2100. Every day

This off-season I’ve made it a point to eat healthier and get into the gym on a regular basis.  Last off-season I gained fifteen pounds, didn’t lose much of it during the season then turned fifty (thanks to those of you that noticed and celebrated with me by giving me tons of attention & adoration…I eat that sh*t up big time…I really do).  This off-season I approached our company dietician and asked how many calories a guy of my height and age should be consuming daily.  Her answer….2100.  Long story short…my attention to what I’m consuming, how much of it I’m consuming and working at the gym have yielded a six pound weight loss in two and a half weeks.  Don’t get me wrong…it hasn’t been easy.  I LOVE food (who doesn’t….tell me…I want their name and phone number).  There are days when I easily slip under that 2100 calorie limit but more often than not…its a struggle.  Being hungry late at night isn’t something that I “do” well, and sometimes find myself in front of the pantry, sizing up what I can eat without making a frenzied Piranha-like assault on a bag of pretzels. I record what I eat and those calories and what I’ve found through these three weeks is that there are NO reasonable substitutes for the following foods:

  1. Potato chips.  Salty.  Greasy.  Potato chips.
  2. Chocolate and/or candy.
  3. Beer/Alcohol (I’m no lush…but ya know…I deal with the public a great deal so yeah….I throw a couple back from time to time.
  4. BBQ sauce…a former staple in my day to day life.

Oh…I’ve eaten more veggies, and raisins…can’t forget raisins…than ever.  I’m now eating apples…RAW.  Before I’d only touch an apple if it were sauced or in pie.  (MAN O MAN DO I MISS PIE…).  Clementines…the oranges little step-brother…I now eat ’em and can’t say that I enjoy them….but they’re filling! (so is sawdust I’d imagine….).  I bought some premixed rice (full of four different kinds of rice) then cooked it up with some chicken in it.  I quartered up some B sized potatoes and threw in some minced garlic like some sort of Frankenstein-induced frenzy to get the perfect trifecta of: flavor, low calories and lasting me until the next meal.  What I got….it didn’t totally suck, though it’s healthy but it didn’t last me very long.

I’ve caught myself trying to rationalize out the craziest stuff like serving sizes.  If a serving size of Doritos is 11 chips for 140 calories my question to you is “Since when can you find 11 perfect Doritos in a bag?!”  Honestly…unless you have a Brink’s Armored Truck pick up your bag of Doritos directly from the Dorito factory (probably one of the happiest places on Earth I’d think) then lovingly hand deliver it to your kitchen counter I seriously doubt that (like me and millions of others) you can find 11 unbroken Doritos in a bag…so you end up (like me) estimating just how many broken Doritos pieces it’ll take to equal ONE perfect Dorito!  Don’t even get me started on Ruffles.  Now an educated and rational person (and HUGE RICH RIPLEY fan) like my friend Doctor Matthew Wilding would point out …”why not just forgo the chips altogether?  They’re not part of a nutritious diet?” Well….MATTHEW…I’m a weak, non-perfect child of God and honestly…shouldn’t you be designing some sort of Mars-like explorer or delving deep into the wonders of engineering rather than pose such a dark question to me when I’m weak and hungry?  (sorry to lash out bro….really) So yeah…not totally rational when I’m hungry.

The upside is that the last time that I weighed myself I was down six pounds in the first two and a half weeks.  (I mention this twice since my blood sugar has dipped and I’m literally ready to pass out…) Sadly…as noted our daughters…I still have jowls upon my jaw.

I pick my battles.  I’ve had “cheat days” where I eat out, and drink whatever I choose.  I’ve noticed that cheeseburgers are now extremely AWESOME, that’ll happen when you’ve only eaten two in three weeks.  It’s difficult not to be hungry when you work in a store that has Snickers on sale every twenty feet or so; or when you’re in charge of ordering delicious bakery items like donuts, Danishes, pudding cakes, turnovers, crumb cakes, bars, cookies & so forth.  Grabbing a handful of raisins (130 calories) and washing them down with a serving of skim milk (90 calories per 8 ounces) just doesn’t cut it….but it’ll have to do.

I’ve decided to turn my attention to the foods that I can eat, and making them more filling and better tasting, and at making my favorite drink…a rum sidecar.  I’ll have one when we’re celebrating something special at a nice restaurant…and I don’t have to drive…they’re powerful when made correctly.  Cointreau, gold rum and lemon juice.  159 calories a pop and I just made one.  Not too shabby for a novice…and it beats the hell out of a clementine or raisins.

Until next time…when I regale you kids with this upcoming baseball season and my officiating of it….God bless and take care of yourselves.  Remember…don’t fret about not being perfect. If you were perfect you wouldn’t be nearly as much fun for the rest of us.  True story.



Upon further review….there’s more to say

As I ended my last blog (an award-worthy presentation) I was headed towards a small junior high school twenty minutes out of town in the country for an 8th grade boys game.  I was a little melancholy about it as it was my last school basketball game to officiate of this season.  I’ll miss officiating, period.  It gives me something to look forward to.  I meet great people.  I meet new people.  I make new friends. I see great athleticism up close. (there’s a lot of “I” in this…) Its a challenge to get it right, to manage situations and people in an emotionally charged atmosphere.  I love it.

That days “A” game featured two schools who have blossomed into conference rivals and their 8th grade teams really got after each other, throwing elbows and charging into other players.  I called two player control fouls and one team control foul in the FIRST HALF!! (the three other basketball officials reading this blog just said “THAT’S INCREDIABLE!!” while the rest of you just glossed over that part with a shrug of your shoulders).  Long story, short.  Great game that went down to the last second.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Do you know what’ll make you feel old and very mortal?  The answer…falling down.  Flat, on your side from a running position.  I did exactly that…at that game, try THAT sometime.  Tripped on my own size 11 feet while turning towards the new front court as the players were headed towards me….tripped and fell to the floor…at half court…in front of a hundred or so people.  I won’t lie (like I normally do…). It hurtIt took my breath away.  As I laid there I wondered if my officiating partner that day would see me down on the floor and blow the play dead then rush over to inquire as to my good health and equilibrium.   Nope.  THAT, ladies and gentlemen, will make you feel old.  I should have just laid there at half-court until SOMEONE…SOME CARING INDIVIDUAL exclaimed “DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN!!  THAT WONDERFUL AND ADORABLE REFEREE HAS FALLEN!!  DOESN’T ANYONE CARE?!?!” but no one did…so I gamely got up and wobbled down court. One of the teams took a time-out shortly thereafter, thank God. I took the ball to half-court where we’d inbound it….right where I’d fallen.  As I walked to that area a lady looked at me, patted the video camera in her lap and told me “I got it all on video for you…”  The folks around her chuckled and I had to as well.  I replied “If you submit that to America’s Funniest Home Videos and win I want 25% off the top” and she topped that with “I thought that you might need it for insurance!”  Needless to say…I was sore for the next few days….hip and ribs.  Feeling old and venerable, but adorable…that’s the way that I ended the 2015-16 season.  (I knew that you’d want to know….)

I’ll jot a few notes during the season about the games that I’ve worked.  I don’t use many of them, though here are a couple of my favorites.

  • One Friday night, during a heated rivalry, we were officiating in a packed gym.  No one liked our calls.  Not the coaches.  Not the players.  Not the adults.  Not the kids.  We were getting an earful from all quadrants, and some of it pretty nasty stuff.  As I walked with the ball towards the far sideline (I rarely look up into the bleachers to make eye-contact) I neared and in the middle of a bunch of raucous adults voicing their displeasure I made eye contact with a older lady with bright red hair (probably somewhere in her sixties) who was sitting there…quietly…with a little smile on her face looking back at me as the folks around her protested.  She was so calm and pleasant in those surroundings. I gave her a quick wink and smirk.  She returned the wink and grinned.  I thank God for reasonable people in the midst of the foolhardy.  Play on.
  • At one of the junior high games that I worked I ran into two teams that were totally the opposite of each other.  One knew how to play the game very well, the other did not.  The first half ended with the score 38-5.  I didn’t call fouls (they didn’t foul…they were that bad) or traveling, or double-dribble and the opposing coach could see what I was doing and was very good about it.  They were awful and not having fun, you could tell by their body language and expressions.  Time drags during games like that.  Each whistle stops the clock.  Everyone in the gym is silently pulling for the bad team to do ANYTHING a little better.  Even the good team would steal the ball then cross over into the front court and would then back it out waiting for the defense to catch up with them.  Eventually one of the girls on the bad team launched a 1950’s style shot from behind the three-point line.  It hit the rim hard, bounced high then kissed the backboard before coming back down and rattling around the rim before settling into the net.  The gym explodedLiterally EXPLODED.  A three-point basket!!  On their next possession the same player launched another three-point attempt and….nothing but net!!  SWISH!!!  The gym was going bananas!!  Players were jumping up off their benches!!  The bleachers were filled with folks high-fiving each other while others laughed openly wondering “what got into her?!” types of looks.  I stole a glance at the opposing coach as I ran down court, she was doubled over laughing.  I’m not sure what the final score was, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-15, but what will be remembered by practically everyone there were that players two back-to-back three-pointers, and the fun that they could now say that they had….playing in that game where sportsmanship prevailed. 

Many folks don’t have any idea just how much spandex basketball officials wear during games.  The answer is…A LOT.  I’m literally covered from my neck down to my knees in spandex, then knee braces, then two pairs of socks, one of which is a thirty dollar pair of compression socks….all covering a body lathered in Ben-Gay.  True story…we were getting ready to work a game when an older referee walked into the locker room.  He walked in, started saying something then abruptly stopped and exclaimed “WOW!!  SOMEBODY SMELLS GREAT IN HERE!!”  That…ladies and gentlemen…gets you noticed.  Ben-Gay.  Good for me.  Good for you.

Here’s something that’s kind of awkward.  For instance, the home school pays for the officials of that evening game(s).  Its roughly $90.  Most send you a check within a few weeks. I track whom I’ve been paid by and who hasn’t paid me.  As of yesterday’s mail I’m still owed by two schools, so on Monday…unless the checks arrive today…I’ll call those schools and ask if the checks have been issued.  It’s awkward at one school since the coach is the athletic director and it was his team that lost a hotly contested game on a shot that fell with a few seconds left to play.  “Umm…hi coach…remember me?  You planning on paying our crew for that nights double-header…?  Coach…?  Hello…?”

In conclusion (I’m wrapping it up…pay close attention) I’m starting to pay special attention to my weight.  In the past my weight has gradually increased, with no notable affects as I was skinny to begin with.  With middle-age and officiating so much during the year I could continue to eat like a teenager without consequence.  Before this past year losing weight was as easy as pie (I love pie…that’s a poor choice of words…but it’ll stay).  Last off-season I gained fifteen pounds, and it doesn’t become me.  After 70+ games I still have ten of those fifteen pounds. I’m now counting calories.  I’m now using portion control. I made it to the gym this morning and begrudgingly rode an exercise bike and burned off only enough calories to cover the tablespoons worth of raspberry preserve that I had on my English muffin for breakfast this morning.  For lunch…an egg and hash browns, and not much of those.  No more candy, or the dish of peanut M&M’s on the coffee table.  I have fresh and dried fruit. I have whole grain English muffins….and I’ll have to exercise more than ever since I still love to eat.  I’m hungry. It’ll be okay.  I’ll be fine.  I’m not looking to lose weight so much as to maintain, and to firm up what’s there. We were recently at a really nice hotel for my 50th birthday…in case you missed it, it was February 6th….I was reaching for something by the sink when I saw something jiggle in the reflection of the hotel mirror.  My man-boobs…they now jiggle.  ICAN’THAVE THAT!!  So yeah…I’m hitting the weights again.  A sad but true story.

In two weeks I’ll get to officiate again, this time at the Special Olympics Tourney.  Its a blast.  I get more fun and pleasure from the games that day than a weeks worth of working good teams.  The atmosphere is electric for them and restoring for me.  Blessed in different ways we’ll have fun…you can be sure of that.

Until next time…thank you for reading, God bless and take care,






Four Thoughts For Thursday

I was folding laundry yesterday, plugged into my music…you know…really getting into it when I noticed our eighteen year old glaring at me like only a teenage daughter can do. I surmised that she wasn’t impressed with my Jagger-like moves as I folded wash cloths and bath towels. I paused long enough to ask her “what? you’ve never seen a FREIGHT TRAIN OF FUNK before?!” She left the room shortly there after. My coworkers, and even my wife, tell me that I remind them of ABC sitcom Modern Family’s character Phil Dunphy. Before I watched the show I thought that it was a compliment, as it turns out…its kind of a backhanded compliment. Apparently Phil and I are both well-meaning, non-hip, funny in an awkward way, loving family men. Truth be told…I think that Phil would make a great friend, though I doubt that he’s nearly as good of dancer as I am. It ain’t braggin’ if its true, is all that I’m sayin’.

Work can be a drag….except when you roll with big-name celebraties…LIKE THE EASTER BUNNY. (NUF SAID)

I'm kind of a big deal with my old friends...like MISTER PETER COTTONTAIL himself!!  He's really a down to earth kind of rabbit who likes eating out, long walks and watching old movies.  Recently divorced...he's open to dating again.

I’m kind of a big deal with my old friends…like MISTER PETER COTTONTAIL himself!! He’s really a down to earth kind of rabbit who likes eating out, long walks and watching old movies. Recently divorced…he’s open to dating again.

Last Friday I slipped into my basketball officiating slacks again after six weeks off. They were….a little more snug than I remembered. It probably has a lot to do with me continuing to eat like an 18 year old kid, but not running up and down a basketball court five nights a week. So long story short, I’m attempting to eat better…that’s why I bought a pound of fresh strawberries to go along with the delicious cake I love (what’s not to love about a cake that has frosting on the INSIDE as well as the OUTSIDE?!) It doesn’t help that the grocery store has assorted varieties of tasty Lay’s brand potato chips on sale for just $1.88!! That’s less than half price!! It’s like they’re payin’ me to eat their chips!! So yeah…I bought four bags.

NOM NOM NOM!!!  It's a fair caloric trade off....?

NOM NOM NOM!!! It’s a fair caloric trade off….?

Guess who has two thumbs and passed his IOWA HIGH SCHOOL ATHELTIC ASSOCIATION baseball umpire exam with a score of 94%? THIS GUY!! My first game is at 5:45. High school kids. I’ll be the base umpire. 45 degree temps with a brisk northwest wind at 10-20 miles an hour. So yeah…I’ll be wearing long johns, gloves and may just have to have another slice of that delicious melt in your mouth blubber adding cake…just to stay warm.

Now certified for school games

Now certified for school games

Have a great weekend friends!!


Birthday eve…not what it used to be…

Remember as a kid the excitement that would surround your birthday? The presents that could be something really cool? Selecting birthday treats to share with your classmates? The birthday cake? The special meal? I was really blessed to have a family that made my birthday, or anyone’s for that matter, an event. Now, as an adult, it’s less of a “big deal” for me and more of “let’s find some time to set aside for a meal out and by the way…what kind of cake do you want me to order for you this year?” sort of deal. Still special. I still enjoy it…but in a less “anticipation-filled” way. I guess that’s part of growing up aye? My “birthday eve” this year will be working the 2 to 11 shift (the guy that writes my schedule is a real piece of ‘work’, so full of himself….its me).

This past year was great, it’ll be tough to top. A 25th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii with Connie. Dropping some of the fat and adding some brawn. Lowering my chlorestrel and blood pressure. Accomplishing my goals in officiating basketball and completing my first year of umpiring baseball. Not too shabby for a guy who barely got a community college associates degree of applied science in retail marketing (is that really a degree? It must be….took me five years to pay it off).

I don’t have very many goals for this coming year. I was hoping to make it onto a “crew” for basketball for next season by dazzling someone into taking me in, but alas…its not to be, yet. I did do well enough this season to already be assigned varsity games for the 2014-2015 season, but as a “lone ranger” sort of ref…filling in where needed. My goals for my upcoming year are as such: umpire high school baseball in addition to USAAA Little League; officiate volleyball games (I don’t know a thing about the game…so its a leap of faith in my ability to learn new things, I suppose); and the biggest goal….to be assigned a post season basketball game to officiate as a third year ref. That’s the one that I really want, and work towards every time that I step onto the court.

For my birthday tomorrow I’ll celebrate with my co-workers with some cake that I’m having dropped off, then will officiate a girls game at a nearby school, then I’m taking a three-day weekend. A boys doubleheader game Friday night. Coffee with my best friend, Dave, on Saturday morning. Dinner and a movie with Connie Sue Saturday night, then just letting Sunday fall into place.

I'll be "this many years old".   (Times five, minus 2)  Kudos to my bride for catching my lightning quick mechanics on a "push" foul.

I’ll be “this many years old”. (Times five, minus 2) Kudos to my bride for catching my lightning quick mechanics on a “push” foul.

Take care friends. I appreciate you reading and wish you a happy, healthy and safe week.

December 10th is circled on my calender…

December 10th is circled on my calendar; it has been for some time. December 10th is the date that I’ve been working towards since last January when I signed up and paid for attending a basketball official’s camp at a nearby college. Do well at the camp and I’ll be recognized as an official capable of working varsity basketball games. December 10th is the date that I’ve been thinking about throughout the summer and fall as I try to learn more about being an exceptional referee. December 10th is what I’ve been seeing in my mind’s eye as I lift weights, stretch out and try to stay fit for this upcoming season. In June as I try to keep these old legs limber stretching out at the gym I think about…December 10th. As I work my abs and upper body in July…December 10th is on my mind. As I work a basketball tournament in a small humid sweaty gym in rural Iowa in the middle of August I wonder about December 10th. December 10th is my first varsity basketball assignment. Two games in a town an hour’s drive from where I live. December 10th. It was a goal of mine last January as a first year basketball referee to be assigned to work varsity games in my second season, which doesn’t happen very often. December 10th.

I get butterflies in my stomach as I think about it. I’ve talked to other officials about the school; it’s a new gym…practically state of the art. We get our own locker room verses the usual “coaches office” or “equipment room” to dress and shower in afterwards. It’ll be a great first experience; I just know it.

I rationalize that I’ve worked plenty of varsity scrimmages with big, strong kids. By the time December 10th rolls around I’ll have worked over two hundred games in the past thirteen months and heard plenty of angry coaches…but I’ve heard good things too. I’m fast; I keep up with those young’uns. I’m fair, heard that from the losing side. I know the rules, heard that from other officials who have more experience. December 10th.

While November has been a lukewarm month of working AAU tourney’s and middle school games it’s been a month of trying my best to work the game in front of me and being the professional that I want to be known as. While November can be known for the quantity of games officiated in one day (I worked six games in one day. Argh, that’s a lot of running! Why didn’t I keep my big mouth shut?) December, January and February will be known for the quality of games played. Good games deserve good officiating. December 10th.

I’ve been assigned a steady diet of varsity, sophomore and a couplea freshman games sprinkled in there for good measure. For whatever reason…kids are bigger, stronger, faster and way more talented these days. Quick as a flash something just happened and now three players are on the floor diving for a loose ball and while one coach is screaming for a foul the other is yelling “TIME OUT!! TIME OUT!!” It doesn’t help that no one stands still while we officials hustle to figure out what just happened and now what’s happening (which takes all of two or three seconds for the proverbial poop to hit the fan). I’ve been blessed with wonderful mentoring and an understanding wife who won’t see me as much as she’d like for the next couple of months.

December 10th. Wish me well and if you don’t mind…say a little prayer for me and my crew that night. To be totally honest with you I say a prayer before each game, usually in my truck, as I drive towards the school. It goes like this:
Dear Lord…please pour out your blessings upon me and my partner tonight with exceptional rules application, explanation and interpretation. Bless and protect the players, the coaches, the fans and my partner and I. Help and guide us to have a fun, safe and healthy time. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

December 10th. I’m pumped! I’m excited!! I’m ready. Game on!!


All things considered….I intend to dazzle ’em with gold glitter.

I’ve been blessed this week. My efforts at work have been recognized by my new boss, I’ve been assigned a couplea more varsity basketball games for the upcoming season, I’ve gotten back out onto the court and worked a few games and had a chance to unwind and just things in general have gone my way (except for winning the Lotto…that never goes my way. Ever.)

I had just completed a stretch of working thirteen of the past fourteen days and was flat-out dog tired. My first day off in what seemed like months started with breakfast, a productive workout at the gym, second breakfast with Connie at the downtown farmer’s market (who can say “no” to a fresh and delicious cinnamon roll with my favorite girl?) then lunch with my best buddy whom I’ve known for twenty-nine years (after three hours of howling at each others jokes, life-stories, trials and tribulations and some good chow and some ice-cold barley-pop we said “good-bye”) then some football on TV, then a nap then finishing off leftovers (fried chicken, baked beans and party potatoes) from the night before I parked myself on the couch and watched the movie “The Green Mile”…one of my favorites. (Sigh). Oh…I forgot…Connie bought an apple pie at the farmers market so there was pie throughout yesterday as well…and some chocolate cake that I had purchased Friday night (when you’re on a roll….you’re on a roll).

My new beltless basketball officiating slacks came back from the seamstress (they come to me un-hemmed) and I tried them out at a kids game that I worked Thursday night. Now let me state this…I like wearing belts and I am somewhat skeptical of beltless britches…so I bought a size smaller than what I typically wear so they wouldn’t slide over my vivacious hips as I run up and down the court. Let’s just say that they have a “death-grip” on my hips, but I can breathe and (I’m not making this up) I look AMAZING in them. The gold glitter strips that I had stitched onto the length of the outer legs really “dazzle-up” the whole outfit. I’m not lying…they really do.

I also ran into a coach, who by officiating standards, is a nut-job. He played locally at a big-time college and a little in the NBA…so he’s the “be all, end all” authority when it comes to basketball (not so much). He’s also over seven feet tall. He intimidated me last season. This season he’s just another coach who talks too much (he coaches little kids but treats each game like it’s the Finals of the NBA). To his credit he doesn’t turn kids away from his program, and he’s their biggest advocate…but at a price.

A buddy of mine who suffered a broken foot while working a basketball game this summer, is well on his way to recovery so I’m happy with that, and with that in mind I’ve been increasing my work-outs so that I won’t get hurt (I really don’t know if it’ll help prevent the type of injury that he has but it shouldn’t hurt and with my love of pie the extra calories burned certainly won’t hurt me sliding into those size 33’s).

Until later…peace and hope,

I have very little time for patience…

The off-season. Quiet. Not. Much. Going. On. (insert bored “sigh”)

Last year at this time I was preparing to become a decent first year basketball referee. I had plenty of anxiety, worrying about the “what ifs” and “maybe this will happen, what then?” going on inside of my head. I prepared as best as I could and followed my mentors advice. That’s a pretty good recipe for practically any situation in life. Prepare. Listen to folks who have “been there” before, and be ready to work.

Last year my goal was to become a varsity basketball official within years three and five, though I changed that goal to year two…this year. I did what I could do to attain that goal and, with hard work, I’ve gotten to that goal, kind of. As it turns out I will officiate as a varsity official in a handful of games, but not many as I have to build up that schedule myself and get my name out there. Last year I hustled my butt off to get to this point…like working 160+ games to gain experience. I read case plays, I read the rule book not once but TWICE (and I hate reading the rule book…not much of a thriller-no movies will be made of this material…just dry details). Did you know that the ideal court size is 84′ X 50′ Ideal. Wanna know how many times I measured the court that I was about to work on? Zero. Did you know that the rectangular backboard that so many schools use is 6’X 4′ but that its recommended that replacement backboards should be 6′ X 3.5′? Fascinating. Lane size is 15′ X 12′. Compression sleeves on the arm can be either: black, white, beige or the team color; be accompanied by a doctors note although a note from the trainer will do; and not have a manufacturers/team logo on it that exceeds two and a quarter inches square AND if anyone else on the same team wears one as well IT has to be the same color. (that came up once last year) Details. Rules. I have to know them by heart, and I will review them again, and again and again, not to be a walking talking “rule book” prick but so that if it comes up…I’m ready. In my life experiences, if I’m ready for it…it won’t happenvery often, but its nice to have the correct answer when called upon.

I’ve been told that I’ll get plenty of work as a guy who will get called up at the last minute and asked to fill-in for someone who can’t work that night. It’ll mean that I’ll have to be patient. It’ll mean that I’ll have to be “available”. It’ll mean that there’s the very real possibility that the phone won’t ring, that I won’t get a call to go work a game and that I won’t get the chance to do what I love to do. All that I can do is what I’m doing now in the off-season. Get ready. Workout at the gym several times a week; read the rule book again. Clear my nights of other obligations. Pack my bag. Be patient (which I totally suck at) and wait for the call or text to arrive asking if I can work a game that night. Waiting and be patient. I’m not good at either, but I’ve made this my goal for this season and I’ll just have to have faith that God will put me into the games that He wants me in….I just wish that He’d help me be a little more patient.

God bless and have a good weekend.


You can have your choice of any two colors…as long as ones white and the other is black

You can tell that officiating is predominately a “guy-thing” for whatever reason. You can tell by just perusing the websites that sell basketball and football referee uniforms. If you’re a basketball ref you get the color choices of black, black or black for slacks and for your uniform shirt you can get either black and white striped shirt or white and black striped shirt. Socks you ask? Black. What about accessorizing with some spiffy shoes you query? Absolutely….just so long as they’re black (mine are black AND shiny, by the way). If officiating had more females we’d definitely have more color choices and a whole lot more style, which would be a good thing. Instead of just “black” we’d get “midnight black” or “onyx black” or some other stylish adjective instead. I’m just sayin’ that changing things up a bit wouldn’t kill us.

I had a successful rookie season last year. Practically the only rub against me was the fact that I wore a black belt, that drove the traditionalists crazy. I mean it. I’d come off of the court and I’d hear something like this; “Nice mechanics out there, you could have waited a little bit longer on those fouls…let the play develop you know…AND WHAT’S UP WITH THE BELT?” I’m dead serious. It was brought up throughout the season by more experienced officials who were there to critique me. I was brought up, reared persay, that when you wore blue jeans or slacks you wore a belt. I had three or four belts to choose from at all times growing up. Church? Absolutely a belt situation. Family dinner at grandma’s? Better wear a belt so that you’ll look nicer. School? Yeah…duh. Of course. So yeah…they’re trying to get forty-six years of belt-wearing Ripley to not wear a belt even though he’s running up and down a basketball court (I can just hear my Mother now…”why weren’t you wearing a belt? Your pants fell down because you weren’t wearing a belt. Do you need some money to go buy a belt? Kohl’s has many nice belts to choose from. I think that I still have one of your Father’s belts around here somewhere.”) The belt has become a bit of a comfort-thing for me now, so giving it up is uncomfortable.

There’s different ways officials hold up their britches without a belt…like wearing a pair of jogging shorts under their black slacks, or an “inside” type of belt that grabs the slacks from the inside (sounds kinda perverted…having something inside your slacks doing all of that grabbing but I kid you not…I have one and it works okay…but not as good as AN OUTSIDE BELT.) I’ve toyed with the idea of wearing suspenders with my uniform…the wide rainbow colored ones…just to make a point…but that wouldn’t go over well. To combat the loosey-goosey feeling that’s sure to encompass my waist this season I’ve purchased some 33″ waist slacks (in a stylish black gabardine with three inch waist and Western cut pockets. Yeah…I got the Western cut pockets to impress the ladies. Busted!!) I’ve been wearing 34″ waist dress slacks but I have a belt that I’ve been cinching up tight so since I’m going beltless or without the waist-snake as I call it (belt) I’m hoping the 33’s hold tight as I dash to and fro.

I also got some new tenner shoes ordered (for basketball of course)…shiny black just in case my 2012 models suffer a blowout from all of the heat that’s generated from my pant-legs swishing back and forth as I run. Last year in one game I generated enough static electricity with my pant-legs swishing that instead of giving a coach a technical foul I just touched him and in the process Tased him to the floor. “RED BALL OUTTA BOUNDS, RIIIIGGGHHHHTTT HERE!! Move off the court coach, or I’ll shock you again at quarter’s end.”
So anyway…if you see a partially balding male ref, with shiny shoes, western cut pockets who appears to be holding up his pants with his free hand while cursing under his breath this season…you’re probably looking at me. Resist the urge to hand me your belt.

Customer Appreciation….? Not so much

Okay….so I’m driving home last night when I see a local grocery store having a “customer appreciation” night in their parking lot complete with free hot dogs, drinks, activities for the kids and an inflatable bouncy house. I love bouncy houses. So I parked my truck and hauled ass into said bouncy house and totally rocked that thing for like twenty or thirty minutes before an authority figure complete with a white shirt, tie and name badge showed up at the entrance of my bouncy house. Mister Authority told me that I was “too old” to be in the bouncy house. I told him that I have “that disease that ages children and makes them look hideously old and partially balding” so “lay off me, man!!” (he doesn’t believe me) He then tells me that I’m above the posted individual weight limit to which I reply (while bouncing…it is a bouncy house) “I’m just big-boned”. By this time a crowd had gathered around the bouncy house to see what Mister Authority’s next move is AND because I’m really, really good at bouncing inside bouncy houses (kudos to the folks who put this bad-boy up. The PSI ratio to weight was exceptional. That’s Pounds per Square Inch for all of you non-inflation to weight ratio types). Anyway…Mister Authority tried to take matters into his own hands and enter said bouncy house to either:

A…join me and enjoy the bouncy house on his employers dime. OR

B…attempt to remove me (good luck with that)

Mister Authority didn’t get very far as he couldn’t get a reasonable foothold to get into the bouncy house since I never stopped bouncing and he wasn’t the “bouncy house kind of guy.” (we all know who they are…) I eventually relent and am pulled from my bouncy house by Mister Authority and two of his underlings which is good since I was kind of getting tired though I didn’t feel very appreciated at that point, but the crowd that I had attracted was really cheering me on (I’m a bit of a wallflower) and the attention wasn’t doing me any good. Throngs of folks, with the exception of one older lady, patted me on the back and wished me well (I told you that I’m really, really good at bouncing inside bouncy houses….a guy doesn’t make up stuff like this.)

I had a free hot dog and was disappointed at its substandard quality and made a mental note to let the manager know of my displeasure with it, still it was a pretty good night.


Middle-aged man trips on 9 year old. Photos to follow!!

I have a hobby. While some guys hunt, fish, collect sport memoriable or fix up old cars I ref basketball games and umpire Little League baseball games. It’s something that I started last fall and enjoy a great deal. Its helped me meet new people, get into shape and breathed new life into this middle-aged guys life. While not every game is a pleasure to work, the vast majority are. I’m happy with it. As promised a month or so ago, I now have photographic evidence of me umpiring a baseball game. The following photos were taken by our daughter Macy who sat through a game (in a drizzling rain) and earned $20 off her IPod debt to me. I think that she did great.

The game starts with a pregame conference with two captains from each team and a coach. Home team is decided by a coin flip and ground rules are established. “There’s a gopher hole in left field, if the ball goes into it, it’s a ground rule double. Home plates open, five run limit until the final inning. Slide if it’s gonna be close and my strike zone is ‘nipples to knees’ with the inside and outside of the plate a strike.” That sort of thing.

Time for the ground rules and coin flip.  Each coach stands beside me (the one to my right is barely visible)

Time for the ground rules and coin flip. Each coach stands beside me (the one to my right is barely visible)

I cracked a joke with the coach.

I cracked a joke with the coach.

Being behind home plate is both exciting and scary. It’s the best seat in the house if the pitcher and catcher are on the same page. If they’re not on the same page I get hit with pitches and it SUCKS. The catchers in this game were good. If you want to find out how fit your thighs and knees are, crouch behind a nine year old for an hour and a half.

Check out the view down the third base line.  A great place for a game!

Check out the view down the third base line. A great place for a game!

Fans don’t always know what’s going on (or players and coaches for that matter) so consistent mechanics/signals for strikes, balls, outs and the like are valuable. The outfielders should be able to know what’s going on.

Its not "disco night" at the ball park (as our 17 year old suggested) but a foul tip.

Its not “disco night” at the ball park (as our 17 year old suggested) but a foul tip.

"AAAAIIIIKKKKEEE!!!" That's how I call strikes.

“AAAAIIIIKKKKEEE!!!” That’s how I call strikes.

You live and you learn. In officiating basketball and baseball it’s a lot about angles and moving to improve your view of the game and plays. As the lone umpire in the majority of my baseball games I’m responsible for calls everywhere. First base, yep. Second base, you betcha. Third base you ask…why certainly. Home plate…stop it…you’re embarrassing yourself. Even the outfield gets my undivided attention when the ball heads that way. When there’s a grounder hit to the infield yours truly is on the heels of the batter/runner chasing him up the first base line (I hope that he doesn’t stop or I’m apt to run his prepubescent ass over…you just can’t stop one hundred and seventy pounds on a dime, ladies and gentlemen) I slow up and take in the throw (force play) from about ten feet away verses from home plate. Coaches are much less apt to argue a call when they see a guy their age (or older) haulin’ ass up thirty or forty feet of baseline just to get a better view and make a more informed call. And it carries over to other parts of the game too.

Tearing out from behind home plate. (Even high-tech digital cameras have a difficult time capturing my lightning quick sprint, or the camera was out of focus...its one of those two.

Tearing out from behind home plate. (Even high-tech digital cameras have a difficult time capturing my lightning quick sprint, or the camera was out of focus…its one of those two.

A different view.  I haven't trampled a runner...yet.

A different view. I haven’t trampled a runner…yet.

Wherever the play is I bust ass to get there. Recently this led to a problem.

There was a base runner on first base. The kid at bat had just hit the ball to deep right field. I could see that the base runner that was at first was going to try to score so I stayed between third base and home plate to cover anything as it developed. It looked like the defense was setting up for a play at second base so I ran there to cover the play on the batter-runner. The right fielder (a sweet boy I’m sure) muffed the throw and it went towards home plate where the former first base runner had slowed down between third base and home plate so I ran from second base back to home plate where there was no play BUT the batter runner was rounding second base and chugging towards third. (he was a freckled faced chunk, huffing and puffing his way along the bases) The catcher whipped the ball towards third where the third baseman was perfectly set up to receive the throw (if he was ten feet tall) though the ball sailed over his head (I’d just arrived at third base then) and the runner (God bless him) continues chugging right past me, this time towards home plate. (CRAP!! I HAD OVERRUN MY ANGLE!!) As I spun around towards home plate I could see that the catcher was set up to receive the ball and block the plate. I could see the back of the base runner, now half way to home plate and me…(I’m not making this up) almost falling flat on my face. In the reversal of going from home plate to third then back to home plate I became top heavy and started one of those “legs not being able to keep up with the top half of my body” like you see on America’s Funniest Home Videos. I was in a perfect position to do a number of cartwheels if I had that kind of ability, but (thank God) I pulled out of it and with the ball flying in over my right shoulder towards home, and the runner sliding under the catcher but not yet at the plate the ball tipped off the top of the catcher’s mitt and back to the back stop. That didn’t stop the catcher from applying a tag but I got to home plate just in time to point to the ball (now rolling away) collect myself (wait two seconds) and yell “THE RUNNERS SAFE!!!”. I called “time” and took my time brushing off home plate and to catch my breath.

I just about fell again running up the first base line later in that same game…I think that I was tired…jeez). My point is…coaches appreciate that hustle and I appreciate not being second guessed AND I think that the boys deserve someone giving a damn enough to hustle…even if it kills me…which it might.

Umpiring groupies wanting my autograph.  No seriously, the lady in the red chair is one of the score keepers, but the other ladies are most definitely groupies...giggling like school girls...not so much.

Umpiring groupies wanting my autograph. No seriously, the lady in the red chair is one of the score keepers, but the other ladies are most definitely groupies…giggling like school girls…not so much.

And checking in with the scorekeepers between innings keeps both teams from claiming a victory if you’re on top of things. When I stay on top of the details, however small, coaches are more apt to coach and not question my ability and we spend more time playing ball than talking…which is what the boys came to do and folks came to watch.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend.