‘Til Victory Is Won

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The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
28 August 2014

I. Sighting #1 on the 1

Only in New York…A shopping cart riding the uptown number one train takes Stop and Shop to a whole new level. Hope the new owner of the cart got off at a stop where he or she could elevator from the platform to the street…

II. Sighting #2 on the 2

When I heard a mom speaking out of concern for her daughter, who looked to be about three or four – “Stop touching the bottom of your shoe. It’s dirty!” – I immediately thought of how Larry Bird would wipe his hands on the bottom of his Converse sneakers as he was about to walk back onto the court…and how I then began seeing kids on playgrounds doing the same thing. That said, young lady, mom was right.

III. Artistically Speaking

Here’s Aziza Miller’s take on what you might see, in her track “The Subway,” off of her just released CD. Check it and her out –

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4tkjVewSVAw

IV. Standing On The Top

With all of the discussion of the diminishing numbers of African-Americans playing baseball from the major league level on down to the little leagues, how fitting it was that the team from Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League won the US Little League championship at the Little League World Series.

Robinson, a fierce competitor and crusader, held his tongue and did not fight back or lash out at the individuals that did or said racist things to him during his initial years in the Dodger organization…and ironically enough, it seems (from an outsider’s perspective) that the city of Chicago, wrapped up in the euphoria around the team honoring his name and accomplishments, took a break from the violence that has too often been the norm in recent days. If only that can hold.

V. Stony The Road We Trod

On this, the 51st anniversary of the historic March On Washington, I truly believe that things have improved since Jackie Robinson’s first game in 1947, since 1963, since the time of our grandparents and great-grandparents, as evidenced in part by two words: President Obama. I would venture to say that most of the hundreds of thousands of people standing before Dr. King in D.C. on August 28th, 1963 could not have envisioned an African-American in the White House forty-five years later.

One of the things Dr. King said that day was that “In a sense, we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check,” but went on to lament the fact that “America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.'” For anyone that believes the journey is complete and the check is totally good, two more words: Mike Brown.

VI. Bitter The Chastening Rod

Clearly one area in which the work is not done is that of the media, and not only in the case of the sorry fixed FOX “News.” Even the paper of record, The New York Times, is not immune to journalism that negatively takes into account a subject’s race, as shown in the article (for which the writer has since apologized) that described Mike Brown as being ” no angel.” Unfortunately they may have fallen into the trap set by the Ferguson, MO police department upon their release of the video purportedly showing Brown robbing a store shortly before his death. A glance of posts on the internet shows many others have fallen for that as well.

Were Brown not only no angel but the devil himself, the theft of cigars should not be punishable by death. Any mention of this is just an attempt to deflect attention from the fact that this young man was unjustifiably murdered.

VII. Let Us March On

Meanwhile, a thousand miles away (or so), selling loose cigarettes should not be punishable by death either, so the death of Eric Garner led people (in the words of James Weldon Johnson in “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing”) to “let us march on ’til victory is won.” Unfortunately, the New York Post was wrong again, devoting their front page to blasting marchers for their march against the NYPD.

No one marched against the NYPD. Many of them have friends and family within the department. People were protesting actions by members of the NYPD, as well as a culture that would permit incidents like that to happen. In our system of justice, the police are charged with apprehending those that they believe have committed crimes, after which the legal system is to sort everything out. They are not supposed to act as judge, jury, and executioner.

And that, Post, is why there was a march.

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First Take

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The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
15 August 2014
I. Pitch-Off

I hope MLB’s playoffs and World Series wind up with as compelling story lines as does the Little League World Series, beginning with that of Philadelphia’s Mo’ne Davis, believed to be the first African-American girl to compete. The ace pitcher of her team, she has challenged her pitching hero Clayton Kershaw to a “pitch-off,” which Kershaw accepted when she can get out to Los Angeles. Some company could get themselves some nice pr by sending Mo’ne out to Dodger Stadium between the end of the LLWS and the start of the school year.

While all the early talk was of Mo’ne, Chicago’s Pierce Jones grabbed the spotlight yesterday with his three-homer opening game performance and humble nature, making the representatives from the Jackie Robinson West Little League another must-see team.
II. Started At The Bottom…

Should the New York Mets still be offensively-challenged in another nine years, perhaps they might like to look at young Mr. Jones…but I write not to bury the not-so-Amazins, but to praise them. Not that I don’t stand by my statement that the Omar Minaya “Los Mets” were better than the current Sandy Alderson “moneyball” version, but after all of these years of less-than mediocrity and irrelevance, the Mets have assembled a group of young pitchers on their staff and in their farm system – from Matt Harvey to Zack Wheeler to Jacob deGrom to Jenrry Mejia to Noah Syndergaard and others – that have got to be the envy of virtually every organization. They’ve built from the bottom centered around pitching before – see 1969 and 1986 – and seem to be positioned to do so yet again.
III. At The Top

Kudos to the champion San Antonio Spurs on adding Becky Hammon to their coaching staff upon her retirement at the conclusion of the current WNBA season, which will make her the first woman to be an on-bench assistant coach.

While the summer basketball chatter has centered on LeBron and the Cavs and the improved Bulls with the returning Derrick Rose and the incoming Pau Gasol, don’t be surprised if the champs are able to do what they have yet to accomplish during their run of success: repeat as champs.
IV. Just Asking…

The recently-retired David Stern was one of the most impactful commissioners in sports history, helping to usher in an unprecedented era of worldwide NBA success. He is clearly one who is Hall of Fame-worthy, but why was he eligible for admission to the Hall five months after his retirement, unlike a player who would have to wait five years for eligibility?
V. Meet The Host

My wife never liked David Gregory as host of Meet The Press…and the ratings probably reflect the fact that she wasn’t alone. It’s hard to replace an icon such as the late Tim Russert. I expect that the next host, Chuck Todd, will do a good job, as he does with his political reporting…but the best choice from the NBC farm system might have been Rachel Maddow. And the next might have been Chris Hayes.
VI. Ferguson

Finally the name of the policeman who shot and killed Mike Brown is about to be released. It’s interesting that the police chief has been so intent on keeping that information from the public for his “safety,” unlike the lack of concern that officer showed for the safety of Mike Brown.

As Rev. Al Sharpton has worked with Brown’s family since his death and has invited them to participate in an August 23rd march in New York seeking justice for Eric Garner, I’m reminded of a co-worker who asked why Al Sharpton was always there every time there was an incident. The answer then – and seemingly now more than ever – was that if there weren’t so many “incidents,” there would be nowhere for him to go.

VII.   Eye of the Tiger

I still gotta believe a bunch of the other PGA golfers would love to see Tiger return to form.

Let’s Make A Deal

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The SEVEN

4 August 2014

I. Double Duty

A great birthday present for President Obama would be that Secretary of State John Kerry becomes successful in his efforts to create a lasting cease fire plan in Gaza. Not that he doesn’t have a lot on his plate, but if he can do that – given the history of the region – I would want him to return stateside and try to effect a cease fire in Chicago. Dr. King was correct in saying that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, but sometimes we get so caught up in atrocities around the world that we forget about horrific things happening here at home.

II. A Change Is Gonna Come

Now that it has been determined that the chokehold is what caused the death of Eric Garner, along with the recent revelations of a chokehold on a pregnant woman and handcuffing a naked one, in the matter of stopping police brutality, NYPD – you’re on the clock.

III. Hardest Working Man In Show Biz

Congratulations to Michael Strahan on his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (along with the other inductees, including Ray Guy, the best punter ever), as well as on his transition off of the football field onto the playing field he will occupy for the rest of his life.

When thinking of Strahan – seemingly ubiquitous now – I am reminded of a story a mother told about overhearing her child ask a friend if he knew Paul McCartney had been in a band. The way Michael has blown up on TV, that may be the type of question asked about him before long.

IV. Controversy

Were it not for the dog fighting conviction some years back, our question might be when Michael Vick would be joining Michael Strahan in Canton, OH. The chances of that being greatly diminished, Vick is in the middle of a little controversy of sorts, which for some is a good thing. Controversies sell papers, and keep eyes and ears watching and listening to the news, as in the case of yours truly.

Why would controversy be needed in this case? For me, cable, satellite, and marriage. You see, I used to be all over pre-season football. This first week in August was around the general time in which I would sit down at my desk and write out predictions – usually seen by no one else – for the forthcoming NFL season, complete with each team’s projected record. But in the ensuing years came the proliferation of cable and satellite channels, which for me meant that there was more baseball available for me to watch than ever before, as well as NBA League Pass which has made virtually every NBA game theoretically available. And did I mention marriage? I kinda thought something had to give…and that something became the NFL, or at least fanatical following of everything NFL before Thanksgiving.

That being said, a preseason battle for an NFL starting job is not something that would usually capture my attention – but the question of whether there is actually a battle for the New York Jets starting quarterback position to me begs the larger question of why there is an issue at all. It comes down to the generally-accepted tradition that the starting quarterback is not subject to removal from a game except for injury. And why is that?

In the NBA superstars and future Hall of Famers usually play between 36-42 minutes out of the 48-minute game, meaning that they sit out from 12.5-25% of the action. Often a star is removed from the game by his coach with the intent of returning him within three minutes, but the guy that goes in does so well that the star winds up being out for eight or ten minutes – and the team thrives in his absence. In baseball it’s rare when a starting pitcher throws a complete game nowadays, and position players are removed from games or are not played in others for various strategic reasons.

Even in the NFL, players are removed from time to time to create different alignments – but basically never the quarterback. In an ideal world, Jets, you start Geno Smith and let him learn the position you expect him to hold for years – but when the situation calls for it, bring in the tested and ready Michael Vick.

V. A’s and Rays

The Oakland A’s better win the World Series this year after trading for Jon Lester. Pitching may be 75% of the game, but after trading Yoenis Cespedes to get Lester, they may very well regret the move if it does not pay off in a major way. Here’s one reason why:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/70087564/v33614681/oaklaa-cespedes-throws-out-kendrick-at-the-plate

As for the Tampa Bay Rays, it’s got to be hard being a fan when you know your stars are going to be dealt as their contracts near their end, as – yet again – in the case of David Price.

VI. What’s Happening Now

One of the characters in the show “What’s Happening Now” was named Rerun – and in thinking about the Los Angeles Dodgers and what’s happening with them, I see a rerun. I’ve seen this before. I’ve been in the New York area during the Darryl Strawberry era when you scheduled your bathroom or food run – if necessary – based on when he would be coming to bat, for that was something you certainly didn’t want to miss. And now, were I in Southern California, I’d feel the exact same way about Yasiel Puig.

VII. 20/20

If the Pacers had known what would happen this past weekend with Paul George, they would have certainly moved heaven and earth to re-sign Lance Stephenson.