We all saw the above call last night. I am told there was a similar “soft” holding call in last year’s Superbowl, which I did not watch. As the announcer said at the time of this call, it was a “game changer”. Otherwise, the game was spectacular, with Philadelphia making some amazing passes and catches. But as the game closed out, the referee gave it to the Chiefs. Did he receive a message via his headset to “call something!”?
I was only half-paying attention to last night’s game, and I noticed a crowd of players on the field. I then learned that Damar Hamlin had been seriously injured in a clean-contact play. He got up and fell backward on the ground. Players immediately summoned medical assistance.
I learned later that Hamlin had suffered cardiac arrest. Players were shocked, and when asked to resume play after a five-minute referee timeout, they refused. Buffalo Bills Coach Sean McDermott and Cincinnati Bengals Coach Zac Taylor met and decided to pull the players off the field. Later it was announced that the game would be postponed. The crowd left the stadium.
Hamlin remains in critical condition at this moment. There is no word on resuming the game. I think they should just call it a tie and let the cards fall, but I would not be surprised if they finish it up on Monday, January 9th, un-televised. After all, the NCAA national Championship game is that night, and the NFL and NCAA have turf agreements. Maybe they play on Tuesday, but the NFL playoffs start four days after that. That is not a lot of time for both teams to prepare, as both are in the playoffs this year. Come to think of it, both teams play on Sunday the 8th, so Monday is probably out. Again, call it a tie.
Hallelujah! I had surgery on my right ankle to repair what turned out to be two torn tendons on October 3rd. Since that time I’ve been unable to drive, and will not drive again for three more weeks due to a boot on that ankle.
Yesterday, as I read the discussion going on in Stephers’ post regarding the reality or falseness of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I was reminded that my name, Tokarski, originates in Ukraine, and is Ashkenazim Jewish. I am neither Ukrainian nor Jewish, but the name “Tokarski” is in the Jewish registry of surnames. The last I knew of my ancestors was a letter that circulated among us saying that my paternal grandfather’s family lived in Austria, “down the hill from Switzerland.” Legend has it that the surname Tokar, taken from the Tokar region of Ukraine (which I could not locate) spawned emigrants to the United States, many of whom landed in Pennsylvania, mining coal I imagine.
Indeed my grandfather immigrated to Pennsylvania, but not from Ukraine. The story is that while in school he had a particularly strict and unpleasant teacher. The boys in his class managed to subdue him and lock him in a closet. I would make him to be a young teen at that time. It was not shits and giggles. The authorities took the rebellion seriously, and enlisted police and military to hunt down the boys, who would be drafted. There was a war going on at that time (late 1800s, perhaps Franco-Prussian, a predecessor to WWI). My great grandmother stowed grandpa on the back of a potato truck, and he made his way to France, and then to Ellis Island, and only then to Pennsylvania. I assume he worked the coal mines, because he ended up in Great Falls, Montana. The “Great Falls” of the Missouri River, over which Lewis and Clark and their men (33 total) had to portage with massive outriggers, were by that time underwater, as the Anaconda Copper Company had a reduction/smelting operation there. They needed the electricity generated by the powerful movement of current, so no more waterfall.
I spent part of my day yesterday listening to Marc Maron interview Billie Jean King. It’s a good interview, Maron doing great work these days on his podcast. He keeps it going and does his homework.
Because this event, The Battle of the Sexes, happened 48 years ago, I don’t imagine many readers are familiar with King, so a little background. I will quote directly from Wikipedia, as I do not imagine they have any reason to lie about her accomplishments.
King’s Open in 1972 made her only the fifth woman in tennis history to win the singles titles at all four Grand Slam events, a “career Grand Slam”.[a] She also won a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. In women’s doubles, only the Australian Open eluded her.
King won a record 20 career titles at Wimbledon – six in singles, 10 in women’s doubles, and four in mixed doubles.[b]
King played 51 Grand Slam singles events from 1959 through 1983, reaching at least the semi-finals in 27 and at least the quarterfinals in 40 of her attempts. King was the runner-up in six Grand Slam singles events. An indicator of her mental toughness in Grand Slam singles tournaments was her 11–2 career record in deuce third sets, i.e., third sets that were tied 5–5 before being resolved.
King won 129 singles titles, 78 of which were WTA titles, and her career prize money totaled US$1,966,487.
In Federation Cup finals, she was on the winning United States team seven times, in 1963, 1966, 1967, and 1976 through 1979. Her career win–loss record was 52–4.[c] She won the last 30 matches she played,[d] including 15 straight wins in both singles and doubles. In Wightman Cup competition, her career win–loss record was 22–4,[e] winning her last nine matches.[f] The United States won the cup ten of the 11 years that she participated. In singles, King was 6–1 against Ann Haydon-Jones, 4–0 against Virginia Wade, and 1–1 against Christine Truman Janes.
I had an interesting conversation with a buddy a couple of days ago as we hiked a Colorado trail. He’s a baseball fan, and so am I, him Cubs, me Reds, and we both agreed that the teams we support were not good enough last year to be part of the sign-stealing scandal. I cannot rule that out, however.
First, a couple of baseline thoughts:
Baseball has a very clean image, and to the casual viewer it would appear that games are very hard to fix. Instant replay tends to get every umpire call right. But games are actually easy to fix. Baseball hitters are some of the best athletes in the world, able to hit fastballs traveling nearly 100 mph. Pitchers are only good to the extent that they are able to fool hitters by concealing their pitches. They cannot just overpower them. However, if a batter knows what pitch is coming, the odds are high that he will send that pitch to the cheap seats. That’s really all it takes to fix a game – tipped pitches.
We are told that last year that the baseballs used in Major League games were “juiced.” Home runs were up for nearly every team. The aerodynamics behind a juiced baseball were said to be compressed seams that allowed it to go further and faster than in years prior.
Just for my own entertainment, I was revisiting a comment by “MH” from 2016. It concerned Superbowl 49, and an amazing catch near the end of the game by Jermaine Kearse of Seattle. It appears that all videos, including the one referenced in the comment below, are now off limits, that is, private property of the NFL and not available for viewing. I did manage to grab the photo above, which was interspersed with two sports journalists drooling over the Patriots miraculous victory in that game.
My curiosity arose from a discussion of the current World Series, which appears to be headed towards a Houston victory this evening, but has extended to a seven game series. That doesn’t always happen – last year Boston won in five, but I believe that it is in the interest of the league owners to have a seven-game series, as it brings in more ad revenue. But how to fix a baseball game (especially now with instant replay)? It’s easy … just tip pitches. If a batter knows what’s coming, more times than not a hit follows, often a home run. These guys are superb athletes. The batter/pitcher dual is intense – these are the best athletes of any sport, in my humble opinion.
A year ago I attended my fiftieth class reunion, Billings Central Catholic High School, Billings, Montana. If you are anywhere close, or even if thirty years away, my advice would be don’t bother. Two things were upsetting … the general level of intelligence is not indicative of fifty years of forward movement, and … I’ll be be delicate here, I won’t be cruel or crude … so many of the women and quite a few of the men too … have gotten really fat. A couple of girls I dated were there, and all I could think was “Phew! Dodged a bullet!”
But that is all cosmetic. It goes deeper. People and attitudes do not change. I was an outsider in high school, and fifty years later, I was still an outsider. That’s a two-edged sword: I would not belong to a club that would have me as a member, but I wanted, like everyone, to be accepted and admired. In high school I did not like being an outsider and took no pride in my status. That mindset, however, inability to blend into the group, has molded me into the person I am, gave me self-employment and a happy life. Two-edged sword indeed.
I did not watch the Saints/Rams game and so had not seen this play before today. It certainly adds fuel to the fire for those who think NFL games are fixed. This was blatant pass interference that the whole viewing audience saw. (Click on the “Watch on YouTube”link to see it.)