Over the last 30 years and nearly 1 million miles in the air, I thought I had seen the full array of things that could disrupt your travels from weather to mechanical issues to over-booking. That was until my return trip from Barcelona Thursday...a true 27-hour (non) sports extravaganza. My first leg from Spain to Amsterdam was at 6:15 AM, so I arrived at checkout at about 4:30 and promptly became embroiled in a dispute among the taxi drivers for my fare. I am not sure how things ended at the hotel, but finally one driver managed to get control of my bag and away I went to the airport. The driver was wearing a 49er jacket and told me he played American football for the local team for a few years..."they" (the locals) do not understand it," he said, "but I think it is the BEST sport." An amazing comment considering I was in the home town of FC Barcelona, a team that had just crushed AC Milan 4-0 with two goals by Messi on Tuesday night.
Then the real fun started...I arrived at my gate and waited in line with my boarding pass in hand, only to be denied boarding by the gate attendant. "The plane is overweight," I was told by the supervisor. So without any recourse, me and 10 other passengers were singled out as unimportant and now labeled "el gordo" by the KLM team. I will grant you I could stand to lose a few pounds - who couldn't? - but I found it hard to believe how a collective 2000 lbs. from the 10 of us rescued that flight from oblivion. As a traveler, you have no choice but to accept your unfair fate - the alternative is off to jail, I suppose by trying to crash the gate...so now I am stuck in Spain.
Before I could further allow KLM to ruin my day, I got my friends at United on the phone and they had me re-booked through Frankfurt and then onto to Dulles...only a 4 hour delay. But wait, there's more because now it is snowing in Germany. The Lufthansa flight into Barcelona is 60 minutes late and now that connection is in jeopardy. We finally get out of Spain and onto Frankfurt where it is indeed snowing, but it seemed more like a snow shower than anything else.
With nothing made easy this day, I had to cover the length of the airport and customs in about 45 minutes...I missed out on the duty free shopping but did grab one of their unbelievable pretzel bread turkey sandwiches along the way...and made it to my United flight. OK, good deal, I would still get home in time to see the end of the Capitals game (a much needed miracle win). Achtung....it is still snowing friends. In a model of German efficiency, it takes them at least an hour and a half to de-ice the plane. I could have done it 45 with an ice scrapper and a squeegee. So *FINALLY* we get in the air and have an uneventful flight to Washington Dulles. Our late arrival means the arrival area at customs is empty and through Customs I go, free at last on home soil! However, there remains one last indigity as the good people at Maryland close off all of I-270 to change a road sign! So finally, at 12:30 AM the next day, I roll into the driveway...27 hours after I started my day to get home.
...And that friends, is why I so LOVE business travel!
Sorry for the rant, but it was a story that had to be told....now onto business:
As you may have seen from my post earlier this week in Racing, Mitch Seavey won the 2013 Iditarod.
Mitch, the 53 year-old former champion, slogged it out in a bit over 9 days. A good time considering some of the very tough sledding conditions in the warmer Alaskan winter. His son won last year to become the youngest ever champ, so now they have the bookend for that record in their family with the elder's win as the oldest champ. You can say what you want about Bo Jackson, but Bo don't know dog sledding...and those dogs are great!
The NFL According to Goodell becomes my Saturday Face-off Issue...
This week we learned that the NFL is considering a rule change that would flag a running back for lowering his head during contact on a running play. So here is where Goodell is leading the NFL - to a flag football league. The QB is so sacred now that an oncoming linebacker is penalized for not being able to freeze his motion mid-jump what the quarterback is preparing to throw without being flagged. Don't even sneeze on him or risk the consequences. And don't try to break up that pass with a solid hit to the reciever on the crossing route...he gets to catch it and start running so he's not "defense-less."
Now that the passing game is ruined, on we go to the running game. Can you imagine a running back bursting through the line and into the secondary seeing a safety ready to take him on and being flagged for illegal contact for running him over like a good power back will do? Jim Brown, please don't cry. This is not your NFL anymore.
The only good news is that the NFL is considering dumping the so-called Tuck Rule. A more ridiculous rule does not exist, so let's do one good thing for the league.
So I ask you, is the NFL better under Goodell, with all its hyper-merchandising, its wear a dress style of play, with its Bountygate and Uncapped Year penalties or did you prefer the era of Pete Rozell with Dynasties like the Packers or Steelers, with the Super Bowl and NFL - AFL merger. Yes, Pete gave us parity, but at least we know we have a shot every fall for our teams.
I love Power Football...it looks to be dying a torturous death.
And these few notes:
...Baseball season is only 2 weeks away come Monday, April 1. Remarkably, March Madness does not end until April 8, the following week. Is baseball too early or has the commercial side of March Madness taken it too long? Right into Masters week I might add.
...I appreciate the opportunity to add to my legendary fantasy league futility with the March Madness bracket. Since I am only smell fumes in the NASCAR Challenge, how bad can I do? I vow to have the original Bracket of Futility!
...I mentioned earlier about FC Barcelona...Messi is really quite a talent scoring 2 goals during the European Championship game with Milan. He has some incredible goal scoring streak going. If I was a big fan, I guess I would watch the modern day Pele play more often.
Well, I am going to take my jet-lagged bones off to bed again. I am home this week, so I can be on time - yea!