Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunday Potpourri No. 41

Saturday Rundown

Although I can no longer in good conscience root for my alma mater, I still enjoy college football season, which got under way in earnest yesterday. I've just had to find other teams for whom to root each season. Right now my rooting interests include the service academy teams, Catholic institutions (especially Notre Dame), and relatively local team Iowa State University.
I've got spirit, yes I do!

Yesterday Air Force and Navy joined Friday night winner Army
as winners on the opening weekend, and I am hopeful for a Notre Dame win tonight against Texas, but aside from that it was a pretty dismal Saturday for me.

Iowa State lost at home to in-state rival Northern Iowa, and the despised Kansas Jayhawks won big over hapless Rhode Island. Nebraska and Iowa also both won, which means their boosters in these parts will be marginally more smug and annoying for the next week.

On the plus side, my best friend Skip's beloved Penn State Nittany Lions won their opener against Kent State handily despite struggling in the first half.

"It's going to be a long season in Ames this year, isn't it?"

It certainly looks that way, yes...

Bouncing Back

On August 29, my beloved Kansas City Royals beat the New York Yankees 8-5 at Kauffman Stadium, improving their record for the month to 20-7 (.741). That stretch had put them back in the hunt for the playoffs, just 5.5 games behind Cleveland for the Central Division lead, and just 2 games out of a Wild Card berth.

Unfortunately, they concluded August with back-to-back 5-4 losses to the Yankees, both games requiring extra innings, and they began September with a gut-wrenching 7-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Friday night, blowing a 6-5 lead in the 9th inning. It was the first time the team had lost three straight one-run games at home since 2005.

The three-game losing streak effectively ended the Royals' hopes of catching Cleveland, pushing them 8.5 games back with just 28 games to play. The Wild Card picture was a bit less grim, but the Royals fell behind by 4 games in that chase, with five other teams ahead of them for that final playoff spot.

The team desperately needed to end their losing skid last night, and they did, beating 
the Tigers 5-2 to even the weekend series with their division rival (and fellow Wild Card hopeful) at one game apiece.

Now 10-9, 4.22 ERA
Royals starter Yordano Ventura struggled with his control, walking six batters, but he only allowed a single run on six hits in his six complete innings of work to pick up the win. He is now 7-0 in his career against the Tigers.

Relievers Joakim Soria, Kelvin Herrera, Brooks Pounders, and Wade Davis preserved the victory, though Pounders did give up a solo home run in the top of the 9th.


All-Star 1B Eric Hosmer put the Royals in front
to stay with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 4th inning. It was Eric's 20th of the season,
a new career high.

Eight of the Royals starters had at least one hit, with 3B Cheslor Cuthbert contributing two hits and an RBI. He scored on Hosmer's home run.

"Does this mean I'm allowed to talk about the playoffs again?"

No, it absolutely does not mean that...

Happy Birthday!

The famous chip shot at Pebble Beach, 1982
On September 4, 1949 Thomas Sturges Watson was born in Kansas City, Missouri.

I was never much of a golf fan, but as a Kansas Citian I did follow Tom Watson's exploits on the PGA Tour. Tom led the Tour's annual prize earnings list five times, and from 1978-1982 he was the top-ranked golfer in the world. He won eight Major Championships, a total exceeded by only five other golfers in the game's history.

His most memorable major was the 1982 U.S. Open, one of his classic duels with Jack Nicklaus. Tied for the lead on the final day heading into the 17th hole, Watson hit into the rough and left himself in a very difficult spot. Everyone agreed he'd be lucky to get up and down to save par from that spot.

Watson's long-time caddy Bruce Edwards told him to just "Get it close."  Watson's reply? "Get it close? Hell, I'm going to sink it." And sink it he did, pointing jubilantly to his caddy afterward as if to say "Told you so!" It was one of the great moments in golf history, and it spurred Watson to birdie the 18th hole as well, winning his only U.S. Open title by two strokes.

I happened to be watching the TV coverage that day, and saw The Chip Shot live. I still don't quite believe he holed it out...

You're Doomed, Kid

From the wry comic strip FoxTrot, by Bill Amend, which you should read every Sunday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

In the music business, there are all sort of career arcs. Some artists hit it big early and then quickly fade, some artists labor for years before finally breaking through, and some artists start strong and stay popular for their entire careers.

One of my blues-rock favorites, Steve Miller, had a rather unusual career. From 1968
to 1972 he released seven albums, none of which made much of an impact on the charts. Of the nine singles released from those albums, only two cracked the charts, the more successful of the two peaking at only No. 69.

In 1973, Miller's popularity exploded with the release of his album The Joker, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and whose title track gave Miller his first No. 1 hit single. The album received a platinum certification from RIAA.

Steve followed up that success with two more multi-platinum sellers, 1976's Fly Like an Eagle and 1977's Book of Dreams. Those albums produced a total of five charting singles, including three Top 10 hits and Miller's second Billboard No. 1.

Miller didn't release another album for four years, and when he did it was a commercial disappointment, failing to make the Top 25 on the Billboard 200 and producing no hit singles. Steve would continue to produce albums through 2011, but only one of them enjoyed any popularity whatsoever. His final chart success was a memorable one, though. His 1982 album Abracadabra was a platinum-selling smash, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, and producing a hit single to boot.

On September 4, 1982 the single "Abracadabra" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, Miller's third (and final) chart-topping single. It would be bumped from the top spot a week later by
a Chicago single, but would regain the top spot for a second week on September 25.

Ironically enough, Miller's second No. 1 back in 1976 also knocked a Chicago song from the top spot.

Today's send-off is a live performance of Miller's last No. 1 hit, recorded at a concert in Michigan in 1982. Enjoy...

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