meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2016

What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

On Refereeing & etc

I was happy to read that the NBA stated that LeBron should have been assessed a T for hanging on the rim far longer than was needed to escape injury. It was clearly a taunt. As for the last non-call, that was crucial. Jefferson's foot struck KD's ankle, which caused him to fall. If KD had been able to get a shot off, the result of the game could have been different since he's been know to make long last second game-winning-shots before. Tyron Lue has a point; games should not be decided on the free throw line. However, in some cases, it has to be. Nature of the game, nature of competitive behavior. Jefferson would have been remiss had he not played as tough as he did against Durant, but tough is a risk you take as a defender.

The Warriors didn't lose the game because of the two non-calls. They blew a lead they should have been able to maintain. End of story, but not the end of the book. The final chapter in the plot between the Cavs and Dubs will be read come NBA Finals. That is unless the Toronto Raptors don't defeat the Cavs in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Generally, however, the NBA refs get it right. There's not a game harder to call than the lightening quick pro game of basketball. Compared to the NBA, refereeing in the NFL should be a great deal easier. But it doesn't seem to be.

Some of the calls, NFL refs have made and not made this season are downright mystifying. Since I don't know a lot about the nuances of football, I'll let someone better in the know to suggest where the NFL refs need to improve. As an amateur observer, I'll only speak to two less complicated issues.

One: NFL referees should be made full time paid employees of the NFL with benefits that includes a clause which allows NFL administrators to review each refs yearly performance. Poor performances could lead to dismissal. 

Two: Considering the more significant ref problems, what is the deal over players celebrating? Why is this stoking so much fire. As far as I can tell, most of it is showmanship and, for the most part, fun, performed usually by running backs and receivers. Occasionally, a defensive back or linebacker, after making a significant tackle or QB hit, will engage in a bit of chest beating. So what????

The NFL is not college where such antics would be and should be considered unsportsmen-like. It's the NFL, dude, and part of the world of entertainment. The solution is so easy, it's hardly worth mentioning. But I will anyway. A quick cha-cha, that's cool; you dance the waltz around the goal posts, you get a T, and a fine. And the fine has to be significant. Hit players in their pocketbooks, and you'll see all the over-the-top can-can end pronto.

In small doses, however, let the celebrations continue. Most of them are amusing. And heartfelt as in the case of Ezekiel Elliot who, after scoring, leaped into the Salvation Army tub and peeked out over the top to a cheering stadium. I'll bet donations to the Salvation Army increased. 

Another possibility is to assess points for the most inventive celebrations and at the end of the season hold an Academy Awards Ceremony for the top-ten best performances.      Only kidding.

I probably should have found a football poem, but couldn't resist this bowling poem. I'm pretty sure I've never offered a poem about bowling before, so the sport is overdue.

Hook   by Floyd Skloot

My father limps on the leg that healed short.
His twice-broken right wrist, too weak to hold
a bowling ball palm up, is why he spins
a hook he cannot control. The ball rolls
slowly, as if limping while it wanders
from one gutter to the other and back.

We stand dead last in the Father and Son
League, not helped by my rocketing straight shots
that knock down nothing as often as they 
knock down everything. he watches, giving
no advice. At thirteen, knowing there is 
nothing for me to say either. I wait

for the ball's return so I can heft it
again and aim down the gleaming alley.

Friday, December 23, 2016

George Karl, Not a Good Idea, diude.

I haven't read Coach George Karl's book and probably won't, not that I don't admire George's contribution to the NBA. He was a heck of a coach, and was always considered a player's coach, whatever that means.  I wrote my own account of my one year as a head professional coach of the Carolina Cougars of the ABA in which I criticized Jim McDaniels, our non defensive minded center and Joe Caldwell, our over-rated super star. Much later I reread my book and found it sounded a lot like whining.

What I didn't understand back then, and what George doesn't understand now is that it doesn't do a bit of good blasting any of  your players. Whether true or not, it always comes off like sour grapes. George, in your case, everyone who knows the game of basketball is aware of Carmelo's reluctance to play defense, even today when it appears as if he's trying. And anybody with eyes recognizes JR's "unbelievable shot selection." They also realize JR can shoot his  team into a game as well as shoot his team out of a game. In this regard there are a few other players with a similar game malfunction. As for posses, that's a subject that has already gotten Phil Jackson into hot water. Kenyon Martin, from the start of his career, was always a loose cannon. And, really, not too many average sports readers remember Kenyon anyway.I thought he was a knucklehead, but I admired the courage it took for him to come back after a horrendous knee injury at the end of his college career.

On to other things.

Classy move by Pat Riley to honor Shaq. Bravo to both men. I'm finding Shaq more lovable in retirement than I did on the court. Deeply impressed that he went on to get a Ph.D.

Here's an example of some fancy (or not fancy) equivocation by Coach K on his player Grayson Allen. "If we start counting up the mistakes of every player - I'm not saying tripping is the right thing to do [No, Coach, it's is  absolutely the wrong thing to do.] , whether a guy curses or shows a bad attitude - we're going to find that a lot of players do something wrong," ......No kidding. Are you equating cursing with tripping? "That he [Allen] did something he did last year that wasn't good, that's not good." Dance around the verbal flagpole a little more, coach. How about saying tripping an opponent is wrong under any circumstance. and I and my staff will not tolerate it. The young man will sit on the bench until he believes he can improve his behavior on the court. If he doesn't, he's off the team.

My years of playing sports are taking their toll on me in my old age. Here's a poem I wrote on the subject.

Looking at an X-Ray of My Back    by Tom Meschery

I say to my doctor, my spine
looks like a curve ball,
and he says
it's a breaking pitch
to the inside. I think that's funny,
so I say I can still win a game 
or two even at my age,
you know. And he says
you can't fool anybody
with that pitch at any age.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

You Reap What You Sow

One could argue that the Sacramento Kings, by not standing up to DeMarcus Cousins from the start of his career, have reaped what they sowed. Last night's melodramatic performance by Cousins is a perfect example of Cousin's ongoing personality disorder. He scores 56 points, leading his team to victory with a super heroic effort, after which he goes into a look-at-me-look-at-me hysterical performance that included spitting his mouth guard out at the feet of the opposing team' bench. The referee closest to the scene called the spiting of the mouth-guard inadvertent, rescinded the T, and called Cuz back onto the court where he hit his free-throw. Instead of being thankful, after the game on air with Kayte Christianson, he rants against the referees, his message being they (the refs) have it in for him. Oh, woe is me!  I thought the entire scene during the game (including the mouth piece spitting) was a display of unsportsman-like taunting of an opponent. We'll see what the NBA office on review thinks.

This morning Bee provided a long list of Cousins' antics since he came into the league. At the end of the article it quoted an ESPN analyst who pointed out that DeMarcus Cousin's trade value around the NBA is low.

The poor, poor Kings. What on earth are they going to do? They have a gigantically talented headcase that has lost his trade value and a supporting cast of players that will not bring the Kings much on the trade block. The Kings missed their opportunity at least three years ago when they could have received players and draft choice for Cousins.

At long time ago in my fourth year playing for the Golden State Warriors, our coach Alex Hannum told me that he would trade anyone no matter who, super star or not, if he thought such a trade would improve his team. "That means you," he pointed at me. I took it personally and for a while was mad at my coach. I'd had a strong three years in the league and was playing well. Once I calmed down, I realized Alex was right, and I was grateful for his honesty. It kept my ego in check throughout my ten year career.

Clearly the Kings do not have the wisdom of Coach Hannum and the Warriors who later that year traded Wilt Chamberlain to the 76ers. A great trade overall for the Warriors. And as it turned out a great trade for Wilt. Cousins is no Wilt the Stilt, but you get my point.

The Kings have reaped what they sowed and are up the proverbial "Sh-t Creek."

Is there a solution? Clearly they're not going to get anything of real value through trades. There will be a team willing to take a chance on Cousins, but the Kings won't get value in return. Said team, like the Kings, will reap what they sowed.

For the Sacramento Kings, that leaves the draft or free agency. After trading Cousins, Mr. Ranadive, the King's owner, must open up his pocketbook and go after at least three strong free agents of which there will be a good selection to choose from at the end of the season.

Free agency is the only way. But not for simply one star. The Kings need solid first tier players. With respect, (I do believe they are trying) there is not one player among the King's starter who would start on any of the playoff bound teams in the NBA. Perhaps, not on any of the NBA teams. Perhaps Rudy Gay on one of the lower tier teams.

Enough said. It is time for the Kings management and ownership to man up and trade Cousins. Sacramento deserves more.

Here's a wonderful little poem that is funny and true about football. Would work for rugby as well.

Heaps on Heaps    by  Matthew Concanen
                                         from A Match at Football (1721)

And now both Bands in close embraces met,
Now foot to foot, and breast to breast was set,
Now all impatient grapple round the Ball,
And Heaps on Heaps in wild Disorder fall.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Post First Basketball Doesn't Work Anymore

If you haven't noticed, the NBA is no longer a post first league that way it was in the Sixties and Seventies. The last big that was called upon to provide essential scoring was Shaquille O'Neil.
It's not that the bigs are not needed in today's game. They are still crucial as shot blockers, rebounders, and paint protectors. The best example of this was Andrew Bogut of the Warriors' championship team. Anther example is the great shoot blockers Hassan Whiteside and DeAndre Jordan.

Very few teams today rely on their centers for big point production. Towns for the Timberwolves, Gasol for the Griz, Anthony Davis for the Pelicans (but I don't consider him a center in the strict sense of the word; ditto Porzingis of the Knicks.) Joel Embiid, still a ? but looking like a stud. The Sacramento Kings, as far as I can determine, is the only team that if their Big doesn't score, there is no way they can win. 

It used to be a team acquired a great center and built a team around him. Doesn't work anymore. Game is too fast and too fluid. Without a solid point guard (one that can score) a team in the NBA today is lost. Without three point shooters, a team in the NBA is lost. It is a bonus if your Big can score, but that's not where the emphasis is anymore.

This is a problem the Kings have not been able to figure out, although it's been staring them in the face for the last four years. 

Got to love seeing Villanova and the Bruins one two in the college basketball standings and not any of the usual suspects: Duke, Kentucky, and N. Carolina. Shades of Rollie Massimino.

Does anybody see any signs of energy coming from the 49ers? Owner, GM, and coach got to go. Why owner? Because this  York kid has no idea what constitutes a GM who knows how to build a team. Maybe if the dad took over???? How about Walsh back from the grave?

Instead of a poem, here's another tribute to Bill King, sports broadcaster extraordinaire in honor of him being inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame.

A quote by Dave Henderson  (A's player from 1988 -1993, who grew up in the San Joaquin Valley town of Dos Palos.) It has a sort of Jack Kerouac feel to it.

   Down in the valley, remember, these were farmers and workers that didn't have the money to go to games, so they listened on the radio. They equated Oakland A's baseball with Bill King. If they heard his voice, baseball was going on and it was summertime and everything was rosy. He gave everybody that feeling that everything was okay, Bill was on the radio, nice warm day, baseball was going, everything was fine in the world. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Doesn't It Seem Foolish?

I understand that toward the end of a season, certain players upon whom a team relies, having racked up lots of minutes, need time off. However, resting uninjured (vets or not) this early in the season is an insult to the fans, and considerable molly-coddling of said players. Aw, baby needs a nap; otherwise he'll be cranky? Meanwhile teams lose games up front that later in the season will possibly come back to bite them on their butts? Great, sure makes sense to me.

Last night I watched Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks sitting it out. Could Carmelo's presence on the court have helped his team defeat the Warriors? Probably not, but one never knows. The Warriors are still in "figure things out" mode, which allows for some unseen defeats (Undermanned Griz, recently, for example).

Frankly, I've never been a Carmelo fan and, in my humble opinion, the Knicks should trade him (probably have to eat some of that big contract) and build around a terrific core of young players that they have. Still, there the Star sat, healthy and ready to play, and in the stands sat fans who paid big bucks, to come to the game, some eager to see first hand the "great" Carmelo. See what I mean? It ain't fair to the people who provide the money to keep this league going, unless of course the NBA is so arrogant it figures TV money will support the league forever.

Right now I'm feeling about sports fans the way I'm feeling about America's middle class under a Trump presidency, like he give a crap. Two nights ago, the Sacramento Kings gave DeMarcus Cousins a rest. Are they kidding me? The young man (stress young) is not injured and was desperately needed. The Kings can't win without him. Of course, they can never win a championship with him, but that's entirely another blog.

To honor Craig Sager who died recently after battling cancer, I offer this poem I've used on my blog before but is worth using again. Sager was a real personality and a damn could interviewer.

Mr. Fancy Suit
     For Craig Sager in memoriam

Entire species have given their lives
for his shoes, ostrich and alligator
dyed to resemble what their skins
might look like were they fowl
or reptile from another planet,
red being neither blood nor cherry,
yellow neither corn nor sunflower.
The camera is recording the white
patent leathers with toes of fuchsia,
but of a generation of fuchsia
yet unknown to mankind.
He holds the pair with one hand,
with his other hand gently strokes
the leather, like childhood pets.
From his closet he draws forth
his sport coats: the Scottish plaid,
the royal blue, the black beaded
one with sequins, drawing gasps
of delight, followed by the pink
with while lapels, the purple silk
and orange shirt, no self-respecting
orange would endure. There are ties
I remember seeing as a boy looking
into a kaleidoscope and ties of red lips,
that do not kiss but look as if they could.
I think of clowns, the irony concealed
beneath their costumes and matadors,
their blessed suits of light, actors
and the roles they hide behind.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

That was Basketball, This is Life

After the last years NBA Championship won by the Cleveland Cavs, I took LeBron to task on my Blog for his public griping over Draymond Green's swat at his groin that hardly touched its target. I've never been a fan of LeBron's basketball. Not that he's not one of the greatest to ever play the game, but so much of his greatness derives from his amazing physical strength. I know that that's a bogus reason, but it's the same way I felt about Shaquille O'Neil and his back-in-knocked-down-his -defender-to-score strategy. I even wrote a poem about LeBron in my recent collection of poems, Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports, in which I compared LeBron to the bull in a bullfight. "...still, you can't cheer for the bull," was the last line of the poem.

Well, that was basketball, and this is about life. In this mornings sports page I read that on the Sports Illustrated cover photograph of LeBron  James as Sportsman of the Year, the Cavs star is wearing a safety pin on his jersey. Since Donald Trump's election, the safety pin has become a symbol of solidarity with those Americans (people of color primarily) who fear they'll be disenfranchised by the Trump presidency. I know of no other player in the NBA or any coaches or any NBA administrator or ownership wearing a safety pin. I'm pretty sure the media would have noticed by now. Therefore, LeBron is making a personal and brave statement of his beliefs. Good for you LeBron. When I told my wife about this, her words were, "God bless him." A double blessing, LeBron.

This is not the first time LeBron James has been a thoughtful citizen.

Recently, LeBron James' voice was one of the strongest to urge the NBA to provide a comprehensive free medial & prescription drug insurance for all retired players. Great news, especially for senior citizen players. In addition, LeBron has donated money and time to work on behalf of keeping youngsters in schools. Clearly, LeBron is a man with a strong moral compass and social conscience.

It makes me want to say, "I take back everything I said about your basketball game, LeBron," but of course I can't, entirely because that's basketball. But life has taught me that playing hoops takes up so little of one's chronological time on earth, that who you are as a man in the long run is far more important than hoops. With this in mind, I honor LeBron James. 

Here's the poem I wrote about LeBron with a caveat at the end.

LeBron James     by Tom Meschery

I'm lying in bed watching the Heat
throttle the Pacers and wondering
why I can't warm up to LeBron James
the way I did to players like Jerry West,
Julius Erving, Magic, Bird, Michael Jordan.
There's no doubt LeBron is the best
basketball player playing today and may
after his career ends, become the best 
of all time. Still, here I am hoping
He'll make some gross error and lose
the game for his team. No such luck.
Doing what he does best, he attacks,
driving with such strength, no defense
can survive. His skills made greater
by his strength. I played in the NBA.
I should admire how he plays, but don'
Instead, I'm feeling the frustration
of the opponents, how they must feel,
having worked so hard all their lives
to become great players, the best
in grade schools, high schools, colleges,
top NBA draft choices, now reduced to this:
LeBron making them look like amateurs.
It's sort of like watching a bullfight
in which the bull has not been weakened 
by picadors before the matador
steps up with his cape and sword.
In which case the bull is the clear victor,
right? See what I mean? It's not  who wins,
you still can't cheer for the bull. 

P.S. Except against my Golden State Warriors, in the future, I intend to cheer for the bull. 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Barnes and Cousins

Sac Bee superb sports writer, Andy Furillo, is right. Back in the day, athletes in NYC had special hang outs. He mentioned a few: Bachelor III, Toots Shor, Wilt's Small's Paradise. There were others. Bill King, our broadcaster and recent inductee into broadcasters Hall of Fame, George Lee, a teammate on the Warriors, and I liked to unwind at Willy Pep's, a small piano bar, named for the owner, the great lightweight boxing champ. Did we stay out late? Some of us did, some did not. I don't intend to preach as it would be the pot calling the kettle black. I once say Richie Geurin, the Knicks' All-Star point-guard, the night before our game, stumble out of Bachelor III and pass out on the sidewalk. He scored 40 points with what had to be the biggest hangover of all time. In today's sports-world Richie would have made headlines for the drunken incident. But we were living in a different era.

Today in the mele that is the music/dance/glitterati scene celebrities are noticed, and there are, indeed, predators out there willing to suffer a black eye or a choke hold to get their hands on some big time cash. This is going to be Matt Barnes defense: that it was a setup. Maybe, maybe not? The problem with Barnes's view of things is his history of violence. The problem with Cousins is that he followed Barnes. Good job, Vlade, bringing in a mentor and role model for your star, who already has an "edgy" personality, to say the least.

A sucker punch? Why not grab the guy and put him in a bear hug, DeMarcus? I know, I wasn't there. Anyway, the legal system will sort this out. There is video and witnesses, and of course (if you have the cash) settlements.

I'm more worried about Coach David Joerger's statement explaining that sitting Matt Barnes for last night's game against the Knicks was a planned rest-day. First of all, rest Barnes? Really? Barnes may be 36 years old, but he's not even a starter and this is very early into the season for resting players. Something does not read right. What it is, I'm not sure. What does management know about the incident? From a purely coaching perspective, Barnes defense was crucial against a one-on-one super star like Carmelo Anthony, who went off for 31 points, so I don't buy that Barnes needed rest. He was needed.

Be careful Coach, succumbing to bad management decisions can be deadly for your coaching career.

Speaking of bad management decisions. I was talking to someone recently who assured me that there was another better player involved in drafting the 7'2" slow footed Greek center and not taking Marquees Chriss in the first round of last year's draft, an excellent player who might come to the Kings next season. I sure hope so because Chriss is going to be a first class power-forward in the NBA for a long time.  

On to a more pleasant topic - Bill King, the voice of the Golden State Warriors, the voice of the Oakland Raiders, the voice of the Oakland Athletics and my dearest friend, gourmand, bibliophile, and Slavophile: There was a time when Bill was broadcasting all three major sports at the same time as their seasons overlapped, something never done in the history of broadcasting. His wonderful wife, Nancy, dear woman, hardly saw Bill at all as Bill was always on the road. Some people will remember Bill's famous expression "Holy Toledo" as he announced something special happening on the field or court.

If anyone is interested in a bio of Bill, the title is HOLY TOLEDO: Lessons from Bill King, Renaisance Man of the Mic by Ken Korach published by Wellstone Books.

The following is a poem I wrote for Bill after his death and read at his memorial service:

In Memoriam, Bill King (1927-2005)      By Tom Meschery

     I prosper, circled by thy voice;
     I shall not lose thee though I die.
                 -Alfred Lord Tennyson

My friend, you are speaking and we hear pictures.
For you are sitting courtside or above the game.
For the action is moving from left to right on the dial.
For someone is rising to shoot a miracle.
For the referees are dying in your microphone.

For the air is tumbling with punters' kicks
For your call, Bill, leaves the tailback no choice
But to believe in the hole that opens as you speak.

For someone has hit a home run beyond Toledo.
For the squeeze-play has caught the runner

In the middle of a metaphor - a rabbit undecided
Between which hunter he'll allow to shoot him.
For a player is trying to steal second
Sliding headfirst under your words - he's out!

For today I am feeling a great pity for anyone
Who has never heard you state a Beaujolais Nouveau
Is best served slightly chilled with brie on buttered toast.
For we all have an appetite for your voice.
For we need directions to the best restaurants
Or we will lose our way and die of hunger.

For I hear you reciting in Russian
the poetry of Pushkin and Akhmatova.
For we are together on a train racing across Siberia,
And we are drunk with vodka, and we are weeping.
For I will keep you like a tongue in my heart.
For I hear you now railing against the politicians
Right and Left. For they are hiding like gophers
From your voice. They fear only your Nancy  more.

For Varuna is sailing under the Golden Gate
For it's you, not Nureyev, on the stage dancing.
For you are painting your voice on a canvas
For you are taking a nap under your table.
For you are eating peanut butter and onions
For your cat Hank is attacking the hibiscus.
O Jubilate, he is more worthy than Jeoffrey.
For Nancy is waiting, tired of being alone.
For you have left your words behind for us.
For all we need to do is turn on any radio
Close our eyes and listen to your play-by-play.

Notes about this poem:

18th century British poet Christopher Smart wrote a poem, Jubilate Agnos, (Praise to the Lamb)
a part of which honored his cat Jeoffrey. This poem is written in the style of Smart's poem.

For three years, Bill King was simultaneously the radio ply-by ply broadcaster for the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders, and the Oakland A's, a feat unequaled in the annals of major league sports broadcasting.

Varuna: Bill and Nancy's 44 ft ketch

Bill loved poetry, painting, the ballet, and all the arts. 

Bill King was famous for punctuating great sport's moments by yelling "Holy Toledo!"

Nancy, Bill's wife died before Bill, in June of 2004.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pigskin, B-Ball and Karate


I know a hell of a lot more about basketball than I do about football, but there are common denominators that can be applied to all sports, the two main ones being: Offense and Defense. When both stink, it doesn't matter what sport, from curling to NFL football, the team or individual athlete stinks.

I've been holding my nose watching my "San Jose" 49ers this season and the odor is not getting any better. The problem is two-fold: Trent Balke and Chip Kelly. It's Balke's responsibility as GM to provide his coach and staff with quality players at all positions. This has not happened. It is Chip Kelly's responsibility as the head coach to prepare his players to play and to devise a scheme on both ends of the field enabling them to compete. This has not happened. In my opinion the hires, the trades and the drafts Balke has made seem weird or dumb. In Kelly's case, he just seems like he's over his head - a strong college coach, but a lousy pro coach. Believe me there's a big difference in the two levels. Considering the history of the NFL, there have only been about ten coaches who were successful in college and the pros. Chip is not going to join their ranks. What is finally telling for me is the 49ers lack of enthusiasm and energy. The athletes step on the field an already defeated team.


The  Sacramento Kings made a huge mistake not drafting Marquese Chriss of the University of Washington (and a local kid) in the first round. The young power forward is starting for the Phoenix Suns and showing tons of promise. Of course Marquese has to grow as a player, but he is not a project the way the King's Greek is. A slow footed big man??? Really, Vlade? How many teams are winning with slow footed bigs these days? 

As for the present team, I got to hand it to Dave Joerger, he's got a team composed of a bunch of vets (Cousins excluded and apologies to Rudy) who'd have a hard time being starters on any other team in the NBA playing well on both ends of the court. Not well enough to win, but not embarrassing themselves. Once Coach  Joerger can get his men to become a fourth quarter team, they might win some of the games that they presently can't close. I suspect that if, and its a big IF, the Kings management can provide Coach Joerger with some talent, he'll bring winning seasons to Sacramento.

However. (Isn't there always a however?) Why is  it that the Kings can't play consistent aggressive defense, particularly in the fourth quarter? In most cases when that is the question, the answer is the team is not in shape physically. Might that be possible?

Karate   by Stanley Plumly

If I could chop wood.
If I could just cut through
this furniture.

the paraphernalia
of blocks
and stacks of boards,
wedged and

if I could break the back
of a single two-by-four,

if the Japaneses instructor would only
lay his little building
of bricks
in front of me,

if I could only drive nails
deep into the hard rose of the wood.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mark Cuban Got It Right

Loud and clear, in my book Mark Cuban is a stud. Here's what he recently said about our President-Elect donald rump: "The President-Elect is a present and immediate danger to our country."

Cuban is not a stud in the eyes of NBA referees, and he's been a thorn in the side of NBA officials and there have been times watching him on TV that I've thought he was clearly over the top, but I'm going to give him a Meschery pass for all future shenanigans. Go for it, Mark. Raise some hell for the good of our country.

Sorry to see Omri Casspi relegated to the deep bench in Sacramento. I can understand Coach Jaegor's position; he prefers a grit and grind offense and Omri needs to be in a team that plays uptempo. But on the defensive end, Casspi could be a big plus. Even so, for Casspi to be effective, he need reasonable minutes, which he'll never get on this season's Kings. Maybe back in Houston with D'Antoni. Maybe in LA. The Clips could use defense and another three-point-shooter.

Watched the Warriors dismantle the Pacers. Granted the Pacers were missing their star Paul George, but it wouldn't have mattered in the end. The Warriors are coming into their own. It's becoming increasingly noticeable that the Dubs are going to be extremely deep, and Coach Kerr, to his credit, is giving reserves lots of minutes to grow their confidence. This will not be an eight man rotation.

The following poem is from a collection I'm working on written in the manner of the ancient Asian poets. All the poems will be about sports. This form of poetry is called a Lu-Shih, a four-line poem that was a favorite of two of the greatest Chinese poets, Tu-Fu and Li-Po.

Sky Hooks    by Tom Meschery

His body high in the air
His hand cradling the ball, letting it fly
Waiting for it to fall from the sky,
Looking up, holding my breath. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Retired English Teacher's Lament & etc

I know, I know, so many of our NBA players leave college early, some after their freshman year, but they all went to high school, so there's no reason to make the following Russell Westbrook grammatical errors:

"We just wasn't ready. Just wasn't ready tonight, starting with myself. . . I could have did  a lot of things better, man. . . " You could have started by paying attention in your English class, Russell.

Should you be embarrassed? I think so. You are a model for other young men. If Russell talks like that, hey, that's cool. You are not the only professional athlete who hasn't the slightest idea about English grammar and usage, so consider yourself one of a number of failed English students playing professional sports.

Should we blame your failure on our public school system to teach you? Probably. But that doesn't mean, later, on your own, you can learn to speak correctly, if not for yourself, for little boys and girls that call themselves your fans. The Thunder is paying you plenty of money. Go back to school during the off season. Hire a tutor. I'm available, and my fees are reasonable.

Etc: If the Kings can play defense as aggressively as they did last night against a very strong team like the Toronto Raptors, they will no longer be disrespected around the league. Nothing excites an ex NBA player who built his career on defense, more than to see players flying around the court, swiping at passes and dribbles, closing out strong, making steals, blocking off the borders, working their butts off. Congratulations to Coach Jaeger and his staff for emphasizing this part of the game.

In these troubled times we need poetry to enrich our souls. This poem seems perfect to me. I read the following section and felt better.

Running   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.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Trump Blues

Since the election, I've been in an unrelenting depressive state. Never in my worst nightmares could I have imagined donald trump winning the presidency of the United States. I thought we were a better people. I saw us becoming more multicultural, not less, more racially embracing, not less, more inclusive, not less; more compassionate. There were so many signs during the last eight years I took for the truth: our television shows and movies were increasingly becoming biracial. Advertising were beginning to use biracial couples to sell products. Everywhere I looked on the streets where I lived, white people and people of color were living as neighbors, marrying each other, bearing proud biracial children. There were still serious racial problems, sure, but we would fix them. I would have bet every cent I had that donald trump could not have won more than a few southern states, that the rest of the electorate would reject him as, simply, not in step with the expanding bi-racialism of the United States. Was I ever wrong.

In regard to trump and the NBA, it is clear to me that any NBA owner who voted for the donald is no better than Donald Sterling, the racist.

And to those of you who placed the sign in front of a school recently that read: Trump Nation; Whites Only, let me ask you this question: On that day that you yearn for so much when America becomes all white and all Christian, who will be left to hate? Who else? People like you, poor uneducated white haters. In your Trump Nation, you will become the neglected and reviled minority.

It is time to send as much good karma Colin Kaepernick's way. We need for him to become a successful quarterback in the NFL because the greater his success, the great his protest will resonate throughout the country. In the next four years, we're going to need a lot more Kaepernicks, not for the sake of the 49eers, but for the sake of America.

Athletes   by Walker Gibson

The groggy fighter on his knees
Sways up at nine, postpones the count;
The jockey, forty-to-one shot, sees
Them all go by, yet whips his mount;
The losing pitcher, arm gone lame,
Still drops that last one in, a strike -
So you and I play a stubborn game,
Disaster prodding us alike.
So you and I, ignoring odds,
Tug caps, clutch ropes, and flail our whips,
Make sacrifices to the gods,
Breed children and build battleships.
Though ours is not an athlete's doom,
Nor death like any locker room                         * The word locker in the original was
                                                                               shower. I changed it to the more
                                                                               modern term.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Locker Room Talk & etc

Wilt Chamberlain had intimate, consensual relationships with a huge number of women over his career as a NBA mega-super-star. Not once did he ever talk about them in the locker room; not once did he brag about groping them, claiming he could get away with it because he was a star. This wasn't locker room talk that you vomited up, President Elect donald rump, it was slime-ball talk that takes place in the gutter not in a sports locker room where athletes prepare to do battle against each other.

The Kings have got to learn how to sustain aggressive defense for longer than a quarter. Last night, during the fourth quarter the Sacramento Kings gave one of the best teams in the NBA, the LA Clippers, fits. On both sides of the court, they attacked. It is a truism in basketball that good defense is an attacking one. A defensive player should never wait to see what the man he's guarding is going to do, he must force him to do what he doesn't want to do.

I am still of the opinion that Kings' center, DeMarcus Cousins, needs an attitude transfusion, but I have to admit that he is one talented big man, the only bone-fide star the Kings have, and without him they'd have trouble winning a single game.

A question for the Kings to answer: why Papagianis and not Chriss in the first round?  Marquise Chriss is going to be a very effective 4, something the Kings (with apologies to Rudy Gay, who's really a 3) need desperately alongside Cousins.

More about the Kings. I'm worried about Willy Cauley-Stein. Has he improved at all over the summer? I don't see anything significant. What was he doing all summer? Where is the footwork? The post moves? And poor MacLemore, will he ever be anything but potential?

Thinking of the phrase, slowly but surely, I imagine my Golden State Warriors' carefully planned and sure-footed path to greatness. I suggest to all my readers that there indeed is a plan, not one that I first detected. However, over the last few games I've been noticing the variety of match-ups and lineups Coach Kerr and his staff have been employing. I love how Coach is bringing his younger players and reserves along, providing significant minutes, enabling them time to see themselves as contributing players, not just stocking stuffing for blowouts. The payoff will not be immediate, but it will be significant when the time comes. The Warriors' victory over the Celtics last night was a pleasure to watch. Even if Horford had played, the game belonged to the Dubs.

Dumb people say dumb things. For example Dwight Howard on his Flagrant Foul II for throwing an elbow at the head of Hornet's center Cody Zeller: "It wasn't like I was trying to hit him in the face, but my job is to protect my house - at all costs." HOOAH! Guess the face just got in the way of the elbow. During my career, I threw an elbow or two myself, so I know how it goes: you throw an elbow, there is a high percentage that it will make contact with the head - it's in the nature of elbows.
"I didn't mean to" is meaningless.

Thinking of an appropriate poem in the wake of this presidential election, I found one I wrote for my latest collection: Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports.

How I Became An American       by Tom Meschery

A few home run kicks at kickball,
in fourth grade, and I knew that's what
I needed to do to become an American:
kick farther, run faster, jump higher.
Then, it didn't matter if I spoke with
a Russian accent and my mother wore
 a babushka and my father could barely
speak English. I was no longer
an immigrant, I was an athlete.
I'd circle the  bases and be embraced
by my teammates as  citizen
of a county of many sports, although
I was years away from raising my hand
and repeating the oath of allegiance
that would bind me in ways
to the Untied States of America
that I would never fully understand.

Friday, November 18, 2016

One Last Comment About Trump

I know what happened to the boys in elementary school who taunted me, a Russian immigrant, recently arrived to America after the Second World War, calling me Red, Commie, urging me to go back where I came from, ridiculing my broken English, they grew up and voted for donald trump. In him they found a kindred spirit, a man to place in the White House with a similar dark soul.

Four spaces to avoid talking about sports to closely to talking about evil.

What I like about the Warriors at this point in the season is their capacity to grow dramatically by the playoffs. Cleveland and San Antonio, aside from some fine tuning, are pretty much who they're going to be at the end of the regular season. The same can be said for the Clippers and Toronto with a little room for growth, but not enough to make a difference come playoff time.  How well the rest of the teams in the NBA grow will not have an effect on the final four teams: San Antonio and the Warriors in the West; Cleveland and Toronto in the East. Sorry Celtics, sorry Hawks, ditto Clippers and Thunder. Next year, perhaps.

Lovely old poem about climbing, not exactly a sport, but there's a kind of cleanness in the poem right now I need to feel, instead of the darkness.

Climbing in Glencoe   by Andrew Young

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Where's the Courage?

I'm finding it impossible to believe the lack of indignation being exhibited by NBA players, coaches, and administration over the election of donald trump.(I will not capitalize his name.) Is it possible players who are predominately African-American and their white teammates, who live in constant companionship with their black brethren, are unwilling to stand up and proclaim that donald trump is a racist, every bit as much a racist as donald sterling? (He doesn't deserve capital letters either.) Astounding and heartbreaking.

Where is your courage? trump is a cheap-shot artist. He is the kind of man, were he a basketball player, who would hit you with an elbow when you weren't looking.

Say it isn't so, that as wealthy African Americans, you're not concerned. Like you got yours, the heck with the brothers and sisters who will suffer under trump's presidency. And what about your fellow athletes, professional baseball players, those guys from South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean - those men of color? Do you believe that they are thieves and rapists as trump announced during the campaign? Professional athletes all over America should rise up in pain and anger over this fraud who intends to take our country back to the days of segregation.

You don't think so? Oh, that Meschery is just a raging liberal, don't pay any attention to him. Perhaps you believe the office will mellow trump out, and he'll be controlled by forces of moderation in his entourage, his posse (I use this pejorative word because it fits.). Pay attention, folks. Don't be fooled into thinking donald trump is a fool. His ego is enormous. His will power immense. People who he feels are beneath him, all people of color, are in for a very hard four years.

In closing, instead of a poem, a quote from a British newspaper regarding the election of donald trump from a sign outside a London pub:

                                               ALL AMERICANS WISHING 
                                               TO ENTER THIS ESTABLISHMENT
                                                MUST BE ACCOMPANIED 
                                                BY AN ADULT

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


My mother was right about friendship. I was eleven or twelve years old and hanging out with a pal who I called friend. He was, for lack of a better word, charismatic, sort of in the way Lucifer must have appeared to John Milton as he wrote Paradise Lost. He attracted followers, of which Meschery was one. I remember the day clearly, I came home late. past my curfew. My mother confronted me. Not in a mean way, she explained that I had changed since I had started paling around with Joe (not his real name). Joe, she told me, was a selfish young man. All he wanted was whatever was best for himself. He used friends. She cautioned that there were people like that all over the world, and I would have to recognize them. My mother provided other example's of Joe's personality, and slowly I began to understand what she was talking about. She never told me I couldn't be friends with Joe. If she had, I probably would have ignored her. Simply and systematically she listed Joe's negative qualities. They amounted to all the fingers of both my hands.
I went to bed thinking. I woke up and never played with Joe again. Thanks Mom.

I don't know if Bill Belichick's mother is still alive. If she were, I wonder what she would have said had she heard her son's friend, Donald Trump, brag that he groped women. What would she have said had she heard Donald Trump call Mexican immigrants thieves and rapists? What would she have told her son had she seen Trump making fun of someone with a disability - those ugly faces he made, those ody disfigurements he mimicked? Would she have sat her son, Bill, down and told him the man for whom he voted, was not worthy of loyalty? I would like to think she said, "My son, you have an entire team of players who deserve your loyalty, many of whom are people of color, men far more worthy of your loyalty than Donald Trump.

I wonder if that would have made an impression on Bill Belichick..

In the future, all the people who voted for Donald Trump will discover whether he is worthy of their loyalty as citizens of the United States or whether their vote for him has been a profound mistake.

Trump Makes Faces   by Tom Meschery

I am sick at heart looking at the next President of the United States
mimicking the tortured spasms of a palsied man, the grotesque
flinging of his arms he can control but sick men can't
because his presidential spirit is mean, and he wants to ridicule.
He will sit in the oval office, behind him the Stars and Stripes,
the window opening onto the White House lawn,
the light of our nation warming his back, and if the mood
strikes him, he will fall from his chair into convulsions 
and  think it's hilarious, and around America there will be
men and woman who will find his antics humorous
and laugh their heads off, those same people I recall
from the halls of schools where I taught, who laughed 
at the crippled boy, the girl with  cerebral palsy.
They saw their meanness as a joke, the ha, ha, ha
that will resound from the highest office of the land
through the halls of Congress, the streets of our country. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hurrah for Greg Popovich, Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy.

Thank you Pop, Steve and Stan for being stand-up guys at this terrible time in America's history, to voice your dismay, to be be real Americans. It helped my depression to read what you said. I only wish all the NBA coaches and the NBA League office would have come out as strongly as you guys.

I'm still reeling after the election. I woke up on the 9th depressed and angry.  How, I asked myself, could the American public vote for such a man as Donald Trump to be President of the United States of America? Let's forget politics or economic policy, the struggle between conservatives and liberals. I keep asking myself: Do Americans want a bully in the White House? Do Americans want a man who denigrates women in the White House? Do Americans want a man who calls Mexicans and other immigrants thieves, killers, and terrorists in the White House? Do Americans want a man who played a role in a Playboy soft porn movie in the White House? Do Americans want our First Lady to have taken part in a girl on girl porno photo shoot? Do Americans want a man who, in just three years, was a party to 2,000 lawsuits in the White House? Do Americans want a man who is party to 75 still active lawsuits that he will have to go to court for during his presidency in the White House? Do Americans want a man who ridiculed people with muscular dystrophy, mimicking them in front of an national/world-wide audience in the White House? How can our president-elect possibly  represent us: AMERICA--all of us in America--black, white, brown, Asian, female and LGBT?

The answer to the questions is he can't.  The majority of Americans voted for the other candidate.  Clinton won the popular vote, but not enough to swing the Electoral College. In stead, Americans voted to put a sleazeball into arguably the most powerful political position in the world.

After I retired from playing professional basketball, I taught high school for twenty-five years. If at any time during those years I encountered a student who spoke or acted the way Donald Trump did during the campaign, I would have had that kid in the Principal's office in a nano-second and would have been on the phone with that kid's parents.

In our high schools, we do not allow students to grope our female students; we do not allow our students to call people of color names; we do not allow our students to make fun of our students with disabilities. In all the high schools of this country of ours, we expel knucklehead bigots like Donald Trump. We enroll them in alternative schools isolated from the general population of students.
We do not want Donald Trump-like students to taint our good and hardworking young people..

It saddens me greatly that a huge number of citizens of the United States felt it was OK to have a slime-bucket for a president. I am an immigrant who came happily to the United States with my family after the Second World War. We were Russians fleeing the Communists. We suffered the indignities of the McCarthy period - the names calling, the Red baiting. When Americans rose up against the demagoguery of McCarthy, I raised my hand and took the oath of allegiance to the United States. I became a naturalized American citizen. I made a life for myself and my own family here. I played in the NBA. We are a league that does not discriminate.

The NBA is a model for the entire country. We do not allow bigots to own NBA franchises. I am a basketball player and a teacher of young people. I  am proud to be an American. But with the election of Donald Trump, I am in deep mourning for our country.

So intent on getting this blog out, I forgot a poem. Here's one about baseball that is sad, which fits my mood.

Nothing but Bad News  by Jennifer Richter

as the man next door on his porch
too small for bleachers or an ump
rolls up his shirtsleeves
grips the stick with both hands
raises it over his head to stretch
and the lovers downstairs
fire What What What
one-word argument that's lost the question
with the name the doctors gave yesterday
to what's been eating you,
curve ball that pushes me 
back from the plate
the man next door taking one hard swing after another
the dusk thickening
with fog, sweat, grill smoke
too much goddamn cheering
too many out there
laughing themselves sick

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Few Thoughts About the Sacramento Kings

With all the hoopla about the King's new, architecturally splendid arena, it's easy to forget that the team inhabiting that palace is not playing basketball well. Vlade brought in veterans to stabilize the defense and boards, and support Cousins, and, perhaps, keep the lid on the big man's tantrums. It's not happening. I see little in the way of solid man-to-man defense. I see very little in the way of rim protection. Rim protection should be an important responsibility of Center, Demarcus Cousins, but the big man has little talent for it. He doesn't have the instincts of a shot blocker, plus he has no hops. That leaves Koufus, who makes the effort, but has only a little more natural talent for shot blocking than Cousins.

What about the other guys? Gay is not a boarder and only an average defender. So, the front court is susceptible to the drive. What about the back court? Maclemore III has the athleticism and works hard at defense, but loses his way. Mac's natural condition on the court is one of confusion. Poor kid, I look at his baby face and wonder if anybody's home. Ty Lawson has speed, but does he have the will? Collison will be back. He will help with speed and defensive smarts. But he is not strong and can be overpowered by big, fast guards.

I like Temple. In my opinion, he needs to start instead of Maclemore III. Collison and Temple as starters would make a better defensive front than Lawson and Mac. Some would argue that Matt Barnes should be starting instead of Koufus to shore up the D intensity. But Barnes is so edgy, one wonders when the short fuse will burn down before the bomb goes off.  I'd still vote for him as a starter with Koufus coming off the bench. Casspi is the type of player whose worth can only be measured if he has substantial minutes. On a Euro League team where he would be a starter, he could be an All Star. Omri doesn't get the minutes in this rotation. Either play him more or trade him. Tolliver won't hurt you. Solid off the bench performer. The rooks. The Greek and the Haitian are really raw, although Labisiere seems to have a nice touch. Maybe, maybe Richardson should get some minutes. Looks to have talent.

A couple of questions. 1) Does Cousins ever "show" or switch on screens? 2) Does anybody sense there is a team defensive effort. ie: players on a string?

Finally, there simply isn't enough athleticism on the Kings for them to compete against the strong NBA teams. So, expect a few more wins than last year, but not many. If that happens, expect Cousins to ask to be traded.

I've always liked this poem written by the Roman poet, Virgil, from his Georgics translated by Smith
Palmer Bovie as it demonstrates the mentality it takes to win.

The Chariot Race    by Virgil

Have you not seen them fighting for the lead,
Their chariots plunging when the barrier drops,
The drivers' surging hopes, the pounding fear
That drains exulting hearts? They close in,
Ply the lash, crouch over loosened reins,
The glowing axle spins, the drivers' bodies
Seem now to scrape the ground, and now to soar
Through empty air, wheels rising in the wind;
No hanging back, no rest: a golden cloud
Or sand swirls in their wake, the flecks of foam,
The breath of the pursuers, soak them through;
So great is their love for praise, their will to win.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Another Reason to Vote for Hillary

Hey, out there in undecided land, if you need a reason to vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States of America, consider the following list of professional athletes and coaches who are supporting Donald Trump:

Mike Tyson ---Latrell Sprewell...Richie Incognito... Bobby Knight ... John Daly... Denis Rodman...Terrell Owens. Holy Anger Management! Imagine these guys in the Trump cabinet. How long would it be before we're in a war with Iran? Come to think of it, maybe the Clinton government (she's the winner) could package these guys and send them to Iraq to fight ISIS. I'd actually feel sorry for ISIS.

Other pro athletes supporting Trump worth mentioning are:

Nick Mangold. . . Mike Ditka. . . Luo Holtz. . . John Rocker. . . Eric Wood. . . Derik Woolf. ... Paul O'Neill. All whites. Are we surprised?

Actually, looking at this list, I'm not surprised one bit. I am, however, astonished, astounded and shocked by the number of  NFL African-Americans, who were quoted in a recent article in the Sacramento Bee, that they are still undecided, citing worry over economics and their taxes going up, sounding like a bunch of privileged uber-wealthy Republicans. Holy Memory Loss. Do they really believe Trump gives a sh_t about people of color? This Presidential race is about a whole lot more than your paltry millions.

Here's another poem I published it a few years back and worth repeating.

Ulysses    by Claude Clayton Smith

There is yet some elastic
in this tired old jock,
enough to toss the ball
around and teach my son
Telemachus the subtle art
of looking left - while
thinking right. To catch 
the opposition napping,
to cross them up and leave
them guessing. Elastic
yet to flip the pages of 
faded clippings and narrate
tales that live as legends:
the hours of practice
the hard-fought game
the occasional moments
of glory. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Sacramento Kings 2016/17

It looks like the Sacramento Kings finally have a coach they can rely on to take them out of the desert of the last ten years and into more fertile ground. His name is David Joeger. His first three games coaching demonstrate a solid approach to the professional basketball. He was rock-solid in Memphis and he will be the same rock in River City.

There is still, of course, the problem of his extremely talented child/center, DeMarcus Cousins, who threw a fit in the closing minutes of last night's game against the Timberwolves. His antic disposition, rushing into the stands and throwing his mouthpiece after he was called for a sixth foul could very well have cost the Kings the game, one they deserved to win, displaying the kind of grit past Kings' teams rarely displayed. I was surprised (very surprised) the refs refrained from T-ing the big guy for his tantrum. As Cousins ranted, I was reminded of some of my least mature students having melt-downs. I always sent them to the principal's office to cool off. In the old days, that could have called for a spanking. Commissioner Silver, get out your ruler, I'm sending you a trouble maker. 

The Kings' team, I'm happy to report, especially for the sake of my wife's grandsons who have suffered through nothing but losing season during their short lives, are a much improved team under Dave Jeoger and his staff. They are a bit of a hodge-podge of vets, which makes for some concern as to what direction the Kings are taking. My bet is that the front office has decided to forgo a youth plan. This said, I have no complaints about the vets, all of them competent, if not superior players. I've always liked Ty Lawson (before he started having problems). I remember getting on the phone with Al Attles of the Warriors when Ty graduated from North Carolina and telling him to draft the Tarheel's guard. So, I'm pulling for Ty to resurrect his career with the Kings. Afflalo is a streak shooter, but a good defender. Matt Barnes is a flake, but a much better pro than people give him credit for. He too could become a kind of defensive presence and influence the Kings need. Once Darren Collison returns, it only helps the Kings backcourt. Temple is competent point guard and also a solid defender. Koufas is Koufas, a worthy back up center. Cauley Stein is a work in progress,but as the season moves on, he'll improve. How about mastering a few post moves, huh? Maclemore remains a mystery, but seems to be hitting the long ball more consistently, not enough for my taste, but that's me. Toliver will provide good back-up minutes. Omri Casspi doesn't seem happy to me looking at lost minutes. He's at his best when he can shoot the three ball, but none of the Kings appear to be looking for him. He's a tough kid, but a frustrated one. Rudy Gay is Rudy, a Carmelo Antheny clone, but not as strong or as proficient a shooter. STILL, Rudy can create of the bounce from the wing, and every team needs a player like that. Gay will suffice until a better option comes along through a trade. As for the rooks, it doesn't appear that the coaching staff is willing to risk using them much this year. Good decision, bad? Who knows. I like Richarson and Labisiere. The Giant Greek needs lots and lots and lots of work. Footwork would be a good start.

My prediction for this year: Baring injuries the Kings make the Western Conference  Playoffs. Joeger  in the mix for Coach of the Year.

Oh, my God, am I out on the limb, or what? Cousin's hysterics could be the saw that cuts of the limb behind me.

Not just the Kings' Dance team, but around the entire league, totally unimaginative routines. NBA teams are desperately in need of talented choreographers. Here's a poem about NBA dance teams.

NBA Dance Teams    by Tom Meschery

There's a timeout.
The dance team rushes onto the court
and begins dancing the dance of flinging hair.
The music is thumping.
They're humping air.
My wife, sitting next to me, says'
"Sesame Street for the big boys."

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ratings Decline for NFL on Television

The Neilson Company recently reported that 11 percent fewer people are watching NFL football. Why am not surprised?  A great number of folks have already tuned out because of football violence. Now, many of the remaining fans are saying no to the mind numbing numbers of commercials that interrupt the flow of the game. Eleven percent actually seems low to me. I would suggest that the NFL should brace itself for a twenty percent dip in viewership. But that leaves a healthy portion of the American public still glued to Sundays and Mondays. And Thursdays? (Are you kidding me! That's a loser night.)

What astounded me about the recent drop in ratings is that some pollsters are blaming it on Colin Kaepernick's take-a-knee protest against the disproportionate police violence toward African-Americans. Here I go again: you gotta be kidding me? This time, notice the question mark. I have a lot of friends who'd tell me not to be naive. They would tell me that there remains a large percentage of Americans harboring prejudice towards people of color. If that is true, you might ask then what percentage of those men and women harboring such prejudice are NFL fans? Gee, I guess if you have a bunch of NFL fans who are haters,then the pollsters may be correct. Now that's pitiful. And as far as I'm concerned anti-The United States Constitution and anti-American.

Let's take it a step further. I'm surprised more African-American players are not following Kap's lead. Their ho-hum reception to their fellow football player's protest should gladden the hearts of NFL exec. The protest is going nowhere.

What should be worrying the NFL is the number of parents who are not excited about sending their boys onto a football field. These days every injury sends a flock of doctors rushing onto the field. It's the NFL's way of telling the public they are concerned about concussions and other injuries. Fine, but I don't see the game getting any less violent, do you?

The NFL should also be gravely concerned about the commercial interruptions that make the game much less pleasant to watch, rather than allow the speculation that it's Kap's fault. I wonder would happen if Kaepernick started to play well, say become a super star like Tom Brady? I can see the Pat vs the 49er game now: The National Anthem is being played, Kap is taking a knee and Brady is standing erect, hand over the Donald Trump button on pinned to his chest.

Where I'm going with this scenario is not a pretty picture. Donald Trump is going to get more votes in this election than people think. (That's pitiful) He won't win, but his numbers will indicate the amount of racial prejudice that still exists in this beloved country of ours. If Trump stops watching the NFL, the NFL should become truly alarmed.

Congratulations Abe Lieberman and VI Warshawski. Your Cubs finally won the National League Pennant. That Abe and VI are fictional characters, Lierberman being a Chicago cop and Warshawske a Chicago PI, is my way as a dedicated detective-fiction reader of saying congrats to the city of Chicago. You've been the most loyal fans ever. You deserve to win the World Series.

Church   by Tom Meschery

      "It can be a tremendous, soulful experience
        to find communion with 18,000 others."
                    George Karl, coach of the Denver Nuggets

I am tempted to write about communion - 
18,000 kneeling at the railing in a Cathedral
or about the word soul as a collective energy
of fans worshiping their heroes, but my wife
says sport as religion has become a cliche,
Since it's probably the truth, I'm stuck,
with soulful and experience, two words
I can't get out of my head like a refrain
without the rest of the song. I'm sitting
in front of my computer remembering
Sunday mass at Saint Dominc's, how empty
the aisles were compared to Kezar Stadium,
standing room only for 49er games.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ty Lawson and etc

When I taught high school in Reno, NV, I was placed in charge of an intervention program called Double Trouble that provided help to students suffering from drug problems. I have a lot of experience recognizing kids that are using. I also know that had any of our students been charged with four DUI's, there would have been a major intervention. I appreciate what Matt Barnes said about the Kings being a family. I get it. I also get that families enable their loved ones who are abusers, covering for a drunk father, drunk mother, drunk child.There is no such thing as "keeping it in the family," as Barnes would have us believe. Doing so, is dangerous and destructive. So, the Kings better take a hard look at what's going on with Ty Lawson. It could very well be that this is a different kind of "personal" problem, but I wouldn't bet on it.

AA is the only tried, true, and time tested way for an addicted person to overcome his or her addiction. You can take that to the bank, Vlade.

I continue to be appalled that the NFL would allow the Raiders to leave Oakland. Have there ever been more loyal and enthusiastic fans?   It's not the money. The $650 million Sheldon Adelson is contributing to the cost is not chump change, although he can definitely afford more. And taxing hotels does not cost the citizens of Southern Nevada bucks out of their pockets. I simply believe the whole deal is slimy. Like father like son? Big Al didn't hesitate to take the Raiders to LA when it suited his pocketbook, and return the team to Oakland when LA was no longer lucrative. So, here's the son following in his papa's footsteps. Big surprise. What the hell does the Al Davis Memorial Flame stand for anyway? Not loyalty.

Against the Chiefs, Kap looked physically strong, but mentally weak. When the arm is right, but the accuracy is off, it's all about being focused mentally. This is true of all sports in which the athlete is required to hit a target.

I posted this poem a long time ago. It is one of my favorite football poems, so here it is again,worth reading twice.

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio   by James Wright

In the Shreve High Football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home,
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Forty-Niners and etc

After watching Colin Kaepernick under perform yesterday, it occurred to me that his under performance mirrored the entire teams performance. The 49ers are not a good pro football team. They might do well against Texas A&M, but probably not against Ohio State or Alabama. Where's the talent? Where is the enthusiasm? Where is the chutzpah? Is Carlos Hyde a premier running back?
Do we have outstanding receivers? Can the offensive line protect the passer or open holes for runners? There was so much space between the defensive backs and the opponents' receivers, the at 77 years old I could have caught Alex Smith's passes. Really, I'm not kidding; this is an awful team. If Trent Balke and Chip Kelly aren't seeing this, they need magnifying glasses. I still believe Kap has what it takes, but all of a sudden he's become a "work in progress." When I read in this morning's sports page Chip Kelly responding to the question of whether Kap will be his starting QB for the next game with a "Yeah, we'll see," I almost fainted. Are you  kidding me? Would you even consider putting the ball back in Blaine Gabbart's hands? Then, I thought, I wonder if Chip isn't an example of the Peter Principle. Great college coach, but over his head on the pro level.

Unlike the 49ers, the Raiders have the talent. So what is missing? Experience? Yes, they are young and need to go through the College of Hard Knocks. And perhaps, they need their coaches to supply them with some hard knocks. I always worry when a coach, on any level, is referred to as a "players' coach." The image I always get is a coach who wants to be pals with his players, which is a doomsday strategy. Give me a coach that "kicks ass" fairly and across the board, and I'll show you a coach players respect. Of course, unless the player is a weenie and a drama queen. Enough said, anybody who's ever played sports on any organized level knows the best coaches are those who hold their players to the highest standards.

It's time for Tony Romo to retire and leave his Cowboys in the capable hands of stunningly talented Dak Prescott. I have never been a Cowboy fan, but this Texas team has got everything it takes to win the Super Bowl.

Don't you love Drew Brees, passing Payton Manning's record of 15 plus 400 yard games. Makes you wonder why the Chargers traded him. Phillip Rivers for all his athleticism doesn't have that "Je n'est ce quoi" that Brees possesses.

Can't help cheering for the Sam Bradford led Minnesota Viking's, the only team in the NFL without a loss. Great come-back story for Bradford if he can keep it up. Another reason to be pulling for Bradford is that he is of Cherokee descent, one sixteenth on his dad's side from his great grandma, Susie Walking Stick, a full blood Cherokee. An NFL star Native American. You bet.

Hey, let's hear it for LeBron James, working to provide greater benefits and pension funds in the new CBA for older, retired NBA stars that were not the recipients of the great largess NBA players get  today. 

My pick for the Super Bowl: Dallas Cowboys vs New England Patriots.

Why I Never Played Football    by Tom Meschery

It's not that I lacked courage,
I was big and weighed enough to make
a decent tight end or with a little work
an offensive lineman or a fullback.
What I couldn't see myself doing
was getting dirty, playing in mud
or freezing in snow which, back then
when I was young,is what you had
to endure. Perhaps these days
with covered stadiums I'd think
differently. Still, there was bound
to be more blood playing football,
yours or somebody else's, than
 playing another sport. Gold
for example.See how clean
those guys are out on the links,
how civilized in their cardigans,
in their neatly pressed trousers?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hurrah for Our Pro Athletes

Let's hear it for the pros in the locker rooms around the country denouncing Donald Trumps'  misogynistic remarks about groping women. Not that raunchy stuff doesn't go on in locker rooms, but as one pro said, such stupidity and rudeness is attributable to the lowest common denominator of our kind. Do we want the lowest common denominator as our president? Clearly, America's professional athletes say NO. Trump has no  idea what the inside of a sports' locker room is all about. It's about loyalty, comradeship, and respect. With his behavior, Trump would be cut from any team I ever played for. He is not an athlete. He could never be an athlete. To suggest he was ever in a team locker room is an insult to athletes.

MLB playoffs. Baseball at its best. Here's a poem in honor of baseball and one of it's great legends. This poem also reflects the kind of traits best exemplified by true sportsmen. No one would ever write a poem like this about Donald Trump, whose character is so deeply flawed all that is left of him is empty ego. 

To Lou Gehrig   By John Kieran

We've been to the wars together;
We took our foes as they came;
And always you were the leader,
And ever you played the game.

Idol of cheering millions,
   Records are yours by sheaves;
Iron of frame they hailed you.
   Decked you with laurel leaves.
But higher than that we hold you.
   We who have known you best,
Knowing the way you came through
   Every human test.

Let this be a silent token
Of lasting friendships gleam
And all that we've left unspoken -
Your pals of the Yankee team. 

             * This was written at the request of Gehrig's teammates and inscribed
                 on a trophy which they gave him on "Gehrig Day" about a year
                 before he died.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ailene Voisin. Sacramento Bee Sports 9/25/2016

Ailene Voisin, sports writer & a feature editor for the Sacramento Bee in this morning's paper (Sept. 25,2016) wrote an excellent and insightful article about the African American NBA legends who brought about some semblance of racial equality in the 1960's, demanding and winning equal rights in the cities in which the league played - guys like Lenny Wilkins, Wayne Embry, Elgin Baylor, Don Chaney, those who carried on the fight that the great Bill Russell started. I was around during those times, having been drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1961. Being raised in San Francisco, I was not as exposed to racial intolerance as players from other parts of the country. So I went into the league, unconcerned and slightly naive about race. But in December of that year when I heard about what the Saint Louis Hawks did to my good friend and fellow basketball player from San Francisco, Fred LaCour, I knew growing up in the mostly racially tolerant Bay Area of California had not prepared me for the real world.

Fred was  probably the greatest high school basketball player to ever play in the bay area until the arrival years later of Jason Kidd. Fred played for the University of San Francisco and was drafted in the second round by the Hawks in 1961. Fred was biracial and dated white women. Saint Louis, Missouri, a boarder town, heavily influenced by the South, was the least racially tolerant city in the NBA. The three white stars of the Hawks, Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, and Clyde Lovellette did not approve of Fred's dating white women. How dare he? They saw to it that he was cut from the team, even though, at the time Fred was released, he had been playing at a very high level.

That over fifty years have passed since my good friend got the shaft because he was half African American and blacks are still struggling for equality hardly seems possible, but it is a fact, and a gross historical injustice and a stain on our national honor. I agree with Wayne Embry that the anthem is our country's symbol. So, we stand to honor that symbol when it is played. I love this country. As a Russian immigrant, I appreciate its many freedoms. But these are freedoms that white men, such as myself, immigrant or native born, take for granted. I've never been denied freedoms that black men and women have been denied.

It is time and long overdue for white people to take a hard look at our symbols and see if they realistically represent all of the people that live in this country--are we equally protected by our constitution. If the answer is that those symbols do not measure up, shouldn't we whites join Kap and other NFL players and kneel when the anthem is played? Or, how about this: African American and all other people of color stand with their hands over their hearts while we whites kneel with our heads bowed. Because - and I say this with a heavy heart - the racial, religious, and social intolerance in our United States of America is mostly the result of the prejudiced attitudes and ignorance of white males. You don't believe me? Ask yourself, who controls the power? Who makes the decisions?

The following poem is the voice of Maurice Stokes, a fabulous African American NBA player who was knocked to the floor going in for a layup and wound up paralyzed from the neck down. His is the story of great courage. It is also the story of great friendship. All the years that Stokes lay paralyzed, his teammate Jack Twyman (a white man) cared for him, and raised money for his teammate's family. The friendship between these two men in the middle of today's racially tense times is instructive and profound in the lesson it teaches us about honor and goodness.

Maurice Stokes   by Tom Meschery
                         Rochester Royals forward, left paralyzed after an on-court accident.

I'll not answer to the word, coma
this new name they've given me
without asking, as if I don't know
who I am. I'm Stokes.
I play for the Royals.
The game is not over.
I have one foot on the floor,
the other in the air, the ball
cradled in my hand, my eyes
focused on the rim, fans rising
out of their seats, ready to applaud.
I've not yet made that split-second
decision to shoot or pass
on which so much depends.
The moment we leave the floor
such calls are out of our control.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Nate Thurmond Pan Handle Basketball Courts Rededicated

Yesterday my wife Melanie and I attended the re-dedication of the outdoor basketball courts in Golden Gate Park's panhandle to the memory of Nate, The Great, Thurmond, teammate and good friend. Nate's wife, Marci, was there with friends and family. Jim Barnett represented the Warriors, as usual doing a fabulous job speaking about Nate the Great. His ex Honor Willy Brown spoke about Nate, friend and client. Willy doesn't talk, he orates, which is fitting since Nate deserves an oration. The courts have been resurfaced and new glass backboard standards added. They are ready to go in keeping with a long pick-up game tradition of San Francisco hoopsters that dates back to when I was growing up in the Richmond District and playing ball at dozens of outdoor and indoor courts throughout The City.  It was the hardcore way of learning the game, unlike today's sanitized AAU productions. I talked to a couple of forty year old guys who told me they've been coming to the panhandle courts every Saturday for the last twenty years. Let's fill all the outdoor courts in The City with youngster shooting hops. Jim Barnett suggested that money should be found to place a statue of the Great Nate at this panhandle site, in the shadow of the eucalyptus and evergreen trees. That too would be fitting.

In this morning's paper I saw where Lost Wages approved the money to fund a new football stadium that they hope will convince the Raiders to move to their faux metropolis. Oakland can't afford a new stadium, really; it has too many essential community fixes to pay for before it can think of funding a stadium for their truly goofy fans who think every game is Halloween-time. Oh, how I'll miss those marvelous scary costumes if the team moves. However, of all cities to pick up the Halloween theme and run with it, it's Vegas. So, after this vote, as I suspect, the Raiders will become the Las Vegas Raiders. If it's not Oakland, then Vegas seems to most closely fit the Raiders persona. I wonder, however, why the good citizen of Las Vegas are not questioning why one of the richest men in the world, Sheldon Addison, needs public funding for this project? Come on, Sheldon, are you that cheap? Considering the growth of NFL franchises, this is a totally no risk investment. Give the citizens of Southern Nevada a break.

Staying with football. Does any Niner fan really think Blaine Gabbart has the kind of superstar skills and, more importantly, instincts, to lead the 49ers to a championship? In my opinion, at best, Gabbert will provide the 49ers with a Alex Smith type leader. That's not a bad thing, but it's not a great thing.
Does that mean I like Kap at the QB over Gabbert? No, I don't. I do, however, believe that Kap has the "intangibles" that Gabbert doesn't possess. To demonstrate it, Kap will have to be traded to another team. Too much negative Trent Balke stuff has gone down for Kap to recover his mojo as a member of the 49ers. And for Kap's sake, I hope the trade comes soon.

Here's a pretty lovely old poem about football by George Abbe

The Passer

Dropping back with the ball ripe in my palm,
grained and firm as the flesh of a living charm,
I taper and coil myself down, raise arm to fake
running a little, seeing my targets emerge
like quail above a wheat field's golden lake.

In boyhood I saw my mothee knit my warmth
with needles that were straight. I learned to feel
the passage of the bullet through the bore,
its vein of flight between my heart and deer
whose terror took the pulse of my hot will.

I learned how wild geese slice arcs from hanging pear
of autumn noon; how the thought of love cleaves home,
and fists, with fury's ray, can lay a weakness bare,
and instinct's eye can mine fish under foam.

So as I run and weigh, measure and test,
the light kindles on helmets, the angry leaps;
but secretly, coolly, as though stretching a hand to his chest,
I lay the ball in the arms of my planing end,
at true as metal, as deftly as surgeon's wrist.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


Being a man who grew up in the Sixties, I was unimpressed with Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the National Anthem. I knew guys protesting the Vietnam War who marched down the middle of the street facing National Guard soldier holding rifles and batons. Some went to prison to protest that War. Many, like Tommy Smith and John Carlos, lost their careers and jobs because they protested the way African Americans were being treated in our country. That took courage. But a protest is a protest. And if it is heartfelt, then our Constitution gives any person the right of free speech. This inalienable right, this profound document, is the most important part of what we honor when the flag is raised and the Anthem sung. Therefore, sitting or kneeling is as much a confirmation of our Constitution as standing with our hands over our hearts. 

Personally, I would stand because I'm an immigrant, the son of Russian immigrants who arrived in the United States after World War II to live and grow and achieve in a country that took us in. Would I stand if I were an African-American today?  As a high school teacher, I always exhorted my students to walk for awhile in somebody else's shoes before making decisions about them. If I were a black man today, I know I'd be pissed. I'm not giving black males a pass, nor any other race a pass. We should obey laws, but we should also be able in this country to demand justice. There is  a lot of blathering about law and order these days, but very little talk about justice. So, yeah, but not without sadness, I'd join Kaepernick in solidarity as I suspect a lot of African American football players will do this season. I will, however, not grow an Angela Davis Afro were I even able to do so. That's carrying protest too far.

Here's a poem I wrote as part of a series of poems about my travels in West Africa.

Coaching in the Republic of the Congo    by Tom Meschery

Entering the airport, the soldier
guarding the passport booth
can't be more than fifteen years old.
He's holding a rifle at port arms,
a cigarette dangling from his lips.
Above him, a banner in red print reads:
A Bas Les Americans! Down with Americans!
"Don't worry," the Embassy man says,
"They don't mean basketball players."

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Awah, poor DeMarcus Cousins.

Poor DeMarcus, the international referees are not treating him with the respect he deserves. I guess that's why the frown and whine we're so used to seeing on the court here in Sacramento has returned to the face of our big baby, the attitude that the Kings administrators insisted has been replaced with a new, more adult, serene, and determined DeMarcus. Good luck to that!

Let's begin with the article I read about DeMarcus in this morning's Sacramento Bee that suggested that our Big Guy was not alone in his disgust of FIBA officiating. Said article pointed to Tim Duncan also unhappy with international refs. This begs the question, who would you believe, Tim Duncan or DeMarcus? In Tim's case, a player who rarely complains and in all ways, on and off the court, a dignified and adult human being, such anger must be taken seriously. In the case of DeMarcus, a player who always complains, is hardly ever dignified, and rarely acts like an adult, insulting coaches and teammates, such anger can not be taken seriously. It is just another example of a young man who has little or no interest, beliefs or attitudes other than his own. In psychology, this is the definition of an egocentric personality. I hasten to add that the DeMarcus also exhibits a number of sociopathic traits, such as: Unreliability, lack of remorse, egocentricity, loss of insight, and poor judgement and failure to learn from experience.These do not make him a sociopath, but neither do these traits make for a stable personality.

On to the Summer Olympics, a much more interesting and exciting subject. We have been treated to one of the greatest athletic performances in the history of sports: Michael Phelps rising even higher into the pantheon of athletic Gods. In terms of sheer output, he is at the pinnacle. In terms of history he joins the likes of  Jesse Owens, The Dream Team, Bob Beamon, Nadia Comaneci, and Abebe Bikila.

On to the Forty Niners. Lots of interest in today's preseason game. Who is going to be the Niners QB? I'm pulling for Kaepernick.

Speaking of Kaepernick, I've been writing silly poems about sports for kids that I hope will turn into a published collection. Here's one I wrote about Kaepernick.

What's a Kaepernick?   by Tom Meschery

Would you buy one for your cat?
Would you carry one on your back?
Is it pumpernickel bread,
Or something simple like a nickel?

Could you hide it in you cap?
Or in England call it kippers?
If you're rhyming as in rap,
Would a Kaepernick have flippers?

Would a Kaepernick throw footballs?
Not with such a name. It's foolish.
He should find a cure for cancer,
Be an astronaut, that's the answer.

A Kaepernick should be a count
Like Metterlink or someone better.
Perhaps a prince of even king,
Not playing football for a living. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Proud of Brazil, maybe.

As soon as the Brazilian opening ceremony ended, I rushed to my computer to find out if Brazil's enormously effective pleas to save the environment wasn't a gross display of cynicism. I knew that during the last 40 years close to 20% of the Amazon Rain Forest has been eliminated, Brazil being the largest country and thus the most culpable.

As I searched the net, I was happy to read that since 2009 Brazil has been making an effort to stem the destruction. Proof is in the pudding, as they say, and in the case of this Amazonian pudding, the Brazilian Environmental Agency IBAMA has cancelled the Sao Luiz doTapajos mega-dam project in the heart of the Amazon. Hurrah, good for them! Now, lets work on the other 42 hydro dam projects planned in the Tapajos Basin and the hundreds ear marked across the Amazon Forest. I say this with respect. The ceremony that opened the summer Olympics was not, thank goodness, just for show, and in this regard Brazil and its citizens can be proud.

Another note, and less to be proud of, Brazil should do more than praise the culture that originates out of its slums and do more about doing away with its slums. 

All the politics aside, what's not to like about all the best athletes in the world meeting and competing head to head. Sure, the Big Dogs usually take home most of the medals, but occasionally some of the smaller countries get to stand on the podium and watch their flag being raised.

In my humble opinion, more should be done by the networks to promote more of the less sexy sports, (actually, they are sexy) like Tae Kuan Do, badminton, table tennis, Greco Roman wrestling, archery, fencing, equestrian.

One more shot at the ad biz. Was anybody annoyed by the number of commercials that interfered with a splendid opening ceremony last night. Auto sales vs The Girl from Ipanina?? Are you kidding?

Sorry that Pele did not light the Olympic flag. If Pele was physically unable, couldn't they have done what Atlanta did with Ali, have him standing at the top and receiving the torch for the final touch. I don't get it. There's got to be more to this story.

David Allen Evans wrote a fine poem about pole vaulting:

Pole Vaulter

The approach to the bar
is everything

unless I have counted
my steps     hit my markers
feel up to it      I refuse
to follow through
I am committed to beginnings
or to nothing

planting the pole
at runway's end
jolts me
out of sprinting
I take off     kicking in
and up     my whole weight
trying the frailty
of fiberglass

never forcing myself
trusting it is right
to be taken to the end
of tension    poised for 
the powerful thrust to
fly me behyond expectation

near the peak
I roll my thighs inward
arch my back     clearing
as much of the bar as I can
(knowing the best jump
can be cancelled
by a carelss elbow)

an open my hands