THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Sunday speed

Well, the weekend flew by and I’m figuring today will be no exception to that rule so I’m starting this early in the hope of having time to do something of substance between the chores and working for the man tonight. I’ve written some of my feelings about sports and me. And below that the countdown to retirement. And of course some Random Thoughts.

Now there is a creative way to get a child to use a toothbrush. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sports and Me

Sports is losing its appeal to me. Greedy owners, gambling, and some athletes’ attitudes and choices/examples all conspire to make it a less enjoyable experience. Not to mention the very wild interpretation of officiating from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of quality people in sports for the right reasons. Most athletes do some wonderful things for those less fortunate and some set a great example of human beings.

But what had been standards for decades have fallen apart. My example is college sports and conferences. What once were great rivalries and regional sources of pride are all gone. Add that to college athletes moving from school to school year to year is like watching pro teams that change the pieces more than they stay the same.

Gone are the days when college kids committed to a University, developed as players and people, and stayed the 4 years. I think back to the National Championship team of Maryland in 2001-2002. 3 of the starters were seniors, 1 junior and one sophomore rounded out the starting lineup. The first 4 guys off the bench were all seniors or juniors. In other words, EXPERIENCE – 4 players from that team went to the Pro’s.

Now if you see talent they are going pro in the first year or two. A lot of them are busts in that move. And then if you stick in college for a year or two you go to a better opportunity or more visible one at another school.

But let’s move on to something that my perception of has changed greatly. Pro and College Football are modern-day gladiators, leaving pieces of themselves in arenas around the country. Strength Speed and Techniques have changed the dynamic. The game hasn’t changed, the bodies within the field have. The 6-foot 180 lb lineman has been replaced by the 6’5″ 310+ lb behemoth of a man. Most kickers are bigger than most past position players. And fast, so fast that many still stare in awe each week at bursts of speeds by various players.

I hate to say this, but it’s only a matter of time before someone isn’t revived on a nationally televised broadcast. Then there is the brain. As someone who has had several concussions, I worry greatly about my future and the mental effects of them. I understand the love of a game no matter what it is. I also know that they are smart enough to be worried about those effects and some are probably thinking about playing fewer years.

It’s not just greedy owners or players. Fans have also changed. Passion has been replaced by fanaticism. Mix in some booze and gambling and loss of a normal perspective and you have some dangerous situations when you mix two opposing teams.

Worrying about point spreads or the over/under or parlays or whatever gambling terms I’m not familiar with, change the way fans view, act, and react at games. We have already seen several examples of fans being upset at a player who didn’t score enough for their bet. This was true for the local Washington basketball team in this article earlier this year.

Sports also changed from the common man to the elitist perk. Going to any major college or pro sporting event is something the common man has to think about the money involved. But corporations and the well-to-do buy-up seats like I pour gravy over stuffing later this week. And if you find seats in the upper areas they still want the arm, leg, and firstborn to attend.

The NCAA has been a failure. I love the change Major League Baseball made to speed up the game this past year and it has increased my viewing and interest. To me, baseball hasn’t forgotten the fans as much as other sports.

Sports is big business, just like gambling is big business. Now that they have merged it’s all money.

I will always enjoy playing any sport. I will always enjoy watching a sport be it the kids in the local little league, my Maryland Terps basketball team, the Yankees and Orioles going head to head, or maybe a Green Bay Packers game with my son someday.

I just feel bad for the youth because they don’t have my perspective on what I feel is being lost in modern sports. The true meaning of the joy of competition. I bet if people put in more time on their jumper, they would have a lot more fun instead of their faces in a smartphone making bets.


About 3-4 years ago I started a little countdown. I had grown frustrated with the direction in our area and to keep my focus and still have a goal I could look forward to I started counting down the weeks till retirement. Little post-it notes that I would keep a countdown till what I thought would be my retirement date. Week by week I’d tick off a number. It was my little reward at the end of each week for working hard regardless of the circumstances around me.

Well, about 2 1/2 years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home for the remainder of my career. I can’t tell you how that has made the last of my work time much more pleasant. Having to commute to the middle of Washington DC isn’t a good experience. And after doing that drive for over two decades of almost a hundred-mile round trip it was such a load off my personal life that the job was OK again.

I lost track of the number of weeks. That was till a few weeks ago when the company decided that date for me. A bit earlier than I thought but I’m fine with it now. Things are working out and I will be off for the New Year holiday instead of working. And I’ll be off all future holidays if all goes well and every other day for that matter.

But the weeks are down now to a single-digit number. And that is a good feeling indeed.

There are a few people I will miss. Ones I’ve shared many years, trials, and experiences with. Many have retired before me that I have missed a long time. Of course, I will miss the action. If I didn’t enjoy the chaos and pressures of working in the daily publishing business I would have left it decades ago.

I will miss the news cycle and seeing information and images come in before they are published. I will miss keeping up with technology. I will miss the smell of ink and paper when I go to the plant. I will miss the activity and electricity on election nights. I will miss being part of The Miracle on 15th Street.

Which leads me to a sudden realization. I didn’t start out with this plan. I worked hard for many opportunities and had others come along. I’ve worked in many capacities within my industry and learned many wonderful things. I’ve been blessed working with a lot of very good people along the way. Yeah, some assholes also, but luckily they were far outnumbered by good people. I like to laugh and found a great number of people who also liked humor. You had to have humor in high-stress environments.

And as I enter the final weeks I’m glad I made the decisions along the way I did. Were they always the right ones? I did pass a few management opportunities. Also some other technical ones. Only the ones I did make count and I’m very happy with the work I’ve done along the way.

I’m so glad that the relationships along the way have remained so strong and active. And that is a blessing. I hope others can feel fulfilled in their jobs when they reach the end of them. Especially my own children.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I admire a child’s creativity and freedom of expression.
  • A snowball still tastes great in 50-degree weather. Only 3-4 more weeks before they close for the season. Then I get to Jones for 3 months till they open again and signs of spring arrive to rescue me from the cold.
  • Be something special to your children and grandchildren.
  • Too many of us are just out for ourselves. That is a sad thing to say.
  • Being around children gives me hope. Most young people give me hope. It’s the adults that panic the crap out of me.

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I measure success by lots of small things as I’ve gotten older. I could look at very productive days in the past and think I failed because I didn’t complete some list, for many years. Spent a lot of useless time beating myself up and in turn maybe even doing less.

Today success will be felt in many ways. From my work here to the yardwork and maybe polishing my ride. Talking to my kids and friends, maybe finishing a book.

Seats compliments of one of my best friends. Thanks, buddy. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was looking at another example of success last night. And it got me thinking about sports and what is success in that business. For sports are no longer a game. It’s an event that is measured in bets and wagers on runs, winners, how many errors, and whatever anyone can think of to bet on. Oh, they play games, the fans like me come and cheer.

It’s an event to be seen at or do your selfies at. But for plenty of fans, it’s an out-of-reach event. Tickets, parking, and concessions will gut you quicker than a slaughterhouse. The player salaries and the owner’s wants are making this kind of thing a much more selective choice. I’ll continue to go to the University of Maryland basketball games but pro sports and the cost associated with it has gone beyond what I think is reasonable.

All this focus on the betting aspect makes me wonder what kind of lessons we are teaching our kids. Many still love the game for what it is, a game. And I’m guessing most who play it, play it for the enjoyment of the game and being a professional. To be part of a team, to do something special with and against your peers.

But the money has really altered the experience. Just look at all the arrangements between teams and betting organizations. The list at the top is by the team and the bottom by leagues and all their ties by SportsHandle and their partnership tracker.

Don’t let the above make you think I don’t still enjoy “The Game.” Because I do very much and always will because I’ll remember it as I grew up with it. I mean who sits out a 2-hour and 30-minute rain delay and then stays just about the entire game? A person who loves a good game. Remarkable efforts, drama of natural form, and the crowd getting more and more into each play as it’s 0-0 through 8 innings.

It rained in sheets on a sheet. Photo by Mike Hartley

Unfortunately, my Yankees fell to the O’s again 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth. But in the rain delay before the game started, the Governor of Maryland appeared in the Orioles jersey below.

You can’t be the GOV without taking in the Orioles game once in a while. Photo by Mike Hartley

So today was a success for many reasons. The main one is a family member who really needed a boost and got a big one today. I managed to get some work done in the heat and we had a nice dinner tonight which I’ll extoll the virtues of tomorrow. I lost track of time watching the Yankees/O’s tonight which looks to be a much more favorable result for me than last night.

On the way to the parking garage in downtown Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love the thought of pointing the car east this week.
  • Nothing like experimenting. Sometimes you learn a lot.
  • I love warm summer nights.

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The mind and sports comments

All things are possible. It’s just a matter of putting your mind to it. For instance, I’m a coke addict. The beverage that is. Been drinking so many of them a day for so many years if they were to plant me I’d probably sprout as a sugar cane stalk. I’m finally making a concerted effort on reducing the number of them per day to one or two.

Singing the blues again. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe I should just go cold turkey on them like I did when I quit smoking. Unlike cigarettes, those things won’t kill you in moderation. So I’ll stick with the plan. I’m substituting iced tea and water instead of that 16 oz Coke each time I hit the fridge.

All I know is I’m applying my mind to it and the reduction is working. It’s about making conscious decisions.

Sports Commentary

This is just the tip of the iceberg

I read a story today in the New York Post on a local player on the Wizards Bradley Beal. My guess is this kind of stuff has already been happening and this is just the first recognized incident of fans blaming gambling losses on players and cursing them out after the game because they lost money and making it personal with the player that he has cost them money and is deserving of being treated like Sh*T. I really loved Bradley Beal’s response to the fan and even if he did knock the cap off his head the fan deserved worse and should be removed from the arena for future games.

I knew this crap was coming. The next thing is it’s going to escalate to physical threats and attacks. People aren’t rooting for their team, they root for their gambling money. And when it gets into serious funds and people’s inability to control their own gambling you can be talking about life and death.

So be prepared for this and much worse in the future. Unfortunately, this frustration of gambling losses probably extends into their homes and workplaces.

Ravens and Lamar

Interesting watching the saga of the Ravens and Lamar playing out. My take – it’s the outcome that has been brewing since the start. Rookie quarterbacks who come in and set the world on fire with an organization don’t get paid what they are worth for contributions. By the time they reach the end of that contract, you have a huge gap and all that dedication to the team from a player’s perspective should be compensated. You have done everything they asked for and more. And you’re taking the risk with your own body. Owners and coaches don’t step on the field and get hit like that.

Then you have fair market value. Well, the owners made their own bed by driving up salaries and guarantees. And one guy makes a mistake in Cleveland and fairly the top players say this is the new market value.

It would be my opinion the owners said either to themselves or collectively said we can’t do this and are trying to reestablish the new value for top-tier quarterbacks. And forget that and just look at how the Ravens are run. They are not afraid to let go of established players in their primes. They keep a cycle of good young players, a mix of a few veterans and a few scattered stars they get at a bargain and sometimes pay handsomely while they are here but there is always churning. And the way the league is set up with salary caps teams decides on the balance of superstars or distributed talent.

Kansas City won last year with a ton of rookies who stepped in with established pros and a superstar quarterback. As those very talented rookies continue to develop can they afford to pay everyone in a few years? Nope.

What I can’t figure out is the Jets and Rodgers. Why wouldn’t the Jets want a QB who is over a decade younger and in the same class of talent?

As far as Lamar, I understand if he feels like he hasn’t been treated fairly. But it’s the same lesson we all learn. While the competition on the field might be fair, running those NFL businesses the goal isn’t fairness, it’s who keeps the most money and management holds a lot of the strings.

I think it’s a matter of Lamar wanting maybe just a little (and I mean little) more than his going rate and that the Ravens aren’t coming up with their best offer because they aren’t going to change their stripes in how they run the organization.

Baseball Season

I’m excited about the start of the season Thursday. I think some of these rule changes will help the game from a fan’s perspective. I’ll give baseball one thing. They get the All-Star game right. Every player is giving their best. There is a home-field advantage for the winning team in the World Series. NBA and NFL should just skip their All-Star events, they are nothing more than a poor exhibition.

As I used the hear the little league ump yell. PLAY BALL

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s almost the blooming end of March.
  • I did some metalwork today. The furnace filter track got bent so I brought out the persuader.
  • Finding a better balance today.
  • Sometimes you make an impact without fully realizing it.

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You bet

I’m betting it’s going to be another great tournament. So much parity anyone can beat anyone. Drama, friends, food, fun, and then around 12:30 or 1 am when that last game of 16 on the first day comes to an end, I will sleep very sound and rise again for the next day’s Madness.

Also, I mean, that you bet like crazy this year on the Madness and some are going to lose their shirts. For me, it’s the time of year that I play an office pool. Maybe 10 or 20 dollars max. I see more is being bet legally this year than illegally. Or so says some news poll. How does anyone know what the illegal bet really is? I’m guessing what remains of organized crime isn’t really giving the Government its books just for comparison.

Go TERPS! Photo by Mike Hartley

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The Madness

I enjoy college basketball, my favorite sport, and my favorite team in all of sports. But March is what makes it unique along with a short season. Regular season games have more importance along the way. The tournament is a win-a-game and advance, or go home, so there is a much more heightened drama and importance of each contest.

It’s played by young people roughly the same age and experience levels. Fans are more into it than pro sports. There is more parity in these contests than in pro sports. The coverage of the month of March is incredible and catches the pure emotion of the players, coaches, and fans.

One of the highlights of attending the U of MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s also a time of year my best friends gather and we put on some grand spreads together with day/night long parties. So to all those watching all the Conference Tournaments this week and getting ready for the Big Dance, it’s time to turn it up.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The good thing about grandchildren is you remember the fun you had with old toys when playing with them.
  • Everything is good with my headphones on and my favorite tunes rocking me out. It makes it easier to forget the unpleasant crap.
  • I should have taken up drums.
  • I pleased one person today and that was my granddaughter so that is all that matters.
  • I’m a big fan of what the Baltimore Banner is doing so far. Might give them a hand when I retire.
  • Things don’t always work out for the best and that is just life.

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One more

Last day of the workweek. Do you ever have those weeks where you see the finish line and you can barely fall through the tape? Pretty sure we all have lots of them. It’s interesting though what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it regardless of what else swirls around you.

Am I, the shadow or the one that cast it? Photo by Mike Hartley

I was going to say I’m riding strong again but in reality, I’m just getting up in the saddle again. But that is okay also because I hope we are on the upswing.

Yankees Rule. Photo by Mike Hartley

I watched the Nats and the Yankees play today and the speed of the game was impressive and different. Used to be I could walk away from a ballgame and sometimes only miss a half-inning or a full one. Today I walked away and missed 3 in the blink of an eye. I believe these rule changes are good for watching games on TV.

I’m not so sure if it’s good for the live fan experience. Yeah, you can get home earlier but that isn’t your concern when going to a ballgame regardless of your work the next day. You go for the experience and that is a relaxed experience. This is going to require a change of attention.

Well here they are, the MLB Rule Changes for 2023

And yes the Yankees had a walk-off home run with 2 out and 2 strikes.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Relief is when that pounding headache went away.
  • It’s a gift to be able to look forward to tomorrow.
  • Somehow I feel obliged to put at least 4 random thoughts. I have no idea why.
  • I just put the camera on the tripod, lets’s get shooting.
  • Challenging myself more is tiring at this age. But my hope is it keeps me sharp.
  • I have an open Thursday. Imagine the possibilities.

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Adrenalin pumping, the ball is thrown straight up in the air, two men/women leap and tip to a teammate. And were off.

Go TERPS Women. Photo by Mike Hartley

Jump, tip, pass, pass, pass, dribble, shoot.

Retreat, lock eyes to your competitor’s torso.

Deny, prevent, deflect, remove them from paint.

Back and forth, score, turnover, rebound, assist.

You’re tired, someone fouls, substitutes.

Coaches yelling, whistles blowing, timeout, pep band plays.

The ball deflected out of bounds, the call is made, people go insane

Back and forth, fresh bodies come in and out.

Cut to a TV timeout, Dicky V is cancer-free video (you know its coming)

Action quickens, decisions rushed, tensions build, stamina tested.

Game clock ticks, shot clock ticks, cheerleaders, and fan’s emotions peak.

The crowd counts down, everyone is standing, the shot, the net flinches.

Players jump and pump fists in the air, at the same time men on all fours, head in hands.

Parents cry in joy and in sadness at the same time.

Alumni going nuts, coaches shaking hands, cheerleaders crying.

Players embrace each other in glorious victory.

Other players hugged in support of giving their all and coming up short together.

Some with long looks in their eyes knowing their college days have come to an end

Freshmen think the Dance/Madness will be every year before they know the difficulty of repeating.

Post-game interviews, highlights, and commentary by your play-by-play team.

Coaches in closed locker rooms both telling their guys how proud they are regardless of winning and losing.

Friends and family leave the stands, the next team’s supporters enter.

And it begins again. One by one they go down. Each game, every game, Till ONE.


Yes, I know it pales in comparison to the real-life and death taking place in the world. But when things were normal, you can’t get more drama than March Madness.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A feast at a friends is a menu that mends.
  • If your relationship with your children is good then every minute with them is one that is cherrished.
  • Instead of regret, use it to motivate.
  • I’m trying to think positive, I want to think positive. Why won’t my mind cooperate?

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Howdy sports fans

A wonderful day to get outside. I apologize in advance for today’s rant. See what happens when I don’t get enough sleep. Anyway, the first thing I see today is the news about MLB canceling what looks to be the first week of the regular season and I guess that means all of the spring training.

It’s not the size of the fan its the size of the spirit in the fan. Photo by Mike Hartley

Support your little leagues

Instead of going to Major League Baseball games (oh you can’t anyway) why not check out your local ballfields. I bet you will find the concession stands a lot more reasonable. You will see people enjoying the game and cheering for their team much harder than at The Yard. You will see the players enjoying a GAME and respecting the GAME and playing by the RULES of the GAME. You won’t have owners treating their employees like crap and disrespecting them in order to get richer yet. You will have the best seat you ever had for a ballgame. The seat won’t be cramped (bring your own chair or blanket, we do not cover grass stains). You can easily catch a foul ball or chase one through the parking lot. Yeah, you might lose a windshield once in a lifetime at these events but you will have the souvenir of the baseball still in it as opposed to your car stolen or vandalized downtown. Plus next week you can walk up and have the kid sign the ball.

The level of play might not be the best but you will see the same effort. The same joy of victory and agony of defeat and maybe even more pronounced than you have ever seen at the major leagues. As Its players learn about life and the ups and downs for the first time.

You are less likely to get in a fight or be trampled over by others fighting. The chances of having a beer spilled on you are pretty nill. The walk to the parking lot to your seat is easy even if you are an old man. It’s likely you might see someone from your neighborhood or community or maybe better yet someone you knew when you were younger and their kids are on the field.

Angles player signing balls and flipping back to a fan. Photo by Mike Hartley

MLB is proof in life that a few can F it up for everyone. I’m pissed, yeah that is right because I like the game. I liked playing it. I liked coaching it. I like watching it. I like going to it. I like my team and follow it. And now I can’t, AGAIN.

And people wonder why there are unions around. It’s because greedy people do exist. Greedy people do get in power. Greedy people know no bounds. Greedy people don’t care if it collapses.

What bothers me also is how unfair this is to someone who lived and grew up next door to me. His father and he were out at a very early age with a baseball and uniform and practicing all the time. He played little league, he played high school, he played college and got drafted, he played in the minors for a few seasons and last year he caught on and played for the Baltimore Orioles his home team. He is being robbed of his lifelong passion and dream. He is missing opportunities on the field in his prime. He is missing out on the earnings he has worked hard for. He is being shown the sometimes ugly realities of how people run businesses.

Well, the only way I’m going back to a stadium is if the owners are willing to meet me at the gate and allow me to bitch slap then each without pressing charges and then be verbally abused for about an hour or so like they have never been before and not like this easy stuff above. And while I’m doing that arrange to have their spouses donate 95% of their wealth to charities because the only thing they have pain from is losing money.

So many innocent people was what I was going to say next. But maybe we all are at fault. The money we spend to allow them to get so arrogant. The false worship of humans who make the same mistakes many of us in society make. Showing our children unbalanced importance on a GAME. I remember coaching and teaching players how to deal with disappointment was always made harder by parents. Not all of them but a lot of them. Winning isn’t everything and some people believe it is. Yes, it’s the object of the game. But if you did your best, left it all on the field, your teammates did the same. Your coaches encouraged and improve your game. You experienced the excitement of playing the game. I’ve had that, I’ve felt great about it. And I’ve lost and still maintained a love and passion for the GAME. And I learned lessons from losing, that winning doesn’t teach you. And you don’t win at everything in life.

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Gambling it all

Given the advertising increase I see in Maryland now that sports gambling is legal I’m worried about a couple of things. They have been happening over time already, but it’s just so prevalent now that it’s changing the face of sports and its meaning.

That passion, that pure joy of just watching/participating in a game is being overshadowed by the money and betting. The fun of watching and living and dying with how your favorite team is doing is replaced by watching who you wagered on with both fear and greed.

Do you keep going till your in over your head? Photo by Mike Hartley

I grew up saving ticket stubs to games. I can see people now saving betting slips as the momentous of games. I saw a news segment this past week of the Washington Nationals ballpark that now has an MGM Sportsbook site. Here is the link from MLB itself. Think about this, it seems all major sports have endorsed gambling. Where is the line?

The temptations are so many and the ease with which such activity can be executed is a deadly combination. So many don’t have the discipline needed to do it responsibly. And yes I include myself in those ranks.

I understand the argument and agree with it that life itself is a gamble. We all make thousands of gambling decisions every day. Do you change jobs or not, do you go for the salad and salmon or the rack of ribs, do you take the interstate or the back roads, do you get the proper rest or burn the candle at both ends? And my most recent gambling decision, When do I retire?

Is gambling fun, sure as hell is. I might get a single Mega Millions or Powerball ticket 2-3 times a year when the jackpot gets high and I’m filling the car with gas and see that flashing neon sign of hundreds of millions of dollars, I might go in for the “few minute thrill” of what if? I always get scratch-off tickets for the family at Christmas as stocking stuffers and they always provide excitement and sometimes like this past year some joy in winning.

I get in on the office pool for the March Madness winner which is just $10 I think. And beyond that, I bet $10 a week during pro football season with my son by just picking the winners of each game. We usually have 2-3 different each week and it’s fun joking with each other about it. And yes he is ahead most years. That is the extent I allow myself.

I’m actually scared of ever starting it again because of that feeling and mindset that seems to trigger a switch in my brain that changes my priorities to something I don’t like. When I did gamble I remember not enjoying watching sports as much at all near the end of my run because of the money.

I marvel at people gambling large sums of their wealth. I guess it’s no different than starting a business in some ways. I don’t have the answer but I fear this could quickly get out of control for a good number of people who just can’t afford it.

I’m not going to pretend to be some all high and mighty here. I could be a gambling addict in a second and did have a problem with it in my youth but thankfully snapped out of it while I was even and before it became an issue. I recognize I can’t do that and set myself limits now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hate starting the day in pain.
  • If you look at taking a hot shower each day as something to be thankful for then you are right because a lot of people don’t have that good fortune.
  • Did the NFL do a flip flop of all times? Denying it had a problem one day and the next saying it is a problem in regard to the issue of black coaches.
  • Any month without a doctors appointment is a good month.

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Yes, it’s that time of year for the mother load. A basketball junkie’s dream. More bounces of the ball than the eye can keep up with. One and done. You lose you go home. Tension to the max every game. Kids’ dreams being realized. And at the same time, huge fan bases crushed.

And as I rose this morning I was distressed to see the usual crap that ruins a great contest like this. Overzealous people losing complete perspective and sending these young athletes crushing messages and threats. And when I say Overzealous I mean F’ing idiots who should serve jail time for making threats like that. So, way to go Ohio State fan, you have shown what the problem is for a lot of Universities who haven’t sent the right message to their fan base that that is unacceptable behavior.

Remember people, “IT’S JUST A GAME”. Come on, I’m a huge college basketball fan. Been going to Maryland games since the mid-’60s. I live and die with this team each year. But I think we need to start standing up to these people when we see and hear them. Or report them if we see social media comments that are threatening or wrong or mean-spirited.

College sports are a wonderful thing. A fairly closely matched age group. Young men and women learning new teammates and systems and competing at the highest level of skill while getting paid NOTHING for the pleasure of doing a sport they love. Yeah I know some of you will question the “play for nothing” and you are right in some cases but it’s still the closest thing you can get to a highly competitive game with great skill in a group that isn’t professional. And the way tournaments are done the drama can’t be matched.

Go TERPS Photo by Mike Hartley

Like yesterday when we said this game is over, it’s going to take a miracle for Va Tech to win. Down by 3 with 7 seconds left and the other team shooting 2 free throws to ice the game. I then said it’s going to take 3 miracles for this to happen. I said he is going to have to miss both free throws and then they have to hit a game tying 3 pointer, to send it to overtime. And then they flashed what the player shot for the season at Free Throws 52% and we all had a head tilt. And then he missed the first. And then he missed the second. And Va Tech rebounds gets down the court and swisch, tie game and OT. And I was wrong also. They needed 4 miracles, because they lost in OT. But talk about your excitement.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The handshake and hug are not things of the past.
  • A very special day that puts a huge smile on my face for a very special loved one.
  • On the verge of being eligible for the vaccine feels like a comforting thought.
  • At least once a day you should feel like you’re living life “balls to the wall.” It might be just listening to a classic song and dancing to maybe putting your right foot on the accelerator a little more than normal. Maybe just stepping outside at night and howling at the full moon. Start a new hobby. Do something to make yourself feel alive.
  • Wow, a post before lunchtime. Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf.

After I saw some comments to the player that was targeted I saw a reply from a speech by former president Teddy Roosevelt, I had never read but its fitting.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”



Our friends had to cancel out of dinner plans this evening due to one of them being under the weather. But I’m still going to be hungry as well as my other half so a meal out sometime today is still in the plans. Not really planning on the Oysters in the photo but some type of seafood I think is going to tickle my palate.

Right time, right place. Bethany Oyster House. Photo by Mike Hartley

Right time, right place. Bethany Oyster House.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Didn’t know which photo to use so I put them both here. The bloody marry and bottle of Tabasco are good but the oysters didn’t pop like the one above.

Breakfast of Champions Photo by Mike Hartley

Breakfast of Champions
Photo by Mike Hartley

Never developed a taste for the raw oysters but fried or stew or Rockefeller I’m in. My best friend and his wife said these were great. We were at the Bethany Oyster House this past summer for a wonderful lunch. I’ve got to work more on my food photography this coming year. I enjoy it for some reason, oh yeah I LOVE to EAT. So maybe I’ll get a start today with some shots of our dinner if I think of it. That is the key to doing more. Thinking and acting.

Seasonal Thought

Shopping, not my bag but out I go. Should be fairly easy, got a plan and list. And my better half takes care of most of the family stuff. I do some things also but she gets credit for the success of our holidays. We both decorate but she really makes it look great. I do some lights and the tree’s, but the rest she does. And she does a good bit. Kind of reminds me of how special my parents would make the home with seasonal items and decorations.

So as the preparations come to a head for the holiday weekends, I hope you all are able to appreciate the company of family and friends. Only one more week to get through and then I’m on vacation. HELL YEAH.

Thoughts on Craig Sager passing

Traits I admire. Courage and perseverance. So it left me with a heavy heart Thursday evening to learn of Craig Sager passing.  I’m a big basketball junkie and TNT really does the best work in the pro’s so I saw a lot of him. Genuine person is what you would feel through the camera.

In watching the tributes this past evening it was touching in many ways. It was fitting and ironic that he passed on a Thursday night with TNT having a double-header. Because you could see how far and many friendships he had fostered. You kind of thought this person would be the sharing type but then you hear the specific stories of him helping and sharing all his experience and knowledge is a special trait. One of the main things wrong with business now is that people don’t share, its to competitive. But I’ve tried to do the same in my career. I don’t use knowledge as power, I give away freely of what I know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blowing my own horn, it doesn’t take all that long to share the experience I have professionally. But I’m also always learning so the well never runs dry.

But that was just one things he seemed to bring to his work family. It sounded like he also gave very wise career advice to some of the successful people who worked with him. Craig sounded like the whole package because was the person always glad to see you and greet you with a smile. And it was genuine because you see it in the people talking about it, that felt it. Another behavior I admire.

The quality of the people he impressed as a person is impressive indeed. But that fight to the end was something to behold. And his speech at the ESPY’s getting the Jimmy V award was something impressive. A quote from him follows:

“Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, and it is not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life.”

And that for some reason has stuck with me and made me a better person. Because no matter what, I’m glad of the gift of another day, another chance to love and be loved. To create and converse. To smile, laugh and cry. To live.

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Da Greatest

Only those over 55 can really appreciate the times and meanings of The Greatest. For his actions both in and out of the ring during the 60’s and 70’s and beyond were something to behold. Far from popular with a lot of people. But loved by many. And as time went on loved by all. For he embodied the athlete many would aspire to become but also became a man who changed the world.

Back when the sport of Boxing was more popular than Football. Well for those of you not from the US (NFL Football). Ali was the KING. You could sense many special things about this man.

He was someone you had to watch and listen to even if you didn’t like him. I did like him for the most part and respected his beliefs but he could still say things that would rub me wrong. But when looking back after time you understand. I was looking at some of his famous quotes in a USA Today article with his 30 famous quotes.

Things like “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.” said when a man is young are hard to understand. But if you take his history and legacy now it’s within context. And it probably was true in his day. He saw no equal in the ring and few outside it.

He would get into people’s heads with words and sometimes you could see other fighters already doubting before the first punch was thrown. How can Ali saying  “If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.” not get into someone mind? Or another one of my favorites “How tall are you? So I can know in advance how far to step back when you fall down!” And yet another one that would scare most mortals. “I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”

He had worldly insights and said things to make everyone think. “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

He had wise advice for all humans. “Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.” Or this one, “Don’t count the days; make the days count.” And maybe the best one of all for each of us. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” And one of my favorites, “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

Controversial things like the following quote which in retrospect is probably accurate.  “I’m the most recognized and loved man who ever lived cuz there weren’t no satellites when Jesus and Moses were around, so people far away in the villages didn’t know about them.”

Then things like this that you kind of always suspected about the man behind the mouth. “At home I am a nice guy: but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.”

So a wish for his final journey that he float like a butterfly to a comfortable place. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.” Well we all saw you Ali and it was magical.

For he was da Greatest who said – “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

He carried the sport of boxing to great heights, not seen in many decades. He was a unifying figure late in life when so much had been stripped from him. Recognized the world over. For if you live like this, your being true to yourself. And his last quote about being stripped of his title and license to fight over refusing the draft into the Vietnam war, “They did what they thought was right, and I did what I thought was right.”

Ali seemed to always be speaking the truth.

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There it is, eyeing me.

A few years back a best friend took up golf. As is his way he focused, attacked, learned, shared, practiced, refined, adjusted for age, practiced, upgraded, practiced, learned, upgraded and practiced some more till he became a fairly good golfer in short order. But to me and to most people I see playing the game its a love hate relationship thing. Much more so, than other individual sports I see.

It's Eyeballing me. It's challenging me. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s Eyeballing me. It’s challenging me.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Nothing like getting out in nature on some wonderful course without phones and the chores and work though. The first time or two he took me to play it was a wonderfully relaxing experience. One that I could see being very attractive. That was for every second I wasn’t swinging a club. Yeah I can hit a good shot or two. This body and mind (hand/eye) coordination isn’t completely without skill.

But talk about an exercise in frustration. You can hit a nice drive and be on top of the world in the middle of the fairway, and then in the woods 25 yards behind the green and your cursing the day you were born. Then you just about chip one in from the sand trap. Your up again and you step up to the tee. Pay no attention to that water hazard. You have a serious talk with the ball that is about to go swimming that your going to hit it straight and sound. But the lord of the underworld has the key medical knowledge that your back is subject to shooting pains. And he knows just how to encourage you to hit it just a little harder than you planned and there it goes, it’s looking, NOOOOOOOO go RIGHT. NOOOOOO.  SPLASH. Then the back spasm hits you as you twist in pain. But your oblivious to it except for having difficulty teeing up the next ball because you know you didn’t just hit the first one in the water.

So you figure the ball and club didn’t hear your orders for avoiding the water hazard so you turn up the volume as you hear your friend laughing in the background and yelling “Lay up”.  What the hell does lay up mean? Am I supposed to swing from my hammock? Actually that isn’t true at all. He helps me every step of the way from body position, club selection, course and hole details and of course swing. I bet if I played with him half as much as he actually plays, I’d get half decent at the game.

He has been encouraging myself and two other best friends to get out this spring and we all go for it. I’m hoping it happens actually, just for the fun and laughs it will provide. A pretty good way to spend 4-5 hours of a day with your best friends. Actually gives you time to actually talk. In between the cursing of losing the first box of balls you just purchased at the Pro Shop.

So I’m going to try to hit the driving range and see if this body can make it through a bucket of balls and maybe a little putting green and if I come home and can make it through the night I’m going to scheduled a round with the “Master.” And that is fitting being its Masters weekend in Augusta Georgia.

Don’t worry, I don’t have the money to be a true golf nut. But I will enjoy the game and some friendships it helps enhance. Here’s to best friends.

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Lost in the Madness

Addictions can be an interesting thing. I can’t tear myself away from these games. I’ve gone through 4 sets of batteries in the remote the last 4 days flipping around to catch every second possible. The team is plotting to have more TV’s in one area so we don’t have to flip around next year. Checks for your brackets only take place about as often as a second-hand on a clock does one rotation. Ops, showed my age there. Anyway about every 60 seconds for our younger readers.

I turn the TV up loud while I’m in the shower. Meals are planned around finishes and starts of certain games. Watching the scorecard at the top of the screen to make sure your not missing a closer game. Waiting for the next comical thing Sir Charles does or says. Feeling the tension increase as every second of the clock ticks off.

Teams never seem to be out of the game. Well most of them. And then there is the case of the GIANT Slayers. They are many, they are feeling that high, they are playing to the best of their abilities and winning. They step in the ring as lightweights and throw heavyweight punches.

The shots of the fans celebrating and crying through victory and defeat. The parents hugging or dancing in their children’s success or pain. The coaches with the emotion of really developing relationships and respecting their players individual dedication and effort as well as how they jell as a team to reach even higher.

Buzzer beaters and buzzer denied. Young men collapsing on the floor. And if you just saw a photo only you might not know if they had won or lost because the emotion can be so great either way. Cheerleaders, team colors throughout the stands, assistant coaches excited as head coaches on the sidelines.

Spending 12 hours straight with close friends after spending hundreds of $$ in Wegmans for supplies so we don’t have to move till its time we have to sleep. Well there is the grilling also and the local beverage store is always glad to see some of the crew park and enter that Thursday morning.

So many more games Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The tension grows and spreads quickly. The Sweet 16 is on the line. For if you make it through the weekend your team is in special company. The media will have days to scrutinize you and your dance partner and follow-up contestants. Celebrity status will be cast on many. People will speak of who wants to wear a slipper.

Crowds will go nuts. Technical fouls will fly. Boo’s of officials and endless conversations about calls will go on for months for some fans and teams. Replays are all over the internet and sport talk shows for days. Campus’s will take on new life and excitement. Talk of where to put the trophy will start

So now were down to 16. And Maryland is one of them. I see they are given little chance against Kansas. No problem, I will be watching every second with my heart in my throat, yelling at every call and hopefully jumping in joy at the upset and making plans for the next game on Saturday with the boys. I’ve watched this team for 5 decades now with great interest and support. It is the one common thread all of my friends have. We are all Terps fans. Some of us follow different baseball or football or pro basketball teams. But college its TERPS and TERPS only. And when we get on a roll its good times and celebrations like non other. Plus I’ll get a bonus this year, for I only did one pool this year and I’ve got the Terps to win it all.

It seems like it just gets better year after year. What a game, what a tournament.

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March Madness

Nothing like having time to pursue ones interest. And my interest this month is College Basketball, my favorite sport. Yeah the money and TV and the one and done’s have changed the game dramatically. The number of guys who play their whole college career is a rarity these days. But it’s still the most exciting and even and real sport, set up in a playoff format that just breads tension and drama.

The cold of winter is about to be scorched by March Madness. Photo by Mike Hartley

The cold of winter is about to be scorched by March Madness.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So as I looked up at my frozen net the other day I knew the warm temps were only a short time away. As well as the conference tourneys and then Selection Sunday and let the Madness begin. And so this week with the temps hitting the 60’s and 70’s in the northeast, I’ll look for my basketball and hope the air pressure is good because I can’t remember where I put the needle for the air pump last.

Every dribble I take, I feel young again. Well not when I try to do some of the moves I might have had in the day, but you know what I mean. I love basketball but the pro game while exciting and performed at a higher skill level than college, doesn’t have the emotion. That is youth. That is young guys the same age focused on a goal while going to school and hopefully not being highly paid yet.

They haven’t had to endure the grind of a 82 game regular season. They haven’t had 6-7 weeks of playoffs. They are in a zone they will never experience again. It’s a chance for small schools with the same age kids to upset the powers and elite of the sport. And a decent chance at that. For its one and done time.

Just like the street, you lose, you sit. But unlike the street you don’t get the second chance till next year, if you lucky. All I know is I love watching the game. And this spring and summer I’m going to try to rediscover the love of playing the game. I think it will do both my physical self good but also mentally it might be the biggest gift.

And now with the last regular season game only about 8 hours away, the troops gathering for the victory and sendoff to the conference and then the Big Dance, I hope it’s a great March again on the tube. Oh yeah, the finals are actually in April. What the hell. Maybe next year I’ll do some traveling and catch a Big Dance game live.

But in the mean time — GO TERPS —

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Yeah, I’m a Fan

Go TERPS Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley

OK, my favorite sport is College Basketball hands down. And my favorite team always has been the Maryland Terrapins or just TERPS. Started out going to a few games when I was 11 or 12 years old. My first memory is a player called Will Hetzel and the way he could score. I believe Lefty (Charles Driesell) came the next year and proclaimed he was going to make the University of Maryland the UCLA of the East.

The Lefthander Photo by Mike Hartley

The left-hander
Photo by Mike Hartley

I loved it, bravado right out of the gate. And why not set your goals high. I was addicted right from the start. That win in 1971 (the slow down game) that was televised and went into overtime and Maryland had upset the #2 school in the country. I watched on a small B&W set. I was so pumped after that game I couldn’t sleep. The excitement the basketball program generates is a special thing.

Cole Field House was a special place. I enjoyed many a game there and continue to go to a few games a year at the Comcast Center and religiously watch every televised game even if I have to record them. I got my son and his fiance tickets to the Indiana game this year and they loved it. So I hope the family tradition I started carries on for years with my family following Da TERPS.

This year has been a special one. After a missing the NCAA’s the last 4-5 years, we are in and in a big way with a nice mix of a key senior and junior and some exceptional freshman. I believe 4-5 players transferred after last year and I’m glad they did because the chemistry this group has is kind of special and it has come from the start. The only thing I’ve seen close to it is Kentucky and its abundance of talent blend together for the good of the team.

One thing for sure. This coming Monday will either be a day where my friends and I are very upbeat and looking forward to the coming weekend with a spring in our step and another party in the planning or one where a half hearted effort will be made to watch a few more games and the finals but it won’t be near the same excitement or interest.

I love all basketball but College is special. That time where young men develop and learn some great lessons. Most are taught tough lessons of how to handle defeat. Most are taught how to perform under pressure. Most are marking the end of a career and leaving something dear to them. It’s where you see family in the stands living and dying with every possession. And even the most stoic fathers have a lean or teeth clench or small expression that can be seen. And then there are the things that can’t be duplicated in any other time. A father coaching a son like with Georgia St. And even though their run is over, you can see and feel the happiness of that family.

So many thanks to a special team and a special year for all the fans who follow this team year after year.

Oh, and before I get negligent here, lets not forget the Maryland Women. They have a legit chance at a title themselves for a National Championship being a #1 seed this year. It’s a big day for the University of Maryland athletics.


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Baseball at this time of year?

So on the coldest day in ages I share the following warm weather Post.  In honor of the new class for the Baseball Hall of Fame, images that long for the words   PLAY BALL!

I think its only 40 days till spring training. At least so says “THE CLOCK“. But before I go on, I have to say that a trip to Cooperstown in my youth was a great day. I suggest it for any baseball geek. The induction weekend must be a real event. I might have to add that to the bucket list. Maybe when Jeter goes in. Of course that will be a mob scene.