/fls/26500/site_graphics/backgrounds/homepageHD.jpg
KOOZIE
Coo Store
Team USF

According to SID

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 10/03/2011
Send this article to a friend Print RSS

Blog 43: The High, the Crash, the Aftermath and Resolution

Well, it’s over for another year.  My groove killed and it’s Monday morning comin’ down. Depression is the natural result as a month long sports high passes and I crash like a lead balloon waiting for warmer golf weather. The low last week was 10 above on the Fahrenheit scale. Come on man I paid my dues its spring so on with the good weather already.

This might have been the best NCAA tournament in a long while. Many upsets and# 8 seed crowned as champion. Although the NCAA tournament had many great games with many a thrill packed finish. The relentless barrage of commercials is a bummer. The ads are so redundant that once you had them memorized you could celebrate a birthday between games.

I swear that during the “NCAA play-in games” they were advertising automobiles from 2014 and by the final four they were rolling out the 2015 models.

With the addition of official reviews in place along with a full complement of time outs I declare it took Webster less time to accumulate the dictionary. Well at least seemingly so to me, Heh heh!!

In direct contrast to the blatant advertising overload of the NCAA there are far too few breaks in The Masters golf tournament. Gee Whiz a person needs to go to the Loo or get a beer when watching the spectacular competition. Simply said, at Augusta National they don’t really need the money. So, one has to be prepared. I had 3 TVs on in my house all well placed in strategic positions so as not to miss anything as I made my forays to the fridge.

The great thing about golf is no one roots against another player. They just cheer in a resounding manner for their favorite(s). The notable exception for golf is the Ryder Cup. Where no quarter is dared to be asked for and certainly none is offered or given. During the Ryder Cup the nationalistic fans act much like hockey fans by being rude and abrasive. Somewhat like soccer fans but without the riots.

There were many great stories that played out before us at the 2014 Masters. For a long while it was the 50 something’s battling the 20 something’s for positions on the leaderboard. But Bubba simply out drove trouble on many holes and made all his par putts on the back nine on Sunday for a second green jacket.

It was so refreshing to see Miguel Angel Jimenez play to four under par and lead the 50 something’s on the leaderboard. The potbellied cigar smoking hero of every weekend golfer looks like a retired olive farmer from the Iberian Peninsula. Looking all the part of one who just started the game for a retirement activity and who recently got a mixed bag of clubs off a garage sale. But the man has some chops when it comes to playing golf. I think next year he needs to wear dreds instead of the iconic pony tail. That would be so cool if he braided it out next year. Puts some beads on the ends and there you go. A cult hero is born, if not already.

Tell ya what he enjoys life. Who wouldn’t you? It’s Augusta dummy.

This year at The Master’s there was the first ever Drive, Chip and Putt Contest for young golfers. There were age groups ranging from 7 – 15 years for both boys and girls. The truth be told, I’d challenge anyone these little kids for the quintessential privilege to play the Augusta National even if it’s the par-3 course. There would be no shame in doing so. I must admit was a difficult task to stow my envy of these diminutive ankle biters.

An interesting contrast to the kids competing in the D-C-P contest is the sentimental scene with Arnie “The King” who is 84ish paired with Gary Player “The Black Knight” 79ish and Jack “The Golden Bear” the youngster at 74.  Nostalgia oozes from every pore as you watch these three titans of golf perambulate the par 3 course.

One can’t help but wonder what memories of past championships swirl around in their minds as they look at the Loblolly Pines and Dogwoods that adorn the world’s greatest golf course. The sweet remembrances of days long past. The Days of Youth in which they dared great shots with many splendid results. Thirteen green jackets between the three of them to be exact.

Time is so unkind a favorite lyric line from a favorite song is especially poignant when played against the stories of these young players now making grand dreams of their own.

Augusta National as always is the winner. 97 players made 21,888 total strokes in 296 rounds for an average of 4.1. There were 5,328 holes played yielding 872 birdies and 3121 pars. All 97 players will most readily assure that not one of the 3000+ pars were “Ho-hum.” The birdies are blessings.

The most important factor is the beauty of this Paradise in Georgia. The ANGC 18 always wins the pageant.

The Eternal Question is if there is golf in heaven?

 
Yes, friends, if there is an Augusta National here on earth there must be golf in heaven.

 Dear God, when I get to heaven could we landscape the backyard of my mansion to be a model of the Hogan Bridge with Rae’s Creek running through the property. Just sayin, it’d be great and I’ll certainly share.

BLOG 42: The Very Best Time of the Year

Ladies and Gentlemen, homies and bros,


We are on the very precipice of the best four weeks of the sports calendar. The NCAA Tournament, Opening Day of Major League Baseball, The Masters and then spring or an ice storm whichever comes first.
The sumptuous fruit of spring is ripe on the tree of liberty ready to be plucked and enjoyed.

Selection Sunday is one of the high holy days (note the alpha lower case). There’s Easter the best Sunday of all. Then Mother’s Day, Master’s Sunday and Selection Sunday that fill out the Mt. Rushmore of Sundays.
 
There are so many intriguing questions to answer during the next 30 days. The mysteries of spring solved yet again. Which team will make their frenetic six game, three week run of Madness to win the National Championship?
 
Just think, there are Broadway shows that don’t last that long.
 
The MLB season opens in late March and ends in mid-October.
 
How long can the Twins hopes last or will they be moot after April?
 
The Masters, the tradition unlike any other, wraps up this great run.
 
Can Tiger win another major? Will his achy breaky back allow him to do so?
 
The only downer dampening this euphoria is the rigid stance the NCAA has on gaming. The warning has just gone out to uttermost reaches of the country from NCAA Athletic Administrators. The “dontbetonit” campaign points out the dangers of gambling. To employees of NCAA member institutions gambling and gaming pools are strictly VERBOTEN!
 
Ya-but, was a two word retort echoed through my childhood and teen years. This was the knee jerk response to parental over control. It usually came on the heels of something that in my mind DID NOT have my best interests at the center. Ya-but I feel the same about the NCAA strictness about gaming.
 
Now, in the mien, I am in complete agreement about educating student/athletes on the vices of gambling and the Greek tragedy that the addiction can lead to. Ya-but this is different.
 
Quicken Loans backed by the mega rich investment maven Warren Buffet are offering a billion dollars to anyone who can pick all 63 NCAA tournament games correctly. In other words perfection in your bracketology could make you rich. But my entry is a no-no according to rules sent forth from headquarters in Indianapolis. Ya-but the odds are so high it’s almost impossible to win. So what’s the big deal?
 
Sure the NCAA can sign a 10 billion dollar contract to air the tournament games. Ya-but what about me?
 
I could use a 1,000 million myself, which is seemingly just walking around money to Mr. Buffet.
 
All seriousness aside, I’m thinking about going rogue on the NCAA basketball playoffs this spring.
 
A billion dollars offers temptation beyond the dreams of avarice. What is the likelihood of picking a perfect bracket anyway?  Entrants have a one-in-9.2-quintillion chance of filling out a flawless NCAA tournament bracket. Again, I ask what’s the big deal? It doesn’t cost anything, thus you can’t lose anything.
 
Contestants trying to make a perfect bracket would have a better chance of hitting four holes-in-one in a single round of golf. Well, I have two HIOs already so I’m halfway there. To not enter is madness defined.
 
Employees of member institutions need to toe the line. Wink-Wink like there won’t be a lotta cousins and aunts filling out the brackets with some covert guidance. I hope someone’s’ Auntie Elsie wins it all striking a blow for deception.
 
But, I’ll just meekly slip into the ranks of the compliant like a good little NCAA soldier.
 
As Mike Tyson the great sage once said after his final fight "I don't know, man," he said. "I guess I'm gonna fade into Bolivian."
 
NEWS BULLETIN: Dateline Sioux Falls:
 
This just in, The NCAA and SID-etal have come to an out of court settlement. This agreement allows anyone including the employees of NCAA member Institutions to enter the Billion Dollar Contest. The key is that these contests cannot have an entry fee. Alrighty then let that be a lesson to the NCAA to not mess around with SID-etal.
 
Game On!!!!
 
The transference of the “bil” should be quite easy since Warren has my investment portfolio info anyway.
 
Best Wishes in your endeavors and don’t forget to smell the magnolias.



BLOG 41: Another Place and Another Time

50 years ago this month the British Invasion hit America when the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Millennials would hardly even know who the Fab Four were and how huge their impact was in the 60’s.

Had this monumental happening occurred on a Friday night it may have passed without notice, because 75% of people in the country were at the local high school’s basketball game.

The over simplification notwithstanding it was also the best basketball season on record back in America’s favorite hometown of Chancellor. My hometown.

The local gym was a hallowed place of legendary tales in small town America.  The gym wasn’t large enough to be called an arena or even a gymnasium. It was just a gym. The court lighting was a couple of technological ticks ahead of lanterns. The three circles on the floor abutted each other making the floor at least 40 feet shorter than most courts are now. The width was as narrow as 35 feet. Yet, it was home to Mighty Mighty Wildcats a half century ago.

Players were hard pressed to shoot a long range shot on their half of the court. Long range defined as 20’ or so.

Any player attempting too many long range shots was “gunner” and could be shunned by town and team. Save for the fact that if said player made more than he missed he was a feared “shooter”.  Believe you me there was deep and profound chasm between these two. 

Due to its size our tiled floor was a death trap for opposing teams that year. CHS played a zone that was virtually impenetrable on the smaller floor. Part of the home court advantage was our quirky Fair Play score clock. It had the unique dysfunction of not being able to be stopped with 8 or fewer seconds to go. So teams waiting for a last shot had to call time out before that or otherwise it would simply and exquisitely coast til the horn blew signaling the end of the game. No instant replay and no recourse because our clock keeper would have quickly been out the door and have sucked down two cigarettes and be four blocks closer to the bar before the bewildered opposing coach knew what just happened. Not so much Fair Play after all.

Fans entering this cracker box and paid a quarter for admission and a mimeographed program. The packed house would number in excess of four hundred to see their beloved “boys” defeat another opponent. That’s all the seating that the four tiered two-sided bleachers would allow.  The local grade school kids were the SRO crowd and we stood and hung all over the place to get a glimpse of our heroes in action. It was like an off court zoo. The odd thing is that no one smoked in church or the gym both were deemed too hallowed for that activity.

Before the B-game and at the halftimes of the B and the A team games the kids from the lower grades would shoot around with the high-schoolers. We would practice our game in front the local gentry hoping to impress them as upcoming prodigies. My court dreams were to be a Wildcat A Teamer and then go on to play for The Harlem Globetrotters. With every shot that rippled the nets it felt like my dream drew closer and closer. The school was limited to six basketballs so that definitely put a ceiling the number of shots that the dozen or so interlopers could hoist up. There was of course the game ball. But even the most brazen of grade schoolers would dare not touch it for fear that it might jinx our team.

The team traveled to towns no more than 30 miles in any direction from town. Small towns each had a high school then. Sadly through time and attrition these small town schools have been melded into acronyms. Their teams now play in big arenas and gymnasiums with wood floors and all the amenities expected of the modern facilities.

The CHS Wildcats won the Little Sioux Conference that year and we were poised for a run at a coveted berth in the South Dakota State B Basketball Tournament. But alas as it often does the past is repeated. Once again we couldn’t get past our arch rival Parker in the District finals. Perhaps having to play on the extra-large Sioux Falls Coliseum floor threw us off our game.

It was the long held belief of some of our town’s people that noted community leaders from Parker had financially influenced the referees in such a fashion as to render the fate of this game moot. Not unlike that of America in the 1972 Olympic Basketball Gold Medal Game.

This outstanding team would spawn a number of really accomplished collegiate players. In the three years following this memorable 1963-64 season all starters would be playing significant roles as starters in South Dakota Colleges. One would have an outstanding career at Sioux Falls College and ultimately be inducted into our Hall of Fame. Two others would be dual sport stars in track as well as basketball and also earn HOF Induction.

Insofar as my basketball career is concerned I never made the varsity team.  Abe Saperstein the corpulent owner never bothered to call either. So I became a student-manager and statistician for the Mighty Mighty Wildcats.

CHS never again approached that level of talent success again and the school closed permanently in 1969. 

BLOG 40: Transportation Part I: Vans and Wagons
As I was coming home from a family holiday supper the frost on the passenger window of the rear seat brought back to mind some memories of the many basketball road trips I made through the years. Sometimes we endured and survived them.


Teams would pile into a van and a station wagon of questionable quality and working status for trips to the various venues. Ours was a Dodge Ram Van with an extended body feature.  There were two side doors used as the player entrance and 1 large door in the rear for equipment bags. The early vans possessed primitive roll characteristics and the stability of a teeter-totter. Thankfully there were no serious rollover accidents. Not so much attributable to the driving skill of the coach or assistant that manned the helm. But mainly is due to the grace of God and an Angel on our bumper. Keeping these intrepid helmsmen awake on the way home was the duty that fell to the man in the right seat. Seatbelt use in either vehicle was simply ignored. They had long ago been tucked down under the seats to avoid the annoyance of sitting on them. Perhaps the original owner snuggled them underneath.

Ergonomics and comfort were not a terms in the lexicon of Dodge’s crack design team at that time. The seats were bench seats with no captain’s chairs for the driver or copilots comfort.  The seats had neither arm rest nor headrest and adjustable seats were just fantasy. These benches only reached up to the shoulder blades on normal people and the lower back on most basketball players. Concepts such as leg room, back support and comfort were not yet conceived on the drawing boards of the engineers at Auburn Hills, Mich. 

In addition to the vans we took station wagons that could have served very well as a living room in a small apartment. These tanks were not gas efficient but were a comfortable ride indeed and reserved for upper classmen. One model in our rolling stock was an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wagon. A precursor of the Queen Family Truckster that was the gaudy station wagon driven by Clark Griswold in the 1983 comedy National Lampoon's Vacation.

I started my athletic tenure at Sioux Falls College on the lowest rung in the social order. As a student manager my place was in the way back of the wagon with the med kits and surplus equipment bags. The seat faced toward the back so I served as a tail gunner of sorts. On the lookout for dreaded County Mounties or the Highway Patrol. My job was to aid and abet the driver in avoiding speeding tickets. Although guilty as could be I am proud to say that no driver of the vehicle I rode in was ever nailed for speeding.

No sir, not on my watch!

Facing the rear also had its draw backs. The heat from the vent system hardly ever got back that far back. So I had to dress warmly to survive the frigid temps. I needed to keep my hands from freezing in route so as to be able to perform the function of taping ankles upon arrival at the destination. There was some bone chilling nights in those early years that the lot fell to me to go out and start the cars so we wouldn’t have to jump them after the game.

On occasion the driver would be struggling to keep control of the wagon while driving on icy roads (names withheld to protect the innocent). Once, I saw the guard rail and support overpass out the rear window as we slid by. This view was a bit disconcerting since it normally should have passed off on my right side. It certainly would have been more of a comfort from my perspective.

Through the years as I moved up through the pecking order of the team culture, I eventually earned a spot in the front seat of the lead vehicle. The bodies of these vans were built on a truck chassis so they were really just trucks with a bunch of seats bolted to the frame.  The ride was as bone rattling as the novelty bull rides seen in many a redneck bar.

My eyes eventually tired from trying to read material that was bouncing around like a ball. I would be watching the landscape pass by through frosted windows and found that ultimately sleep was my best bet to spend at least one of the many long hours on the road. Tedium often proves to be a great sleep aid. With my feet up on the dash and my body wedged down into the seat I’d nap for an hour or so.

I now suffer from a chronic condition known as “van back” from the many trips. Certainly, it is the chiropractic truth of the validity of my parents’ admonition to sit up straight.

But in another sense the sit up straight option also had consequences. It was either a bad back and supported neck or sit up straight and nod off with your head bobbing up and down like a raggedy doll. This would make a sleeping person an unwitting object of muted ridicule. Thus, with furtive grins those seated behind you enjoyed your nap as much as you did.

Initially, the road trip would start with stories, current events in sports and the recent gossip from campus. This tact would eventually run its course and finally the AM FM radio remained the only remaining entertainment option. In time cassette players became standard in most of the newer models. You could read by daylight on the way down but the road home was long and lonesome in the frosty darkness.

On the return trip back from the Black Hills in the early winter of 1974, we were forced to crawl like a snail across the state on I-90 at 45 miles an hour. In the disco days of the 70’s there were many one hit wonders. Kung Fu Fighting was s novelty song that went number one that year. I bet we heard it a dozen times in the eight hours it took us to get home from Spearfish. Honestly, you may only have to listen to some songs but once to not like them. Actual hatred comes in the second and third auditions. More than that may very well cause insanity.

These are some of the thoughts and memories that pass through one’s mind as you look out of frosted windows over the frozen tundra. I now have an electronic start on my own car so when I leave for home it’s as warm as toast. I salute the digital age. I don’t travel with teams as much as the old days but when I do it is usually by bus or the comfort of the modern car seats. We still tell the stories and share the gossip of the day. But, thanks to the digital age, we have so many more options to entertain ourselves. But sleep is still an integral part of passing time on the road. Not unless, of course, you’re driving.

 

Blog 39: Communications

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” This often is true because the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place and is especially true for coaches and players.

Exhibit A is when the team doesn’t know what play to run after a timeout was taken to select that very play.

Hats off to the Gallaudet University football team; the Washington D.C. based school that won the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Title this fall with a 9-2 record. The Bison qualified for the NCAA III playoffs for the first time in the University’s history. This is a remarkable feat of overcoming communication hurdles.

Because at Gallaudet all or most of the players have hearing deficits and so must make incredible accommodations to be successful. Historically, Gallaudet is credited for having originated the football huddle ca. 1890. Necessity is the mother of invention was never truer than when the team noticed that their opponents were trying to see and read their signs in order to guess their plays. So they adroitly huddled up to secret the plays to each other.

It is so intriguing that in the latter day no huddle offenses have made a big comeback. It can be entertaining to see gyrating assistant coaches and backup QBs doing their best impressions of contortionists doing flag semaphore as they send in the plays. Quarterback helmets are equipped with earpieces with messages that are sent direct from the coach. And they still get it wrong.

Football is perhaps the sport that is the most singularly dependent on a constant supply of immediate feedback information. During games teams need a constant supply of feedback from coaches both on the field and in the press box.

In the early days our spotters were forced to literally shinny up telephone poles sans lineman boots to a crow’s nest that looked like a big bird house. It was ramshackle box that was about as safe as standing on a peach crate. The only thing that saved them from disaster was a spike or two hammered in to the pole itself. Clearly, the long arm of OSHA hadn’t reached that far yet. Since two soup cans connected by a string was simply a myth. They may have at times just simply yelled down to the field, so much for covert communication. I guess we never really tried two soup cans and a string.

In past years my crew had to unravel 100’s of yards of cord from spools 2’ in diameter and take it all the way around the field to hook up headsets from sidelines to press box. Sadly the shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but having cords running across the 50 yard lines just wouldn’t work. So we strung wire. And then came wireless.

Even the most casual fan of the NFL notices that players and coaches pore over those printed Polaroid pictures of formations and sets of the opposition’s defenses and offenses.  Yes, even now, their schemes are adapted based on the information from these laminated sheets of paper. Even that will be out of date soon.

The NFL just announced a partnership with Microsoft that'll let coaches and officials use Microsoft Surface on the sidelines instead. Using a tablet makes a lot more sense. But it will be hilarious when these giant athletes struggle to get the damn touchscreen to work. Especially when wearing those sticky gloves on their hands. Good luck!

In the latter day binary codes have been developed using series 0’s and l’s in a specific order to communicate essential ideas, etc.  With the rush of technologies there are many ever-changing ways to communicate.

Tweeting is so popular that millions of people are continuously involved in their twitter activities.

Last spring at an NCAA March Madness First Friday social I looked around the room for someone to engage in conversation but there was no one to talk to. They were all tweeting, texting or posting Facebook messages. Some with the quicker and more agile thumbs could do all three with the apparent ease of messenger gods.

Next spring, I am going to insist that the host invoke certain rules of social civility. You can only do social media messaging things during TV timeouts. It’s sad that you now have to force people to talk to one another. The great food notwithstanding, I can always take my business as a freeloading guest elsewhere. Thank you very much.

To the end of keeping pace with social media I thought that it might not be a bad idea to cautiously dip my toe into the waters of tweeting. So here go my first halting attempts at this phenomenon. Some of these may seem dated and not have the relevance of other tweets on current events since our instantaneous use of social media makes it stale in hours or even minutes. Remember this is just for practice purposes.

NFL Football

Patriots defeat Saints in last second drive led by Tom Brady.

Tweet: Just when you think you’ve seen everything. You see something else. Drew you scored too early, man.

Hash tag: Brady IS Captain America?

Pittsburgh Steelers Game Sunday, November 17

Tweet:

How about them P. Steelers playing in their ‘Throw Up’ Uniforms, PU retro sucks!!! The only thing that would make them look more ridiculous is if they wore Jacksonville’s Helmets. Hash tag: gag reflex

Washington Redskins Game Sunday, December 1

Redskins Fans please let us all remember that officials in the NFL are human beings deserving of respect. They are not infallible. Unless they screw the Steelers then they’re nothin but a bunch of inept morons clothed like Zebras.

Hash tag: Don’t mess with the Curtain

Arizona Cardinals Post-Game Press Conference, Sunday, December 8

Hey is that Drew Carey coaching the Arizona Cardinals now. I thought his gig was the Price Is Right.

Hash tag: Twins?

Basketball

I went to the Sanford Pentagon to watch a basketball game on Heritage Court. This setup is supposed to pay homage to the heritage of South Dakota small town basketball. But there was one glaring error. The three circles didn’t touch as did in almost every gym in the state. The lights were too bright too. Hash tag: JK it’s FAB!!!

N B A = Notreally Basketball Anymore…Hash tag: nuf said

So how did I do? I will leave it to the vox populi for support and constructive criticism on my tweeting training skills. Hash tag: Practice we talking about practice.

Regarding the 140 character limit does anybody know if spaces count?

Blog 38: Baseball's Hot Stove League

Since winter has come to pay a long visit with 7 “ of snow and sub frigid temps I thought it might be a good idea to pull up my Cracker Barrel rocker and warm myself by MLB’s Hot Stove League and discuss one of the most intriguing times of the year. It’s Baseball’s offseason, when deals are made and teams can make or break the next season months before the first pitch in thrown in April. A league where people offer many opinions and have very little money to back it up.

Dateline Minneapolis, Minn.
Terry Ryan keeps making shrewd moves. He re-signed Ron Gardenhire to keep stability in the organization. Gardie is one of the best in the “BIGS.”  Our TWINS signed two free agent pitchers to sensible and affordable contracts.  It is the ardent hope of Twins fans that Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes will be able to acquit themselves adequately enough to put the team on the right trajectory to get to us back to the future of a once proud franchise. That trajectory being a 500 team. 

Consecutive losing seasons that have totaled nearly 300 losses forces leaders to extraordinary measures effect necessary remedies. We, that is Terry Ryan and I, had to do these deals. Our backs were against the wall. The novel allure of Target Field was waning and is no longer the draw it once was. This year’s attendance was down 750,000 from the inaugural season of 2010. Coincidently the 2013 team salary was fiddy mil less than the year we made our last LDS appearance. These moves should make that upward transition a bit smoother.  We’re gonna win Twins keep the faith for two more years.

Dateline Seattle, Wash.

Apparently, one World Series ring was good enough for Robinson Cano. For the paltry price of a quarter billion, he sold his soul into oblivion. Seattle is a city that is rabid at times for its sports teams. Case in point, try to get a Seahawks ticket.  I have been to the Emerald city about 20 times since 1986. So, I think I have the pulse of the city. Plus I’ve watched all the Frasier episodes just for background. Seattalians love players like Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr. and yes even for a time Alex Rodriquez. They may not be pleased with the Cano deal in the long term.

Signing King Felix, The Bert Blyleven of the great Northwest, was a prudent move because he is a fan favorite and immensely effective. But unless Cano’s is going to play second AND short it’s a bad deal. I sure hope it’s not a latent Mea Culpa for letting A-Rod loose on the world, although, it was Texas who created the monster in 2001. If Seattle should sign the redoubtable Giovanni Soto from the Rangers for mega money in 2015, we’ll all know the truth that these are guilt- ridden paybacks.

Dateline Gotham City:

The Empire strikes back.

Woe to all small market teams. By shedding the contracts of Curtis Granderson (Mets) and Cano and with A-Rod’s situation more than likely saving them millions more, leaves them free to sift through the free agent market like the billionaires they are. The sleeping giant has awakened and is filled with a great resolve.

At least the gods of baseball lured the New York Yankees into signing Jacoby Ellsbury for a lotta moolah. You think the Red Sox aren’t singing “O Tidings of Comfort and Joy.” Jacoby is a speed guy as it’s described. He like many thirty-something’s always find out that the spaces between the bases get farther apart as each year passes.

When the Cardinals “let go” of Albert Pujols the muffled sound heard from Busch Stadium wasn’t Cards Management crying into their pillows that night. It was laughter. The BoSox may be on the laugh track as well.

I am also grateful that the NYY have agreed to an 85M contract with former Atlanta catcher Brian McCann. The deal is pending a physical. This exam will likely be administered by the crack physicians from that certain clinic in Miami recommended by Alex Rodriquez.

Thanks to the McCann deal Twins’ Joe Mauer WAS the highest paid catcher in the game with an 8Y/ $184M deal.

Heads up Darth Cashman, since your former first baseman Mark Teixeira is now semi-retired why not trade for Twins' Joe Mauer too and just happens to be transitioning to first base. This would be a perfect fit for you with two part-time multi-million dollar players. There’s only five years left on the deal so don’t dilly-dally around. Times a wasting you got plenty of money now. C’mon man give a brother a break?

In 2004, the Curse of the Bambino was reversed. The Red Sox epic comeback over the Yankees in the ALDS broke the spell. Since that monumental fall, the empire that ruined baseball has not fared all that well in the free agent market. So, thanks to the Revenge of the Bambino, I prefer to focus on the notable free agent deals gone bad for the Bronx Bunglers.

I would venture to guess that as a Yankee A-Rod’s 309 juice produced dingers and the 979 RBI that go with it have been a bane to the pin-strippers in as much as it cost them more money than some dictator’s get.

They’ve failed to win but one World Series in the 13 seasons that they have had the pleasure of the third sackers presence. A-Rod indicts himself and becomes irrelevant by sniveling about how he is being mistreated by MLB.

I suppose I’d whine too if I were about to lose 100 million.  Yes, Dr. Evil, that IS count’em ONE HUNDRED MILLION!!  Alex, face it like a man. You were naughty and you got caught…several times. You will not be getting anything but coal in your stocking this year.

Speaking of dictators, My sources tell me that A-Rod and Dennis Rodman are jetting over to Korea to meet with their Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. The goal is the get as many world leaders to sign a petition and force MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to meet face to face with AROD at the hearings. In his deluded state, A-Rod thinks Bud should have to listen to his incessant wawawa rant in person. I heard Russia’s V. Putin is next on the itinerary.

As WIKIPEDIA often points out these statements may need disambiguation.

This Christmas, I am singing an adapted version of that very comforting Longfellow carol, “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day.” The song initially tells of the despair with the present state of affairs, the carol concludes with the bells pealing out renewed hope for the future with peace and goodwill among mankind. The last verse is the key.

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Yanks will fail and my Twins prevail, with peace on earth goodwill toward mankind.”

So let it be!

Blog 37 Semester’s Ending

Midterm has long passed and the date to drop a class passed with it. We’ve had our fall break and with it those pesky midterm grade reports. These reports in some cases serve as a wakeup call to a certain group of students who had been lollygagging the first seven weeks of the term.

The grade report is as sobering as a tripped smoke detector. The midway point in the semester serves as a warning signal for those students who spent the first half of the semester doing everything but pay attention to academics.  Sleeping late, partying, X boxing, tweeting or even doing a little battle rapping with the “homs.” I am always interested as to what specific agency suddenly awakens students in this category and beckons them to get in the game. I suppose it’s a visceral response to the predictable sympathetic nervous system’s acute stress response syndrome.

BEWARE THE END OF THE SEMESTER APPROACHES.

 Best described as what was once a small indistinguishable pinpoint of light in September is now a widening halogen beam heading directly toward them on a collision course in December. Gone are those golden days filled with neglect and apathy jolted now by the stark fear that a D or an F for failure is knocking at the door like death itself. For some the real possibility of being ruled ineligible for scholarships or athletic participation is now bitterly apparent.

Some have been No Shows until crunch time, which is now imminent. Clearly the lack of motivation plays a significant causative role in their angst. Once they arouse from this academic irresponsibility they recognize in horror at this harrowing circumstance. Their lethargy then now translates in to their certain emergency now. The semester thus becomes a salvage operation.

Any ensuing Academic Salvage Operation [AcaSalOps] has to have a certain savior-faire. It takes panache’ and a good bit of denial to buoy one’s psyche with the hope that it’s never too late. Thus, students come up with the darnedest excuses for their poor academic performance to date and being relative no shows.

So they scheme.  How can I make myself a sympathetic character in the mind of the instructor? How do I skillfully put my AcaSalOps plan into motion? The counterpoint to this plan is that instructors possess experience and intellect and thus are impervious to bluffs or weak excuses. Especially, when they’ve not seen you in a class and don’t know your name.

Having been an instructor for a number of years I always regretted not cataloging some of the better excuses.

AcaSalOps will as a rule start with an email. Some would begin like this; Dear Professor Kortemeyer or even the more amusing Dear Ken, both dead giveaways of their inattention to the matter at hand. Since almost everyone here at USF knows me by the acronym SID using proper names betrays this rescue mission. If they had bothered to attend any of my classes they would not be betrayed by ignorance.

Another excuse couched in ignorance is the grapevine gambit. Typically phrased on the order of “I heard from another student” may preface an excuse. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” is a great R&B song but rarely serves the purpose of carte blanche for absences or ignored assignments.

I heard we didn’t have to show up for class is an excuse that plays out best when in the extreme.

“I heard that if we had this credential or that certification then we didn’t have to do anything but show up for graduation.” The thought about contacting the instructor just as a precaution is rendered null as long as someone’s classmate said that such and such is an undisputed truth. It’s gospel! Count on it!

Amazingly enough some lost their coursework in cyberspace.  Most are willing to testify under oath that everything was sent in on time and must simply be floating out there in cyberspace irretrievable at this moment. Why would I lie? I was sure I sent it on Thursday. Did you lose it?

Although it is a sacrifice most are willing to shoulder the inconvenience of resubmission and are this very moment efforting to make amends for this unfortunate circumstance in which WE find ourselves.

The rule of plausibility clearly applies to these unfortunate circumstances.  I have heard from some students that they were unable to access the online component. All evidence to the contrary. They can with ease navigate the internet and can access every avenue of social media Facebook, tweets and the twitter accounts of scores of friends. With great skill they program cell phones, iPads, iPhones and Nanos. Students on every level of Gen Z can figure out the most intricate access to complex downloads and uploads etc. What 18-year olds can do nowadays would put to shame most NASA programmers working on the Apollo missions a generation ago.

Yet for some unknown reason they are suddenly incapable of accessing their personal MY.USF account on the LMS in a timely manner.  Incredibly, with the steady and patient tutelage of our incomparable USF IT crew I can do it. If so then virtually anyone else can do it. QED, where there’s a will there’s a way.

The reason I know so much about this topic is due to firsthand experience. With a 26 ACT score coming out of high school, I proved it should have been an 18 in less than a year. I too suffered from this motivational malaise.

So I speak from experience and offer the following academic advice.

As the academic bell begins to toll and you hear that finals train a rollin’ ‘round the bend. I offer some thoughts and excuses regarding your individual AcaSalOps. Implement these as you see fit. They just might work. 

Always include your Mother when begging for leniency. Don’t be afraid to mention the fact of how disappointed she will be in both parties if you get a bad mark.

“I thought this was an elective and I elected not to come to class.”

“I had too much homework in my important classes.”

“My project is at my mom’s house, and I’m at my dad’s this week.”

“The printer always runs out of paper.”

“I can only attend class in an atmospherically controlled environment and I heard there are no HEPA filters in this building.”

“They just changed my meds, and I can’t tell if the lecture is you or the voices in my head.”

“I was called in as an extra in the filming of Grown Ups III.”

Blog 36 Season Ends…Mercy at last:


The uniforms are washed and stowed for the winter. Home plate is dusted off for the last time this year. Target Field has been scrubbed and cleaned with an inch of its life, a fond quote of my Mother.  The playing field has been dutifully tucked under the tarps for long winter’s nap. Concessionaries are still counting their money from the 25 million fans who tripped the turnstiles at 1 TWINS Way in downtown MPLS.

Yet, here in the middle of October the rancid taste still pervades with the realization that your team spent most of 2013 being lousy. I thought when we were 33-36 that it might be decent season. Not great but acceptable. Naturally, I was wrong and once again being reconciled with the harsh and eternal theorem of baseball reality. That over a 162 game schedule always proves out. The crème will ever always rise to the top and conversely the bottom feeders will in time ever always sink, to the cellar.

It is fitting that the first batter for the T---S in 2013 struck out looking. Who would have thought that nearly 1500 KO’s would follow? A new team record for the most K’s in a season—some swinging, most looking. YIKES KO after KO and our best hitter Joe Mauer got KO’ed by a concussion, a very serious injury but somehow fitting for ‘13.

Like many other stars signed to large long-term contracts they get performance malaise or fatigue.

How about the Yankees they can always use a good catcher? Oh that’s right they’re already stuck with multiple 100 mill contracts to a cheater, a few slackers and some old homies who have slipped from their prime. The good news is that they will be forced to add to that list when they sign Robinson Cano to a humungo deal. It would be fair to say that their dilemma brings a certain dark and insidious “noir joie” or dark joy to me.

I gotta hand it to Gardie for coming up with over 90 post-game interviews answering inane repetitive questions about the club most recent slump or loss. I wonder if it would be okay if he just taped about half a dozen interviews and posted them on the web. So happy he is going to be back in a Red, White and Blue Minnie Uni. He is a good one and is part of the solution. He got 66 wins out of a 75 mill payroll which is really a paltry 30 mil when you factor in part-timers like Mauer, Morneau and Willingham.

Farewell, Justin Morneau, ah we knew ye well! It’s this cold hearted and calculated business that we’re in but both parties handled in manner that brought honor to each. I hope that he and former teammate F. Liriano win it all next season. Congrats goes to “Cuddy” for earning the NL batting title. It’s always great to see former team members like Cuddy, Mornie, Liriano, Balfour, and Punto all doing so well for other teams and all in the postseason. Just wish there weren’t so many to go around. Losing all these good players is like getting hit in the forehead with a ball peen hammer. OUCH!

But, with the end of the Minnesota baseball season fans get to dream about next year. I have hope. Maybe it’s a stretch, but there are rumors conjuring about that with a farm system being steadily restocked by the astute Terry Ryan returning the organization to what it did best.  We might be able put the WIN back in T---S by 2015. Oh my wouldn’t it be great to see the number in the left hand column be closer to number in the right hand column 80-82 or 78-84? It surely would make the year less sufferable. Hope after all is the best balm for the healing of the psyche of TWINS Nation.

Here are a few suggestions for our T---S at season’s end.

Start the game with the bullpen first and then put the starters in the fourth or fifth inning and see how they like it, day after day and night after night.

No more switch-hitting; get good at one thing and then move on to another. It makes no sense hitting poorly from both sides. That’s futility at its finest. So pick a side any side and go for it. For many of our players, how could batting from just one side make matters any worse?

Get new bats because the ones we use now don’t work. They clearly do not hit the ball well at all. Perhaps due to a rare aversion to the Delaware River Mud that umpires scrub baseballs with in pregame. Be it heavier or lighter bats get something different. I don’t care if you use plywood or a sculling oar it’s worth a try.

BTW, I have written to Bud Selig politely asking if all underperforming clubs can use aluminum bats until the ship is righted and back on an even keel.

The worst place for any T---S base runner to be is a RISP?

Put a chair out a second base for base runners.  Maybe even an X-box or play station to pass the time. Man it gets lonely out there waiting yearning to get back home.

More fireworks, if a T---S player inadvertently knocks in a run from second base, hit the button.

How much more could it cost? Free beer after an RBI with a RISP and I mean the players not the fans. Bring back the Star Wars Theme on home runs for Auld Lang Syne remembering the good old days.

Host Rap Music Demolition Night. An innovative concept that speaks for itself and wait to see how fast it will catch on in other stadia.

Do not play Kansas City any more. I suggest the Omaha Royals.

Since pitchers and catchers report in 16 weeks, we now embrace HOPE!

Hope for the 2014 campaign, which will surely be our year.


BLOG 35: Seasons End

Capitulation, we had no idea what the word meant or even how to spell it. But, unwittingly, we all ultimately did it. It was the same with all summers. The steady passing of sunny days finally inevitably forces kids to capitulate to summers end and school.

The Turner County Fair was for the Chancellor Afternoon All-Star Baseball League the benediction of summer. It was the last fun activity before knuckling under to our education. The hoard of Opie Taylor wannabees descended on the midway with full vigor. Dressed in our striped tee shirts and wearing some manner of Farah dungarees either 3 inches or too short or made into cut-offs. These kids all hopped up on Vitamin D from the summer were the very incarnation of plasmatic energy.  

Being there for three days it was a feast for the senses. The aromas were the invitation to partake. The smell of fresh popcorn, corndogs and real chislic made from mutton.  At times, the fair fare mixed with the acrid cigarette smoke exhaled from chain smoking carnies would hadn’t had the benefit of a shower for a few a days. This was just a passing irritation and easily overcome with the power of kids concentrating on the ultimate goal of simply having fun.

Ah, the midway. Offering thrill seekers rides like the Trabant, The Twister and Tilt-A-Whirl. There wasn’t a roller coaster worth riding and so we didn’t. Anything resembling a kiddie ride was strictly taboo. After all, we had our pride and social standing to protect. Of all these, the Scrambler, was the most superb ride.

I would learn later what was a true unnerving adrenaline rush was when I boarded real coasters in major theme parks. But it worked then for a youngster. With a mitt full of tickets we would scramble around in a specific predetermined order of the rides. A strategic and repetitive process that made the blood rush to our developing brains. But that had to be good, am I right?

With a visceral yen for car crashes and car chases we watched the demolition derby plus a night of open wheel racing. The Demolition Derby is collision by intention; a form of automobile tag if you will, and we ate it up. Most of the peeps were too young to appreciate the onstage shows of the garage bands of the day.  Our gang took in all the sights and sounds until our quest had been sated.

All things taken into account it was a great benediction indeed.

We grudgingly gave way to the rigors of school work. Save for a few gleeful brownnosing kids who had the words academic career emblazed on their minds. Who the heck wants an academic career at 12? I wanted a career in centerfield of Metropolitan Stadium. I wanted the shadow of the iconic Longines clock cast over me. Not the fall sun that taunted us each afternoon through the classroom windows.

That fickle sun offering a melancholy reminder of better days that had too quickly passed away.

Each day (EVERYDAY) we trudged off in our flannel shirts and new Farah Dungarees. Pants that mother intentionally got at least an inch longer and one size larger than necessary so that by spring they’d fit perfectly. How sartorially grand, wear'em for nine months and they'd fit one month.

Some of my classmates were farm kids indentured to the family enterprise with its daily chores and seasonal work. These kids, mostly boys, were allowed out of school during the fall for harvest. Much like the fall, they were let out of classes in the spring for planting. The allure of getting out of school would soon fade when the rigors of hard farm work came a knocking. The field work went on from dawn to dusk if it was dry enough to get in the fields.

Of course, there was a certain attraction to skipping high school altogether. But, hours spent on the hard labor persuaded many to go on for their high school diplomas and then college.

The advent of the unavoidable life changes made us teenagers. This was for many dads a license to indiscriminately use us for their machinations. “It was high time I was earning my keep” and “Time to start being a man” were slogans that my Dad used to excuse what was, in my view, wanton abuse. It was appropriate for me to learn a good work ethic. A Dad’s duty is to teach his children how to give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage. But wouldn’t it have been better to not to just dive in to the deep end of the pool? An acclimatization period was certainly more attractive to me and my sibs. Alas, the salad days of youth were over. Oh, we still played baseball and such but not as much. As before it wasn’t so much that youth was all over. But the dynamic had clearly changed. The roster of the Chancellor All-Star Afternoon Baseball League, at least in my age group, was being steadily depleted.

In the succeeding summers I also worked for farmers in the area doing menial chores. Walking soy beans fields as early as 6 a.m.  What tedious drudgery walking acres of soy bean fields to chop milk weeds and volunteer corn stalks? Then bale hay all afternoon in the hot sun. Since the concept of dehydration was even invented yet. We would drink too little water and too much pop. I guess we unwittingly leaned on the old axiom what you don’t know can’t hurt you. The honest day’s wage was a dollar an hour for beans. Sometimes we got a nickel a bale if we were lucky. But my goodness, we were fed like sumo wrasslers in a Tokyo stable.

In the 50 summers since the Summer of ’63; I’ve been working for the man, busting my hump and knocking it out 24-7.

There was also a solemn aspect to growing out of youth in the Summer of ‘63. On the larger stage these Baby Boomers from the ball fields across America would all too soon be serving in places with peculiar names. Hopefully, the pleasant days spent playing baseball with the townies would bring back fond memories to these Heroes so far from home.

To the summer of ’63 I bade a fond adieu, my last true summer of youth.

BLOG 34: GLORY'S LAST SHOT

The Golf Majors for 2013 wrapped up with the PGA Championship.

The Masters although the youngest of the four Majors (1934) may be the most coveted of all of them. Everyone looks good in a green jacket. Ah, let me say it this way. Everyone would look good in a green jacket IF it has the Augusta National logo embroidered on the left front kerchief pocket.

The PGA Championship has been contested since 1916. Some have likened the PGA Championship as the Ringo Starr of the four majors. If a comparison of Golf’s Majors were made to Mt Rushmore, the PGA would be Teddy Roosevelt. Tucked back almost out of sight be still in on the apex of golf championships. One can be sure that there are 40 other presidents that would be pleased to have their visage carved in granite stone of the Black Hills. I reckon the same is true for some of the mid-majors.

The Ringo and Teddie dis notwithstanding. Oak Hill still was the sternest of tests for Major # 4. The fairways were narrow and greens were a definite skills challenge. Just what you want in a major golf tournament championship, tough scoring and a premium on courage and shot making. As it is with many golfers, there were some irritations amongst the players about the set up at Oak Hill. I think one could make the casual correlation between how well a player scored and their consequent satisfaction of the course.

In all of golf there are essentially just two groups of golfers. In the first class are the golfers who play for serious cash in events broadcast around the world on the major television networks. And then there’s the rest of us.

The pressure to win on the PGA Tour is enormous. Moreover, the excruciating strain to get and keep your PGA Tour card is at times traumatic. We weekenders have no clue of that world. We simply purchase a players card from our favorite golf course and go play. There are no cut lines and certainly very little money to be made because the risk reward ratio is too high.

Take the case of David Lingmerth at this year’s Tournament Players Championship, one of golf’s mid-majors.

On the 72nd hole, he is on the green in two and is close enough for a two putt for second place outright. Now if I’m Lingmeuth’s caddie, I telling him there’s no damn way we're going for it. We’re two putting and takin the Mill.One payout and moving on to the next event. We can’t beat Tiger in a playoff anyway. Besides it’s my money you’re spending here now. So sidle this puppy up to the hole, tap it in and take second like a man.

But NO, he goes for the birdie in an ill-fated attempt to tie Tiger and force a playoff. He misses badly and then proceeds to three putt for a three way tie for second place and the prize money is split among the other players. That foolish gambit cost him $400,000. He hasn’t made that much since that fateful day in the Ides of May. How in the world does the average Joe replicate that in anything but a reverie? Guess, we all dream about it though.

If you are one of the commoners hacking it around on the weekend, you just gotta love the portly winner of the last major in ‘13. Jason Dufner aptly named ‘Duf Daddy,” by friends, won in rousing fashion. He possesses a body built by carbohydrates in the mold of John Daly. He’s got a boiler belt hangover, chews tobacco and grows that thing under his lower lip to catch his spittle. His calm and collected veneer is something Tiger would do well to emulate.

Mr. Dufner has become quite the cult phenom. He’s got kids “Dufnering” as a way to chill out or nap.

This will make him millions. Then it will fade into the background like planking, Tebowing or the Macarena.

On the last Sunday, the “Duf”inator on several occasions used a 3 wood to putt through the second cut of the green apron. So the sequence would be driver, wedge, 3-Wood and 1 putt for par. I’ve done that before, more in the order of errant driver into the woods, a gutless wedge back out of the woods and onto a fairway metal hit to point where I reutilize my wedge and 1 putt for bogey.

At PGA events there are various points around the course tucked away from sight kiosks where the caddies can get their players potables, including various and sundry consumables, bananas, energy bars or a sandwich. Thanks to Jason’s habit, these vendors may now feature Copenhagen, fka to users as Copie, a dippy for the lippy as it were.

Here is my grave concern for humanity in general and specifically the golf brethren. Following “Duf Daddy’s” lead; I’ll bet thousands of golfers will try their 3 woods around the first cut of the green and have a pinch of fine cut in the lip. But they shouldn’t use this product. It’s nasty. Here’s a true and trusty saying regarding the use of tabakkie. Don’t Chew - Eschew Tobacco and don’t go with girls who do.

Golfers are notoriously known to be scavengers. They’ll glom onto the latest quirky device that offers even the slightest perception of game improvement and lower scores. Why do QVC and other late night hucksters make so much money? Because, these sheep are stupid, easily misled and will do anything to get the buzz of playing better golf and theoretical lower scores.

Here are some examples. Hammacher-Schlemmer sells the cruddy little dial an iron to make playing more convenient for the traveling linkster. There is the Double sided Double Trouble Chipper for those without any pride whatsoever. Then there is the draw driver/slice preventer that looks like a yoyo on the end of a stick.

Even Jack fell prey to this allure when won the ’86 Masters with that ugly oversized putter.  A century ago Francis Ouimet won the US Open with hickory shafts, cleeks and niblicks. Who knows maybe even they will make a comeback. Most golf mavens will tell you these odd ball clubs don’t work and there are garages full of that crap that prove the point. My best advice is stick with what you got in the bag and PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!

“I wish I had an answer to that because I'm so tired of answering the question.”

Alas, another year without a major. Woods leads the current Fed Ex standings and is favored to win the FedEx Cup and likely be named POTY. But, sans a major, all these awards and accomplishments will have a hollow and incomplete joy for Tiger. More’s the pity.

Tiger Block is still in his head. He thinks too much. Seriously, He needs to put Yogi Berra on the bag. The Maharishi could help clear his mind. Mr. Berra would help Mr. Woods understand the concept that you absolutely cannot think and hit at the same time. You just can’t.

Listen, Tiger is clearly still the best player in the world most of the time. But neither is he the intimidator he once was nor perhaps the greatest tournament closer of his time. The days of the 2006 Steven Ames beat down are gone. The boys have grown up and have gone off Tiger hunting to out duel him in the major tournaments.

When Tiger’s driver did the Lewis and Clark thing all over the course he would win because of his impeccable clutch putting. But of late his mind is so full of conflicting thoughts that it stymies his ability to read greens in pressure situations. I suggest he go to Yogi’s ashram in New Jersey to get his mind cleared out. There he will learn this transcendental secret.  That half of putting is 90% mental. Paraphrased

“The future ain't what it used to be.” Yogi Berra

Eldrick is now reaching the point in his career that all elite athletes will sooner or later arrive at. It’s that spine chilling time in a career when they become just really good. Let’s face it someday Usain Bolt is going to be slow by his and the world’s standards. Michael Jordon aged to the point of no longer being feared. A realization that became clear when he was with the Wizards. Yet it will ultimately happen to every elite athlete, all of us. Even Jack Nicklaus is now touting the “Tee it Forward” concept of the USGA. A concept I espouse and practice.

In a bygone era during the 80’s when I was in my 30’s I could score in the 70’s on occasion. But now I’m just happy to play a modified form of golf.  Oh, I’ll have a series of good shots and still roll it as well as anyone.  But all the greats get to the point in life where you understand Yogi’s thesis.

BLOG 33
The Dead Hall of Famers Society and How the Yankees Ruined Baseball


This past week the Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed posthumously three new additions. I think this may very well be the weakest class of inductees. But let’s be honest, they are all dead. 

I know that the Baseball Writers Association would never have let it become a “Weekend at Bernie’s” event. Perhaps those wonderful animation creators at Pixar could have made the honorees more lifelike. Maybe that would have a little catty. Perhaps?! But it would have made for really great theater.

The most egregious honoree from the triumvirate of those enshrined has to Jacob Ruppert. The son of a brewer, Ruppert purchased the Yankees, the Babe and built Yankee Stadium. He then proceeded to oversee the development of the dynasty that ruined baseball. Ruppert was a son of a something all right.

Ruppert purchased the franchise in January 1915 with his business partner, the improbably named Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston. I think J.K. Rowlings maybe the only one who could make up a name like this, but certainly few others.

From 1900 until 1915 the Yankees were doing just fine winning and losing about as regularly as the M. Twins. From 1900-1915 the Bronx Bombers averaged 71 wins a season (give or take). Then that dastardly Ruppert bought the franchise and began to exert his selfish design on the great game of baseball. Since the 1915 coup d’état perpetrated by the friendless and nefarious Ruppert and Old Red Nose Tillinghast the pin stripers have averaged essentially 90 wins over 98 seasons. Since 1927 the Evil Empire has had nineteen 100 win seasons.
 

That’s about twice any other club. Holy salary crap, I guess if you got the money you can buy anything!

I think I am going to be sick.

In the 90 years since their first championship in ‘23 them damn Yankees have appeared in 40 total series and won the crown 27 times. Of course, that is far greater than that of the Cardinals (11). Not bad for a foundering club that started out in Baltimore as the Orioles. They were moved to New York in 1903. Where’s my syrup of Ipecac syringe?

The only two truly great years for MLB were 1987 and 1991. Any bias intended.

A Heads Up to the BBWAA

I have a couple of live pitchers that are deserving of HOF Induction.

There are two very solid pitchers who deserve induction with career stats that are scary good and eerily similar.

Jim Kaat: 283 Wins - 4500 Innings pitched – 2500 Strikeouts - 3.45 Career ERA
Tommy John: 288 Wins - 4700 Innings pitched - 2300 Strikeouts - 3.34 Career ERA

Kaat won 16 Gold Gloves 14 in the AL and two more in the Senior Circuit and second only to Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. They had 80 shutouts between them and pitched 25 and 26 years respectively. These two would be bazillionaires by today’s standards. My plea—please put all of Tommy John’s body in Cooperstown not just his elbow.

With all the depressing crap going on in baseball these days, I wanted to herald a couple of players who would be bazillionaires in the current market. Good and decent players who took the ball every fourth day and performed like the men they were. Can I get a witness! Can I get a ballot?

The Waning Summer of ‘63

Long about the time July handed the baton off to August. Back in the old home town our summer whiled away.  Not loitering. But like sands through the hour glass passed day by day to the season’s inevitable end.

Every year at this time, an ominous specter began to develop on the horizon indiscernible with the naked eye. Adults were oblivious to this development yet very kid knew what its presence meant. It was visceral. No one need mention this bane lurking there soon to wreak havoc upon these young lives. Our sabbatical would be over soon. All would be sent back for re-incarceration into the crucible known as school. It was a ponderous thought for town and country youths alike. Yikes!

Our games of fun and hijinks would continue well into the late summer. No records were kept for teams or individuals. With a certain élan we would all, nobly, take our turn at pitching. Every player was responsible to toe the rubber at one time or another for the betterment of mankind. No one really wanted to pitch and only the really bad chuckers were excused from mound duties. It needs to said in defense of these spray arms, it wasn’t for the lack of trying. Everyone did their best; it was just in our makeup. No kid dogged it. It wasn’t so much a matter of pride as it was just the nature of the kids in our little village. Playing hard was in the DNA of the every Chancellor Baseball League All Star Player.

Ground balls were always ran out mostly for the odd chance that an overthrow could mean an inside the park homer. In our world, errors were simply not considered a baseball stat and there were certainly no camera wells and grandstands for the ball to fall into. It was "all live all the time" baby.

The closest comparison to playing in the middle of the outfield in our adapted baseball paradigm was like playing on the tarmac.  If a ball was overthrown you could run forever. Everyone had chance to make the circuit—including me.

Back in the day there were no intercity rivalries per se’. Even though we certainly would have put a serious whoopin on any naïve challengers dumb enough to play us. We were FAM A LEE nearly two decades before Pittsburgh made the same claim, Sister Sledge notwithstanding.

The big deal in late July and early August was the American Legion Baseball tournaments. The American Legion started sponsoring local teams in the 1920’s. The teams were named after the local legion post in town.


Clearly, the veterans of military service made up the rank and file of the American Legion Post 283.

It was the highlight of the week when they took the field. Through the years the home town boys put out some pretty good teams and made it to the State Legion tourney several times. You knew it was gonna be a good night when that silver lacquered sign framed with the tubular steel was placed in the middle of Main Street declaring for all to see “GAME TONIGHT.” Sitting in the PA booth I first learned how to keep score in baseball.

I was maybe nine or ten at the time and many thought me to be statistical phenom. 

The team donned ratty old baggy wool uniforms reeking of mothballs. The townies all looked like younger versions of Manny Ramirez without the Body by Balco hidden underneath. Players were there to play and not look good and they didn’t. The outfits were as old as the dirt they played on and nothing like the haute couture of latter day “unis.”

Sewn to the back of the uniform were the sponsor’s names in tackle twill lettering. No, we weren’t all sponsored by a bail bond company, either. It was local merchants that helped with the costs the uniform purchase. Through the years many of the businesses changed hands or went out of business. Although this was at times confusing the team bravely played on through the milieu.

Depending on the laundry skill and predilection of each mother for hot or cold washing temps said uniforms may have come out with anything from a bleach splash to a sickly faded look after being boiled.  At times random dyes were seen in the most inconvenient areas of the pants. Virtually every uniform piece was patched as best as the mom knew how. Patch on patch and the team bravely played on through the milieu.

The batting helmets were called wrap around skull caps. They were made of an ersatz plastic that offered little protection. The plastic basically covered the ears and a small part of the temple in a very rudimentary shape. That was about it. Despite the less than adequate protection batters stepped into the box and took their cuts.

I can’t recall a single circumstance where a player was beaned. If a player was brushed back the offense was easily thrown off. There was no subtle code to play by if one of your teammates was dissed. It would have been really difficult to have a bench clearing brawl because most teams only had a roster of a dozen or so players.

There were no bull pens on the field. When the manager gave the hook to the current pitcher; the hookee was most of the times replaced with another player already on the field. More often than not they just switched positions. You have to understand that benches are not deep in a small town. It wasn’t a rare occasion at all to have the first pitcher go back on the hill if the second pitcher was more ineffective than he.

There were very few dust ups through these seasons. Really, it was mostly blustering and posturing. You know the less filling tastes great debates. We want a pitcher not a belly itcher was about as far as it escalated.

Parents had a chilling effect on any potential fracas as they took a dim view of their sons or even their daughters, for that matter, being involved in fisticuffs.  Legion ball at the time was somewhat similar to Japanese baseball without the bowing. If a player ever stepped over the line they would in the vernacular of the times “catch all heck at home.” Bean balls were forgiven and the teams bravely played on through the milieu. 

My dad would venture out to see a few odd games and being outdoors, he liked a good cigar. Sadly, he never bought one. Dad smoked King Edward Imperials. Three for a quarter back in ’63. No Churchill’s, no Presidente, no Cubans, no Casa Magna Colorado Diadema, no La Aroma de Cuba. no Mi Amor Belicoso and he certainly had no humidor.
 

His humidor was simply the moisture that was in the ambient air contained in the glove box of his Fleetwood Caddie. I would suggest that perhaps at least one of the three cigars, if it were left in the car long enough, may have had the moisture content of the desert. Seriously, three draws and you’re through. The arid stogie went up like shredded paper on fire.

The Summer of ’63 was on the wane. Just a few things left that kids looked forward to enjoying. The Ice Cream Cone of summer, although truly enjoyed, was getting down to the last few licks and the crunch of the cone that held it.

That’s the way it was in ‘63, my last true summer of youth.


BLOG 32: Mid-Summer of ’63


In May, kids complete another term in the educational asylum. Their incarceration is over and all were given leave for another summer.  Ah, summertime when the livin’ is easy.

Shortly after school was over our shirts came off in a figurative sense and literal practice. Kids rode through town and country on modified bikes some with banana seats and weird handlebars. Almost every bicycle was modified into something cool.  All were in search of high adventure and fun all summer long mostly in shorts and no shirts.

The ozone during the summer of ’63 had hadn’t deteriorated so much and had enough protection so that sun protection factors were not part of the SPF discussion. Throughout the summer, we became bronzed enough to be in any Coppertone ad. It would be the last summer that my curly mop top would bleach to blonde from the sun. I was just a Beach Boy misplaced on the prairie.

The 4th of July typically marks the midpoint of summer fun.

MLB would have their Midsummer Classic,  mid-July all-star game. Out of respect for that tradition, the Chancellor Baseball League would also take a break. Our all-star break was usually the week of the fourth. This was mostly related to the number of family vacations of key players and the odd fishing trip thrown into the mix. We never held an all-star game per se; we were vicarious baseball all-stars pretending to be, at least in our imaginations, the superstars of the era. Ergo, wasn’t every game an all-star game? So, what would have been the point? Ah the blessing and the beauty of the unfettered minds of youth.

When July 4 is on a Thursday it was as in ’63 it meant no-three day weekend. Our day would be spent at home. In the morning an ecumenical service was held in the city park. The service commemorated the significance of our country’s independence. The teachers’ pets from the previous school year would present patriotic orations. The masses sang songs about America and a meditation on the values of freedom would be delivered by the pastor whose turn it fell to that particular year.

The American Legion Sharpshooters could give an impressive 21-gun salute provided they could find seven rifles in good working order.

My parents ran the Our Own Hardware store in town. Being proprietors of a store allowed my dad to have wholesaler status with distributors in Sioux Falls. This small fact was a necessity to the purchase. If my dad got a good deal then we would have fireworks. Some years we just went fishing.

Wholesalers sold assortments that included flashing fountains, Lightning flash, Roman candles and sparklers. Also included in the array were very loud explosive devices. The explosions always gave my mom a reactionary start. It’s like when a foul ball makes the fans sitting behind home plate jump when the ball comes toward them. They jump every time despite the protective screen. Although mom knew what was coming there was simply nothing she could do to overcome the primal response of one’s senses to appropriately respond to danger.

The pyro package names were meant to tweak the demolition imaginations of a kid’s psyche. The ‘Last Days of Pompeii,' ‘Vesuvius Firestorm’, ‘Bombs and Fire’ and other such names were intended to conjure a certain attraction in the mind of kids. The pyro technician for our brief show was dad.  I was the key grip in charge of handling the various items and sequencing them into a fine fireworks show. My younger brother served as the gopher in charge of the water pail. A position that I felt best suited his 10-year-old skill set. As a precaution we had two garden hoses running on the side as a prudent safeguard in the event that something might go a kilter. If we had enough hose a third one from the neighbor’s house wasn’t out of the question.

Many families in town would also have small fireworks displays in the late afternoon or during the evening of the 3rd. These displays, although meager, were just the best when viewed through the eyes of a kid. There was nothing better. Sadly, these shows usually became passé during the teenage years. Too much other stuff to blow up, I guess.

The evening of the 4th we would head over to Lennox for the annual JC’s 20 minute “Big Show”. After the grand finale the family would pay a visit to my great aunt’s house for a sumptuous post display lunch of bar-b-ques and homemade ice cream. Yum yum.

In our younger years, our dear sister would take us to a local firecracker stand to buy roman candles, sparklers, pop bottle rocks and Black Cats. She was so kind to do this because my parents’ probably wouldn’t have done it. Who knows maybe they gave her the money just get rid of us for a few hours.

We would twist or band together several Black Cats and try to blow up small things. It was apparent that no member of the group was, in the least, an expert in the science of explosive ordinance. We did become masters at blowing bark off trees. Tin soup cans were launched into the air in homemade water cannons. As with any youthful enterprise most for the fun was in the imagination.  I don’t know if kids have adrenal glands that are developed at age 12. Yet, it was a bucolic version of the “Hurt Locker” with no less of a rush.

Gratefully, none of us became a Three-Finger Brown due to carelessness. Our dad put the fear into us with the promise that any/every child no matter how wounded would get a lickin’ besides. Fortunately, no one that I knew of ever crossed that line.

My brother and I got into trouble that summer by selling used fireworks to a couple of kids in the hood. They were both younger and neighbors to boot. But we were just kids too, right? If I recall the transaction was for an inventory of four spent roman candles and remains of two flowing fountains along with some dud bottle rockets and jet fizzlers thrown in on the deal. Is it true that you'd sell your soul for a dime?

The truth will out. The next day we came bouncing in the store with an ice cream cone each. The natural question for any discerning sleuthing parent was this question. Where did you get the ice cream? Where did you get the money for the ice cream? We came clean erroneously thinking that we were shrewd and felt our parents would be proud of the entrepreneurship. Unfortunately our mother did not see the shrewdness and business acumen that Ronnie and I displayed.

For parents, in any hometown across the country, there are many immutable laws that apply to their occupation as parents.  One of these laws applies to kids who offend or injure in any way neighbors or relatives. The law is clear; the consequence of an unintended faux pas made by any one of their children may be far greater, in portion, than that of actual crime committed by the offending child. This is especially true, when the crime embarrassed one or both of the parents.

The Kortemeyer name had been sullied by the callow act of a pair of 10 and 12 year old kids. Sheez you think it was felony fraud. Besides isn’t there still a caveat emptor warning? The final judgment was usually meted out in the magistrate court of my parents’ kitchen.  Often times unfairly, at least in the opinion of those on trial. What about Habeas Corpus?  What happened to Miranda? Shouldn’t this case be adjudicated by a jury of our peers? The mandates of jurisprudence were trampled underfoot and justice was arbitrarily cast aside. What caprice.

Mom tersely and, believe you me, grudgingly gave us the dime that would make restitution to the wronged party. There was an implied consequence. Although restitution was made, the civil penalty phase had yet to be administered. It cost us both 15 cents each our allowance for that week, all of it.

When holiday celebrations were over it was over. When the good or the bad of a holiday had passed enough was then enough fireworks and all. We still had a lotta summer left so we moved on.

I have since been in attendance at three memorable fireworks shows.

The one over Mt. Rushmore was breath taking. Although, we sat too close which wounded up costing me a considerable amount of money for chiropractic fees. My runner up was shot over Lake Superior where they used a barge as the launch site. Fabulous!! The size and splendor of these displays were memorable.

Perhaps the most unique of the three fireworks shows wasn’t on the 4th at all. It was New Years’ Eve at Disney World. The men’s basketball team took a holiday trip to Orlando. After the last game we went back to Disney World where the team quartered. After a quick meal they all set off to one of the kingdom’s lands for the New Year’s celebration.

I tarried a bit and would go over after they had been gone for a while. I sat in the pool just relaxing listening to good music. There is just something nice about resting in a mildly heated outdoor pool enjoying great tunes in the dead of December in Fla. AHHH this sweet luxury is not readily afforded to the denizens of the Upper Plains during the holiday season, at least outside anyway.

I love roller coasters as much as anyone. I have ridden on some of the best and Disney offers some of the best rides in the U.S.

As I arrived in the park it dawned on me that eternity itself might very well come before I could hitch a coaster ride.  I picked what looked to be the shortest line. Holy Serpentine Line, it took forforforever. 

You could’ve had a birthday waiting to get on this coaster. What a stupid I was thinking that any roller coaster ride at Disney on New Year’s Eve would be a good deal.

I chose the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster that featured Aerosmith Steven Tyler’s famous hard rock band. How bad could it be? I reasoned not seeing the multitudes in front of me? I sourly waited 90 minutes just to get aboard for this hell ride. Listening to that hard rock crap for even 60 seconds made it a real negative.

I lost my celebratory mood and trudged back through the thick crowd of revelers. This was no small feat in and of itself. When back on property I made a quick foray through the supply store for some “beverages” and comfort food to assuage my foul mood and then off to the cabana.

About 50’ away from my front door was one of several lagoons on property. It was probably 11:30 at that time. So I got comfortable sitting there contemplating my existence. Sipping some brew and snacking.

At exactly MIDNIGHT a bolt of light streaked across the Florida sky followed by a big explosion of light with a sonic boom. The oft inspiring yet seldom duplicated Disney Fireworks show was on! Although I wasn’t at the park I was to be able see this terrific firework show from afar. It appeared to be the size of a 60” television and was, as they like to say at Disney, in living color. Even the reflection off the lagoon was great.

As the show went on I reckoned that I was only going to be 50’ from my front door when the show ended.

All that was left between and my bed was a few measly paces.

BUT…there…out there…over there were 10’s of thousands of souls. Who were about wait at least hour and a half to get back in line to get to their beddie-byes and during their 90 minute ordeal I would be sleeping the sleep of the just.


Blog 31: The Summer of ’63 and My First Visit to the Old Met

The Summer of’63 and the events that made that summer memorable. It would be the last summer of simply being a kid. In future summers, I would be conscripted into hard labor at low/no pay as my dad’s indentured servant. The 2013 summer marks the 50th anniversary of the last summer that I didn’t have to work for the man.

In 1961 professional baseball moved to the Twin Cities. Now at long last there was a team for which I would freely assign my loyalties. I shook the bear paw of Harmon Killebrew at a spring Twins caravan in Sioux Falls. He became my first Twin hero as told me he had also had a son named Kenneth. I was hooked and all in at 10.

Minnesota’s ballgames were broadcast from the iconic flagship station WCCO. It was all a.m. then. FM stations were mostly relegated to playing pre-taped elevator music like Mantovani and Ray Conniff.

I would listen to the ball games on an Arvin Radio with the lighted dial. Sometimes well into to wee hours for west coast games. The volume turned way down low as the crackling play by play wafted over the prairie to my room.

Our huge Philco entertainment center was downstairs and from time to time Pops and I would tune into the Twins. I was given a Motorola Transistor Radio for my birthday the previous year with an earphone jack. Sad to say that due to an unfortunate mishap with the equipment, the radio was confiscated by a teacher who was standing watch over study hall. The ear jack had slipped out bellowing to the study hall that I had been covertly listening to the World Series under my desk lid. The NAZI returned it to my parents after the World Series.

After two seasons of listening to the games being painted out in word pictures by Twins broadcasters, I wanted more. A precious few of Minnesota’s games were televised. So, I asked my dad if we could go to a game. He said it would cost ‘good money’ to go to a game. I countered with “Well then let’s spend bad money and go anyway.” The humor was lost on him. Believe thou me. This obtuse answer cost him my Father of The Year vote.

In addition to this refusal he suggested I could watch the games on television for free. Of course, what a great idea!! Splendid!!

Um, let me see what would be the odds that either one of the two television stations we got on an old Emerson B&W would air a Twins Game. Even though the Kortemeyer’s had the tallest TV antenna in south east South Dakota, a source of immense pride for my dad; we still got squat for channels.

No cable no choice for My Twins on TV. KELO and KSOO were TV stations broadcasting from Sioux Falls and on a clear summer night KTIV in Sioux City could be seen despite fiddling with the vertical and horizontal hold knobs all night which always proved to be an exasperating flaw of tube televisions. So my chances of watching the Twins on local TV were slim and none and Slim as they say had already saddled up and was ridin’ out of town.

Yes, there was the game of the week broadcasts with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese. These Saturday games were sponsored by beer and cigarettes. Kids learned how great it would be to drink Falstaff pitched as the “The Choicest Product of the Brewers Art.” We were-ad tutored to be connoisseurs of tobacco as well. If you recall, Winston tastes good as a cigarette should then and as it does even now. Snow fresh Kool cigarettes would make your throat feel as Kool and clean as breath of fresh air. The irony just drip off this tag line?

Clearly, any Twins fan worth a tinker’s damn could sing the Hamm’s Beer Jingle from rote. It was one of the best. I defy anyone to find another song that combines lyric lines of this quality. “From the land of pines and lofty balsam, from across the rippling water, through the whispering pines and birches”. Hamm’s the beer refreshing.

Save your Google time. In the commercial jingle arena there is no equal. It is nonpareil. Mad Men are weeping that they didn’t get it first. Here's a video of an early-ish TV version of the jingle (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o83xxWCel8g

As important as it was for me to get to a baseball game, I refused to stoop to the level of begging to get to a ballpark. I had my pride. Nor would I become emotionally manipulative. The strategy would be to behave as a good child could, keep politely asking and meekly pitching the concept of what a great birthday present it would be to see a Twins game in person.

Now, my mom was not so much the weak link as she was the family intercessor with Dad. Finally, in that summer of ‘63 he capitulated and we would go to my first game. It would be my birthday present and a reward for good behavior. Of the six siblings, four were left at home to go to the game. The oldest two had been written out of the show as they were married and starting their own families.

The morning of June 23rd 1963, dawned early, beautiful and cool. We left that Sunday about 5:00 a.m. My dad was not one to miss church regardless of any event. To him death or dismemberment were just flesh wounds if they happened on the Sabbath.

The family car was 1952 Cadillac Fleetwood 4 door sedan. It was a green color that defined hideous. Such were the minimalist color pallets of 1950’s car makers. We all piled in for the drive. The back seat was roughly the size of a living room in a modestly priced home and made the ride comfortable. “You can’t beat that Cadillac ride” as my dad was fond of saying.

Back then you could get WNAX (Yankton) from Manitoba to the Gulf of Mexico. Our Big Friend in the Midwest was 570 on the radio dial and so that was the setting. We listened to two sermons on the way up and Billy Graham and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on the way back. Egads! Another reason for the early departure was my sisters’ 60 mile bladder necessitating stops at Luverne, Windom, Mankato and then one just before the Cities.

The goal was to get into MPLS by 11:00 a.m. to attend a huge downtown church. The point that we were going miss batting practice fell on deaf ears. But since we went to one game in all those summers what difference could it have made to a 12 year-old live and diehard Twins fan.

I strategically used the time in church to pencil in the Twins lineup card in my mind. This was preparation for the probable chance that we would run into Sam Mele, the Minnesota manager somewhere somehow before the game.

Of course the men all wore short sleeved shirts and ties to church. Mom and my sister wore dresses and with mom in a hat in the style of the day.  Our mother dutifully packed enough food to last a family of 10 several weeks. Finally, we arrived in Bloomington about 12:30 and began eating our homemade lunch in the lot.

We must have looked like a band of Jehovah’s Witnesses about to proselytize the crowd at Met stadium. But in the day many people donned the same couture. Men wore ties and straw hats. Women wore dresses.

Arriving at the ball park, fans gain entrance through turnstiles and to most of them as they pass through “the ball park portal” a mysterious epiphany happens to almost everyone. A phenomenon that can turn the most miserly of people into spend thrifts compared to their usual day to day spending habits. I tell you it’s mystical. It’s a power that just takes ahold of most people and invigorates them; because they’re at the ballgame.

The Magic makes overpriced concessions not seem so bad. I mean you just gotta have a dog and a beer at the ballpark.  Most people get the munchies because food just tastes better while sitting at the game watching your Mudville Nine. The Old Met was no less mesmerizing for a structure that was built in the mid 50’s. It exuded the same mystic power over almost anyone in attendance.

Ah, but dad was one notable exception. Now mind you he had already paid to park, a fact that gnawed at him for three days. “Next thing you know they’ll be charging for water.” Little did he know this would sadly come to pass.

After a parking fee, he had now to buy six tickets and mighty grudgingly besides. I will testify to the fact that when he went up to the ticket window he specifically asked for the cheapest seats in the house. Just imagine where he parked the Caddie. I will say this. Its color made it easy to spot when you wanted to find it.

We sat in the left field bleachers. “We could have watched the game on TV at home,” he mumbled.

Hey Daddy Downer your killin’ my groove and you’re bringin' me down. If I knew what a buzz kill was then I would have felt it. But no matter in just a few minutes I would see the wonder of Metropolitan Stadium the home of My Beloved Twins.

I think that there is, in professional sports, a certain congruous parallel. It consistently proves the axiom that your relative proximity to the stadium or field is relative to what you chose to pay in parking fees and tickets.

The less you spend the further away you will be from where you really want to be or at least where I really wanted to be.

An exquisite irony became painfully apparent as we took our seats that day. Of the six of us that strolled through the turnstiles on that pristine day I was the only one that REALLY wanted to REALLY be there.

The irony plays out like this. By choosing the cheapest seats we the FAM were relegated to the upper rows of the Old Mets’ lower left field cantilever seating. It truly was about as far afield as you could be for two bucks.  

My Hero “The Killer” would’ve had to hit a 450’ frozen rope to get me a prized souvenir. Which, I was quite sure was his very thought too, and as he was clearly designing to do so. There went that dream.

Now being the only one in our family that was visually challenged whom do you think got to see virtually nothing of the game he loved? Save for the little white and gray clad men that scurried around the field like a bunch of lab rats bearing numbered uniforms that I couldn’t read. We had a pair of binoculars for all of us to share. But, I did bring my Motorola with fresh batteries and listened to WCCO’s own Ray Scott, Herb Carneal and that colorful sot Halsey Hall describe what was going on in front of me.

One of the joys of going to the Old Met was to hear the consummate PA announcer Bob Casey. If I couldn’t see anything at least my sense of hearing was adequate to hear one of the best. His voice was a trademark of the experience at the Old Met. He never disappointed which wasn’t always true for the Twin Cities Nine.

The concession hawkers that go up and down the aisles and can simply change the digestive processes in any human being in their right mind. The sights, the sounds and the aromas of the park contribute to these sensory stimuli. Ergo, I/we got hungry. Not so much a hunger driven by the need to nourish the body. But it’s a hunger driven by the thought that a 50 cent hotdog, a 30 cent soda and 25 cent popcorn or peanuts would simply make this experience that much better by feeding the baseball soul.  Speaking of feeding the soul is to say everything about the religious experience of eighth inning Frosty Malt for a paltry 35 cents.

All this joy would have cost dad another buck fiddy per. Yowza $9.00 for tickets and $9.00 for concessions and add a $1 for church offering, plus gas. Gas was $.30 cents a gallon. The ol’ green blob got 17 mpg into 500 RT miles = 30 gallons so another $ 9.00. The total cost of the trip would have been $28.00, a lifelong memory worth in the least twice the price. Father, if you are reading this. You should take comfort in the fact that it would have cost you a whole lot more to have a regular birthday at home.

Epilogue to the day:

Baltimore defeated us 4-1 in typical Oriole fashion. Steve Barber allowed eight hits in seven innings and a decent major leaguer Al Smith hit a two-run homer in the 7th. The ride home was glum as glum could be and the radio homilies of Graham and Sheen gave no comfort whatsoever.

I’d a rather a Hamm’s and a Frosty Malt in lieu of the sixth sermon of the day. At one of the 4 stops on the way back home the group finished the ham sandwiches, chips and Hawaiian Punch. Upon our arrival home, we all piled out of the car and went our separate ways. I was thankful for the day and especially that we missed Sunday evening song service and yet another sermon.


Blog 30: The Summer of '63

My brother and sister in law recently celebrated their 50th or golden wedding anniversary.

As I perused through the wedding album, the picture of my family and me harkened back to that summer in 1963. It was a summer of innocence and fun when I was a mere lad of 12.

I grew up in the cocoon of my hometown virtually oblivious to world events. But I was a kid.

In the summer of ’63 US Troop levels in Vietnam were at 16,000 a far cry from the half a million more that it would escalate to in Southeast Asia five years later.

The March on Washington and the I Have a Dream Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King occurred in August.

The NHL still had the “Original Six” with Toronto winning “The Cup.” The NBA had nine teams and Boston won a fifth straight championship. Both were done by the end of April. The ’63 NFL Draft was held in December of 1962— two weeks before the actual championship game. The draft was actually held in Green Bay in the breakfast area of a Motel 6. Where six years later the marquee would show a temperature of -17 degrees. 

My Twins in their third season in MPLS would win 91 games and finish 13 games behind the evil empire.

Summers in Chancellor were great. Oh sure a little lawn mowing and weed pulling marathons in my Mom’s garden were a burden that plagued some of the precious hours draining away valuable time better spent playing baseball.

Although the town was only 6 blocks by 6 blocks square. I was never bored. Save for the odd rainy day. I had a bike to cruise the locale. It seemed something interesting to capture the imagination was going on all the time.

Most days we had enough kids from town and country for at least two eight man ball teams. The team at bat had to furnish the catcher. When at bat each player was allowed a maximum of four pitched balls to swing at. There were no walks. We would make any number of adaptations to play America's past time.

Kids use their imaginations and are by their nature inventive. In order to juice up the game, as it was decided by the adolescent democratic processes, would be adapted. The field must move closer to the outfield fences. This accomplished the intended outcome of dramatically effecting homerun production. 

The proximity of the pitcher’s mound all of 3” high became home plate. Then metal plates were spaced around the outfield as bases. Naturally, the playing field was also narrowed. The elegance of the plan was that the fences were now 120’ down the lines and 150 to dead center. Please understand that these new field dimensions were not laid out with the great precision one might expect with other MLB fields.

Needless to say homerun production soared. Donnie hit near a 100 and Billy was right behind with 93 dingers. The game was played with rubber ball a tad less hard than a baseball but the same size. Many feats were accomplished during those years without the aid of PEDs save for Kool-Aid, Nestles Quick or the odd bottle of pop usually Lotta Cola; 16 ounces of tooth decaying sugar and as much caffeine any kid could handle and mind you all for only seven cents.

The bats we used were either birthday presents or those scavenged from the legion team when they were splintered or broke. The crack was easily remedied with a few brads or small nails and black electrician tape.

The latter painstakingly applied to the handle in overlapping turns.

Disclaimer: This lumber salvaging practice is not recommended when facing pitchers than can bring it with a pitch speeds of 50 miles an hour or greater. There would be too many fractures of the scaphoid, hamate and capitate bones. The danger is to say everything about avoiding the dreaded chronic metacarpal-phalangeal woes or worse having a pisiotriquetral joint sprain. Sorry, just showing off now.

Simply put, pitchers in our little town league just weren’t able move the ball around the strike zone or clip the edges. They/We/I couldn’t break a pain of glass to use a time tested baseball euphemistic dis. Thus, no affront was taken by the batter if a pitch was too far inside. The hitter would simply catch the errant toss and flip it back to the pitcher. Hitters had the upper hand and thus it was, by intention.

Virtually every kid in town had a name that ended in a y or an ie. Jimmie, Donnie, Billy, Ronnie and I was Kenny. My given name was only used by my dad when I was in some deep trouble. When I heard my proper name KENNETH!!!

I always cringed and tried to become invisible. Only to be identified or betrayed by one of my loving siblings.

Interestingly enough, we had no nicknames in Chancellor. Names like curly, stinky, shorty, stubby and red were generally eschewed by our cadre of kids. Rarely was the surname used either.

It wasn’t always all about baseball in the summers. We were a well-rounded group. Tuesdays were swimming lessons so we rode our bikes the five miles over to Lennox for the one hour session of aqua-tutelage. There were many other days our gang would ride over to invade the pool. Saturday mornings began with cartoons and serial westerns. Sunday afternoons after church were spent fishing complete with a hand packed sack lunch and a refreshing Shasta Crème Soda.

We had a nine-hole golf course, actually we had a 1 hole golf course with nine different tee boxes. We used the sunken soup can in the middle of the baseball diamond as our goal. In the day, it wasn’t in the least unusual to have sand greens on many small town courses. The sand greens were horrible. They were soaked with oil to keep the sand easier to groom.  It had a central pivot with a pipe that each player could “roll” around the pivot to ready the surface for a putt.

Well, unfortunately or not, our infield although well sanded was not oiled and had no center pivot.

So we learned early on how to cope with bad bounces and the vagaries of the “rub of the green.”

’63 was a great summer for me. In the previous two seasons I had a series of orthopedic surgeries and was placed on the PUP list for those summers. It was the first time in 12 years that a brace wasn’t attached to my lower leg. Even though I was much faster than previous campaigns I was still slower than any of other youths. I made up for it by not being a very good hitter either. My fielding was marginal at best. But, I had a trump card. Captains would swap hands up the bat to the knob for first of their eight alternating draft picks.  This was the traditional tried and true method of choosing teams. Although, I was almost always the last player drafted; I was in fact the 16th player many days thus indispensable and crucial to the activity.

The ball field at Chancellor was prized a cathedral worthy of the game itself. It was the envy of many a small town. Chancellor had one of the few fields that wasn’t named in-memoriam of some local hero. It was simply the City Park. The field dimensions were 250 feet down the lines and 325 to dead center. The bases were generally believed to be 90’. The accuracy of this distance depended solely on the mood of the park’s custodian. If he pulled up the base stakes while dragging the field surface he most likely just pushed the stake back in the ground as near as he could eyeball the vicinity of the base in question.

Due to Church League softball the pitching rubber was moved back and forth from night to night. The pitcher’s mound was 60’6” in a general sense give or take an inch or two. But for sure, we can truthfully say with confidence that it was within a foot of where it should have been placed.

Kids play ball during the day and rarely at night. The converse was true for the American Legion Team Post 283 and heroes all played games mostly at night.

Now, in the modern era of Sports Stadia, playing fields are made to look like virtual daylight alit with scores of 1500 Watt Metal Halide Lights on standards high above the field.

Not so in Chancellor.  In our outfield were three creosote soaked light posts right smack dab in the middle of the outfield. They were equally spaced in right, center and left fields and located halfway between the edge of the infield dirt and the outfield fences. There were three bulbs on each of the 25’ poles.

A perfect haven for grasshoppers and moths the General Electric 200 watt lights had roughly the candle power of a book of matches. A far cry from the halogen fixtures with their new high intensity discharge, we enjoy now.  

The light output of this shadowy setup barely reached the middle of the outfield let alone the far reaches of the field’s edge and there was, of course, no gap lighting.  Often was the time when an outfielder disappeared into the haze chasing after a line drive and then seconds later a white spheroid would suddenly pop out of the void followed sooner or later by the retrieving outfielder. This illusion was later clearly demonstrated on the big screen in the movie Field of Dreams. It was in those iconic scenes when the players appeared from the cornfield for a game only to return to heaven through the same portal at games end. This best illustrated how it was for night games at the Chancellor City Park. It was eerily similar and that is a fact.

Surprisingly there was neither catastrophic injury nor fatality from players crashing into the poles. But a lot of fly balls were missed by fielders who gave the wood tar coated cabers an unduly wide berth when attempting to catch a routine fly ball. The most fun was when a ball would bounce off one of the hazards and go off into an odd direction followed closely by the frenetic player racing after the carom. I will say it was more fun when it happened to the opposing teams.

The meager lighting deficits were as true in the infield. There were so many shadows you could play hide and go seek between the bases.

The cars packed with fans parked around the field would honk the car horns when the homies made a great play or scored a run. On calm summer nights the PA system could be heard all over town. This had the unintended consequence of driving down ticket sales and was a great boon for cheapskates who didn’t want to pay the paltry admission price of a quarter.

Kids were encouraged to chase foul balls for a retrieval fee of a dime. The bounty for returning several would buy you a pop with fresh popcorn or Russian Peanuts, which we now know as sunflower seeds. If a kid got lucky he could also get a fudgesicle plus a five-pack of Juicy Fruit for the extra effort. 

Being a kid in my town was great!!!!!!!!!!


Blog 29 Shelter in the Time of a Storm

Tuesday Ice storm:

A winter’s day in a deep and dark April, I looked out inconsolably on the South Dakota’s version of Spring which was more like a December landscape. Thankfully, my sour mood was buoyed by those iconic and savory words, “Hello Friends.” Immediately, I am brought back to the reality that it is indeed April and time for the tradition like no other.  This borderline divine week of sports begins with the NCAA Championships and seamlessly segues into five glorious days at Augusta. Jim Nantz should have to pay to be the anchor of these epic events.

For everyone who survived South Dakota's apocryphal ice storm that lay waste to electricity, trees and changed the landscape there was consolation. The very elixir of hope was melted out by another great Masters Golf Tournament. The Masters, the only men’s game in which the word lovely can be used without fear of retribution, was on the air.

The superlatives that are used to describe Augusta National Course are at times an injustice to its beauty and often fall short in their praise. Playing there almost makes you want to remove your shoes. These 500 acres of unmatched blooming beauty hide the underlying torment of the supreme mental and physical challenge of guts and nerve that it truly is. Every year this gem hones the wits of the eventual champion. Play to too conservatively and it renders bogies. Play it too aggressively and it renders 9’s.

Wednesday High Noon:

On the menu is the genteel and enjoyable Par 3 tournament. The tourney is one that no serious Masters contender really tries to win. Since no golfer has ever won both players may take caution as it is a bad omen to finish first. The day essentially becomes a jovial version of a Father’s Day outing. Kids make putts and try to help their dads. There may be a few holes in one or other feats that dot the rounds. But this year was special edition indeed, because it was an all-out Babe fest.

The “Big Macs” Rory and Grahame were accompanied by the finest in consorts in the event’s history. Tell you what the bland white boiler suits that all Master’s Caddies are required to wear surely looked great on Caroline Wozniacki and model Kristin Stape. I tell you true that Caroline Wozniacki lived up to her nickname of 'Little Miss Sunshine' when she lit up the Masters. The drab plain white coverall has never looked better on any human being.

What is up with the Irish? How do a couple of plain looking dudes get these gorgeous women to be on the bag for them? Why would these lovely women concede to modeling the unflattering couture just to have a chance to caddy for their boyfriends, Irishmen McIlroy and McDowell? Tiger not to be out done had World Cup Skier Lindsey Vonn at his side. Now in the Pantheon of Great faces these gents may not make the cut. I would wager they didn’t care much about their loopers rattling clubs, shadowing their lines or unkempt clubs.

This just proves the point that it’s not good looks but the bling and the moolah that is the attraction. Bill Murray made the point as well as anyone in the 1979 summer classic Meatballs. His rant guised as a motivational speech says it all. “It just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter because all good looking girls go with golfers like that cuz they got all the money”. Money is the ultimate common denominator between beauty and the beast.

Thursday Early AM:

The real Masters starts out on that first day at the first tee with the Honorary Starters hitting the tournament’s first drive. This was the 50th year that this ceremony has been in place. The ceremony pays homage to the lifetime accomplishments ranking golf legends. This year an astonishing faux pas took place right there at the first tee box.

As Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club Billy Payne has the honor of introducing the true legends of the game for the ceremony. This year The King, The Bear and The Black Knight had the honor of striking the first drives of the 77th Masters Golf Tournament. Arnold Palmer (4), Jack Nicklaus (6) And Gary Player (3) have a combined 13 Green Jackets between them and a combined 160 PGA Tour Wins. Player has another 140 worldwide. So it’s not like Payne was trying figure out the golfers in my foursome at Elmwood. But the man had to use a crib sheet and then looked at each legend to make sure he correctly ID them. Come On Man!

Age gets us all eventually, so just think one day Tiger, Phily, and The Big Easy will sidle up to that tee and give it a masterful rip. Then head to the fabled Butler Cabin for a sumptuous lunch of pimento cheese sandwiches over a blend of Iced Tea and Lemonade, aptly named an Arnold Palmer.

Throughout the years there have always been top ranked amateurs invited to play in the event. The top finishing amateur player get a trophy for making the cut and having the low score.

So, how did the country of China with 1.4 billion people find a 14 year old kid good enough to play in the Master’s? Whether they have tryouts or not who knows. But someone found him. The kid is none other than Tianlang Guan, who became the youngest person to play at Augusta. He is a native of Guangzhou with an estimated population of 13 million. NYC and LA are 12 M combined so that’s your perspective. I mean there are probably only a couple of hundred million kids to choose from right and there is only 600 plus courses to play in the whole country. Talk about finding a needle in a haystack.

Yet, he made the cut with an amazing 12 over 300 for the 4 day event. He did this in spite of a Rules Nazi who assessed him a 1 stroke penalty for slow play which it almost cost Guan the chance to play on the weekend. Holy international diplomatic fiasco, like things aren’t bad enough between these continents to go and “dis” one of their national heroes. It was said that Guan was slow to play shots and seemed to wandering a bit.   .   .  Do ya think? Heck who wouldn’t want drink it all in while you play the best course in the world. The diminutive juvie was playing with millionaires. His dad probably only gave him a few Yuan to buy a snack from the beverage cart.

As the legendary Philosopher Chris Rock said “Could you just give the brother a break?” Come on man!

Friday Late:

A rules SNAFU also happened to the number one player in the world as well. The punctilious Masters Rules committee showing the courage of the cowardly lion served their version of a writ of habeas corpus to Tiger Woods on Friday night. In a most clandestine manner Woods was summoned to Butler Cabin to get the screws put to him. Although, his two stroke penalty was just in the rules of golf. The implementation and enforcement was heinous. Why a rules sheriff, who walks with each group, did not enforce the penalty after the completion of the 15th hole is crazy. Had Tiger not discussed the circumstance during a televised interview nothing would have come of it.

I guarantee that Ben Crenshaw, Mark O’ Meara or Tom Watson, all green jacket winners, could have been using string and taking mulligans and they wouldn’t have been in trouble because they got about zero air time. The only interviews these fellas got were from the wait staff at Augusta.

Sunday Back Nine in the Rain:

There was a gutsy skillful race to the championship. One of the 3 young Aussies in contention was Jason Day. Who before each shot was breathing through his eyelids like a lizard, which was entirely impressive to Nuke LaLoosh.  He along with a few other contenders felt the sting of Augusta’s second 9 and faded down the stretch.

It is often said and more often true that the Masters tournament begins and ends at the back 9 on Sunday. You just want to be close enough to be in it. It ultimately came down to a duel between an Argentinean and an Australian. Angel Cabrera, the former, executed many great shots under immense pressure as did Adam Scott the latter.

But Cabrera aka “El Pato” (The Duck) needed one more great shot to seal the deal. Like many champions before him; Adam Scott had that one great shot left in his bag. Scott made the historic putt on the second playoff hole with the soon to be illegal Long Putter. Scott became the first man from the land down under to don the Green Blazer and He will not ever again have to pay for another Fosters Pale Lager.

Monday In Your Dreams:

We video patrons know from experience that many Masters Tournaments are won on the last hole either in regulation or in a playoff. A certain natural thought enters our reverie. I wonder if I have the right stuff to execute a great shot under the weight of the situation and win it all.

Wanna know what it feels like to make a putt like that under that excruciating pressure? Here is what you do. Find a friend and bet him a grand that you are a clutch player. Then take a 10 lb. sledge hammer out to Minnehaha and try to make 20’ putt that has 3 subtle breaks that have to be read perfectly for the ball to fall into that 4 and ¼” diameter cup, which at the time looks like it has the circumference of a thimble. Also, using the same sledge hammer try to make a 2’ downhill roller on greens that are a slick as a pane of glass and all this under the weight of winning a green jacket. The most prized of majors. Not to mention the thousand bucks you bet with your friend.

Simply stated, that in this crucible of golf your big muscles get quick and your small muscles get slow.

That’s what a major will do to you. Make a mistake like some have and you live with it until heaven.  Where BTW there are no membership or greens fees and no need for tee times. You get to play anytime of the day for free. You know I always wondered if Adam and Eve enjoyed playing this track back in the Garden of Eden. Speaking of making one really stupid mistake and boom they were gone!

Tuesday Farewell:

We bid a fond farewell to one George Allen “P-oint A-fter T-ouchdown” Summerall. Pat Summerall was the voice of The Masters for more than a quarter of a century. His understated mellifluous voice of was an elegant blend of wisdom and harmony. Teaming up with Ken Venturi and their understudy a young Jim Nantz announced the 1986 Masters in which Jack Nicklaus won a record 6th Green Jacket at the age of 46. My favorite Augusta of all time and it was truly a lovely time. Enjoy the big course up there PAT.

Blog 28

This week we witnessed the best and worst of times in NCAA college basketball.

Based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues, Rutgers University fired their men’s basketball coach after the release of video footage graphically showing physical and verbal abuse of Rutgers players.  The footage included the throwing of basketballs at player's heads, kicking a player and using a homophobic slur directed at a player. Because they were a team it can be construed that all his tirades were directed at the team as well. It was painful and disheartening to look at their body language. They were crushed.

The Rutgers athletic director doing his best “Baghdad Bob” impersonation at first said that HE was responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of the coach, dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and it was thought to be in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate.

The Rutgers basketball coach was at the time suspended and fined after athletic department officials after earlier investigations of the incidents. Apparently, the AD had spent hundreds of hours talking to those involved in the program to determine what happened. Wow, if you didn’t know what happened by seeing the video evidence what would you gain from the spoken word. What were those involved in the program supposed to say; “Dah, It wasn’t as bad as it looks.”

On Sunday, in what could be called the last of the 60 Final Four play in games Louisville was pitted against Duke. Three of the final four teams were already making reservations in Atlanta; the site of the NCAA Men’s Final Four.

During the first half there was an injury to a Louisville player that made everyone gasp and grip the handrails of their chairs at the gruesome sight. While trying to shake our stomachs back into position from our throats there was something that took place that shouldn’t escape us.  As we all know sports at times can just rip your heart out. Yet, sometimes something can happen that rarely occurs outside of athletics. Because of the leadership of Rick Pitino and the bond of the Louisville players it became an event that bonded a team and drove the Cardinals to overcome and win. 

In the space of a few seconds Kevin Ware, a sophomore on the Louisville basketball team, landed awkwardly after contesting a shot and horrifically broke his right leg. The injury was so obviously grotesque that teammates dropped to their knees in horror upon seeing it and several others could hardly compose themselves, using their jerseys to shield their faces. Coach Rick Pitino, gathering his squad together, did all he could to fight back his own tears.

“There are some times in life you really don’t have the words to handle that situation,” Pitino said. “He (Ware) said to me five times, ‘I’m OK; just win the game.’ I got everybody over after we covered up the injury and said, ‘Listen to him.’ And he said it over 10 times. ‘Just win the game, I’ll be OK.’ It had to come from him, and it did.”

Louisville’s opponent Duke also struggled to regain their composure after Ware’s leg collapsed into pieces, covering their own eyes as well while wincing empathetically. Any player or coach knows that it could have been one of them or one of their teammates.

As he was being taken off the court, Ware again bravely told his team, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay; you guys go win this thing.”

Louisville earned the 85-63 victory that Sunday evening in Indianapolis with a crushing defeat of Duke in an almost unimaginable and emotionally driven second half domination. What had been a 35-32 Cards lead at the break was torn open with a 17-2 explosion. Perhaps the Blue Devils never had a chance after that catastrophic event. Because, in that one incredibly shocking moment a team was galvanized for the purpose of winning for the sake of taking a fallen teammate to Atlanta and The Final Four. The improbable victory perhaps powered by the love of team and the love of each other this Band of Brothers.

Baseballs’ Opening Day: I BELIEVE

I believe that the Minnesota Twins are going to have a solid 2013 Season. Not great, but solid.  Few would argue the fact that I am not a deep thinker at all, so there may be a few detractors that choose to dissent on this belief. I also believe that they will do their best to show up for every one of the 162 contests scheduled and pray for rain in every dang one of them. LOL, just kidding.

The home opener for the Twins at beautiful Target Field had a game time temperature of 33 F or 1 on the much more depressing Celsius Scale. When our last “regular” season game is played at September’s end it may very well be that cold again.

The temperature curve will undoubtedly go from cold to warm to hot and back to cold and thus reflecting the bell curve. The Twins progress thru the campaign will, I think, be more likely to resemble a flat line, if you will. Not so much DOA but certainly struggling for air. True, our guys have an outside chance at the playoffs. Outside the realm of sanity that is. Our fielding isn’t that bad because we only get to 50% of the ground balls anyway so less chance for miscues. After 2012 season we were ranked 21 of 30 in flashing the leather and sporting a fielding percentage that would be the envy of all but 20 other MLB franchises.

Based on MLB season stats for ’12 our hitting will be adequate 33% of the time in comparison to other more gifted MLB teams.

A substandard consistency was the hallmark of last year’s team. Yet there is reason to believe that this will improve. In MXII the denizens of Twin Cities were 28/30 in pitching. Our boys on the mound earned a hefty ERA of 13+ in the nearly 400 innings in which opposing runners had an opportunity to score. Yowza, opportunity not only knocked but it busted down the door, the hasp and the padlock.

BUT! With the welcome departure of throwers the likes of Kevin “You cain’t hid those cryin eyes” Slowey and Nick Blackburn things are bound to perk up. After all, wasn’t it a confused Blackburn who couldn’t figure out how they kept hitting his good pitches and ignoring his bad pitches? Since we do have a newly renovated staff I believe we will be better on the hill this summer.

But we almost have to be.

It’s spring and ballparks are open for business and I still believe in my team. I will always listen to them on a consistent basis. Be it radio or television.

In order to love my team less conditionally and to enhance my particular listening and viewing enjoyment, I think, that MLB should match great radio broadcasters with bad teams and visa-versa.

Television is easy and no problem. Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven are fun to listen to and can make the game entertaining during the worst of times and the periods of incredulity. So on a given summer evening I can pull up the old easy chair, pop the top of a cold one(s) and enjoy something.

When my captive ears are forced to listen to the Twins loser radio broadcast team I go nuts. To say they are not good is to say everything.

This predicament adds weight to my thesis and it totally makes sense. The great ones can make any team sound interesting. Great announcers paired to poor teams would help the lesser MLB teams be more appealing to follow on a regular basis. The play by play painted in their word pictures would make even the most hapless of teams fun to listen to.

Whereas, the exhilarating play of the accomplished team would overcome the shortfalls of bad announcing. The really good players and teams will still hold the interest of the true fan because the good teams usually win or in the case of our better opponents always win.

This scenario would be the Balm of Gilead to my frazzled psyche as yet another bad season wears on for the Twin Cities Nine. It is like a hammer beating in my skull. Blow after blow after blow driven into my brain are the arrhythmic nasal cadences of Dan Gladden and the overly euphemistic Kris Atteberry. The latter is one who uses all or most of his hackneyed sayings in one 9-inning game.

If it goes to “extra frames” as he is oft to say; he simply reshuffles the stack and starts over.

Ah, but, Jon Miller the famed Giants radio broadcaster, now there is a pro. I could listen to him announce the dictionary. Who knows. Miracles can happen if you have faith.


BLOG 27

2013 NCAA March Madness Intentionally posted after the tourney’s tipoff so as to not influence anyone’s bracketology.

I love the NCAA if for anything the stance they take on any form of wagering on games. This means that as a staff member of a member institution it is verboten to be even the smallest part of the “action” as it were. This is in the wake of point shaving scandals of CCNY 1950-51 and Boston College 1978-79 along with terms like bribe, fixing and underworld figures. The confluence of these greatly sullied and besmirched the integrity and reputation of the NCAA organization and its members. So no more parlays or teasers for me all action has ceased.

I have to be honest. If our beloved institution be it College or University Brave or Cougar were a member of the NCAA during certain years or decades probability we could have come under suspicion of the NCAA ethics committee for point shaving. We couldn’t score and we couldn’t defend either. This was not so much by malignant intent as it was a LofT problem. LofT you say, Yes a LACK of Talent. This is a baptized version of the joke about Tiger Woods giving golf lessons to novice wannabees. Because of these facts it was actually a greater offense of its own merit than being dishonest.

Yet here we are again the Ides of March and St. Patties days have passed and the eve of  "March Madness" is at hand. The term is used to describe the excitement surrounding the D-I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. It first appeared in print almost sixty years ago and was coined by Henry V. Porter a teacher and coach at Athens High School in central Illinois. He used it to describe the Illini State BB tourney frenzy. This of course is no match for the madness that reigns today even if Illinois is in the Big Dance.

I have been clean for 3 years and thus no longer being cleaned out by my pool mates. Typically, my brackets were busted by the late game on Friday. One year I did last until Sunday to the surprise of everyone in the pool. Moi y compris! (Myself included)

Since wishing is not against NCAA rules in so far as I care to investigate. I have put together a wish list for the present and future tournaments.

Substantive things that if implemented would in my view would make the 3 weeks that bridge March and April for funner.

TV Time Outs

Last week there was a game in which the media-money-making 4:00 horn signaling a Pavlovian rush to the frig or bathroom came with seven seconds left in the half. Come on man!

New Rule there is a 45-second widow to take the TV time out where there is a dead ball. If play continues for 45 seconds past the 16 – 12 - 8 or 4 breaks it is bypassed. Otherwise pay a player on either team to commit a foul or turnover to stop play. This may be the less attractive of the two choices but it would work.

How come there are so few great coaching names anymore. In all, out of the 300 some D- MBB Coaches, I could only find three worth mentioning: Barclay Radebaugh of Charleston Southern, Ron “Fang” Mitchell (coach of Coppin State) and James “Bruiser” Smith from Drexel. There’s so many, too many, banal safe names now, like Rick, Tom, Mike or John. The new rule is that you have to have zippy nickname or given name.

My Top Whatever Happened to these Names List:

Biff – Bud –Dutch – Ike – Red – Pops – Phog – Rocky and yes even Eddie or Rollie would do in a pinch. Put some pizzazz back in the game. Follow the lead of the players. Lord knows their names have what it takes.

I would like to see more Samoans play in the tournament. After all Samoa is an American slly. There are a number of Samoans who play in the NFL. They have just the best names. During football announcers have an easy time with these names. They are easy to say because of the longer play-by-play segments football game and thus create no challenge to the announcers.

Louisville point guard Peyton Siva is one of the few players of Samoan descent playing in the NCAA tournament. But his name is no real challenge to pros like Ernie Johnson, Sean McDonough, Brent Musberger, Jim Nance, and/or Mike Tirico, who will be covering most of the games on the three networks.

It would be so much fun to hear any of them dissect fast breaks or the frenetic sequences of last second buzzer beaters. Situations when the ball is batted around like a balloon. I think a starting five of Mario Fatafehi, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, Brandon Manumaleuna, Kimo von Oelhoffen and Marques Tuiasosopo. This would be in addition to reserve players Toniu Fonoti with Tupo Tuupo coming off the bench.

It would be the ultimate test of verbal fluidity for the best announcers and analysts not to stumble into pronouns from these proper names. Manumalasomebody passes off to #45 who is um Fumatuwho and then who the heck cares passes back to him and Tupotupotwentythree sets a pick and what’s his name scores. This all in the confined space of 12 seconds mind you.  What fun!

Rivalry Bordering on Hatred:

A local news channel was doing a piece on the volume of sales that the South Dakota State bookstore was doing. They were selling out of almost all lines of logoed apparel and other merchandise ostensibly to only “Jackrabid” fans. However, the bookstore manager noticed they were shipping a considerable number of items to Michigan mostly in and around the East Lansing area. The drive from East Lansing to Auburn Hills is a mere 81 miles. That is just a 12-pack road trip for most Spartan Fans. On Thursday, MSU plays Valpo at noon. The SDSU Jacks play in Auburn Hills against the homies from Ann Arbor. It would seem that the MSU faithful will hang around for the 6:00 tip off and cheer robustly for a second state university in the same day. That, my friends, is not rivalry it is deep seeded contemptuous hatred. There are sure to be a goodly number of seething Spartan fans cheering for the upset.

How many times in the next three weekends would you think will we hear these hackneyed words from Announcers, Coaches and Players alike?

Obviously, Score Creators, Urgency, Passion, Spoiler Alert, Bracket Buster et al.

I bet (pause for effect) it’s a lot.  

Enjoy yourselves. Remember if it gets bad early you may call my hope line 1.800.ISTINK2



Prologue
In blog 26, I listed what was thought to be a fairly complete menu of sporting events that were on tap for us to enjoy.  Apparently, my oversight offended some of the citizens of our 49th state.  Sheez why is everyone so testy and so easily slighted, I mean let’s face it the Iditarod isn’t on the A list of events. It’s in the category of the All Ireland Hurling Championships or Australian Rules Football
. Come on man don’t be whiners!


Blog 26
Ergo, I hereby offer my props and great deference to the hearty mushers and their faithful Huskie sled dogs that run the gauntlet of the Iditarod the Race of Courage, Dedication and a full measure of Lunacy.

Each year for the past 40 Alaska has been calling all mushers to Anchorage for the running of the modern Iditarod Dogsled Race. The first week of March (M- 3 in ’13) is the start date for this grueling, bone chilling, physically and mentally draining 1000+ mile race across the heart of the state. The route is a straight line from Anchorage to the finish line in Nome. Drawing the straight line is the easiest part of the ordeal, I assure you.

 

The Iditarod is run in the dead of winter through some of the most desolately beautiful landscapes on the planet. Although both have stages and rests stops, the Tour de France runs in summer on the opposite side of the globe. Even the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI) has the good sense to have their 475 mile marathon in the summer. Who says Iowans aren’t staunchly practical.

 

A ceremonial start begins the event in Anchorage and is followed by the official restart in Willow. The restart was originally in Wasilla, but because of too little snow, the restart was permanently moved to Willow in 2008. Is it just me, or is there a coincidence here.  Apparently being able to see Russia from Wasilla was a negative factor. The lack of snow was just a lame excuse to move the start to Willow.

 

Alaska’s zip code is 99782 just 30 degrees above Beverly Hills 90210 on the old latitude counter. The two zip codes are incredibly diverse in terms of meteorology.  Hey, anyone can live in SoCal. But it takes a stout heart to live in the land of the midnight sun. Clearly there are enough kooks to go around in both zones.

 

Though diverse in climate there is some similarity in terms of the psyche’ of the local gentry.

 

Print and television journalists along with huge crowds of spectators attend the ceremonial start in Anchorage. Curiously smaller numbers of the fourth estate or electronic media do little if any reporting at the remote check points along the trail. What is the old saying about discretion and valor? I am not sure if even ESPN in the early years covered it. Where have you gone Jim McKay?

There are many competitors, who never come close to winning yet are in the race for the pure adventure. These adventurous souls are there year after year. They love racing in Alaska, being around the natural beauty and the spectacular Northern Light Shows. Even the last place finisher knows that getting to Nome is a feat in and of itself. Very few mushers make money from the race. Most are amateurs who make their living hunting and fishing, although lawyers, surgeons, airline pilots and CEOs have competed. It might be best described as the Alaskan version of the Sturgis Bike Rally. Only a lot less skin is exposed during this event.

     

To reach the finish line in the old gold rush town of Nome, the teams will brave the raw wilderness and cross a formidable mountain range, with 3000’ elevation changes. The drivers and sled dogs will pass through forests and ford frozen rivers. They'll most likely do battle with fierce winds and temperatures that can plunge to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Teams frequently race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions and gale-force winds can cause the wind chill to reach −100 °F. This is not for faint of heart or the casual musher.

 

The Race:

Sure sounds simple enough. The trail starts from Willow with a run up the Rainy Pass of the Alaska Range into the interior and along the shore of the Bering Sea, finally reaching Nome in western Alaska. The trail is through a harsh landscape of tundra and forests, over hills and mountain passes, and across rivers. While the start in Anchorage is in the middle of a large urban center, most of the route passes through widely separated towns and villages, and small Athabaskan and Inupiat settlements.  Along the way, they'll stop at village checkpoints for a hot meal, to drop an ailing dog or to sit out mandatory rest periods. Sometimes they'll blow right through after a hasty check-in. Piece of cake right.

This Alaskan frozen earth marathon began as the "Great Race of Mercy." The 1925 serum run to Nome was an effort to fight the great diphtheria epidemic, which threatened Nome and the Alaska Native children who had no natural immunity. The nearest quantity of antitoxin was found to be in Anchorage.

The two available planes were both dismantled and had never been flown in the winter. So mushers and more than 100 dogs relayed the package 674 miles from Nenana to Nome.

The Iditarod trail reached its peak between the late 1880s and the 1920s as miners arrived to dig coal and later the Alaska gold rush boom, in 1908. The trail was the primary communication and transportation link between remote outposts and the rest of the world. Between October and June dog sleds were the conduit for supplies and information.  Dog sledding persisted in the rural areas until the arrival of snowmobiles in the 1960s.

 

The Iditarod is the most popular sporting event in Alaska. Small wonder since there is nothing to rival it except for The Great Alaskan Shootout basketball tourney hosted by UA Anchorage. While the yearly field of more than fifty mushers and about a thousand dogs are still largely Alaskan. Competitors from fourteen countries have completed the event.

Dogs and Mushers

To have the full pleasure of enjoying the beauty of all that the Alaskan wilderness has to offer the entrants are privileged to pay an entry fee and costs estimated at $15,000 to $25,000. This includes sleds, dog maintenance and transportation. Expenses faced by modern teams include lightweight gear including thousands of booties and quick-change runners, high-energy dog foods and veterinary care. The top 10 sleds spend between $80 and $100 large per year. Indeed the collateral benefits themselves may very well be worth it. Frostbite, hypothermia, frozen digits and yes even some amputations have occurred. That’s kinda like. Well actually, I am at loss for anything else to compare it to.

 

Mushers are required to participate in three shorter races in order to qualify for the Iditarod. If a musher has been convicted of a charge of animal neglect, or if the Iditarod Trail Committee determines the musher is unfit, they are not allowed to compete. This is a good and ethical practice since the Soviets are sure to be watching and everyone knows what tattle tales they can be.

The dogs are well-conditioned athletes. Training starts in late summer or early fall and intensifies between November and March; competitive teams run 2,000 miles before the race. Siberian Huskies are popular and chosen for strength and stamina, but mixed breed modern racing dogs are bred for speed, tough feet, endurance, good attitude, and most importantly the desire to run. What a resume. Possessing a Good Attitude and loving to race across the frozen tundra in the middle of winter is an incredible feat of will.

The Iditarod Trail Committee monitors the dogs' health. All dogs are examined by the vet before the start of the race and at the checkpoints. They look for signs of illegal drugs or improperly healed wounds. Mushers are not allowed to administer drugs that mask the signs of injury, including stimulants, muscle relaxants, sedatives, anti-inflammatories, and anabolic steroids. Canine Enhancing Drugs (CED’s) are forbidden along with doggie doping. Spurious B 12 injections are also outlawed. I’m just talking about the dogs here. Mushers apparently are free to use anything they can get their hands on. Imagine the vets saying OK Fido pee into the cup. Dogs have also been known to run in as many 9-10 Iditarod races, Holy Geriatrics that would make them almost 70 in doggie years.

 

Checkpoints

There are 26 checkpoints on the route where mushers must sign in. Some mushers prefer to camp on the trail and immediately press on, but others stay and rest. Mushers purchase supplies and equipment in Anchorage, which are flown ahead to each checkpoint by the Iditarod Air Force. The checkpoint at Yentna Station to Skwentna is known as "moose alley."

The route to Skwentna is easy (?), over flat lowlands, and well-marked by stakes or flags. From Skwentna, the route follows the Skwentna River into the southern part of the Alaska Range to Finger Lake. At Puntilla Lake, things become more difficult, as the teams follow routes inaccessible by anything but dogs and sleds through Ptarmigan Pass, also known as Hell's gate, because of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake.


Tell you what spell check was my own Hell’s Gate in this project. I’ve added a lot of Inuit words to my dictionary.


From Rainy Pass, the route continues up the mountain, past the tree line to the divide of the Alaska Range, and then passes down into the Alaska Interior. The elevation of the pass is 3,200 feet, and some nearby peaks exceed 5,000 feet. The valley up the mountains is exposed to blizzards. In 1974, there were several cases of frostbite when the temperature dropped to −50 °F and 50-mile-per-hour winds caused the wind chill to drop to −130 °F. This kind of reminded me of the South Dakota Tech football game in 1996.

 

The worst stretch of the trail features a steep and straight drop of 1,000 feet in just 5 miles and there is little traction so the teams are hard to control. Mushers have to ride the brake most of the way down and use a snow hook for traction.  Calling any part of the race “the worst stretch” is an understatement of epic proportion.

Me thinks the whole damned “I Trail” is bad stretch.

 

To The Finish:

There have been 7 real “nail biter” races that have been decided by less than an hour (YAWN). A mere five minutes have separated first and second place three times. The closest race in Iditarod history was in 1978 when the winner and the runner-up were only one second apart.

The first race in 1973 had a winning calendar mark of 20 days, 0 hours, 49 minutes, and 41 seconds. The current record for fastest winning time was set in 2011 with a time of 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds.  Ironically, this hints that a stopwatch may actually be used to record times.  It better be one that is climate resistant.

 

Advance preparation of the trail and improvements in dog training have dropped the winning time to under 10 days in every race since 1996. The trail is about as well groomed as the snowmobile trails in the Black Hills of S.D. Not quite as good as Augusta’s greens but still much better the first years.

The closest finish was the 1978, when the nose of the winning lead dog crossed the finish line one second ahead of the second place lead dog, Even though the body of the second place finisher skidded across the finish line first. Picky, Picky remember there’s no whining or crying in The Iditarod. Your face would freeze.

 

In 1985 Libby Riddles braved a harsh blizzard in becoming the first woman to win the race. She was featured in Vogue and named the Professional Sportswoman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation. It’s a pity that websites like Go Daddy weren’t around back then. Come to think of it there weren’t any websites in that era.

And Nanook what do we have for the Winners?


The top prize may be as high $70,000, but that amount is eroding with the 2010 winner receiving only $50,000. Some believe overall interest in the race may be declining, hence the lighter purses and fewer race sponsors. Mushers make money from sponsorships, speaking fees, advertising and book deals. Just ask Jack London. Isn’t it time for a sponsor like Petsmart or Hartz Mountain et al to step up their support.

You know throw’em a bone. Pardon the pun but stand up for the homies.

 

The 2013 winner will get a cash prize of $50,400 and a new truck. Better be a heckuva nice truck. The rest of the purse (600 K) will be split between the next 29 mushers to cross the finish line, a paltry two grand for the effort.

 

An awards banquet is held the Sunday after the winner's arrival.

·       Brass belt buckles and special patches are given to everyone who completes the race.

·       The "Golden Harness" is given to the lead dog or dogs of the winning team.

·       A Rookie of the Year award is given to the musher who is the best among those finishing their first Iditarod.

·       A Red Lantern signifying perseverance is awarded to the last musher to cross the finish line.


Quotes on dog sled racing:

"I've had back surgery, frozen my shoulder, broken my hand. I think I've had every single cold-related injury. I haven't had any amputations, but I have had severe frostbite on my fingers, cheeks and nose. I even frostbit my corneas some years ago."

 

"I eat beans and rice while my dogs eat steak and eggs."

If only these Malamute racers could communicate like Lassie. I’d love to tell the story from their perspective.

One universal truth comes from the perspective of sled dogs and that is this:


“Unless you’re the lead dog on the team the view never changes”.

 

All this reminds me that I’ll be spending a few days in the more temperate climes of FLA.

See you on the other side of Spring Break.


Blog 25: Basketball that humble, lovable game...initially
Last week our men defeated Augustana College in men’s hoops. Although, we have beaten them once or twice in the past, the games were played at their house or the Sioux Falls arena.

This marked the first victory ever in "The World’s Only Stewart Centre'."

The last win on our property was in 1940. Now, I think we most likely played the game in Pierce Gym. This fact does need certification at this point. If the match up didn’t take place here, the game would have been contested in the Sioux Falls Coliseum and on its trademark parquet floor. But my guess is the rent was too high perhaps until the late fifties and sixties when the SFC Braves played their home games at that facility. 

In 1961, the construction of the Arena adjacent to Howard Wood was completed and we played there until 1987. The World’s Only Stewart Centre’ has afforded the venue for USF to play true home games once again.


Wow—70 plus years between home games. If memory serves me, we started basketball around the turn of the twentieth century. Not too long after Dr. Naismith invented the game a-way back in 1891. The game was originally intended to be a recreational wintertime diversion for “the boys” at Springfield College. Armed with a soft soccer ball and two peach baskets the game began. The original game was not to be like soccer or rugby. Rule #5 of the 13 original commandments forbade shouldering, holding, pushing, striking or tripping in any way of an opponent. The game in the modern era hardly resembles those first games.

Women’s basketball began in 1892 about 20 miles up the road in North Hampton, Mass. Smith College faculty member Senda Berenson taught basketball to her students. Much like Naismith the year before, both hoped the activity would improve the physical health and vitality of their students. However, Berenson was taking risks simply in teaching the game to women. She worried a little about the women suffering from "nervous fatigue" if games were too strenuous for them. In order to keep it "acceptable" for women to play at all, she taught modified rules. Their game was 9 on 9 featuring 3 guards, 3 centers and 3 forwards.


Not that’s a full court press.

Both versions of the rules spread across the country via YMCAs and colleges. Ultimately, high schools started the sport in the 1920’s. Indiana—as you might have guessed—had one of the first legendary boy’s teams.

Shoed with Chuck Taylor Converse high tops (brown or beige) many a-would be basketball stars took to the wooden and linoleum floors across America. The scene was repeated throughout the Midwest where teams played in gymnasiums of varied size and accommodations. In Pierce, as in my hometown of Chancellor indoor amenities were rare. So for many years players and fans alike had one of two choices. Go before you came or use the opulent outdoor facilities. You know, you just accepted life as it was back then.

It many of these Lilliputian gyms fans sat on the sidelines with the teams or on stages better suited to class plays, concerts and graduations. Some gyms were so small you couldn’t technically stand out of bounds if you had big feet.

In Chancellor our concession stand abutted the court. Bar B Qs, candy, glass bottled pop and popcorn were the staples. A stealthy player from the opposition could reach around the partition and grab a quick snack. Since he was that far down the bench the likelihood of getting the game was so remote anyway might as well enjoy the game with a refreshing drink and a free snack. Many benchwarmers just put their warm up on over street clothes in a futile attempt to look like a playa.

In most of these small gyms all three circles either touched or intersected. You couldn’t take three point shot on your half of court most times. No 3-point rule so no worries. We used to play in gym with various architectural restrictions. I recall one particular gym that featured backboards that were attached to two pillars at each end of the court. Teams couldn’t shoot layups lest they lose most of their teeth. All across the country, players battled stoves, leaky roofs, mice and moths abutting and infesting facilities to become kings of their community.


Practicing in the much smaller Pierce Pavilion had an adverse effect on our offenses during those days. The expansive Sioux Falls Arena floor was 10 feet wider and 20 feet longer. We looked a bunch of chipmunks scurrying around to find each other.

Many states played Girls 6-on-6 basketball. This version was deemed to be less demanding on girls physically it was essentially two half court games. Forwards only shot and guards only guarded and the possessions were switched at half court. Iowa perfected the modified game and made it a phenomenon.

Less demanding, are you kidding those Iowa farm girls who made that version of the game a legend were NOT physically incapable of anything. These young women milked cows, baled hay and did all manner of chores. Truth to be told they could have beaten up most of the boys if it ever came to a gender dust up.

From Fayette to Shenandoah and Quad Cities to Larchwood, Iowa Girls Basketball was a phenomenon.

I recently visited the Tennessee Basketball Facility. WOW The House and Empire that Pat Summit built for the Tennessee women’s program. Yet as humble as it seems Iowa Girls Basketball reigned in their state in a greater sense than the team from Knoxville.

It is fitting to remember that the game of basketball and the goliath that it is today had a humble beginning. It’s an immutable fact that basketball is a universal game, simply because everyone thinks they got game.


Now here is a less flattering factoid. Some of us got game but many more of you who think you do don’t. Everyone has their own views on self-assessment and most are entitled to them.

No matter how wrong they might be. 


Television has had a lot to do with the development of the modern game. Watching games on TV helped many would be ballers get better and better over time.

The NCAA and several television networks are about to make billions in the next six weeks or so. The NBA is the ultimate evolution of will last until mid-June and be the much richer for the enterprise. The NBA has long since ignored the fifth rule of Dr. Naismith’s original 13 commandments. But, they do honor themselves for not allowing headlocks, kicking, gouging or biting with some notable exceptions.

The following list of players and coaches need to be recognized as game changers. I now pay my respects to those who made the game better or profoundly changed it. They perhaps have not been afforded as much street cred as they deserve.  


Meadow "Meadowlark" Lemon III

For 22 years, Lemon was known as the "Clown Prince" of basketball.  He played in more than 16,000 games for the touring Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. Meadowlark fittingly is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

 

Louis Herman "Red" Klotz

You simply cannot mention the Globies without giving props to their perfect foil, the Washington Generals and the redoubtable Red Klotz. Red is a former NBA point guard with the original Baltimore Bullets. After attending Villanova University and serving in World War II, Klotz played one season for the Baltimore Bullets, getting into 11 games and scoring 15 points. He also played in six playoff games, scoring six points.

At 5' 7", he is the third-shortest person to play in an NBA game and the shortest to play on a championship team.  The Generals played exhibitions against the Globetrotters, winning only six games, the last in 1971, and losing more than 13,000. Klotz played with the team as a point guard until the age of 62, and at 50 years old hit the game winning shot for the New Jersey Reds with 3 seconds left in their final win. "The crowd wanted to kill me", he said. Red’s coaching record was 6 and 12,994.
 


Oscar Robertson

The “Big O”came into the NBA just after the career of Bob Cousy “The Houdini of The Hardwood” and a generation before Magic. At 6’5” 225 lb. was the point guard who redefined the position. He invented the Triple Double a stat term more often used by agents than announcers.


He had the courage to fight “The Man” as part of an antitrust suitagainst the NBA. As President of the NBA Players' Association, his 1970 landmark suit, led to an extensive reform of the league's strict free agency and draft rules and subsequently, to higher salaries for all players. 


George Mikan

He became the first superstar of modern professional basketball. Mikan was the first “big” and was so dominant that rules were changed to handcuff him. The NCAA banned goaltending because of him. He was so dominant in the paint that the NBA widen the lane from 6’ to 12’. The next year, wider lane and all, Mikan scored 61 points in one game. I suppose some sort of revengeful epithet is appropriate here. But George was a devout catholic and would not approve.


Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt was a Shaqesque as a free throw shooter. He charity tosses were so abysmal that he resorted to dunking. Wilt would take two steps and launch a dunk on FT’s. This practice greatly improved his FT%. The amended rule now limits players from crossing the line before the ball hits the rim. This legendary tale has often been seen as having little credibility. But since it makes for such a great anecdote that I for one believe in its validity. Besides, anyone who scores 100 points in a single game deserves a little latitude. Thank you very much.

 

Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor which perhaps precipitated the mid-life name change led his team to a 79-2 record while playing high school ball at New York’s Power Memorial High School. He then deftly changed coasts and went 88-2 at UCLA.  The dunk was banned in college basketball after the 1967 season, primarily because of Alcindor's dominant use of the shot. It was not allowed again until 1976. Good thing he had the “Skyhook” to fall back on. 


Elgin Baylor

Had he been born 25 years later, his acrobatic moves would have been made a great highlight reel; his name would be as valuable marketing tool as anyone in the latter day. Playing before the days of widespread television exposure, the only records of his prowess that remain are the words of those who saw one of the greatest ever to play.

Baylor along with Dr. J, Air J and Dominique Wilkins, acrobats all, were the Blue Angels of the NBA.

Yet, of all the basketball games in all the towns in the entire world Church League Basketball is by far the most rigorous. No matter the league or association or country for that matter. Talk about your Great Pretenders church ballers play for keeps. These guys take the game to a level not often seen in other circumstances. It most assuredly is not necessarily a higher level, either.

It the only game where a player can get a technical foul for calling the ref a cockroach, I know, I was there.

 


Blog 24: The Ill-fated Twinkie fell off the “Fiscal Cliff” ushering out the end of time!

 

With the world the way it is, the US facing the fiscal cliff much like the manner in which Thelma and Louise ended their movie. Only in this script we are not kissing and holding hands at the end. Opposing political forces are at each other’s throat while that beautiful 1966 Thunderbird heads to the carnage. Unfortunately, we are the T Bird and were having “fun, fun, fun, till big daddy took our T Bird away.”

 

Taking current events into account, it’s not a big stretch for some to imagine that THE BIG END is near. Clearly, it’s always a tenuous proposition that of predicting the end of mankind.


Since the dawn of civilization and through the centuries there has been a steady stream of doomsdayers. The Mayans and their calendar come to mind as we near 12-21-12. It seems to me that the date 12-12-12 would have somehow seemed weightier.

 

An untold number of people have tried to predict the end by using elaborate time tables and mathematical computations. Most date setters do not realize mankind has not kept an accurate and unwavering record of time. Anyone wanting to chart, for example, 100 BC to 2000 AD would have to contend with the fact 46 BC was 445 days long, there was no year 0 BC, and in 1582 we switched from Julian Years (360 days) to Gregorian (365 days). Since most prognosticators are not aware of all these errors, their math is already off by several years.

 

Of course these are only the documented ones. Who knows how many nutty predictions were never chronicled? They couldn’t have been better than some of these.

 

500      Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus and Irenaeus predicted this year would be the finale. They didn’t know any more that anyone else, but I thought that they had the best three names of any of these groups or individuals. Look for these names to pop up on an NBA roster near you soon.

 

1000    Y ONE K I GUESS. This year goes down as one of the most pronounced states of hysteria over the return of Christ. The magical number 1000 was primarily the sole reason for the expectation. During December 999 AD, every one was on their best behavior. Worldly goods were sold and given to the poor, swarms of         pilgrims headed east to meet in Jerusalem, buildings went unrepaired, crops were left unplanted, and criminals were set free from jails. The year 999 AD turned into 1000 AD and nothing happened.Hum, that sounds millenniumly familiar

Five reasons why 1000 AD was not a significant date:

  1. People did not even know the date -- peasants had no notion of chronological time, elites used a variety of systems and even those using AD disagreed.
  2. There are no theological reasons for 1000 to have eschatological significance.
  3. There is almost no surviving evidence of any apocalyptic terrors from the period.
  4. The little that survives is not directly related to 1000.
  5. Therefore we should not be surprised to find 1000 was a "year like any other" in which the normal train of medieval life -- wars, councils, plowing, and praying went on in an uninterrupted flow.

 

1186    The "Letter of Toledo" [Ohio?] warned everyone to hide in the caves and mountains. The world would be destroyed and only a few would be spared.

 

1420    The Taborites of Czechoslovakia predicted every city would be annihilated by fire. Only five mountain strongholds would be saved.

 

There is about a 200-year gap from the late fourteenth thru the mid sixteenth century.

Who knows why there are just too many permutations to settle on one or two reasons.

 

1600    The great reformer Martin Luther even said that was the end.

 

1809    Mary Bateman, who specialized in fortune telling, had a magic chicken that laid eggs with end of time messages on them. The uproar she created ended when she was caught forcing an egg into the hen by an unannounced visitor. Mary later was hung for poisoning a wealthy client.   Perhaps, it was a most fitting end for an ignominious charlatan.

1970    Some boomers may remember the killer bee scare of the late 70's. One prophecy prognosticator linked the bees to Rev 9:3-12. After 40 years, the bees are still in Texas, Sorry, I have to confess that I'm becoming a doubter.

1982    A group called the Tara Centers placed full-page advertisements in many major newspapers for the weekend of April 24-25, 1982, announcing the end of days.  After the date passed, they said the delay was only because the "consciousness of the human race was not quite right."

 

Boy, all these years and we're still not ready.

 

1984    The Jehovah's Witnesses made sure in 1984 that no one else would be able to top their record of most incorrect doomsday predictions. The Witnesses’ record is currently holding at nine. The years were: 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984. The JW's were then claiming for awhile they're out of the prediction business, but it's hard to teach old dog new tricks.


They would be back.

           

1994    After promising themselves they would not make any more end of time predictions, the Jehovah's Witnesses fell off the wagon and proclaimed 1994 as the conclusion of an 80-year generation— the year 1914 was the starting point.

 

1996    California psychic Sheldon Nidle predicted the end would come when 16 million space ships converged upon the Earth on Dec. 17, 1996, along with a host of angels. Nidle explained the passing of the date by claiming the angles placed us in a holographic projection to preserve us and give us a second chance.

LOL Shel, that’s a knee slapper.

 

1997    The Sacerdotal Knights of National Security report that "a space alien captured at a UFO landing   site in eastern Missouri cracked under interrogation by the CIA and admitted that an extraterrestrial army will attack Earth on November 27 with the express purpose of stripping our      planet of every natural resource. They find a use for making slaves of every man, woman and child in the world!"

Does anyone know if marijuana was legal to possess in Missouri in 1997 or did they just grow it themselves. Me thinks the latter.

 

1998    A Taiwanese cult operating out of Garland Texas predicted March 31 of 1998. The group's leader, Heng-ming Chen, announced God would return and invite the cult members aboard a UFO. The group abandoned their second coming prediction when a precursor event failed to take place. The cult's leader said God would appear on every channel 18 of every TV in the world. Maybe God realized at the last minute that the Playboy Network was channel 18 on several cable systems, and he didn't want to have disciples watching a porn channel. At least this cult has one virtue, discretion.

 

2011    Judgment day? Harold Camping owns 55 radio stations and advertised on 6000 billboards in the USA. After his first prediction of the end of the world failed in 1994, Camping refused to accept     his condemnation as a false prophet and is at it a second time! These idiots even came to our humble campus to proselytize us and save us from ultimate destruction. There were no takers according to the authorities. Bet it made for interesting latte’ conversation that night in Java City.

 

2047    You Gen Y’s and Gen Xers need to be aware that according to The Church of BLAIR of Soho England. The human race will probably be terminated at 3:28 a.m. their time on Sept. 14. Now, I won’t be there mind you, so you’re on your own.

 

There were many more inane predictions. Those listed above were just some of my favorites. When reading thru them the thought struck me that this stuff just can’t be made up. I tell you Hemingway, CS Lewis, J.K. Rowling or any prolific author would be hard-pressed to outdo this dodo. Well of course, they were serious authors and not crackpots.

 

Through all this doomsday nonsense there is one clarion voice that stands out above the rest. His was the only one whose predictions proved to be true. Henny Penny, aka Chicken Little, is a folk tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase "The sky is falling!" features prominently in the story, How did this prove true you ask?

 

Check it out, Skylab was the first space station operated by NASA. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979. In 1979 it fell from the sky proving Mr. Little’s thesis.

As if one sign was not enough; the Mir Space station owned and operated by the Russians crashed or as they say “deorbited’ on March 21 2001. Good Work CL.

 

Numskulls notwithstanding, there are certain signs that may make one think that perhaps the end is in fact nearer than one might suspect. Apparently, Terry Ryan and the Minnesota Twins think so. They’ve fired all the coaches and are trading away players at a doomsday clip.

 

Certainly the unforeseen demise of the Twinkie must be thought of as having eschatological ramifications as well. The Hostess Company Lack of Leadership Team is the culprit here. How in the world do you screw this up? Managerial hubris and mishandling of unions should be prosecutorial offenses when it comes to losing a food staple of that order.

 

Speaking of Twinkies, my siblings actually had me convinced me that God thru Hostess furnished that delicious sponge cake as the manna that appeared every morning to feed the Israelites while they wandered from one convenience store to another in the wilderness of the desert. But when you turn thirty a certain epiphany occurs dispelling all the old myths. Was it like that for you as well?

 

I am not personally predicting anything drastic. These were just a few observations for you to mull over and enjoy. Regarding a specific end, I am very comfortable with the insight Matthew 24 teaches us:

“That no man knows the hour or the day,” and that’s good enough for me. Unfortunately, scores of self-deceiving clodpolls thought they knew better. More is the pity.

 

Final thoughts on the end: due to the lack of experienced trumpeters, the end of the world has been postponed for three weeksDon't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.


Blog 23: "is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key."

Winston Churchill


At the beginning of the NFL season, the official officials were on strike. They were replaced by an ersatz septet that in the end rued the day they got sucked in on the gig. And everyone thought that the world as we know it would end. These poor wretches were pilloried in the media and excoriated by the coaches and players for phantom calls, bad calls, and missed calls. Among this motley crew was a general malaise and ineptitude clear to anyone who watched. I guess not ready for prime time is a phrase that can be applied here. When the titular czar of the NFL, Roger Goodell, thought enough was enough the strike was settled. I naïvely thought that when the Real Zebras came back things would be just peachy in comparison.  Perhaps the optimists thought that the honeymoon would last at least til December.Not so fast my friend!!!!

 

The coaches paused, albeit briefly perhaps, for a week and no more held their critical tongues in check. Well, Virginia, it didn’t last long. Their bellicose Bull Durham rants aided in part by instant replay came back in full vigor. I asked myself is there no happiness or satisfaction among the NFL coaching fraternity? Well bunky, the answer, sadly is no.

 

After watching the Motor City Turkey Day debacle I think an estrangement is just around the corner.

In the game, one of Houston’s running backs was touched down on the ground. Yet hearing no whistle to end the play had the presence of mind to continue on and score what would be the crucial points in a win for the Texans. Houston won 34-31 over the Lions.

 

Here’s what is so maddening about NFL replay rules and their application.

Detroit Lions Coach Jim Schwartz in a momentary rage ill advisedly threw the challenge flag. But, and a BIG BUTT at that if he would have held his anger in check there would “by rule” have been a mandatory booth review as is with all touchdowns now in the NFL. That play most likely would have been reversed upon review. However, because he threw the challenge flag prematurely the TD play could not be reviewed. In a court of law he would have pled a momentary insanity and won.

 

Due to the fact that it was a Thursday afternoon game his challenge was ill-fated. Now if it were a Monday night game coach could have the play reviewed and overturned and gained an additional time out. Huh

If the controversial play occurred in a Saturday playoff game Detroit would have had to forfeit the game because the challenge flag was thrown too early. I know that this all sounds nonsensical but that’s how arcane and stupid some of the NFL rules seem to have morphed into.  

 

On Sunday last an interesting head scratcher occurred in the Bears game. A controversial call was misjudged by the real deal refs. Unfortunately the opposing coach was out of challenges and couldn’t throw the red sock, ball of yarn or whatever. The play occurred one second before the two minute warning. If it occurred one second after the two minute warning it would have gone to an automatic booth review and been overturned. What the heck is going on? Save some dough bring back the replacements. At least they were comically indecisive and inept. These alleged professional Stripers are fulfilling the age-old axiom spoken by many a ref: “Often in Error Never in Doubt.”


See where confusion might reign here?

 

In the Pittsburgh v. Cleveland matchup, the Browns were upset because on a key play they thought Pitt running back Chris Rainey's forward progress was stopped short of a touchdown. But there was no whistle to end the play so he too pressed on for the score. Forward progress is not reviewable, so it couldn't be overturned by replay. But, since it was to Pittsburgh’s benefit one must accept the vagaries of some of these NFL rules. We lost anyway, so who cares. With eight turnovers we couldn’t have defeated Dordt at Heinz Field.

 

Turmoil in college football is another thing that is an enigma to me.


There are more teams moving in and out of conferences than you can shake a stick at nowadays.

You would think that college football was a Holiday Inn during a convention for crying out loud. I am vexed by this form of musical chairs.

 

In 2014 Maryland and Rutgers are joining the Big 10 albeit as the 13th and 14th teams in the league and already divided into what are now the Legends and Leaders divisions.

 

Not to be out done by other multi-tiered leagues, The Southeast and Atlantic Coast Conferences with The Big Twelve with but only 10 members all are currently forming and reforming almost daily.  Each seems to have a revolving front door. Louisville will soon be the next team joining the Atlantic Coast Conference reformation.

 

OK, I can’t resist:

I’ll take D-I Conferences for $1,600 Alex.

Which College/University will join the Summit League next? The answer is the University of Denver.

 

Oops the music stopped everybody find a chair. Can you see where this might be a bit hard to follow?

 

Although the epidemic of intercollegiate conference shuffling is making the rounds in D-I athletics; there is one conference that stands as a bulwark of stability. I send kudos to the Ancient 8 of the Ivy League for enduring through this membership milieu. The term Ivy League also has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism. Which is pretty much how I roll, n’est-ce pas?

 

This viral phenomenon may someday be transmitted into the Sioux Falls metro. There are a number of fine institutions of higher learning within the city limits which are not currently affiliated with athletic associations. Anyone with an eye to the future could envision a mega conference of the remaining institutions in the city. It would be the “Mini-Me” of the previously referenced humungo conferences.

 

If athletics were used as an instrument for growth, the following schools could meld into The Sioux Falls Metro-Conference; Colorado Technical University-Globe University-Killian College-National American University-Sanford School Medicine-Sioux Falls Seminary-Southeast Technical Institute-The Stewarts Schools. It would be a great amalgam. Perhaps the introduction of athletic programs of these schools would also help their enrollment.

 

Like all the other conferences expansion is the inevitable next step. So, let’s look to Aberdeen, Mitchell, Watertown and Rapid City for the east west divisional flavor. Heck even the remnants of the Dakota Athletic Conference could been thrown in as charter members.

 

Due to limited facilities on each campus, initially, sport offerings would be limited to archery, bowling, backgammon, cribbage, Ping Pong, foosball, air hockey, X Box games and broom ball on Covall. But once several multi-million dollar facilities are built by the city and other philanthropic agencies a full menu of sport offerings will offered. No problem!

 

The final word on this intercollegiate rev-evolution will be the fate of teams that make up my Dream Conference.

1.     Canisius College NY Griffins

2.     The Citadel SC Bulldogs

3.     D’Youville College NY Spartans

4.     Felician College NJ Golden Falcons

5.     Juniata College PA Eagles

6.     Laverne University CA Leopards

7.     Kutztown University of PA Golden Bears

8.     Lenoir Rhyne NC Bears

9.     Marist University NY Red Foxes

10.  Qunnipiac University CT Bobcats

11.  Tusculum College TN Pioneers

12.  Ursinus College PA Bears

13.  Yeshiva University NY Maccabees

14.  Vennard College IA Cougars **

 

** Deceased

 

Always try to stay in a constant state of confusion because of the expression it leaves on your face.

 

And remember if you're not confused, you're not paying attention. At least I am.


Blog 22: November Thoughts on a November Day

ORIGINS AND TRANSITIONS:


November has arrived. It is a month of many diverse transitions, dates and celebrations.

November is actually named after the ninth month in the Roman calendar. Its literal etymology is “Novem“ or “Nine” in Latin. I will explain in a later blog why it’s our eleventh month.


In Old England, the Saxons called November “blood-month,” the time when they prepared for winter by sacrificing animals that they butchered and stored for food. Tell you what, a lot of deer and pheasant hunters must have some Saxon DNA in their genes.

 

TRANSITIONS:

November is the time of the year when fall wrassles hard with winter. Autumn fights on but is grudgingly forced by the retreating sun to loosen its grip and let winter in. November is the time when the ground is left fallow for a long hibernation until spring awakes it from slumber. It’s the time of cool mornings and warm days. The jackets and sweaters you wore to work on the cool mornings and left behind when you’re warm have piled up in the office. Until the day you bring them home in an armful with the knowledge you will have to start the cycle all over again.

 

It is perhaps, an irrational wish for an avowed warm weather golfer to say it this way but it’s my blog so I will. I hope that at month’s end there begins a nice full blanket of snow to cover the ground this winter. The prairie took an awful beating this year with heat and drought. So it needs some TLC from Mother Earth.

 

To the ardent Sioux Falls linkster, I offer my most sincere apology for this winter wish. To those stalwarts who played golf on every major holiday from Thanksgiving 2011 thru Halloween 2012, take courage. Sacrifice in the short term will pay dividends come spring and summer. I guarantee it.

 

ELECTIONS FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC:

“We always want the BEST person to win the elections but they don’t run.” Will Rogers.

 
“Elections are a time when the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.” TS Eliot


A democracy is a system in which people elect individuals who will with no thought of personal gain (: -)) help his/her fellow citizens have a better life. I’m not totally confident that it always plays out this way. If most politicians didn’t leave office richer and with fabulous retirement benefits the thought would be easier to digest. 

 

A prime example of this would be LindaMcMahon. The former CEO of the World Wrestling Entertainment spent more than 110 MILLION in two failed campaigns for a Senate seat in Connecticut.  A senator’s salary only pays $175K. Kinda makes ya think.Why so much outlay for so little return? Hum.

 

BTW, I could have saved her 108 million dollars. How you ask? For a cool Mill a try I would have simply said, “Don’t Run.” She would have 108 measly mill leftover and Ida had me some of that 2 MILL SWAG.

 

Our democratic elections are finally over. I made a good run at the PreSIDency. I knew going in that the chances of getting elected were exceedingly small. The odds were conversely so prohibitive that Las Vegas took it off the board. I checked.

 

In March of 2012 The Russian Federation held its free and fair democratic elections. Perhaps those brave candidates who ran against Vladimir Putin had a better chance than I did. But don’t you suppose, the state run Central Election Commission just hires some schmucks to run as fall guys against Putin in order to squelch comparisons with Stalin? Joe Joe never lost a vote let alone an election. His tried and true refrain was, "It's not the people who vote that count; it’s those that count the votes.” It was just Stalin being Stalin.

 

In the good ol’ US of A we have had our own election debacles. The 1948 Texas Senate campaign where Lyndon Johnson’s “Good Ol’ Boys” impounded the ballot boxes for the safety and integrity of the count. “Landslide” LBJ won by 87 votes and was launched onto the national political scene in D.C. Their philosophy was, “As long as we count the votes, what are you going to do about it?”

 

Who can forget the 2000 Florida fiasco which made a shambles of the national election? The Supremes ultimately decided who would be the 43rd POTUS. Holy Hanging Chads!

 

In the 2012 POTUS election, I managed to carry my hometown of Chancellor and eked out minor majority in Turner County. Sadly, like Florida, they’re still counting ballots in the Parker Courthouse. There were some alleged irregularities with ballots in that some of the local electorate turned in their 3rd and 4th votes on what was deemed to be illegal ballots. Apparently, matchbook covers and cereal box tops are unacceptable substitutes for an official ballot. These people had to be called in and were reissued the correct ballot to submit. The process all takes time and the T-County poll workers are not about to let something as electorally unethical as that slip by them.

 

Sadly, in a stinging repudiation of my candidacy, I wasn’t able to garner a majority vote from my own family. Apparently, the disparity between what I wanted for birthday and Christmas gifts and what I was willing to give them in return became a wedge issue. My family is clearly a small, selfish, exacting and an exceedingly tough voting faction. Whatever happened to supporting your local candidate? It’s clear that the Italian slogan “Viva La Famiglia” doesn’t apply to those of German Norwegian decent.

 

Oh well, I got’em good. I hacked into the South Dakota Voter registration and changed their party affiliations to Communist. That’ll teach’em to mess with my political machine. Just wait til they try to cast a vote next election. Haha, revenge is a dish best served cold and paybacks are a bi----ooger.


This will in time be a lesson well learned. They are now eligible to vote in the next Russian Federation election. Hope the Central Committee remembers to send them a save the date card for March 2016.

 

SEASONS CHANGE:

November also ushers out the fall sports and welcomes the winter sport campaigns. One would have to think men’s soccer is particularly ecstatic about the onset of the offseason. They endured a brutal travel schedule and lived to tell about it. USFMSOC flew through the SF Regional Airport enough times that the coaches and team members were invited to the TSA and airline ground crews’ annual Christmas Gala, along with a gift exchange and everything.

 

ACADEMIC ADVICE and CONSENT: Early in the month, the University’s faculty works with their student advisees to try and find the most expedient path to graduation. Hopefully, in no more than four years, this in many ways is like working a Rubik’s cube. The FAC-AD sometimes needs a mathematical formula to work out an individual student’s course path. The USF FAC-ADs time is mostly well spent. But they do hear some great excuses— however flawed they might be.

 

My parents are really upset that I will not graduate in time and they want to know whose fault it is.

You got any ideas?

Um, I am declaring myself eligible for the NBA draft.

Everybody else told me to hold back and take it slowly

 

Under the category of my dog ate my homework, some students are not as diligent as they could be regarding their academic careers. These procrastinators end up missing out on a course that was on the schedule last spring and won’t be offered again until next year. The goal is to avoid passing a point of no return. A point at which any combinations of mistakes be it omission, commission, failing grades, dropped classes or neglect may commit the student to a path that cannot be avoided. That is telling your parents, “I’m in for one more year.” Yikes.

 

There is also a certain advising burden set on the University’s FAC-ADs’ shoulders vis-a-vis students in the honors program. There must be a primal fear among the FAC-AD coterie that nooooo one wants to be the one who put them in a class that might lead to a B or much less be the one that gave a potential Summa Cum Laude the only B on their transcript. Deserved or not!

So both parties should be on highest levels of alertness to prevent this faux pas from happening.


To those of you who receive honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say, “You too may one day be President of the United States.” George W. Bush waselected by the Supremes in 2000 and reelected by the rest of us in 2004. Egads, I wonder who was George W’s FAC-AD at Yale?

 

One final thought on November. Its’ end is the beginning of the holiday season.
NOT October as most retailers so contemptuously advocate.


More importantly, November reminds us to be thankful. So be thankful and enjoy the season.Not so much because you should but because I said so!!!!!

 


Blog 21: Twitter

The Twenty somethings in the USF Sports Information Department are going to try to teach this Sixty something how to Tweet. Gen Y meets the Boomer yikes!

 

Prior to the techieno age, Twitter was a general term used to describe members of the avian family of creatures. My favorite is the Robin. A harbinger of spring thus my favorite. The term could also be used as an intransitive verb…ha like I know what that means.

Examples of intransitive verb usage would be like to chatter or giggle in an overexcited or nervous way. I think this most appropriately describes this later day phenomenon. Twitter, the online social networking service and micro blogging service, enables its users to send and read text-based messages up to 140 characters, known as "tweets."

Almost all of the synonyms for twitter have to do with communication of some sort.


So insofar as its etymology is concerned the social happening is well named. No matter what language the word Twitter translates as Twitter. Thus adding support to its original communicative intention.

 

So I go reluctantly into the Twitter realm. I do so with great trepidation.

Like a good Twilight Zone episode is to the  “Boomers” and more recently what Twilight SAGA is to GenYs .  There is an instilled fear of not being able returning from the Twitter void.  

 

Edgar Allan Poe tweeted this about his experience jumping into Twitterdom.

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before”.

My short term goal is to become a Tweeting legend, hash tags and all. Then ultimately get my own reality show. To that end here is a novice run at some practice Tweets

 

I know that Tweet protocol limits the communication mainly to current events. Tweets about the past are typically looked upon as rookie errors of a sort. Clearly, the following is in some cases dated. My hope is that the more seasoned Tweeters will view them with an expansive mind and thus look upon them as practice.


SID’s Faux Tweets in Random Order

 

Justin Verlander is a dude man. Some pitchers who toil on the mound should turn away and weep that they are lesser men. #sidsadtwinsfan

 

At dollar store Crap I’m without my Capitol One Credit Card, lost double points. #paying4fullairfarenow

 

Pittsburgh Stinkers are

Capitol P.

Capitol U.

Capitol TRID #terribletowelnowcryingtowel

 

Davis Love III here is the cell number for Dr. Henry J Heimlich’s 077 555 HELP

It that a kidney stone or a Titleist Pro VIx I just passed. #30compressionsclearairway

Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts put on a putting show on the 1st day of the Ryder Cup.

I swear his ball was made of flubber and the cups were 8” wide.

At least he knows how it feels to putt like me. Even for a day. #icanstillrollit

 

Brian Wilson SF Giants reliever is crazy scary. His Beard and Mohawk give me the willies. If I had to face him I would start swinging in the on deck circle and hope I had struck out before I got to the batter’s box. #gotthefriscoshakes

 

I think I just may have gone over the maximum140 characters in the last Practice Tweet. Does anyone know if you count punctuation in tweets for your 140 characters?

#rookiemiscues

 

TWINS fire 5 coaches except pitching coach what’s up with that?

They had a terrible p-staph year. What, was Rick Anderson outta town?

I heard he allows crying in the dugout. #friendofgardie.com

 

Never pop a great bowl of popcorn unless you’re sure something really good is on to munch through. #wastedefforts

 

Finally swatted the annoying mosquito humming around in my office

Now I am not going to kill myself. #stillaliveinthewildnerness

 

Listening to Rap Music for 30 seconds or the heartbreak of psoriasis

Now there is a conundrum. #angstriddle

 

During the debates, I wish that the Candidates for POTUS could blurt out things they learned in kindergarten. There are timeless classics that could be used to “dis” the other combatant. Liar Liar pants on fire, up your nose with a rubber hose come to mind.  #ohyeahyomama

 

The camera catches everything. Debate pugilists can’t even pick their noses.

#Bcarefulwhatyoureach4

 

I ehat the Banditos Yanquis. Oops, better make that strongly abhor. #xnyyareodious

 

Holy Ichiro, how’d he do that? Papa Grande just got suzukied! #shazaam!!!

 

Well, that’s a relief. The first practice run is over. Now onto the Twitter debriefing room with the Twenty somethings.  A little constructive criticism a few minor reboots and it won’t be long til I am in the same time slot as Jersey Shore. #byebyesnookie

 

Who would have thought a few tweets could launch a career.

 

 

Blog 20: Making a Run for the office of PresSIDent of the United States [POTUS]

I think it is time to throw my hat into the ring and make a run for the PreSIDency. Yes, of course, the United States of America. Because of these two essential questions, If now when? If not me who? 

This is a phrase that
has been used by such notables as George W. Romney, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.  My senior staffers and I think its use gives me instant credibility. Plus “SID” is in the heart of the word PreSIDent.

George Romney, born of Mormon Parents in Mexico, said in Spanish ca. 1963.
Si no soy yo ¿Quién? Si no es ahora ¿cuándo?He just happens to be the proud father of Willard “Mitt” Romney, the Republican candidate for President.

 

Phil McConkey played on the New York Giants Super Bowl XXI team.  He made a run at a House seat from New Jersey. But he botched the quote on national TV and lost the race by a narrow margin. His version was something like this, “If not when me who and if not when then how not me?”

What?


In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev both used it at the Reykjavík Arms Limitations Summit.The discussions were between the U.S. PreSIDent and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the capital city of Iceland. The following story made need disambiguation according to WIKI.

As legend has it,
their speech writers were out drinking vodka one very cold night in Iceland. ABSOLUT at first then they moved on to SKYY. Well, after a few shots they decided that they would save some time and write the same speech for each world leader. Only Gorbie would deliver his in Russian Если не меня кто? Если не сейчас когда? and Ronnie would deliver his in English. Like who is gonna know. Right?

 

Granted it is a little late to get in the PreSIDential race.  I feel it is the right time to step up to the plate. Hey, all I need is an excellent grass roots campaign and a couple of Billionaires to provide financial support and I’m viable baby!

 

If I were to be elected as the POTUS, the following promises will not fade away after January 20th.

·       My administration will charge the rational debt to Romney’s bain credit card.

In return he will be named the ambassador to somewhere great. Um, let’s say the Cayman Isles.

·       Nationalize Cable TV – Give the people the right to personalize their channel menu.

·       Junk mailers will have to pay you to put that crap in your mailbox.

·       FREE Schwann’s Home Delivery in every neighborhood in the country. Limit to $100 a month.

·       Fly USF teams to Minot and Duluth on Air Force 2.

·       I will not use vitriolic or abusive language in my presidency. 

·       Words like bloviating ignoramus or perfidious coward will not be spoken during my time in office.

·       I will not call Jane or anyone else an “Ignorant _ _ _ _” (SNLers know what I mean).

·       Bowling leagues in the White House between the right and the left to increase comradery.

·       Bowlers work and play well with others and rarely HATE. Bowlers are notorious for hi fives and group hugs.

 

I will only serve one term as POTUS. "Therefore, I will not seek, nor will I accept, my party’s nomination for a second term as your President.” This will keep me from the deal making with special interests or succumbing to the temptation of political compromise. Thus avoid the pitfall of beginning my reelection campaign the day after the inauguration.

Qualifications:

·       I know how to phonetically sound out the names of most of the world’s heads of state.

·       I know enough about politics to be dangerous. Although, this doesn’t necessarily separate me from the other candidates in the race for the White House.

·       Although I have not served in the military, I do have a body that sure as heck looks like it went through a war. This may of some advantage in negotiating with various entities.

·       My presidency will be inclusive of all parties and persons. Liars, cheats and philanderers.

Since most of them are in office anyway why not put them to good use.

E.g. Appoint the Newtster as Secretary of Space Exploration

·       I will respect the office of POTUS by selecting the most talented and able persons for my cabinet.

None of who will be Washington insiders. But ALL will be Americans.

·       Very low maintenance never haughty or self aggrandizing

CONCERNS:

I feel that the salary of 400 large per annum will be adequate enough to live on for my term as POTUS. Remember, I have worked in private education for 35 years and have grown fond of the living standard that it provides. But with the POTUS gig you get room and board. I hear it’s pretty good chow too.


My duties at USF will not suffer. Marine One can land on top of the World’s Only Stewart Centre.’ So I would fly into Sioux Falls to teach my weekend CPR Classes then fly back to DC the same night. Besides most of the materials are online away.

 

SO I AM ASKING FOR YOUR SUPPORT

JOIN The SID for POTUS ELECTION CAMPAIGN TEAM.  .  .  TODAY !!!

I may not be on the ballot in a lot of states so just bring a Sharpie and write in my name and cross offthe other two. Please send your generous contributions to Dakota Heritage State Bank Chancellor, South Dakota.

We are a subsidiary of the Central Bank of the Seychelles.  Tax deductible contributions will be accepted in the following forms: checks, money orders, wills, trusts, payroll deductions, gift cards, postdated two party checks, mineral rights to acreages in the Bakken Oil Field. We will even buy your structured settlement thru JG Wentworth.

Same day monetary transfers may send electronically to

Coutts & Co Ltd
Marketgasse 63/65
P.O. Box
CH-3001 Berne Switzerland

Contact Person

Phone: +41 (0) 3132 91111
Fax: +41 (0)31311 63 91

Email: international.info@coutts.com

 

My Name is SID the other candidate for the office of POTUS and I approve of this message. God Bless You and I and God Bless these United States of America.

 
Blog 19: The Summer that Was

September is such a conflicted month in that it can’t decide if it’s summer or fall. In the 90’s one day and 50’s the next. It’s meteorological confusion.

The autumnal solstice is a sure sign things are afoot with the weather.

However, since the inevitability of the fall is near. A proper review of summer is in order.

Here are a few footnotes to the Summer of 2012.

Olympics = Rating X CELL ANT

The US Women’s teams dominated and ROCKED London Town?

B&G Milky Way treats = Rating Always Excellent

Summer Golf = Rating Fair

In the blast furnace that was July, I played more in Montana and Minnesota than I did in SFSD. Tell the truth; didn’t July make you feel like you were being smelted?

Golf Majors = Excellent

All well contested and I loved the spectrum of the styles of the winners:

Bubba being Bubba at Augusta

Webb Simpson’s gutsy performance at The US Open

Ernie Els capturing youth for a few days at The Open Championship

Rory McIlroy basically lapping the field at The PGA Championship

Summer Holidays = Rating Poor

I was working not playing for two of the three. The three summer Holidays weren’t anything special.

This marked the 49th consecutive summer that I did not have a DUI or “dewy” as they say. In this regard, the only mar to what may have been a perfect record was a ticket I got in my 12th summer.

This is how easy it can happen. Some friends and I were making Kool Aid. You know that great summer thirst quencher. With a rainbow of flavors kids love and a good source of Vitamin C and moms can feel good about. My biker friends, Schwinn not Harley D’s, and I decide to put two cups of sugar with two packets of “the recipe” in what couldn’t have been more than a quart of water.

Next thing I know I being pulled over by the Chancellor Constabulary for operating a bicycle under the influence of sugar. I guess the legal term is hyperglycemia. I apparently was weaving around not making proper hand signals for turns. The police report even stated a failure to yield the right of way and we didn’t even have one yield sign in the whole town.

Well, I don’t have to tell you that after a long night in the Rock, The Hole, The Gray Bar Motel, The Slammer that a lesson was well learned by that curly blonde haired moppet.

Since then no more serious violations save for the odd stop light impatience driven indiscretions and the obligatory habitual speeding tickets. I have earned five in all, but one and only one in the last five decades and no more.

To the surprise of few, My Twins may be mathematically eliminated this week.  I told’em, “you guys, you keep losing games like you have and it’s over babe.” First it’s 2 out of 3 then 7 out of 9, 15 losses in 20 games. Then all of a sudden you’re on a skid and you find yourselves 24 games under .500 17.5 games out with 20 left to go.”

Boys, in the words of Bill Clinton, the arithmetic just doesn’t add up.

The Twins shut down a number of their ineffectual pitchers. The Washington ball club followed suit and shut down their ace Stephen Strasburg. The only real difference albeit a negligible one is that Strasburg was having a great year. His team is 35 games over .500. Just sayin, there is a big difference from his arm fatigue and our boys’ PTSD.

This fall marks the Silver Anniversary of the construction of the World’s Only Stewart Centre.'

The ground breaking took place in the fall of 1986 and with the benefit of a mild winter construction went on with good course. This allowed for the speedy construction. The final ceremonial brick was cemented in place in October 1987.

During that winter I would “shimmy” up the north side of old Pierce Gym to get a catbird‘s seat view of the goings on below. A skill I learned in August of that year. Because of the construction, the practice field goal post had to be moved from the south end of the practice field to the north end near the south side of Pierce Gym, hope that’s clear.

The “Stewie” was built on top of a remnant of 25th Street. The building also sits over the parking lot that lay just outside of Burgess Hall and the hedge south of that. The hedge served as a catch all for windblown refuse and empties if you will. It also caught many a football launched from PAT and field goal attempts. You know, I have always wondered, is it field goals or fields goal? If the footballs missed the parking lot and hedge they would simply bounce off the cars parked on 25th Street or the random kid on a bike’ who happened to be pedaling by.

September also brings the start of another school year to USF.

When Hollywood starlets reach their advanced years many have facelifts to preserve the presumed look of beauty and youth. A nip here a tuck there and voila! Often, when the procedure is completed they have that unmistakable look on their face like someone one just surprised the heck out of them. Hidden away are the wrinkles and rolls that fall victim to the inexorable pull of gravity.

This fall, the athletes that come to campus have that incredible surprised look on their faces thanks to the kindness and generosity of benefactors. The Stewart Center facelift and remodel has generated an excitement that is simply awesome. The arena has been absolutely transformed.

The locker rooms are fabulous. They certainly have brought USF into the NCAA and NSIC in grand style. Gone are the rusty water stains down the walls of the locker rooms. The tawdry water soaked ceiling tiles and the carpet that was long past tacky.  With the locker rooms being built under ground level I truly hope that an engineer somewhere somehow has figured out the way to keep the water out. Clearly there was no issue with seepage this summer.

September also brings a lot of travel. Football and women’s soccer go up to Minot this weekend.  By now our teams are getting used to that routine. Leave home base head north. It’s takes about a fortnight to get to Fargo. Then turn west and it’s another month to Bismarck. Once there, the teams get out and stretch before that long grueling drive north on highway 83 into Minot. Depending upon the weather it may take up to a year. But usually it’s only a month or so.

Perception is reality after all.

It could be worse. I hear Minot to Fayette, Iowa ain’t no picnic either. Mapquest can’t even find a route. It may be the only trip between Northern Sun schools where the word portage comes into play.

As you get closer to Minot the road signs have peculiar messages.

·       Pavements Ends in X Miles

·       Dead End in X Miles – and we mean a real Dead End

·       No U Turns

·       Edge of the World in X Miles

·       Please visit our Edge of the World Gift Shop before you head back south.

Then next week the celebrated wordsmiths from Simon Fraser (British Columbia) will make a return trip to FSD from SEATAC. Here they will undoubtedly reprise their classic forum on the vernacular of Soccerese. I just can’t wait for the refresher convocation with the linguist styling of our friends from north of the border.

This September the burden of travel burden falls heavily on men’s soccer as well as their opponents. Even as we speak, the Cougar men are out in Seattle for a first taste of Great Northwest Athletic Conference soccer.



Blog #18 the Olympic Games


I love, we all love, the Olympics. It’s where the world’s best athletes are showcased in so many events that it boggles the mind. It’s like going to the Mall of America of International Athletic Competition.


Just think for a moment, that during the XXX Olympiad over 10,000 athletes from more than 200 countries contested 32 events and for just 96 medals.


This may be true, that for some it’s just a vacation after a fashion. Seriously, some countries were forced to have bake sales and carwashes to be able to send their athletes to London. Although it’s doubtful if any one athlete hitch hiked. Some of the 11 nations that sent just 2 entrants may have sent them in a single engine aircraft, two seaters like the famous Piper PA-18 Super Cub or Beechcraft G-36V Bonanza. These airplanes might even have been borrowed from the Air Force of their country. Talk about your all-out efforts.


I could never figure out why they show certain particular sports. It sure is sensory overload. A certain pang of equity perhaps. However, when the 10,000 meters was aired, it was zone out time. That’s right nappy town. I mean a couple of dozen gaunt racers weighing not much more than 50 kilos each touring the oval 25 times in a little less than 27 minutes is a perfect window for a power snooze.


The US Olympic Committee is smarter than the average country. By using United States as our moniker in lieu of America we get to go in near the end and do not have to stand around for an eternity. These are the countries that followed the good ol’ USA: Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Islands, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe equaling 200 athletes. So, it only took another 10 minutes to finish the grand march. My sympathies go out to the Grecian and Afghan teams who entered first and had the marathon stand of 145 minutes. Hey, maybe that should be an event too. Not so silly when consider many of other events contested.


The opening ceremonies were an interesting mix of concepts. First off the Queen in her Golden Jubilee surrounded by the Royals opened the games with the perfunctory speech.  But the oratory was preceded and outdone by the unprecedented stupendous feat of Q Elizabeth.


The beloved Highness displayed a great élan by skydiving into the Olympic Stadium Venue and hitting the mark spot on target; with none other than 007 as her wing man.


Just as a reminder this was not an isolated demonstration of valor on her part. She as “Heir to the Throne” drove ambulances throughout London during the war.
Princess Elizabeth insisted on entering the services and learned to drive ambulances and how to repair them. The British people admired the plucky teenage princess who drove ambulances and maintained the engines.


My favorite moment of the opening celebration was when the camera panned the crowd and zeroed in on her majesty’s private box seats. It was just in time to see her flag down the beer man hawking his wares. She put up two fingers. This was not the famous “V” for Victory sign Churchill flashed to encourage Londoners during the NAZI Blitz. Nope, M ‘Lady was indicating a call for 2 Guinness Stout Ales. Her Highness knows that there’s nothin better than a pint and a banger at the ball park [aka brat and a beer in US parlance]. Am I right or what? Sides no one could really see the mustard drip on her sleeve.

 

Speaking of weird concepts, who would have ever thought Freddy Mercury and Mary Poppins, would be seen on the same stage. Now there’s a pair. Paul McCartney sporting a fresh face lift is not the long haired teenage moppet he once was performing at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.


Sir Paul, in the fifty years hence few of us are.


The Closing Ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad were a week ago.


It took me that week to recover from the audio and visual trauma of Russell Brand and his rendition of John Lennon’s Iconic “I am the Walrus.” Brand did his best to sing badly and succeeded. Sadly, my mind is now indelibly seared. It was just awful. I only listened for a few minutes and still don’t know the extent of the damage done. But am quite certain it may take years to overcome that travesty of song.

 

The XXXI Olympiad will be hosted by Brazil in 2016. Senhora Presidente’ Dilma Vana Rousseff will have to give pause and reflect on what will top the aerial feat accomplished by an octogenarian queen.


The next Brazilian election will be held in 2014. But with a 76% approval rating Her Excellency’s is most likely a lock to win reelection. As they say in Portuguese “
Eu estou começando minha calha embalado.”

 “I am getting my chute packed for the Ceremonies”.

 

I do hope that the Brazilians open the XXXI Olympiad on Ipanema Beach. Um, here’s a thought.


They should extend the annual Carnival through that summer. What’s say I’m for it?

Sir Charles of Barkley, Dream Team member and 1992 Gold Medalist authored some great quotes regarding Olympic competition.

“Curling is not a sport. I called my grandmother and told her she could win a gold medal because they have dusting in the Olympics now”. 2012

"I don't know anything about Angola, but Angola's in trouble." 1992

I reckon now that the NBA is the USA this quote may be paraphrased and applicable to future games.


It describes the fate of the dreams of many future Olympic basketball teams including perhaps, Angola.


“We, the NBA/USA, may not know much about the rest of the world’s ballers. But we hold this truth to be self-evident. They’re all are or will soon be in trouble.”


Blog 18b or Blog 17 Amendments

Last week I gave the TWINS some premature props for playing pretty well during a recent stretch. Clearly, a narrow stretch. I even suggested 76 wins may be achievable. They then promptly and perhaps on cue lost 9 of the next 10 games. We were swept in 3 consecutive series and badly. Hey, thanks guys for getting my back while I was out on that precarious limb.

Who the heck let Nick Blackburn out of the bullpen anyway? I gave strict instructions he was no longer to be a starter. He recently made this statement concerning his pitching woes.

"I make a bad pitch and give up home runs. I make a good pitch and give up singles," he said after another loss. "I don't know. I don't even know where to start."

Here’s a clue, start here, give us back our money.

What a stupid I am for believing and for hoping. Ah well, next year started last April anyway so boys, enjoy the damp dank cellar. This winter you guys are painting the whole darn thing so get ready. Also, empty the dehumidifier and check the furnace filter. BTW add some salt to the water softener. Losers!!!

 


Blog #17 Summer 2012 What I did and didn't do on my summer vaycay. 

WARNING! Summer is over.

I have had my time off and it's time to get back in the blogging saddle.  So here goes.

Perhaps a lost summer for the reasons to follow; but not wasted by any stretch of the imagination. To set the stage I must tell my prelude to summer.

Early on as the Twins were getting pommeled by (fill in the blank), I in a forlorn semi-dazed state at times channel surfed over to the odd cable offerings.  Sometimes it was Modern Marvels via the History Channel and to PBS in search of a divergent enterprise aka passing the tedious hours. I confess that in weaker moments I fell prey to the seductive guile of the Weather Channel for consolation as well. Sorry Folks but these were hard times. Now there is nothing wrong with viewing the programs on these fine networks during the winter. But this summer was essentially a winter of discontent due to the unbearable heat and the indifferent play of a favored minor Major League baseball club.

These alternative channels have some very informative programs and documentaries. Although at times they may have been overly pedantic it is better than idleness or plain old suffering.

What I learned this summer by NOT watching the T---S, Golfing or having fun.

History Channel's Modern Marvels:

Wind Energy.

Did you know that the technology and engineering of the wind turbines of today scattered across the earth from Addis Ababa to Zanzibar have taken a page from the ancient windmills of Asia and Europe?  The earliest mills were used to grind grain into flours and cereals. Just think breakfast and snack standards like Coco Puffs, Sugar Pops and Spoon Sized Frosted Shredded Wheat all got their start from a windmill. Now there is nothing more important than that - is there? Do you give a cheroot? If the answer is no then you don't watch.

PBS Travel Essentials

If you want to travel the grand continent of Europe then Rick Steves is your man. He does travelogues for PBS. These are wonderfully informative programs on travels his through Europe. The crucial things such as; where to stay where to eat and what to see are covered in appropriate detail in the time allotted. This may illustrate more clearly the extent of my malaise as the boys of summer from the TC weren't winning.

Weather Channel Fun Facts:

Did you know that true meteorological summer officially ends on September 21st with the autumnal equinox? This phenomenon is due to the inclination of the Earth and thermal lag when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. In the northern hemisphere it season is from June 22 to September 23 and the months of December, January and February in the Southern Hemisphere.  I had to watch some of the broadcasts twice to fully understand this phenomenon. Now you know.

Good Luck to those who live below the equator. Depending upon the El Nino or La Nina  influences of ocean currents you may have hot summer to enjoy for yourselves. At least below the equator you won't have the T---S to agonize over. Although, your soccer angst is penance and may make things a little more emotionally even-steven.

In a way it is gratifying to say that I did NOT waste away my afternoons and evenings in idleness.

Summer 2012, July was so excruciatingly* hot on the upper plains.  

* [Perhaps, there are other adverbs and adjectives that could be used to express my true feelings but since this is a family blog I thought better of those word choices]

Here is some pertinent data from the weather channel that proves July 2012 was the hottest ever on record. There were 23 days with temps over 90 degrees and many were 95 degrees or worse. This leads me to make the meteorological assessment that it was hotter than snot.  A euphemism borrowed from friends living in Montana. This climatic cataclysm resulted in but one golf round in July. And that friend fosters a depression that sets in like a fog.

It was an inevitable conclusion. My Twins were forced to the point of capitulation early on in the year. The trade deadline came and went. The only significant deal we made was F. Liriano. We hope that Jeff Jones the Tigers pitching guru can coach him up.

In return for FL, we got some players that will be named later in another deal with another club somewhere down the road. Perhaps we'll get a rule 5 draftee out of it all. Someone like Johann Santana comes to mind.

Out of an unnecessary sense of loyalty we brought Nick Blackburn back into the rotation from the minors. "Blackie", who by his own admission is pretty good minor league pitcher [40-40 record and a 3.68 ERA], He gets an astronomical 5 Mill a year to pitch. Typically he may last only to the fifth inning. A feat he has done an impressive 6 times out of his 17 starts for my T---S. He even pitched into the 8th inning once in the "show". Pity has no place in the big leagues. Lest we forget, were all men up here.

It's astonishing and a bit lame brained to bring Tsuyoshi Nishioka back for his farewell cup of coffee and for what reason COME ON MAN!!!? They get to expand the roster on September 1st anyway. Please tell me we have better players SOME WHERE ANYWHERE on the farm.  .   .  .  . Beuhler - Beuhler. Let the man have his money cut your losses and move on.  BTW I could be that bad for, um, let say the sum of 1 Million Dollars  . . . . Am I right Dr. Evil? . . . Just sayin I could play crappy for a lot less that the inept Mr. N.

Post this one under another highly insignificant trade column. Last weekend, we traded Danny Valencia to the Boston Red Sox for a Ted William's rookie card and the storied player to be named later. Gardie wanted Curt Schilling's famous bloody sock from the 2008 World Series but the BoSox wouldn't budge on that stipulation.

HOWEVER, since that abysmal April start, My T---S have been somewhat respectable. So I'll get'em their props. They were then a MLB worst with a 6-16 record. But are a mere 3 games under even par since May 1st and well on their way to the crucial 70 win mark. Now buoyed by an inexplicable [perhaps misguided] optimism I think they still have a shot at winning 76 games. That would mean they would play .500 baseball since that awful 2012 beginning. Our best run was May 28- June 9 a 10-3 record and currently 7 - 3 in the last 10 games. Ergo, I am officially putting the WIN back in TWINS for a probationary period August 6th thru October. Only Fiddie games left men so let us endeavor to give it our all.

This summer the oppressive heat forced me off the courses to the indoors to "enjoy" more time with my Target Field Homies. When it was too painful I tuned into a varied menu of less traditional television shows.   To which I have made my penitent confession. Now it is time to move onward.

Another sure sign of summers end is the Turner Country Fair. The Four Best Days of Summer

August 13th - 16th, 2012. It's the largest FREE GATE FAIR and South Dakota's Oldest County Fair. Celebrating 132 Years of Family Fun since 1880. Sorry, No pets allowed on the fairgrounds EXCEPT service animals.

Um, I won several ribbons at the fair. The category was handicrafts if memory serves.

One year I carved a Chuppah wedding canopy out of driftwood = Purple Ribbon.

My sister won the pie baking contests so many times they retired the category.

So here we are at the virtual end of summer. In a few days around 250 athletes and coaches will make 1101 West 22nd Street an "Instant Campus". It's always great having our kids back to start the fall seasons.

So Long and Farewell to that fun season,

"Summer bachelors like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be." Nora Ephron

"Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January." Hal Borland

 "Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. for those few months, you're not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don't have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you in."  Deb Caletti

Summer meant watching cartoons all morning, roaming the neighborhood playing ball all day and going back home when the streetlights turned on.

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." Sam Keen

"Heat, ma'am, it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones." Sydney Smith

"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance." Jane Austen

 "Summer is like an Ice cream Cone. You have to enjoy it while it lasts". SID

Blog #16   The Tale of Twin Cities and a Sad Tale It Is

IT was the best of times turned the worst of times. It was the epoch of belief reduced to an epoch of disbelief and incredulity. Seasons of Light turned into seasons of Darkness. The spring of hope is now the winter of our despair.  We had everything before us and now we have nothing before us.

It's time to tell it like it is TWINS fans. This may be the most wretched TWINS Team in 20 years. Statistically speaking the TWINS performance thus far resembles my performance the Sioux Falls Relays, Last, Last and almost last. I know that is a harsh analogy but it is true.

How do you measure the success of a MLB team; The Overall Record and stats right? The TWINS have lost more games that the good teams have won. Yowza that hurts! We are 28/30 in Hitting.

Then there are the pitching stats, Yup, you guessed it we are 30/30 in Pitching stats, all pitching stats.

Last in The Expanded Pitching Stats I, Last in the Expanded Pitching Stats II and even Last in the cryptic Sabermetric Pitching Stats. What the heck is that stat anyway? It just had to be invented by an agent.

What in the world has happened to baseball? What in the heck has happened to the TWINS, my TWINS?

We are, however, a glamorous 11/30 in Fielding.

Which is not bad considering the excellent manner in which the TWINS pitching staff is hitting the opponent's bats and how many balls are flying around the park as a consequence? I mean if you are playin third base you have to wear goalie gear sometimes.

Some of us TWINS fans wondered why in the world we had spring training. A waste of time, yes?

Next spring, let's just show up at the season opener in early April, warm up a little, throw the ball around some and if it's nice out perhaps take some "BP" and then just PLAY BALL !!!!!!

By saving the millions of dollars wasted on Spring Training the cost of beer could be lowered. TWINS fans need something to assuage the grief and pain at Target Field. This idea certainly has merit and I think it would get traction in the MSP Metroplex of Minnie and Pauli.

A case in point, I watched F.Liriano labor on the mound last week. I mean stevedores working the docks don't toil as hard as he does. The struggle was epic. But he's got good stuff as they say. Sure wisht he had Greg Maddox mind for pitching. Among TWINS pitchers there is no ace to be found.

It pains me to say this but the New York Yankees [in a collective sense] take some of the most intelligent at bats of the teams that are consistently good. The TWINS seemingly have the curse of swinging at balls and watching the strikes go by.  It is one thing to be a free swinger. It's quite another to be a free swinger and not hit anything with your bat but a rogue moth vectoring by the strike zone. TWINS hitters think that the baseball should be in the spot you are swinging through. Ah, not so for my team. We are a notable exception.

We have moved so many players up and down from Rochester; United made it a direct flight. The PR department for the TWINS gave up printing programs and just went the Kinko's route. The TWINS swopped organists with the Emmanuel Covenant Church of Sauk Rapids and some cash. The batboys were chastised vehemently for evidently giving the wrong bats to some of the TWINS hitters. Um, TWINS hitters now there's a contradiction in terms. Gee whiz give the kids a break. It's not like they're get'em paid millions to do something they seemingly are inept at doing.

I had a dream the other night that it got so bad that we bought the contract of pretty Dottie Henson from Willamette in the PCL and called up Marla "What a Hitter" Hooch from our affiliate in Ft Collins. Scary!

Where are the great TWINS of yesteryear?  Where are these great old warriors?

Is the modern day athlete a pale imitation of the stars from the past?  It begs the question, "What are these boys thinking about, 'cause it sure ain't baseball". Why can't the new TWINS be more like to old TWINS?

I am not so sure that my TWINS are nuthin but a bunch of Lollygaggers.

I heard that if Joe Mauer ever hits over 300 again he and his agent are going to want to renegotiate his $ 23 Mil per year contract or go to arbitration. Just to think a few years ago Mauer and the TWINS were the toast of the town.

Please Please tell me we didn't sign Tsuoshi Nishioka for 10 Mill last year. How much better off would we have been to sign Sheshu Hiakowa or Tishiro Mifune at least they could act like a baseball player.

When the TWINS go south on FOX NORTH my mind starts to wander. Ergo, I sometime wonder about the oddest things to pass the time. Things like the great names from past TWINS teams. In the history of the TWINS franchise [like many others] there have been some duesies.

Here are my Top Ten All Time Minnesota TWINS player names:             

  • 1. Yoyo Davalillo
  • 2. Heinie Beckendorf
  • 3. Firpo Marberry
  • 4. Pellum Ballenger
  • 5. Skipper Friday
  • 6. Ox Miller
  • 7. Merito Acosto
  • 8. Morrie Aderholt
  • 9. Red Barbary
  • 10. Vito Valentinetti

HM: Jose Zardon

There was a Jiggs and a Showboat but their last names weren't the caliber of the aforementioned Elite 10.

Here to fore, I could have never imagined any MLB team coming to Target and confronting the TWINS and showing an in your face disrespect. The dialog may unfortunately follow this path.
MLB
: Gardie, all due respect, but it can't be easy when you're stuck with AAA-AA-A rejects
Joe Mauer
: What'd you say, crap face?
MLB
: You shouldn't be allowed to touch a baseball. You're all an insult to the game.
Joe Mauer: Come on! We'll take you on, right here! Right now! Come on!

All the TWINS chime in: Yeah!
MLB
: We play real baseball; you ain't good enough to lick the dirt off our cleats.
Joe Mauer: Watch it, jerk! 

MLB: Shut up, idiot!

Joe Mauer: Moron!

MLB: bleep eater!

MLB: You play baseball like girls!  [TWINS stand in shocked silence and some start to tear up]
Gardie: What did you say?

MLB: You heard me.
Gardie: Tomorrow, Noon, Target field, Be there, buffalo-butt breath.

MLB: Count on it, bleep-stinkers!

These slurs and epithets are juvenile and most of the time confined to the 10-13 year old pre-adolescent demographic. But I want to focus specifically on the slam "You play baseball like a girl" Now in the age of enlightenment this may be construed as sexist and misogynistic.

But I think in the case of the sandlot or peewee baseball. You play baseball like the TWINS may now be the greatest "dis" of all. It breaks my heart to think of teams in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina and environs claim the other team plays like the TWINS and meaning it totally in a derisive fashion.

Oh, oh and oh, the exquisite pain, the elegant anguish, the harsh agony of being a TWINS fanatic.

But just you wait 'til 2013 or 14 or 15 or however long it takes. WE WILL RETURN !!!!!!!!!

Author's Note:

Thus far in 2012 the cruel reality of poor trades, inattention to the farm system and wobbliness of our superstars has stolen the WIN from the TWINS. Thus, it has been redacted from my writings until further notice.

Let's end on a positive note, I still think we the TWINS can win seventy games in 2012. But they are going to have to pay sub .500 baseball [from now until October] to do it. I figure they have to win 60 of the next 122 games in order win LXX games.

  
Blog #15   The Masters and it's Antithesis

I declare if Augusta National isn't the most perfect golf course. If it isn't then when I pass from earth to heaven; Ima gonna make a tee time on the one that is. This verdant and beautiful sanctuary of golf is to be respected and revered by all who trod its grounds.

Ah, Sunday at the Masters, what a day. It started with a special on Seve Ballesteros and ended with Bubba.

There were 22,775 strokes taken in the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament. It's plus 3 if you include the tee shots of Jack, Arnie and Gary that honorably started the 76th edition of the tournament.

They were sorted out to:

29 Eagles
953 Birdies
3370 Pars
1152 Bogies
135 Double Bogies
and 20 in a category named as others.

Of all these shots there were two that have to be listed in the remarkable and extraordinary columns.

Louis Oosty Oosthuizen had an Albatross [aka a Double Eagle] only one of four in the history of ANGC. He loses style points on the muffed high five with his caddie. But I suppose that the adrenalin rush makes it somewhat excusable.  It was only the fourth double eagle in the history of the Masters and the first ever on the par-5 second at Augusta National.

But there was the One and only One Bubba Trap Hook, off the pine straw, with a wedge, from 140 yards, to 12'. Andy North said this of the shot: "If you think this was easy go out back of your house and hit a wedge around the house to the front yard without going over your house." Imagine being on the North Side of the World's Only and having to hook it around the building though the front door of the Laundromat south of 26th street.

At the 2004 Masters, Phil Mickelson had about a two-inch Spread Eagle Vertical Jump [VJ] when he won his first Green Jacket. Now, I am about 68" tall. But on that Sunday after Bubba's shot my vertical jump was about 36."

This is the calculus. My ceiling at home is 96" minus my height of 68" = a 28" VJ. If I hadn't hit the ceiling it could have been a VJPR for me. I hit with a velocity that surely would have carried me another foot.

Just sayin it was good.

Bubba, to be sure, has a style of his own invention. It was amazing that CBS Golf Maven Nick Faldo had the cheekiness to suggest lessons. Why? By the way Sir Nickie it is pronounced Bubba not Bubber.

There isn't a teacher or swing guru in the world who would teach the golf swings of Jack Nicklaus, Mr. Palmer or even that of Tiger's to youngsters. They are the authors of their own swings and they like Bubba make the ball go the way it is intended it to go. Bubba is the same it is his swing and he wins with it. Thanks very much. 

I can't figure it out. Tiger Woods looked like a spoiled kid out there with his temper tantrum golf club kicking and club throwing exhibitions. Worst of all he almost botched the club kick on 12. He looked like a vintage me. It's a harsh truth but the truth sometimes is a cumbersome fit.

As a self -acclaimed expert on club throwing paroxysms I can not only pass judgment. But I have the experience to offer some suggestions on the biomechanics of a good toss and the various tantrum progressions. I have quite the repertoire of throws.

The Impaling Hatchet Toss: It's just as simple as it sounds. An over-handed wrist launched attempt to stick the club as far into the ground as possible. I believe that at one time on the rain soaked plains of Elmwood a surly wedge was buried 6" deep, also a PR.

The Hammer Throw: I pride myself that at times my club throwing may model an athlete in the hammer throw launching a boomerang. Due to my bad legs I can only implement a two circle rotation anymore. Most Hammer throwers use a three and even up to four circles. Now mind you that on golf courses. This throw by its inherent nature is done (ill-advisedly) sans a protective cage. So for the Love of Bobby Jones Take Caution!!!

I suggest that the thrower [if right-handed] grip the handle in the left (glove) hand, then place the right hand over the left and cross the thumbs, with the left thumb on top. Not unlike a putting grip.

If it feels comfortable, you may place the thumbs side by side rather than overlap. There is no exact focal point, but you should look to your right and back (toward the rear of the circle).

However, thinking about all of this will usually impede that cathartic spontaneity that most golfers love. Remember good club throwers do it as an instinctive visceral reaction to an extremely unaccustomed bad shot. This is commonly accompanied by a well-rehearsed soliloquy. A compilation of expletives that is often heard at many Chris Rock concerts.

Here are some helpful hints for the right handed novice thrower. Lefties simply invert these instructions.

  • Maintain a shoulder-width base to ensure comfort and balance.
  • Keep head up, shoulders level and eyes focused outside and to the right.
  • The purpose of looking to the right is to catch the club early in front of you to create more balance

Key Aspects to the Windup:

  • The body weight should always be opposite the club.
  • This develops rotational force and club head speed of another sort
  • The left shoulder should be the axis of the windup.
  • The left shoulder should be low going into the final turn.

After the windup simply release the club to a predetermined direction and each joy the sensation of sweet release. Although golf clubs are inanimate objects and feel no pain. It sure is fun to pretend that this punitive action has exacted some type of revenge on the dastardly instrument that has brought the entire round into ruin. Our hope, of course, is that somehow the club has learned a good lesson from this disciplinary action.

The Whirlybird Helicopter Toss:

This requires a much simpler skill set. All the participant really has to do is sway back on their back foot load and the stride into it. Not unlike a homerun swing derived from baseball. The wrists should be cocked at a maximum angle and then release in a synchronized motion coordinating stride and wrist release. The perfect throw is typically whirling about 4 to 6 feet off the ground. It has the best sound effects of any of the three mentioned herein.

The best thing about both of these throws is that that will not boomerang back on you if executed correctly.

A collateral benefit may also be that these throws usually result in the club itself traveling farther the skulled shot that the participant just hit. Ah sweet release. There are many more shots but I thought it would be best to start out with a couple tried and true before we move onto a more complex level of reactionary tosses.

BIG FINISH! ! !

Bubba testified that he saw the show. It was a vision. It looked like this to his mind's eye.


 

















This is what my mind's eye sees:




















  These are my 7 essential swing thoughts pared down from about 2 dozen:

  • 1. The radius of the golf swing X pi.
  • 2. Did I close my garage door?
  • 3. The grip location where am I holding the club
  • 4. What is the center mass of my golf club anyway?
  • 5. I hope that the Bev Cart comes by soon
  • 6. What is the vertical axis of the swing angle of my arms anyway?
  • 7. Do these stupid birds ever stop chirping?




Blog #14   Baseball's Opening Day - The Twins and "The Curse of the Big Papi"

Baseball's 2012 Opening Day is slated for Thursday, April 5. This is a fan·ci·ful/ˈfansəfəl/

Adjective:

  • 1. (of a person or their thoughts and ideas) Over imaginative and unrealistic.
  • 2. Existing only in the imagination or fancy.

time of the year when everybody is undefeated and all fans and every teams share the highest of hopes. The hope of a banner season because THIS is the year, for sure. The phrase is uttered prayerfully in every ball park around the USA.

Perhaps even in Japan.

Then after a month or so, the crushing reality of how good your team actually is creeps in like a tsunami.

There is one great inherent dichotomy about baseball. The best thing and the saddest thing about our national pastime is this long held and oft proved irrefutable fact: the crème always comes to the top. Over the course of a 162 game season, good teams win and lesser teams lose.  Alas, bunky, only in the cinema do lesser teams win... Uh huh Wild Thing.

The 2012 Edition of the Minnesota Twins are about to take the field. These are MY Minnesota Twins.

My Twins Fanaticism began in 1961. As a 10 year old boy, I was thrilled that a Major League baseball team was at long last coming to the area. The former Kansas City Blues of the Western League moved to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals first and then morphed into Senators, before Cal Griffith (the stingiest owner west of the big river) moved the D.C. team to the fertile fields of the Twin Cities and thus became the Minnesota Twins.  

My Minnesota Twins.

The reader may find it interesting that Sioux City actually had a team in the Western League, circa 1901. They played under the nickname of the Cornhuskers. That franchise would pull up stakes twice more. Having a cup of coffee in St. Paul and then onto Chicago, where they ultimately became the White Sox.

I miss going to games at the old Metropolitan Stadium, aka "The Met" aka the original home to the Twins. My first in-person encounters at an actual MLB game occurred there in Bloomington. I enjoyed many a game thereafter with the friendly Midwest patrons. My friends and I used to go up for a four game series; single games on Friday and Saturday nights followed by a Sunday twin bill. Ah, the good life is good.

A Minneapolis television station filmed the demolition of that cathedral in 1981. The background music for the piece was sung by Frank Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board. The song "and there used to be a ballpark right here" is a moving soliloquy to the golden age of baseball. It was written for the razing of Ebbetts Field. Even the most tepid of Twins fans had a salty rivulet trickle down their cheek and was touched by the loss of such a park.


BTW, at the risk of bragging, I was also present at the final game at the Met.  The finale' was a NFL dustup pitting the home team Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs: December 20, 1981.

The Twins subsequently moved into the HHH Metrodome that next spring and the Vikings followed in the fall of 1982.

The crown jewel of my baseball experiences was being present at the Game 7 of the 1987 World Series. The noise was incredible. You could feel it. 55,376 were actually in attendance that fateful night and I was one of them. Although, best guess estimates are that over 2,000,000 have claimed to be there in the 25 years hence. It was the 500th World Series game ever played.

Anyway back to the future.

We get to start the '12 campaign against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Even though them "O's" had a better record than the Twins in '11; it wasn't so much so as to strike fear in our hearts at seasons start. Ergo, we have a fair chance of starting out 3 oh on the road. The Twins inaugurate the 2012 home season at the park La Field de Target" or translated for our Norwegian friends as "Stadion kjent som Target-feltet".

Bolstered by the loving, loyal, with ya win or lose, boisterous, supportive, understanding, thick and thinners in the stands. Perhaps even go over 2,000,000 in attendance if we can defy the odds and win more than 80 games.  Maybe?

Ah, beautiful welcoming Target Field a place where homeruns go to die. May we please turn on the Air Handling Units from the old HHH Metro-dome and turn off the air conditioning? Oops guess we're unable to do that anymore.

Our home opener will be against the "Best of the West" in American League Power Teams. When we lace'em up with the Vitamin A Pujols fortified Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim LAAOA in the State of California on the left coast of the United States of America egads. Apparently they fashion themselves as the palindromic IUPUI of baseball or sumthin. Then the Texas Rangers come into town. Me thinks they've played in the last 2 World Series.

Then we are "on the road again" for an [invitation only] guided tour of the New York and Boston environs on a wretched 6 game road swing.  April wraps up with The KC Royals who now for some reason we can't beat anymore either.


Gee, whiz who peed in the schedule makers' Wheaties?

Our fervent hope is to take the field with a healthy Joe "Shaky Legs" Mauer and a clear as a bell Justin "Foggy Mountain" Morneau leading the way. These players will try to regain their 2009 and 2006 respective AL- MVP performances. Bolstered by a Class A pitching staff and a less than airtight defense (28th of 30 in '11) the Twins will face the formidable American League. Twins top pitcher Carl Pavano unfortunately is allegedly being black mailed.

Talk about your Norwegian Tragedies; Holy Cow Harry!!!!

Last year we finished behind the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central for goodness sakes. Of all things, to show how bad it was, Ron Gardenhire was rumored to have brought 187 different lineups to home plate and we only played 162 games. I'll be daggone if one player didn't get hurt in the most Keilloresque and ironic mishaps of our times. Said player was rendered incapacitated by hooking his big toe on the elastic band of his underwear thereby losing balance and tipping over and hitting his head on the training table.


I believe the acronym for such a circumstance is the PUP list aka Physically Unable to Perform list. Perhaps better stated as PUTPOMU or the "Physically Unable to Put on My Underwear list." Hey, when it goes south it goes south in critical mass.


By May 1, we may be forced to accelerate the improvement process by trading some of our alleged top players and salvage the present season by looking to the future in 2013.  But thankfully not on April 4th.

The Curse of the Big Papi.

After the 2002 baseball season the Minnesota Twins unceremoniously gave one David Américo Ortiz Arias his unconditional release. He was 27 years old and oft injured. But the Twins may pay a price tantamount to that the Yankees paid when they traded the Great Bambino.

Since that dark day in the fall of 2002, the Twins have played to a 2-15 postseason record and have lost to the Damn Yankees in all 4 tries and allowed Oakland to gain redemption over us for beating them in 2002 (Ortiz' last as a  Twin).

In contrast, the Red Sox have gone 34-23 with 2 World Series titles.

It would be fair to say that Big Papi has had some pretty swings over the last 10 years.

Here are some Ortiz career highlights to bludgeon home the point.

  • Member of the 2004 - 2007 Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series.
  • American League Championship Series MVP (2004) 7-time All-Star (2004-2008, 2010-2011)
  • 2005 Hank Aaron Award winner 6-time winner of the Edgar Martínez Award (2003-2007. 2011)
  • 5-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award (2004-2007, 2011)
  • Led the American League in extra base hits (2004, 2005, 2007) Home Runs (2006) and RBI (2005, 2006)
  • Red Sox single-season home-run leader (54; 2006)
  • Irony of ironies tied Babe Ruth for AL single-season home-run record in road games (32; 2006)
  • First player to hit two walk-off home runs in the same postseason (Angels (ALDS) and Yankees (ALCS), 2004)
  • First player in Red Sox history to hit 40 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons (2004-2006)
  • Set new record for home runs by a DH in 2005 (43), then again in 2006 (47)
  • 6 seasons of at least 30 Home Runs and 100 RBI (2003-2007, 2010)
  • 85 extra-base hits or more for four consecutive years, only 2 other players have done--Lou Gehrig (5) and Sammy Sosa (4).
  • Ortiz's home run total increased each year from 2000-2006, starting with 10 home runs, and ending with 54.
  • Hit 10 career walk-off HR, most of any active player, and 20 walk-off hits total. He is currently 2 HR behind Ruth and Mantle.

I not even gonna go into what the Twins DH's did during the last decade. This is what Big Papi accomplished.

  • The Sporting News Designated Hitter of the Decade (2009) Sports Illustrated All-Decade Team (2009)
  • Became all time DH home run leader on September 15, 2009 by hitting his 270th as a Designated Hitter.
  • On April 2, 2011 Ortiz became MLB's all-time RBI leader by a Designated Hitter.

And we never got a thing for Ortiz; not even a player to be named later. Not even any cash. What a tragic hind-sighted gaff. Big Papi resurrected his career and is sure to be elected on the first ballot to the MLB HOF. In 2005, Red Sox ownership presented him with a plaque proclaiming Ortiz "the greatest clutch-hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox".

We presented um let see an award to what's his name for um wuda ya call it something or the another.

The curse sometimes called The Bambino Curse was said to have begun after the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to those Damn New York Yankees in the off-season of 1919-1920.  Before that point, the Red Sox had been one of the most successful professional baseball franchises, winning the first World Series and amassing five World Series titles.  After the sale they went without a title for more than eight decades. The previously lackluster Yankees became one of the most successful franchises in North American professional sports. Does anyone else see the symmetry here?


The curse phenomenon was exorcised in 2004, when the Red Sox came back from a 0-3 best-of-seven deficit to beat the Damn Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series and then went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 2004 World Series. The curse lasted four score and four years. It is eerily comparable to the Curse of The Big Papi. The calculus our last WS Championship was 1991 + an 84 year drought perhaps = the year 2075.


Yikes. I'll be retired from USF by then.

 So, God Bless America and please Take Me Out to The Old Ball Game. Then right after an ersatz rendition of our National Anthem I'll have a dog and a beer and close my eyes for a moment and listen for two of the greatest doing their often imitated and seldom duplicated thing. #1 Whitney Houston's will sing her impeccable 1991 Super Bowl rendition of America's National Anthem  (the best ever) and # 2 the Great Bob Casey long time Twins Public Address Announcer (arguably the best PA voice in baseball) reminding us that according to Minnesota Clean Air Act Statute 144.167  there is to be "No Smoking in the Metrodome."

Ode to the Old Met etal.

And there used to be a ballpark where the field was warm and green
And the people played their crazy game with a joy I'd never seen
And the air was such a wonder from the hot dogs and the beer
Yes, there used a ballpark right here

And there used to be rock candy and a great big Fourth of July
With the fireworks exploding all across the summer sky
And the people watched in wonder, how they'd laugh and how they'd cheer
And there used to be a ballpark right here

Now the children try to find it
And they can't believe their eyes
'cause the old team just isn't playing
And the new team hardly tries

And the sky has got so cloudy
When it used to be so clear
And the summer went so quickly this year

Yes, there used to be a ballpark right here


Blog #13 The Madness of March and Spring

The greatest month in sports is about to play out in front of our eyes on 55" HD digital plasma TV screens.

Some sets are equipped with DVD BluRay and veritable panoply of amenities/apps at fingertip command to enhance our viewing pleasure. This may make it the most wonderful time of the year for sports. March Madness has sprung or is about to be sprung. Booyah Yippee Wahoo Oh ya that's what I'm talkin about!!! Etcetera, etc., etc.

Now, I don't know if the particular phrasing by which the NCAA labels this tournament is in any way related to the phrase "Mad a March Hare". Perhaps, it has something to do with the Lewis Carroll story about the wonderland adventures of a girl named Alice [played memorably by Mia Wasikoska] and also starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

But we the fortunate fanatics can surely agree on this. That which lay before us just may be the greatest month in sport.

Think of it. Three weeks of the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's basketball championships. Master's Week follows the "Big Dance" showcase and don't forget about the arrival of spring. What a great conduit. Transporting us from the doldrums of winter as it ushers us into spring. This year's edition of a South Dakota winter is a certified anomaly. Even the casual observer would still say March 21st is a great day. And at the end of this glorious time is the start of Golf Season and on its heels 3 months of "Endless Summer.' YahaWowza. Wow, is this heaven, or what?

It all starts on the Ides of March. Actually the 14th if you include those schlock play-in games like Vassar v. Wellesley and the University of Farmers v. Palmer Chiropractic Institute. Ah, these wonderful NCAA Tournament games in which the obscure and unknown teams may perhaps get to play the role of roles, Cinderella. Where else could thrilling upsets be as common as a March cold.

The venues that host these games may not have the provenance of let's say Point Lookout, Mo., or Sioux City. However, they make due in places like New Orleans and other arenas around this great country.

Last year Virginia Commonwealth played that spoiler role all the way to Final Four. Butler made it to the championship game in '10 and '11. The Bulldogs were a half court bank shot away from defeating the Dukies in 2010 and wearing the glass slipper. Great Mascots accompany these teams to the various sites. The Big Dance may be the only stage where "Spiders" and "Jackrabbits" can make a loud noise. Where else are Catamounts allowed to prowl the hardwood stalking the ubiquitous and wilee Billiken with impunity?  BTW It's a charm doll that looks like a Buddha with mystical powers and yes I didn't know either.

What team wouldn't want to be a part of this grand showcase of hoop dreams? Men's and women's teams stand to make a pretty penny from participation. Perhaps 100's of thousands of dollars per round. The income is principally from the contract that the NCAA and CBS inked in 2010. Reportedly it was an agreement worth 11 billion (14 years). That, my friends, leaves a lot of Cheez Whiz and Skippy to be spread around the crackers and bread.

It is also the time of the year when I used to be a very popular invitee to many a Pick'em pool. The less than subtle reason for the invitation was a stinking inability to pick winners. I was just fodder to the more seasoned pickers. They knew an easy mark when they spotted me. Usually my expertise lay within the point spread parameter. I was always better with the spread than head to head.

Another incredible part of this mania are the office pools that abound during March Madness. This phenomenon rivals the NFL and Phantasy Phootball. It is also when people with relative ease shamelessly invoke the names of the trinity (individually and collectively) for guidance prior to and during key games. They beg for divine assistance during the critical stages of various contests. Adult men and women prostrate in front of the tube hoping/begging for a divine shield from bracket catastrophe during those trying times such as OT's and the so-very-excruciating one hour last minute.

I had a good friend share his strategy. It is worth repeating now. First of all you must do the most arduous research on all the teams. You have to go with the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) a formula used by the NCAA to aide in selecting teams and seeding for the NCAA Tournament. One MUST delve deeply into the most arcane of facts and trends. Head to head, results against common opponents, injury reports, dental records and the Vegas spread.

Then collate, synthesize, pasteurize and homogenize all these data into one conclusive singularly obvious choice. Then with great daring panache and élan simply go right ahead and bet directly opposite the team that your research so clearly indicated would most likely and undoubtedly win the game.

It would be too simple to say that the NCAA rules changed my practices. Please don't misunderstand me.

I fully support the NCAA abstinence policies on gaming. In fact, I was against being in favor of betting on any college game before the NCAA convinced me thru by-law to be in favor of being in disfavor of any gaming practices. Whatsoever! This stance should not be construed as being overly altruistic. It was probably driven more by financial necessity and the benefits of saving face. Does that make sense?

Believe me; one needs no greater lesson than that taught from history.  The NCAA has very real consequences for participating in any betting pools. Gambling is strictly verboten. A sad lesson learned by the likes of Art Schlichter and Rick Neuheisel.

Now, when I used to partake in these exciting pools I was certainly one of the worst pickers in the game (note that all these are referred to in the past tense). Typically, if my sheet lasted thru the first weekend it was a pretty good year. Mostly, I was doomed by the first Friday's 11:00 West Coast games.  It was so bad that Director Brian De Palma wanted to make a movie about the inexplicable horror of my bracket-ology.

For a brief time, I actually turned the curse of ineptitude in choosing winners, to my advantage. In a veiled effort to seek (regain perhaps) my fortune and for a slight tincture of redemption from my past failures; I employed a new strategy. It would quietly be leaked that I was about to pick a highly favored team in a certain game. Then in an act of true avarice my people would covertly go to the coach of that team explain the curse that was about to befall them and extract a little ATM produce so to speak.

It was usually a grad assistant and one of my minions that transacted the deal. This transaction then would ensure that my curse would not on that team. Extortion is such an ugly word. Let's just say I was an insurance salesman after a fashion.

The following are some interesting facts regarding the "Big Dance".

0-The number of times a No. 16 seed has beaten a No. 1 seed.

0- The number of times a No. 15 seed has reached the Sweet Sixteen.
1- The number of times all four No. 1 seeds have reached the Final Four. This occurred in 2008.
2- The number of No. 6 seeds to win the NCAA Championship.
2- The number of No. 5 seeds to reach the Championship game.
3- The number of times a No. 3 seed has won the NCAA Tournament
8- The lowest seeded team to win the NCAA Championship. Villanova was a No. 8 seed in 1985.
16- The number of times a No. 1 seed has won the NCAA Tournament
64-64- The No. 8 seed has won 64 times and the No. 9 seed has won 64 times in the first-round
28-20- The No. 2 seed is just 28-20 against the No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This is clearly where upsets can occur.
58-6- The No. 1 seed is a dominant 58-6 against the No. 9 seed in their 64 matchups since 1985.
86-38- The record of the No. 5 seed against the No. 12 seed.
The No. 12 seed is winning more than 30% of the time, an upset that has become quite common.
0-17- The record of the No. 12 seed against the No. 1 seed. 

Okay, okay, I can't help myself. I need a fix!

I wonder if you can come up with ALL the college teams who have nicknames that aren't plural.

Please send your entries in to me at USF. If you would care to wonder the fee is 2012 American Dollars and seven cents. It must come in the form of a certified cashier's check. All the entries are to be verified by the Arthur Anderson Accounting Company of Texas or maybe Ernst and Young depending on fees. I'll be sure and announce the winners' right after the tournament. Yes, you can trust me.

Please read these important Caveats, Admonitions and Injunctions:

The views discussed above are meant solely for the entertainment of the reader. They are specifically for levity and not to be construed in any way as encouraging gaming. These are musings and observations put forth by the author for fun.

De minimis non curat lex. The law does not care about trivialities. Cave fatuos.  Beware of Fools (such as I).

Blog #12 (3/5/12)
Daytona 500 

I had the good fortune to watch the annual running of the Daytona 500 (Monday Last). Although it was aired in the same time slot as the Antiques Roadshow, I capitulated. I was extremely grateful that the race had been postponed and therefore did not interfere with the Accenture Match Play PGA Tour Event on Sunday. Serendipity is Sometimes Sweet.

During the race the now famous Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a Big Yellow Truck with a Jet Engine strapped on and filled with Jet Fuel. Flames and leaking fuel caused such an inferno that it just mesmerized my attention. My first thought was one of thankfulness that no was killed or worse.

That this incredulous event happened in front of my very eyes was almost too much to believe. Usually, run on Sunday the 500 mile race was delayed until Monday night due to the rain.

I found it stunning that NASCAR and Fox didn't have a crash cam on that Big Yellow Truck with a Jet engine strapped on. To me, it showed a real lack of imagination and foresight. They have cameras in the race cars and at various viewing points all around the track. Bet they never make this mistake ever again.

Cole Trickle was right the television coverage of races is excellent. I know I've taken a lot from the coverage on all the networks. In the early days of TV ABC's Wild World of Sports aired stock car and drag races. One of my all-time favorite race analysts was my good friend the legendary Chris Economaki. Although the Greeks are not necessarily known for auto racing they produced a real gem in him.

In them thar early days the driver wore a helmet with that offered about as much protection as Tupperware.

The roll cage was welded in using anything from PVC pipe to rebar to electric fence posts. A driver wore not much more than coveralls and a pair of goggles.

The evolution of protection for the driver is simply wonderful. The sophistication of the cockpit includes, the HANS [acronym for Head and Neck Stabilizer] device, an in car communication with pit crews and even a fire suit you can "pee-rspire in" in if you catch my subtle meaning. All this allows the driver to survive catastrophe. Just ask Mr. Montoya, who was able to walk away with just minor injuries.

As you can imagine a 2 hour delay gives one time to take pause and reflect on life's mysteries. It afforded me time to delve deeper into the phenomenon that is NASCAR. I watched the courageous crews snuff out the 1100 degree flames.  These brave firemen adroitly displayed the ever increasing utility of a detergent called "TIDE" to scrub down the 31 degree banked track. Yikes.

How would you like to be the purchasing agent for Daytona Motor Speedway? Wouldn't it have been fun to be in on the call to Wal-Mart or Target [Hy Vee whatever]? "Um yah this is Jethro over at the speedway we are aneedin about 500 of them TIDE 120 load boxes sent over by noon". "Huh, oh, no original scent is fine". "No, we don't need do dad gum bleach additive". "Ya, thanks, send the bill to the France Family." Much obliged! "If there's any problems, just gimme a holler up on this here ringer!"

The era of advanced computer technology enhances our enjoyment of everything and it even applies to the coverage of automobile racing. I love those inserts that follow each car around. They inform the viewer with helpful timely tidbits of whose is driving the car, fuel consumption, zodiac sign and favorite food. This all occurs at 200 miles an hour during 200 laps around the track. Shazaam!!

During hour two of the Daytona delay an intriguing question came to my mind.

How did NASCAR get started in the first place?

Well, it seems a bunch of moonshine runners trying to circumvent the law and tax revenuers were the catalyst that really started it all. The Shine Runners ("Good Ol' Boys" all) would remodel and fine tune "stock" cars to run faster and handle better that the POLEECE cars of the day as it were. On the outside they looked like Ma and Pa Kettle headin' to a grange meeting. But underneath, them cars had some real muscle.

NASCAR's roots go as far back as Prohibition Days when these runners would deliver moonshine around the hills. Moonshine is a home-brewed whiskey distilled from corn, potatoes or anything that would ferment. They sped away in these souped up cars allowing them to give the slip to the fed's determined to bust them.  Some runners were as young as 10 years old according to NASCAR and Shine Runnin' legend Jimmy Johnson. "Runners built their reputations by outsmarting and outdriving the law," he says. For bragging rights, he adds, "they held informal races to determine which runner was fastest". One of the first sites of these "brag races" was the hard white sands at Daytona Beach FLA.

Just think if it weren't for a tee totaling Norwegian from Minnesota named Andrew Volstead NASCAR may have never had taken hold. He authored the 18th Constitutional Amendment which initiated prohibition. There seems to be an ironic symmetry (to me anyway) that they serve alcohol at all NASCAR events. Is it just to spite or upstage Mr. Volstead? That'll show'em. Talk about Ole and Lena jokes.

Unfortunately, to my mind, it's a blatant dishonor not to serve one of the following alcoholic beverages at these NASCAR racing venues. White Lightning, Kickapoo, Joy Juice, Hooch, Ruckus Juice, Mountain Dew, Happy Sally, Hillbilly Pop and Panther's Breath -- all slang of course for Moonshine. They used to sell tabakkie too, until the stupid Surgeon General of the United States stuck his nose in NASCAR'S business.

NASCAR is a huge enterprise that displays there product mostly in the southern climes of the USA. There ain't many NASCAR events held in Kalispell, Duluth or Bismarck. Born in the south NASCAR attracts hundreds of thousands of fans to their venues. Racing Events are scattered about from as far north as Michigan throughout the Deep South. They run from the East to West Coast. To say its following is gargantuan is to damn with faint praise.

The devoted followers are easily identified in the mien. The couture de jure is pretty simple. Both men and women wear sleeveless shirts with dungarees. The hats are simple billboards for favorite drivers and their car number. Let's be honest these races are not black tie affairs.

These rabid fans watch $250,000 cars drive around in a circle on a banked track for 4-5 hours waiting for the inevitable crashes. Then at the end of this grueling marathon of driver and car, they will hopefully thrill to a four car wide - down the stretch- hammer down fight to get to victory lane. The cars themselves have so many sponsor decals on them they look like an Angie's List website on steroids.

Yet to tell you the truth it can be exhilarating.

BUT, if Imapayin 250 large for a car it's either gonna be a Lambo Gallardo or a vintage "first off" veehikle from the Barrett-Jackson (with papers of course).

Now back to the origin of this discussion. That Big Yellow Truck with a Jet engine strapped on was grooming the track with a dryer driven by a jet engine. These jet engines use JP-4; the most commonly used Jet Fuel. This fuel weighs approx. 6.84 pounds per gallon and costs around $ 6.00 a gallon. Although at Hy-Vee you can get up to 12 cents off.  But a lot of grocery stores do not carry JP-4. Too many drive offs I guess.

As you all know. Jet fuel comes in two basic types, Jet A and Jet B. Jet A-1 is the most common in use and there are other military spec fuels both fuels are kerosene and paraffin oil based fuels. These are very similar to diesel fuel, stove oil or lamp oil. Jet B is the more flammable of the two as it is made of hydrocarbons in the naphtha/kerosene range for better cold weather service. In either case the flammability is similar to or less than gasoline, for Jet A it can be compared to diesel oil.

Now, Moonshine, interestingly enough, displays a lot of similar properties as these more sophisticated fuel mixes. Knowing these facts just begs the question. Why doesn't NASCAR just use "Shine" to fuel the Jet Dryer? Dang, if it don't have the same or higher flash point. It is cheaper to buy. It weighs less that JP-4 and the accessibility is much more prevalent than jet fuel. Just ax Junior Johnson to haul some on in with one of his shine runnin cars. It would be better than waiting in those long lines at the airport behind a couple of thirsty Boeing Jets. But that's all up to NASCAR.

Many of the sports legendary drivers had legendary monikers [Banjo, Barky, Coo Coo, Fireball and "The" Terminator]. The likes of these fine drivers have left us with some memorable if not salty quotes.

Here be a few of the best.

So and So is an idiot. They name streets after people like that -- one-way and dead-ends.

I like the guy, we play poker together, but if I found him right now, I'd strangle him."

 Don't come here and grumble about going too fast. Get the hell out of racin' if you have feathers on your legs or butt.  Actually a saltier term was used for butt. But this is a family blog so I softened it all a bit.

You win some, you lose some and you wreck some.

Why did I take up racing? I was too lazy to work and too chicken to steal

We go six times faster. -- William C. France, answering the question of why there are six times as many deaths in NASCAR as in football

It's basically the same, just darker. - one driver speaking to the difference between racing on Saturday night versus Sunday afternoon

 

[During a pit stop in Days of Thunder]
Harry Hogge: All right. While we're still under a caution, I want you to go back out on that track and hit the pace car.
Cole Trickle: Hit the pace car?
Harry Hogge: Hit the pace car.
Cole Trickle: What for?
Harry Hogge: Because you've hit every other gol dern thing out there, I want you to be perfect.

Talladega Nights offered these memorable quotes:

 (Lucius Washington):

 

... I don't want to be raining on your parade ... but I got to tell you that was some of the dumbest driving I have ever seen in my life ...

 (Ricky Bobby):

 

... thank you ...

 

(Ricky Bobby):

 

... here's the deal, I'm the best there is, plain and simple, I mean I wake up every morning and I kiss excellence, and nobody can hang with my stuff, uh, you know I'm just a, just a big hairy American winning machine, you ain't first, you're last, you know, what I'm talking about ... that phrase is trademarked and not to be used without the permission of Ricky Bobby Inc. ...

 And rubbin is also racin my friends.

Blog #11 (2/20/12)
An Interview with the Superheroes of the Lost Files

Prologue:

The recent success of movies about Superheroes (e.g. Captain America, Spiderman and Iron Men) along with others of that ilk has brought these comic strip characters back to life. All these movies are shown on the silver screen now. However, this doesn't necessarily mean the Pixar generations (aka pixgens) know what real animation is. I feel it is now appropriate to pay homage to those superheroes that always and only lived in simple animation.

Any run of the mill Superhero can make with the luxuries of computer animation, mega IMAX Screens accompanied by Acoustical Sound Systems. But it takes a REAL Superhero to pop off the comic strips and go straight into our homes via TV.

A 14" black and white 2 channel televison set was the gateway to cartoon thrills, chills and spills.  That "little" brown simulated wood box with vacuum tubes held all the adventure any youngster could vicariously conjure through the efforts of these intrepid pioneers of yesteryear. Even their themes songs brought to mind larger than life mental images of following in their career paths. These anthropomorphic protagonists managed to subdue wretched scoundrels in the time allotted. The airtime was typically only a meager 15 to 30 minutes.  How myopic of the networks.

I was a cub reporter for the Chancellor Schools Newspaper (nee The Wildcat), when I interviewed arguably the two greatest Superheroes of my era.  The phone Q & A took place at my dad's hardware store. The 20 minute call must have cost him 50 cents. It was an amount he didn't take kindly to.

The 1965 interview was with Mighty Mouse and Underdog. It was an honor and a privilege to speak them. Unfortunately, due to a CHS mimeograph failure these interviews were never published. Regardless, now is a good time to tell their story on my blog...as I remember it. At the time, one hero was at the end of his crime fighting career and the other had just been introduced a year prior.  Selected tidbits from the content of that conversation are herein shared with all.

Mr. Mouse, welcome, thanks for taking the time to do this by telephone.

MM: My pleasure thanks for having me and please (just) call me Mighty or better still just M&M.

Who do have with you today?

MM: This is my lovely bride of 25 years Mitzi.

Underdog, because of his keen ultrasonic hearing didn't do the interview by phone. There was no need.

Joining us today is another superhero of my childhood the humble and lovable Underdog. I am grateful to you as well Mr. Dog for coming today and giving of your time.

UD: Oh you're def welcome man, an honor to be here with you and my very good friend Mighty Mouse. 

You all know my wife Sweet Polly Purebred.

My first question for you both is this:

What was your childhood like and what did your parents do for a living?

MM: Well my dad worked on the cleanup crew for the Kraft/Velveeta Cheese Company for 34 years. He took good care of us. So my Mom was able to stay at home.

UD: My dad was killed in a tragic traffic accident chasing after a truck. To this day it is hard to talk about. My mom left when I was just a pup. So I pretty much grew up on my own. As a kid I started my now famous shoe shine stand and was able make ends meet. But I scrimped and saved my tips. I enrolled in the American Kennel Club University. There I earned degree in chemistry and pharmacy. After AKCU, I began to experiment with "vitamins supplements for canines." My goal was to eradicate low birth weight puppies. In that process, I stumbled upon the formula for my Super Energy Pill (now known ass the "Underdog Super Energy Pill").

Great! That segues into my next question.

When did you first know you were to be a superhero?

MM: it first became apparent at six years old that I had special powers. I could scurry faster than my family members and other meeces (plural of mouse) in my neighborhood. As I grew to maturity it became obvious that I was endowed with super rodent strength.

How about you "UD"?

Well, I was actually the runt of the litter. But there was a drive inside me to excel. My Hero The great 26th president of the United States Teddy Roosevelt also had a challenging childhood that he overcame. I guess he was a hero of mine. My Great Uncle Shep rode up San Juan Hill with TR's rough riders.

Both of you had super powers.

What were some of the extra ordinary things you could do?

MM: Well, I could fly, which was a great asset in fighting crime. Nowadays Police utilize helicopters. I like to think that "UD" and I kinda started that part of law enforcement. [Group chuckle] As I said earlier super strength and invulnerability were always there. I also demonstrated the use of X-ray vision in at least one episode. One of my lesser known gifts was telekinesis. That allowed me to command inanimate objects and also turn back the hands of time. Please understand I say these things in all humility. I tried all my life to fight evildoers and criminals. My gifts belonged to mankind and to benefit mankind. I'm sure "UD" would agree.

UD: Yeah, my powers were pretty much the same as Mighty's. However as evidenced by my Master's Degree from the AKCU I had a Great Calculating Brain.  I had almost unlimited super canine strength. I too had self -propelled flight beyond supersonic speeds and was invulnerable to almost all forms of physical harm. My vision was more of the type called cosmic ray not so much X-ray.  But the difference is negligible. Unlike most other dogs I was blest with super breath. But the ultrasonic hearing was real pain in the tail sometimes. Those whistles were enough to drive a mutt crazy.

When did you guys start your crime fighting careers?

MM: I started in the fifties. Just after the war. As you might surmise I fought mainly bully cats. When people started moving out to the burbs they took their little well-bred kitties along with them. This left the dregs to roam the streets hunting my peeps down like rats.  No pun intended. These feral felines were blight on my people.

UD: I perfected my formula for "The Underdog Super Energy Pill" in '64. I have been fighting for the good guys ever since.

In the early days you both were portrayed as ruthless fighters, who would dole out a considerable amount of punishment, subduing opponents and foiling their dastardly schemes to the point of forcing them to run away.

What do say to your critics who pilloried you in the print media?

MM: I did what had to do. I make no apologies.

UD: ditto I was called in to do a job. And do a job I did. Mostly on fire hydrants so to speak (big group laugh).

Mighty Mouse you originally had a blue costume with red trunks and a red cape, like Superman, but over time this outfit changed to a yellow costume with red trunks and a red cape. Which was your favorite? "MM" Um, the latter.

UD, where is the famous ring in which you hid your "Underdog Super Energy Pill"?

UD: It's in the Smithsonian.

What were your greatest career accomplishments?

MM: Getting that villainous cad "Oil Can Harry" and his diabolical henchman put behind bars gave me great satisfaction.

It took me over 30 seasons and who knows how many episodes but we got'er dun.

"UD" Polly and I agree that ridding the world of nefarious thugs such as Simon Bar Sinister, Cad and Riff Raff made us very content with our life's work.

Any regrets?

MM: I wish I would have won my litigation banning the "Mouse Trap" Board game from ever being produced. That despicable game was so culturally biased it should have been exterminated.

See M&M Mouse/Terrytoons v. Hasbro/Ideal Game Corporation etal. Juris Corpus Secundum

UD: No not really, well I wish my dad could have seen my exploits.

Thanks so much you, my childhood super heroes for being here today. You were the envy of my youth fighting for truth and justice and freedom on a weekly basis.

Epilogues:

They are long since retired from their service to mankind. They kept us safe from fiends and arch villains season after season. Mighty and Mitzi are retired and living on a pension in Mouseville, Fla. Every once in a while they run into Mr. Jingles (of Green Mile Fame). They are happy and content.

Underdog and Sweet Polly live on Carmel Bay in a beautiful beach house. "UD" got in on the rollout of the Petsmart IPO and made a killing. "UD" and sweet Polly spend their days playing tag with the surf and chasing Frisbees.

Both super heroes overcame long odds to achieve great things, a lesson for us all. Well, at least to those of us that really believed in them. Anyone can become a believer by getting old episodes on Netflix.

It is truly regrettable that Mighty Mouse never had a movie made about his life and times like Underdog. But alas more is the pity. Perhaps someday PBS will air a Frontline Story on this deserving law enforcement officer.

As tribute to these fine super heroes, I have included the stirring lyrics and links to their theme songs.

There's no need to fear! Underdog is here!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEVsRLhet2k

When criminals in this world appear and break the laws that they should fear
and frighten all who see or hear the cry goes up both far and near for Underdog!

Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

when in this world the headlines read of those whose hearts are filled with greed
who rob and steal from those who need to right this wrong with blinding speed goes Underdog!

Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

speed of lightning, roar of thunder fighting all who rob or plunder Underdog. Underdog!

An Ode to Mighty Mouse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdIev12fCPs

Mister Trouble never hangs around when he hears this mighty sound
"Here I come to save the daaaay! "That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way

Yasser, when there is a wrong to right Mighty mouse will join the fight
On the sea or on the land He gets the situation well in hand

So though we are in danger, we never despair Cause we know that where there's danger he is there
(He is there, on the land, on the sea, in the air!)

We're not worryin' at all we're just listenin' for his call
"Here I come to save the daaaay!" That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way

we're not worryin' at all we're just listenin' for his call
"Here I come to save the daaaay!" That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way!

Hooray

Blog #10 (2/3/12)
Job Performance Reviews

This topic comes under current events. USF supervisors are completing the annual (perhaps perfunctory) assessment of an employee's job performance review (aka JPR) for the previous year.

Now personally, this time of the year always caused me to have a knot in my stomach over my JPR and how it is/was perceived or interpreted by my supervisor. My wish was always that the person doing this annual performance review was having a good day and/or had a selective memory. The primacy-recency factor weighs heavily when it come staff reviews. The hope was that you either did your job really well early on in your employment or extraordinarily well in the last week or so before you're taken to task over your JPR.

The knot mentioned harkens me back to report card time when I was in Chancellor Schools System. Actually, truthfully, with a little more than 50 kids in CHS high school and not much more than 4 score in the "lower grades" it was more like an ad hoc conglomeration of rural and urban children "gettin some good learnin" and not so much a school system.

This academic performance review gave me the willies from a fear of parental reprisal for substandard marks.

This truth is difficult to confess. But my report card was not exemplary in any way. Let's just say I didn't have many "vowels" on the report card. And those damnable minuses.

To those of you who are under review take heart. My academic performance review happened six times a year. Yikes! And to add insult to injury, part of the ordeal was that a parent or guardian of each student had to sign the thing before you returned it to the teacher. Guess how many people were willing to be my guardian during those years? So there was no getting away from the agonizing and overly punitive face to face Academic Performance Review with my parents.

And now on to the larger stage, JPR topics have greatly evolved through the years. The need for in-depth, accurate and concise documentation requires that USF follow a whole new set of standards when it came to HR and JPR. Items like work and play well others, don't steal, lie or cheat. Take naps at home not on the job are no longer seen as valid measures of an employee's ability to function effectively in their position.

Since the turn of the century, Human Resources have taken a greater interest in how these JPR's are administered. Human Resources correctly understands that in the modern era documentation is everything. The sections in the USF standardized JPR are numbered numerically in Roman numeral style. Thus, there are "V" sections in the JPP review documents.

The supervisor response choices for the JPR are Exceeds, Meets or are Below Expectations. The non nequitur in the mix is the "does not apply" column. Which doesn't apply to the first three criteria, Basically, the review form asks the supervisor to evaluate the person's JP in the various domains. All that  is great for the new millennium. Goal setting, strengths, areas of improvement and other essential HR stuff.

But, let me take you back in the days when I did these reviews as the Athletic Director. The processes were not nearly as sophisticated as they are now. First of all, the entire athletic department staff was about a fourth of the current lineup. We [at the time] begged to just be simply under staffed. That would have been a luxury.

One of the key areas of the review that I developed and was so crucial to the analysis of whether that person would be hired or renewed were two simple, profound, all-encompassing and pivotal questions:

1. Are you willing to work very hard for this institution for the salary we will pay?

2. If so, then how much are you willing to take to work very hard for this institution?

The answers to the questions ended up being the essential definer of that person's eligibility to be employed or retained.

The correct answers in the affirmative certainly outweighed any petty criticism of the other aspects of that coach's JPR. The rest of the questions were easy.

3. Are you a commie?

4. Have you ever been .  .  .  . CONVICTED . . .  of any felonies? Let's say in the last two years.

5. Are you a Twins Fan? (Supervisor specific)

6. Are you on any prescription medicines?

Just some general get to know you informational questions.

Back in the days when head coaches were 2/3 faculty and 1/3 coaching one took more of an expansive view of the perceptible shortcomings of an employee. When Coach Young was grading scores of math tests on the way home from an away football game, only a fool would have suggested he was anything else but a great employee.  Former head coaches had to be masters at multitasking.

I recognize that times have changed. There is a greater pressure on coaches and the programs they are responsible for administering. I am grateful that our staff has grown to appropriate levels. That all they have to do is coach and they do it well. It is a far, far better thing to have the adequate staffing than not.

I applaud the great work that HR does each year. What a wonderful thing it is to have a Compliance Officer and a Senior Women Administrator along with other vital staff members. The confluence of this good and necessary evolution allows USF to perform on a larger stage in the NCAA Division II and in the redoubtable Northern Sun Athletic Conference. My how we have been blessed.

I have included some unique quotes for all those supervisors completing their JPR's. You may want to consider their use in the special comments section of the document.

 "When this person opens their mouth, it seems that it's only to change the foot previously in there."

"This young person has delusions of adequacy."

"He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."

"This employee should go far - and the sooner they start, the better."

"This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."


Blog #9 (1/19/12)
Banished Words

Spanning the Globe to bring you the constant variety of...well...you know...um...stuff!!

My good friends at Lake Superior State University [LSSU] have an annual Kill the Word List. Actually, they use Banish but kill has a more dramatic effect, n'est-ce pas?

The Sault Ste. Marie-based wordsmiths endeavor each year to collect words that are ill-used, trite and hackneyed. One hears them over and over again via conversations, cable television and movies. Therefore, I support their intrepid efforts to expand the lexicon of mankind. Everyone is encouraged to better utilize two of the greatest books ever complied.  They are the dictionary and the thesaurus.

The original 12 words have been redacted to what shall be called SID's Six Pack. This is in no way intended to be a veiled or self-aggrandizing reference to my own Abs. I was once a Torso Model for Abercrombie & Fitch. But that's a whole another blog.

The list was edited to fit the format and time allotted. Certain comments from respondents around the globe are added for your enjoyment.

AMAZING received the most nominations. LSSU was surprised at the number of nominations this year for "amazing" and perhaps even more surprised to find that it hadn't been included on the list in the past. Many nominators mentioned over-use on television when they sent their entries, mentioning "reality" TV, Martha Stewart and Anderson Cooper. "It's amazing that you haven't added that word to your list over the years. Not quite astounding, but still amazing." Astoria, NY

"Banish it for blatant overuse and incorrect use and to stop my head from exploding." Norwich, Norfolk, UK

"Anderson Cooper used it three times recently in the opening 45 seconds of his program. My teeth grate, my hackles rise and even my dog is getting annoyed. Kalamazoo, Michigan

If Amazing made the list can Awesome be far behind? Perhaps next year it will be banished.

SHARED SACRIFICE

"This is typically used by a politician who wants other people to share in the sacrifice so he/she doesn't have to sacrifice at all." Kentwood, Michigan

BLOWBACK

'Blowback' is a term employed by corporate (types) to mean 'reaction,' when the word 'reaction' would have been more than sufficient. Example: 'If we send out the press release, how should we handle the blowback from the community?'" Los Angeles, California

WIN THE FUTURE

A political phrase trotted out during election cycles whenever you look - to the left (President Obama) or the right (Mitt Romney Newt Gingrich et al.).

"On its very face, it's an empty, meaningless phrase. It basically says that anyone who opposes anything meant to 'win the future' must want to 'lose the future,' which is highly unlikely. But, hey, you may already be a winner." Madison, Wisconsin

GINORMOUS

"No need to make a gigantic (idiot) out of yourself trying to find an enormous word for 'big.'" Sanford, FL

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE

"Usually followed by 'for your cooperation,' this is a condescending and challenging way to say, 'Since I already thanked you, you have to do this.'" Cincinnati, Ohio

MAN CAVE

It would certainly be disingenuous of me to speak against its use since I have, love and live in one.

The following are several of my own words and phrases that [if euthanized] banished would make the world a better place.

I'll let you go

This is accepted as a polite phone conversation ender.

Ok, ok so I'll let you go now...all the while muted under one's breath this thought surfaces.  'Because this has gone on long enough for heaven's sake'

Having said that

Having said what!!  You just said it so let's not be redundant.

At the End of the Day

I would prefer that its use be left only in the poignant song from the opera Les Miserables. In summary, ultimately or essentially are all worthy alternatives to this banal phrase.

Obviously

It may be the most overused term of the times. Professional athletes are horrid offenders. If it is obvious then that obviates need for the thing to be pointed out as obvious. If it isn't obvious then make your point through illuminating words.

Um ah and you know

These two stinkers may be the most ignominious non-conjunction conjunctions ever overused by man.  Oh, that these two blights on public speaking would just evaporate. But, alas, methinks they're here to stay.

Thus ends my well-meaning mirthful invective against ill-used, misappropriated and unimaginative word choices. Thanks to the LSSU gang for giving all of us an example of how to be more erudite.

Cuz' well um ah ya know that I wisht that everybody would pay attention to the ginormous amount of words in our amazingly overly underused language of English. I know that at the end of the day the consequence of misspeak is ya' know mostly inconsequential enough to hold very little if any blowback. Ya git what I'm sayin or am I being too ambiguous? It is indeed an awesome challenge for verbal lightweights to Share the Sacrifice of learning new words. So Thanks in Advance for your soon to be awesome and amazing effort to ya know win our syntactic future.  I'll let you go now with this final thought. Ya know um I may very well be the vilest offender of all.

And that's the truth . . . .  Obviously?!?!

Blog #8 (1/3/12)

Let's go Bowling!

It's bowling season once again. I don't mean keggling or candlestick or lane bouncing or the Empire Bowls' Cosmic bowling. It's college bowl season, not a reference to Rip Van Winkle's dream or the Norwalk Connecticut Bowling alley named after this Washington Irving character.

It is the time for the "best" college football teams in America to display their talents on the national stage. Television (cable specifically) was the great catalyst for the proliferation of some 35 bowl games. After all, six wins in the BCS makes you bowl eligible. To be sure, the 14 teams who finished with 6 wins have the statutory right to be in a bowl game no matter how humble. There is actually a team with a losing record [6-7] in the mix, is there no shame, to tell it is to weep. Unlike NCAA basketball nary a college football team can hardly say they were snubbed.

It begs the question: wouldn't their time be better spent recruiting? Come ON Man!

The first of the 35 bowl games was contested on 12/17 and the National Championship game will be played on 1/9/12. Still as in the past, all the good ones are played around New Year's Day. The original bowl games were named after commodities or food staples. King Cotton, Sugar and Roses were the hallowed names of these first events parades and all. Then there were the popular fruits Orange, Peach and Tangerine. All these entities were the sponsors of the first bowl games. Now these sponsors need sponsors to afford to run the games. Corn Chips? Come ON Man!

The not ready for prime time bowl games are usually before Christmas. The borderline omnipotent BCS Committee sorted through some new bowl game ideas to bolster the menu. Some of the new ideas were in keeping with the traditional bowl games named after fruits. The BCS committee was right to eschew the following:  Muskmelon, Raisin and Guava. They just wouldn't have had the staying power- the panache' as it were- to make the long haul.

The DOA Funeral Home Bowl just never made it onto the list. I guess the macabre is never in vogue when related to collegiate athletics. Brief consideration was given to expanding the BCS series to the international stage.  

The Pers-irania Bowl [hosted by none other than Mahmud Ahmadinejad and aired on IRIB Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] was given some thought. Unfortunately, there were several negatives to this game. First, the travel to Tehran and the heat would have been brutal. The IRIB insisted on strict proprietary and editorial content rights. The fact that the home team gets shot for losing is a definite downer. And if the visiting team wins it is automatically detained and may even be executed. The fact that a least one team gets shot resulting and the resulting really bad publicity gave the selection committee no choice but to veto this paradigm. Ask the backpackers if you don't believe me.

The failure of the Bacardi Rhumba Bowl ['07 - '46 Havana, Cuba] to meet expectations perhaps played a minor role in this decision as well.

The NFL's foray into Japan notwithstanding, I reckon now that Kim Jung IL [a huge BCS backer] is dead there goes that ideer of bringing college football to the Koreas and the Asian Rim. But really what could be worse that these gems:

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Beef O' Brady Bowl or the MAACO Bowl. Come ON Man.

In the early years, many of the bowl committees, if given a chance, surely would have taken advantage of the simple "do over" rules from the playground. Here are some just a few for your consumption.

Rose Bowl "The Progenitor of them All:"

The very first collegiate bowl game ever played was in 1902. The inaugural game featured Fielding H. Yost's dominating 1901 Michigan Wolverines football team who crushed Stanford University by a score of 49-0. The game ended after Stanford captain Ralph Fisher requested to quit with eight minutes remaining. Come On Man; there's no quitting in football!

The Pasadena Group decided not to have another event until 1916. What did they do in the interim from '02 to 1914? Who could have guessed that in lieu of football, the Tournament of Roses Committee hosted chariot races, ostrich races and polo matches. Come ON Man!

Most of the ancestral bowl games typically hosted the upper crust of D-1 teams through the years; "The Bigs" if you will were the usual invitees with some notable exceptions:

The Sun Bowl on 1/1/1935 hosted 2 HS teams. The El Paso All-Stars [with Marty Robbins as a 10 year old ballboy] outlasted the Ranger TX 11 by a score of 25-21. Come ON Man, high school teams!

Capital One nee the Tangerine Bowl gets demerits for hosting these thrillers.

  • 1963 Western Kentucky Hill Toppers 27 Coast Guard 0

My guess is that many of CG players were on assignment mopping up the Cuban Blockade from that harrowing fall of 1962. That action really diluted the CG talent pool.

  • 1960 Middle Tennessee State wins over Presbyterian College 21-12.

The nickname of Presbyterian athletic teams is the issue here. They call themselves the "Blue Hose."  

Now, if the local scribes from Chicago newspapers sometimes like to call the South siders "The Pale Hose" as a motivational tool, so be it. That's baseball, not football. But the Blue Hose is unacceptable in bowling season. You cain't name a football team after silk stockings. Come ON Man!  

Here is an all-timer from the annuals of the Tangerine Bowl archives.

  • In January of 1956, the Talking Eagles of Juniata College took the field versus Missouri Valley.

BTW MVC is located in Marshall, Mo., and is a fully accredited program, not a blended team from the truck stops on the north and south sides of the I-29 and Highway 30 interchange.

  • Nebraska Omaha once made the trek to FLA to play Eastern Kaintuck and they won.
  • 1951 Morris Harvey v. Emory and Henry. The Morris gridders won handily 35-14.

This was the first and only flag football bowl game ever to be played as the Tangerine Bowl; I can only assume they had to go with this format due to the Korean War---oops---conflict.

  • In 1950, these titans of the gridiron played: St Vincent Parish defeated Emory and Henry 7 and 6. WOW what a gut wrencher! What's next, Killian v. North American Baptist Seminary? Come ON Man!

The Peach/Chick-Fil-A Bowl was inaugurated in 1968 and gets a pass. No demerits!

In 1937 the King Cotton Bowl had its genesis. They, however, are not without their foibles either.

  • 1/1/1944 Texas ties Randolph Field [A Texas Army Air Force Base] 7 UP

I suggest you Google the Treasury Bond Bowl of 1944 for an interesting insight into football of that era.

  • There have been 2 0-0 Cotton Bowl ties due to gross negligence on the of the selection committees. Reminding all of us who serve on these committees TO DO ALL DO DILIGENCE and CHECK THE STATS!

before choosing teams. If they can't score they can't come.

The All State Sugar Bowl has these whoppers to its name, making one glad there was no cable TV in the day.

  • 1/2/1939: Texas Christian slays the goliath Carnegie Tech 15-7

Begging the question how many "CT" parents/alumni were on that selection committee?

This here one is also a duesy:

  • New Year's Day, 1942: Fordham shellacked Missouri 2-0.

My defense to all this above is best stated by the great Mark Twain: "get your facts first and then you can distort them as you please."

I'll leave you with this. Jim McMahon [QB Chicago Bears Super Bowl 1986] offered this insight in referring to the humble beginnings of the Holiday Bowl. In 1980 and 1981, he led the Brigham Young Cougars to 1 and 2 point victories in the Holiday Bowl.

"The first year ('80) they gave us watches. The second year ('81) they offered to fix them at no charge."

A far cry from the cache' of loot the players receive now-a-days.

Happy New Year Cheers to you. Enjoy the bowling season.

 

Blog #7 (12/8/11)

Intramural Hoops Memories

One day last week, I happened to wander across what had the semblance of a NOON BALL game. Now these cats who play noon ball are group of middle aged men looking for a workout.

It seems they want to remind themselves of how good they were in years past. They are far enough removed from their playing era that reality melts into fiction. We are brothers in the sense that our chests now occupy the same area as our waist lines. Unfortunately, gravity sucks!

It brought back to mind the days as intramural director and as the coach/owner/player on one of the greatest sports franchises known to mankind. SID's Bombers (TM) earned 14 USFC Intramural Titles in the span of 22 seasons.

Now, mind you intramurals are a tough game. One could say that intra-murder would be a more apt term. Although, most would agree Church League basketball is also one of the roughest brands of basketball.

In church league basketball you can get carpet burns from some of the venues in which the game is played. Usually in a multi -purpose activities room that the church built on to the existing property.

You can also get a technical foul for calling a ref a cockroach.

Isn't it amusing that almost every male athlete thinks that "He's Got Game" when it comes to IM basketball?

Football players know they are not soccer players and vice-versa (Braden Wieking is a notable exception). But by and large those in their own respective sports realize that their talents don't necessarily translate over to another sport. Rabbits aren't on swim teams and Ducks are not sprinters. You know what I mean. But in basketball, we all think we are great.

I played with the Bombers (TM) on a career that spanned 1971-1989. Most of the IM games were played in Pierce Gym. Many a bloody conflict was touted in that pavilion.

Our arch nemesis was a team call "The Boogers". They were the Lakers of the era. They were mostly STING wannabes, who worried more about their hair and how cut they were than much of anything else.

The Bombers were a team of blue collar hard as nails bull dogs. We earned every inch we gained.  That's why we won 5 out of the 7 head to head championships (as I recall it).

Everyone by now knows the leading scorer in USF IM Basketball is yours truly. Inquiring minds may ask how this was achieved. Although, glacially slow, no ups (about 3 sheets of paper) and poor vision, this friend is the truth, I could shoot the rock.  But it was great career with many memories.  

At the court dimensions in Pierce were about 75 feet long and 40 feet wide. So that was an equalizer for me.

Then in 1987 coinciding with the construction of the "World's Only" Stewart Center, the NCAA changed the dimensions of the court length to 150 feet long and a width of 75 feet. My IM days we numbered. I played one more year and retired to coaching.

Some other additional records: Sure wish I had Willie as my agent back in the day.

  • Most points when my teams were ahead or behind by + 5 points with less than 3 minutes to go in a half.
  • Most points with my team down by + 3 points in the last minute of a game.
  • Most FG's during the last 2 minutes of a game when my teams were ahead or behind by + 5
  • All-time Assists leader
  • Most assists for the game-winning shot.

At least that is the way the facts are remembered...as I recall them. Perhaps the way they are preferred to be remembered.

In summation,

"Hey man, gonna drop it like it's hot. I'm just an old school street ballin gangsta holler. Wantin some street cred for my game homes. I could hoop it with the any playa and had the wicked mad skills to be a bad man and you just got skooled.

So homes don't get all up in my grille if thinks you hang with me. Don't be no head sprung hoodie who goes all ghetto on me ya herd. Just gimme my props, the bling and get outa my face and let me hang with my peeps. Gotta pimped ride and gonna bounce back to the crib foshiz."


Blog #6 (11/22/11)

Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving: that great holiday that nowadays almost becomes an afterthought. The time of the year when prudent Turkeys stop buying green bananas.

How is it that networks broadcasting Turkey-Day Football have those multi-legged birds? Who is going to eat a turkey with 6 legs? Each and every consumer must make sure that the origin of the bird they are about to eat is safe and not from Chernobyl Farms or something of that ilk.

Thanksgiving break is the calm before the storm; a respite from those last three harried and hurried weeks before finals. There are always a handful of students whose conniving ways allow them to avoid the dreariness of the Monday and Tuesday before break. These few these proud students somehow convinced themselves and their instructors that there was an urgent need that beckoned them away from classes.

Perhaps their pet cat was on life support and they just needed to be with them before the critter fell over. Another excuse worthy of a shot was this: "Hey, my Uncle Burl and Aunt Enid [or visa-versa] are breezing thru town on their way to AZ. I won't get to see them for a long loooooong time we are all very close... they raised my cousins you know."

This reminds me of a country western hip hop treasure by Roger Miller, "My Uncle Loved Me, But She Died" and that is exactly the reason why two more days of vaycay are required. How willing these few were to compromise integrity for 48 more hours of chillaxin time. It makes me wish that I thought of the idea sooner.

As the instructor of a Tuesday night class, I put into place a deft preemptive scheduling move.  Although, class is rightfully scheduled to meet; students were given leave to avoid what was to be a certain South Dakota Haymaker Holiday Blizzard had class met on its regular schedule. The EXS 210 Class owes a debt of gratitude for this kind and generous act. Hey, it is Thanksgiving after all.  

Best Wishes and Good Hunting to those of you who have the will to venture out on Black Friday.

This exercise in conspicuous consumption is akin to Pamplona's tradition La Corrida de Toros. (The Running of the Bulls)

Some words of caution and advice offered in no particular order.

1. Make sure you stretch out and get loose before you go out.

2. A brisk warm up is a must.

3. Show no fear...seasoned shoppers can smell it

4. Travel in packs...a lone wolf makes easy prey.

5. Be dauntless and daring. Audacity is your middle name.

6. Keep up with the leaders and watch out for the Blue Light specials (hint: usually in aisle 4).

7. Be on guard all ALL times. Head on a swivel as it were.

8. Finally, since I won't be out in the maddening throng I won't have your back.

I just can't wait to get out my meager decorations. There are no Griswold aspirations here. Just a stable, a manger, a nuclear family and a great supporting cast is all that's necessary.

Our Mother was disciplined and taught us well. No Christmas songs and no decorating until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That is the perfect day for such things. It affords Thanksgiving Day the props it deserves.

I send blessings for your journey if you are traveling later this week out on the highways and by-ways.

Drive safely. Exercise all due caution at your feast on Thursday. Better to live another day and enjoy the fab leftovers. Happy Holidays!
_______________________________________________________________________________________


Blog #5 (11/11/11)

Canadians, that ---- word and soccer 

The USF men's and women's soccer teams wrapped up their 2011 season last weekend when they hosted the USF Classic. Both squads played courageously through howling winds and bone-chilling temps (high 30's at best) in a wind chill of 20-25 degrees. By the way, the wind chill index is set by a few meteorologists who spend their day in warm enclosed offices. If they had the fortitude to step outside, I firmly believe they would have downgraded the wind chill by 20 degrees.

This tournament was the first international competition for both Cougar teams.

The competing teams includes two teams from Canada, Minot State (essentially Canada) and Kansas.

I will say this for the Canadians. They had a great handle on curse words in their lexicon of the English vernacular. They used them often and with enthusiasm. Especially the big one; you know, the ---- word. The Big Kahuna of curse words.

This vile word is typically followed by the descriptor "bomb" when someone is tallying up how many times the word was utilized in semi-polite conversation and/or a sentence. Our friends from the provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba made its use true artistry. As wordsmiths, they were true craftsmen and were able to weave it seamlessly into many forms; as a noun, verb, adverb or a conjunction-in this they stood apart from any team that was competing with them ON the field.

I move onto a different thread. Soccer, aka football internationally, may be pronounced as any one of the following derivations:  Futbol, Fuatbole, Fiatbola, Foatbual and so on. One just has to fit the dialect or language.

Throughout the tournament, many of us were huddled around the ticket hut (which doubled as a wind shelter and warming house) on Field III at the USF Sanford Sports Complex.

Several members of this group watched this great sport, being played with incredible skill right in front of our eyes, yet we understood nearly nil of the action taking place on the field. I must admit that I know less about soccer than almost anyone. Perhaps Coach Afa and Coach Bennett can write a primer book, "Soccer for Dummies and SID." If so, I would read it cover to cover but I am afraid that it would still not do much good. True ignorance is rarely assuaged.

Soccer is quote similar to hockey. The difference is that it is played without the weapons and sans ice. A match is played on a huge field, 80 yards wide and 120 yards long which in case you didn't know equals more than 96,000 square feet. There are outlet malls smaller than that. It's like tow acres of land; thank goodness for synthetic turf. Who wants to mow an outlet mall? Not me.

In both soccer and hockey, players use their bodies like battering rams. Soccer has times during a match, when opposing players (in an attempt to wrestle the ball away) will viciously go after an opponent who is "dribbling" down the field.

Then there are the headers. This maneuver was recently made famous by Team USA player Abby Wambach in the Women's World Cup. I believe that soccer is the only sport in which intentionally using your head is encouraged; only in the sense that it is a part of the standard equipment and not just for thinking. You know Yogi Berra once was quoted as saying, "How can you hit and think at the same time?" That axiom from baseball's Maharishi might apply here.

It is clear to me that you have to grow up with soccer to understand the subtle nuances of the game. On an international level, soccer is uncontested as the number one sport. Competition within and outside of opposing countries is fierce. Perhaps, that's why the sport spawns so much fan violence. As the saying goes, I went to a riot once and a soccer game broke out. You know it is a serious match when a goalie gets shot (in the parking lot of a nightclub) for accidentally kicking a ball into his own goal. Apparently, those who bet a lot of denarii on the match took issue with the faux pas. That, my friends, is high stakes soccer.

I freely admit to listening with great fervor to our USA Women's soccer team making a great run at the World Cup. It was a crushing defeat; falling to Japan in penalty kicks after having the game essentially won. The great Ian Darke was calling the games for ESPN in that iconic first tenor voice of his. Much like our friends from Canada, one could hardly understand a word he said but loved it all. To my knowledge and his credit the ---- bomb was never used. Not once.

I leave you with this from Andres Canter, the famous soccer announcer. It above all else describes the excitement that should be displayed for any goal that is scored. No matter how seldom they may be.

See this on YouTube, it's great!

GGGGGOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Blog #4 (10/31/11)

Homecoming Postscript:

You may relate to this malady.  Are there not some mornings when you wake up and you get a peculiar song or ditty in your head and it is there all the live long day and just impossible to ignore?

Well, after our last Homecoming game, (you may recall) we scored 10 times or so.
 
Those of you who were there became aware that after each score the [prerecorded] USF fight song was played. So much so, that when the visiting team loaded their buses to go back to R-City most were humming it to themselves. I could faintly hear it.

I suppose if something as hideous as a rap song were played that many times I'd remember the tune too.

(Footnote: Remember Good Rap Music is an oxymoron).

Some thoughts on travel: the USF Volleyball team is a group of road weary, stalwart and courageous young women.

I have ascribed the name "Xena Road Warriors" unto the 2011 squad.

They have traversed hill and valley all over the upper Midwest.  At last count, the team has logged more than 9,000 miles this season. Lewis and Clark only made it 8,000 miles before they quit (wimps).

Alan Shepard on America's first flight into space only went 120 nautical miles or 132 earth miles. To be sure, he went a lot faster strapped on top of a Firestone Rocket.

Therein lays the pity. Our Xena's are oft times confined to a bus that tops out at 70 MPH. Thus making the trips a heckuva a lot lllloooooooonnnnnnggggggeeerrr. 9000 miles is roughly from here to New York over to Las Vegas and to back Sioux Falls. Holy Moly!!!

On one such trip, I assisted the Coaches McCartney in loading provisions for their early October marathon to The Black Hills and continuing on into Minot North Dakota... for cryin' out loud. Um... Lemme see, 350 miles to the Hills, a mere daytrip of 460 (up and over) to Minot, and then tack on another 500 on the return to Sioux Falls. The latter after they had played two matches each day. Anybody know how to get to Minot from Rapid City? Neither did the bus company.  By the looks of it, you would think that some of that territory out west isn't even on the map.

The following is a fairly accurate assessment of the food stuffs. It was all pretty much nutritious health food stuff:  varying fruits, multigrain items, low sugar drinks. The kind that hydrate you well.  It was impressive. Now a trip of that distance always starts with the wholesome intention(s) to be health conscious. As the miles hammer away at one's will, sooner or later, on these never ending journeys, human frailty and weakness erode self-control.  By the time I would have arrived at Al's Oasis seeds, chips, candy and "The Dew" would be have the bill of fare (supplanting nutrition with comfort food to be sure).

The expedition to Minot from R-City would have caused further deterioration of the will to eat right. By the time we headed south out of Minot to Sioux Falls, I would have been eating pork rinds, HoHo's and drinking "Jolt" Cola while suckin' down Camel straights like a wildfire.

Man o Man what an odyssey.

This Tuesday, they will embark on their last trip via ground transport to Winona (not Whynona) Minnesota.

Once again they will travel in a bus that offers a hard ride. The incabin temperature mimics the outdoor ambient temperature. Thus, if it 90 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors and it's all of that inside.

The trip home affords an accommodation that's less than optimal. Unlike most climatically controlled cabins, the air conditioning (at least on the buses we use) usually works best when it's less than 60 degrees outside.

Fortunately and deservingly, they will fly to their last tournament in St Louis. Just a few miles out to Foss field on, of course, a bus. The team will fly to St Louis and utilize vans to get around the St Louis metro. This should be refreshing change of pace.
 
Then a quick bus trip (from Foss) back to The World's Only Stewart Centre' just for the sake of nostalgia.

Then and there they will lay their travel burdens down.

I salute you, Mighty Xenas, Our Road Warriors, for your resolve and pluck to see it all through.


Because it is certain that lesser men would have meekly shrunk from the engagement.

Blog #3 (10/20/11) 

Homecomings Come and gone;

This week is the Annual Homecoming Fete. 'Nee Tepee Days it has now it is the banal USF Homecoming.

Homecoming is a time when alumni, alumnae, alumna and alumnuseses have the decency to return to their alma mater. Through the past decade and a half perhaps nearer 20 years we have always defended the honor of our Nourishing mother [at least on the gridiron]. This is what Alma Mater translates to from the Latin.

However, in years past we were not so defensive nor were we very offensive either. In the dark ages of the decade of the 70's it was a long shot for SFC to win a game.

From 1968 thru the 1979 season the then Braves (Cougars '78 and '79] won 25 games...total.

14 of those came in a three year period of '72-'74. In 2009 we won 15 in ONE SEASON.

We played in so many homecoming games our coaching staffs were solicited to be judges of homecoming floats and parades. They [as a matter of propriety] respectfully declined.

The paucity of scoring during those years almost by necessity [to stay familiar] forced our band to play the USFC Fight Song when the team EARNED a first down. It wasn't even played that often even by lowering the bar.

Should the BRAVE COUGARS occasion to score...the band and those in attendance were driven to something remarkable. All would stand and sing the Doxology, the National Anthem or God Bless America simply out of a knee jerk reaction due to the solemnity of this rare occurrence.

If they didn't they should have.

Then it got so bad the band left us. I am still not sure if they were offended or were bored.

During the dark days we were happy if half the team and the officials showed up.

We didn't charge admission lest we offend anyone.

Those teams were not devoid of talent. We just didn't have enough.

It was like holding an ace, a three, a seven and a nine in a no draw poker game. Not much you could do. There was no scrambling for a seat on the bus during those times. It was one per customer.

40 seats on the Purple Goose you do the math. 

Well, guess how many homecomings we played in the last 15-16 years ahaha sweet revenge.

There's more to the truth than just the facts. 

 

____________________________________________________________________________

Blog #2 (10/13/11)

On Saturday, the University of Sioux will host Black Hills State University renewing one of our oldest rivalries. Both were members of the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference.

The series dates back to 1927 when they were Western Normal and we were Sioux Falls College. I was not there for the first game, but have been on many a trip to Spearfish since. We have had some interesting things happen in this rivalry.

As with any great football rivalry, there are many recollections from the past.
So to that end, which of the following things [that may or may not have happened] will NOT happen this weekend?

Admittedly, I have reached the stage in life that I begin to remember things that I am not sure actually happened.

1. A bus gets egged and "TPeed."

2. A bus engine gets vandalized.

3. At will snow 16 inches on Friday night.

4. Those in charge of the field will take a road grader to the field and push the snow off to the visitor's side making 3-foot wind rows, which the opposing team will stand in for 3 hours.

5. The PA Announcer will sing "Turn out the Lights the Party's Over" should the home team get a big enough lead in the fourth quarter.

6. The PA Announcer in an "inebriated state" will scream "Reverse" over the airways at "The Bob" should one of the teams attempt to run an unclothed reverse.

7. The USF team managers and trainers will sit in a station wagon driving up and down the sideline [following the line of scrimmage] due to frigid conditions.

8. Some of our Players [at the coach's direction] will jump in that station wagon with the Managers and Trainers to keep warm due to the frigid conditions.

9. None of these things will happen.

 The mystery answer will be revealed in next week's blog, so have your secret "Cooper the Cougar" decoder rings at the ready.

See you next week!

"I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing. And in knowing that you know nothing, that makes you the smartest of all!"

____________________________________________________________________________

Blog #1 (10/7/2011)

Sooner or later (I guess) we all get caught; caught by the far reaching tentacles of IT.

The IT here is Information Technology. My specific assignment is to maintain an online blog as we launch our website.

I flew under the radar for years and this before stealth technology was even on the drawing board. Perhaps being at the University of Sioux Falls (College) longer than any of our coaches have been on the planet qualifies me for this task. 

Mark Twain once said that "it is easier to stay out than to get out." Ergo, that's where I find myself today... a fledgling member of the blogosphere.

By the time you read this, USF will have launched our new interactive website. As a member of the crew, I hope my safety harness keeps me strapped in for the journey. It had better.

The difficult task of blogging will be melding the vernacular of the Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers, the GenY's and the Echos into something ecumenical. Decades ago the term "groovy" meant good or very good. The generations that follow all have their own variations for expressing the same feeling or sentiment. This is the daunting task that lies ahead.

To that end here you go: I gotta bounce . . .  takin' it back to the crib and chillaxing.

 

 

Adapted from a Tale of Two Cities by C. Dickens

It's time to tell it like it is TWINS fans. This may be the most wretched TWINS Team in 20 years. Statistically speaking the TWINS performance thus far resembles my performance the Sioux Falls Relays, Last, Last and almost last. I know that is a harsh analogy but it is true.

How do you measure the success of a MLB team; The Overall Record and stats right? The TWINS have lost more games that the good teams have won. Yowza that hurts! We are 28/30 in Hitting.

Then there are the pitching stats, Yup, you guessed it we are 30/30 in Pitching stats, all pitching stats.

Last in The Expanded Pitching Stats I, Last in the Expanded Pitching Stats II and even Last in the cryptic Sabermetric Pitching Stats. What the heck is that stat anyway? It just had to be invented by an agent.

What in the world has happened to baseball? What in the heck has happened to the TWINS, my TWINS?

We are, however, a glamorous 11/30 in Fielding.

Which is not bad considering the excellent manner in which the TWINS pitching staff is hitting the opponent's bats and how many balls are flying around the park as a consequence? I mean if you are playin third base you have to wear goalie gear sometimes.

Some of us TWINS fans wondered why in the world we had spring training. A waste of time, yes?

Next spring, let's just show up at the season opener in early April, warm up a little, throw the ball around some and if it's nice out perhaps take some "BP" and then just PLAY BALL !!!!!!

By saving the millions of dollars wasted on Spring Training the cost of beer could be lowered. TWINS fans need something to assuage the grief and pain at Target Field. This idea certainly has merit and I think it would get traction in the MSP Metroplex of Minnie and Pauli.

A case in point, I watched F.Liriano labor on the mound last week. I mean stevedores working the docks don't toil as hard as he does. The struggle was epic. But he's got good stuff as they say. Sure wisht he had Greg Maddox mind for pitching. Among TWINS pitchers there is no ace to be found.

It pains me to say this but the New York Yankees [in a collective sense] take some of the most intelligent at bats of the teams that are consistently good. The TWINS seemingly have the curse of swinging at balls and watching the strikes go by.  It is one thing to be a free swinger. It's quite another to be a free swinger and not hit anything with your bat but a rogue moth vectoring by the strike zone. TWINS hitters think that the baseball should be in the spot you are swinging through. Ah, not so for my team. We are a notable exception.

We have moved so many players up and down from Rochester; United made it a direct flight. The PR department for the TWINS gave up printing programs and just went the Kinko's route. The TWINS swopped organists with the Emmanuel Covenant Church of Sauk Rapids and some cash. The batboys were chastised vehemently for evidently giving the wrong bats to some of the TWINS hitters. Um, TWINS hitters now there's a contradiction in terms. Gee whiz give the kids a break. It's not like they're get'em paid millions to do something they seemingly are inept at doing.

I had a dream the other night that it got so bad that we bought the contract of pretty Dottie Henson from Willamette in the PCL and called up Marla "What a Hitter" Hooch from our affiliate in Ft Collins. Scary!

Where are the great TWINS of yesteryear?  Where are these great old warriors?

Is the modern day athlete a pale imitation of the stars from the past?  It begs the question, "What are these boys thinking about, 'cause it sure ain't baseball". Why can't the new TWINS be more like to old TWINS?

I am not so sure that my TWINS are nuthin but a bunch of Lollygaggers.

I heard that if Joe Mauer ever hits over 300 again he and his agent are going to want to renegotiate his $ 23 Mil per year contract or go to arbitration. Just to think a few years ago Mauer and the TWINS were the toast of the town.

Please Please tell me we didn't sign Tsuoshi Nishioka for 10 Mill last year. How much better off would we have been to sign Sheshu Hiakowa or Tishiro Mifune at least they could act like a baseball player.

When the TWINS go south on FOX NORTH my mind starts to wander. Ergo, I sometime wonder about the oddest things to pass the time. Things like the great names from past TWINS teams. In the history of the TWINS franchise [like many others] there have been some duesies.

Here are my Top Ten All Time Minnesota TWINS player names:             

  • 1. Yoyo Davalillo
  • 2. Heinie Beckendorf
  • 3. Firpo Marberry
  • 4. Pellum Ballenger
  • 5. Skipper Friday
  • 6. Ox Miller
  • 7. Merito Acosto
  • 8. Morrie Aderholt
  • 9. Red Barbary
  • 10. Vito Valentinetti

HM: Jose Zardon

There was a Jiggs and a Showboat but their last names weren't the caliber of the aforementioned Elite 10.

Here to fore, I could have never imagined any MLB team coming to Target and confronting the TWINS and showing an in your face disrespect. The dialog may unfortunately follow this path.
MLB: Gardie, all due respect, but it can't be easy when you're stuck with AAA-AA-A rejects
Joe Mauer: What'd you say, crap face?
MLB: You shouldn't be allowed to touch a baseball. You're all an insult to the game.
Joe Mauer: Come on! We'll take you on, right here! Right now! Come on!

All the TWINS chime in: Yeah!
MLB: We play real baseball; you ain't good enough to lick the dirt off our cleats.
Joe Mauer: Watch it, jerk! 

MLB: Shut up, idiot!

Joe Mauer: Moron!

MLB: bleep eater!

MLB: You play baseball like girls!  [TWINS stand in shocked silence and some start to tear up]
Gardie: What did you say?

MLB: You heard me.
Gardie:: Tomorrow, Noon, Target field, Be there, buffalo-butt breath.

MLB: Count on it, bleep-stinkers!

These slurs and epithets are juvenile and most of the time confined to the 10-13 year old pre-adolescent demographic. But I want to focus specifically on the slam "You play baseball like a girl" Now in the age of enlightenment this may be construed as sexist and misogynistic.

But I think in the case of the sandlot or peewee baseball. You play baseball like the TWINS may now be the greatest "dis" of all. It breaks my heart to think of teams in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina and environs claim the other team plays like the TWINS and meaning it totally in a derisive fashion.

Oh, oh and oh, the exquisite pain, the elegant anguish, the harsh agony of being a TWINS fanatic.

But just you wait 'til 2013 or 14 or 15 or however long it takes. WE WILL RETURN !!!!!!!!!

Author's Note:

Thus far in 2012 the cruel reality of poor trades, inattention to the farm system and wobbliness of our superstars has stolen the WIN from the TWINS. Thus, it has been redacted from my writings until further notice.

Let's end on a positive note, I still think we the TWINS can win seventy games in 2012. But they are going to have to pay sub .500 baseball [from now until October] to do it. I figure they have to win 60 of the next 122 games in order win LXX games.

WATCH EXCLUSIVE
Live & On-demand
Audio and Video
COUGAR VIDEO LIVE EVENTS
No Live Events in the Near Future