Tuesday, May 31, 2005

More Danica Patrick "Musings"

It seems others have picked up on the idea that Robby Gordon might be acting like a spoiled kid brat, stating Danica Patrick might have had an unfair advantage because she weights only 100 pounds. Please check out an article that has the same views as this blog.

http://www.amnews.com/public_html/?module=displaystory&story_id=14014&format=html <---- click here

It is a wonder than others had the same view as I did. But remember who posted it first.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Danica Patrick-The "Real" Thing

A woman in the Indy 500. Oh no...It must not be allowed! That is what Robby Gordon must be thinking.

Yesterday, Gordon accused Danica Patrick of having an unfair advantage in the Indy 500 because she only weighs 100 pounds. Talk about the whining and complaining of an immature little man who can't handle the pressure.

So what if she weights only 100 pounds? Can't a man weigh 100 pounds and drive at Indy? This was such a ridiculous statement, and the fact that he even made it is an indication that perhaps, just maybe, he is a bit worried that he couldn't beat her, no matter what her weight.

Patrick finished 4th today at Indy. If she had been able to run full out, with her fuel wide open, she would have won. Did she complain? NO. Did she make excuses? NO! Did she handle the post race interview with class? YES! She said she was very proud of what she had accomplished. She praised her crew, her sponsors, her owners, and everybody else that were involved in the race.

You could tell by her mannerisms that she was disappointed. Who wouldn't be? But did she act like a "little baby" who didn't want to participate any more when she lost? NO!

Perhaps Robby Gordon should take a clue from Danica. Grow up and get the job done. Don't act like a little baby.

What's the matter Robby? Are you feeling a bit threatened by a girl? Or should I say "woman?' A woman, by the way that can drive. Indy cars don't know who is driving them? Male or female? It doesn't matter, as long as you can drive, and that is what REALLY matters.

And drive she did! Go Danica. Go get 'em.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Houston Cougars + Leroy Burrell = Championships

The University of Houston Cougars men’s and women’s track and field team won the Conference USA Outdoor Championships yesterday at the Lewis/Tellez Complex on the UH campus. The men’s program became the first team in C-USA history to win the big three: outdoor, indoor, and cross country championships.

I can remember back to the days when track at UH was the primary sport of the university. I worked, and still do, as a track official at numerous meets around Texas. I “cut my teeth” in the world of track officiating at UH. The likes of Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell, Carol Lewis, and Jenny Adams were always there. It was so very exciting to be in attendance at those meet. Even when they were not in the competition, Lewis, Burrell, and their cohorts could be counted on the inspire those competing to the higher levels of the sport.

When veteran UH Head Coach Tom Tellez retired, many wondered where the program would go? How would it survive? During Tellez’s final years, the quality of track had dropped significantly at UH. Many yearned for the old times when Olympic and world class athletes ran, jumped, and threw at every meet.

I remember when it was announce that Leroy Burrell had been named as Tellez’s replacement. Some said it was public relations stunt to get athletes to sign with the Cougars. Imagine a high school runner, sitting in his living room with his or her parents bring talked to an Olympic Gold Medalist, a person who had gone to the pinnacle in his sport. Many though it was in the same jest as Clyde Drexler being hired as the UH basketball coach. Drexler didn’t last long, but I am sure he gave it is best.

Burrell is succeeding in his sport after being a world class athlete. There are so many people that think they can make the transition from player to coach. You know the mind set: I played the sport, so I can coach it. Many find that the transition is not all that easy. Just because you were a world class athlete does not mean you can be a world class coach.

It is refreshing to see a former athlete succeeding as a coach. Leroy Burrell is such a pleasant individual to be around. I have seen many cases of him being approached by individuals; fans and athletes, young and old, and no matter what time of day or how tired he was, being pleasant and accommodating to all of them.

It is obvious that he is committed to his athletes. He is always there for encouragement, pumping them up and giving them that last bit of coaching advice to help them achieve to their best.

Famous people, athletes and coaches alike, sometimes attempt to live off of their past. They use their success in their chosen sport to fuel their life as long as they can. Coach Burrell is not one of them. That is what sets him above the others. He has lived the dream of every athlete, rising to the top of their sport, with all its glory and everything that it implies. Now he is rising to the top as a coach. That is a wonderful thing to watch.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Tiger Misses Cut: The End Of A Streak.

It happened today.
A day that was going to happen!
A day that no self respecting golf fan wanted to see!
A day that will live in infamy!
And it happened on Friday the 13th.

Some people view this day with the eyes of a pessimist. Friday the 13th. Long thought to be the unluckiest day of the year. A day when bad things are suppose to happen. A day that few want to admit they view as unlucky, but deep down harbor thoughts that if bad happens, it happens.

When I heard the news, I couldn't believe it. This couldn't happen. It wouldn't happen. It can't happen.

If you haven't heard, the great Tiger Woods did something today that hasn't occurred in seven years, three months, and seven days.

The King of the Links went home empty handed.

Woods, whom arguably the best golf in the history of sport, failed to make the cut at the EDS Byron Nelson Championships in Irving, Texas.

Having made the cut in 142 consecutive tournaments and having brought home a paycheck from all those 142 starts, it was assumed that Tiger would always make the cut.

Well, the Golf Gods, or should I say "Golf Devils," had something to say about that. After missing a 15-foot putt for par on the 18th green of Cottonwood Valley, Tiger just collected his gear and called it a day.

But don't shed any tears for Tiger. It is not as if he will go home hungry. This is a man who was quoted saying "This is more intestinal fortitude than anything else. Days when you have it, you don't mail it in, you don't pack it in. You give it everything you've got. That's part of my attitude and my belief. That you should always have the switch on. You can't turn it on and off."

So while the lucky one who made the cut play two more rounds on Saturday and Sunday, Tiger will spend some time doing what he hasn't done during golf season for the past seven years. He will have the weekend off.

After all, we all get weekends off. Some of us use our weekends to play golf. I should perhaps say play "at" golf. On my best day, I couldn't even carry Tiger's clubs. He spends more on a wallet than I spent on my clubs, bag, and accessories.

But to watch him play is to see an artist painting a masterpiece. The way he swings the clubs and makes it look so easy. It is obvious to me that he is having fun play golf. He is having fun doing something he loves. He is having fun being Tiger Woods.

Don't cry for Tiger. He will be back. Back in a big way. I would not be surprised to see him beat his own PGA Tour-record streak of 142 consecutive events of finishing in the money.

Tiger will be back. That you can count on.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby. The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. That is what I always heard growing up. I can remember my mother and father taking time out of their busy Saturday, every May, to sit and watch the race. As a child, I was more interested in playing Army in the yard or being at the field down the street playing football, than watching a silly horse race. Little did I realize that I would get caught up in the excitement of that race later in life.

My mom and dad used to play a little game with the Derby. They would pick "even" or "odd" and bet a dollar with each other on the outcome of the race. My father, being a son of the south (born and bred in Arkansas) was always the traditional gentleman. He would always let my mother pick, and he would take what she didn't want.

I can't remember over all those years which one of them ever won. All I know is that they made that same bet every year. I don't think I ever remember seeing the money change hands. But it must have been fun for them, because they continued to do it right up until my mother passed away in 1988.

My wife, Darla, and I continued the tradition, and every year we bet each other. As my father did, I allow my wife to make her choice. Seems it is easier that way, because if I pick, I might think too much about it, try to analyze all the horses, and that is just too much work.

This year we added a new twist to the bet. In a round about way, we ended up in Louisville, Kentucky the evening before the race. To make a long story short, we had decided to take a short trip before school got out, and we are tied up with our summer commitments.

We flew to Nashville, Tennessee, as we had some good tickets on Southwest Airlines we had to use. You know the drill, "use the tickets or lose the tickets." We decided Nashville would be a nice weekend trip and since the Ohio Valley Conference Track and Field Championships would be held up the road in Clarksville, we could make it a short working vacation.

In our "other jobs" as journalists, we knew there might be a story or two at the championships. We drove to Clarksville, picked up out press passes, and watched the meet. We got a few interviews with some of the athletes from Texas, along with some photos and watched the first session of the meet.

As the session came to a close, we decided not to stay for the evening session. We got in our rented SUV and began to head back to Nashville. Darla was reading the Nashville paper as I drove and she short of jumped out of the seat, asking me if I realized that the Kentucky Derby was the next day. She said we were only three hours from Louisville and we should drive up and look around. I told her we had been up all day and I really was not looking forward to a six to seven hour round trip drive.

She looked at me and asked what else we had to do. This could be another adventure, and we never know what it might produce. So, I just shrugged my shoulders and headed down the road towards Louisville.

Three hours and a few wrong turns later we arrived in Louisville, following the signs directing traffic to Churchill Downs. As we approached the track, we found roads blocked, police barricades, and traffic being diverted away from the track. A few parking lot cut throughs, one or two alleys, and some quick turn-a-rounds, and we finally got to the front of the track.

The streets were packed with people walking around, vendors selling everything from t-shirts to beer, and the whole range of humanity just hanging out. I pulled into a station to get gas, buy a drink, and watch the excitement. As soon as I turned off the SUV, Darla grabbed her cameras and dashed off with an “I will be back later. Wait for me.”

So there I am, trying to pump gas as slowly as I can, in an attempt to buy her time while she goes off in search of photo ops. Everywhere you looked, people were getting caught up in Derby Fever. The race was twenty-four hours away and it seemed that it was already going on.

Businesses and homes had given up their lots around Churchill Downs to get into the carnival atmosphere. Families were selling drinks and renting their yard out for parking space. I guess somebody was paying twenty to fifty dollars to park in these yards, as I did see cars parked everywhere.

Storefronts and driveways were given over to bands and humanity was more than willing to participate in the excitement. Bikers, in all their leather, and gentlemen in three piece suits enjoyed the celebration. Both drinking and talking, enjoying their mutual interest in a horse race has been run for 131 years.

After about forty minutes and a great deal of hanging around, I look up to see my lovely photographer wife running across a four lane street. She had her cameras slung over both shoulders carrying a large bag of souvenirs. She jumped in the SUV and was like a child on Christmas Day. She had gotten great shots of a few of the partiers and some of the small cerebrations that were going on all around the track.

People always are eager to have their photo taken, no matter what condition they are in. She just walked up to groups of people, told them she was looking for some good photo ops, and all were eager to pose.

It seemed everyone, no matter what their background, wanted to be a part of the Kentucky Derby. Bikers and suits, men and women, young and old; they all came together to experience this annual happening.

As we began our three hour drive back to Nashville, I listened to my wife as she told me about the things she has seen and the great photos she had taken. She had even gotten a few names and addresses from people that wanted copies of her photos. Any time you can sell a photo or a story, it helps with the expenses.

As I drove down the road, listening to the joy and excitement that Darla was describing, it hit me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized what all the excitement was about. Going back over forty years in my mind, I saw my mother and father and that silly little bet. I thought about my wife and me continuing the tradition. It is the Kentucky Derby. The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. That is what I always heard growing up. We were a part of a tradition that had been going on for 131 years.

It is amazing what a two minute horse race can do to bring the masses together and create so much excitement. It is what life is all about. It is what my wife and I are all about; an adventure, an experience, and a great story to tell.

We are planning to attend the Kentucky Derby next year. We will try to get press credentials and record in detail all the excitement and experiences of the Derby. This two minute race is sure to have the same appeal as it did this year.