Friday, June 1, 2018

Blog History, 2017 - The Creation of the Cat Prediction Thread

working hard, work all day, bring money home for nummies
He keeps saying this work stuff is hard, but I can do it 
It's tough being inspired most weeks, and so the blog hasn't been active since the Portland Timbers posted their last dramatic win at home, a 2 to 1 victory over Los Angeles Football Club (you know them as LAFC) behind Samuel Armenteros and his wunderkind goal late in the second half. Portland was able to extend their winning streak to 6 consecutive victories since their loss in Orlando City SC to start April. The OCSC loss was especially frustrating since Portland had a 2 goal lead with just 10 minutes left before a wild rally, but the Timbers have been a much better and different team since then. They've beaten Minnesota and NYCFC at home, followed by San Jose on the road, Seattle and LAFC at home and then turned in a gut-wrenching effort against Colorado last week for another win. Portland was dominant until late, but considering they've won on the road in 2 venues that have traditionally provided trouble, it's quite an accomplishment. Despite the successes, it's been difficult to find time to sit down and write - and it's in that vein that I peek at some old history of this blog in talking about predictions with cats.

Many long time readers will recall predictions as a huge feature in my old blog home where the community blogging team and the regular beat writers would submit weekly thoughts and a predicted score for the week. This started right after I officially joined in 2008, and it became of the most popular posts in terms of traffic and comments. Over the years, our crack staff of soccer experts used various techniques to craft their posts to varying degrees of success, with the intention of driving a thoughtful and fun discussion about the Timbers' upcoming match. Of course, this is also over the Internet, so suffice to say, lots of the comments were pure drivel. I actually spend some time tracking my various predictions and realized that for one magical season - 2014 - I had actually submitted predictions for the Timbers to win every match that year, which would have been a record setting yet supremely impossible task. Sometimes, it was difficult to find something interesting or insightful to say, but it happened each and every week through 2016. Until it suddenly stopped.

Yes, she is a princess and getting information from her can be an adventure.
There are still many lingering issues with what happened there, but when I found myself looking for a blog home and coming up with content ideas, one of the first that popped up was predictions and reuniting the old crew of Rick, Jennifer and myself each week and rekindle some of the old fun. It worked for a while until it was very apparent that as a writer, I was a really terrible editor in trying to solicit content. While the idea was familiar and established, it needed something new and different and it actually happened for the first match in 2017. As I was scrambling to craft my thoughts, my cat GB was hovering about wanting attention and I was ignoring him in trying to write. After walking over the keyboard and trying to take a pencil away from me, I finally asked him what he wanted and he meowed loudly. I asked him if he wanted to participate in the predictions, and it was another loud meow, followed by very loud noises when I asked if Portland would beat Minnesota. The interviews continued with other cats, who appeared excited to participate initially and led to the weekly fun of trying to talk with cats.

I didn't grow up with cats, and the few cats we did have living in Idaho lived outside and came in only periodically. After college and moving to Portland, I lived in pet-free apartments and houses until I met my wife and her cat collective. They all lived indoors, and eventually the little furballs accepted me as one of their pack. We've had some come and go over the years, but our kitty cavalcade is pretty awesome and provide so much joy. And their predictions accurately match their personalities - Tortie is very scattered but happy, Spot demands attention before doing anything, and so on. The Timbers themselves also have a great history with cats considering they have a feral cat colony that lives in the basement of the stadium, and they've been there since the early days of the park. While I get stressed out in trying to find and create good content, I can often find comfort in hanging out with our kitties, even if perhaps they are more interested in a good back scratch or belly run that the complexities of the Los Angeles Galaxy. 

Team Tortie is still very much present, but hasn't been in a predicting mood.
Hence, this week, none of the cats were interested in messing up the streak and providing thoughts about this weekend, and I'm okay with that. I would love to think that the Timbers will continue this streak as well considering the Galaxy played midweek (a loss to FC Dallas in Texas) and the team will be missing several players for international duty and injury. However, the biggest name in soccer - Zlatan - is present and he's done some incredible things since joining the Galaxy on the good and bad side. I really have no idea what might happen, but as with anything, I believe in Gio Savarese and his approach to this year by taking each game as an individual challenge and dealing with it first before doing anything else. This has led to changes in formation and personnel, but in each instance, somebody has stepped up to lead the team to points - and I think it happens again. When I asked Lucy about something unexpected happening tomorrow, she meowed loudly so she might be right, or it could be nearly time for nighttime snacks and bedtime and she's really just hungry. We'll all find out tomorrow afternoon.  

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