Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/27/20

RECORD: 18-8 (some confusion about this lately; that’s the right record)

Above all else, sports are diversions. They act as escapes from the trials and tribulations of everyday life, and as things we can turn to for entertainment, competition, and something to talk about that doesn’t have world-changing implications (except Rocky Balboa ending the Cold War in “Rocky IV,” of course, but I digress).

You know where this is going. Kobe Bryant was one of several people who passed away in a helicopter crash Sunday near Los Angeles. Among the other fatalities was his 13-year-old daughter, and seeing videos of those two at games pop up on Twitter was gut-wrenching.

Kobe Bryant was 41 years old. His daughter was barely a teenager. There was a lot of life left to be lived by those on that helicopter, and it’s horrible that this happened and took it all away. Regardless of your personal feelings about Kobe (there are plenty, and lots of them are valid), Sunday’s tragedy, above all, acts as a reminder that life is short.

Go hug someone. Tell them you love them. Don’t take stuff personally (I know that’s something I can do better), and make sure you’re focused on the things that truly matter. In that vein, I’ll finish this up by posting a video my friend Matt Dinerman took following Sunday’s last race at Golden Gate Fields. He’s an excellent announcer, but an even better human being, and he nailed this.

 

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: After a day off due to the hysteria of the Pegasus World Cup, I swept two plays posted on Twitter. Creighton and Ohio State both won by double-digits as single-digit favorites.

MONDAY’S PLAY: The Iowa Hawkeyes are just 2-8 in their last 10 meetings with the Wisconsin Badgers, but Monday’s game hits me differently. Iowa has won four in a row and has seemed to find itself after an early-season injury to Jordan Bohannon threatened to derail the program’s season. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is on the road, where they’re 3-6 on the year, and I don’t think their offense can keep up. The homestanding Hawkeyes are favored by 5.5 points, and I’m taking them to cover that spread.

GUEST COLUMN: Andrew’s Dad Comes West (Plus Andrew’s Plays of the Day: 1/22/20)

RECORD: 13-7

Editor’s note: The reason I haven’t been posting daily blogs here is because my father’s been in town and we’ve been busy. I’d been posting on Twitter up until Tuesday, when I neglected to put forth a play. As a result, I’ll have two down below…but first, allow me to show you what turned me into the writer I became.

My dad flew west Friday, and the convergence of several horrible circumstances and lots of rotten luck hit him hard. Like a Champagne does, he wrote about it on Sunday, and I’m putting his chronicle here as a guest column. If you say he’s a better writer than I am, I won’t be offended!

“In late December I found some GREAT fares on Southwest to the west coast, so I scheduled an impromptu visit to my son for the long MLK Day weekend. I paid for the outgoing leg with points and thought that was great. Little did I know…

Departure on Friday was delayed. As the Southwest rep announced it, “We are waiting for one last passenger to exit the aircraft.” She neglected to mention that the guy was exiting on a stretcher after an apparent heart attack. Then we began to board – briefly. We were once again delayed with an announcement that they could not depart until the canister of oxygen the heart attack victim used up was replaced, and they had to wait for another aircraft to arrive to grab one. God forbid the maintenance people should have spares. So then we boarded and sat on the tarmac for another half hour (paperwork… BS, I was taking it personally by this point), blowing through the departure time for my initial connecting flight in Baltimore.

Now the fun starts. I got a text from Southwest telling me they’d re-booked me on a flight through Austin which would get me to the west coast about 5 hours later than my initial itinerary laid out. When we arrived in Baltimore they coasted us into the gate right next to the gate the Austin flight was leaving from – so we had a great view of MY flight pushing back.

Another text arrived immediately, informing me I had again been re-booked on a flight through Denver. The texts were coming fast and furious now, as I was told soon after that this flight had been delayed 3 hours.

And then it was cancelled.

There were no options to get out of Baltimore Friday on Southwest at this point since most of the Midwest connect points were socked in with the storm and all existing flights were sold out to people who’d been screwed before they got to me. The last text I got said they were re-booking me through Salt Lake City: 48 hours later. I don’t think so.

Enter my son, who found me a nonstop redeye on United Airlines that left late Friday evening (from Washington) and would get me to San Francisco an hour after midnight, so off I went to Southwest baggage claim to get my suitcase (such as it was, as I was to find out 2 days later). After an hour and a half, they told me they’d given up trying to find it, and off I went on a 60 mile Lyft ride to Dulles Airport. For those keeping score at home, the Lyft (with tip) cost $94. The flight (with $39 extra for a couple more inches of leg room) was $563. So off I went on a six hour nonstop flight headed west in the middle seat surrounded by screaming children – and at this point I was about ready to join them.

While I was flying, my son was shopping. A pair of dress pants, a polo shirt, and some toiletries later, we can add another $75 or so to the extra costs of this mess. But I DID get to where I was going.

So Saturday, off we went to the FABULOUS Golden Gate Fields with an eye toward recouping some of this money – broken up by several unfruitful calls to Southwest’s Oakland Airport baggage claim. They kept telling me that the last time my bag was scanned was in Baltimore and that it would eventually catch up with me – then, my last call produced a new tidbit, that the bag was now in Salt Lake City. This meant it got there more than 24 hours before I would have, had I kept the last re-book they set up for me.

After dinner the call from Southwest came. My bag was now in Oakland. Per the poor guy who had to call me, “It has some damage.” So Sunday morning brought another airport excursion. I dealt with a very nice lady who brought my bag out of their storage room IN A TRASH BAG – and told me the damage happened in freaking BALTIMORE. This meant I was intentionally not given what was left of my bag there.

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I ended up having to go through everything that was in the suitcase to identify specific damage. They gave me sort of a zip bag to move stuff into after telling me they usually replace suitcases but they didn’t have any of those (of course). Casualties were a pair of shoes, a pair of jeans, some socks, and a couple of golf shirts. Surprisingly, much of my stuff survived the trip – especially since the bag looked like it had been attacked by the tiger who says “Hello, Lunch!!” in the Dr. Doolittle ad.

So… a $175 travel voucher, refund of the points I paid for the trip with, refunded Early Bird boarding charges, and a check for $200 (they originally didn’t have any of those, either) later, I’m back in Concord…for now… the baggage lady at Oakland encouraged me keep bothering them… and after receiving ANOTHER text TODAY re-booking me for January 29, I am NOT in a forgiving mood.

The saga continues.”

– – – – –

WEDNESDAY’S PLAYS: Because I didn’t have anything Tuesday, I’m putting forth two plays for Wednesday. In SEC action, Alabama, a team that’s won three of its last four (including a victory over Auburn), goes to Vanderbilt, a squad that’s winless in conference play. The nine-point spread hits me as too small, and I think the Crimson Tide covers it with ease. Additionally, in small-college hoops, Navy travels to Boston University, and both teams can score. Because of that, I’m taking the over on the total, which is at 127.5 as of this writing.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/17/20

RECORD: 11-5

Thursday was a very bad day for lots of people in baseball. The Astros saga somehow got weirder, as the team was accused of having buzzers on their shoulders (I’m no conspiracist, but I’ll admit that the Jose Altuve video where he protects his jersey looks very bad). Even Mike Trout wasn’t immune, as he was briefly the target of allegations issued by Scott Brosius’s son that he used HGH while hiding behind a medical exemption.

For once, it’s a sport other than horse racing doing everything possible to shoot itself in the foot. Note to higher-ups: This is how racing looks when changes are needed and people in power refuse to act. Our primary goal as a sport should be to avoid this at all times.

THURSDAY’S RESULT: The first losing streak of this exercise is upon us. I took Quinnipiac getting a few points at Manhattan, only for the Bobcats to force a mere six turnovers in a 69-57 defeat.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: We’ll head to the always-entertaining Southern Conference, where the Friday slate features a battle between perennial league powers Furman and Wofford. The Paladins come in 15-4 on the year, and I like them giving three points despite being on the road. Furman’s a solid 6-3 against the spread in road games, and while this won’t be an easy game, I think they’ll cover.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/16/20

RECORD: 11-4

Like a lot of people, I dove into the new Netflix documentary series focusing on Aaron Hernandez as soon as I saw it was online. It’s heavy, it pulls few punches, and it’s not an easy watch. Having said that, it’s exceptionally well-done and covers the story from a variety of different angles.

If you’re into true crime stuff, take the time to watch and digest it. Chances are you’ll only see it once given how tragic the entire story is, but for all of us storytellers out there, it’s a tremendous example of directors, editors, producers, interviewers, and interview subjects coming together to create something moving.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULT: Well, if I’m going to be wrong, I’d prefer to be very wrong. I took Miami getting eight points at NC State, but the Wolfpack never looked like losers and won 80-63.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: More MAAC-tion? More MAAC-tion! Quinnipiac heads to Manhattan (which, by the way, isn’t actually in Manhattan), and the point spread puzzles me a bit. The Bobcats are 7-1 in their last eight games, including a 4-0 stretch in conference play, but it’s the homestanding Jaspers who are 2.5-point favorites. I think Quinnipiac wins outright, so I’ll take them getting the points.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/15/20

RECORD: 11-3

It’s always fun to see baseball purists come out whenever there’s a scandal in the sport. I’m a baseball fan, and like anyone else, I want to see the game played cleanly. However, acting as though there’s a high and mighty moral code in the sport is naïve at best and flat wrong at worst.

The notion of a “character clause” in the game has been laughable since its inception. Between a color barrier, Hall of Famers doctoring the ball, and top players using banned substances in a league stewarded by a commissioner who turned a blind eye as long as it made him money and wound up in the Hall of Fame anyway, being outraged at sign-stealing seems outrageous in and of itself.

That isn’t saying what the Astros and Red Sox did was right. It isn’t. It was stupid, and hopefully it curtails obnoxious attempts at sign-stealing. However, saying sign-stealing robbed teams of titles is a step too far. Every team steals signs in some form or fashion, and that’s never going to change. If the actions taken by Major League Baseball end the more absurd processes, though, I suppose that’s a plus.

TUESDAY’S RESULT: Iowa visited Northwestern and powered away late to win 75-62. That meant the Hawkeyes easily covered the 5.5-point spread, which kept a good run in this section going.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll head to the ACC, and among that conference’s Wednesday slate is a tilt between NC State and Miami. Looking at these two teams, they appear quite similar in quality, which makes the eight-point spread a bit curious. NC State is home, so the Wolfpack being favored isn’t shocking, but this seems about double the spread it should be. Because of that, I’ll take the points with the Hurricanes.