Category Archives: basketball

The National Soccer Hall of Fame

Considering the fact that my in-laws live in Oneonta, it’s rather peculiar that it took Carol and me nearly eight years to visit the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the small city. Carol and I, with baby Lydia, made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame in the summer of 2004 in Springfield, MA; I think Lydia was unimpressed.

Anyway, one might ask, why the heck is the Soccer HoF in Oneonta anyway. On the very first display in the Hall, that question is addressed. The colleges there, the State University College at Oneonta and Hartwick College both had had successes in the 1970s in soccer. OK, but still, why Oneonta? Because of its approximation to Cooperstown, some folks expected that they could make it another destination in the region.

Yes, I don’t know soccer, but my wife doesn’t really know basketball, either. While she loved that hall in Springfield, she and I were pretty bored with this place. At least until we got to the second floor, when we got to compete in some interactive games. Still, if it wasn’t for the fact that she got in free (it was Mother’s Day weekend), and I got in at 10% off with an AAA card ($11.25 instead of $12.50), it would have been an EXPENSIVE boring visit.

Of course, it can’t compete with the charm of Cooperstown. My father-in-law and I, as usual, went to the game last month, between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. Here’s a description of the game, where minor league Brian Boch got 2 HRs, one a grand slam, and a double to lead the Orioles over the Blue Jays. My best recollections: off-key renditions by a barbershop quartet of BOTH O Canada AND The Star-Spangled Banner; four of the eight homers landing in our section, including one that hit just to my right, hit a concrete facing, then careened to the left in front of me.

Our favorite sport, though, is begging the center fielder for the ball. This is an annual event, where after the warm ups between half innings, the sections make as much noise as possible so that the player will toss the ball to their section. No one played this as well as Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells, who really knew how to milk the crowd. One time, he hid one ball while taunting the crowd with another. When he threw it to the one section, the other section moaned, until he produced the second sphere. Great theater for the three innings he stayed in the game.

Pieces of April

This is what I have going on for the next month:
1. Take Lydia for her physical today.
2. Participate in the Maundy Thursday service at my church service, and rehearse for Good Friday.
3. Go to the Capital Area Council of Churches ecumenical Good Friday service, also at my church.
4. Participation in the Good Friday service. We’re singing The Seven Last Words of Christ by Theodore DuBois. Please come if you’re in the area. The soloists are great and the organ part is very dramatic. Hope my voice comes bck; currently, I have laryngitis, probably from seasonal allergies.
5. Easter Sunday service. No wonder some choir directors refer to to this, ironically, as hell week.
6. April 10 – As mentioned, I’m going to see a scion of a rock legend. Sean Lennon at the Egg.
7. April 11 – I was asked do to this just yesterday: talk to a bunch of librarians about guerrila marketing.
8. April 18 – I am taking a CPR course. Also donating blood for the 120th time.
9. Thursday, April 19, 7 pm. writers Christopher Ringwald and Amy Biancolli will be speaking at the Albany Public Library, main branch, sponsored by the Friends of the Albany Public Library. He writes on religion and philosophy, she writes movie reviews for a Houston newspaper, but is syndicated nationally. BTW, they’re married. Since I’m in charge of the event, if you’re in the area, please, PLEASE come. It’s free. I just want folks to come.
10. Friday, April 19. Carol and I are going to the Symphony! A world premiere based on William Kennedy’s new book, Roscoe.
11. A work conference in Utica at the end of the month. Not only do I need to prepare my share of the library presentation, but I’m also writing the questions for a JEOPARDY! segment of another prrsentation. That’s 61 questions, in 12 categories plus the final.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

Also, I must drink lots of water. This is based on an incident on Friday. I’ve finally gotten my bicycle out, on Wednesday. This involves putting the bike on the bus to day care; riding the 2.6 miles to the Y to play racquetball – by taking the bike, I actually got there 20 minutes sooner than I would have if I had taken the bus; playing racquetball (for over an hour -yay!), then taking the bike to the bus stop (another quarter mile), take the bike on the bus to Corporate Woods to work. I had to leave early to get my Internet connection fixed, so I get the bike to put on the bus to town, ride the bike to the bank and then home (1.6 miles+); then, after the cable guy comes, go to another bank to get a bus pass and back (maybe a mile each way). Then about two hours later, get the most painful cramp I’ve ever experienced in my life, noit in my calf, which I’ve had before, but in my left inner thigh. Utterly excrutiating, and wouldn’t go away until after three glasses of water, some Motrin and 15 minutes.

Re: the cable guy, I need to con my friend Mark to come up and help me install a couple things on my computer, not the least of which is more memory.

Meanwhile, I want to be more current with the newspaper. I’ve been almost constantly a week behind, reading about our local Extreme Makeover: Home Edition family in Colonie, which will be broadcast as the season finale next month. This is a show I’ve actually never seen, but I’ll probably catch this one.
There was also Dan Savage movie review of a couple weeks ago that I just read in Metroland: “Have you seen 300 yet? It’s about a handful of lightly armed ancient Greeks—the Spartans—who take on the mighty and massive Persian army. Some feel the film is homophobic; some feel it’s a conservative, pro-war piece of agitprop.
Homophobic? It’s Ann Coulter on a meth binge.”

I’m looking forward to listening to lots of Emmylou Harris and Marvin Gaye, since their birthdays were yesterday, as well as hearing some Richard Thompson, Willie Dixon, and assorted others.

Finally watched this video that’s been sent to me TWICE so far, so if I post it, I won’t get it again: – The Apple iRack

Plus the usual stuff. So it’ll be a busy month. And May will be equally so. I almost never wish my life away, but I’m REALLY looking forward to mid-June.

Florida beat Ohio Stste, and I fell from 1st to 4th in my pool. At least I picked out There’s No Such Website on the first try.

7 Songs I Am Enjoying This Week

Part of the social contract of the blog is, whenever possible, to respond to the tag. Lefty tagged me to “list seven songs you are into right now. No matter what they are. They must be songs you are presently enjoying.” How to limit it to seven? there’s that Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters I’ve been listening to, and the new Sean Lennon album; I’m seeing him at The Egg on April 10.

Not surprisingly, most of these folks were born in March.

God’s Gonna Cut You Down-Johnny Cash (February 26). From the posthumous American V, this is a remake of Moby’s Run On, which was a remake of Bill Langford and the Langfordaires’ 1930s Run On for a Long Time. A morality tale. BTW, Nik has a link to a great Johnny Cash team-up.

Let’s Make More Love-Nat King Cole (March 17). From the Billy May Sessions of the 1950s, this song has a certain call-and-response quality. This song fascinated me musically, but also because the composer is listed as “unknown”.

Who Needs You?-Aretha Franklin (March 25). From The First 12 Sides, an album she did for Columbia before she moved to Atlantic in ’67 and became the Queen Of Soul. Not sure it was released until later, though, since the © is 1973. More pop than soul, but quite enjoyable.

My Father’s Gun-Elton John (March 25). Always liked his early albums such as Tumbleweed Connection, and always especially love the choir in this chorus. An album I own on vinyl, so went to the library to burn a CD, guilt free.

Circlesong Six- Bobby McFerrin (March 11). There’s a 1997 album called Circlesongs, essentially a dozen or folks standing around doing eight interesting vocalizations. As the liner notes indicate: “No words are necessary, and, in fact, words only get in the way of the interaction between the singer and the Divine.”

Papa Was a Rolling Stone-the Temptations. The 12-minute version from the 2003 collection Psychedelic Soul. I love this era of the Temps, the Norman Whitfield-produced, Whitfield-and Barrett Strong-written period, even more than the early stuff. Did you know Barrett Strong had the first Motown hit single with “Money”?

Bring It On Home-Sonny Boy Williamson. Apparently, this is the “second” (though older), more famous Sonny Boy, born Dec 5, 1899, rather than the first (Mar. 30, 1914). Anyway, this is a song Led Zeppelin stole for their second album. It’s not that I minded them doing the song. I DID mind that they credited themselves. And musically, I really like LZ.

I now will tag…no one. Tosy, Gordon, Jaquandor, Marconi: do it if you feel like it. Or not.
At least Lefty namechecked me here. I tried to figure out what song the Beatles were doing without the sound; impossible.
I love the music of Emmylou Harris. I own at least four of her five LPs from the 1970s; several of her recent discs, including the pivotal Wrecking Ball; Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions with Linda Ronstadt; All the Roadrunning with Mark Knopfler; both Trio albums with Dolly Parton and Ronstadt; and probably others that I’ve forgotten. Not to mention lots of backup singing, notably on Ronstadt’s oeuvre. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve long had a bit of a crush on her. Happy birthday, Emmylou, who turns the big six-oh today.
Georgetown lost to Ohio State, but I can still win my pool if Ohio State beats Florida tonight. GO, BUCKEYES. This is at least the third year in a row that I’ve been around for the final game; maybe the third time will be the charm.


Roger (Finally) Answers Your Questions, Scott

On the top of your web site, under the title, there reads: “B1 d- t- k+ s– u– f+ i o x- e- l c–” What does that mean?

Why thanks for pointing it out! It now reads B6 d- t k+ s+ u- f+ i o+ x- e+ l c– Good catch!

What is your favorite baseball memory?

I had a hard time with this. Certainly, the 1962, 1977, or 1995 Yankees, or the 1969 or 1986 Mets winning the Series, or the 10-inning Jack Morris win in 1991 or the game I saw on 6/14/91 between the Red Sox and Angels. But the first thing that actually came to mind was Sid Bream sliding into home in the 1992 NLCS. Maybe it was because I hadn’t gotten sick of the Braves yet, since they’d been so bad for so long. But I think it was just such a terrible slide against his old team, and how Barry Bonds’ throw beat him to the plate but was just a little off line. The unlikely hero.

What is the last good book of fiction that you read?

Seldom read fiction at all at this point. Probably A Handmaid’s Tale.

Do you think that finding an alternative fuel will become a government priority in the next ten years?

Yes, if some palpable disaster strikes. Don’t know what that is yet.

Name something that you like that others think is uncharacteristic of you.

I don’t think it’s true across the board, but there are lots of people who think of me as a sweet, laid back, easy-going kind of guy. These people have never played cards with me. Or racquetball. Or softball. Or volleyball.
To that end, I seem to be in the minority of people who thought that the guy on JEOPARDY who had the lead, then initially bet to finish in a historic three-way tie bugged me. To use a sports example, it’d be like someone coming up in the 9th inning of a baseball game, already having hit a double, triple and home run, therefore needing only a single for the cycle, hitting the ball into the gap so that he’d surely get a stand-up double, but instead stopping at first.

What former (dead or alive) US President would you like to sit down and talk with?

Well, I’ve answered this before, and picked Jefferson and/or Lincoln. I think this time, I’ll pick Teddy Roosevelt. He was an environmentalist. Maybe he has some ideas about how to create the political will in this country to actually fight global warming. I’m not sure Al “He’s A Movie Star” Gore’s recent visit to Capitol Hill will do the trick.

If Lydia had been a boy, what name did you and your wife have picked out?

Well, we had a bear of a time with boy’s names. I think the only one that one of us hadn’t yet vetoed was Micah. Not so incidentally, the snowperson is one she and Carol did after the Valentine’s Day that resided in our front lawn. It was gone, though, by the time of the St. Patrick Day’s storm.

I’ll bite, but am interested since you brought it up) What is your favorite verse from the Bible?

We sang last week in church Stainer’s God So Loved the World, which is based on John 3:16, what one former pastor described as “the Bible in a nutshell”. I’ve been more partial to the next verse, also in the Stainer piece: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” It speaks to me about those finger-pointing “gotcha” people.

Since you’re a sports guy, I’ll note it here:
All four of my teams are in the Final Four. Can’t remember that happening, ever. I’m in first place in my pool, and only the commissioner (who picked Florida) or I (who picked Georgetown) can win. If Florida wins the championship, I lose. If Florida wins and Georgetown loses on Saturday, I can still win if Ohio State beats Florida on Monday, because we both picked Florida to beat UCLA. If both Florida and Georgetown lose on Saturday, I win. So, I’m still in it.

Oh, you wanted to know the MEANING of the code. You don’t remember that I described it in July 2005? I don’t either. Anyway, here’s the translation.


March Madness

For the past few years, I’ve been involved in picking the winners of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. For the last couple years, my #1 team lost in the finals. The winner of the pool last year was a five-year old boy, who had also won two years previously, when he was three. He picks based on school mascots, nicknames, and geography, which is obviously more successful than reading everything I can from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and CBS Sportsline. I suppose I could just WATCH THE GAMES during the season, but truth is, the only game I watched this season was the six minutes of the Albany-Vermont game. That’s six minutes more than I watched LAST year.

Anyway, one gets one point for getting the games in round one, two points for round two, four points for round three, etc. Even if NO one picks the ultimate champion, someone will win the pool, which is not for money but for pride. I’ll be sharing my progress, but I won’t give you the blow-by-blow. I will tell you, out of sheer civic pride, i’m picking Albany to win one game. I also have Georgetown beating Ohio State, Florida beating UCLA and Georgetown beating Florida in the Final Four.

I was playing Internet backgammon with someone this week, and he or she seemed to leave their pieces intentionally vulnerable. Even if you’ve never played the game, what you need to know is that two pieces on a space are safe and one is not, and that this person seemed to intentionally want to get hit. Strange, and not that much fun, winning handily like that. Reminds me of an old girlfriend who was playing a card game called casino. Aces are worth a point apiece, and she was playing first, but didn’t pick up the aces on the table even though she had an ace in her hand to do so, which soon became evident. She did it so I could win; this did NOT make me happy.

Anyway, my posts for the next couple days will be short, because my back’s been killing me. I seem to have pulled something trying to right myself on the ice, the old melt-and-refreeze stuff. I didn’t fall; almost wish I did. So I stayed home Tuesday and watched the Grammys; yeah, only a month late. The highlight for me had to be Mary J. Blige doing Stay with Me, a song by Lorraine Ellison which I have on vinyl on THE 1969 WARNER/REPRISE RECORD SHOW. I LOVE those LPs, as they were wonderfully eclectic. – I have 32 of the 37 listed.

The Ellison song was the last of a quintet of songs I used to play when romance would go sour:
Remove This Doubt-Supremes
Sweet Bitter Love-Aretha
Gone Away-Roberta Flack
First Night Alone without You-Jane Olivor


Flick Tunes

But first, a sports note: UAlbany 60, U Vermont 59 in Burlington yesterday, where the Great Danes had never won in seven previous tries since 1999, when they went to Division I. I watched on ESPN2 as VT had the ball, down one with 30 seconds to go, but thanks to great defense by Albany never even got off a shot. Albany, my grad school alma mater, wins the America East men’s basketball title and gets to get seeded something-teen in the NCAA bracket tonight.
I made this mixed CD for Lefty and his comrades, and I was so happy that the process worked that I made an extra five copies for whoever wants one.

I started with the God/afterlife songs:
Morning Hymn and Alleluia-Nuns Chorus-The Sound of Music
I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord-Lyle Lovett-The Apostle
In Your Mind-Johnny Cash-Dead Man Walking
The Great Beyond-R.E.M.-Man in the Moon
I’m Going Home-Sacred Harp Singers at Liberty Church-Cold Mountain
Then the revolution songs:
Beware Verwoerd-Miriam Makeba-Amandla!
[Title]-Bono and Gavin Friday-In the Name of the Father
Revolution-Grandaddy-I Am Sam
Segue is from a revolutionary movie
Overture to the Sun-A Clockwork Orange
Transportation songs; the protagonists in the latter two movies have a none too positive fate:
Ridin’ the Rails-k.d. lang and Take 6-Dick Tracy
Lonely Avenue-Ian Gillian and Roger Glover-Rain Man
Tennessee Plates-Charlie Sexton-Thelma & Louise
Ballad of Easy Rider-Roger McGuinn-Easy Rider
Easy Rider hits New Orleans, so I’ll go there
Ma ‘Tit Fille-Buckwheat Zydeco-The Big Easy
Another celebration
The Funeral (September 25, 1987)- George Fenton and Jonas Gwangwa-Cry Freedom: the bulk of this track is the very noble Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa). So I need some leavening.
Gump-Weird Al Yankovic
Upbeat, positive ending
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive-Clint Eastwood-Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
You’ve Got a Friend in Me-Robert Goulet-Toy Story 2


Sports and Race QUESTIONS

Unrelated forward-
Note to Tom the Dog: Now that you are a game show maven, perhaps you can be a source of pithy quotes on other cultural matters. For instance, an Albany-area woman made it onto the next round of American Idol – a show I’m not currently watching, BTW – but had to keep it a secret for a few months, until the program aired this week. Hey, let’s find other folks who’ve had similar experiences, like that guy who was on JEOPARDY! eight years ago! Voila!
1. Here’s an excerpt from Boss Talk: ‘Welcome to My World’; NBA Commissioner Stern Gets Kudos for Expansion But Has Share of Problems
Russell Adams and Adam Thompson. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Jan 17, 2007. pg. B.1
WSJ: It’s often been said that when brawls break out on the court in the NBA, everybody makes a big deal out of it, even though other sports frequently have fights among players. Why?

Mr. Stern: My own take is the burden of the fans being so close to the stands. Because of the spectacular view of our game from courtside — which is the closest to the action of any game, and it’s replicated by a camera, and increasingly by high-def, the prospect of players, in any shape or form, crossing the barrier between them and the fans — that’s a problem that we have and no one else has.

WSJ: Do you believe it also might have something to do with racial attitudes in this country, that the NBA is judged more harshly for that reason?

Mr. Stern: Well, I choose not to dwell on it, but you may be on to something. We were the first sport to be identified as black. And, despite the fact that the starters in other sports like football could be equally, percentage-wise, black, our guys are [visible] out there. We can see them, they don’t come encumbered by hat, helmet, long sleeves and pants. You just touched on the global conversation, which is the role of race, and certainly, I would not be fully honest if I didn’t say it’s always there, in some shape or form.

Yes, the NBA is 80% black. But the NFL is about 70% black. Is race a factor in perceptions of NBA players, or is it the proximity to the stands, the fact that, unlike football players, they don’t wear helmets, and that changes the dynamic?

2. Much has been written about the two head coaches in the Super Bowl being black. What’s your reaction? This is my take on firsts in everything: Firsts are important when they get us to the point where it doesn’t matter anymore. Doug Williams, the first black Super Bowl quarterback was important, but I couldn’t tell you the second or third. Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby were important, but one doesn’t make note of every black baseball player, as Ebony magazine did in the 1950s and 1960s; interestingly, black baseball players at the major league level is declining.

Once upon a time, I could tell you the name of every female U.S. Senator, but now there are 16, and I can’t; it’s not enough, but it’s a start. However, I can name all of the black members of the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction, since there have been only three: Brooke, Moseley-Braun, and Obama.

Progress is measured when you stop having to measure.

Unrelated postlude;

From May 4, 2004 WSJ

A Better PDB?

Jessica Mintz writes in the Wall Street Journal:

“The presidential daily brief titled ‘Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US’ triggered a political firestorm. But for Greg Storey, what was most striking about the document was its lack of style.
“‘Why is it that the president puts up with these horribly written and laid out documents to assess the threat against our nation?’ wondered Mr. Storey, a 33-year old Web designer.
“So he set out to do something about it.”

Here’s Storey’s blog item explaining what he did and why.