Being a grandfather is a special thing. Being able to watch them grow through sports is priceless. Thanks to Arctic Circle here in Kimberly, Idaho, I am blessed to be able to watch my grandchildren and children of friends participate in sports at an early age. Last Saturday I attended the 9-11 year old girls basketball games. The first at the request of a good friend whose daughter Mercedes was playing for the Mystic against the Liberty. The Mystic pulled out a last minute win. The next game was my grandaughter Graci’s team, the Stars playing against the Liberty. It was no contest for the undefeated Stars. But, the scores don’t matter in this league-much. It’s all about having fun with the girls they go to school with and with a mildly competitive flavor. Priceless are the faces of the young players when they make a basket or free throw. Watching ten young ladies chase a loose ball like a school of piranhas brings a chuckle to my soul. Growing up, we didn’t have this great opportunity, especially for girls. If anything was available in the way of sports, it was for the “good “ol (young) boys” group. Back then boys played sports and girls were cheerleaders or pompon girls. Thankfully, those days are gone. I want to express my gratitude to Arctic Circle in this area for sponsoring athletics for our youth and to organizations everywhere that do the same.
Being a lifelong Badger fan, I feel sad for the Badger football team. The experts downplay their season because they “haven’t beaten a good team”. They are pretty much handing the Big Ten Championship to OhioState. Of course they are. OSU always have one of the top recruiting classes with several top 300 high school prospects on their squad. Just like Alabama,Clemson, Auburn, LSU, in football. In basketball it always seems to be Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Kentucky with all the McDonalds All-Americans on their squads. What has been so special for the Badgers football and basketball teams is that they have been very competitive in the chase for national championships the past several years without superstars. Why? Because they are coached and developed. Sometimes I think I could coach a team with 5 high school all-americans and win games. Wisconsin coaches don’t get enough love and respect for their development of no name players and walk ons. Some of those walk ons have had good professional careers. Note Jim Leonards defense. In the top 3 in the nation. But, as the experts are quick to point out, they haven’t played a top ranked offense until today.Just a few weeks ago, Iowa totally embarrased Ohio State. The following week, Wisconsin held the Hawkeyes to 55 total yards. Their only points came on two pick sixes by probably the best DB in the nation. Of course, games aren’t won on paper or by past games. They are won on the field. Three years ago, the Badgers were totaly anihilated by the Buckeyes in the championship game after a very good season.OSU went on to win The Title – the first college playoff. Good for them and the Big Ten. It was nice to see a non-SEC team win for a change. All my life I’ve waited for Wisconsin to win a national title in football or basketball. They came close a couple time in March Madness and will be competitive in the future-without McDonalds all americans.They’re coming close in football too. Because of the coaching and developing. Today’s game undoubtably is it’s biggest test of the year. I’m not expecting the same results as last, or the reverse. I’ll be happy with a one point win. On Wisconsin!!
Josh Gordon in trouble again? Imagine that! This NFL bad boy gets more negative air time than on the field time. I empathize with his issues as I am a recovering addict and know of the struggles. In no way am I judging him. I will refrain from calling him an addict. If he is, he needs to own it. But his issues reflect that of the behavior of one. As a former drug and alcohol counselor, Every addict shows these behaviors. Only Josh Gordon’s is magnified by his occupation and the media.
From my view, Josh is in a lot of denial, which is the main component in the disease of addiction.” I don’t need to change. Nobody understands me.” The list of excuses goes on. The key to change? Admission and following a program of recovery. This usually doesn’t happen until enough consequences are administered and one surrenders.
Sports organizations are trying their best to get a grip on addiction and other behavioral problems. I salute that.But no matter how good an athlete a man is, how many chances does one get until there are no more. As long as a person is given another chance, you can pretty much determine that the behavior won’t change until there are no more chances. And that is still not a given.
Josh Gordon is a good player and I love watching him play.But he may need to be banned from playing, maybe for life, and hopefully that will be the consequence he needs to make the changes he needs to make for himself. Many addicts die from too many chances. In sports as well as every place in life, there needs to be a line and no more chances. That may be the opportunity for a chance at living a life.
BBWAA vs. Derek Jeter
Sunday night yet another New York Yankee’s jersey was retired! The ceremony for Derek Jeter was awesome and fitting. A lifelong Yankee fan, I was blessed to watch “The Captain” play for his entire 20 year career. All-time he didn’t hit the most home runs, steal the most bases, or have the highest batting average. No, all he did was play the game the way it should be played.With style, grace, respect, and a work ethic unmatched by anyone. Not to mention, a gentleman off the field.
He made the news because of his accomplishments, not because he failed drug tests, got shot at a night club, arrested for drunk driving, or beating his wife. Because he was/is a role model for all, no matter your age, occupation, sports affiliation, or race. Overall, the best athlete I’ve had the pleasure to follow. In my opinion,the greatest baseball player ever to don any uniform. In any other sport, he would still have been the greatest.
Although it’s 3 years away, I’ve been thinking about the voting for the Hall of Fame and the percentage of the vote Derek Jeter will get. Over the years, the baseball writers (BBWAA) have ticked me off. No player has ever received 100% of the votes cast. Not Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb, Mantle,Robinson,Koufax etc. Ken Griffey Jr. received the highest percentage of the votes @ 99.3! I love Junior,but 4% more votes than the Babe?
Years ago, I always thought the voters were harsh. I will always believe that Pete Rose should be in the HOF. And Barry Bonds. And some others.But not the omnipotent BBWAA. I believe that they have loosened up some in their criteria for induction. Often I wonder which writers voted against the Babe and others. Did they want perfection? Did they just not like them as a person? Or did their power of the vote go to their heads?
Few things bother me as much as the imperfect demanding perfection. As the BBWAA’s criteria seems to be. In three years, it would be great to see Derek Jeter as the only inductee. That’s probably a pipe dream, but if it’s perfection they seek, I hope their eyes are wide open come voting time. It’s right in front of them.
Being a Yankees fan since my father took me to a White Sox/Yankees game some fifty years ago and a Cubs fan since WGN was broadcasting games on cable, last weekend’s Yankees/Cubs series tore at my heartstrings. Although I couldn’t lose, I wanted them to both win. As a little shaver I remember the few books about baseball mostly involved Yankees players. Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Berra, and my hero, Mickey Mantle. I took my mitt to batting practice that day fifty in hopes of catching a ball then or during the game. We arrived just in time to see the Mick batting left-handed. We were some 300 feet away down the first base line and my mitt was ready! Or so I thought. Mickey hit a ball foul in my direction. I HEARD it coming it was hit so hard! Fearing for my life, I didn’t try to catch it. Instead, I watched it hit the seats and bounce to who knows where. I was either too scared or too shocked to retrieve the ball. I wish I had that ball now!
Thanks to cable TV and WGN, I got to see the Loveable Losers nearly everyday. Banks, Santo, Williams, Beckert, Kessinger, Jenkins…. Over the years, I was able to survive the disappointments and heartaches along with the loyal Cubs fans from my home in Wisconsin. They were either really out of the race or close but no no cigar. Hardly anywhere in between. When they announced the hiring of Theo Epstein five years ago, I predicted a World Series Championship in 2016, 2017 at the latest. My friends scoffed. My prediction was a lock after Joe Maddon was hired. 2016 was a special year for me as well as millions of loyal Cubs fans.
Now both of my favorite teams are young and loaded and the expectations are high. Although the Yankees swept the Cubs at Wrigley, I have faith the Northsiders will find their rhythm and the Bronx Bombers will endure and they will square off in October making 2017 even more special! But, that’s just a prediction.