My sports calendar is off-kilter

Baseball of the 1960s and ’70s

Bob Gibson.imageRecently, I realized that the shifting or cancellation of certain sporting events in 2020 has thrown my biorhythms off-kilter. And I don’t even have to particularly care about the events to be affected.

March Madness means all those ads on CBS, the familiar theme music, and the beginning of spring. But I didn’t hear it because the tournament was canceled. In tennis, I know the 4th of July is coming because Wimbledon has started. Nope, canceled.

The Kentucky Derby, and Free Comic Book Day, were both on the first Saturday in May. The horse race was pushed back to September 5? And the other Triple Crown traces changed not only the dates but the race lengths.

COVID has affected how I watch sports. I remember looking at the standings in Major League Baseball early in the truncated season. Some teams had played about a dozen games. The St. Louis Cardinals, though, were only 2-3, because either they or their opponents tested positive.

Usually, I start paying attention to MLB in September, when it started in early April. But I never saw a single game to its completion because the season began in July. Yet I remember how much I love the symmetry and simplicity of baseball.

Three deaths

I was reminded of this when I noted the death of three Hall of Fame players in October 2020. My team when I grew up was the New York Yankees.  Whitey Ford pitched for them from before when I was born until 1967 and for no other team. He was their best pitcher.

1961 was his finest year. He won the Cy Young award. But he also had the most wins with 25, the best win-loss percentage at .864, and pitched more innings, 263, than anyone in the league.

When the Yankees began their decline in the mid-1960s, other teams came to the fore, including the St. Louis Cardinals. Bob Gibson pitched for no other teams. In fact, in an All-Star Game, he wouldn’t even shake his catcher’s hand because the guy played for another team during the season.

There are only two pitching records I can recite without looking. One is Cy Young’s 511 lifetime wins as a pitcher. The other is that, in 1968, Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA. This means that for every nine innings pitched, he only gave up a little over one run. And he threw over 304 innings that year. MLB lowered the mounds the following season to give hitters a fighting chance.  Gibson completed every game he started between 1966 and 1974.

In the early 1970s, the team from Cincinnati, known as the Big Red Machine, came to the fore. One of the smallest players, Joe Morgan, was one of the best. Traded from the Houston Astros for the 1972 season, he did almost everything to win.

Morgan led the league in on-base percentage four times, often aided by the base on balls. Yet in 1975., one of two years in a row he was league MVP, he was 4th in batting average and 1st in base-stealing success. He received 5 Gold Gloves, all while with the Reds, for his defensive prowess.

This has been a difficult year for the history of Major League Baseball, and each of these players loomed large in my youth and young adulthood.

Sports activism is working, maybe

Money changes everything

ColinLast week, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play basketball against the Orlando Magic. Other NBA teams followed suit, and players from the WNBA, MLB, and other sports did likewise. And I felt that maybe, just maybe progress is slowly being made.

Sports activism, of course, is not new. Here is Athletes and activism: The long, defiant history of sports protests. One could argue whether some of the particulars are actually protesting, but that’s a quibble.

In my recollection, this story is one of the reasons I always loved Bill Russell. In 1961, “while in Lexington, Kentucky, for an exhibition before the 1961-62 season, Russell and the other black members of the Boston Celtics were refused service at a restaurant. They boycotted the game, a groundbreaking statement at a time when blacks were still expected not to complain publicly about discrimination.”

I remember a photo, probably in Ebony and/or JET from June 4, 1967. Jim Brown, Russell, Lew Alcindor, and “other prominent black athletes met in Cleveland in a show of support for Muhammad Ali, who had refused induction into the U.S. Army as a conscientious objector. Two weeks later, he was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, and stripped of his heavyweight title.” Alcindor, who became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, continued to be an outspoken advocate for change.

Mexico City, 1968

I was watching the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Black athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the podium after winning the gold and the bronze, respectively, in the 200-meter run. “They stepped onto the podium shoeless but decked out in black socks and gloves. Then they raised their fists above their bowed heads to silently protest racial discrimination.”

It was not a spontaneous act. “It was only months after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr… In the lead-up to the Olympics, Smith, and Carlos helped organize the Olympic Project for Human Rights…” The group saw the Olympic Games as an opportunity to agitate for better treatment of black athletes and black people around the world… Though the project initially proposed a boycott of the Olympics altogether, Smith and Carlos decided to compete in the hopes they could use their achievements as a platform for broader change.”

A massacre in Mexico took place just 10 days before the opening of the Summer Games. The Mexican government “killed four (the government’s official count) or 3,000 students. Carlos and Smith were deeply affected by these events and the plight of marginalized people around the world.” Smith told Smithsonian magazine in 2008, “We had to be seen because we couldn’t be heard.”

The third man on the podium, Peter Norman of Australia, “became part of the protest, too, albeit in a less direct way.” Norman “supported his fellow Olympians’ protest, in part because of the intolerance he had witnessed in Australia.” His backing cost him his track-and-field career.

Black Lives Matter

In the 2010s, several prominent players wore apparel bringing attention to the situation on the streets. “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts were worn by Cavaliers teammates LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and other NBA players before their games on Dec. 8, 2014. Those were, unfortunately, the last words of Eric Garner in July of that year. And of George Floyd almost six years later.

In July 2016, members of the three WNBA teams began wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts to WNBA games to protest the recent deaths of unarmed black people in police custody.

That autumn, Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem started a movement in the NFL. In early June 2020, the NFL’s Roger Goodell admitted the league was “wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”

Only a week earlier, the NFL releases a statement on the death of George “Floyd and the ensuing global protests… The reactions were … in “the vein of, ‘You could have led the fight against police brutality and racial injustice four years ago, but instead, you worked against peaceful protesters like Kaepernick.'” Indeed, Kaepernick is “now a 32-year-old free agent quarterback who hasn’t played in the NFL since the last week of the 2016 season.”

As Slate noted: “Think back to the outrage of certain white NFL fans [most prominently, IMPOTUS] over the peaceful sideline protests of Kaepernick and other players against police brutality. It’s a worldview that grants Black people the right to work and entertain, to ‘shut up and play,’ but not to be full human beings or coequal members of the populace. It is not a stretch to say that this attitude is a bedrock of American racism.”

After George Floyd

The dynamics changed when the Bucks and the other NBA teams stopped playing. What they did was “several orders of magnitude greater than any act of protest we have seen in major American team sports. With the simple act of refusing to work under present conditions, they brought an entire lucrative industry to a halt and have undoubtedly brought terror to some of the country’s powerful people.

“The NBA is a league run by billionaires, in a country in which billionaires wield obscene amounts of political influence. ‘But what do the players actually want?’ people will ask, many of whom not remotely interested in the answer to that question. Well, for starters, they want more power in shaping the conditions of the country they live in. And now they unquestionably have that.

“The fact that it was the Milwaukee Bucks who took this stand is crucial in several respects. The Bucks play in the same state where Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times. In the wake of their decision, the Bucks soon found themselves on a conference call with both the attorney general ( the drug crime lawyers in Festus) and lieutenant governor of Wisconsin.

“But the Bucks also have the best record in the NBA and are one of the two or three teams considered most likely to win this year’s bubble championship… If the Bucks refuse to play… the general premise of this entire NBA playoffs is instantly invalidated.”

Power

“The bubble has thus far been a smashing success. The level of play has been terrific, the television presentation has deftly mitigated the absence of fans, and, most importantly, there have been no virus outbreaks…” For an extraordinary two days, “all of this was put in jeopardy, because the league’s players, a group of people to whom sports are more important than literally anyone else in America, collectively declared to all Americans that certain things are far more important than sports.”

Sports analyst Jared Kushner tweeted: “What I’d love to see from the players in the NBA–again they have the luxury of taking a night off from work, most Americans don’t…I’d like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive.”

From the First SIL’s lips. “Players needed something. Owners were in a position to give it to them. The asks were reasonable. They wanted a bigger voice internally. The NBA agreed to establish a social justice coalition, one represented by players, coaches, and owners.” It will “tackle a broad range of issues, from civic engagement [including voting initiatives] to advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.”

Still, I continue to be pained by the poignant statement of Doc Rivers, the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. “It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”

Being a well-paid black athlete in America doesn’t prevent one from becoming a dead black person in America. Two-thirds of players in the NFL are large (scary!) black men. About three-quarters of NBA players are tall (scary!) black men. They are not immune to what has happened to, among many others, Stephon Clark or Philando Castile.

Z is for survivor Louis Zamperini

Louie Zamperini’s remarkable story of survival garnered new attention in 2010 with the Laura Hillenbrand book Unbroken, which hit #1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

Stuck for a Z topic, the Daughter said, “How about Louis Zamperini?” Of course. She read parts of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010), a biography of Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand, for her English class.

Louis, born on January 26, 1917 in Olean, NY to Italian immigrant parents, grew up a troublemaker in Torrance, California. As a child, he was smoking and drinking, stealing and fighting. Trying to impress some high school girls, he joined the school’s track team, and ended up breaking a national high school record, running the mile in only 4 minutes, 21 seconds.

Zamperini competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and even met Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics. He didn’t medal, though he seemed like a sure bet for the 1940 team, but the games were called off because of World War II.

Louis Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Corps in September 1941, cheating death several times as a B-24 bombardier. His missions included a famous December 1942 air raid on Wake Island. .

On May 27, 1943, Zamperini and his crew were participating in a search and rescue mission over the Pacific when their plane suddenly lost power to two of its engines, careening into the sea. Zamperini and two others were the only ones of an 11-man crew to initially survive.

One of the trio, Francis McNamara, perished after 33 days at sea. Zamperini and Russell Allen Phillips drifted for another two weeks before being captured by the Japanese Navy near the Marshall Islands.

Zamperini was tortured daily as a POW. Over the next two years, he also suffered from disease, exposure, and starvation. The Japanese tried to use him as a propaganda tool, but once he agreed to read a message telling his parents he was alive, he refused to cooperate any further.

After the war, he used alcohol to fight the nightmares. Zamperini says he was saved from his post-war trauma after witnessing a sermon by the evangelical preacher Billy Graham in 1949.

In 1950, Zamperini returned to Japan for the first time since his liberation to address some Japanese war criminals. He shook hands and embraced many of his old camp guards. He became an inspirational speaker, and he wrote two memoirs, both titled Devil at My Heels (1956 and 2003).

Zamperini’s remarkable story of survival garnered new attention in 2010 with the Hillenbrand book, which hit #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Louis became a celebrity all over again when he charmingly made the rounds with Angelina Jolie, who was directing the film Unbroken, based on the book, starring Jack O’Connell as Louis, which was released on Christmas Day 2014.

Louis Zamperini died from pneumonia on July 2, 2014.

There’s a movie sequel to Unbroken, Path To Redemption (2017), with Samuel Hunt as Zamperini and Will Graham playing his grandfather, Billy Graham.

For ABC Wednesday

July rambling #2: Northwest disasters and Taxman v. Batman

Putin on the RIZLast Week Tonight with John Oliver: Stadiums, a ripoff for taxpayers; bail; and poisonous mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Laci Green (no relation): Systemic Racism for Dummies.

Muslim Groups Step In To Help Black Churches Burned In Wave Of Arson.

Why it’s never ‘the right time’ to discuss gun control.

Wil Wheaton: living with depression and anxiety.

Jeff Sharlet: I went to Skid Row to report on Charly “Africa” Keunang, “an unarmed homeless man held down and shot six times by Los Angeles police. I had to get to know the people of whom I was asking these questions.”

Conquering 100 fears, one at a time.

‘I’m No Longer Afraid’: 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen.

Of all people, Jimmy Kimmel on Cecil the lion I was also hoping it wasn’t an ugly American.

Jaquandor: Keeping Ahead of the Smiths: Random Thoughts on the Minimum Wage.

Daylight Saving Time Is Terrible: Here’s a Simple Plan to Fix It. “Losing another hour of evening daylight isn’t just annoying. It’s an economically harmful policy with minimal energy savings.”

12 Lost American Slangisms From The 1800s. Slangisms?

An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when. Obviously, in response, a dildo epidemic hits Portland (OR) power lines.

Cousin Lisa discovers Finding Friends Through a Shared Vision.

Patti LuPone Offers Five Rules of Theatre Etiquette, Starting with “Respect”. 1, 2, and 5 also apply to the movies.

Ringo Starr turned 75 this month. Other drummers talk about him, from Ringo’s 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame presentation on HBO, plus Ringo Reveals The Secret Of His Distinctive Rhythm from CONAN on TBS, 2012.

“For half a century, Beach Boys songs have promised unending summers of fun in the sun — not at all like the life founding Beach Boy Brian Wilson actually led for many years.”

Woodstock 69: The Lost Performances. The Band, Canned Heat, Joan Baez, Crosby Stills Nash, Janis Joplin, Melanie.

Amy has resharpened her poetry pencil: Bossa (Getz, Gilberto, Jobim).

SamuraiFrog’s Weird Al countdown: 30-21.

The Beatles’ Taxman Vs. the Batman theme song (Mashup). Yes, The music of the Harrison piece was inspired by the theme song for the popular 1960s TV series.

God Bless America, sung by John Wayne, the cast of Bonanza, Rowan & Martin, and many others, some of them actual singers.

Evanier didn’t like the movie version of Driving Miss Daisy but linked to the new Angela Lansbury-James Earl Jones version on PBS.

“Loosen the Ties and Put Some Sweat on Them”: 12 Angry Men (1957).

Ken Levine writes a spec Dick van Dyke Show script, found in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Levine’s snarky response to the reader feedback, DVDS writer Bill Persky’s comments, and Levine’s final thoughts.

Happy 75th Birthday, Alex Trebek! His 6 Funniest Moments on Jeopardy!

Speaking of natal days, the claim that “Happy Birthday to You,” a song written in 1893, is somehow under copyright until 2030, is very likely hooey.

Chuck Miller on Reading the movie Ant-Man. It seems that ADD enjoyed the film.

The Unknown Assistant of Carl Barks.

Just Another Day at Hanna-Barbera.

Now I Know: Why Do Coupons Have a Cash Value of a Fraction of a Cent? and The Big Bang Theory, in Theory and Pop Goes the Kernel and Control-Alt-Delete.

When did I become “that” neighbor?

Muppets: Rain fall and Federal Housing Administration ads and The Muppet Show opening, in German, and, most importantly, the 10-minute pitch reel for the ABC TV show coming this fall.

This is troubling: I remember the lyrics to theme of The Real McCoys, a TV show I haven’t seen in well over 40 years.
homophones

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

Arthur@AmeriNZ answers my questions about closeted gay performers, in a different era, and flags and national discussions and candidates for US President, with a specific Hillary scenario.

The Renaissance Geek was complaining about what he thought was a boring post, so I asked him a question. This turned into THE FIRST EVER ASK EDDIE ANYTHING!

SamuraiFrog likes But It’s Alright, too.

Jaquandor on Neil Simon on how to finish a day’s work. He also tells bad jokes.

August Rambling: Deep dark secrets

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website.

WD40
The Hook-Up Culture Is Getting 20-Somethings Nowhere. On the other hand, Casual Love.

How we get through life every day.

Nixon’s still the one. And What We Lost 40 Years Ago When Nixon Resigned. See Harry Shearer recreate Richard Nixon as he preps and delivers his resignation speech. Plus George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.

New Zealand’s non-partisan Get Out the Vote campaign. I don’t see such things often in the US. Sure, there’s get our SUPPORTERS to vote, but that’s a different animal.

Deep Dark Fears is “a series of comics exploring those intimate, personal fears that mostly stem from your imagination getting darkly carried away.” Read more about it.

Rod Serling’s closing remarks from The Obsolete Man episode of The Twilight Zone. “It remains profoundly prescient and relevant.”

All these in a 48-hour period: How games’ lazy storytelling uses rape and violence against women as wallpaper and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has come forward with several stories of being called “chubby,” “fat,” and “porky” by her male colleagues in Congress and Fark prohibits misogyny in new addition to moderator guidelines and Snappy response to sexist harasser in the tech field.

Modern Office with Christina Hendricks.

FLOWCHART: Should You Catcall Her?

Guns and The Rule of Intended Consequences.

What our nightly views might look like if planets, instead of our moon, orbited Earth.

Cartoon: Pinocchio, Inc.

Remember when I wrote about flooding in Albany this month? Dan explains the systemic reason WHY it happened.

Arthur makes the case against “the case against time zones.” I’m not feeling the abolition of time zones either, at this point.

Nōtan: Dark and Light principles of Design.

The jungle gym as math tool.

The disaster drafts for professional sports.

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It.

One of my favorite movie quotes, maybe because it’s so meta: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” (Grand Canyon, 1991)

Seriously, Rebecca Jade, the first niece, is in about four different groups, in a variety of genres. Here’s The Soultones cover band – Promo video. Plus a link to her latest release, Galaxy, with Jaz Williams.

Tosy’s U2, ranked 40-31 and 30-21.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, 2004.

August 22, 1969: The Beatles’ Final Photo Shoot

Coverville 1043: The Elvis Costello Cover Story III, in honor of him turning 60.

4 chairs, 4 women; 4 women, no chairs.

12 billion light-years from the edge. A funny bit!

Don Pardo, R.I.P..

Lauren Bacall: always the life of the party. And cinema icon of Hollywood’s golden age, 1924-2014. A Dustbury recollection.

More Robin Williams: on ‘cowardice’ and compassion. Also, a Dan Meth drawing and Aladdin’s Broadway cast gave a him beautiful tribute. Plus, a meeting of Yarmy’s Army and Ulysses.

Jaquandor remembers little Quinn. Damn middle recording made me cry.

The Wellington Hotel Annex in Albany, N.Y. was… murdered in plain sight in front of hundreds of onlookers. “If I were a building, this is how I’d like to go.” Here’s another view.

SamuraiFrog’s Muppet jamboree: C is for Clodhoppers and D Is for Delbert (who evolved) and E is for Eric the Parrot and F is for a Fraggle and G Is for the Gogolala Jubilee Jugband.

New SCRABBLE words. Word Up has identified some of the new three-letter words.

I SO don’t care: one space or two after the period. Here’s a third choice.

The ultimate word on that “digital natives” crap.

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?

Freedom from fear.

Ever wondered what those books behind the glass doors of the cupboard might be thinking or feeling?

The New Yorker thinks Yankovic is weirdly popular.

Here’s a nice Billy Joel story.

Pop songs as sonnets.

House of Clerks, a parody of House of Cards.

Saturday Night Live Political Secrets Revealed.

This Sergio Aragonés masterpiece is included as a fold-out poster within Inside Mad. His priceless gift to all Mad fans shows over six decades of Mad contributors and ephemera within a mish-mash of Mad office walls. The only thing missing in this beautiful mess is a key. Doug Gilford will be attempting to label everything you see with brief (pop-up) descriptions and links to pertinent pages…

Hello Kitty is not a cat. You may have known that; somehow, I missed it.

You May Have Something Extremely Valuable Hiding In Your Change.

Improved names for everyday things

GOOGLE ALERTS (me)

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website. J. Eric Smith, who used to be a TU blogger, responds at length.

SamuraiFrog responds to my response to 16 Habits of Sensitive People. Also, per moi, he does his #1 songs on his birthday: 1987-1996 and 1997-2006, and 2007-2013. I’ll go back to this myself, eventually.

Dustbury on the theme song to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which a passage in Schutte’s Mass resembles more than slightly. He discovers a Singapore McDonalds product.

Jaquandor answers my questions about vices such as swearing and politics/American exceptionalism.

He also writes of buckets and the dumping of the water therein, which Gordon thinks hurts nonprofits. Snopes, BTW, debunks the claim that 73 percent of donations to the ALS Association fund executive salaries and overhead.

Do you know that ABC Wednesday meme I mention with a great amount of regularity? I think this recent introduction I wrote explains it fairly well.