Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘spectator sports

Getting Bugged

leave a comment »

March weekends are spectator sport-acular and the past two days didn’t disappoint. It’s primarily college hockey and basketball competing for my attention as both sports are heading into their final four tournament games next weekend. Between the many men’s and women’s games, I snuck in portions of a Minnesota Wild NHL victory, MSL Loons match, and even a half-inning of MLB Twins grapefruit league game.

I LOVE seeing athletic endeavors. My basketball skills were learned in grade school and I played in the neighborhood, on intramural teams in high school, and in pickup games after hours with co-workers. I was a terrible shooter and generally too short to be effective but I knew how to dribble back in the days when officials would call palming violations.

It bugs me to watch poor dribbling discipline allowed to happen unchecked. Carrying the ball, letting it bounce over shoulder height, turning the hand over like it doesn’t matter. It matters to me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter to referees anymore.

I hate to be a whiner about horses getting frisky over the increasing hours of higher-angle sunlight but it bugs me when they get unpredictably jumpy and put my well-being at risk. I had a lapse of good judgment for a moment and tried standing my ground against Light as she wanted to run out from beneath the overhang because Mix was flexing her dominance. Thankfully, Light paused just long enough for me to come to my senses and get out of her way to let her pass.

I think I startled her by staying put and leaning into her chest. She stopped for a surprised second, allowing me to realize the mistake I was making. I would have felt awful if that had enabled Mix to give Light a bite in the butt. In this case, Mix was just telegraphing her disrespect toward Light’s direction with pinned ears and a feigned step.

Another thing that bugs me is box elder bugs.

Really? That is the sign of spring that greeted me as the sun warmed the south side of the barn yesterday? No thank you.

I’m going to stay focused on the calls of the robins that have returned to the branches of our trees. They don’t bug me at all.



March Weather

leave a comment »

The people in the US state of Minnesota have long associated the state tournaments for high school hockey and basketball with snowstorms. The reason is simple. The tournaments happen in the month of March. Snowstorms this time of year have good potential for dumping a lot of snow at one time which makes them particularly memorable.

I’m enjoying both snow and sports. Being the only one in the house has made for guilt-free overindulgence in spectator sports on television while the snow piles up outside. I’m also feeling like a kid with a new toy now that I have a live camera view available on my phone whenever I want to see it.

We had a fresh blanket of modest depth on Friday morning.

You can see my tracks coming up from the barn after feeding horses that morning.

There was just enough sunshine to dry up the driveway after I had plowed so that just hours later it looked like it hadn’t snowed at all.

The blast of snow we were getting yesterday while I watched two championship high school hockey games made it look like I hadn’t plowed in weeks. Guess what I will be doing today. The snow was falling so fast when I went out to feed horses the last time, my tracks were filling in just moments after I made them.

Good thing I got all the hockey games out of the way yesterday. After the State Tournament games ended, I switched over to the University of Minnesota Gopher men and then the NHL Minnesota Wild games. The Wild were on the west coast so the game started late.

Boy that sheet of ice at Mariucci Arena looks huge compared to the NHL rinks with larger professional bodies filling the tv view.

Since the change to Daylight Saving Time happened last night, I didn’t stay up late enough to see the completion of either the Gophers or the Wild. It’s like changing to Eastern time zone without doing any traveling.

On a sad note, I took a break from all that hockey yesterday to watch several tributes to my favorite NFL head coach ever, Bud Grant, who passed away yesterday at the age of 95.

In the most impressionable years of my youth, Bud made a huge impact on my sense of order and propriety. He was a great leader of professional athletes and they entertained me immensely in the 1970s, despite failing to win the big prize in four Super Bowl appearances.

Rest in Peace, Harry Peter Grant Jr. (1927-2023).



Warmed Winter

leave a comment »

So, this is what it’s going to be like on a warmer planet then. January at latitude 44°47’04.1″N will offer periods of rain that will convert any snowpack previously existing into a slushy mash that resembles wet cement in many ways. It’s ugly, annoying, problematic, and just plain no fun to deal with.

For all the times I have grumbled about it being too cold or having too much snow fall all at once, I offer my apologies. The wet slop that has become our current reality is what I really mean to be grumbling about. I am NOT looking forward to the possibility of 5-8″ of heavy, wet snow falling on top of the existing mess tonight and tomorrow, which is what the current National Weather Service “weather watch” alert is threatening.

In protest of the lousy “winter” conditions outside yesterday, I decided to spend the afternoon indoors on a frivolous pursuit that celebrates the freedom of retirement by binging a docu-series in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

Cyndie and I finally started watching “Welcome to Wrexham” and have quickly learned more about the country of Wales than I’ve ever known before. Despite this show being a confusing echo to the fictional series, “Ted Lasso,” which we enjoy so much, we are finding it fascinating in a different way because it is a real story.

There are many fans represented thus far in the series who describe how much the football club means to them and to the surrounding community as a whole. Descriptions of being born into a world immersed in the Wrexham football club trigger my memories of the influence on my early life of my parent’s passion for the NFL Minnesota Vikings football team.

The Vikings just lost a game that knocked them out of this season’s playoffs (like so many times before) and local media is already going on about what needs to happen over the off-season to bring success next year. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I, as a fan, had to face the stress of possible relegation out of the NFL if the team finished at the bottom of the standings.

Watching the quality of the documentary “Welcome to Wrexham” has me feeling swiftly connected to the fans, players, and club staff presented on screen. I feel invested in their concerns, making it hard to interrupt the binge-watching for our own lives.

One reason that is quite all right with me is: It had me forgetting about the rotten weather outside for a few hours in the afternoon.

I hope the warming planet is providing Wrexham with pleasant weather for watching football matches at the world’s oldest international football stadium, The Racecourse Ground.



Improbable Happens

with 2 comments

On the morning of the title game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup between France and Argentina, my mind is clouded by the unlikely outcome of yesterday’s NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Indianapolis Colts. You’d think I’d be used to it from this year’s Vikings team, having squeaked out so many other wins by one score in the final moments, but this one was a record-breaking epic.

I had given up hope for the Minnesota team early in the first half of the game, not just because of the lopsided score but because of the humiliating way it was playing out. An NFL record-breaking come-from-behind victory seemed more than improbable.

Final score: 39-36 OT, Vikings win.

It was a game that had recently been moved up to Saturday from the typical NFL Sunday fare in what is basically a marketing move. Unfortunately, not everyone tracks each decision sports leagues make. Imagine you are a music student showing up at your downtown Minneapolis music school for your usual Saturday lesson and discovering the cost of all the reasonable parking options has mushroomed to a $30 event fee.

I bet that felt improbable.

This morning, I really didn’t want to climb out of my warm bed to go out in the single-digit cold air to feed and clean up after the horses. Maybe it wasn’t all that improbable, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to be rewarded with some cherishing views of nature’s glory.

The gorgeous sunshine was made possible by a cloudless sky that allows the temperature to drop to bitterly cold levels, but the sunlight still makes it seem warmer, even if it’s not.


It happens.



Written by johnwhays

December 18, 2022 at 11:18 am

Sports Watching

with 2 comments

Somehow, while I wasn’t paying attention, it has become December the sixth. I blame the World Cup. It feels weird to be watching it in the winter. No matter what else I should be doing each day, chunks of the morning and afternoon have been consumed with hours of sports spectating.

On Sunday, I made accommodations for viewing a little simultaneous NFL Minnesota Vikings during the England v Senegal match.

Yesterday, the laundry was folded while Japan and Croatia were on the telly.

Beyond the Cup viewing, I wake up and head to the barn to serve breakfast for the horses. I need to go back at noon because two of our horses need an extra serving of feed. Then I return at 4:00 p.m. to serve their dinner. With Cyndie now spending a bit of time in the kitchen, I get sent downstairs to fetch needed supplies and then wash dishes when she is done.

When needed, I hop outside to clear snow off the front steps and walkway. Cyndie has done a lot of online shopping and we are receiving package deliveries daily. I don’t want the drivers to think we aren’t expecting anyone to show up.

The days are just disappearing in a blink. I’ve got about a month and a half of this routine left until Cyndie’s follow-up appointment with the trauma surgeon to find out if she will be cleared to put weight on her repaired ankle.

Once she’s back to walking, we can split the time spent tending to the horses and she will be able to drive herself to appointments. I’ll have more time for watching sports just when the NFL conference playoffs will be happening.

I’m not doing that well with living in the moment since I’ve got my sights set on weeks from now when she regains the ability to walk. I guess I’d rather not think about the current situation. It’s a bit depressing. Not thinking about the here and now is how days appear to fly past quickly. 

Works for me, except it has squashed my holiday spirit down to almost nothing. We’ll be getting ready for Valentine’s Day by the time things return to the usual routine around here. That is, assuming returning to usual is a given. None of us knows what future events might occur that could permanently change what is considered normal.

Makes me think of life for the people of Ukraine right now. Caring for a spouse who broke her ankle doesn’t seem like such an onerous task compared to being bombed by a foreign country day in and day out.

Given that, my routine isn’t nearly as bad as I tend to make it out to be. I mean, heck, I’m still able to make time to watch the World Cup.



Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2022 at 7:00 am

Friendly Spectating

leave a comment »

Of all the spectator sports I follow, the FIFA World Cup is very near the top. The only disadvantage keeping it from number one is that it only happens every four years. At the same time, that long wait between events helps to amp up the interest when the year of a Cup finally arrives.

Living as far from our friends in the Twin Cities as we do, I usually find myself sitting alone in front of our television taking in the grand spectacle of the games. Yesterday, we didn’t let that distance stop us from accepting an invitation from our friend, John Bramble, even though his team, England, was the opponent of the U.S. in this game.

We were entering the lion’s den.

It was Cyndie’s first outing on crutches where she encountered stairs. With little recent practice, she tentatively but successfully made her way inside where we found our gracious host had provided a seat reserved just for her.

With tea and biscuits, we enjoyed a jovial 90-minute (plus minor stoppage time) celebration of the beautiful game. Both sides were left short of a victory since the match ended in a scoreless draw, but since England was favored, the moral victory went to the U.S.

To show his dissatisfaction with the outcome, our host dramatically removed his “England” shirt and threw it to the floor and stomped on it. John said the elaborate exhibition was actually just a rehearsal for the eventual point when England gets knocked from the tournament.

I can relate to that thought process. I’m not anticipating the U.S. team will exceed anyone’s expectations and the moment they fail to advance, I will be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the tournament with no strong connection to any of the possible outcomes.

Yesterday’s taste of watching a match among a group of like-minded football [soccer] fans was a refreshing reminder of how much fun it is to share the joys of watching sports with friends.

Thank you for inviting us, John Bramble, despite the team I was rooting for. Cyndie voluntarily chose to cheer for England in solidarity with our gracious host, since he was significantly outnumbered.



Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2022 at 11:56 am

Holding On

leave a comment »

Sometimes it feels like sanity in public society is precariously hanging on by mere threads. Scaremongering. Election deniers who are unable to provide evidence to support their wild range of accusations of widespread fraud. Crazy claims continue to survive the passage of time without losing momentum over the lack of reality-based proof. No, they just seem to grow the way wind-blown wildfires do.

I don’t understand it.

Why doesn’t truth snuff out the flames? Why aren’t healthy-minded people able to drown out the extremely offensive antisemitic and racist noise emanating from too many varieties of modern media?

It’s spookier than Halloween, I tell ya.

A full-sized Snickers would go a long way toward distracting me from how thin the tenuous line of healthy thinking is holding society together.

What should we believe? That kids will don wild costumes and roam door to door in neighborhoods to holler for tricks and treats?


There is something else I don’t understand. How does a quarterback heave a football sixty yards downfield so that it reaches a racing receiver who is running at full speed and still able to look up at the last second as the ball drops perfectly within easy reach while all manner of defensive mayhem is unleashed around both guys?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if NFL players dropped to the ground, writhing in pain each time an opponent committed a penalty against them? I’m poking fun at you, FIFA Men’s World Cup contenders.

I have yet to figure out how to reconcile the discontentment over the questionable (ahem…bribes?) award back in 2010 of this year’s World Cup to Qatar. Add to that the controversial treatment of immigrant laborers needed to build the infrastructure of stadiums and other facilities to support the global sporting event and the need to reschedule the tourney to the northern hemisphere winter season due to the average high temperature of the desert nation. It all feels just plain wrong trying to fully enjoy the game competitions under the tarnished situation of awarding Qatar the honor of hosting.

I suppose I could wear a black band on my arm while watching the games.

All these issues are meaningless to our horses. They are holding on to their sanity by simply being horses. I’m not sure they sense the climate is changing but they are vividly aware of how many warm, dry, and sunny days in a row we have been experiencing for months. It has become common lately to find the four of them gathered along the far fence of the hay field taking turns laying down to nap in the mid-morning sunshine.

When I feel like I’m barely holding on to my healthy mindset, my favorite remedy involves an extended quiet visit with the herd of horses.

Even though it feels weird to be outside in short sleeves at the end of October.

Happy Halloween!



Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2022 at 6:00 am

Pond Down

leave a comment »

Despite the promising prediction that our daytime temperatures will warm considerably next weekend, the near-term prognosis suggests we will experience a couple of overnight hard freezes. Our last required act of preparation was shutting down the landscape pond yesterday.

We pulled the pump and associated plumbing and then Cyndie trimmed back the Sweet Flag pond grass and picked out handfuls of pine needles and leaves. We have come to the realization that a pine tree is a bad choice to have around a landscape pond.

The final step of winter preparation for the pond was the netting we drape across it to capture the continuing assault of fallen leaves that blow in all throughout the off-season months.

Mission accomplished.

What’s next? I don’t know about you but I’m feeling ready for a day when it is snowy and cold and there is no reason to do anything but lounge by the fireplace and read or work on a jigsaw puzzle for hours on end. Maybe with a cup of hot chocolate.

I shouldn’t get greedy. I spent a few hours on the couch yesterday watching the NFL Minnesota Vikings achieve their fifth victory of the season. I tried to swear off the NFL some years back but that was a goal I failed to achieve. There are just a bit too many of my impressionable years immersed in the games and the characters involved, not to mention my father’s fanaticism, which still runs in my blood. I watch games now somewhat begrudgingly.

Keeping a distraction handy when things aren’t going my team’s way helps me avoid getting sucked into a funk. Yesterday, I tried searching the internet for a live performance of a song I once had on a VHS tape and haven’t seen for decades. After a few iterations with increasing promise, I stumbled on more than I hoped to find.

I recognized the look of the first image that appeared. Not only was it the right artist in the right venue, I had discovered a full 26-minute segment of the 1991 show broadcast on our local public television station. I let it play while simultaneously following the ever-improving circumstances of the Vikings football game.

Unfortunately, only one of the two versions of entertainment turned out the way I wanted. The Vikings won!

When the 26-minute performance had ended, the song I was waiting for had never shown up. It had been left out of this version.

This afternoon, we have a scheduled appointment for the final step of getting hooked up to high speed broadband internet. One of the first things I hope to do when it is connected is deepen my search for that song performance, using what I discovered yesterday.

Greg Brown with Pat Donohue performing “Good Morning Coffee” on Twin Cities PBS program called, “Showcase,” air date 12/1/91.

Why that song isn’t included in the 26:55 available minutes of the version on TPT’s web site is a mystery to me.

Seems like a good project now that we’ve got the pond down and it’ll be freezing outside for a couple of days.



Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2022 at 6:00 am

Leaving Us

leave a comment »

It’s Tuesday after Labor Day and plenty of fall activities that haven’t already kicked off will be starting today. Our guests left us yesterday for the next leg of their journey in a vehicle that looked to be packed with everything a college freshman would need to get started.

The Birgens awoke in the morning to the news that the Kenyan Supreme Court has ruled that the candidate, William Ruto, was properly elected President in the 2022 general election. One less thing to be concerned about for them at a time their oldest son is starting a new job and the youngest is starting college.

I find myself thinking about how nice it is to be well beyond the years of taking kids to their first year of college. Feels similar to when I began to appreciate getting past the years when September meant “back to school” during the K-12 phase of our kids’ lives.

The few connotations September holds for me now are the onset of fall colors, Cyndie’s and my anniversary (41 years!), Julian’s birthday, and the start of MN Vikings football –despite my best efforts to stop caring about anything having to do with the modern-day NFL. Nothing about getting prepared for school.

I have already noticed the return of school bus traffic on our road at home twice a day, but the impact from that on my life is negligible.

I tip my hat to all of you who have school-age children starting a new bus and/or classroom experience today.

My time with access to television coverage of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament is ending today as we leave the lake place and return home.

For some reason –probably related to wanting to witness Serena Williams make one last attempt for a major victory at the end of her illustrious career– I was inspired to watch as many live matches as I could this year. I was lucky to have captured a few dramatic matchups that were really exciting and very competitive.

A couple of them were almost as exciting as the end of the Florida State vs. LSU college football game I stumbled upon Sunday night during a break in the tennis.

It’s probably a good thing we are leaving the lake place and all the cable sports channels I have access to here so I can take a break from spectator sports and get outside and give this gorgeous September weather the proper respect it deserves.

It’s my favorite time of year, right up there with my other favorite, winter!



Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

Indoor Games

leave a comment »

Walks with Delilah will be short and wet this morning. It’s a good thing we took full advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday because much of today will be spent indoors. The main mass of precipitation is moving away to the east but it has left behind a sloppy landscape and gray skies.

We enjoyed a long and leisurely paddle around the island and schoolhouse bay yesterday in a gentle breeze of mid-morning sunshine. After floating on top of all that water we just had to go for a swim in it back at our beach. On a brief and unsuccessful errand to town to find an AC to DC transformer, we made a stop for the spectacular flavors of premium ice cream from the famed local creamery, West’s Dairy.

It’s like a rule that we have to sample some of their delectable combinations whenever in close proximity –[read: anywhere in town]. I made a last-minute change of mind to Banana with threads of Salted Caramel that didn’t disappoint.

The afternoon included a rollicking game of CrossCrib on the deck with multiple lead changes throughout. By the time we finally sat down across from each other for dinner at the Tavern at White Stag Farm, we both shared the comment, “You got some sun today.”

The wet start of our day today is allowing me a chance to be distracted by television coverage of Premier League matches while trying to chronicle yesterday’s fun.

Spectator sports on television are a guilty pleasure and may be my version of indoor games for as long as Cyndie allows. I suspect she will be seeking a chance to reclaim her honor in the weekend’s CrossCrib competitions, to which I will be more than happy to oblige.



Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2022 at 9:51 am