meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” Meschery's Musings of Sports, Literature, and Life Meschery's Musings on Sports, Literature and Life: 2018

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, October 20, 2018

Baring Injuries and etc.

After the first week of the NBA season, I'm picking the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors to compete in the NBA Finals.

Duh!

Well, not exactly. Boston lost to a very tough Toronto Raptors last night.. The Warriors have won two uninspired victories. Last night's game against the Utah Jazz should have been a loss, considering their lousy first half defense, salvaged at the end by a tip in by Jonas Jerebko on a missed Durant jumper with one tick left on the clock. So, some observers might say it's not quite such a "Duh!" as to the winners of the East and West.

Except for this:

BARING INJURIES Toronto and Utah looked to me as if they were already playing at mid-season form if not exactly at playoff level. Both the Warriors and the Celts, not at all. Boston has still not incorporated Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving into their offense as Coach Steven certainly will by the first of the year or sooner. The Warriors are not nearly in sync with a number of additions to their team. Klay Thompson's three is still in China. Igoudala, a key defender and leader, is missing. And the Bigs: Looney and Jones are not where they will be at a later date [you choose the date] Looney on offense, and Jones on Defense. Looney is showing me some moves on offense I never expected. And, does anyone doubt that Klay will regain his touch? Also, a surprise to me, I'm beginning to believe Damian Jones may possibly turn into a young Tyson Chandler who led the Mavs to a NBA Championship. This belief after the first two games, requires me to take back what I said about him in my last blog. I take it back, my man, and apologize, but don't let me down!

For the time being lets not count on Cousins.

I've got to give a shout out to the Utah Jazz. I liked them a lot at the end of the last season. Based on what I saw last night, I like them better. I'm still trying to figure out how Ingles gets that three off. He must be a lot quicker than he looks. He kind of lumbers along and appears about to fall asleep. Then, he's shooting in your face. Must be the Aussie factor. And I'm betting his real age is somewhere in forties.

It's a little early to be making predictions, since I haven't seen all the teams play yet. I could be surprised.

ETC:

I'm delighted with the rebirth of the BIG MON in the NBA: Ayton in Phoenix, Bamba in Orlando, adding to the presence of versatile bigs already in the league: Joel Embid, Anthony Davis, Kristap Porzingis, Rudy Gobert, and Demarcus Cousins. It was just a matter of time, wasn't it? I wish I could add Cauley Stein but he's still missing an ingredient on both ends. Still, he is a legit 7 footer and can flat out run the court.

I've always loved this poem about a sport not much is written about in our sports pages.

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
piled 
head-high.

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

if the Japanese 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. 






Monday, October 15, 2018

2018/19 NBA Season Comments

Another NBA season that looks top heavy in the West, with Boston, Philly, and Toronto, easily the favorites in the East.

As a general rules, in my opinion, a team to win the NBA Championship must have at least two WOW players - Super-All Stars such as LeBron James, KD, Curry, Antetokoumpo, Paul George, James Harden, etc.

                                                      EASTERN DIVISION 

Boston Celtics: They are solid at every starting position with solid bench strength at every position. Irving and Hayward are WOW players (If Hayword is healthy) with some HALF WOW's in Jaylen Brown  Horford and emerging WOW player, Jayson Tatum.  The Celts can run, but are also patient. They can defend and rebound. Bench is strong. They have an excellent , gifted coach and appear to have all his players on the same page in terms of goals. You can't out tough them and you can't out finesse them, at least not in the East.

Philadelphia 76ers: They should be the second best team in the East, but a lot will depend on Embid's health and the development of Marquelle Fultz. Other questions, can Ben Simmons ever learn to shoot? Can JJ Redick have one more top notch shooting season after 13 years? I think the addition of Wilson Chandler will provide depth at the SF to help an great but inconsistent shooter Robert Covington. I like the coaching, but this season will test his mettle. Can the team defend as a team beyond the third pass? Joel Embid is a WOW players. Simmons is a HALF WOW, not a full WOW until he learns to shoot from middle distance and free throws. If all the stars are aligned, the 76ers could upset the Celtics. But not in a 7 game series.

Toronto Raptors: Have a point guard problem. Is Kyle Lowry a true point? Probably, but I'm not entirely convinced. He can shoot, even though streaky. Fred Vanvleet is a solid point guard, but over 80 games? Can the Raptors stretch the floor shooting threes? Lowry and CJ Miles are both streak shooters in my opinion. Danny Green is strong addition, and he can shoot deep. Green could turn into an X factor. Kawhi Leonard gives the team a WOW player. Lowry is a HALF WOW. But will Kawhi by in mentally is the question? Will he stay healthy? If he's right, the Raptors will be very tough. They are very solid at the center and power forward positions. I see lots of growth in Siakim.

Indiana:Pacers: Two huge question marks for a team I like a lot. Do they have a true starter-type point guard who can be a complete floor manager? I see Darren Collison and Cory Joseph as excellent PG backups. Perhaps Aaron Holiday? But he is a rookie and that's a lot to ask a rookie to take over the running of a team. At every other position I love this team. Oladipo is a WOW player. Myles Turner is a HALF WOW player with a caveat, which is - will he or won't he insist on being the star he can be? Or is he just a little too congenial?  I'm not sold on Doug McDermott, but he could prove me wrong. Bogdanovic will stretch the floor and Sabonis might make an All Star team one of these days. McMillan is a solid coach. Put an All Start type point guard on this team, and they go to the finals of the Eastern Division playoffs and maybe further.

Milwaukee Bucks: I'm picking the Pacers over the Bucks, but this could flip, as the Budenholtzer factor has to be assessed. Here's another team like the Pacers, with some questions at the point guard position. I've never been a Bledsoe fan. I think he makes bad decisions. Dellavadova is a true point guard, but he's slow and an inconsistent shooter. His D is top notch. The Bucks play him off the bench, and I bet most teams in the NBA would like to have a tough strong thinker like Delly coming off the bench for them. That leaves Malcolm Brogdan at the point. I like him, but not with any enthusiasm. Antetekoumpo is a WOW player. Krhis Middleton is a HALF WOW in my opinion. Zeller, Lopez, Maker are solid in the post. Can Snell at shooting guard shoot consistently? They have strong help off the bench at the power positions in Henson and Ilyasova. I think the Buck are one season and one draft choice/trade away from making some real noise.

Washington Wizards: What is it about the Wizards that I don't like? The chemistry? Wall and Beale should be dominant. Why aren't they? Was Gortat for Howard the gamble that will pay off? I doubt it. Never thought Howard ever worked hard enough at his game. Some strong young shooting forwards in Porter and Obre. Will Austen Rivers be the guy off the  bench that makes a difference?  Just too many question marks for this team to do anything but play themselves out of the first round of Eastern Division Playoffs. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't make the playoffs. If Miami can get Butler without giving up too much???

Chicago Bulls: Surprise team in the east.

                                                         WESTERN DIVISION


Golden State Warriors: Always tough for me to evaluate the Warriors objectively as I'm an ex Warrior and one of their biggest fans. So, I'll begin with the obvious - if Demarcus Cousins can recover fully from his torn Achilles tendon and play the way he did in New Orleans, the Warriors should win a fourth NBA Championship. If not, the Dubs have a problem in the post, (not sold on Jones) and may have to rely on Draymond and small ball, which is not a bad thing because Draymond is a Mr. All Around Stud. In all the other four positions, the Warriors are super solid. Cook has come along nicely and it looks as if Jacob Evans, the team's 1st round choice in June, will be a solid defender. Igudala and Livingston are a little long in the tooth, but should have enough where-with-all left for this season. I'm interested to see how Jerebko fits in to the Dubs defensively. I've always thought of him as a little soft on D. I'm a big Jordan Bell fan and am getting to be a Loony fan as his progress has been steady in defense and offense. Curry, Durant, and Klay are WOW players. Green is a HALF WOW (got to put more arc into the jumper for consistency's sake). Cousins is a WOW player. Lot's of WOW's going on. Could be a starting five with 5 All Star players. Coaching: EXCELLENT.

Houston Rockets: I thought that the Rockets would miss Ariza and Maboute, but I've changed my mind. PJ Tucker has shown me some stuff. He is definitely an X factor player. The Rockets have never had any defensive toughness, but PJ can change that. Even so, he is only one player. I still think the Rockets remain vulnerable on D: Hardin is an unwilling defender; Chris Paul, when all is said and done, is too small; Gordon is not a solid defender, and neither is Carmelo, who always looses defensive focus after the 3rd pass. .I'm a huge Capela fan. If Dwight Howard had Capela's work ethic, he be superman. Gerald Green is too flacky for my taste, and can make and has made in the past some awfully stupid moves. Ennis might turn into a strong acquisition. The Rockets will still be able to stretch the floor, so they will always be dangerous. As long as Chris Paul has a full healthy season, the Rockets are the only team I see giving the Warriors any trouble. D'Antoni is only an adequate coach in my opinion. Run and gun is easy to say.

Oklahoma Thunder: I will never be sold on a team with Westbrook running the show. Russell's problem is he's not a good point guard and he's not a good off guard. So what is he, really? A point shooter? Now what do you do with Dennis Schroeder? Is he really going to be happy coming off the bench? If OKC can figure out this problem, they'll be the 3rd best team in the west. At the forward and post positions, they are extremely strong. Steve Adams is awesome and doesn't need the ball to be successful, a HALF  WOW.  Paul George is a WOW player. Is Russell Westbrook? Not in my book, but I'll grant he's a HALF WOW. Nerlen Noel might turn out help when Adams has to rest. I like the Noel pick up - a little soft, but very long. Grant and Paterson are solid. Robinson will always play great D, but remains a shooting liability. Got to improve his free throws. Coaching has got to improve for this team to move forward. I see no strategic defensive or offensive strategy that's at all innovative. .

Denver Nuggets:  Lots of talking heads are predicting a break out year for the Nuggets, led my Nicola Jokic, a WOW player. Maybe, if Paul Milsap, a HALF WOW player, stays healthy and Isiah Thomas can find his Mojo. If those two players have strong seasons, there is enough talent that the Nuggets could upset OKC and hold off all other challengers except the Warriors and Rockets. And if I were the Warrior and Rockets, I wouldn't take the Mile High City's team too lightly. They can shoot and penetrate. Even though Plumlee is no threat offensively, he's a first-rate backup center, who'll run the floor and pick up cheap baskets. Solid if not imaginative coaching.

San Antonio Spurs: . Pop will find a way, but the loss of Kawhi was big. I've never been an Aldridge fan and Pau is getting old. Aldridge is a HALF WOW player. Who's going to run the club, now that Murrry is gone with an injury? Patty Mills? Maybe, but I like Patty coming off the bench. Who's going to stretch the floor? Derozen is a WOW player. but a middle distance shooting expert, Other than Patty Mills, where are the 3's coming from? The Spurs may turn out to be the worst three-point shooting team to ever make the playoffs.

Utah Jazz:  A well coached team, a year away, in my opinion, from contending for the finals in the West if they make the right trade and draft choice at the end of the season. Not impressed with the point guards.I don't care if he's improved, Rubio is still a poor shooter so teams can slack off. Same is true with Dante Exum. Neto is marginal off the bench. Team needs a stud at the point, then watch out. Donovan Mitchel is a WOW player. So is center Rudy Gobert a WOW. Joe Ingles always mystifies me, how does that slow dude get his shot off? Crowder and Favors will give the Jazz strength at the power spots and occasional big point production, but not consistent. Will see about the progress of O'Neele. Looks like a lot of potential. Still wondering where there's real jazz in Utah.

Los Angeles Lakers: Will make the playoffs on the back of Lebron James. Definate young stars, Ingram and Kuzma will contribute. Rondo will help, but is a flake factor, so what will he be like at the end of the season? Other flake factors: Lance Stephensen, and Mile Beasley, with these two anything can happen. Javale, I love you, but not as a starter. The more minutes you get the greater the chance of errors. Lonzo Ball looks like he's worked hard on his jumper, but I'd still slack off him if it meant stopping James, Ingram or Kuzma. I was hard on Ball last year, but I'm seeing him in a more positive light. I like hard workers, and he appears to have worked hard on the off season to improve his game. I'm a big K Caldwell Pope fan, but there is only one basketball to share. Walton is a good coach and getting better OJT. If Kawhi comes next season, the Lakers become scary.

Surprise Team: If Doncic is as good as his rep, Dallas, maybe.

General over-all not going into the 2018/19 season: There are a lot of mediocre players in the NBA, so I hope the NBA is not thinking of expansion for a while.

It's still football season, so here's a football poem I wrote recently.

JAXON    by Tom Meschery

I’ve a grandson who plays high school football.
He’s a linebacker, which means he attacks
the ball carrier, hoping to dislodge
any pig skin or weapon of mass destruction 
tucked under  the runner's arm with the intention
of harming the National Interest or ruining
the chances of his team winning the game.
Football is that kind of sport. The difference
between death and a losing season is blurred.
Why not chuck a grenade to a wide receiver
and watch him explode into the end-zone,
or take a hit from a 300 pound line-man?
Or, in the case of line-backers, volunteer
to lose their memories before they’re fifty.





Monday, October 8, 2018

Why Am I Not Surprsed

I've been on vacation and have not kept up with the sports news. Too busy enjoying the quiet of New York City.

So, I came back to the Raiders fumbling the season. Why am I not surprised?

First of all: I knew from the start that they overpaid Carr. He's a worthy QB, but not at the expense of failing to sign Kahil Mack. Stupid and short sighted. This is on Mark Davis. (what kind of a son constructs an eternal flame for his father anyway?) I'll guarantee Al would have traded his eternal flame for Mack any day. Football decision, not BS.

Second of all: It is my belief that the principal of IRONY must be taken into account whenever decisions are made. When you hire a person who is presented to team fans as a season changer, "to fix thing for good" the chances are excellent that irony will step in, and the opposite will happen. It is an act of arrogance and arrogance always fails.

Third of all: John Gruden was out of the game for a very long time, a very long time. The game changes, players change. Was he really ready to take over a failed program? Really? As a color broadcaster I never thought he was that informative, but that is my bias. I will offer this, bias or not, that on air Gruden was way-over-the-top-full-of-himself. He reminded me of a puffed up little bantam rooster. I never felt he was authentic. Lack of authenticity is something pro athletes pick up on very quickly. The locker room has to be REAL. If it is not, things start to fall apart fast.

I've always loved the Raiders and Raider fans. My best friend, Bill King broadcast the Raider games for years, so I'd love to wish them success. However, success doesn't seem in the cards for the Black and White this season.

And, finally, perhaps this failure is the result of bad karma that is the result of  the team leaving their loyal Oakland fans for glitzy Lost Wages.

Or, could it be, that the fruit of the tree has fallen too far away from the tree.

Or, all of the above?

A 63 yard field goal by Graham Gano for the Panther's win deserves a kicking poem.

The Kicker's last Steps

     For Jack Driscoll

One point behind, ten seconds left,
I lunge forward

a halo of gnats around my head.
I always thought field goal kicking
should be easy,
like pushing a word
from my tongue into the air.
But the goal posts
move backward
ten yards with each step.
Foto
And alone on this field -
only the year lines like a ladder I've forgotten
how to climb, the moon's floodlight
like a stiff graduation gown,
the empty avenues
of bleachers?

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

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Start of the NFL and Etc

Oakland Raiders: John Gruden may not be enough and Derrick Carr looked frightened. I mean, did you see that last intercepted pass. That was a basketball shot that looped straight into the hands of LA defensive back's hands. Guy looked totally surprised before running for a TD. Carr looked uncertain and flinchy the entire game. like he was worried about getting hit. I hope that's not true, but I think Gruden made a mistake saying "everything they [Raiders} do is about Carr.

San Jose 49ers: (Let's call them what the are and not SF) Back to football. Garapolo looked pretty average. He's obviously not. But at the end of last season, he was a surprise. Now that teams have film of him, they're better prepared. This makes all the team deficiencies more important to solve.
In the meantime, Shanahan wins the "Spin" of the NFL's first week: impressed with how G handled adversity.If you don't make it as a head coach, Kyle, there's a job waiting for you in politics.

New York Jets: Have finally got a QB. Darnold looked mostly like a vet as he led his team to a win over the Lions, which is not a shabby outfit. It was a serious performance.

Early betting on the vikings to win the Stupid Bowl would be reasonable. LA Rams next in line.

Arizona Cardinals might as well get it over with and make Rosen their starting QB. Preseason showed the kid had poise, skill and cockiness needed to be a big time NFL quarterback.

My long-shot team for max improvement is the Cleavland Browns.

This could be a very lopsided NFL season with wide disparity between the good teams and the bad, a little like our economy, the rich getting richer and the poor (and Middle Class) getting poorer.


                                                              ETC

Pro Tennis has got to get off that weird and outdated rule that coaches can't coach from the sidelines. In what sport, other than tennis, do coaches have to sit on their hands and keep their mouths shut as they watch their athletes perform? DUMB AND MORE DUMB. That silly ass ref during the Serena William's match calling calling a foul for a coaches "thumbs up" gesture. It started a chain reaction. Serena should not have blown her cool. Her racquet toss required a point loss.

Lots of CHEERS Keegan Bradley winning the BMW. Bradley hasn't won since since 2011. Love watching him approach shots: approach, step back, approach a second time. measure, step back, approach, twist club a couple of times. My wife calls him "Nervous Nelly". Nerves off steel at the end against Rose in the playoffs.

More CHEERS for Djokovis wining the US Open. Got a ways to go to tie Federer's 20 Grand Slams, but he's in striking distance of Nadal's 14.

The recent death of my old college roommate and Saint Mary's College basketball teammate, John Shirley prompted this poem.

On Hearing of John’s Death   by Tom Meschery

Got an email
from Ron with a poem
about the wind that is a gift
on a day I needed one having heard
of the death of my college roommate,
the best and only one-legged basketball player
in the history of Saint Mary’s College who’d limp
past you for a lay-up if you weren’t careful, so smart
he barely studied his sophomore year and got straight A’s
and nearly drove me out of my mind learning, instead of reading
the Classics, while I was struggling with the dactylic hexameter of the Iliad,
how to play one fucking song, Easy Rider on his guitar, the same notes over
and over; and the poem Ron sent me closed with the wind sounding like
a blues harmonica that arrived, as befits poetic license, all the way
from Pluto, the farthest planet in the Universe, which is where,
perhaps, if one does not believe in heaven, my roommate
John is now entering like the wind, the fierce wind
of his life no longer limping but sure footed
past Pluto, past all other undiscovered
planets, their moons and suns
and the dark matter
of our lives.








Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Stolen Base Gone like the Dinasaur

In this morning's Sacramento Bee Sports dated 8/21/'18, there was an article by Gary Peterson arguing that baseball was better before Metrics. I'm not a huge baseball enthusiast, but along with the article, there was a photo of Goose Gossage stating that baseball today was very difficult for him to watch. As much as I was a fan, Gossage was one of my favorite baseball players. He had a great name and a great flair and a great mustache. So, I read. After I finished it seemed to me he'd made his point: "The game is all home runs and strikeouts, absent all risk/reward gambits." Why? Because the actuarial tables say they result in negative metrics. The writer went on to illustrate with a bunch of comparisons between teams of the past vs teams of the future. Since he used metrics, my eyes glazed over. Let's see if I get the gist: Hits to strike out ratios - today more strikeouts than hits.  According to Scott Miller of Belcher Report: If you have a poetic bone in your body, you got to love this: As if they [batters] were 18 blindfolded men chasing a butterfly. As for pitching. American League as of today had turned in only 20 complete games. The National League only 10. At this rate, AL would complete 31 and NL 13. Giants Sam Jones in 1960 completed 13 himself. Onward and upward. According to the writer, there has been an average of 1.37 stolen base attempts in the majors this season, the lowest figure since 1964.

I told my wife. "Geez," she said.  "the stolen base was the only exciting play in baseball." That sort of summed it up for me. But I email my friend Larry Colton, ex of the Phillies and holder of the single game strike out record for the University of California for his thoughts on the subject, who is my baseball guru for his comments.

We wait with bated breath.

Metrics strives for some kind of statistical perfection. Not only is that impossible, it is boring.

Not exactly a baseball poem, but it could be.

Midnight Lazaruses   by Chaun Ballard, from Rattle summer 2018 issue


we were married
                                   to
concrete
                                   playgrounds, blacktops
                                 
                                   where seven days

nights
                                   a ball would drop

and like that
                                    bodies would complete

shadows
                                    and a game would be

found.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Mea Culpa Redux

I've already apologized via my blog for my years of denigrating golf as less than a sport. And to all golfers who give a jot about my beliefs, I apologize again big time. After watching the latest Open won by Brooks Koepka, chased to the 18th by Adam Scott and  Tiger Woods  (Go Tiger!), I have come to this realization: Golf played on the professional level is the most psychologically (mentally) and physically demanding sport of all the major sports in the world.

Please note, however, that I limit my definition to professional golf, not the ordinary get-out-and-play the links on weekend variety, in which case the level of mental and physical wear and tear drops significantly..

Onward and upward to the pro golfer. No athlete is challenged to perform his or her sport under such mental and physical strain while requiring such precise accuracy than golf played on the highest level. Mental acuity, physicality, precision, accuracy, and subtlety - all must come together at exactly the same time with different requirements of force for each stroke from the T to putt.
Not to mention the hazards. Imagine what kind of skill is needed to come out of tall grass or looking up through trees as your ball rests on the side of a hill. It's a little like asking a basketball player to shoot the ball from where it lands in the stands after an errant pass. I watched with renewed respect for the game as Koepka, Scott and Woods, three marvelously conditioned athletes, competed.

Let me say that I'm not blind to a few of the tubbys on the professional tour, who provide hope to all the rest of the out-of-shape weekend linkers, but I do not exclude them from my definition. They will simply play themselves out of the pro tour with back problems. A few, such as the enormously out of condition, John Daly, might move on to the Champions Tour by dint of their superior skills. So be it; there are always anomalies. 

Least people didn't read it in small print and on the last page of the sport's section, our U.S.A women's softball team defeated the Japanese to win the World Softball Championship. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, not some weenie championship. In my section of the paper, overshadowed by less important articles, like the Ryder Cup who's in the conversation.

I don't blog about baseball, but this baseball poem I recently read in a must read collection called This Loss Behind Us; A Triple Play of Poetry (Pint Size Publications) is beyond funny.

Pope Vincent by Paul Hostovsky

If you would like to be summarily excommunicated from the merry flock
the blue and white acolytes who clap on cue and shout appropriate epithets,
all you have to do is say something less than supportive about his royal divinity
Pope Vin Scully
Now 88 and still helping the team sell things.
Let us pray he never dies.




Sunday, August 5, 2018

NBA Off Season Craziness

My interest to blog flags once the NBA season ends. However, there are always a few newsworthy incidents or moments that require comments.

Urban Meyers, like Rick Pitino, bball, coach of Louisville, didn't know squat. Anyone who believes that I have the Golden Gate Bridge I'm willing to sell him for a modest price. Yeah, like donald trump didn't know nutting about Don Junior meeting with Russian agents of the KGB.

What is it about people who have power and money? Why do they think they can get away with lying?

As a high school teacher, if I didn't report even a suspicion of abuse to my principal, I would be fired. Which is what needs to happen to Meyers and the man running our White House.

Speaking of racist, trump, he's at it again, attacking Lebron James for "Awwwww," hurting the little president's weeny feelings. Why doesn't trump attack David Duke?

Speaking of loonies, was Terrell Owens born that way or did he grow into it? Okay, perhaps the Canton Hall of Fame snub is not that big a deal, but why wouldn't Owens want to join his fellow football players on such a profoundly important day? Could it possibly be that he want all the camera to be on him?

If Vladimir Putin KGB killer president of the new Soviet Union, could have scripted a perfect way to sow division and suspicion between the citizens of the United States, there would have been no better president to have sitting in the White House than donald racist trump.

I was sorry but not surprise when Lebron said all African American people, no matter how successful, continue to suffer racism.

TYLER HONEYCUTT DEAD   by Tom Meschery

His coach told the reporters it was hard
for a player to adjust to playing in Russia,
not knowing the language or culture.

It was hard for me to be in elementary school,
a Russian immigrant, wearing short pants
and not knowing how to speak English.
But that was a long time ago. Now,
you find language lessons on line.
I’m taking private lessons twice a week
at Alliance Francaise, so my wife and I
can move to France because our country
is suffering under a racist dictator.

Perhaps Hunnicut’s death at the hands
of the police, or by his own hand
had nothing to do with language
and the foreign culture. What if
he was simply tired of living as a black
man in our culture? I wouldn’t be
surprised. I’m white and I’m watching
my depression rising like mercury
in a glass thermometer in a heat wave.
Tyler’s depression might have reached
the melting point and burst, the shards
of glass flying through the air with his blood.




 



 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Boogie Warrior

Shall we say that between Draymond and Boogie, the pair might set a technical fouls record to go along with the Warriors third NBA Championship in a row.

My first reaction to hearing DeMarcus Cousins had signed a 1 yr contract with the Warriors was an extended moan, that turned into a question mark, and finally into a Holy -hit. The last expletive had to do with the kind of unique talent Boogie will bring to my team. The Warriors have not had a real post since the days of Nate "The Great" Thurmond. And a post who can go out onto the perimeter and shoot threes. Mama Mia!!!!

There has never been any question that the Boogie is an Awesome physical and skilled talent. For me, it has always been about attitude on the court and in the locker room. In past blogs I've accused him of being a dark cloud downer, a whiner, a locker room lawyer, and a candidate for anger management intervention. My wife, who hates cry babies, was not nearly as nice as her husband.

That said, so I can't be accused of hypocrisy, Cuz is now a Warrior and that means I have to cut him some slake. Such slake cutting has to do with the possibility that Boogie has been changing for the better since he left the dysfunctional Kings. Remember, I said, possibility. Boogie watchers, like my wife's grandson, John-Clark, who knows his basketball, has never wavered in his support of Boogie. He points out Boogies total career stats, and his performance last year with the Pelicans, before he suffered and Achilles tendon injury. John-Clark is right. There's is not a better pure center in the league than Cuz. This may change with DeAndre Ayton, but that's for another Blog.

Keeping John-Clark's loyalty in mind, I will consider (only consider, mind you) that there could have been a shift in Cuz's court attitude that started during the 2014 Olympic Games in Brazil. The theory might go like this: Cuz played his butt off for America's Olympic Team. No denying that. His effort won him the respect and friendship of his super star peers (Draymond Green being one of those players). These guys embraced the Cuz when he was, for the most part, being viewed around the league as a knucklehead. There is a lot to say for friendship and support. It might have been the motivation to consider changing his attitude and behavior. 

I'm just saying. It could have happened this way. And, it could be something the Warriors took into account when deciding whether or not to take DeMarcus Cousins into the fold. . .

And into the waiting arms of Draymond Green if the Boogie doesn't boogie straight.

Going into this season I will remember the free basketball clinics you have provided in Sacramento and the funeral for Stephon Clark you paid for. So, welcome Boogie Cousins to my Warriors. I wish for your Achilles injury to heal, for you to regain all your skills and physical prowess. You can be part of a great tradition, even if it will probably be only for one season.

Go Warriors!

This is a poem about climbing in Scotland. Not exactly a rope-up Mount Everest type of poem, but athleticism non-tthe-less. And a good old fashioned well-rhymed poem is always pleasant to read.

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 its loose rumbling course
Balanced I rode it like a circus horse. 



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

2018 NBA Draft and Etc

Let's begin with ETC first: When Jesus Christ said, "Suffer the little children. . . " he had no idea how many little children would suffer in the years following his ministry. History is witness to such monstrous suffering: Add to that list of monstrous acts against our little ones, the policy of donald trump that separates immigrant Hispanic children (four year-olds even) from their mothers and fathers. The people of the United States have lost the moral high ground. Yes, not only the White House and the Republican Party, but all of us. Every single person in America should be on the streets protesting what is going on at our southern border. Until we do and stop trump's immoral behavior, we have no right to criticize the German people for electing Adolf Hitler and the subsequent passive acceptance of his diabolic policies by the citizens of Germany.

I was a seven year old immigrant, son of Russian immigrants, who was accepted by this wonderful country of ours after the Second World War. The ship carrying my mother, sister and I docked in San Francisco in 1947. With other immigrants, we walked down the gangplank and were met by U.S. immigration officials. They did not take my sister and me away from our mother. Instead, they hugged us and gave us candy.

Americans, we all better stand up and be counted. These are children being harmed. Children, the little ones, the innocent, the least able to defend themselves, the future, whatever color that future might bring.

Now for the DRAFT. Funny how the importance of it pales by comparison with what's happening to those poor children.

ANYWAY:

Suns: Ayton is going #1 and will be a another, less prone to injury than Embid, Embid. How's that for a little rhetorical  flourish?

Sacramento has the second choice. I pray only that the  Kings don't take Michael Porter Jr., whose back injury makes such a high choice too great a risk. I worry about Marvin Bagley III, a sure winner, except that his grandfather is Joe Caldwell, one of the great knuckle-head NBA players of the sixties, who made my life miserable when he played for me with the Carolina Cougars of the ABA during the 1971/72 season. Does the acorn fall far from the grandfather tree? To me, Luca Doncic is a solid choice, a veteran of the Euro-League, and this season's Euro All Star. He's been challenged by grown men and in return challenged them. There is no reason he can't play and defend the 1, 2, and 3. He's gritty and confident and skillful.Remember, the Kings already have a 4 in Harry Giles III, who should be recovered from knee injuries and ready to show his stuff that made him the top high school player of the year two years ago.

Spurs: My prediction based on Pop's decision not to trade Kawhi Leonard to any Western Conference team is that Leonard goes to the Celtics. The Celts have draft choices for a rebuild, and Jalen Brown, and a second young player to create a deal that would work for the Spurs. Come to think of it, given the Spurs roster, this trade might actually work in their favor. There are already rumors about this trade on the internet.

Whatever team winds up with Mohammed Bamba is getting the next Dekimbe Motombo.

Jaren Jackson Jr, 18 yrs old, youngest big of the bigs, is going to become an NBA All Star dual position 5 and 4.

Trae Young will not  pan out. Donte Divincenzo is going to have a solid NBA career. Perhaps more than solid.

Kevin Huerter is a light's out 3 point shooter, and one of my surprise picks.

Warriors: I'm betting on Bob Meyers nose for sleepers.  Something like a great sommelier can pick the finest wines. 

The following is an appropriate poem about an immigrant to honor immigrants in today's sinful environment.

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 a citizen
of a country 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 United States of America
that I would never fully understand.





Monday, June 11, 2018

The Simple Answer for Why the Dubs are a Superior Basketball Team and Etc

Sometimes the best answer to a difficult problem is the easiest one. This morning I read Kevin Durant say this about his personal approach to basketball: "All I've ever wanted was to be one of the guys." Sub gals for guys to cover the gender issue, and voila, here's what team sports is all about - being a part of the whole. "Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,' so wrote British poet John Donne (1572-1631) in Meditation XVII. Durant may not have read John Donne's meditation that states, "No man is an island," but his simple declaration demonstrates he has Donne's sensibility and understanding of what it take to be human. I hasten to add, an understanding that our current President does not.

Being one of the guys is also the simplest reason why the Warriors have won 3 out of the last 4 NBA titles. It's an emotional glue that binds the Warriors players, coaches, administrators and owners together.

On a more realistic level, it's why Warrior ownership should keep the Core of the Warriors together for a few more years, subtracting bench weaknesses and adding bench talent, keeping in mind that whomever they add to the team, such a player wants to be and appreciates "being part of the guys."

Etc:

I was reminded in this mornings sports page that the World Cup in Russia will feature the competition between Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo chasing their first ever World Championships, a height both superstars have never reached. While we in the United States will be watching boring old baseball, the rest of the world will have their eyes trained on Russia and the two arguably greatest soccer players of all time.

Justify should be voted 2018 Athlete of the Year.

trump vs the rocket man: two losers facing off against each other. The media must feel just slightly ridiculous calling this  a summit, to equate trump to Regan or Kennedy. Give me a break. I was never a Regan fan, but he had a modicum of gravitas. This so called summit is like Mike Tyson facing off against Dennis Rodman.

Speaking of trump's recent tirade against Canada's Prime Minister, Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland said her country "does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks." May I humbly suggest to the foreign minister that in the future she use simpler language. There isn't one person in the trump administration who has the slightest idea what "ad hominem" means.

Rafael Nadal wins the French Open, another victory in a series of victories on clay. Here's a fine tennis poem from a fabulous magazine, Sport Literate:

Tennis Lesson   by David Radavich. 

The ball bounces
again and again

like a self
against its cage

tryng desperately
to get out

seeking a point
any point

but only 
now and then

over the line
out of bounds

in love

and no longer 
in love

two exchanging
their hardest

and then 
one losing.





Saturday, June 9, 2018

3 out of 4 NBA Champs



Had a hard time sleeping last night as the Warrior win played itself out through my mind until the sun rose. I woke up exhausted from my effort, grabbing those rebounds, settting screens, blocking off the boards. I told my wife, I'd led my team to the championship once again. "Where's your ring?"she asked.  "Maybe they forgot," I said.

CONGRATULATIONS DUBS.

I have a feeling I will be congratulating them for many more years.

Given the ages of the Dubs players and their dedication to physical fitness, the Warriors have at least four years of championship caliber play. I don't think anyone should be surprised if the Dubs come up up Champs again the next couple of years. That would be fine with me as I have a bunch more grandchildren I can take with me and my wife to ride with us in the parade.

Ah, the Parade. In Coach Steve Kerr's words, what joy!

The NBA grind played with JOY, what a concept!

After the game Charles Barkley and Grant Hill criticized Lebron James for his underwhelming performance. I thought they were too harsh on the King. I simply believe James was operating on fumes, nothing left in the tank. Sure, the Cavs feed off his performance, but beside Kevin Love, not a single player on the Cavs stepped up. Barkley was right, however, that Michael Jordan remains the best NBA player pound for pound. And it's possible (anyone who agrees, raise their hands) the second best is Kevin Durant.

On that note, I end today's blog with a poem I wrote for KD entitled


KD

Our seats are on the courtside floor
under the basket. Before the game,
I’m watching KD, working on his shots
with a coach. His long, lean body
moves through drills with measured
speed and grace. I’m wondering
where have I seen such grace before.
It is unusually fluid almost like liquid
as if he were proving the truth
of the words Keats had inscribed
on his tombstone: Here lies one
whose name was writ in water.
If I watch KD with my eyes closed,
will I see waves? For a moment
I smell the fresh air of oceans,
but think myself foolish,
conjuring images of childhood delights,
sitting on a beach while all around me
the wild courtside din of spectators
roar through the arena with approval
of KD’s moves. I sit with wife
and grandson watching and admiring,
not unlike the way I imagine waves
on the beach, one shot following
another and another, rising and falling
into the wide net of imagination. 




Friday, June 8, 2018

Warriros Three Zip and Etc

The first half of game three almost drove me to suicide. Time after time, the Warriors allowed the Cav bigs to get position and grab offensive rebounds. I fretted and cursed. I closed my eyes. I prayed. I opened my eyes, but nothing changed. Until the second half, when the Dubs came to their senses and began rebounding with conviction and toughness. "Hallelujah," I cried, scaring my dear wife, who was sitting next to me, fingering her worry-beads. From the beginning of the third quarter on, even though Curry and Thompson were having a dismal shooting night, I was no longer concerned. There was Kevin Durant, KD emblazoned on his chest like a Marvel Super Hero, taking up the slack. It was huge. But there were also Livingston, McGee, Bell, and Igudala. They too were heroes. I could almost hear them telling Curry and Thompson to relax; they had their backs.

What makes the Warriors the Dubs and so enjoyable to watch, is that they are a TEAM. "Team" came to the rescue and the Warriors defeated the Cavs, who have a couple of brilliant players in Lebron and Love but do not have a TEAM.

So, tonight, the Warriors must face Lebron and Love in game four. As they prepare mentally for night's game, I want to remind them, of something I learned from one of America's great coaches, Dean Smith of the University of North Carolina. Coach Smith set a value on one offensive rebound and put- back at 6 points, not two points (back then, there was no 3 point shot, so as you read forward, adjust your point totals accordingly.) Coach Smith's reasoning was the following. 1) The offensive rebounder saved a miss and turned it into a score = 2 pts, add 1 point for the possibility that the offensive rebounder was fouled on the put-back and made his one freethrow. = 3 pts. (everybody following the logic so far?). 2) The rebound and put back kept the opposing team from scoring if they had captured the defensive rebound, as is usually the case on missed shots =  2 pts, add 1 point if the shooter had been fouled in the act of shooting and made his freethrow = 3 pts. 3 + 3 = 6.

Smith set a point value on a lot of other areas of the game, such as steals, held balls, diving for loose balls, etc that are sometimes overlooked by fans, players and even some coaches.

So, Dubs, the boards are crucial on both ends of the court. No more offensive rebounds for the Cavs. And how about a few O boards for the home team?

Etc:

It stretches the boundaries of credulity that Bryan Colangelo had no idea that his wife was using burner apps to criticize 76er players, management and other of his NBA colleagues. There are no secrets in today's high tech world. One goes on the Internet at one's own peril, and one better be able to live with and embrace one's words and actions.

Here's a fabulously funny baseball poem I read in a fabulously interesting collection of sports poems entitled "This Loss Behind Us," published by Pint-size Publications.

Avion Blues   by Paul Hostovsky

We, the Blue Jays, are playing the Buzzards,
having already lost to the Orioles, cardinal,s
Eagles, Hawks, Robins, and even
the Sparrows. Bobby Browe is on the mound,
that predacious lefty sidearm pitcher with
strabismus and a penchant for wild pitches -
an evil eye, an evil windup, the devil's
delivery. I step flutteringly up to the plate -
chicken shit, caviling dove, hummingbird
hovering in the batter's box, tremulous, tiny.
My beaked cap. My pigeon toes.The rictus
 of his grin. The trajectory of his spit. And then:
the windup.The pitch. The blind swing - more like

a swat. Two finches chasing a crow over the treetops.








Sunday, June 3, 2018

Speculation and etc

As we approach the second game of the NBA Finals, there is a bunch of speculation going on, the principal one being how will the Cavs be able to recover from their mistake riddled last second fourth quarter performance that allowed the game to go into overtime and eventual defeat by the Dubs.

Speculation is the job of the media and Monday morning quarterbacks (or in the case of basketball, Monday Morning Point Guards). The job of the participants, coaches and players, is to stick to reality, which is a zen like attention to the real and present. The real and present danger for the Warriors is a determined Lebron James, a focused Kevin Love, a dead-eye catch-and-shoot expert in Kyle Korver, and a streaky, but lethal JR Smith. (Make no mistake about it, Smith is capable of knocking down three or four deep 3's in a row, just as he is instinctively capable of making 3 miscues in a row.) The real and present danger for the Warriors is not to repeat their WEENIE effort on the boards, that led to them being soundly out-rebounded.  It's not rocket science. You block off and go get the ball. It's all one motion, one act of pure hardnosed determination.

Can't wait for the start of the game.

If you're an NBA die-hard fan, if you missed a recent NBA Gametime show featuring legendary GM's NBA administrators, Wayne Embry and Rod Thorn, Team exec/owner Jerry Colangelo, player agent Arn Tellem and Hall of Fame Detroit Piston Bad Boy point guard, Isiah Thomas, make sure you don't miss it when it is rebroadcast. Unvarnished NBA history. I loved it when Rod (my old team mate with the Sonics and poker player extraordinaire) explained how we used to travel in the good old days: bus, train, and in coach on airplanes. My knees still ache. Can you imagine how the 7 footers suffered? Lot's of subjects covered: race relations, naming the Chicago team, the Bulls, early player unionization, etc. Lots of etc and minutiae.  Wayne, my man, you're looking good for an 80 year old. Jerry, you've come a long way from hustling beers for Johnny Kerr.

Recently I was sent a chapbook of sports poetry entitled This Loss Behind Us: A Triple Play of Poetry by Jack Bedell, Paul Hostovsky and MK Punky. It's a must read. Here is a poem out of that collection about baseball. It is baseball season, isn't it?

The Guy in the Seat Next to You

The challenge for a poet at the ball game
is a triplicate predicament:
he must not swoon over the greenness of the grass.
He must not view every little lovely detail as a metaphor waiting to be transcribed for posterity.
He must not recite rambling stories with no discernible point
except to subtly imply it was all somehow better back when he was a boy
when baseball was a mystery, not a business.
Do not sit next to this man
gleefully noting the aural pastiche of cracks and whizzes and pops
a Partch percussion symphony
trimmed in wood and cowhide.
He will talk your ear off if you let him. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Back from European Vacation

Just in time to watch the upcoming Warriors vs Cavs first game of the 2018 NBA Championship. We found out about the Warriors comeback win in the final game 7 while boarding our Air France flight from Paris to SFO. My wife, Melanie, and I, wearing our Warrior T's and caps, were schlepping our carry-ons down the aisle when a guy already seated in front of us gave us a thumps up and told us of the win. It made our tedious 11 hour trip home tolerable.

I must reveal that while on our month long vacation that included Italy, Spain, France and Scotland, I suffered terrible Dubs withdrawal-anxiety. Even with all the"aps" available, it was not easy getting scores, let alone any commentary. Ron Adams, the Warriors esteemed defensive assistant coach cum guru did his best by providing me with local newspaper article updates. It was not the same as watching the games live. Was I bereft? No, when you're looking at the David at the Academia in Florence, or passing through the galleries of the Louvre in Paris basketball becomes a little underwhelming.

But I'm back, the arts behind me, excited, and ready to support my team onward and upward to the NBA finals. They will have to play at a high level. How about putting together four quarters similar to their now storied 3rd quarters. Essential, since Lebron will not be taken out of his game the way the Warriors took James Hardin out of his game. And the Dubs would be smart not to underestimate the new young players the Cavs have. But I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir as Coach Kerr has already warned his team. So, Go Dubs. I can't wait for the parade.

I do want to mention one thing as the first game draws near. The talking TV heads, including NBA Game Time talking heads who should know better, need to remind their audience that as great as the Dubs are and Lebron eight straight trips to the finals, these exploits pall by comparison to the playoff records set by the Boston Celtics: 13 straight finals appearances and 8 championships in a row. The Bill Russell teams were mighty and awesome and should never, and I repeat, never be relegated to some historical closet where old coats are kept because they were once fashionable but not modern enough to be worn. If I could stand time still for five years in which the Boston Celtic player (I'm thinking the '61/'62 team) were provided the physical training of today's players, there is not one team in modern history that would defeat them in a 7 game series. Not one. Unprovable as it is, I stand by my belief. Try to imagine Bill Russell buffed up, John Havelick after five years of modern physical fitness training. Satch Sanders with weight training would shut down most players on today's teams he guarded. Maybe not Jordan, but maybe he could. He was that good. Ah, I wax nostalgic. Perhaps age is finally catching up to me.

So I end with gratitude that while we were away from our country, truump didn't savage our dear land any more than he already has. I was hoping to return in time for his indictment. But as a friend of mine once said, "Hope springs external."





Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Arrogance of Youth. the Incredible Draymond Green.

Only the arrogance of youth would allow for the following: "We're living in a special era of basketball. For my money, the players have never been more athletic, versatile or skilled, and that in conjunction with a wave of tactical brilliance, means the NBA game has never been better. These are all-time great players with few, if any comparisons in basketball history." 
So saith, Dieter Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News, a young man by the look of his photograph. Unless, like a senior citizen on dating website, he posted a younger version of himself. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt he didn't, which makes Dieter too young to remember the Kareem, Magic, Worthy, Bird, McHale, Chief era. Too young to remember The Jordan Bulls, The Knicks, The Jazz of Malone and Stockton. Too starry eyed to recognize the dismal play of most of the basketball teams in the NBA today. Need I list the teams and mediocre players? If Dieter fully investigated the Boston Celtics of the Sixties, (how many championships did they win?) he might want to adjust his thinking slightly.

Ah, well, before the young fellow accuses me of being an old foggy, which unfortunately I am, and he will be too. I do agree with him that today's NBA All Stars represent a special time in basketball. But let's not get overly modernistic or futuristic. Let's not forget history, which countries so often do and the world suffers for it. In making comparisons between eras and players and jumping to conclusion, ya gotta to recognize that The Three Point Shot was a demarcation between all such basketball eras rhetoric. Not the apples and oranges thing, but between the traditional apple pie and the more exotic creme brule.

Ponder the NBA without the three. Who'd win, Magic's Lakers or Hardin's Rockets? Without the three, do today's Warriors defeat the Birds' Celtics of yore? Who wins between Wilt's 76ers and LeBron's Heat? How about arguably the most technically skilled NBA basketball team, albeit not the most athletic, of Bill Walton's Blazers? I daresay, without the three the Blazers would defeat most of the 2018 playoff contenders. With the three, that's creme brule.

But Dieter is absolutely on the money when he praises the athletic virtues of Draymond Green. The man is a MAN. The Heart of the Warriors is it's triumvirate offense of Curry, Thompson and Durant, but the soul of the Warriors is Green leadership on Defense. And when Draymond's offense is on, he makes the Dubs unbeatable.

My wife and I are on our way to Italy on a month's vacation. I will miss my Warriors, but I will not miss trumps tweets. I was advised to wear a Canada button on my clothes in Europe as trump and his ilk have made our dear country less dear in the eyes of the world. But I will not. Our country has weathered great storms before, we can escape this storm, hopefully not too battered. Perhaps by the time we get by trump will be impeached and indicted for his indefensible and illegal relationship with KGB killer Putin.

With baseball season threatening to take over television coverage after the NBA ends, I give you one of the great baseball poems by one of the great Beat poets.

Dream of a Baseball Star   by Gregory Corso

I dreamed Ted Williams
leaning at night
against the Eiffel Tower, weeping.

He was in uniform
and his bat lay at his feet
-knotted and twiggy.

"Randall Jarrell says you're a poet!" I cried.   (*Jarrell, one of America's great poets.)
"So do I! I say you're a poet!"

He picked up his bat with blown hands;
stood there astraddle as he would in the batters box,
and laughed! flinging his schoolboy wrath
toward some invisible pitcher's mound
-waiting the pitch all the way from heaven.

It came; hundreds came! all afire!
He swung and swung and swung and connected not one
silder curve hook or right-down-the-middle.
A hundred strikes!
The umpire dressed in strange attire
thundered his judgment: YOU'RE OUT!
And the phantom crowd's horrific boo
dispersed the gargoyles from Notre Dame.

And I screamed in my dream:
God! throw thy merciful pitch!
Herald the crack of bats!
Hooray the sharp liner to left!
Yea the double, the triple!
Hosannah the home run!