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Didja ever have a song you hear on the radio that instantly takes you back to a moment in time?

Do you still listen to the radio?

When I listen to the “Oldies Station” I would say nearly 50% of the songs bring back a moment, a time in a place, a memory I associate with the song.

Sometimes the association is rather abstract.

Take for example the connection between High School football two a day practices and the song by Queen called, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

Let’s set the DeLorean for a hot August summer on a football field in Chicago’s northwest side.

Back in the day, two a day football practices in August were a macho way get your ass in shape via drills, sprints and head on hits not dissimilar to physical torture. There was no concussion protocol. They actually called one of the drills “head-on tackling.”

Practice began in the gym with a speech about the goals for practice that day.

On day one, Coach Seevers made it clear that when we left that gym and exited to the adjacent football field, we were to “SPRINT when you see those goal posts. SPRINT when you see those goal posts.”

He pronounced it Spreeent

We then were to SPRINT to the north goal posts and run in position awaiting our next stage of the two-a-day gauntlet.  While running in position, Coach would arrive yelling in a loud borderline squeaky tenor voice, “READY READY.” Then he’d blow a whistle and we’d jump to the side and back to the front.

“READY READY.” He’d blow the whistle again and we’d jump to the side and back to the front.  We’d repeat this five thousand times until we were ready ready to drop before even starting practice.

Which brings us back to that Queen Song. Here’s the Official video in case you’ve forgotten it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO6D_BAuYCI

At about the 1:45 mark the lyrics go like this:

I gotta be cool, relax, get hip
And get on my track’s
Take a back seat (ah hum), hitch-hike (ah hum)
And take a long ride on my motorbike
Until I’m ready ready Freddie

SEE! There it is, “ready ready Freddie”

READY READY

Bang, I’m looking for goal posts to sprint to. I’m sprinting in place waiting for a whistle.  I’m transported in time to two a day practices on a hot August morning. As opposed to a Hot August Night, Neil Diamond. Brother Love’s traveling salvation show … But that’s another story for another time, if you’re ready ready.

FOOTNOTE: Cover photo is the actual site of the goalposts to sprint to.

It was the summer of 2006.  I was on a two week business trip to Quincy Massachusetts with a free weekend in between that I decided to use as an opportunity to sight see around and about the historic city of Boston.

As I plotted my trip, one destination was a must.  Fenway Park. I’ve got a thing for ballparks and stadiums and Fenway, with its iconic “Green Monster” wall that spans left field was a must.

There was a game that day, but it was 90 degrees outside, ticket prices would be exorbitant and I didn’t want to spend my only day in Beantown watching a ball game I really didn’t care about.  I would be satisfied with taking a lap around the park and catching just a glimpse of the field.

I took the T (as the locals call their train transport) and ended up at Fenway well before game time.  I bought a Red Sox Tee at a souvenir shop and walked around the historic park.  Nowhere could I catch a spot to view the actual playing field as brick walls encased the park.

As I turned left off Yawkey Way to Van Ness Street, there seemed to be a gap in the park and while there was an opening, the actual field of play was not in view.   I had a Kodak disposable camera.  This was before cell phones came standard with cameras.  2006.  The good old days.

I implored anyone inside the park to let me in for 5 minutes or at the very least, take my camera to snap a shot of the field.  I told them I came all the way from Chicago just to see the Monster. The only interest I received was from a local policeman who soon approached me.  I extended the same plea to him, but all the constable said was, “Move along, sir.”

A stranger in a strange town, I did as directed and satisfied my trip to Fenway with a T-shirt, and a bottle of “Wicked Cold” water I bought from a street vendor on Lansdowne Street just behind the “Green Monster.”   I only saw “The Monster” from the back side.

Yesterday, June 20, 2017, I took a tour of Wrigley Field with my wife and some out of town guests.  What better site to show Chicago to the visitors than a trip to the iconic ball yard the year after the Cubs first World Series title in 108 years.

My back was sore and my knees were aching and we lagged behind the tour group as we moved from the right field bleachers to the left field upper deck grandstands.

“Excuse me, excuse me sir,” said a fellow peeping through the gates in the right field corner as I took a turn to head up the stairs.

Normally, I ignore this stuff, but I stopped and said, “Yeah, I’m just on a tour here.”

He said to me as he extended his cell phone through the gated barrier, “I ‘m from New York and came by just to see the inside of Wrigley Field. Can you take my phone and get some pictures for me at least?”

Eleven years later and it just took a second for the serendipity of the moment to reach me.

“Absolutely,” I replied.

I took the phone, handed it to my wife who had observed the side gate to the inside of the field was open and said, “Go snap a whole bunch of pics for this guy.”

She did.  She didn’t ask why, she clicked away.  After 26 years, I still love this girl.

I handed back the phone to the New Yorker and my wife and I moved along to catch up with the tour group.

Some may call it a fortuitous moment for the New Yorker. Some may call it Karma. I prefer to see it as serendipitous.  Somewhere in New York this weekend, a guy is showing photos of his visit to Wrigley Field that have the green field, the ivy and the monster center field scoreboard.  My wicked cold water botte is long gone.

I was happy to accommodate this fellow’s request and show the friendliness of Chicagoans.  After all, Ernie Banks said, these are the “Friendly Confines.”

And, I share this tale because sometimes a special moment happens that merits mention.

IMG_1583
Big weekend a comin’ in college football. Many conference championship games will be played.

Between all the excitement of a Chicago Cubs World Series title and that election thing, I have not been watching too much football of late. But I did catch a few games over the weekend.

Now I’m sure it’s hard being a football broadcaster, calling the plays, describing the action and making it interesting for the folks in TV-land during a fast paced game. It can be a challenge. But sometimes, they lapse into announcer clichés that don’t make sense.

Here’s two examples:

Lou: Freshman Johnny Feenom has now gained 100 yards rushing the football.
Vince: Johnny’s having a great game here today, Lou. And he’s only a freshman.
Lou: He’s got a great future ahead of him.
STOP

Just wondering. Where else would Johnny’s future be except for ahead of him?

The term “future” inherently infers that whatever comes next is in fact ahead of him. Yes, he may have a great future but to say that future is ahead of him is obviously redundant and superfluous.

This is Johnny Feenom, not Marty McFly. If you ever saw the movie, you know that it turned out that McFly’s future was indeed behind him. However all other futures are ahead of you.

I checked the sidelines. No DeLorean. No Doc Brown. No Marty McFly. So the announcer was saying essentially that Johnny has a great future future because in the absence of the DeLorean, everybody’s future lies ahead.

Cliché Example two:

Lou: Johnny Feenom breaks a tackle and is brought down at the 30 yard line.
Vince: He got that extra five yards because he’s got “quick feet.”
STOP

Quick feet? Oh some announcers DO say that.

Johnny is just FAST. His whole body is fast. But some announcers attribute it to “quick feet.” If that was the case, here’s how this narrative would go:

Lou: And Johnny Feenom is brought down at the 30 yard line.
Vince: Lou, look at his feet. His feet are all the way to the 40 yard line but his body is 10 yards behind. Man that guy’s feet are fast!
Lou: Kinda weird watching his feet hopping up and down ten yards ahead of his body.
Lou: And he’s only a freshman, His future is ahead of him, just like his feet.

If you think I am making this up and you happen to be watching football this weekend, then buy yourself a bottle of Jim Beam and take a shot every time you hear about: 1) A future ahead of some young player or 2) A player with “quick feet.”

I recommend a B vitamin and Gatorade for the morning after if you play the game.

FOOTNOTE: In case you missed it, here’s another post with the infamous announcers, Vince and Lou around Olympic time if you can remember back that far.
https://wedwand.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/rio-life-olympics/

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