Two very different headlines

The nation of Japan has been struck by a  massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the largest on record in that country. The tsunami spawned by that quake has compounded the death and destruction that the Japanese will have to face. Estimates of those who lost their lives have already topped 1,000. Sadly, I expect that figure to rise considerably. Reports  from people in Japan speak of  tremendous destruction to roads, buildings, homes etc. A major nuclear power has also suffered damage adding yet another element to what must an almost surreal scene.

For a country already reeling economically, this natural disaster has presented the country with quite a difficult challenge to overcome. Our country is already providing help and people can take part through the American Red Cross and probably other agencies as well.

But what seems to be the biggest news story in our country today? Why, of course it is the ongoing struggle between the NFL owners and the NFLPA  which is basically the players labor union. Extended negotiations broke off  today as the union voted to decertify, thus tossing the ball into the legal system. Who will prevail and when is anyone’s guess. There will ultimately be a settlement and both the players and owners will  do well. Unfortunately, if there is a work stoppage, those most likely affected will be those who depend on the league for their livelihoods. I actualy have almost no sympathy for either side and the angst that many of  the pepople involved ( especially the players)  seem to be feeling and trying to gert us to feel.

On one side, there are themega rich owners and on the other are the  players;many of whom are make quite  a hefty income. Admittedly, the average career is relatively short but the average incomes are large. But they will never be large enough, I guess, since a 2009 study by Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players will go bankrupt in their lifetimes. Guessing that is higher than in most other occupations. Chew on this additional piece of info. The NFLPA has distributed a booklet to each of its players  with advice on to cut costs if the lookout materializes. One of  those pieces of advice, cut the size of your entourage.

It is sort of hard for me to balance these labor issues with the stark reality facing the Japanee people. For them, we must pray.


March 11, 2011 Posted by | Sports, Weather | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grounds From the Percolator

Peter King is a writer for Sports Illustrated who specializes in covering professional football. He has  a short column near the back of each issue of the magazine which is entitled, “Things I Think I Think.” I like his musings but, better yet, I like the title, indeed, I am a bit envious of the title. At least, I thing that’s what it is. I would like to have some sort of regular thoughts, nothing profound, just a bit thought-provoking; about something. Obviously, I  am not expert enough on any subject to be as specific as Mr King.

He is not the first member of the media to have a regular feature with a catchy title. Paul Harvey had more than one. I well remember, over my shoulder a backward glance and partly personal. There was Charles Kuralt and over the road. And there was  President Roosevelt with his fireside chats  which was the first great presidential use of the media.

Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator” in some circles and in many instances President Obama has excelled in that area as well . But, alas, I know my sights need to aim more in the  Shetland pony  than the Palomino or Clydesdale.

From my category list, politics would seem a good area on which to focus, or sports or the media. Withing those areas, there are any number of popular tags that reappear often- Democrats, the media, Israel, among others. Better yet, there are others who desperately seek to provide fodder- Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden,Madame Secretary,etc.

What I shall seek is to provide a wry but not sharp look at folks and things  from time to time, not quite like the quotes section of The Limbaugh Letter, but perhaps down a  similar path. So, we shall consider this as the first installment of  the  Grounds from the Percolator and see where the aroma takes us.

November 7, 2009 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is There A Correct Way to Criticize?

So, now that Rush has been dropped from the potential  ownership group maybe attempting to buy the St Louis Rams, one of only how many members we don’t know, since only he and Dave Checketts names were released. Doubtless there is joy in liberal land this night. As an aside, rock singer Fergie is joining the Dolphins as a partial owner. Pretty soon, the Dolphins will be able to put on some rollicking concerts, using only their ownership. You might want to check out some  of  her song lyrics and remember NFL Commish Roger Goddell saying that we don’t need divisive comments  and we here are all held to a higher standard. Contrary to Mr  Sharpton’s comments, it is not a moral victory for all Americans.

Anyway, score one for the libs. And today we have this. Award winning journalist, Seymour Hersh spoke at Duke (guess I can use that word in my blog) University last night with an interesting theme. He says that the U  S military is at war- with President Obama. Yep, that’s what he said. Gotta be true, he said . There is racism in the Pentagon and we all know it, as he was quoted in the Durham Herald-Sun.

Mr Hersh was critical of the president, particularly on Afghanistan. He said that the President must  stand up to the military. He must run the Pentagon or the Pentagon will run him. Other statements say that the military think he  is weak and the wrong color. He criticized Gen McChrystal for publicly requesting 40,000 additional troops, adding that it puts Obama in a no-win position. Give him the troops and lose politically or not provide the  troops and  lose- politically. That is somewhat telling to me. Not sending the requested troops is  a    loss  politically, not militarily. Hmm.

Mr Hersh has suggestions. Negotiate with the Taliban, it is  the only way. Continue the  process with Iran, which Bush of course mucked up. And, realize that we have a lot in common with Russia.

I close with this thought. What is the acceptable way in which one  disagrees with  the President? Can it be done without being racist? Hint only if you are a liberal, since a liberal cannot be racist, right?

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Media, Politics, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mikhail Prokhorov and Rush Limbaugh

What could our title subjects possibly have in common? Why, sports, of course. Prokhorov is the richest man in Russia, estimated worth is $9.5 billion and we all know who Limbaugh is, although not nearly that wealthy. Both are involved in efforts to buy professional sports franchises. Prokhorov is attempting to buy a controlling interest in the New Jersey Nets while Limbaugh is involved in efforts to buy the St Louis Rams.

Who cares, except maybe fans of those teams or of the NBA or NFL? Why, for starters, the Rev Al Sharpton and the head of the NFL Players Association,DeMaurice Smith. Both of these individuals are opposed to the Limbaugh bid as are a number of NFL players, seven so it is said, none of whom have been named.

First caveat is that Limbaugh’s group is not the only one interested in the Rams. There are  at least  six other groups,including one that has African-American members;Donald Watkins and Dave Steward. Mr Smith is careful not to use the word racist in describing Limbaugh. He also says that the union does not have a say in potential ownership choices. He is encouraging players to speak their minds about this issue and other facets of the league’s  business. No problem with that. But wonder how often, players have expressed their feelings-pro or con- about a potential team owner?

Mr Smith, a Washington attorney, had some other comments in his e-mail.

“Our men are strong and  proud sons, fathers, spouses and I am proud when they stand up,understand this is their profession and speak with candor and blunt honesty about how they feel.”

“…sport is  at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer and  it transcends.Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and reject discrimination and hatred.”

Smith at no point makes any direct accusations against Limbaugh. Reading between the lines,to me at least, are strong inferences against him.

Now, stack up these quotes with comments by Stephen A Smith in  a  CNN    interview. This Smith is well familiar with sports fans for his ESPN work. The host, Christine Romans questions Smith about the  opposition to Limbaugh.

She asked him players allegedly taking a moral stand, implying they would not play a Limbaugh owned team because of comment she has made in the past that had racial overtones. Smith said, “They’re lying. Wasting my time….

If he has the dollars. he should be allowed to do it.It’s not like he’s ignorant to the game of football.The man knows football. He’s a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.Oh, you’re going to pass up money because …I’m offended by Rush Limbaugh being the owner? Who are you fooling? They’re liars.”

So, it is fine for a Russian billionaire to own a sports team, if he has the money? Sure, doesn’t  bother me. Not for Limbaugh, because he   is   allegedly racist and I mean allegedly?

Back to the head of the players union for a moment. He wants the players to speak their mind. What if several of them came  out publicly in favor of a Limbaugh bid? Would  he feel the same? Seems like  a fair question to me, a lot fairer than the rumor and speculation  about statements Limbaugh has never made.

One last comment which comes  a sports guy I really like. Michael Wilbon is the co-host with  Tony Kormheiser of ESPN’s PTI program and is  also a Washington Post columnist. He had this to say about Limbaugh after some of the initial reaction to his bid. “He is universally reviled by black people in this country and justifiably so.”  That is a comment from a guy who met Limbaugh at a Las Vegas golf tournament just as Limbaugh was beginning his  brief  ESPN tenure. One wonders if Wilbon had the same feelings then and if so, why did he not express them? Just a thought.

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Media, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The End Is Near Or Is it ?

There are always people who are telling us that the world is approaching its end. Many, if not all, are well meaning and seriously believe what they are saying. In fact, there has been extensive talk in recent years about maybe the end of the world being December 31,2012, according to the Mayan calendar. Well, sorry to disappoint you, this post has noting to do with any of that.

After a hiatus of several years, I renewed my long dormant subscription to Sports Illustrated and rediscovered many things that I like about the magazine, along with some new things. Of course, the photos are top notch and I marvel at the detail in some of the 2 page photos . What I am really enjoying is a little sidebar item called “Sign of the Apocalypse”. For some reason, these quirky little items intrigue me more than a lot of the articles.

Just 2  to brieflyillustrate. there is a minor league baseball team named trhe Hudson Valley Renegades, located in the town of FishkillNY ( bet there is a good story there too). Anyway, as minor league teams must do, they set out to do a promotion, an old-fashioned ladies’ night. Dont’ know any specifics but  I suspect that women got  a ticket at a free or deduced rate. Not so fast said Duchess County government officials. If you do that you will violate New York  State Human Rights Law. More ominously  you will violate the federal guarantee to equal protection. Am I the only one who sees a problem there? In reading it to my son, he seemed to lean towards the  side of the government. Think those folks in Duchess County might have more important things to deal with?

Ok, one more. This is  just pure fun, unless you are a fan of the Detroit Lions football team. The poor Lions went 0-16 in 2008, the first NFL team to accomplish such a feat. Their apocalyptic contribution comes from the team website. An ad on the site encourages fans to watch streaming video and relive the 2008 season. Suppose that was  a short video? Maybe it showed the players  running on the field for game 1  or something. I understand Lions fans. I was  a Washington Redskins fan in the 60″s when a good season was maybe 1-11 or lo and  behold, 2-10.

Thanks SI for helping to keep the fun in sports.

July 24, 2009 Posted by | Media, Sports | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Perspective on Deaths

Over the past several days, there have been some very high profile deaths with which we are all somewhat familiar. The most prominent and the most puzzling is probably that of  Michael Jackson. To me, it has been eerily similar to that of Elvis Presley in a number of ways. Of course, there has the less unexpected   but very public passing of Farah Fawcett due to cancer. Another quite unexpected death was that of television pitchman Billy Mays whose death was tragic but due to an all too common cause.

The vast majority of us have never met these people. We have seen them on television on the movies or in concert, but there remains a disconnect for most of us, although their deaths were all regrettable. In fact, both Jackson and Mays were younger than I am. Deaths in that particularly age group seem to impact me more.

But there was yet another tragic death of late. This one, except in Iowa, has been somewhat under reported due in large part to its more regional impact. I am speaking of high school coach Ed Thomas who was shot to death at age 58. Thomas was killed on June 24 by a former football player in the school’s weight room.

There have been some amazing stories about Thomas, NFL  national coach of the year 1n 2005, winner of 2 state titles and owner of  a coaching record of  292-84. He even had several former players who played in the NFL to serve as pallbearers. Somehow, I don’t think that is why his funeral drew a crowd larger than the 1,800 population of Parkersburg, Ia. He was doubtless a n excellent coach but had to be much more than that. For one, when an F5 tornado struck the town last year , he was  in  the forefront of the rescue and rebuilding.

Perhaps 2 people said it best. Pastor Brad Zinnecker of First Congregational Church  said of the mourners, ” They recognized a man after God’s own heart. His personal life and public life were one and the same.” And, one of his sons, Aaron, said that his dad would have wanted  the community to “get going” and do something to improve the town.

He left behind his wife as well as two sons, a brother and his mom. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Thomas family. But they go as well to those family members of Billy Mays, Farrah  Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Life and Death | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment