Strike Out

My good buddy has season tickets in the Club section at Minute Maid Park for the – in case you’re unaware – two-time World Series Champion Houston Astros. When he asked me a while ago to pick a game to attend with him, I chose last night… the finale of three against my boyhood favorite Texas Rangers. Since my allegiance switched from hometown to H-Town more than 20 years ago, I thought it would be fun to see them play each other.

The ’Stros jumped out to an early lead thanks to a three-run homer by third baseman Alex Bregman. Then the hard-hitting Rangers started pounding the ball and quickly it was 9-3… in the fifth inning… with the bases loaded. “If this next guy hits a grand slam,” I said, “you won’t hurt my feelings if you want to leave.” One pitch later: Crack! At 13-3, we made our way out of the stadium and walked three blocks to my car.

“Two Hours Earlier” (TV action show graphic)

When we pulled into our parking spot, my friend scanned the QR code and used his iPhone to pay the $30 fee, plus $2.10 service charge, then took a screenshot of the ‘Paid’ receipt… ‘just in case.’ The parking lot attendant was nearby, so I asked: “How do you know who paid?” He said: “We get a list of everyone’s license plate and it shows us.”

“Present Day” (again, TV)

As we approach our CR-V, I say, fully knowing the answer: “What is that attached to my wheel?”

Sure enough, there is a yellow boot on the front left and a white piece of paper under a windshield wiper with the number to call to get it removed – along with a note that the fee is $100, plus towing company charges, and the usual response time is one hour. “Good thing there wasn’t a no hitter and we got here two hours from now,” I say.

While I call dispatch to explain this misunderstanding and figure out how to get it removed, my buddy walks up and down the aisles looking for the attendant.

“Fast Forward” (yet another TV reference)

He arrives five minutes later with the guy, who naturally has no idea how this happened. He even takes out his list to show us our license plate isn’t on it. Amazingly, they had just called the towing company to ‘boot’ another car. That gentleman walks over and says: “You’re lucky. I was at home on my couch.” In 15 seconds, the boot and he are gone.

We get in, speak about how late it could have been… and are home in 30 minutes.

“Epilogue” (final TV analogy)

The next day I called HPD and spoke to a polite officer who apologized. “We have two companies that service the city, so it won’t be hard to find out what went wrong.” I thanked him and said: “This was just a little inconvenience for us; I don’t want it happening to anyone else.” 


Last Dance

The NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament begins today with 48 games to be played through Sunday. There once was time I was fascinated by what some see as ‘the best four days on the sports calendar.’ From working the games during my TV career, to later going to Las Vegas a couple of times with friends, to most recently having several TVs going in our living room, I was all in. I’d watch throughout the year, study the matchups and always submit a bracket. Heck… last year I won a pool for the first time.

Yet this season I watched exactly one basketball game: last Saturday’s Big 12 tournament championship final won by my alma mater. What changed? A few things.

First, Kathy and I are working through a list of shows we missed during their first runs, now airing on the various streaming services. I enjoyed Lucifer, Chuck and Billions. We also watch new offerings: Ghosts, So Help Me Todd and, as of this week, the final season of Ted Lasso.

Second, I’m playing a lot of golf for the first time in 30 years… and being on the course at the end of the day – right up until sunset – is relaxing and peaceful.

Third, the antics surrounding the game are out of hand. Bill Self is accused of multiple violations at Kansas? Meh. He cut down the nets a year ago. Chris Beard gets fired at Texas for allegedly assaulting his fiancé in December. No worries. He took a new job this week at Ole Miss. Alabama’s star player and potential NBA lottery pick plays a role in a teammate murdering a young mother sitting in a car. So. He hasn’t missed a game, and two fans supported him by wearing insensitive shirts to last week’s SEC tournament. 

Despite that, like millions of people, I expect to take in a bunch of basketball over the next two weeks leading up to the Final Four here in Houston. Only this time, unlike 2011 and 2016, we won’t be attending those games in person. Unless, of course, a buddy calls at the last minute and offers us tickets. Then, I might just follow the crowd and be a fan again. 


Oh, Hi, Oh

Forty years ago I interviewed Jack Nicklaus at the Colonial golf tournament following the third round during which he took the lead. I was a month shy of turning 22 years old… and at the end of the line of veteran local TV reporters lined up to speak with him.

When my turn came, the Golden Bear extended his hand and said, “Hi… Jack Nicklaus.” I stammered my name. He graciously answered four easy questions and made me feel like a seasoned journalist.

The next day, he won the tournament… and there I was waiting again to speak to the world’s greatest golfer… who, at age 42, had just won for the first time in two years. He looked me in the eye and said, “Hello, David, nice to see you.”

I’m still impressed that the Ohio State legend remembered my name 24 hours later… and always have realized it had nothing to do with me. It was his amazing ability for recall. In 1995, I met his youngest son, Michael, and shared my experience. “Yes, that’s my dad,” he said. “Years ago, he learned a technique and uses it every day.” Something like: look them in the eye, shake hands, repeat the name three times, envision a friend with the same name, connect them to your friend.

These memories came rushing back recently when a ’30 Something’ client told me he was dating a woman… and needed to ask me a question about relationships. “I met her in a bar,” he said. “It was loud. She texted me her phone number and a few days later I texted back and asked if she wanted to meet for a drink.” The story continued: they went out… they hit it off… they started dating… it’s been two months.

“What do you want to ask me?”

“I was so focused on her when we met,” he said, “that I didn’t hear her name… and now I’m not sure how to ask her. What should I do?”

Coaches stay away from giving advice. Clients work with us to explore possibilities, decide actions to take, and commit to follow through. So I asked a few questions, he reflected, and came up with a plan.

Then, at the end of the session, I said, “Can I tell you a story?”


Off Sides

To paraphrase legendary 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney: Why is it people so often take something fun and try to tear it apart?

Great restaurant? “Yes, but the towels in the restroom were paper.”

Great car? “Maybe, but the radio only has eight speakers.”

Great movie? “Well, I mean, keep in mind, it was just a Disney film.”

Which brings us to the surprise television hit Ted Lasso. (If you haven’t seen it: Apple TV+… and worth every penny of the $5 monthly fee.)

Having received 20 Emmy nominations for its first season, including all six of the main characters, expectations were high for year two. Personally, we’ve enjoyed each of the episodes released thus far. Lots of critics, however, are dismissing it as ‘lacking a cohesive concept,’ ‘having a premise that makes no sense,’ and ‘not unwatchably bad but isn’t really much of anything.”

Perhaps those who write these reviews for a living would prefer to watch yet another season of some CSI offshoot, one more hospital show, or ‘America’s Got the Masked Bachelorette Race with the Stars.’ I’d rather spend my time with a cast of characters who approach life’s challenges with freshness and joy. (And the football – aka soccer –  is pretty good.)  

To quote legendary coach, Ted Lasso: “If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.”


Season Returns

Snow covering rolling hills. Flowers blooming in green fields. Sun shining brightly on sand. Leaves falling from maple trees.

Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. What’s your favorite time of the year?

Mine lasts longer than those… starting the first weekend in September and ending right around 11 p.m. on the second Monday in January. Just thinking about it brings back so much.

Vivid memories of my younger years. The Big Shootout. Whoa Nellie. Woody vs. Bo.

My first career. Pony Express. Liberty Bowls. Midnight Yell Practice.

Wonderful moments. The Play. Hail Flutie. VY in the Rose Bowl (twice).

Today officially begins a new college football season… my 54th as a diehard fan.

There used to be one game broadcast each week – and a team could only be televised a few times each year. Now there are games on most every night Wednesday through Saturday… and sometimes, following three hours of College Game Day, I have three TV’s going plus a couple more clashes streaming on my iPad and iPhone.

Unless of course, I’m in the stadium. Which is where I’ll be at exactly 3:30 p.m. CDT today… following our regular tailgate meal. Look for me. I’m in burnt orange.