Sports: AFC and NFC Championship Games

Tomorrow, will be the Conference Championship games of the AFC and the NFC. I needed something mundane to write about, for various reasons, and this fits the bill, perfectly.. This will not be an in depth analysis, since I have only seen the Packers, Buccaneers, and Chiefs play once, which was last week, and the Bills twice. Watching the divisional match ups last weekend, did nothing to make me renew my interest in pro football. I will be watching tomorrow, for lack of anything better to do. Since everybody does analysis and predictions, I thought it would be fun to put my two cents in. I admit, I did do a little reading on ESPN, just to get a little more background on the teams, and I was surprised, by how many people think the Buffalo Bills are going to win tomorrow, and then follow it up with a Super Bowl win. The Chiefs won a lot of games down the stretch, by the skin of their teeth, and their defense has always been a little suspect. The Bills got off to a shaky start this year, in one respect, by winning a lot of close games, but then went on a 10 game tear, by going 9 and 1, with 8 of those wins by double digits. Their only loss was by 2 points, and that was on a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the game. Let’s take a look at the match ups.

The first game is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs the Green Bay Packers, in Green Bay. They played earlier this year with Tampa Bay easily defeating the Packers 38-10. It had to be one of Green Bay’s worse games, and tomorrow I do not expect that to happen. As Tampa Bay knows, it does not make much difference what you do in the regular season, as they defeated New Orleans, who had beaten them two times, once soundly. Bruce Arians, does not think the weather will be a factor tomorrow. It is supposed to snow, but most of the snow should stop by game time. It will be about 31 degrees and drop to about 26 when the game is over. According to the forecast the wind should not be bad. Tom Brady has always played well in cold weather. I do not know if that can be said for the rest of the Tampa Bay Bucs. The most impressive unit, last week, was the Green Bay offense. The Tampa Bay offense got handed a lot of opportunities, last week, by the benevolent New Orleans Saints. Even at 43 years of age, it is hard to go against Tom Brady, but I do think the Green Bay Packers are going to win tomorrow, and go on to win the Super Bowl.

The night game will be Buffalo at Kansas City and it does appear that Patrick Mahomes will play. Even if he did not play, I think Kansas City would beat the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo came charging into the playoffs with decisive wins, and momentum, but looked lousy last week even in victory. I feel, the big knock on the Buffalo Bills, is they do not run the football. There is something about that, I just can not get past. It is pretty much a given, that if you want to win championships you must be able to run the football. This team does not even try. Their defense is good, but Kansas City is the best offense in the AFC. I do think the game will be close, but I think the Chiefs will prevail. One thing about the Chiefs, is they seem to know how to win, by hook or crook. Last year they were behind in the AFC Championship game and the Super Bowl by 10 points, and came back, and won both games. In the Super Bowl it was a huge 4th quarter rally. This year they held on to a fourth quarter lead, against Cleveland, to win with their starting quarterback on the sidelines. They have tasted defeat one time this year. One website, called them one of the luckiest teams in football. I do not see any of that changing, and thus Kansas City will beat a red hot Buffalo Bills team. Then we will have to endure the worst spectacle in sport, the Super Bowl. You can check out my views on the Super Bowl, that have not changed, on my blog of January 31, 2020.

Sports: The Division Playoffs

I watched all four division playoff games this weekend, for the first time, in about 20 years. This is what a pandemic can do to you. Normally, I would watch parts of a particular game, or the ending, if it looked like it might be close. Professional football is not what it use to be, and the game is really not all that exciting. We are down to the final four, with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Tampa Bay Bucs, and the Buffalo Bills, taking on the defending champs, Kansas City Chiefs, in Kansas City. I am going to give a brief synopsis of each game, because that is all they deserve, and then just some random thoughts, as it relates to the Steelers, and TV coverage in general. The first game of the weekend was Green Bay beating the L. A. Rams. By far, the most impressive unit of the weekend, was the Green Bay offense. But even as impressive as the Packers were, the Rams were still in the game trailing 25-18, going into the 4th quarter. The Packers got a great break on a fumble, that went right back to Aaron Rodgers, and then a few plays later, hit a 58 yard bomb, to wrap up the game. Then came Buffalo and Baltimore, or should I say, Bufoonalo and Butchimore. Between dropped balls, missed field goals, penalties, and general ineptitude, this game was laughable. The only good sequence of plays for both teams, came at the start of the second half, with Buffalo driving down, and scoring a touchdown, and then Baltimore doing the same thing, until they got inside the 10 yard line. That is when Buffalo intercepted a horrible pass from Lamar Jackson and returned it 101 yards for a touchdown and for this game, an overwhelming lead of 17 to 3. The next day started with Cleveland playing Kansas City. Even though Kansas City won by only 5 points, 22-17, and Kansas City lost their quarterback to a concussion, you never really thought the Chiefs were going to lose. Another game that featured a lot of dropped balls, and that ill-advised attempted stretch across the goal by the Cleveland receiver, which resulted in a touchback and Kansas City’s ball on the 20 yard line. There were some gutsy fourth down calls, but other than that another sleeper. Then, New Orleans decided to gift wrap a game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Three turnovers all leading to touchdowns for the Buccaneers, with one touchdown drive being 3 yards. Another game where there were many mistakes, by both teams. Buffalo and Tampa Bay, will have to elevate their games, if they want to be competitive next week.

There were 5 quarterbacks over the age of 35, in the playoffs. Going from the youngest to the oldest, they were Aaron Rodgers 37, Ben Roethlisberger 38, Phillip Rivers 39, Drew Brees 42, and Tom Brady 43. There is no question that Ben plays like he is the oldest. My suggestion would be to shed the weight, and get back to playing the game. Both Brees and Brady made successful quarterback sneaks. Aaron Rodgers looks very mobile in the pocket and at times will pick up good gains running the football . Brees seems to have lost some arm strength but seems to move pretty well. Brady looks the same as ever. Ben, you need to recapture that zest to play the game. It was ironic to see so many 4th down chances taken in the Cleveland-Kansas City game, after Pittsburgh punted the ball away last week. The Browns went for it on 4th down, with more time on the clock, and deeper in their own territory. It’s called going after the win, Mike Tomlin. The coverage of the games was not too bad, but it did have it’s humorous moments. Tony Romo saying there is no way they are going to snap the ball, when the Chiefs snapped the ball and won the game. Troy Aikman still does not like any officiating calls and is always quick to point it out. But my favorite “analysis” was during the Green Bay game. There were two plays that were exactly the same thing but because the result was different there was a different analysis for each play. Aaron Rodgers was under pressure from the L.A. defense, scrambled around, threw slightly behind the receiver, the ball went off his hands for an incompletion and the L. A. defense was giving so much credit for “disrupting the play”. Then later in the game the exact same scenario happen. This time Rodgers scrambled, again threw the ball slightly behind the receiver, but this time the receiver caught the ball. The defense got no credit and it was all Rodgers. There is no question that dropped balls are pretty much ignored by the announcers of the game. They do mention them, of course, during the play itself, but the significance of them is quickly forgotten. I think that they want people to forget about some of the poor quality of play in the NFL. All networks are too busy trying to show replays and many times do not get back to the action until right when the ball is snapped and sometimes just after. This can be very annoying. Not quite as annoying as conducting interviews, while the game is going on. That has cut down, thanks to Covid. Next week will be the Championship Games, and it’s a good bet we won’t see any, that will be considered a classic.

Golf: Stories, The 80’s

As far as golf was concerned, the 80’s were just the opposite of the 70’s. The decade started off slow, due to work and family commitments, but ended with a bang. We joined Rolling Hills Country club at the end of 1986, and I went from playing 3 to 4 times per month, to playing 3 to 4 times per week. I have continued that rate of play, except when I went on a golf hiatus from 94 to 96. The reason I took a hiatus from golf will be covered when I discuss the 90’s. In fact, the Rolling Hill years will be covered, when I write about the nineties. The eighties were the South Park group, and I went on one unusual trip to Winged Foot Golf Club, in the early eighties. I played some of my best golf, during this time, and shot my two best rounds 67, both at South Park. On July 19th, 1988, I made my third hole in one, on no. 8, at South Park. This was the first hole in one, that I saw, and got to take the ball out of the hole. The unusual thing about this hole in one was, we had to wait, while the greens cutter changed the pin. I was the first player of the day, to hit at that pin. I hit a pitching wedge. The ball hit about 2 feet to the front and right of the hole, took one big hop, and then sucked right back into the hole. It was nice to make, what I called, a complete hole in one, almost 20 years to the day of my first hole in one, July 31, 1968. Before I get to my other South Park experiences, lets take a trip to Winged Foot.

A friend of mine Bill, who was a professor at a small school in Allentown Pennsylvania, had tutored a student of his, and helped him get through some classes. His dad, who was a member of Winged Foot, as a way of showing his appreciation, said he could come out and play at Winged Foot, all 36 holes, as his guest. When he said he could bring a friend, Bill called me, and I didn’t have to be asked twice. We were going to play 36 holes on Saturday. I left on Friday morning to head to Allentown to pick him up, which was about a 5 hour drive. I owned a Lincoln Towne Coupe, which was a big black two door sedan. I must preface one thing. I do not get cars fixed, as long as they are running. The knob that you pulled out to turn on the lights was broken, but the Lincoln had a sensor, so when it got dark, the lights came on. I was driving east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and there are a couple of tunnels that you have to go through. I noticed, when I was in the tunnel, that my lights were not coming on. I did not think much about it, but I should have. I picked up Bill, and as we were heading for his student’s home in New York, it was getting dark. You guessed it, I had no lights. We stopped at some repair shop in New Jersey, and they could not fix the light switch, and did not know why the sensor would not work. It is easy to tell this story now, but at the time this was very upsetting, because these people were waiting for us at their house and apparently had some kind of spread, for us to eat. If you have every watched the movie Along Comes Polly, a character in the movie says that he just sharted. When Ben Stiller says he does not know what that means, he says you fart and a little shit comes out. Well, through this stressful situation, I had done the same. It’s not the greatest feeling in the world to be standing in some godforsaken car garage, with a spray job in your pants, and a car without lights. We were able to get down the road with flashers going, to a motel, in Paramus, New Jersey, the home of Championship Bowling, hosted by Fred Wolf. I just thought, that this was quite ironic, that I use to watch Championship Bowling every weekend, as a kid, and now I was going to spend an unexpected night in the town where it was telecast. Needless to say I dumped the underwear, no pun intended, and was just thankful to be able to get to a motel, without getting arrested. The next day went much better and we played 36 holes at Winged Foot. I got in a lot of sand traps that day. We played the West Course in the afternoon, and the old adage of practice makes perfect came true. I was in 8 green side bunkers on the back nine, and got up and down 7 times, to shoot a one over 37 and a 78 for the round. I hit one of my greatest bunker shots, that day. I had short sided myself in a very deep bunker. With very little green to work with, I cut under the ball, and when I looked up, it seemed like the ball had gone right through the lip of the bunker, but barely cleared it, winding up about 6 feet past the pin. I made the putt for another sandy. Thankfully the trip home was not as eventful and I did get the lights fixed.

The rest of the 80’s was highlighted by my South Park foursome, as I liked to call them. They were a little older than I am now but we all walked the course. We were the first group that teed off, that could see their drives. The first two groups in front of us, teed off in the dark, and we would never see them again. We took about 3 hours and 20 minutes to walk 18 holes. I played close to 400 rounds of golf with these guys at South Park, and we never had to wait one time to hit a shot, except for somebody finishing up cutting a green, or changing the golf hole. The group changed a little over the years. In the mid 80’s one of the group passed away. I have written previously about how one of the guys got kicked out of the group for hitting the wrong ball. The last 8 years from 87 to 94 the group stayed the same. I played some of my best golf with this group. I shot two 67’s and I had my best 12 stretch of golf, ever, when I was just about ready to walk off the course. Four of the first 5 holes are fairly easy at South Park, and if you are going to have a good round, you need a couple of birdies, during this stretch. This particular morning, I got off to a bad start, and was 3 over after 5 holes, and when I put my tee shot in the sand trap on the par 3 sixth hole, I was ready to walk off the course. Then, I hit the most beautiful bunker shot, and it wound up 2 inches from the hole. I just felt this really good rhythm, when I made the shot. I decided to continue, and went on to birdie 6 of the next 12 holes to shoot 69. Playing with those guys was a great experience and I always appreciated them allowing me to play with them, all those years. As the 80’s drew to a close I was playing more golf and fully entrenched in playing at Rolling Hills. We will hit the country club set when I delve into the 90’s. A decade that saw me go from not playing for a couple of years to playing on professional tours.

Sports: Steelers, The Lack of Confidence to Make a Yard.

The Steeler season is over, and talk about ending on a down note. Not only losing in the first round of the playoffs, but losing to the hated Cleveland Browns. I have been a Steeler fan long enough to remember, a season would be considered a success, even if we won only two games, as long as those two wins would be against those damn Browns. To lose to them in the playoffs, when we had beaten them handily, not that long ago, and barely losing to them a week ago, while resting many of our starters, is a hard pill to swallow. Despite the opening disastrous play, Ben’s 3 interceptions, and the defenses inability to keep the Browns out of the endzone, the score was 35 to 23 Browns, with about 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. We had just had two beautiful scoring drives, to cut the lead and Cleveland had just gone 3 and out. We had a 4th and 1, around our own 45 yard line. We made the decision to punt. You could see how this energized the Browns offense, and they went down the field, and scored a touchdown to increase the lead to 42-23 and essentially the game was over. Tomlin will be criticized for this decision, and rightfully so. It was the wrong decision. However, you can’t really blame him. This team has had trouble making a yard all year. This was not a long 4th and 1 but exactly 1 yard to get a first down, and keep our momentum going. Twice this year, the Steelers have had 1st and goal at the one and did not score. There have been many other times this year, that the Steelers had third or fourth down and 1 and did not make it. Tomlin could not have been all that confident about making the first down, with this teams previous history. However, you have just come off playing one of the worse first halves in Steeler playoff history, and you had cut the lead to 12 from 28. It was time to go for it. He failed to realize that this was a pivotal moment in the game. It was time to roll the dice. Instead, because he had little or no confidence that they could make the first down, he made the safe decision. It cost us all hope. If the Steelers had not made the first down, it may have given the defense more resolve, because we made the aggressive move, and went down swinging. We will never know, and the season has come to an abrupt end. What’s next?

These are my guesses, and it is based on how this organization has functioned in the past. Tomlin and Ben will be back. I think some coaches will go. Both coordinators and maybe the offensive line coach will be looking for jobs. There will be some veterans let go to help with the salary cap. I think they will sign Ju Ju and T. J. After that who knows. I think the Steelers will still be very competitive next year and probably make the playoffs. The Steelers have always been able to manage the salary cap very well and I expect that to continue. I think the players will continue to play well overall. They will add with the draft. This team does have talent. It will be up to the brass of the Steelers to bring out the best in this group, if next year is going to be better.

Sports: Football Mysteries

As the football season is coming to an end, with the NFL starting the playoffs, and the College Football Playoff Championship game, set for next Monday, it is time to look at what I call, the mysteries of football. Maybe I should say, what is mystifying about the game. I am going to write about what I consider 3 unsolved mysteries when it comes to football. First let’s take a look at what makes football a very unique sport. Of the four major team sports in America, it is by far the most emotional. Emotion is not going to allow you to win a football game, all by itself, some talent must be there, but when a team gets fired up, there is no telling how much this will affect the outcome of the game. This is the only sport, where championships are decided by one game, winner take all. If football even tried to play three game series, most players would be dead, by the time they reach the age of 30. Football can be classified as a brutal and violent sport. Bill Russel said it best, “Basketball is a contact sport, football is a collision sport”. One of the reasons given for not expanding the college playoffs, is that it would make the colleges play more games, and increase the risk of injuries. In order to cut down on injuries, the rules of football have almost made the kick off a non play. Football is having trouble getting participation on the youth level because of fear of brain damage to the young participants. So with all this in mind, it is time to look at these football mysteries.

The first mystery is why would anyone take the chance of inciting a team by belittling them or showing some kind of disrespect. The latest example of this is Dabo Swinney saying that Ohio State did not belong in the final 4 of the college football playoffs. He may have been right. You can find out what he said and did, but the point is, why do it at all. Your not going to change who is in the playoffs, and who is out. It is a done deal. Why give your opponent more incentive and fire. Clemson had eliminated Ohio State last year in the semi finals, so the revenge factor was already motivating this team. Dabo put fuel on the fire by his repeated, inane remarks. He tried to temper those remarks near game time, by saying, he would have said the same thing about any team, that had played only 6 games. The damage was done. Not only did this fire up OSU, but it may have subconsciously made his own team overconfident. Whatever the reason, Ohio State rolled to an easy 49 to 28 win. I don’t think you are going to hear much from Nick Saban this week. The basic rule in football is to never say a disparaging word about you opponent. If you want to predict a win go ahead, but keep those feelings about the other team to yourself. Swinney wasn’t the first to make this mistake and for whatever mysterious reason won’t be the last.

Again targeting was in the headlines this week, for players getting ejected for the foul. Everybody’s screaming that it is an unfair rule, and is ruining the game. The mystery is why do players continue to do it, and more importantly why don’t coaches stop it, by making sure that players tackle with their heads to the side of the player. Being ejected from the game has been part of rule since 2013. This does not seem to be much of a deterrent. It seems like, the player’s overwhelming desire, to hurt and maim, is greater than staying in the game, and helping his team. Let’s face it, if you are leading with the helmet, you are up to no good. There is an easy solution to all of this. Just don’t do it. Don’t lead with your head. For whatever reason, players are not schooled in the proper way to tackle. Maybe it’s football’s way of making sure that more offense is in the game. If the players do not know how to tackle, then there will be more offense. Even announcers call tackles that are bad, good. In my view the only good tackle is when the arms wrap the ball carrier up. If defensive players are ejected for targeting then their replacements won’t be as good and hence more offense. If my view there is no excuse for targeting. There is no ambiguity in the rule, the way the media tries to make you believe. Lead with your head, and you are out of there. Good riddance, as far as I am concerned. Targeting needs to be enforced more, not less.

The final mystery is simply, can anybody make a yard. Watching 3rd and one and 4th and one plays especially in the pros, is mystifying. Offensive coordinators are always being criticized, when their respective offense is floundering, but this is ridiculous, when you see teams, not able to pick up a yard, in two or more tries. I blame it on being a slave to the west coast offense, and the shotgun snap. What would people say on a first and goal, at the one, if quarterback was under center, took the snap, and then pitched a lateral to the running back, 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage. This is essentially what the shotgun snap does, on a short yardage situation. You are one yard from pay dirt, but then take the ball 6 yards further back, with the snap. Let me offer some solutions, for the short yardage situation. Quarterback under the center. A quarterback, who is young, and has the ability to quarterback sneak. Place two other running backs, or even three, in the old T formation. Whether it is, 2 or 3 running backs, make sure, that these are running backs, you give the ball to on a regular basis. Since I am not coaching or playing against any football teams, this weekend, let me be a bit condescending, it’s called deception. Even if there are only two running backs, in the backfield, there are three options. Quarterback sneak, or hand the ball of to either running back, and if you go to the T formation, you will have four options. Football needs to find a short yardage offense, even on the college level. However, this does not seem to be happening in the near future. Teams continue to run plays from the shotgun on short yardage, sometimes with only the quarterback in the backfield. So football will come to it’s grand covid conclusion this month, and I doubt if any of these mysteries will be solved. I will be watching though to see if some are. GO BUCKS.

Food: The Cat

As promised, this is the blog on feeding the cat. Before I get to feeding the cat, I am going to discuss the cat as a pet, in general. The country is over run with cats. This is true, even as the cat was becoming the new pet of the 80’s, 90′, and right up to the present. Cats have always been considered easy to care for, when compared with the dog. I think this was used as a selling point, in shelters, to get people to adopt cats, and who could blame them. Thousands of perfectly healthy cats are being put to sleep, in shelters, every day. This idea that cat’s are easy to care for, has led to stress laden psychotic cats. I am hear to set the record straight, that cats are not easy. They have just as many needs as any dog. Granted, there are no 50 to 100 pounds cats, running around any bodies house, and when it comes to pets, size is a consideration. A big dog is going to cost more to take care of, especially medically, but the needs of the pets are pretty much, the same. Even though this is a blog about feeding the cat, let’s discuss one thing that is the result of eating, going to the bathroom and litter pans. Here are the rules, and they are unbreakable. If you are going to have a happy cat, or cats, you need one more litter pan, than cats. Yes, that does mean if you have one cat, you must have two litter pans. Everyday, those litter pans need cleaned, and replenished. If you do not think so, then just try a little experiment at home. If you have 3 bathrooms, have one toilet, that is not allowed to be flushed, and see how long people stop using it. If there are 2 people or more in the house, it will take less than 24 hours. The littler pans need cleaned every single day. Now, let’s get to feeding those sweet creatures.

Who ever invented the self feeding bowl for cats, should get the award for the worst devise every invented. This devise has turned many cats into blimps, and I am not talking about Goodyear here, because those cats will never leave the ground. Cat’s are very susceptible to stress, and many will stress eat. Free choice is not an option for a cat owner, no way, no how. Cats are known for vomiting, and many times, hair and hair balls, are blamed for this condition. Vomiting is a very non specific symptom, and there can be many causes. but it is rarely hair. If the cat vomits, anywhere from 3 to 7 times a week, and is healthy otherwise, eating, and drinking, and moving around, it is most likely the way it is being fed, that is the culprit. There are two basic differences, when it comes to feeding the cat, compared with dog. Cats need and should be fed canned food everyday. Cats can have some odd drinking habits, which the canned food can take care of, because of all the moisture content, in the food. They need to be fed at least 3 times per day, and preferably, 4 to 5 times per day. This puts less food on their stomach, and therefore takes care of most non illness vomiting problems. For two feedings you can mix dry and canned food together and for the other feeding just give a small amount of dry. I can hear the rumblings already. I work, I have kids, hell I don’t even touch my cat 4 to 5 times a day. I said the minimum is 3 times per day, which you can feed morning, evening, and bedtime. If you get up in the middle of the night, for any reason, then put a little dry in the bowl. Depending on the size of the cat, here is how I recommend to feed cats. First thing in the feed 1/8th cup of dry with 1/2 of a 3.5 oz. of canned. Around 10am feed 1/8 cup dry, followed up with 1/8 cup dry around 2. Then, at dinner time, repeat the morning meal, and feed 1/8 cup dry at bedtime. Now, do I follow this every single day, no, life does get in the way. But adjustments can be made. The more frequent you can feed the cat, the happier the cat will be. It is perfectly acceptable to feed 3 times, on those busy days, with a little more at each feeding, and on days when it can be done, 5 times is perfect. Cat’s should not have access to food 24 hours a day.

Two final things. Again, I am not going to recommend any particular food, just stick to a main brand, and remember, canned food everyday. Now, getting to those odd drinking habits of cats. Many cats will only drink water out of a bowl, until it gets about 2 inches below the lip of the bowl, and then they will not touch it. This requires two things from the cat keeper. The water needs to go through a complete change two times per day, and try to keep those bowls filled, if you see them down a bit. This is not like the dog, who slurps up water until it is gone, and then goes after what’s on the the floor. Cats require unique care, when compared to the dog, and I would call it far from easy. But they are the definition of cool, so you better take care of them right, brother.

Food: The Dog

No, this is not a blog, about how to cook the dog. Food has not been a very big topic lately, with the pandemic and all. Food to me, means a festive time, with friends and family, and certainly, things have not been too festive lately. I decided to write about how to feed the dog, since the dogs have no idea, that a pandemic is going on, and eating for them, continues to be a festive time. I am not going to discuss much about what to feed your dog, but on how to do it. The next blog will discuss feeding cats, who need to have a totally different method. What should you feed the dog? As long as you stick to a well known brand and company, you really can not go wrong. Common sense says that if 50 pounds of dog food costs about $15, how much nutrition can it have. On the other side of the coin, I do not think you need to spend 2 to 3 dollars a pound for dog food. The food the dog eats should meet three criteria. The dog should seem to enjoy it. The bowel movements should be nice and solid. The food should not create a lot of gas in the intestinal tract. It maybe very humorous, for your dog to pass gas, at a party gathering, but the fact remains, that gas is an indication the dog is having a hard time digesting the food. You may have to go through some trial and error, to find the right food. In some cases, it might be the way your feeding the dog, that is causing some of the problem. Follow the feeding guides on the bag, in order to know how much to feed. The only caveat here, is that the recommendation on the bag is based on the dog getting nothing else to eat. If you give the dog a treat or two during the day, like Milk Bones, then you will have to make an adjustment downward. Now let’s look at the way to feed a dog.

The first method you hear about is called free choice. What free choice doesn’t mean, is that the dog has access to all the food it wants, for 24 hours a day. The way free choice works, is first thing in the morning, you put down the dog’s daily food ration in a bowl. If the dog will nibble the food all day, then this method works just fine. There are some dogs, that will gobble the food up, all at once, making this method very unsatisfactory. If the dog eats, over half the food at one sitting, then you should put the dog on scheduled feedings. Many people that do this, will feed twice a day, dividing the daily ration equally. The problem arises on the timing of the feedings. They will feed first thing in the morning, and then again at 4 or 5 in the afternoon. This leaves too long of a time between the evening feeding, and the next morning feeding. Twice a day feeding should be 12 hours apart, as in 6am and then 6pm. However, the best way to feed a dog, to avoid a lot of digestive problems, is 3 times a day. I am not saying to feed it, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Feed it, first thing in the morning, then around 5pm, and a final meal at bedtime. When dogs were in the wild, they hunted in packs, captured their prey, and proceeded to over engorge themselves. Then they may go 2 to 3 days, before they ate again. The domesticated dog’s stomach has evolved, to be more like the human stomach. Many dogs, that are not given food for 10 to 14 hours, will have a tendency to throw up yellow, which is gastric juice, from the stomach being empty. Feeding 3 times per day, 1/3 of the daily ration at each feeding, will help prevent this problem, and make the food easier to digest, because there is not as much food, entering the stomach.

The final thing to discuss briefly, is whether to feed dry food, or canned food, or both. There is nothing wrong with canned food, except it is 70 to 80% water. Because it has such a high quantity of water, it is not a very calorie dense product. You can use this to your advantage, if you are trying to get a dog to lose weight. However, if you have a dog over 30 pounds, it can be very expensive to feed canned as it’s sole source of calories. As a general rule it is better to feed dry food. It is an entirely different story for the cat, which will be discussed in the next blog. Enjoy feeding the dogs, as they make it through this pandemic, in the beauty of ignorant bliss.

Golf: A Very Unique Day

I was originally going to write about this day, under the title, golf stories, the 2000’s, but the more I thought about this, I realized that this day, needed a blog, all to itself. I was not too sure, how to even categorized, this day. First, I was going to call it strange, but it wasn’t really all that strange. I think unique, describes it well, because I have not experienced a day like this before, or since. It was a day, because two rounds of golf were involved, not just one. It took place during the South Park Men’s Championship, at the South Park Golf Course near the end of the 2000’s decade. The South Park Men’s Championship is a 36 hole tournament played in one day. I played in the event until my early 60’s. I really did not have any delusions of grandeur of winning the event, at my age, but I enjoyed playing in the event, and they had a skins game so you could always have a good hole and recoup your costs for the tournament. There was a spit tee with groups teeing off on 1 and 10. If you teed off one for the first 18, then you teed off 10 for the second 18. I was starting on the back, for my first 18, and I was informed that 2 members of the group, had already signed for the cart. I found one member of the group, a young guy in his early thirties, and he was on the driver’s side of the cart. I introduced myself, and put my bag on the rider’s side. Little did I know, just how fortunate I was, being a rider. The 10th hole is a dogleg left, par 5, that is not long, even from the blue tees, so you hope to get off to a good start. We met the other two in our foursome, and we were ready to go. My cart partner looked pretty good on the tee box, had a decent looking swing, and hit a pretty good drive, that was not far enough to get around dogleg. He had some other problems on the hole, and made bogey. No big deal, right. To make a long story short, the kid probably had the worst case of nerves I have ever seen, and went on to shoot, are you ready, 121 on the first 18 and 127 on the second 18. I have to give him credit he finished. Here are the lowlights of the day.

First of all, he did something, that I do not think you could do, even if you tried. This was like something, maybe, a trick shot artist might be able to do. Five times during the round, with driver in hand, he swung mightily, was able to move the ball, but it did not go past the white tees, forget the women’s tee. Three time he just barely grazed the ball, and it trickled off the tee, and the other two, he hit so far behind the ball, the dirt move the ball, a few yards. The 11th hole, which is one of the hardest holes on the course, he made double bogey, but this still did not give me a clue, on what I was about to watch. That was followed up by two triples, but I knew I was in big trouble, after he hit a fairly good drive on the 14th hole. Believe it or not, despite all of his problems, we were not out of position, and had to wait to hit our second shots on the par 4 hole. He took this opportunity, to call his girlfriend, and tell her how nervous he was, and he just couldn’t believe, ( remember the last blog), that he was playing this bad. He told her, it was like he couldn’t see or function. She must have been trying to make him feel better because I heard I love you too, sweetie. Things just got worse after that, and he did some typical things, like miss 6 inch putts, and chunk chips about 2 feet, on his way to the opening round 121. There is a slight break between rounds, to get a quick bite, and he mentioned to me, that he thought, he couldn’t do any worse. I said don’t say that, at least you didn’t kill anybody. We started the second 18, on number 1, a very easy par 4. He hit a pretty good drive, with a little fade, but wouldn’t you know, it rolled right under a pine tree, and he had to take an unplayable. The second hole he butchered, but on number 3, a medium length, par 5, he hit his best drive of the day. He then took out a 3 wood, and hit another very good shot, that hugged the left side of the fairway, but took a horrible kick to the left, and rolled right under another pine tree, where he had to take another unplayable. I thought, this poor guy, he just can’t catch a break. But he waited until the 12th hole, the 30th hole of the day, to hit his shot of the day. The tee box does not give a lot of room to stand, because there is a large downslope, just to the right of the tee box. We had all hit, he was hitting last, and we were cramped in pretty tight just too the right of his teed ball. He took that big swing of his, hit one of those low heeler that was ripped. The only problem was, he lined it, right into the aluminum garbage can, that was just 10 yards in front, and right of the tee box. It was like a cannon going off. I must have jumped 3 feet in the air. It scared the crap out of me. Naturally the ball ended up right behind the can and we had to move it. He did do worse on the second 18 by carding a 127. But as I stated before he did finish. I know I wouldn’t have.

Needless to say I did a lot of walking that day, but thank God I was not driving. I am sure we would have held up play, if I would have had to drive him to all those shots. I do not have any recollection of who our playing partners were, but they did seem to take everything in stride. I shot two 78’s, not bad, considering. I did manage to pick up a skin, which paid for my day. After the round, someone who must have been giving him some coaching, could not believe his scores. He made the comment, that before the tournament, he was consistently shooting in the mid to high 70’s. I am sure, that this was the first competition, he had ever played. He counted everything, kept his cool, and finished the day. Thank God, he played in a group that was understanding, and very tolerant. If he was playing in a group that hoped to win the tournament, he may have been killed. That would have made the day even more unique.

Golf: Sayings

I have been playing this great game of golf for over sixty years. Over that space of time, I have seen many changes in the game. But one thing, that has not changed, is some of the things you hear on the golf course. Swearing is always prevalent on a golf course, but I am talking about the phrases that people say, during the round of play. When I was a youngster, I really did not pay much attention to this, but when I became an adult, I began to notice these things, and over the years, they have not really changed. There are the quick phrases like, nice shot, great shot, good up, and so forth. There are things that are directly related to playing of the game, like your away, or worse, your still away. These are the sayings, that are not directly related to playing the game, but have been around for as long as I can remember. Here are what I consider the top three, with no. 1 being the top one by a wide margin.

What am I doing wrong, or simply, what am I doing? You hear this more from the beginning golfer, but I have heard this from every level of golfer. This leads to other common phrases. You picked your head up. You swung too hard. Your trying to kill it. You did not turn. You did not shift your weight. Your playing the ball to far forward or back. Your grip is bad. Your stance is too wide or too narrow. With someone who has played the game for awhile, you may hear more technical answers. You didn’t make a complete backswing. You took the club back too fast, or too slow. Your are using your wrists too much. There are many answers to this proverbial question. There is only one correct answer. You took up golf, asshole. I would suggest bowling. Then you or your playing partner should just walk off the course.

The second phrase is weather related and it is really two phrases, but since both are concerning the weather, I have lumped them into one phrase. The first is when you are playing the round and the weather is less than ideal. Maybe it is cold or there is a threat of rain, or maybe some high winds. For the moment, the weather is not too bad. Probably cloudy, cold, but no wind or rain. When that is the case, someone will say, now, if it will only stay, just like this. I use to say this myself, until I noticed how many times, it was said by other members of my group. I think people say this, and I admit I thought the same way, because this might help keep it just like this. The other saying is when you are waiting out a rain, and it’s been about twenty minutes, and someone will look over at the horizon, and say, it looks like it is lightening up over there. My thought has always been, yes but we are not playing over there. This was more common when there was no radar to look at. It reminds me of another often heard sentence concerning the rain, before radar. This looks like an all day rain. Twenty minutes later, the sun was out.

Without a doubt, the number one phrase you hear on the golf course is, I can’t believe. I can’t believe is followed by whatever the player can’t believe. I can’t believe it didn’t go in. I can’t believe the putt broke left, or right, or did not break. I can’t believe the wind didn’t affect that ball. I can’t believe I hit it that far, and it went over the green. I can’t believe that bounce. I can’t believe I’m short. I can’t believe it went that far right. I can’t believe that I hit it that bad. I can’t believe he gets a stroke on that hole. I can’t believe that buried in the lip. I can’t believe it didn’t stop. I can’t believe I didn’t carry the lake. I can’t believe that sucked back off the green. I can’t believe that the green is that soft or hard. I can’t believe how high this rough is. I can’t believe that my drive only went this far. I can’t believe it’s 150 yards, it doesn’t look it. I can’t believe that we can not find my ball. I can’t believe that my ball hit the tree or did not hit the tree. I could go on and on. There is one question to ask. Just what the hell do golfers believe? If they do not believe, what they are seeing with their own eyes, do they believe in anything. All I can say is, they must believe that the game has some kind of super natural powers, that defy the logic of the universe. It can’t be us.

These are the most common things I have heard on the golf course, over these many years. I have heard some unique things and this one bears repeating. Many years ago when I belonged to Rolling Hills Country Club, I was playing in a team event, a best 2 out of 4 balls with full handicap, and our team was doing particularly bad. Nobody was having a good day. As we were walking to the 13th tee, and it was obvious we were not going to finish any where near the top, one member of our group said, its a wonder any of us have jobs. I never heard that quote before, or since, and it did give all of us a good laugh on a bad golf performance. But after the round was over, everything was returned to normal, when another member of our group said, I CAN’T BELIEVE WE ALL PLAYED THIS BAD.

Golf: My 2020 Golf Season

I haven’t written about my own game this season, as there hasn’t been that much to write about, and I thought one blog about the whole season, would do the job. Despite the pandemic, and a very slow start, I was able to play over 100 rounds, for the 6th straight season. I did not come close to my record, of 150 rounds in one year, but getting over the 100 mark, is still nice, and as of right now I stand at 105 rounds. I had 52 rounds over 80, with two 90’s thrown in, and 53 rounds under 80, with the best, not that long ago, a 72 at Ponderosa. I have had a late season surge of good play, but more on that later. My handicap, with the updates happening every round, and only 8 rounds being counted, jump around more than usual, from a low of 4.5, to a high of 6.3, before ending the year at 4.9. Here is how the parts of my game performed in 2020. I drove the ball really well again, and it was by far, the best part of my game. I always find this a little strange, because in my younger years, it was probably, the worst part of my game. I have no explanation, other than this game is goofy. The irons were the most inconsistent part of my game. Some days, I would hit them great, and be very accurate, and other days, I would be all over the place. My short game was mediocre all year, with the chip yips and my sand play being the worst. The chip yips would come and go, and they had a major effect on my score. My putting was average all year, but I did have one day, that I will discuss later. No spectacular shots this year and overall the year was pretty bland. I am still not having any swing thoughts when I play, and I may have found why swing thoughts stop working, but more on that, on a future blog. There were 3 highlights of the year.

The first highlight was Covid related. I live in Western Pennsylvania, and we are close to the West Virginia border. Pennsylvania golf courses were closed for the month of April, due to Covid. However, Highland Springs is right on the Pennsylvania border with 12 holes in West Virginia, and 6 in Pennsylvania, with the clubhouse being in West Virginia. This golf course was open in April, and we managed to play 4 rounds, during the month. Needless to say, the golf course was packed, 7 days a week. The 5 hour plus round was the normal. I changed the name of the course to, Bubba Gump Golf Course, because just like Forrest Gump, who had the only shrimping boat to survive the hurricane, this golf course was the only game in town. When the weather was half way decent, there were easily, between 50 and 70 rounds played per day. The second highlight was the best 9 hole putting stretch I have ever had, and just like a lot of things in golf, it came out of the blue. We had to play the 9 hole course at South Park, because of work being done, on the front nine of the 18 hole course. I hadn’t played this nine, in about 2 years. The round started off innocently enough, when I knocked a 9 iron within about 15 feet, and 2 putted for par. On the second hole I chunked a wedge, indifferent chip to 20 feet, made it. Third hole 7 iron off to right of green, chipped up to 10 feet, made it. Fourth hole, hit a limb on my second shot, pitched up 15 feet, made it. The next two holes, I had a tap after putting from the fringe, and made a 3 footer, after a short chip from the rough. The next hole a par 5 I butchered, but made a 10 footer, for par. On number 8, I chipped up to 3 foot, made it. The ninth hole a long par 4, I made a 20 footer for par. For the 9 holes, I had 10 putts, with 5 of the putts, being 10 feet or longer. Now, I have had 9’s, when I had 10 putts, but a chip in was involved. We could not play more than nine holes that day, but it was my best putting for nine holes, by far. The final highlight of the year, was my good play, as the year wound down. My last 8 rounds of the year were 72, 76,74, 81, 81, 76,78, and 76. This finish I will blog more about, in the near future. The two 81’s were in some tough windy conditions. Even though there is some potential for a few more rounds, the 2020 golf season is basically over. The game is still mystifying to me, but at least I feel I have made some progress, as the year wound down. More on that later, see you on the links.