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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.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Don't Count the Dubs Out

So, Jerry West strikes again. Bravo, Jerry. Your keen eye brought the Warriors Klay Thompson, your imput helped a new GM get his feet wet. He proved his mettle and took the Warriors further after you departed, and I suspect he hasn't suddenly lost his ability to make good decisions for the Warriors' future.

I like the acquisition of DeAngelo Russell. In my humble opinion, the Dubs did not sign him to trade him. From some rocky beginnings with the Lakers, DeAngelo  has grown as a player. He is a clever ball handler, a solid driver, possesses both a middle distance (jumper/floater) and can sink 3 point shots So, the question team must ask themselves when facing the Dubs, how do you guard Curry and DeAngelo on the court at the same time? Add Klay at a stretch 3? And Green, never forget or under-estimate Draymond. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't come back next season chomping at the bit, a steadier, more determined, chip on his shoulder Green. Watch out! I'm a huge Green believer. Total basketball smarts, when focused. And last year proved he is ready to reach his potential.

Curry, oh, Should we forget at our peril, there is still the greatest three-point shooter in the history of basketball to reckon with.

And lets round out the rest of the team, starters and benchers: Looney didn't simply sign with the Warriors to give them a small-contract gift - he signed because the Warriors were always faithful to his measured growth. He's paying forward. Keep in mind how young Looney is. The bench that I had so little faith in last season is gone. Thank the Universe! Taller, longer, stronger players will join the Warriors. Damion Jones, at 7 feet, has a lot to prove. He'll be ready. Cauley-Stein is now a Warrior. The kid can run like a deer. Sure he's got some flaws, but he's definitely a pick-and-roll presence and a fast-break finisher. For the first time in years, I like what I'm seeing out of the Warriors' Summer League team. Poole looks like a downtown shooter and is not reluctant to put the pill up.

I'm betting Bob Meyers is not finished making moves? Lot's of time on the clock before the NBA season starts anew. Oh, by the way, let's not forget an amazing coach in Steve Kerr and staff, with a grit for defense, courtesy of Ron Adams.

No caveats from me. No, given health and unforeseen circumstances. The Warriors will be in competition for the Western Conference Championship because they demand TEAM first, and stardom second.

And just a small thought because the recent Kawhi thing is fresh in everybody's mind, if the Clippers rise to the top, it will not be because of Kawhi and George, but the junkyard dogs they have around the two greyhounds.

Terrific lazy day summer poem.

In Summer's Amber   by Gilbert Rogin

Thickened with light, the spaces of summer
hold sound like the sea.
A playing-field shout outlive the play;
an outboard motor is put up, its drone preserved,
as it were, in summer's amber.
Only at night are the sounds quick and falling:
the water breaking each time the jumping fish falls;
in the white barns, horses stamping
in their dreams' dark furlongs;
grooms sitting out under the elms
in canvas chairs, on tack boxes,
telling lies.







Sunday, June 23, 2019

Chatter

Lots of free agency chatter going on. Here's my take on some of the topics.

Warriors first, and this is pure wishful thinking: Ownership needs to bite the bullet and not worry about luxury tax. That said, there probably is a point even a franchise worth the price of the Taj Majal
can't go beyond. Anyway, the Warriors should roll up their financial sleeves and pay KD and Klay their well earned big buck,with a look to one year down the road, not for next season. Next season is going to be an exercise in creativity. If we get a lottery pick next year, is that such a bad thing, especially if you have your core healthy and happy coming back?

Sacramento Kings: Willy Cauley Stein wants to depart. Well, no team wants a disgruntled player on its team. Cauley has spent 4 years refusing to learn how to hit a consistent middle distance jumper or a consistent jump hook, so when is he going to do that and with which team will he suddenly get off his ass and figure his game out.

Kwhi Leonard: Jeez, you really want to leave a championship team and a fabulous city that is not in the purview of Donald Trump and that has turned you into it s hero and an ownership that will give you more money than any other franchise in the league????? OK. So you're out of there. Where do you go. Obviously, its a homeboy thing - the City of Angels. But which Angel? If he's smart, it will be the Clippers' Angel. Why on earth would he want to team up with Lebron, who is so ball dominant? And, aside of AD and Kuzma, not much else to round out a team. On the other hand, he could be the one player missing from the Clips to make them a Championship caliber team.

Kyrie. Go where ever. Boston is better off without you. Boston should sign Horford. Every team in the league wants a guy like Horford.

Kemba Walker is a stud, but is he really a point guard? Is he really a smart player. However, the Suns need a pt guard who can spread the floor desperately.

Middleton is a bit of a mystery to me. He has a quiet, solid game worthy of half an All-Star status. He is on the right team with the right personal and the right coaching. If he leaves and goes to the wrong team, he could be mis-utilized. For example, if the team he goes to wants him to carry the scoring load and opponents' D focuses on him. It's not going to happen, Chris.

Vucevic: Why is everybody talking about this guy?He's old news. You can't win a championship with him in the post. So why should a team shell out big bucks?

Tobias Harris is an interesting player. He is an excellent shooter, but an average defender. If Kawhi leaves Toronto, I can see them making a play for Tobias to fill the scoring gap. Would he be right for the Sacramento Kings? He's still young and appears to be dedicated to improving his game. So, yes, he could spread the floor, but then what do you do with Harrison Barnes? I love Barnes D and I love Barnes smarts.

Enough for the NBA and onto to a Life comment.:

Our country, as it stands now under the presidency of Donald Trump, has not been as divided into two opposing camps since the Civil War. It is not North vs South, but it is symbolically the Confederacy vs the Union.

The poem for today's blog hearkens back to my playing days. 


DORIS DAY  (1922-2019)               by Tom Meschery

     “L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stele.”

             Dante Alighieri

Doris died and all I can think of
is her sitting courtside clapping
as the Lakers pour it on,
led by Jerry and Elgin.
The rumor was
Doris was getting it on with Elgin,
but I refused to believe the girl
next door who sang Secret Love,
and Que Sera, Sera,
perky Doris of my fantasy,
would do anything so gross
as have an affaire.

Oh, Romance on the high seas
where has your blush gone?
My arm slipped around the shoulder
of Sharon Baily in the balcony
of the Metro. I reached
carefully inside her sweater,
felt the soft flesh beneath the bra
and her shiver, while on screen
Calamity Jane stuck a six-gun
in the pocket of her dress
for the marriage scene
that ended the movie.
It had taken me that long
to work up the courage
before the curtain rose
and the theater lights came on.

Seven decades later, I want to cry
for the loss of first girlfriends
and lost fantasies, remembering
our pitiful generation of white men
all moved by the same stars
of stage and screen,
by the mystery of women’s flesh
that we believed in like altars.
All we wanted was the girl next door,
greeting us at the door with her apron on
as we returned home from work,
dinner almost done, a highball
ready and our slippers.

Was this too much to ask, Doris,
that you not take off your clothes
for Elgin and in the shadow of love
not be the harbinger of change,
you of all women, let that mantle
fall to someone else, to stars
from another galaxy. Remain
in my mind as I always imagined
provocative and chaste.








Friday, June 14, 2019

Toronto Wins With an *

I played the game long enough to know there are no "What if's." However, if one did exist, this season's NBA Finals would be that exception. With a healthy Kevin Durant and healthy Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors win the 2019 NBA Championship. Period. End of story.

That said, the Toronto Raptors are the champs. They were not responsible for the Warriors injuries. All they could do was play the best basketball they could play, and they did. They were aggressive and determined. They shot well and defended well. They did not not get over-confident even as they saw their chances improve dramatically with Klay Thompson's knee injury in the 3rd quarter..A lesser focused team might have made mistakes. The Raptors won the Championship fair and square.

As for the Dubs.I applaud the fact that they managed to hang in after Klay went down. All that was left of consistent shooters was Steph Curry. And that was a heck of a smart play Kerr designed during the time out with 9 seconds to go in the game that got Steph a shot for the win, albeit a difficult one that did not drop. Loony was guts out but injured. DeMarcus still overweight and not fully back in playing shape from his injury. And the Dubs were still throwing punches, but there wasn't much knockout strength behind them. If this had been boxing, the Raptors won on a TKO.

If any team needs to find a nice quiet spot and rest, it's the Dubs. Have a few cold ones, nap under a palm tree, sit on the beach or by a lake, read. listen to music, watch clouds. listen to rain.. CHILL.

I am proud on these Warriors, who have earned the title Warriors.

So, the season ends and we'll miss the joy of another parade. Instead of Oakland, the Parade will be in Toronto, Canada and Canadians should be proud of their team. Historically, it's the first international NBA team to win a championship. And that's significant. Maybe in the future, an NBA team from an expanded European NBA will win a Larry O'Brien trophy. Maybe some day an NBA team from Africa will win a championship, coached by Serge Ibaka. Oh, well.

Still, in the mind of an old Warrior, the Raptors name on the 2019 Larry O'Brien Trophy will always have and asterisk after it. And the Raptors will look at it and know exactly why its thee.

In honor of KD, a poem from my new collection, Time Out


KD

From our seats
beneath the basket,
watching KD
before the game,
I’m wondering
where have I seen
such fluid grace before,
almost like liquid,
as if Durant
was out to prove
the truth
inscribed on Keats’ tombstone:
Here lies one whose name
is writ in water.
KD shoots again, all net.
If I close my eyes
will I see waves?








Thursday, June 13, 2019

Last Game at Oracle

My jersey #14 was the first to be retired and hung in the rafters of Oracle arena, so there's some nostalgia I'm dealing with today. On the other hand, I was a San Francisco Warrior of the City Auditorium and Cow Palace era Warriors, so I'm looking forward to seeing games at Chase Center, next season, my team back in The City.

About tonight's final game at Oracle, the Warriors must keep in mind something an old street fighter told me, "He who gets the first punch in, has the first punch in." Great advice if you find yourself in a street brawl, but also good advice for the Warriors as it applies to Defense. The Dubs must be the first to set the defensive tone of the game. The popular word these days is "aggressive" Stay aggressive, always take the fight to your opponent.

I'll spell it out Lots Of Love to Kevin Durant. I'm not sure what all the blather was about KD, should he or shouldn't he? When, why? etc. All pro athletes know that if its the Finals, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the World Series, you're going to do everything you can to play, to make a contribution. KD did, Those early buckets sparked the Warriors, they ignited a will in the Warriors that took them to the final victory in Toronto. Thanks KD, for the inspiration and the guts, but you'd say I'm sure that you were doing what any athlete worth his salt would have done. You couldn't have done anything else but risk it. It's who we are, it's what we do. We couldn't live with ourselves if we didn't give it our best shot.

So let's stop with the media second guessing bullshit and applaud a great professional basketball player.

I remember driving to Live Oak playground (ok, so it's in Berkeley) to play against the best the East Bay had to offer. Here's to them, some I played against, some I didn't: Joe Gardere, Bobby Dold, Bepo Dyer, Don Barksdale, Joe Ellis, Jim Hadnot, Paul Silas, Bill Russell, Jerry Mullin, Joe Barry, Rick Lawless. Just the ones that come to mind, many more great hoopsters I'm forgetting. 

Not a poem but close: 

Live Oak,
The  playground.
The games we played 'till dusk
Came back for more at night
Emblazoned on Warrior jerseys
Last game in The Town
Thanks for the memories. 



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

One Second Can Make the Difference & etc

When the Warriors are the Warriors at their best, they are always one second ahead of their opponents. One second doesn't sound like much, but add up what it means on each pass and it represents the difference between the ball reaching the hand of the shooter before the opponent can close out efficiently. If a team is one second ahead of its opponent on offense, and the opponent is one second behind on its offensive end, a winning time differential exist that is devoutly to be wished. This is why the passing game is so important, and the  iso game, no matter how skilled the iso player is is not. I love Kawhi Leonard, but he holds on to the ball too long. No way, you say! Not by Kyrie Erving standards, for sure, but still too long, perhaps a second too long, and as the poet Robert Frost says, "that can make all the difference." Winning in the NBA depends on seconds. Every second that does not lead to a basket is a wasted second. A player catches the ball with space to shoot, he hesitates a second. He's lost the advantage. A coach hesitates calling a time out, one second, two seconds. The play he draws up might have worked had he been faster on the draw. The NBA today is two fast gunslingers facing each other on the street of Showdown, U.S.A. The team that clears leather the fastest wins.

Etc:

Got to love Steve Kerr's T-shirt of 60 Minutes: VOTE FOR OUR LIVES. Right on, Coach!

Are the Raiders nuts signing Richie Incoginito? The Sacramento Bee sport page listed Incognito's multitudinous infractions: spitting on opponents, bullying teammates, fighting in practice, willfully attempting to hurt opponents, the beat goes on and on, but what they left out, and to me, what will hurt the Raiders the most is that he  [Incognito] was accused by Yannick Ngakoue, the African-American defensive end of the Jaguars.of using racial slurs, To my way of thinking one racial slur is as good as 100 racial slurs. It mean you are a racist. On a team where 80% of your teammates are African-Americans, this does not bode well for team harmony. Or, perhaps, the Raiders' cocky little coach Jon Gruden, thinks he can make such vile behavior disappear.

Nice baseball poem by Linda Pastan

When you tried to tell me
baseball was a metaphor

for life: the long, dusty travail
around the bases, for instance,

to try to go home again,
the sacrifice for which you win

approval but not applause;
the way the light closes down

in the last days of the season -
I didn't believe you.

It's just a way of passing
the time, I said.

And you said: that's it.
Yes.