Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Over four years, I wrote a post welcoming the new incoming head coach of the Washington football team, Mike Shanahan.

In that post, I had the following piece of advice for Mr. Shanahan…


You are stepping into a buzzsaw that has obliterated the likes of Norv Turner…Steve Spurrier, and the legendary Joe Gibbs (a winner of a few Super Bowls). A coach is only as good as the players around him. You are only as good as the players around you. You won two Super Bowls with John Elway and company. Without John, you only won one playoff game. You do the math!

Unless you are given powers and responsibilities that differ radically from all those who have come before you, you will suffer the same fate and have your polished reputation tarnished.

After four seasons with the team, only one playoff appearance, three fourth-place division finishes, and an overall record of 24-40, Shanahan was fired.

He was not “given powers and responsibilities” that were vastly different from those who came before him and he indeed did suffer the same fate.

Into this buzzsaw of coaching talent now steps Jay Gruden who has signed a five-year contract.

For grins and giggles, I have to remind the reading audience that Mike Shanahan was also signed to a five-year contract, but was dumped after only four years.

Mr. Gruden, my belated advice to you is the same as it was four years ago to Mr. Shanahan…RUN!

I leave you with words I wrote four years ago regarding Mr. Shanahan but I feel they are also quite applicable to you, Mr. Gruden:

There is an exchange from the movie Dune which sums up your predicament:

Paul: “Many have tried and failed?”
Reverend Mother: “Many have tried and died.”

Sorry to say, Mr. Gruden, but you are merely one more notch on the belt of Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington football team.

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Photo Friday has offered up the theme of “sports” for this week and our family cruise to the 49th State offered us the unique opportunity to meet a person who has participated in the Iditarod.

As part of our port of call excursion in Skagway, we visited with Matt Hayashida who told us about raising sled dogs and participating in the Last Great Race on Earth.

On display, next to his sled and other various paraphernalia, are the two items below…

Iditarod trophies

Suitable for framing and display

These are two trophies Mr. Hayashida has earned for being one of the top 30 finishers in the race.

What I enjoy most about these trophies is not so much the time, effort, and love that went into earning them. What I find fascinating about these symbols of accomplishments are the times on the bases. Can’t think of another timed sport or activity where you can earn a trophy after you cross the finish line 10 or 11 days after you started.

Congratulations Mr. Hayashida on your trophies, best of luck come 2013, and thanks for a wonderful tour.

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The playoffs for Major League Baseball are in full swing (Go Brewers! Go Tigers!). As baseball’s second season hits high gear, that must mean that some teams and their fans are wallowing in disappointment. Prime examples for the 2011 season are the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves for their near-epic collapses.

However, the prize for the most disheartened of baseball fans must go to those supporters of the Chicago Cubs as the team from the north side of the Windy City went 71-91 and finished twenty-five games out of first place in the Central Division of the National League. This means that the Cubs would not be in the World Series for the 66th year in a row and, in addition, it means that the Cubs would not win baseball’s championship for a 103rd straight season.

Part of this futility is laid at the feet of what is known as “The Curse of the Billy Goat“.

Say what you will about curses, but something was in the air eight years ago this week. On this October night, during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series between the Cubs and the Florida Marlins, with Chicago up 3 games to 2, and with Chicago leading that game 3-0, something happened.

You can read the whole story here in what became known in baseball legend as the Steve Bartman Incident. One man does a seemingly innocent act to reach out and catch a foul ball and instantly does something that sears itself into the memory of every Cub fan who had their hopes crushed once again.

But what if one could erase memories?

That was a question I pondered when my process for creating random subjects to write about (also known in some circles as the Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Random-Chance process) lead me to this ceditra entry from September 2 and is once again a quote from the book Oxymoronica, by Dr. Mardy Grothe. From page 36 comes this quote from the French essayist, Montaigne


Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.

I heard a podcast of WNYC’s Radiolab dealing with memory where one segment had the proposition that each time we remember something, we are recalling it anew as if creating the memory each time it is remembered. That created the oxymoronic notion that they only really pure memory we have is that memory we can never recall. This is because each time we recall a memory, it’s like making a copy of a copy so with each reproduction, flaws can be introduced changing the memory.

So every time I recall the memories that haunt me, am I constantly changing in my head what really happened? Those memories are strong in my head because I am recalling them over and over and so those neural pathways become stronger and stronger. So it appears to be counter-intuitive that the more I want to forget something, I have to recall it, but by recalling it, I only make the memory stronger. However, by making the memory stronger, I also move farther and farther away from the true memory.

This leads to an intriguing possibility. Could I change my haunting memories by remembering them differently. If I were to constantly call up those memories I want to forget and then alter their substance, could I truly delude myself into believing that my past is different from what it actually is? The only issue would arise if I encountered any of the other participants who inhabit those memories, but what are the odds of that? One is in northern California and the other is in Atlanta…and I’m in France.

Could one really drive away or erase bad memories by simply mis-remembering them?

Back to October and this still remains an interesting proposition. However, in the case of Mr. Bartman, it would be up to millions of Cubs fans to misremember what happened and believe that instead of interfering with a ball that hurt the home team, he had instead stuck his hand out to mess with a ball that hurt the visitors (a la Jeffrey Maier).

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