Spring Training 1985-
"It says right here they think I could have a pretty good year"
|Roads to worlds we once knew...|
By Harry Cummins
We each have them. Places and landscapes from our past that remain indelible.
Forty-one years ago I lived alone as caretaker in an abandoned mansion that is now part of a winery located west of Portland, Oregon. For the two years I lived there, my only companions were a Great Dane dog and a friendly ghost who was often heard but never seen. Mostly, I was alone with my own thoughts.
I resided in a small apartment above a 4-car garage connected to the back end of the house. It overlooked a large lake that today is surrounded by mature vineyards with expansive and unspoiled vistas. My responsibilities included maintenance of a massive lawn and periodically dusting dozens of empty rooms for those potential buyers that seldom came. I would ride my bike back and forth to a nearby town each day, where I held what most would consider a much more respectable job. It was merely a continuation of what has become for me a lifelong 'straddle' of inner work and outer work, the visible world along side the unseen one.
Last week I paid an early September visit to my former "home" and instantly realized how easily we can repeatedly reclaim these special places thru the natural process of remembering. Of course, memories become selective after four decades and offer little clue as to why and what we choose to remember and forget.
As long as our memories remain unclouded by age, disease, or searing regret, I realized what a blessing it is to be able to simply recall. There is abiding affection for these special places (and people) that have either vanished or changed over the years. Or still remain.
Places and people, like divine promises, that have lovingly persisted and unknowingly transformed us. We caretakers all.
"Try to remember the kind of September ....when life was slow and oh so mellow. Try to remember when you were a tender and callow fellow Try to remember.... and if you remember... ..follow.
-Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, songwriters
|In 1953 - A boy's definition of yardwork|
By Harry Cummins
When I was 10 years old, my mother and I lived next door to a retired matador in the North Park suburb of San Diego.
I would spend many afternoons in my neighbor's dimly lit living room, bullfighting posters from Barcelona decorating the walls. Spanish music and animated stories of his flamboyant capework would fill my impressionable senses.
The year was 1953 and I was more interested, however, in hearing about Eddie Matthews and the recently re-located Milwaukee Braves than I was about some guy named Manolete. My fascinating new neighbor's front yard soon became my own private playground where I soon became known to passerbys as 'The Popsicle Kid' and where I would invent the best game an only child could ever imagine.
All I needed was an ample supply of discarded popsicle sticks from the curb in front of the corner convenience store and a baseball bat and I could spend hours playing on this new-found field of dreams. Before each "game", I would stretch a garden hose across the back of the lawn about 10 feet in front of a low retaining wall and about 30 feet from my batter's box. This was the area where singles would land.
There were two more higher white brick retaining walls stacked behind the first wall, each with its own landing area. Perfect for doubles and triples.
Beyond the last wall was a massive grove of banana leaf palm trees. The place where home runs became legendary and an imaginary crowd would go..well....bananas!
It was no small feat to toss a oscillating popsickle stick in the air and make solid contact with a baseball bat. My batting eye was soon sharpened to the extent that I seldom missed hitting the stick. The trick, however, was to strike the stick on its thin end tip which would in turn propel the stick high into the air where it would often ride the wind currents to the outer reaches of my make believe stadium.
Runs would score, outs would be recorded and lineups of real life baseball teams would be exhausted in the playing. Cracked sticks needed to be replaced. Pitchers duels abounded on those days with little wind. Blustery days would see the palm trees peppered with wooden sticks. Light hitting Braves centerfielder Billy Bruton once hit 4 home runs in a single game!
Last night, some 68 years removed from my childish game, I settled in to watch a baseball game on television. Another kid from San Diego, Bradley Zimmer of the Cleveland Indians, quickly launched a first inning drive deep into the faraway right field seats for his sixth home run of the season.
My memories slowly circled the bases in celebration with Bradley. Yes sir.... that's what you'd call a bona fide banana belt!!!!
Keats was right, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.
By Harry Cummins
The official end of my childhood came this week with the announcement that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are ending their licensing agreement with Topps Trading Cards and forming a new alliance with Fanatics.
The move came as suddenly as a pop from a wad of bubble gum and likely will signal the end of the most beloved brand of collectible baseball cards for the past 70 years.
Just when mothers everywhere were nearly forgiven for tossing all those pieces of cardboard from the 1950's, and just when a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps card sold for 5.2 million a few moths ago, The future of Topps is now in question in a sometimes merciless world of business.
I am not sure what I will do with all those boxes of cards in the back of my closet. First Corinthians 13:11 tells me that I no longer should reason like a child. It is good advice when dealing with childish things.
However, just in case, I am attaching a note to the Topps rookie card of modern day centerfielder Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox. "Whoever finds this, DO NOT throw this card away."
I believe there are nearby places and landscapes we do not really see simply because we are so familiar with them. In our incessant desire to expand our horizons, we often miss our own back yard.
Sitting in the time-worn green wicker on the side of my house, it becomes apparent to me that unless I can actually sense and comprehend what this particular place means every day, how could I ever expect to assimilate what is happening in a wider world?
We go down so many roads in this life, seeking and seeing so many things. Do you ever feel these are simply representative of the things we could have seen at home all along?
Pull up a chair and feel the home field advantage! All the things we need to know are within easy reach thru a conscious awareness. What a day for a daydream!
Sixty-seven years ago today, before a packed stadium of 35,000 in Vancouver, Canada, they held a foot-race that captivated the world.
Billed as the "Mile of the Century", it matched the two best milers in the world before there was Mondo track surfaces and 'super spikes' When it was over, Roger Bannister of England edged John Landy of Australia 3:58.8 to 3:59.6. It was the first time in history that two men broke the hallowed 4 minute barrier in the same race.
Today, as the world still revels in the Tokyo Olympic mile feats of runners like Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Timothy Cheruiyot, Josh Kerr, and Cole Hocker, history will remember fondly the Miracle Mile of 1954. For Bannister, the first man to break the 4 minute barrier, it was his second, and last, sub-4 minute mile he ever ran.
Many will remember that Landy had led for most of the race. At the final turn, he looked over his inside shoulder to check where Bannister was and was suddenly passed on his right. A bronze statue of the exact moment Landy glanced back now stands outside the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver.
Landy once joked that while Lot's wife was turned in to a pillar of salt for looking back: "I am probably the only one ever turned into bronze for looking back."
For the rest of us mile junkies, there is no such risk looking back to August 8, 1954.
|Sydney McLaughlin just one on a growing list of 'generational talents' to emerge from these Olympics|
By Harry Cummins
In a series of performances so stunning as to render a singular summation nearly impossible, the track and field portion of the Tokyo Games nears it's conclusion.
To prepare a list of individual accomplishments from these Games is not my intent. Nearly every event final on the track, and in the field, produced moments full of drama and courage that will be remembered for a long, long time.
In a sport defined by numbers, none stand as tall as the 45.94 gifted to the world by Norway's Karsten Warholm in the men's 400 meter hurdles race. Or the 51.46 laid down by a 21 year-old Jersey Girl named 'Syd.' in the same discipline.
The new lightning-fast track surface, however, that produced so many eye-popping records in Tokyo, also yielded an alarming numbers of leg injuries that dashed the dreams of far too many athletes. Perhaps a bit more study is needed from the folks at the Mondo Factory in Italy who manufactured the new surface. One suspects this rash of injuries may be more than over-training or the pursuit of fast times.
Track and Field does face a bright future propelled by fresh new faces, but still must wrestle with lingering questions surrounding doping and drug testing and just how much assistance athletes should be allowed thru advanced technology.
Former double Olympic Gold Medalist Caster Semenya said it best a few years back when she responded to to an interview question with the words "when I come to a hurdle, I simply try to jump it."
It is the perfect metaphor for a sport ...and a world... suspended in uncertain flight.
|Will the 14 year-old American Record Fall tonight?|
Shortly after 9:00 pm Pacific time tonight, reigning 1500 meter Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz will step onto a local high school track in Portland, Oregon in search of the one thing that has alluded him over the course of an illustrious career.
The 31 year old Centrowitz, just days before he is set to defend his 1500 meter title in Tokyo, will attempt to break Alan Webb's 3:46.91 American mile record set in 2007 in a small meet in Brasschaat, Belgium.
Centrowitz will have help in his pursuit from fellow Bowerman Track Club members Amos Bartelsmeyer and Josh Thompson, who will serve as rabbits in the record attempt. Centrowitz's fastest mile ever came over 7 years ago when he clocked a 3:50.53 in the 2014 Prefontaine Classic, a race in which Ayanleh Souleiman ran the fastest mile ever on U.S. soil. (3:47.32)
As improbable as tonight's attempt may seem, one must assume the fitness level is there for Centrowitz. One of the designated rabbits, Thompson, is coming off a troubled trip in the 1500 meter race at the recent U.S. Olympic Trials. Despite tripping over the rail and being boxed in for much of the race, Thompson was in contention to make the U.S. team entering the final straight. He finished 6th in a race decided by a final sprint by Cole Hocker and Centrowitz.
If Centrowitz can add an American record to his glittering resume, he should be considered the greatest miler in U.S. history. If not, the hastily-assembled crowd gathered at Jesuit High School in near 90 degree temperatures, should still experience a sizzling way to spend a Saturday night.
|Billy Mills - Lifelong advocate for social and racial justice|
"The biggest lesson that running has taught me is to find your passion. At some point in time, the competitive running is behind you...so use running as a catalyst to seek higher ground."
Billy Mills won the Gold Medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games in the 10,000 meter run. To this day, on the eve of another Olympics set to begin in Tokyo, Mills remains the only United States Olympian to ever bring home gold in the 10K event.
By a life well-lived, Mills has shown us that there is also a prize beyond all podiums.
Guard and grow your passions well!!!
By Harry Cummins
For most college basketball teams reeling from a just concluded 1-24 won-lost season, this would be a woebegone summer of commiseration.
Instead, the pliable Multnomah Lions of the NAIA's powerful Cascade Collegiate Conference, are mere months away from unveiling the pieces of an entertaining jig-saw puzzle that if contoured correctly will represent one of the most enthralling comeback stories in small college basketball circles.
Hope has replaced despair almost overnight at this small university situated on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Michael Anderson starts his second season as Multnomah's athletic director, willing to absorb the blows from a covid-riddled first season in exchange for laying down the building blocks for future success.
Off the court, a nation-wide recruiting effort has yielded dividends in the form of a Texas/California harvest of high school seniors and transfer athletes. The new arrivals are highlighted by freshman guard Derrien Carter-Hollinger of San Diego's Foothills Christian High School, a 6'4 rim-slasher and disruptive defender. Height has also been added to a traditionally undersized front court with the addition of 6'7 Terin Johnson and 6'8 Tyrese Taylor.
In a corresponding development, 6'3 leaper Jaeden Ingram has transferred back to Multnomah for his sophomore season, after his breakout freshman season two years ago. This impressive influx of new talent will pair with the nation's leading returning scorer in the form of Zach Richardson, who finished runner- up in the scoring race last year to graduating senior and NAIA Player Of -The-Year Kyle Mangas of Indiana Wesleyan. Richardson has already posted career high games of 49 and 50 points as he enters his junior year of eligibility.
The most fascinating piece of this puzzle will emanate from the coaching ranks, where two- time NAIA scoring champion Justin Martin returns to his alma-mater to accept the position of Lead Assistant Coach under veteran Head Coach Curt Bickley. Martin, who once scored a record 74 points in a single game and 71 in another, will be charged with injecting some of that on-court excitement into his players. Martin is expected to also be handed an expanded role in play-calling and player conditioning.
Coach Bickley is nearing two decades of coaching experience and is instrumental in putting Multnomah on the basketball map with their long-range shooting heroics that once netted an NAIA record 38 made 3's in a single game. Bickley finally has the on-court personnel to shift some of the emphasis away from the 3 point shot, but always expect some new wrinkles from this innovative coach.
Indicative of the sea-change afloat at Multnomah, the freshman basketball program has been jettisoned in favor of a new Player Development League, designed to work as a permanent feeding network for the varsity basketball program. It will be headed by Assistant Coach Jason Patterson, a key builder of player relationships for years at the NAIA school.
Also joining the staff at Multnomah this coming season will be 4-year former player Quinn Curry, who will oversee housing, academics, travel, community outreach and NAIA eligibility issues.
Like any formidable jigsaw puzzzle, the best way to begin is by grouping similar pieces together, perhaps assembling the borders first, even if you're not sure how they all will eventually fit. Multnomah University basketball has done just that. They now await shapes and colors to interconnect in forming a cohesive future.
The 2021-22 season is set to begin in Pocatello, Idaho on October 30, as the Lions travel to meet NCAA Division 1 Idaho State University in an exhibition game.
|Zach Richardson is the NAIA's leading returning scorer|
By Gregory Crawford @wchoops
One big question for sports fans as we approach fall sports will we see fans in the stands or will we see empty stands or will we see how full stands.
Everyone who loves sports wants us to get back into seeing games Live. Decisions on the above will come soon from everyone, standby.
By Harry Cummins
A studied analysis of the individual skill sets required in determining the best baseball player on the planet seldom linger on the physical attributes of 27 year-old Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo.
Perhaps that is all about to change.
Gallo has sent 11 baseballs into orbit in his last 12 games. He is hitting .378 over that span. He leads major league baseball in walks with 72. He is set to participate in the Home Run Derby in Colorado is just a few days. At 6'5", he has the foot speed to play center field and steal bases.(A perfect 6 for 6 this season) You do not want to run on his outfield throwing arm, considered by many to be the strongest in MLB. He won a Golden Glove in 2020.
Are there others out there who can see past those frequent whiffs in order to take a closer look at one of the game's very best?
Let the overdue conversations begin!
By Gregory Crawford @wchoops @crawssportsbiz
Canadian Football League—- The CFL is back in operation this past week after missing all of last year cause of pandemic. Ending their first week of practice, there was some real sadness when it comes to injuries. In Montreal on Friday two players suffered Achilles Tendon injuries. Equally as bad, in Saskatchewan, 4 players suffered Achilles injuries within a 6 minute span. The CFL players’ union is calling for a complete investigation.
Golf— Last year and half has brought a huge resurgence in people playing the game. In many areas of country private courses which have struggled for years to get members are now having to create waiting lists. Public golf, which accounts for 90 percent of golf rounds is seeing full tee sheets on most days. The big question is, will this sustain?
Heat—- We are heading towards the hottest year on record. We can’t in many ways stop that instantly, but be prepared. If you have never had air conditioning, if affordable get it. All of us should also check on our neighbors, especially the elderly. It is easy and one of greatest things you can do.
Craw’s Corner has content 5 days per week. We rest on Tuesday and Friday.
|A limited number of spectators were privy to one of the best Olympic Trials on record.|
The recently concluded United States Olympic Track and Field Trials, contested in Eugene, Oregon amid the safety measures of a global pandemic, an unprecedented deadly heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and controversial doping suspensions, will go down in the record books as perhaps the greatest of all time.
With competition as heated as the soaring temperatures emanating from the sparkling new Hayward Field track, a 10-day assault on the record books produced the following:
2 World Records
2 World U20 Records
3 World U18 Records
5 American Records
4 American U20 Records
3 American U18 Records
22 Olympic Trials Meet Records
Our United States team heading to Tokyo this month is headlined by new world record holders Ryan Crouser (Shot) and Sydney McLaughlin (400H). It also features a 17 year-old sprinter who broke Usain Bolt's youth records (Erriyon Knighton) and a long jumper/high jumper from LSU (JuVaughn Harrison) who accomplished things not seen since the days of Jim Thorpe.
The Track and Field portion of the Games begins July 30 and continues thru August 8, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics, postponed for a year due to the pandemic, are set to begin on July 23. Spectators will now be barred from attending events in the nation's capital. This announcement comes just weeks after organizers announced crowds of up to 10,000 would be allowed at Olympic venues.
Must-see TV has now become 'the only way to see'.
email@example.com Follow Tokyo Games T & F here on Craw's Corner
By Gregory Crawford @wchoops @crawssportsbiz
Craw’s Corner print edition is back and here everyday but Tuesday and Friday. Each story you see here is guaranteed that you can read in 59 seconds or less.
Amazon—- Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon and world’s richest person is stepping down to today. The company will now be led by Andy Jassy. Some things will stay the same and expect at the same time big changes. Jassy wants even faster service and happier employees. Have any of you great readers ever met Bezos or Jassy?
Crime—- Crime is on the rise in United States at in some cases alarming rates. One example, in San Francisco both Targets and Walgreens will now close earlier to protect their employees and customers. Do you feel less safe than you did 10 years past?
NBA— I pick the Bucks to beat the Suns in 7 games and win the 2021 NBA Championship. How about you, who you got and do you even care?
Remember to watch each night on my Facebook Live, the Video Version, which is completely different than here. Thank you
By Gregory Crawford @wchoops
It is 10 year anniversary time for Craw’s Corner. More importantly it is time for big comeback.
Starting Monday July 5th, we will be returning and publishing every day of week, except Friday. Our style will fit today’s readership, short stories and easy to read.
Our content will include, sports, news and surprises. Stick with us and you will not be sorry.
Founder and Publisher of Craw’s Corner
Minor League Baseball