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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.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Whistle-Blower or Tattle Tale?

I was watching the Astros kick butt in the 2017 World Series with my friend, Larry Colton, ex of the Phillys and University of Cal Bear's pitching ace, still the holder of Cal's single strike-out record. Having him as my guide through a sport that normally bores the crap out of me, helped me to appreciate the pitching strategies primarily, but also much of the other nuances of the game that I don't see by myself.

I guess now, based on the expose of  whistle-blower, Mike Fiers, some of those nuances had to do with stealing signs. This mornings sport page in the Sacramento Bee contained an article defending the actions of the whistle-blower.

I'd like to weigh in on the subject. I'm all for whistle-blowers. Thank God for the whistle-blower who outed our president for his quid-pro-quo effort to get political dirt on Joe Biden and his son. Thank God for the whistle-blower who outed the tobacco industry and whistle-blowers like him who've helped to save people's lives, or in the case of the president, save our democracy.

I don't believe Fiers falls into this category of whistle-blower. There is no question he did the right thing by exposing the nefarious conduct of the Astros. What a gift it must have been for Astro batters to know what pitch was coming there way. "Next pitch, sinker. . . fastball. . . curve ball, etc. I remember turning to Larry as we watched the game how much I was enjoying the Astros hitting the hell out of the ball. Now I find out they were cheaters. Yuk!

Add Mike Fiers to that Yuk! list of cheaters. So, he finally found a conscience? Two years after he got a ring and a check. A little early for sarcasm, but the keyboard couldn't help it. I'm wondering why Fiers didn't go to baseball commissioner as an anonymous whistle-blower during the World Series? For that matter, why didn't he stand up to his teammates and coaches and say, "Hey fellows we can't do this. Either we win fair and square or we don't win at all." That would have taken a lot of courage.
His outing of his team two years later doesn't seem to meet the definition of courage as well. I'm also wondering why he didn't go to the MBL commissioner now, instead of going to the newspaper. Granted, he probably believed the Commish would try to cover it up, that's sort of what happens in bureaucratic hierarchies. But, at least, he could have said he tried to go through the chain of command, not that I've ever been greatly impressed with such chains, mostly "weak links." With the notable exclusion of Adam Sliver of the NBA.

I'm sure Fiers feels he's been high-minded exposing the Astros. Better he did, then he didn't; otherwise, the Astros would have probably gotten away with the scam. But something about Fiers' motives doesn't pass my smell test. So, I remain skeptical. However, Fiers can change my skepticism to admiration by giving back his ring and donating his entire World Series check to charity.

On another subject, how about some consideration of Steve Kerr for NBA Coach-of-the-Year for the remarkable job he and his staff are doing with their young and virtually inexperienced Dubs. It's not about wins, but attitude. These young men are playing team ball with great effort and tons of enthusiasm. (and not to go unnoticed, in the process becoming better basketball players) The old cliche, ". . . it's how you play the game" has never been so well illustrated.

I'm down with the recent Kings' trade. With Ariza gone (and I love Ariza's game), the onus falls back on Harrison Barnes to be the best player he can be. If Bazemore can reclaim his Atlanta Hawks game, he can provide much need 3 point shooting from the wing. Tolliver, in my mind, is unique. There's not a team he's played for that hasn't valued his efforts. He is a pro. He'll give the Kings boards, defense and he's not a bad 3 pt shooter, and it doesn't matter how many minutes he gets. He's actually a better bench player than Ariza for the Kings. The Kings also received two down-the-road 2nd round draft choices, that is a little long range for the let's win now people, but always a smart move. Ariza will help the Blazers with his experience and D. I also think Gabriel has the potential to become a decent power forward. The Blazers need some strength on the boards. Now the Kings need to find a place to send Daedmon who wants out anyway. The Kings desperately have to find their starters and a solid rotation. And pray for no more injuries.


Baseball's Sad Lexicon    by Franklin P. Adams

These are the saddest of possible words:
      "Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs and fleeter than birds
        Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double -
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
         "Tinker to Evers to Chance."



Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Few Small Comments

I watched the Golden State Warriors play last night. The young Warriors played their hearts out. Couldn't sustain their effort and lost in overtime to a very multi-talented (and under performing) team. I don't know what the problem is with the Nuggets. I do know one thing, that may keep them from wining a championship: their center, Jokic, is  a big baby. He's a mountain of a man and super talented, with a soft touch and crafty moves, yet he lumbers around, snuffles, feels sorry for himself when player beat on him, whines to the ref (when Draymond smacked him) has to get mad to play great, but keeps pouting.

I feel the same way about Joel Embid of the 76ers with different tells. Lazy? Brittle, misses games, a pouter, on the court loses focus. Lacks consistent motor.

I wonder what would have become of Jokic and Embid had they had to endure the game-to-game beating that Wilt, Russell, Jabbar, and Nate 'The Great" had to take, and not one pout or whine from any of them over long careers of being physically attacked.

Am I wrong? Maybe I'm being too critical. But I swear if I'd played against Jokic, I'd have tested him with a well placed elbow. I can hear the outcry now: Oh, we don't do that sort of thing in the modern game.

Now, let's consider the Nugget's back up center, Mason Plumlee. What a shame Jokic doesn't have Plumlee's attitude: Ball's-out all game long; never quits; hits and takes hits; no excuses. Gotta love the guy. Can you imagine, if the young man possessed shooting skills? My wife calls him a "good-ol-boy."

Looks like the Nuggets were right bringing Michael Porter, their first round draft pick in 2018, along slowly. He's got game. Sweet touch.

Glad to see Jordan Poole starting to get some confidence shooting his three. It's a good looking shot, no reason it should not be swishing. Nuggets so crowded at every position, it's like a back up on the freeway. They're going to have to sort out a solid rotation before the can compete for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

It seems to me that from the start John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan were going to be a powerful duo. The same age group, same football mentality, similar personalities.

 Forty-Niners vs Kansas City for the Stupid Bowl.

Patrick Mahomes is footballs version of Steph Curry. Just plain fun watching these two intelligent, innovative, and daring athletes. I was thinking Bret Favre as a Mahomes-type predecessor, but Favre was an idiot savant, and Patrick looks like a pigskin PhD.

Comment on Life: When asked to read a section of the United States Constitution, Trump tried and got frustrated, saying it looked like a foreign language. I'll let you judge the man's mentality.

CLEAR PATH   by Tom Meschery

Life seemed pretty clear to me when I was young.
At 21 how going forward for me was the exigency
of playing basketball for a living. Like driving the freeway,
I never let up on the gas pedal. I never gave
much thought that at the end of the freeway
there might be an accident waiting for me.
That's why when the referee signals a clear path
violation, I think how I might have saved myself
from so much bullshit had there been a referee
to whistle the play dead, instead of allowing me
to continue the way I always did, with a kind of
fuck-it-all attitude, toward the hoop and the inevitable
collision in the air, and landing. Let me tell you,
it hurt like hell, And usually in my day
the referee never called a foul, let me lay
on the freeway like the wreak I was.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year

For old jocks such as myself, 2020 and still vertical is a blessing. Did I just say "a blessing." I must be going senile, or I've been too influenced by professional athletes being interviewed. "Blessing seems to be le mot juste in today's world of sports.

The Warriors winning 4 games in a row was a blessing. The 49ers not falling apart in Seattle was a blessing. Drew Brees is blessing his receivers with accurate passes. Do you think the Chargers ever wonder why they took Rivers and let Brees go? Count our blessings that the sport of soccer has a woman like Megan Rapinoe. LeBron is blessed to have Anthony Davis, ditto Kawhi, who has Paul George. If Davis goes down, so do the Lakers. If George is injured and out, Kawhi will realize how blessed he was to have teammates like he had in Toronto. Talk about a blessing, don't miss watching Ja Morant of the Grizzlies play. We're talking Globetrotters potential and a little of Earl the Pearl Okay, maybe I'm over-blessing, but the kid has beaucoup talent. With a name like Ja, how can he miss?

On a less repetitive note:

I see the Saints winning the Super Bowl.

I still see the Bucks winning the NBA, but I'm really worried that they run too much through Antetekumpo. Defenses have caught wise to his spin move, no matter how fast he performs it. I wish I could trust Embid and the 76ers more, but I don't. Joel looks a little too much like a pouter to me.

Will the mystery of Kyrie Irving be solved in 2020?

California is allowing athletes to be paid for the use of their "brands." That word irritates me almost as much as "blessing." The Republic of California is always ahead of the curve. Go on Gavin!

Tiger wins the Masters. Hoowah! He should have slipped on the Green jacket and announced his retirement. Why do great players hang on, and on. Just for a little more glory? Reminds me of an old locker-room story: A 16 year vet of the NBA, sitting at his locker before the game says to his knees, "Knees, this is the last game I'll ever ask you to play." After the game is over, the same player walks into the locker, dripping sweat, sits down and says to his knees, "Knees, I was just kidding, the next game is the last I'll ever ask you to play."

My biggest gripe in football and basketball in 2019 and still is the length of time it takes to review plays. Some were so obvious, I couldn't figure why it/they needed review in the first place. Could it possibly be that the league can sell a few more commercials during the time the ref is glued to the computer? Am I getting that cynical?

G Leagues in the NBA need to open their arms to great high school stars. They don't want to go to college anyway. Let's get real about amateurism.

My wife insists that I bless the Oregon Ducks before today's Rose Bowl. I'm picking them to win, but is this a subjective decision, one might ask. You decide.

I don't see how the LSU Tigers can lose. NFL ready quarterback. Speaking of quarterbacks, Mahones of the Chiefs continues to be the "funnest" QB to watch in the NFL.

Best tight end move in 2019: Goerge Kittle of the 49ers carrying the entire Saints defense struggling defenders on his back for another ten yards after the catch.

On my Blogs' Life category, let me explain to Republicans: ex teammates, opponents, fellow sports travelers that voted for Trump and continue to support him, gentlemen, my antipathy for Trump has nothing to do with economics or his geo political positions, even though I don't agree with him, it's about Trump as a human being. Here's what I mean. Donald Trump is a bully, a liar, homophobe, a narcissist, a grouper of women, a braggart, a tax evader (unless he reveals his taxes, that's what he is.), I stop to take a breath and continue: Donald Trump is a person who thinks it's ok to vilify parents whose military son died for our country, Trump believes it is funny to mimic the speech of a man with cerebral palsy and hilarious pretending a female orgasm to embarrass a woman who criticized him. And this person is our President? And this person is someone I should hold up to my grandchildren as a man to emulate, to be proud of? You have got to be kidding. The character of a president really does matter.

Bless the NBA for hiring more women referees, and they look to be doing a fine job. More blessing coming to NBA teams for hiring female assistant coaches. Prediction: Becky Hammon will be the first female head coach in the NBA. She was a heads up player; she'll be a heads up coach. I wonder which team will be smart enough to hire her.

Lots of blessings go out to Saint Mary's Galloping Gaels basketball team. Randy has them on track once again to win the conference. Yes, they'll beat the Zags.

More blessing go out to my Warriors. They battle every night. And they are about being winners, not dumpers. Lottery picks be damned.

A guilty admission: Understanding the violence inherent in football, I still enjoy watching the game.

New Years Resolution: I will do my best not to put down soccer's off-side rule.

Second New Years Resolution: I will stop calling men's window pane jackets horse blankets or in                                                           some cases, pimp suits.

My wife says, "Stop, stop, no one will read six pages." I always do as she says. See you all on the next MESCHERY'S MUSINGS, ETC.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.



Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pay for Student Athletes

Is paying college athletes for their "brand" a tsunami in a tea kettle?

The controversy surrounding paying student athletes applies only to two sports: Basketball and Football. All other college sports do not generate anywhere near the kind of income that the Big Two do.

To begin let's clarify: Is it possible that the term Student/Athlete is an oxymoron? I'm not being snarky. I do not know the stats, but I'd be willing to bet that the basketball and football players who could sell their "brand" while attending college are not those who normally graduate from college, but leave early to join the pros where they can earn big bucks. As for other sports "stars" I give a nod to an Olympic athlete who returns to college. He or she may or may not have a "brand" that a sponsor might be willing to take on.

Going forward, I'm going to assume my premise is correct, in which case I see no reason to pay college atheltes unless the individual "star athletes" are willing to share their [in college] income with the rest of their fellow teammates. Rationale: "stars' do not shine brighter than the rest of the lesser stars in their constellation.

The alternative in my opinion is that the college splits the the entire basketball and football per year income 50/50 with all student athletes, each student athlete getting a check of equal amount. Rationale: A gymnast works just as hard to bring glory to the university as a basketball player.

I lean to the 50/50 option because it seems more equitable, covering all sports.

It is worth remembering that all scholarship athletes get full tuition room and board for their efforts on their sporting team. The last time I looked four yearsat a state school costs around $112 thousand. At a private college the costs for four years tuition, room and board comes to approximately $200 grand.

In return for a four-year free college education, an athlete is asked to be both a student and an athlete - a tough job no doubt. I've done it. It requires giving up a lot, usually personal entertainments, although I'm not sure I gave up too many dates or parties during my time being a student/athlete.

I guess I don't get what all the hoopla is about. Baseball figured it out a long time ago. The pros established a minor league. "Stars" in high school did not go to college (often) but went directly into MBL's system and worked their way up. It's time the NFL and the NBA provide the same kind of program for high school "stars" - minor leagues (NBA has a head start with the G League) so they don't have to do the "hypocrisy" few couple of years in college thing. Start doing what they are born to do from the beginning. If they're really interested in sociology 101, they can can always go to college later in life and pay their way. Harsh? You might want to ask a few random students on campus.

Net result college football and basketball will have to continue without the "stars" I'm not sure the games will suffer much. Most alums will continue to attend. There would have to be cost cutting,so the "minor" sports would not suffer, but it's all doable with a little less greed.

It's time sports in America went European anyway. From the get-go, the Europeans don't mix sports and education. Sports belong in sports clubs; education belongs in schools. What a concept!

Remember this; we all did it when we were really amateurs.

Playing The Game     by Barbara Goldowwsky

You stick out our fist: stone
breaks my two fingers playing scissors.

You offer your hand, open.
I shred the palm: it's paper.

Have you no heart? you ask.
But I am stone.

Yor hand is still paper,
you wrap me up:
closer than blades,
harder than hearts. 
  


Monday, November 11, 2019

Refueling

Like the Phoenix, the Dubs will rise again. They simply need to stop and refuel the engine. I was not at all sure they were doing this before the season and into the first week. But as the injuries mounted: Curry down, then Drayond, and DeAngelo out for a stretch, the refueling option suddenly becomes a (whether the powers that be understood completely or not) a strategy worth considering: The Warriors could - and it looks like they will  and should - field a team of entirely newbees and newcomers.

As a strategy I'm all in. Let the remaining players - less the stars - sort out which of them are worthy of calling themselves Warriors. So far, it seems to be working. Call these  Warriors: Newcomer Warriors, Team Hustle, Team D, Team Smart (well not always), Team Coachable. Their effort culminated in an upset over a strong Portland Trailblazer team. The entire team played well. Grit, determination (and surprisingly to me not to them better skill sets). They were not going to be denied. I loved watching the game. Rooting for the Dubs as underdogs was an entirely new and enjoyable experience. And sort of humbling.

Since that Blazer game, not as much success, but it doesn't detract from the strategy and the need to analyze potential.

Any enlightenment so far? 1) All of the newbees have shown they are willing to play Defense. All of them need to play defense more consistently. 2) Eric Paschall appears to have the skills to be a Stretch Four or even a Stretch Three. He can elevate on his jumper, has a quick release, excellent form, the ball rotates beautifully, and he's not afraid to shoot. He is also able to put his head down and go to the bucket. We'll see about Paschall after his rep gets around and teams start focusing on him. 3) Jordan Poole has a chance to become a solid Two Guard. Again, great form, no fear, terrific rotation on the ball, and a shooters' mentality. Got to work on his D, but I see willingness. Both of these draft choices are another feather in GM Bob Myer's quiet extraordinary hat. 4) Spellman seems to be gaining confidence and losing weight. A big who can shoot from deep. Think Mareese Speights. 5) Cauley Stein has to board better and shot block better. If he does, he could be an answer or at least one answer. 6) Bowman, a surprise point guard. Goes to the basket, appears to be fearless. I worry about his height. Maybe Lee is the better of the two coming off the bench? 6) Alec Burke may be an important reserve on a strong Dubs team next year. Think Livingston . 7) Marquisee Chriss? With a body like that and jumping ability, why not? But maybe a couple of other teams he's been on have wondered the same thing. I'll give the kid the benefit of the doubt. He's worth cultivating.

Enough, already. Let's move on to a few quick comments about other NBA teams.

The Celts losing Kyrie and gaining Kemba is a positive for the Shamrocks. If they had kept Horford, I'd have given them a chance to win the East. Kemba is a whole lot more understated and willing to spread the offense around than Kyrie was. Horford might be one of the best Pros power forwards of the 21st century NBA - under the radar somewhat. .

The Miami Heat should not be overlooked. Butler seems happy and relaxed. (For once) Adebayo is coming into his own. So is Justise Winslow. Myeer Leonard, the big  7" 2" shooting guard from Portland is proving to be pretty capable as a shooting center..  Goran Drajic is an under- the-radar point/shooting guard (Think Michael Connelly). Coach Spoelstra has not lost his smarts just because Lebron is gone. The kid Tyler Herro is a hero. In an Eastern Conference that is top heavy, they could reach deep into the playoffs.

Bucks. Now that the Lopez twins are together, Bucks all the way. I may be kidding. You decide.

In the West, I'm beginning to like Dallas more and more, and Houston less and less. With all their players back healthy (Bagley primarily) and a little seasoning, after new year, the Kings could surprise the pundits. With Connelly at the helm, I like Utah, but doesn't Rudy have to be tougher? He's shot blocker, but does not instill fear.

If I were a Republican Senator, I'd demand to be traded from the Trump Team. Total loser.

I'm not much of a boxing fan, but I am old enough to remember watching the icons: Sugar Ray; Marciano, Patterson, the other Sugar Ray, Ali, etc. 21 century boxers? Ho humm. Here's a poem for them:

The World's Worst Boxer

Apis! the men you boxed with, grateful that you 
never hit one of them, erect this statue.

                            Lucilus
                            translated by Humbert Wolfe