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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Ode To The Ones Left Behind


 

By Harry Cummins

     This year has been one of inconsolable loss.

     There is no handbook on heartbreak.  Each of us is left to deal with searing loss in our own way. I can tell you that I am sorry for your specific loss... but I cannot tell you that I know exactly how you feel.

     Today, the final day of 2020, is full of sorrow.  Yet, the midnight sky tonight will be filled with fireworks. I am not sure why.  Maybe it's simply hope for a New Year manifested in tradition.  My dog, however, will feel frightened and many of you will wonder what others have to celebrate.

     Each person that we love and then loose, is a uniquely private matter.  I, too, have loved and lost but can't offer so much as a clue as to how you should deal with your grief.  I can say to those in mourning, that my heart goes out to you.  I know something about how often my own ambulant heart leaves current comfort spots in search of a resting place in the sweet memories of a lost loved one.

     As social media fills the airways today with the names and faces of all the famous we have lost in 2020, I invite you to find comfort for your personal and private loss in the lyrics of a 1967 song by the Bee Gees, "To Love Somebody"  The love you still long for in this world is very real and did not die with your loved one.  Your love for somebody is highly singular...yet universal.

  " You don't know what it's like to love somebody..

      ..To love somebody..

      The way I love you."

Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (The Bee Gees)


      I still believe there is a kind of love, a certain kind of light, in this world that "Beareth all things, beliveth all things, hopeth all things."

     That is the sort of illumination we need to send skyward tonight along with our pyrotechnics.




Illustration for this story is by David Delamare, an Oregon artist who died in 2016. He leaves behind his art..and those who love him.


hcummins@aol.com

     



Wednesday, December 30, 2020

College Football Playoff Predictions and My Fiesta Bowl Pick

I've been asked to give you my College Football Playoff predictions along with my Fiesta Bowl pick. It won't be easy, but here goes:

Rose Bowl on January 1, 2021 at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

#1 Alabama vs. #4 Notre Dame - Alabama 47, Notre Dame 21

(Friday Final: #1 Alabama 31, #4 Notre Dame 14)

Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana

#2 Clemson vs. #3 Ohio State - Clemson 35, Ohio State 28

(Friday Final: #3 Ohio State 49, #2 Clemson 28)

College Football National Championship Game on January 11, 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

*Revised Prediction: #1 Alabama 35, #3 Ohio State 21

Alabama Crimson Tide will be the 2021 National College Football Champions.

Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2021 at State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

#25 Oregon vs. #12 Iowa State - Cyclones 42, Ducks 28

(Saturday Final: #12 Iowa State 34, #25 Oregon 17) (Was I close?)

The 2020-21 College Football season can't end soon enough. Have a Happy New Year. Let the fun continue.



Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and play-by-play radio voice of Henley Hornets football and Klamath County School District post-season games for Wynne Broadcasting in Klamath Falls and klamathradio.com. He's also the play-by-play radio voice of the Eugene Overhead Door Challengers American Legion baseball team on KKNX Eugene (AM 840, FM 105.1) and radio84.com. Find him on most social media platforms.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Night David McCarty faced Todd VanPoppel - Portland Beavers Lore

 

In 1991, Stanford's David McCarty was Baseball America's National Player of the Year.

By Harry Cummins

      I remember well the 1993 Pacific Coast League baseball season.  It was the year the Portland Beavers led the league with a 87-56 record and were then unceremoniously sold at the conclusion of the year and relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah.

     There were many moments and players to celebrate throughout that fateful season.  Bernardo Brito hit 20 home runs and batted .339 in 85 games and Pat Mahomes went 11-4 on the mound for the Beavers.  The singular moment that stands out from that season, for me, came in April when perhaps the two best prospects in the game faced off in a classic showdown in Civic Stadium in Portland. 

      I would wager that many of the 1,217 fans in attendance that night may not still remember when David McCarty of the Beavers and Tacoma's Todd VanPoppel were featured in a pitcher-hitter match-up for the ages. Both players were former first-round MLB draft picks. VanPoppel by Oakland in 1990. McCarty by Minnesota in 1991.  Both players were recently ranked as the top prospect in all of baseball coming into the game.

     On this night, VanPoppel sailed thru the first 6 innings, allowing just 2 hits.  Both hits came off the bat of McCarty.  Both hits were home runs.  The first coming in the opening inning, when the 6'5" slugger lined a lazer into the left-field seats. The second was a prodigious 420-foot blast into the centerfield seats.

     Van Poppel left after 6 innings with the score tied 2-2.  Suddenly the game lost much of its original appeal.  I remember the Beavers went on to win 5-4 on Derek Lee's 2-out, 12th inning home run.  Just a few days earlier in the same series, McCarty, the PCL's leading hitter at .460, went 4 for 6 and won another 12 inning game with a single.  McCarty played just 40 games in Portland in 1993 and hit .385.

     Van Poppel and McCarty would go on to long, but somewhat disappointing, careers in the majors.  Neither lived up to the incredible hype they attracted in 1993.  McCarty went on to play for 7 different teams over the next 12 years.  VanPoppel also played for 7 teams over a 14 year span.

     Although the Beavers returned to Portland in 2001 for a final 10 year run in the Rose City, I  don't remember another anticipated match-up quite like McCarty vs VanPoppel.

     Why do we remember these small, mostly meaningless moments, while so much of significance in left on the cutting room floor of the mind?

      Ah, the mystery and magic of memory.   Feel free in the comments section below to tell me about the greatest pitcher vs hitter at bats you can recall in that jumble of electrical circuits that constitutes your baseball brain.

     



hcummins@aol.com

     

     

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - December 29, 2020

COVID-19 has hit the Oregon State Beavers women's basketball team. I sincerely wish those who have come down with the virus to get well quickly. With that said, here are this week's Pac-12 men's and women's power rankings. Enjoy.

Pac-12 Men:

1) Oregon

2) Colorado

3) UCLA

4) Stanford

5) Washington State

6) Arizona

7) Arizona State

9) Utah

10) Oregon State

11) California

12) Washington


Pac-12 Women:

1) Stanford

2) Oregon

3) UCLA

4) Arizona

5) Washington State

6) Washington

7) Arizona State

8) Oregon State

9) Colorado

10) USC

11) Utah

12) California


This is always open for discussion. Your rankings may be different, of course. I trust some of these teams can prove me wrong as the Pac-12 campaigns continue.


Bill Crawford is a long time Eugene radio personality and play-by-play announcer. Find him on a social medium platform near you.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Stunning Figures From Sports World

 By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Despite a worldwide pandemic of epic proportions, the 40 top sports agencies worldwide secured deals for their clients worth $56 billion in 2020. The commissions alone on those deals were worth $2.9 billion, a 10 percent rise from 2019. 

Creative Artist Agency to use a golf term is the leading money winner with contracts in 2020 valued at $8.8 billion and commissions of $419 million. 

Maybe you should think being an agent rather than an athlete.


Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas from Craw’s Corner

 By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

MERRY Christmas to our great readers, thank you for letting us entertain you.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

First Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - December 23, 2020


First of all, I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! 2021 will, no doubt, be a much better year for the vast majority of us.

Moving forward, here's the first installment of my Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings:

Men:

1) Oregon

2) Colorado

3) Washington State

4) Utah

5) Stanford

6) UCLA

7) Arizona

8) Arizona State

9) USC

10) Oregon State

11) Washington

12) California

Women:

1) Stanford

2) Oregon

3) Arizona

4) UCLA

5) Washington State

6) Oregon State

7) Arizona State

8) Washington

9) Colorado

10) Utah

11) USC

12) California

Yes. It's still early. But the conference campaign will tell the tale. Stay tuned, especially on Tuesdays during the remainder of the college basketball season.



Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality, a huge sports fan and an overall nice guy. (I seem to think I'm a pretty nice guy.)

Find him on most social media. Email: 56bcrawford@gmail.com

Finding A Way Home This Christmas

 


By Harry Cummins

     As the light dims on the final days of this most public of years, it may be useful to attempt to illuminate some of the private places each of us have constructed to serve as "home."  Places not bound by any travel bans or current circumstance.  Places we return to often in our hearts for safety.

     Of course, there is no standard definition, no single conclusion as to what home IS.  Each of us carries a divergent set of desires, memories, and expectations to the places in which we reside.

     Many of us speak of physical comforts and places of familiarity. Places with picket fences and noisy neighbors and rooms where children laugh.  Others point to the deepest consoles of the inner self, a calling to a higher place.

     Home for some is fluid.  For others, it remains fixed.  For some of us, the winding road to freedom has always returned to our front doorstep. For some, the image of home may repose in a distant cemetery, sweetly sealed inside us forever.

     What then draws us to one place and not another?  What alchemy pulls us back and forth across cities and states and zip codes in search of a home.  Maybe it's Thomas Wolfe's predicament playing itself out in a vagabond's wilderness.  A reoccurring lament for roads not taken.

     Finally, of course, it's up to each of us to make ourselves at home. 

     However rudimentary, predictable, lonely, or even accidental, there is no other place quite like it.

     May your home fires burn bright this Christmas.

      

   

   

hcummins@aol.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Soup is on





This time of year on the Oregon coast, it can get dark, cold, and rainy. To warm the body and soul, I love soup (homemade or takeout). This past Sunday my wife made some amazing chicken soup.  That with a Deschutes Rip City Lager made my belly and heart full.  If you have not tried, the Rip City Lager it is light with just a slight lemony taste, perfect with some soup.    

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Final Sunday Pac-12 Football Power Rankings - December 20, 2020


It was, indeed, a pretty crazy and difficult Pac-12 football season. One team got to play all seven of its scheduled games. A second-place team in its division ended up winning the Pac-12 Championship because the division champion couldn't field enough players due of COVID-19. Nine of the 12 teams either didn't qualify for or opted out of a bowl game. A division champion was one of those nine teams that opted out of a bowl game. 

With that said, here's my final Pac-12 Football Rankings for the 2020 season:

1) Colorado
2) *USC
3) *Washington
4) *Utah
5) Oregon
6) *UCLA
7) Arizona State
8) *Oregon State
9) *Stanford
10) *Washington State
11) *California
12) *Arizona

*Either didn't qualify or opted out of a bowl game.

It hadn't been an easy task doing these rankings. It was fun, though. Please feel free to share your thoughts. I'm already looking towards 2021 and what it will bring. 




Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality, lifelong Southern Oregon Raiders fan and an SOU alum. His opinions are strictly his own. You can find Bill on most social media platforms.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Trail Blazer’s Moves

 By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Living in state of Oregon, I have been here since 1970 and the first year of Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA. I often wonder this question? What are the smartest and dumbest moves the franchise has ever made and you only get one choice on each. For me. 


1) Dumbest ; Getting rid of their 3 extremely popular broadcasters Brian Wheeler, Mike Barrett and Mike Rice. 

2) Smartest: Keeping Neil Olshey around. He has done a terrific job.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Catcher In All Of Us

 


By Harry Cummins


     Seemingly immobilized in performing the most rudimental of tasks these days, I find myself thinking a lot about Mackey Sasser.

     Sasser, the erstwhile catcher for the New York Mets, suddenly developed a celebrated hang-up in the early 1990's, a bonafide resistance in returning the baseball to his pitcher.  It was a real problem that baffled not only Met fans but likely the game's inventor himself, Abner Doubleday.

     Personally, I don't think Sasser's problem was such an abnormality.  More of a modern malaise, I'd say.  Merely an existential predicament of the human catcher in all of us.

    In those days before the pandemic, when I had a real job, I had a similar problem myself with neckties. It happened whenever I faced myself in the mirror, tie looped around my neck, thinking about returning to the office.

     Just as Sasser went thru a rather bizarre routine of double-pumping and leaning back as if he might fall over, so did I when confronted with that right-to-left return flip. Gripping my tie between my teeth for that final pull-down through the knot, the end uniformity always eluding me.

     I now have this theory.  I think all of us, in some form, are being called to return something. Baseballs are only a symbol of a greater process at work here.

     More of my theory, unsolicited I realize, is simply this: In our common comings and goings, we are continually challenged to a deeper life of renewal and discovery.  I strongly suspect that there exists a divine element in our very being that, unless we find a way to return to, we have little hope for ever balancing the obligations of the world against the growth of the inner self.

     In that context, Sasser's problem was quite elementary.  Once you played all the tennis, or catch, you can play, What then?

     Hypothecating that life is a mix of the fixable and the insurmountable, I offer the following advice:

     Until you figure it out, do what they tell every catcher.  Wear a mask!!



hcummins@aol.com

     

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Excited to be here


 

Thank you Greg for allowing me to join Craws Corner. I am a longtime educator and coach.. I am passionate about (sports, coaching, health & wellness, and food).  My hope is to share content that is fun,  interesting, and educational.

If you have any questions or topics you would like me to dive into please reach out to me, my email is thoppe@socc.edu and please follow me on twitter @CoachHop 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Elegance Of Everyday






By Harry Cummins


     I love sports as much as the next person.  Actually, maybe a bit more than the next person.  Top shelf sports have long been a dominant form of entertainment in my life, always providing shelter from any surrounding storm clouds.

     Many of those cloistered years were spent in press boxes chronicling the exploits of  the greatest athletes of our generation.  I had fun. 

      I once occupied a coveted end seat on press row during the infant days of the ABA.  During timeouts, I could lean in nightly to listen to the colorful celebrity coach Wilt Chamberlain trying to explain to his San Diego Conquistadors how they might best share a red, white and blue basketball among themselves.  Back then, sports were simple and joyful. As Wilt already knew, you didn't need to explain too many things.

     Things have changed, especially in this Year of The Great Exchange, 2020. Analytics running amok in an age of anxiety.  The incessant need to justify one's actions are now nudged by the need to understand a common good. Our distractions  need to be carefully selected, as they now come with greater consequences.

     Frankly, I can't understand why we are playing high level sports at all right now. Sure, I get the money thing. Still, the unraveling of all these excuses, the unjust application of restrictions across teams and leagues, hardly seems worth the time trying to make sense of it on paper. It doesn't make sense, at least to this aging sportswriter.

     With this pandemic spewing so much division and destruction, and causing so much suffering, I can no longer find the same solace in so many of my former pursuits.  Hospitalization and infection rates have overtaken scoring averages when seen thru the keyhole of 2020.

     Right now, I am having difficulty watching games on TV,  contested in front of cardboard cutouts and masked witnesses. These days, I find myself doing what writers have always done best..gazing out  a nearby window.

     During this past week, I have seen and heard a great deal out that window. All the melodies that were never missing. All the choices we retain during this pandemic.  This much is true:

     A tomboy in the next block with pig-tails who throws perfect spirals.

    Twin sisters across the street, racing the length of the sidewalk in shrieking abandon.

    The neighborhood mailman on his appointed rounds, a pied-piper throwing down dog biscuits  on the pavement like an NHL ref drops a puck for a face-off. 

    Winter yard-birds plucking the last holly berries from a thorny bush, skyward with their hard-won rewards.  

    An elderly lady in a walker, thru serious effort, never surrendering her daily stroll.

    An odd game of croquet down the street..the 'thack' of a mallet striking a plastic ball in syncopation with a roofer's hammer nearby.   

     Everyday a beginning.  Everyday an end.  

     Real sports.

     Elegance within reach.  Right now.

     

                        
     
  hcummins@aol.com

     



 Rick Lowell illustration      

NBA Power Rankings, 12/15/20

 By Gregory Crawford, @wchoops

My power rankings are always done in 9s, out of respect for 9 hole golf courses. If you disagree please feel free to tell me in comments section.

9. Phoenix

8. Dallas

7. Boston

6. Philadelphia 

5. Milwaukee 

4. Miami

3. Denver

2. Brooklyn

1. Lakers

Thanks for reading.


What is Craw’s Corner?

 By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

In response to today’s headline, Craw’s Corner is fun and a place we want people to get enjoyment from our posts. Harry Cummins is a world class writer, if you don’t believe me, just read his work here. Bill Crawford, (no relation, I would never claim him :)) is as knowledgeable as there is and so hard working. Both are talented obviously. 

We want to add to that talent. Craw’s Corner is popular and our readers want us to be here not 4 days a week, but everyday. In order to do that, we need to add to our team. If you wish to write about any of the following subjects, send me an email.

1. Basketball 

2. Football 

3. Soccer

4. Baseball 

5. Tennis

6. Golf

Or any other sport.

Thanks for reading 

Gregory Crawford

Founder of Craw’s Corner

crawscorner@gmail.com



Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday Pac-12 Football Power Rankings - December 13, 2020

The Pac-12 weekend football schedule is out. It's Washington at USC on Friday in the Pac-12 Championship Game. 

Here's the rest of the schedule, all on Saturday:

Oregon vs. Colorado at USC 

Washington State at Utah

Stanford at UCLA

Arizona State at Oregon State

Arizona at California

Let's hope that all of these games can be played. Now, the latest Pac-12 Football Power Rankings (as determined by me):

1) USC

2) Colorado

3) Washington

4) UCLA

5) Utah

6) Oregon State

7) Oregon

8) Stanford

9) Arizona State

10) Washington State

11) California

12) Arizona

Let the debate begin. Have an outstanding week!


Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and freelance sportscaster. The opinions expressed are strictly his own. Find him on most social media platforms.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Hubie Brown, You have to love it

 By Gregory Crawford @wchoops and Periscope

Most people do not live to be 87 years old. In addition most people are not working at anything if they are still living at 87.

Hubie Brown is breaking all the rules. He not only is 87, but he is at the top of his game literally at 87. Brown is starting his 36th year as an NBA analyst in the 20-21, working for ESPN. In his analyst career Brown has also worked for CBS and TNT covering games.

Brown is a great basketball mind and for most part, fun to listen too. And yes, factually he has a legitimate chance to be broadcasting NBA games at 100 years of age. 

Interestingly enough Hubie Brown has never been on Twitter. A rarity for anyone in today’s world.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Minor League Baseball Changes

It was a very interesting day on Wednesday around Minor League Baseball, including the Northwest League as there were some interesting developments involving three of those franchises.

Here are the updated affiliations:

Eugene Emeralds - San Francisco Giants
Everett AquaSox - Seattle Mariners
Hillsboro Hops - Arizona Diamondbacks
Spokane Indians - Colorado Rockies
Tri-City Dust Devils - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Vancouver Canadians - Toronto Blue Jays

Eugene, Spokane and Tri-City received new invites. Eugene had a long relationship with the Chicago Cubs, while Spokane had been a farm team of the Texas Rangers and Tri-City was with the Colorado Rockies. Meanwhile, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and Boise Hawks were not extended invitations to affiliate with Major League Baseball teams and will go the independent route. 

Boise will join the Pioneer League, which will now be an MLB "Partner League." MLB announced that it will initially fund the Pioneer League's operating expenses, provide scouting technology to all eight ballparks and create a procedure for player transfers to MLB organizations.

The Pioneer League has teams in Idaho Falls, Missoula, Great Falls, Billings, Colorado Springs, Ogden, Grand Junction and Windsor (Colorado). 

It's unknown what the plans that Salem-Keizer will have in regards to joining an independent league at this time, but ownership has said is that they are committed to continue to bringing high caliber baseball to that area because "this community deserves it," said Volcanoes CEO Mickey Walker.

While the Pioneer League will have a 92-game season that will start in May, the Northwest League will now be a "High-A" league and will go to a 132-game season that will start in April. 

A "High-A" minor league will feature players with better ability who will eventually be called up to MLB sooner, which will make for better baseball.

A unique situation will exist in Eugene where the Emeralds and the University of Oregon share PK Park. The stadium belongs to the University. However, there is a strong relationship between the University and the Emeralds so possible schedule conflicts would not be a problem.

First and foremost, let's hope that 2021 will bring minor league baseball back to cities that are fortunate to have teams and try our best to forget 2020, a year that'll be worth forgetting. You know why.



Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and freelance sportscaster who happens to love the game of baseball. The opinions expressed are strictly his. You can find him on most social media platforms.




Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Of Characters and Cream Pies -When Salvation Was Just Down The Street

 

Fryer's Quality Pie Shop -circa 1980's



By Harry Cummins

     In 1992, despite a fevered cult-like following, Fryer's Quality Pie Shop on the corner of NW 23rd Ave and Marshall St. in Portland, Oregon shuttered it's doors forever.  Once a neighborhood's all-night therapy and redemption emporium, it has remained vacant ever since.  Some say society's current ill's can be directly traced to it's demise, and to places just like it all across America.

     To true believers and searchers alike, this brightly lit coffee shop with the rotating sign out front was  a spellbinding beacon in the Northwest night, a veritable lost and found department for the human spirit. For over fifty years, the "QP" was a place where people found much more than the marquee or menu claimed.

     What follows is a re-telling of a true account, first appearing in the pages of the NW Examiner thirty-three years ago. It describes an all-night odyssey, an assignment filled with characters and cream pies, and if it weren't for my stained reporter's notebook in front of me, I could not actually swear it really happened in just the way I am about to tell.



8:30 p.m.

I walk thru the front door and notice a man with a flashlight peering into a plastic cage. Like Binx Bolling in Walker Percy's The Moviegoer,  I know straight off that I am onto something. "What are you looking for," I ask.  "Plastic Balls" says a guy named Joe. "Find the little ball and win the big bear," he says, already holding an armload of stuffed animals.

I ask what he plans to do with them.

"I've got over 200 of them at home.  See that cab outside? I've been driving it for 20 years now.  I keep these animals in my cab for my fares. Kids mostly. This time of night they are usually going to the hospital.  It brings a little comfort to them. 

"Me too" he says.


9:15 p.m.

I find a table near the back of the restaurant.  Buffy, my waitress, pours me a cup of coffee.  "Heard you were coming.  You're 'gonna have a good time tonight," she says.  Later, during a lull, Buffy slides into my booth and talks a bit about herself.

"Been waitressing for 27 years, all over, California, Texas, Oklahoma. This is the best job of the bunch. It's my whole life right now. I'm glad for this job. I'm recently divorced and this Thanksgiving will be my first without family.  I just hope I get to work. It will be better if I do."

I ask Buffy about her children. "Have two of them, Paris and London."

I ask why she picked those names.

"Heck, I had to name 'um something, didn't I."

Buffy moves on and I am left imagining nights of passion in a pair of European cities. Or Paris, Texas perhaps.


9:35 p.m.

Bert is sitting at the counter, munching slowly on a bright orange muffin.  He lives in the neighborhood and drops by twice a day.  Sometimes more. He talks openly about his bouts with alcoholism and mental illness. "I don't have another recovery in me," he shares.  "Nice meeting you, but it's past time for me to go.  I have no business in here during the peak stress periods."

Wondering about those 'peak periods' ahead causes me an apprehensive moment.

10 p.m.

Mike and Kenny are playing table hockey in a nearby booth using two spoons and a quarter.  They are part of a large group of adolescents clustered around the restaurant. "We are all recovering alcoholics, this is our clubhouse. Right now Kenny and me are just looking to meet some nice girls in here.  Maybe you know some?"

They say they want women who demonstrate non-addictive behavior, carry large amounts of credit cards,wear Ralph Lauren glasses and don't have a mother.

I wish them good luck.

10:09 p.m.

Maurice Shahtout, one of the owners, drops by my table and talks of better days.  He tells me he has just given chase after two drunks who have fled in tandem toward Wallace Park with an over-sized tray containing twenty dozen of his cookies.

"People told me I should close that door to that truck," he says. Shahtout is clearly a man who can take things in rapid stride. He works 15 hours a day, overseeing a combined bakery and coffee shop operation that turns out over 1,000 pies and 2,000 cookies a day, employs 72 people and operates 14 vehicles.

"We never came here to operate the most sophisticated establishment in Portland," understates Maurice.  "We've been successful because we leave our customers alone to do their own thing. If they want to eat with their fingers, there is no pressure here.  People come here looking for certain things."

11:10 p.m

"People  call this place lots of things, but dull isn't one of them," says Lea, a waitress at QP for the past 5 years.  "Look at this,would ya," she implores, waving what looks like a .38-caliber pistol in my face.

"I was at the cash register just now and this guy comes running out of the restroom pointing this thing at me. Turns out he had found it in there. It's only a cap pistol but you could have fooled me."

11:30 p.m.

A man who tells me he owns the entire earth is sitting at the counter, looking a little disheveled for someone with such vast holdings. "Must have taken you quite a while to acquire the whole earth," I say.

"Let's just say I'm older than Mother Nature,"he deadpans, rubbing the stubble on his cheeks.

Back in my booth, Lea pours me my third cup of coffee.

"He's not so strange. A while back, a lady was in the outer lobby with her bags packed waiting for her spaceship to come pick her up. I've been waitressing for over 40 years and haven't seen no place as crazy as this."

MIDNIGHT

By now, I am loosing my tenuous grip on reality.  Truth has now become a tease. Searching the coffee shop for a way to get back in touch, I strike up a conversation with a woman wearing heavy make-up.  She immediately starts talking about nasal sprays and cobra snakes.  I go back to my table and order a piece of coconut pie.

We are entering the "high stress period" Bert had warned me of earlier.

12:20 a.m

I step outside for some fresh air, perhaps now looking for my own spaceship. A young man eating from a pint of Ben and Jerry's White Russian ice cream asks me to follow him home for "philosophical studies" I thank him and decide I have had enough fresh air. 

Back inside, a man with a black cape has just launched a paper airplane.  It lands close to my coconut pie. "Viking Jet, it flys," says the pilot who has come to retrieve his projectile.

By now, I am convinced this whole place could fly if there were only a way to get it off the ground.

12:45

A large group moves through, heading toward the rear of the dining room.  They are lead by someone named Kingdom Herald, who is clothed in full-length garb, a sack of stones tied to his waist.  He is followed in order by Lady Pegasus and another woman named Ya Leah.

Ya Leah says she is the groups medium to the mundane world.

She thus agrees to talk with me. The conversation centers on gold keys and black kettles. My mind races to keep up.

1 a.m.

QP is SRO. A line is forming at the front door as it often does once the area bars have closed. I am sitting next to a woman who is wearing a braided headband decorated with huge fake pearls.  She tells me she is taking voice lessons, karate, and sign language.

"You can never learn to much she says."

I tell her that I think some nights you can.

2:30 a.m.

Three young men, Shawn, Kip and Byron, enter arm in arm.  Kip has dozens of buttons pinned to his jacket.  I look out the front window and see a striking young woman in formal dress standing guard in front of a white Cadillac limousine.  I go outside to meet Dawn.  She is chauffeur to these three young men inside.

"These nice boys have rented this limo for 5 straight nights," says Dawn.  "Last night, we were at the Coast."

Inside the limo I notice a computer dashboard, VCR and phone. It costs $50 and hour for a ticket to ride.

The three men return to the limo and ask if they can take my picture with Dawn.  "Fine with me," I say, giving the chauffeur a little squeeze. "I used to work for the feds," Dawn informs me.

I loosen my grip slightly.

3:20 a.m

I say hello to Victoria and Wanda, two art students from Portland State who are sketching together in a booth.  I notice the black swirls on their pads.  They say they are doing loose drawings.

"Perfect place to do it," I reply.  "Plenty loose in here"

4:45 a.m.

I am sitting with Jack at the counter.  He tells me he's past his 80's already and afflicted with sore feet. Jack has trouble sleeping.  Maybe two hours a night is all he gets, he reckons.

"I got jungle rot in WWII in the jungles of Panama. I've had my toenails removed lots of times but they just grow back worse. I worked all my life 'til recently. Sometimes it hurts a man worst not to work."

Jack tilts his head and sighs heavily. "The doctors tell me there is no cure for what I got. Can you believe it, that in all of medical history no one has found a cure for jungle rot?"

6 a.m.

Outside I can hear the whirl of a street sweeper and see the first Tri-Met bus of the day stop in front. A vacuum cleaner hums as a bus boy has started his side work.

A friend walks thru the door and finds my table. "So you survived the night, huh? Her familiar face renews me.  

It is time to leave.



       This night of preposterous and compelling encounters is swaddled in the soft glint of a new day. Walking the deserted sidewalks home, I think about Bert and Buffy. Lady Pegasus and Dawn. And about the Man Who Owned The Earth. I wonder more about their lives. About lovers who have left them. Sons and daughters that had made them proud. Regrets they could not speak and waystations in the wee hours where they seek refuge.

     Tough and tender get inexplicably mixed up in some people.  So, too, in some places.



                                             

Fryer's Quality Pie Shop - R.I.P
                                                        


hcummins@aol.com

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sunday Pac-12 Football Power Rankings - December 6, 2020

Finally...all of the Pac-12 football teams played without any cancellations. After today's Washington State-USC battle and a couple of upsets, here we go with this week's Pac-12 Power Rankings:

1) USC

2) Colorado

3) UCLA

4) Washington

5) Utah

6) Oregon State

7) California

8) Oregon

9) Stanford

10) Arizona State

11) Washington State

12) Arizona

There you have it. To the victor go the spoils. Hope the team you like gets the result you want this weekend.



Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and freelance sportscaster. The opinions expressed are strictly his own. Find him on most social media platforms.

The Crossing

 

Poem by Harry Cummins




How then

      should we cross

this

       wobbly expanse?

Must we suspend

          our beliefs...

or maybe...

           ..our disbelief.

steadied

          by what we imagine

                                        on the other side.



hcummins@aol.com


Saturday, December 5, 2020

Resurrection and Rock' n' Roll - A Cabbie's Quandary

 



By Harry Cummins


     One of the most profound and provocative stories I have ever heard was told years ago by Dr. N.T. Wright, the esteemed Bishop of Durham.  It goes like this:


"The taxi driver looked back at me in his mirror.  His face was a mixture of amusement and sympathy.  We were stuck in traffic and he'd asked me as they do, what I did for a living.

'Ah,' he said, 'you Church of England people' (having told me he was a Roman Catholic himself) 'You're still having all that trouble about women bishops, aren't you?'

I had to admit that was indeed the case.

'The way I look at it,' he said, 'is this: if God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, all the rest in basically rock'n'roll.'"


     Stuck in the traffic jam that is our current world.....is not this the profound quandary posed to each and every pilgrim and passenger.

     



Thursday, December 3, 2020

Ticket Stubs - Worth The Price Of Admission

 

Strike The Gold smells the roses in the 1991 Kentucky Derby

By Harry Cummins

     Do you love collecting picayune keepsakes?  I plead guilty.  I admit to a particular affinity for event programs and ticket stubs.  Particularly ticket stubs.

    No, I don't make fridge magnets or plastic sleeve scrapbooks out of them.  They are simply tucked away in a big manila envelope marked SAVE.  Savion Glover, U-2, The World Series, Elton John, American Pharoah, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. all rub shoulders in a cherished cacophony inside.

    To qualify for entry into my envelope, I have only two criteria:

   1.  The stub must originate from an event I attended that was memorable for me, for whatever reason. There's the one from the time Michael Jordan scored 30 points in the 4th quarter. Another from the night John Curry glided across the frozen stage of the Metropolitan Opera House.

    2.   In design, the face of the ticket must loosely resemble what I call 'art.'

     Over the passing years, I am putting less and less into my envelope.  I like to attribute this to a general economic tightening, rather than my own capacity to retain meaning and memory in our world.

     I am not sure, post pandemic, what might find it's way into my envelope going forward. It has remained sealed throughout 2020, even as eBay beckons.

     As any savvy railbird will attest, in a year when a virus and a vaccine arrive in a dead-heat, you heed the track announcement "hold all tickets."   

     I am doing just that.



hcummins@aol.com


     


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Great Games in JUCO World Series History - The Night Frankie Rodriguez Struck Out 17

 

 By Harry Cummins


     In 1991, 18 year-old Howard College pitcher Frank Rodriguez was awarded the Dick Howser Award, baseball's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. In the 29 years since, no other junior college baseball player has won this prestigious award. In 2019, the most recent winner was Adley Rutschman, the Oregon State University catcher and Number #1 MLB draft pick.

     That's how dominant and deserving Frank Rodriguez was during that '91 baseball season, and on that unforgettable night I saw him pitch in the championship game of the 1991 JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.

     Rodriguez and Howard College faced off in the Championship contest that Saturday night against Manatee (Fla) Community College, who entered the game with a robust.323 team batting average. Rodriguez was a major league bound pitcher and shortstop, who would be drafted just days after this game by the Boston Red Sox.  Boston had first drafted Rodriguez in the 2nd round a year earlier, but could not come to terms with the right-hand flame thrower and Rodriguez instead elected to spend a year at Howard in Big Spring, Texas.

     Rodriguez was named to start the opening game of the 1991 double-elimination Series, but was removed after one inning after aggravating a rib muscle injury.  He came back two days later to beat Allegany (Md) Community College, pitching 10 innings and striking out 15 batters while walking just three.

    The best was yet to come.

     In the Championship Final, Rodriguez drove in the game's first run for Howard, then proceeded to fan 17 Manatee hitters, including the final four batters he faced, en-route to a 7-2 win.  His 33 strikeouts in his last two games tied a JUCO World Series record and earned him the MVP Award.  He walked only one batter in his 17 strikeout gem, played before an overflow crowd of 9,550.

     Rodriguez entered the Series with some impressive credentials as a batter as well, with a NJCCA leading 25 home runs, and added another long ball during the Series. For his only season in the JUCO ranks, he hit .450 and drove in 93 runs. He hit .333 during the World Series, while driving in 6 runs. 

     Lost in defeat, but not in my memory, was the performance of loosing pitcher James Dorough, who fanned 12 batters in 7 innings for Manatee. Robin Jennings went 3 for 4 in that championship game and paced Manatee  in the Series with a .440 BA, with 4 home runs and 13 RBI's. 

     Rodriguez's performance was the 3rd highest strikeout performance I have been privileged to witness in person in my lifetime. Topped only by the 18 K game turned in by Brandon Bargas of Rogers State College in the 2012 NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho... and the 19 strikeout gem thrown by Nolan Ryan in 1974 against the Boston Red Sox in Anaheim, Ca, an AL record at the time.

     Today, Rodriguez is the pitching coach for SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, NY.  He pitched for four teams over the span of seven seasons in the major leagues.  

     The night he won a national championship with a 'swing and miss' spectacular, will live forever.


hcummins@aol.com



    

Craw’s Corner NBA Power Rankings, December 1st, 2020

 By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

It will be a wild year in the


NBA. Who stays COVID free and healthy will be more important than ever. So here we go with my opening NBA power rankings, which will be out every Tuesday, cause as readers you asked for more power rankings in all sports. I personally always do things in 9s out of great respect for 9 hole golf courses.

9. Atlanta

8. Utah

7. Miami

6. Celtics

5. Golden State

4. Milwaukee

3. Philadelphia 

2. Nuggets

1. Lakers

Yell at me, not Bill Crawford.