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WSU Basketball and Barcelona, a brief history lesson

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There is a connection!

Rodrigo de la Fuente(L) of Wintherthur F Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Bon dia des de Barcelona, where I probably have done some more research into the whole “Catalonia vs. Everybody” situation. When we decided to visit for the weekend, I recalled that the Washington State Cougars used to have a guy named Rodrigo de la Fuente on the basketball team. That got me to wondering whether he was from these parts. Turns out he hails from Madrid and played for WSU when I was a student, during the largely forgettable Kevin Eastman era.

What’s more, de la Fuente (Spanish for “from the source”) went straight from WSU to right here in Barcelona in early 1998. After a relatively quiet freshman season in which he averaged seven points and five rebounds, de la Fuente established himself early in his second season as one of the team’s better players. Through 11 games, he was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16 points and seven rebounds. The long and athletic guard (he actually was both of those things, Ernie), was also WSU’s best perimeter defender according to Kevin Eastman.

Rodrigo’s time on the Palouse was only fleeting, though. After those 11 games I mentioned, de la Fuente abruptly departed Pullman, opting to sign a contract with Barcelona’s professional basketball team. According to the Spokesman Review, his three-year contract was for $240,000 per year, which was big money back in those olden times. From a Cougar fan’s perspective, it stunk that he left since he was turning into a really good player. But you can’t really blame a guy for a) seizing an opportunity to return to his native country and score a big payday and b) wisely jumping from a sinking ship.

That sinking ship would finish 10-19 in 1998, and Eastman was fired after one more season. While de la Fuente showed enough skill to have a shot at the NBA, he probably doesn’t regret taking the route he did. He ended up playing 15 seasons in Europe, both in Spain and Italy, and won a EuroLeague title in 2003.

And thus endeth the WSU Basketball history lesson for today. What, you wanted to read more about the disastrous weekend the current team had in LA? Sorry not sorry.

Basketball

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This Week in Parenting

You may have seen on the news that Europe experienced some incredibly high winds early in the week. We were not spared, to the point that the kids didn’t have school on Monday. Because it was windy. Windy. Anyway, it once again brought into stark relief the yawning gap that is the difference between childhood and adulthood. When you’re a kid, finding out school is closed is akin to learning that you scored one of the golden tickets to Willie Wonka’s place. When you’re an adult and school is closed, the first thought is, “well shit, what am I going to do with the kids now?” That is quickly followed by, “if I miss work for this, that’s even more stuff I have to do on a short week.” We spend childhood wanting to fast forward, and adulthood wanting to rewind. Unfortunately, the period of wanting a rewind lasts far, far longer.

It wasn’t enough that the kids were out of school all week, though. Someone with a sense of humor also thought it would be a good time to cast the European version of coronavirus upon me. It didn’t take the kids long to figure out that dad was sick, to the point that the eight year-old said, “Are you ok, dad?” When I said I’d be fine, he came back with, “Well I just don’t want you to get cancer.” Made me think of Kindergarten Cop, and also made me wonder whether kids make that kind of leap all the time.

Then on Friday when were enroute to Barcelona, the path took us over the Alps, prompting the eight year-old to ask whether we were over Alaska. His geography acumen is a work in progress.

Stranger in a strange land

We ventured out into the city a bit after we landed, first hitting the Mikkeller bar because necessities, then went about finding a place to eat. Families looking for an early-ish meal and Spain aren’t a great combo, as the folks here are well known to wait until much later before they get going. As such, many places don’t open until 8 p.m. or so. A nice lady at Mikkeller recommended a place nearby, so in we went. It was just after seven, and there were maybe 7-8 people in this restaurant that seated at least 80.

We were asked if we had a reservation, and we said no. As many times as I eat out in this part of the world, I never seem to learn the lesson that you need a goddamn reservation to eat anywhere other than from a food cart. The hostess said she would have to check with her boss before telling us whether we could get a table. Again, the place was maybe 5% full. Now, I know how reservations work. Just because the place was empty didn’t mean it would stay that way for long. However, I made an educated guess that the other 95% wouldn’t all show up in the next 30 minutes.

So we stood there looking like idiots for a few minutes while somebody talked to somebody and thought about something. After what seemed like an hour but was maybe 300 seconds, the hostess came back and said we could get a table, but we had to be out of there by, wait for it, 945. What I said: “No problem.” What I was thinking: “Um, we could eat three dinners and get the kids home and in bed by then.” The difference in customs among those of us in this world is always funny to me. Like, I can’t imagine sitting at a table for three hours unless there’s a sporting event involved or it’s a special occasion with a group of friends/family. And there sure as hell wouldn’t be youngsters involved. Over here, it’s like, “Sit at dinner from six to 10? Well, duh.” As frustrating as it can be, it’s also quite enlightening.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: There’s a nice little craft beer bar and restaurant near the hotel called BierCab. It has many great things, such as a wide draft selection, food menu and bottle shop. Oh, and it also has an open cooking area.

I get the feeling that, should we return in a month or so, the window will have been bricked over at the cook’s request.

As far as the beer, The Piggy Brewing’s Monstrous Fat Pig Stout Mexican Cake Edition (definitely not a mouthful there) was quite complex and tasty, with sweetness to start and a very spicy finish. Good stuff.

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Non-Sports

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