9.26.2022 – be disappointed

be disappointed,
may be angry, frustrated
but rarely shocked

So its fall so sports will turn up a little more often as Michigan continues its march to be the first college team with 1,000 football victories.

I start by asking just how bad a time was the Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan.

He lasted all of three years at Michigan with a 15-22 record.

Over the years since Michigan began playing football in 1883, they have averaged 7 wins a season to get to 920 so far.

Rich Rod was 6 wins below that average.

But here is the thing.

In 2008, with the Morgantown Miracle worker in charge, Michigan lost to Toledo.

Toledo beat Michigan, got that?

Toledo beat Michigan AND fired their coach!

There was a time where any team any where any time that managed to BEAT MICHIGAN, the Coach of that team would get a building on campus named after them.

me and my little brother

There was a time where any team any where any time that managed to BEAT MICHIGAN, the Coach of that team could count on his next contract to be the big one.

You know that time.

That time last year.

Michigan gave up 5 touchdowns to the same player (hmmmm maybe tackle the guy with the ball?) and Sparty walked off with win and Coach Mel Tucker walked off with $95 Million Dollars and a 10 year contract in his pocket.

In many ways, Michigan was back and beating Michigan was worth something once again.

Of course, as with the morning after hangover that often makes you question the actions of the night before, this year is a new year.

And while Sparty fans have the hope which springs eternal in the human breast, reports are that in the loss in Minnesota Saturday,  more than a few got up to go in deep despair and today there is no joy in Mudville.

Sparty fans are looking back, perhaps fondly, on the Legion of Gloom and Mark Dantonio.

Still it is early and the chuckle heads still have Michigan on their schedule, so they have reason to hope for a good year.

I enjoyed Mr. Tuckers comments in reply to a question if he was shocked by the loss to the Golder Gophers.

Mr. Tucker said, AND I QUOTE, “There’s really nothing that happens out there that’s like a shock to me, just because I’ve seen too much football. I’m not really shocked. I may be disappointed. I may be angry. I may get frustrated at times, which I do, but we all want to compete and play better and win. But I’m rarely shocked at something I see on the football field.

Shocked?

The man has 95 million reasons to not be shocked.

If that doesn’t shock him, then I have to agree that there’s really nothing that happens out there that’s like a shock.

9.17.2022 – I always had a

I always had a
motto – I make the number
number don’t make me

Reading the article, Julio Jones primed for a revival with Buccaneers after strong start as Tom Brady target, I enjoyed a bit of writing and a quote from Mr. Jones.

Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY wrote that:

“Julio can play,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles trumpeted on Sunday night, echoing the tone he expressed during training camp. “We keep saying it all along. He got in shape. He got healthy. He’s a warrior. He’s one of those guys that’s going to come out every week and compete.”

He’s also a guy with a new ID.

Jones is wearing No. 6 for the Bucs. It’s nothing sentimental, nothing superstitious.

“It’s just a number, man,” he said. “I didn’t want to take nobody out of their number. It was, ‘Whatever’s available, I’m going to take it.’ No significance.”

Brady’s backup, Blaine Gabbert, wears No. 11 for the Bucs. Third-string quarterback Kyle Trask is No. 2, the jersey number Jones had last year with the Tennessee Titans.

“I always had a motto, man: I make the number, the number don’t make me,” Jones declared. “That’s how I go about it

I liked that.

I always had a motto, man: I make the number, the number don’t make me.

I am reminded of being back in High School at Grand Rapids Creston in the late 1970’s.

This was in the OLD GYM Creston before they built the new gym and way before the decision was made to close the school.

The OLD GYM was so small that in winter months gym class took turns between the boys and girls and who got to use the gym and who had an alternative class.

Alternative meant a movie or maybe a Gym Teacher led lecture class on some topic.

One teacher I had like to give a quiz on sports rules to see what we didn’t know about sports.

He would call on individual students one at a time.

One time, I got this this question.

What are the limits on numbers on basketball uniforms and why?

I did not understand the question.

The teacher rephrased it as what numbers can you have on a basketball uniform and why?

That didn’t help.

The teacher, Don Edwards, who really was pretty cool but thought I was one of the oddest people he had ever had in class, stared at me and said, “Come on Hoffman.”

I felt out of place in gym class often but rarely did I feel stupid and at that moment I felt really dumb.

I stared right back and said, “Okay, I give up. What numbers CAN you have in basketball and why.”

Coach Edwards shook his head and said, “Oh come on. You can only have combinations of 1 thru 5.”

That was the dumbest thing I had ever heard.

“You know, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 or 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 … 31,32, 33, 34, 35 … only combinations of 1 through 5.”

My eyes must have glazed over as I listened but I did manage to say, “Why?”

“So the ref can signal the scorer with the number of any player with two hands.”

Coach Edwards them demonstrated, “Foul on number 15.”

And he held up 1 finger on the left hand and 5 fingers on the right.

“Basket by number 33” and he help up three and three.

At once I was struck by the meaning and the simple magic in it.

Basketball numbers had limits.

Limits created by the five fingers on our hands.

I understood.

That made 33 THE number to have.

Think of the great 33’s (starting the list with Cazzie Russell)

I understood.

And in that moment I suddenly understood the magic involved in the silent protest and statement of using an illegal number.

DR J and number 6.

Big Bob Lanier wearing number 16.

I understood.

I make the number, the number don’t make me.

9.4.2022 is subject to the

is subject to the
accumulated capital
power incentives

Referencing Karl Marx, Ben Mathis-Lilley wrote that, “Karl Marx held that alienation is the condition people experience when they have no autonomy over something personally or socially meaningful to them because it is subject to the power and incentives of accumulated capital.”

Mr. Mathis-Lilley’s reference was, of course, referring to the world of college football on TV.

In the article, Does Watching College Football on TV Have to Be So Miserable?, Mr. Mathis-Lilley writes, “I believe I embody the concept, as so defined by Marx, when I am watching five to eight consecutive commercials 16 times during a college football broadcast so that Disney shareholders and Rupert Murdoch might benefit.”

Mr. Mathis-Lilley does ask that most important question, “Is this a silly thing to worry about?

And he answers, “Yes and No.”

On the one hand,” he writes, “college football is not as materially crucial of an issue as, to take two examples, climate change and cancer. On the other, like all cultural narratives, highbrow and low, it has an intangible but foundational importance to the lives of those who use it to define their social communities and to explain their personal origins and values — to understand how life works, basically.

The CEO of the major communications company where I used to work once said 30% of Americans are rabid sports fans. 100% of rabid sports fans think all American’s are rabid sports fans.

My wife is one of those American’s who could care less about sports.

Somehow, after over 30 years of marriage, she cannot remember when the Michigan-Ohio State game is played every year.

Yet last night as we flipped around the channels on TV, when a promo for the Notre Dame – Ohio State game came on she looked at me and said, “The evil empire versus the bad guys … who do want to win?”

(For the record, while for most of my life I have wanted OSU to be undefeated when Michigan beats so it hurts more and for the most part, I am happy whenever ND loses at anything, I (maybe I am getting old or something) but I wouldn’t mind seeing this new coach at ND succeed and I have a growing concern over OSUs lifetime win total which thanks to Rich Rodriguez, the Morgantown Miracle Worker – no one in any sport ended one team list of accomplishments as fast as he did (consecutive bowl games, winning seasons, Top 25 Rankings etc) ((For crying out loud, at one point in Rich Rod’s career, Jim Tressel of that team down south had more BIG TEN wins in Michigan Stadium than Rich Rod did – But I digress)) and the one thing I want out of sports is that Michigan has wore total victories that that other team in my lifetime).

College football like all cultural narratives, highbrow and low, it has an intangible but foundational importance to the lives of those who use it to define their social communities and to explain their personal origins and values — to understand how life works, basically.

For me, when Michigan wins, the world just makes a little more sense.

And I have to say – watching some college football over the past couple of days … it just felt … normal.

It just felt fun and even good.

A step back or maybe beyond all the Covid/Political/News industrial complex that seems to have taken over.

I have to say I enjoyed it.

But why do I have to watch sooooooooooooooo many commercials!

BTW – For those who haven’t figured out that most public libraries offer access to New York Times, I have uploaded a PDF of this article that you can read here.

7.15.2022 – subject to ruthless

subject to ruthless
pseudo-efficient logic
of acquisition

I liked yesterday’s essay so much I created another haiku from the same line in the same piece.

The haiku is different but my thoughts, a day later, are still the same.

Today’s haiku is adapted from the line, These teams in their ancient configurations, which emerged through years of slow, organic development, should be the objects of harmlessly fideistic devotion by fans, not subject to the ruthless pseudo-efficient corporate logic of endless acquisition, in the opinion piece, The Big Ten Is Growing, But All I See Is Decline, by Matthew Walther in the New York Times.

You can read it here –

Mr. Walther as might be guessed, was writing about college sports in general and the Big 10 and Pac 12 announcement of either a gain or a loss of two teams.

But it was this statement that expressed my feelings exactly about college sports except for the conclusion.

Like so many of history’s great tragedies — the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the French Revolution, the end of ashtrays in cars — the decline of college football began with reasonable calls for reform. There really was something odd about the fact that Michigan and Nebraska, two undefeated football teams that had never played each other, were both able to call themselves the 1997 national champions. Surely, fans thought, it should be possible to come up with a system that determines who the real champion is. But it was precisely this uncertainty that once gave college football something of its idiosyncratic charm. To this day, in any dive bar in Michigan or Nebraska you can meet fans who will offer lovingly detailed arguments for why their team would have won 25 years ago if the two schools had faced off. (In 1998, a group of dedicated Nebraska fans went so far as to script and record a mock radio broadcast featuring the hypothetical matchup.)

These conversations were part of the sport’s appeal. They also belonged to a world in which college football was, in ways that are scarcely imaginable today, a regional and somewhat parochial affair. Who cared if a bunch of newspapermen decided (as they did in 1985) that Oklahoma was No. 1 and that a Michigan team with an identical record and its own victory in a major bowl game was No. 2? What mattered was winning rivalry games and conference championships.

Rivalries often involved implicit, class-based rooting interests: urban versus rural, research versus land grant, upper-middle-class professionals and the exurban working classes versus middle-class suburbia. These games were played for ancient, often absurd trophies such as the Old Brass Spittoon, which goes to the winner of the annual Indiana-Michigan State game.

When Mr. Walther wrote, … the decline of college football began with reasonable calls for reform. There really was something odd about the fact that Michigan and Nebraska … I saw this as the silver in the lining, not the sliver in the eye of college sports.

Mr. Walther states that ever since 1997, that season is still a daily presence in the lives of fans just because there was no clear winner.

When the Cubs finally one a World Series, I felt the price, that they won, was too high to give up the 100 years plus memories of trying.

How many teams have won ONE World Series since 1908?

So many dumb teams I tell you.

And how many teams had not won any?

JUST ONE.

But not anymore.

I can’t even name the year that it was that the Cubs won.

The price was too high

But that 1997 year when Scotty Frost apologized for not being able to pose with a rose in his teeth but please please please vote for my team.

Never ever ever forget.

I have a harmless fideistic devotion to a certain team.

That will not be changed by wins or losses or coaches or player commitments.

That will not change.

That there are folks that do change strikes me as too bad.

That those in charge of the game know there is enough of those people that all the ruthless pseudo-efficient corporate logic of endless acquisition is what makes the changes strikes also as too bad.

But I ain’t going change.

Go Blue!

7.14.2022 – configurations

configurations
fideistic fan devotion
emerged harmlessly

Fideistic got thrown out by spell check and that is sure sign that the word is worthy of being in a haiku.

Today’s haiku is adapted from the line, These teams in their ancient configurations, which emerged through years of slow, organic development, should be the objects of harmlessly fideistic devotion by fans, not subject to the ruthless pseudo-efficient corporate logic of endless acquisition, in the opinion piece, The Big Ten Is Growing, But All I See Is Decline, by Matthew Walther in the New York Times.

You can read it here –

Mr. Walther as might be guessed, was writing about college sports in general and the Big 10 and Pac 12 announcement of either a gain or a loss of two teams.

But it was this statement that expressed my feelings exactly about college sports except for the conclusion.

Like so many of history’s great tragedies — the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the French Revolution, the end of ashtrays in cars — the decline of college football began with reasonable calls for reform. There really was something odd about the fact that Michigan and Nebraska, two undefeated football teams that had never played each other, were both able to call themselves the 1997 national champions. Surely, fans thought, it should be possible to come up with a system that determines who the real champion is. But it was precisely this uncertainty that once gave college football something of its idiosyncratic charm. To this day, in any dive bar in Michigan or Nebraska you can meet fans who will offer lovingly detailed arguments for why their team would have won 25 years ago if the two schools had faced off. (In 1998, a group of dedicated Nebraska fans went so far as to script and record a mock radio broadcast featuring the hypothetical matchup.)

These conversations were part of the sport’s appeal. They also belonged to a world in which college football was, in ways that are scarcely imaginable today, a regional and somewhat parochial affair. Who cared if a bunch of newspapermen decided (as they did in 1985) that Oklahoma was No. 1 and that a Michigan team with an identical record and its own victory in a major bowl game was No. 2? What mattered was winning rivalry games and conference championships.

Rivalries often involved implicit, class-based rooting interests: urban versus rural, research versus land grant, upper-middle-class professionals and the exurban working classes versus middle-class suburbia. These games were played for ancient, often absurd trophies such as the Old Brass Spittoon, which goes to the winner of the annual Indiana-Michigan State game.

When Mr. Walther wrote, … the decline of college football began with reasonable calls for reform. There really was something odd about the fact that Michigan and Nebraska … I saw this as the silver in the lining, not the sliver in the eye of college sports.

Mr. Walther states that ever since 1997, that season is still a daily presence in the lives of fans just because there was no clear winner.

When the Cubs finally one a World Series, I felt the price, that they won, was too high to give up the 100 years plus memories of trying.

How many teams have won ONE World Series since 1908?

So many dumb teams I tell you.

And how many teams had not won any?

JUST ONE.

But not anymore.

I can’t even name the year that it was that the Cubs won.

The price was too high

But that 1997 year when Scotty Frost apologized for not being able to pose with a rose in his teeth but please please please vote for my team.

Never ever ever forget.

I have a harmless fideistic devotion to a certain team.

That will not be changed by wins or losses or coaches or player commitments.

That will not change.

That there are folks that do change strikes me as too bad.

That those in charge of the game know there is enough of those people that all the ruthless pseudo-efficient corporate logic of endless acquisition is what makes the changes strikes also as too bad.

But I ain’t going change.

Go Blue!

7.3.2022 – it’s nice all golfers

it’s nice all golfers
certifiably insane
are to an extent

Adapted from the headline, “All golfers are certifiably insane to an extent’: Scott Stallings spends $400 to go back to old irons, moves up leaderboard at John Deere

It seems that a Mr. Scott Stallings felt something was off on his game and he decided he wanted to use some older golf clubs that he owned but that were back he lived.

Mr. Stallings called a friend back home and asked him to ship the clubs out which the friend did at a cost of $400 to over night the clubs.

I got no problem with any of this.

The headline.

The thought behind the headline.

The action taken by the friend.

The desire of Mr. Stalling’s to have his old clubs.

It really just all kind of sums up my thoughts on the subject in the first place.

In full, Mr. Stallings said:

“I think all golfers are certifiably insane to an extent because we know something is good, and there is always kind of the double-edged sword of always trying to get a little bit better. I tried this other set for about a year and went back to it last week and ended up third in approach to the green and I have no idea what I am this week. Feel like I’m doing something right,” said Stallings, who has shot 67-66-64. “Definitely have seen significant improvement in my iron play.

“I had some nice weeks, but just kind of inconsistent through the middle of the bag for me. Nothing is wrong with the way the club is made. It’s just as far as the way I deliver it in there. I think I match up a little bit better with the older ones.

“It’s nice to see that we were correct.”

5.24.2022 – caring deeply and

caring deeply and
passionately, really, has
gone out of our lives

Roger Angell has died.

Born in 1920 and the son of Katherine Angell White (which made him the step son of EB White), Roger Angell wrote about baseball for the New Yorker Magazine for as long as I can remember.

To say, though, that Roger Angell wrote about baseball is much like saying Michelangelo painted ceilings.

There was so much more than that to what Mr. Angell wrote.

The focus, the reason for the writing was baseball, but the words were brought together in ways that were magical and poetry.

It was after the 1975 World Series, the famous game six that was won by the Red Sox on a home run in the bottom of the 12th inning, late, late at night in Fenway Park, that Mr. Angell wrote:

What I do know is that this belonging and caring is what our games are all about: this is what we come for.

It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable.

Almost.

What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives.

And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved.

Naïveté — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

Mr. Angell was a not so much a sports reporter but a baseball commentator.

Each year, it seems to me now, he would write an essay that previewed the upcoming season, then an essay or too on the season so far and then an essay recapping the season just finished.

These 4 or 5 essays over the course of a year all appeared in the New Yorker Magazine.

Written a leisure with thoughtfulness beyond anything but appreciation, Mr. Angell could bring each and every game he covered to life though it had been over for some time.

I was 8 years old when the Detroit Tigers won the World Series in 1968.

It wasn’t until years later that I was able to understand and appreciate what when on in that World Series, the dual between Denny McCain and Bob Gibson and the slow turtle-and-the-hare story Mickey Lolich pitching his way to 3 World Series wins, and I got those stories from reading Roger Angell’s account in an essay titled, “A LITTLE NOISE AT TWILIGHT.”

But like the Persian Rug with the missing knot so it wouldn’t be perfect, Mr. Angell did make mistakes.

I always felt somehow privileged that I caught one.

But to this day, I am not sure if the error was Mr. White’s or his editor.

Here is the passage in question?

Can you find the mistake?

The scene is late in Game 7 of the ’68 Series between the Cardinals and Tigers.

The game is in St. Louis and the series is tied 3-3.

Mr. White wrote: Still no score. Summer and the Series were running out. Gibson had permitted only one base-runner in the game, and here were the Tigers down to their last seventh inning of the year. Gibson fanned Stanley, for his thirty-fourth strikeout of the Series, and Kaline grounded out. At three and two, Cash singled to right. Horton hit to the left side, and the ball went through for a single. Northrup lined the first pitch high and deep, but straight to center, where Curt Flood started in, reversed abruptly, and then stumbled, kicking up a divot of grass. He recovered in an instant and raced toward the fence, but the ball bounced beyond him, a good four hundred feet out; Northrup had a triple, and two runs were in. Freehan doubled past Brock in left, for the third.

It is right there in plain sight.

For me, it made Mr. Angell more human and that much more great.

Roger Angell has died.

This is when I quote John O`Hara on the death of George Gershwin.

I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.

5.20.2022 – Phil is relaxed and

Phil is relaxed and
sporting new look in exile
says his mom’s headline

Not picking on anyone here but the recent sports headline “Phil Mickelson is ‘relaxed’ and sporting a new look in exile, says his mom” made me laugh out loud.

I am reminded of the story of 2nd Lieutenant just-graduated-from-West-Point John Eisenhower.

For his post graduation leave, instead of time off, Lt. Eisenhower got to go visit the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force.

The Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force happened to be Lt. Eisenhower’s father, General (4 Stars) Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The story is told that the General, wanting to involve his son in operations, sent him to deliver a message to a nearby unit.

The story goes that Lt. Eisenhower got a jeep and went over to the unit and approached the commanding officer saying, “My Dad says to attack on the right.”

“Oh?” replied the office, “and what does your Mom want me to do?”

Another story from the same time has the young Lieutenant worrying about Military Protocol and asking his Dad for his thoughts.

According to Protocol, a lower ranking officer salutes a higher ranking office.

The just-out-of-West-Point 2nd Lieutenant with all of about 2 weeks seniority asked his Dad what he should do in the event that they are together and meet another officer who outranks the son but is out ranked by the father.

Should the son salute first or should he wait for the other officer to salute his Dad and then return the salute with his Dad or should he …

The General, according to the story, interrupted the son with no little temper and said, “THERE ISN’T AN OFFICER IN THIS THEATER THAT I DON’T OUTRANK and OUTRANKS YOU!

Any, I liked that Phil’s Mom is still looking out for him.

Someone has to.

5.18.2022 – stunts brash marketing

stunts brash marketing
found crucial ingredient
treat customers well

The baseball great, Ted Williams, once said, “If you don’t think so great, don’t think so much.”

“Most people are usually pressing to play well, thinking about their performance a lot,” Savannah pitcher, Kyle Luigs says. “But if you can get out of your comfort zone and do something to get your mind completely off baseball … you’ll play better.”

Of course, I am talking about baseball.

Savannah Baseball.

Savannah Banana’s Baseball.

“This is saving baseball from itself,” Spaceman Bill Lee says. “Look at the fans’ response, look at the way the kids are showing up.”

If you haven’t heard, read this article.

There is not much I don’t like about the Bananas.

And with all the bananas stuff going on its this bottom line of “For all the stunts and brash marketing, the franchise has found a crucial ingredient that traces to Barnum’s dictum about treating customers well.

Saving baseball from itself.

Did you know that all tickets are somewhere around $35?

Did you know once you get in, most concession food is free and all you can eat?

Tickets.

Those are the big problem.

How to get them?

5.17.2022 – work to ensure that

work to ensure that
players fully understand
the fundamentals

I was wondering if anyone had ever posted a Head Coaching job online.

I was wondering if anyone had ever posted a Head Coaching job online, what would it say.

While I did not find a posting for a specific team, one online job site, in its career section listed this job description:

Head football coaches coordinate and oversee any assistant coaches as they work to ensure that players fully understand the fundamentals of the game. They run practices and drills to prepare their players for their next opponents. Head football coaches may also scout other teams and watch film to prepare plays and game plans. They make all of the decisions during a game. Depending on the level they are coaching at, they may also be involved in recruiting new players. Head football coaching duties include managing and instructing team members in an effort to win games, motivating football players before and during competitive events, and analyzing team strengths and weaknesses, while instituting game strategies based on such information. Head football coaches are also responsible for maintaining records regarding team performances.

I was wondering this due to a recent story about the head coach of the Detroit Lions, Dan Campbell, and his reaction to the 2022 Lions schedule.

I focused on the line, fully understand the fundamentals of the game.

I would classify team history as a fundamental.

I would rate something a team has done for 80 years or so as fundamental.

Now I like Coach Campbell.

I feel sorry for him.

Head Coach of the Detroit Lions is like being promoted to Captain of the Titanic except that you already saw the movie and you know what is going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it.

Anyway, Coach Campbell was asked for his reaction to a schedule that showed that the Lions had no Prime Time Games.

In other words, the NFL felt no need to inflict the Lions on the rest of the Country.

But Coach was upbeat.

Just from a glance, I mean it’s, I have no arguments. I think it looks great‘, said Coach.

Then he was informed that the Lions would, of course, have that traditional Thanksgiving Day game.

The NFL tradition of football game on Thanksgiving Day that was invented by the Lions and maybe the 2nd thing anyone knows about La Ville de Tway or Detroit in the common usage.

Who are we playing on Thanksgiving?” he asked?

Then he asked, “Are we home or are we away?”

In a way, it was the perfect question.

Tells me all I need to know about what to expect this season.