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Friday, April 27, 2007

College Athlete's Tale - April 27, 2007

The College Athlete’s Tale
Author's Note: Not a premier short story....but I think it's readable.

It was after a long afternoon of passing drills, in preparation for the impending national title game, that Jacob Goodfellow was to meet with his renowned Renaissance History professor, Dr.Swindell, about his term project on Elizabethan England and Shakespeare’s role in it. With a quick shower and dressing, he headed off to the Langhorn building across campus to make his 6PM appointment.
Entering into the labyrinth of offices that eventually led to Dr. Swindell, Jacob sat down confidently with a hopeful outlook circulating in his mind about his project. With her usual perfunctory courtesies performed, the conversation began in earnest.
“ Jacob, I have, for sometime now, thought your topic to be rather dull. So, I think it best to change it to: Charlemagne and Mohammed: A Comparative Analysis,” walking behind his chair with a lascivious glance down at the super-talented son of a long-since-passed-from-the-Earth Nebraskan farmer, now oozing down in his seat in her darken office. “It is due in one week.”
“But that’s a Medieval subject? Why would you want me change to that at this late date?” Noticing her eyes leering over him, and suddenly more aware of her sexual proclivity than ever.
“Oh, that’s not all. I have a minor deal you are going to sign with me, now, about your professional future.” A sly smile creeps across her face, and her dark eyes close slightly, as she faces the window momentarily, then back to Jacob. “ You are going to donate to the Hanover Foundation a sum of $500,000 a year for the next 10 years.”
“What! Where! why would I?” Barely keeping his composure.
“Because, if you say anything at all, to anyone, I’ll go to the police, with my lawyer, and tell them you stalked and raped me tonight,” said Dr. Swindell sneering and delighting at the appalled look on Jacob’s face while reaching into her drawer for the contract.
You’ll soon enough be my Nebraska plowboy set to plant my fields with money.”
With his future now signed over, by coercion, Jacob walked to the nearby Gregory Library of Humanities, nearly unable to contain his anger from explosion. Somehow, he figured, there was a logical way out of this.
As it was, he began on his new assignment without a true desire to complete it. He then spotted a former classmate; Megan Follows was now a graduate assistant in Medieval history working behind the circulation desk. Surely, this woman could help him.
After quickly describing his task (not letting her know about the professor’s further plot), she eagerly set out to assist him in accessing the resources he needed. But as the night worn on, her helpfulness turns into a design to fulfill an undersexed libido.
“ Jacob, I’ve always had a huge crush on you.” Megan whispers to him in the study room, while sorting through various books.
But after the earlier evening events, his best response came out sounding coarse: “Megan, I appreciate the thought, but I am in need of a friend, not a paramour, right now.”
While rubbing her sheer white blouse against his arm that accentuated her healthy protuberances, “You can get any woman you desire, but I can really spark you, darling.”
“Megan, stop!” He turns to her in such a rush, that an armful of books crash to the ground. “ I can’t, I won’t go out with you!”
“Well! I never! You come in here, asking me to help you out with your sexual problems, and this is thanks I get!” Megan said loud enough that the whole library could hear. Jacob’s face turns red with rage and humiliation, as he hurries to the front door of the library and out into the darkness.
Jacob then decides to enlist his head coach’s help the next morning. Wanting to talk to him immediately, he calls him at his home, off campus, at 7AM to ask for his advice. His coach reassures him and advises him to come over to talk face-to-face.
Walking into the coach’s spacious, ornate living room, Jacob finds the coach reclining on a luxurious ottoman in a red silk robe. He is drinking a screwdriver, an eagerly offers one to Jacob, to which he declines.
“Don’t you think it is a bit early to be drinking, coach?” Jacob asks.
“No, not really, especially given the good news I’ve received.”
“What good news, coach?”
“That my star quarterback is going to be paying a lot of future earnings to me, or rather, to the Hanover Foundation.” Jacob’s face turns dour again, wishing this nightmare could soon end.
“You slimly bastard.”
The coach rises triumphantly from the ottoman and goes over to the bar to fix another drink. “What, you thought we didn’t think this thing through. If you even dare to speak out, we will have so much to conveniently place out in the media, you’ll look like a real… criminal. I suggest you go back to writing your paper and getting ready for the big game.”
“Why?” Jacob curtly answers.
“Because I’m your coach, and I taught you how to respect my authority. Besides, my poor pool boy is coming by, for my mid-morning, uh-hum, manual and oral massage.”
“You are so sick,” Jacob turns and leaves from house, wishing he had never came.
With seemingly no one else to turn to, and a severe headache turning to a modest migraine, Jacob drives several miles back to campus before spotting a drug store. He enters, knowing an aspirin is not the answer. After locating it, he goes to the counter with the aspirin, to find a former high school classmate running the register. She still looks as beautiful as she always did.
“Hi Jacob.” Laura Lee Loveless perks up at the sight of him.
“Hi.” Jacob, mentally bedraggled, responds inertly.
“What’s wrong?” Laura said.
“Just…I can’t tell you, you wouldn’t believe me.”
“Try me. Remember what I went through Jacob, after that middle school cheerleading incident, I spent three years in reform school, AKA prison. I’ve hear it all…and then some.”
So after some further prodding, he tells her everything, knowing there is nothing she can do for him. After this half-hour, she responds:
“Jacob, I have a plan to fix them good. You didn’t deserve this, but they deserve the head splitting we are going to give them. You got a duo yearning for their criminal headaches, without any Advil available.”
She continues. “Meet me back here at 5PM. We got some shopping to do.”
The first part of the plan was to break into the professor’s office, steal back the contract Dr. Swindell locked in the drawer, and plant marijuana and cocaine deep in her desk. Part two was to have her visited by one of Laura’s former bunkmates at The Havenwood Reformatory, a known dealer, currently being tailed by the police. Part three finalized the deal: a confidential informant would serendipitously give up some new information.
As asked, Jacob arrived at the store promptly at 5PM. Laura was ready and certain this could undo the events of the last day. “I see you are still the punctual one.”
“I try. So what’s next?”
“We need to get a hold of some stuff to plant at the professor’s office.”
“We’re going to plant illegal drugs!” Jacob tries to whisper, while screaming.
“What else do you think will ruin her creditability immediately?”
“Just, can’t we do something else?”
“No. They are playing their games, we play ours.”
“What do you need me for?”
“The friend I have digs you. Wants to rub shoulders with the soon-to-be rich and famous.” Laura punches him on the shoulder, with little effect to Jacob’s mood.
“But, I don’t have money.” Jacob pleads.
“Fame will do. He owes me any ways, I looked out for his girlfriend inside.”
Come on, we got an appointment to make.” They walk to his red Caprice Classic, and start heading toward her apartment in a down-on-it’s-luck neighborhood.

On the drive there, they share what has transpired over the past few years, and find things out about each other that surprise them both. Laura also asks a few questions of Jacob about the campus security, and discerns that the best access will come at midnight.
At 11:45 PM, with the campus darken to a feeble light or two outside the Langhorn Building, Jacob and Laura enter the bushes near the back dock. Seeing the changing of the ineffectual watch, they make a quick dash to jam the slow-shutting door open, then run back to their place of hiding. After a ponderous moment, Laura jumps from the bushes, with Jacob in hot pursuit.
They make their way up the stairs slowly, quietly accessing each floor until they reach the professor’s corridor. At the end of it, sits a guard reading Hamlet, but nodding off all ready.
With some luck, the professor’s office is hidden from view, requiring only a quick dash into the corridor, then the opening of a side corridor.
Whispering to Jacob, “you ready to go?”
They briskly enter, sneak in unseen, and soon are in front of the professor’s office. Laura breaks out her lock picking kit, and a pencil flashlight, and in a flash has the door open. “That was easy.”
As they quietly walk around to the desk, she says, “which drawer?”
Jacob points to it, and then she begins again to work on another lock. It takes a while longer, much longer than Jacob would like. Laura gently works the tools, until the drawer lock comes undone. Looking over the drawer, she gingerly digs until she finds the contract at the bottom. Jacob watches the door and the semi-opaque glass at the top. “Now to stick this inside.”
She plants the drugs behind the access of the drawer, testing the shutting mechanism. It works. “Let’s get out of here.”
Late next morning, while sitting through his Renaissance History lecture, anxiously waiting for something to happen, something did. Two men appeared at the door and opened it. By their dress, it was pretty obvious they were not students. After finding a seat, with the professor seemed unperturbed by the intrusion, they quietly talked to themselves.
When the lecture concluded, they rose and walked toward Dr. Swindell. “Ma’am could we talk to you for a few minutes.”
“Sure, officers.” Presumptuously assuming who they were.
It was not too long before the situation she thought they were asking to talk about, became something else completely different, and more assuredly true, based on concrete evidence. It was not long before her lies tripped her up, and soon her life became a disgrace to speak of at the university. Her final days were spent working at the laundry center in town, keeping the washers and dryers running and cleaned up while managing the place.
Jacob’s team lost the title game, though he fought for every yard and every score they did make, often being compared to a ‘young Joe Montana’, while the long-time defensive coordinator was promoted after the head coach’s unfortunate drowning in what was described later as “a suicide for no reason.”
Jacob continued to see Laura Lee, and after a few years, they married. He continued his studies at the university, obtaining a doctorate on his insightful studies of the Medieval and Renaissance period of history. He never played one down in the NFL, but after some years, took the head football job at the university when his first son started playing quarterback. His wife Laura became the head of a foundation to help teenage girls get acclimated to life after brief incarcerations.

Author’s Note:

The preeminent works of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, that are among the most fabled in the English Language, inspires this story. His writings, standing the test of time of over 600 years, make it possible to understand the human condition better; while also allowing great comparison of his age to our current culture, that is no different in thought, deed or word from his.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 25, 2007 - William H. Foster Biography

Willie Foster (1904-1978): Born in Calvert, Texas, the half-brother of the Rube Foster was the premier lefty pitcher throughout much of the 1920’s and early 1930’s for the Chicago American Giants that Rube managed adroitly in the early days of the Negro Leagues. Cumberland Posey thought he was the best lefty Negro League pitcher. During Foster’s Hall-of-Fame career (1923-1938), he utilized good heat, a fast curve, a superb change of pace and excellent control for the American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Birmingham Black Barons.

Just four days after his brother’s permanent institutionalization in September 1926, Willie threw a one-hitter against the Indianapolis ABCs.[1] Later that same month, Foster carried his American Giants into the 1926 Negro League World Series by out pitching Wilbur ‘Bullet’ Joe Rogan in a two shutout performances (5-0, 1-0) against the Kansas City Monarchs. His iron man performance, in pitching both sides of a doubleheader, was duplicated by the losing pitcher Bullet Joe Rogan.[2]
In 1927, Foster went 18-3 over the course of the season, once again leading his team to the top of the Negro Leagues.

In the inaugural East-West All-Star game in 1933, Foster amassed the most votes from the fans and dominated on the mound for the West squad with a complete game victory. Again representing the West squad in 1934, Foster represented the American Giants in the all-star game losing a pitching duel to Satchel Paige. Like many others, Foster played in winter leagues in various locales with his Negro League counterparts, racking up a solid winning percentage against Major League caliber players.

After his playing days were over, he went into coaching and eventually landing back at his alma mater as baseball coach and dean of men at Alcorn College in Mississippi. He died in Lorman, Mississippi in September 1978. Eighteen years later, he received the nod into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

[1] Hauser Christopher. The Negro Leagues Chronology: Events in Organized Baseball, 1920 –1948. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc; 2006. 40.
[2] Hauser Christopher. The Negro Leagues Chronology: Events in Organized Baseball, 1920 –1948. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc; 2006. 43.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Andrew 'Rube' Foster Biography - April 22, 2007

Amongst the pioneers of baseball stand men that are rarely mentioned in the breath of MLB greats, but were no less important to the games development of ideas, promotions, history and ballplayers of equal to any white ballplayer discussed. Andrew ‘Rube’ Foster (1879-1930) is considered the founding father of the Negro National League. Foster’s nickname comes from the pitching defeat of Rube Waddell and the Philadelphia A’s in a1902 exhibition game, but his true on-the-field greatness comes from his consistent pitching for more than twenty seasons, his managerial virtuosity and origination of the first professional Negro League.

Amongst his contributions to the game, he is well known for:
1. The irascible, but ever-compelling, John McGraw
[1] sought out his pitching and managing techniques;
2. Foster wrote about “how to pitch” in Sol White’s History of Colored Baseball and tutored greats such as Christy Mathewson and ‘Iron Joe’ McGinnity in the art of the fadeaway (screwball) by several accounts;
3. He was an entrepreneur in a time when blacks were held back socially and financially;
4. And he held together his league through a stern business sense.

As Jerry Malloy points out in his introduction to Sol White’s History about Foster’s contributions to the game: “…Foster had a career that would rival in variety and magnitude the achievements of white baseball’s Al Spalding and Charles Comiskey combined, even serving as commissioner, unlike Spalding and Comiskey.”[3] An example of his keen management ability took place on August 22, 1923, when he employed his Chicago American Giants players to bunt over and over again to 3rd base in forcing Bob Miller to field the baseball unsuccessfully. This tactic won the game (11-5) after trailing going into the 7th inning by three runs.[4]
Foster’s founding of the Negro National League in February 1920 in Kansas City[5], with the first season starting in May 1920, came about during a revived healthy climate for all of professional baseball. (The emergence of ‘The Bambino’ after the Black Sox Scandal.) His ability to bring together those eight teams led to many firsts: playing games in Ebbetts Field, a Negro World Series and the quick formation of a rival league.
Within that first month, the Bacharach Giants were using Ebbetts Field to showcase their talents versus a white semi-pro team in sweeping a doubleheader. By July, two black teams, the Bacharach and Lincoln Giants, played again at Ebbetts before 15,000 fans with ace pitchers Smokey Joe Williams and Dick Redding putting on the show.
[6] The first season ended with the Chicago American Giants, Foster’s team, winning the league and the replacement of the Dayton Marcos by a Columbus, Ohio team.

By the mid-1920’s the league attendance for eight teams, who owned or rented their own fields (aside from the Cuban All Stars who had no home games), totaled more than 4 million[7]. This in rivaling both the National and American Leagues in attendance. With that kind of fan rivalry, in late October 1923, the American Giants played the MLB Detroit Tigers in a three-game series, splitting two and calling one because of darkness. Both sides were missing key players – Ty Cobb, Cristobal Torriente and Oscar Charleston – but played on at Chicago’s Schorling’s Park.[8] This clearly reflects that good teams played regardless of color.
As Bill Hageman reports in Baseball Between the Wars, “...Giants manager John McGraw reportedly told Foster, ‘If I had a bucket of whitewash that wouldn’t wash off, you wouldn’t have five players left tomorrow.’”
[9] An average squad of Negro Leaguers had between fourteen and sixteen players – under McGraw’s hatched plan – nine players would be of major league-caliber in the early1920’s when McGraw’s New York Giants were four-time World Series participators.

But it was Rube Foster that held together these teams with an energy that was beyond what many other men (white or black) would ever amass. Sadly, Foster succumbed to the pressures of holding together this league in 1926, with a ‘mental incapacitation’ from which he never recovered. (It is not a certainty why his ‘alleged violent episode’ would solely do this. But psychology was a different field in the 1920’s.) He died on December 9, 1930 while still in a Kankakee, Illinois mental institution. But his recognition as the ‘Father of the Negro Leagues’ is undoubtedly well earned and his legacy extended to the pinnacles of baseball immortality with his admittance to Cooperstown in 1981.

Table 2.4.1. Rube Foster’s 1920 Negro National League
Kansas City Monarchs
St. Louis Giants
Indianapolis ABCs
Chicago American Giants
Chicago Giants
Cuban All Stars
Detroit Stars
Dayton Marcos

[1] Neil Lanctot tells of a change of heart by John McGraw in the 1930’s (pg. 204) regarding blacks integration in baseball. McGraw’s death in 1934 is attributed to Uremia and leads to the clinical onset of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anorexia, weight loss, muscle cramps, pruritus, mental status changes, visual disturbances, and increased thirst. These mental status changes came shortly before his passing would partly explain his vacillation on the issue.
[2] Loverro T. The Encyclopedia of Negro League Baseball. New York: Checkmark Books (Facts on File, Inc.); 2003. 98-99.
[3] White S, Malloy J. Sol White’s History of Colored Baseball, With Other Documents on the Early Black Game, 1886 – 1936. Lincoln, Nebraska: The University of Nebraska Press; 1995. xlii.
[4] Hauser Christopher. The Negro Leagues Chronology: Events in Organized Baseball, 1920 –1948. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc; 2006. 18.
[5] O’Neil B, Wulf S, Conrads D, Burns K. I Was Right on Time. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc.; 1996. 76.
[6] Hauser Christopher. The Negro Leagues Chronology: Events in Organized Baseball, 1920 –1948. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc; 2006. 7.
[7] Loverro T. The Encyclopedia of Negro League Baseball. New York: Checkmark Books (Facts on File, Inc.); 2003. 99.
[8] Hauser Christopher. The Negro Leagues Chronology: Events in Organized Baseball, 1920 –1948. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc; 2006. 19.
[9] Hageman Bill. Baseball Between the Wars: A Pictorial Tribute to the Men Who Made the Game in Chicago From 1909 to 1947. Chicago: Contemporary Books; 2001. 54.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Cubs Analysis (January 2007): Was I in the ballpark?

With the Cubs, the predictions are almost more important than the season itself. Looking from a sunny bleacher, the grass is always greener before the season (if it is warm and she's wearing a bikini) than it is in September, usually. After 99 years since the last 'dynasty' of the Cubs, and when the Wright Flier and Teddy's Big Stick still were relevant topics, we are thinking: this is our year.

Lou Pinella will entertain the media. Managing in the fishbowl of Chicago, Lou's current mellow nature will turn back into Fighting Lou. Once he sees Jacque Jones airmail a cut off or Ramirez take a snooze on a pop up, he'll have plenty to say, and the media will too. Luckily, he can fall back on his New York experiences to adroitly handle Chicago scribes, whose only real talent is to gossip about how much money someone makes, a player's girlfriend or whether throwing at a player constitutes domestic violence on the field.

The Cubs will improve by 20 games. Starting at 66 wins, this should not be impossible. Derrek Lee at 2004 statistics: .280(.360), 32HR, 110RBI, Ramirez at: .290 (.360), 35HR, 110RBI and Soriano at:.285(.330), 40HR, 95RBI, 25SB and Michael Barrett at: .275(.350), 15HR, 70 RBI provides plenty of right hand pop. Jacque Jones is the sole left hand man and will not cut it. Ryan Theriot should be the starter at 2B. He's got more plate patience than DeRosa, he's faster and younger. Pinella will see this, I hope, and insert him as either #1 or #2 hitter with successful output of: .275 (.345), 5 HR, 45RBIs, 35SBs. DeRosa, hot prospect Felix Pie and Angel Pagan, will support Murton in the outfield. Izturis and Cedeno will somehow get .260 (.310), 5 HR, 45 RBIs and 15 SBs between them. 800 Runs scored.

But what about pitching and fielding??? Zambrano is an ace. Likely, if not abused like a 'Dusty' doll, will get 200 IP, sub 2.75 ERA and 17-20 wins. Ted Lilly is a 4.30 ERA in the American League. Can he improve against weaker lineups? I believe so to the tune of 15 Wins and 3.75ERA. That leaves 5 pitchers for 3 starting spots. Rich Hill. Jason Marquis. Wade Miller. Sean Marshall. Mark Prior. I don't expect better than 30 wins from the back end. That's 65 Wins.

Piniella in 1990 ran a three-headed monster out to win ballgames from the bullpen: Rob Dibble, Randy Myers, Norm Charlton. (Forgotten is Tim Layana.) Pinnella will use Neal Cotts, Scott Eyre, Bob Howry, Kerry Wood and Dempster to form a five-headed Dragon to battle through. Mark Prior and Kerry Wood are likely relievers playing starters with all their injuries. Somehow Lou will get 21 wins - blackjack! - like he did in 1990 without one 16-game winner on a 91-win team. The Cubs will allow 750 Runs. 86 Wins!!! Yeah!!! (If Bill James formula works…)

Cubs will trade Mark Prior, after a nice two-month run of pitching, in late July for an thirty-something outfielder from California. (Garrett Anderson???) It's totally possible, I mean, whoever the Cubs draft, and destine great expectations for, is soon hurt, ineffective or disillusioned. Prior has issues that someone drinking beer with him could only know. Going after an older player, with a high salary, assuming he's not hot, or getting hot, or is soon retiring, is a maneuver the Cubs make at least thrice (not twice) a decade. At this moment, I know nothing about Anderson, except he's 35 in June, which makes him eligible for the Cubs Care for Old Outfielders Plan. And Prior will go back to 2003 form and win 15 games for a decade in LA-LA Land where 6' blondes appear in bad action movies. El Paso!!!

If Lou gets to manage for four or five years, expect a playoff. Or maybe it is 1969 all over again. With Alfonso Soriano being here until he's well past his prime, the Cubs better get it now…in 2007! But given they spent 300 million this off season, even at 100 wins, that's 3 million per win. If only 75 wins, it 4 million per Cubs victory. Wow. Absolutely…wow!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's been awhile since I could hold my head up high

I went away from this blog site for some crazy reason. Being from usage the best one I have used. As per usual, no one came to visit that I am aware of. The baseball book post likely had a great deal to do with it.

My other blog - JP's GM Fantastic - is a Yahoo account that lacks the ability to do fancy blog things. Really , Yahoo has missed the boat and it reflects in their stock price lately and their profits. I was dedicated to Yahoo since 1995-96. Yes, that long. I've had the same email since 1998. And that reflects a commitment to them. But they haven't developed with the times. They forged ahead badly in the Website/Advertising arena, forgotten how to move forward with better products, and became lazy in establishing better content. Lack of creativity and access to latest web software has made Yahoo a fraud on the Internet.

I'm no technical expert, but it is easy to see they dropped the ball. Google has done innovative things, taken risks (some really legally unhealthy) but they have amassed a huge following. I took the Apple side (Yahoo) in the fight. (Though Apple has moved ahead.)

I'm switching over to the other side.