Seven-Time

Image result for jimmie johnson se7en

History has been made, even if some don’t totally agree with the thought of it.

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jimmie Johnson won his seventh championship tonight, tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. on the all-time list. It is quite a monumental achievement, since not many would have thought the number would be caught after Dale Earnhardt won his seventh in 1994, 22 years ago. Jeff Gordon won four very quickly and there was a great possibility that he could have won more had the Chase not been implemented and Jimmie Johnson hadn’t suddenly started tearing up the racing scene, but Johnson and co. have set a new standard that cannot be easily replicated now.

The historic run was completed in only 15 years and eight of those were run for the championships; Jimmie won all of his championships since winning his first in 2006, five in a row at one time. He now has 80 wins after winning at Homestead-Miami for the first time, just 13 from tying his mentor Jeff Gordon. The run has been quite efficient and if you do the math, that is at least 5 wins per year.

I’ve been watching NASCAR racing for 13 years now and have seen drivers come and go: old timers like Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, and Bill Elliott and newcomers like Joey Logano and Kyle Larson. Of the 13 championship seasons that have come and gone, seven of those ended in a Jimmie Johnson victory, so yes, I have gotten to know this driver pretty well. In 2006, I managed to get his autograph at the airport as he and his wife were driving away in their SUV, he scribbling his short-hand signature on a piece of paper I had with me, looking like he was in a hurry to get out of there after having just raced at Michigan. That was the summer before he won his first championship and shortly after he won his third Coca-Cola 600 in a row. I still have that autograph, being stored in a yearbook of mine until I decide what to do with it once the X-time champ has finally retired.

There is nowhere to go but up now, to go for eight and possibly more. As long as Jimmie Johnson stays competitive, there is no end in sight for one of the greatest drivers of all-time. Sure, he won all of his titles in the Chase for the Championship era, an era that die-hard fans say isn’t real racing and is quite watered down, but hey, Jimmie won it fair and square and really is the only driver who has mastered the format in all of its versions over the years. After he won six, I like to say NASCAR tried to Jimmie-proof the Chase, making it harder to win the championship, but after getting a feel for it and failing at first, the team overcame the setbacks and claimed what was rightfully theirs: Lucky Number Seven.

The legendary Hendrick team of Johnson and Knaus have enjoyed scorching their competition and don’t look to be letting up just yet.

#NaNoPoblano2016 Day 20

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Racing Stripes

So racing at the Brickyard is back, for the Americans. The Brickyard 400. Recently retired Jeff Gordon is back in the car, driving the number 88, in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who suffered a concussion a few weeks ago. I’ve enjoyed racing since I was a small child and started watching all the races in 2003. Lately though, NASCAR has become boring and vanilla what with the new chase for the championship format and crowning a random driver champion every year. Turning back the clock, I realize how much the sport has changed with drivers coming and going and the added social layer of the Internet. Today I realized that one section of grandstands at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway was basically empty, a sad sign that an event once hyped and anticipated has lost it’s luster now in its 22nd year. Still great, but never will be the same.

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Hop on the Bandwagon

Football is a huge gathering. There is no doubt about it. The TV ratings and ticket sales do not lie, even if one is not a huge fan of it.

You know fans are crazy about the game when everyone in a sports bar cheers and claps as one organism. When everyone comes in their favorite players’ sport jerseys. That’s what happened Monday night during the Lions and Saints game. The Lions won but didn’t make it easy. Drew Brees’ squad had one last gasp to tie the game after Detroit’s kicker missed a field goal that would have sealed it. They never came remotely close to scoring but immediately shades of the Green Bay game in which Aaron Rodgers threw a Hail Mary to the tight end Richard Rodgers in the end zone with no time on the clock came to mind. Richard caught it among several Lions and won the game for Green Bay. The Packers got this extra chance after a penalty was called on the Lions for a facemask on Aaron Rodgers, but replays clearly showed that the Lions’ defender did not grab the facemask. Thankfully, that didn’t happen again and we got a break. 5-9 still but at least they are not giving up.

The Detroit Lions are one of those teams that keep the fans coming back every season, even if they keep losing and losing and breaking our hearts. The fans cling to hope that one day they will finally put a run together and have a chance to win their first championship since 1957. Even winning a playoff game would be exciting, since they haven’t done that since 1991. They were in the playoffs last year but got screwed on a controversy call that gave Dallas a recovered fumble and the game, when the replay showed that the runners’ knee was down. Calls like this have been going against our lovable losers for years, two big ones this year, one against Green Bay, the other against Seattle.

Even if the Lions are out of the playoff race once again, we will still tune into them, clinging to hope like millions of other Detroit fans. “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid”, Uncle Jack tells me, talking about how the Lions get our hopes up every year and then totally hoodwink us with a complete letdown. In 2008, they went 0-16, and my realization that being a fan of this team was going to involve a lot of heartbreak, embarrassment, and all-around stinkers was soon unearthed.

One of my dreams (and I’m sure Jack’s as well) is to go to a Super Bowl and see the final two teams battle it out for the coveted Lombardi. That would be the ultimate celebration for him. If the Lions were in it, he would be going crazy. If they were about to win, he might have a heart attack.

Every fan needs a B team. That’s definitely true for me. When your favorite local team lays an egg, switching to the alternate lightens up the mood.

In football, that team would happen to be the legendary New England Patriots. The Patriots were the first team that caught my eye back when I started to get interested in the game. The first game I remember watching was the Super Bowl between New England and Carolina, that the Brady Brunch obviously won on a field goal. I was lying on the couch near the TV under a blanket. I didn’t even know what a first down was. Now I’m highly invested in the game, watching every game every week. Fantasy football has gotten me to know most of the players better and to follow along with who ever is on my team.

I’m definitely a sports fan. I love sports. They make me happy and are a great source of entertainment. The competitiveness and camaraderie can get lots of people talking at once.

My sports life started with racing and then gradually expanded into other areas. I’ve been through my ups and downs with various teams, have witnessed championship seasons and absolutely pathetic ones. When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, I immediately started to like baseball more. When the Tigers ran to the World Series in 2006, a whole legion of fans suddenly were ecstatic, many jumping on the bandwagon. I got into basketball when the Pistons won the title in 2004 but haven’t had much to cheer for since because of them sucking so bad. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008 and hockey was a newcomer to my interests. I never really got into that sport, mostly because it’s hard to follow and the teams are so evenly matched anyway that it’s hard to tell who’s good or not.

Okay, so I’m not a crazy, crazy sports fan. I wouldn’t paint my face or dress up in silly costumes at a football game. I’m a normal fan who just watches the game and enjoys it. I don’t get morbidly upset when a team loses, because there is always tomorrow. When Michigan lost to Michigan State on that botched punt, I obviously was depressed but after so many sports letdowns, just chalked it up and said “that’s life.” Sports aren’t everything after all. I used to get so upset over losing that sometimes I would flip the TV off or storm out of the house, like I did when the Tigers blew a game in the ninth inning. I vent my frustration now by focusing on the positives, not by immediately jumping off the bandwagon.

There is always going to be a couple of stormy days but eventually you will find a beautiful rainbow after the rain clears up. Optimism is what gets you through the bad times and with sports this could not be any truer. That’s the beauty of it all.


In Response to the Daily Prompt: Fandom

Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.