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What my musings are all about...

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

THE ART OF DRAFTING

 They analytics foks would prefer I defined drafting as a science. They would have me & you believe that statistics provide the best clues a GM needs to select wisely. Cold numbers leave me cold. I can't get excited about decimal places and %. I do not mean they are not worth examining and taking into account. But as a criteria for the best draft choice, I think it is better to look at art as the model. 

There are many definitions of art, some so vague as to be too mentally exhausing to matter. I like the definition that art is harmony that parallels nature. Harmony is such a telling word when it applies to sports teams. The Golden State Warriors, 2022's NBA Champs are one of the best examples that consider harmony to be one of the most important elements of their team philosophy. Thus they seek players who they believe will FIT, a sports way of saying harmony. Four championships out of eight years and six Western Conference Championship during those same eight years should be enough for GM's, not named Bob Myers, around the league to look at the Warriors as models to emulate. 

Which brings me to the defination of art that I think should be the first consideration for coaches and GM's and scouts as they make their final draft decisions. Plato said it: Art is MIMESIS. in Greek, this means copying and imitation. Here's how this applies to sports teams Teams need to identify the very best teams in NBA history and use them as models for futiure draft choice. What did their rosters look like? What skill sets did the players on those teams possess? What mix of reserve players did these teams have on their benches? What was the psychological attitudes of the players on their teams? An example of the later criteria would be the Chicago Bulls trading for one of the most unhinged human beings I 've ever watched on a basketball court in Dennis Rodman. What does that tell a GM getting ready to draft in 2023? It's okay to have one crazy. As long as the rest of the players are in harmony. I daresay two Rodman-types on the Bulls might have very well destroyed the harmony of the Bulls and cost them the championship.  

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Sacramento Kings have been criticized for drafting Iowa's Keegan Murry and not the the supremely talented guard Jaden Ivey. GM Monty McNair is accusedod drafting for need. I suggest that NEED is just another way of asking the following: Do you know of any championship team that didn't have a multilevel defender/stretch shooter at the three and the four? Name me one. McNair could have drafted Ivey and then found the player who better fit a championship model through a trade. I blogged before the draft that had the Kings drafted Ivey, they could have wound up with a bunch of young vets from the Wizards who coveted Ivey. McNir choose to selct a young, but seasoned basketball player with hieght and length and two-way chops. At twenty-one years old, a player who would fit harmoniously in his opinion with the players he already has on his team. Did analytics play any part in McNair's choice? Sure, the stats demonstated exemplary growth, but what matters and mattered is that there has always been a similar type player on every significant NBA championship team. On can argue player skills, but now the Kings have all their primary positions covered and some of their reserve positions covered. McNair has more work to do. But if he follows Plato's definition of art, he'll wind up with the team the Kings need to get into the playoffs and hopefully beyond. 

The NBA is over. It's baseball season. Here's a little  poem about our National Pastime:

THE BASE STEALER    by Robert Francis

Poised between going on and back, pulled
Both ways taut like a tightrope -walker,
Fingertips pointing the opposites,
Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball
Or kid skipping rope, come on, come on,
Running a scattering of steps sidewise,
How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases,
Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird,
He's only flirting, crowd him, crowd him,
Delicate, delicate, delicate, delicate - now!







Friday, June 24, 2022

A FEW OBSERVATIONS ON THE NBA 2022 DRAFT

You'll get plently of information from the talking heads about this season's drafts' winners and losers and which of the top draftees will impact from the get-go. They will discuss trades, and endlessly go over Kyrie Irving's inexplicable stalemate with the Nets' management over playing next year for a paltry $37 million plus dollars. Inexplicable to at least 90 % of the American population. (Are we at all bored yet????) The 10 remaining %, given their propensity for greed might understand such behavior. Trump and his minions for example, but even they might wonder about turning down $37 million dollars for a year's work playing hoops. So, what can I add to the palaver? 

How about Paulo Banchero winning the Best-Dressed-Award? Or Jaden Ivey complety brought to tears that he was drafted #5 by the Detroit Piston. Got to say, I love it that his mom played in the WNBA. I could predict that my Golden State Warriors might have landed a possibly great player in 6'9" wing Patrick Baldwin, at the 28th pick, given his injury history is not ongoing. I can say I'm toitaly baffled by the Charlotte Hornets giving up 6'11' Jalen Duren, a pretty niffty pick-and-roll center, who is not simply a rim protecctor or a catch and dunk post. So what if they have two talented centers. Mark Willimans at 7'2" will definatly provide rim protection. Oh well, it is Michael Jordan's call becasue he was a player, he knows, right? I seem to recall a time when Jordan picked a young high school player as the # 1 pick in the 2001 NBA draft named Kwame Brown and paid him huge bucks for zero production. The real problem is the Hornets really only got a bunch of 2nd round draft choices in return for a player with a huge upside. Or, i could congratulate GM Monty McNair of the Sacramento Kings for drafting for need and selecting a future All Star in 6'9" wing defender and 3 point shooter Keegan Murry, while he still has a lot of trade flexibility left and money in the bank. Or I could say that it's time for GM Sam Presti to stop collecting first round draft choices and start building a team that can compete, but the talking heads are all over that subject. 

Instead I want to talk about parents. Back in the day -  as they say - that being before the turn of the century, on NBA draft nights, it was a rare sight when a selected African American player would be joined by his father. Not so, these days. Proud African American dads have joined proud African American moms to celebrate their sons making it into the NBA. It is also worth noting that some of the parents are of mixed racees. How cool is that? How this must gall the racists in our country that still trumpet the cause of white supremacy. Trumpet aa in Donald Trump and his white Republican devotees. And it is not just the NBA, this country is fast becoming multi racial and multi cultural. About frigging time. HooWah!!! 

Not a sports' poem, but one of the great poems about fathers by African Amercian poet Robert Hayden

THOSE WINTER SUNDAY     by Robert Hayden
   
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were earm, he'd call
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house.

Speaking indifferntly to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices. 




















  




Thursday, June 23, 2022

The NBA Parade & etc about the 2022 NBA Draft.

 Driving down Market Street in the Warriors NBA Championship Parade was like coming home. I was raised in San Francisco, played my high school ball at Lowell High and my college hoops across the bay at Saint mary's College. My best NBA playiing days were spent as a power forward for the San Francisco Warriors. My jersey #14 hangs from the Chase Center Arena rafters. I am the local boy made good. I like to think of myself as the First San Francisco Warrior. My teammates and opponents knew me by my nickname, The Mad Manchurian because I was born in Harbin, a city in the previously indempendant country of Manchuria -  now part of China. The Mad part has to do with my on-court intensity, which at times I've been told appeared to possesses some of the qualities of madness. 

This small history of Tom Meschery was going through my mind as my wife, Melanie and I were driving down Market Street in a pomegranate flame plainted Chevy lowrider convertible with all the hydraulics. Melanie and I have been part of all the Warriors' victory parades since the first of the Dubs era in 2015. For the last two, we took Melanie's grandson John-Clark and the following year, my granddaugher, Carson, both were avid hoopster. This year, back in San Francisco, where this team originally began in the fall of 1962, my son Matthew and his 10 year old son, Leo, were with us. I instructed them to make sure they waved to all the old people in the crowd lining the sidewalk who might have seen me play. I think they thought I was joking. Hall of Fame Warrror's legend, Rick Barry, who brought the NBA title to San Franciso for the first time in 1975, was riding in the yellow jeep in front of our car. Although in his late seventies, the fans recognized Rick instantly. Some imitated Rick's underhand free-throw style to prove it. Rick was a heck of a better player than I was, but our parade lowrider outshone his jeep. Such little competitions between teammates never end, do they? The Warriors players were in open air busses in front of us. At times the parade came to a halt and some of the players descended onto the street to greet their fans. It looked as if half the City of Saint Francis was out to honor their Dubs. On our drive home from the parade, I told my wife to prepare for next year's parade.  Considering the return of injured frist round draft choice 7 foot 1 James Wiseman and the improvement of this years' two outstanding rookies, Mosed Moodey and Jonathon Kuminga, the Warriors could very well be a better team next season. 

ETC ABOUT THE DRAFT

i have changed my mind about Chet Holgrem, His slight 7 foot body weighing in at 196 pounds might be sturdier than I first believed. If this is the case, Chet with his superior skll-set should go number one ahead of Jabari Smith. Paulo Banchero, who is half Italian and holds dual Italian U.S. citizendhip might be the most NBA ready. Banchero value is well known by the teams. Except the Italian part. My wife and I love Italy, Florence escpecially, and for that reason would select Banchero number one. This is called subjective analytics. 

The mock drafts are all showing the Kings picking Jaden Ivey at number 4. I predict if they do, it will be to trade him to the Washington Wizards, who covet Ivey, in return for a vet power forward, a defensive minded wing and our choice when their seleciton comes at ten. It's the smart move to get veteran help. We'll see if i'm right. If they keep Ivey, then they made a huge mistake, which has often been the case with the luckless Kings. I hope I'm wrong. I like Coach Mike Brown and wish him only the best as he takes over the Sacramento Kings. 

The Warriors pick at 28. They were lucky with Jordan Poole at that late pick three years ago. Crossing my fingers. I wouldn't be surprised if they chose a pure point guard. Curry will need rest in the future, and really Jordan is best as a scorer. But the deal these days is tall, long and athletic. 

Keep your eyes on the Spurs. Pop and Co alwasy manage to find someoen good out of the hoard of wantabees. 

My choice of a poem today is all about nostalgia. Guess it had something to do with being in San Francisco, driving down Market Street, thinking of past glories.  

EARL HE PEARL MONROby Tom Meschery

In the rec league
they called me Black Jesus.
When I walked onto the court
the crowd parted like the Red Sea.
In college someone found a rhyme
and I became the Pearl
I guess I've been a mixed 
metaphor ever since.
Today, when I back a player
down toward the paint
and spin into my shot,
I know before the ball leaves
my fingers it's going in.
At that moment I can heal the lepers,
raise the dead. 





Friday, June 17, 2022

One Happy Warrior

 The Dubs are back doing the work of Dubs, winning NBA Championships. My wife Melanie and I watched and cheered as the Warriors, led by a brillian offensive performance by Steph Curry and a relentless defensive performance by Andrew Wiggins steadily and convincingly out-smarted the athleticism of the Boston Celtics. I was surprised after the game, watching the presentation ceremony how demonstrative Curry was, who even when excited is not overly emotional. This Championship must hve meant a lot to him, perhaps more than any ohers. Perhaps it had something todo with the pervious two horrivic losing seasons, that and perhaps having the Core triple sec vets of Splash Brothers and Drayone back together healthy. And perhaps it had to do with mirroring the first championship of 2015, the oen without Durant. I'm only guessing that there was someting to prove. 

What needs to be said is that as good as this tem is, next years' Warriors, barring injuries, should be stronger and deeper. The CORE vets of Curry, Thompson, Green, Wiggins & Porter will be back Poole and Little Glove, Payton ii, will return more seasoned and improved. And the roster will round out with improved rookies: 7'1' James Wiseman, first rounders Kuminga and Moody will be ready to contribute after a summer of work and a complete training camp under their belts. 

On Monday my wife and I will be in he Championship Parade again. We've been in all ofthem so far. This year we will ake my son Matthew and his son, Leo, my 10 yaar basketball playing grandson. I hope rubbing elbows with usch NBA luminaries will inspire him to continue with the sport. I will get the chance to visit with old teammates, Rick Barry, Al Attles and other NBa players from my time on the court, like the Jim Barnett. Good times, great memoires and a historic future to look forward to. 

From my upcoming new collection of poetry: Clear Path from Random Lane Press

WATCHING THE WARRIORS ON TV

      for Melanie because I promised

Of course you are right as you remind me, don't you,
that it's you sitting beside me as I watch the Warriors
play whomever. Aren't you? Because there have been 
twelve years of opponents, equal to the years we've 
been married and three ouy of four championships rings,
not on our fingers, but for us, gold wedding bands
that mean we're also winners. See my darling
how I've woven in as cleverly as Gerard Manley
Hopkins' spring rhythm, you, deserving of praise.
How could I be a fan without you by my side,
looking up occasionally from the book you're reading
to make a sly but knowledgeable observation.



.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Right Side of History

 Laking about the LIV, Rory McIlroy said it without being explicit that he is on the  "right side of history." Let me explain how I interpreted his words. The LIV is not about a competitive tour. The ABA had every right to form a new league competing with the NBA, so did World football have the same right to compete with the NFL. We live in a free market economic systerm. The problem with the LIV is it is sponsored by killers and misogynists. So, Rory, even if you don't want to come right out and say it, you ARE on the right side of history. 

The PGA has suspended the golfers who are playing in the LIV.  I'll be sorry not to see Dustin Johnson, little Kevin Na, DeChambeau and his strange mechanics, but they are not on the WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY. I'm reasonably certain that the Old White Men who cntrol the PGA are not suspending these golfers because they are playing in a league that is supported by killers and misogynists, but I could be wrong, being an old white male myself, I should cut others of my ilk some slack. 

So, in the world of golf, it seems that greed has, for the time beomg. won over moral and ethical behavior. It is a lesson that is a legacy of four years of Donald Trump's opening his can of greedy worms. It is a legacy we should all regret. But then, I don't have a lot of gambling debts the way Lefty has. 

Sacramento Kings' fans should cry out in a loud voice, "Not Jaden Ivey!" The Kings need long, tall and athletic wings, they already have speed and handles.

Warriors get on the boards! Shameful what the Celtics did to you on the glass.

I don't blog much about baseball, so here's a fine small poem about America's pastime by Robert Hamblin. 

A HERO FOR ALL SEASONS

I remember Eddie Yost

who raised the base on balls
to the level of art.

Who took batting practice
to practice not to hit.

Who once fouled off nineteen
third strikes to earn a walk.

Who persuaded kids too small
for football and too short
for basketball
that littil'uns could aso be big'uns.