Wednesday, June 13, 2018

City of Champions

For the first time ever I got to witness a local pro team win a championship!  The story begins in 2008.

At my first job in the DMV (DC-MD-VA metropolitan area), I had a female coworker who was a diehard Washington Capitals fan.  The job was an hour from DC.  Pam was in her 40s and lived near our office.  Pam worked either 6 am to 2 pm or 7 am to 3 pm by choice.  I preferred the good ol' 9 to 5.

On occasion, I would walk into the office in the morning and Pam would be at her desk looking exhausted.  Come to find out Pam was going to the Capitals home games.  She would drive two hours after work, due to traffic, and after the games, up to an hour and a half to return home.  That April was particularly rough on her.  The Caps made the playoffs but eventually lost in overtime of game seven at home.  Pam was there to witness the heartbreak.

The heartbreaks kept on coming:

2007–08 Lost to Philadelphia Flyers, 3–4
2008–09 Lost to Pittsburgh Penguins, 3–4
2009–10 Lost to Montreal Canadiens, 3–4
2010–11 Lost to Tampa Bay Lightning, 0–4
2011–12 Lost to New York Rangers, 3–4
2012–13 Lost to New York Rangers, 3–4
2013–14 Did not make playoffs
2014–15 Lost to New York Rangers, 3–4
2015–16 Lost to Pittsburgh Penguins, 2–4
2016–17 Lost to Pittsburgh Penguins, 3–4

Not being a huge hockey fan, I'd attend an occasional preseason/regular season game and watch the playoffs.  Every year was the same.  The Caps would have a good regular season but they kept losing very close series in the playoffs.  Until this year.

After trailing 2-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, the Caps came all the way back and won the series 4–2.  In the second round, they faced their arch-nemesis the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I'm not sure how many fans truly believed that the Caps could get past the two-time defending champions.  But they did, winning the series 4–2.  In the conference finals, the Caps went down 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and it looked like the season might end like all the others.  But au contraire, the Caps fought on, literally.  Tom Wilson got into an epic fist fight with Braydon Coburn in game 7.  Both Wilson and the Caps came out victorious!

The only team left standing in the Caps way were the newly formed Vegas Golden Knights.  That's right, not the Las Vegas Golden Knights but just Vegas.  Vegas in general always sounds more dramatic than it really is.  It was the same with the Golden Knights as they only managed to win one game in the series.

By winning game five, the Washington Capitals became the champions!  It didn't take me long to think of my ex-coworker Pam and imagine how happy she is.  The Caps held a parade yesterday in DC and I managed to stop by for a bit.

After twenty five years, Washington DC can again call itself a city of champions!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Week to Remember

Three things happened this week that make it a memorable one.  A great achievement on the golf course, the Washington Capitals making it to the Stanley Cup Final, and receiving a surprise from a package that arrived.

I played a round of golf with a buddy at the beautiful Pleasant Valley Golf Club in Virginia.  The course was in great shape.  But that's not all.  I had a heck of a round.  To be more specific, the first 12 holes were the best I've ever put together on a course of this length.

We played from the blue tees which measured 6,500 yards.

Hole 1: I hit a good drive that was five yards left of the fairway and near the cart path.  There were some evergreen trees but the ball cleared them and I was left with an open second shot.  I hit the green and two-putted for a par.

Hole 2: I hit another good drive but my second shot was short.  I hit a great sand wedge close to the hole and one putted for a par.

Hole 3: My drive sailed right and just off the cart path.  Luckily, I had an open second shot.  My second and third shots were decent but I was left with another chip shot.  I two-putted for a bogey.

Hole 4: On this par 3, my tee shot was right and short of the green.  I chipped onto the green and left myself a short par putt.  I made it to save par.

Hole 5: I continued to drive the ball into the fairway from the tee.  My second shot with a three wood was straight.  I pitched onto the green and two putted for par.

Hole 6: This hole was a bit uphill and the wind was going against me.  My drive found the fairway but my second shot was short of the green.  I had my first bad chip of the round and left the ball short of the green again.  From there, I needed three shots and finished with a double bogey.

Hole 7: A very intimidating 170 yard par 3 with the green across a pond.  I swung hard to get the ball through the wind and across the water.  The ball landed pin high near the left edge of the green.  My long putt curled in for a birdie!

Hole 8: Another par 4 and into the wind.  I found the fairway again but left my second shot short of the green.  I chipped on and two-putted for a bogey.

Hole 9: A short 305 yard par 4, I hit a solid drive into the wind.  I found my ball in the fairway and 95 yards from the hole.  I landed my shot 10 feet from the pin.  I almost birdied the hole but settled for an easy par.

And with that, I carded a 39 on a par 36!  My buddy couldn't believe how well I was playing.  I was happily surprised myself.  This was my first time breaking 40 on a par 36.  I was so pumped that I left two clubs next to the green and walked off initially.  We stopped by the clubhouse before starting the back nine.

I started the back nine with a bogey on a par 5 and saved par on a par 3.  One the next hole, I hit one of the best shots.  From 220-230 yards out, I hit my 3 wood onto the green.  I made the putt for birdied.  Here I was two-thirds thru the round and only 3 over.

Unfortunately, I proceeded to bogey, double bogey, and fell apart on the last six holes.  I didn't break 80 but let's not let that get in the way of my accomplishment, a 39 on a par 36!

Let's move on to another sport, hockey.  I didn't follow any MLB or NHL teams while living in Tennessee.  Once I moved here, I started paying attention to the Nationals and the Capitals.  It didn't hurt that both teams were making the playoffs regularly.

Wednesday night I went town to Chinatown, right next to the Capital One Arena, to watch game seven between the Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning.  A group of us met at the Yard House sports bar to watch the game.

One minute into the game the Caps scored!  Everyone went wild.  The good times kept on rolling and a 4-0 victory secured a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.  For the first time in twenty years, a DC NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL team will be playing for a championship.  Afterwards, the fans gathered outside to celebrate.  It was great.

And lastly, I received a pleasant surprised from a package that was delivered this week.  Since this post is getting way too long, I'll write a separate story about it in June.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Update

Today's post is about two rounds of golf and one poker hand.  One round was played before the five straight days of rain we had and the other round was played today.  The poker hand comes from a PokeStars tournament I saw on the PokerStaples YouTube channel.

Few months ago, I found out that a new coworker of mine is a scratch golfer!  Two weeks ago, we finally got a chance to play a round together.  We played at Oak Creek golf club which is about 15 miles from DC.  It is a nice course.  He had not played there before.  He usually plays from the tips (around 7,000 yards) and I usually play from the 6,000 yards tees.  We settled on playing from the blue tees which were 6,500 yards.

He had some trouble with hitting it thru the fairway since we didn't know the yardage.  He ended up shooting +4 with two birdies.  I, on the other hand, had trouble with the course length.  I ended up shooting +20 which was not good.  The best part was a stretch of five holes (13th thru 17th) where I shot even par.  I had one birdie, one bogey, and three pars.  If it wasn't for the meltdown on the 18th, I would have carded a 41 on the back nine.  Oh well, the course was nice, the weather was perfect, and we had a good time.

Today's round was a disaster and most of the blame falls on the golf course.  Three of us played in Rockville at the RedGate golf course.  It should be called ShitGate.  It was our first and last time playing there.  The golf course was in terrible shape.  I don't think they have mowed the grass is weeks.  The fairways looked like a typical first cut of rough and the rough was almost unplayable.  The grass was at least six inches tall.  The greens were the slowest I've ever seen.  If a standard green grass length is 0.125 inches, these greens had grass that was three times longer.  I three-putted four times today.

Let's switch to tournament poker.  I saw this on YouTube yesterday and it is a very interesting hand.  It was from a PokerStars $109 online tournament Jaime Staples played in.  They were down to three players.  The payouts were $12,100 for first, $9,070 for second, and $6,800 for third.  Here is the hand:

I find the hand interesting because of the payouts and the strength of Jaime's hand.

If you are focusing on finishing second and getting $2,000 more than the third place, then betting every street versus the chip leader might not be the best move.  But if you are trying to win the tournament and earn $3,000 more than the second place, I would have moved all-in on the turn with a flopped set.

I feel like Mr. Staples wasn't sure which course of action he wanted to take until the river.  On the river, he opted to play it safe and check.  Checking seems like the worst option.  He makes it look like he is giving up.  Betting and folding to a raise appears like a better option.  Although after he checks and the chip leader moves all-in, folding does allow Jaime to still be left with about the same amount of chips as the third player at the table.

I don't mind the fold on the river if he thinks the flush got there.  But only a flush makes sense.  I think J-T would raise on the turn.  I don't think J-T would shove on the river after the third club hits the board.  Maybe the chip leader was pushing with A-x or maybe he was just representing a big hand after Jaime checked the river.

What do you think?