Jun 21

Happy Fathers Day My Friends

To those in my blogging family, I wish you all a very happy Father’s Day. You have the greatest job in the world and I hope for you all the best on this day and every day.

I was up late last night, tossing and turning and clicked on the television for a little company. I was not about to see a replay of the Mets lose again to Atlanta. I stumbled upon a channel and watched a couple of classic Westerns: The Rifleman and Bonanza. The common thread for these programs was a single man raising a family on his own in the harshness of the Old West.

Ben Cartwright had it better as a wealthy rancher with three strapping sons on the Ponderosa. It was a little more stressful on The Rifleman, where Lucas McCain lived with his young son on a small ranch in rural Kansas.

These programs were broadcast in the last 1950s and early 1960s, and our country’s culture has considerably changed since, including, unfortunately, the devaluation of the American male and father, in particular, by Hollywood.

There are countless stories about single mothers and that’s all good. There are also stories of little Susie having two mothers and not needing a father figure in her life. Fine, that’s the way Hollywood wants it, but Hollywood is not my moral compass.

Men in TV and movies are often portrayed as bumbling buffoons and idiots with no value to society outside of being a punchline. Archie Bunker was written as a bigot, but was a man who left high school to support his family, then went off to war, and finally settled down to raise a family of his own.

He didn’t like or respect his son-in-law, a prototypical liberal who valued everybody and everything except those holding traditional values. Yet, his daughter loved him so Archie let him stay under his roof and helped him through school. And, Archie held a job on the loading dock at the warehouse and then drove a cab to support his family.

Why? Because that’s what fathers did.

I grew up siding with Michael politically, but as I got older developed a respect and admiration for what Archie stood for. Despite Archie’s political and ethnic resentments, he was far more a man than Michael could ever hope to be.

My father was nondescript in a lot of ways in the sense of today’s media, but was a good and decent man who loved and provided for his family. He took me to countless games, including out of school to see the Indians on Opening Day. He took me to a Browns playoff game where we had standing room only tickets and stood in freezing weather. I got my love of baseball from him and he was my Little League coach.

I was pretty good in Little League, but in a testament to his sense of fair play, I didn’t always get to play the entire game, or even start them all, because his rule was everybody got to play.

He did countless things for his family for which I will always remain grateful. He wasn’t a fan of the Rolling Stones, but once took me to see a midnight movie of a Stones concert. How great is that?

I remember him trying in vain to teach me algebra and geometry, and later having “the talk.” As fathers and sons often do, we clashed, but could always talk about baseball and World War II history. When he died, I hope he knew I respected and loved him.

There are a lot of friends in my life who are fathers, including my brother, who is a great dad. I always wonder what kind of father I would have been, and because it is something that will never happen for me, it is a regret.

So Cheers to those in my world who are fathers. You are very lucky.

Feb 01

Looking At The Super Bowl

I don’t have a dog in this Super Bowl fight, and seemingly that’s the way it is for most of the country.

Unless you’re from Boston or Seattle, there’s little about either team that draws you to them. There’s little endearing about these teams; there’s nothing that gives you the warm and fuzzies.

Oh, there might be a player or two who is interesting, but its not as if either of these teams are Green Bay, Denver or Dallas.

Neither team qualifies as an underdog, so that angle is gone.

There’s no denying the talent of the Seahawks and Patriots, but what’s the human interest hook that compels one to pull for either team?

As talented as the Seahawks are, there’s edginess, an in-your-face persona with many of their players. There’s Marshawn Lynch’s crotch grabbing and interview defying. And, there’s the decibel challenging noise emanating from Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin that makes you wonder, where did class go with today’s athletes?

As for New England, there are the cheating accusations, past and present, and the smugness of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The Patriots make you think whatever happened to character?

So, for me the storyline of this Super Bowl is the battle of Seattle’s “class’’ against New England’s “character.’’

Like I said, I don’t have a dog in this Super Bowl. Since they both can’t lose, I think I will pull for the team that doesn’t cheat.

Feb 05

Some Reflections On 49ers And Ravens, Before The Mets

One of the true beauties of sport is the ability to generate conversation and debate. Before we dive head first into baseball let’s take one more swipe at the Super Bowl, which will go down in history as one of the most compelling in history.

What I root most for in watching games – regardless of sport – are interesting story lines and close games. Yesterday’s game hit on both counts.

As I wrote yesterday, I didn’t have a dog in the fight, but leaned toward San Francisco because of my Cleveland roots. I didn’t waiver, but found myself happy for Joe Flacco because of the heat he’s taken, some of it from his own team.

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While Flacco is easy to root for, Jim Harbaugh is the opposite.

Harbaugh went from hard to root for to almost impossible to root for because of his whining. After saying he wanted to handle things with class, he proceeded to rip the officiating. Although he was right on that last non-call – it was holding – be gracious and congratulate your brother. Not a lot of warmth in that post-game handshake.

Brother John said he thought his brother is the best coach in the NFL and would be honored to work for him. He also said he loved him. Jim said no such thing. I wonder if Jim will truly be happy for John?

That was a horrible non-call, and I can’t stand that term. “That was a good non-call,’’ said Phil Simms, who praised the officials for “not making a call late in the game.’’ I normally like Simms, but he’s as off-target on this one like a Mark Sanchez pass. Huh? If it is holding, it is holding whether on the first play of the game or the last. What is it? Then call it. I bet he wouldn’t have been that forgiving had he been throwing the ball.

That wasn’t the only bad call in the game. As a matter of fact, two Ravens were caught holding on that play. They were also holding on the kickoff return. And, how does Cary Williams not get thrown out of the game for shoving a ref? He later went on to make several key plays, including tipping a pass in the end zone.

There were numerous other blown calls that cost both teams. It isn’t like the 49ers got screwed; both teams were affected. Like, how about a late hit on Flacco wasn’t called?

I heard a lot about the officials “letting them play,’’ which is garbage. Your job as an official is to call the game, not arbitrarily decide how the game should be played. It is like an umpire’s “personal’’ strike zone. Rules are rules, so enforce them.

That being said, I don’t want to hear how the officials cost the 49ers the game. They had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher, yet still lost the game. I wonder how many times that has happened. The bottom line is when you score 31 points, you should win the game. The 49ers defense and special teams were horrid, and Jim Harbaugh was outcoached by his brother, John Harbaugh.

Outclassed, too?

Jim Harbaugh inexplicably abandoned the running game at the end, despite Frank Gore’s success in the game and on that drive. Harbaugh, as a former quarterback, should know timeouts are more precious than five yards.

Colin Kaepernick burned a timeout earlier rather than take a penalty, and as the clock ticked down on that final drive, Harbaugh screamed for a timeout rather than take the penalty, despite the five yards possibly helping the receivers maneuver easier around the end zone.

As far as Kaepernick is concerned, he came alive in the second half, but clearly was unnerved early in the game. As Kaepernick struggled, I was somewhat surprised – considering the score – not much was made by Simms on going to Alex Smith. Bill Cowher mentioned it at halftime, but Simms threw an incompletion there.

And, about that safety at the end of the game, there was blatant holding there, but I’m not totally buying it meant nothing because a penalty in the end zone still results in a safety. However, had the penalty been called it there might have been more time on the clock for maybe one more play.

And, who wouldn’t have wanted one more play from a game like last night’s?

Jan 31

The Parallels Between Jose Reyes And Darelle Revis

When I hear of the Jets’ dilemma with Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, I can’t but help think of the similarities with the Mets and Jose Reyes.

Both are supremely talented athletes who excel at their positions, but have apparently outgrown their team’s financial structure.

REVIS: Reminds me of Reyes.

REVIS: Reminds me of Reyes.

Make no mistake, the Mets had the resources to bring back Reyes and the Jets have the funds to renegotiate an extension for Revis.

The Mets let Reyes walk because they didn’t want to spend the money and tie up their budget in future seasons for a player with an injury history. No, they haven’t been able to fully replace Reyes, especially on the offensive side, but they have more financial flexibility than they have in recent years.

The Mets also let Reyes depart because he wasn’t the missing piece. Even with Reyes, the Mets had – and still have – numerous holes.

Reyes, a player whose living depends upon his legs, was frequently injured during his last seasons with the Mets, including going on the disabled list twice in his final summer.

By all accounts, Reyes was a positive in the clubhouse, much like Revis is in the locker with the Jets.

For the third time in his career, Revis wants to renegotiate his contract, which has prompted some NFL executives to suggest he’ll never be happy, and quite frankly, this must wear on Jets management.

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