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What I Did on My Summer Break

Hi there. Remember me?

First and foremost, please join me in giving a standing O to to Phil, Mike, Alex, John, and Brinke for keeping the site running while I was on my annual August break. That goes double for Phil, who had to deal with an endless series of NBA unveilings early in the month. Thanks, guys — you’re all awesome.

As for me, I wish I could say it was a relaxing month, but the reality was more complicated. As you can see in the photo at right, which you can click to enlarge, I did get to go fishing (that porgy was one of several shorts that got thrown back), but those NBA unveilings kept me busy over at ESPN, plus I spent a lot of time working on my annual college football and NFL season previews (the latter of which will run next Tuesday). I was also dealing with some ongoing health issues that have made life significantly more challenging lately, and then Uni Watch boy mascot Tucker got sick and died — a gut punch from which I still haven’t fully recovered. It was, frankly, a difficult month. I’m all the more grateful to Phil and the rest of the Uni Watch team for running the site all month, because there’s no way I could have handled that on top of everything else.

There was one nice four-day interlude, when the Tugboat Captain and I went down to Florida to celebrate her parents’ 50th anniversary. We had a few hours to kill prior to our flight home, so we did something I’d never done before: We went to the dog track — the Palm Beach Kennel Club, to be precise.

I was a bit conflicted about it, frankly, because I’m fairly certain that racing greyhounds don’t live particularly wonderful lives. But I’ve always been curious about what kind of person is so gambling-addicted that he’ll show up at the dog track on a Monday afternoon, and I figured the whole scene would be interesting to check out. So off we went.

I really liked the little sculpture on top of the track’s sign — and I liked it even more when I realized there were lots of birds perched atop it (for all of these photos, you can click to enlarge):

The entrance doubled as the track’s Greyhound Walk of Fame — similar to the Hollywood version, but for dogs. At first I was excited to see the little paw prints, but then I realized they were the same generic paws for each dog — bogus. Interestingly, most of the inductees had at least one “z” in their name (and in several instances double-z):

There were also two blank stars, for future inductees, complete with the bogus paw prints already in place:

Onward and inward. Back in 2008 I got to tour the fabled silks room at Belmont Park for an ESPN piece on jockeys’ silks. It would be fair to say that the corresponding space at the dog track is a bit less impressive:

As for the crowd, there wasn’t much of one. The track also includes a poker room, which is what most of the people seemed to be interested in. (Someone later told me that the local regulations make it impossible to run a poker room on its own, and that the dog track is basically just a front for the more lucrative poker operation, although I don’t know if that’s true.) Still, there were some hardcore greyhound devotees placing bets and discussing strategy. Here we see one such person, diligently studying her daily racing program prior to post time:

We didn’t actually place any bets (although I would have if there had been any dogs with double-z in their names). But I have to admit, the races were pretty compelling, even with the absurdity of the mechanical rabbit. The dogs are so fast, and so beautiful. We were sitting near the finish line, where I took some photos that turned out surprisingly well:

And then we went to the airport and flew home.

• • • • •

Too good for the Ticker: You people know how I feel about corporate product placements. The folks at SEC Shorts, who make satirical video clips about SEC football, apparently agree, because they’ve made a hilarious video about Alabama coach Nick Saban’s omnipresent Coke bottle. Not to be missed. Dig:

(My thanks to reader Chris Howell, who tipped me off to this one.)

• • • • •

A fond farewell: When Mike Chamernik joined the Uni Watch team in the fall of 2013, the photo at right (which you can click to enlarge) is the one he sent me. I thought it would be fun to run that shot again, because it shows how much time has gone by. I’m pretty sure Mike no longer has a beard, that Nets logo seems like it’s from a million years ago, and the NBA is no longer tied to Adidas.

As you probably saw in yesterday’s post, Mike is now leaving us. I’m going to miss him. A lot.

When I first put out the call for a Ticker assistant in 2013, I was nervous. I’d never been a particularly good delegator, and I didn’t like the idea of letting go of the Ticker, even if only for a day or two per week. Mike was by far the best candidate in the first wave of applicants, but I still wondered how things would play out.

I needn’t have worried. Almost from day one, Mike was fantastic to work with — dedicated, reliable, loyal, professional. I rarely had to explain anything to him twice. He’s made my job easier, often by doing things that made his own life harder (in addition to his Uni Watch duties, he’s had a full-time job at a magazine and a side gig at a newspaper). Along the way, I’ve gotten to know him as a great guy, and a good friend.

Mike lives in Chicago. I got to meet up with him there in 2014, and then the following spring he joined me at a Bucks unveiling event in Milwaukee (where we were joined by SportsLogos.net honcho Chris Creamer). It was great to meet him in person, and I hope I’ll get to do that again sometime.

Mike’s talents deserve a better vehicle than the Ticker, and I have no doubt that he’s moving on to bigger and better things. But I’ll miss him. And although I’m looking for his replacement, the reality is that he’s probably irreplaceable.

Thanks for everything, Mike. Good luck, and don’t be a stranger.

• • • • •

Screen shot 2009-10-04 at 10.07.15 PM.png

Culinary Corner: While we were in Florida, we stayed at a big AirBnB (along with the Captain’s brothers and their respective families). The house had a grill out in the back, and at one point I volunteered to grill some shrimp skewers

Now, I’ve been grilling various skewered foods for most of my adult life, and there’s always this one vexing problem: When you try to turn the skewers over, at least some (and sometimes all) of the skewered items refuse to turn. The skewer turns, but the food doesn’t turn with it — it stays in place while the skewer spins. Grrrr.

But one of the Captain’s brothers showed me an ingeniously simple solution to this problem: Use two skewers:

So simple, so obvious. Okay, so maybe it causes a bit more bamboo deforestation, but still. How did I get this far into my life without knowing about this?

• • • • •

Two trips around the sun: It was two years ago yesterday that the Tugboat Captain and I met for the first time, so last night we went to Coney Island to celebrate our annual-versary with a beach picnic. Since it was a special occasion, I made a duck breast with a garlic/rosemary/fennel/currant stuffing and a salad with corn, scallions, tomatoes, and bacon (for all photos, you can click to enlarge):

For dessert, the Captain brought some peach cobbler (which, admittedly, isn’t that photogenic) and I “made” dulce de leche (read: boiled a can of sweetened condensed milk for three hours):

Not shown: duck fat popcorn (which sounds impressive but tasted pretty much the same as any other popcorn).

And then we rode the Wonder Wheel. A very nice way to mark our two years together, and a good capper on my August break from the site.

• • • • •

Intern reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week, I’m currently in the market for a new Ticker intern. Full details here.

For those who’ve already applied, I’ll be getting in touch with the most promising applicants shortly. Thanks.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul (it’s like riding a bike)

’Skins Watch: Indians owner Paul Dolan says he and MLB are “not exactly aligned” on the future of Wahoo, which appears to lend credence to the widespread perception that commish Rob Manfred is pressuring the team to put the Chief in mothballs. According to Dolan, there will be some sort of resolution “before the start of the 2018 season and maybe sooner than that.” … Meanwhile, prominent Wahoo critic and Native American activist Robert Roche has been indicted for embezzlement (from Robert Hayes). … A private school in Maryland has banned students and staff from wearing ’Skins apparel. The policy “emerged from classroom discussions about race- or ethnicity-based sports team logos” (from Jerry Nitzh). … Speaking of the ’Skins: Although this item isn’t Native-related, it’s worth noting that the team’s color scheme is referenced in the song “Brothers,” which appears on Randy Newman’s new album, Dark Matter. The song is about Jack and Bobby Kennedy discussing the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, and at one point Jack pulls out at bottle of whiskey — a gift, he explains, from ’Skins then-owner and notorious racist George Preston Marshall, who, Jack goes on to say, runs the team “like a plantation, for never has black man worn the burgundy and gold.” Actually, plantations had lots of black labor, so the analogy is a bit strained, but whatever, it’s still a uni reference, so there you go. You can listen to the song here. … The U. of Minnesota is holding a panel discussion about the new documentary More Than a Word, which is about Native American sports mascots (from R. Scott Rogers).

Baseball News: Here’s a faaaaascinating story about how dirt from western Pennsylvania is used in 22 of the 30 MLB ballparks. “Ever notice these days how there’s virtually no dust when players slide? I guess this is why,” says Chris Weber. … The Marlins have added a memorial patch for Spanish broadcaster Felo Ramirez, who recently passed away. Toss in the All-Star Game patch and the Jose Fernández patch and the team is now wearing three jersey commemorations. Not sure if that’s a record, but it must be in the running (from @SoFlaMarlins). … Twins C Chris Gimenez needs to button up. … Timothy Chiu, a big Jays fan, didn’t like the team’s Players Weekend jersey, so he designed two possible replacements. I agree that they’re better that what the team actually wore. … Here’s one of my favorite FNOBs ever: Claudell Washington’s double-decker FNOB (from Johnny Garfield).

NFL News: I think we’ve seen this before, but once more won’t hurt: Amazing color footage of the Lions and ’Skins going color vs. color in 1943 (from Bill Moss). … The Patriots appear to be the latest team to go with raised neck bumper lettering (from Andrew Gordon). … The sleeve patch design worn by police officers in Irving, Texas, used to include a Cowboys helmet (from Art Savokinas). … Pats coach Bill Belichick wore a University of Houston cap at yesterday’s presser — presumably a Harvey-related gesture (from @TXSalazar). … Hmmmm, looks like the Patriots will have a champion’s patch for next Thursday’s season opener. That would be consistent with what they’ve done following their three past Super Bowl wins. The Saints also wore a champion’s patch for the season opener after their Super Bowl win; they’re the only other NFL team to have done this.

College Football News: Schools wearing various helmet decals in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts include Florida, Utah, and UCLAM. … Here’s this week’s uni combos for for UNC and Stony Brook. … Colorado is adding a 50th birthday decal for Ralphie, their live mascot (from Bob Hille). … Good article on how Turner Field has been converted to be Georgia State’s football stadium (from Michael Rich). … Arizona State has added a commemorative decal for former coach Frank Kush. … Interesting articles about Nike creating the uniforms for a small Oregon school (from Aaron Seifer). … In the wake of the recent violence in Charlottesville, UVA is adding a #hoostogether patch. All other UVA sports teams will wear something similar (from @acc_tracker and Brandon Lloyd). … Elon’s QB had a nose bumper malfunction last night (from Dan Bly). … Florida A&M wore jerseys with tone-on-tone numbers last night. They were penalized a timeout per quarter for that violation (from Larz Roberts). … Here’s an interview with UNC’s equipment manager (from @ChapelHeel).

Soccer News: New kits for the Wellington Phoenix (from Ed Żelaski‏). … Newly acquired Swansea City player Renato Sanches will not be permitted to wear his usual No. 85 in the Premier League. He’ll wear No. 35 instead (from Mark Coale). … The Baltimore Blast, an indoor team in the MASL, are moving their home games to Towson University (from Jim Vilk). … Tigres UANL, a Mexican team, has a player with No. 288.

Grab Bag: Prince’s sister says purple wasn’t his favorite color (thanks, Brinke). … New design for the Monster Energy Cup trophy (from James Gilbert). … Plans to revise the design of the U.S. $20 bill by having Harriet Tubman take Andrew Jackson’s place are now on hold, as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said yesterday that he won’t commit to the plan. … Big sports facility upgrades in the works at Virginia Tech (from Andrew Cosentino). … Some people in Nebraska want to revise the state’s flag design (from John Muir). … Minnesota’s new head coach, PJ Fleck, has put his signature “Row the Boat” slogan on the team’s center helmet stripe, which seems like a bit much.

• • • • •

Weekend update: Phil is enjoying a well-earned break, and I’ve decided that the site will be closed for the Laborious Day weekend. Enjoy the holiday — I’ll see you back here on Tuesday (which is also when my NFL season preview will be running on ESPN), and Phil will be back with his usual college football coverage during the weekend of Sept. 9-10. — Paul

51 comments to What I Did on My Summer Break

  • Graf Zeppelin | September 1, 2017 at 8:51 am |

    The link to what the Blue Jays “actually wore” shows a Mets 1986 throwback jersey.

    • Paul Lukas | September 1, 2017 at 8:54 am |

      Sorry. Fixed.

      • Graf Zeppelin | September 1, 2017 at 10:33 am |

        Still showing the Mets ’86-TB.

        • Paul Lukas | September 1, 2017 at 10:53 am |

          So weird! I swear, the URL was correct.

          Swapped in a completely different image.

    • Wade Heidt | September 1, 2017 at 9:26 am |

      Of the Players Weekend jerseys, I did like the Blue Jays versions. Had a bit of throwback nod with it being double blue, like their original colour scheme.

  • Chris | September 1, 2017 at 8:56 am |

    I am also blown away by the double skewers, amazing!!

    • duker | September 1, 2017 at 12:52 pm |

      I learned this just last weekend.

  • Brett G | September 1, 2017 at 9:00 am |

    Those photos of the dogs on the track have a surreal quality to them – nice job.

  • BurghFan | September 1, 2017 at 9:01 am |

    Welcome back, Paul!

    Proofreading:
    “there were lots of bird perched atop it”
    “he’s had a full-time job at a magazine a side gig at a newspaper”
    “the Patriots will have champion’s patch”
    “Some people in Nebraska was to revise the state’s flag design”

    In many states, racetracks can also get casino licenses, and the casinos are more lucrative than the racing operations.

    The Palm Beach Kennel Club is owned by members of the same family who own Yonkers Raceway, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    • Paul Lukas | September 1, 2017 at 9:10 am |

      Thanks, Jerry — appreciated, as always.

      • DenverGregg | September 1, 2017 at 9:14 am |

        UCLAM?

  • Bruce | September 1, 2017 at 9:07 am |

    Welcome back Paul – Those action shots of the dog races look great!

  • Mangler | September 1, 2017 at 9:09 am |

    This must be the third or fourth time that we’ve seen something about Turner Field being turned into a football stadium for Georgia State. Looking forward to articles when a game is finally played there.

    You can’t tell the numbers on the Florida A&M uniforms from that perspective. And you can’t see the Rattlers’ logos on their helmets, either; it completes a generic look that made the game look like a scrimmage.

    Welcome back, Paul!

  • DenverGregg | September 1, 2017 at 9:14 am |

    The CU sticker isn’t for stadium anniversary, but for the live buffalo Ralphie.

    • Paul Lukas | September 1, 2017 at 9:46 am |

      Fixed.

  • Joel Manuel | September 1, 2017 at 9:31 am |

    My favorite line: “And then we went to the airport and flew home.”

  • Greg | September 1, 2017 at 10:12 am |

    Welcome back Paul.
    Did this track have anything for visitors to support retired greyhounds, either information on adoption or donating for their care? Seems like a decent to show some love for the animals at the track.

    • Paul Lukas | September 1, 2017 at 10:20 am |

      Yes, they had some signs about how greyhounds make “greyt” adopted pets.

      • Joe from Eagle Mills | September 1, 2017 at 5:11 pm |

        Definitely. My daughter has an adopted greyhound, and she’s just a great pet. She had 19 starts at Sanford Orlando; best finish was 4th, so she retired young.

  • Max | September 1, 2017 at 10:38 am |

    Minnesota is certainly all in on PJ Fleck’s “row the boat” mantra — here’s a video of the marching band’s rendition (the video is speeded up, so it looks especially effective): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPpzwaDv1JE

  • StLMarty | September 1, 2017 at 10:42 am |

    This is one post I will not be sharing with my wife.
    R.I.P., Adam.

  • Jason | September 1, 2017 at 10:42 am |

    Paul,

    Great Column today. Just a couple of things. Did you know the PBKC is owned by the Rooney family? Even though the Wonder Wheel is not uni related, most people outside of NY have no clue how awesome and Differrent the Wonder Wheel is, it would be awesome to share that with your followers.

    • Paul Lukas | September 1, 2017 at 10:55 am |

      An earlier comment mentioned the Rooney connection, which I hadn’t been aware of until today.

      The Wonder Wheel is indeed an engineer marvel! Another topic for another day.

  • Brent Nelson | September 1, 2017 at 11:16 am |

    Sorry for your loss, Paul.

  • Tom V. | September 1, 2017 at 11:48 am |

    Congrats on the Captains parent’s 50th, my parents celebrated their 50th as well last month too, we all got together in South Carolina for a week to celebrate.

    Secondly, living outside Orlando, we have the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club which we go to maybe once every two years or so I’d say. It’s more of a goof on Saturday Night after a dinner out or something, its definitely something different, definitely interesting to see not only the folks there betting on the dogs, but the folks there betting on other races from around the state, and you can’t complain about the relatively cheap beers. And then you realize you’re the type of person who goes to the dog track…

  • Lee | September 1, 2017 at 11:50 am |

    Paul,
    Thanks for keeping Uni Watch around, and going. I look forward to it each morning, and always gets my day off to a enjoyable start.
    Shout out to your team too!

    Always the best,
    Lee

  • Eric | September 1, 2017 at 12:18 pm |

    For the past few days (at least), the full site has been loading on my mobile device. Is there a fix?

    • Paul Lukas | September 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm |

      Working on it. Thanks for your patience.

      • Eric | September 4, 2017 at 9:41 am |

        New mobile site looks great!

  • Jim Vilk | September 1, 2017 at 12:43 pm |

    Back for one day then you’re closed for the weekend? ;)

    I fully understand. Enjoy some well-earned rest, all of you. Welcome back, Paul.

  • hugh.c.mcbride | September 1, 2017 at 1:14 pm |

    Welcome back, Paul — and thanks again Phil, Mike, Alex, John, & Brinke for their great work over the past month. Hope y’all have a relaxing & refreshing long weekend!

  • Todd | September 1, 2017 at 1:28 pm |

    my father and grandfather used to take me to the dog track in Hollywood, FL when I was a kid. You certainly see a different aspect of life there. It was generally pretty sad. I’d much rather go to a horse track.

    I did love the rabbit that the dogs would chase being called Hollywood. At the start of every race, as the rabbit is coming around the track, the announcer would say “Aaaaaaand here comes Hollywood!”

  • Brent | September 1, 2017 at 2:12 pm |

    I like the Nebraska flags redesign proposals. The best flags are the ones you don’t need to be right up on to read. Texas, New Mexico and Arizona do it right. Among others.

  • Kurt | September 1, 2017 at 2:19 pm |

    Thank you MLB for not putting gigantic Red Cross logos on the batting helmets, at least not yet. Yellow wristbands and ribbons fine.

    • Paul Lukas | September 1, 2017 at 3:58 pm |

      The yellow wristbands have nothing to do with Harvey. They’re for pediatric cancer awareness.

  • Kurt | September 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm |

    Nebraska flag redesign? Do it! Redesign Wisconsin’s flag too.

  • Ryan M | September 1, 2017 at 2:28 pm |

    Two skewers! That’s fantastic! I’ve gotten so frustrated with kabobs on skewers that we basically just toss everything in a pre-heated grill basket and cook it that way rather than mess with skewers that never turn properly.

    • DenverGregg | September 1, 2017 at 3:35 pm |

      For lots of items (though by no means all) broad flat metal skewers solve that issue too. They’re also handy for getting extra heat to the middle of potatoes

      • mike 2 | September 1, 2017 at 5:19 pm |

        I’ve yet to see broad metal skewers that don’t also have wooden handles (meaning that I can’t close the grill on them without charring the handles).

        I do the two skewer thing as well.

  • RS Rogers | September 1, 2017 at 4:26 pm |

    At the comic shop today – just learned Evan Dorkin has a new graphic novel out – and on the counter were a pile of Aaron Rodgers Funko Pop figures:

    http://cdn3.volusion.com/pgfbm.zmygj/v/vspfiles/photos/889698201650-2T.jpg

    The cashier noticed me looking at them, and said that when they came in on Wednesday, he’d had to ask a customer what a “rush” uniform was. The cashier was not a fan of the Packers wearing all-white instead of green or gold.

    • Chris | September 1, 2017 at 5:52 pm |

      Uni-watch reader, thoughtful commenter, and comic book fan?
      I live in the DC burbs, and am starting to think I lost out on a bestie when you moved north. You ever make it back down here?

  • Johnny Swift | September 1, 2017 at 4:41 pm |

    Two skewers! Thanks!

    Sorry you had a rough month but glad you are back and never forget to treasure the good parts.

  • mike 2 | September 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm |

    Farewell Mike. Its been a pleasure reading your contributions over the years.

  • Mike Engle | September 1, 2017 at 5:44 pm |

    Records for non-standard patches? Really having a tough time thinking of four or more. Yankees once had three memorials all at once: Bob Sheppard, George Steinbrenner, and Ralph Houk. Pittsburgh Penguins had three at once at all times in 1992: Badger Bob Johnson, team’s 25th anniversary, and the NHL’s 75th which yielded to the Stanley Cup Final patch. (Three largely different reasons. A death, a team milestone, and either a league milestone or a league year achievement.)

    • Mike Engle | September 1, 2017 at 5:47 pm |

      And I guess the Yankees three patches in 2008 too in addition to 2010 recounted above. Farewell Old Yankee, the ASG, and Bobby Murcer.

    • Wade Heidt | September 1, 2017 at 6:42 pm |

      Philadelphia Flyers from this past season had similar patch situation to the Penguins in ’91-92. A death, team milestone,and league milestone:

      https://broadstreetbuzz.com/2017/02/26/philadelphia-flyers-limp-tradedeadline/

  • Sean | September 1, 2017 at 9:45 pm |
  • Martina | September 2, 2017 at 9:41 am |

    So if the ohio.com article is to be believed, MLB gave the Indians the All-Star Game without the elimination of Wahoo being an unequivocal requirement. That’s incredibly infuriating. The only way MLB would have proceeded with this if they really truly cared would have been to use that as the key bargaining chip.