Here’s a piece of advice, advice that I can offer because of my newfound firsthand experience with the subject at hand (I’m going to italicize the advice because I feel as though it’s that vital): when you’re a Floridian and you’re forced to deal with a Hurricane, you need to allow your mind to wander for long periods of time.
I understand that this task would undoubtedly be easier for some than for others. It’s not as if someone who loses their home in totality can effortlessly allow themselves to think about things that don’t truly matter. But if you’re someone in my position — if your biggest problems of the past week or so have been a leaky ceiling, a corroded car battery, a lack of electricity, an over-reliance on snack foods, etc. — then I strongly advise that you do not spend 120 consecutive hours thinking about things like storm surge, wind speeds, flash flooding, rainfall measures, debris, boil water advisory, tornado watches, spaghetti models or that goddamn cone that they show on the Weather Channel that highlights the potential path of the hurricane, because if you do, I’m convinced that you will suffer a nervous breakdown, and then that becomes your biggest problem of the week.
So I took my own advice; I tried not to sweat the things that were completely out of my control. Instead, I thought about stuff that was more interesting to me personally. From Noon on Friday September 8th to 5 pm on Wednesday, I laid low in my Estero, Florida home, and these were some of the random things I thought about:
-Last Wednesday on my Sonny Talks Sports Podcast, I went 7-8 picking the Week 1 NFL games, and by just about any measure, that means I was relatively below-average at my job if we’re operating under the assumption that the description of that specific job is to correctly predict what is going to happen in weekly NFL games. On that same Wednesday, multiple meteorologists used many forms of data collecting tools (computer models, past hurricanes, various radars … I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t know how the F meteorologists arrive at the conclusions they make, so just go along with it) to determine that in all likelihood, Hurricane Irma was going to make landfall on the East Coast of Florida, and that it may in fact make an early northern turn and eventually do the most damage to states sitting along the coast, like Georgia, South Carolina or North Carolina.
This, of course, turned out to be incorrect. The track of the storm shifted west on Thursday, and all of the “respected meteorologists” just shrugged their shoulders, began changing what they were saying, and then acted as if they were right all along as the West Coast of Florida took the brunt of the storm. Now by just about any measure, these guys were incorrect with their predictions until it was glaringly obvious that they were going to be wrong, and then in unison they all said “Well look at this! Irma isn’t going to turn north when we thought it was. So look out Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties!” and everyone just accepted that bullshit.
Now look, I understand that meteorology is an inexact science, but let’s stop acting like any one of these guys are decidedly better than the others. What I’m wondering is why people who make predictions for sporting events don’t get the same sort of leeway that meteorologists do? “Respected meteorologists” are able to adjust their predictions (or forecasts) day by day and even minute by minute, so that’s what I’m going to start doing. Throughout the Sunday NFL games, I’m going to give myself the opportunity to adjust my picks up until the 4th quarter two minute warning, and if I pick the game correctly at that point I’ll consider myself a skilled and respected NFL analyst.
-I wasn’t able to receive too many phone calls during the week because of power outages and whatnot, but when I did get a phone call, let me tell ya, it was a real treat. Late Thursday night I set Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE” as my cell phone ringtone, so every time somebody tried to get in touch with me I had Kendrick telling me that nobody was praying for him. I spent some time thinking about that opening verse, feeling bad that Kendrick wasn’t in anyone’s prayers, but then I remembered that he is the best rapper alive, “HUMBLE” is one of the best rap songs of the year, and I was stuck in a blistering hot house, drinking warm water and eating Fritos Scoops for dinner. Apparently nobody was praying for me.
-I was able to watch a decent amount of college football on Saturday and my feelings about the need for another revamp to the collegiate postseason have once again changed. At one time I was a strong believer in a 16-team Playoff (way back in 2011 I even wrote about it on my own personal blog; I’m not going to link you to that because it turns out I was actually a well-below-average writer back then) … today I sit here prepared to pitch you on an 8-Team Playoff that makes so much sense it’s actually amazing the NCAA hasn’t introduced this already.
The 2017-18 Bowl Season begins on Saturday December 16th; five completely meaningless bowl games will be played that day. My idea: get rid of these five games that give the spotlight to the 3rd best team in the Sun Belt and 6th best team in the Mountain West and replace them with four Quarterfinal College Football Tournament games. The four winners of these games will compete in two semi-final games on New Years Day. One week later, the two teams left standing will play in the National Championship Game.
I won’t get into the specifics about how much more money the NCAA would make doing this (think about how much dough the NCAA and their broadcast partners would make from having four more truly meaningful games, which means four more opportunities to sell out 60,000 seat stadiums and four more opportunities to sell advertising slots), how much better this would be for fans (I know I would be far more interested in watching four additional games between top eight teams than I would New Mexico and UTSA), and how much more meaning this would actually give the regular season and Conference Championships.
Here’s how I would select the eight teams: the Power Five Conferences (the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big 10 and Pac-12) would all be represented by their Conference Champion, meaning those five Conference Championship Games would have incredibly high stakes. The highest ranked Conference Champion outside of those five conferences would get an automatic bid (this would appease all parties who claim the mid-major schools get shafted in the Bowl selection process). And the final two spots would be given to the two highest ranked teams that didn’t win their conference championship. Boom, we have eight teams. From there the same committee that selects the four Playoff teams today would seed these eight teams 1-8, thus creating the match-ups and bracket for our new and improved College Football Tournament.
You’re welcome, College Football fans.
-On the topic of College Football, I love that all college football rivalries have specific names. On Saturday I was watching an enthralling game between Iowa and Iowa State, and the CyHawk Trophy was up for grabs. I liked that. I like that when Oklahoma and Oklahoma State play it is called Bedlam. I like that Auburn and Alabama compete in the Iron Bowl. Even though I have no idea why it’s called The Egg Bowl, I like that when Mississippi State and Ole Miss play each other it’s called The Egg Bowl.
I want this to carry over to professional sports now, and I’m going to eventually build a committee of sports fans to give actual names to the best rivalries in pro sports, like Bears/Packers, Yankees/Red Sox, Celtics/Lakers, Sonny Giuliano/Skip Bayless, etc. Let’s make the sports world better y’all!
-I have a new life goal, and according to How I Met Your Mother, it’s a goal that all men have at some point in their life:
I want to open a 1980’s themed bar, and I’m not talking about a bar that plays 80’s music all night. I want the whole experience of drinking at my bar to make bar-goers feel like they have been transported to 1984. And that’s why my 1980’s themed bar is going to be called The Time Machine. More details coming *soon.
*And by soon I mean at whatever point in my life I have enough money to buy a bar. Don’t hold your breath.
-As far back as I could remember, this was the first opening Sunday of Football I haven’t been able to watch from start to finish. Although I was expecting all week that we would lose power at some point on Sunday afternoon, it was actually more depressing than I expected it would be when the power finally went out for good at about 4:30 pm on Sunday. Maybe depressing isn’t the best word. It was annoying more than anything else. I was annoyed that there were football games on and I wasn’t able to watch them. It’s like when you’re a kid and your parents ground you and you can hear your neighborhood friends playing outside having the best time of their lives, and all you can do is sit there and be pissed off and grounded.
But let me tell you, this wasn’t the saddest I’ve ever been missing out on a sporting event (or events). It’s number two on the list. Number three was the night of my Junior Prom, when I missed LeBron James’ game-winning three-pointer in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic. This would be number one if the Cavs had won actually won that series 🙁 . Number one was the opening night of the 2003-04 NBA Season. Improbably, we had all other electricity and forms of power in the house that night except for cable. Cable shit the bed. And to make matters worse, the Season Finale of “The Joe Schmo Show” aired that night too. I missed all of it. 11 year old Sonny cried for hours that night. One of the low points of 2003 for yours truly.
-Do you think there is going to be a rise in the usage of the name “Irma” for babies born sometime in June 2018 thanks to this Hurricane? I would be willing to bet that the answer is yes, particularly for babies that were conceived and born in Florida.
-Since the house was without A/C for close to four consecutive days and since it’s still close to 90 degrees every day in Florida, I stayed out in my car (where A/C was readily available) until 2 am on Monday and Tuesday night. A decent chunk of that time I was listening to the 60’s on 6 Sirius radio station, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there may not be a person in the world who could beat me in Forrest Gump trivia. I acknowledge that this is a rather bold claim, but I wouldn’t be making it if I weren’t confident in my abilities.
I make this claim because as I listened along, not only was I able to identify every single song that was in Forrest Gump, I was able to pinpoint the exact scene when the song was being played, as well as the word-for-word dialogue in that specific scene. Ya know how Bubba knew everything there was to know about Shrimp? I know everything there is to know about Forrest Gump.
-The first full day we were without power was Monday September 11th, 2017.
The house was a mess and without electricity. The ceiling was leaking and at risk of more damage if it rained a considerable amount in the upcoming days. Parts of the community we live in were destroyed; tress uprooted, roads flooded, light posts tipped over into roads. Various people in Lee and Collier counties are still flooded and still without power. By just about any measure, this storm was disastrous for South Florida.
And yet, in many ways, we were lucky. At least I was. Hurricane Irma had slowed considerably by the time it reached Florida. Once a Category 5 storm, it was just a Category 3 by the time it reached and impacted me. No real, considerable, irreversible damage was done to my home or the homes of any of my loved ones, and thank goodness, nobody I know personally lost their life in this storm.
Sixteen years earlier, on September 11th, 2001, thousands of innocent lives were lost because of a despicable act of terror. The September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center were the single most important world event of my lifetime, and I hope that this remains the case, because it’s truly hard to fathom (and downright scary to think about) a more devastating series of events occurring than those two plane crashes.
This ultimately was why I refused to allow myself to get too caught up in the bad that was happening to me over the last week. Every single day millions of people lose more than just their electricity or a weekend of watching football. I thought about the Floridians who lost so much more than I did during Hurricane Irma. I thought about the victims of those two 9/11 plane crashes and what their families had to go through after the fact. I thought about the first responders in New York City who were profoundly impacted by the work they had to do after the towers went down. I thought about how fortunate I am to have what I have, and how in the blink of an eye everything I have could go away forever. That stuck with me.
So I’m going to take the advice of Kendrick Lamar. I’m going to sit down, and be humbled.