It's one New Year's resolution that I actually kept. It's probably the only one, as far as I can remember. Ten years ago, I decided I would write a weekly column and post it on my own website. I had written a few blogs before, but now I was going to do one every week, like it or not. The first one was on January 3, 2011—the first Monday of the year. I didn't think I'd last ten weeks let alone ten years, but this is the 523rd consecutive Monday I've written something. That and a nickel, of course, won't buy you anything.
My first column (I didn't call them blogs, but that's how the few people who read them refer to them) was about how technologically out of the loop I was. I still had dial-up internet, didn't have a smartphone, and was about to buy a digital camera (which is obsolete now and somewhere in a closet). I wanted an electric car and LASIK eye surgery, but a decade later, still don't have them (can't afford them, probably could have gotten the eyes done a few years ago). I also didn't have a full time job at this time a decade ago. I didn't get one until 2012, but lost it in July. I can't go that long without one again. I just can't.
I mostly write about sports and awards shows. They are kind of the light news of the day, and I share my take on them. I whine about trades the Dodgers didn't make, complain about the way the powers that be do things, with, of course, my own suggestion on how they should be done. I got to broadcast local baseball on the radio until 2016, and enjoyed writing about the trials and tribulations of the Yuba-Sutter (later Marysville) Gold Sox. I occasionally get political—baffled by Donald Trump's election in 2012, and still how godlike he is to millions of people four years later. And if there's some mega-event, like a royal wedding or solar eclipse, I would offer my comments on those things, too.
Of the now 523 columns I've written since that first Monday in 2011, there are a few that are more memorable. That year a decade ago marked the retiring of the space shuttle program, the tenth anniversary of 9-11, the 30th anniversary of my father's death, and the sudden passing of high school classmate and friend John Ochoa. On a brighter note, my mom turned 85 and decided shoe wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. My uncle made it happen, and the four of us (my cousin Korey included) had a ball. My uncle had gone skydiving on a couple of occasions, and since my mom had no intention of doing that, this is what she came up with to compete with her little brother.
In 2012, I wrote a top ten list of songs that were good for single people on Valentine's Day, to which my late uncle commented on Facebook that I really needed [a girlfriend] (to clean things up a bit). There was also a Tim Burton movie out that I knew had to be bad, and I was right. If you viewed it as a comedy (it wasn't supposes to be), you could almost enjoy Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I also got to witness one of the first same-sex weddings in the history of the state of Washington and it was an honor to be there. In 2013, now working at a radio station in Grass Valley, I got to see Dana Carvey in concert at the local veterans hall (which he called the 'Vet Gym'). He also referred to the locals as the “most diverse group of white people” he had ever seen—a phrase I repeat over and over again. That year also marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and even though I wasn't born yet when that happened (mom was pregnant with me), I still put together a pretty good story about it.
While mom was in a convalescent hospital recovering from a fall, I spent my 50th birthday in 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for Groundhog Day. I was able a media credential, giving me an up-close look at the little guy. He saw his shadow, six more weeks of winter, but I had a bucket list moment. Also in 2014, I got to see Arlo Guthrie in concert and interview him, try to figure out how the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, and see the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup.
In 2015, David Letterman retired from late night television, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was out in theaters, and Donald Trump became a serious presidential candidate, even though some of us didn't believe it at the time. In 2016, Kobe Bryant retired from the Lakers, Vin Scully dropped the mic for good after 64 years as the voice of the Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series after over a century, and the Rams returned to Los Angeles. It also turned out to be the end of a big chapter of my life. The owner of the Gold Sox sold the club to a group who thought they could create a new wood-bat collegiate league. They struggled in that first year, switched radio stations the following year, and then struggled through a third before going under. I wrote a few columns critical of what was going on in 2016, and unfortunately was right. The Gold Sox were later revived by a local group, but it's not the same.
Sports turned out to be the bright spot in subsequent years through some very melancholy times. My uncle passed away early in 2017, and I (along with 200-thousand other people) had to evacuate in February because of fear that the Oroville Dam might break. That summer, though, I drove to Oregon to view a total solar eclipse during the middle of a minor league baseball game (they planned it that way), and the Dodgers got to the World Series and lost to (we now know) those cheaters, the Houston Astros. The Dodgers went to the World Series again in 2018, but lost to the Red Sox, whose manager was a coach on that cheating 2017 team. I was accused of 'inappropriate conduct' in 2018 by a woman I interviewed on the radio. She thought I said something that I didn't, but at least she talked to me about it face-to-face rather than go to my bosses or slander me. I never saw her again.
I know 2020 was tough on all of us, but for me, 2019 was worse. In January, my mother and a neighbor I grew up with (Bruce Hickert) died on the same day. In July, actor, child star, and my second cousin (once removed) Cameron Boyce, died suddenly only at the age of 20. And three weeks later, Kelly Keigwin, whose wedding I got to attend in 2012, passed away at the age of 57. Too much to go through, especially being my mom's only child, and having to make funeral arrangements. There was also the big Ridgecrest earthquake on July 4. I didn't feel it, but got to experience a violent aftershock the next day when I made my way down south, and, on the brighter side, I got to cover the 'Great Race', a cross country parade of vintage cars, when it made its way through Grass Valley.
This past year speaks for itself. Covid, the effects of the pandemic, and the death of Kobe Bryant to start the year. I also lost my job, but the Dodgers won the World Series and I was able to come up with what I thought was an amusing little Christmas poem. I've written about all of the above over the past 523 weeks, sprinkled in between the drivel of sports headlines and who won the Grammy awards. Ten years is a long time, and it seems even longer when you try to chronicle it week by week. Yes, this is one resolution I ended up keeping, but maybe I should have just resolved to try losing weight instead. Thank you for reading.
You play to win the game?: With 12 of the final 16 NFL games of the season having some sort of playoff implications on Sunday's final day of the regular season, the last quarter of the last contest was downright pitiful. The Philadelphia Eagles, trailing Washington 17-14 and out of playoff contention, benched quarterback Jalen Hurts and brought in third-string QB Nate Sudfeld, who hadn't played a down all season. Sudfeld turned the ball over twice, and Washington won 20-14 and clinched a playoff berth. A Philly win would have put the New York Giants in the playoffs. Eagles coach Doug Pederson also elected to go for the end zone late in the third quarter, instead of kicking a chip-shot field goal, which would have tied the game at the time. In his post-game media session, Pederson said he was trying to win, even though that clearly didn't seem to be the case. The integrity of the game is the issue here.
Sorry. Not sorry: You almost have to feel sorry for ESPN. The NBA Christmas Day games were all turkeys, and so were the New Year's Six bowl games. The College Football Playoff games, the Rose and Sugar Bowls, were decided by 17 and 21 points, respectively, although Ohio State did pull an upset over Clemson. The Orange, Fiesta, and Cotton Bowls were decided by 14, 17, and 35 points. The only close one was the Peach Bowl where Georgia came from behind and beat Cincinnati 24-21 on a late field goal.
Split screen simulcast: ESPN's family of networks provided a myriad of ways to watch the Rose Bowl. I chose to watch on the SEC Network, which used the University of Alabama radio feed for the play-by-play audio. Eli Gold is an industry legend, and I've always thought radio play-by-play on television is a good thing, and makes the game more exciting. What I could have done without, was the constant split-screen of the actual game, and a camera tracking Alabama coach Nick Saban's every move. Why did we have to watch him pace the sidelines all game long? The ACC Network had the Notre Dame radio feed, but I don't get that channel. I didn't know I got the SEC Network, either, until I looked for it.
New Year's puke fest: I used to work early on New Year's morning, so this is the first time in quite awhile I was watching TV when the clock struck midnight on January 1. I watched the ball drop live (9pm PT) on CNN with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (I miss Kathy Griffin) who were ridiculous, but entertaining. At midnight, I watched the ball drop again (tape delayed on the networks) switching from NBC's coverage featuring little-talented Carson Daly, to ABC and no-talented Ryan Seacrest. Next year, I'm going out.