Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tale That. Grim Reaper


A guy texted me from Chicago tonight, saying he saw the Grim Reaper wandering around Wrigley Field, where the Cubs were playing Cleveland in Game 5 of the World Series.

Well, the personification of death may indeed have been lurking at the old ballyard, but the Cubs showed they're very much alive.

They rather miraculously came off life support in front of  a massive and boisterous crowd that saw the them win their first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945.

A white-knuckler it was in this must-win game.

With the Cubs in a 3-games-to-1 hole in the best-of-7 series, John Lester gave 'em enough good starting pitching, Kris Bryant hit a home run and Aroldis Chapman nailed the coffin shut with 2 2/3 strong innings of relief in the Cubs' 3-2 victory.

So the series now shifts to Cleveland for Game 6 Tuesday night.  I don't know if the Grim Reaper [pictured] will be able to get a ticket to that game, but I don't much care.

I like the Cubs' chances with Jake Arrieta pitching.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Old Philosopher In the Press Box Was Right


The Old Philosopher In the Press Box said it first--probably about 2 seconds after Abner Doubleday invented the sport of baseball in 1839.

A team never wins a game when it doesn't score a run.

Unfortunately, the Chicago Cubs were reminded of that bitter fact tonight in Game 3 of the World Series.

The Cleveland Indians outpitched, outhit and outplayed the Cubs while winning, 1-0, in a ballpark that was brimming with emotion.

Indeed, the Cubs' fans were ready to win.

Unfortunately, the Cubs' players weren't.

It was the first World Series game played in Wrigley Field in 71 years, and the outcome will sting for quite a while.

At least until tomorrow night's game.

Cleveland has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, and there are those pessimists who will say the Cubs will not be able to recover because of their lack of hitting and the Indians' extraordinary pitching .

But I'm not giving up. 

I've seen too many miraculous comebacks  in this very long 2016 season to do that.

I'm saying the Cubs will still win it.

Thursday, October 27, 2016



Grocery shopping is one of my least favorite things to do, and the only reason I'm writing about it is because I set a personal record today.

All by myself, I managed to spend $116.71 at HyVee without buying any of the vastly over-priced $5.99 raisin-and-walnut bread that I've been writing about in recent days.

I know for a fact that, as a solo shopper, I'd never spent $116.71 at any grocery store at any previous time.

I admit, though, that the grocery shopping experience earlier in my life was limited.

But times change. I have now joined the 21st century and am a frequent grocery shopper.

But that doesn't mean I like it.

I went to HyVee today after noticing that I could save 30 cents on the fuel saver card I hand the checkout person whenever I leave the store.

To get the 30 cents off my next bill at the gas station, I needed to buy $50 worth of groceries.

I obviously know next to nothing about the price of groceries.

I thought I'd have trouble getting to $50. 

Little did I know I'd spend more than twice that.

And I didn't impress anyone after saying I spent $116.71.

My Neighbor Al the Health Nut wandered over to talk to me when he saw me unloading the groceries from my car.

I thought he'd want to talk about the Cubs and the World Series. Huh-uh. He wanted to see what I bought and how much I spent. 

I told Al that it seems $116.71 doesn't go very far these days.

He wasn't impressed.

"A hundred and 16 bucks is chicken feed," he said. "The missus spends more than that every week."

Count on it that this will be the last time I write about grocery shopping.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Granny Smith Caramel Apple Crumb


This cool, breezy Wednesday was an ideal time for me and a bunch of other guys to be enjoying coffee-and-free-pie at Village Inn.

The pie I chose was Granny Smith Caramel Apple Crumble, and it tasted  just as good as it looks in the photo at the left.

That said, let's get down to business.

A tableful of eight experts on everything  showed up to discuss subjects such as the Cubs-Indians World Series, Andrew Logue's forced departure from the paper after 20 years of hard work, the usual second-guessing of the Iowa and Iowa State football teams, Drake's talented women's basketball squad, the scary pre-Halloween scene in the yard next to a guy's house in West Des Moines, the shocking and controversial exit from Drake of longtime athletic trainer Scott Kerr,  the Iowa high school football playoffs that start this week, first-grade tackle football in Oklahoma and assorted other stuff.

I brought up the question about Scott Kerr because a couple of people have asked me in recent days  why he's no longer at Drake.

It wasn't exactly like Kerr didn't know his way around the university's athletic department, and got lost.

He joined the Drake staff as head athletic trainer in August, 1985. 

So that's more than 30 years he was there.

In other words, a lot of sprained ankles and sore knees.

It was explained over today's 2-hour 45-minute pie and coffee session that Kerr and Drake's administration evidently didn't see eye-to-eye on such subjects as support staff and salary.

So there was a parting of the ways.

Tough deal. 

Scott is a good guy and Drake has good people in the administration.

Too bad it happened.

One last thing before I sprawl out on the La-Z-Boy to watch the rest of tonight's World Series telecast.

Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs is an incredible story,  playing--and playing extraordinarily well--in the Series for the first time since undergoing major knee surgery in April.

He's hitting like crazy as the Cubs' designated hitter against the Indians, and I've got to think manager Joe Maddon needs to find a way to get Schwarber into the lineup--not just a pinch-hitter--when the Series moves to Chicago on Friday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Good Luck To These Bulldogs


Recent history has not been kind to Drake University's athletic program. 

Consequently, that's why I like it so much when something good happens at the private university that so often is regarded as having an underwhelming major college sports program.

Unfortunately, a few folks around town [and elsewhere in this state] think of Drake athletics as some sort of second cousin wearing tattered jeans, a flannel shirt from Goodwill, no socks and 5-year-old underwear.

However, I was happy to learn today that  Drake's women's basketball team is the preseason pick to win the Missouri Valley Conference championship, and the Bulldogs' Lizzy Wendell is the league's preseason player of the year for the second time.

Give Jennie Baranczyk, the coach, credit for this. 

She is in her fifth season and she's doing wonderful things with the Drake women's program.

Indeed, it couldn't come at a better time. 

Good for Jennie. Good for her basketball players.

I wish all of them well in the upcoming 2016-2017 season.

I hope the lofty preseason expectations turn into reality.

Sportswriter Logue Loses His Job At the Paper


Facebook is where the news is these days.

At least the news about Andrew Logue.

Logue, a longtime Des Moines Register sportswriter, used Facebook to tell people that today is his last day on the job.

I guess he wanted to make the announcement because he figured his bosses wouldn't.

Here's Logue's post:

"Today is my last day at the Des Moines Register... It has been an amazing 20-year ride, due mainly to the talented and devoted people I was privileged to work with. Thank you all for so many great memories."

Logue [pictured, courtesy of Facebook] is a good guy. But his bosses aren't so good. The Gannett Co., which owns the Register, decided that 11 people at the paper needed to lose their jobs.

Unfortunately, Logue was one of those 11.

It's not the first time Gannett made the decision to cut the Register's staff, and it won't be the last.

Some very talented, hard-working writers, editors and photographers have been shown the door in the past and will be shown the door in the future.

Very sad.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Those Horrible Bread Prices At HyVee


Maybe you remember my friends Frank and Edna.

They're the folks who were shocked when they were charged a whopping $5.99 for a loaf of
bread at at a HyVee store in West Des Moines that they'd been buying for $2.98.

The bread was a specialty item--a loaf of raisin and walnut that HyVee calls its favorite breakfast bread, especially when warm butter is spread on top of it.

HyVee evidently has jacked up the prices of all of those breads that are produced in the stores' bakeries.

A number of people contacted me after I wrote the essay last week that documented Frank and Edna's problem.

Everyone felt sorry for Frank and Edna, retirees who live on a fixed income and say they use the bread "to stay regular."

One of my readers--a woman of Bohemian descent named Olga--contacted me to say that the specialty breads have risen from $2.99 a loaf to $5.99 in at least one HyVee store in Cedar Rapids.

I'm assuming that's the case in HyVees everywhere.

What a shame.

By the way, Frank and Edna have written a letter protesting the price increase to the HyVee management.

So far they haven't received a reply.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

It Must've Been the Necktie


In a personal and purely selfish way, I'd like to credit the necktie I wore to church this evening for the extraordinary way the Chicago Cubs played baseball tonight.

But obviously the tie--the one with the blue background showing the Norman Rockwell version of a sadsack Cubs player staring into space and wondering if there would ever be a tomorrow or a Cubs World Series--didn't do it all.

After 71 years, the Cubs are going to the World Series--thanks to their 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight at Wrigley Field--and, sure, players such as Kyle Hendricks, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Dexter Fowler did the heavy lifting.

Absent on this wonderful night at historic Wrigley was any thought or whisper of a hex, curse, ghosts, black cat, billygoat and Bartman that might ruin things for Cubs fans who have been suffering and agonizing longer than any human being should be forced to suffer and agonize.

This is 2016.

These are the new Cubs.

That was the National League pennant they won tonight.

The next assignment: Beat American League champion Cleveland, starting Tuesday, and win the Cubs' first World Series since 1908.

I'm certain that Cubs necktie of mine [the lucky tie, of course] will be worn plenty more in 2016.

After all, there are still four games to win over Cleveland before the Cubs can call themselves World Series champions.

No sense in stopping all this fun now.

[Editor's Note: In a totally non-scientific poll, people who read Internet sports commentary have decided that Ron Maly's Cubs necktie had plenty to do with tonight's monumental victory].

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Huge Night for the Maly Family At Valley Stadium


It was Senior Night and an extra big occasion for the Maly family at the final home football game of Valley High School's regular season.

In addition to honoring the football seniors, recognition was give to senior members of Valley's student trainer/student manager staff, plus seniors among the cheerleaders, marching band and dance team.

Megan Maly [pictured at the left], the daughter of Kevin and Donna Maly and the youngest of Ron and Maxine Maly's six grandchildren, was a senior on the student trainer/student manager staff.

Megan is in her fourth year as a Valley football student trainer/student manager, and will be a student trainer/student manager on  the Tigers' boys basketball team this winter.

She was a member of the trainer/manager staff on the Valley girls team that finished as the runnerup in the class 5-A state tournament a couple of years ago, and performed the same duties with the Valley boys basketball team that won the state class 4-A state championship last season.

Pictured below is Megan with two other seniors on the football student trainer/student manager staff.

Pictured at the top are Ron, Maxine and daughter-in-law Polly Maly, all of whom enjoyed Valley's 49-0 victory over Marshalltown in the regular season finale at Valley Stadium.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

In Other Words, the Chicago Cubs


noun jug·ger·naut \ˈjə-gər-ˌnȯt, -ˌnät\

Simple Definition of juggernaut
  • : something (such as a force, campaign, or movement) that is extremely large and powerful and cannot be stopped

Drake Radio Shakeup


Being the curious guy I am, I sought out some explanation on news that was announced by Drake's athletic department.

John Meyer emailed me this story:

"Hunter Phillips and Randy Mauro will be the new radio broadcast team for the Drake University women.s basketball program on 1350 ESPN Des Moines.

"Phillips, who will perform play-by-play duties, graduated from Drake in May, 2016 with bachelor's degrees in broadcast journalism and history. He broadcast Drake men's and women's basketball, football and softball games for three years on the campus radio station, 94.1 The Dog, and served as the station's sports director his senior year. Phillips is a West Des Moines native.
"Mauro, who will serve as the analyst, coached high school boys basketball for 15 years at Dowling Catholic and Lincoln High Schools and has coached girls basketball for eight seasons in the local club program, the All-Iowa Attack."
I asked a guy who is close to the Drake program what he thought of this stuff. Here's what he told me:

"Ric Silvestrini, who was Drake's previous women's basketball play-by-play announcer, said he was too busy with his other duties at Drake, and Drake officials didn't want him to be gone on road trips.

"Color analyst Molly Nelson, a former Drake player, is expecting twins and opted not to do the radio this year. So they were scrambling for an analyst, and Randy Mauro was a suggestion from coach Jennie Baranczyk.

"This will be the first time in Drake history they have had a man serving as analyst.

"I can't believe they didn't reach out to Laura Leonard, who had been an analyst for more than 25 years, or reach out to other former Drake women's basketball players who live in the Des Moines area."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Who's Pitiful & Who Isn't


Well, I had good intentions tonight.

I tried to split my TV time equally between the Cubs-Dodgers playoff game and the Clinton-Trump presidential debate.

But, hey, it's a heck of a lot easier keeping track of a baseball game than a debate.
At least they keep score in baseball.

In politics, it ain't so simple.

I even asked for help after the debate.

One of my favorite tell-it-like-it-is political 
analysts texted: "I don't know who won. Both of the [two clowns in the debate] were pitiful."

At least, for a change, the Cubs weren't pitiful .

After going scoreless in two consecutive games, they came out of their offensive funk and showed that they weren't dead by walloping the Dodgers, 10-2, in Game 4 of the National League playoff.

It's good to know that multi-millionaire ballplayers can actually put points on the scoreboard.

So the series is tied, 2-2, heading into tomorrow night's game at Dodger Stadium.

I feel a lot better about the Cubs' chances now that they've rediscovered how to hit the ball.

As for Clinton and Trump, well....both were pitiful tonight and will likely remain pitiful tomorrow and the next day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016



This is not looking good.

The Cubs are giving all appearances of being dead.

They can't hit.

They can't score.

They haven't put a run on the board for two games.

Tonight Jake Arrieta couldn't pitch.

When that happens, you know it's bad.

The Cubs are making the Dodgers look like world-beaters in the National League playoffs.

I'm afraid people will very soon bring up the subject of black cats, billygoats and all the other negative stuff associated with a baseball franchise that hasn't won a World Series since 1908.

So sad.

Gouged At the Grlocery Store


I was talking to a guy I know.

I'll call him Frank because that's his name.

Frank had just gone grocery shopping with his wife Edna, and wasn't in a good mood.

Edna wasn't exactly feeling like doing cartwheels down Ashworth Road either.

"What's the problem?" I asked.

 "HyVee is my problem," Frank said.  "We buy most of our groceries at Fareway, and usually go to HyVee only for a couple of reasons--to try the free food samples they give away in the meat department and to buy some bread we like."

"What kind of bread?" I asked. 

"Well, it's a dark bread [pictured] filled with 
raisins and walnuts," Frank said. "It's made in the HyVee bakery. Edna and I think it's healthy, and we try to eat a slice or two every day to keep us regular, if you know what I mean."

"I know what you mean, Frank," I said. "Sounds good to me.  So give me some details on your trouble with HyVee."

"Well," Frank explained, " I went to the  bakery at the HyVee on Valley West Drive [35th Street] in West Des Moines this morning, and noticed that they were giving customers 6 cents off their gas price if they bought a loaf of certain breads. I've been paying $2.98 a loaf for the bread, and the 6 cents off on the gas for the old Subaru hatchback would make it a tremendous deal."

I agreed.

"The trouble was, when I checked my receipt I saw that they charged me $5.99 for the loaf of raisin-and-walnut bread,"  Frank said.  "I was pissed. So I went to the customer service desk and said I'd been over-charged by $3.01."

"That's quite a price hike, Frank," I said. "Did they give you a refund?"

"No. The lady at the customer service desk showed me that the price on the bread was correct at  $5.99," Frank said.  "So I went

back to the bakery to see why the bread cost $5.99 instead of $2.98. The sales guy said $5.99 was the new price. He didn't know, or didn't want me to know, why the price shot up so high. Last week the bread cost $2.98."

I told Frank I had never heard of a price hike like that on bread or anything else.

"I'm planning to write a letter to the HyVee manager," Frank said.

I hope he does. 

Frank and Edna were gouged and deserve better.

I didn't ask, but I'll bet they didn't get a smile in every aisle either.

As far as I'm concerned, Frank and Edna can sign my name to that letter, too. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pitifully Punchless


I'm having a difficult time figuring out how professional athletes, most of whom are paid millions of dollars a season, sometimes can't hit

a moving baseball often enough to score one run in a game.

I'm referring, of course, to the Chicago Cubs, who were held scoreless and with only two hits last night by Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League playoffs.

The Cubs, who lost, 1-0, permitted Kershaw to look like Cy Young, in whose memory an award is given each season to the best pitcher in the league.

As long as I'm writing about how someone resembled someone else, Kershaw made the Cubs look like Little Leaguers in the game at Wrigley Field.

Or, as one of the announcers [whose hair was dyed red] on today's local early-morning show on KCCI , kept calling it, Wrigley Stadium without anyone else on the program correcting her.

For the benefit of that uninformed announcer and her cohorts on channel 8, the Cubs' ballyard has been called Wrigley Field since 1927.

Anyway, I'm finding if very hard to understand why the Cubs couldn't score one run.

Or how Joe Maddon [pictured], who is being paid millions of dollars to manage the Cubs, couldn't figure out some type of strategy that would produce some sort of offense.

Like a hit-and-run.

Like a bunt or two.

The Cubs were totally unimaginative against the Dodgers, evidently waiting in vain for Javier Baez or someone else to hit a home run that would tie or win the game.

Shame on Joe Maddon and his punchless players.

It made for awful TV.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Purdue's Coach Fired After His 49-35 Loss To Iowa


I listened to some of yesterday's Iowa-Purdue football game on the car radio and watched some of it on TV in Medina, MN. 

The Boilermakers got clobbered, 49-35, and didn't look any better on TV at Lance's home in Medina than they sounded on the radio in Mark's Honda.  

Indeed, I made the comment to someone that I couldn't imagine a more poorly-coached team than Purdue. 

Evidently, Darrell Hazell's bosses agreed with me. 

They fired Hazell today. 

Obviously, athletic director Mike Bobinski had seen enough after Purdue's clobbering by Iowa. 

Had Bobinski not canned Hazell, the powers-that-be at Purdue might have fired Bobinski. 

Hazell's records were 9-33 overall and 3-24 in the Big Ten in less than four seasons. 

I'm not big on firing collegiate coaches at mid-season. 

After all, I covered Iowa in its 0-11 season in 1973 [the worst record in school history] and coach Frank Lauterbur survived until the bitter end. 

But these are different times.  

There's pressure all over collegiate football, just like in professional football. 

Coaches are being paid millions of dollars to succeed. 

When they don't, they're gone.

It was thumbs up from everyone at the table during today's pie-and-coffee session on the selection of Blake Boldon as the new Drake Relays director. Sending a strong message to me, of course, that Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb picked the right guy for the job. By the way, my pie was apple.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Not Lousy Anymore


I take it all back.

What I wrote earlier today about the Chicago Cubs, I mean.

I'm pretty sure I used the word lousy while describing the way the Cubs played last night and early this morning in a 6-5 loss to San Francisco in Game 3 of the National League Division Playoffs.

This morning was this morning. Tonight is tonight.

The Cubs miraculously rallied from a 5-2 deficit with a 4-run ninth inning tonight against the Giants that gave them the series three games to one.

So all is well.

Like I said, I take it all back.

On to the next round against either the Washington Nationals or the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Then the World Series after that.

Blake Boldon Named Director Of Drake Relays


Blake Boldon today was named the 12th director of the Drake Relays. 

I don't know Boldon and I know next to nothing about track and field. 

I mean,  I was never any good at either track or field. 

Not as a young guy, not as a not-so-young guy. 

And I have no idea yet how the folks who follow the Drake Relays feel about Boldon. 

But pie-and-coffee day is less than 24 hours away, and I'll be in the company of some people then who are either associated with Drake or pay a lot of attention to the Drake Relays. 

So they'll give me all the information and opinions I need regarding Boldon. 

The guy is a native Iowan [from Osceola] and is leaving a job as executive director of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon to come to Drake. 

And Ty Patton at Drake writes in a press release he emailed to me that Boldon "has an extensive background and record of success as a competitive athlete, collegiate coach and event director." 

Sounds good to me. 

The Drake Relays is pretty big stuff in the collegiate athletic world and it's certainly important at Drake, so I'm hoping Boldon is the right person for the job.

More Of Frasier, Less Of the Cubs


I was planning to take a stab at writing something funny about how the playoff games between the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco

Giants were screwing up my late-night and early-morning sleeping habits and TV-watching.

But the only thing funny about the Cubs is how they played late in a 5-hour 4-minute baseball game that ended at 1:45 this morning.

The Cubs, who had a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, blew a 3-0 lead produced by a second-inning home run from pitcher Jake Arrieta, of all people.

The Chicagos played so lousy late in the game that I even flipped the channel at midnight to watch a 20-year-old re-run of a Frasier program. 

The Cubs wound up losing in 13 innings. Now we all can see why they haven't won a World Series since 1908.

Suddenly I'm not feeling good about the Cubs ending that drought. 

To keep my sanity, I may be watching more of Frasier and less of the Chicagos.

Monday, October 10, 2016

It Ain't Gonna Happen


My Neighbor Al the Health Nut told me today he saw this headline in the paper: 

Food glut means lower 
prices for consumers

After explaining the meaning of the word glut to Al, I said, "Do you believe prices are going to be cheaper at the grocery store?" 

Al paused for a second or two. 

"Ain't gonna happen in my lifetime," he said. 

Al doesn't believe much of anything these days.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hearst Randolph Duncan Jr.


Chuck Offenburger, the paper's Iowa Boy columnist in the good old days, emailed an interesting question to me after reading my recent column about the late Randy Duncan.

"You mentioned his full name, Hearst Randolph Duncan Jr.," Offenburger wrote.  "He was named after his
father, obviously.  But in your chats with Randy, did it ever come up whether the family had any ties to William Randolph Hearst, the legendary newspaper publisher?"

I wrote back to Chuck that, no, I hadn't ever asked Randy Duncan in my many conversations with him if his family had any ties to William Randolph Hearst.

I don't know if anyone else did either.

But now I wish I would have.

William Randolph Hearst [pictured], who was born in 1863 and died in 1951, built the biggest newspaper chain in the nation, stretching from San Francisco to New York. His chain included almost 30 papers, and he also got into magazine publishing.

After thinking about Offenburger's question,  it would've been fun while writing a story about Randy Duncan's achievements in a Hawkeye football game to start: 

"Hearst Randolph Duncan Jr. was spectacular, completing 16 passes in 20 attempts--five for touchdowns--in Iowa's 45-0 victory over Wisconsin."

But somehow I don't think Randy Duncan would've preferred that.

To all of us, he was just Randy.

And like I wrote earlier, we'll miss him.