Back in March, my sister gave birth to her first child. With that, I became Uncle Sean and my sisters became aunts.
That’s a weird thought at first because most of our parents had brothers and sisters, which made them uncles and aunts to us.
They all remain a part of my life, but it makes me think back to when I was a kid.
I’m happy that I’m only a 4.5 hour car drive away from home now compared to a flight switching planes in Dallas, Chicago or Charlotte before that. It helped, especially when I got to meet her a few days after her birth. Look how little she is and you can’t tell, but I was nervous making sure I held her correctly.
While my sister and brother-in-law take on the tougher role as parents, I’m left to figure out how I want to be as an uncle to Adelyn.
The biggest thing is to be a supportive family member and be a positive presence in their lives. I can’t make it home as much as my sisters to see her, but there will be chances in the future.
Also, how do I want her to see me?
Well, I hope she sees me as a nice uncle that would do anything for her and we all have that phase where we can’t stand our parents, so hopefully I’m seen as somewhat cooler than them at some point or maybe I’ll be as lame as them in her eyes (please the former!).
Only two months old, I’ve enjoyed watching her slowly grow and the photos sent to the group texts range from adorable to hilarious (especially the “mommy, I need a diaper change” looks in some of them).
It will be a while before she can form an opinion of me, but I hope she thinks I’m cool even as I get older.
I stay active. I go to the gym five to six times a week and do cardio and some light lifting.
Lately, I’ve heard about people who try to do 10,000 steps a day, which seems like a lot, but I found out it doesn’t have to be.
Now that it’s getting warmer, I’m leaving the car in the parking lot and walking to those nearby places in town. It’s actually been pretty nice, especially since there’s a lot of sidewalks where I live.
I’m not in the Fit Bit cult. I just go by what my iPhone’s Health app tells me. I can take 10,000-plus steps, but it won’t be impressed that I only climbed three floors of stairs that day. I guess it only counts if you go up a hill.
My off days are the most productive. It’s also hard to get an accurate reading when I’m on a cardio machine, but I think I’m close on most days.
The more walking I’ve been doing lately has its benefits. Not only for my health but also, you miss some things when you’re in a car.
I’ve discovered new restaurants, shops and other places walking around the neighborhoods around me. Also, it saves me money on parking or I’m not limited to an hour before they threaten to “tow you” in the free lot.
If the weather is right and it’s no 100 degrees, I’ll venture out on foot.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are now into the conference finals and after a first round in which all four wild cards won which means all four division champions lost, whatever final four we got was fine with me.
But I do have one, tiny request: Please! No Boston!
I know it’s been eight years since they last won the title and last appeared in 2015, but is anyone else tired of Boston winnings sports titles yet? The Patriots might be to blame for most of my animosity directed at Beantown, but for a city that was title-less for a while entering the 2000s, everyone felt bad for the Red Sox for not winning a World Series since 1918, but after winning in 2004, that wore off. They’ve won three more since, so I’m over feeling bad for them. The Celtics in 2008 won for the first time in 21 years and we saw Kevin Garnett’s “Anything is possible” scream live on television. Then the Bruins, who had not won since 1972, won in 2011 and then downtown Vancouver burned.
Remember how people would say “Those poor kids in Boston. They’ve never seen a championship parade.”
If you were born in 2001, you’ve seen 12 of them now. And for the kids born in 2010, their childhoods will be ruined if they don’t get a third parade in seven months. The Celtics got bounced by the Bucks, so don’t let the kiddies down, Bruins!
I’m a day late writing this before the Conference Finals started (leave it to the NHL to start it on Thursday and leave Friday open), but here are some general thoughts on both matchups.
Pretend Game 1 of this series didn’t happen yet…
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
Boston (2nd in Atlantic) vs. Carolina (1st Wild Card)
How Did They Get Here?
Round 1: Beat Toronto in 7 Games
Round 2: Beat Columbus in 6 Games
As much as I don’t want to see Boston move on, they are the best team left in the tournament. Brad Marchand’s a best, but he’s a productive one, leading the team with 15 points as of May 10. David Pastrnak and David Krejci are not too far behind and with Burgeron, Chara and Rask, this team is built to make a run.
In Round 2, the Blue Jackets did not make it easy, but after going down 2-1, Boston won the next three.
Also, why was Mike Milbury in the booth for that series? The Brighton, Massachusetts native, former Bruin player and coach gave his evaluation of a high hit Charlie McAvoy but on Josh Anderson, and only got two minutes. It appears he’s trying to make an excuse for McAvoy going in high at the start of the video and then goes to the “that’s called differently in the playoffs” argument.
Boston is physical and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they can be boderline dirty. That’s what Milbury likes. After all, this is the same guy that as a player, went into the stands and beat a man with his own shoe. Somehow, the goon that whined about Ulf Samuelsson’s play against Cam Neely in the 1991 Wales Conference Final (oh, the irony!) and ruined the Islanders as head coach and general manager, is with NBC’s lead announcer Doc Emrick? If the network wants to mix-and-match its commentators with other announcers, cool. But your A-Team is Emrick, Ed Olczyk and while some will hate this, Pierre McGuire. Stick with it.
How Did They Get Here?
Round 1: Beat Washington in 7 Games
Round 2: Swept the New York Islanders
The “Bunch of Jerks” are contenders, whether Canada’s Mike Milbury, Don Cherry, likes it or not.
What was more shocking about their sweep was that the Islanders, who did away with the Pittsburgh Penguins in a four-game sweep in first round, folded like cheap outdoor furniture on a Roslyn porch after losing Game 1 in overtime.
Was it the fact they were playing in the basketball arena pretending to be a hockey arena that is the Barclays Center and not the Coliseum, although smaller and less obstructed views, is more beloved by fans that don’t live in Williamsburg and follow the team ironically? We may never know.
For Carolina, nobody outside Raleigh knew these guys. If you’re an avid follower of the game, you knew Jordan Staal was on the team. You may have said Cam Ward, but we’ll give you a pass.
The Hurricanes have nothing to lose in these playoffs. They weren’t even expected to make it when the season started. They got down early in Game 2, lost their starting goalie and found a way to win. In Game 4, the Islanders scored first on a power play, but then steamrolled them the rest of the way. The Hurricanes got the offensive production, but part of that was thanks to the defense, which Pittsburgh forgot to play against New York.
Game 1 has already happened (thanks again, NHL), but the Hurricanes’ resilience keeps them in this series, but the Bruins win in 7 games. Might get some help from the pedestrian officiating we’ve seen this spring, but Boston probably goes on to the Final.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
San Jose (2nd in Pacific) vs. St. Louis (3rd in Central)
SAN JOSE SHARKS
How Did They Get Here?
Round 1: Beat Vegas in 7 Games
Round 2: Beat Colorado in 7 Games
Some have been waiting since April to say “same old Sharks”, but they just won’t go down.
In the first round, down 3-1 to Vegas, they overcame the deficit to win Game 7 in overtime after a crazy series of events in the third period. Then, the young, pesky Avalanche wouldn’t go down without a fight. Optimists will tell you that you can lose three games in a series and still win. The Sharks have been using up all their lives so far.
Logan Couture, Tomas Hurtl and no surprise, Brent Burns, are leading the charge. Getting Joe Pavelski back for Game 7 against the Avalanche was big, too. Martin Jones went to the Final with the Sharks in 2016, so they have that veteran goalie. Going all seven games in their first two series, can San Jose withstand another tough series that goes the distance?
ST. LOUIS BLUES
How Did They Get Here?
Round 1: Beat Nashville in 6 Games
Round 2: Beat Dallas in 7 Games
“Gloria! Gloria!” What a weird victory song. But when you’ve had a season like the Blues have had, weird is embraced.
Even with the Blues second-half resurgence, it appears more people were rooting for the Dallas Stars, the second wild card. Hats off to Dallas for their performance in the playoffs and losing Game 7 in double overtime on what some would call a “fluky” goal is a tough way to see your season end.
Most of the teams left share one trait: they’re grinders. It’s one of the reasons why the Blues got through division champion Nashville and overcame the Stars, who had a chance to close the series at home in Game 6 this past Sunday. Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo have led the charge, but how cool was it to see the hometown guy, Pat Maroon, get the double-OT winner? Getting to the NHL is hard enough. To play on the team you grew up watching and score the biggest goal of the season so far in front of its fan is rare. It’s his third goal of these playoffs, but it’s the one he’ll remember if they lift the Cup in June.
EXTRA NOTE: Give Blues organist Jeremy Boyer credit for learning that cheesy victory song. Whatever helps you win. Remember the Anaheim (or is it Los Angeles) rally monkey?
Unlike the East, both the Sharks and Blues have both gone deep in their first two playoff series. The Sharks have already played 14 games, the Blues 13.
St. Louis’ “grind it out” mentality will be needed to move on. The Sharks play another seven-game series, but going out on a limb, they don’t move on.
The Western Conference Final features teams that have never won the Stanley Cup. The Sharks have been to the Final once (2016) while the Blues were the most successful of the 1967 expansion teams, going to the Final in their first three years of existence. Mind you, it was under the old East-West division in which the Original Six were in the East and the new teams were in the West.
Glad to see Patrick Sharp back at the NBC Sports desk. He brings a younger player’s perspective to the pregame, intermission and postgame reports.Kendall Coyne Schofield has been a nice addition to the booth and getting Mike Tirico involved? Yes, please!
I don’t know what goes into scheduling these games, but why would the NHL leave Friday night open? The Bruins and Hurricanes are off until Sunday for Game 2 and I get the Blue have to fly to San Jose, but why not play Game 1 of the East Final Friday instead of Thursday?
I’m not really watching the NBA Playoffs. I think I should because it’s a guarantee that Cleveland won’t be in the NBA Finals and maybe someone finally knocks off Golden State. And if I’m wrong, congrats Golden State on your eventual championship.
Growing up, I was far too young to get into “Friends” during its original run on NBC. I was also reluctant to give it a chance during reruns on cable.
But I must admit, I have found myself watching the show on-and-off again with my weird work hours and having days off on weekdays. Also, it feels like TBS airs ten episodes an afternoon.
I loved “How I Met Your Mother” and that is said to be the “Friends” of my generation. Both share their similar quirks, like how do they all afford apartments in Manhattan when some of them aren’t even working at times? And, the characters dating one another throughout the series.
I relate more to Ted Mosby and Marshall Eriksen than a Chandler Bing or Ross Geller, but I find that “Friends” has its moments, even with it being wrapped up in the 90s sitcom era, but it does hold up for the most part.
Both shows present a world most of us in our late 20s and early 30s would love to have. Again, how are not worried about making rent?!
Maybe that’s why I don’t mind watching a few episodes.
I’m now at that age the characters were when “Friends” began. Maybe that was the problem. You think you have it all together in your late teens and early 20s, but you don’t.
“Friends” is just something I didn’t give a chance when I was younger. The same goes for broccoli, tomatoes and almond milk. Now those are a staple of my diet.
No one told me life was gonna be this way (clap, clap, clap, clap).
Four division winners have been sent packing for the summer, all four wild card teams are moving on and all-together, five lower seeds are moving on in the Stanly Cup Playoffs.
I’ll lay it out in a different way to display how odd the playoffs are now:
Lightning: Best Team in Hockey: Swept
Capitals: The Defending Stanley Cup Champion: Out in 7
Penguins: Winner of two of the last three Stanley Cups: Swept
Flames: Top Seed in the West: Out in 5
Predators: Central Divison Champ, Cup Finalist in 2017: Out in 6
Golden Knights: 2018 Cup Finalist: Take dumb 5-minute penalty, blow 3-goal lead in game 7, tie to force OT. Lose in OT.
The biggest story of the first round: It is the year of the Wild Card..
Last week, I talked about how weird the Eastern Conference was getting with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh being bounced in four-game sweeps by Columbus and the New York Islanders. I was hoping to see both Carolina and Toronto move on. In the end, I got one of the two (the storm surge continues!).
Not only did the East end up on its head, the West is odd right now.
The Calgary Flames, the best team in the West, was out in five games at the hands of the young Colorado Avalanche. It’s not as awful as the Lightning getting swept by the Blue Jackets, but Game 5 was hard to watch as a Calgary fan. Mike Smith looked helpless in net.
I was expecting the Jets and Blues to present a good series and it could’ve went to either. Through the first five games, neither team could win on home ice. The Blues changed that by getting a hat trick from Jaden Schwartz and held off Winnipeg to win 3-2 and move on.
When it came to the Stars, I did not think much of this group. The Predators won a competitive Central Division and then fell in six games. Nashville is hosting the NFL Draft starting tonight and through the weekend, but they would have preferred a hockey game or two at Bridgestone on top of it.
Just when you were about to say “same old Sharks”, they overcame a 3-1 series deficit and forced Game 7 back in San Jose.
Appearing dead in the water down 3-0 halfway through the third in Game 7, Vegas takes a stupid 5-minute major, resulting in four goals. Amazing! Most teams get a goal in that situation, but four? Then the Golden Knights manage to tie to up in the final minute, forcing overtime. For all success Vegas had in its inaugural season last year, they deserved to lose this game in overtime and San Jose earned the right to move on. I’ll miss the pregame dinner theater at T-Mobile Arena.
Back to the East.
For the first time in my life, I wanted to see Toronto move on. Boston just wins too much as a sports town and needed to be humbled.
The Maple Leafs had a chance to clinch on home ice in Game 6, but thanks to Drake (I guess), they lost and then the Bruins routed them in Boston 5-1 to move on (again). I still can’t believe the Leafs haven’t been in the second round of the playoffs since 2004, the year before the season-long lockout.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The Capitals blew a 2-0 series lead and lost in Game 7. Thanks to Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, Washington won’t get as much heat for losing in seven games to a young, energetic Hurricanes team (you know, the jerks who have fun?). Both teams took advantage of home ice going into Game 7. The Capitals had a one-goal lead going into the third period, and then old Penguins and current Hurricane Jordan Staal tied it and then Brock McGinn scored in double overtime. So the storybook year continues for Carolina.
Since I did SO well with my picks last round (slams head onto table), here’s what I think might (but probably won’t) happen in Round 2.
Bruins vs. Blue Jackets: Bruins in 7
Islanders vs. Hurricanes: Islanders in 6
Blues vs. Stars: Blues in 6
Sharks vs. Avalanche: Sharks in 6
If you need a reason to laugh about the insane first round, check out “We Live Hockey‘s” Elimination Cafe video.
So that’s what half the Eastern Conference playoff bracket looks like right now.
As a Penguins fan, the whole series was like getting hit in the back of the head by a 2×4. I wasn’t expecting a 4-game sweep by the Islanders. In the end, they played better and wanted it more. The Penguins couldn’t get anything going the last three games of the series offensively and Kris Letang led the Penguins in playing mediocre defense. That’s right. The only defenseman on the team that has been a part of this group that has won three Stanley Cups had the worst performance.
But the bigger story is the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that grabbed the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, swept the Tampa Bay Lightning, who posted the best regular season record with 62 wins, tying them with the 1995-96 Red Wings with most in NHL history.
The Blue Jackets got crush in the first 20 minutes of Game 1, going down 3-0 and left me tweeting this…
Then the Blue Jackets came back and won 4-3. Then won Game 2. Then Game 3, and then Game 4, as the Lightning imploded right in front of the hockey world.
The tweet was so bad, I trolled myself…
That 1995-96 Red Wings team didn’t win the Stanley Cup, but at least got to the Western Conference Finals. The Lightning look dumb-founded, including Jon Cooper, who only showed emotion in Tuesday’s elimination game when a Columbus goal was waved off due to offsides.
The Blue Jackets played like the team many expected after the trade deadline. I guess if you’re Matt Duchene, you save your best for the playoffs
For years I have said it: The Presidents’ Trophy is a stupid award and distracts the team that wins in from the real price.
We know Round 2 in the East will be Islanders vs. Capitals/Hurricanes and Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs/Bruins. With Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh both out, and if Carolina can find a way to beat the Capitals and the Leafs beat Boston, the East is more interesting.
The Islanders haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1983, the Hurricanes since 2006 and obviously, the Maple Leafs since 1967.
For the Blue Jackets, it’s the first time they’ve made it out of the first round. This is new territory for them. People in central Ohio woke up Wednesday morning and had to make sure this past week wasn’t a dream.
So, if you want chaos, cheer for Carolina and Toronto.
Tax Day came and went this week, and once again, I put my trust into someone else to do them.
Sure, I shelled out almost $200 to get them done, but math was not my specialty and I’d rather be right than be penalized.
The way we pay taxes in this country is weird.
The government already knows what you owe, but they leave it up to you to figure it out. If you’re well off that number, congratulations, you might to prison. What kind of sick, troll job is that?
Also, all the write-offs went away (Thanks, Trump). I just moved and none of those can be written off. I wasn’t the only one angry about this. Doing taxes was worse this year than last.
I learned how to read a W-2 and fill out a 1040 in a class I took as a senior in high school. Some details stuck. Others did not. Taxation 101 needs to be a freshman course in college.
I had two W-2 forms from different states, which makes it even more fun. I owed Oklahoma $26, which I consider a tax for leaving. I owed Cincinnati. My rent could be a higher, so I guess giving them $32 wasn’t breaking the bank.
We really need to rethink how taxes are done in this country. It’s crazy we’re thrown back into math class and have to come up with the same number the teacher, in this case, the IRS, has. And bring back the damn write-offs!
It’s spring. Flowers are blooming, the temperature is rising and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are about to begin.
First off, step off with your “hockey is a niche sport” and “nobody likes hockey”. Go watch Steph Curry and the Warriors win another NBA title. The Patriots have a monopoly on the Super Bowl and we’ll see whether the Yankees or Red Sox didn’t blow a lot of money for nothing when the MLB Postseason rolls around.
If you’re like me and have a horse in the race (mine is in it for the 13th-straight season), it adds to the excitement. If you’re a casual fan, this is the time to hop on the wagon.
The NHL regular season begins in early October and end after the first week of April. If you make the playoffs, you need to win 16 games over two months to be crowned champion.
The intensity level and speed go up ten notches during the playoffs. 16 teams all want the same trophy. Guys have played with fractured and broken bones and illness to get their names on the Stanley Cup.
Another great part of playoff hockey is sudden-death overtime.
Oh my God, it’s the best! And when the games go into double, triple and quadruple overtime, you are watching a test of strength and will play out on ice. Also, those playoff tickets are expensive, which means you get two games for the price of one if it goes three overtimes.
My team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, have won it five times in my life and I was old enough to remember three of them. The 2009 title was my first and will always be my favorite. 2016 and 2017 we’re amazing, too. I was on the city’s south side in ’16 and watched it from my apartment in Oklahoma in ’17.
Whether your team has won it before or has never reached the top, everyone this Wednesday has the same chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: Lightning in 5
–The Lightning won 62 games this season, tying the 1995-96 Red Wings for most wins in a season, so they’ll be the biggest Cup favorite. The Blue Jackets, who were big buyers at the trade deadline, had to be relieved to get in, but are stuck with a tough matchup.
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: Boston in 7
–Aw, the series that makes hockey fans scream about the current playoff format. The old format makes much more sense, if the league didn’t reduce the number of divisions from three to two. Any way, this will be one of the best first round matchups. Boston is still a contender and Auston Matthews, Jonathan Tavares and the Leafs want to take that next step forward.
Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes: Washington in 6
–In the last few weeks of the year, the Caps crept up on the Islanders and took the division. The Hurricanes are the dark horse in this tournament. The young squad won’t have “Storm Surge” celebrations after wins at home during the playoffs, but many will be pulling for the “Bunch of Jerks”. Unfortunately, Washington is more experienced and erased its reputation as “chokers” with last year’s Cup win.
New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Penguins in 7
-I will write this with as little bias as possible.
The Islanders looked like a lost team when Jonathan Tavares signed with Toronto over the summer. But the hiring of Barry Trotz (after the Capitals wouldn’t give him more money) helped turn the team around. This team doesn’t have a superstar. Everyone just appears to pull their weight. They’ll play this round at the old Coliseum, which will be a big advantage, but will move back to Brooklyn if they advance. For the Penguins, it’s business as usual. If Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel, Letang and Murray play the way they’re expected to, this team could again be in the mix.
Calgary Flames vs. Colorado Avalanche: Flames in 6
–The Flames surprised many as the best in the conference after failing to make the playoffs last season. The Avalanche are back in for the second-straight year, despite a weaker record compared to wild card chase in the east.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks: Golden Knights in 7
-Vegas fans have never known life without playoff hockey. The Sharks, who could be described as the new Capitals, will look for payback after being eliminated by the Golden Knights on their way to the Final in their inaugural season.
Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars: Predators in 5
-Like the Avalanche, the Stars might be just an above-average team that got the first wild card. The Predators, who fell to wins shy of their first Stanley Cup two years ago, will look to get the taste of a second-round exit out of their mouth this year.
Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues: Jets in 7
–The Blues resurgence in the second half of the season was stupendous. They went from out of the playoff picture to nearly winning the Central. The Jets finally won a playoff game for the first time last year and turned that into two series wins before losing to Vegas in the conference finals. Winnipeg, the Green Bay of the NHL, is a team to watch out for.
I used to hate taking naps as a little kid. I didn’t like the idea of sleeping for an hour in the afternoon. It was one of the few contested moments of childhood between my mom and I. As I got older, I realized the nap was to give her a break from me and my sisters. Seems fair in hindsight.
Now I’m 29 and when they happen, they’re the best!
The adult nap comes in many different varieties.
One is the “falling asleep while watching TV in the afternoon” nap. Another one I’ve taken several times in my 20s is the one you take after a long night out. The third lately has been the “worked early or late” nap. I’ve been up at 330 a.m. for work and have come home from work at 6 a.m.
That first one is the best just because there’s no reason behind it. You just sat on the couch and dozed off.
Waking up from a nap happens in different ways.
You can wake up feeling instantly refreshed, or you’re groggy, questioning the time of day and having the initial feeling of a hangover. That “splash cold water on your face” thing helps.
But there are still times when I know I should take one and just can’t. If I try to schedule it, it’s hard for me to fall asleep. Maybe that goes back to being ordered to take a nap as a kid.
As someone who works in news radio and the normal “9 to 5” is foreign, the nap comes in handy. I had one of those “unintended” ones recently, and it felt really good. Especially since I had the overnight shift later on.
I look forward to the day when I tell my 4 year-old to take a nap and he or she protest it. Thus, the cycle continues.
Sometimes a song just gets stuck in your head and you’re humming it all day long to yourself.
After seeing Bohemian Rhapsody in November, I couldn’t get that song out of my head and played it on repeat. Then “Radio Ga Ga” and then “Don’t Stop Me Now”. I’m pretty sure Brian May and others achieved their goal with the film.
When I was a kid, my dad had Simon and Garfunkel’s concert in Central Park on CD and with weekends traveling to different hockey rinks in western Pennsylvania, their work became an ear worm that still exists in my brain to this day.
One song I enjoy is “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”. It’s the kind of song you enjoy on a Sunday afternoon walking down the street, sitting on the couch at home, or in your car. Since The Royal Tenenbaums, all I can think about is the montage of Gene Hackman’s day out with Ben Stiller’s twin sons, which is accompanied by the song.
Paul Simon has written some of the best lyrical songs in the history of American folk, pop and rock music. This might be his best.