Category Archives: sports and life

Baseball, Perspective and Life

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Well my friends Opening Day is upon us after a long and at times brutal winter, and for that I am glad. So tonight after a very long day moving furniture and books getting ready for the contractors to come and install the tile on my living room floor I am basically doing a re-run but not calling it that. I was working on another article but it is too late and I am too tied to finish it, so I am reprising this article from 2011. Have a great night and catch you tomorrow.

“I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won’t matter if I get this guy out.” Bill “Spaceman” Lee

Bill “Spaceman” Lee is a funny guy. A Major League pitcher who has long since retired Lee somehow in an often convoluted way was able to keep things in perspective. I love this quote because it is a reminder that a lot of the stuff that we take very seriously in the long run isn’t that important. In fact it reminds of just how little control we have and why it is such an exercise in futility to be anxious and worry about things that we cannot control. I’m pretty sure that Jesus had a word or two about this as well which his disciples thought was important enough to put in the Gospels.

Anyway, last night was another night where for the most part I took the night off from looking at the news about Japan and Libya. I watched for a while as I ate dinner and did laundry but when I began to put my platform bed together I decided I didn’t need to keep listening to newscasters, commentators, talking heads, politicians and pundits as they pondered, puzzled and piddled about the problems of the day. Let’s face it unless big news breaks in the middle of any news channels’ programming it is all the same information being repeated repeatedly by people who many times are paid huge amounts of money to sound ignorant. I guess that it beats real work. Oh well I have continued to take a mental break from this things because they will be there in the morning and will probably be worse than they are now. But to paraphrase what I said last night what is going on now needs to be kept in perspective because this nation and the world have been throw worse during the 20th Century then we are going through now.

Since I wrote about some of those things in my last essay night I won’t re-hash them. But I will say that our media machine both the old established media and the new media are the greatest producers of anxiety that the world has ever seen. These people have created an industry where news is packaged to create anxiety and keep views hooked wondering what terrible calamity will befall them, because if it happened somewhere else it will probably happen here too even if all the facts on the ground are different. David Brinkley said it well when talking about television news: “The one function that TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if it were.” Thus even hypothetical issues become objects which are used to drive up anxiety, anger and fear and I think that pundits of all types and stripes are the worst offenders in this. It is simply shameful but I digress.

If we look at American History we see that while the media since day one has promoted anxiety and fear in one form or another that we have for the most part been able to keep things in perspective. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” he was absolutely on the money. Our problem today is that we live in a world where our ability to communicate information especially about bad things both real and imagined exceeds both our ability to absorb it and to cognitively and emotionally respond to any real threat vice the imagined threats. Branch Rickey once said “thinking about the Devil is worse than seeing the Devil.”

In such a tumultuous environment it is hard to keep to keep events in perspective. As I said in my previous article I was tired from hearing the constant barrage of bad news. Now I am pretty good about keeping perspective but even if I can cognitively deal with the news it can be hard to maintain a non-anxious presence if I am being constantly bombarded with disasters and tragedies of the magnitude that we have witnessed the past several weeks. Thus I turned off the news and put on baseball movies and decided to do the same last night.

Since I am tying baseball into the whole issue of keeping one’s perspective I want to mention the great baseball comedies Major League and Bull Durham. While they are comedies told through the lens of baseball they are great movies about life and keeping one’s perspective. I love both of these movies, they are not the emotional and spiritual tales like Field of Dreams and For the Love of the Game they are great in using the medium of a baseball comedy to give life lessons.

Major League deals with a Cleveland Indians team that has not won a world series in over 40 years and whose owner is trying to lose so many games that she can move the team to Miami. The team is made up of has been players, cast offs and rookies of uncertain ability and maturity. In the movie which was set before the Indians renaissance of the 1990s dealt with a losing team that the owner purposely built to lose, but finds its pride to spite their nefarious owner and win the American League East. The character that I can relate to is the old catcher called up from the Mexican League, Jake Taylor played by Tom Berenger who is the field leader of the team helping the young players to mature while holding the Indians together as they go through difficult times and then go on to win the East against the Yankees and in the process rediscover a love that was lost due to his own mistakes.

Bull Durham is another one of my favorites and once again my favorite character is the journeyman catcher, Crash Davis played by Kevin Costner who is sent back to “A” Ball to assist a young pitcher named Eby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh played by Tim Robbins. In the process Crash helps LaLoosh, assists his teammates as they go through hard times and discovers love even at the end of his playing career.

What I like about these films is how they show how to keep perspective in life. In the movies both Jake Taylor and Crash Davis are guys on the down side of their careers. They play on losing teams which they help lead back into contention and help the young players mature into winners. They simply concentrate in the things that they can influence.

Of course baseball is taken deep into the future in Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

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The way I figure is that in life we can worry about stuff that we can’t control and ignore the things and people around us that really matter that we can have some influence upon and that is not just a baseball thing. That is a life thing; it is a faith thing and a relational thing. Are these characters perfect examples? By no means, they are regular guys in situations that are not the greatest to be in and they make mistakes, sometimes on the field and a lot of time in relationships. That is why I think that they are good examples; they are real not some kind of untouchable perfect hero. I can relate to guys like that.

I know that I’m a Mendoza Line* kind of guy in a lot of ways. I’m a journeyman who has been able to be successful enough to hang around a long time in my chosen profession. I think that is how I keep my perspective, I’ve been around long enough to make lots of mistakes, experience a lot of bad times and having come through a really bad time after Iraq realize that no matter what happens things will work out. That was like being in a major slump but somehow despite everything I made it through those hard times.

So when I now talk about keeping perspective on life I talk about it from a vantage point of having failed in different ways but also having succeeded in others sometimes even in the same endeavor. So my perspective is now I know that I can’t control what is happening in all the world’s crisis points or for that matter almost anything, I need to take care of the people and things that I have a little bit up influence upon.

I think that is a lesson that baseball teaches us. It teaches us that so much of life is beyond our control and that just because everything isn’t okay doesn’t mean that we need to live in fear and in a constant state of anxiety. As Walt Whitman so eloquently put it “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.”

Peace

Padre Steve+
*The Mendoza Line is named after Mario Mendoza who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit for a career batting average of .215 and the Mendoza Line is considered to be a .200 average which is the line below which players can pretty much be assured that they will not remain in the Major Leagues.

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From the Miracle On Ice to the Shootout at Sochi: Drama and Sportsmanship on the Hockey Rink

Miracle on Ice, February 22, 1980, Lake Placid, NY.

On February 22nd 1980 the impossible took place, a underdog team of American college hockey players defeated the might Soviet Union Team at Lake Placid New York. It was one of the most memorable and legendary moments in sports history.

I cannot forget that day. I had finished work making and rolling pizza dough at Shakey’s Pizza in Stockton, went home and showered. I then got in my 1966 Buick LeSaber 400 to head over to Judy’s house.  On my way over I was listening to the music on a local AM radio station when ABC news radio broke in to air final few seconds of the game live. I remember listening as Al Michaels made the famous call:

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“Eleven seconds, you’ve got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES!” 

The last minute of play in the Miracle on Ice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYscemhnf88 and about ten key minutes of that game.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fztlLwgSFCg

I could not believe it. I found that was screaming in the car.  As soon as I got to Judy’s I went in and told her and her parents. When the game came on, as it was tape delayed I watched it with undivided attention. To this day I cannot forget that night and as I watch the tapes of that game I am still moved to tears by the emotions that come from it.

The underdog Americans had beaten the vaunted Soviet team 4-3. That team went on to defeat Finland in the Gold medal game 4-2. The next day they were guests at the White House and after that the team broke up. Thirteen of those players went on to NHL careers. Brooks led the 2002 Team USA to a Silver Medal in 2002 before being killed in a car crash in 2003. That Silver Medal was the first medal in Hockey for the US since 1980.

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The Soviet people and their news media were stunned by the loss. Though the Soviet Team won Silver by defeating Sweden 9-2 the team had lost its luster. While the Soviet Team remained dominant until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1990 it was the end of an era. The Soviets who had taken Gold in the four previous Olympics went on to win Olympic Gold in 1984, 1988 and again after the fall of the Soviet Union as the Unified Team in 1992.

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But even so, the upset loss to the young Americans was something that many never really got over. It was not about Cold War politics, it was about pride in their team and their passion for the sport of Hockey. For years many Russians, even after the fall of the Soviet Union longed for Olympic revenge against the Americans.

Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke watched today’s United States versus Russia game at a bar in Sochi with ordinary Russians. His story is well worth the read, but one comment stood out to me in relation to the 1980 game.

“The 1980 game will forever be a scar on my heart,” said 69-year-old Vladimir Makushkin, pausing while carrying his beer from table to table. “Every American knew we were the stronger team. It was students that beat us … young students!”

You can read his article here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/olympics/la-sp-sochi-mens-hockey-plaschke-20140216,0,1790197.column#ixzz2tRThGXrh 

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Today in Sochi the American and Russian teams met in a first round game. It was different than 1980. These teams are very evenly matched. Many of the players on both teams play together or against each other in the NHL. They are professionals, they are teammates but today they were playing for something different, Olympic Gold.

Members of Team USA celebrate after defeating Russia in a shootout during their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games

It was a game of greatness, high drama with the teams being tied as the Third Period ended. A shootout ensued and in the 8th round of the shootout T.J. Oshie scored the deciding goal to give the Americans the win.

For many Russians today’s loss was devastating. But at the same time the fans that Plaschke watched the game with displayed the sportsmanship that one expects of fans that love their team, but also love and respect the game even more than the politics that  so often enters into Olympic and other International athletic competitions.

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I think that Americans and Russians alike are much more appreciative of each other as well as the shortcomings of our respective governments in post Cold War era. Maybe, just maybe such appreciations will help both of our peoples become closer in the coming years, despite the pressure exerted by the unholy Trinity of Politicians, Pundits and Preachers that is so strong in each of our countries.

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Though I was for the American team, I have tremendous respect for the Russians, many of whom I cheer for in the NHL. I am happy that Team USA won, but I will not gloat.  It was a tremendous game between tow outstanding teams and the Russians could have won as easily as the Team USA. The Russians and many of the other teams are hugely talented and this tournament could be won by any team. I think that the Canadians probably have the best team in the tournament, but anything can happen.

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Vladislav Tretyak, who was the starting Goalie for the Soviet squad at Lake Placid and was replaced at the end of the second period with the game tied is often asked about the Miracle on ice. He sees it through the lens of hockey and not politics. He noted: “It was cold above us, but we (the U.S. and Soviet players) always had fine relations… There was none of that, no politics involved.” When asked about the loss he simply says  “That’s ice hockey.” 

So on that, in the hopes that good sportsmanship, camaraderie and the love of a game can bring better appreciation for each other by Americans and Russians I wish you a good night.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Thoughts and Concerns Regarding the Sochi Winter Olympics

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I find it strange as I am not watching the Winter Olympics tonight. I have always been more of a fan of the Winter Games than the summer. I cannot remember the last time that I purposely didn’t watch the beginning of any Olympic Games, certainly not the Winter Games. The first Winter Olympiad that I remember watching was in 1972 when it was held in Sapporo Japan. It was a time that I was playing hockey and a time that I fell in love with with the Winter Games.

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However I am not watching tonight, and it is not for lack of interest in the sports, athletes and human interest stories. But something doesn’t seem right. I have a sense of foreboding about these games. The security situation troubles me, Chechen and other militant Islamists in the Caucasus have made credible threats. Based on their track record of successfully carrying out major bloody terror attacks throughout Russia, including Moscow, Volgagrad, and Beslan gives credence to the capabilities of these terrorists. I fear for the athletes, their families, the spectators and the citizens of Sochi. I do hope that the Russian Security Services are successful in preventing any attacks. 

There are other things that trouble me. From the reports that I read it does not look like Sochi is really ready for prime time. The isolation of Sochi from the rest of Russia and the world is The reported troubles make it appear that the thin veneer of progress that Putin has tried to apply to a crumbling state is already wearing badly. 

Likewise I do not trust Russian President Putin, it seems to me that he is returning Russia to an authoritarian state which persecutes its minorities, be they ethnic, religious or other supposedly less than desirable groups, specifically in the last case the Russian LGBT community. 

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The sad thing in the latter case is that supposedly American Christians like Scott Lively, and advocacy groups like the National Organization on Marriage, as well as many in the conservative Christian alternate media are encouraging and abetting those that would crush the rights of a minority group, in fact they praise Putin’s authoritarianism. I think that speaks volumes of what they think of civil, political and human liberties and is an indicator of what they would do in this country if they ever gained control of all the mechanisms of government. Thankfully I cannot see that happening, but stranger things have happened when virulent radicals promote fear and intolerance in the name of their religion, or ideology.  

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Now I am sure that I will watch many of the events shown of these games. I hope they will be successful and I will also be praying that no terrorist attacks harm anyone involved. That being concerned I am concerned for all in Sochi tonight. 

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day: If Phil Simms Sees His Shadow Do We Get 6 More Weeks of Winter?

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Well it is Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day to boot, two great events that go great together. Unfortunately Phil Simms, victor of Super Bowl XXI and CBS NFL Commentator will not be helping to call the game since it is on Fox, but I digress… Had CBS had the game this year they could have had Simms out in the parking lot with the early tailgaters as the sun came up.

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Like the more famous Phil up in Punxsutawney, Simms has been able to keep a pretty good gig going for himself after his NFL career was over. Last night before I went to bed the significance of Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl being the same day astounded me.

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To my twisted mind it seemed like some sort of cosmic Karma. It would have been great if Punxsutawney Phil could have been at the new Met Life Stadium in east Rutherford New Jersey today.  Then the two events could have been even better orchestrated, a lot more money made by all, and as a bonus we could have watched Governor Chris Christie eat Phil during the game.

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Had the game been in New Orleans we might have been treated to Phil hiding out in Phil Robertson’s beard trying to avoid being eaten. On the other hand that would be kind of gross, but again, I digress…

I like watching the Super Bowl, I enjoy football, but it does not have the religious significance of baseball to me.  So tonight I will be watching it at my favorite hang out, the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Virginia Beach Town Center.

This is a good thing because it will get us out of the house for a few hours, and since Servepro can’t get out here until Tuesday to start dewatering my ground floor this is not a bad thing. The good thing is our upstairs has a nice living area, otherwise we would be in a hotel.

So for the next few days, maybe even weeks we will be living in a sort of water induced Groundhog Day as the house is dewatered, dried out, ripped up and reconstructed. But it could always be worse. Unfortunately the longer it takes for Servepro to get out here the worse the damage will be and the more that will need to be replaced or repaired. That is not their fault, because they, like so many other businesses like them are having lots of work to do after the big winter storm that his last week.

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, damning us to 6 more weeks of winter hell. But can we hope that Phil Simms, wherever he may be today will not see his shadow and that somehow if he doesn’t that it will cancel out the other Phil’s prediction?

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The one drawback to the two events coinciding for me is that I will have to put off my annual observance of watching the movie Groundhog Day until tomorrow. As Ross Perot would have said to Larry King back in 1992: “That’s just sad Larry.”

Have a great day and enjoy the game!

Oh, as a P.S. Go Broncos!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A “Soul Vike” Reunion a Ball Game and a Blow Up

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I have been on the road this week for my High School Class 35th anniversary reunion. It was a special time with old friends and quite enjoyable. I am going to keep this a rather short post tonight because I have an ungodly early flight in the morning heading back to the East Coast. 408699_2575280304915_863482896_n

It is really cool because our class, the Edison High School Class of 1978 was amazing. I have written about that experience and how special our class was in a number of articles on this site, mostly ones dealing with civil rights and how we were way ahead of our time. I compare notes with other people a lot and I do not know anyone from any other school or graduating class whose fellow classmates have the long term camaraderie, love and respect that we have for each other that we do. Back then and even today we are the Edison High School Vikings, or more affectionately and appropriately known as the Soul Vikes.

We represent every ethnic, racial, religious, political , economic, cultural background and even sexual orientation of our very diverse home town of Stockton California. The cool thing is that no matter how different we are in some ways we are very much bonded together by our shared experiences at Edison. We were the first graduating class of that school to go through bussing, something that many predicted would lead to race riots. But our class not only made it work we set an example and it is always amazing to me when I see so many communities struggling with racial tensions and prejudice to look back so fondly at what the group of 10th graders who came together in the Fall of 1975 and graduated in the summer of 1978 did then and do today. Many of us stay in contact on social media and those still in the local area of Stockton California stay in touch, but every 5 years we get together. I have made all but one of our reunions.

It is cool because when I get together with these friends and classmates we share the stories, the good times and the bad, the funny and the sad, the touching and the less than touching bringing laughs and sometimes tears as we remember friends who have passed away. It is funny because when you get to be over 50 and you realize that by the time the next reunion rolls around everyone will have their AARP cards that what really matters in life is the people that we care about and the relationships. Ultimately it is not about what we have done or accomplished, how rich or successful we are but what we leave behind.

Sometimes what we leave behind is good and sometimes not so good. In a way I guess it is all because we are human and sometimes we do things right and sometimes we don’t. But in the end hopefully the good outweighs the bad, or should that be the other way around? Do we really want to weigh that much? Never mind I digress…

Like I said the reunion was great and a lot of fun. I hope that we are able to track down some more of our classmates and bring back some of our guys who have done the “D-Day” or Daniel Simpson O’Day routine out of Animal House and drove off never to be seen again. Again I digress…

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We had a couple of great nights of fun and fellowship and I hope that we do it again sooner rather than later.

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We took some time to remember and honor or friends who have passed away, all far too young. Some to natural causes like cancer and others in tragic accidents, victims of crime or those for whom the struggles of life and its demons were too much. As I looked at the pictures and read the names felt tears. Some I knew the stories of what had happened while others came as a complete surprise.

I guess that it is why it is important to stay in contact. Because it ultimately is about us and our relationships.

That being said the trip was also nice because I was able to see my family and despite the obligatory blow up that happened between me and my mother, who I do love despite our differences. This time, maybe unknowingly she got me and I went nuclear in a restaurant and left. Not good form on my part but ever since Iraq I have a lot shorter fuze than I used to on some things. Since I write about those subjects a decent amout I won’t go into them here. Not an excuse but the truth. We are a lot like George Costanza and his mom from Seinfeld. SERENITY NOW!

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I was able to see my brother a number of times and see his wife and their kids who have all grown so much since the last time I saw them in 2010. I do want to make sure that we see each other more often. Thankfully I won’t be doing the geographic bachelor thing anymore and may be able to go with Judy out to California more often as life settles down. Maybe we’ll take her Mustang rather than flying and see some other friends across this land and other sites as well.

I ended the trip with a visit to see the Oakland Athletics play the Tampa Bay Rays at the Oakland Coliseum. It was really nice. The stadium itself is pretty crummy, but the people are great, very friendly and it is a nice atmosphere to see a game, not to mention a lot more affordable than many other Major League ballparks. After the game I went to my hotel where my nephew Joe met me for dinner. It was good to see just how well that he is doing.

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I fly out early tomorrow and since I have to get up way early i’m going to say goodnight.

Peace and blessings

Padre Steve+

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A Midsummer Night Dream: The MLB All Star Game, Faith and Life

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“Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.”  Saul Steinberg

Those that have followed my writing on this site for any length of time know that perhaps more than any other thing on earth that the game of Baseball is an important part of my life and spirituality.

Baseball, unlike most sports is very much a game with a calendar that is almost liturgical in its make up. It is also a game where those who “have gone before” are as much a part of the present as a part of history. It is a game that people like me ascribe an almost mystical or religious significance.

I have grown up with baseball. My dad ingrained it in me, my mom came to my little league games when my dad was in Vietnam and even my paternal grandmother had a baseball game on whenever one was on.

I like to say that God speaks to me through Baseball, and I do think that I am right about this, much more so than Scripture which I never know if I am interpreting correctly, especially because so many learned people tell me that I’m a heretic. So I guess I have to let God speak to me in other ways, like Baseball.

The All Star Game is part of my “Church Calendar.” it is a moment in the summer where the game and I pause. I pause to reflect on life and remember so many things about the specific All Star Games, my dad and life.

All Star games in any sport are problematic. Most have no meaning. The NFL Pro-Bowl is such bad football that it has almost no relationship to the game as it is played every Sunday. The NBA and NHL games are better, but again because of the nature of those games little resemble their regular season or playoff games. Added to this as that none of those games have any bearing on what happens in the sport where the Baseball All Star Game matters, it determines home field advantage in the World Series.

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I fell in love with the All Star Game in 1970, the game that Pete Rose ended in extra innings when he ran over Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse to win the game for the National League. Likewise I remember the 1999 All Star Game at Fenway Park when Ted Williams was honored and the All Century Team was named. I found it interesting that Pete Rose, arguably the best hitter in the history of the game who was banned from baseball for life by A Bartlett Giamatti for betting on the game was included on that team. I agreed with the selection then and in light of the fact that so many other men of sometimes questionable morals and character are in the Hall of Fame think that the ban on Rose should be lifted and that he be voted into the Hall of Fame.

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That being said I find something wonderful about the All Star Game despite the fact that we now have year round inter-league play. Back when I was a kid the All Star Game and the World Series were the only times besides Spring Training that one could see players from both leagues play. I like inter-league play and unlike some do not think that it takes away anything from the mid-summer classic.

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The All Star Game is a celebration of the game, its history and players, not just the ones playing in the current year. I am interested in this game, maybe more than others in recent memory because I know or have met a number of the players including Chris Tillman and Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles and seen quite a few at some level of their minor league careers in the South Atlantic, Carolina, Southern, Eastern, International or Pacific Coast Leagues. For me it is really cool to see men that I watched when they were in the minors now playing in the All Star Game. For those that don’t follow the minor leagues it provides a certain amount of perspective because most players in the minors never make the majors and even many of those who do don’t stay there. It is a hard life and for most the money is not that great, thus I do not begrudge the salaries that they make when they get to the majors. It takes a tremendous amount of talent, hard work, determination and sometimes luck to make it in the majors, to stay there and to become an All Star. Those that do it consistently year after year are amazing.

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Me (top left) with my brother Jeff and California Angels Coach Rocky Bridges in 1970

I appreciate their work, because in my calling and career as a Priest, Chaplain and military officer I am a journeyman. I’ve been around a long time, in a sense been up and down in the majors and minors in a number of different positions. I have had some good seasons so to speak, but I have also had plenty of bad ones and spent a lot of time in the military and church versions of the minor leagues. I think it gives me a manner of perspective when appreciating the hard work and excellence needed to be an All Star. If I was ever to be honored in such a way I would have to say something like John Kruk said back in 1993 when he was elected to the All Star Team “It’s amazing that fans want to see me play. What is our society coming to?”

This year was the last All Star Game for the amazing Mariano Rivera, the all time leader in saves by a relief pitcher who has brought so much to this game. He is cool, collected and humble as well as a machine when it comes to closing games. With 638 career saves to date and probably at least another 20 before the end of the season. Rivera pitched the bottom of the 8th inning and was honored by fans and players alike and was chosen as the game MVP. A fitting honor for an amazing pitcher and human being.

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Tonight the American League won the game 3-0 and secured home field advantage for the American League Champion when it comes time for the World Series. Of course I hope that the Baltimore Orioles will be that team.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Mascot Picks

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I don’t always follow basketball but every year I am drawn to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament like a vulture drawn to fresh roadkill. This year I have entered a couple of different brackets to pick who I think will win the tournament. I did one based on records and conferences, statistics and coaches. I will not reveal the secrets of that bracket because unlike baseball I know almost nothing about basketball except that it is played by people a lot taller than me who can both jump and actually throw a basketball through a hoop. Thus those picks are under lockdown. If I win the pool I’ll beat on my chest and say what an expert that I am, get hired by ESPN as an analyst and live happily ever after at least for a season or two until I get fired because I really don’t know what I am talking about. But then there are guys that have been doing that for decades why can’t I join them? But I digress….

Now I know that there are a lot of people who use various means to pick the tournament winners. But this is not baseball and none of these people are Bill James the Saber metrics guru. Again as I said I am not an expert when it comes to basketball. However I do know something about mascots and it happens that every team has one. Some are animals of various types, others some kind of human hero, others something to do with mountains, nature and even the supernatural. I figure that why not do another bracket based on my intuition of how the mascots would do. Unfortunately a lot of the teams had the same mascots so in picking I had to make sure that none of the mascots ended up facing their alternate universe self.

So to make the simple difficult I will break this up into the geography of the NCAA tournament which generally corresponds to the regions of the United States, the Midwest, the West, the South and the East. Obviously there is no such thing as the North in our country otherwise the Glenda the Good Witch of the North would have made sure that it still existed.

The Midwest Regional

In the NCAA Midwest the Louisville Cardinals meet the Aggies of North Carolina A&T. Cardinals are pretty mean birds and Aggies are not well known for outsmarting things. So Cardinals beat Aggies. The Colorado State Rams will play the Missouri Tigers and as anyone knows a Tiger beats a Ram any day of the week. In the second round it comes down to nature. Cats eat birds, thus Missouri goes to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys play the Oregon Ducks in the first round and while Cowboys may do great against Indians and Buffalo they are no match for a Ducks. The St Louis Billikens, which are some kind of weird doll will meet the New Mexico State Aggies. Yes I know that I said that Aggies are not known to be the swiftest or the toughest, but even the most limp wristed Aggie can break a china doll with no problem. But in the second round humans again are confounded by Ducks and Oregon moves on the the Sweet Sixteen.

The Memphis Tigers will play the St Mary’s Gaels. Now “what the hell is a Gael” you ask? A Gael is someone that speaks Gaelic. Tigers eat people, even Gaelic speaking ones, unless they are drunken Irishmen, but they are in a different Region. Memphis wins. The Michigan State Spartans play the Valparaiso Crusaders and this was a tough one to pick. Crusaders are tough but motivated by religion and ideology, while Spartans are just badass, kickass fighters. Spartans win. Did you see the movie 300? They move on, unless by chance a traitor comes in behind them. Still Michigan State to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Creighton Blue Jays play the Cincinnati Bearcats. Blue Jays are tough birds and mean, while no one knows if a Bearcat is a bear or a cat. Actually a Bearcat is some kind of weird looking animal like a Giant Panda found in Southeast Asia. Anyone knows that Panda are an endangered species while Bluejays are not. That in mind and the fact that the game is being played in the United States and not the Mekong Delta leads me to pick Creighton. Finally in the Midwest the Duke Blue Devils play the Albany Great Danes. This one comes down to metaphysics and spirituality. Devils only lose to God and a Great Dane is not God despite dog being God spelled backward. Thus the Blue Devils take on the Blue Jays who can’t beat the Devil. Duke to the Sweet Sixteen.

In the Sweet Sixteen Oregon’s Ducks will beat the Missouri Tigers because Ducks can both fly and go in the water and Tigers can do neither. Likewise Blue Devils beat Spartans. Spartans may be tough but they ain’t God. This means that in the regional final that the Ducks will face the Blue Devils and though Ducks may have the evil qualities of a witch, because like wood both float (see Monty Python and the Holy Grail http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp_l5ntikaU ) a witch and therefore a Duck is no match for the Devil. So the Duke Blue Devils go on to the Final Four.

The West Regional

The West Region will start with a surprise, the number one seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs will be defeated by the Southern University Jaguars. Let’s face it. Bulldogs look tough but are pretty slow and probably no match for a big cat. Southern wins. The Pittsburgh Panthers play the Wichita State Shockers. Now I know what you are thinking Panthers are a big cat, but if I recall a Shocker has something to do with electricity and cats do not do with with electricity. Wichita wins against them  and repeats against the Jaguars for the same reason, electricity kills cats. In a Shocker, Wichita moves to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Wisconsin Badgers play the Ole Miss Rebels and as anyone knows Badgers are tough and crafty and love feeding on Southern food. Badgers win. The Kansas State Wildcats will play the La Salle Explorers and Wildcats like to eat unsuspecting Explorers. K-State wins and moves on. This sets up a classic match up of the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as the Badgers kill the Wildcats and move to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Arizona Wildcats play the Belmont Bruins and while normally I would take a Bruin over a cat of any kind any day of the week these Bruins used to be called the Rebels until 1995 and just the scenario described above Rebels don’t do well against wild animals. Even Rebels that have changed their name, it was a crafty name but nature knows the real thing. Arizona wins. The New Mexico Lobos, which is like a New Mexican Wolf play the Harvard Crimson, and crimson will be the color of the court when the Lobos devour Harvard. New Mexico Wins.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play the Iowa State Cyclones. Drunken Irishmen like to fight and are not bothered by bad weather. Notre Dame wins. The Ohio State Buckeyes play the Iona State Gaels, yet another team with an obscure mascot that is in the tournament twice. But this time the Gaels win, because anyone knows that if there is no Haggis around that any Scots-Irish-Welshman will eat whatever vegetation is available, and since a Buckeye is a tree and most parts are edible, the Iona Gaels I win.

In the West region of the Sweet Sixteen the Fighting Irish play the Lobos and once again drunken Irishmen win and move on to face the winner of the Wisconsin-Wichita State match up. In this the Shockers finally spark out because their cord won’t get deep enough into the cave of the Badgers. Wisconsin wins. In the West Regional final The Fighting Irish win again, like I said, they aren’t afraid of anything and will defeat Wisconsin.

The South Regional

In the South the Kansas Jayhawks play the Western Kentucky Hill Toppers. Now to my knowledge a Hill Topper is someone at the top of a hill but birds, particularly Hawks fly high, over hills and for me altitude is the key in the match up. Kansas wins. The North Carolina Tar Heels play the Villanova Wildcats. Now everyone knows that Tar is bad for you, and if you get too much of it on your feet or in your lungs you end up with bad diseases. Since Wildcats tend to be healthier than people stuck in tar Wildcats win. Since I live in North Carolina and don’t even know where Villanova is, I wish this was not the case, but working in healthcare settings for many years means that I have to go with science and Villanova wins to go to the Sweet Sixteen.

The VCU Rams play the Akron Zips and since Zip is the mascot of the US Postal Service Zip Code and the Postal Service is in trouble one has to go with VCU. VCU wins. The Michigan Wolverines, named after the Marvel Comics super hero play the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Sorry Wolverine has those nasty knife like claws and that will carve up a Jackrabbit any day of the week. Michigan wins. Likewise I don’t think I don’t think that the Wolverines can lose to Rams and will make Mutton of them. Michigan to the Sweet Sixteen.

The UCLA Bruins play the Minnesota Golden Gophers and anyone with any sense knows that a Gopher will do anything to avoid a bear and thus UCLA Wins. The Florida Gators play the Northwestern State Demons. Now we all know that Demons are pretty badass beings, but these are not Demons from a major conference thus kind of minor Demons. Gators live in the water and anyone that knows their Bible knows what happens when Demons get in the water, they lose. Jesus showed us that when he chased those pigs into a lake. Florida wins but when they have to battle the Bruins, who can fight in land and water the lose. UCLA to the Sweet Sixteen.

The San Diego State Aztecs play the Oklahoma Sooners, and sooner rather than later we all know that the Aztecs will carve up the Sooners. The Georgetown Hoyas, the basketball team of a Jesuit school, which are named after a Latin Term Hoya Saxa, which means “What rocks” play the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Anyone knows that no Jesuit is killed by an Eagle, Jesuits are much more crafty than that and Jesuits throwing rocks, they are dangerous. Georgetown wins. However, the Hoya’s have to face the Aztecs and the Aztecs have been waiting for revenge ever since Cortez came knocking at the Halls of Montezuma. San Diego State to the Sweet Sixteen.

In the Southern Region Sweet Sixteen the Villanova Wildcats mix it up with the Wolverines and despite the claws I think by now that the Wolverines are tired and the Wildcats win. The UCLA Bruins, because they are cool Southern California type Bruins with no love for San Diego beat the Aztecs who really don’t have anything against the Bruins because they like nature. However the Bruins finally lose when they face the Villanova Wildcats. Wildcats do better on the high plains of North Texas than large bears and so they have the advantage and thus Villanova goes to the Final Four.

The East Regional

In the East Regional the number one seeded Indiana Hoosiers face the JMU Dukes. Now no one knows what a Hoosier is, which makes them hard to define and the Dukes are named after minor nobility, totally out of place in the United States. Hoosiers win. The North Carolina State Wolfpack plays the Temple Owls. Now I give you the fact that Owls are great hunters, but they are night hunters and this game is being played in the afternoon, giving the Wolfpack the advantage. Yes wolves like the night too, but they do well in the day too. NC State wins.

The UNLV Running Rebels of the Vegas strip play the California Bears. In this case I give the Rebels the edge, these are Berkley Bears and far too mellow for this kind of fight, and anyone knows that the Rebels that moved to Vegas after the great War Between the States are much more crafty than other Rebels. UNLV wins. The Syracuse Orangemen who I am reliably informed are named after Speaker of the House John Boehner play the Montana Grizzlies, yet another Bear, but Boehner, the Orangeman himself controls the budget and Montana Grizzlies tend to live on National Parks, and if there is no funding these bears die. Syracuse wins.

The Butler Bulldogs will play the Bucknell Bison. This was a hard pick, but dogs are used to herd Bison, I think anyway and if that is true then the Bulldogs of Butler have to win. The Davidson Wildcats play the Marquette Golden Eagles and cats eat birds, even highly seeded birds. The Wildcats then move on to defeat the Bulldogs.

Finally the Illinois Fighting Illini play the Colorado Buffaloes. History is the key in this. You always see the Indians hunting down Buffalo and not the other way around. Illinois wins. But the big surprise is the University of the Pacific Tigers defeating the Miami Hurricanes. Now one might ask how that could be, but Tigers don’t live in Hurricane zones and thus are safe. Pacific wins. However, the Illini are pretty good hunters and will kill off the Tigers to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

In East Region Sweet Sixteen match ups the Hoosiers of Indiana defeat the Running Rebels of UNLV because even Rebels on the Vegas Strip have a hard time figuring out what a Hoosier is and how to defeat it. Illinois moves on to defeat Davidson, once again using their superior hunting skills, but the Fighting Illini meet their match when the run up against the Hoosiers, who like everyone else they have no idea how to defeat because they don’t know what they are. This sends the Indian Hoosiers to the Final Four.

The Final Four

In the Final Four the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame come up against the Devil in the form of the Duke Blue Devils and even drunken Fighting Irishmen don’t beat the Devil. Indiana will defeat Villanova because like everyone else even Wildcats don’t know what a Hoosier is, but the Devil does and this means that the Duke Blue Devils are my Mascot Pick for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Is this a logical way to pick a bracket? Not at all, but I bet that it works pretty well.

Have fun with your brackets.

Peace

 

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Thoughts on Super Bowl XLVII

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Well the NFL Season is now over and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII by a score of 34-31. It was a very competitive game with many twists and surprises.

I have always been a 49ers fan, well before the days of Joe Montana. I have nothing against the Ravens and had they been playing almost anyone in the NFC I would have been cheering them on.

I like both of the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim. I love their competitive spirit and the way that they have brought their teams to such a level of excellence. I like the way that both adjusted during the season, with John replacing his offensive coordinator and Jim replacing his starting quarterback. I think both were proved right.

On the purely football side of the equation I was disappointed in the result of the game. I felt, and still feel that the 49ers are the better team and will be a factor longer in the NFL than the current rendition of the Ravens.  That being said the Raven’s deserved to win, they made the plays that needed to be made, Joe Flacco was outstanding and the 49ers underperformed. Now I expect that within the next couple of years that the 49ers will win the Super Bowl and Jim Harbaugh, his team and their young quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be vindicated with a Super Bowl ring.

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But Sunday was a day for the Ravens. Joe Flacco was simply amazing and continued a remarkable playoff run without an interception while facing three of the best defenses in the NFL during the post season. He ran his offense well and they responded. He made the big plays when he needed to and The Raven’s defense also found ways to hold, sometimes with what I thought was help from the officials in their non-calls in critical situations. That aside, Flacco was amazing.

Likewise the 49ers had plenty of chances to win the game, despite the officiating and have only themselves to blame for the loss. They had several chances to score touchdowns, tow of which ended in field goals and one which died with under two minutes left in the game. The Ravens made better adjustments to the 49ers offense than the 49ers did to the Ravens.

Had any of another plays gone differently the 49ers might be a six time Super Bowl Champion today. But that did not happen and the Ravens are the Super Bowl Champions. Joe Flacco deserved the MVP award. The game was competitive and the final score was in the balance until the very end of the game. Since so many Super Bowls have ended up in blowouts this was a good thing. I may not have liked the final score but it was a good game.

However at the beginning of the third quarter it didn’t look like it. The Ravens took 21-6 lead into the half after the 49ers secondary blew coverage on a Flacco pass to Jacoby Jones and Jones made the 49ers secondary look bad. The Ravens then took 28-6 lead on a 108 yard kickoff runback by Jones to open the 3rd quarter. I looked at my friend John at Gordon Biersch and said, “the game is over.”

Then the lights went out and after a 34 minute delay it seemed that the 49ers were a different team. They dominated the second half and had a chance to win the game with 2 minutes left, but couldn’t pull it off despite having a first and goal and the Ravens won.

A few thoughts on the game, some personalities and the festivities.

NFL: Super Bowl XLVII-CBS Sports Press Conference

The CBS Broadcasting Team: Not good, wish that Fox Sports had the deal. Much better announcing and commentary. To me it felt like the CBS crew was the home team play by play group for the Ravens. They ignored blatant bad calls and gave the officials the benefit of the doubt even when it was obvious that calls were bad, even when Jim Harbaugh challenged a Ravens first down which was obviously short, and won. I was disappointed in the coverage and expected far better.

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

Opening Ceremony: The Rendition of America the Beautiful by the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and Jennifer Hudson followed by the National Anthem by Alicia Keyes brought tears to my eyes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZt749TIW-4

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Halftime Show: Better than the typical Super Bowl halftime show but something that I would not tune in to watch as a stand alone event. Beyonce Knowles has very athletic and attractive thighs which were worth the look and did not to be lip synced to.

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The Lights Go Out: When the lights went out I wondered what was going on. I wondered about a terrorist attack for a moment but figured that it was probably the spirits of people that died in the Super Dome during Katrina trying to get attention. That makes more sense than the power going out 10 minutes after the halftime show.

Commercials:

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The most memorable one was the one that made my stomach churn. That was the Godaddy.com commercial called The Perfect Match http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-1oixpSShs.

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The Budweiser Clydesdales commercial called Brotherhood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs was excellent as were the M&Ms Love Ballad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs 

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the Gildan Getaway http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMcMgPGpspY . 

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Doritos Goat 4 Sale http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d8ZDSyFS2g

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and Wonderful Pistachios Crackin’ Style http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE6iiiDdTNY 

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Ray Lewis: I have tired of the show of Lewis hiding behind the Bible and God while two men lie dead following a murder in which he was involved. I admire him as one of the greatest Linebackers to ever play the game and on-field leaders. Since the NFL  elects players to the Hall of Fame purely on their on-field performance I am sure in a few years there will be a tearful induction ceremony for Lewis.  But between the murders, for which Lewis took a plea deal in exchange for testimony against his companions, who were acquitted as well as allegations of PEDs which have sunk the careers and reputations of Major League Baseball players are answered I cannot join in the tears of joy shed for Lewis at winning the Super Bowl in his last game. I am just glad that he won’t play again. Yes God loves, God forgives and God redeems, but there is the little thing called murder and God’s justice. To hear my Christian friends fawn on Lewis and excuse him from any responsibility in the murders that he was connected to while condemning women who have had an abortion is abhorrent.

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John and Jim Harbaugh: Possibly the best pair of NFL coaches ever. They both could end up winning multiple Super Bowls and both be in the Hall of Fame. Having them compete against each other and seeing the fire with which both teams played the game was an experience in energy, emotion and exceptional coaching talent that should make the NFL better for at least the next decade.

The Future of the NFL: As any reader of this site knows I am a no-holds barred Baseball fan for whom that sport is a religious experience. Football to me is just a game, even when my favorite team is playing. That being said, the NFL has managed to package its product better than any sport. Even with the latest controversies regarding PEDs and concussive head injuries and the crippling effects of them and other injuries on former players I believe, unlike some that the NFL is in no danger of going away anytime soon. Americans enjoy the NFL and comparisons of the NFL to the demise of Professional Boxing as one of America’s favorite sports are ill founded at best.

A Final Thought about the Game: I didn’t like John Harbaugh running the safety to run down the clock at the end of the game. The reason is that that kind of play is simply another means of running out the clock and ensuring that the opponent doesn’t get a last chance to win. Call me old fashioned but I find this particular facet of football quite unmanly. The late Earl Weaver put it well: “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.”

Just saying.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Sad Day for Baseball: Baseball Legends Earl Weaver and Stan Musial Pass Away

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“On my tombstone just write, ‘The sorest loser that ever lived.’” Earl Weaver

It isn’t every day that two baseball legends pass away. However today was one day that the baseball world mourns the losses of two legends Earl Weaver and Stan Musial.

In the morning I heard about the passing of Earl Weaver, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles who during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and help to establish what is now known as “the Oriole Way.” He was not much of a player, never getting out of the minor leagues, but it was his skills coaching and managing that like many other greats set him apart.

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He battled umpires on a regular basis and his rivalry with Ron Luciano was particularly sharp and his battle with Bill Haller, caught on tape and film as Haller was wearing a microphone for a documentary.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uLUuxVX4Z10

Weaver was thrown out of at least 91 games and received four multiple game suspensions. He said “The job of arguing with the umpire belongs to the manager, because it won’t hurt the team if he gets thrown out of the game.”

He was also a master of statistics and in a way was a pioneer of working to the best possible match up of pitchers versus hitters and used the platoon system to ensure the right match ups. He managed his teams to five 100 game plus seasons (1969, 1970, 1971, 1979 and 1980) four AL Pennants and one World Series title (1970).  He was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1996. After his managing career he spent much time active in the Orioles community hosting a radio program called Managers Corner. He and his wife were on an Orioles cruise when he died today at the age of 82.

He was a manager that I always loved watching and reading about later in life and his comment that “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts” is a theme for my life.

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Stan Musial was a player’s player and one of the best hitters ever to grace the diamond.  An All Star 24 times, National League MVP 3 times, seven time NL Batting Champ and part of three World Series winning St Louis Cardinal Teams, Musial was a consummate professional known for his modesty and hard work.

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After his playing career of 24 years ended in 1963 he went on to be the club’s General Manager helping the team to another World Series title.  Musial was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 on the first ballot and was named to the All Century Team in 1999. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barak Obama on February 15th 2011.

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Musial was a hitter that analyzed every aspect of the craft of hitting. His comment about how he sized up pitchers sums up how detailed he was in how he played the game: “I consciously memorized the speed at which every pitcher in the league threw his fastball, curve, and slider; then, I’d pick up the speed of the ball in the first thirty feet of its flight and knew how it would move once it had crossed the plate.”

I saw Weaver manage in person a number of times and saw Musial play in an Old Timers game as a kid. Carl Yastrzemski said of Musial: “They can talk about Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial and all the rest, but I’m sure not one of them could hold cards and spades to (Ted) Williams in his sheer knowledge of hitting. He studied hitting the way a broker studies the stock market, and could spot at a glance mistakes that others couldn’t see in a week.”

There were few greater players than Stan Musial and Earl Weaver ranks high among the most colorful and successful managers of all time.

Baseball has lost two gems today.

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Rest in Peace on that great Field of Dreams,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Bicycle Pants on Fire: The Banal Confession of Lance Armstrong

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“I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture.” Lance Armstrong

I watched the Lance Armstrong interview online today. I did not watch it last night as we were out with friends. I found the interview to be fascinating and at the same time chilling. Oprah Winfrey did it well and in the process laid Lance Armstrong and his lies bare.

Cheating blood doping, the use of EPO and Testosterone were commonplace in competitive cycling. The were the norm, not the exception. At the same time they were also illegal and banned in the sport. Lance Armstrong was part of that world, even before his battle with cancer.

The use of the blood doping and other means of cheating had become so commonplace  that that it was banal, which the Oxford dictionary of the English Language defines as “so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.”

The chilling part for me was that I didn’t sense any remorse from Armstrong. He acknowledged the use of Testosterone, EPO and blood transfusions but his reasoning for them then, and his apology or confession now felt to me like I was watching someone with no remorse and someone who felt that since everyone else was doing it that there was really nothing wrong with doing it. Armstrong’s cheating was the norm for his era, but his subsequent campaign to intimidate and destroy those that would tell the truth took his actions in cheating to a different level than his competitors.

The most chilling segment of the interview with Armstrong for me was when Oprah asked Armstrong if the things that he did, the blood doping, EPO and Testosterone use “felt wrong.”

Oprah: “Was it a big deal to you? Did it feel wrong?” 

Armstrong: “No, scary.”

Oprah: “Did you feel bad about it?”

Armstrong: “No, even scarier.”

Oprah: “Did you feel any way that you were cheating?”

Armstrong: “No, scariest.”

Oprah: Did you feel in any way that you were cheating? You did not feel you were cheating taking banned drugs?

Armstrong: “At the time, no. I kept hearing I’m a drug cheat, I’m a cheat, I’m a cheater. I went in and just looked up the definition of cheat and the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they don’t have. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.”

Armstrong’s answer to this and to how he used lawsuits and threats to attack those that told the truth were chilling. I wondered what someone like Armstrong would do in life and death situations or to advance himself where the stakes were more than simply an athletic career and I could not fathom that level of banality, that level of selling ones soul for that type of personal gain and the destruction of the lives and reputations of others.

Armstrong commented on what he called his ruthless will to win: “My ruthless desire to win at all costs served me well on the bike but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw. That desire, that attitude, that arrogance.”

To simply refer to this as a flaw to me is to minimize the issue. I really don’t think that Armstrong gets how deep this is. I know that all of us have feet of clay and that Armstrong is not the first athlete to cheat to win or to attempt to cover up his cheating. However his cover ups, denials and attacks on those that attempted to tell the truth went beyond the norm for a sports cheater.  He went out of his way to destroy others to protect his legacy. Had he not suffered the loss of his Tour de France titles, the loss of control of his Livestrong Foundation and been banned for life from the sport I doubt that he would have ever even come this close to coming clean.

The years of cheating, the years of cover up and the years of destroying those in his way have probably changed Armstrong. He admitted that he cheated before his fight with cancer but he noted that he didn’t become “ruthless” in that until after it. He did it for the myth, the myth that his cheating helped him create and he rationalized it in the same way that others have rationalized evil before him. Robert J Lifton wrote of the Nazi Doctors “In doing so – or in order to do so – the men themselves changed; and in carrying out their actions, they themselves were no longer banal.” Armstrong took cheating to a higher level and in doing so victimized others.

I know that Armstrong’s story and foundation have doing many good things. The fact is that the evil committed by Nazi doctors also benefitted science, but it was still evil. The cheating was the least of the issues here. His sport was corrupt to the core. Cheating was the norm. The greater issue his what Armstrong did for years to maintain the lie at the expense of others. His was not a victimless crime, and call it what it was, it is a crime to threaten, intimidate and use the courts to attack and punish those simply trying to tell the truth.

As it is there are people familiar with the case that believe that his statements to Oprah about not having cheated after 2005 are also a lie. Unfortunately, given his history of deceit and manipulation of the narrative I tend to believe them.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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