I chose the week of the Fourth of July to take a break from the hard life of being retired and traveled to San Antonio to participate in the American Contract Bridge League’s annual Regional Tournament.

This gave me a chance to reunite with my good friend Bob Hood, who moved to a retirement complex in the Alamo City after spending nearly 50 years in Orange.

Bob and I go back some 40 years when we played volleyball together with our regular group every Monday and Wednesday night at the West Orange Junior High gymnasium.

When retirement time came around and we were too old to play at that vigorous pace, we played golf together nearly every day with the now-defunct Thundering Herd, which teed off at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

And when we were absent from the Sunset Grove Country Club’s Herd, it probably was because we were out on Sabine Lake fishing for speckled trout, flounder and redfish.

Bob and I also belonged to the Orange Men’s Duplicate Bridge Club which met every other Monday night at some member’s home.

Our love for the competitiveness of bridge encouraged us to join the ACBL-affiliated Orange Community Bridge League which plays every Tuesday and Friday mornings. Bob and I partnered up for several years and our team was very competitive.

The competition was very keen at the Regional Tournament in San Antonio, but Bob and I managed to win some red master points, but missed out on the precious gold points.

And as usual when I go on vacation, our Houston Astros proceeded to win seven of eight games, with ace Justin Verlander getting credited with the only loss, mainly because nearly 50 per cent of the hits he allows fly out of the ball park.

But the No. 2 starting pitcher—Gerrit Cole—is not only leading the major leagues with 170 strikeouts, but also is fresh off a brilliant 4-0 shutout win over the LA Angels Saturday night before a national TV audience, upping his record to 9-5 and lowering his earned run average to 3.09.

Cole usually reaches the 100-mph mark three or four times a game, but Saturday night he finished his seven-inning stint with a 99-mph fast ball, followed by two 100 mph pitches and on his 110th and the final pitch of the game registered 101 mph on his ninth strikeout of the game.

Perhaps the most exciting game occurred Sunday afternoon when the Angels jumped out to a 7-2 fifth inning lead before the Astros used a grand-slam home run by hot-hitting Yuli Gurriel to tie the score 8-8 after six innings.

LA went ahead 10-8 in the eighth inning but Houston tied it again 10-10 after eight innings. Actually, the Astros thought they went ahead 11-10 but Jake Marisnick was ruled out after Angels’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy dropped the ball after being bowled over in a violent collision. But the ump ruled Marisnick out for his actions.

Houston legitimately scored that 11th run in the bottom of the 10th inning on a game-winning single by George Springer.

The Astros went into the current All-Star break leading the American League West Division by 7 ½ games with a 57-33 record over Oakland after taking two-of-three from the LA Angels last weekend.

Just before I came off of vacation and went back to be retired Monday morning, I sadly watched 15-year-old Coco Gauff’s dream for a Wimbledon championship ended by No. 7-seeded Simona Halep 5-3, 5-3 in the fourth round.

Now I’m ready to return to my retirement couch and watch some of these sports on TV!!

KWICKIES…Houston Astros’ infielder Yuli Gurriel has become the hottest home run hitter in the major leagues. The versatile infielder has slugged nine homers in his last 11 games and six round-trippers in the last five games. Let’s hope the All-Star break doesn’t cool him off.

And while on the subject of home runs, Major League Baseball is on pace to break the 2017 record of 6,105 home runs hit in a season. Record monthly totals have been hit in April (1,144), May (1,135) and June (1,142).

Although I’m not much of a New England Patriots fan, I always liked watching linebacker Tedy Bruschi (pronounced Brewski) play his position. He had his second stroke last Thursday and is recovering well. Bruschi also suffered a stroke in 2005, less than a week after the Patriots won the Super Bowl and returned for the seventh game of the 2005 season. He finally announced his retirement in 2009.

JUST BETWEEN US…It was so exciting watching the United States women’s soccer team beat the Netherlands 2-0 Sunday to win another Women’s Gold Cup. But I lost a bunch of my enthusiasm when outspoken team spokesman Megan Rapinoe announced she was not going to the White House to be congratulated by our president. And then the lavender-haired star started ranting about the women receiving much less money for their effort than the men’s soccer team receives. It must be pointed out that the women receive 13 per cent of the gross figures from attendance, sale of jerseys etc. that amounted to $73 million four years ago. The men receive only nine per cent, but their gross number was around $4 billion. Sports fans would just rather watch the men play. The same is true for the WNBA, LPGA and even powder-puff football!!