the subject of Halloween, here is my Halloween mix of music currently playing in my living room. Happy Halloween!

In The Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett
Season of the Witch by Donovan
Blue Moon by The Marcels
Wherewolves of London by Warren Zevon
Spooky by The Atlanta Rhythm Section
Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.
Thriller by Michael Jackson
Monster Mash by Bobby Boris Pickett
Furry Happy Monsters by Sesame Street (Sung to Shiny Happy People by R.E.M.)
The Boogie Monster by Gnarls Barkley
I Walked With A Zombie by R.E.M.
The Munsters Theme

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Maryland Football: Behind the Scenes

Maryland 27, Florida State 24

Incredible game by the Terps, who never trailed. Florida State dominated total yardage, outgaining Maryland 458 to 223. Read the Washington Post recap here.

I got to live out a dream of mine thanks to my friend Kelly. Through the friends he and his son Patrick have made at the University of Maryland athletic staff, we were able to attend Head Coach Ralph Friedgen's press conference. Part of me has always wanted to be sports journalist. I have this forum to attempt to be one at times. This night I got to see what goes on behind the behind the scenes after a football game. It was fun seeing what sports journalists do, what the football coaches and equipment staffers do after a game. I took some pictures (click to enlarge these) so I will do my best to describe the behind the scenes activity after a very important Maryland victory.

Here is coach Friedgen's press conference and an excerpt:

"What a win. I don't know where to start. We faced some adversity tonight in so many different areas. So many guys stepped up. Darrius Heyward-Bey made some big plays and Sam (Hollenbach) played really well. He managed the game really well and made plays when he had to. There were a couple of situations where he probably could have fumbled, but he didn't. I can see him getting better and better right now. I thought we ran the ball well early too."

"Defensively, we broke down a couple times and broke assignments, but we ended up getting the big play at the end."

"It's a big win for our team and a big win for our program, but we've still got such a long way to go. We've just got to continue to improve. We're not there yet. We're bowl eligible, but our goals are bigger than six wins. It's probably a relief for the team. That sixth win is a big monkey on your back, but it doesn't get any easier from here. We've got to keep our eyes on the next game and keep getting better."

"They keep fighting, that's just what they do," Friedgen said of his players. "Sometimes it's not pretty, but they give you all they have."

One thing that was pointed out to Coach Friedgen was the Terps did not turn the ball over for the first time in two years. Friedgen said he wasn't aware of that until FSU's Head Coach Bobby Bowden pointed that out in the post game meeting of the two coaches.

I recognized two local sports journalists that were in attendance. Chick Hernandez of Comcast SportsNet and Mike Wise of the Washington Post. Here is Wise's column about the game.

After this we went to the main floor where Chick Hernandez was interviewing Coach Friedgen one on one for the 11:00 SportsNite show on Comcast SportsNet. I didn't take a picture here as I did not want my flash on the digital camera to disrupt the interview. Still, it was pretty cool to see this. Here are a couple shots from the main lobby:

The 2001 ACC Football Championship trophy

A couple of recent bowl trophies

Next we went down to the weight room and I took this picture

We caught up with coach Dave Sollazzo there, who we chatted with briefly. He brings a lot of energy on the field. If you watch a Terps game in person, you'll be able to pick him out as he's always fired up on the sidelines. He coaches the defensive line. We also saw Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh meeting with recruits who were at the game.

Next we got into the locker room where we chatted with a couple of the members of the equipment staff. The game started at 7:00 PM and one of the guys on the staff said they would be lucky if they got out of there by 3:00 AM. We were also a bit lucky as we were able to catch up with Terp QB Sam Hollenbach, who graciously chatted with us and signed game programs to our son's for Kelly and I. Hollenbach has shown a lot of heart in the two full season's he's been the Terps QB. He was the fourth string QB in 2004 when he got the start against Wake Forest during the last game of 2004. He worked hard and he's been the starter since. This season he's been very efficient running the offense and has the team poised to return to a bowl game.

After that, we returned to the football offices where we met up with Coach Friedgen, who was nice enough to sign my game program for Benjamin as well. He believes the ACC Champion will have two losses as it is a highly competitive conference where everyone just pounds on one another. I wanted to ask him about him handling the dual duties of being the head coach and the offensive coordinator but felt like it wasn't my place to do so. He had been answering questions from media after the game and he was relaxing and I let it pass. Personally, I feel it is too much for any head coach to be doing coordinator duties in this era of college and pro football. See 2005 Redskins; Gibbs, Joe. Gibbs hired an Offensive Coordinator for the 2006 season and it will be interesting to see if Friedgen does the same for next year. I think he will as part of the reason he's doing both jobs as his long time Offensive Coordinator Charlie Taffe retired in the Spring and it was too late to replace him.

It was truly a remarkable and fun experience for me. I was in awe the whole time. I've been a Terps fan all my life and while I was extremely down on them that third game against West Virginia, where they got throughly embarassed on national television, they've made remarkable strides in turning around their season. They have six wins and two losses with games at Clemson, Miami, at Boston College and Wake Forest remaining on the schedule. It is not an easy task ahead of the Terps but nothing is easy when contending in this conference.