meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2012-07-08

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.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Top Down for a Successful Sport's Franchise and etc

When I first started teaching high school eons ago, I had a sergeant's attitude towards officers, ie: a teacher's attitude toward administration. When I retired from teaching in 2005 I knew that a high school is only as good as its principal. A lazy, unintelligent, or uninspired principal and you can say so long to the general well fare of your school.

The same holds true for sports. How is it that the Golden State Warriors could have been so dense, made so many bad decisions, were so uninspired that the franchise teetered on the edge of last place abyss for so many years. Clearly, the fault lay with the administration - from owner, gm, scouts, to coach and staff.

As of last year, our Warriors have a new principal and vice principals. There's an administration in place, and they are taking risks, drafting well, replacing average players with effective players, working from the Top down. All of a sudden things are looking up for the Warriors.

We all know that the risks (Bogut & Curry) are still there and Warrior success depends on them being healthy, but how about Thompson, Michael's son, destined to surpass his father's fame?  (No wonder Jerry West likes the kid; the kid plays a lot like him.) Let's not forget the acquisition of David Lee, a blossoming power forward with tons of All-Star possibilities. As for rookies, Harrison Barnes is going to be a winner. Festus Ezeli has great upside, and Draymond Greeen might turn out to be a steal in the low second round. Now, along comes the trade for J. Jack (sounds like a neat whiskey) to complete a solid three man guard rotation. Jack is a solid defender and a consistent scorer. And, he's got passion. Add to that some bench strength in Brandon Rush and Dominic McGuire. The only remaining question is how to dump Biedren's contract after which this looks like a team the Bay Area can get excited about.

But, before I wax too optimistic, let me say that it appears to me that a number of teams that were down last years have improved their rosters through trade and free agency, so it still boils down to what happens after the ref throws the ball into the air to start the game.

Now for Kobe Bryant's silly prediction that the present Olympic Team could beat the Dream Team. I suppose he couldn't very well said, no we're second best, but he could have been slightly more intelligent. Nothing wrong with asking a question with a question. What do you think, Mr. Reporter? Give him a wink and you'd have been off the hook.

Question? If Steve Nash plays as well as he did last season (at 38 yrs young), is it possible that Kobe Bryant could surpass Wilt Chamberlain's 50 pts a game avg record season?

Speaking of Kobe Bryant, remember his learning curve when he entered the league out of high school? He was not the star he is now. I wrote this poem at that time about him. It is in my first book of poems: Nothing You Lose Can Be Replaced.

Kobe Bryant

Three air-balls in a row
and the face of the cock-sure
millionaire becomes the face
of Billy Harris who I told
to take the last shot
for the city championship,
although he was too young,
the only sophomore on the team.

When the ball left his hand
I knew right away its failure
and wanted to climb the air
to pull it back before
it fell two feet short, and the fans
began to stomp their feet
and point that terrible pronoun
at him, as if you, you, you
didn't already understand
he'd never be the same person
he was the day began.

Tonight, on TV against the Jazz,
I watch Kobe and believe
it's my fault all over again
because Billy Harris never
got his shot back no matter
what I did or said to him
for the next two seasons.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are Sports Fans Really Fans Anymore?

In yesterdays Blog I mused about the Standing Room Only sections of football stadiums and baseball parks. I referred to these areas as social gatherings, which begged the question are the people inhabiting these zones there to watch the sport? I'm not sure I was emphatic enough with my answer. Today I will be. The answer is No. Part of the social media generation, the people in the Standin Room Only sections are there primarily to socialize; they are not there to watch the sport.

Musing, further, on this new phenomena, I found myself thinking how many people in all the other sections of the stadiums, ballparks, and arenas are there actually watching the game? I mean seriously watching the action? Ask yourself, how many times during a game (any of the Big Three sports) are you able to sit uninterrupted in your seat without someone excusing him or herself over you or in front of you or just behind you to go the the concession stands? Or wherever? Never, would be my guess. Throughout the game there are always people leaving or returning. It's my experience that this behavior has increased over the years.

In addition, have you noticed how many people in their seats while the games are going on (not during timeouts) are concentrating on their electronic devices? I bet that after a game has ended, few fans today could provide a clear quarter by quarter, inning by inning account of the event they just saw. Why? Because they really didn't see it; they were buying beer, shmoozing in the lounge, or responding to their Twitter or Facebook.

So, I ask you, can you call today's fans really fans? As you sit in your seat at your next game, look around you and ask yourself that question. I'd be interested to know your answer.

It's the dead of summer and the heart of fishing season. I remember in grad school in Iowa City, oh so many years ago, heading to the ponds in the morning, fishing for small mouth bass and picking Morrell mushrooms. Later frying the bass and sauteing the mushrooms in butter and garlic. All of us, young and sassy, washing the meal down with cheap wine.

The Pike   by Theodore Roethke

The river turns,
Leaving a place for the eye to rest,
A furred, a rocky pool,
A bottom of water.

The crabs tilt and eat, leisurely,
And the small fish lie, without shadow, motionless,
Or drift lazily in and out of the weeds.
The bottom-stones shimmer back their irregular striations,
And the half-sunk branch bends away from the gazer's eye.

A scene for the self to abjure! -
And I lean, almost into the water,
My eye always beyond the surface reflection;
I lean, and love these manifold shapes,
Until, out from a dark cove,
From beyond the end of a mossy log,
With one sinuous ripple, then a rush,
A thrashing-up of the whole pool,
The pike strikes.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Edition: Knuckleheads Club

As of today I'lll begin posting as part of my regular blog commentary on stupid stuff in sports and life entitled The Knuckleheads Club. (notice plural, not singular). This will not be a regular feature of my blog, but one that will appear from time to time as the mood strikes me.

Knuckleheads Club Post #1: I read in the Sacramento Bee this morning that community colleges in the area will restrict repetition of recreational courses. Here's the quote from the Bee: "In the wake of recessionary budget cuts, the new rule is designed to shift resources away from courses such as tennis and painting in order to free up funds for more basic academic classes." What Knucklehead linked "painting" (we're talking art classes) with tennis? My wife, Melanie, taught art for years at Sacramento City College, and I can assure you that "art" is NOT recreational, but the hardest of disciplines. That's not to denigrate tennis. Learning how to play a sport is difficult and requires a lot of energy and time. But, it is, nonetheless, sport, and not academic by nature. The powers that be will do what they have to do to deal with budget cuts, but let's not bunch art, sculpture, music, and poetry with tennis, badminton, volleyball, and swimming. We're talking apples and oranges here, and some knuckehead numbers crunchers don't know the difference.
Why is it that the Knuckleheads always consider right brain activity such as art (and sport) less important to human growth than left brain courses, such as math and science?

I'm intrigued by the new trend in baseball and football to create standing room only areas in outfields and in the high cheap seat sections of stadiums where people can watch the action on the field either directly or on a large tv screen while eating, drinking, and shoomozing with friends. Sports thus turns into a social club not a sporting event. In one stadium, people are given the choice of buying season tickets for the standing room only section. As this way of being part of the sport scene increases in popularity, I predict tickets prices for standing room will increase as management realizes its bottom line potential. As this trend continues, are sports bars doomed to extinction?

By the way, don't you think at some point some boozer will eventually take a header over a railing as he or she leans over for a better view?

I can't say that I'm exactly against this standing room only strategy. I've always thought the cheap seats value at any sporting event is a huge rip, vis-a-vis any chance of truly watching and enjoying the play on the field or court being that the players, from that distance and height, look like Lilliputians. (There are very few seats in a modern arena or stadium that are better than my easy chair in front of my 48 inch tv screen. And my seat is virtually free.)

Do you know that in Rome, the vast majority of spectators stood. Only the emperor and a few dignitaries had the privilege of seats. Besides, why would anyone want to sit down and miss a Christian being torn to shreds by a lion?

Just a brief comment on the 2012 NBA championship. I do not believe that the Heat and the Thunder represent a new trend in professional basketball, ie: small ball. Granted big, slow footed centers will not cut it in today's game, but an active shot blocking center will always make the difference between excellence and greatness. The 2012 Heat were marginally great. Keep in mind as a standard the Lakers with Jabbar and Wilt; Portland with Walton, and the 76er's with Malone, Boston with Russell. Those were excellent teams.

Congratulations to Serena Williams wining Wimbledon. Terrific physical and emotional comeback. Let's hear it for comebacks! This is a lovely tennis poem by Frank Higgins

Tennis in the City
      for Arthur Ashe

He could help us out
selling papers or sacking groceries
but that's what I did growing up.
Every day he's in the alley
knocking the ball against the building.
Whomp    take that     Forest Hills
whomp    whomp    take that    Wimbledon
whomp      whomp       whomp
all         day      long,
the wife tells me so.
Says she watches him from the window
when the bossman has her clean 'em,
says she doesn't know about that boy.
But I know about that boy
and i know this ball's worn
and I know this racket's gonna split
no matter how much tape you put on,
so tonight after super
we're going for new ones, son.
And I want you to start staying
in that alley an hour longer, hear?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Warrior Ist Round Pick and post travels catching up

Just returned from a month's vacation in Italy and Croatia, part of it spent on a cruise where I couldn't get a lot of American sport's information, and where I couldn't find a Ricky Rubio shirt in any store in Italy. It's soccer or nothing. They way the Italians played against Spain for the Euro Cup, they would be better served if they paid a little more attention to hoops.

So there I was getting NBA withdrawals as draft day approached. Two days later I got the result. Harrison Barnes, soph from N. Carolina to the Warriors. Interesting choice since it creates a serious log jam at the three position. The times I saw Barnes on TV, he certainly looked like he had a stroke. But the question is is he more than a catch and shoot guy? It seems to me the Warriors desperately need a three who can create his own shot, a player who can penetrate off the wing. I thought Rush managed a little in that area. As for D Wright, he is definitely mostly a corner shooter, Richard Jefferson, close to retirement, is a step slow, and not too smart according to Coach Don Nelson.

Anyway, if Barnes does prove to be the offensive three threat he is supposed to be, the Warriors will have plenty of fire power. I was hoping the Warriors would pick up Jason Kidd but he's heading to the Knicks, a smart move by the Knicks. Kidd can mentor Lin and still has plenty of legs left to give the Knicks strong minutes as a reserve. I wouldn't be surprised if Kidd winds up playing significant minutes.

I was sorry to see Nash go to LA only because I have so little respect for LA's coach Brown. I think he'll screw up whatever chance Nash has of going out in style. On the other hand, if they simply ignore Brown, let Nash run the show, Kobe could wind up breaking Wilt's 50 pts per game season average.

I like the Warriors' next two picks, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green. Green is undersized for his position, but so was I at the power forward. So I'm pulling for him. Rebounding has a lot to do with desire, instinct, and body positioning as much as it is about strength and jumping. So I'm pulling for the kid. As for Festus Ezeli, at 6'11 and 260 pounds and very little experience, he looks like he has a lot of development left in him before he reaches his potential. He's a worthy gamble.

In the end, the Warriors' season depends on the gamble they took trading for Andrew Bogut and their bet that Curry is due some years sans ankle injury.

Rookie Harrison Barnes says he's a big fan of Michael Jordan. Here's poem for our first rounder about his hero.

Forty-one Seconds on a Sunday in June, in Salt Lake City, Utah.   by Quincy Troupe

rising up in time, micharl jordan hangs like an icon, suspended in
cocks his right arm, fires a jump shot for two, the title game on the line,
his eyes two radar screens screwed like nails into the mask of this face

bore in on the basket, gaze focused, a thing of beauty, no shadow, or
no hint of fear, in this, his showplace, his ultimate place to shine,
rising up in time michael jordan hangs like an icon suspended in space,

after he has moved from baseline to baseline, sideline to sideline, his
shining, wagging his tongue, he dribbles through chaos, snaking
his eyes two radar screens screwed like nails into the mask of his face,

he bolts a flash up the court, takes off, focuses in for two more in this race
for glory, it is his time, what he was put on earth for, he can see the
rising up in time, michael jordan hangs like an icon, suspended in

inside his imagination, he feels trhe moment he will embrace, knows his
is written here, inside this quickening pace of nerves, he will define,
his eyes two radar  screens screwed like nails into the mask of his face,

inside this moment he will rule on his own terms, quick as a cat he
time, victory & glory, as he crosses over his dribbe he is king of this
rising up in time, michael jordan hangs like an icon, suspended in
his eyes two radar screens screwed like nails into the mask of his face.