5.20.2022

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.

3.2.2022 – balls strikes baseball strikes

balls strikes baseball strikes
outs out at the plate lock out
cant go home again

I loved baseball.

It took me a long to time to get there.

My family was a big baseball family.

My Dad, because they were available on the radio from Chicago in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where grew up, was a Cubs fan.

Back then, teams like the Detroit Tigers argued about the wisdom of having every game on the radio.

My brothers and sisters grew up Tiger fans.

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

Back when all the games were played at 3pm on the afternoon so kids at my school, Crestview Elementary were sneaking small, transistor AM radios into class.

At that point I was not a fan.

Baseball and sports, any sport just took too much time and I had so many things to do with all that time in childhood.

There were Gilligan’s Island reruns and Bugs Bunny cartoons to watch and books to read.

Sometime in the summer of I think around1975, I was out with my Dad on a late night drive and he had the Cubs on the radio from Chicago.

My Dad always had the Cubs on.

Not only could we sing the song the started Cubs broadcasts,

Let’s go – batter up – we’re takin’ the afternoon off

it’s a beautiful day for a ballgame for a ballgame today

the fans are out to get a ticket or two from Wala Wala Washington to Kalamazoo

it’s a beautiful day for a homerun but even a triple’s ok

we’re gonna cheer and boo and raise a hullabaloo at the ballgame today

The Chicago Cubs are on the Air!

But we could sing most of the commercials as well.

“You can take Salem out the country BUT ...”

Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau

Don’t know who they were playing but they had a new first baseman named Bill Buckner.

Buckner was a good player with a decent bat but he had a bad leg and was still recovering from the original injury that would later come back to haunt him BIG TIME.

It seems he was on first and tried to stretch make to third on a hit.

Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau were the radio team and they about fell out of the booth describing the action.

Outfielder bobbles the ball.”

Buckner makes the turn at 2nd, going to try for third.”

“Here’s the throw …

Boudreau starts yelling “RUN BUCK RUN BUCK – – DIVE

Heres the play

He is …..

HE MADE IT HE MADE IT!!!

BUCKNER SAFE AT THIRD.”

I don’t know why.

It was one of those warm, humid nights you get in West Michigan.

The car windows were open.

It was dark with the car lights showing up as big beams in the steamy air.

In the words of Bob Seger, “It was sweet summertime summertime.

And I got bit by baseball.

I started watching and listening a lot more often.

And I discovered baseball writing as well.

Some of the best writing in America has been about baseball, both fiction and non fiction.

Bill Bryson’s father was an award sports editor of the Newspaper in Des Moines, Iowa.

A city without any major league sports.

Yet Bill Bryson, Sr. got into an anthology of his account of the famous Bill Mazeroski’s 9th inning World Series Winning Game 7 Home Run writing, “Pittsburgh’s steel mills couldn’t have made more noise than the crowd in this ancient park did when Mazeroski smashed Yankee Ralph Terry’s second pitch of the 9th inning. By the time the ball sailed over the ivy-covered brick wall, the rush from the stands had begun and these sudden madmen threatened to keep Maz from touching the plate with the run that beat the lordly Yankees, 10-9 for the title.

I joined the Socitey for American Baseball Research long before SABRMETRICS came along to mess up the game.

Out of college I had an opportunity to interview for a research position with the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and I drove home on cloud nine when the Director told me he couldn’t offer the job but was penciling me into the lineup.

I still bear in mind the name of guy on the letter than came a few weeks later announcing who got the job.

The came the strikes.

The first one I really remember in the mid 80’s I was thrilled when it was settled.

Then came the strike in the 90s

To this day baseball folks talk about how many fans were lost in the 1994–95 strike.

I was one of them.

It wasn’t so much that when they returned to work, the two things they went out on strike over were left unsettled.

But that the 1994 season was left unfinished.

It just ended.

And still …

That fall when the season would have been over, for some reason I never been able to find or have explained, the season ending awards, MVP, Cy Young, Gold Gloves, were all made for the part the season that had played.

And that, to this day, for me, broke off my relationship with baseball.

I have not been to a major league game since.

I went often to a local minor league team in West Michigan and enjoyed watch kids playing for a chance as much as playing the game.

And the game itself, the putting the ball over the plate and taking the round bat and a round ball and try to hit it square.

I might watch a World Series game for a few minutes.

But a fan?

Baseball is still important for many, but inessential for most.

Today I read in the Guardian, “In a country where the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the optics are tricky when a representative such as the pitcher Max Scherzer, who agreed a three-year, $130m contract with the New York Mets last November, is one of the faces of a union complaining that an annual salary of $570,500 is stingy.”

So much money.

So much greed.

I guess Mark Twain was right.

He said this in a speech at Delmonico’s, April 8, 1889.

The very symbol, the outward and visible expression of the drive, and push, and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing, booming nineteenth century!”

If I think about America today, Major League Baseball is indeed the very symbol, the outward and visible expression of the drive, and push, and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing, booming all summed up in one allegoric greedy one for me and all for me business.

I think I go to the beach.

Might as well as can’t go home again.

1.13.2022 – No coach takes a job

No coach takes a job
assuming they’ll fail – think they’re
going to succeed

Little Jimmie ‘I Lost the Brown Jug” Harbaugh made it to the sports page of the Manchester Guardian.

The headline was Jim Harbaugh’s likely NFL return shows college isn’t what it used to be.

Boy you can say that again.

Back when I was in college with Jimmie and he would go practice football and I would go and try to get lost in the grad library, it sure seemed a lot more simple.

A lot more fun.

But someone had to come along and fix it.

Play to crown a real national champion and more fans from more schools will be involved in the process and the game.

Yep that worked out.

I remember how at the end of college football season, as many as 10 or 12 teams would be looking at how their team might be voted the champion depending on how all the bowl games were played.

Now we got a system and just two teams, two teams with extensive fan bases that included the entire state of Alabama and the north east corner of South Carolina, seem to have controlled that discussion.

Boy Howdy and oh boy.

So we can fix the fix this and put more teams into the mix.

Now 4 more games and this seems to be getting the game off the field and into the schools medical and injury support so maybe my old college might benefit.

Just label anything fun and take it out, just like my old job.

Somehow they were able to take college football and turn it into the only national sport were FEWER people are interested in the playoffs.

That’s a pretty neat trick but not one that you would think would want on your resume.

Anyway, reading that article I got to this line.

No coach goes into a job assuming they’re going to fail. They think they’re going to succeed.

How about that!

I am sure I knew this.

I am sure everyone knows this.

Still, it has to be said.

I remember years and years ago watch some game and the poor little reporter on the field has to interview the coach of the visiting team as the half came to an end.

I know that everyone is aware this is a RULE.

I don’t mean that it is a rule for ‘How to Cover College Sports – A TV Broadcaster Rule Book’ but then again maybe it is.

What I mean is that in the great board meetings that take place where major things are decided that impact all our live, it was agreed upon by all the powers that have the power to be at these meetings that any and all college football and basketball coaches MUST – HAVE TO – GONNA GET IN TROUBLE IN YOU DON’T – take part in these running off the field interviews.

It is in the contracts between the TV Networks and the conferences, the conferences and the schools and the schools and the coaches.

It is a RULE.

It is IN THE BOOK.

So when the young sideline reporter is told at the production meeting to GET THAT INTERVIEW, if the reporter asks ‘HOW?’ as in “HOW DO I GET JUWAN HOWARD TO talk to me?” the producer can yell back, “Don’t worry about that – THEY GOTTA DO IT.”

For the fan I guess.

Some where is the person who thought this up.

That at this moment, we needed someone to yell some questions at a coach.

Either at the half and at the end of game.

Some of the world’s best sports questions and answers have come out of this idea.

One of my favorites was when a reporter as a very fast walking Bobby Knight how his team was able to win the game.

Coach Knight, without breaking stride replied that while he was an not expert like most sports broadcaster he did recommend that if you looked at the scoreboard you would see that his team scored more points than the other team.

He was pretty much jerk in real life too.

Another time, a breathless young reporter (they always seem to get this assignment) run up to Bear Bryant and asked why he ran a certain play.

As I remember it, Coach Bryant stopped and stared at the reporter and said, ‘Everything I do is part of trying to WIN this game.’

The reporter didn’t like that or something so repeated the question.

Coach Bryant repeated the answer.

The reporter again started to repeat with a ‘But ….”

Coach Bryant stared for a second or 2 into the camera, shook his head and walked off.

They more I thought about it the more I thought he was right.

Would a Coach do something that he thought might NOT help win a game?

There is a plan here.

There is a plan when each coach is hired.

The plan is to win.

Even in the NFL were as the writer of today’s article stated:

Parity is legislated in the NFL; it’s equality by design. 

Some how this writer has not experienced the phenomena know as the Detroit Lions.

12.6.2021 – win one, one win won

win one, one win won
thousand mile journey begins
with a single step

The Detroit Lions have won one game.

According to multiple online sources, which perhaps is the greatest cite-able non-attribution attribution since “everyone is saying it down at the club” that it was the Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu, who said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Maybe this is that single step.

It was the other Tzu, Sun, no relation that I can find, who said, or at least who Gordon Gecko said he said, “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.

I have the feeling that before the game starts, EVERY team in the National Football League thinks that when they play the Detroit Lions, they will win.

I also have the feeling that before the game starts, the Detroit Lions think that when they play any other team in the National Football League, they will not win.

Did you see what a did there?

I did not use the L word.

The L word being lose.

As in loser.

The Detroit Lions are not losers.

Until yesterday, they were winless.

The Detroit Lions were the first team in NFL history to … go winless for an entire season.

They DID not lose every game.

They just DID NOT win any game.

The National Football League has long be recognized as one the world’s greatest examples of psychological marketing.

It was the first NFL Commissioner, Bert Bell, who gave fans reason to watch any game with his statement, “On any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team.

Bert Bell was succeed as NFL Commissioner by Pete Rozelle.

What was Mr. Rozelle?

Mr. Rozelle was a PR specialist for the Los Angeles Rams.

Mr. Rozelle was so good at PR that he convinced the world his name was PETE and not his given name of Alvin Ray.

I put it to you that Alvin or Al or even A. Ray Rozelle would never have made a go of it.

Anyway, Pete embraced that phrase, On any given Sunday, and pounded it into the county’s collective consciousness as he turned football into ‘America’s Game.’

Any team can beat any other team!

But can any team really win any game?

Statistically speaking, on any given Sunday, half the teams win.

And half the teams do not win.

Really, you can look it up.

Okay, there are ties.

But for every team that wins, there has to be a team that does not win so that has to be 50-50.

Right?

Have to love statistics.

I loved go to a meeting and report that statistics showed that a heavy internet user was also a heavy TV watcher.

I would wait until everyone was nodding their heads that, yes, that made sense.

Then I would add, that’s because you don’t lose weight using the internet.

WHOOSH.

You could hear it go right over their heads.

I had so much fun in meetings.

I was so much fun to have in meetings!

ANYWAY ….

There are 32 teams.

14 of those teams, just less than half, will make the playoffs.

And the way it is supposed to work, the half of the teams that do not make the playoffs get first dibs on getting the better players coming into the NFL from the college game.

A team would almost have to TRY to not win to not win games in the NFL.

Again, notice that I am not using the L word.

Somehow, someway, in their corporate history as a Professional Football Club, the Detroit Lions have managed to not win more games than they have won or not lost.

The Lions are 1 of 4 teams to NEVER have played in the Super Bowl, let alone not won one.

(Just for the record of the other three, the Browns are right there with the Lions while the Jaguars and Texans are relatively new teams.)

Not even played in the BIG GAME.

Tell me all about the Chicago Cubs, but they HAVE BEEN IN 11 World Series even if took 100 years to not lose one.

I guess I have to throw the City of Atlanta into the discussion.

With Atlanta’s representation in the four major leagues for Baseball, Football, Hockey and Basketball, the city has 2 championships of any kind.

That is including the latest World Series win.

Atlanta also has the honor of the GREATEST SUPER BOWL choke in history when after leading 28-3, they managed to not win the game.

But they MADE it the game.

The city of Detroit (Counting four – YES 4 – NFL titles before the Super Bowl Era) has 22 Pro Championships and ranks #5 on the list of Cities by Chamipionships.

11 of those are Red Wings Stanley Cups.

Does it matter?

I consider myself a Detroit Lions fan, win or not win.

It took me a long time to realize that Pro Football was entertainment.

Each game can be taken as a movie that is watched for its entertainment value.

Maybe you don’t like how the movie ends, but it, well, held your interest.

As Michael MacCambridge writes in history of the NFL, America’s Game. “What those who were contemptuous of sports misunderstood was not merely that a middle-class sports fan might revere football to the same degree that an inveterate theatergoer revered Shakespeare, but that he might do so for many of the same reasons.

On the other hand, Amanda Lane, in the article, So Your Baseball Team Has Never Been to the World Series:

Ask yourself, if the Mariners win the World Series [or if the Lions win a Super Bowl], what will my life have that it doesn’t have now? You’ll probably answer something like a championship t-shirt, the pride and satisfaction of knowing your team is a winner, and the feeling that staying loyal to the team for all these years was worth it in the end.

A championship t-shirt is something you purchase to wear on airplanes and when you travel to other cities. In doing so, you are seeking the acknowledgement from other that you support a winning team. By extension, you feel that this means you too are a winner.

You feel that this means you too are a winner.

If you are a Lions fan though, Ms. Lane has this advice (which I paraphrased).

Seek personal satisfaction in pursuits outside of Detroit Lions fandom

11.16.2021 – in this twilight zone

in this twilight zone
don’t know what this is really
take to get fired
?

At some point in the course of being the head coach of the Detroit Lions of the National Football league, the head coach will give voice to their legacy quote.

At some point, being the coach of the Lions gets to them and they express their frustrations in a quote that lasts longer than the time they were head coach.

This week, after a pretty brutal overtime tie game to the Pittsburg Steelers, head coach Dan Campbell said, “I’m in this twilight zone, I don’t know what this is really.”

We do.

It, for lack of anything better, its the Same Old Lions.

Look at this list of quotes.

None of these are made up.

“I mean for us, it’s obviously – we’re trying to get better. We’re just trying to get better.” Matt Patricia

It’s not easy to win and I think that often times people kind of take it for granted.” Jim Caldwell

“It doesn’t end well for head coaches in the NFL, no matter how much you want it to.” Jim Schwartz

It answers how I go through all this every day. It’s dark and I’m going to dig through. My shovel is sharp and my pick is sharp and my will is outstanding.” Rod Marinelli (Most folks still not sure what he meant or even if he knew what he meant)

Sometimes you take two step backwards to take one step forward. Sometimes, it’s five steps back.” Steve Mariucci

There’s no excuses in this league. Snap, hold, kick.” Marty Mornhinweg (Just that simple)

We better get better as the year goes on.” Matt Millen (A GM not a head coach but this feller HIRED the 3 preceding fellers – haven’t we suffered enough?)

I get all the damn criticism — people hammering me! I’m a good coach! I know what the heck’s supposed to be done! And I’m not going to second-guess myself one damn time!” Bobby Ross

About Bobby Ross, “Bobby got to the point where he literally tormented himself over each loss,” said Lions general manager Chuck Schmidt. “He felt his job was to get the team ready to play, and he didn’t know what else he could do.

I’m like that big buck that’s in the field.” Wayne Fontes

What’s a guy have to do to get fired around here?” Daryl Rogers (This was AFTER being given a contract extension.

It was answered, but the answer was No.” Monte Clark on a silent prayer for a last play 43 yard field goal to win the game on go on to the NFC Championship in 1983. Lions kicker, Eddie Murray missed.

I can go back to Tommy Hudspeth but I cannot find any quote.

I did find the UPI story about him being fired and his entire 8 member coaching staff let go.

The story quoted Lions Owner William Clay Ford saying, “Ford today called Hudspeth an ‘outstanding individual…’ For the sake of the loyal Lion fans and the general good of the football team we just felt a change was necessary at this time.”

Think of that statement, For the sake of the loyal Lion fans and the general good of the football team.

Got that in your head?

The UPI story said, “The Detroit Lions today dismissed their head coach, Tommy Hudspeth, and his eight‐man coaching staff. Hudspeth’s staff included Bill Belichick, Rollie Dotsch, Wally English, Ed Hughes, Bernie Miller, John Payne, Floyd Reese and Fritz Shurmur.”

So For the sake of the loyal Lion fans and the general good of the football team, William Clay Ford got rid of Bill Belichick.

Bill Belichick has won SIX Super Bowls since.

In the same time, the Lions have won ONE playoff games.

I know I know I know but there it is.

Back in 2008, Mitch Albom wrote, “Then again, what’s a coach to do?

Every time the other team lowers the bar, the Lions crawl under it.

They are the NFL’s answer to the Limbo.

John McKay (USC Student Body Right – the only football play named after a student demonstration) had an old saying: “Don’t coach the great ones too much because you don’t want to tamper down their talent.”

Maybe that is the problem here.

These fellers who coached Detroit some how coached TOO MUCH and tampered down all the talent.

Maybe it would be better to get the 11 best athletes they can and then let the quarterback draw out plays on their hand like we did playing in the park behind Aberdeen Elementary School.

It is at the point that if the Detroit Lions announced that they were going to do everything they could to assemble the worst team possible in NFL History, the current Lions would still lose to them.

They say about Juwan Howard, the basketball coach at the University of Michigan that he can get players to play better than they know how.

Somehow the Lions do that too.

Only in reverse.

Still the Lions manage to accomplish the impossible.

Each year it seems, they make last years team look better.

Notice I stopped at Tommy Hudspeth.

The earliest Lion’s Coach I can remember is Rick Forzano.

I could not find a quote from him but here is his picture.

Often a picture says 1000 words.

I think I can explain why.

William Ford’s brother was Henry Ford II.

Henry Ford II was by all accounts one the biggest jerks to come off a Detroit assembly line.

William wanted to stand out from his brother’s shadow.

The easiest way to do that was to be, simply, a nice guy.

And William Ford gloried in that.

By all accounts.

From his players, to his coaches, to his staff to everyone, William Ford was the nicest guy you might ever meet.

When Leo Durocher said nice guys finish last, William Ford decided to show just how true that was.

If Lions fans could talk to him I sure he would understand.

He wanted to win too.

But if the choice was win or be a nice guy, winning came in 2nd.

In my mind, I kinda like it.

It’s that trick the Cubs developed over the years of being lovable but being losers.

I warned a lot of Cub fans that finally winning a World Series may create a greater sense of loss than never winning.

Like Henry Hill at the end of the movie, Goodfellas, the Cubs are no longer the worlds most loved losers, they are like all the other teams that managed to win one World Series, “an average nobody… get to live the rest of [my] life like a schnook.”

Back when I worked at WZZM13 TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I wrote a story for online asking readers to send in their favorite Lions memory.

Neither here nor there but I miss Henry Wofford.

I still wear his good luck tie to work when I need good luck.

In the story I said come on, there have to be some good moments, right?

I started it off with a tribute to the great Dexter Bussey.

Dexter understood Detroit.

Dexter said, “These fans are great. They support us. They don’t mind losing. They get off on that somehow.

The next day I got a call from Dexter Bussey’s son.

He wanted to tell me how much my story meant to his Dad.

I don’t think Dexter got a lot of fan mail.

Also we got 4 other positive memories sent in.

I think one reminisced about how happy Lions fans were when they traded for Scotty Mitchell.

If I had a chance to talk to Dan Campbell I would love to tell that no, you aren’t in the twilight zone.

You are with the Lions.

It’s a nicer place to be.

10.6.2021 – from professional

from professional
discussion confused private
imperative task

Adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

What is a beautiful building? To be modern is to experience this as an awkward and possibly unanswerable question, the very notion of beauty having come to seem like a concept doomed to ignite unfruitful and childish argument. How can anyone claim to know what is attractive? How can anyone adjudicate between the competing claims of different styles or defend a particular choice in the face of the contradictory tastes of others? The creation of beauty, once viewed as the central task of the architect, has quietly evaporated from serious professional discussion and retreated to a confused private imperative.

According the The New York Review of Books, this is “A perceptive, thoughtful, original, and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.”

What I find irrestible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, I would.

2.27.2021 – back when the man said

back when the man said
its the team the team the team
who knew who listened

It is not surprise to my readers (and I know I am thinking positive when I use the plural) that I follow the sports teams of the University of Michgan.

It truly is in my blood.

My Grand Father, Roelof Hofman, the first one in that part of the family tree to be born in the USA, was also the first one to graduate from Michigan in 1911 as Dr. Robert Karl Hoffman, DDS. (Yep Americanized the name).

My Dad graduated from Michigan in 1942.

Me and my brothers and sisters make up the largest group of siblings, nine, to ever graduate from Michigan.

So I come by it honestly.

For a big chunk of my life, Michigan was Michigan Football and Michigan Football was Bo Schembechler.

He was the guy who when asked what made Michigan special, responded with three things.

The team, the team, the team.

So now for my deep dark secret.

Michigan Basketball has always been closer to my heart than the football team.

Sports teams have batters, pitchers, quarter backs, left wings, spin bowlers and stars.

Don’t get wrong as basketball has stars and teams led by stars.

But basketball to me, when played by a team, as a team, is something wonderful to behold.

Michigan is famous for its FAB FIVE.

A team of 5 superstar high school players who all agreed in 1991 to sign up at Michigan at the same time and create a legend.

Like so many legends, the movie has a bad ending.

It ends with Chris Webber calling timeout in the Championship Game when there were no time outs to be called.

When the demise of the legend is the stuff legends are made of, you know its a legend.

Oddly enough the head of the athletics at Michigan at the time was none other than Mr. Schembechlor.

He was NOT impressed with the FAB FIVE.

The shaved heads.

The baggy pants (yes those are part of the legend AND the start of a new look in uniforms).

The black socks.

“What did they win? NUTHIN!”, said Mr. Schembechor.

Something I always thought a bit disingenuous on his part but I digress.

But they were a team.

A member of that team was Juwan Howard.

A young man who went on to play 19 … NINETEEN … years in the NBA.

Now Mr. Howard is the basketball coach at Michigan.

And he has a good team.

No.

He has a good TEAM

The basketball effort at Michigan has been very team oriented in this century.

Under Coach John Beilein, the team was the plan and Mr. Beilein found the players to fit the plan and it worked.

With 2 final four appearances, it worked rather well.

Then comes Coach Howard.

I am not sure what the Coach Howard plan is.

This is what it seems to be.

Get the best players possible.

Then get those players to play better than they thought they ever could.

Get those players to play defense.

Get those players to play defense better than they ever thought they could.

Get those players to play better than they thought they ever could play and play together as a team towards a team goal.

Sounds easy right?

Let me tell you if this was easy other coaches would do it.

Get players to play better than they themselves know how to play.

And play as part of a team where the team the team the team is what matters.

This team is fun to watch.

Somewhere along the line I was told to try and watch the game away from the ball.

My senior year at Michigan, we had season’s tickets in the 2nd row of Crisler Arena.

Boy howdy but you could watch the game away from the ball from down there.

This is hard to do on TV and the TV follows the ball but the other night I tried to watch the game between Hunter Dickinson and Luke Garza.

It was quite a game.

This is fun team.

Basketball is a team sport.

I think the Piston’s Bad Boys.

I think of the FAB FIVE.

I think of the Ben Wallace Pistons.

I think of basketball teams that play basketball.

The team, the team, the team.

It seems that Juwan Howard was listening.

Coach Schembechler would be proud.

2.26.2021 – names what you should know

names what you should know
is Moses Fleetwood Walker
listed in your brain

Pleasantly surprised to start my morning online newspaper reading today and find a story on Moses Fleetwood Walker on the front page of The Guardian.

Even though almost every one knows who Moses Fleetwood Walker is, or at least what he did, or what happened because of Moses Fleetwood Walker, I am surprised at how few folks recognize the name.

Moses Fleetwood Walker at MICHIGAN (3rd from right)

I always seemed to know who Mr. Walker was.

It was in my brain.

But I have always had issues with the odd little facts in my brain.

I have always had a hard time realizing that the goofy little things stored away in my brain aren’t common knowledge.

Everyone, right, everyone knows that when Julia Roberts was born in Atlanta, it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who went to the hospital and paid all the medical bills.

Everyone, right, everyone knows that Henry Ford sent test tubes to Thomas Edison’s son so that when Thomas Edison died, his last breath could be captured for history.

I read a lot and I remember a lot and I can often bring up what I remember quickly and some folks think that is what being smart is.

But its not.

Smart is math and science and such.

That is smart.

I am good at trivia.

I grew in a family full of smart people.

With 10 brothers and sisters, when I went to Grand Rapids Creston High School I walked past trophy cases filled my brothers and sisters names.

Valedictorians.

Math Trophies.

Our last name was all over those awards.

Doctors, Lawyers and me the Indian Chief, I guess.

I was quick.

And quickly bored.

I could do algebra.

Really I could.

But in a very odd way.

I could stare at an algebra problem and after awhile my brain would spit out an answer.

Oddly enough that answer was usually correct.

But show my work?

Explain how I got the answer?

Couldn’t do it.

Well, I guess had I put in more effort I could have, but it was toooooooooo boring.

I wanted to read and gather more useless knowlegdge.

Presidents who didn’t use their first names?

Steven Cleveland, Thomas Wilson, John Coolidge.

Lots of stuff in my brain, but since I knew I wasn’t smart, I have always held to the idea that if I knew something, well, everyone has to know it as well.

So I think everyone knows who Moses Fleetwood Walker is.

I may be on firmer ground when I say everyone knows who Jackie Robinson is.

In 1997, Major League Baseball somehow celebrated Jackie Robinson.

It had been 50 years since Jackie Robinson broke the MLB color barrier.

The so-called gentleman’s agreement that kept black ball players from playing in the so called at the time, Major Leagues of Baseball.

They turned it into a celebration.

Nothing wrong with that.

But I kept waiting for the Major Leagues to say that it had been 50 since they got it through their minds that they had been wrong.

I kept waiting for Baseball to say, for over 60 years, we screwed up.

I kept waiting for Baseball to say, for over 60 years, we were wrong.

I kept waiting for Baseball to say, we are sorry to every player who played between 1947 and Jackie Robinson back to 1884 when Moses Fleetwood Walker took the field for the Toledo Blue Stockings and the opposing manager, Cap Anson (of Hall of Fame fame) said, “get the N***** off the field.”

That is who Moses Fleetwood Walker was.

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier that was created because of Moses Fleetwood Walker.

Mr. Walker played college ball at Oberlin and the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN.

After a year at Michigan, Mr. Walker moved on the Toledo Baseball club in 1883 and at the start of the 1884 his skin color came to the attention of those folks who felt skin color made a difference.

I am not sure if Baseball as a whole, ever came flat out and said they were sorry that happened.

I know the names.

To help my kids remember, we named our third son, born in 1997, Jackie Robinson Hoffman.

Had I known how much trouble he would have with the name I might have not pushed for it.

Not any real problems just book keeping and such.

I have been in offices answering questions for paperwork with Jackie,

1st name?

Jackie.

LEGAL FIRST NAME??

Jackie.

Middle name?

Robinson?

Pause,

Oh.

You wouldn’t believe the number of times people just assume by his name, he his a girl.

And that is also kind of funny as he was supposed to be a girl.

We had been contacted by his birth mother and asked to adopt Jackie prior to his being born.

“It’s a girl, I can tell,” said the birth mom.

So we had a girls name picked out.

Keziah by the way.

And we planned on a girl.

Then for some reason I began having doubts,

Anyway my wife was invited to the birth and when we got the call and she walked out the door, I called to her and said, “Just in case, I got a boys name picked out.”

She was thrilled I can tell you.

We already had a Franklin David Robert (FDR) and a Lucas EDWIN (Edwin being our Great Great Grand Father who fought in the civil war).

“He will be Jackie Robinson Hoffman,” I said.

My wife just said, “OK” and off she went to the hospital.

Hours later I got call from her.

“Well, Jackie Robinson is here.”

Thirteen years later when we learned we were again going to adopt another boy I called together all our kids that we had by that time, 3 boys and 3 girls, and I said that we needed a new name and they were going to vote on it.

I said the new baby could be Ellington Bernard after Duke Ellington and my wife’s Father,

OR.

He could be MOSES FLEETWOOD WALKER.

I explained how COOL it would be to have brothers named Jackie Robinson and Moses Fleetwood Walker.

I explained how important those two names were.

I explained why they should know those names.

They voted for Ellington Bernard.

I didn’t feel too bad as I had slipped one past everyone as I also wanted Ellie to named after EB White.

Ellington goes by Ellie.

Jackie goes by Jay.

But they both know who Moses Fleetwood Walker was.

Doesn’t everyone?

As a postscript I wondered why this story happened to be written at this time.

I searched the story for clues like, “New movie coming out” or “soon to be part of an HBO special.”

But nothing.

I then looked for the authors bio thinking it would say, “This is excerpted from a new book coming out this spring.”

I found the authors name, Andrew Lawrence, and the short blurb under his name said simply the Mr. Lawrence is a free lance writer and that formerly, he was an award-winning Sports Illustrated staff writer.

It also said that Mr. Lawrence is “Based in Beaufort, South Carolina.”

Boy HOWDY!

Low Country Neighbors.