Posted on: November 4, 2008 6:13 pm

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 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 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 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 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 if we'll just do our job of nurturing it.

Take care!

Category: General
Tags: kids, Parenting
Posted on: February 20, 2008 11:49 am

Who invented sugar?

OK...I've had it.

Who is the idiot who figured out how to turn a harmless crop like sugar cane into this product that totally consumes me? Please, if he is dead, somebody revive him/her so I can kill them again.

I get up and go to the gym and workout. Good Boy! I had a banana to start the day off. Get the fructose in your body. You don't want to fire up this fabulous machine without some fuel, now do we? It's a kick butt workout. Interval training on the elyptical (sic) machine. Core work with weights, leg workouts, curls, cable flys...all leading to two rounds of lunges followed by cleans.

Then I come home. My grandson commits the crime of leaving an open bag of M&Ms on the kitchen counter. Dastardly child! How dare he?

Many people hear voices....not me....I hear food. The bag screams for me to come over...which I oblige. I take a handful and thrust them into my mouth before I realize what is happening.......

AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I've fallen again. I am left to feel good that I didn't finish off the bag. I guess progress comes in small increments.

Maybe some day I'll be a strong enough individual to say NO!.....

We can alway dream, can't we?

Take care.

Category: General
Tags: Food, Humor
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