1.16.2023 – watched him tie his shoes

watched him tie his shoes
moment I knew never would
I be an athlete

Getting ready for a walk with my wife, I got my walking shoes on my feet and holding onto the shoestrings, I stretched out my leg and pulled the shoestrings tight and tied the shoestrings into a proper knot.

Watching the laces slide through the metal grommets on my shoes as I pulled them tight, a moment in my life came back to me.

It was a moment from when I attended the Grand Rapids Junior College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

GRJC, as it was known claimed to be famous as one of the first satellite two year colleges ever set up in the United States.

GRJC was established in 1914 as a joint venture between the University of Michigan and the Grand Rapids Board of Education.

From what my I remember, it was slated to be called the University of Michigan – Grand Rapids until the GR School Board felt that as they would be running the show, the name should reflect that and Grand Rapids Junior College would be more appropriate as well as more prestigious.

It was famous for having such a strict curriculum, set up by UofM, that students never ever had any problems with transferring credits to a 4 year institution.

It wasn’t until much later that it took on the more anonymous name of a Community College or GRCC.

To me it was and is GRRR-JIK or GRJC.

It was also known as Raider High or the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ 13th Grade.

It was where you went if you didn’t want to pay a 4 year college tuition for Freshman English 101.

I never gave much thought about whether or not I would be going there.

I think I heard those stories about 13th grade and just assumed I would show up on the first day of class and get my schedule.

I mean I knew I would END UP in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan but as there were 4 of my siblings currently enrolled at UofM, I also knew that I would be starting my college career at GRJC as my matriculation would be delayed.

It was in conversation with a friend of mine who I later ended sharing an apartment with in Ann Arbor, that I realized I had to apply and even be accepted at GRJC.

Even after that delay, it was no surprise at all to me that I walked into my first class at JC, CHEM 114, and saw most of my friends, Doug, Dan, Dave and Carl from Creston High School sitting in the same class.

This group of friends stayed together and for reason I have cannot recall, we decided to form a team and enter the JC Intramural Lunchtime Basketball League.

I must have pushed for it so my friends made me player / coach.

We named the team after our Chemistry instructor, Ms. Wurn.

It was a bit of thrill to see the Intramural League schedule posted around JC and find the name, WURN’S WORMS, listed.

These games were played in the GRJC Main Fieldhouse, at lunchtime.

It seems to me that we played two 20 minute halves on the main court of the fieldhouse.

The league was run by Gene Paxton, the head coach of the GRJC Varsity Basketball Program.

I was on the GRJC Collegiate, the student newspaper as a photographer, so I was familiar to Coach Gene.

The fieldhouse at lunch time was full of people as the fieldhouse had one of those multipurpose composite floors with a running track and people would be in there on their lunch hour jogging on the track or taking part in other basketball games on the side courts.

But the main court, the court surrounded by the running track, was our court.

And we showed up to play.

After we showed and got out on the court, any resemblance to any other organized basketball games ended.

What were we thinking?

If we got the ball off the opening tip, that would be the high point of the game and there weren’t many games that opened on a high point.

We were given possession of the ball after each basket by the other team but unless the other team set up their defense on their end of the court, we rarely got the ball over the time line.

We played games with scores like 62-10, 88-10, 102-10.

We were a bunch of guys who shot the ball around in our driveway’s once in awhile playing in a league of teams that took the game seriously.

It wasn’t that sad.

But it was that funny!

We would run around for 20 minutes and the horn would sound at the half (they used the real scoreboard and clock for all to see) and Coach Gene, who with two players from his team, ref’ed the games, would blow a whistle and look at me and say THE FIRST HALF IS OVER … SECOND HALF BEGINS IMMEDIATLY.

What was the point of delaying the inevitable.

After the game, I remember how joggers who been running on the track would look at us in the locker room and try to be positive by saying things like, “You guy’s aren’t that … well … aren’t … that … well … good.”

Hey, we knew that.

Ms. Wurn came to watch a game once.

She left after about 10 minutes.

The scores would be posted with the updated schedules in the fieldhouse hallways.

I think most folks felt it had to be typo.

It seems like we even had a following as people would see me around school and ask me if maybe we might break 20 points today?

One friend of mine from Creston who knew about the team but was smart enough to not be on the team would yell out the latest score anytime he saw me on campus.

Well, if you are going down, go down in flames, I guess.

And goofy things beyond the score happened to us too.

One game, Carl went down screaming.

“My foot is on fire”, he screamed.

He lay on the floor and we removed his shoe and sock and the bottom of his foot looked like it fell off.

Somehow his skin had melded to his sweaty socks and when he turned to change direction in a single motion he twisted his foot inside his shoe and all the callous stripped off the bottom of his foot.

This one big creepy piece of skin, an exact match to his foot, fell out of his sock.

Coach Gene came over and looked and said that happens and he told Carl his foot might tingle or sting a bit for a couple of days.

Then he looked at me and asked who was coming in to the game to replace Carl?

I can’t remember how many games there were on the schedule, but we always showed up.

Until the last game and I realized we were short a few players.

I talked to Coach Gene and he looked at me with this big smile on his face as if to say you aren’t getting out of this that easy.

Coach Gene looked across the crowd in the fieldhouse and called out to two of his players, real players from the GRJC team, that he saw over in another part of the fieldhouse.

“Here,” he said, “you two play with these guys.”

One of the two was this massive round kid.

I don’t remember much about him but that he was BIG.

And looked really mean.

The other was a tall basketball player who later in life, I might describe as a younger, thinner Ben Wallace type.

My memory says his name was Walter Jordan.

For Wurn’s Worms, it was like we had won the draft lottery and got two players better than anyone else in the entire intramural league.

The game started and while it didn’t go great, it didn’t go too bad as we started getting some rebounds.

That big round kid would stand under the basket and grab the ball out of the air with one massive hand and hold the ball out of bounds behind him and dare anyone on the other team to come and try and take it.

No one dared and he would flip the ball to one of us to get the ball up to the court to Walter.

The other team would gang up on Walter so we didn’t score a lot but it seems to me that at the half it was something like 24 – 16.

The best score we ever had.

A couple of things happened at half time.

One, we actually got a 5 minute half time.

Two, Coach Gene called the other team over and said that he was the League Commissioner and he made the rules so in the 2nd half, they, the other team, had to play man to man defense.

This meant that the rest of us could really contribute as even though there was no way we were going to get the ball, someone had to guard us and that meant Walter would be playing 1 on 1.

And three, Walter tied his shoes.

I was sitting on the bench and Walter came over and put his foot next to me and untied the shoestrings.

He was wearing Nike white high tops and the shoestrings were laced through holes punched through the leather.

I was wearing Nike white low cuts also with shoestrings that were laced through holes punched through the leather.

When I tied my shoes and I pulled on the shoestrings, maybe the top of the laces pulled closed together but no other part of my stiff leather shoe budged.

If I pulled really hard, all I could do was tighten the top part of the shoe around my ankle in a way that made me feel like I had cut off the blood flow

No matter how hard I pulled, there was no impact below the 2nd or 3rd lace and that was that for tying them tight.

Walter had the leather high tops and he wrapped the end of each shoestring around his hands and slowly pulled back with the muscles in his arms that exerted, some unimageable to me, pressure on those shoestrings.

Have you ever seen someone shooting a compound bow and arrow.

How when they pull back on the string, the string is strung through all these little pulleys that all move in unison in response to the pressure on the bow?

That was Walter tying his shoes.

He pulled and the shoestring, snaking its way back and forth over the front of the shoe from the top to the bottom of laces moved together and the stiff leather shoe reformed itself to Walter’s foot.

I stared.

I couldn’t believe what I just saw.

I looked at the miserable way the laces looked on my shoes, all out of line.

And I looked at Walter’s shoe and the shoestring was as taught a bowstring and the entire shape of the shoe changed before my eyes.

Then he switched feet, and without any real sign of effort, did it again.

I was in awe.

All I did was watch someone tie his shoes.

Someone to whom, a properly tied shoe was very important, tie his shoes.

I marveled at how strong this tall skinny kid really had to be.

Not that I was wondering much, but at that moment, I understood why, I would never be an athlete.

The second half started and it was the Walter Jordan show.

We would cross half court, the big kid would park under the basket, the three of us out on the court went to the corner as far away as possible so someone had to cover us and Walter got the ball.

Layup.

Banker.

Jumper.

You name it.

Swish.

The other team kept rotating players on Walter but he could not be stopped.

And with the big kid, we even got some defensive rebounds.

I want to say that once, maybe twice, a missed shot hit me in the head and I was able to redirect the ball to Walter for an assist.

Possible the only stats I ever got in a game.

We were in the game.

Walter scored some 30 points and with under a minute left we were up 47-46 and the other team had the ball.

I called time out.

The team actually came over and looked at me.

From somewhere I don’t know where, I said, “stop the shot and get the ball to Walter.

Everyone looked at me then at each other and nodded.

Then the big kid said, “NO EASY TWO, they go for a layup … RACK’HIM GOOD!”

My first thought was, “U tawkin to me?”

My second thought was, “Look at me, then look at those other players.”

I weighed in at 110 lbs spread thin over 6 feet.

But I repeated “NO EASY TWO!” then yelled “LETS GO” as Coach Gene blew his whistle.

The other team inbounded and took the ball the length of the court.

As I remember it, one of the players on the other team drove the lane and laid it up and, boy oh boy, that big kid racked’him good, seems like he knocked him about 4 rows deep into the stands, but that player had dished off at the last moment and someone else put it off the glass for 2, we were down by 1.

I cannot remember who in bounded the ball but Walter had it in hand as the timer ran down.

The crowd in the fieldhouse all stopped to watch.

Walter crossed mid court faked a rush, bought some space, pulled up and let go a beautiful, Cazzie Russell, classic jumper.

I raised both arms and yelled YES YES YES!

I was dancing backward as I yelled and tripped over someone behind me.

It was Coach Gene.

He caught me but never took his eyes off the ball.

“OH OH OH”, he was yelling.

Time stopped I am telling you!.

The ball went in, hit the side of the rim, bounced up, bounced left, and bounced out.

“OH OH OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH … NO”, yelled Coach Gene.

And he steadied me on my feet and said, “Thought you had one Hoff.” and he slapped me on my back.

There was a collective “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” from the crowd in the gym.

Coach blew his whistle and yelled “Game Over.”

Walter stared at the backboard for a second and then jogged off to the locker room.

I yelled, “HEY WALTER!” from across the fieldhouse.

He stopped and turned and looked me.

“GREAT GAME,” I yelled.

He looked me in the eye and slowly raised one fist and then nodded.

I am not kidding when I say that I thought of the sportswriter Grandland Rice and his, “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game!

I had seen that today come to life, I thought.

Here was a guy who for no other reason played a great game because there was a game to be played.

I couldn’t even tie his shoes.

Boy, howdy, I couldn’t even tie mine.

And I knew, I would never be an athlete.

But I had seen one today.

1.1.2023 – kinda sums it up

kinda sums it up
twenty twenty two good bye
to another day …

I did not see it but I heard about it the next day.

The Ohio State Buckeyes kicked a field goal that, if good, would have beaten the Georgia Bull Dogs.

As I understand it, when the ball was kicked it was 2022.

By the the time the ball missed the uprights, it was 2023.

Earlier that evening, my team, the Michigan Wolverines fought themselves and the judgments of Football Officials and in the process gave up two pass interceptions for 14 points to the other team as well as leaving another 14 points sitting on the goal line.

Hard to win any game doing things like and they still could have won.

My team has never had a lot of success in these ‘Bowl’ games.

In 1979, Michigan lost to USC when Charles White of USC scored a touchdown even though he left the football 3 yards behind, on the other side of the goal line.

Last night, Michigan’s Roman Wilson rolled into the end zone with the football in his lap but the officials said he actually caught the ball and landed one yard outside the end zone.

These things happen.

Some where along the line, some sports writer put forward the opinion that after the Michigan-Ohio State game, any other game is a bit of a let down.

I have to agree with that.

Would I have traded this year’s win in Columbus, if it could have worked out that way, for a win in the Fiesta Bowl.

Now be honest.

BE HONEST!

And you know what?

No I don’t think I would make that trade.

What I would wish is that after beating Ohio State, Michigan could stun the world and say that is enough, we don’t need you silly reindeer games and stay home.

I think how I would feel had the last game of the season been that game in Columbus back in November and not that mess last night.

The thrill, not the bad taste in my mouth, until next year.

So it goes.

Michigan is 11 games away from being the first FOOTBALL TEAM ANYWHERE ANYHOW to win 1,000 games.

If they can run the table next season, that would make win 1,000 possible in the 11th game, a game on the road against Maryland.

Should they hit a bump and lose a game, that would make win 1,000 possible in the 12th game, at home, against you know who.

That’s next year, I mean this year, next fall.

Last year is over and done.

Taken as a whole 2022, had some high spots, some low spots and some spots in between.

Glad to see it gone though.

This decade seems to have lasted 10 years already.

And very glad to have a new year to look forward to.

And last nights game?

As Margaret Mitchell wrote at the end of her book, Gone with the Wind:

“I’ll think of it all tomorrow … I can stand it then.

Tomorrow…

After all, tomorrow is another day.

12.28.2022 – taking everything!

taking everything!
Y’all wanna win the natty?
NOW … It starts right now!

In an article today in the Athletic, How did Michigan go from rock bottom in 2020 to back-to-back College Football Playoffs? (click headline to download PDF) by Bruce Feldman and Austin Meek, the writers wrote:

At 2:57 p.m., the smallest player who had been on the field during the Michigan–Ohio State game hopped on top of the Wolverines bench during a timeout at the start of the fourth quarter. Michigan, which hadn’t won in Columbus since 2000, clung to a 24-20 lead. It’s no stretch to think that the only people among the 106,797 in Ohio Stadium who didn’t expect the Buckeyes to rally and defeat eight-point underdog Michigan were dressed in all white on the Wolverines sideline.

But what all those other people thought didn’t matter. Certainly not to the player with the gold-tinged hair peeking out from a yellow Jumpman headband known to everyone inside the Michigan program as “Mikey.”

“I want all you guys to take a look at their sideline. Look at them!” Mike Sainristil, Michigan’s wiry nickelback and team captain, yelled to his teammates gathered around him, as he pointed across the field to the Buckeyes sideline.
“They have their heads down.

We know who the f— they are!

They are exactly who we thought they are! Let’s keep our foot on the gas. Keep executing.

Don’t give them anything.

Keep taking everything.

“Y’all wanna win the natty?

It starts right now!”

Each fall, there are hundreds of speeches that players make in-game during college football Saturdays to fire up their teams. But what happened on the Michigan sideline late in The Game felt different, perhaps because what followed over that next hour best illustrates just how much the balance in the Big Ten has shifted — and why Michigan football has re-emerged as a national powerhouse.

The Wolverines went on to shock the crowd in Columbus — and to make a point to the rest of the college football world — in the fourth quarter.

They outscored Ohio State 21-3 and piled up 174 rushing yards. Sainristil made the biggest defensive play of the game, flying across the field to swat a sure touchdown pass out of Buckeyes tight end Cade Stover’s mitts on a third-and-4. Michigan also intercepted Heisman hopeful quarterback C.J. Stroud twice.

The Buckeyes were ready to break, and they did. Michigan blew out Ohio State, 45-23.

I don’t know about you but this made me cry.

And I don’t care if you believe me or not because I feel, despite the playoff, the Natty is as mythical as a unicorn and the old style of voting for Number 1, and I just don’t care if Michigan wins out or not.

But there is no myth of what happened back in November.

The Buckeyes were ready to break, and they did. Michigan blew out Ohio State, 45-23.

And that is good enough for me.

The article winds up with: Sainristil said the player-led accountability started last season with a simple commitment to clean up the locker room every day, a responsibility the players took on independently.

This year, it extended to the way players arrange their shoes in the weight room, stacking them in a neat row to conserve space.

It’s a tiny detail, but that’s the whole point.

“If you can take care of these little details and make it a habit, the habits that really are important, the ones that matter the most on the football field, will be so much easier,” Sainristil said.

And those who remain, will be champions!

12.21.2022 -rather win ugly

rather win ugly
than lose pretty – no Lions fan
feels comfortable

As any of my regular readers (bless their hearts) know, I start my day with the Guardian Newspaper of Manchester, GB and the New York Times (at least I do when I remember to renew my free three day account through my library).

This morning, both papers had articles about the Detroit Lions!

The Guardian has a story headlined, From sad sacks to contenders: How the Lions became the talk of the NFL where a Mr. Dave Caldwell writes, “Goff said in a postgame news conference, “You’d rather win ugly than lose pretty. There were times earlier in the year when we were winning pretty in certain situations, and then kind of letting it fall away from us towards the end, and I think that’s totally flipped to where we’re at now. We’ve won some games recently pretty handily, but we’ve also won some close games, and won some games on the road close that we had to pull out and things had to go our way at the end.

“Is it going our way, or are we making a play? I lean toward making a play, whether it was a sack on that last drive, or just things we did up front, we’re starting to learn how to win and how to win consistently in close games in tough environments. And yeah, it’s a good, mature team now.”

The New York Times has a story, NFL Power Rankings: Jaguars rise, join Lions as ex-doormats with playoff hopes by Bo Wulf who writes, The wildest weekend of the NFL season included the biggest comeback in league history, two ho-hum comebacks of 17 points, a potentially season-changing injury for a Super Bowl favorite, and probably the dumbest play since the invention of the game.

There won’t be any kneecaps left in the Detroit metro area if Dan Campbell’s Lions are able to pull off this rally to the playoffs. After Jared Goff hit Brock Wright — a real high-water mark season for Brocks leaguewide — for a 51-yard game-winning touchdown to beat the Jets, Detroit has a 57.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Mock’s projections.

Do I believe?

YOU BET I DO!

What do I believe?

Believe me, you don’t want to ask.

Mr. Wulf closed his comments with a caveat on the Lions.

(BTW remember how in the BOOK, Gone with the Wind, Scarlett wanted a new name for her store she acquired by marrying Frank Kennedy? Rhett Butler suggested the name “CAVEAT EMPTORIUM” and Scarlett liked it so much she had a sign made. Then Ashely Wilkes translated the sign for her. But I digress.)

Mr. Wulf writes: Its schedule the rest of the way looks there for the taking, but there isn’t a Lions fan alive who feels comfortable.

And if they don’t pull it off, well, there might not be any Lions fans alive.

Well well well.

Entirely agree that there isn’t a Lion’s fan alive who feels comfortable.

That easy enough to say as there isn’t a Lion’s fan alive who EVER felt comfortable.

But the idea that if they don’t pull it off, well, there might not be any Lions fans alive.

Cannot say I agree with that one bit.

Because they always play next year.

Honolulu Blue forever!

12.5.2022 – dumbumvirate

dumbumvirate
debacle coverage
back worse than ever

Yes the inspiration for this haiku was based on the use of just one word in a long review of FOX Sports coverage of the World Cup and that word was dumbumvirate.

I am not 100% sure of what it means.

From the usage in the sentence, Four years on from the dumbumvirate debacle of its coverage in Russia, Fox is back, and worse than ever, it has refer to the color commentary team of talking heads that FOX has hired as the face of their soccer coverage.

The word dumbumvirate only occurs, according to the google, in this story and another story by the same author, Aaron Timms, back in 2018 on the same topic.

Mr. Timms has written for The Sydney Morning Herald so maybe dumbumvirate is one of those colorful Australian idioms like g’daymate and barbecue stopper, all said with that wonderful rising inflection that makes Australians seem like they are asking questions or for agreement, nes pas?

ANYWAY, I had to salute the word and Mr. Timms and his article, Fox Sports’ US World Cup coverage is an unmissable abomination and here are some of his other word combinations.

>> From the moment that Stone called Doha “Dosa” ahead of the opening match – between the capital of a small oil state on the Gulf and a fermented south Indian pancake, who’s really insisting on the distinction? – then promptly vanished from Fox’s coverage for the next three days, the US host English-language broadcaster of this World Cup has offered up a feast of gaffes, stupidity, and unconquerable on-air awkwardness for American viewers to enjoy. 

>> Insults to our collective intelligence have come from all angles: the constant, tedious analogies to American sports (stepovers and feints described as “dekes” and “hesis”, corners constantly compared to “pick and rolls”); the neverending quest to “contextualize” the world game by comparing whole countries to American states (“Qatar is the size of Connecticut,” we were told repeatedly on the opening day); the network’s embrace and promotion of the interminable “it’s called soccer” cause (who cares?); the strange extended segment in the run-up to USA v England about how much Harry Kane likes American football (ditto); the employment of Piers Morgan as a special guest pundit (no thanks).

>> Take a moment to appreciate the full dizzying scope of Fox’s witlessness in Qatar. After Rob Stone noted, in the lead-up to the group match between Brazil and Serbia, that the Brazilians have won the World Cup five times – perhaps the most widely known World Cup statistic of all – a wide-eyed Dempsey exclaimed, “Wow, you really did your research!” During France v Denmark, match commentator JP Dellacamera described Kylian Mbappé as “a kid who’s 23 and already the whole world is talking about him,” an evaluation whose awestruck “already” suggested that JP has watched close to no football over the past half decade. Donovan started the tournament pronouncing Iran “Eye-ran”, witnessed Tyler Adams being corrected by an Iranian journalist for mispronouncing his country’s name – then continued to call the country “Eye-ran”.

>> Indeed the mispronunciation of foreign names – stadiums, players, whatever – has become a running joke on Fox’s Corniche set. Asked to offer a prediction before the US match against England, Lalas thundered, “I don’t know how they say it in the King’s English but dose a seero my friends to the USA,” helpfully demonstrating that he doesn’t know how to say “dos a cero” in the King’s Spanish either.

I don’t watch much of soccer.

I am just not a soccer fan, like Tennis or Corn Horn.

I’ll watch golf but with a hidden NASCAR schadenfreudesque of wanting to see someone miss that putt.

But I watch football and I want to Mr. Timms to know that here in the states, CBS has worked just as hard as FOX to create the dumbumvirate of Tony Romo and any one unlucky enough to be stuck with him in a broadcast booth.

Over Thanksgiving, Mr. Romo provided commentary on the Detroit Lions game and his manner was such that I finally took to social media to ask DOES ROMO ever shut up, Its Like Tim McCARVER doing football

A friend of mine commented that she had to ask who Tim McCarver was and the response she got, “The most annoying person on the planet.”

You know, the type of person you would find in a dumbumvirate.

12.2.2020 – stoic straight-talking

stoic straight-talking
unclear how this differs from
rest of the country

One Saturday afternoon some time ago, at a backyard neighborhood graduation party, I was sitting at a table between Fred Meijer of Meijer Thrifty Acres fame and Mr. and Mrs. DeKorne of DeKorne’s Furniture store fame.

Both big names if you grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the late 1900’s like I did.

The occasion was to recognize the Ph.d of the son-in-law of our neighbor, Dr. Julius Franks, the University of Michigan’s first black All American football player.

It was an interesting neighborhood.

All these folks and me and my family.

I am happy to report that Mr. Meijer was about an unassuming billionaire as you could meet and the DeKorne’s were just folks.

Mr. Meijer was telling stories about his family history and how they worked up from a one location grocery store started by his father to the huge success Meijer’s was today.

BTW, yes, we call it Meijer’s not Meijer, because it was Fred’s store.

Mr. Meijer took his story all the way back to the Netherlands and how, had the family not emigrated to the US, the story would have been different as the family just would not have made it over in Holland.

So I looks at Mr. Meijer and I says, “Gosh Fred, I guess you aren’t Fries?”

The DeKorne’s laughed so hard they fell out of their chairs.

This story will either make you laugh out loud and shake your head at my daring or you will shake your head and say to yourself, ‘I don’t get it?’

If you are Dutch you are in the club and you are laughing.

See, there is Dutch and there is Dutch or at least there is Dutch and there is Fries.

FYI Fries is pronounced FREEEEESE.

It is a word not from the Dutch, but the Frysian language, or Fries

Fryslân is the name of the Dutch province in which Fries is spoken: Friesland

Those Fries think they are so smart, they need their own language.

Full disclosure here, I am or at least my family is NOT Fries.

My family is from Groningen.

I am talking about the twelve provinces of the Netherlands.

If you are Dutch and not Fries you say that … those Fries, they think they are better than everybody else.

If you are Fries, you say that … those Fries, we ARE better than everybody else.

I remember once meeting the father of a friend who in conversation asked me all sorts of seemingly benign questions about my family and background and such and then out of the blue says, “you must be Fries …” with an approving smile.

I just nodded and smiled back.

So why am I bringing all this up today?

The Dutch and the American’s play in the 2022 World Cup next week.

Reading about the game and the two teams, I came across the article, The Giant World Cup Rookie and an Enduring Dutch Mystery: The Netherlands is Europe’s most reliable talent factory. Unless you need a goalkeeper (click here to read pdf) by Rory Smith.

Mr. Smith relates in depth the problems Dutch teams have in developing great goalies and discusses the current Dutch goalkeeper, Andries Noppert.

Mr. Smith writes: “He’s a real Frisian,” defender Virgil van Dijk said last week, referring to the part of the Netherlands where Noppert grew up, a place famed for its stoicism and straight-talking.

Mr. Smith they goes on and writes, “(It is unclear how this differs from the rest of the country.)”

Those parentheses are in the original.

It is unclear how this differs from the rest of the country?

Huh what?

Mr. van Dijk said “He’s a real Frisian.”

How could be that be unclear?

How could be he be MORE clear.

Boy howdy!

Mr. Smith then quotes the Dutch Coach, Louis van Gaal, who said of goalkeeper Noppert, “He has the sort of personality that means he would not be too impressed by this championship. It would be a lot tougher, after all, being a policeman.

Yep, that’s it.

The sort of personality that means he would not be too impressed by this championship.

That guy must be Fries.

11.27.2022 – Ohio came to bury

Ohio came to bury
Michigan … game over … was
someone else instead

Forgive me or at least indulge me this little bit as again I go into sports.

My team won yesterday.

My team won the latest edition of the biggest game of the big game.

While the big game is the BIG GAME, and it is played every year without COVID, there are probably about 4 or 5 that can be counted as greatest BIG GAME in my lifetime.

After one of these BIG GAME’s in 1976, long time Michigan Football Radio Announcer, Bob Ufer, read off a short little poem to commemorate the victory that went like this:

Ohio Came To Bury Michigan, All Wrapped In Maize And Blue
The Words Were Said, The Prayers Were Read And Everybody Cried
But When They Closed The Coffin, There Was Someone Else Inside!

The Bucks Came To Bury The Wolverines – But Michigan Wasn’t Dead,
And When The Game Was Over, It Was Someone Else Instead.

Twenty-Two Michigan Wolverines Put On The Gloves Of Gray,
And As Cavender Played “The Victors”, They Laid Woody Hayes Away!

To update for today:

Ohio Came To Bury Michigan, All Wrapped In Maize And Blue
The Words Were Said, The Prayers Were Read And Everybody Cried
But When They Closed The Coffin, There Was Someone Else Inside!

The Bucks Came To Bury The Wolverines – But Michigan Wasn’t Dead,
And When The Game Was Over, It Was Someone Else Instead.

Twenty-Two Michigan Wolverines Put On The Gloves Of Gray,
And As the Band Played “The Victors”, They Laid Ryan Day Away!

11.21.2022 – show redirected

show redirected
and rehabilitated
reconfigured life

It’s sad, more than anything.

So starts the article, Pete Rose hasn’t given Rob Manfred any reason to change his mind by Ken Rosenthal.

Mr. Rosenthal writes, “The average person who has not followed along closely might sympathize with Pete Rose, believing he has suffered long enough. That at 81, it’s time for baseball to forgive and forget. Reinstate him. Make him eligible for the Hall of Fame.”

Except with Rose, it’s never that simple.

Mr. Rose was banned from baseball for life or until he could show a redirected, reconfigured, rehabilitated life.

Those words come from the pen of then Commissioner Bart Giamatti.

He is the feller who wrote a book about baseball titled, Take Time for Paradise.

I have long been a fan of Commissioner Giamatti and I have to admire the alliteration he achieved with the that sentence.

A redirected, reconfigured, rehabilitated life.

Redirected.

Reconfigured.

Rehabilitated life.

BANG – BANG – BANG!

It should almost be a standard when a jail sentence is read out in court.

The reason for a life time ban?

Mr. Rose was betting on baseball games.

Apparently games he was playing in or taking part as the team Manager.

Even today that might not be acceptable.

Back in 1989, it was far far beyond the pale.

Because of his lifetime ban, Mr. Rose in not eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mr. Rose has often said how are going to keep 4,256 hits out of the hall?

Then Mr. Rose goes how to show you how, or at least, the why.

And Mr. Rosenthal chronicles all those ways so I don’t have too.

I have commented on this before.

I think I have a solution to the problem, how do you keep 4,256 hits out of the Hall of Fame.

Give Pete a plaque.

A blank one.

There is a precedent.

There is a building at the United States West Point Military Academy known as the ‘Old Chapel’.

Inside the chapel are 14 marble plaques.

One for George Washington and each of his Generals in the Revolutionary War.

There is one blank plaque.

That plaque would have been for General Benedict Arnold.

Arnold achieved his own measure of fame in that just the mention of his name pretty much sums up why his plaque is blank.

And if we ever forget, the blank plaque and explanation is there to remind us.

So give Pete Rose a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

A blank one.

So when kids see it and point and ask why its blank.

We can say that would have been for Pete Rose.

For Pete Rose … had he not …

It’s sad, more than anything.

11.14.2022 – no recognition

no recognition
it’s exciting searching for
anonymity

In the article, Don’t mention the penalties! England’s 1990 team look back at the World Cup match that changed everything, by Simon Hattenstone, the writer tracks down as many members of the team as he can.

Mr. Hattenstone writes this about David Platt. (Full disclosure, I had never heard of the man,)

David Platt came on for the injured Bryan Robson against the Netherlands and went on to have a wonderful World Cup.

He scored three of England’s eight goals, including a famous acrobatic winner against Belgium.

That volley came in the final minute of extra time and was his first international goal.

I assumed Platt would be happy to recall his glory days but he, too, is proving elusive.

After years coaching and managing, he has now left football to focus on his business interests.

Eventually he replies, saying: “I’m afraid I don’t do media any more.”

I text back, asking why.

His reply is fuller, and more interesting, than I expect: “I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m fortunate to be able to live as I choose – within reason.

I have a couple of business interests that keep me occupied, play my golf, walk the dog, watch my boy play sport.

There is no need to retain my profile because I am happy living how I am doing.

I don’t need to be in the public eye, don’t need to be recognised … it’s exciting searching for anonymity.”

I liked that.

I liked that a lot.

I am going to go off and search for anonymity.

Don’t wait up.

11.3.2022 – it’s individuals

it’s individuals
Coach can do so much – day’s end
we’re individuals

but each got to just
dig down deeper – be better
that’s just what it is

This two stanza haiku (my blog, my rules) is based on a quote from NBA Star Kevin Durant and the situation with the Brooklyn Nets in the ESPN article Mounting losses and controversies: How the Brooklyn Nets devolved into chaos in a matter of weeks by Nick Friedell.

The article explains, “Back inside the practice facility — before the tumultuous 2-5 start, before Simmons’ poor play, before the players-only meeting, before the controversy over his superstar teammate’s social media posts about Alex Jones and an antisemitic movie and book — Durant continues to try to shape the narrative of the coming season.

The article ends with the quote.

“It’s on the individuals,” Durant said. “Coach can do so much and tell you what to do, but he’s not playing for us.

I know coaching matters, chemistry matters, but at the end of the day we’re individuals.

So we got to do better as individuals, and then we’ll bring that to the group and figure it out.

But each guy’s got to just dig down deeper and just be better.

That’s just what it is.”

There is a post script to the article.

Editor’s note: The Nets fired coach Steve Nash on Monday, after this story published.

That’s just what it is.