- Dear Mitch, if you’re reading this you already know: there was no Sixpack of the Mondays this week. It was a big decision on whether or not to spend one last day in Disney World riding Space Mountain or pounding out six takes on whether or not the Redskins should sign Dez Bryant. I went with the former, and had a two-scoop ice cream sundae on Main Street with the fam...while simultaneously talking about whether or not the Redskins should sign Dez Bryant with a fellow park-goer wearing a Green Bay Packers hat (he saw my Scot “McLovin” McCloughan 1st Amendment Sports t-shirt and had to ask). Sincerely, Ken
- Where you are taking a family of five or going with a group of your friends, attending Disney-themed parks around this country comes with the promise of one sure thing: long lines. In addition to quality family time (corny but true), the opportunity interaction with folks from literally everywhere around the world is pretty damn cool. While I struggled to find the relevant sports story to use to connect to a family from Scotland behind us in line for a ride in TomorrowLand (you know I’m an Irish whiskey guy), team-themed hats and t-shirts provided easy-to-follow maps for light and entertaining conversations throughout the trip. I am interested in your thoughts on this, because I spend a good deal of time on the road for work, and I can be easily engaged to discuss just about anything sports-related with anyone while ponying up to the bar and watching whatever game is on the television. I have found the takes offered while on line at Disney to be generally far more honest than the ones in your regional sports bar (maybe the alcohol plays a role). Maybe it’s just easier to be honest about your team when you are in the happiest place on earth. (Maybe I should also give a nod to all of you out there who despise the Disney experience. I respectfully disagree with your stance, and I hope there is enough non-Disney stuff in this post to keep you from boiling.)
- I spoke with a Michigan Wolverines fan about Jon Jansen. I got giddy with excitement talking about Alex Smith under center in Washington with a family of four—three of them were wearing Kansas City Chiefs gear. Admittedly, I was rocking more Washington Nationals gear than Washington Redskins gear, but even when I was wearing non-football inspired attire, the Redskins generally came up in conversation. I asked a guy wearing a TCU hat about Josh Doctson (he said we will ultimately be unbelievably happy with our first round selection). Probably the most random Redskins-related conversation I had was with a guy wearing a Mississippi State shirt who wanted to talk about my man...Presssssssss-TONE Smith. I call it random because it was a topic you think I would have brought up, but he did—and that took me by surprise because I feel like Preston Smith is the forgotten man on this team lately. Given I think he could be our next franchise-tagged player, I was happy to talk about a player who has somewhat quietly put together a pretty decent career in the league. I don’t think any other edge rusher—or any player period—drafted since 2015 can boast the same, complete stat line that Smith has: 20.5 sacks, three interceptions and four forced fumbles. He puts pressure on the quarterback and is simply not as inconsistent as a vocal minority of fans might complain that he is—and he still has room for improvement in his game.
- The sports region from which I encountered the most fans was New England. Go figure—it’s April, it’s still freezing and there was snow coming down at home for some of them. That said, the Philadelphia fans are out in force, and I was extremely happy to get the Disney-effect from them as well. The worst it got for me (a man who was raised by his father to think bad things about all Philly teams) was when I was having a great conversation with an Eagles fan who still couldn’t believe they won the Super Bowl. It was on the Monorail and when the doors opened at the next stop, a father/duo wearing Philadelphia Phillies gear got on...they were less conciliatory to say the least. The Eagles/Villanova championships were at the top of the menu anytime I encountered a Philadelphia fan, and I get it. Another interesting nugget: the most overconfident commentary (I’m trying to be diplomatic here) from a Philly fan was about the Phillies and NOT the Eagles. What gives?
- Unlike the last time I visited Disney, when I saw blue stars everywhere I turned (it was football season for that trip, so that is typically when frontrunner-type fans break out their in-season gear), this time I saw only TWO Dallas Cowboy hats. That’s it. I saw more Wright State gear than Dallas Cowboys gear—three-to-two, but still...
- Alright...well, putting the rivalry discussions and one-off general sports conversations (had a great talk about Kevin Ollie with a University of Connecticut grad named Frank), family vacations don’t put the sports world on pause. Since it just so happened that this trip came outside of football season, I didn’t miss any on-field action. I thought it would be a cool discussion to have to talk about the best sporting event/game you watched while on vacation. The first order of business is for all of us to come to grips with the reality that sometimes vacations get scheduled during major sporting events. Sure, you can occasionally bail if the game is big enough and you have tickets or if you throw enough of a tantrum, but I am here to tell you that there is always another option: the Vacation Big Game Experience.
- In my family, folks understand that I care about every game...being played anywhere...between any two teams or players...in any sport...at any level, professional or amateur. This has removed/hampered my ability to bail on family plans for sports-related reasons, because I could make that excuse for just about anything. With both the Wizards and Capitals in their respective playoffs (ummm...let’s not talk about that right now), I still knew not even to bring that up on the home front when making these vacation plans. On one hand, I really haven't missed too much excitement from a playoff game standpoint. On the other hand, I was pretty excited to potentially experience the greatness of a playoff win while on vacation. I even saw a couple Toronto Raptor jerseys in Magic Kingdom while there. Oh well...it still brings me to my big question of which sporting event/game you experienced while on vacation. I’ll throw a couple out there.
- It was the NFL draft...April 2009. My sister had scheduled her wedding on the day of the first round (back then the first round was on a Saturday). I can only assume this was happening all too frequently, which forced the league to eventually move the early rounds of the draft to prime time on Thursday and Friday night. I was checked into a hotel room in Annapolis, and had requested (cough...demanded...) a room near the reception ball room. Kevin Ewoldt was stationed at FedEx Field feeding me (and all of us) real-time updates of the proceedings. This was the Mark Sanchez draft...hahaha. The Redskins were rumored to be interested in him, and I was dreading this result on what was otherwise a joyous day. My plan was simple: I would excuse myself to go to the bar where I would get a fresh gin and tonic and then run over to my room to watch the first round action. By the time the Jets moved into position to pick up Sanchez (pick #5), and the roar from FedEx Field could be heard in downtown Annapolis, there were four empty glasses sitting on my hotel room bureau. By the time Brian Orakpo fell all the way to the Redskins at pick #13, it looked like I had hosted cocktail hour in my room. As Vinny Cerrato ordered the Orakpo card raced to the stage, my bladder was ordering me to race to the men’s room. I was in such good spirits the rest of the day...and not just because I was clearly so happy for my sister and our whole family. We had just welcomed the newest two members into our family, and one was a beastly outside linebacker from Texas. (John...if you’re reading this, I can honestly say we traded the right guy away—you’re having a hell of a Meringolo-family career!)
- During Christmas vacation to my in-laws in Vermont in December 2012, my wife was very clear when she said, “You will not be missing the Redskins/Cowboys game. Do it the way you need to do it.” My brother was also in Burlington that week visiting his in-laws (yeas, we both married Vermont girls) and so our plan was to meet up at a bar in Burlington and watching the nationally televised game of the week that Sunday night. The season was on the line, and the Redskins were streaking to the NFC East title. If you recall, it was cold at FedEx (one of only three or four home games I have missed in the last 19 years), but it was exponentially colder in Burlington. I remember being bundled up at the bar—so it kind of felt like I was there. The Cowboys scored first, but not until the second quarter, which created the kind of tightness and anger that Washington sports fans know well. From there, however, it was ALL Redskins. More specifically, it was ALL Alfred Morris. Our guy ran the ball 33 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns as WE took down Tony Romo to complete their epic meltdown to end that season. It felt like there were 500 Redskins fans in the bar that night, even though it was only about four or five. It felt like everyone was pulling for us though...I guess Vermont is the only place impervious to Dallas’ seduction (thank god).
- I watched the Maryland Terrapins take down the Kansas Jayhawks in the Final Four while on vacation, and I watched an amazing Washington Nationals playoff victory last year from an iPad tucked away at the table of a family dinner on the road. I have streamed grainy standard definition feeds of Washington Capital playoff wins over the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, and I have joined a crowd of supporters pulling for the US Men’s team in the World Cup while at a resort. I am thankful to be part of a family (an extended family) that understands the greatness of sports, and shares the same passion for “rooting for your team” that I have always maintained. Vacations are about getting away from the daily drag, and sports is not part of that (well...for the most part...haha). I would love to solicit a few stories from those of you who watched some of the biggest games of your lives from your vacation vantage point. (Bill, Thailand sounds like vacation year-round, and you have clearly caught all/any of the big games we have had from there...would still love to hear one from you.) Back to work, everyone!
Ten Yard Fight: Vacation-Themed Sixpack of the...Tuesdays?
Returning from vacation is tough for the everyday American worker...showing up to hit and get hit—as football players do—after a summer vacation must be its own sort of drag.