Author: richdegivesays

Trump missed a moment with James. Sad!

Of all the things our humble experiment in democracy called the United State of America is, one of the building blocks is opportunity.

Here, you can succeed at anything, from learning how to hit a curve ball to achieving financial stability.

You’ve just got to work at it. And it ain’t easy.

Another building block is the concept of giving back to build a better nation. This can take several forms, from volunteer work in the community to giving to a favorite charity.

As a nation, we should be encouraging these efforts.

Too bad the current occupant of the White House doesn’t.

In a disgusting Tweet Friday night, President Trump not only turned up his attacks on the media but went after one of the world’s great sports stars in LeBron James.

If you don’t know what the president wrote, you missed a beaut.

Let’s face it, there’s no love lost between the president and James, who not only supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, but has been very vocal in his criticism of Trump, to the point of stating neither participant in this past season’s NBA Finals would likely visit the White House.

And while I imagine there’s still some gnashing of teeth and a jersey or two aflame after James left the Cavaliers – again – at the end of the season, how could anyone not like what he’s doing for the children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio?

Last week, James announced the launch of the I Promise School, in collaboration with the Akron Public Schools, which features not only comprehensive educational opportunities, but help for their families in obtaining a GED and job placement.

Students who complete the I Promise curriculum will also receive scholarships to the University of Akron.

What a wonderful way to boost the fortunes of the children of Akron. A sentiment shared by nearly everyone except the president.

Was it because of James’ support of Clinton? Was it his disagreements with the president? Or was it, as many have speculated, another racial attack (He also took a swipe at CNN’s Don Lemon, also a frequent Trump critic)?

Regardless, it was another unpresidential moment in an unpresidential administration.

Here was a moment to promote an investment in the public education system that has served so many Americans well.

But what else should we have expected from an administration that wants to arm teachers and keep campuses safe from grizzly bear attacks?

How’d that whole Trump University thing work out anyway?

 

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Sports are no fantasy

One of the things I’ve worked on in this reporter’s life is maintaining a balance between my professional self and my fan self.

I’ve been fortunate to spend most of my life keeping up with the teams I’ve followed, such as the Giants, 49ers and Warriors, since my youth. But once you get behind that computer terminal to paint a picture of that day in sports, you leave that behind.

This also applies when you’re in the field on the beat. Yes, you’d like to see the you cover do well, but, if they lose, there’s still a story to tell, and you can’t let feelings get in the way.

(Recall: Sitting courtside one night during a particularly intense basketball game, with fans yelling and screaming all the way. At halftime, I got up to get a drink of water when a fan looked at me and say, “Richard, how can you be so calm?” Answer: “Because I don’t care who wins”)

Now that I’m no longer involved in day-to-day sports journalism, I can enjoy the achievements of the Giants and Warriors of late more thoroughly, but at time, that old reporter mode kicks in when I see or read something that totally defies what I know about sports.

A couple from baseball, since it’s fresher in my mind and a bit simpler.

Let’s step in the wayback machine to the end of last season, when fans were suggesting the Giants lose their last few games to ensure getting the No. 1 pick in the amateur draft.

First, I’d suggest reading up on the 1919 Black Sox and the esteemed Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. One will find baseball tends to frown on throwing games. There’s also the human factor. These highly skilled athletes, even in the worst of seasons, take tremendous pride in wanting to do their best. And third, while drafts in pro sports are always a guessing game, baseball may be the game, there are no guarantees.

Second, there seems to be the notion that one can run Major League Baseball team just like one runs his or her fantasy team.

Nothing against fantasy sports here, even though I don’t get involved. Those that play them seem to enjoy them, which is all that matters.

But some I think take it a bit too far, like the knee-jerk reaction to “DFA” (designate for assignment, or release) a player, or send him down to the minors or trade him after a rough stretch.

I don’t think some fans understand you can’t release players on a whim, like sending a child to bed without dessert. It’s a little costlier than a transaction fee. And, of course, a week or two later, when Joe Slugger wins a big game for another team, there’s the inevitable “why did we let him go” outcry.

That outcry is inevitable when one reads “Let’s trade (Madison Bumgarner/Buster Posey) for prospects” tweet. Two of the finest, history will prove out, to play the game, for a collection of minor leaguers that may not work out?

Just like Independence Day fireworks, some things are best left in the hands of trained professionals.

I imagine some of the same fans are up in arms over the lack of action at the trade deadline as well. I’m not suggesting this is a great Giants team at all – their performance on the field presents a more convincing argument than I ever could – but one big deal is not going to turn fortunes around this season.

Not living in a fantasy world teaches you that.

 

 

 

Monday buffet: Cutting the ties

In the immortal words of Willy Wonka “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.”

So many thoughts going through this muddled mind, yet no one producing enough venom for a full-length solo rant in this occasional exercise in grammar and punctuation.

Thus, something I called in my Hanford days the luau buffet column beckons. And the traditional rules apply: Use a clean plate each trip through the line and consume all alcoholic beverages on the premises. Otherwise, dig in!

  • A friend asked if I would be writing about President Trump’s use of would vs. wouldn’t. The problem is, on my writing schedule, mainly, whenever I have a day off from my real job, he’s likely to do something even more outrageous than try and walk back what he said in the Helsinki news conference. Like do a complete 360 and go back to his original position. No, he wouldn’t dare, would he?
  • Further evidence the Raiders are looking to make a clean break from their Oakland heritage: Greg Papa out (along with the pride of Sanger, Tom Flores), Brent Musburger in as the team’s radio voice.

What difference does radio make in football nowadays, with virtually every NFL and NCAA Div. I game televised? As someone who has done a lot of weekend driving during the football season, a lot. And Papa’s been there for parts of three decades.

Compare with the last time the Raiders left Oakland high and dry (and let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of teams that can say that). Of course, Bill King went along, and was joined by LA-based boxing broadcaster Rich Marotta in what was a fine pairing.

  • Part of me, however, would have loved to hear Musburger describe this scene in the Raiders’ Mexico City game last season, when Tommie Smith lit the Al Davis torch. Yes, the same Musburger who called Smith and John Carlos “black-skinned storm troopers” for their raised-fist protest during the 1968 Olympics.
  • Papa’s future? I’d love to see him partnered with Jim Barnett again on Warriors’ telecasts. Of all the questionable moves Chris Cohan made during his ownership of the Warriors, firing Papa after he took the A’s TV job is easily in the to 10. And his talent is being wasted yukking it up with Garry St. Jean and Kelanna Azubukie on the studio shows.
  • It’s like we said in an earlier post on this fine forum. Raiders fans, time to cancel those season tickets and get rid of all the Raiders swag in your closet and dresser drawers. This organization is no longer about Oakland, so time to cut ties as well.
  • While we’re in the East Bay: Are some A’s fans really celebrating their team’s winning the Bay Bridge Trophy, or whatever they’re calling it? You think they would have done something really cool recently, like win three World Series titles in six seasons.
  • Looking forward to hearing the tales of what each members of the Athletics will do on their day with the trophy. Oh … you say it’s not the Stanley Cup?
  • Over the past few decades, it’d been my pleasure to tell the story of Atwater and Merced high schools play for The Spike. And Lake Havasu and Bullhead City Mohave play for the Golden Shovel. Also, not only Hanford and Lemoore play for the Milk Can, but Laton and Riverdale as well. My point? Trophy games should be left for the kids, not professional athletes.

And, we’re back. Miss me?

So, what if you started writing on your own, stopped, and then had to start again?

Welcome to my world. Or, welcome back.

Slapping words on paper, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, has been a part of my life since junior high (no middle school for me, folks!) and encouraged in my high school years to the point where I could make a little (very little, as it turns out) money at it.

But life changes. As do the words.

That’s the romantic version, in a nutshell. In reality, I didn’t renew my hosting fees and thought Facebook and Twitter rants would be enough. And, for someone used to slamming out 500-word epics on deadline, it’s not.

So, we’ll try to do these exercises in punctuation and grammar yet again. Maybe twice a week, depending on road conditions and how one drives.

One has to thank a couple of unfortunate events for this comeback tour.

On Feb. 14, 2018, the lives of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., were forever changed after 14 of their classmates and three school staff members were killed in one of the deadliest mass shootings at an American school.

But, as Buddhist philosophy teaches, out of the mud grows the lotus.

The aftermath of this tragedy has inspired the survivors to take action, first with the #neveragain movement, which not only begat March for Our Lives, but a nationwide, summer-long effort to register teen and college-age voters.

Us older folks may be failing in our responsibility at leaving the next generation a better place than we inherited, but they are picking up the torch.

And, within the last couple of weeks, there was the shooting at the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md., that left five dead, including four employees in the newsroom.

But, as they say on Broadway, the show must go on. Or as Capital Gazette reporter Chase Cook tweeted, “We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”

And they did.

Such dedication to causes has to be admired. And their inspiration turned into action.

So, we will resume these little essays on whatever and wherever my whims take me, be it President Trump, the state of the Giants and Warriors or life in the 2010s. And we hope to have a little fun doing it, because there’s not any cash in it.

Hope you enjoy. I know I will.

 

Just say no, Raiders Nation

If you’re a Raiders fan, this is the day you knew was coming, again.

Goodbye, Jack London Square. Viva Las Vegas.

By a 31-1 vote (according to reports, Miami was the only no vote), the NFL cleared the runway for the Raiders to leave Oakland for a new playpen coming to a Las Vegas near you before this decade is done.

And while fans may be crying about losing their team for the second time, it’s also time for them to act.

During Monday’s newser, Mark Davis said they’d refund the money of any season ticket holder.

They should take him up on that.

Walk away from the 2-3 lame duck seasons of the Oakland Raiders. Stay home. Give the money to charity.

For all the talk of Raider Nation, it’s really nothing more than a set decoration for the studio show that’s the NFL on TV. Doesn’t matter where they play, as long as the field is 100 yards long and 180 feet wide. Could be Oakland, or Las Vegas, or Kalamazoo.

But let’s face it, for all the mayor Libby Schaff’s brave talk over the weekend, it was too little, too late, in a city not only trying to juggle the desires of the Raiders and the Oakland Athletics, but a myriad of real life problems.

And as much as the NFL likes to talk about being a part of the communities they serve, in reality, it’s all about the Benjamins. Just ask the folks in St. Louis and San Diego.

So what happens next?

As noted, the Raiders will play at least two more seasons in Oakland, assuming attendance doesn’t fall to the point of embarassment (like in Memphis, where the Tennessee Titans played briefly while fleeing Houston for Nashville).

Levi’s Stadium? If that were really a viable option, would not the Raiders and 49ers already be sharing it?

And in Oakland?

A new stadium for the A’s – now the city’s only team in the four major pro sports with the Warriors moving to San Francisco’s Chase Center by the end of the decade – will happen, but for all the speculation of sites near Howard Terminal or even Merritt College, their best bet may be to build a new yard on the current site, which features fantastic access to the freeway, BART and the airport.

Kaepernick and the cause

Perhaps its a tribute to how fast things change nowadays or the shortening of attention spans in the social media era, but an issue that was on the front pages a mere six months ago seems appeared to have been resolved and has been confined to the back pages.

It’s been revealed that Colin Kaepernick, who has opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, will end his kneeldown protest during the national anthem.

Kaepernick said he’s abandoning the protest since it has accomplished its goal, to draw attention to the plight of black Americans.

Of course, the cynics in cyberspace and elsewhere, at least those who are not distracted by the flavor-of-the-day crises in Washington, Indianapolis and, yes, even Bowling Green or Sweden, will point out that he’s dropping the protest mostly because he’ll be on the job market.

Or maybe they just stopped paying attention since there was nothing more to be outraged about over Kaepernick.

There were those that doubted his sincerity, claimed it was a ploy to get into the starting lineup, or an attempt to impress his girlfriend, he shouldn’t be paid attention to because he was not a starter or he would only pay lip service to his beliefs.

But, having missed the bus the first time, why keep waiting for that ride that’s long been discontinued?

We’re seeing efforts to address the issues, not only financially (Kaepernick’s foundation is donating $1 million to community groups, a figure the 49ers matched, according to Rolling Stone), but an increase in social awareness among athletes, no doubt sparked by Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics.

In the NBA, for example, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been quite vocal about social issues, as has star player Steph Curry.

Also, LeBron James was a supporter of Hilliary Clinton during the presidential race, several member of the New England Patriots have announced they will not visit the Trump White House with the rest of the team, and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler has been adamant about his opposition to Trump’s immigration ban that has since been struck down by the courts.

Even the critics have to admit his protest did not play a role in his play on the field, which was more a product of the flustercluck that’s become the 49ers in the Levi’s Stadium era.

As for concerns he’d be a distration, well, his teammates did give him the Len Eshmont Award for inspirtational and courageous play.

And, needless to say, the donations did show he was putting his money where is mouth was.

Perhaps this is why we are hearing so little about this from the social media outrage machine: He answered all his critics and then some.

And the cause has been advanced.

The adventures of Reporter Trump

Lost amid all the silliness that came out of President Trump’s first news conference on Thursday – and there was so much to choose from – was his statement that he felt he could have been a good reporter.

Nothing like a good challenge on a rainy Friday afternoon, so, let’s put on our editor’s hat and imagine what kind of stories we’d get from Donald Trump, reporter for the Hometown Commercial Scimitar.*

High school football

A big crowd came out for Friday night’s game between the Hometown High Cougars and those No. 1 tricky Clinton County Warthogs. Not as many as came to my inauguration, but more than for the Women’s March on Washington. I think Clinton got the plays in advance.

Pet of the Week

This is Rover. He’s three years old, has all his shots, is housebroken and loves children. He’s available at the County Animal Shelter. He’s all yours. I prefer dogs that weren’t in the pound.

When the circus comes to town

I got to ride an elephant! (and we thank you, Debbie Speer).

Man on the street

This week’s question: So,how do you like me so far?

At the courthouse

We all knew he was guilty, but the so-called judge ruled against those trying to protect our country. Sad!

And, his exit interview

I’m fired? Fake news! Crooked media is unfair!

* – this space’s tribute to the late Charles Stough, chief copyboy at the BONG Bull, who we think would have appreciated this. If not him, then chief photographer Herman “Speed” Graphic and his Faithful Companion, Typo the Wonder Pig.