Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Caption This

My friend Matt once said the best way to take pictures of kids is to just shoot, shoot and shoot and you'll eventually get a classic. I'm nowhere near the photographer Matt is, but tonight I remembered his advice and shot five in a row of Benjamin and I got one classic during his dinner. If you have a moment please post a funny caption in the comments section.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Last Walk

A view of the 18th hole at Congressional Country Club

A view of the 18th hole at TPC Avenel

Yesterday I went to what will most likely be my (and several thousand golf fans) final PGA Golf event here in the DC area. The PGA Tour has indicated they will move our tour spot from June to the Fall starting in 2007. All of this is conditional on the event finding a corporate sponsor to replace Booz Allen. Right now no one has stepped up to fill this void and things don’t look good when the Washington Post prints a preview of the event and shows a tombstone on the cover.

One of the major reasons the tour eliminated the DC area from the June slot was the reluctance of Booz Allen to accept the week after the U.S. Open for its event. The original deadline passed without a sponsor, so the deadline was extended and the PGA Tour is still looking for sponsors. Who would sponsor a tournament in the Fall after the end of the real PGA season right in the middle of the Washington Redskins schedule? Oh yeah no CBS coverage either. Insert a crickets chirping sound bite here.

This event usually has your less known PGA players in the field and a sometimes you get a champion where you scratch your head and say who? (Tom Byrum, Grant Waite, Morris Hatalsky and Tom Scherrer come to mind) Only one player in the top 30 is here this year (Pradrag Harrington). Still, it is an opportunity for these players as a solid week can put you in great shape to secure playing privileges for the following season. This event is like a major for the guys who are journeymen of the PGA Tour. For those of us like me who are die hard fans of the Tour, this is perhaps as exciting as watching Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson battle.

All that said, I arrived at TPC Avenel yesterday around 1:00. An article in The Washington Post this week made me decide to follow Justin Peters around. I am a huge Golf Channel fan and loved their reality show called The Big Break, in which golfers competed in skills challenges for prizes. Justin won the first competition and received four sponsors exemptions on the Canadian PGA Tour. I posted a note on the Golf Channel Message Board and got some replies to go root for Justin, so I did. He even knew I would be out there as he's read and posted on the boards. On the par three third hole he asked if I was Bill-DC who posted and we chatted while he waited to tee off.

He was playing with Jeff Overton of Evansville, IL and James McLean of Melbourne Australia.
Justin started out fine, six pars in a row to start but he ran into some trouble on the last three holes on the front side and was three over heading into the back. He got two pars on ten and eleven but twelve hurt. I believe he went driver off the tee (The other two went three wood) and got in trouble and ended up doubling the hole.

He birdied 13 and bogeyed 14 (301 yard par four) and 15 before finishing up with three pars and a 77. Overton shot 70 and McLean shot 65 good for a tie for 4th place.

After the round we chatted again briefly. Justin plans to change putters for the second round and be more aggressive.

Despite the 77, there is no question he has the game to make it out there on tour. He believes it and in following him, I know he'll make it one day. All you have to do is look at Fred Funk who was the University of Maryland's golf coach. At 31 he secured his playing priviledges and at 50, he's had a nice long career. No reason why Justin can't do the same.

I hope this isn't the end of our tour event. Walking out, I reflected on the twenty five plus years this event has been here. While you have your unknown's winning this event from time to time, this tournament had players who became very talented golfers after getting their first PGA Tour wins here. Fred Couples in '83, Greg Norman in '84, Bill Glasson in '85, Billy Andrade in '91, Steve Stricker in '96, Stuart Appleby in '98, Rich Beem in '99. All these players have multiple victories on the PGA Tour and Couples, Norman and Beem have gone on to win major championships.

My family and I also volunteered out there for several of these events and I've always found some time to make it out there to support the event. I'm a huge fan and it would be a major loss if the DC area were to lose this event.

World Cup: It's All Over Now, Red, White & Blue

Ghana 2, U.S.A 1

Very disappointing. That's how you can sum up the USA in the 2006 World Cup.

Let's take a look at the numbers: Zero wins. Two goals in three games (one of which was an own goal), four total shots on goal in three games and one point in the standings. Last place among four teams in Group E.

The thing that stands out most in yesterday's loss to Ghana was the controversial awarding of a penalty kick to Ghana right before the half and just after the U.S. scored. If that hadn't occurred, it's 1-1 at half and a different game in the second half. The bottom line though on the U.S. is they did not perform well at all this World Cup and now U.S. Soccer faces a huge rebuilding effort and a lot of questions. That nice run in the 2002 World Cup is a distant memory now.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Friend's Memory Lives On

I spoke of my friend Gema a couple months ago here. Seven years she's been gone. Seven years and I'm still at a loss for words. I still miss her. She was one of the nicest people one could ever meet. I'll share one little story here. When she moved back to Madrid, she became a teacher and she was proud of her work with kids. She told me one day that seeing a child smile was the best feeling one could experience and it was priceless. I nodded, but really didn't think much of it. Now that I am married and the father of an eight month old boy, when I see my son Benjamin smile, I smile and think back to those words she said.

Light a Candle © A.Pell 24/08/2005
Light a candle for those we mourn.
Into a new life they will be born.
Do not look for them at the gravesite.
They are somewhere else radiating their beautiful light.

They have gone to a new world where there is no darkness, no pain.
Their light and essence will always remain.
Light a candle for those who have left this mortal place.
They are free to travel through time and space.

When we think of them, they are near.
When we sit in a beautiful garden. Their voices we hear.
When we listen to a divine symphony,
We close our eyes, their faces we see.

Light a candle for they have not really gone.
With each flickering flame, in your hearts they will always belong.

R.I.P. Gema

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

Today I celebrated my first Father's Day. The day started when Benjamin awoke at 6:00 AM and wanted to play. We had a nice breakfast and headed to church. I got some cool presents from my wife and Benjamin, but hearing the words Happy Father's Day for the first time was priceless. Later on we were joined by my Mom and sister for a nice lunch and they gave me a book on Dad-isms while Benjamin got some cool clothes.

Some Dad-ism examples, probably none of which I followed but heard a bunch of times from my Dad:

"Look at me when I'm talking to you"
"As long as you live under my roof, you'll live by my rules"
"I never talked to my old man like that"
"What's so funny? Wipe that smile off your face"

Now I'm watching the U.S. Open golf while Benjamin crawls around on the floor and my wife is upstairs taking a nap. Definitely a great day!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

World Cup: Gutsy Effort By The USA

USA Shows Heart in 1-1 draw with Italy.

I was very down on the US after their World Cup opening match loss to the Czech Republic this past Monday. Today, I am very proud of the USA’s efforts after grinding out a 1-1 draw with Italy despite being reduced to nine men for much of the second half.

In a wild game, Italy had one player, Daniele De Rossi dismissed for an elbow on Brian McBride that bloodied him and the USA lost Pablo Mastroeni on a very questionable red card and Eddie Pope, who picked up his second yellow card of the game. Pope and Mastroeni will miss Thursday’s match vs Ghana.

Despite being at a disadvantage, the US played scrappy and showed a lot of guts in gaining a point that keeps alive their chances at advancing into the next round.

The referee of this match, Jorge Larrionda, was horrible and I’m being nice here. I hope FIFA does the right thing and yanks this guy’s privileges for the rest of the tournament. Coach Bruce Arena also showed some restraint in his post match discussion. "Two red cards in the spread of five minutes is pretty harsh and I respect the team for the way they dealt with it," he said.

USA 1 (Own goal, 27)
Italy 1 (Gilardino 22)

Sure, the US needs to find some goal scoring as all they have to show for two games is an own goal. Being positive, this is the USA’s first point in World Cup play on European soil in nine matches(0-8-1). On Thursday, June 22 the US plays Ghana and Italy plays the Czech Republic. Game time for both matches is 10:00 AM EST.

There are a number of scenarios for the US to advance. I'll take the easiest, the US wins and Italy wins.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Len Bias: Twenty Years Later

This video is five minutes, click the center icon to play.

I was at work the morning of June 19, 1986 when I got a call from my sister telling me that Maryland basketball player and future Boston Celtic Len Bias had died. I was in stunned silence. I got someone's radio, there was no sports radio stations or internet availability like there is today, and I tuned into WTOP News. The station confirmed that Len had indeed died.

The Post covered it here.

Len's Mom Lonise has said in various articles that she has seen a lot of good come from Len's death, that Len lost his life to save others. People have come up to her and said they stopped using drugs after Len's death. ESPN.com article

Promise Thrown Away

He was easily the greatest college basketball player I ever saw play.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

New Sports Blog & U.S. Open Golf Coverage

My friend John Lindsay is covering the U.S. Open Golf Tournament this week at Winged Foot Golf Club.

He's also got a blog going, which I've added in the Favorites section on the left side. He's been a sportswriter for Scripps Howard for a number of years and if you need any answers to your baseball, college or pro football or golf questions, John's the one to ask. People tell me I know a lot about sports but John's forgotten more than I'll ever know.

Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup: USA's Weak Effort

Czech Republic 3, USA 0
What happened to the U.S. soccer team today? I don't know where to begin. They have had four years to build upon their fantastic quarterfinal run in the 2002 World Cup. This is an experienced and confident squad. They won their qualifying group. They are ranked fifth in the FIFA World Rankings. Seeing this pathetic display today reminded me of their performance in the 1998 World Cup when the U.S. finished dead last in France and scored one goal.

They looked disorganized and out of sync. I don't know what else to say. Sure, the Czech Republic is ranked #2 in the World and in a pool, I picked them to win the World Cup. I wouldn't be so bummed out if the U.S. had at least showed up, hung tough and lost 1-0 or 2-1.

Now they are up against the wall so to speak and the next two games are must wins. Problem is they face Italy and Ghana, two very good squads. Technically, the U.S. isn't out of it. They have five days to figure something out before Saturday's match with Italy. If they lose, they can basically pack it up. Everything accomplished in 2002 will be all but forgotten. They'll be back to square one again, with an outgoing coach and several aging players. Just like 1998.

More about today's mess here.

And Here

Friday, June 09, 2006

Vacation Update

Been a little light on the postings this week. Been in and out of the house doing errands and catching up on some home maintenance. The main reason I took this week off was Benjamin started day care this week. On the first day there was a lot of separation anxiety....from me! Honestly, after I dropped him off, I sat in the car and tears came out of my eyes. It wasn't sadness, but of joy. I was just reflecting on where we were a year ago and where we are today. Our little guy is growing and it's very cool seeing this. I am glad I was around in case he missed us. Every day I've gone to pick him up, he's been all smiles and he fits in well with the other children.

Yesterday morning as I dropped Benjamin off, I was interacting a little bit with these one and two year olds while holding Benjamin. I was thinking these little kids have no idea that gas prices are over $3.00 a gallon, the economy stinks, Al Zarqawi was killed, nothing. And it was pretty cool being in their world for a little while.

Been catching up on reading since the library is close by. I finished Company Man by Joseph Finder and I read John Daly's autobiography, "My Life In and Out of the Rough".

Len Shapiro previewed this last month. It pretty much summarizes his drinking and gambling addictions. I wrote a few things I got out of the book down here.

62: His lowest round on the PGA Tour, in Las Vegas in 2001
87: His highest round on the PGA Tour, at Bay Hill in 2000

2002: The last year he lead the PGA Tour in driving distance with a 306.8 yard average. Daly was the PGA Tour's longest driver from 1991-2002. In 2003 Daly was at 314.3 but Hank Kuehne led at 321.4

14,600: Number of Marlboro Lights he smokes per year at a rate of two packs a day.

514: Gallons of Diet Coke based on 15 cans a day.

Too Many: Number of trips made to a casino in 2005.

6: Number of golfers to win at least two major championships before age 30. Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Tiger Woods and Daly. After further review by yours truly, Daly forgets Spain's Seve Ballesteros. So the number is really 7. See how dangerous I am with time on my hands?

288.9: Good for first in driving distance on the PGA Tour in 1991. That same number gives you the 97th spot in 2005. The players are fitter and the equipment a lot better.

Still, as I said last month, I love watching this guy play and hope he comes to the Booze Allen Classic, the last PGA Tour event ever held in the DC area, June 22-25 at TPC Avenel.

Other happenings: Been listening a lot to this CD, which I got in a trade. This is an acoustic show, December 10, 1989
at Muziektheater Stopera; Amsterdam, Holland.

Neil plays with Ben Keith and Frank Sampedro here. Young and his music have remained relevant decades into his Hall of Fame music career. This is one of the better shows I have of his.

The set list:
Hey Hey My My
Rockin' in the Free World
Old Laughing Lady
Don't Let It Bring You Down
Crime in the City
Too Far Gone
This Note's For You
Needle and the Damage Done
After the Goldrush
Hangin' on a Limb
Heart of Gold
Rockin' in the Free World (reprise)

Final thought: A couple friends and relatives have asked me if I was bummed not having a week vacation during the World Cup, which starts today and ends July 9. The answer: No, because I would have spend all my time indoors watching all the games. It's been beautiful outside this week and I've had a blast. I'll put the VCR to use when the USA plays on Monday and tape other games as well.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Vacation time!

Got the next week off and will be shuttling Benjamin to and from his day care center. My inlaws have been watching him since my wife went back to work and they are headed to Canada until October. For Benjamin, it will be a great time to interact with other children. For Daddy, it will be a little nerve racking because it will be the first time someone other than family will be watching him. I took this week off just to be near in case he has separation anxiety.

Tonight was my wife's company outing and we went to see D.C. United play New England at RFK Stadium. When we arrived, they had tents set up in front of the stadium and a barbeque, DJ and open bar for everyone. There were also games and a moon bounce for the kids. A lot of people were there and it was great to see them come out to support the best team in town, D.C. United.

We were seated in the upper deck of RFK and most of sections 401 through 424 were filled. Very nice turnout, nice result too as D.C. United won 1-0 as Jaime Moreno scored his fourth goal in the last three games, giving him 101 for his MLS career and D.C. United's unbeaten streak went to five games. More on the game here.

Got some other things planned this week. Hopefully I can get some golf in, a couple little home projects to complete and I'd love to get a bike ride or two in on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. Plus the World Cup starts on Friday. I'll take my camera along and shoot whatever happens along the way.