Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Apparently There IS Crying In Baseball

In "A League of Their Own" Tom Hanks playing a manager of a WW II girls Baseball team speaks rather harshly to one of his star players and she starts to cry and he says in a rather startled manner , There's no crying in Baseball!". That took place about the year of 1944 when there was NO crying in baseball even if this was a girls team and the major leagues had old players and some young ones, young as sixteen. Back then men were men even if they were only boys.

Tino Martinez quits as hitting coach

Flash forward to the year 2013 and we find a batting coach who had spent 15 years as a major league player with a great reputation as a player with talent and as a human being. He did everything he had to do in major league baseball and now wanted to give back to the game, getting paid of course, as a hitting coach, by imparting his knowledge gained by his many successful years in the game and this knowledge wasn't only about hitting but also how a major leaguer conducts himself on and off the field.

He had a confrontation with three ballplayers, rookies I believe or one maybe a journeyman, and maybe one or two other players. He tried to exert his authority when they refused to follow his orders and he used expletives when he reprimanded them. In fact he grabbed one by the jersey and maybe neck chain. And these guys, complained sometime after the incidents and the press played it up and Tino Martinez had to resign because the team lacked the guts to back him up.  Now understand this Tino Martinez is a well respected ballplayer held in high esteem by some great ballplayers like Derek Jeter and the likes like him. He is a fan favorite so much so that when he returned to Yankee stadium on the St. Louis Cardinals after being traded he was greeted by the fans with a standing ovation. To top it all he hit two homers off Andy Pettitte and an unheard thing happened, he had to come out and acknowledge a standing ovation, that is how much he was loved by the fans, and I might add the ex-teammates, although the Yanks really would have liked it better if they won the game.

Going back to the beginning of baseball Managers like John MacGraw, Wilbert Robinson, Billy Martin, Leo Durocher and teams like The Gashouse Gang (St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930's), Yanks and Cubs in the 1920's and 30's led by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, all used expletives and treated rookies they way they were treated and that is with disdain. Using four letter words was as apart of base ball as is peanuts, hot dogs and crackerjacks. This was supposed to be a man's game and one had to be a "man" in order to survive.

But what do we have in this case, a great ballplayer now a coach cursed at his players, maybe grabbed one or pushed another, maybe looked angry when this player wanted a smile instead of a frown and Tino Martinez had to apologize and ultimately resign because we don't have men in the game anymore and apparently the IS crying in baseball. Tom Hanks character would be so disappointed for our young men have become babies and now run to mama because the big bad man yelled at me.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Times Of Our Lives

He was driving out to meet with his childhood friends for their monthly luncheon. They all grew up in a neighborhood that had it's meeting place in the school yard. The grammar school gathered all from the neighborhood into one place before entering classes. There were gym classes which usually consisted of playing handball, basketball and in the Spring and Fall softball tournaments of a sort which usually culminated with 8A playing 8B. Yes that is correct classes were six months broken into A & B rather than one year. This meant if someone fell behind they could only be left back 6 months and the reverse is true also, sort of what God intended or at least they thought so. After school everybody met in the schoolyard after going home and changing clothes into ones that could get roughed up or torn without a mother thinking her budget was falling apart. They stayed there until Pop would come home from work and dinner would be served.

The schoolyard was an eco system existing apart from the other system outside the school yard. It had it's own rules and regulations understood by all who participated in this eco system which excluded grown-ups and all parents.  While the guys who attended the monthly luncheon might not have hung around together some did and some knew who all the other guys, AND girls were. The girls didn't hang out in the school yard because it wasn't considered a thing "nice" girls did at that time. But not all the girls remembered at the luncheon were really "nice" girls but ones remembered fondly. It was a great neighborhood to grow up in and really brought a feeling of camaraderie with it that carried forward into adult-hood even after one left the neighborhood for many years. This is what kept bringing these guys together month after month the school-yard, the neighborhood the shared memories and experiences that only those whose childhood was spent there understood. In a sense once they got together it was as if they never left the old neighborhood.

He got to the restaurant a little late as traffic was heavy. As he approached the table he noticed it was sparsely attended. As they got older the group got less. Natural progression he thought. A couple of guys had passed, one moved away to experience the warmer climate of Florida another went to Arizona. Two had spouses that weren't feeling well while one guy had the beginning of Alzheimer's. Counting himself there were eight guys for the gathering which was OK too, each guy will be able to talk to the other one with a smaller crowd. The food was good. The conversation lively full of the usual lies of how well they played ball and how many of the hometown girls they left by the wayside. All eight seemed to get into the last conversation they were having before leaving which seemed to be dwelling on "the good old days". It seemed that they were saying that when they were young only good things happened and those were the best times of their lives.

He became quiet and listened to the guys talk about their missed chances for a better life and times gone by never to be recaptured. Finally he just had to speak. He caught the attention of one of the most expressive speakers and said, "You got it all wrong. The good old days weren't all good. We only remember the good things and discard the bad sort of like the Golfer after completing his round only talks of the good shots but never seems to remember the bad ones. The thing is we talk as if the best time was we ever had was past. The times ahead look murky and we disregard the present. I suggest you guys chew on this a bit. The past is gone never to be recaptured which means we should remember what made us the people we are that is for sure. BUT the past is over, gone, never to be recaptured. Something to be treasured but not to be the basis of our being. The future hasn't occurred yet and who knows what is in store for us. Certainly, if ten years ago we tried to look into the future we would never have guessed we'd be in the position we find ourselves in today. The best time of our lives therefore is now because that is the only time we have, NOW! The past is gone. The future is uncertain. Now is the time for us and now is the best time for us.".

They shook hands and decided on the day they would meet the next month. As he drove home he was happy because he understood that the people in his life now were the people that could share the laughter, the joys, the loves that life has to offer and the pain too because it is no good to suffer pain alone. He was anxious to be able to share his love of the "NOW" with the people who share his present. And most of all he wanted his love to know that she contributed to the best times of his life. NOW! The only time that really matters because it is the only time we have given to us, to live.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Trayvon Martin

There are many things one can argue about this trial covering the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman but many facts are incontrovertible. Trayvon Martin was a black teenager returning from a snack trip who did nothing wrong except being black and wearing a hoodie.  George Zimmerman was allowed under Florida law to carry a concealed gun and act in the capacity of a neighborhood watch which he was doing on the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman immediately profiled Martin as a "suspect", of what one may ask since he was doing nothing but walking home. Zimmerman was told he was not needed to follow Martin but proceeded to do just that. Zimmerman claims he was in fear of losing his life resulting from a confrontation which allowed him to shoot this teenager and kill him under the conception of "self defense" which was certainly influenced by the recent Florida passage of "self defense " laws.

When the case finally went to trial the Judge ruled that the term "Racial Profiling" could not be used but profiling could be used. So the injection of race was precluded from the prosecution presentation yet the defense was allowed to have testimony that said of course Zimmerman profiled based on the fact that there were recent burglaries in the neighborhood by young black men. So it was allowed to infer because Trayvon Martin fit the racial profile of law breakers George Zimmerman had the right to be suspicious of him even though Martin didn't live in the neighborhood was just visiting his father but the prosecutors couldn't point out the prejudice of George Zimmerman in classifying this young black teenager as a possible criminal, he called him a suspect, one who he wouldn't let get away, leading to his shooting Trayvon Martin.

The jury was comprised of six white women from the area who if not consciously prejudiced certainly had some biases sub-consciously. The prosecution presented a weak case possibly hamstrung by the judges rulings but presented a closing which asked the jurors to weigh certain questions and come to a conclusion. They should have tied all the pieces together and strongly showed how profiling led to to this tragedy and George Zimmerman MUST be found guilty. A weak case with a weaker closing.

Since the conclusion of this case there has been peaceful demonstrations protesting a seemingly gross injustice. Many liberals have questioned many aspects of the case. The conservative sections of our country have been quiet or defended the decision with what seems like prejudicial reasoning.

Our Supreme Court, with the majority decision written by Chief Justice Roberts gutted the civil rights act saying that times have changed and we as a nation have moved past the time that needed this law, and it should be re-written.

What is incontrovertible is this: If George Zimmerman did not have a gun Trayvon Martin would be alive today. If Trayvon Martin was white George Zimmerman would not have profiled him as a "suspect" of possible criminal activity. If our conservative brothers aren't consciously biased racially then they seem to be unconsciously. If basis isn't active in this country then one must ask what is all the noise about race, sex, gender and poverty about? It seems to be about protecting what one has against "those people" who seem to be encroaching on "my freedom", says the powerful who are in possession of this country's wealth and do not want to share it equally.

Our leaders should step forward and enforce stricter gun laws keeping guns out of the hands of those who have no right to have them, people like George Zimmerman and others who are mentally and criminally motivated towards evil acts. Our leaders must lead us to a communion of believers in liberty and justice for all, and I mean everybody, not just those who can afford the influence provoking power. Finally, not to sound Pollyanna, we must be a nation founded in love for our brothers and sisters because without love we can only continue to fall into hate and distrust. With love and understanding we can reach the heights of
human endeavor which is supposed to be the foundation upon which our country was built.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family Origins

His Father actions were so ingrained in family that actions were louder than words. He immigrated from Italy to the United States of America when he was only 19 years of age, never returning to see his family left behind but immensely loyal to those he left, those that came to America and those who became his family through marriage. His father was a great role model, quiet, strong, ever present ever loving with devotion to his family that could never be aptly put into words.

With his Father such a great role model he had an even greater role model through his grandmother. She was born in 1875, in 1889 she became a wife through an arraigned married which was not so unusual in those days even for poor families. Her husband was a brute when he drank which he did frequently abusing her along the way, which also was not unusual in those days. Her first 7 children died between childbirth and three years old while her next 6 children lived. They survived barely until her husband died an early death and she had to support her family anyway she could. She scrubbed floors, cleaned out spittoons, was a janitor barely making enough for all to eat and get some clothing to put on her children's back. She had nervous breakdowns that today would put her in a hospital but then she had to pull herself up and go to work or her children would not eat or be clothed. There was nothing like we know of welfare but when she applied for whatever help there was a social worker told her she would have to give up her children to foster homes or orphanages which led her to open the door and tell the woman to leave or be thrown out. She stuck it out, living a miserable life basically from 14 to her early 40's when her children were getting old enough to help out. She became religious when one day she was cleaning some very dirty stoops cursing God and her life when a very heavy glass cross came flying out of a window and almost struck her in the head. The cross only chipped a bit but never broke. She took this near miss as an answer from the Almighty that she had her children, her life, and she would have an easier later life as long as she remained faithful to Him and her children, her family. Which she did and her later life was much easier until she died in 1947 at the age of 72.
But what she left was a host of people that formed the family. Her Daughters worshiped their mother and her sons always paid her the respect that was they appeared to listen to her admonitions even if they didn't. Children were revered and while they did have their place and knew what that place was the children were loved and when they grew up and had their own children which were  loved. The men worked to make sure the kids were well clothed, fed and had a warm house in the winter. This philosophy was passed down that even to day a younger cousin of his is only happy when she is with her daughter and grandchild  on the East Coast and her son and grandchildren on the West Coast and she manages to visit frequently and is always received with love. His older cousin manages to help her children who have children of need  and despite advancing age provide the love and presence that only a loving mother can give to a child when that child is in need. The fact is that even though his family has broken down into smaller units everyone of them are families of love and caring. And all this comes from that little woman, she never was more than 5 feet tall, born in 1875 and kept her family together through tough and very bad times. This little lady gave them the ammunition of love which her children passed on to their children who are passing in on to all the children who follow.
He read the following: "Meaning of Family
When people stay away from each other, their strengths get divided. Family bestows them with a collective power to withstand all kinds of trials and tribulations. This is why having a family is extremely important." 

He thought that was as good as a meaning of family as he could get but it lacked one thing, the thing that bonded people together in strong ties is love for without love all we have is self protection with love we have all involved seeking only good for the unit or the other individuals involved. The more he thought about this the more he was convinced that the love of Mothers was the factor that actually formed the family unit and bonded the members tightly together. He knew some mothers did not have what seemed as an innate power to act for the good of their children but for the most part his experience was that a close knit family working together for the common good motivated by love for each other had the foundation in the mother who worked her magic by loving her children totally and deeply. The driving force of his grandmother to keep her children together motivating her scarifies was her love for her children which was greater than her love for herself. He saw this love in all her children and even in his own wife who loved her children so greatly she never saw anything but goodness emanating from them even when they were doing bad things. He was coming to the conclusion then that the closest thing to goodness, God because God is good, is love expressed through Mothers. He guessed then, God being spiritual has no sex but God is pure love and God's creation to show this love was female. Motherly love then he supposed is the closest one can get to experiencing God. God is love, pure motherly love is selfless and has only the good of her children as her goal. This sounds very Godly. We know know that male and female share certain characteristics and he thought then it would be possible for each of God's creations to have this ability to love in this manner then it would be possible to have "motherly love" even if one is male all one has to do is be open to the idea that we can love as God, or for those who do not believe, as nature or some super force has, and let it happen and grow from within our spirit. He guessed that all that is needed then is to be open to love and if possible theoretically the whole world can be family looking for the good of all. But this sounded too Utopian so he decided to stop thinking about it and just try and live it.