Bringing Balance To The Big Blue Force: ABC Ain't Dead, He Just Looks That Way

Dateline: Fall 2006- If some of you remember, I haven't always used my name while writing for A Sea Of Blue. I also haven't always been here writing about Kentucky. After joining this site in 2006, I went briefly to one of the other UK fan sites to write for a while. While I enjoyed doing it, I didn't enjoy the "kill or be killed" approach to writing. At the time, I had a full-time job and was writing when I could, where I could, and then out of the Blg Blue, it almost became a job of it's own. I found myself doing a daily column, as well as covering not just Kentucky Women's Basketball, but also doing Kentucky Football part-time as well. I was sitting in the press box during games for all the UK sports we covered, I was live blogging games, and then taking what I knew back and doing feature stories as well. It tends to drag you down, but I was balancing that and work pretty well, even though home was suffering somewhat, until I started taking the family along to all the events I went to. Which, while a little expensive, became a ton of fun for us as a clan. Basketball, Football, Women's Basketball, we were seeing them all. The wife would do the driving home, and I would spend the 2 hr ride back to the house finishing my post game and stopping to find somewhere to transmit and post it. Then, reality stepped in.

Most UK fan sites are fighting for their space in the world. They are not yet established, and in a "start up" site like I was working, it becomes a competition. Then it becomes one person taking the occasional shot at your work. Then it becomes something else all together. It becomes not just a hobby, it becomes a job. On top of that, you find yourself having to defend your opinions of what you saw, against people that didn't even actually see the games. While I am almost always up for a good tussle, when it is taking your every waking moment, it becomes no fun. You see, first and foremost, I am a fan. That's what I love about being a fan. Just BEING that fan. That's where the fun is, as well as the emotion, the highs and lows, and all of the things that go along with it. It would not have been out of character for me to pull a Bruce Pearl and paint myself blue and show up shirtless on national TV. Not because I want people to think I am a fool, but because I would do anything to be in amongst the Big Blue Faithful, screaming and cheering my Cats on to victory.

When I left my previous post, it was a simple task for me to say, "Sorry, but I am not going to waste my precious time trying to explain logic to a teenage kid who thinks that because he knows someone who knows someone, he understands the sport." It's great to have sources, but I trust my eyes. And, believe it or not, I trust the stats too. The stats can get you to a 70-80% winning record following Kentucky in picking games. It's that other 20-30% that the emotion, the location, and all the intangibles dictate. As a fan, I could ignore logic and say the Cats would win, even when I knew that the chances in some games of all sports was somewhere between slim and none and Slim just left town. So when I started contributing here again as a fan, I had no intentions of it becoming anything other than what it was. A fan giving his opinions. If I got up on Monday morning, had time, and wanted to write something, I did. If I didn't, or work became a priority, I didn't have to. Then the email came. The holy grail of emails for a member of ASOB. Glenn wanted to know if I would enjoy writing for the front page. Are you NUTS??? Of course I want to write for the front page! It also did not hurt that at the time I was in the second 6 months of pure misery trying to get my insurance company to approve knee surgery that I needed 5 years prior, but they just did not see as needed. I pushed it and pushed it, and kept doing whatever I could to get by, but in the end, the knee said no more. I was sitting in front of this computer everyday anyway, why not be useful? I was seeing my clients here at home, my business had been sold out from underneath me, and I was so in awe that Glenn would even ask. After all, he and I don't always agree on everything, and I am not the most polished writer out there.

Long story short, I love writing here. I would do it 24/7 if I could and it paid the bills. Unfortunately, it does not, and I had to make some tough choices. Most of you know I play music in a Bluegrass Gospel group, and we tour about 80-90 days a year. I still had time to write, because honestly, I only sleep about 6 hours a day, and it is fun to do. When work is only part-time, it's good to feel like you are contributing and doing something useful. But there's that little thing they call a paycheck that kept getting in the way. So, when my part-time work turned into full-time work with full-time pay and benefits, it was a very sad realization that I came to: Something had to give. Religious implications aside, and not wanting to get into violating site guidelines, I have to say two things, and it is only in the context of where they fit in all of this. The music is what I consider to be a calling for me. It has been in my life as long as the Cats have, and getting to do what I do in service to my fellow man is just an amazing thing for me. The sense of accomplishment, even though there is not any money in it, is unbelievable for a guy who by the guidelines of his Church, cannot contribute in the ways that I was being asked to because there are rules there too. Add to that the financial burden my wife was having to carry in paying for insurance for me through her work, and the choice, while excruciating for me personally, was a no-brainer when it came to the common sense of things. And due to the current political climate, I will simply say that thanks to the current laws in force in this country, my employer offered me health insurance for less than half of what it was costing us through the wife's job. In the end, just the benefits alone were worth at least 8K a year in extra gross pay for the wife, and cost me less than $150 of gross per month. So I did the grown up thing that my heart said was awful, but my gut and my tax return said was smart.

So now, here I am, and instead of writing what I want to be writing about the Cats and the most critical game of the season so far, I am trying to make sure that all of you get an explanation of why I had to to what I did. It was just not possible to continue in that capacity. Starting in January, the job takes another uptick as I am going to be moving into the next phase, a little more money, and more training. That means I will be available even less until at least spring, and the job REALLY cranks up come July. Is everyone starting to see a pattern here?

So, I am going to write what I can, when I can, and if it's good enough for the front page and Glenn has room, then that's fine. If it needs to go into the fan posts, that's fine too. I will do my best to make big games if I am not booked out of town, and I will try to keep up with the stats as well, and I really do read the posts and stories as much as I can, sometimes even just over lunch breaks.

What I wanted all of you to get out of this is the following. The Cats are a passion for me. I, however, have many passions. My kids, my family, and my music all carve out a portion of that. I still get to turn on the radio and catch a game while we are on the road, and I watch a lot of DVR games in fast forward mode, both in and out of the van as we travel. I will take the time to get more in when I can, as there will be lulls in my schedule, much like life, I have not disappeared, and as the old saying goes, "rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated". So, tomorrow, when Kentucky goes bird-huntin', and Coach Cal gets to teach Ricky once more that there is more to life than tattoos and late night Italian Eateries, I will be close. Not sure how close, but close enough to hear the action and close enough to maybe interject a word or two along the way. No, ABC ain't dead, he's just doing his best Jimmy Buffett impersonation and "Tryin' To Reason With Hurricane Season". Oh, and picking off the occasional redbird on the highway along the way. Stay thirsty my friends.