Divine Intervention on the Hardcourt

March 29, 2016

Divine Intervention on the Hardcourt

SweetSixteenBound

TL;DR

My son and I traveled to Oklahoma City for March Madness opening weekend. We watched 6 amazing games in Chesapeake Arena which included a last second game winning shot from mid-court and the largest last second comeback of all time in College Basketball.

Background

For last Christmas gave all the children and grandchildren Trips. Our son’s was two tickets to the First and Second rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament aka March Madness

Friday

We drove up to Oklahoma City from McKinney early Friday morning, ate lunch in the Bricktown Brewery, and walked over to Chesapeake Arena for the first of two sessions.

The first game was Oregon State vs. VCU. Gary Payton Jr. played for Oregon State. He may have been the best player on the court but VCU was the best team. VCU advances. The next game, Oklahoma vs. Cal State Bakersfield, featured Buddy Hield and he did not let the crowd down. He was easily, in my humble opinion, the best player on the court this weekend. Although the game was surprisingly close most of the game Oklahoma pulled away the last few minutes of the game and won setting up a VCU vs. Oklahoma match on Sunday. This was clearly a home match for Oklahoma which was expected since they were the highest seed in this venue.

After the first session ended everyone had to leave the arena. Another set of tickets were required for the second Friday session. We like everyone else waited for the arena to open for the second session, and we waited, and we waited, and we waited… Finally, 20 minutes before the Texas A&M Aggie vs. Green Bay Phoenix tip-off the gates open. Trying to enter before the game commenced was pretty much chaos! To top it off the ticket person in my line was still in training slowing the entry line down even more. After finally making our way through the entry process we rushed to our seats and sat down just as the teams were tipping off to start the match. Most people, even those who had gained entry did not realize the game was starting. As a result maybe 500 people were sitting in the arena at tip-off. The game was close at first but not too far into the match the Aggies pulled away and won handily.

The Texas Longhorns and Northern Iowa (UNI) were the last game of the day. It was close all the way with the teams trading the lead. The Horns scored to take the lead with 2.5 seconds left in the game. But, a kid from UNI took the inbounds pass and threw up a prayer from mid-court. His prayers and UNI’s were answered! The round ball dropped through the basket without touching the rim as the buzzer rang ending the game. The Panthers were in heaven and the Horns were despondent but that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes.

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Saturday

We awoke Saturday to a cold and blusterly day. After reviewing the top things to do in Oklahoma City we decided to watch basketball all day. After searching the Internet for Sports Bars for some time we chose one close by, the The Garage Burgers and Beer. Turned out to be a wise choice – lots of TVs, great food, and great local brews. We tried a couple of other joints later in the weekend but none were as good as this one. Wish there were one in Fairview or McKinney.

Basically all we did on Saturday was watch basketball games. Great way to spend the day

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Sunday

Sunday morning breakfast was at the local IHOP. Then we drove downtown and wandered around the streets of Bricktown. Its a nice area full of restaurants, close to the arena and the ballpark.

We ended up at the Bricktown Brewery again where we watched the early basketball games and visited with quite a few interesting people. Among them were the parents of one of the Aggie basketball players, and a couple of VCU alumni, one of which was the radio pre and post game radio announcer.

Around 3:30 we headed off to the arena. The first game was Oklahoma vs. VCU. Oklahoma City is definitely a home crowd for the Sooners. The noise in the arena was deafening! It was a good game and at the buzzer the Boomer Sooners prevailed.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Finally and the last game of the weekend, The Aggies vs. UNI Panthers ! The game we have been waiting for. The winner advances to the Sweet Sixteen and the loser goes home. The games started poorly for Aggie fans. There was a lid on the good guys basket. At half time the the scoreboard read UNI 32 A&M 22. The Ags did not fare much better in the 2nd half. Our shooting percentage improved but so did UNI’s. The Aggies are down 10 with 31 seconds remaining in regulation time. Then they stage the greatest comeback in College basketball’s history (Or the worse collapse). We tie the game 71-71 and go to overtime. Click here to see the video.

The first overtime ends in a draw.

UNI does not have as many troops as A&M and by the start of the 2nd overtime its apparent they are out of steam and the Aggies go on to win in two overtimes. On to the Sweet Sixteen.

WHen asked later about the unbelieveable comeback the A&M Coach, Billy Kennedy stated the only explanation was Divine Intervention.

The Ride Home

The game was not over until 10:30ish. I am not real sure. After a game like that everything is a blur for awhile. We drove home to Dallas. It was Sunday night after all and we had to both work Monday. The good news is we were so pumped up after the game we did not get sleepy at all.

1:30AM – home in bed and the story ends.

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College Football Season

September 5, 2013
The Corp Marching into the Game

The Corp Marching into the Game

It finally arrived: college football season!  Last Saturday, we traveled to College Station to watch the A&M/Rice match with 85,000 of our closest friends.  One word describes the game today: HOT! The game started at High Noon. The temperature at game time was  92 and there was not a trace of a cloud in the sky nor a hint of a breeze in the air.  The Sun beat down on us like a hammer on a nail!

The Ags were a 27 point favorite but that is not how the game played out. Rice scored first and an atmosphere of uncertainty enveloped the Aggie faithful. After all more than half of the defensive starters sat out the game for breaking team rules. Furthermore, Johnny Football was suspended the 1st half for “not knowing any better!”

The 1st half was murder. The Aggie defense gave up lots of yards willingly and the Sun beat down unmercifully.  The first half lasted forever. The Aggies squeaked  out a 28-21 half-time lead and we all felt lucky. The real score at the end of the 1st half: Sun 1, Texas A&M/Rice 0.

The second half turned out much cooler. The Aggie defense stiffened up. Johnny Football played until Coach Sumlin benched him for taunting the Rice defense! Best of all, clouds hid the Hot Sun for much of the second half!

The final score Texas A&M 52, Rice 31. However many of us believe the real winner was the Sun.


Texas Rangers Spring Training Trip 2013

April 30, 2013

This year we did a Texas Rangers Spring Training trip – March 15-22. (Click for more photos)

We flew to Phoenix Friday and ate lunch at Four Peaks Brewery in Scottsdale. I ordered the walleye. It was delicious. The beer was good as well. Then we drove to Sedona our headquarters for the trip.  Our lodgings were the Wyndham Sedona.  We have a timeshare with Wyndham which allow us to book any of their locations.  The lodgings are generally top-notch.  They are great for people like us who need a kitchen when we travel. The main downside to Wyndham is they encourage you to attend an ‘information”  session which is really a sales pitch to buy shares in the condo or buy more shares in my case.  I always say no I am not attending a session.  For dinner we walked across the street, stocked up at Safeway, and ate in the condo.

View from Airport Mesa

Sedona: View from Airport Mesa

On Saturday we drove back to Phoenix/Surprise and took in the Rangers/Dodgers Spring training game. We stopped at New York Bagels in Sedona on the way for a bagel breakfast.

Before the game we dined at Amuse Bouche (rated as the Number 1 restaurant in Surprise by Trip Advisor). I would call the food casual French. It’s a nondescript place in a strip shopping center.  Most of Surprise is nondescript.  However the food was great and I believe it is probably the best restaurant in town.

Perfect day for a baseball game in Surprise

Perfect day for a baseball game in Surprise

The weather was perfect for the game: high 80s, not a cloud in the sky, and a slight breeze. We sat behind the Ranger dugout on the 4th row.  Spring training games are really different. They split the roster and were playing two games so we saw a mix of regulars and minor leaguers’. The regulars play around half the game and then they walk off to the club house in center field.  Everything is really laid back and relaxed.  The Rangers beat the Dodgers 4-0 in a 2.5 hour game. That was another difference, the game zipped along at a rapid pace.

The lady sitting next to us was interesting to say the least.  She was in her 70s. She took forever to say anything.  Not that she talked slow, but she said it over and over again and twisted it a little bit each time she said it.  She finally shared she was a Valley Girl in the 60s.  Probably too much LSD and speed.

After the game we dined at our favorite restaurant from our last Phoenix visit –

The patio at Beckett's Table

The patio at Beckett’s Table

Beckett’s Table.  We arrived an hour before our reservation because the game was much faster than we thought.  We sat on the patio and were the first diners seated in Beckett’s new patio area.  The tables and seats were constructed from used railroad ties and other recyclable material.  The food was as good as we remembered.  We will definitely dine there again.

Sunday was our first full day in Sedona. We ate breakfast at the Coffee Pot. I was surprised. The outside appearance gives the impression that it is a greasy spoon. However, the parking lot was overflowing so we gave it a try. The ambiance inside was very homey and western.  The food was really good also. Highly recommend it.

We spent Sunday hiking the West Fork Trail. The trail is rated one of the 10 best in the U.S. It follows a creek into Oak Creek Canyon for 3.5

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon

miles crossing the creek 13 times.  The canyon walls tower around 2000 feet above the base of the canyon.  The creek crossings are normally easy. However the previous week Sedona received 14 inches of snow followed by a few days of warm weather. This made the crossings very interesting. I discovered Gwen has exceptional balance as she scampered across tiny logs fallen across the stream while I kept stumbling off and getting soaked.  We made it to crossing 10 when after 2.5 hours we decided to turn around.

Sunday dinner was at the Golden Goose.  It was mediocre dinner.  I was disappointed as it had high ratings.

On Monday morning we decided to give the Golden Goose a second try for breakfast because it was in walking distance and were rewarded by a delicious breakfast. Breakfast was much better than dinner.

After breakfast we climbed into the rental car and drove up to Jerome, an old copper mining town on the built on the side of a hill. We visited the Jerome State Historical Park and then drove though town. We tried a restaurant called Grapes for lunch and were pleasantly surprised. It is THE place to eat in Jerome

Jerome. Az

Jerome. Az

Next we drove through Clarksdale and visited the Tuzigoot National Monument. It is a 110 dwelling pueblo ruin dating from the 1300s. Interesting, and if you are over 60 and have a National Park Senior Citizen pass ($10 for your lifetime) you get in free.

Monday night we tried Maria’s Mexican. It turned out to be mediocre. Not doing too well for dinners in Sedona.

On Tuesday we traveled to the Grand Canyon. We picked up breakfast at McDonald’s and hit the road. The drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon is scenic. The first part of the trip is the drive through and out of Oak Creek Canyon. Then through Flagstaff and the National Forest to the Canyon.  We parked at the El Tovar.  We walked the rim in that area until lunch. We ate at the Arizona Room. The meal was mediocre (I have been using that word a lot but we were very unlucky on our choice of restaurants this trip in some cases).  Then we drove to the Desert View entrance on the East side of the park stopping to view the canyon and walk several times.

Grand Canyon 4

Back in Sedona we dined at the Silver Saddle in uptown Sedona. The meal was delicious. Recommend it also. I had steak and Gwen I am sure had some sort chicken dish.

On Wednesday we stayed close to Sedona.  We alternated between hiking, relaxing in the Wyndham, and eating.  Today’s restaurants and results were:

  • Breakfast: Golden Goose
  • Lunch: Wildflower Bread Company – very good, will remind you of Panera’s except the food is better.
  • Dinner: Elote. The restaurant opens at 5:00PM. We arrived at 5:15 PM and had to  wait 45 minutes. Elote was worth the wait. They serve Mexican and it is great. Definitely the find of the trip. I’d put it in the same class as a Stephen Piles restaurant. I had butternut squash soup and green chile tamales.  Gwen had guacamole and jicama salad.

Thursday was not the best vacation day in Sedona/Phoenix. The day started out fine. We ate breakfast at the Wildflower Bakery which was the best breakfast we had on the trip. Actually, the bagel shop was pretty darn good also.

Then we checked out of the Wyndham and drove to Phoenix. So far so good.

We had the day to spend in Phoenix and Gwen wanted to visit the Queen Creek Olive Farm. The only problem was it wasn’t really in Phoenix. It was on the far Southeast side about 60 miles from our hotel which was close to Surprise stadium on the far Northwest side. Other than the 1.5 hour drive each way through the city the farm was nice and we had a good lunch.

We watched the Ranger/Angels preseason game Thursday night. Rangers prevailed in the bottom of the ninth.

Our hotel was a Marriott Residence Inn at 17N and Happy Valley. It was new and really first-rate.

We flew home Friday and that’s the end of the story.

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock

Click for more photos


Aggie/Longhorn Final Game?

November 26, 2011

Last night might have been the final game in the long storied history of Texas A&M/Texas football.  This was the 118th meeting of the two schools. The first meeting was in 1894.  Texas called the game off in 1911 for a couple of years because the Aggie players were too mean!!  A&M is leaving the Big 12 after this year for the SEC.  So another tradition bites the dust.  “They” say betrayed feelings over the Longhorn TV Network deal caused the rift.  We may never know the whole story but we do know A&M will be in the SEC next year and there will be no Turkey Day Aggie/Longhorn game!

For a re-cap of what the game meant: The only game in town.  USA today has a good summary of the game itself: USA today

We are ready to BTHOTU

Waiting for the Fighting Texas Aggie Marching Band

The Tubas come marching by in a blur!

Into Kyle Field we go - home of the 12th man

As usual the stadium if full, loud, and rowdy

Half Time: The Longhorn Band says thanks for the memories

Half Time: Fighting Texas Aggie Band in the famous block T A&M formation

Here is the token football photo since this was a football game.


Grandparents Sports Day

November 24, 2011

What do we do when the parents are out of town and we have the grandchildren?  Why, we spend the day at sporting events! Well not quite all day, just football, soccer, and hockey.

I don’t have any football photos because the darn game was so early it was half time before I realized we were up watching a football game. But believe me the game was worth the effort.  Turned out to be the last game of the year.  It was a playoff game and we lost in overtime.  Of course we had two touchdowns called back because the referee was blind, deaf, and dumb.  But, he could play a mean pinball – his name was Tommy.

 

Now onto hockey.

No Ball shall pass me ever!

Its a bad hair day

Hers we all go up the field just one more time - Soccer is hard

Don't thread on Me

We lost the soccer game but not for the lack of trying.  We were really proud grandparents!

And now for a slight change of pace, a little ice hockey

Cale scores!!! gooooaaalll!

The Streak

Playing defense is easy sometimes!

We did win the hockey game big time!  Now home to rest for a few minutes before we go to bed.