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What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This and That in Today's Sports' Page

"Golden State picked it up late, while hardly at their best." This is a quote, which seems to best define my Warriors these days. Of course, last night they missed the defense and scoring of Klay Thompson, but even with Klay I'm not sure it would have mattered. Some team synergy is amiss that can not be explained simply by having to adjust to Kevin Durant or the Absence of Andrew Bogut defending the paint. It would be an oversimplification to do so. In mind Durant is ever bit as capable of defending as Harrison Barnes, and Za Za in combo with McGee ought to be able to do a reasonable job making it tough for players to penetrate.

My instincts, and that's all I really have to go on, is that the team defensive intensity is not there. It is a given in a team sport that every single player on field or court must be zoned in on D for it to be effective. Such five man commitment to D is not happening with the Dubs. Yes, they appear to be trying, but without the "GRIT" that's needed to confuse their opponents so they make turnover or take difficult, rushed shots. Red Auerbach said it best back in the glory days of the Boston Celtics, paraphrased: Our opponents will only get well defended difficult shots at the basket. Our opponents will get no offensive rebounds. We will get more easy shots at the basket than our opponents. And we will get more shots at the basket than our opponents."

This is the mind set that the Warriors have embraced for the past two seasons. It is a mind set that they have yet to embrace as of today.

I am tickled by thought in today's Sac Bee that DeMarcus Cousins needs a rest. I don't remember Shaq getting many rests, and he certainly got hammered on more than our big talented juvenile delinquent. Besides, it's not even mid-season. Give me a break.

Suspicious absences - as in the case of Derrick Rose - lead to suspicions, and suspicions lead to rumors, and rumors lead to. . . what? It's been my experience never to anything good. Rose does not look or play like a happy man, or even a contented man.

Colin Kaepernick took a beating in today's sports section. He's been taking a beating ever since Trent Balke began dismantling the team,which started with the firing of Jim Harbough. If there is another quarterback out there that available better than Cap, I like to know who he is. Some of this crap directed at Cap, I'm afraid, is racist. He would not be taking as much heat if he hadn't made his unpopular decision to kneel during the singing of the National Anthem. Right now, in my humble opinion, the team should be working on find an offensive line that can 1) protect a quarterback, no matter if it is Cap or some mysterious new comer and 2) open up holes for the teams running backs.
And, lets also not forget finding some defensive backs and a few wide receivers. Focusing on a QB at this point is pointless.

Finally, is there any chance in the foreseeable future that the University of Conneticuts' women's basketball team will ever lose a game? They just won their 90th consecutive victory by beating the # 20 ranked South Florida team 102 to 37. That's  65 point margin.  And why isn't this team getting more national recognition? They are certainly more interesting and exciting than some of the NBA teams I've watched this season.

50's Male     by Tom Meschery
    
       "Beauty is truth, truth beauty. . ." 
                                  - John Keats.
The Lady Irish are playing the Georgia Lady 
Bulldogs in the Women's NCAA Final Four,
and I'm not the man I think I am, concerned
about her beauty not how talented she is
controlling the game, dribbling the ball,
her sweet jumper, how she drive the paint.
Instead I'm imagining a point guard
in an evening gown or wearing a bikini
reclining on a tropical beach. It's 2013.
What's wrong with me, I ask my wife
who is no less a beauty. She replies
this propensity you have for beauty does not
condemn you as a sexist. Babies are young
as several weeks will stare at photographs
of beautiful people far longer than they
will attend those of us less gifted by the Gods.
The Greeks were right about beauty,
and they used the same word for truth.
This should ease my conscience but doesn't.
It's not exactly beauty I had in mind. 




Thursday, January 5, 2017

Dave Joeger

It's been a long time since Rick Adelman coached the Sacramento Kings. Since his firing Kings players and fans have watched coaches enter and depart the area as if there was a revolving door
at ARCO/Sleep-Train Arena. Finally (with a great sigh of relief) the Sacramento Kings have found a worthy replacement for Coach Adelman - Dave Joeger.

There is a German liqeur called Jagermeister. Although the spelling is not right, I think a comparison can be made. In German Jagermeister means Hunter Master. Appropriate? Okay, a bit of a stretch, but I like the idea of Dave Joeger as both a hunter (for the best players) and a master (of the team and the game).

It is not a winning season yet, not by a long shot, especially with a loose cannon like the talented DeMarcus Cousins at the center of the team. Still, one can sense Joeger's intelligence, will power,  inventiveness, and flexibility. Add to that - from what I can tell watching him on the court - a sense of humor. These are traits that make for an excellent NBA coach.

So, Sacramento - like "Here's Johnny," heeeere's Coach Joeger. I'm taking bets that he's going to be around for a long time and usher in a decade of winning Kings' seasons.

The problem with waiting to post a blog until the next day is that the Kings lost to Miami in the interim. Since the Heat was playing without three of its best players and still won is not a testament to Coach Joeger's preparation or the teams improved chances for the playoffs. Even so, my belief in Dave Joeger remains firm. He is a solid coach with a solid future in the NBA.

I can't let this morning's blog go by without quoting Ashton Eaton, the world record holder in the decathlon, announcing his retirement. He said, "I gave the most physically robust years of my life to the discovery and pursuit of my limits in this domain (his sport)." What a wonderful and insightful statement. My guess is that most spots fans would not think of the athletes' life in this way, as a game by game, moment by moment test of their limitations. Nor do I believe many great athletes look at their life in this way. Does Usain Bolt believe he has any limitations? Or would Michael Jordan? Or Muhammad Ali, or fill in the blank______________________?

I saw this poem in a magazine sometime after the war in Iraq, writer unknown. My guest is a convalescing vet of that war or a loved one of a wounded vet. Certainly this message of this poem exemplifies Eaton's idea of testing one's limits. 

After Iraq     Anonymous

He rose every morning to see if he could.
Dress himself with no one's help.
To test his limits when he stood,
without crutches by himself.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

On Refereeing & etc

I was happy to read that the NBA stated that LeBron should have been assessed a T for hanging on the rim far longer than was needed to escape injury. It was clearly a taunt. As for the last non-call, that was crucial. Jefferson's foot struck KD's ankle, which caused him to fall. If KD had been able to get a shot off, the result of the game could have been different since he's been know to make long last second game-winning-shots before. Tyron Lue has a point; games should not be decided on the free throw line. However, in some cases, it has to be. Nature of the game, nature of competitive behavior. Jefferson would have been remiss had he not played as tough as he did against Durant, but tough is a risk you take as a defender.

The Warriors didn't lose the game because of the two non-calls. They blew a lead they should have been able to maintain. End of story, but not the end of the book. The final chapter in the plot between the Cavs and Dubs will be read come NBA Finals. That is unless the Toronto Raptors don't defeat the Cavs in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Generally, however, the NBA refs get it right. There's not a game harder to call than the lightening quick pro game of basketball. Compared to the NBA, refereeing in the NFL should be a great deal easier. But it doesn't seem to be.

Some of the calls, NFL refs have made and not made this season are downright mystifying. Since I don't know a lot about the nuances of football, I'll let someone better in the know to suggest where the NFL refs need to improve. As an amateur observer, I'll only speak to two less complicated issues.

One: NFL referees should be made full time paid employees of the NFL with benefits that includes a clause which allows NFL administrators to review each refs yearly performance. Poor performances could lead to dismissal. 

Two: Considering the more significant ref problems, what is the deal over players celebrating? Why is this stoking so much fire. As far as I can tell, most of it is showmanship and, for the most part, fun, performed usually by running backs and receivers. Occasionally, a defensive back or linebacker, after making a significant tackle or QB hit, will engage in a bit of chest beating. So what????

The NFL is not college where such antics would be and should be considered unsportsmen-like. It's the NFL, dude, and part of the world of entertainment. The solution is so easy, it's hardly worth mentioning. But I will anyway. A quick cha-cha, that's cool; you dance the waltz around the goal posts, you get a T, and a fine. And the fine has to be significant. Hit players in their pocketbooks, and you'll see all the over-the-top can-can end pronto.

In small doses, however, let the celebrations continue. Most of them are amusing. And heartfelt as in the case of Ezekiel Elliot who, after scoring, leaped into the Salvation Army tub and peeked out over the top to a cheering stadium. I'll bet donations to the Salvation Army increased. 

Another possibility is to assess points for the most inventive celebrations and at the end of the season hold an Academy Awards Ceremony for the top-ten best performances.      Only kidding.

I probably should have found a football poem, but couldn't resist this bowling poem. I'm pretty sure I've never offered a poem about bowling before, so the sport is overdue.

Hook   by Floyd Skloot

My father limps on the leg that healed short.
His twice-broken right wrist, too weak to hold
a bowling ball palm up, is why he spins
a hook he cannot control. The ball rolls
slowly, as if limping while it wanders
from one gutter to the other and back.

We stand dead last in the Father and Son
League, not helped by my rocketing straight shots
that knock down nothing as often as they 
knock down everything. he watches, giving
no advice. At thirteen, knowing there is 
nothing for me to say either. I wait

for the ball's return so I can heft it
again and aim down the gleaming alley.

Friday, December 23, 2016

George Karl, Not a Good Idea, diude.

I haven't read Coach George Karl's book and probably won't, not that I don't admire George's contribution to the NBA. He was a heck of a coach, and was always considered a player's coach, whatever that means.  I wrote my own account of my one year as a head professional coach of the Carolina Cougars of the ABA in which I criticized Jim McDaniels, our non defensive minded center and Joe Caldwell, our over-rated super star. Much later I reread my book and found it sounded a lot like whining.

What I didn't understand back then, and what George doesn't understand now is that it doesn't do a bit of good blasting any of  your players. Whether true or not, it always comes off like sour grapes. George, in your case, everyone who knows the game of basketball is aware of Carmelo's reluctance to play defense, even today when it appears as if he's trying. And anybody with eyes recognizes JR's "unbelievable shot selection." They also realize JR can shoot his  team into a game as well as shoot his team out of a game. In this regard there are a few other players with a similar game malfunction. As for posses, that's a subject that has already gotten Phil Jackson into hot water. Kenyon Martin, from the start of his career, was always a loose cannon. And, really, not too many average sports readers remember Kenyon anyway.I thought he was a knucklehead, but I admired the courage it took for him to come back after a horrendous knee injury at the end of his college career.

On to other things.

Classy move by Pat Riley to honor Shaq. Bravo to both men. I'm finding Shaq more lovable in retirement than I did on the court. Deeply impressed that he went on to get a Ph.D.


Here's an example of some fancy (or not fancy) equivocation by Coach K on his player Grayson Allen. "If we start counting up the mistakes of every player - I'm not saying tripping is the right thing to do [No, Coach, it's is  absolutely the wrong thing to do.] , whether a guy curses or shows a bad attitude - we're going to find that a lot of players do something wrong," ......No kidding. Are you equating cursing with tripping? "That he [Allen] did something he did last year that wasn't good, that's not good." Dance around the verbal flagpole a little more, coach. How about saying tripping an opponent is wrong under any circumstance. and I and my staff will not tolerate it. The young man will sit on the bench until he believes he can improve his behavior on the court. If he doesn't, he's off the team.

My years of playing sports are taking their toll on me in my old age. Here's a poem I wrote on the subject.

Looking at an X-Ray of My Back    by Tom Meschery

I say to my doctor, my spine
looks like a curve ball,
and he says
it's a breaking pitch
to the inside. I think that's funny,
so I say I can still win a game 
or two even at my age,
you know. And he says
you can't fool anybody
with that pitch at any age.




Wednesday, December 21, 2016

You Reap What You Sow

One could argue that the Sacramento Kings, by not standing up to DeMarcus Cousins from the start of his career, have reaped what they sowed. Last night's melodramatic performance by Cousins is a perfect example of Cousin's ongoing personality disorder. He scores 56 points, leading his team to victory with a super heroic effort, after which he goes into a look-at-me-look-at-me hysterical performance that included spitting his mouth guard out at the feet of the opposing team' bench. The referee closest to the scene called the spiting of the mouth-guard inadvertent, rescinded the T, and called Cuz back onto the court where he hit his free-throw. Instead of being thankful, after the game on air with Kayte Christianson, he rants against the referees, his message being they (the refs) have it in for him. Oh, woe is me!  I thought the entire scene during the game (including the mouth piece spitting) was a display of unsportsman-like taunting of an opponent. We'll see what the NBA office on review thinks.

This morning Bee provided a long list of Cousins' antics since he came into the league. At the end of the article it quoted an ESPN analyst who pointed out that DeMarcus Cousin's trade value around the NBA is low.

The poor, poor Kings. What on earth are they going to do? They have a gigantically talented headcase that has lost his trade value and a supporting cast of players that will not bring the Kings much on the trade block. The Kings missed their opportunity at least three years ago when they could have received players and draft choice for Cousins.

At long time ago in my fourth year playing for the Golden State Warriors, our coach Alex Hannum told me that he would trade anyone no matter who, super star or not, if he thought such a trade would improve his team. "That means you," he pointed at me. I took it personally and for a while was mad at my coach. I'd had a strong three years in the league and was playing well. Once I calmed down, I realized Alex was right, and I was grateful for his honesty. It kept my ego in check throughout my ten year career.

Clearly the Kings do not have the wisdom of Coach Hannum and the Warriors who later that year traded Wilt Chamberlain to the 76ers. A great trade overall for the Warriors. And as it turned out a great trade for Wilt. Cousins is no Wilt the Stilt, but you get my point.

The Kings have reaped what they sowed and are up the proverbial "Sh-t Creek."

Is there a solution? Clearly they're not going to get anything of real value through trades. There will be a team willing to take a chance on Cousins, but the Kings won't get value in return. Said team, like the Kings, will reap what they sowed.

For the Sacramento Kings, that leaves the draft or free agency. After trading Cousins, Mr. Ranadive, the King's owner, must open up his pocketbook and go after at least three strong free agents of which there will be a good selection to choose from at the end of the season.

Free agency is the only way. But not for simply one star. The Kings need solid first tier players. With respect, (I do believe they are trying) there is not one player among the King's starter who would start on any of the playoff bound teams in the NBA. Perhaps, not on any of the NBA teams. Perhaps Rudy Gay on one of the lower tier teams.

Enough said. It is time for the Kings management and ownership to man up and trade Cousins. Sacramento deserves more.

Here's a wonderful little poem that is funny and true about football. Would work for rugby as well.

Heaps on Heaps    by  Matthew Concanen
                                         from A Match at Football (1721)

And now both Bands in close embraces met,
Now foot to foot, and breast to breast was set,
Now all impatient grapple round the Ball,
And Heaps on Heaps in wild Disorder fall.