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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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Start of the NFL and Etc

Oakland Raiders: John Gruden may not be enough and Derrick Carr looked frightened. I mean, did you see that last intercepted pass. That was a basketball shot that looped straight into the hands of LA defensive back's hands. Guy looked totally surprised before running for a TD. Carr looked uncertain and flinchy the entire game. like he was worried about getting hit. I hope that's not true, but I think Gruden made a mistake saying "everything they [Raiders} do is about Carr.

San Jose 49ers: (Let's call them what the are and not SF) Back to football. Garapolo looked pretty average. He's obviously not. But at the end of last season, he was a surprise. Now that teams have film of him, they're better prepared. This makes all the team deficiencies more important to solve.
In the meantime, Shanahan wins the "Spin" of the NFL's first week: impressed with how G handled adversity.If you don't make it as a head coach, Kyle, there's a job waiting for you in politics.

New York Jets: Have finally got a QB. Darnold looked mostly like a vet as he led his team to a win over the Lions, which is not a shabby outfit. It was a serious performance.

Early betting on the vikings to win the Stupid Bowl would be reasonable. LA Rams next in line.

Arizona Cardinals might as well get it over with and make Rosen their starting QB. Preseason showed the kid had poise, skill and cockiness needed to be a big time NFL quarterback.

My long-shot team for max improvement is the Cleavland Browns.

This could be a very lopsided NFL season with wide disparity between the good teams and the bad, a little like our economy, the rich getting richer and the poor (and Middle Class) getting poorer.


                                                              ETC

Pro Tennis has got to get off that weird and outdated rule that coaches can't coach from the sidelines. In what sport, other than tennis, do coaches have to sit on their hands and keep their mouths shut as they watch their athletes perform? DUMB AND MORE DUMB. That silly ass ref during the Serena William's match calling calling a foul for a coaches "thumbs up" gesture. It started a chain reaction. Serena should not have blown her cool. Her racquet toss required a point loss.

Lots of CHEERS Keegan Bradley winning the BMW. Bradley hasn't won since since 2011. Love watching him approach shots: approach, step back, approach a second time. measure, step back, approach, twist club a couple of times. My wife calls him "Nervous Nelly". Nerves off steel at the end against Rose in the playoffs.

More CHEERS for Djokovis wining the US Open. Got a ways to go to tie Federer's 20 Grand Slams, but he's in striking distance of Nadal's 14.

The recent death of my old college roommate and Saint Mary's College basketball teammate, John Shirley prompted this poem.

On Hearing of John’s Death   by Tom Meschery

Got an email
from Ron with a poem
about the wind that is a gift
on a day I needed one having heard
of the death of my college roommate,
the best and only one-legged basketball player
in the history of Saint Mary’s College who’d limp
past you for a lay-up if you weren’t careful, so smart
he barely studied his sophomore year and got straight A’s
and nearly drove me out of my mind learning, instead of reading
the Classics, while I was struggling with the dactylic hexameter of the Iliad,
how to play one fucking song, Easy Rider on his guitar, the same notes over
and over; and the poem Ron sent me closed with the wind sounding like
a blues harmonica that arrived, as befits poetic license, all the way
from Pluto, the farthest planet in the Universe, which is where,
perhaps, if one does not believe in heaven, my roommate
John is now entering like the wind, the fierce wind
of his life no longer limping but sure footed
past Pluto, past all other undiscovered
planets, their moons and suns
and the dark matter
of our lives.








Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Stolen Base Gone like the Dinasaur

In this morning's Sacramento Bee Sports dated 8/21/'18, there was an article by Gary Peterson arguing that baseball was better before Metrics. I'm not a huge baseball enthusiast, but along with the article, there was a photo of Goose Gossage stating that baseball today was very difficult for him to watch. As much as I was a fan, Gossage was one of my favorite baseball players. He had a great name and a great flair and a great mustache. So, I read. After I finished it seemed to me he'd made his point: "The game is all home runs and strikeouts, absent all risk/reward gambits." Why? Because the actuarial tables say they result in negative metrics. The writer went on to illustrate with a bunch of comparisons between teams of the past vs teams of the future. Since he used metrics, my eyes glazed over. Let's see if I get the gist: Hits to strike out ratios - today more strikeouts than hits.  According to Scott Miller of Belcher Report: If you have a poetic bone in your body, you got to love this: As if they [batters] were 18 blindfolded men chasing a butterfly. As for pitching. American League as of today had turned in only 20 complete games. The National League only 10. At this rate, AL would complete 31 and NL 13. Giants Sam Jones in 1960 completed 13 himself. Onward and upward. According to the writer, there has been an average of 1.37 stolen base attempts in the majors this season, the lowest figure since 1964.

I told my wife. "Geez," she said.  "the stolen base was the only exciting play in baseball." That sort of summed it up for me. But I email my friend Larry Colton, ex of the Phillies and holder of the single game strike out record for the University of California for his thoughts on the subject, who is my baseball guru for his comments.

We wait with bated breath.

Metrics strives for some kind of statistical perfection. Not only is that impossible, it is boring.

Not exactly a baseball poem, but it could be.

Midnight Lazaruses   by Chaun Ballard, from Rattle summer 2018 issue


we were married
                                   to
concrete
                                   playgrounds, blacktops
                                 
                                   where seven days

nights
                                   a ball would drop

and like that
                                    bodies would complete

shadows
                                    and a game would be

found.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Mea Culpa Redux

I've already apologized via my blog for my years of denigrating golf as less than a sport. And to all golfers who give a jot about my beliefs, I apologize again big time. After watching the latest Open won by Brooks Koepka, chased to the 18th by Adam Scott and  Tiger Woods  (Go Tiger!), I have come to this realization: Golf played on the professional level is the most psychologically (mentally) and physically demanding sport of all the major sports in the world.

Please note, however, that I limit my definition to professional golf, not the ordinary get-out-and-play the links on weekend variety, in which case the level of mental and physical wear and tear drops significantly..

Onward and upward to the pro golfer. No athlete is challenged to perform his or her sport under such mental and physical strain while requiring such precise accuracy than golf played on the highest level. Mental acuity, physicality, precision, accuracy, and subtlety - all must come together at exactly the same time with different requirements of force for each stroke from the T to putt.
Not to mention the hazards. Imagine what kind of skill is needed to come out of tall grass or looking up through trees as your ball rests on the side of a hill. It's a little like asking a basketball player to shoot the ball from where it lands in the stands after an errant pass. I watched with renewed respect for the game as Koepka, Scott and Woods, three marvelously conditioned athletes, competed.

Let me say that I'm not blind to a few of the tubbys on the professional tour, who provide hope to all the rest of the out-of-shape weekend linkers, but I do not exclude them from my definition. They will simply play themselves out of the pro tour with back problems. A few, such as the enormously out of condition, John Daly, might move on to the Champions Tour by dint of their superior skills. So be it; there are always anomalies. 

Least people didn't read it in small print and on the last page of the sport's section, our U.S.A women's softball team defeated the Japanese to win the World Softball Championship. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, not some weenie championship. In my section of the paper, overshadowed by less important articles, like the Ryder Cup who's in the conversation.

I don't blog about baseball, but this baseball poem I recently read in a must read collection called This Loss Behind Us; A Triple Play of Poetry (Pint Size Publications) is beyond funny.

Pope Vincent by Paul Hostovsky

If you would like to be summarily excommunicated from the merry flock
the blue and white acolytes who clap on cue and shout appropriate epithets,
all you have to do is say something less than supportive about his royal divinity
Pope Vin Scully
Now 88 and still helping the team sell things.
Let us pray he never dies.




Sunday, August 5, 2018

NBA Off Season Craziness

My interest to blog flags once the NBA season ends. However, there are always a few newsworthy incidents or moments that require comments.

Urban Meyers, like Rick Pitino, bball, coach of Louisville, didn't know squat. Anyone who believes that I have the Golden Gate Bridge I'm willing to sell him for a modest price. Yeah, like donald trump didn't know nutting about Don Junior meeting with Russian agents of the KGB.

What is it about people who have power and money? Why do they think they can get away with lying?

As a high school teacher, if I didn't report even a suspicion of abuse to my principal, I would be fired. Which is what needs to happen to Meyers and the man running our White House.

Speaking of racist, trump, he's at it again, attacking Lebron James for "Awwwww," hurting the little president's weeny feelings. Why doesn't trump attack David Duke?

Speaking of loonies, was Terrell Owens born that way or did he grow into it? Okay, perhaps the Canton Hall of Fame snub is not that big a deal, but why wouldn't Owens want to join his fellow football players on such a profoundly important day? Could it possibly be that he want all the camera to be on him?

If Vladimir Putin KGB killer president of the new Soviet Union, could have scripted a perfect way to sow division and suspicion between the citizens of the United States, there would have been no better president to have sitting in the White House than donald racist trump.

I was sorry but not surprise when Lebron said all African American people, no matter how successful, continue to suffer racism.

TYLER HONEYCUTT DEAD   by Tom Meschery

His coach told the reporters it was hard
for a player to adjust to playing in Russia,
not knowing the language or culture.

It was hard for me to be in elementary school,
a Russian immigrant, wearing short pants
and not knowing how to speak English.
But that was a long time ago. Now,
you find language lessons on line.
I’m taking private lessons twice a week
at Alliance Francaise, so my wife and I
can move to France because our country
is suffering under a racist dictator.

Perhaps Hunnicut’s death at the hands
of the police, or by his own hand
had nothing to do with language
and the foreign culture. What if
he was simply tired of living as a black
man in our culture? I wouldn’t be
surprised. I’m white and I’m watching
my depression rising like mercury
in a glass thermometer in a heat wave.
Tyler’s depression might have reached
the melting point and burst, the shards
of glass flying through the air with his blood.




 



 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Boogie Warrior

Shall we say that between Draymond and Boogie, the pair might set a technical fouls record to go along with the Warriors third NBA Championship in a row.

My first reaction to hearing DeMarcus Cousins had signed a 1 yr contract with the Warriors was an extended moan, that turned into a question mark, and finally into a Holy -hit. The last expletive had to do with the kind of unique talent Boogie will bring to my team. The Warriors have not had a real post since the days of Nate "The Great" Thurmond. And a post who can go out onto the perimeter and shoot threes. Mama Mia!!!!

There has never been any question that the Boogie is an Awesome physical and skilled talent. For me, it has always been about attitude on the court and in the locker room. In past blogs I've accused him of being a dark cloud downer, a whiner, a locker room lawyer, and a candidate for anger management intervention. My wife, who hates cry babies, was not nearly as nice as her husband.

That said, so I can't be accused of hypocrisy, Cuz is now a Warrior and that means I have to cut him some slake. Such slake cutting has to do with the possibility that Boogie has been changing for the better since he left the dysfunctional Kings. Remember, I said, possibility. Boogie watchers, like my wife's grandson, John-Clark, who knows his basketball, has never wavered in his support of Boogie. He points out Boogies total career stats, and his performance last year with the Pelicans, before he suffered and Achilles tendon injury. John-Clark is right. There's is not a better pure center in the league than Cuz. This may change with DeAndre Ayton, but that's for another Blog.

Keeping John-Clark's loyalty in mind, I will consider (only consider, mind you) that there could have been a shift in Cuz's court attitude that started during the 2014 Olympic Games in Brazil. The theory might go like this: Cuz played his butt off for America's Olympic Team. No denying that. His effort won him the respect and friendship of his super star peers (Draymond Green being one of those players). These guys embraced the Cuz when he was, for the most part, being viewed around the league as a knucklehead. There is a lot to say for friendship and support. It might have been the motivation to consider changing his attitude and behavior. 

I'm just saying. It could have happened this way. And, it could be something the Warriors took into account when deciding whether or not to take DeMarcus Cousins into the fold. . .

And into the waiting arms of Draymond Green if the Boogie doesn't boogie straight.

Going into this season I will remember the free basketball clinics you have provided in Sacramento and the funeral for Stephon Clark you paid for. So, welcome Boogie Cousins to my Warriors. I wish for your Achilles injury to heal, for you to regain all your skills and physical prowess. You can be part of a great tradition, even if it will probably be only for one season.

Go Warriors!

This is a poem about climbing in Scotland. Not exactly a rope-up Mount Everest type of poem, but athleticism non-tthe-less. And a good old fashioned well-rhymed poem is always pleasant to read.

Climbing in Glencoe   by Andrew Young

The sun became a small round moon
And the scared rocks grew pale and weak
As mist surged up the col, and soon
So thickly everywhere it tossed
That though I reached the peak
With height and depth both lost
It might as well have been a plain;
Yet when, groping my way again,
On to the scree I stept
It went with me, and as I swept
Down its loose rumbling course
Balanced I rode it like a circus horse.