meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2014

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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Few Year's End Comments Not in Any Order of Importance

Let's call it the way it is: Forty-Niners FIRE Jim Harbaugh. Now, where are they going to find a better coach? Dell Rio? Really???How about Rex Ryan??? Just kidding!!

There are some brilliant owners and GM's in professional sports, and there are some owners who need to enroll in developmentally disabled classes.

To which of the two categories will Pete D'Allesandro and Vivek Ranadive of the Sacramento Kings be consigned at the end of the day? Baring a miracle, firing Malone guaranteed the Kings will have a losing season. It's already started for those of you who didn't watch the Kings stink it up in Boston, Cousin's throwing a fit, in the midst of a general lack of defense, offense, assists, and rebounds.

Will the King's new coach be George Karl? If it's run and gun, management wants, he's their man. It sure ain't going to be Tyrone Corbin. Poor fellow. He's been set up to lose. In his heart, he's a defense first kind of coach, having come out of  Jerry Sloan's half-court, pick and roll system, now being asked to coach against his best instincts.It's a little like people who vote against their best self interest, just because they don't like the candidate.

Great to see Patty Mills back and playing like he was never out. Two Saint Mary's players in the NBA, doing well. Is Randy Bennett a fabulous coach, or what??? By the way, how many people out there believe Pop has a strategy in mind to get him to the playoffs with all his players rested and healthy?

Speaking of Saint Mary's. Brad Waldo, the Gaels' terrific low post center needs to develop some jump shooting skills. If he does, he might have a chance of joining his ex teammates in the NBA as a power forward.

I find the NFL video ads against domestic violence amazingly hypocritical given their complete lack of interest in the past. But let's be honest, how much effort is our national, state, and local law enforcement agencies putting forth to combat domestic violence?

Something to consider in 2015. Will the Cleavland Cavalier experiment work? Miami started their experiment with Dwayne Wade, a super star adult vet, totally involved and leading the charge. Kyrie may have some super star creds like Wade, but he's hardly an adult. And Love still can't play D. Coach Blatt might want to start looking for a job in Europe.

Can't feel sorry for Rex Ryan after how he _  _ _ _ ed up Mark Sanchez' career.

Can Jason Kidd actually be a good coach?

Does Stephen Curry have the quickest release in NBA history? 

I predict the Rocket's acquisition of Josh Smith will hurt rather than help the team.

Up the road from Houston, the Mavricks' trading for Rondo places them squarely in the mix for Western Division champs. Welcome back Tyson Chandler.

The two opponents in the NBA Finals will be, ta da! ta da! The Golden State Warriors vs the Chicago Bulls.

NBA Champions: ________________________

When do you think pro athletes will stop pounding their chests and screaming after they make good plays, like every single time? Come on, man. Next thing you know they'll be pounding their chests during warm-ups.  I"m ;sick of this kind of churlish, "Look at me, look at me" behavior. When did basketball players and football players stop being classy? One might ask, were they ever? Yes, I believe they were.

Sorry, I'm not talking about all of you, it's just that there seem to be so many dimwits.

The two most overused excuses for loses in the NBA are: 1) We didn't bring any energy 2) We couldn't get our rhythm. What does rhythm have to do with it. You play your butt off, or you don't.

Trash talk needs to go in the trash. All coaches: it's on you.

Jack Ramsey passed this year. His Portland Trailblazers were the most efficient NBA Champs I ever saw. Bill Walton was the best NBA center ever with an asterisk: for one and a half years. 

James Hardin should be called for walking 50% of the time he drives to the basket. No problem in the Euro-League where two steps are allowed.

Will Joe Johnson ever play defense? Will Jason Thompson ever stop pushing defenders in the back, then acting like he didn't? Will Carmelo ever adjust to the triangle? Will Deron Williams ever get his mojo back. He was at his best with Jerry Sloan, the coach he helped fire. Don't you love it when the universe works a little pay-back.Will Demarcus Cousins ever grow up? Will Brook Lopez ever have an injury free season?
Will Eric Gordon ever have an injury free season? Will Seattle ever get its Sonics back? Will LA ever have an NFL team again? Will NBA refs ever get moving screen calls consistently right? In a Pick and Roll, the center rolling to the basket is NOT a moving screen. Will Chris Webber ever stop looking like a used car salesman? Will the NBA ever take Stan Van Gundy's ideas seriously? Will the NFL ever give its TV viewers a little advertising relief? Will professional sports ever lower their tickets prices?

If a family of four wants to go to an NBA game and sit in a decent viewing seat, it will cost said family approx. $100.00 per ticket; $20 to 25 bucks for parking; Five bucks for bad popcorn times at least two members of said family; tasteless hotdogs, soft drinks or beers. Total? You figure it out. No one ever thought the housing market bubble would ever burst. Owners better pay attention.

Let's hear it for owners, like Jerry Jones, who built their arena on their own dime, and not use city tax dollars, like Joe Lacob of the Warriors is planning to do in San Francisco. As an old San Francisco Warrior I can't wait to get to our roots. The question is will the Warriors reclaim their old name? Nothing wrong with Golden State, but the city of Saint Francis is where it's at.  

Question: Now that New Orleans has renamed their team the Pelicans, why doesn't the Utah team drop the Jazz (Salt Lake = jazz, Come on man!) and rename their team more appropriately The Locusts?

I have never been a Tony Romo fan, probably because I've never been a Cowboys fan, not since the days they began calling themselves, America's Team. Gag me! And it sure has seemed over the years that Romo was cursed. Well, this year, hat's off to Tony, one tough hombre. The "Boys" have a chance to win it all.

The Raiders have three solid rookies: Kahil Mack, Latavius Murray and Derek Carr. Now all they need is John Madden.

My wife's a Duck so, I'm pulling for the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl and the NCAA Championship. The NFL team that drafts Mariotta will be getting an adult, unlike the childish Manziel. Has Johnny Football got a pea brain, or what?

Speaking of pea brains, how about Jameis Winston?  How classy was it to jump up on a table in the university commons and yell what he yelled? Got a lot of respect for women? Wonder what his mom thought of her son?

Everyone is talking about duos of point guards in the NBA, but let's be clear, centers win championships: Chicago with Noah and Washington with Gortat in the East; Gasul, Chandler, Bogut, DeAndre Jordan, and Duncan in the West. I'd love to put Robin Lopez with the Blazers in the mix, but the Blazers have no bench, so why bother?

Commenting on college sports becoming more and more like the pros, the Big 12 commish, Bob Bowlsby, stated, "I don't think this is a profession, I think it's a function of higher education." Bob, baby, did you really say that? Football is a form of higher education? Like quantum mechanics?

Light bulb goes on. Okay, if football is a form of higher education, why not create a degree based on football. Lots of great football literature around for the players who are literate. How about classes in Football statistics and NCAA business strategies. The psychology of football would be an interesting class.
I can think of a bunch more. Use your imagination, Bob.

It is time for the 49ers to stop showing scenes of San Francisco (cable cars, Golden Gate Bridge, ocean beach, Fisherman's Wharf, etc.) during broadcasts of their games and begin showing scenes of San Jose and Santa Clara. That is the honest thing to do. The San Jose metropolitan area sprung with their tax money to build you a fabulous state of the art arena, you owe it to them to advertise the beauty of their city and environs.

Watching recent shots of an angry Steve Kerr getting a technical (he leads the league for coaches) and I'm thinking, my God, he does the same thing with his face as Coach K, you know, that sort of wolverine look. That can't be a bad thing, if Coach K does it.Right?

If the NCAA is serious about promoting education, it should set aside a significant amount of its TV money at the end of every year to distribute to Division I universities and colleges whose male football and basketball players earn a degree.

Happy New Year.

Not a sport really, but got to love this poem about the game of Chinese Checkers

Chinese Checkers  buy Arleen Cohen

The dragons
tell me how to move,
like a grasshopper across
the multi-colored field
springing from hole to hole
outmaneuvering the beetles.

I see the sacred star
and one by one
I deposit my eggs
until it is
filled and full.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I've noticed in the last couple of years that teams are going a long way towards honoring their team's history. Lots of attention being paid to their legendary players.

Therein lies a cautionary tale for the Sacramento Kings who yesterday fired their coach, Mike Malone giving as their principal reason a difference in basketball philosophies. General Manager, Pete D'Alessandro believes in an offensive/speed ball game while Coach Malone  embraces a defense first view.

In this morning's sports news, GM D'Allesandro stated he wanted the Kings to be more like the great King teams coached by Rick Adelman or the new look Warriors, or the San Antonio Spurs of the past couple of years. The NBA game today, he claims, is a fast paced one. He's probably right, but the Memphis Grizzlies might have something to say about that. Anyway, he's not wrong. The teams that run and move the ball unselfishly are the teams that win.

So what's the cautionary tale? Mr. D'Alessandro, in the process of remaking the Kings, must not forget how important lock-down defense was to those successful running teams, he wants to emulate. Yes, they run, but they don't allow their opponents easy looks at the basket either. And, when it comes to playoff time, it is the team's defense and rebounding that make the difference between a champion and an also ran.(pardon the pun). Running teams can only go so far into the playoffs before they succumb to a defensive mindset. Mr. D'Alessandro should k now, coming from Denver and George Karl's futile attempts to take the Nuggets beyond the first round.

There was nothing wrong with the Nuggets. They won way more than they lost, and I have a great respect for George against whom I coached during my short stint in the CBA years ago and whose brave struggle against and victory over cancer did him proud, But when it came to NBA championships, it was Miami Heat's suffocating pressure D that won for them. Same goes for the Spurs last year. Their D was the key, not their O. When Dallas won the NBA championship, it was Tyson Chandler's control of the paint that was the deciding factor. And since we're talking about NBA history and Legends these days, let's not forget, in the middle of this debate between Defense-minded coaches and Offense-minded coaches, a historic model, the great Boston Celtic teams of Bill Russell and John Havlick coached by the legendary Red Auerbach.

I submit that Red had it right from the start. He allowed his teams an enormous amount of freedom to run (which was a given with Russell's rebounding and outlet passes) and take quick shots. As someone who played against those Celtic teams as a Warrior, I can testify how often they were on the run. However, and the HOWEVER is a big one, for that offensive freedom Red extracted his pound of flesh. He demanded that his team play tough DEFENSE, simply stated: no easy baskets and no second shots.

So, as the Kings transition to an Offensive style of play, whoever they hire as coach should not forget that history has provided clear evidence that Championships are won on the defensive side of the court. Pure run and gun coaches, like Karl and Nelson have never won The Big One.

As this transition takes shape, I wonder how many players from this Kings team will remain? Mr. D'Alessandro and his staff surely realize that Rudy Gay comes out of the Memphis tradition, which emphasizes a half court game. Jason Thompson is not a run type player, neither are Landry, Evans, Hollins, and Cousins. Perhaps Cousins can run, but so far all I've seen him do is jog. No doubt he is a force in the paint, a little like Shaq. Using Shaq as the model, perhaps there is some hope for him as a trailer or if the break doesn't materialize, as the main "go to option" for the team's half court offense.

So, Kings' fans, let's see what the Ranadive/Pete D'Alessandro era will produce.

Here's a poem about a sport far removed from the world of money sports.

After A  Game of Squash   by Sam Albert

And I thought of how impossibly alone we were,
up in the room where the lockers are and the showers,
he with wiping the sweat from his face and head,
and I loosening the laces from my sneakers.

We had just finished this long game of squash.
Then, we were much closer, smashing the same ball,
lurching forward, out-maneuvering each other
hard down the sidelines, death to the opponent.

It was a battle, the killer's eye in the middle
of the round black ball, two men struggling
to find each other out, what made each one's mind work
and with what heart each fell to the long odds.

And when the game was over we thanked each other generously,
complimented one the other on his skill, his finesse.
And I though of how impossibly alone we were,
up in the room where the  lockers are and the showers. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Start of the NBA Season

I've held off talking about the NBA season in order to view a few games first before shooting off my mouth. I've seen enough, so on this Thanksgiving morning, as my wife is baking downstairs, a few things about the season come to mind.

I take back what I said about the league being more equal. It's not. There seems to be a growing divide between strong and weak teams. Some of the weaknesses come due to injuries like the Thunder's loss of Westbrook and Durant. Will they be better once they return? Certainly, but it will take some time for them to return to form, so I don't see them making a serious run at a Conference.

The same case can be made for other teams with star players rehabing or trying to make comebacks from serious injuries: D Rose from the Bull, for example.

Any road (that means anyway in Northern England) missing star players is not the principal reason in my mind that the NBA looks to be top heavy, with a few very strong teams and a great number of mediocre ones. I'll not mention the lousy ones as they are easily identifiable and not worth discussing.

So lets look at mediocrity. I have a theory about what's caused this mediocrity in the NBA this season. Here's the way I see it. A) If a team's starting five include players that would and should be bench players, that team has a problem that will lead to  mediocrity. Example: New York Knicks.
B) If a team's starting five includes a player or players that are not on their way up or at the top of their careers, but are on their way down, that team has a problem leading to mediocrity; The NY Nets for example.

Some NBA teams, unfortunately, are experiencing both problems A and B, a recipe for disaster.

And finally, C) if a team's bench includes players that are not talented enough to be bench players, that team will be suffer problems: Portland Blazers and the LA Clippers for example.

Let's take a quick look at the teams I mentioned.

Knicks: Dalembert is not a top tier center. Prigioni is not a starting 1 or 2 guard. JR Smith and Stodemire are on their way down, their best years gone. Acy and Aldrich??

Nets: Garnett is very on his way down. D Williams, I'm afraid, has lost it and is on his way down. He'd be a good player off the bench, but might gain too much weight in that capacity. Teletovic and Bogdonavic, although good players, are not starter material.

Clippers: The Clips are carrying a  bunch of players who're over the hill, trying to squeeze something out of their experience. Turkoglu and Davis, for example. Hawes is getting way to much playing time for a guy who is a backup center, and I know people will disagree, but I believe Crawford is on his way down.

The Blazers: So they upset the Rockets last year. They did it with a fabulous starting five, who couldn't sustain the intensity the rest of the way and won't be able to keep up the intensity this season either. Blake is definitely seen his better playing days. Kaman is over the hill and Freeland should be playing in Europe. Crabbe and Thomas are very average.

Granted that I'm a little prejudice, being that the Golden State Warriors is the team I played for, but the Warrior roster does not suffer from these problems, A, B, or C.  Barnes, Lee, Bogut, Curry, and Thompson are starters that could be and would be starters on any team in the league; The Flash Brothers are young and on their way UP. Lee is a vet  at the peak of his game, and Bogut is reborn after a long period of health issues, at the peak of his game. Green, Igodala (although one could argue that Igudala's best years are behind him), Spieghts, Barbossa, and Livingston (the comeback kid) are solid players off the bench. Ezili is on his way UP. So is the rookie Holiday on his way UP. The same could be said of Rush, trying to get back to the player he was two years ago, Up or Out? Kumic?

Check out my theory against the rosters of your favorite teams and see where it takes you. Be objective. Compare the starters and bench of the most successful teams, Compare players. There are more mediocre players in the League than there sould be, and too many good players whose best playing days are behind them in starter roles.

Since this is Thanksgiving, I'll skip the poem and simply count my blessings that I got to play in the NBA for ten years with and against some of the finest men I've ever met.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Start of the NBA Season.

I have nothing against baseball. I was thrilled to see the Giants win the World Series.   And it was enjoyable because the tension of the World Series overrides the intrinsic boredom of the game: pitch/strike/pitch/ball/pitch/popup/flyball.

I have nothing against football. It's a game uniquely suited to TV, and so am I, except of course that uniquely means it's perfect for advertising. What was the recent stat about actual minutes of viewing the game? 26% of the total TV time? I can't begin to tell you how annoying such a plethora of advertising is. Anyroad, (That's anyway in Scottish) I'm picking the Green Bay Packers vs Denver Broncos for the Stupid Bowl. Will Cheetos out slug Budweiser?

So, thank God, basketball season has arrived. And for me, that means the NBA. I'm excited because my Golden State Warriors look to be healthy and ready to surprise the league.

About the Warriors, Before the season started, I was able to watch one of their practices. Bogut is slim and ready to compete. Festus Ezili is back, still a little raw but looks to be the strong backup needed to spell Bogut. He'll get better as the season progresses. The Splash brothers will do what the do best, score. Klay will defend, so will Igudala. Harrison Barnes will have an improved season, starting now instead of Igudala - a smart move by a smart young coach. Green is "a ton of heart" kind of player every team needs. Two fabulous additions make the Warriors much stronger this year: Shaun Livingston, a solid backup pt guard and strong defender and Barbossa, the Brazilian Flash, as back-up for Thompson. The Flash can defend and score and he'll get easy baskets with break out speed. And finally there's Mister Consistency, David Lee, at the power forward whose performance will determine the difference between close games and blowouts.

As the cliche goes, all the pieces are in place and the first three games of the 14/15 NBA season is proving me right. 3-0, not a bad start. Is Klay Thompson worth the $70 mil? You bet. However, it will be fascinating to see how the Warriors handle the cap after next season. But that's decades from now, so why worry?

Here are my predictions and a few comments. Predictions depend on the teams' crucial players remaining injury free. For example, Bogut and the flash brothers must remain healthy for the team to reach the finals. Rose has to stay healthy for once for the Bulls and Kyre Irving of the Cavs must be injury free all year.

Warriors vs San Antonio for the Western Conference.

Cavalier vs Chicago Bulls for the Eastern Conference.

My surprise teams are the Kings and Dalles (with Tyson Chandler back in the post and Parsons, a great pickup from Houston) in the west. Since I live in Sacramento, I root for the Kings unless they're playing the Warriors. In the past I've disparaged DeMarcus Cousins, but for two out of the first three games, he's been playing under control, trying to be an All-Star. Good for him, if he can pull it off, since there's no question he's a force. The addition of Darren Collison will make a huge difference in stability - already proving true. And Rudy Gay is playing like the Rudy Gay of his Memphis years, although he continues to be a bit of a "ball stopper."

No surprises in the East unless you count Brooklyn and that will depend on Lopez staying healthy, an iffy proposition. I do believe Milwaukee will put up a much better showing than expected. Some folks are talking Charlotte, but in my opinion they hurt themselves by signing a headcase like Lance Stevenson. All in all, the East looks weak.

The emotions the following poem by Phillip Raisor evokes are wonderfully surreal about all sports. Sports lovers should get his book of poems entitled Headhunting and Other Poems about Sports from Turning Point Press.

The Photo-Finish Archive

The Tie

A cortisone injection after a blind-side hit
A blonde flashing the benched tight-end
A camera malfunctioning at the finish line
A free fall out of a sputtering stunt plane
A  knock-down with eight seconds left

The Defeat

When a voice is like a Malaysian caning
When your stomach is industrial waste
When numbness is your favorite color
When your mind is the scene of an accident
When remembering is today's exercise

The Victory

All at once you can speak five languages
All at once Mary Magdalene is at your feet
All at once you have sympathy for roadkill
All at once you own the secret of alchemy
All at once you are the Big Bang all at once. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why the shock?

It's time to take a step back from the recent problems facing sports and look at our society in general: Americans use drugs of all kinds. Americans drink, many to access, some to maintain, others minimally to socialize. A surprisingly high percentage of American men -  mostly whites, blacks, and Latinos - physically abuse their women, not to mention verbally abuse them. Many Americans are still racially prejudice.

So why are we shocked when our sports stars succumb to the same failures as the general population of the country?

Because they, like movie stars, are our nation's heroes? Is that a good enough reason?

Professional sports teams have a responsibility to clean up their organizations, (No tolerance? You bet!) but so do NBC, Exxon, Walmart, the neighborhood plumbing company, high schools, colleges, YMCA's, grocery store chains, the military, the United States Congress, and all churches.

The egregious acts of abuse and prejudice of some of our pro athletes, administrators, and owners only point to a national ethical and moral failure. We better get with it, folks. This is a wake-up call.
We can't sleep through another generation of children. With the very first breath of air, children should learn:

Men do NOT physically ABUSE women.
                                                             Drugs and booze are CRAP.
                                                                                                           Racial prejudice is EVIL.

How sad writing this blog left me. Sportsmen should be better than this, a cut above. There in lies the rub. We're not. Charles Barkley had it right when he said (I'm paraphrasing), he didn't ask to be any one's moral compass. So that just leaves the sport, the act of playing, how we athletes are purified by the noble acts of our bodies.

It doesn't get more pure than running. Here's a poem about the simple physical pleasure of a boy running the bases.

            By Richard Wilbur

1. 1933
(North Caldwell, New Jersey)

What were we playing? Was it prisoner's base?
I ran with whacking keds
Down the cart-road past Rickard's place,
And where it dropped beside the tractor-sheds

Leapt out into the air above a blurred
Terrain, through jolted light,
Took two hard lopes and at the third
Spanked off a hummock-side exactly right,

And made the turn, and with delighted strain
Sprinted across the  flat
By the bull-pen, and up the lane.
Thinking of happiness, I think of that.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Prejudice Deep in the Soul

The first  published comment attributed to Danny Ferry seemed to me a tasteless and mean-spirited attack against  Luol Deng. But, today, I read Ferry's entire comment describing Deng as someone who "has a little African in him (sic) "He's like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back."

As an NBA player (retired) who traveled extensively in North and West Africa and made tons of wonderful African friends, I was horrified. This was no longer a slam against Deng the person, but against Deng, the African and, by not so subtle implication, all Africans and all descendants of people from Africa.

I do not pretend to be an expert on the subject of racial prejudice, but my experience over my adult years leads me to believe that once one is prejudice against a race, it is damn hard to nearly impossible to rid oneself of the prejudice (This may or may not be true of all types of prejudice against religions, women, gays). Certainly, Ferry's prejudice will not disappear after a couple of months of "personal healing" as  Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koomin suggests.

Not only is Danny Ferry's prejudice disgusting, it is also steeped in ignorance of Africa and the African people The continent of Africa is divided into many countries that are made up of many races. Of the races that are Negroid, there are hundreds of different tribes exhibiting hugely different cultural and social constructs. I am sure there are a great number of psychological factors that create a racially prejudiced person, but Ferry's ignorance of Africa is proof that stupidity is one of those factors.

I wonder how all my African-American friends and fellow NBA players feel about Ferry's comment, for surely they all have "a little bit of  African in them." Just as all my Irish-American friends have a little bit of Irish in them, and being a Russian-American, I have a little bit of Russians (not to mention Tatar) in me.

Danny, you need to take a couple of years off, not a couple of months off, and go live in Africa among people whose live are no less worthy than your own.

I know one thing for certain, if I was a black player for the Atlanta Hawks I would not trust Danny Ferry or any person he hired. And based on CEO Koonin's slap on the wrist discipline of Ferry (long process of healing, my buttinski) I would not trust him either.

Bottom line: there is no room for prejudice in the NBA.

Speaking of Africa, here's a poem from my recent collection: Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports. 

In the Summer of  1963, 64, and 65 working for the United States Information Agency, I traveled to a  number of West African Countries to coach their basketball teams. I returned in the fall and winter of 1983.

Liberia, 1963

For Enid Buchanan

I remember thinking back that this was  country 
of hot dog stands and transistor radios playing 
rock and roll, and that the palm trees must have been
imported from Los Angeles, and the tin roofs
were like umbrellas over a beach of slums,
with open sewers, and the streetlights in Monrovia 
worked only if the spirit moved them and evil spirits
were at work to make the poor poorer and the rich richer

But, what the hell, I was young and in love 
in this land of poverty with one of the rich girls,
with a beautiful set-shot, who played on the Women's 
National Basketball Team. Her house was like the one
in the movie Mogambo, white pillars, wrap-around
veranda. Her father was the Secretary of the Treasury.
Much later, back in the States, already retired
from the NBA, I read that her father  had been shot
along with others by Sergeant Doe and his gang.
I refused to believe she too had been shot,
so I told myself that she'd escaped and was living
in Switzerland on the money her father had embezzled
from his poor country and that she was still beautiful.

Monday, September 1, 2014

To Arms!

NFL wives and girlfriends, arm yourselves! Although it goes against my Liberal beliefs about gun control, it seems clear to me you are all in grave danger. And with the amount of testosterone roiling in the bodies of your men folks, the danger seems to be increasing not diminishing. A 22 caliber pistol or revolver should suffice and fit nicely in your purses along with a card with a divorce lawyer's phone number on it. California divorce law calls for a 50/50 split of all assets. Considering the enormous salaries of pro athletes I'm reading about, taking half, after being abused and beaten doesn't sound like nearly enough. As for the guns, lets hope you don't have to use them, but given the difference in size, weight, speed, and general badassness of NFL players. I don't see a jury seeing it as anything but self defense. To avoid the possible use of firearms, you should warn hubbys or boyfriends ahead of time that you're packing. And make sure you get a license to carry.

Good luck.

Board games are not sports, but they do employ strategies in the same way as sports. Here's a poem about Checkers that has a nice feminine touch to it.

Chinese Checkers    by  Arleen Cohen

The dragons
tell me how to move,
like a grasshopper across
the multi colored field
springing from hole to hole
outmaneuvering the beetles.

I see the sacred star 
and one by one
I deposit my eggs
until it is filled and full.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Aldon Smith

The NFL slapped Aldon Smith's large wrists, suspending him for 9 games for offenses that would have put the average young man off the streets behind bars. Not that being incarcerated is always the best solution, but for our wealthy, pampered professional athletes, some time in an orange jumpsuit doing a little hard time is in fact, in my opinion, the best solution. Aldon Smith is 23 years old and enormously talented. His talent is not going to disappear between the start of the season to the time his suspension ends on Nov. 10th. The suspension does not ban him from the 49er's training facility; it allows him to attend team meetings. His teammates will be supportive. Why wouldn't they be, considering what Aldon can do for them on the field?

So, what has the NFL Commissioner's  suspension accomplished? Is he suspended without pay? I couldn't find that in the paper. I have to assume it's without pay. But even so, what does it matter to Aldon? Really? Check out the salary Smith is making and going to make given his skills. I hesitate to say future, because I believe Aldon Smith will NOT change his behavior, that this last episode is NOT the end of his stupidity, just as I don't believe the savage beating the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice inflicted on his wife will be the last time he'll be involved in domestic violence.

One might argue that proportionally the Knucklehead club of the NFL simply reflects percentage-wise the Knucklehead Club of the general population of males. If so, then what's the big deal? We'll let the analytics' guys figure out the math.What's real is that, aside from Hollywood stars, professional athletes are the most publicly visible citizens of our country, their actions noted and considered by young males who look up to them as models of behavior.

Some model Aldon Smith is. Yeah, let's have crazy parties with lots of guns and booze. Let's drive drunk. Let's bomb threat in airports. And let's get away with it with a slap on the wrist. 9 GAMES? GIVE ME A BREAK!

Since I'm down on football this morning, my closing poem will be about a game that's fun, pure fun. No gun totting knuckleheads involved.

The Yo-Yo King   by Syma Cheris Cohn

   When he showed up on the sidewalk in the old neighborhood, the children gathered around him At the top of an incline he stood, his black hair glistening, the lavender yo-you spinning. With pressed black pants and white shirt, he was willing to play  game. He could make a yo-you walk, sleep and rock the baby, than snap it back. He proposed contests. he gave glittering  yo-yos and singing strings a prizes.
   Was he sent by the company, all the way from the Orient?
   It coast 50 cents for a fairly good Duncan, shiny and black. the lavender model with rhinestones was $2.50. Nobody had that kind of money. Most of us bought the dull, red and black twenty-five-centers.   
   We tried to make our yo-yos do his tricks. We practiced. We bought new string, believing the secret was in the strings. We dreamed we could make our yo-yous dance.
   We waited for the king to return. After long intervals, new kings would appear. Never the same king. We put our yo-yos in a drawer. We played jacks. We played ball. We went to school. And slowly we forgot. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Don't Do It.

A while back, Coach Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs said of the Spurs' policy regarding player acquisition: we don't take head cases or problem children. Listen carefully Sacramento Kings as you consider trading for Josh Smith. You already have a problem child, a large brooding, frowning one, in Demarcus Cousins. He is indeed a great talent and worth the risk you took signing him to big bucks. But, if you're smart, you'll do your best to surround him with emotionally stable teammates. Josh Smith does not fit that definition, a high school kid drafted into the NBA, his prior coaches never schooled him, never matured him, never provided him with the guidance.

So many years into the league, I'm afraid Smith's game is not going to change. Can the Kings' coaches stop him from pumping up ill advised 3's? Can the Kings' coaching staff make him a consistent defender and shot blocker and rebounder. I'm not impressed with 7.5 career boards a game and 1.5 blocked shots a game. He pouts and in some games he disappears. Enough said. Listen to Pop. I know the Kings need more at the power forward position. I get it. But the Kings say you want to change the culture. Smith will not help the Sacramento Kings do that.

Once again, let me weigh in on the Warriors hopes for acquiring Kevin Love. Barnes and Lee and a first round draft choice make sense to me. But the Warriors will lose too much if they add Klay Thompson to the package. A franchise can't trade away a backcourt of Curry and Thompson that is the envy of the their opponents and their opponents' biggest headache.  Every team's first consideration and consternation when playing the Warrriors is how to deal with the SPLASH BROTHERS. If you add Love to that powerful duo, the headache becomes a migraine. Eliminate Thompson and add Love, and things just return to headache mode. I grant that Love will add a defensive rebounding component to the Warriors that would help, but with the absence of Thompson the team loses an important backcourt defender, and the way the league looks today, controlling backcourt penetration is essential.

I saw in this morning's sports news that Bill Russell fainted while on a speaking tour. Let's pray this is not serious and Bill will be back on his feet soon entertaining people with his wit and intelligence. Here's a poem I wrote for Bill from my recent collection of poems.

Bill Russell

Once, in a poem I call him an eagle
with a bread. I was young and the poem
held promise that the writer might improve.
I always liked the image. It asked
the reader to see Bill with slightly stooped
shoulders, long feathery arms and talons
hovering above the paint protecting it 
like his nest intruders entered at their peril.
His beard was dark as was he, a shadow
that darkened our attempts to score.

I am older. As is he. I saw him recently
on TV still an eagle, giving an interviews
and tried picturing him as something else
and couldn't. I found it comforting
to think I got him right so many years ago,
that now, so close to both our dying
I hoped for the Hindu afterlife, Russell
as a real eagle. Then,came a troubling
thought, given what happened on the court,
catching us by surprise, the way he did,
appearing our of nowhere to slap our shots
away, what would our reincarnation be?  


Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I'm going to Keep It Simple Stupid: The San Antonio Spurs' surgically precise dismemberment of the Miami Heat showed the rest of the NBA exactly how the modern pro game should be played. That even within the 24 second rule, there is no need to panic and go one on one, that there is plenty of time for the extra third or fourth pass.

The Spurs did a lot to bring back basketball fans, who have complained so often that they are tired of watching the selfish play of overpaid superstars bent on enhancing their egos. I do find such criticism a touch too harsh, but there's truth there the NBA and its teams need to take to heart. There's excitement and beauty and sportsmanship in a selfless game.

Even though the Spurs showed it could be done, I'm still lobbying for increasing the 24 second time limit to 30 seconds. Bound to get more passing if that happens. Inshallah.

Kudos to the U.S. soccer team for beating Ghana. With Alditore down, I bet the coach wishes he'd kept Landon Donavon on the team. Still think that soccer would be more exciting if they did away with or tweeked the off-side rule. I remember back to my days on the court. One guard was always responsible for seeing that no one cherry picked.

I'm finding it difficult to find a good soccer poem and I'm tired of basketball poems of which there are plenty to choose from. So as my son-in-laws are off fishing these days in the Sierras, here's a fishing poem that is both about romance and fishing, not that the two go together.

Catch  by  Ethna McKiernan

I imagine us dancing, a Mexican ballroom somewhere
(anything instead of fishing)
In faded, per-war elegance, tropically flowered wallpaper
(jigs, flies, speckled lures and mr. twisters)
Drooping lushly like the evening sea-breeze
(damn the wind, they won't bite now)
And you in sailor whites - a tuxedo, if I blur my eyes
(black, shiny, slimy leeches, grubs, chubs, fathheads. . . )
The band plays 40's swing, a dark man croons "Darling"
(I'm a rapid oxidizer." you announce, sweat streaming down your nose)
"Darling, Take My Heart. . . "
(walleye, pike, sunstroke, crappies)
And my red dress spins faster as you lift me off the floor
(jesus christ, a four pounder)
Its ruffled hem streaming round my knees
Like a school of tiny iridescent fish
(darling, take my heart)
You sing at last.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Western Conference Championship and a small etc.

Part of me was trying to support my wife's Oklahoma roots by cheering for the Thunder. But the roots of my basketball psyche exalted when the Spurs won. I like the Thunder. They're a talented bunch of players, but it seems to me that they relied way too much on their athleticism and not enough on strategy. The Spurs understood that athleticism will not prevail unless there is a consistent strategy that will allow for your team to stay in the game if speed and attacking stops working. By strategy, I'm not talking about defense. Both teams played D damn well and bruisingly hard. In the end, the Thunder's propensity to rely on the quick shot, quick attack didn't work as well as the Spurs patient three to five pass patient attack. Is this Scott Brook's fault? To a certain degree, yes. He decided to use all his attack players at the same time. Guys like Sefolosha and Collison, reliable journey men, disappeared from the rotation. By the fourth quarter, he'd made his bed, and had to lie in it -  and pull the covers up over his head.

ETC: What the FBI was thinking approaching Phil Mickelson at the Memorial? Were they intentionally trying to rattle him while he was participating in a golf tournament?  That is such a cheap shot. I can't imagine when I was playing in the NBA, what something like that, FBI agents coming into the locker room or to my hotel room before a game, would have done to my concentration. I'm reasonably sure I wouldn't have been able to go out on the court and play at the right level. So, unless the news article was incorrect, the FBI owes Lefty an apology, but I don't suppose the men in gray do a lot of that.  Phil, let's hope you're not an inside trader. If you are/were, as an athlete you should have known better. Athletes don't cheat.

The World Cup is soon upon us from Brazil, the home of the greatest soccer (football) player that ever was, Pele. I remember watching him in a match in North Africa when I was on a coaching trip in the summer of 1965. The bicycle kick? You've all heard of it, but Pele, in that match, did it the opposite way, somersaulting forward and kicking the ball into the goal with the back of his heel. Insane move.

Here's a poem about soccer

A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball  by   Christopher Merrill

   after practice: right foot
to left foot, stepping forward and back,
   to right foot and left foot,
and left foot up to his thigh, holding
   it on his thigh, as he twists
around in a circle, until it rolls
   down the inside of his leg,
like a tickle of sweat, not catching
   and tapping on the soft
side of his foot, and juggling
   once, twice, three times,
hopping on one foot like a jump-roper
   in the gym, now  trapping
and holding the ball in midair,
   balancing it on the instep
of his weak left foot, stepping forward
   and forward and back, then
lifting it overhead until it hangs there
   and squaring off his body,
he keeps the ball aloft with a nudge
   of his neck, heading it
from side to side, softer and softer,
   like a dying refrain,
until the ball, slowing, balances
   itself on his hairline,
the hot sun and sweat filling his eyes
   as he jiggles this way
and that, then flicking it up gently,
   hunching his shoulders
and tilting his head back, he traps it
   in the hollow of his neck
and bending at the waist, sees his shadow,
   his dangling T-shirt, the bent
blades of brown grass in summer heat;
   and relaxing the ball slipping
down his back . . . and missing his foot.

   He wheels around, he marches
over the ball, as f it were a rock
   he stumbled into, and pressing
his left foot against it, he pushes it
   against the inside of his right
until it pops into the air, is heeled
   over his head - the rainbow! -
and settle on his extended thigh before
   rolling over his knee and down
his shin, so he can juggle it again
   from his left foot to his right foot
- and right foot to left foot to thigh -
   as he wanders, on the last day
of summer, around the empty field.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Analytics and etc

When I was a 3rd grader, my teacher at Grant Elementary School in San Francisco, Mrs. Rosen, lined all of her students at the chalk board (yes, real black chalk boards) and had us do addition and subtraction problems that she called out to us in her gruff voice to write on the board. She would time us, then walk down the line observing our figures. If a student got a problem wrong, she'd take her hand, gently place it on the back of his or her head and slam said tiny head hard into the chalkboard. Ouch! That's me, yelling as I inevitably did my sums wrong. From those days on, I have never been good at math or any subject related to mathematics.

Which leads me to the subject of analytics in basketball. It's math. Okay, so it's statistics. That's just math in disguise. I've done some research, and I guess I get it. Useful, but only in the right hands. By that I mean in the hands of people who have the sport in their blood and can "see" "feel" a player's skill and enthusiasm for the game. If it were up to me, evaluating a player, I would only take into account how that player performs in the fourth quarter of tight games, in playoff/championship games (high school, college, or pro). I've seen too many players in the NBA who play well in the first three quarters and disappear in the crucial fourth.

And, I would definitely pay as much attention to my instincts as to the analytics. For example, I don't need stats to tell me that Carmelo  Anthony, no matter what he does, will never be a winner. And I don't need stats to know young Kawhi Leanard of the Spurs, not nearly as gifted as Carmelo, will always be a winner.


Stick Aldon Smith in jail for a year, so he can sober up and meditate on how close he is to losing his chance to live the decent life of an athlete. It's high time high schools, colleges and the pros start practicing Tough Love.

While the NBA playoffs are exciting, let's not forget there's a good chance the State of California might soon have a Triple Crown winner, in California Chrome.

Here's a little poem about horses: A traditional Navajo song.

My horse has a hoof like a striped agate
His fetlock is like a fine eagle plume.
His legs are like quick lightning
My horse has a tail like a trailing black cloud.
The Holy Wind moves through his hair

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Steve Kerr

Congratulations to the Warriors for selecting a smart basketball mind to replace Mark Jackson, who I never thought possessed a particularly smart basketball mind, not dumb by any means, but nothing that had me standing up on the edge of my seat like the cartoon movie critic, clapping and cheering.

 Jackson did a good job for the Warriors, but good is not excellent. As a retired English teacher, I'd give Jackson a solid B. However, what the Warriors need is a coach who will earn an A. Kerr might be that guy.

I only hope that Coach Kerr understands the significance of Coach Phil Jackson's choice of assistant coaches when Phil started his first season with the Chicago Bulls by wisely selecting Tex Winters and Johnny Bach, two of the brightest basketball coaches in the business with tons of roundball experience.

I've already used this excerpt from a longer poem by Edward Hirsch, but I'll use it again, since it is profound and is at the heart of good coaching.

". . . a constellation of  players
Shinning under his favorite word,
Execution . . . "

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mark Jackson.

I see in the sports news that the Warrior players support Mark Jackson as rumors have been floating around that his job is on the line. Warrior administration should take these player endorsements seriously, but not too seriously. From what I've seen of the Warriors the last three seasons, I have no problem believing that Jackson is a good coach. Note, that I did not say a great coach. No doubt good coaches can become great coaches. Sometimes it takes a while to figure things out. In Mark Jackson, one needs reminding, while he is clearly on the hot seat, that he had no experience coaching on any level before he was hired to perform on the highest level, a mere three years ago and may require some more time before reaching his coaching potential. There have been a lot of coaches that started without any prior coaching experience: Lenny Wilkens, for example, had to suffer losing in Portland before he won a championship in Seattle. It took Jerry Sloan a long time to turn out a winning team. Larry Brown's early teams, the Carolina Cougars and Denver Nuggets (ABA/NBA) played well (like the Warriors) but never won.

So, what is it about Jackson's coaching that troubles me? First: Inconsistent defense and what seems to me a lack of a solid defensive strategy. Jackson came in preaching D. He needs to walk his talk.  It's not that the Warriors don't play D, it's that they don't play D consistently. The team's emphasis, as in the past under Don Nelson, remains on the offense, not to the same silly degree as under Nelson, thank god, but still wearisomely there as the Warrior's approach to the game, i.e: let's get up and down the court and out score our opponents. Second: Turnovers. This speaks for itself, a team can't turn the ball over as much as the Warriors do, and expect to win big. Okay, with as much offense as the Warriors have, there's a good chance they'll via for a playoff spot every year. But can they make it to the Western Division Finals? To the NBA Finals. Win the NBA title.

If a team doesn't value the ball and does not play smart aggressive defense, it can only succeed to a modest level, never to greatness.

Klay Thompson recently said, "I love playing for coach. He makes it so fun to go to work everyday. . ." I wonder if any of the San Antonio Spurs have fun at practices? I wonder if the Celtic practices under Doc Rivers were fun. Could Pat Riley's players (Miami and LA Lakers) say they had fun at practices? I'm thinking of all the great coaches: Doctor Jack Ramsey, Phil Jackson, Red Aurebach, Bill Sharman, Alex Hannum. Having played for Sharman and Hannum, I can assure you that practices were not fun, instructive and exhausting, yes, but almost never FUN.

What is the one persistent thread that all great coaches possess? They set the bar high and hold their players accountable for mistakes.

Could it be that to reach the next level and head for greatness, the Warrior players need to have less Fun?

It's not surprising to me that in teaching, on any level, from elementary through college, when students are asked to name their favorite teachers, the easiest teachers, the "fun" teachers were never the ones selected. The teachers they remember as the best were always the ones who demanded the most, teachers they respected, but did not necessarily like.

This blog may sound like a criticism of Coach Mark Jackson. It's not, not entirely. Under his leadership, the Warriors are far more competitive than they have been in recent years. That is to Jackson's credit. But the bar must be higher. Both he and his players have to jump higher to hurdle that bar, and that will take hard, tireless, work, not fun.

Who needs fun in the NBA anyway? I'll take a championship over fun any day.

Let's hear it for J.B. Holmes, having recovered from brain surgery and numerous physical injuries, he won the Wells Fargo Championship. Great shot of his wife planting a $1,242,000 kiss on her husband in this morning's sports page.

Also a nice article about Gregg Popovich teaching WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon about coaching. Are we talking a female NBA coach in the future?

A poem about golf by me from my latest book of Poetry: Sweat: New and Collected Poems About Sports


To George and Gary,my teammates and golfers
and all other friends that I've bad-mouthed
for playing a sport I ridiculed, I apologize.
I'm older now. I have learned to appreciate
a sport played in silence, where the slightest
sound from the gallery is frowned upon, where,
if it were possible, birds would be forbidden
to sing while a player is teeing off or measuring
a putt. Gentlemen, I'm no longer enamored
of crowd noises, the bellowing of athletes
drawing attention to themselves, the circus
acts at half-time, rockets firing into the sky
at football games, of loud music, loud fans
rising around and around the stadium
like giant second hands. I yearn for the peace
of grassy dog-legs right or left, the silent
sandtraps, wind whispering through the trees.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why Are We So Astonished?

Donald Sterling has been an out-of- the- closet Racist all his life, so why didn't the NBA do something about him long ago? Could it possibly be that Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Coach Doc Rivers and other African Americans employed by Stirling never heard even the slightest rumors about their boss? Didn't Elgin Baylor warn the general public and the NBA about Sterling's "Plantation Mentality" years ago? And, what in God's name, was the Southern California Chapter of the NAACP thinking that it was going to honor Sterling with a Life Time Achievement Award? Is this the same Sterling who wouldn't allow people of color to rent his apartments?

Talk about bizzare. This man has been a public bigot all his life and only now are we coming to grips with him.

Our country, in so many ways a great country, is still a long way away from racial equality. It has been a state by state slog. We tell yourselves the coasts do better about race, then a guy like Sterling raises his slimy head. How many Sterlings are there left in the United States? Way more than we'd like to think, I'm afraid.

When will racial prejudice end? I don't know, but I'm sure that at least the next three generations, starting with Sterling's generation, people in their 80's and 70's and the two following generations (my wife's and the baby boomers) must die off before the X generation has a chance to make the world color blind.

We human beings will be color blind to race only when we look at each other's skin color the way portrait painters do. They pay more attention to undertones, chroma, high lights and shadows than the skin's primary color, which is obvious. And all color is beautiful.

Adam Silver's tenure as commissioner of the NBA will be decided by how quickly and how forcefully he acts in resolving the Donald Sterling fiasco. If he prevaricates even slightly, he might as well resign.

So, as this grotesque Sterling story swirls around us, here is a poem I wrote for one of the great African American players of all time, Hall of Fame center, Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets.

Hakeem Olajuwon

    Aka, Hakeem the Dream

In Africa each morning practice starts
with warm-ups. The youngest on the team,
perhaps sixteen, always the first waiting for me,
sits in the thin shade below the backboard,
reading the latest article about Hakeem.
We stretch ham-strings, then slow jog
around the court. He keeps pace, all the while
talking about The Dream. "Dis doc," he says,      *Listen up
"With The Dream we would defeat Senegal
and be champions of West Africa.
Que pensez vous, entraineur? What do I think?     *What do you think coach?
I can't think about anything other than the red
and smoky sun rising over the opposite basket,
the heat already sweating my shirt, and how
the rains suddenly begin half way through practice.
I shag his jump shots, the ones he swears
are like Hakeem's. He says he too will attend
The University of Houston, later play in the NBA.
"Vous m'assistez?" But his shots are ugly, too flat;      *"Will you help/assist me?
they lack the back-spin, the softness of the Dream's.
I nod my head, whatever I can do - my best shot.
I am in the country of Burkina Fasso.
Its name means Land of Up-Right People.

Monday, April 14, 2014

More knuckleheads and morons

Colin Kapernick and Quinten Patton, now Aldon Smith, not to mention the other NFL players vying for membership in the Knucklehead Club. Has any statistic minded person figured out the percentage of athletes in trouble in comparison to other professions, say dentists or plumbers? Well, you might argue (being a defender of athletes) that Athletes work under constant pressure and are strung tight. Humm? I wonder how many ballet dancers have been arrested for talking about having a bomb while in an airport. How about Air force pilots putting themselves in a room alone with a woman serving them drinks? Oops, I guess this has happened. It might be a tight race to see who has the most members in the Knucklehead Club, athletes or military personnel. All right, if not the military, how about teachers or computer engineers?

Let me suggest that Professional sports teams draw up a list of NO, NO's and deliver them to all  the players at training camp. Memorization required. Examples:









I can think of at least 50 more rules athletes could stand to take to heart. But, then, they might have to give up thinking they were special and thus not required to follow normal human behavior. Ooops, again. Has anyone seen Wolfman of Wall Street? Enough said about normal behavior. On the other hand, perhaps, greed is normal behavior. As for sex, the second theme of the movie, (There are no others.) I'll leave it up to you to decide if the sex your were watching on screen represented normalcy.

Perhaps there is no such thing as normal behavior?

How about classy behavior, then?

As an NBA rookie I was taught by word and by example by older teammates (Hall of Famer Paul Arizin comes to mind) that I should always "show class." Can't say I always succeeded, but I tried.

Being a snazzy dresser and driving extravagant cars does not mean you have class, which is what I think some of today's pros think. Although, I have to say D Wade puts on quite a show in the fashion department.

Returning to the title of my blog, let's talk about Morons. Who was the talking head on Fox News recently who objected to the movie Noah because it was not a documentary?

I love movies and taught film at Sierra College for years. Noah is the kind of movie that would turn me off  movies forever. As soon as the Ex Angels Rock People came on the scene to protect Noah and help him build the Ark, I was ready to head for the exit. There was a Kings game on TV I could watch if I wanted to torture myself.

I thought it was a put-down on Live at the Masters following  Bubba Watson's win that the course suited him because he's a lefty, naming other lefties that have won The Masters, the implication being that the course favors lefties, the further implication being that Bubba is not as good on other courses.

Here is a poem I wrote about golf from my new collection of poems - Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports.

Why I Never Played Golf

I didn't trust myself. Imagine
losing a match by one stroke
on the eighteenth green, his putt
longer than mine. He sinks it
for a birdie, and I sink mine
for a par, and I have my putter
in my hand and a bad temper,
and he is smiling at me.
You understand, smiling.

Monday, April 7, 2014

College Athletes' Unions

Forming unions has always been the best way to force recalcitrant ownership/administration to do the right thing. I'm speaking as the son of an Old Union Man and a great believer that unions have been and still are at the heart of a prosperous America. Proof? All of a sudden athletic departments are all over the news promising to create long term medical benefits for their scholarship athletes, which seems to me one of the most critical goals of the college players unions, and to do right by them. We'll see.

As for paying the athletes, sure. Why not increase their monthly stipend so they don't have to take off campus or on campus jobs? Being a full time student and full time athlete is hard enough without having to worry about money for bus fare home to visit mom. It was tough when I was in college and it's still hard to juggle full time athletic and academic commitment. A few more shekels can't hurt and it won't break the bank.

What about salaries? Nonsense. I'm all for unions, but they should not be used for frivolous demands. Scholarship athletes are not really employees. Even if they could be called employees, their salaries are four year, room and board, scholarships, which amount to' beaucoup' bucks. Tuition, room and board at my Alma mater, Saint Mary's College in California these days is approximately $58,000 dollars per year, about the average for private colleges and universities nationwide. You do the math for four years. State schools are not much less for out-of-state students. $40,000 to $50,000 per years is a pretty good starting salary, the equivalent of starting salaries in the world of business and far better than starting salaries of first year high school teachers.

In my opinion, if the revenues from university football and basketball indeed support all the scholarships and costs of the "so-called" minor sports, then the Big Time Television Embraced sports are doing a great service for a lot of amateur men's and women's athletics. I would, however, if I were the union, demand to see an independent accounting of where all the money goes by college sport. I'd hate to see too much more money spent on ridiculously high salaries for most coaches of big time athletic programs, Duke, Alabama, Kentucky, etc. Until each major university opens up its books there will always be a question marks.

The most important consideration by the union organizers should be how the union can help ALL the men and women playing collegiate sports, not just the elite football and basketball players.

Since I'm advocating for more attention being paid to "minor" college sports, here's a poem about Archery

Archery Instructor   by Richard Aldridge

My boys walk down the range intent to find
Lost arrows well beyond the target flown
Tomfoolery forgot, they scuff around
The underbrush, each searching on his own.
To them it's treasure hunting of a kind.

But since it's I who am responsible
For all the archery equipment used,
I wait here hoping hey will find them all.
The boys move dimly in the woods. Bemused,
I slowly let the scene be blurred unreal

And dram that I might well be Cupid here
Whose orders were: 'Bring back my misfired darts!'
Except on second thought I feel more sure
That what I'd mean is 'halves of broken hearts.'

A very foolish fond old man, said Lear.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Phil Jackson and the Knicks

It's not surprising that Phil Jackson took the job with the Knicks, but he better be careful. The Knicks have been a sink-hole for coaches and GMs for a long time. Some pretty credible coaches have not fared well. Dolan, the owner, will still have the last word, and I worry that any man who thought/thinks Isiah Thomas was a brainy GM, could, on a whim, sabotage Phil.

As for personnel, Phil Jackson will sort that out, as he will the coaching situation. I bet he'll bring in a new staff right away, before the draft. As for players: JR Smith and Martin are a knuckle-heads and should be gone. Tim Hardaway Jr.has a great future. Tyson Chandler can still be a shot blocker and presence in the paint. Felton and Prigioni? Lack inspiration, but could stay on as solid backups. The Knicks need a true point guard with imagination and intelligence. Amare Stodemire could be a productive power forward, but he can't seem to get Steve Nash and the pick and roll out of his consciousness and he's constantly injured. Shumpart? Perhaps in the Triangle could blossom.  All the rest of the bench should seek employment elsewhere.

That leaves Carmelo????? I don't see how he isn't the best scoring 3 in the business. Whether that's enough for Phil to keep him, who knows. Chicago sure wants him. Carmelo and Chandler for Noah? What a post player in the Triangle Noah would be. I worry that Carmelo is psychically damaged and can not change from a ball-stopper to a ball-mover. Carmelo reminds me of a poor man and his attitude toward food. You got to get as much on your plate as you can. You never know if the bowl of grits will come around the table again.

Anyhow, Phil Jackson will figure it out. The Knicks organization need someone with strong instincts way more than they need an X's and O's guy. Phil's bball instincts are razor-sharp.

Think of it Phil - Museums, Broadway plays, opera, ballet, real deli, and a penthouse overlooking Central Park. What a way to close out a Hall of Fame career.

You taking this challenge,when you certainly don't need any more fame reminds me of Ulysses in his old age exhorting his aged men to go on a last adventure with him.
               "How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
               To rust unburnished, not to shine in use,
               As though to breathe were life."

Good Luck, Phil.

After Meditating   by Tom Meschery from Sweat: New and Selected Poems about Sports

     For Phil Jackson

I return to your book, Sacred Hoops
and think, perhaps you've discovered
the secret to the modern game,
the centered-self each player can achieve
with right-breathing, as if the soul
were a tight muscle in need of stretching.

Team mantras, spiritual championships

If only I'd known
I didn't have to throw that  elbow
at LaRusso or stalk Chet Walker
or take a swing at Wilt,
while my breathless teammates
feared for my life.
All I had to do was breathe
my way out of anger.
Lungs instead of fists.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


I'm watching a bunch of college tournament games, trying to get some idea of my Big Dance picks, not that I have any hope of doing better than previous years. But it's a fun week of basketball, made a bit more interesting if you have a buck or two riding on the outcome.

While watching some of these elite teams, it occurred to me that Jerry West might have gotten it wrong. Recently Jerry said he wasn't impressed with this year's NBA first round draft picks. He's right in that there are no franchise players coming out this year, ready to make an instant impact. But, in my opinion, there are a number of potential franchise players. Last years group of NBA rookies, aside from Olidepo and Carter-Williams, were pretty ho-hum. This year's groups have a tremendous up-side. While last years groups could be compared to bottle of ordinary red table wine, good enough to drink, but nothing you'd serve at an important dinner party, this years group is like a early Cabernet Sauvignon from a vintage year, the problem being they need to age before consumption. Still, stick a couple of these bottles away in a wine cellar for awhile and Viola.

From my recent collection just out from Black Rock Press, a poem about making your Big Dance picks

Bracketology  by Tom Meschery

   First, lay out the brackets neatly  in font of you
so there should be no wrinkles that would inhibit
a clear vision of each team, as there are many teams
that are unworthy and exist only to confuse you.
   Start drinking coffee. Have more than one pencil
because the choices are numerous and the day is long,
and outside the world is going on without your. Be sure
the pencils are sharpened to a fine point.
   Beware of the first round of thirty-two teams that once
would have played in the NIT. One of those teams will surprise
you and ruin a bracket. At that moment you will consider
   Do not drink alcohol
   It is wise to listen to the experts, but eschew the ones
with loud voices. Remember da Vinci, "Nothing strengthens
authority so much as silence."
   Do not believe in the teams closest to your heart;
they will betray you. You will not go wrong if you start
with the highest seeded teams, but understand the theme
of Greek tragedy that we suffer most when the mighty fall.
   When you get to the Sweet Sixteen, do not be deceived
by its adolescent name. There is nothing sweet about defense
and rebounding; therein lies the secret to winning,but some
will be seduced by offense. Do not follow their lead.
   It is wise to rise from your desk and exercise before picking
the Elite Eight. You might consider a gift for your wife
as she is even now preparing for your absence and is weeping.
   Resharpen your pencils. Continue to avoid alcohol.
   With eight teams left your confusion is mighty. At this point,
it would be worthwhile checking with the secretaries
in your office who have probably already picked the winners
according to the teams' name and colors. Never repeat this in
public as you will be called a misogynist. But neither should you
ignore their advice for intuition often out-performs logic.
When you get down to the Final Four, consider prayer. God
loves basketball, but be aware that the Devil is in the details.
  Once you make your picks, do not go back and change any
as it will insure the ones you changed were the correct choices.
   Turn in your brackets boldly..Begin drinking alcohol.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What NBA Players Need is a Little Honesty

What NBA players need is a coach who'll tell it like it is, someone like my wife, for example. Here's what she'd say to some of these overpaid children:

Dwight, you've been living on your jumping ability since you were ten years old. It's time for you to become a real center. Learn to pass, learn more than one post move, get your footwork together, and learn to shoot freethrows. No, no, don't tell me you're  trying. Just do it!

DeMarcus, baby, has anybody told you you're a baby? No, probably not. Okay, I'll admit you look like you're giving it a little effort this season, but it is not nearly enough if you're going to be the All-Star you claim you are. Lose that silly scowl, lose ten more pounds, learn how to block shots - players drive the paint against the Kings at will. Give up yelling at the refs; they could give a shit and love nothing better than to slap you with technicals. Stop pretending you're a guard and give the ball up on the break. And learn some more post moves.

Faried, I get it. Everybody gets it. You're the Manimal. Now get some skills. A simply 18 foot jumper would be nice. How about learning to shoot off the bounce?

To the entire Detroit Piston team: Guys, look around the locker room. There's a whole lot of talent here. But you're a bunch of wussies. You play no D, you don't pass the ball, you don't give a crap about your teammates. Drummund,lets start with you, you need to buckle down and learn the game. You won't be given a pass very much longer because you're young. Jennings, you have tons of talent, but you can't guard my grandmother, and you think shot first, not pass. Smith, first, start playing Defense, don't just look like you're playing D. And, for heaven's sake, study the game a little and stop relying on natural talent. Get a mid-range game.

Mr. Irving and Mr. Waiters, the two of you simply don't play any defense. Oh, Kyrie, you look shocked. Waiters, you don't look as shocked. I guess you already know you were never taught to play D in college having played only Zone. So you run around with your arm raised and call that defense. Ask Carmelo how long it took him from Syracuse to now to learn how to guard somebody, and he's still not that good at it.

Carmelo. There's no denying you are one of the great scorers of all time and possess one of the greatest jump shots of all time, but what is missing in your game? Great All-Stars make players around them better. You don't. Why is that? Could it be that you are the quintessential ball stopper? It's not a team game when all the other players are standing around watching you.

DeAndre Jordan, first and foremost you have to learn to shoot a free-throw. Isn't it embarrassing that your coach has to take you out of a game when it's crunch time because the other team will intentionally foul you?
You say you're trying? Aw, poor baby. Trying doesn't cut. Check out your teammate, Blake Griffin, he's substantially improved both freethrows and jumpers.

Mike Dunleavy, you're another guy who couldn't guard my grandmother. How is it a someone with your long arms and speed can't defend? Your father did.

Ricky Rubio, guess they never played defense in Spain, huh. Better learn soon or you won't get the big bucks when free agency comes around. By the way, you're the only European star I've seen who can't shoot the ball from any distance.

Tyson Chandler, you've never learned to shoot, not even a simply jumper from the freethrow line or a little jump hook. How is that? All these years and has nobody told you that all you're good for is the occasional dunk?

Jason Thompson, sweetheart, have you ever committed a foul you haven't shaken your head over in disbelief? How about when you push a player in back going for a rebound? It's pretty obvious.

Jimmer, Jimmer, Jimmer, you could use some footwork, some muscle. You're learning to get your shots, but the man you're guarding can still get by you any time he wants. I don't see a mean streak in you. Better get one pronto.

Andrew Bogut, you need to hire your fellow Aussie and Olympian, Matthew Dellavadova to teach you how to shoot freethrows. The basket is ten feet high and fifteen feet away. The height and distance never changes. Are you listening? NEVER CHANGES.

Well, that's what my wife would tell these professional athletes. I'm convinced that some of these athletes haven't figured out what the word professional means.

I read this morning that the Kings have another power forward. I assume they're working with a plan in mind. as much as I love Reggie Evans's rebounding, hustle, and defense, he's a "Hack a Shaq" candidate. Come on folks, can't any of the dozens of assistant coaches that proliferate on teams these days teach their players to shoot freethrows?

Go Warriors! Has the cheering stopped yet? What a stroke to get Steve Blake. This scrappy point guard is just what the doctor ordered to spell Steph Curry. Blake has been a positive force on every team he's played. He defends with intensity and skill, he looks to set up his shooters, and he doesn't back away from making shots himself. His energy is infectious. At 33 years old, he still has 3 maybe 4 solid years ahead of him.

Has anyone been noticing that Patty Mills of Saint Mary's College, my Alma mater, has found a home with the San Antonio Spurs? Patty may very well inherit the starting point guard position after Tony Parker calls it a career. Go Patty!

And, the Galloping Gaels have another player in the NBA, Matthew Dellavadova, who is proving he too can play at the next level.

First Love  by Carl Linder

Before sixteen
I was fast
enough to fake
my shadow out
and I could read
every crack and ripple
in that catch of asphalt.
I owned 
the slanted rim
the dead spot in the backboard.
Always the ball
came back.

Every day I loved
to sharpen
my shooting eye,
for the touch.
Set shot, jump shot,
layup, hook -
after a while
I  could feel
the ball hunger -
ing to clear
the lip of the rim,
the two of us
falling through.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Olympics and et

Let's get one thing straight, there is not a single athlete that plays our so-called major sports that can hold a candle to Olympic quality snowboarders and figure skaters (I'm not talking about the dancers, although they are awesome athletes) for a combination of athleticism, coordination, and grace. It's time our sports pages stop giving preferential treatment to the Big Four: Basketball, Football, Baseball, and Hockey. Skaters and skiers should not be relegated to the back pages of sports unless it's Winter Olympics time.

Okay, so the Cleveland Cavs owners fired Christ Grant, its General Manager. That's only half the solution. They needed to bite the bullet and fire Coach Mike Brown. Why, oh why is Brown considered such a great coach. When was that myth started and who perpetuated it? Did he ever use LeBron James properly during James years with the Cavs? Where was his vaunted defense then, or later with the Lakers, or these days with the sorry-ass Cavaliers? Check his games out. Do you see an ounce of Defense being played?

Alabama wins the sweepstakes for the best college football players. LSU comes in second. I noticed that the Oregon Ducks did not pick up one of the top 50 players in the country. I live in Sacramento, which produces some terrific football college prospects. In the past, Oregon usually got letter of intents from some of our best players. Not this year. When Chip Kelly left for the pros, did that signal the demise of Duck football?

Ralph Kiner died. He was one of my favorite baseball players as a kid when I was still trying to decide between being a baseball pitcher and a basketball player. I don't think any player since Kiner has hit the ball as high and as far.

For me, when a great athlete dies, it's not the same as grandma or grandpa or even great humanitarians or world leaders going into the beyond. I remember when Wilt Chamberlain died, I couldn't believe that his body betrayed him that much. Sure, Kiner was 91, but there is something strange in my thinking that says athletes should live forever. Perhaps, such silliness is only wishful thinking of yours truly, hoping for the fountain of youth.

I'm still not counting the Spurs out of the Finals in the West if they can get healthy by the last month of the season. My reasons have to do with my lack of faith in the Clippers and Trailblazers. Clippers can't seem to find a consistent rotation and the Trailblazers still do not have a strong bench. As for the Warriors, read on.

The Warriors' chances for a Western Division Championship depend entirely on health and injuries. When all their players are injury free, they are a tough and efficient team. But if only one player goes down, the team becomes less efficient. It's sort of like a stew. If you leave out one ingredient, the stew is still pretty good, but is not the same high quality. Leave out two ingredients and the stew is inedible. Of course, the Warriors last night proved my analogy wrong, beating the Bulls with Bogart and Lee. But I'm sticking to my guns. The Warriors need all four tires on the car and a couple of good spares to get past the first round of the playoffs.

A skating poem in honor of the start of the Sochi Winter Olympic

Skating  by Phillip Dacey

Skating on the surface of my life,
I saw myself below the ice,
another me, I was moving fast
above him, he was  moving slow,
though he kept up.
there must have been

some warp of being twisting
us together so, two different speeds
head to head, of feet to feet, or,
better, shoulder to shoulder, brothers,
that's the way it felt, but separated
by a death, an ice, a long wall
laid down upon the world to lock us 
into rooms. Knock,knock. Are you 
there? He was, and waving, though 
it was a distant wave, an outer-space
wave, as if he were umbilicated
and drifting off between the stars. The stars
skated on that ice, too, and went so fast
they seemed not to move at all. Perhaps
he was the one sped swerveless home,
an arrow, while I dream-skated,
my two blades, for all their dazzle,
leaving the ice unchanged, and the top was
bottom and bottom top, but who could say?
I only knew I wanted to break through.
I wanted the ice to melt to let
us sink together, two lovers in a bed,
or crack, a warning sign missed, while
the stars swam around us like fish
lit up from within by something
we could never name, nor wished to,
lest the light fade. But the ice held,
because it was wiser than I was,
because two is more than twice one,
because the air and water made a pact
to disagree while I skated on
the surface of a life I thought was mine.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Sunday

If Irony (the difference between expectation and actuality) rules the world in the name of Justice, the Denver Broncos will defeat the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Cathedral today. By justice I mean, Payton Manning will prove that his demise as anticipated by the Indianapolis Colts' ownership was premature. Easy going, deliberate, John Fox will out-coach high octane Pete Carroll. Cocky," look-at-me, look-at-me" corner back Richard Sherman will be unable to stop the Broncos' less vocal, more modest receiver corps. Coach Carroll, who left USC one step ahead of NCAA sanctions will not be rewarded with a win. The less publicized running back Knowshon Mareno will out play the "Beast Mode." Finally, the under-rated Bronco Defense will out-defend the supposedly superior Seahawk Defense.

I'm not necessarily against advertising, but does any company in its right mind believe its brand is getting its money's worth at $133,333 dollars a second for Super Bowl TV time? How many more Heinz ketsup, M&Ms, Pepsi, Toyotas, Anheuser Busch (Yuk!) beer will the public purchase to off set the expenditure? Perhaps companies don't really care? In which case they are like people who want to be seen at the right parties, right?  It's not about brand, but some exec's ego. Any one read The Emperor's New Clothes? Go Ad agencies for earning big bucks from children's lit.

You gotta be kidding me; a recitation of the Declaration of Independence by former players and firefighters? The New York's policemen should thank their lucky stars they were snubbed for this cockamamie idea.

 I'm looking forward to the feature on Vince Lombardi and the tribute to Pat Summerall.

One more "you gotta be kidding me": Terry Bradshaw and Joe Namath strolling down Broadway reminiscing? I'm holding my breath.

Lots of talk recently about eliminating the extra point after a touchdown that over the years has seemed increasingly pointless. It's been suggested that 7 pts be awarded for a touchdown. Okay, I'm fine with that. How about after a touchdown requiring a two point play from ten yards out? How about making field goals more interesting. Award 2 pts within 49 yards and 3 pts beyond 49 yards?

Here's a field goal kicker poem by WilliamMessner

The Kicker's Last Steps

      for Jack Driscoll

One point behind, ten seconds left,
I lunge forward

   a halo of gnats around my head
   I always thought field goal kicking
   should be easy,
   like pushing a word
   from my tongue into the air.
   But the goal posts
   move backward
   ten yards with each step.

   Am I alone on this field -
   only the yard lines like a ladder I've forgotten
   how to climb, the moon's floodlight
   like a stiff graduation gown,
   the empty avenues
   of bleachers?

   When night fog clutches my ankles
   like the pudgy hands of a linebacker,
   I try to think of anything but kicking
   (the river beyond the goal post,
   the blank scorecards of my parents' faces)
   try not to think that in an instant
   my toe must dive
   deep into leather
   as if it's in love with it.

From the sideline my approach must look
almost casual, as though I hardly care - 
in the silence of this last step
I hear the wings of three ducks above me
flying toward the creaking ice of the river

Monday, January 27, 2014

NBA Standings and etc.

Here are my predictions for the NBA standing come the end of the season baring significant injuries.


Pacific:                   Southwest:                 Northwest:
LA Clippers             San Antonio               Oklahoma Thunder
Warriors                   Memphis                   Portland
Phoenix                    Houston                     Minnesota
Kings                        Dallas                        Denver              
Lakers                      New Orleans             Utah


Atlantic:                 Southeast:                  Central:
Brooklyn                 Miami                          Indiana
Toronto                   Atlanta                         Chicago
New York               Washington                  Detroit
Boston                     Charlotte                      Cleveland
Philadelphia              Orlando                       Milwaukee

If Greg Oden stays healthy and keeps improving, and D Wade is ready to go, don't bet against Miami to three-peat.

If  Jermaine O'Neal returns and plays healthy the rest of the season, and Jordan Crawford pans out don't be surprised if the Warriors upset the Clippers.

What is it with Sherman of the Seahawks accusing people who lambasted him for his insane rant after the Seahawks win over the 49ers of racial insensitivity? Now all of a sudden we have articles like the one I read this morning in the Sacramento Bee entitled All-American Manning vs brash Sherman. Manning is being portrayed as fair haired and polite. Sherman is being described as having dreadlocks and trashtalking. Hummm, maybe young Sherman is on to something???

I just finished reading a non-fiction book entitled Goat Brothers written by Larry Colton. Colton played baseball for the University of California Bears and the Philadelphia Phillies. He still holds the single game strike out record for the Bears. The book is a must read for men and particularly for men of the Sixties generation to which I belong. It follows the life of the author and four of his close friends and Pi KA (the  jock house) fraternity brothers who called themselves the Goat Brothers. Of the four, Loren Hawley, Steve Radich, and Ron Vaughn played football for Cal. Jim van Hoften was a top gun in Vietnam and then an astronaut on the Challenger.  Without giving too much away, it's a revelatory book about male behavior in the sixties and seventies, their successes and failures. It's punch-in-the-gut truthful, sometimes heroic, and bitter sweet.

Here's another poem honoring winter sports;

On Cedar Lake 1957

Before our skates had touched the pond that day
We knelt to see, inbedded in the ice,
A fish long dead, his frozen eye turned up;
And further on through surface clear and green
A sluggish waving weed in silent water.
But who could care for all that moved below?
Our skates are sharp, the air is bright
The lake is wide; we swoop, we glide,
Take flight and dip and swerve
Like gulls. We fly, we fly. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

This and That

Recently there have been a number of interesting sports stories. Not in any chronological order, here goes:

Mike Miller's PSD brand of underwear going one on one against Michael Jordan's Hanes. Miller has The Birdman on his side. Don't know how the underwear can compete with the tattoos.

I've never liked Mike Brown as a coach. Why is he such a defensive genius, anyway? Someone has to show me what he does that's so great. However, kudos to him for getting rid of Andrew Bynum. And kudos to Miami for not picking up Bynum and going with Greg Oden instead. Oden is a serious player with a mature head. If he can overcome his history of injuries, he'll provide a much stronger center to face off against Roy Hibbert in the playoffs.

Sunday, December 29,2013. Metta World Peace admits to being an alien with a galactic mind who will not allow the controversy between gluten free pasta and pasta with gluten to interfere with his quest for a championship

Wouldn't you know it, the Yankees have signed Masashiro Tanaka. There was never any chance of a small market team such as the Arizona Diamondbacks signing the Japanese All-Star. Small market teams in all sports have a tough time competing.

I read where another EX gay athlete, soccer player Thomas Hitzlesperger came out of the closet. The real story will be when the first active major league player comes out of the closet. I'm thinking that my entire generation must die off before it becomes realistic for a gay athlete to be openly gay while in mid career. I'm betting that my grandchildren's generation will consider gay or not gay a ho-hum topic.

Dennis Rodman sings happy birthday to North Korean President Kim  Jong Un. I wonder if he did the Marilyn Monroe bit? I think it is time for the media to stop providing news coverage for Knuckleheads. It just encourages them. What's next for Rodman? A Happy Birthday sing along for Bashir Assad?

Has there ever been a more pompous color commentator than Bill Walton?

I loved viewing the Bobby Petrino return to Louisville, especially the part where the Athletic Director said he had hired the old Bobby Petrino, not the one involved in a scandal in Arkansas. Petrino, for his part, vowed to be a"better person." What pray tell does being a better person have to do with being a great coach? Francois Mitterrand was a damn fine French President and he had an affair, maybe a couple of affairs. President Clinton was one of our country's best presidents even though this personal life was a bit sketchy.
When are we going to get over this Puritan thing, and get real?

Lot's of hoopla over the recent scoring outburst in the NBA. Durant knocks down 48 and Carmelo, 61. The talking heads mentioned not one word about Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game and that Wilt AVERAGED, read my lips, AVERAGED 50 pts a game in the 1961-62 season. And, there was no three point shot in those days. Sorry 21st century players, my century wins.

Got to be for Peyton Manning in the upcoming Super Bowl. After all he went through recovering from neck surgery, doesn't he deserve this last glory? I had a friend, George Gudiikunst, owner of Ondine, a five star restaurant in Sausolito, who called the Super Bowl the Stupid Bowl and every year had a Stupid Bowl party, the purpose of which was to avoid watching the game while carrying on conversations about literature. George's parties were always filled with some of the Bay Areas best writers. He served his guests his famous Osso Buco. Sad to say George and  his Ondine are no longer with us. But the notion of the Stupid Bowl lives on. Is it a sporting event or a contest to see how many commercials can interrupt the flow of the game?

It's been revealed that Richard Sherman's raging testosterone poisoned outburst on National Television is being used by Stanford University to demonstrate their reputation as a school that develops logical thinkers.

Back to Greg Oden. If Oden makes a comeback and is playing healthy in the playoffs, it's going to be hard not to cheer for him and the Miami Heat. Indiana certainly deserves to win an NBA Championship, given how they have taken the patience to build a team through drafts and trades. Best scenario: Pacers win and Oden has a great series.

Winter Olympics coming up. For awhile I think I'll end my blogs with winter sports poems. Here's one I wrote that is in my new book of poems entitled Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports.

Short Track Speed Skating

Like second hands,
the skaters spin around the ice
in a crouch, arms swinging
back and forth like pendulums
until two break away;
one silver, one gold.

So close to each other.
No truer alchemy exists than this:
with one frozen circle left,
metal to metal, they kiss,
setting off sparks, and fall,
as all lovers must who dare
to be so intimate, so fast.