THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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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.