meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life

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.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A few raddom thoughts on the 2017 NBA Draft

Warriors: GM Bob Meyers has a nose for talented basketball players. With no drafts last year they found McCaw. This year they found Jordan Bell, a 6'9" C/PF who can defend multiple positions, a smart passer, and athletic scorer. Baring injuries, I see him as a Dub for a long time.

76ers: Fultz looks like he will be a solid point guard, perhaps great, but I'm a little skeptical. So the 76ers continue to fill in the blanks. For the 76ers he big IF is Joel Embid. If this fabulous player stays healthy, they are playoff bound and beyond, if not, well. . .?

Timberwolves: Veteran All Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler is going to love Ricky Rubio. As important as his scoring and D will be, more importantly in my mind, he will become the conduit between Coach Tibs and the young Timberwolves who still don't understand that you play D for four quarters.

Kings, having dumped the gloomy Cousins, are winners all around, filling their much needed point guard position with D'Aaron Fox, a lefty (I love lefties) with blurring speed. Then adding a stretch forward in Justin Jackson and a power forward in Harry Giles. Here's my advice to Vlade, keep Temple and Koufous, and go the rest youth all the way. Let the kids grow as a team and as teammates. A solid coach is in place, fabulous arena, fans waiting, but will be understanding now that there's a real plan.

Lakers helped themselves with a Magic trade, then drafted Lonzo Ball. The kid can pass. His shot mechanics are bit pure, but his release from elbow to fingertip is fine. As for stinky shooting mechanics, check out the form of Earl "the Pearl" Monroe. Now if they can get Paul George. Humm???

Celtics: I'd like to say the Celtic helped themselves with Jayson Tatum, but I'm not convinced against NBA pressure he'll be a consistent scorer. Now, if they'd drafted Josh Jackson??The Celts are still a trade or two away. There dismal, embarrassing defense against  the Cavs colors my future view of them. 

Suns: Josh Jackson (I'm partial to slashers) with Booker and Chriss. Beaucoup points. Still no point guard. Bledsoe is not, really. Neither is Knight.  May have found a sleeper in P/F Alec Peters. Can't have enough solid bench players. Still no D on the horizon. .

Knicks: Smart choice, picking a point guard, Frank Ntilikina from France. He has good size, speed, and is a smart passer. They have Porsingis. Dump Carmelo. (Iso players are a done deal in the NBA)
for some young players, who have length, can shoot and pass. Dump the Triangle. It too is a teeeny bit past its overdue date.

Bulls were smart to start over. Markkanen will become a fine NBA stretch 4. But I don't see an ounce of identity on this team as of now. It's like, hey, I've got all these different veggies, now where is the recipe because I'm not sure of the ingredients and the measurements. Hint: don't use leftovers, no matter how tasty they were at one time.

Bucks: Fear the Deer helped themselves with power forward D.J. Wilson in the 1st round and Sindarius Thornwell, a shooting guard, in the second round, and from what I saw a tough defender. If Parker can come back from his injury and stay healthy, the Bucks will go deep into the Eastern playoffs.

Nets: Got an over paid average defensive center in Mosgov and a shooting guard in D'Angelo Russelll who they'll ask to be a point guard until they get a real point gurad. Without B. Lopez, the ball might find its way into the hands of some of the other players on the team. It's a start. 

I'm not convinced this draft year is as deep as the pundits say. To me deep always means the second round. So, we'll see which of the 31 through 60 turn out to be keepers. I like the Duck's Tyler Dorsey's shot and Jordan Bell, I've already talked about. I believe Ivan Rabb has a chance for the heat; his skills were never maxed out at Cal. Sindarius Thornwell is going to make it. Alec Peters may be a sleeper. Mathias Lessort if he doesn't stay in Europe has a huge motor. Isiah Hartenstein, ditto he doesn't stay overseas, could give the Rockets lots of paint protection at 7'1" I wouldn't be surprised if Nigel Williams-Goss doesn't make the Jazz, a smart player with the size and skill to defend on the NBA level. The Bulls will regret trading Justin Patton to Minnesota, but why the TWolves need him, I'm clueless. 

The NCAA outdoor track nationals is being held in Sacramento in scorching 100 degree weather. Here's a poem I wrote about my speedy daughter.

Middle School Track Meet      By Tom Meschery

            For Janai

My daughter is signed up to run the 100
and 200 meter dashes. She is fast but not as fast
as the girl warming up next to her. I'm trying
to think what to say to my daughter
on the drive home about coming in second,
which I often did in sports. And with women
and hated it. My best friend Ned always came in 
first with women, and they found me later
to cry on my shoulder, which is something
I don't need to tell my daughter, but has,
for reasons best confessed to an analyst,
always rankled me. I could say that being
first doesn't mean you're a better person.
It only means you reached the tape
before the rest of the runners. That effort
is all that counts in life. which I know
to be a lie promulgated by people
who inherited their fortune having never 
run a race without a head start.
This information will be a small comfort
to my daughter as she is too young
to be  interested in the inequities of society.
Crouched at the starting line, she's waiting
for the gun to fire. She'll give it all she's got
out of the blocks and down the track.

  






.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On the Draft and etc

Let's begin with the draft. Kudos to Magic in LA for dumping the Mosgov albatross, freeing up cap space and adding a center, Brook Lopez, who may be a back to the back center type everybody in the league seems to feel is a dinosaur (I do not. Later on that) but the man can shoot the ball. And he can and will stumble into a few good defensive plays. D'Angelo Russell, well, okay, he has upside, probably as a scorer rather than a point guard but, with Lonzo Ball on the horizon, getting rid of Russell will not hurt the Lakers. (Much). Anyway a smart first outing into the GM world for Magic Johnson. A start-over for Russell could be a good thing for the kid, a little less under the flood lights in Brooklyn, new teammates, etc. I still a fan of Russell. Can't help it, I'm partial to lefties This is something that happens to players who played with Lenny Wilkins.

Next on the trade deals comes Atlanta moving Dwight Howard to Char4lotte for not a lot in return. Belinelli is a solid 3 pt shooter, except for his one season stint with the Kings, which could have been an unconscious effort on his part to depart California's capital. I'd have probably taken
fat Sir Charles at his age in exchange for Howard, who is, in my mind, a loser. I don't like that word, but in some cases, it fits. All the physical talent in the world without much courage. Interesting but not unexpected move by the 76ers and the Celts. As good as Fultz seems to be, the Celts didn't need a point guard, and they did indeed need a stretch 3. A polite trade.

In the etc department, how about if the Warriors sign David Lee. He knows the system, is well liked by his former teammates, has probably resigned himself to a bench role, and what rookie can the Dubs get better than David? As a chemistry thing, I think it would work. Just a thought.

Now for the Kings. D'Arron Fox is a no-brainer. The 10th pick is crucial. I saw where one Mock Draft had the Kings picking Luke Kennard. Don't do it, Vlade! The kid has a wingspan of a penguin and he's about that slow.

I love Draymond Green's comment that he learns more from watching the WNBA, giving examples of what he learns. Smart man with a high basketball IQ.

A big HUZZAH to Diane Taursi for becoming the WNBA's all time scoring leader. With more seasons still in front of her, she should put that record out of reach for a long time. 

Today is the summer solstice. It's baseball season. A good day to read the following poem.

At the Ball Game    by William Carlos Williams

The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them -

all the exacting detail
of the chase

and the escape, the error
the flash of genius-

all to no end save beauty
the eternal- -

So in detail they, the crowd,
are beautiful

for this 
to be warned against

saluted and defied - 
It is alive, venomous

it smiles grimly
it's word cut -

The flashy female with her
mother, get it -

The Jew gets it straight - it
is deadly, terrifying - 

It is the Inquisition, the
Revolution

It is beauty itself
that lives 

day by day in them
idly -

This is 
the power of their faces

It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is

cheering, the crowd is laughing
in detail

permanently, seriously
without thought.




Monday, June 19, 2017

A Sigular Phenomena?

My friend Jon Jackson, the detective fiction writer, asked me if I thought the Golden State Warriors were a singular phenomena. We've email back and forth over this question. So far I don't think my comments have helped. I'm going to give it another try.

It's important to remember that all great NBA championship teams are singular in some way and unique in a number of other ways. But, in all cases, their originality begins with players. Going down the list chronologically, the Celtics can not be duplicated without Russell and Bob Cousy & Havlicek clones; the 76ers, ditto, without cloning Wilt Chamberlain. You'd have to duplicate Wilt and West to reproduce the Lakers of 1972. The Knicks championship teams needed their anchor, Willis Reed, and floor general Walt Frazier. Certainly there could never be a NBA Championship Lakers teams of 85,87, & 88 without a Magic and a Jabbar. Detroit in 89 & 90 would never have won without Isiah. The Warriors without Rick Barry, no championship for them.The Celts championship without Bird and McHale, not likely. Without question no Michael Jordan, no Bulls championships. No Olajuwon, no Rocket's championships. No Walton, no Blazer rings. No joy in LA without Kobe and Shaq. Pop, as good a coach as he is, would not have won much without his threesome of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker, and, finally the Heat do not sizzle without LeBron.

Whee, gotta catch my breath. All of this seems obvious. So, how does this help to answer Jon's question? Evaluating the players I've mentioned, I've come to the conclusion that there are not many of them, as fabulous as they are, who are unique in the sense that they can't be duplicated, ever. The unique ones are: Cousy, Bill Russell, Wilt, Bird, Magic; Kareem, Walton (one year phenom), Olajuwon, MJ, Kobe and LeBron. Perhaps, you can see where I'm going, whether you agree with me or not. And I suspect a lot will not.

Here's the wrap-up,Ta, Da! The Golden State Warriors 2017 Championship squad have three players who are unique and impossible to reproduce.playing together: Stephan Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. I could add Klay Thompson; he's certainly deserving, but then I'd have to add Kevin McHale to the Celt's team, or Scotty Pippin to the Bulls' team, and D Wade to the Heat team.

At no time in the history of the NBA have the Warrior 3 happened. The closest, in my mind, is the Celts: Russell, Havlick, Heinsohn group, Willis, Frazier and Bradley; the Bird, McHale, and Parish trio, the Magic, Jabbar, and Worthy Lakers and the Spurs' Duncan, Ginobelli, and Parker triumvirate.

But, "closest" is the best I can do. Not equal to. I have a hard time imagining a team in the future that will have three absolutely unique player (think broken molds, crushed, and deposited in the Pacific Ocean) playing together on one NBA team.

Does this mean that the Dubs would defeat all of the great teams I've mentioned? With the 3 point line, I don't think so. Back in the day rules, maybe not, but maybe.When talking about winning teams, there are all sorts of other considerations to take into account before a team can be defined as a singular phenomena. Coaching, for one, would be, as players say today, "huge." It's a little early yet, but Steve Kerr is well on his way to being compared to the great coaches, like Aurebach, Hannum, Daley, Riley, Jackson and Popovich. Then, there's the difficult subject of team chemistry, of team bench strength, of ownership and management support..All valid consideerations. However, when you get down to answering my friend, Jon's question of "singular phenomena," it's always the players - in the NBA, always the players.

The US Open ended yesterday with first time winner Brooks Koepka holding the trophy. Here's a fun old fashioned poem about golf, a parody of Longfellow's The Arrow & the Song.

The Ball and the Club  by Forbes Lindsay

I shot a golf ball into the air;
It fell toward earth, I knew not where;
For who hath eye so strong and keen,
As to follow the flight of my ball to the green.

I lost a club I could not spare,
And searched for it most everywhere;
For who hath sight so keen and quick
As to trace the course of a missing stick.

Long, long afterwards, in an oak,
I found the golf ball still unbroke;
And the club - with a couple of nicks and a bend,
I found again in the bag of a friend.  




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Some Thoughts on the Dubs NBA Championship Game Five

The sun is shining (All Gold Everywhere), the air is fresh, a gentle breeze is blowing in from the delta and the Golden State Warriors are once again Champions of the NBA. 

The Finals ended in Victory last night, and I was as exhausted physically and mentally as if I'd been one of the players on the court. This is how close my identification with my old team has become since the new ownership brought a winning spirit back to the Bay Area.

Melanie, my wife, not to be outdone by my exhaustion, wore two Warrior T shirts, one over the other, for the game. We both agreed the Warriors might not have won had she worn only one T-shirt.

In my Blog yesterday, I stated that all things physical being equal, the smarter team would win. It did. I site, for example, the numbers of easy baskets the Warriors made, particularly by way of the the pick and roll, screener rolling to the baskets, and the unguarded back doors.

LeBron was a bull, but Kevin Durant was Muhammed Ali's butterfly. Steph Curry was the slight-of-hand magician. Draymond Green was the heart pumping blood to all the other parts of the Warrior body. Klay Thompson, who rounds out the newly christened Fab Four (I like the sound of that), was the shadow Kyrie tried to shake all night and finally couldn't. So much for mixing metaphors.

But lets not forget four players: ZaZa, Rocky Marciano, Pachulia, the future president of Georgia, David West, who chased his dream of a ring and earned it with clutch shots and stalwart D, Shawn Livingston, Mr. Calm, (a team must have a player  with a steady hand like that) and Andre Igudala.

Igudala deserves his own paragraph. What is it about the genetic makeup of this athlete that he produces such clutch performances at exactly the right moment? It's as if he doesn't just see the opportunity, he smells it in the air, feels it, tastes victory, hears his name being called. I swear its like that. I think I remember such a brief moment in my own career in game five against the 76ers. And it's absolutely something spiritual.

Let's not forget the other Dubs. Although they may not have contributed a great deal during this last series against the Cavs, their performances during the regular season and in conference post-season were enormous. They earned their rings. And the right to be called Warriors.

I continue to be amazed by Steve Kerr. If any fans of the game ever doubted that coaching an NBA team is much more about personality and psychology than it is about X's and O's, watching Coach Kerr will dispel that notion. Intelligence, yes; preparation, yes; instinct, yes. But how you draw your players in so they identify with your spirit--that's at the heart of superior coaching. One might ask, how can you tell? Well, you do. Look in the eyes of the players, at their body language, listen to their words of praise that always fall short because they are really at a loss for words. Such it is that defines the coaches at the top of the Pantheon of NBA Coaches, starting with Red Auerbach and ending with, yes, Steve Kerr.

So, who have I left out? I'm so pumped that I can't stop praising. There is Bob Myers, who's got to be one smart GM, whose instincts have to be as razor-sharp as the players' on the court. A good GM has to feel what's right, not just gather stats and analyze. And there is Jerry West, consultant. Dare I say Consigliere to the Warriors' Godfathers: Joe Lacob and Peter Guber? I dare. Good advice well received as in: 'there's a kid playing at Washington State the Warriors should look at--advice like that is worth a franchise. And a huge shout out for the coaching staff, particularly Ron Adams and Mike  Brown. Think of them as book ends, providing Coach Kerr with the input a head coach requires to make the right decisions in practices and during games.

Does the Warrior physical fitness/trainers team deserve praise? You bet. The Dubs came into this series healthy. It's not a coincidence they did. Does the entire organization: Rick Welts and his team and Raymond Ridder and his team deserve praise? Absolutely. They too are coaches, coaching the environment in which the game is played and the players live. Take for example how hard it is to live in a run-down neighborhood, (I'm guessing lots of folks can identify with that), but if that neighborhood is clean and modern and stable and organized, then that's where players want to make their homes. Ask Kevin Durant. I'm reasonably certain his decision to come to the Warriors was not entirely based on basketball.

Am I through? Not yet. There are the fans. They've been there for the Dubs since the Dubs were the Dubs, every seat in Oracle taken, a sea of gold and Warrior blue. Tickets are not cheap these days in the NBA, but Bay Area fans keep opening their check books because the organization from top to bottom has made attending games worth it. Is there better value for your dollar? In the big scheme of  life, sure. But in the fun things of life, it's money well spent for a season of pleasure and a chance to identify with greatness. And the best damn hotdogs in any arena.

Here's a poem I wrote a long time ago for Jerry West that is in my first collection of poetry called Nothing You Lose Can Be Replaced. It seems fitting, given Jerry's contribution to the Warriors Championships.

Jerry West

That nearly full court buzzer-beater
that kept the Laker's playoff hopes alive
was never in doubt. I knew its certainty
from fingertip to rim. Jerry, as sweet
as that shot was, I want to tell you
about another shot far sweeter:
Night was falling and the cross-winds
of San Francisco were full court pressing
All City Ray Paxton, postman
with the soft touch we depended on
in the clutch. He "called it"  (something
you forgot to do) seconds before the rain
would have ended the game with nothing
resolved, summer over, the lucky players
off to college where they'd play to big crowds
indoors, safe and dry while Ray, 
bag over his shoulders, walks his rounds.







  





Monday, June 12, 2017

Phsicality

During a recent interview on TV, Cavs' Coach Tyronn Lue must have used the word physicality at least twenty times. He was no doubt very impressed and happy with his team's "Physicality" in game 4 of the NBA Championship series in the Q.

As an old English teacher, I rushed immediately to my Merrian Webster Dictionary and looked up the word: PHYSICALITY. I was skeptical that it was a word in the English language. My dictionary proved me wrong. Physicality is indeed a word, and it dates back to the 16th century.

However, it seems to me that the Golden State Warriors, as they head into Game 5 of the series, should take into account the full meaning of the word according to Merrian Webster:

PHYSICALITY:  predominance of the physical at the expense of the mental, spiritual, and social.

If  the Cavs continue to play within the scope of the definition that Coach Lue is so proud of, it is something the Golden State Warriors could take advantage of. No doubt, our Dubs need to be more physical in tonight's game. They can not allow the Cavs to attack first, and if the Cavs do, they must attack back instantly and with the same intensity.

That said and all things physical being even, the outcome of the game will be due to which team plays smarter. MENTAL TOUGHNESS will win this game, not PHYSICALITY

I am confident that the Warriors understand this.

How about some LOVE for Bob Myers, the very astute GM of the Golden State Warriors. Lot's of kudos heading the players' way,  Steve Kerr and the coaching staffs' way, and in the direction of Jerry West and Ownership, but not enough in the direction of Bob Myers. He seems to be a pretty low key kind of guy who abjures the spotlight. I don't read the Chronicle every day, so I may be wrong about this. There may be tons of stories praising him. Whatever the case may be, I want to make sure my Blog pays him the praise he deserves in putting together this fabulous basketball team. Go Bob, more power to you and for years to come. And, lets hope Draymond remembers what you said to him when you two were sitting together last season watching Game 5 on TV, Draymond having been suspended from the game for swatting the King in his Jewels:. "Let's not let this happen next year." Wonderfully understated.

Spain's Rafael Nadal wins his 10th championship at Roland Garros.The King of Clay deserves a tennis poem:

The Tennis Player   by Ronen Sigan

On a lucky day I found a genie in a bottle.
Out he came thankful and free granting me three wishes.
My first wish is to have a decent backhand - 
that is really all I need.
Too many times I missed such easy shots. 
It's about time I got a backhand.
The genie was stunned - what about fame,
fortune and the pleasure of the flesh?
I am a tennis player and this is my first wish.
My second wish is to have a killer server.
layer will fear it as it flies and swerves.
A killer serve it is! The genie sighed
An let me guess your third wish 
is the strongest forehand in the world.
Far from it, give a decent backhand 
and a killer serve to my opponents.
For what is a game without a challenge.