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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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Democrats Need Draymond Green

The Democratic Party has got to stop being so weeny and expose the Republicans for what the are: reactionary, frightened, homophobic, intellectually lazy, xenophobic, elitist, greedy, Putin puppet, lying white supremacists. Did I leave anything out? And if the Democratic Party doesn't have the gumption to stand up to the Trump crew, let me suggest that they take a crash course on toughness from Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors who has been playing David to Goliath his entire NBA career and winning.

Russell Westbrook has got to grow up. Doesn't he realize that if Kevin Durant was still on the Thunder, he (Westbrook) would have had no chance to surpass The Big O's triple-double NBA record. Zero chance! Westbrook should embrace Durant and thank him for helping him, by his absence, insure his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

I read two marvelous articles in today's Chronicle Sporting Green. The first was a short history of the life of Zaza Pachulia of Georgia and the Golden State Warriors. It is a story of family togetherness, how his father and mother worked together to give their son a chance at basketball greatness. The second story was about Patrick McCaw, the rookie combo guard of the Warriors. It too is about family, specifically about how influential Patrick's father has been in his life as a model to emulate.
It has been the case since the Warriors new ownership of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber that the idea of the team as family has been stressed. It was the case back in my day under the ownership of our beloved Franklin Mieuli. Zaza and Patrick have been great additions to the Dubs family.

Perhaps I'm not the first, but I haven't read or heard it said anywhere else, the King's 2016 first round draft choice  George Papagiannis has a chance to turn into a fine NBA center. He is more athletic than critics think. He's got length and strength and toughness. He finishes at the rim. He has a nice jump hook. And like all European bigs, he can shoot from distance. Needs to work on his footwork and lateral movement this summer. And, don't forget, he is only 19 years old.

Recently, Skal Labisiere has been showing that he too was a good draft choice. He has the ability to be a solid power forward. Malachi Richardson, before he was injured, was coming along nicely as a two/three combo. Buddy Hield is the shooting guard the Kings have been looking for. Finally, Willy Cauley Stein, once he learns to control his tempo, has a chance to be an explosive interior force, either at the post or at the power forward. So, the Sacramento Kings' fans should not lament the absence of the gloomy talented, personality afflicted Cousins, and take a look at what they have in place - some damn good youngsters to build for the future. Young smart coach. Players having some fun. Things are looking up in River City.

And, Pleas, please, Management, don't go out and get a bunch of old worn out All Stars in free agency. Let's stay young. Let's grow our own All Stars.

I continue to be a huge Coach Pop fan. Here's a haiku I wrote for him. I think it says a lot about what it takes to be great at anything you do.

Pop

One thousand wins
    And one loss keeps you awake
Staring into the abyss.





Saturday, February 25, 2017

Duratnt is right about Shaq

Kevin Durant is right that Shaq is acting childishly for criticizing JaVale McGee, not once, but on a number of different occasion. So, what in the heck is the deal? Did McGee do something to Shaq that we don't know about? It would have to be some form of disrespect for Shaq to be so vindictive.
Because it is vindictive when you question a person's intelligence, when you continue to mock his performances. As Durant, JaVale's Warrior teammate, said, McGee has come to the Warriors and done everything they have asked of him. Durant twittered:"He (JaVale) only wants to be respected just like anybody else," Amen, Kevin.

I thought Shaq was a Ph.D? If that's the case, I guess it proves you don't have to be a sensitive and caring human being to earn one of those.

Let the young man alone, Shaq. Don't be such a bore. And, JaVale, you've answered back, so now leave it alone; let Shaq alone to embarrass himself.

On to a different subject. DeMarcus Cousins has stated for the press that Vlade Divac and owner Ranadive acted in a cowardly manner, first promising him he was not going to be traded, then trading him without any warning. I'm sure DeMarcus felt he was hoodwinked and, at first, I believed him. I have no particular confidence in King's management. But as Vlade explained in the newspaper this morning, he (Divac) and owner had little choice. They had shopped DeMarcus (the kid's agent must have known that) and found little interest. (No surprise, given the emotional instability of DeMarcus). According to Divac, the Pelicans deal came into play at the last minute as the trade deadline was about to expire, and they had to make a decision quickly.

That's the business end of the NBA and these kind of last minute deals have happened since the league began. Unless there is a written clause in a player's contract that states, he (the player) must be informed about being traded, (a la Carmelo) then management has no responsibility to do so. A GM and an owner have only one responsibility and that is to the team as a whole, to put together the best team, to provide the best entertainment for the community, one that is competitive with playoff possibilities.

DeMarcus' hurt feelings comes from his own insecurity, emotional instability, and lack of understanding of the business of sports. 

I was on the Warriors team when our owner Franklin Mieuli traded the single greatest force in NBA history, Wilt Chamberlain, to the Philadelphia 76ers. Did Wilt whine? He packed his bags, left, arrived in Philly and later lead the 76ers to the NBA Championship against, you guessed it, the Golden State Warriors.

The difference between Wilt's reaction and DeMarcus' is that Wilt was an adult, and DeMarcus is not. Not yet, at least. As I've said on numerous blogs: Grow up DeMarcus!

Spring Training. Can hot weather and hotdogs and cold suds be far behind? Lot's of baseball poetry for me to chose from. Here's a wonderful little poem, full of innocence.

How to Play Night Baseball    by  Jonathan Holden

A pasture is best, freshly
mown so that by the time a grounder's
plowed through all that chewed, spit-out
grass to reach you, the ball
will be bruised with green kisses. Start
in the evening. Come
with a bad sunburn and smelling of chlorine,
water still crackling in you ears.
Play until the ball is khaki -
the girls' bare arms in the bleachers are pale,
and heat lightning jumps in the west. Play
until you can only see pop-ups,
and routine grounders get lost in
the sweet grass for extra bases.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Two Bottom Lines in Cousin's Trade & etc

Bottom Line #1: Will DeMarcus Cousins somehow changes his personality when he plays for the Pelicans, not just for this season, but for the foreseeable future? If he doesn't, he will poison the team. That's the bottom line. If he does wake up and grow up, the Pelicans will be a force in the NBA.

Bottom line #2: Will the Kings make the kind of smart basketball decisions that will indeed lead to a competitive NBA team. (That's all the Sacramento fans are yearning for.). I wish I felt a little more confidence in Divac and Ranadive. Still, I remain convinced that trading Boogie for an unnamed draft choice would have been better than trying to build a championship around a young man who is so out of control emotionally.

Lou Williams to the Rockets? How many 3 point shooters is enough? You'd think they'd tried to do something to shore up the paint.

Just a thought, Rose and Carmelo gone from the Knicks. Rose who dominates the ball, for primo point guard Ricky Rubio and a first round draft choice. Carmelo who dominates the ball for a first round draft choice. Carmelo gone clears cap space. Hey, I'm sounding like a GM.

Spring Training on. I wonder how many MLB players south of the boarder Trump would label terrorists and rapists. Just wondering.

Here's a baseball poem that I've kept since my days in the Iowa Writers Workshop. Michael Ryan, now one of America's premier poets, submitted it to one of the workshops for comments. I'll not include my marginal notes, which sound after all these years as not very helpful. If you don't know what a fungoe is, you've never lived in a big city.

Hitting Fungoes   by Michael Ryan

Hitting fungoes to a bunch
of kids who asked me
nicely, I'm afraid the hard
ball they gave me might
shatter the stained-glass
window of the church
across this abandoned lot.
I see it all now, in 
the moment the ball leaves
my hand before it smacks
the bat: we scatter
in every possible direction
but the pastor, sensing
a pervert, screams
to the cops to chase
the big one, and there 
I am trapped. I pull
my old Woodrow Wilson
Fellowship Letter out
of my worn suit pocket,
swing it wildly, but they
smell last night's sex
on my breath, condemn
me to jail for failure
itself. I swing without
thinking, the only way,
and the crack is the scream
of a hip-bone ripped
from its socket
on the rack. Not bad.
Not too deep, but nice
arching loft. One kid,
who runs faster than the others,
makes a spectacular 
diving catch & throws it back.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Boogie Trade Dissers Missing the Point

DeMarcus Cousins for Buddy Held plus a first round and second round draft pick? Doesn't look like value for value, does it? Rookie Buddy Held, a good shooting guard with the potential to be a great shooting guard vs the best low post center in the league, a two year All-Star, and an Olympic medal winner. So far this morning I've not read one sports blogger who isn't dissing this trade.

Not this blogger. I welcome the trade as the first step toward sanity and a chance (although a daunting one) to actually start building a cohesive and competitive team.

In New Orleans, Cousins may grow into an adult and that, of course, would be awesome for the Pelicans. However, I would not put money on it. In Sacramento, Cousins had zero chance of growing up. Ownership and management had already treated him with such kid gloves, his ego and emotional instability was out of control.

So, seeing this as a great trade for the Pelicans is missing the point vis-a-vis the Kings. Cousins, in his present state of being, was poisoning the court and the locker-room with his childish antics, his referee baiting, his dominating ego, and his gloomy disposition.

Granted, without The Boogie (a nickname he never lived up to with his lumbering up and down the court), there is not a whole hell of a lot of talent left on the Kings. I have high hopes for Willy Cauly Stein and reasonable expectation for Malachi Richardson's development into a solid NBA player.  Add Held at the two, and Collison at the one. After that, it's all up for grabs and will depend on the two first round draft picks, the talent of Bogdan Bogdonovic, if he is indeed a premier NBA caliber player. Rudy Gay might bring them another low first round or high second round draft choice. The big Greek rookie is a crap shoot, but he's more athletic than I thought in the past and he is 7'2" Labisierre, at this point looks awfully soft. As for the other vets on the Kings, they're up for grabs: to keep or not to keep for bench strength.

Let's not forget that without having to pay Cousins, the Kings have some bucks to go after free agents.

Let's not forget that as this team rebuilds, it does so with the best coach it has had since the team foolishly let Rick Adelman go.

So, let's see how things shake out before deciding if this trade was a loser for the Kings. Losing Cousins might be the start of the Kings wining.

I'm thinking that watching street lights going is more exciting than watching the NBA All Star Game. So, I've come up with a few suggestion for the future that will make the All-Star Game more exciting and more interesting: 1) Create a 4 point shooting line. 2) Create two 4x4, 5 point shooting blocks positioned where the half-court line meets the sideline. 3) Allow players to shoot free-throws from the top of the key for double points. 

Snow is falling on the Sierra. The ponds are frozen. Here's a fine winter poem.

The Skaters   by John Williams

Graceful and sure with youth, the skaters glide
Upon the frozen pond. Unending rings
Expand upon the ice, contract, divide,
Till motion seems the shape that movement brings,

And shape is constant in the moving blade.
Ignorant of the beauty they invent,
Confirmed in their hard strength, the youths evade
Their frail suspension in an element,

This frozen pond that glisters in the cold.
Through all the warming air they turn and spin,
And do not feel that they grow old
Above the fragile ice they scrape and thin.



Monday, February 13, 2017

This and Taht in Sports Monday 2/13/2017

After getting dinged with his 17th technical foul, DeMarcus Cousins stated, "It's obvious I can't be myself. Me playing how I play is what makes me the player that I am Obviously it's not acceptable, so I'm trying to find a way to, you know, do what these guys are asking me to do. . . "

So, how would the officials like for you to play, DeMarcus? How about not questioning them on every call. How about not waving your arms in disgust and embarrassing them. How about not smacking an opponent in the face (okay, last night's face slap was inadvertent, but the refs called it anyway).

Bottom line: how about not leading the league in technical fouls very year.
 
This is NOT about the officials. It is about you and your inability to control your emotions. You have an anger management problem. You will always have one, if you don't do something mature about it now when you're young. Otherwise, that anger will surface in other areas of your life. Ask any psychologist.

Finally, Grow Up.

Talk about anger management, I read that the N.Y. Knicks pulled off a PR coup. After the bad press of the Oakley/Dolan feud, the team allowed Latrelle Sprewell back into MSG from which he'd been banned for bad-mouthing the owner back in 2003. Sat right next to Dolan, smiling and waving to fans. This is the same one-time Warrior Sprewell who choked his Warrior coach. Got the "red-carpet" treatment. Kudos to the PR guys who thought that baby up.

At least Cousins hasn't choked a referee, But I'd worry if I were them.

One of the greatest moments in basketball history will be played out tonight when the Connecticut Lady Huskies go for their one hundredth straight victory. Did you get that sportswriters, ONE HUNDRED WINS WITHOUT A LOSS. Such scant attention is being paid to this seemingly impossible feat that one would believe 100 straight wins happens every day. This is HUGE. This is like Wilt's 100 point game. Can it possibly be that the Lady Huskies are getting the public relations snub because they are women? Could that be true in 2017? Yeah, I guess, since we elected a President who felt it was okay to grope women.

I can hear all the conservatives moaning, come on, Meschery, you can't blame Trump for everything. Oh, yes I can. When the President of our country treats women the way he has, ("I grope women because I can get away with it because I'm a star," B.S) you bet I can. A pronouncement of this kind has fall-out. And one of the fall-outs is it validates and perpetuates misogyny. 

As a country and as sports fans, we better get our butts in gear. Women's sports need to be covered better. Why not begin with this historic moment in sport's history. How about the front page of the sport's section tomorrow, win or lose, a full column?

Talk about Spring Training. Baseball season's approaching. Here's a baseball poem for all you diminishing baseball fans.

Baseball    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 closed 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.