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What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

How About Some Christmas Cheer for NFL and NBA Dance Teams?

Here we are in the Holiday Season, Christmas presents unwrapped, all of us looking forward to New Year's Eve and 2018. So how come there's nothing in the stockings of pro dance teams dancers, except tired legs for all the hard work they put in?

Hey pro owners, I'm talking NFL towel boys get get $50 grand contracts, NBA and NFL mascots get $25 to $50 grand per year, and what do the dance team ladies get? CHUMP CHANGE!


Here are few figures to ponder: NFL Cowboys pay their cheerleaders $150 dollars per home game and no pay for rehearsals. NBA Lakers pay their dance team $130.dollars per home game,which amounts to $5,460 thou per season, not counting playoffs and an hourly rate ($100 per hr) for other appearances. Really proud of those numbers, are you? The Indiana Pacers pay their dance team a shameful $60 bucks per home games.

As it stands now, based on what I can find out on the Internet, you're all Grinches. Straighten up and fly right. These women work their legs off. Their routines are high energy and require great physical coordination and exertion. And, although I've been critical at times about their routines, they are indeed an important part of your showtime.

If I'm wrong, owners and administrators, and you're more generous, and I hope you are, please clue me in. I'll be happy to print a retraction. 

It's the holiday and flatlanders are in the mountains skiing or snowboarding. Here's a small poem I wrote about why I don't ski

Why I Don't Ski   by Tom Meschery

There's way too much to do before the fun:
consider the clothes you've to to zipper into
and gloves like furry animals that weigh a ton
boots that weigh more than most first-born do,
and goggles that turn the snow to black,
and if you're smart, there's a helmet to don
in case you fall, which is inevitable
as there are snowboarders on the run
who'll cut in front of you and cheer
and less you regret, don't forget the tree
that appears out of nowhere just 
as you lose control, that has your name
written on its bark like a grave stone. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

San Jose 49ers

It looks like the Bay Area's new team, The 49ers have found themselves a quarterback for the future. It is truly amazing how different the team is now with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. It''s as if he's been able to energize all the other players on the team to the extent that watching 49ers defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, I wondered where the heck had they been all this time? Jimmy G's passing has opened up the running game for Hyde and Breida. The O line is suddenly impenetrable.The D, which was not that bad before the G game on board, has gone to a new level of efficiency and toughness. I've always understood how important a QB is to football, but it's hardly been more noticeable than this 49ers' transition from mediocrity to excellence. It called for some musing. (Sneaky insertion of blog lexicon)

At first, I thought to compare a QB's importance to his team to the roll of a pitcher in baseball. But, a pitcher's ability doesn't improve the hitting and fielding of the rest of his teammates. Of course, without great pitching, baseball teams don't win. Still, pitching is a group effort, unlike football where it's rare to have more than one great quarterback.

As dependent as basketball and hockey are on their super stars, success is more a matter of the fluid interaction of it's players, rather than one star's ability, no matter how great he or she is. Finally, I couldn't think of a team sport that was so dependent on one player as football is.

I had to go outside of sports to find equivalency. I thought first of principals in high schools. Having taught high school for 25 years after retiring from pro ball, I am witness to the positive top-down influence of a good principal on every aspect of the school, from teacher moral and enthusiasm, to student success, to school administration, to custodial help and school appearance, to parent/school relationships. One strong, intelligent, creative presence at the top makes all the difference.

Then I thought of the military. It's always been joked about that football and the military are analogous. (Listen to George Carlin's comedy routine on the difference between football and baseball. Hilarious.) Yes, I thought, a quarterback is like a field general in battle. General George Patton came to mind. Got to have strong,creative and skilled leadership at the helm. Marc Anthony, Napoleon, Crazy Horse, Mao, Omar Bradley.

And, before you ask, it was no mistake that I call the 49ers San Jose's team. The people of San Jose paid for their stadium, they deserve to have them. San Jose is a fine city and should not be snubbed. I say this as a City kid, who grew up with the 49ers. But fair is fair. And no, 49ers, the Warriors already have dibs on Golden State. 

The Warriors gave me my Christmas present by defeating the Cavs. Once Curry and ZaZa get back and the Dubs are whole, they'll be tough to beat. But  a little word of advise, the next time you play the Cavs, somebody, please know where Love is on the court. You can't give up those easy threes.

Insanity.   by Tom Meschery

Standing in the pocket,
unafraid even with the 260 pound
tackle foaming at the mouth,
charging into your peripheral vision
about to break every bone
in your body, send you into
NFL concussion protocol,
possibly start you on the road
to retirement and dementia
and an early agonizing death,
you calmly let the pass fly
take the hit and smile
as the ball sails safely 
into your reciever's hands.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Who Are the Future NBA Super Stars?

The NBA is full of great, super great super stars: Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green, Westbrook, George, Carmelo, Hardin, Paul, etc, etc, some of the names above and the etcs will be retiring soon, and some, like Curry and Thompson will be around longer. But, I've been thinking, who are the sure fire super stars of the recent three drafts, the ones guaranteed to take over the line light? Antetekomp, of course, but he was 2014. So was Joel Embid, if he can stay uninjured for a full season. (Think Bill Walton and his one and a half years of greatness.) Andrew Wiggins (Is he great, or does he lack fire?)


I went back three drafts and came to the conclusion that there are lots of GOOD future players, but few bone-fide stars. Here's how I break it down by draft year. Please feel free to weight in with your picks'

2015 GREATS: Towns and Porzingas. GOOD BUT NOT GREAT: Larry Nance, Jr. Josh Richardson, Justin Winslow.

2016 GREATS: Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, Ben Simmons with a can he ever shoot caveat. GOOD BUT NOT GREAT: Jamal Murry, Domatas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon.

2017 GREATS: Jason Tatum, Lauri Markkanen, Kyle Kuzma, Jastin Jackson (?).  GOOD BUT NOT GREAT: Jordan Bell, Dillon Brooks, Frank Ntiklima, Dennis Smith Jr.. Lonzo Ball. Dennis Smith Jr may turn into a great? Lonzo Ball could also turn into a great if he ever learns how to shoot; otherwise, he'll be a Ricky Rubio type for his career. I love Ricky, but he shoots bricks.

Good in the NBA is NOT a put-down by any stretch of the imagination. Even riding the bench in the NBA is an accomplishment. But STARS must shine consistently and overtime. 

Onto other subjects:

Is the Ball Daddy nuts or what? Can he pull off a prep league of high school players? Isn't the NBA D League sort of the same idea? Will people pay good money to watch a bunch of 18 year olds with "potential" to be pros? There sure haven't been enough one and dones over the years to fill the rosters of ten wannabe teams. And what about those poor "wannabe" kids who make up the rosters of this league of his, and don't make it to the NB A? Has he considered that they were probably good enough coming out of high school to attract college interest and receive scholarships and perhaps (say it isn't so) earn a degree. Those kids, those poor kids will be SOL. Daddy Ball, you sure don't see the big picture, do you?

I woke up this morning to frost outside and thought of ice skating.  Very soon, the Winter Olympics.

On Cedar Lake, 1957  by Ruth F. Brin

Before our skates had touched the pond that day
We knelt to see, embedded in the ice,
A fish long dead, his frozen eye turned up;
And further on through surface clear and green
A sluggish waving weed in silent water.
But who could care for all that moved below?
Our skates are sharp, the air is bright,
The lake is wide; we swoop, we glide,
Like gulls. We fly, we fly. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Ball Dad

Okay, I know parenting shifts from one generation to another: stricter to more lenient, moderate to indulgent, or in the case of Spain, over-indulgent - parents trying to make up for the rigid over parenting mandatory during the Franco era.

So, how does one describe the parenting of LaVar Ball, testosterone dad of Laker's Lonzo Ball and DiAngelo Ball? Ball, the parent, is going to take his son, DiAngelo out of UCLA because the university decided to suspend the young varsity basketball player and his two team mates for two months because they shoplifted while on a basketball trip to China. The boys did not shoplift a couple of porno mags, they went after some very expensive eye wear. A two month suspension doesn't sound too great a consequence for them to suffer; they are only freshman and have three more years as basketball players at UCLA.

Therein, however, is the rub. Uber Dad probably is thinking that his Uber son is a One and Done, so the kid will lose some visibility this season.

It is not about education, let's be clear about that. UCLA did not withdraw the athletes' scholarships. The young men can attend classes, and receive (say it isn't so) some knowledge. Toward a (say it isn't so) a degree in four (say it isn't so) years.

LaVar Ball, I caution you, stop with the Uber-Dad business. It is not psychologically beneficial to your sons. They should not have their lives at their age micromanaged. DiAngelo must come to grips with the fact that there are consequences for bad behavior. Your behavior is going to come back some time in the future and bite you in the buttocks, and I suspect it will be your progeny that will be doing the biting. Sorry to say that, but life bears this out.

A quick note to vote in favor of an eight-team College Football Playoff as described by writer, Chuck Culpepper of the Washington Post this morning. It's syndicated so, the teams should be in a number of papers. The teams themselves will vary season by season, it's the format that matters, and the NCAA should get off their collective duffs and put this in place. It's a total win/win scenario all around.

Perhaps one of the more meaningful poems about sports I've ever read is the following:

The Jump Shooter   by Dennis Trudell

The way the ball
hung there
against the blue or purple

one night last week
across town
at the playground where

I had gone to spare
my wife
from the mood I'd swallowed

and saw in the dusk
a stranger
shooting baskets a few

years older maybe
and overweight a little

beer belly saw him
shooting there
and joined him didn't

ask or anything simply
went over 
picked off a rebound

and hooked it back up
while he
smiled I nodded and for 

ten minutes or so we
took turn
staking shots and the thin

is neither of us said
a word
and this fellow who's 

too heavy now and slow
to play 
for any team still had

the old touch seldom
ever missed
kept moving further out

and finally his t-shirt
a gray
and fuzzy blur I stood

under the rim could 
almost hear
a high school cheer

begin and fill a gym
while wooden
bleacher rocked he made

three in a row from
twenty feet
moved back two steps

faked out a patch 
of darkness
arched another one and 

the way the ball 
hung there 
against the blue or purple

then suddenly filled
the net
made me wave goodbye

breathe deeply and begin
to whistle
as I waled back home. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Cal Bears vs Saint Mary's Gaels and This and That

Bill McClintock, a University of California Bear, one of the fiercest power forwards I ever played against, and that includes a bunch of my NBA opponents, and I, with our wives, are going to attend the Gael/Bears basketball game tonight on the Cal campus. Dinner first, which will as a matter of tradition, include a few beers for me and Bill.

McClintock was the starting forward on the great Cal team coached by Legendary Pete Newell that went to the Final Four in 1969 and won the '68/69 NCAA Championship by defeating Jerry West's West Virginia team. They got to the Final Four by defeating my Gael team in what would now be called the Elite 8 and was then called the Western Regional Finals.The following two seasons Bill and I battled against each other, giving and taking elbows. Bill was not only a physically tough player, he was a cerebral player. The combination of smarts and toughness is rare, and I only found such a combo in a few of the power forwards in the NBA. My teams never had much success against the Bears, but perhaps tonight's Gael squad will give us old Gaels something to cheer about. Bill and I are planning on wearing our college caps. I think our Gael logo is more artistic than the Bears one. That's a win for us. Now the Gaels need to win on the court.

As for McClintock and Meschery beer completion, Bill is on the first team and I'm on the second team. I'll grant him his superiority, with the caveat that he has an edge since being raised in Wisconsin. Never knew anyone from Milwaukee who couldn't handle his suds.

If there are basketball fans who've never seen that great Cal team, do yourselves a favor and find some footage. They were superb.


I'm a little concerned at the hoopla given NBA players who achieve double/doubles. Think about it. A double/double could be 10 pts and 10 rebounds. In the case of a power forward 10 pts and 10 rebounds is no big deal, or shouldn't be. The points are the problem. 10 or 11 or 12 are not worth making a fuss over? And ten boards for a power forward and a center are not worthy of much excitement. If you're a power forward or center worth your salt, you should be getting 10 pts and 10 boards most nights. Now, if a shooting guard gets 10 boards, that is something. Ten steals, ten assists, those are worthy stats. But ten points , well, I don't think I'd call Sports Illustrated over it. I'm just saying, be a little skeptical of double/doubles. Now Triple/doubles, that's something.

I loved reading about the Warriors game against the Magic and was indeed proud of their 46 team assists. Good for you Dubs. Keep it up, but don't forget, fellows, that your defense has historically been what puts you at the head of the class.

In the Life Section of this Blog: HooWah! Mueller snared another traitor to the United States, so-called General Mike Flynn, and it looks good that he'll indict Jared Kushner, Trump son-in-law, (are we suffering any nepotism vibes lately?) who should have his security clearance yanked, pronto.

Who's next to fall? Let's get these embarrassments out of the White House. Just speculating, but if Trump goes down, it's will be Pence at bat. He's our VP who, during his run for Congress in 1990, used political donations to pay for his home mortgage, personal credit cards, golf fees, groceries and wife's car payments. Honest guy?? But, if Pence goes down as well, along with his Prez, it will be Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Reps to step up to the plate. As a liberal, I worry about anybody who is a disciple of Ayn Rand. But I can live with it. However, one little thing out of his history does bother me a lot. In his senior year in high school, he was elected by classmates as BIGGEST BROWN NOSER of the class. I'll leave it up to you, dear readers, to decide how to interpret that.

And, if anybody out there in Middle Class financial land believes this Republican Tax Plan is going to help you, I've got the Golden Gate Bridge to sell you.

Here's another short poems I wrote about sports in the writing style of one of America's great poets.

After Emily Dickinson   by Tom Meschery

I ran and ran until I caught
myself and passed me on the right
T'was on the way to triumph
At the finish line I crossed into the night.