Posted on: November 4, 2008 6:13 pm
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From a sad old white guy....on election day

Odd thoughts while wondering whatever happened to Henry Aaron:

I hoped the title made you cringe a little bit. I hope it made you uncomfortable. I hope it made you wonder if what you were about to read would be a racist bash on Barack Obama.

Don't worry, it isn't.

Nor is it a commendation for Obama. What it is, is a sad revelation that I had this weekend.

My church sponsored a 'Trunk or Treat' for neighborhood kids on Saturday, Nov. 1st. One of our families was dressed as secret service personnel. (Actually, they looked more like the Blues Brothers, but we'll let that slide). In discussions with the dad, we discussed the election. In the discussion, we mused to what the job of a secret service worker might be like if Obama wins today. We both thought that the job would become much more difficult.

I began to trace back the thought. Why would it be more difficult? The answer is obvious. As the first black president, Obama would automatically be a target for anti black groups. This saddens me, as a victim of racial violence in the late 60s and early 70s. I was victimized by watching black friends deal with all kinds of bigotry as a young man. I lived in an area with great cultural and racial diversity. During times of racial unrest, I would not be able to see my black and Hispanic friends. It just wasn't good practice. Sooner or later, someone in our group would suffer the consequences. I had full cans of pop and bricks thrown at me by white people for being an 'N.... lover'. My friends received crap from blacks for being an 'Uncle Tom'. Most of this was perpetrated by people from outside our community who came in for the 'fun'.

So, why would Obama be a target. The sad realization is this. We really haven't come that far in race relations. Never, to my knowledge, has a sitting president been a target for assasination because of the COLOR OF HIS SKIN. Thus, the conclusion has to be that blacks have never targeted the president for totally racial reasons. I feel assured that will not be the case if Obama is elected.

Racism is merely clouded by political correctness. No minority group should ever be concerned with the view of someone like John Rocker. He was visible and 'on the record' with his views. He was nuts, but you knew where he stood.  The danger comes from racists who profess to be tolerent of racial differences. Ask our service men and women fighting in Iraq, Afganistan, and formerly in Viet Nam. When you cannot see your enemy, or identify your enemy in a group of people, it becomes exponentially more difficult to fight. Oh yes, racism still exists in great quantity. Now, people don't profess it publicly. They hide it behind closed doors of board rooms , in exectutive offices, or even in community meetings. The racism is more covert than it was in the 60s and 70s, but it is still there.

I welcome minority views. If I am all wet, I apologize. If not, understand that there is one guy out here who trys to get it. I will never know how you feel, but I feel for you.

God bless you all and God Bless America.

Take care.

Category: General
Tags: Election
 
Posted on: October 29, 2008 5:47 pm
 

The tide has turned.....IU Hires new AD

Odd thoughts while wondering whatever happened to Uwe Blab...........

Fred Glass was introduced as the new Athletic Director at Indiana University yesterday. This closes a very unpleasant chapter in the history of our state university.

Glass is an attorney from Indianapolis. He graduated from Brebuf Jesuit High School and received his undergrad and law degrees from IU. He worked for a prominent firm in Indy. Ironically, all the ADs at either Purdue, Notre Dame and IU now have Brefuf connections or connections to the law firm that Glass used to work for.

He is a perfect fit for the mess in Bloomington. Outgoing AD Rick Greenspan was a major player in driving this thing into the ditch over the last few years. The Kelvin Sampson saga was a mess from day one. I am proud of my Indiana University heritage mostly because my fellow IU bretheren and I were right there seeking the ouster of Sampson even while he was winning. Most of us placed the integrity of the university over wins and losses. A rare breed in collegiate athletics these days.

Combined with the hiring of Tom Crean, the addition of Glass will help solidify the ethic base of major sports at IU. Glass was a significant contributor in the deal to keep the Colts in Indianapolis, the building of Lucas Oil Stadium and the initial proposal for a Super Bowl coming to Indianapolis. His credentials in the state are well known, and his mark will be felt throughout the nation as he helps rebuild the integrity of a once great sports program.

Several friends and I plan on taking a trip to Bloomington to see the Hoosiers play this year. I don't care if they don't win a game, I plan on supporting this administration. While I am not sure of wins and losses at this point, I am sure of two things. One, the program will be built the right way, and two, the players will play with maximum effort every night out.

And, isn't that what it's supposed to be about anyway?

Take care.

Posted on: October 20, 2008 2:37 pm
 

Tampa Bay, are you serious?

Alas, I enter the abyss that is the playoffs in Major League Baseball. My beloved Yankees finally earned the right to watch the post season with some serious mistakes in player acquisition and development over the last 10 years finally catching up with them. My desire to see the Cubs finally end their futility ended with a colossal choke.

What's left? I have to decide who to root for once we got to the League Championship Series. Let's see what was there. In the AL, we had Boston and Tampa Bay. Can I root for Boston? Not if I'm a Yankee fan. Mind you, I am a fan of all baseball. I love the way Tito gets his team to play. I think that Manny Ramirez' actions at the end of his Red Sox tenure were despicable. I was glad the sent him packing and still was successful. But, even with all that, I couldn't root for the Sux.

Tampa Bay? I love the way they play the game. I love the way Joe Madden created a culture of winning. If you read my blog on choking, you would find that his teaching is the anti choke method of coaching. They visualized what could be, then went out and did it. I love the way the team plays, but I cannot support them. Why? I can't stand fair weather Florida baseball fans. I loved the way the Marlins played in '03, but their fans didn't deserve a championship caliber team. Same with Tampa. I see a lot of fans in costume all year. At least I think it is a costume. They come dressed as empty seats. But let the team show a pulse, and they show up for the post season.

What about the Dodgers? I am a Yankee fan from the late 50s and forward. The Dodgers had just moved to LA as I began my love of baseball. If you were a Yankee fan, you hated the Dodgers. Compound this with their acquisition of the aforementioned Manny Ramirez, and my dislike for them reached a fever pitch. Anyway, have you ever seen anything more rediculous than Joe Torre in Dodger blue? At least with the Yankees, you expected him to go the podium after a game and tell the media that he was going to 'make them an offer they couldn't refuse'. He and Larry Bowa are way out of their league in LA.

That leaves me with the Phillies. Chase Utley is everything that is right about baseball. Ryan Howard is a bomber. The pitching staff has grown exponentially this year. Charlie Manuel is a quality man and manager. Plus, I love the fans of Philadelphia. They are there, and they are real. You bust butt, and they cheer you. You dog it, and you get booed. They are a true barometer of their teams.

So, I'm left to sit back and watch two teams play in the World Series that I admire. Both teams play the right way. But, I hope the Phils win. The fans of Philadelphia deserve it way more than the fans of Tampa/St. Pete.

Take care.

Category: MLB
Tags: World Series
 
Posted on: October 6, 2008 5:42 pm
 

Anatomy of a choke

What does it mean 'to choke'?

Obviously, we all know the physiological choke....blocking one's airway, eliminating from the lungs the capability of drawing breath. But what does it mean for a player or team to 'choke'? There are probably as many definitions of what choke is as there are readers on these boards.

I've long understood this sports phenomenon. Crap, I've mastered it as an athlete. As a coach, I was able to keep players to keep from doing it. I feel qualified to delve into this topic, both from a diagnosis standpoint, and from a prevention standpoint.

Definition....what is choke? Quite simply, choke is the act of performing at a less than optimum level, often causing your team to underachieve, either in a game, or season.

More importantly, what is the root cause of choking. This one is simple. A player or coach chokes when the focus moves from the task at hand to the circumstances surrounding the moment. What does that mean, exactly?

Most chokes happen at the end of the game. Free throws missed. Pitchers losing the strike zone. Hitters who don't produce late in game. Kickers missing when the money is on. QBs who shrivel under the pressure of late game situations. Golfers who miss short putts, or drive the ball in the woods when they seemingly have the tournament in hand. Why does this happen?

From the beginnings of our time in sports, we want to be the hero. Watch a kid shooting hoops. At some point, he will throw up a shot while counting the clock down....4.....3....2....1.....(buzzer sound), as the ball goes through the hoop or bounces off the rim. Hitters stand at the plate.....9th inning, 3-2 count, bases loaded, down by one run.....you get the point.

Nothing is more counterproductive than these excercizes, What is different about the end of the game than any other time of the game? The answer is nothing. The goal is the same. I'll use baseball as the example. The principles can be applied across all sports.

The job of the baseball player is the same all year, all game. Hit the ball, catch the ball, throw the ball, and run where you need to run. The job does not change despite the time or pressure of the game. The task at hand for a hitter remains the same the entire game. What happens much of the time, added importance is placed on an at bat in the later innings than early in the ball game. If you examine it as it truly relates to the game, an at bat in the first inning is no less important than an at bat in the 9th. Each has an opportunity to do something positive. The job of the player is to execute the at bat to fit the best interest of the team in general, and to fullfil the wishes of the manager specifically.

Now, you might ask, how does one do that? Simple really. You practice it. You practice batting in the last inning down a run, two runs, score tied, etc. Instead of practicing how to be the hero, you practice making no change to your approach to hitting. The only change you might make is taking a pitch when you otherwise wouldn't. Again, that is a coaches decision. Other than that, you don't change the approach. Your job in the first inning is to make good contact. It is the same in the last inning. You talk to the players about creating that mindset. Then, late in the ball game, you ask the player before he/she goes to the on deck circle what their job is. If you've coached properly, they tell you to watch the ball and make good contact.

I used to use the simulation of 'punishment' for poor performance in practice. If a player hit the next good pitch, no punishment for the team. If they didn't, the entire team had to run. Once the player didn't hit, and the running was done, we sat down and talked. We talked about how the player at bat felt. Usually they felt the weight of letting the team down if he didn't get a hit. The other players on the team were tense because they knew that their fate was not in their own hands. Sometimes, when their teammate failed, they would yell at him while running. This adds to the pressure. Now we have a teachable moment.

The kid who was at bat needs to understand that his focus needed to remain calm and focused on the job at hand.....making good contact. The other team members had to learn to relax and encourage their teammate. Undoubtedly, they would be in the same position at some point. Once you change the climate during these 'pressure' situations from nervousness about the consequences to buisness as normal, then the players are able to function at peak efficiency.

As soon as the player allows the mindset that 'I must get a hit or we will lose', or " I must get a hit to win the game', the focus goes off of the task to the circumstances. Once you allow the circumstances to filter into the equation, there is no way you can totally focus on the task.

Done properly, you see players not change their routines late in game. This applies to hitting, fielding, pitching, shooting free throws in basketball, putting on a golf course or kicking a field goal in football. You must develop a physical and mental routine to do each of these jobs. People who are able to do this are labled winners. Those who don't are labled chokers.

It takes a lot of work to master this. There are relaxation drills that help, but most is mental. You can control you mind and thus, your physiology. Slower, even breathing and reduced heart rate. This all allows us to perform at a higher level.

Now, If I could only get in with Lou Pinella and teach the Cubs this stuff........

Take care.

Category: General
Posted on: March 14, 2008 9:35 pm
 

The greatest 21st birthday ever

Odd thought while wondering whatever happened to Bucky 'freakin' Dent:

Almost everyone has a 21st birthday story.

Mine happend while I was a Junior at Indiana University. Since my Birthday is November 20th, my birthday usually is in the vacinity of Thanksgiving. It is also in the vacinity of the IU/Purdue Old Oaken Bucket football game. On this year, the game actually fell on my birthday.

We played at Purdue. Several very good friends of mine went to school there, including my nephew (who is 39 days younger than I am). I made the trip to West Lafayette for the game...arriving in WL about 7:00 PM.

After some 'pre game festivities', we hit the town and ended up at the Pizza Keg. At the stroke of midnight, I ordered for me and one of my buddies who was also 21. Never been so glad to get carded in all my life. We had an awesome time...or so I'm told.

For the game the next day, we kicked the crap out of Purdue. The final score was only 24-10, but the game was never in doubt.

That night, my best friend, who was big time in Navy ROTC, and a bunch of his Navy buddies had to usher a concert at Purdue's Hall of Music. This was no ordinary concert, it was the Eagles' Hotel California tour, with Joe Walsh. They got me in for free, and I had the time of my life. I think they played for about 3 hours. Of course, the final song out had to be Desparado.

We'll dispense with the women part of it. Anyone can get a little somethin' somethin'....but that just makes you another number on that list.

I'm sure you 'wild and crazy' people had some outrageous 21st birthdays.......so let's hear about them.

Take care

Category: General
Posted on: March 6, 2008 6:00 pm
 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Richard Pryor!

We are defined by the time we grew up. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard 'If you had grown up in the depression.........", from my parents. Obviously, the depression defined their youth.

For me, one of the defining characters outside of sports was the brilliant comedian, Richard Pryor. Back in the day, when I still had an 'acidic' tongue, I could do just about any Pryor bit, chapter and verse.

There are still a few of my buddies who will reply when anyone says, How about......(insert any subject), and one of us will say, How 'bout Miss Rudolph, followed by another buddy saying, "How 'bout your mama.

For those of you who don't know Pryor, that means nothing. For those of you who know that famous 'Mudbone' bit, you are rolling.

Some find Pryor offensive. The language was rough. He dropped the 'N' bomb all the time. To this day, if you look it up on "YouTube", the bit he did on Saturday Night Live with Chevy Chase is still one of the all time greats.

If you were a fan, you have a favorite bit. If you have a favorite Richard Pryor bit, feel free to share. My all time favorite is the one where is talking about the difference between black and white church. To quote Pryor, 'at black church, you get a show for your money'. He goes into a preacher bit...quoting from the book of Wonder....(Stevie, that is)

(in preacher voice) A boy was born, in hardtime Mississippi. Surrounded by four walls that were not pretty. His parents (that's two peoples) give him love and attention, keepin' him strong, movin' in the right direction. Give him just enough, I said just enough, for the city....then they shift on you say...

You know, I first met God, in 1929. I never will forget this. You see, I was walkin' down the street. I don't believe you heard me. I said, I was walkin' down the street. I was not runnin', I was walllllllllkkkkkkkkiiiiiinnnnggggg.
Eatin' a tuna fish sandwich. And I heard this voice call out to me, and I knew it was the voice of God. For it came from without a dark alley way....as only the voice of God could come. But I did not venture down that dark alley way. For it might not have been the voice of God....but two or three N!&&E*s with a baseball bat. God only knows...and he wasn't talkin' and I wasn't walkin'.

Take care.

Category: General
Posted on: March 4, 2008 10:34 am
 

The future and our children

Odd thoughts while wondering whatever happened to Hal Greer:

Every generation seems to live with the same dilemma:

How did this upcoming generation of young people miss the mark so far? Why are they so much worse than we were? Our parents felt that way about us, and their parents felt that way about them.

Now we transfer that to the current generation.

The truth is, this generation is smarter than we've ever been. They are more worldly. Unfortunately, they are forced to grow up much younger than we had to.

We've polarized them. They either believe strongly that there is a God of the universe, or they don't. Many come from homes with incomplete parental influence. Male role models/father figures are in scarce supply for a number of reasons.

In spite of all this, this current group of young people give me hope. You see, they are smarter than we are. All we can provide them is wisdom. My business mentor taught me that good judgement comes from excercising lots of bad judgement. Therefore, he who screws up the most AND learns from it, wins. Wisdom comes from living life, not reading books or looking up stuff on the internet.

Our issue is, we don't let our kids screw up. We do it for them. While they are smarter, they don't have to do anything. Parents are always trying to make sure they give the kids all the advantages they never had as a child. The biggest advantage they can give them is the ability to work their way out of a problem without the parents solving it. Kids will fall short of the mark, and the parent will cry, " But I gave them everything they wanted". The problem is we give them too much of what they want, and not enough of what they need. The one thing we all need is the tough love approach of working out a problem we got ourselves into.

Understand this: the child will never appreciate that lesson. Not at the moment. It isn't until they live some life that they will appreciate you allowing them to struggle. Struggle = stress. Stress = growth. Nothing grows in the absence of stress. Our job isn't to make our children happy. Our job is to raise them. Unfortunately, we fail them most of the time. Happiness is a byproduct of how we live our life. We are not promised happiness, just the pursuit of happiness.

I've always operated by several life principles concerning young people.

  • Kids are not afforded the constitutional right to the presumption of innocence.  Kids are guilty until proven innocent. This serves them well, unless you are trying to raise a world class liar. They will push you as far as possible. If your child tells you a teacher did something to them at school, they are lying. Of course, this is only 98% true, but calling it early will keep you from having to distinguish between fact and fiction when the rubber meets the road in the adolescent years. Partner with the educators. You will be amazed how quickly your child will stop playing the game and get to work when they realize they can't play you and the teacher against each other.
  • Kids will do what is expected of them, no more and no less.   If you expect nothing, you will get it. If you expect great things, you will get it. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. How many parents raise their kids telling them that they will amount to nothing, then be able to say "I told you so" as they are marched off to jail? Expect great things from you kids, and celebrate the attempt to reach that lofty goal.
  • An explanation is not an excuse.   They can explain until they are blue in the face why they don't get their stuff done, but it does not excuse it. To accept less totally goes against helping them achieve their potential.

I am in an environment daily with high school aged kids. I've never met a kid yet who wishes to be a failure. My role in their life is to show them that they must work hard to get above the 'average' line of life. It all comes down to high expectations, genuine caring about them as people and consequences for actions.

Our future is in great hands.....now if we'll just do our job of nurturing it.

Take care!

Category: General
Tags: kids, Parenting
 
Posted on: February 22, 2008 1:14 pm
 

The sadness of losing a hero

Odd thoughts while wondering whatever happened to Louis Lipps:

In my original comments, I spoke of my heroes growing up, Johnny U. and Mickey Mantle. I also was a huge fan of Wilt Chamberlain. As a child, my commitments were to these three players. Thus, I learned to hate the Packers, Red Sox, Dodgers and Celtics. Even with the great Hoosier basketball legend, Larry Bird, playing in Boston, I never got over my dislike for that franchise. Why? Well, my Colts and 76ers could never beat the Pack or Celts. The Red Sox and Dodgers were just natural Yankee rivals.

When each of these three men died, I was teary for a while. It's hard to lose a hero. At least these three men died in their own time, under mostly natural causes. Momluvs' hero was Roberto Clemente. While I was a great fan, he wasn't my 'guy'. I can only imagine how tough it had to be for younsters to deal with losing a man of his character who was still young.

There is another way to lose a hero. Through the falling off a pedestal. Robert Montgomery Knight became coach of the Indiana University men's basketball team during my sophomore year in high school. I loved his passion, insistance on discipline, mental approach to the game, and his relentless desire to play the game the right way no matter what the circumstances. I admired all those qualities. He had a way of getting the best out of the talent he surrounded himself with.

As a student at IU, I went to all the home games I could. The year after the first National Championship under Knight, we went 16-14. I went to every home game. There were no problems getting tickets that year. The bandwagon wasn't nearly as full. I admired Knight's passion, even when the team was depleted from a talent standpoint.

As I became a coach, I was a lot like Knight. I never tolerated laziness. I had few rules, but if you didn't follow them, you were punished. I was very demanding, but just like Knight, I applauded great effort. The one major difference was I never used off color language. I never understood why he felt that was necessary. I guess that was the first c-hink in the armour as far as my appreciation for him goes.

The following is a list of things I was able to overlook as Bobby just being Bobby:

  • About ripping off Jim Wisman's jersey
  • Stuffing the cop in Pureto Rico
  • Taking the jackass onto his TV show in the Purdue sweater
  • Ripping Chuck Marlow for not knowing anything about basketball (IU's basketball play by play guy)
  • Constant cursing
  • Ripping Dale Brown from LSU with an insult that I found funny as a young man
  • And there are many more

The most memorable for me is the chair throwing incident. I remember it vividly. I thought the officiating in the Big 10 had been execptionally bad that year. I threw a big pillow at the TV watching a Minnesota/Wisconsin game. Back to the chair....There was a scrum for a loose ball on the floor, and it went entirely too long. A jump ball should have been called, but finally, one of the guys from IU, in the middle of the pile, was called for a foul. I went balistic. So did Knight. I saw him turn towards the bench, and with God as my witness, I yelled at the TV, 'Throw the chair'. I had already emptied everything that was within arms reach of me. So, he picked up the chair and hurled it across the floor.......and the rest is history.

Most of us do things in the heat of battle that we are sorry for later (at least we type 'A's do.). But Knight was never sorry. I began to discover that he had a standard for others that he was unwilling to live up to himself. As time went on, I looked at each incident with him with an increasingly critical spirit. My hero was dying. Not because of him...but because I was growing up. I was learning the right way to go about life. That is why Animal House isn't as funny to me as a 52 year old as it was as  a 20 year old. It's still funny, just not fall off my chair funny.

My hero finally died for good during the NCAA postgame press conference. Some adminstrator had the nerve to tell the reporters that Knight wouldn't be attending. Knight appreared and asked the kid if he or anyone from IU had told him that he (Knight) would not be there. The reply was no. As the guy tried to explain, he looks at the guy and says 'no, you f#$%ed this up to start with. He then turned to the group of reporters and went on with his press conference.

While I will argue that Bob Knight's good outweighs his bad by a huge margin, I could no longer look the other way at the character flaws that he displayed. He displayed them without any sort of remorse.

We are all flawed. But to flaunt our flaws in defiance of authority is a character flaw that I cannot accept. You can't be a 'my way or the highway' kind of guy, and not respect the authority of those you report to. To act that way is the ultimate hypocricy.

Losing a hero any way is tough, but I grieved much more losing one by choice, that losing one to the end of earthly life. I guess it's kind of like a divorce. With death, you know it will eventually come, but divorce isn't part of the natural order.

Now, my university is faced with another sticky decision. Kelvin Sampson seems unable or unwilling to play by the rules. He came to IU under a cloud of scrutiny. He will leave the same way. I'll not bore you with the details...they are well chronicled. The rumor is that his players might boycott of he is let go.

I understand their plight. Their leader is on the verge of termination. The leader they've rallied around is threatened. But, it is the responsibility of the adults in charge to make sure that they show these young men that it is unacceptable to not keep your word. Sampson promised not to be in this position again, yet here he is. The life lesson these young men will learn supercedes any basketball lessons going on.

Regardless of how this turns out, there are some people out there losing a hero today. And I grieve for them. I wish it could be different, but a harsh reality of life will play itself out today.

Take care.

Category: NCAAB
 
 
 
 
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