Yes, it's Thanksgiving Week and somewhere in the ultra-secret Guide Book For Columnists (which was mentioned on Page 47 in the last Nicolas Cage National Treasure movie), it says that once every few years, you have to write about stuff for which you are thankful. Hey, I'm just following tradition.
• Obviously, I'm THANKFUL for my family. Anybody who knows my wife will attest to the fact that I married way, WAY up. Our two badass kids are both successful engineers. They go to church, they vote Democrat (I think), they're smart and athletic and funny. While I am blessed to see them just about every other day of the year, the two of them spend Thanksgiving Weekend in New York City. They ride bikes across the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday, go shopping at Macy's on Black Friday, and then go watch Cornell play hockey in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Odd (but cool) tradition.
• I'm THANKFUL for UA quarterback Khalil Tate. He has made Wildcat football not suck this year. (It really sucked last year.) He's even receiving serious attention for the Heisman Trophy, and this is a 19-year-old who hardly played at all the first third of the season. And if you think that I (as a mere fan) am thankful for Tate, just think of how thankful Coach Rich Rodriguez is.
It's funny; back when I was coaching at a different school, I had a girl on my basketball team named Michelle. She played softball during the spring while I coached track. One day we had a track meet in San Manuel. Michelle didn't have softball practice that day, so I asked her if she'd like to come along and watch her boyfriend, Leon, compete in the long jump.
When we got to San Manuel, just to goof on her, I entered Michelle in the long jump. She protested, stating that she had never done it before. I told her to just watch the other kids and maybe get a tip or two from Leon. Each kid gets three jumps. On her first one, she went about 10 feet. I laughed and told her that I could probably do 10 feet, even at my advanced age and weight. She smiled. On her next jump, she went 12 feet, and on her final jump, she went 14 feet and won the event. I shrugged and said, "Well, that's just good coaching."
Three weeks later, she finished third in the State in the event—an event that other kids had been practicing for and competing in for years.
I think of that story every time I see Khalil Tate running for a 70-yard touchdown. And I wonder how a coaching staff ever arrived at the conclusion that (former starter) Brandon Dawkins gave Arizona the best chance of winning. Dawkins isn't horrible (except in relation to Tate), but gee whiz, guys. This could have been an epic season; we'll never know. However, I'm still thankful for Not Sucking. And I'm absolutely giddy over the prospects for next season.
• I'm NOT THANKFUL for crackpot rednecks who are in our midst. Did you see that the Mohave County Board of Supervisors renamed a stretch of road for LaVoy Finicum, the anti-government squatter who died in a shootout with police? That's crazy.
Finicum and the members of the inbred Bundy clan wanted to misuse U.S. public land for their own profit (reportedly in the millions of dollars). That land belongs to me and my neighbor and people who live in New York City and the Northern Mariana Islands. Stealing national resources doesn't make you a patriot; it makes you a crook. And honoring a crook makes you an idiot.
• I'm THANKFUL for the voters in Maricopa County who passed all 27(!) school budget-override issues on the ballot this month. Meanwhile, Tucsonans voted down three of four. The world has gone mad.
• I'm THANKFUL that I got to see my good friend Brian Peabody get inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame. First off, the Hall, which is looking for a new home now that La Placita Village is being gentrified, is really cool. It's currently run by former MLB pitcher Pat Darcy, and it's first-class all the way.
Brian and I go back 30 years. When I first met him, we were reffing high-school summer league games in the tiny Salvation Army gym on Prince Road. He was still in college, and he tried the old Tom Sawyer routine of "I bet you couldn't solve this math problem that I have for homework."
Brian is now the men's basketball coach at Pima College (he took his team to Nationals last year). But he will forever be remembered for making the Most Dumb-Ass Statement of All Time. I once told him about a study that showed 50 percent of all American adults will never read a book after their formal education comes to an end. To which Brian replied, "Hah! Make that 51 percent!" Not only does he not read, he also stinks at math.
(He later read A Season on the Brink about Bob Knight and Indiana basketball, thereby returning the universe to balance.)
• And I'm THANKFUL for the Tucson Weekly still being around. Most people didn't think it would last three years, let alone 33. Happy Thanksgiving.