How did I not think of this?

So I heard a snippet from Colin Cowherd’s radio show last week in which he mentioned that the Alliance of American Football beat the NBA in TV ratings last weekend. He went on to talk of football’s popularity, but then he mentioned gambling and it hit me.

With legalized sports betting out there in some states, you have more incentive than ever to start new football leagues. Sure enough, I looked up betting odds to see if you could bet on the AAF and of course you could have.

If you look at the AAF as minor-league football, it doesn’t hold much appeal, but if you look at it as a chance to win a few bucks, the appeal increases dramatically.

 

Moving on to Mario

I’ve determined Xbox games are all about looking great, graphically, but not providing fun game play. The games are generally too easy or too lacking in fun to make it worth spending your time playing.

So, I’ve moved on to Nintendo and Mario. This morning I played Mario Tennis and had a lot more fun. There were challenges to pass that took me several tries. Like in classic video games, I would get a little closer each time to solving the puzzle, which forced me to keep playing until I solved it to satisfy the addiction.

Video games should be fun and in years of trying what Xbox has to offer, I’ve determined they just are not fun. They are beautifully created with thousands of options on each game. There are so many game modes within each game, you can literally play a single title forever and never reach the end. The problem is the path to infinity is loaded with monotony and boredom. Usually, the only thing that motivates me to continue playing an Xbox game is the obtaining of some new item promised at the end of the line, such as an ultimate Barry Sanders player in Madden or a super gun in Call of Duty.

The difference in Nintendo games is the motivation coming from a desire to conquer the puzzle laid out before me. Solving puzzles and challenges is much more fun, but there is an eventual end to those kind of games and that’s where the desire to keep playing ends as well. It’s nice knowing there will be an end to the game play.

Do what makes you happy?

People talk a lot about being happy, which is a broad idea. Happy can carry a lot of meanings, but when you break it down, the idea of happy is different for all of us.

I did a mental exercise yesterday, during an evening meditation. I asked myself what my ideal day would be. For me, it was waking early and having a nice breakfast, followed by a light workout to wake up the body. I might read a little and then blog a little and then I would spend the day playing golf. I would wrap the whole thing up with a nice dinner, maybe a drink and hit the hay early.

That’s my ideal day, which pretty much sums up what I do on vacation. If there was a way to make a living off a day like that, I would sign up.

Other people’s idea of happy will certainly be different than mine, but what I find makes life fun is to at least strive to do the things that make you happy every day, even if it is for five minutes. I find doing things like this blog post brighten my mood and help carry me through the days that are less than my ideal.

 

Madden is about space

I’ve been playing Madden football, the video game, for about a year now and discovering the game is all about open space. A lot of players try to work their best players to death, such as running pass plays for their fastest receiver all the time, but that doesn’t work at all. If the space the receiver runs to is covered, you can’t throw there no matter how fast he is, so the real key to offensive success is finding the open space on the field. The key to defensive play is taking away open space.

The only exception to this rule is if the opposing team has an overall team number much higher than yours. In that case, you can only win if they make a lot of dumb mistakes; even then you might lose.

Assuming teams are close in overall number, the games can be quite entertaining and mostly come down to calling the right play at the right time. In some cases, you can see what the opposition is up to before the ball snap and you can make audibles or adjustments to thwart their efforts.

Madden is a simulation of football, therefore it is a team sport in which you can only control one player at a time, so a lot of the action is beyond your control. The key to winning is observing well and finding the open spaces before your opponent does.

The Flyer

Jack was the man of the house now, so when the ranger came by to inquire about their fire, it was Jack he talked to. The ranger was a serious sort of human with a pinched brow and piercing stare.

“I could see this fire from miles away,” the ranger said.

“We are burning off our waste from the fall,” Jack said

Jack’s father was a farmer all his life and the whole family was in the process of taking over the farm. Only now, because of the terrible state of the world, the family farmed primarily to sustain itself and a few neighboring families who needed assistance. There was no more commerce, but Jack knew it would return someday and was determined to keep the farm operational until it did.

It was spring, but the landscape was every shade of brown. Even the newly budded leaves on the trees that would eventually be a bright magenta, were brown.

“So, you make it through the winter and get rid of the excess?” asked the ranger.

“Exactly, yes,” said Jack, who was beginning to dislike the ranger.

“Aren’t you worried about the marauders being drawn to the fire?”

“We don’t see them out this far,” Jack assured the ranger.

Strong and tall, stood the ranger, at least a head taller than Jack. He walked up closer to Jack as the breeze swirled dust about their feet and kicked the tails of the ranger’s long, leather cloak into the air for a moment. It was a moment long enough for Jack to notice a particular tattoo on the ranger’s left calf. It was the tattoo of a crescent moon and Jack knew that was supposed to mean something.

“What would you do if the marauders came your way?” the ranger asked.

“I suppose I would ask them to leave,” Jack said. “I think I will soon be asking you to leave. I know you are sworn in by the King to protect the land, but I can’t say I like the tone of your questions.”

Just then, gunfire rang across the brown landscape and Jack snapped his head to see where it was coming from. From the East, rode a gang of marauders, recognizable to Jack only because they rode the horse dogs he heard tell of from more widely traveled folks. There were six of them, galloping across the dirty plain, heading right toward Jack and the ranger.

What looked like large, hard-backed books were flying through the air between the galloping marauders and they were shooting at the objects, it appeared. They were far enough away to pose no great threat, but close enough to make Jake turn for his house and warn the family. When he turned his gaze back toward the house, the ranger was gone. As Jack reached his house, his parents and siblings were gone as well. He ran all around the structure and found no one.

Jack wasn’t the type to panic, but he was sensing the emotion in full force in that moment. He must have searched the house for longer than he realized, because the next thing he knew, the marauders were upon him. Their horse dogs slowed to a trot as the leader of the sextet holstered his smoking pistol. Jack hid behind the house, not sure if they knew he was there.

The leader of the marauders was small, what Jack thought was once referred to as a midget in old times. His evil eyes scanned the house and his crooked nose sniffed the air. He looked over the large fire and waved at his crew to go check it out. The five other midgets rode their horse dogs over the fire, which was a few hundred yards from the house. They started to pick apart the pile of crops and old food. If they had been traveling long, the burnt and rotten food would still be better than no food. The marauders were said to be immune to many illnesses due to hard living in many climates.

The evil-looking leader sniffed the air again and turned his head directly toward Jack, who could not see this, because he was behind the West corner of the house, trying to breathe as quietly as he could. He couldn’t see the leader, but he heard the footsteps begin his way and Jack knew he was left with one option.

West of the house, or “out back” as his family referred to it was a cliff that protected them from the world’s dangers. The house was strategically built near the cliff for days like this. Jack knew his parents and siblings must have seen the marauders and headed over the cliffs without him. He knew they would believe in Jack’s ability to catch up and would expect Jack to survive any encounters with evil. As the evil midget approached, continuing to sniff the air, Jack wasn’t so sure his family’s faith was correct.

If Jack could reach the cliffs, he knew he could out maneuver the horse dogs and the marauders. Jack was blessed with powerful legs and a quick mind. The wings he was born with would also be a help, once he got far enough down over the cliff and could glide away undetected.

The leader of the pack stopped just six feet away from the corner of the house where Jack crouched. Jack slowly reached down and picked up a shovel that lay against the side of the house. He took a good grip on the tool he had never done harm with before and readied himself to kill with it if necessary. Just as he was ready to deliver a murderous blow, the leader of the crew was called away by one of his men.

Jack took the opportunity to bolt for the cliff. He made it about 50 yards when the lead marauder saw him. Jack needed to go another hundred yards to get out of sight and out of reach of bullets. The evil midget drew his gun and started firing the pistol. The bullets struck the ground behind Jack and made him speed up. His heart boomed inside his chest as Jack lunged for the cliff’s edge. As he rolled over the side of the cliff and found footing below, he could hear the horse dogs hoofing it his way.

He carefully picked his way down the rocks as he and his family had practiced many times. As he did so, he wondered what happened to the ranger and wondered if the ranger was part of the marauders. Jack couldn’t dwell on the subject long, as he was reaching the toughest part of the cliff’s wall.

He took off his jacket and tied it around his waist. His wings sprung out into view and the lead marauder was there in time to see them as he peered over the edge of the rock wall.

“He’s a flyer,” the leader shouted to his men.

The men all looked at each other and smiled, because they knew if they could kill a flyer, the trophy would be worth a lot of money, not to mention the source of plenty of fame. Their brains flashed with images of women and riches and their hustle toward the cliff’s edge increased.

Jack knew he had no time left. He would have to take to the air and hope he was far enough away. If a bullet pierced his wings, he would fall to his death. Jack leapt off the rock and fell into the abyss, trying to fall far enough to make himself tougher to hit. When he felt he was, he spread his wings and sailed across the canyon.

He could hear the bullets whizzing by, at first close and then further away from him with each passing second. He knew he wasn’t safe until he couldn’t hear the bullets anymore.

The evil midget was the first to stop firing. He knew better than to waste bullets on a flyer who clearly had escaped. He let his men empty their guns and then ordered them back to loot the house. He stared into the canyon with his black eyes and watched until the little speck of a man in the air disappeared completely. He knew, somehow, that their paths would cross again and next time, he would be the one to catch the rare flyer.

To be continued…

 

 

 

Molinari at +120

Francesco Molinari is nearly an even-money favorite to win the weekly PGA Tour sponsored event. Known more for beating all the pros in Europe, Molinari is listed at +120 at sportsbook.ag, meaning $100 wager wins you $120.

Abraham Ancer is tied with Molinari on the golf score board, but not on the odds board, where he is +350. Both players sit at 13 under par, two shots ahead of Zac Blair and Ryan Armour, who are listed at +1100 and +800, respectively.

Tiger Woods is six shots back and listed at +2200, or 22-1.

If I were a bettin’ man and looking for a big score, I would take Marc Leishman at 40-1. He is also six shots back, but I feel a good round coming. I really don’t feel a good round coming, but I’ll take him anyway.

Eliminating the driving range

I’ve been to the driving range twice this summer and both times it led to my worst rounds of golf of the year. Both times, it led to an inability to make consistent contact with the golf ball on the course. I don’t know exactly why this happens, but I do know I will never go to a driving range again.

Never say never, I know, but the driving range has me spooked. I’ve played about a dozen rounds of golf this summer and in all but one of them, I haven’t warmed up at the range. Even without warm up, I have hit solid tee shots off the first tee almost every time (I think I only hit one bad shot). Regardless of the actual number of good shots or percentage of bad, I can say with certainty that not warming up hasn’t hurt my first tee shot.

The only thing I can figure is that standing in the same spot and hitting, whether off mats or off grass causes me to make subconscious, minute adjustments to my stance and set up that don’t translate to the golf course. Usually, I find myself having to move the ball backward in my stance, more toward the right foot and all is restored from there out on the course. So, it seems going to the driving range causes me to move the ball up in my stance or toward my left foot without my noticing. Golf is a touchy game, so small changes can throw you off, or at least I know they throw me off. There is nothing greater than hitting that sweet spot on the golf club repeatedly and nothing worse than missing it. That’s why I won’t go to the range ever again if I can help it.

 

Practice swing vs. real swing

Golfing with my sister today, I was also teaching her how to swing the club a little better, because she desires improvement. We went over some basic fundamentals and basically worked on getting her to swing the club in more of a circle around her body.

She is athletic and coordinated, so she picked up on the lesson fairly quickly and her practice swings looked as sound fundamentally as anyone could hope for. Then, she would address the ball and revert back to her old, bad swing.

She couldn’t believe it when I told her what she was doing, so I told her to focus on the swing and not on hitting the ball. When focused on hitting the ball, her brain automatically switched back to her old, ingrained swing. I told her I would rather see her whiff the ball completely, but make a good swing. Eventually, when the swing becomes ingrained, she can go back to focusing on hitting the ball.

Later in the round, she did whiff a couple shots and miss-hit nearly ever shot, but her swing was looking better even when she addressed the ball. Time will tell if it will all come together in the form of a golf game, but it was interesting to watch today, the struggles between brain and body.

All Koepka does is win U.S. Opens

Last year, when Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open, he took about a year off immediately after collecting that massive trophy. This year, I guess he decided to keep the ball rolling at the tournament now known as the Travelers.

Koepka is not the favorite, however, as that honor goes to Justin Thomas. Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are bigger favorites than Koepka, even though they both missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Thomas is 11-1, with McIlroy and Spieth at 13-1 and Koepka is next at 15-1.

Jason Day turned in a rough U.S. Open, also missing the cut, but he is 16-1 this week. Patrick Reed played incredible golf on Sunday, coming within a couple putts and drives of winning the U.S. Open, yet he is also 16-1.

Perhaps the odds makers figure those who missed the cut are rested and ready. Maybe Koepka will lack motivation and miss the cut, so he can get out of town and start another year-long vacation. He has a pretty good system going, just showing up to win the U.S. Open each summer.

The longest shot on the board at this week’s Travelers is Zecheng Dou, who is listed 800-1. Never heard of him, but might be worth a $1 bet, if I were a bettin’ man. If you were a bettin’ man, who would you take this week?

How long can faith last

The funny question about having faith in anything, whether God, yourself or other people has to do with how long it lasts. If failure is part of life on every level, as so many gurus like to tell us, at what point do you give up the faith?

There are people who have deep faith they will succeed at whatever they are striving for only to die of cancer at a young age and never realize their dreams. Did they have faith until the end? Never mind whether their death brought them to a better place. Did they achieve the vision of their heart’s desire before they went?

If they did not, then that means some people fail and that means you may fail to reach your vision of happiness. Those failures are the obstacles to faith. It’s so easy to wonder why you should be so lucky get what you desire when so many never do or when you yourself keep failing. Failures, big and small, are the faith killers.

The answer lies in the moment you let your faith die and you realize that without it you may as well be dead. To live even one day without faith is to live with despair and fall into depression. It is a living death when you don’t have faith, so the only way to live each day is with loads of faith that whatever your dreams are will come true. If they don’t happen today, there’s always tomorrow.