Spring Wrapup

July 5, 2020

There have been no sports for quite awhile, but I always have plenty to keep me occupied. So time continues to fly. I mostly stayed around the house during the lockdown here in Kentucky. I did curbside pickup of grocery orders from WalMart and Kroger.

I am getting more active in the local amateur radio club (Bluegrass Amateur Radio Society). The club librarian and club historian both recently resigned, and I volunteered for both positions. I also have several other projects in the works. I am also running for a “director-at-large” position on the board of directors to fill a vacancy.

It’s been quite hot here, so summer is firmly in place.

March Sadness

March 31, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic got underway and virtually all sports got cancelled, it didn’t take long for someone to coin the phrase “March Sadness” to describe the feeling of no college basketball. Teams that I follow had an excellent chance to made a deep advance in the NCAA tournaments. So, all we can do is dream of what might have been.

As of this writing, it is still possible that professional sports such as the National Hockey League may be able to resume play in the not-too-distant future. Right now all are hopeful that the 2020 college football season will be able to start on schedule. I have discontinued all my television services as I think it will be awhile before play resumes.

This blog has mostly been about sports in the recent past. Most of my other activities have been “normal”, as amateur radio is the “original” social-distancing pursuit :-). I have been using Kroger pickup when groceries are needed, and Amazon Prime for needed non-food items. Otherwise I have been staying around the house. Spring yard work is well underway. My family and friends are in good shape otherwise. Most are either employed in non-contact occupations, or are working from home.

I will post here when something interesting takes place. In the meantime, I hope all readers are well and taking the necessary precautions to get us all through this mess.

Crash And Burn?

March 5, 2020

Those of us who are Kentucky basketball fans were feeling pretty good as February progressed as the UK men won eight in a row (although most of the games were close), and had moved up into the top ten in the wire service polls. But Tuesday night’s game in Rupp Arena with Tennessee was a real head scratcher. The Cats beat the Vols in Knoxville on February 8th, and took a 17-point lead Tuesday in the second half. But, then, Kentucky collapsed and ended up losing 81-73. Even more disheartening were reports of arguments among UK players and between a player and Calipari. Also adding to the angst was the emergence of a video in which a UK fan used a racial epithet directed toward a UT fan.

Team dissension is never a good thing and it will be interesting to see if it can get resolved in short order. One regular season game remains, at Florida on Saturday. Then the SEC Tournament starts late next week. But the Cats have already locked up their 49th SEC regular season championship.

The Buckeye men were 6-2 during the month of February then Saturday beat Michigan for the second time this season. OSU has climbed back into the top 20. Tonight Ohio State plays host to Illinois which is one of four teams that has a shot at the Big Ten regular season title.

The highlight of February for the UK women was a nice 73-62 upset of then #6-ranked Mississippi State. That was the Cats’ first win over a top-10 opponent in three years. Despite an upset loss Sunday in Nashville to an unheralded Vanderbilt team, Kentucky is the third seed in the SEC Tournament and will play their quarter-final game Friday night.

The Ohio State women had a good February with only two losses, one at Rutgers and one to regular-season co-champion Northwestern. The Bucks are seeded sixth in the conference tournament and will play Minnesota tonight.

The Blue Jackets have only won three games since my last post. But they are still sitting in a wild card spot as of today. Many of the losses were overtime losses so they’ve continued to rack up points. Columbus has scored fewer goals than just about everybody in the league, which I think bodes ill for their playoff chances. But they have 79 standings points with 14 games to go.

March is here, and we’ve had some nice days with temperatures in the 60s. It’s also “tournament time”, always a great time of year.

The Jackets Keep Rolling Along

February 6, 2020

Since my last post about the Blue Jackets, we lost a game in San Jose on January 9th. Since then, it’s been mostly Ws both home and away. Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has won his last seven games, with a bunch of them being shutouts. With Joonas Korpisalo hurt, goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was called up to back up Elvis. He got his first NHL start in Madison Square Garden on January 19, and came away with a 2-1 victory.

With 67 points, the Jackets are in third place in the Metropolitan division. As usual, the Capitals rule the Metro roost right now with 77 points.

In early January I mentioned the dreadful collapse of the Ohio State men. But as of this writing they have won three in a row, including two on the road where wins have been difficult to get in the Big Ten this season.

LSU had been undefeated in the Seoutheastern Conference until this week’s incredible loss to Vanderbilt, the Dores’ first conference win in a couple years. So, now, Kentucky and Auburn are only one game out of the lead with records of 7-2.

A tough break for the UK women as leading scorer Rhyne Howard fractured a finger and is out for at least another week or so. The Cats were playing well but ended up losing to an unheralded Florida team in Lexington. The Ohio State women are .500 in the Big Ten but so far have been no match for the elite teams in the league such as Maryland and Iowa.

The Buckeyes And The Wildcats

January 8, 2020

Things took a down turn for the Buckeyes since my December post. The OSU men were undefeated and appeared to be on the verge of a #1 ranking. On December 21st the Bucks beat Kentucky in a game played in Las Vegas. But as conference play started, Ohio State is toward the bottom of the standings. After the opening win over Penn State, the Bucks have lost to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Maryland. Add in a non-conference loss to West Virginia in Cleveland, the Buckeyes are 2-4 since my December post and a long way from “number one”.

The OSU women had been riding high after their upset win over Louisville. But since then, the ladies are 2-3 (including a loss at Stanford) with only one conference win vs. two losses.

The UK men, on the other hand, have rebounded nicely after the OSU loss. This includes a big win over a very good Louisville team right after Christmas. The Cats have looked good in their first two conference games, wins over Missouri and at Georgia last night.

The Kentucky women gave Louisville a good game in Rupp Arena but a last-second shot fell short and the Cats recorded their first loss of the season. Conference play opened with a blow-out loss at South Carolina. But UK rebounded Sunday and beat Tennessee to square their conference record.

A Resurgence In Columbus

January 8, 2020

In my December post the Blue Jackets had just won in Washington. Would you believe that since that post, they have only one game without points, and have amassed 50 points total after last night’s win in Anaheim.

Washington is the best team in the league with 63 points, and there are still a bunch of teams ahead of Columbus in the standings. But it’s been an amazing 9-1-4 run since my December post.

The big news was the improvement of #1 goaltender Joonas Korpisalo after an inauspicious start to the season. Korpi’s numbers improved dramatically in December and he was named an NHL star-of-the-week a time or two.

Korpi got hurt around the holidays and will be out several more weeks with a torn meniscus. That left us with #2 goaltender Elvis Merzlikins. Elvis started a few games early in the season but had not yet recorded an win in his NHL career. But, suddenly, he too was putting up impressive save percentage and goals-against numbers and the Blue Jackets have continued to thrive.

But that isn’t the end of the injury story. A bunch of skaters are on Injured Reserve. This necessitated a bunch of minor league call ups. But the youngins from Cleveland have given good account of themselves in this latest run.

Columbus is one game past the mid-point of it’s season. So there is a lot of hockey yet to be played. But unless something changes, the Jackets look like a playoff contender in a year that I thought would be a major rebuilding effort.

Tying A Ribbon Around 2019

January 8, 2020

I hope all readers had a joyous holiday season. Bonnie and I had a wonderful time with her daughters and granddaughter, who visited from North Carolina. Best wishes to all for a safe and happy 2020!

We’ve had some light snow here (mainly back in December) but it has been mild here lately. We’ve had many sunny days with temperatures well above average. I’m not betting it’s that way all winter, though.

The last time Ohio State played Clemson in the college football playoffs we got shutout. This time it was a little closer but the Buckeyes still came up short 29-23. After LSU’s 63-28 blow out of Oklahoma, the national championship will be the two teams of “Tigers” Monday night.

Kentucky came from behind to win the Belk Bowl 37-30 over Virginia Tech on a late touchdown. So the Cats finish the season 8-5 and the Buckeyes 13-1.

There is a lot more to report on basketball and hockey but I will break the info up into multiple posts.

A Great Time To Be a Buckeye

December 11, 2019

Fellow Buckeye fan Steve, W5IEM and I were talking on the local ham radio repeater the other day. He said “It’s a great time to be a Buckeye”. Great point, as the football team beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game to take it’s third straight title. In the college football playoff rankings, LSU and OSU had been trading the 1st and 2nd position most of the year, which says to me they are both pretty good. In the final rankings announced Sunday, the Bucks were given the second seed which means they will play third seeded and defending champion Clemson in one playoff semifinal. The Tigers have won 28 games in a row.

The Ohio State men’s basketball team has looked pretty good this season, and is still undefeated. The Bucks started to get national attention after a blow-out win over Villanova. Last Wednesday, the Buckeyes went to Chapel Hill in a Big Ten/ACC Challenge game and won 74-49. OSU is currently ranked third in the latest Associated Press poll.

Speaking of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the B1G men won this year 8 games to 6. But the big news was on the women’s side, where the Big Ten won the challenge for the first time EVER, 9 games to 5. One of those wins was the Ohio State women’s 67-60 win over then #2 Louisville. The Bucks have had their struggles this year with losses to Ohio and South Dakota. But the win over the Cardinals should instill some confidence.

The Kentucky women are still undefeated and will have their meeting with Louisville on Saturday.

The UK football team is headed to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte to play Virginia Tech on New Year’s Eve.

Last week we had some mild weather and my tower-climber was able to install my new antenna, an Alpha-Delta model B. This is a quarter-wave sloper with traps that works on 160, 80, 40 and 30 meters. So far it seems to work pretty well. It’s been awhile since I’ve had an antenna for either 160 or 80 meters.

The Blue Jackets had lost 4 in-a-row then went to Washington Monday and won 5-2. Go figure.

Big Wins and Strange Losses

December 2, 2019

Ohio State sits atop the college football world, having once again routed the Michigan Wolverines (that’s eight wins in a row over the team up north). OSU finished the regular season undefeated. On Saturday night, the Bucks will face Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game. Wisconsin wrapped up the Big Ten West with a big win at Minnesota last Saturday.

If Ohio State and Clemson win their conference championships, they are in the playoffs. Georgia faces LSU for the SEC title. LSU finishes the season undefeated if they win. Otherwise both teams may make the playoffs with one loss. Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor are still in the mix (the last two play each other in the Big 12 title game). Alabama lost at Auburn Saturday and is out of the picture with two losses this season.

In men’s basketball, Kentucky has had a strange season. After opening night’s win over Michigan State, the Cats came back home and handled Eastern Kentucky before dropping a strange one to Evansville 67-64. E J Montgomery missed that game due to injury. Since that the time, UK is back on track although the schedule has been somewhat easy. That will change in the last half of December.

Ohio State is still undefeated and currently ranked #6 in the country. The Bucks routed Villanova in November which gave them some serious national attention. Wednesday OSU will be in Chapel Hill in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

The UK women are also unbeaten. The schedule has been somewhat light although a nice win at Virginia boosts the resume. Poor free throw shooting is a worry as the Cats enter conference play.

Kentucky football won its last three games to finish the season 7-5. With all kinds of injuries at the quarterback position, wide receiver Lynn Bowden was anointed QB and has run the offense well. The Cats seldom throw the ball, and have found the rushing game to be more than adequate to win games. When Woody Hayes coached at Ohio State, everyone knew he was going to run the ball but nobody could stop him. It has been that way for UK lately. Sunday we’ll know UK’s bowl opponent.

The Blue Jackets won 6 and lost 6 since my last post, which puts them second to last in the Metropolitan division. The goaltending has gotten somewhat better. But some of last year’s goal scorers are not producing this year, and Columbus ranks 29th in the league in “goals for”. The Jackets have a little more time to get things turned around if they want another playoff appearance this year.

I now have two nephews playing hockey for Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus. They combined for four goals (one had a hat trick) Saturday in a win over arch rival DeSales.

First Day of Basketball

November 5, 2019

The college basketball season starts today. The current top 4 teams are in New York City to kick things off. Duke plays Kansas and Michigan State plays Kentucky. I’ve always said that these early-season games “don’t count for much”, but they do give us a chance to see who the “teams to beat” are.

The UK women start with Mount St. Mary’s tonight. The Ohio State men have Cincinnati tomorrow and the OSU women have Valparaiso on Sunday.

Of course, there is a lot of football yet to be played. In October, Kentucky picked up home wins against Arkansas and Missouri, but lost to Georgia as expected. At 4-4, the Cats need two more wins to become bowl eligible. The rest of the schedule shows three teams in the state of Tennessee (UT, Vanderbilt and UT-Martin) and also Louisville.

Tonight will see the first announcement of the college football playoff rankings. It will be interesting to see where the unbeaten Ohio State Buckeyes rank. The Bucks have started slowly in most games but end up winning impressively. There are several other unbeatens out there including Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Penn State.

The Blue Jackets started the season OK but have now lost four in-a-row. Goaltending is a problem as I had suspected.

In amateur radio, I still operate a lot of FT8 when the bands are good. I recently acquired a used but like-new Yaesu FT-891 which I will someday use mobile to replace an aging FT-857D. For those of you who use the Yaesu System Fusion digital voice mode: I hang out on a YSF reflector with several friends of mine. If you have a fairly recent reflector list, it is listed as “US AK4LT”. The number is YSF57882. You can connect to it with a hot spot.