The other day I took my Jeep in for a routine oil change and alignment check.
While I try to be good about coming in every 3,000 miles or so I am occasionally tardy in my duties as a car owner and stretch things out to four or five thousand miles between oil changes.
This was one of those times where I was closer to the five thousand mark than three thousand but I figured the car was no worse for it.
Since the mechanic is within walking distance of my house I will often drop off the Jeep and walk home as opposed to sitting in the waiting room watching the History Channel, which always seems to be on when I am there.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the History Channel but I figure there are so many more things that I can do in the comfort of my own home as opposed to spending time in the waiting room.
So as I was sitting at home on my couch watching the History Channel, the mechanic called to tell me that they would not be able to fix my flat tire since the bolt had gone through the side wall.
This news surprised me in many ways.
First, I had not been aware that I had a flat tire and secondly how exactly does a bolt manage to enter a tire at a 90 degree angle?
I mentioned to the mechanic that I was not aware of a flat tire and perhaps he had mixed up my chart with someone else’s. He assured me that one of my tires was punctured and it was time to look at the options.
After it was determined that the tire could not be repaired and would need to be replaced, I realized that my $20 oil change was going to be far more expensive than originally planned.
My first reaction at having to purchase an unplanned tire was of course one of anger since I never seem to get the full manufacturer’s suggested amount of miles out of a set of tires.
In fact the tire that was mortally wounded by the bolt only had around 6,000 miles on it which made it a tire teenager cut down in its prime.
While the surprise aspect of the additional tire purchase was certainly not what I had planned on, I was definitely happy to have the surprise of a punctured tire happen while I was sitting on my couch as opposed to driving down the highway and experiencing a blowout or other tire issue that would have caused more damage to the Jeep and/or me.
So, all in all learning about a flat tire in air conditioned comfort on a couch with someone else doing the repair was certainly a welcome surprise albeit an expensive one.
The surprise flat got me thinking about other potential surprises that could arise with the pending starts of the Major League Baseball, NASCAR and Indy Racing League seasons over the next couple of weeks.
Of course if one knew what was going to happen in each of those areas ahead of time they would not be surprises but for the sake of argument here is one potential surprise and one dark horse surprise that I would love to see in each of those sports this season.
First up let’s look at the surprises for Major League Baseball.
With the Major League Baseball season just around the corner the biggest surprise I would like to see is the Tampa Bay Rays making a return trip to the World Series against the Washington Nationals.
While the Rays and Nationals are both loaded with talent this year they each face huge obstacles in their quest for October glory. The Rays have a slightly better chance at postseason play despite playing in the toughest division in baseball.
But for the record the Major League Baseball surprise I most want to see this year is a Rays against Nationals World Series.
Of course my dark horse surprise, that has almost no chance in the world of happening, would be for the Houston Astros to win the American League West.
That surprise is probably at least a decade away from happening but anything can happen I suppose.
With the Major League Baseball surprises written down my sights soon turned to NASCAR.
The Daytona 500 kicks off the 36-race NASCAR season this weekend (more on that in Friday’s column).
As in the past few seasons the powers that be added some tweaks to the points and other rules that teams will need to quickly get up to speed on.
Perhaps no other sport enjoys messing with the rules each year as much as NASCAR does so they are certainly consistent with their constant changes.
My NASCAR related surprise that I would like to see involves the driver of the #10 car Danica Patrick.
After becoming the first woman to win an IRL race, Danica became the first woman to start on the pole and lead laps in the Daytona 500 last year during her first full year in NASCAR’s highest level.
My Danica related surprise would be for her to silence her critics in the Petty family and elsewhere by winning a race this year.
There are 36 opportunities for her to accomplish that and I feel that she very well could make history once again and make The King Richard Petty eat that feather on his hat.
As for the NASCAR related dark horse surprise I would most like to see, that would be for someone other than Jimmy Johnson to hoist the Champion’s trophy at the end of the year.
I mean come on Jimmy you have six of them already it is time to share with the rest of the class and take some time off before getting that record tying seventh championship that no amount of rules changes can prevent you from eventually winning.
Lastly let us look at the big surprises I am predicting for the IRL this year.
With the series returning once again to Houston for a two-race weekend in June I would like to have the surprise of seeing both races run without any career ending injuries such as the one that Dario Franchitti suffered last year.
Hopefully with more time to plan race organizers can make sure that the track will be in better shape so the drivers can race each other and not worry about whether the track is going to cause them to lose control or take them out of the championship picture, or end their careers.
As for my dark horse surprise I want to see this year in the Indy Series, that would be for Juan Pablo Montoya to win the IRL Championship for Roger Penske after coming over from a few years spent in NASCAR driving for Penske’s bitter rival Chip Ganassi.
So there you have it several surprises to look out for over the next six months or so in MLB, NASCAR and IRL competition.
Of course if any of those surprises do end up happening you can always say that you read about them here first.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some surprises to get ready for.
Copyright 2014 R. Anderson