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Credentialed Media Only

June 9th, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Every sports writer who had much of a run in the profession had one:

The Credential Drawer!

Where credentials from past events were tossed to prove that he or she actually did attend and write about the sports event named on the badge.

Like, say, the 1980 Masters Tournament held April 10-13 … a golf event that just happened to be my first significant assignment following Super Bowl 14. (Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles Rams 19, at the Rose Bowl.)

In the photo, above, you can see a typical sports credential from the era. Simple. Primitive even. Probably not much help in keeping real newspaper writers separate from the thousands of fans.

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D-Day Plus 77 Years

June 6th, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

On June 6, 1964, I was 9 years old and spending the night with my grandmother in Long Beach, California.

My sleep-over with Grandmother Laura came with control of what appeared on television, which I very much appreciated. My tastes back then ran to roller-derby and wrestling, and even a little basketball.

My grandmother, a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, didn’t complain about the roller-skaters or the rasslers, but at least once every time I picked out the Lakers for her, she wondered aloud how basketball could hold anyone’s interest.

“They all run to one end,” she said, “Then they all run back!”

Luckily, I did not have a laser focus on the TV content that night because I recall being surprised — and then excited — when I saw that the CBS network was airing a long look back at one of the seminal events of World War II — D-Day, the day the Allies successfully returned to Europe, signalling the end of the Third Reich less than a year later.

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Is LeBron Done Winning Rings?

June 5th, 2021 · No Comments · Lakers, NBA

I’m afraid I have to say “yes.”

Yes, he is done winning NBA championships.

That doesn’t mean he won’t lead a team into the playoffs in the next few seasons, and maybe advance a round or two.

But a fifth championship ring, which would be his second with the Los Angeles Lakers?

Nope.

It seems too late for James to add to his championship credentials, and isn’t it funny how quickly that snuck up on us?

A week ago the Lakers led 2-1 over the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference playoffs first round, but three games later the Suns had brushed the Lakers aside, concluding with 125-85 and 113-100 humblings of the defending NBA champions.

And now we think back to that “bubble” series victory in Orlando last October. When the Lakers lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy in a nearly empty arena. Ah, the good old days.

So, let’s get down to exploring what is going to keep James from doing that again.

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Protect the Players. Now

June 1st, 2021 · No Comments · Basketball, NBA

What is going on in the NBA? Why all the trouble with fans, now that the playoffs are here? What is going on?

A fan spitting on a Atlanta’s Trae Young. Another chucking a water bottle (it missed) at Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving as the Nets player tried to reach the lockerroom. A third who dumped a bag of popcorn on the head of Washington’s Russell Westbrook — while a game was in progress.

Then, last night, a miscreant took it to the next level when he maneuvered his way onto the court, in Philadelphia, before he was taken down by security.

All of these incursions have come in the past few weeks. Most NBA fans are glad the playoffs are back in public view, but a fringe group of idiots is making life difficult.

Here is what should be done immediately.

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The Art of the Chase

May 24th, 2021 · 1 Comment · Football, NFL

One of my favorite plays in football is the “catch from behind/chase-down” — in which what looks like a long touchdown play is thwarted by a gritty player who makes a lung-searing sprint to keep the ball out of the end zone.

I always have had a sort of romantic attachment to this kind of open-field play, with guys who won’t give up saving the day.

I can remember being 10, 11 years old and playing on the grassy playground of the nearby school, and imagining myself making the “last man” tackle.

What made it a little weird was that I was never a fast runner. I couldn’t run down a skill player, and maybe not a Pop Warner player.

But just because I would never be Don Beebe chasing down Leon Lett in Super Bowl 27 — which I saw from the press box at the Rose Bowl, in 1993 — doesn’t dim my fascination with these plays.

I bumped into this video a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t keep myself from pushing “start”.

Feel free to check it out.

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Pujols to Injury-Thrashed Dodgers: Why not?

May 16th, 2021 · No Comments · Angels, Baseball, Dodgers

We are pretty sure Albert Pujols can catch and throw a ball, and sometimes hit it, too … and is ready to take the field, if he gets the chance.

Which suddenly makes him attractive to the injury-ravaged Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pujols was released by the Angels 10 days ago, and most of us figured “that’s that” for a great career, as the week ended with no one apparently interested in signing the future Hall of Famer.

After 10-plus years with the Angels, keeping him on the roster in Anaheim was a luxury they apparently felt they could not afford. Not when Jared Walsh and Shohei Otani are ready to play 1B.

The Dodgers were not an option we entertained, did we? What do the World Series champions need with a guy in the twilight of his career? In a league without the DH?

That’s about as far as our analyses went.

But now? The fact that he can still drag himself up to the batter’s box puts him ahead of a bunch of Dodgers who are too hurt to play.

Inviting Pujols up to Chavez Ravine as a free agent, with the Dodgers paying him the major-league minimum for however long he lasts … what are the down sides?

And maybe there is still a little pop in that big bat, maybe a few more big hits from a veteran addition to a team that suddenly appears to be held together with chewing gum and spit.

Let’s go over the Dodgers’ situation, because aching limbs is the reason Pujols is joining up.

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That’s the Spirit

May 14th, 2021 · No Comments · France

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on nearly everyone on planet Earth, one way or another.

One outcome is physical — testing positive, exhibiting symptoms and having to confront a dire, sometimes deadly virus.

And then there are the rest of us, a global majority, who have avoided Covid the Virus for the past 16 or so months but perhaps have experienced some mental strain from being cooped up, mostly, for more than a year, worried about friends and relatives who are sick … and living the “new normal” of face masks and fist bumps, social distancing and generic paranoia.

I like to think we have done pretty well, in our little French village. I haven’t gained 20 pounds, we have lots of TV stations available to numb us and it turns out we didn’t really need a couple of restaurant meals per week to survive. We rarely spend entire days in our jammies.

Things have been pretty sedate, actually. Except for those occasional visits, here in the house, of that certain someone I sometimes can see out of the corner of my eye.

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Sorry, No: This Is Not the New York Giants Calling

May 1st, 2021 · No Comments · College football, Football, Sports Journalism

In the spring of 1986, the three-sport star athlete Mark Collins of San Bernardino’s Pacific High School was one of the top prospects in the National Football League player draft.

You could ask anyone. He was a leader as well as an elite athlete, and the NFL did not miss him, even if he was a bit overlooked, at Cal State Fullerton. By the time the 1986 draft rolled around, NFL scouts knew all about him, and it was thought his name would be called late in the first round or early in the second.

A very big moment in a “local” kid’s life.

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Almost Forgot to Mention This Hare-Brained Scheme from 1990

April 29th, 2021 · 1 Comment · Back in the Day, Football, Italy, Journalism, soccer, Sports Journalism

Been a while since I had the nerve to hold myself to a ridiculous plan to report on a sports event, to spend X-number of hours on the road — or in the air, or both.

This was back before I got old and my nerves frayed.

I have written about several of my hare-brained schemes, during my three decades in journalism, and most of those sketchy plans of mine ultimately were successful … if more than a little fraught.

In my enthusiasm during the planning stage, I often failed to take into account simple realities such as departure times, fuel stops, traffic jams, road construction, detours, parking. And, oh yeah, weather.

I was thinking about this again the other day, here in France, as we mulled future travel plans, assuming Covid-19 ever lets up.

And I remembered a hare-brained scheme from three decades back, one that I have not yet shared. Lucky you!

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Cold Freezes the Heart of France

April 24th, 2021 · No Comments · France, Wine

It is not uncommon for Americans to travel to Paris and return home believing they now know La France.

The reality is often missed.

What we consider a refined, cosmopolitan place … well, that is Paris all right.

France is the biggest nation in Western Europe and also its emptiest. It has miles and miles of villages of vines in the southern half of the country.

This is mostly a rural nation, where the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, and the raising up of animals provides sustenance and income.

But the biggest product on the French menu is wine, and has been for 2,000 years.

Thus, a cold-snap in early April, after the vines have begun to sprout, becomes a regional economic disaster. Particularly in the region where we live, the Herault.

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