Ben's Babbles: March roars in sports and weather

April 2, 2011

Over the weekend my friend David and I were discussing which month is the best for sports. We decided March; it was a close race between March and October.

The case for March is pretty strong. Baseball spring training and opening. The NCAA basketball tournament, the NBA and NHL heading in their home stretch toward the playoffs and (especially in the Portland area); the opening of the Major League Soccer season. Heck, if you are a Cricket fan there is even the Cricket world cup.

It's a month of promise; a month of hope. A month that keeps fans of nearly every sport in the world on pins and needles (even the NFL, whose fans are waiting to see if there will be professional football next fall).

It's also a month of misery. Teams fall just short of the playoffs, college basketball teams lose on last-second heartbreakers and baseball teams watch their star players go down to injury before the season even starts.

The old saying goes that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

Come March 31 I was still waiting for the whole lamb bit. As were, I am sure, thousands of athletes and fans throughout the Northwest.

Technically the high school baseball and softball season started several weeks ago. Many teams have struggled to get in close to a half-dozen games so far this season.

On the first day of practice for spring sports, most fields were covered in 6 inches of snow.

Tuesday evening I did my best to shoot lacrosse photos and video in a driving rain.

Thursday night I was covering lacrosse again; this time it wasn't dumping rain but more of a drizzle. However, a stiff breeze made it impossible for me to keep my umbrella.

Fields have spent 29 of 31 days during the month being pounded by rain. When tennis matches were able to be played it was only because roller mops and leaf blowers could dry the courts.

It has been a miserable month, weather-wise.

It may not have given us much light, but the very end of the month gave us hope, at least.

This weekend two small schools will be playing with a chance to advance to the college basketball championship game.

Thursday morning every team in major league baseball was 0-0 - tied for first place.

Tuesday evening, while I was standing on the sidelines of two lacrosse teams for Hood River Valley teams which have hopes for the state playoffs, David, his wife and their 8-month-old son - Timbers fans all - were standing at Merlo Field in Portland watching a 20-year-old goalkeeper named Jake Gleeson earn himself a cult following.

Sure the weather was lousy last month, but I challenge April to produce as many great moments.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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