Fall used to be a lot busier than it is these days.
For most of the last two decades, about half of our fall weekends were spent driving to Columbus, prepping a tailgate party for somewhere between 10 and 20 people, going to Ohio State’s home game and then coming home on Sunday. For several of those years, we would get home just in time for me to turn around and drive to work for my regular Sunday night shift.
It was a blast. And even when we were in our early forties, it was exhausting. And now that it’s ten years later? It would be impossible.
For me, there was a turning point a few years ago, with a game against, I think, a directional Florida. It was early September and stinking hot, as Columbus can be. It also rained all the way through tailgate “party,” which mostly consisted of us huddled under a canopy, eating soggy food and trying keep rain out of our beers. And when the rain ended, it didn’t help — it just made it feel even more humid.
There was talk among the adults initially — even in my mid-40s at that point, I am not one of the adults — and several decided they were going to do the comfortable thing: Go home and watch on TV. At that point, I was pretty hardcore — even leaving the game early was something you just did not do; skipping a game entirely was out of the question.
But once the sweat became so profuse that I could feel it running down my back, I started listening: Air conditioning. Cold beer. No lines for food or bathrooms. A 70-inch television, comfortable chairs and no danger (well, not much) that someone would dump a gallon of Diet Coke down my back.
OK. I relented. And it was awfully nice.
With the exception of the mostly-annual big deal non-conference game or the home opener, the September games were the first to go. They generally didn’t mean much, and Columbus can be as hot in September as it is in July.
Next, we started paring back on the not-as-big-deal Big Ten games. You know the ones — they would be historic upsets if they happened (and they occasionally did), and who wants to brag about watching Illinois upsetting Ohio State in Cbus in 2007?
(Spoiler alert: We were there. BUT I’M NOT BRAGGING.)
Once my folks made the decision to stop going to games, this became a bit easier. We had one season, two years ago, when we had four seats together, and four of us made it to a few games that season together — and they were awesome. But there were only a couple of them, and realistically, it was too much of a chore for my folks to get into the stadium, deal with the crowd and still be able to enjoy — or even see — the game.
I’m not at all suggesting that they are responsible for this change. It was part of it, but we’re getting old too. And when we were able to do a full weekend, we were exhausted by the time we got home on Sunday.
So we don’t do it. And life is better. We did four home games last year, and we’re about to go to our second of four this season. Mom and dad still love the tailgate parties — so do we — and we’ll have four good ones in 2019. They go home and watch on TV, and we go inside the Shoe and see some college football that many fans would kill to see live.
I haven’t made too many concessions to my 52-year-old self yet, but this one has been good. And I still get to see Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State, have great tailgate parties with the Killer Nuts Tailgating group that’s been doing this for 20 years — and I don’t feel like I’m doing to die by the time December begins.
So. What if I tried to post every day in October?
Nah. That’s dumb.
While I decide, here’s a picture of our cats.
No, I don’t know what they’re doing either.
I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like the wreckage of Thirteenth Practically Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub), in terms of how many people we’re going to honor with a Blutarsky Award here in just a sec.
Chalky picks only work if the higher seeds win, and the higher seeds failed to do that last weekend. Carolina. Duke. The Aforementioned Basketball School Up North. All dumped on their keisters before making the Final Four.
So who might win this thing? No one — not a single TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) contestants correctly picked the Final Four. But nevertheless, there are a few possibilities:
Four plus (Two correct Final Four picks and the possibility for more points):
Two plus (One correct Final Four pick and the possibility for more points):
Four and done (Two correct Final Four picks but no more points possible):
Two and done (Two correct Final Four picks but no more points possible):
Before we move on, boys and girls, I would ask that you recall The Crappy Rule, as outlined in the contest’s initial post a couple weeks back. It says, in part:
If I were to come out on top of my own contest (and believe me, boys and girls, there is very little chance of that happening), the Piper’s gift card would be awarded to the next runner up (although I retain full bragging rights, which I would exercise almost daily until next year’s contest).
So pay attention if you still have points coming — you’re still in this thing.
And then … we have the people who most definitely are not still in this thing. You have managed to achieve the ultimate in college basketball futility … and for that, you deserve an award.
A Blutarsky Award.
Why does a college basketball pool have an award named for a fictional character from Animal House? For this one line, which perfectly describes your TPAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) performance:
Blutarsky Award winners (No correct Final Four picks and no points):
Thank you for playing, Blutarsky people. And good luck to the rest of you.
Wait — we do suck. And so does Michigan.
I shouldn’t be surprised that we’re here again.
“Here” is waiting to see whether the just announced intention by the current White House to kill the Affordable Care Act is going to pick up any steam. “Here” is wondering whether type II diabetes will be classified as a pre-existing condition somewhere down the line. “Here” questioning what I’d do if my insurance provider, suddenly unburdened by the regulations of Obamacare, would subject me to coverage limits.
And, ultimately, “here” is me on my bike later this year, riding in the Pittsburgh edition of the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure and raising money so all of the other “heres” won’t matter.
I’ve talked to you guys about this stuff before, when I did the same ride up near Butler two years ago. At that point, we were in the first year of the Trump presidency and the future of Obamacare was uncertain, to say the least.
That part calmed down a bit — until very recently, anyway — but those worries were replaced by new ones … like the cost of the drugs people with diabetes rely on to manage the disease and, you know, keep us alive.
Back then, I was using injections of Lantus — a brand of insulin — each day as the primary treatment for the disease. I’m now using daily shots of Victoza to do the same thing. It helps — my latest A1C reading was 6.5, which is close to half of what it was when I was diagnosed — but it comes at a cost.
I am so fortunate — for me, that cost is largely borne by my insurance provider. If you’re underinsured, or if you have no insurance at all, you could find yourself on the hook for the full price of a three-pen box of Victoza — and that, boys and girls, costs just under $1,000. And you’d need 12 of those boxes to get you through a full year. Plain old insulin is a bargain by comparison, at $400 per box or roughly $1,200 a year.
Add to that the potential for losing insurance if the ACA goes away. Or being told by your insurance company that your rates are going to double because of your pre-existing condition. Or that we’re going to give you a thousand bucks a year to manage your diabetes, but you’re responsible for everything else after that. If that happens, even people who have good insurance could be in trouble.
The solution is the same now as it is then: Let’s not wait to see what happens in Washington. Let’s get the American Diabetes Association the money it needs to fund research and find a cure. Follow this link to my Tour de Cure page, where I will dazzle you with even more facts and, not coincidentally, you can make a donation. I’m hoping to raise $1,000, and anything you can give — ANYTHING — will be a huge help.