Wednesday, June 27, 2012

the cigar box


For further proof that I watch little to no current television … I’m gonna haul out a quote from a great episode of “Cold Case” to open today’s post.

“We’re the lucky ones” ....

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Today, I got an email from the Chiefs front office, informing me that my season ticket cards would be in the mail next month, and I should receive them no later than the end of July.

What part of that sentence sounds weird to you?  It’s ok, go ahead and re-read it, I’ve got at least an hour of typing left to do for this post.

(And … time).

“Cards”*.  Yes, the Chiefs no longer are mailing you the season ticket books, with actual tickets on them, beginning this season.  All your season tickets are preloaded onto a card that each ticket holder can use to enter the stadium.  Which means that yet another tradition in my life is about to bite the dust.

(*: yes, cards, as in plural.  I am not going to be in 132** (officially anyways; I plan to sneak down a time or two -- after all, seats 15 and 16 never get used) this season.  Namely because $800 a year is too much for a second ticket, which I needed to add for the jersey giveaway (our tailgating group has a plan for my jersey, since I don’t wear them, hence the need for me to get a second ticket.)  So for this season, I’ll be coming to you live from section 336, row 8, seats 22 and 23 (on the aisle).  My STH rep Kurt was really helpful in finding a spot (a) in the sun for every noon game, (b) still in the west end zone, and (c) with a similar view to what I’ve had for … well, a long time.  Anyways, two tickets in row 8 of 336 (the section is right underneath the far right of the video board, so they’re about halfway up) set me back less than one ticket in 132.  Hence the move.  If my financial fortunes change, hell yes I’ll be moving back down.

Oh, and as for the extra ticket, I promised Dusty first dibs, but I’m guessing he’ll attend half the games at most … so if you can beat his lowball offer of $0.00 for said card, let me know.  (pause ...) I’m bribable!)

On my dresser for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a cigar box filled with many keepsake items I never want to lose … and most of those items are tickets from sporting events I’ve been blessed enough to attend.  (Most, but not all).

(**: also, hopefully coming tomorrow, but more likely early next week, my look back at my favorite moments as a STH in 132.  Even if it's just a year's exile, I guaran-damn-tee you I can milk 27 moments out of the last decade plus ...)

So, instead of wasting a 40oz for my “homie”, Mr. Ticket, passing away in the Chiefs Kingdom, I decided to post my 27 favorite items in said box.  And man, is this thing a treasure trove of memories … because dear readers, I’ve definitely been a lucky one, as have we all …

27. My college graduation tassle.  Horned Frog Purple, with the gold “98” on it.  The next time my mom drops the “why can’t you be more aggressive with your life, like your brother?” blast, I think I’ll remind her of that one time when I graduated a semester early to save her and dad having both of us in school for a lengthy amount of time at the same time.  It takes motivation (and abject stupidity – ABJECT!  STUPIDITY!) to graduate from college in 3 ½ years.

26. A picture of me with (then) First Lady Hillary Clinton, taken at a Young Journalists Conference in Washington, DC in 1994.  I pass by the office building where Mrs. Clinton had her KC headquarters for her 2008 campaign every day going to and from work.  And every day when I’m stuck at the stoplight, I just shake my head in disgust at how stupid the Democrat Party of 2012 is … to say nothing of how stupid they were in 2008.  (Run Hillary!  Run!  It’s still not too late to save the liberal agenda from roo-een!)  Speaking of roo-eened …

25. My favorite picture of all time.  Thankfully for my birthday a few years ago, Gregg got ahold of the original from his sister and gave me a new framed copy as my gift … but the picture is from the Chargers / Chiefs game in 2000.  It’s a shot from behind of me, Gregg, and Jasson, along with Gregg’s mom, walking down Lot G right after the gates opened.  The only thing in front of us was Arrowhead itself.  Things may not be like they used to be, because life happens.  But every time I see that picture, I never fail to smile and laugh a little at the way things were.

24. Ticket to Game 3, 1996 AL Divisional Playoffs, Rangers vs “TBD”.  The “TBD”, of course, was your 1996 World Series Champion New York Yankees, who won both games played in Arlington that October.  Why did I hold onto this bad boy?  Because it was the first ever home playoff game in Rangers history.  (Side note to Rangers fans: I made it to all of the first four home playoff games in your franchise history.  You went 0-4.  Since then?  I haven’t been to any … and they have two World Series appearances in two chances.  Uum, you’re welcome?)

23. Ticket to July 15, 2003 Royals game, vs Giants.  My favorite Royals game I’ve ever attended.  Jose Lima’s first start.  Mike Sweeney’s two out, 0-2 double to clear the bases and win the game in the bottom of the ninth.  And the game that jump-started a six week belief that maybe, just maybe, the Royals don’t suck anymore.

22. An official “You Completed a Lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway” pass, from our road trip to Cincinnati for the Chiefs game in 2003.  I remember two things about that “lap” on the tour bus: (a) you could still see the skid mark on the wall in turn four from where Paul Dana died earlier that week, and (b) you’re goddamned right I hopped out and kissed the bricks when our driver gave us the opportunity!  I LOVE that place!

21. Ticket to September 28, 2002 Chiefs game, vs Dolphins.  The funnest game at Arrowhead I’ve ever attended.  If I had to ever draw up a perfect Steve day … well, I already have, and it didn’t involve Arrowhead, believe it or not.  But if I had to draw up a perfect Chiefs day, it’s this one … or exactly six years later …

20. Ticket to September 28, 2008 Chiefs game, vs broncos.  Ending 345 days of losing.  And we did it against an unbeaten broncos team.  This defeat for them directly cost them the playoffs, cost mike shanarat his job, led to jay cutler getting traded, and led to the Josh McDaniels era.  On second thought, this one should probably be higher.  Speaking of higher …

19. Ticket to November 14, 2008, at the Beaumont Club, for a night with Matt Nathanson.  As best I remember, there were eight of us there – me, DJ, Damien, Heath, Sarah, Mallory, Meghan, and Dana.  One of the funnest concerts I’ve ever been to.  Mr. Nathanson was still going strong 2 ½ hours into his set at 2am when we left.  Great times had by all.

18. The “congratulations” card from Natalie for my high school graduation … where my present was any Royals game, all summer, on her.  My God, did I screw up that relationship eight ways from Sunday.  It probably didn’t help she was screwing everyone other than me at one point, to be fair, but still.  Hang on, let me bang my head on my desk a few times over that f*ck up … moving on to

17. An official “tour of the Supreme Court” memento, from my trip to DC in 1994.  Seems fitting, given what’s coming down tomorrow (aka “the mandate ruling”).

16. An autographed 980 KMBZ notepad piece of paper by “Sweet Jesus!” himself, Mr. Ed Hochuli.  Would have been from the 2000 Seahawks Monday nighter.  And yes, he signed it, “Sweet Jesus, Ed Hochuli!” 

15. An unused condom.  No, seriously, there’s an unused Trojan still in a very shriveled up package from (I’m guessing) at least ten years ago in this thing for some reason.  I’m guessing it was an epic fail I wanted to remember … but just for my own sanity, I’m going to say that it’s from “The Night That Will Live in Infamy”, and it’s the one I refused (despite my drunken state) to use on Ratty.  Yeah, we’re going with that. 

Wow, my entire history of relationships and hook-ups is just one really f*cked up string of disasters isn’t it?  But the problem CLEARLY isn’t me …

14. Ticket to the “Surrender of the Century”, KU vs Nebraska, November 3, 2007.  The “Spirit of 76”! game.  The “we’ve literally waited a generation for this” beatdown!  The “we actually paid face value … AND paid to park?!?!” moment of incredulity game of a lifetime.  (Here’s a hint, in case you’ve never been to a KU football game: if you actually have to pay someone to park, you’re not trying hard enough to find that free vacant spot on the street three blocks from the stadium.)  Kinda makes me wish I had a Jensen Liquors receipt in there, but sadly, I think I’ve always paid the Jesus lookalike cash for my bottle of Smirnoff on the walk in.

13. Ticket to Ben Harper at Starlight, August 26, 2006.  One of the funnest concerts I’ve ever been to – me and DJ, my buddy Neeck, and his buddy Ryan.  Baked off our asses in a monsoon, as Ben and the Innocent Criminals played through a solid two hours of non-stop rain.  I’d love to relive that at least once. 

12. Ticket to Indianapolis 500, May 27, 2005.  Anyone who was there that day, will never forget how LOUD it got when Danica took the lead with 11 to go on the restart.  Hell, I wasn’t cheering for her – I wanted my boy Kenny Brack* to win (he wrecked out early), so I’d switched to rooting for Sebastien Bourdais.  But even I was standing and cheering as Danica emerged from turn four with the lead for the next four laps, and was even texting Gregg “can she actually win this” (as he had the scanner, and I’m telling you, you couldn’t hear ANYTHING in there, the joint was so loud at this point).  Paired with …

11. Ticket to Indianapolis 500, May 26, 2006.  Best race … and funnest road trip … I’ve ever seen or been on.  This is definitely one I wish I could relive someday, but sadly, probably won’t.

(*: the one keepsake I wish I had: the drunken pic of me and Kenny Brack outside Kansas Speedway after the 2004 truck race that Gregg took, where I’m pushing a .26, shirtless, sunburned from head to toe, and here’s Kenny, my favorite driver ever, your 1999 Indy 500 champion, willingly obliging the only person there to recognize him for a quick picture.  Trust me – I’ve rarely looked more drunk than I did in that photo, and that guy could not have been more gracious.)

Wow, top 10 already?  Only 5 pages in?  I’m slipping!  Here we go:

10. Ticket to KU / MU Game at Arrowhead, November 29, 2008.  Possibly the funnest tailgate in sub-freezing weather imaginable.  Solid group of friends, saw KU win on a last second drive, only to almost lose on a miraculous Mizzou field goal as time expired (thankfully barely missed) … the entire fourth quarter played in blizzard like conditions (sweet!  Yes, I hate the cold, but if you have to endure it, at least let it snow!) … and of course, highlighted by two tailgating moments no one there will ever forget: Rita taking the “cookies” home with her, and me being propositioned by a 14 year old for a jello shot … me giving said 14 year old a jello shot … and then said 14 year old showing Mallory how to do a jello shot.  Call me crazy – but I still have faith in the next generation.

9. Ticket to 2005 Brickyard 400, August 7, 2005.  For three reasons: my two favorite Cup drivers led and battled the whole race (Kahne and Stewart), Stewart finally won at his home track, and oh yeah, the fact that my boss and I were literally getting into shouting matches so loud that the claims department a block away could hear us, sent me on my way out of former employer within a couple more months.  Fine by me – I’m working with the best of the best from former employer now … and she isn’t.

8. Ticket(s) to (a) Royals vs Twins, and (b) Chiefs vs Vikings, “Double Header Day II”, August 16, 2003.  Sadly, I don’t seem to have DHD I tickets anywhere … but anytime you can spend an entire day outside in conditions so hot that even Gregg reaches the “f*ck it, the jersey’s coming off, it’s too hot” moment of clarity, and the next time that guy doesn’t wear a jersey into a Chiefs game, will be the second – that’s a great day.  To say nothing of my uncle and the “tin cup”.

And yes, Jasson still has plenty of time to pay me back for the $11.50 I spent on Royals tickets for he and his wife that day.  The Second Coming has yet to occur.

7. Ticket(s) to Mavericks vs Celtics, December 10, 2005, and Chiefs at Cowboys, December 11, 2005.  The second best roadie I’ve ever been on.  Another one I’d love to repeat again if life affords a second chance.  Because anytime your roommate realizes “hey, we’re sitting behind Devin Harris’ parents”, and you realize “hey, he knows his sh*t, they probably are Devin Harris’ parents” … and sure as sh*t, they were Devin Harris’ parents, anytime you can experience that?  You have to.

Plus just being back in Dallas, man … I so want to move back.

(Editors note: the next three selections, are all ranked here for a reason …)

6. Ticket to Royals vs White Sox, August 22, 2009 (300,001st oz tailgate)
5. Ticket to Royals vs Twins, July 30, 2010 (360,001st oz tailgate)
4. Ticket to Sporting KC vs DC United, August 21, 2011 (410,001st oz tailgate)

Yeah, it’s probably time to start planning the annual summer “adult” tailgate that was founded three years ago for purely selfish reasons – “The Kid” and I had spent four months fighting over ridiculous stupid sh*t after we left the Stubbs house.  It all came to a head over the July 4th weekend that summer, when we nearly threw down in Russ and Mona’s backyard because we were both dropping high-quality one-line putdowns at each other.  (In our defense: if you’ve seen their lawn?  There’s far worse places to throw down.  Their grass is still lush green come mid-August, should at least cushion the fall!) 

My response was to try to take the upper hand, and propose a tailgate with anyone who wanted to come, to mend fences.  In the words of Dr. Juliet Burke, “it worked”.  It worked so well that we did it again a second time in 2010, although it was so hot that the party fizzled out early.

And hell, it worked so well last summer, that I think the guy whose pissy fit with me founded this thing, was genuinely frightened that his ex (aka “The Crush”) and his wife might become friends by the time it was over.

So yes, there will be a 460 … 470 … oh who am I kidding, it’s been a brutal year.  There will be a 480,001st tailgate.  Proposed dates coming by Friday to your email inbox and on this site (in case I don’t have your email address.)  I have four dates in mind, all in late July into August, all on Saturday – 1 Royals, 3 Sporting KC.  As always, however you vote, wins the day.

(And for those of you reading this who want to go, who have never made it, here’s the deal – I provide the main course.  You bring what you want to drink and, if so inclined, a side dish.  The last two years, I’ve just bought massive sandwich trays because it’s been too hot to grill on the pavement, but if it’s not unbearable, I will buy enough meat to re-create a couple cows for someone far better at said grill to cook than me.  And I’m looking at Gregg and Dusty as I type that last sentence.)

Wow, top three time.  And surprisingly, these were not only easy to pick, there’s no ties anywhere in this countdown, save for 6/5/4 counting separately*.  Wow!  I’m maturing! 

(*: just seeing if you're paying attention the last 5 selections or so).

So … long overdue, here’s the “Honorable Mention”:

HM: Ticket for Rangers game, Thursday August 11, 1994, vs Mariners.  If you consider yourself even a remote fan of baseball, you understand the significance of this one.  So for those of you who don’t, here’s why:

It was the final American League game played before the players strike in 1994.  I was down there on a touring trip of prospective colleges to attend with my dad (who, knowing how much I loved baseball and wanted to see the new Ballpark down there, actually moved the trip up a week to avoid the strike.  I love that man.)

I couldn’t tell you two things from the game.  What I do remember is the next day, when I took a tour early in the day of a campus just south of Colonial Country Club, just south of the Zoo, right off of Forest Park, University Drive, Berry Street, Cantwell Street, hell even Princeton, since I parked there damned near every morning my last three years. 

Yes, the day of the players strike … was the day I toured TCU as a prospective student.  I had breakfast at Old South.  (THE best breakfast anywhere, save for possibly DJ’s eggs benedict.  (pause …)  Sorry champ, it’s THE best breakfast anywhere).

Toured the campus.  Loved the layout.  Loved the heat (it hit 112 that day).  Fell in love with Perotti’s for lunch (many, many, many a tab at that place was payed by my folks apparently unknowingly over four years … uum, love you guys!)  Loved my dad dropping the “no wonder my brother is such a sh*tty driver, look at these damned idiots!” to describe D/FW drivers.  (My uncle lives in Plano … and in his defense, he isn’t the sh*tty driver in the family.  Even back then, dad was rapidly approaching the “Voice of Reason”’s father’s memorial “do we take the keys away or not” phase of his driving capabilities.)

The next stop after TCU?  Was 90 minutes south: Baylor.  Honestly?  Baylor impressed me more … until they drug that poor, poor live bear out there for our tour on (again) a 112 degree day!  What kind of idiot hauls a freaking bear out of his cave (and yes, they do have a full-on cave for said bear) on a 112 degree day just to see maybe 1 person who might attend school there?  I’m not a huge animal rights person (save for dogs), but that pretty much sealed the deal for TCU right there.  I still think about that poor bear to this day.  (That, and as soon as the “we’re a strict Baptist school …” line came out of our tour guide, I was gone-zo.  Although what do I know – a good buddy of mine called him time spent at Baylor “the best five years of my life”, and knowing Neeck?  He had a helluva lot of fun.)

Now, after that delay … the top three:

3. Ticket for my DUI, Sunday April 21, 2002.  I am sure that many people who suffer the indignity of getting a DUI are pissed.  And for a brief moment I was.  But given where my life was headed at that point?  It was a godsend.  Or more like a God send.  I needed that wakeup call.  I’m not saying I haven’t done some stupid sh*t since then … but at least 95% of the time, I plan ahead – I make sure I have a couch or bed to crash on, make sure I have a ride home, etc. 

I know I’ll eventually succumb to my personal demon known as “alcohol” … but not until it’s time.  And it’s nowhere near time.  Besides, if Larry Hagman can still be a TV star at 80, and Pat Summerall is still kicking at 82, well hell, I’ve got a fighting chance to make 50!

2. My TCU Student ID.  Oh yes, I still have this thing!  And man, what passed as “state of the art visual imaging” in 1995?  Trust me – is horrific in 2012.  I look like a sketch artist from “Unsolved Mysteries” in my “photo” on the front.

Although to TCU’s credit, they were on the edge of technology back then – all our student funding was loaded onto the card.  Yup, our student ID was a debit card!

It also served as our access into any TCU home sporting event we wanted to attend – yes, TCU athletics was so piss poor back then, that you got in for free to ANYTHING, including football (which was horrific at that point), basketball (which was not – made the NCAA’s 3 of the 4 years I was there), baseball, you name it. 

Which, if it wasn’t for number one on this list, would have brought everything full circle – a card that serves as your “all access” pass.  But it’s the quote to open that brings this full circle.

1. Ticket to Projekt Revolution, August 24, 2004.

A night spent with the two ex-roommates, who I consider to be my two best friends in life that I’m not related to.  And even eight years later, I gotta say …

“We’re the lucky ones”.

Cause in the words of Ronnie Milsap, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world” …

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