Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's Kentucky Vs Kansas for the Championship

The NCAA Men's Championship will be a blue festival.  Kentucky was too much for Louisville in the early game.

(4) Louisville 61

(30-10, 10-8 Big East)

(1) Kentucky 69

(37-2, 16-0 SEC)

The late game was a torturous thrill to watch.  Ohio State led most of the game and appeared to get rattled in the final minute.  It's not how you start the game, it's how you finish. Kansas finished!

(2) Ohio St 62

(31-8, 13-5 Big Ten)

(2) Kansas 64

(32-6, 16-2 Big 12)

Championship Game
Monday, April 2, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

MegaMillion - Me and Curtis Sharp

How'd you like to be a millionaire?  How about just hangout with a millionaire?  Been there done that!

Today's Mega Million lottery drawing is for a record whopping $640 million dollars. And those aren't virtual dollars my internet gaming friends; it's real depression-valued U.S. currency.  

While buying my piece of the dream I recounted to a friend the one time nearly thirty years ago that I met and hung out with a millionaire from New Jersey.  I told the story of meeting Curtis Sharp, a man who was so genrous with his $5 Million jackpot that he showed up to collect his winnings with his wife on one arm and girlfriend on the other.

Curtis was recognizable by his signature bowler derby hat that he never seemed to be without; at least as long as he was rolling in the dough.  As luck and/or coincidence would have it, King Curtis was still dusty from the flour when the California Lottery was launched.  With his flamboyant east coast personality and eye catching bowler hat, the golden state's lottery board chose to fly the King out to the west coast to help promote their new state sanctioned numbers racket.

I was young and trawling for some female action at a hot San Francisco night club in the base of the Transamerica building.  I think the club was called the "Bank Exchange."  While coming off the dance floor I see a derby hat with a suited little man underneath looking like a cousin's cousin of mine back in New York.  I immediately call out to him as if he actually were my cousin, saying "Hey Curtis, what are you doing out here?"  The King smiled, strolled over, all by himself with a drink in his hand, and told me all about the California lottery folks and their ideas for promoting the new lottery game. He was surprised because I was the first person to recognize him since he'd been in California.

I didn't ask the King for any cash and I may have offered to buy him a drink.  The one question I did ask him before departing was this:

"So tell me Curtis, honestly, did the money change you?"  The King looked me straight in the eye, got straight serious and said "No, I'm the same person today that I've always been.  I love my friends and family and I love having a good time."  I believe we may have talked about the strangeness of the California singles scene, but that's private, between me and the King.  

I'd forgotten all about this encounter until today's Mega millions brought the memory back.  I share it as a reminder to myself and others should we wake up tomorrow an instant millionaire.  In the infamous words of the King, Curtis Sharp, who bumbled through his millions in record time;  

"A fool and his money are soon parted, and honey, I acted a fool."

Well King Curtis, you may have acted a fool, and are no longer a millionaire, but you sure gave us something to smile and dream about.  Thanks for the memories good man.

With today's record jackpot, there's plenty of news being shared on the web about the man who would be King for a day.

Honoring The Goat

Earl Manigault Interview

Stanford Cardinal Bag A Gopher, Win NIT

Sure they'll take the NCAA Men's basketball consolation prize. After being denied a birth in the "real" tournament, the Stanford Cardinal men battled their way through the National Invitation Tournament and won it all last night at Madison Square Garden against the Minnesota Gophers.

The Cardinal will celebrate their 75-51 rout of the Badgers before settling down to support their women's team who face the Baylor Bears in the NCAA Final Four this Sunday.   Stanford has stepped up and represented the SF Bay with guts and glory.

Congrational Cardinal Men. You Earned It!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stanford "Lady" Cardinal Revisit Final Four

I don't have the figures but the the Stanford Cardinal women's basketball team ranks at or near the top of the list when it comes to San Francisco Bay Area sports success.

How often do we open the local newspaper to read about some native bay area sports figure going to the "big show" with a team many miles away, while our local team struggles. We've read about the Tom Brady's, Jason Kidd's and Amani Toomer's. They all played high school sports here in the bay and they all have professional championship rings. We read about it here in the bay and we are for the most part happy for their success.

We even claim golfer Tiger Woods (Stanford Alum) as one of our own just to feast on the flavor of a champion. Tiger grew up in southern California's Cypress in Orange County.

We haven't often had the thrill of cheering championship caliber college or professional teams on a national platform. In the past five years I can only think of three bay area teams worthy of championship cheering; There's the San Jose Sharks, throw in the Sabercats and the Tara VanderVeer led Stanford Cardinal women's basketball team.

The Cardinal (2011 Pac 10 Champions) are going to their fifth straight final four round of tournament play, twice advancing to the big show (2008, 2010.) And though they haven't brought home the championship hardware, they've given us plenty to cheer and be proud of.

When national sports analysts and sports talk hosts discuss college women's basketball, the Stanford Cardinal have earned themselves a part of all conversations.

Led by Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike, the 2011-2012 #1 seed Lady Cardinal easily handled the #2 seed Duke Blue Devils yesterday, 81-69. They move on to face another #1 seed who's on a 40-0 winning streak; the Baylor Lady Bears. They'll face each other Sunday night in Denver, April Fool's Day.
Ogwumike Sisters

Coincidently the sisters, like Tiger, are also from a town named Cypress. Cypress, Texas.

Tara VanDerveer (Pac-10/Pac-12)
(1996-present): 423-85

What's In The Magic of a Kiss?

My ex-wife every now and then during our marriage, would bring up our first kiss. When she talked about it the kiss would take on a spiritual life all it's own. You could see the love in her eyes when talking about it, kind of like a child in a field hugging itself and hunching their shoulders in complete joy and ecstasy.

I never fully understood why that moment, our first kiss, was so orgasmic to her, until a recent dream I had.

Last night's dream of kissing my ex-wife on the lips brought me as close to her as any dream ever has before.

In the dream she looked younger than today, a happier younger. We'd found ourselves together in a kitchen or dining area of a house, talking like old friends. Dreams are funny because you know what the other person is thinking. They're actually a manifestation of our own thoughts, layered onto that person's image by you.

In the dream, the loving and longing weren't in our eyes or words but in our body language and thoughts. So while talking about whatever it was we talked about, I leaned forward and kissed her with all my longing soul, on the mouth. She received my lips and tongue with a sigh and joyous cry. Almost as if we'd forgiven one another for past actions. It was heavenly.

I swear it felt like that first kiss on blank street that she never forgot, outside her friends apartment where she was staying. The feeling I had in the dream kiss was that of a baby clinging to it's mother's breast; a sense of belonging and nourishment. We were parts of one whole that had been separated for eons.

Now awake, I understand exactly why my ex-wife always loved the memory of that kiss. She felt she finally found a home for her love which had endured so much hurt, pain, frustration and fear. Faith in a man as God's gift to her was restored, and my search for a woman to share life with granted. Bless you babe for finding that Home today, and seeing the almighty force that makes a home like that so nourishing and joyous.

Ours was but a stepping stone to the grand house of God's loving kingdom. What I really liked about this dream was her pride and happiness in who she has become. No longer running away from or chasing after ghosts nor wondering if her husband love's her as much as she him. She'd become a beautiful woman in love with her life of God, Family and Faith.

I Pray for Mr. and Mrs. Simmons, may nothing loosen their faith in and commitment to one another.

What's in the Magic of a Kiss? Destiny!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Louisville Steppin To Final Four

Great comeback win by the #4 Louisville Cardinals in today's elite-8 matchup with #7 Florida Gators. Seems to be a theme this march madness tournament, live by the three or die by the three. Florida went 8-of-11 on three pt. shots in the first half and 0-of -9 in the second half.

The Gators offense got them to a first half 41-33 lead. Then in the second half, with the three pointers not falling, their offense started losing steam under the Louisville pressure. By the final minutes of the game the Gators shooting was cold as an alligator's stare.

Meanwhile the Louisville Cardinals responded to whatever it was fiery coach Rick Patino fed them at halftime. They came out with a tenacious will to win the battle. They scrapped, they clawed and eventually overcame their own doubts and fears. The Cardinal have won the West and are going to the Final Four.

Speaking of Gators: Alligator pays visit to Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tiger Leads by 1.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tebow Talk

Just for the heck of it, I had to post Tim Tebow in a Jets jersey. Topps sports cards didn't waste any time in marketing their version of the new Jets quarterback card. While most quarterbacks are featured on sports cards in a traditional drop-back passing pose, Tebow is doing his thing faking the rush and shuffling a pass forward.

I wonder what Jets fans are feeling these days? Do they want Tebow over incumbent Mark Sanchez. Can you picture coach Rex Ryan on the sideline going nuts when Tebow doesn't see the open man and begins improvising a play?

I've got enough here on the west coast to keep me busy with my Raiders. Running back Michael Bush signed with the Chicago Bears today. We've yet to sign a backup quarterback but have picked up some defensive pieces. Football fandom is truly a twelve month sport of interest.

A World Series That Wasn't

(a "mug" for the ages)
The following is a story I came across while researching a man pictured on the 1911 World Series program, Mr. John T. Brush.

Early in the major league baseball season of 1904, due to business rivalries and personal animosities, Mr. Brush is said to have stated publicly that his NL New York Giants would not face the AL Boston Americans (now Red Sox) if both teams won their respective league championships. The statement was in total defiance of a preseason agreement between the two leagues.

As fate would have it, they both won and the world series was never played. It would solidify a sports rivalry between the two cities that exists till this day.

Today in Manhattan there's an old broken down stairway that once led to the old Giants Polo Fields stadium. It's the only piece of the park that still exists years after the team bolted for San Francisco in 1958. It leads to nowhere and the city of New York has come to it's rescue with a rehabilitation project to restore it and the surrounding area for not only their former teams' sake, but for the man responsible for the team, John T. Brush.

Here's a part of the nostalgic story of the John T. Brush High Bridge Stairway; it's beginnings, it's demise and it's projected renovation. It's a story that I felt deserves hearing about if your a Giants fan or simply a baseball fan.

February 19, 2008, 3:18 pm

A Stairway to Sports History From the Polo Grounds


Steps that lead nowhere today once offered a clear, yet distant, view of games at the Polo Grounds. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/New York City Park Advocates)

With the winter baseball news dominated by tales of steroids and human growth hormone drugs, hearings and investigations, and apologies and denials, a look back at a more innocent time in baseball may be in order this week, when position players are joining pitchers and catchers at training camp in Florida and Arizona.

The Polo Grounds, the northern Manhattan home of the New York Giants baseball team, has long been the site of a rather imposing public housing complex called the Polo Grounds Towers — four 30-story skyscrapers with 1,616 units.

Few clues remain about the glorious things that happened when the Polo Grounds was a sports stadium in Washington Heights — Willie Mays, the birth of the Mets, the New York Cubans, the New York football Giants, and Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson, among them.

But one relic remains, not as the result of historic preservation, but by accident.

That relic is a staircase built down Coogan’s Bluff, the hill that overlooked the stadium, which is roughly where Edgecombe Avenue runs today. The staircase once led to a ticket booth, and was built by the owner of the Giants at the time.

Coogan’s Bluff had long been a sort of Tightwad Hill for local fans, a place where those unwilling or unable to pay the stadium’s entrance fee had a clear, if distant, view of the proceedings at no charge.

If nothing else, the Giants may have hoped a new stairway would prompt a few fans to buy tickets.

Today, the stairway leads nowhere, except for an overgrown stretch of Highbridge Park. Many, if not most, of its steps are missing; its guard rails rusting and falling apart; and some sections have disappeared into the underbrush, making an attempt to walk down them highly inadvisable.

But at a landing partway down is an inscription; like the staircase, it has been slowly disintegrating over the decades. Its letters are still clear despite rain, snow and heat, and it reads: “The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants.”

A New York Times article from July 9, 1913, retrieved by the Parks Department, says that on that day the baseball club would be formally presenting the “John T. Brush Stairway” to the city. The Giants’ team president, H. N. Hempstead, was to present the gift to the city parks commissioner, Charles B. Stover, to honor Mr. Brush, the Giants owner who had died in 1912.

But city officials say the long-forgotten inscription and staircase, which might be the last vestiges of the old ballpark, could be in for a reprieve.

Restoration Project

#1 Syracuse Survives!

The Syracuse Orangemen will advance to the final four of the NCAA basketball tournament. C'use did everything right and the #4 Wisconsin Badgers did nothing wrong in sinking 14 3-pointers to give themselves a last shot chance at an upset.

That last shot will surely haunt the Badgers as they'd lived by the three all game. Trailing 64-63 with 15.5 seconds left, the Badgers could've used a driving play to the basket to loosen up the swarming Syracuse defense. They didn't have the ability to manufacture an inside shot and there is where their tournament dreams died.

Best game of the tournament that I've seen so far. Syracuse coach Jim Boehm credited the Badgers team by saying they were much better than he'd anticipated and calling them a "Great" team.

Syracuse will face the winner of tonight's sweet-sixteen game between #6 Cincinnati and #2 Ohio State.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beautiful Day In The Bay

click on picture to enlarge

For the two Washington State students who I enjoyed sharing thoughts and ideas with today. Here's a poem I wrote many years ago while visiting the site of this picture in Crescent City, California.

Remember to study hard, but find time for relaxation and meditation. It will enhance your hidden talents and create a harmonious blossoming effect in you. It is then that life becomes truly adventurous.
"Know Thyself"


Monday, March 19, 2012

Peyton Clock Set To Mountain Time

Oh Well, for all of those fans brown-nosing and billboarding to get quarterback Peyton Manning to sign with their team, it's time to exhale.

Rumor and inside sources have said that Peyton has instructed his agent to negotiate a contract with the............Drum Roll Please..................:

The flip side of this informative piece of news is that Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, the annointed, will immediately be put on the trading block. Let's see how many "Take Tebow" billboards go up.

In the midst of the NCAA March Madness, the NFL has stolen some of the tournament's fire with Peyton Watch. If rumors and sources are reliable, tune into your favorite radio, podcast or television station sometime today for an announcement that's almost as historic as Joe Montana signing with the Kansas City Chiefs.

In sports, as in life, TIME stops for no one. Not even hall-of-fame quarterbacks.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tar Heel's Wrist Might Be Team Achilles

"This is the most talented team in the tournament. Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes form the best frontcourt in the country, and point guard Kendall Marshall holds it together."

That was Jake's Take on the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team prior to the tournament. In tonight's 87-73 win over Creighton, which moves them on to the sweet sixteen round, that point guard glue that holds it all together for the Tar Heels sustained what appears to be a broken wrist and his availability is questionable for their next game.

And who's waiting in the wings to test the Tar Heels glue? Who else but Cinderella 2012, the #13 seeded Ohio Bobcats who've beaten #4 seed Michigan and #10 seed Purdue.

The Bobcats of Athens, Ohio are more than happy with their lucky #13 slot. They're only the 7th team seeded 13 or lower to reach the sweet sixteen since the tournament's expansion to 64 teams in 1985. They'll go marching into the ball playing their century old school fight song "Stand Up And Cheer."

Tune in to see if they give their green clad fans something to really stand up and cheer about. The Madness of March Marches On!

Friday, March 16, 2012

#15's Had A Mad Day!

Lehigh Upsets Duke

The Madness of March has just witnessed two #2 seeds being escorted off the court in strait jackets. Yes my friends both the Duke Blue Devils and the Missouri Tigers were booted out of the tournament in the first round by 15 seeds. I believe it's the first time it's happened in the same day. I believe.

Congratulations to the Mountain Hawks and the first timer Spartans. It's the first NCAA Tournament win for both.

Final Scores

Do Warriors Fans Still Believe?

"Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear." Isn't that the old saying referring to trades and rumors? Well I've got one that just a week ago might've sounded completely foolish, but today is not only possible but probable.

Golden State Warriors and Coach Mark Jackson part ways.

I know, it sounds crazy to even speculate that new ownership would throw in the towel on a new coach so soon. But hey, the Warriors are doing things different these days and the era of keeping a coach beyond his time (ala Don Nelson, Sr.) is a thing of the past. Today the bath water is muddy and in dire need of dumping.

Warriors fans I give you the aging and injury prone player Richard Jefferson as your most recent promise to future success. You really didn't think general manager Larry Riley was serious and truthful this week when he said the Warriors intended to keep newly acquired, former Warrior, Stephen Jackson now did you? Captain Jack was dealt to San Antonio for Jefferson, T.J. Ford and a Spurs 2012 lottery-protected first round pick.

Again, believe only half of what you see and none of what you hear. Remember when Kwame Brown joined the team back in December 2011? Fans knew better but the ownership continued to give the old, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, line. Kwame was to be the answer to a struggling defense. Well, Kwame was on the all too familiar injury list before you could say "there's no place like home."

The Monta Ellis for injured Andrew Bogut trade will either be the Warriors blessing or curse in the immediate future. Warriors management say they didn't wanna stay in the same place and miss the opportunity to make the team better. Only time will tell if what's taken place this week enhances the teams' future or if the baby was simply tossed out with the bath water.

Everyone is saying that the Warriors are now Stephen Curry's team, the injured Stephen Curry. I been saying all along that Curry's injured ankle will not hold up to the pounding the rest of the season. Thank goodness for Nate Robinson.

Well Warrior fans, as much as I'd like to report that things are finally looking up for the team, the injuries, the trades, the all around befuddlement of the ownership leads me to believe otherwise. There was a time when "We Believed," but we may have watched the chance to return to that era simply slip through our fingers.

Good Luck Golden State Warriors, Good Luck......h

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It Is What It Is Says Monta

Tonight thee Golden State Warriors traded guard Monta Ellis, Yes, the spark plug that's been making the car go, to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Monta in an interview sounded calm, saying that he felt like something was coming. He also confirmed that he did not ask to be traded. All he could really say for sure was this:

It Is What It Is!

Thanks for the energizing effort Monta and good luck moving forward.
Dammmnn! And I thought NFL Free Agency and March Madness would highlight this week's sports in the bay. Speaking of Da'bay, welcome back #18 #84 #81 Randy Moss.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who The Hell Has Better Uniforms Than Us?

It's a travesty I tell you. What NFL uniform, much less sports uniform, is more classic and recognizable worldwide than the Oakland Raiders Silver and Black? What "tuck rule" judge did conspire with to push the Raiders uniform down to third on the all-time list?

Look who's at one and two; throwbacks and a powder blue disney color? Come'on Man! It's football. It's supposed to reflect the strength of a warrior-like culture, not the ambiance of a baby daycare play room.

If the past rulings that have gone against the Raiders were conspiratorial, then this injustice is nothing short of a league in complete denial of it's brute history. Putting football players in powder blue is as contradictory as putting lipstick on a pitbull. Just who does think they are, Sarah Palin? At least Palin gave a few eye winks to show she shouldn't be taken too seriously. I vote for a recall!

With four Super Bowl triumphs in the decade, the 49ers' gold and red uniforms are as synonymous with the '80s as Pac-Man on the Atari 2600, the Rubik's Cube and Mr. T's mohawk.
In 1964, Tex Schramm had his Cowboys wear white uniforms at home so that Dallas fans could see the variety of opponents' colors. In time, the Cowboys' whites have become one of the NFL's most recognizable looks.
In the romping-stomping 1970s heyday of the NFL, the renegade Raiders became one of the league's most fierce and powerful teams, and their menacing team colors helped accentuate that reputation.
There's no school like the old school, many will prefer to say. Such is the case when some NFL teams go nostalgic, featuring some fantastic retro styles that are extremely popular with fans.
Among the many classic uniforms from the American Football League
in the 1960s are the San Diego Chargers' crowd-pleasing powder blues, which evoke memories of Chargers greats such as Lance Alworth.

Lifetime's Coming Home Series

This past season the Oakland Raiders played a huge role in welcoming home a serviceman, who happens to be a diehard Raiders fan, with a surprise on field reunion with his wife and kids. I was there at the coliseum to witness the emotional event that touched the hearts of almost every hardcore Raiders fan on that day and I must say that it was one of the classiest, unadulterated events ever presented to us fans during a half time break.

It was truly a proud moment for the serviceman and his family as well as for the silver & black organization and fans. I congratulate Lifetime TV for putting together the event and making a day in the return of a father a beautiful lasting memory that'll continue to touch all who witnessed it, most of all his four children.

That being said, I watched the hour long "Coming Home" lifetime series last night, which featured the serviceman's family being reunited that day. While it's content was as captivating as the halftime surprise, the presentation came across a bit too....E-Entertainment/Current Affair like.

Maybe because I witnessed it LIVE without the commercials, the Lifetime heroic background music, the hyping host with his salesman's "stay tuned as we return to present" narration, felt very commercialized and less authentic.

Thanks to the serviceman and his family's authentic love for one another, the Lifetime TV attempt to cash in on a human interest story did not and could not diminish what the reunion was all about; a family man returns, a loving wife thanks God and country for his safe return and the children have their sense of protection and security restored.

What I witnessed with tens of thousands of Raider fans that day (60,000+), besides a Raiders second half flop, cannot be duplicated, much less marketed for a profit. But I do understand the consumer community of our modern world and the competitiveness of television ratings. The touching story of the returning serviceman and his loving family was shared with the rest of the world through television media last night. If it touched even one heart out there, and I'm sure it touched on millions, then Lifetime TV has done right by society.

I'm so proud to be a Raiders fan. So Proud!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Madness Of March Is Upon Us

March 14 - April 12
March Madness 2012

Today is Selection Sunday, following a week of division tournaments (championship week) to help determine which NCAA college basketball teams will receive invites to the big dance.

Only 64 spots are available for the hundreds of NCAA Division I teams across the country. Many teams selected are annual regulars, quite a few are returning after long absences and then there's the handful that have rarely if ever been on such a big stage. They're the ones to watch and wonder about. They're the ones who give the meaning to terms like "Upset" and "Cinderella." And they are the ones who fight to the last man, because they have nothing to lose and a "david topples goliath" legacy to hopefully cement.

The tournament is rightly called March Madness. Only basketball players with a fever to compete against the best in college would welcome such a potentially humbling and maddening invite.

Of 64 teams selected, only 1 will not have to experience the agony of defeat. The 63 teams that are eventually cut up with their remains left on the tournament's hardwood floor, become casualties of an ongoing war to beat the best in order to be the best. It's a war that can drive any sane person mad. It's a war against one's self and how they're built to handle adversity. It's a war where winning means life in abundance and losing is surely a cold, cutting death.

Many will die a glorious death, winning praises for their gallant effort. While others might leave the tournament whimpering and succumbing to emotional breakdown. One or two might even think there's nothing left to live for and consider Kervorkian methods to end the suffering of losing. May the Lord bring peace and understanding to those broken hearts, enlightening them to the fact that in the grand scheme of things it's just a game.

As for we the viewing public, we'll watch with excitement and anticipation as these gifted young athletes put it all on the line in hopes of becoming that one survivor of the madness that is march.

So fill out your brackets, place your bets and lay back to enjoy a month of basketball battles as entertaining and drama filled as ever. The month of march was made for going mad!

"When you're wounded and left on
Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out
to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The All Blacks of New Zealand

Yes Raider Nation, there actually is another team who dress in black, intimidate opposing teams, boasts a long history of commitment to excellence, has acquired multi-generational fan loyalty and has literally caused their league to make rule changes based on their innovative style of play.

Did I say they Dress In Black?

They hail from a region associated with the "land down under," but actually New Zealand is 900 miles east of Australia. Polynesians settled New Zealand in 1250–1300 CE and developed a distinctive Māori culture, and Europeans first made contact in 1642 CE.

The All Blacks of New Zealand are a proud national Rugby team who currently wear the Rugby World Cup belt (2011 champions.) They play the game with a passion heightened by their pre-game haka (traditional maori challenge dance). Though no team has a theme song to match "The Autumn Wind," the All Blacks haka more than makes up for it.

As for the game of Rugby, neither playing nor watching the game is for wimps. A Romanian neighbor of mine tried to describe the sheer brutality of the sport to me. Eventually, after a lengthy search for the exact adjective(s) to fulfill my need to taste the sport, he used the term "collision" while pantomiming a lowered shoulder targeted just above my hip. He says it's the most brutal contest of wills he's ever experienced. The bone breaking, teeth shattering sport of rugby is played with no padding. The only real cushioning worn might be a head band to protect the ears. Imagine that, a head band to keep your boneless ears intact while every other body part is exposed to the brutal elements on the field.

The All Blacks carry a sort or Raiders mystique about them. Must be the color Black. They will defend their world championship in 2015. The Rugby world cup, like world cup soccer, is played every four years. I hope to have learned more about rugby and possibly attended a game or two before the next rugby world cup.

As a Oakland Raiders fan I am proud to find a brother team with like passion and commitment to their sport. And did I say they Dress in Black?

The 1905 "All Blacks" swept through Britain and Europe displaying a style of rugby that took the other nations by surprise. New Zealand's long history of innovation in the game really began here, as a team from "the colonies" had never before handed out thrashings of that order to any "Home Unions", let alone showed such a combination of ferocity and grace. The ball was kept in hand, and passed for the fastest to run with rather than kicked for them to chase. Shots at goal were declined in favour of spinning it wide or crashing it forward. Fear of the black jersey was born.

Other sides carried on that dominance, as teams led by the Brownlie brothers in the twenties and thirties kept our tradition of innovation alive. George Nepia is still regarded by those who remember him as the greatest player not just of that era but of all time, and set a standard of excellence for future generations of players to aspire to. Teams of New Zealand soldiers in the second World War were instrumental in bridging the gap between the two halves of the century. Most able-bodied New Zealanders enlisted for army service, but no matter which part of the world they found themselves in they would still pick sides during breaks in the fighting and play the game they loved.
All Blacks rugby jersey
The All Blacks had become the most feared opponent in the sport. Fierce rivalries existed between all the rugby powers, but the men wearing the black jerseys with the silver fern and delivering the formal challenge of the haka had a psychological edge on the opposition whenever they stepped onto the field.

Men like Colin Meads, Don Clarke, Waka Nathan and Wilson Whineray did nothing to dispel such thinking. The sixties were a decade where New Zealand's pre-eminence was unchallenged. Meads was a sinewy and raw-boned draft-horse of a man, whose outstanding lineout jumping complemented superb skills in open play. He was as famous for his uncompromising attitude as for these skills. Waka Nathan was a bullet off the back of the lineout or the side of the scrum, who terrorised inside backs all over the world and shared that same attitude. Don Clarke was the rock required at fullback, who never missed a tackle and, if the opposition infringed inside their own half, could be relied upon to deliver an almost guaranteed three points. Wilson Whineray commanded the respect of them all, and captained them to wins wherever they played.

Modern Day Rugby

All Black teams since then have proudly continued the legacy. Players like Sid Going, Bryan Williams, Ian Kirkpatrick, Fergie McCormick, Graham Mourie, Bruce Robertson, Buck Shelford, Stu Wilson, Joe Stanley, Sean Fitzpatrick, John Kirwan, Grant Fox, Michael Jones, Zinzan Brooke... all have given their heart and soul on New Zealand's behalf. The sport of rugby now has a World Cup tournament, held every four years since 1987, and New Zealand's success in only one of these so far is no real indication of our ongoing strength. The game here remains an integral part of our culture and identity as a nation, and the unchecked passion we have for the sport will ensure that the future of All Black rugby is as innovative, uncompromising, dedicated and successful as it ever was.
All Blacks rugby jersey

The Haka

For most non-Maori New Zealanders today their knowledge of Haka is perhaps limited to that most performed of Haka called "Ka mate, Ka mate". Many sports teams and individuals travelling from New Zealand overseas tend to have the haka "Ka mate" as part of their programme. The sports team that has given the haka the greatest exposure overseas has been the All Blacks, who perform it before their matches. It has become a distinctive feature of the New Zealand All Blacks.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Dr. Oz Exposes Pro-Ana Movement

Because I once reached out to a young woman suffering from Anorexia, I tuned in to the Dr. Oz Show last night to learn more about the dis-ease. Boy did I learn. I saw and heard from a male suffering from anorexia as well as a male recovering from the dis-ease.

But here was the shocker; I learned about an online movement called the "Pro-Ana Movement." What is this movement you ask? Well, it's a pro-skinny movement with aims to occupy and mislead mostly young adults and adolescents down the dark corridors of eating disorders. It encourages unhealthy habits in people who are susceptible to becoming eating disorder victims.

The expert on the show described anorexia as something like this: Think of beginning anorexic habits as getting on an elevator at the top healthiest floor. As your mind and body descend downward through less healthier floors it is harder to stop the descent. By the time you reach the basement your near death and feel helpless and hopeless of ever recovering from the dis-ease. Weighing seventy-pounds or less you feel fat and miserable.

The show reiterated over and over that eating disorder dis-eases are a sickness mostly of the mind. There is help out there for those suffering from eating disorders. There seems to be no help for all the Pro-Ana Movement solicitors who've setup web pages and blogs promoting "How To Eat Thin" methods.

As I listened to the young Pro-Ana promoter on Dr. Oz ignorantly defend his actions, I felt some hatred, but mostly pity for him. Not only has he sold his soul with the red beaded unity bracelet, but he doesn't realize that he's a dead-man-walking if you think of the angry loved ones left behind when someone his website encouraged has died.

He feels he's giving those who want to indulge in eating disorders an online social place to share and talk about their indulgences without being ostracized or criticized. Without being badgered to get help. He's enticing without warning, healthy people to take the elevator down while feeding them the dream of a basement full of beautiful skinny promises. Don't fall for it folks, that basement is a crypt full of young decaying bodies.

Someday he may entice the wrong daughter, wife, son or friend. On that day he may not find pity or forgiveness. On that day he just might find he's the one being offered a one-way elevator ride down; a ride that gets darker as it descends deeper and deeper downward toward that cold and lonesome place eating disorder victims too often find at the end of the elevator shaft; the basement of death.

Eating Disorder Outreach

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NFL Facts and Rumors

While it's rumored that Raiders players Richard Seymour and Michael Huff have restructured their contracts in order to help the team get under the salary cap, the Peyton Manning story is anything but rumor.

Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback and living football legend Peyton Manning announced his free agency status as of today. Peyton sounded like a player giving thanks at the Hall of Fame podium. The shaky voice, the teary eyes and the heartfelt thanks for the memories was all on display as #19 said thank you and goodbye to the only NFL team he's ever played for.

It's been a fourteen year marriage between Peyton and the Colts. It's been a magically wonderful union of fans, franchise and player. The divorce will take time to get used to for all NFL fans, but as in all split-ups, time heals everything.

I personally would've liked to see Peyton Manning retire and not put himself at physical risk for serious neck injury. But I'm not Peyton Manning, son of Archie Manning, brother of SBLVI mvp Eli Manning. I'm not a field general who's been leading men to victory on the gridiron for fourteen seasons. And most of all, I'm not one of a handful of today's quarterbacks who make the NFL the number one professional sport in America.

That distinction belongs to a man who wears the crown of hero, role model, and humble champion like no other. Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning, a throwback to an era of integrity, loyalty, dedication and guts in sports. Heck, in Life! We have been blessed to see him both on and off the field in this modern era of celebrity sports figures. And as greedy as we are to have him continue blessing us with his impeccable skills on football Sunday, I'd much rather hear of him living a healthy, injury free life while enjoying free time with family.

But if anyone has earned the right to play into his senior years if possible, that player is quarterback Peyton Manning. Thanks for the years Peyton and may your new journey be a safe one.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Boxing A Metaphor For Life

There are action sports movies and there are movies where sports is used to focus our attention on something much bigger than a game. The movie "Triumph of the Spirit" is in the second category. You won't find yourself rooting for anybody, only hoping that the combatants can endure the pain and suffering of their hopeless death camp incarceration.

The fact this movie is based on the actual world war II life experiences of Jewish-Greek boxer Salamo Arouch makes it all the more fascinating. This is truly a boxing movie like no other. Correction: This is really not a boxing movie at all. It is a survival movie.

This review is from: Triumph of the Spirit
Enjoyed this movie very much. The concentration camp situation has been seen in film many times (The Grey Zone), but this movie throws in the "boxing for survival" piece, and thanks to Willem Dafoe's incredible acting the movie becomes distinctive. With boxing being more a sport of survival than one of competition, I thought the story a perfect metaphor for the overall jewish holocaust survivors. Not only does a boxer fight against a crafty and often cruel opponent, but he must fight the urge of his own body and soul crying out to him to quit and give up the fight.

Triumph of the Spirit strips back the flesh to reveal that crying soul doing whatever he or she has to in a situation where only the strong and enduring survive.

Great performances by veteran actors Edward James Olmos and Robert Loggia. There are hidden moments in this film where the all seeing human spirit is silently captured in the eye contact between the actors. It is in these exhchanges that I felt the truest impact and challenge the holocaust had on these victims and their oppressors. Faith, hope and compassion have taken a holiday off and left humanity with it's primal instincts of survival.
"What kept me alive was a burning determination to someday tell the world what I saw at Auschwitz. I am sure I had moments when I wanted to die. But being here now to tell what happened makes me feel good about being alive."
Salamo Arouch

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Raiders 2012 Draft Pick Has Spoken

In my book the Oakland Raiders have a first round draft edge on the other 31 NFL teams. While most are spending a zillion hours scouting and sizing up the top college player to add to their team come draft day 2012, the Raiders equivalent to a first round draft pick is practicing with his teammates getting ready for a championship run.

Raiders Quarterback Carson Palmer came to the team last season in exchange for 2012 1st round and 2013 2nd round draft picks. When you look at the experience and accomplishments of Palmer you can't deny that he's a proven leader and passionate competitor.

Though Palmer has only two playoff appearances in his eight seasons as a starting quarterback, one in which he had only 1 completed pass for 66 yards before a serious injury almost ended his career, his overall success in college and the pros is impressive:

Sure there's some promising young quarterbacks in this year's draft, but I'll take a proven one over a question mark any day. Yesterday Carson Palmer spoke publicly for the first time since the season ended. The best thing to come out of his mouth was that he wants to be a Raider. The second best was this: "We're close to a championship team. There's a lot of work that needs to be put in and a lot of hurdles that we need to get over, but we need to be heading into this season thinking more than just playoffs."

Now that's a quarterback speaking Raider Nation language for a change. Last season's goal was to make the playoffs, this season we want the belt and everything that comes with it. When was the last time a first round rookie quarterback led his team to a championship?

For the first time in many, many off seasons the Oakland Raiders will be assembling not just shiny new parts, but highly functional players willing to sacrifice personal glamour for team glory. Many are already on the silver and black roster. GM Reggie McKenzie and the new coaching staff have made it very clear, while Al Davis rests in peace the Oakland Raiders are taking a new approach in returning to greatness. Though the motto will continue to be "Just Win Baby," the effort on the field will reflect a strategic plan being carried out to perfection with few mistakes.

The Oakland Raiders are being structured to win in ways they been known to lose, discipline, consistency, domination. And it all starts with the right players playing together in a system they all believe can win them a championship. Carson is on board to steer the offense to a championship, let's see if the rest of the product representing Oaktown can deliver the goods this season.

Win, Lose or Tie.........