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.

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!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Flashy NFL Draft Boring and Etc

You got to be a total college and pro football aficionado to get watch the mind numbing NFL college draft. Compared to the simpler NBA draft, the NFL has way too many positions on defense and offense. That's 24 separate positions, with separate skill-sets. I don't think many people in football land were carefully watching the progress of left tackles or right tackles, which I learned for the first time today, reading the results of yesterday's draft, have different skill sets. "I feel like I've mastered both sides and I'm ready to go at either one," said Mike McGlinchey, the San Jose 49ers first round pick. So, I suppose there must be some left offensive tackles who have not, and are therefore relegated to a lifetime career as left tackles on the O-Line. Of course there are other sports with very specific position skills, I'm thinking baseball in particular. But there are only 9 positions to consider. Besides, MLB doesn't have a college draft extravaganza. NBA teams select the best at most five very different positions with several of the positions having overlapping skill sets. For example, a #2 guard (the shooter) could possess #1 point guard skills sets. I'm probably over explaining. My bottom line is I watched until the last of the five best college QB's were selected, then switched channels. I'm guessing many other fans did.

Etc #1

Thrilled to read that Steph Curry will be back on the court against the very dangerous New Orleans Pelicans, coached by ex Warrior assistant coach Alvan Gentry, perhaps as soon as the first game on Saturday. Without Curry, the Warriors are the Warriors. With Curry, the Warriors are the Dubs. This has to do with how far the Dubs can stretch the floor with Steph. Of its starters, three downtown shooters makes a huge difference these days as opposed to a team with two downtown shooters, no matter how good they are.

Etc #2

 My wife and I are off to Europe for the month of May, which means we'll miss the Western Conference second and final rounds. We are sorry about missing these games, but we have a date with Italian and French cuisine. We'll be cheering for the Dubs from our sidewalk cafes. If Tony Parker wants to join us as our translator, he's welcome. I have informed the Warriors that we'll be back to watch them defeat the Cleveland Cavs for their third NBA Championship. 

Etc #3

What a frosty last second winner LeBron shot to beat the Pacers! Form and rotation of the ball as it left his fingers, I could see it was going down.

Here's a poem I wrote a couple of weeks back honoring the death of a excellent high school and college point guard and later college coach, Bernie Simpson. Bernie played on the 1969 University of California Bears NCAA Championship team.


Bernie’s Funeral    by Tom Meschery

He was the starting guard on the high school team
that beat my high school team three straight years
for our city’s championship, and the guard
on the college team that beat my college team
in the NCAA tournament and left me at the bar
drinking beers while his team went on to win it all,
and it was him standing on a ladder cutting down
a piece of the net that I felt belonged to me.

I’m staring at the huge crucifix behind the altar.
The Ave Maria is being sung, and I’m wondering
about the minutiae of memory when I should be
thinking about the big picture of Bernie’s life.
The Ave ends and the priest begins speaking
about resurrection, an idea I find impossible
to consider. So I picture Bernie’s jump shots.
instead. They were pretty damn accurate.
It occurs to me that thinking of Bernie’s body
rising into that jumper, not with a lot of height,
but enough that the ball floated over the hand
of our guy guarding him, is strange and perhaps
inappropriate now that he no longer has a body.
And that soon I too will no longer have a body,
which should make me more serious but doesn’t.

After the priest, the eulogies begin. The best
is a daughter remembering her father’s words:
Show up; have faith; execute, that have given her
something to live by and pass on to her children.
After mass and the reception, on my drive home
I’m wondering if I've left any words behind
for my children to cherish after my death?
Nothing so eloquent as Bernie's I’m afraid.
More like keep your elbow directly under
your shooting hand; don’t leave practice
without making your last shot. Or, since
I have always found tranquility and joy
waiting for me in the kitchen, make sure
that you season while you’re cooking
and never be afraid to try new recipes.