SARASOTA, FL – There’s something about doing 85mph in a motor vehicle and chewing up the highway on a long trip that makes a man feel like a man. On Monday, I did just that in less than twenty-four hours reaching my Sarasota destination. There was quite a bit of sports news this past week in the Sunshine state to immerse myself in and render a column.
A bit north of here in Tampa, the Lightning excused Guy Boucher and his facial scar of their job behind the ‘Bolts bench and named John Cooper successor. As an Ohio State Buckeyes football fan the only John Cooper I know of is the guy who couldn’t beat Michigan…EVER. If this J.C. wants to survive in his profession he’ll have to far better against other Michigan denizens as the Red Wings are set to join the Eastern Conference in the NHL’s new realignment for 2014. Only time will tell if Lightning success has management “Hanging With Mr. Cooper” for very long. Failing miserably can have D.B. Cooper-like fallout from a plane.
Ed Smith Field is the very aesthetically pleasing Spring Training home of the Baltimore Orioles where me my buddy and his family took in an afternoon of FREE baseball as what was left of the O’s junior-JayVee (seems as though the numbers on their backs were all above 40 and a good indication of their baseball skills) faced the State College of Florida Manatees. Based in Venice, the college team lacked the proper amount of Italians to be competitive. Amid upper 70’s weather and a beaming Florida sun the nipply 50’s of the past week were quickly forgotten with the crack of wooden bats, strike calls and cold beer. The action on the field wasn’t exactly crisp as three errors outnumbered hits after two and a half innings. The pace picked up in the last three inning with some extra base hits leading to an Orioles 7-2 win. Nick Markakis was the only name I recognized and he obviously needed the work for whatever reason to be playing in this game. Some guy named, I kid you not, Sambo (#16) patrolled the top step of the Baltimore dugout but didn’t see any game action although there was an Alou siting as a first base coach. Steve Bartman was not seen, however.
My degenerate days as a gambler are well in the rear-view mirror but one experience missing has been a day at the dog track. Any dog track would do but Derby Lane, the oldest dog track in this great nation, is where we chose to watch the greyhounds run for human’s betting pleasure. A simple description can’t do justice to this experience and is worthy of a 500-word effort coming up next week.
Lastly, the Florida Gulf Coast University (Fort Meyers) saw their NCAA basketball dream end against the Florida (Gainesville) Gators after a late first half collapse that allowed the Gators to gain enough momentum to win the game in the second half.
West Coast Craig, tomorrow.