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Friday, April 16, 2021

These Foolish Things

 

In Spring, a compact disk and a baseball can set a heart spinning

By Harry Cummins


     Sure signs of April are everywhere, but their traditional powers of renewal seem suppressed in many of us.  Starring down year two of a lingering pandemic can do that.

     Real life, as we all know, is a succession of bad news and hard knocks thru which we learn to patch up our troubles and trudge on. Soldiers in the Great War.  In this fight, however, we can easily forget so much worth remembering. Coating our vulnerabilities in a veneer of toughness is, of course, useful, but at a risk of transformation over time that hardens our heart along with our arteries.

     Foolish glances across crowded rooms and lazy fly balls against spacious skies are the forgotten games we have been forced to put down in the name of social distancing. Once a confirmed romantic given to poetic outburst, I have since earned a grown man's cynicism. Then I became reacquainted this Spring with Andrea Marcovicci, coutesey of an old CD that has been gathering dust for the past few years.

     Tendering a collection of extraordinary literate love songs from the 20's, 30's, and 40's, Marcovicci's mezzo-soprano voice brought me back to my own  lyrical, long-lost feelings.

     Her sermonettes in song simply confirmed my own suspicion that there is scarcely little else to trust..little else to live out than our own heart's calling.  Is not love for another person a way to resist the vortex, a way back to ourselves, to our origins?  Perhaps God's clearest calling, some would say, but I shall leave that to the theologians.

     I do know if we linger too long in self-absorption, too long in the grip of contagion, we may be at risk.  How much one needs to know of shielding one's self in order to be happy is not always clear.  Happiness, however, seldom has much to do with one's age or station in life.  More, I'd say, with the resiliency of one's spirit or sentiment in the face of life's on-slaught.

     The kid in left field, yelling "I got it" and the torch singer crying out "I've lost it" have always understood these things. They are the kindest reminders we have....April's abysmal fools.



hcummins@aol.com

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Final 2020 "Fall" Oregon High School Football Power Rankings - 4/11/21

Now that the 2020 "Fall" Oregon high school football season has concluded, I bring you my final power rankings of the year. 

Class 6A

1) West Linn
2) Sunset
3) Newberg
4) Central Catholic
5) Sherwood
6) West Salem
7) Mountain View
8) North Medford
9) Sprague
10) South Medford

Class 5A
1) Wilsonville
2) Thurston
3) Crater
4) West Albany
5) Redmond
6) Scappoose
7) Silverton
8) La Salle Prep
9) Pendleton
10) Dallas

Class 4A
1) Mazama
2) Marist
3) Marshfield
4) Gladstone
5) Banks
6) Estacada
7) Hidden Valley
8) Henley
9) Cascade
10) Baker

It was fun, but not easy, to be a contributor to a media poll and to get you these power rankings. Let's pray for a normal fall football season starting in September. 


Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and sportscaster. He's the play-by-play voice for the Eugene Overhead Door Challengers American Legion baseball team and a freelance high school sportscaster in Southern Oregon. The above power rankings are strictly his own opinion on who the Top 10 high school football teams are at the Class 4A, 5A and 6A levels. It's always open for debate.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

My Oregon High School Football Rankings 4/6/21

This high school football season in the state of Oregon, I had been asked by a relatively new sports website, scoreboardlive.com, to be a contributor to an Oregon high school football poll. I've been a contributor to its Class 6A, Class 5A and Class 4A polls. 

These polls are not sanctioned by the Oregon School Activities Association. There have been several sports websites that have had polls published. Of course, opinions have varied. 

For this coming week, here's my contribution as to how I've ranked these teams.

Class 6A
1) West Linn
2) Newberg
3) Central Catholic
4) Sherwood
5) Sunset
6) Lake Oswego
7) Tualatin
8) West Salem
9) Mountain View
10) Clackamas

Class 5A
1) Wilsonville
2) Thurston
3) Crater
4) West Albany
5) Silverton
6) Dallas
7) Pendleton
8) Redmond
9) Scappoose
10) Canby

Class 4A
1) Mazama
2) Marist
3) Marshfield
4) Gladstone
5) Cascade
6) Hidden Valley
7) Estacada
8) Banks
9) Henley
10) La Grande

Last week's poll, based on votes by other contributors and myself:

Class 6A

1. West Linn                                    def Oregon City 40-13

2. Central Catholic                         def RV Clackamas 14-7

3. Newberg                                     def No. 10 Mountainside 34-28

4. Sunset                                         def No. 8 Jesuit 31-14

5. Sherwood                                   def Liberty 62-20

6. Tualatin                                       def RV Tigard 34-10

7. Lake Oswego                              def No. 9 Lakeridge 35-21

8. Jesuit                                           lost to No. 4 Sunset 31-14

9. Lakeridge                                    lost to No. 7 Lake Oswego 35-21

10 (tie). Mountainside                  lost to No. 3 Newberg 34-28

10 (tie). West Salem                     def Class 5A McKay 49-6

RV Clackamas                                 lost to No. 2 Central Catholic 14-7

RV North Medford                        lost to South Medford 35-34

RV Mountain View                        def Class 5A Ridgeview 48-16

RV Tigard                                         lost to No. 6 Tualatin 34-10

 

Class 5A

1. Wilsonville                                 def No. 4 Canby 37-14

2. West Albany                               DNP

3. Thurston                                     def Class 6A Sheldon 45-31

4. Canby                                          lost to No. 1 Wilsonville 37-14

5. Silverton                                     DNP

6. Crater                                          def Class 6A Roseburg 42-7

7. Dallas                                           def South Albany 50-6

8. Scappoose                                  def St. Helens 48-0

9. Redmond                                    def RV La Salle Prep 34-24

10. Pendleton                                 def Class 4A Baker 49-26

RV La Salle Prep                             lost to No. 9 Redmond 34-24

RV Churchill                                    lost to Willamette 21-7

RV Ridgeview                                 lost to Class 6A RV Mountain View 48-16

 

Class 4A

1. Mazama                                     def Klamath Union 60-8

2. Marist Catholic                          def No. 3 Marshfield 39-21

3. Marshfield                                 lost to No. 2 Marist Catholic 39-21

4. Hidden Valley                            def No. 10 Henley 17-16

5. Gladstone                                   def Madras 32-6

6. Banks                                           def Tillamook 49-8

7. Cascade                                      def Sweet Home 71-12

8. Estacada                                     def RV Crook County 46-19

9. North Eugene                            def Class 5A Springfield 35-14

10. Henley                                      lost to No. 4 Hidden Valley 17-16

RV La Grande                                  def Ontario 54-6

RV Crook County                           lost to No. 8 Estacada 46-19


RV-Receiving votes.


As you can well imagine, I don't agree on every team's ranking. A few don't belong anywhere near a Top 10 poll as schedules have some playing weak competition. Just my opinion. Nobody else's. I'll look forward to the final polls when it comes out. Should be interesting.



Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality who is presently with KKNX/KEED. He's also a sportscaster for the Eugene Overhead Door Challengers American Legion baseball team on KKNX and Henley and Mazama high school sports on Wynne Broadcasting in Klamath Falls. He can be found on many social media platforms.




Monday, March 29, 2021

Pac-12 Baseball and Softball Power Rankings - March 29, 2021

By popular demand, the Pac-12 Power Rankings have returned! Here's the first baseball and softball power rankings of the season...

Baseball

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

Softball

1) Oregon
2) Stanford
3) UCLA
4) Washington
5) Arizona
6) Arizona State
7) Oregon State
8) California
9) Utah

Rankings will be released on Mondays throughout the remainder of the regular season. Let the discussions begin. Be nice, please.

Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and sportscaster. Find him on many social media platforms.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - March 9, 2021

Just before the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament, here goes...the final power rankings of the regular season:

Men

1) Oregon
2) Colorado
3) USC
4) UCLA
5) *Arizona
6) Oregon State
7) Stanford
8) Utah
9) Washington State
10) Arizona State
11) California
12) Washington
*Not eligible for Pac-12 Tournament and other post-season play

Women (Post-Tournment)

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

Coming soon: Pac-12 Baseball and Softball Power Rankings. I'm looking forward to this and what your opinions are.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Zach Richardson's Massive 50 Point Night Goes for Naught


 By Harry Cummins


     Multnomah University guard Zach Richardson scored a career high 50 points Wednesday night in a loosing effort as the winless Lions (0-8) dropped a 105-97 Cascade Collegiate Conference game to the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers.

     Richardson scored 31 of his 50 points in the first half as the Lions enjoyed a narrow 60-58 advantage at the break.    Richardson is currently the CCC's top scorer this season (27.62 ppg) and heir apparent to the NAIA's leading scorer the past two years, former teammate Justin Martin.

     The 50 point explosion from the 6'0" soph guard was just one point shy of the highest single game point total in the NAIA this year.  Kyle Mangas of Indiana Wesleyan and Deshawn Munson of Harris-Stowe, each scored 51 points earlier in the season.  Mangas is currently the nation's leading scorer  (29.74ppg) and a candidate to repeat his selection last season as the Bevo Francis Award winner presented annually to the NAIA's Player of the Year.

     Richardson exceeded his previous career high of 49 points, which came during his freshman season in 2018-19.  In addition to the 50 point effort Wednesday night, Richardson flirted with a triple-double as he had 8 assists and 7 rebounds, to go with 2 steals. He also drained a career-tying 16 field goals while nearly perfect from the foul line, converting 11 of 12 free throws. His 7 3-pointers on the night tied his season high, but fell well short of his career high 13.

     Yet to play a home game, Multnomah stays on the road for games Friday and Saturday nights, traveling to Kirkland, Washington, where they will play Northwest University. The Lions first home contest is scheduled for Tuesday night, March 9, against the University of Puget Sound. At present, there are 22 games still remaining on Multnomah's covid-delayed current season.    




*****  Richardson has already scored a milestone 1,000 + points in his brief career, with two full years of eligibility remaining after this season. It seems reasonable to assume Richardson could amass a lofty total well over 3,000 points by the time his career is finished.  In his last 7 games, the emerging backcourt star has averaged 32.43 ppg.


     



Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - March 2, 2021

Here's this week's Pac-12 basketball power rankings...a little late.

Women

1) Stanford

2) UCLA

3) Oregon State

4) Oregon

5) Colorado

6) Washington State

7) Arizona State

8) Arizona

9) USC

10) Utah

11) Washington

12) California

Men

1) Colorado

2) Oregon

3) UCLA

4) USC

5) Arizona

6) Oregon State

7) Stanford

8) Washington State

9) Arizona State

10) Utah

11) California

12) Washington

Coming soon...Pac-12 baseball and softball power rankings. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - February 23, 2021

Here's my Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings for this week. Mine. Maybe yours, too. (Note: I did NOT copy the power rankings of Andy Katz.)

Women

1) Stanford

2) UCLA

3) Arizona

4) Oregon

5) Oregon State

6) Colorado

7) Washington State

8) USC

9) Utah

10) Washington

11) California

12) Arizona State


Men

1) USC

2) UCLA

3) Oregon

4) Colorado

5) Stanford

6) Arizona

7) Oregon State

8) Washington State

9) Arizona State

10) Utah

11) Washington

12) California


Happy debating, friends.



Saturday, February 20, 2021

Eastern Oregon Opens Covid-Delayed Season With 96-80 win, Richardson with 31 in defeat.

 


By Harry Cummins


     The Eastern Oregon Mountaineers opened their covid-delayed 2020-21 basketball season by defeating the Multnomah University Lions 96-80 today in a contest played at a neutral site in Connell,Washington.

     EOU was led by a quartet of players and rode a torrid 63% field goal shooting percentage in the second half to hold off the Lions (0-5).

     For EOU, freshman Paul Pennington had 19 points and 11 assists, while Zane Wright scored a team-high  20 points and Brandon Porter added 16 pts.  Justin Jeske recorded a double-double game with 14 points and 13 rebounds in a strong effort for the winners.

     In defeat, the Cascade Collegiate Conference's leading scorer, Zach Richardson, led all scorers in the game with a dazzling 31 point output, including 7 made 3's.  Back to back 3's by Richardson in a 28 second span of the second half cut the EOU lead to 83-76, but the Lions never got closer.   Richardson's 31 points and 7 3-pointers represented individual high-water marks this season in the CCC.

     Forrest Smith registered 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lions in the loss.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - February 16, 2021

Welp...the time is now for this week's Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings. Here it is.

Men

1) USC

2) UCLA

3) Colorado

4) Oregon

5) Stanford

6) Arizona

7) Utah

8) Arizona State

9) Oregon State

10) Washington State

11) California

12) Washington

Women

1) Stanford

2) UCLA

3) Arizona

4) Oregon

5) USC

6) Washington State

7) Arizona State

8) Colorado

9) Oregon State

10) Utah

11) Washington

12) California


You win some. You lose some. Just try not to lose too much, especially now.


Bill Crawford is a long time Eugene radio personality and is the play-by-play voice of Eugene Challengers American Legion baseball plus he covers high school sports for Wynne Broadcasting in Klamath Falls. You can find him on most social media platforms.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

#4 Lewis Clark State Routs Rusty Multnomah 124-75


 By Harry Cummins


     Playing their first game in nearly a year, the Multnomah Lions dropped a 124-75 decision to the #4 ranked Lewis Clark State Warriors Wed night in a non-conference contest in Lewiston, Idaho.

     The Warriors (13-1) placed seven men in double figures, led by freshman Oreon Courtney with 20 points on 9 for 11 shooting. Trystan Bradley and Damek Mitchell added 19 apiece for the victors.  Zach Richardson led all scorers in the game with 21 points for Multnomah.  The 3rd year guard hit 5 3's on the night.  Freshman Andrew Classen added 18 for the Lions.

     The same two teams play again tomorrow night, before Lewis Clark State begins a best of 3 playoff vs College of Idaho on Feb 18 to determine the Cascade Collegiate Conference's automatic berth in the NAIA national tournament.

     Multnomah last played a game on Feb 22, 2020 before being shut down this entire 2020-21 season by Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the state of  Oregon.  The Lions are scheduled to play 3 more games this week in Idaho and still hope to start a revised conference season sometime in March.

     Leading 18-13 in the first half, the Warriors broke open the game with a 21-0 run to lead 39-13. They enjoyed a 69-34 lead at the half after shooting 71% from the field.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - February 9, 2021

From the better late than never department...here are this week's Pac-12 men's and women's basketball Power Rankings:

Women

1) Stanford

2) UCLA

3) Arizona

4) Oregon

5) USC

6) Washington State

7) Arizona State

8) Oregon State

9) Colorado

10) Utah

11) Washington

12) California


Men

1) USC

2) Colorado

3) UCLA

4) Oregon

5) Arizona

6) Stanford

7) Oregon State

8) Washington State

9) Utah

10) Arizona State

11) California

12) Washington

I always enjoy a healthy, friendly debate. Bring it on!


Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality, play-by-play voice of Eugene Challengers American Legion baseball and for high school sports on Wynne Broadcasting in Klamath Falls (when there is high school sports these days). You can find Bill on most social media platforms.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - February 2, 2021

What a great way to start February, 2021 than by giving you the very latest Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings, as determined by...ME!

Women

1) UCLA

2) Stanford

3) Oregon

4) Arizona State

5) Washington State

6) Oregon State

7) USC

8) Arizona State

9) Utah

10) Colorado

11) Washington

12) California


Men

1) UCLA

2) Oregon

3) USC

4) Arizona

5) Colorado

6) Stanford

7) Oregon State

8) Utah

9) Washington State

10) Arizona

11) California

12) Washington


Those are my thoughts as to who is and who isn't the best while trying not to copy the standings verbatim. Please don't be afraid to discuss. Have a great week! 

P.S. My digression of the week...if the Groundhog was only wearing a mask today, do you think that spring would be closer to getting here?


Bill Crawford is a long-time Pacific Northwest radio personality and freelance sportscaster. You can find him on most social media platforms. 


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - January 26, 2021

Here goes...another one of Bill Crawford's Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings!  

Men

1) UCLA

2) Arizona

3) USC

4) Oregon

5) Colorado

6) Stanford

7) Oregon State

8) Washington State

9) Utah

10) Arizona State

11) Washington

12) California


Women

1) UCLA

2) Stanford

3) Arizona

4) Oregon

5) Washington State

6) Arizona State

7) Colorado

8) Oregon State

9) USC

10) Utah

11) Washington

12) California

There you have it. Agree or disagree, it's the way I see it.



Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and freelance sportscaster. He has been true to his word and has not applied for the soon-to-be vacant Pac-12 Conference Commissioner position. You can, however, find him on the main social media platforms.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Job Opening

How you like to be a commissioner of a Power Five conference? The position is open as Larry Scott will be leaving his post as Pac-12 Commissioner on June 30th. 

GOOD LUCK!


Bill Crawford is a long time Eugene radio personality and sportscaster. He will NOT apply to be the next Pac-12 Commissioner, even though whoever gets the job will be a wealthy man or woman. You can find him on all major social media platforms.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - January 19, 2021

Before you say "It's about time," here are this week's Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings:

Women

1) Arizona

2) Stanford

3) UCLA

4) Washington State

5) Oregon

6) Colorado

7) Arizona State

8) Oregon State

9) Utah

10) USC

11) Washington

12) California


Men 

1) UCLA

2) Oregon

3) Colorado

4) Arizona

5) Stanford

6) Oregon State

7) USC

8) Washington State

9) Utah

10) Arizona State

11) California

12) Washington


It's always interesting doing these rankings and you're going to disagree. Please agree on one thing, though. This isn't easy to do. Much of this is gut feeling. It's up to these teams to prove me wrong.



Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality who just happens to broadcast sports. He's the play-by-play voice for the Eugene Overhead Door Challengers American Legion baseball team on KKNX and also for Henley High School football and post-season Klamath County high school sports for Wynne Broadcasting, a locally-owned six station group in Klamath Falls. You can find him on most major social media platforms.


Monday, January 18, 2021

The Urgency Of Everyday Life

 


By Harry Cummins


     In matters of final consequence, we seldom escape much in this life - not the least of which is ourselves.

     Like countless Americans during this past year of social unrest and pandemic, I have tried many things in an attempt to do just that. Looking far and wide for easy formulas for what's real and what's not, I have often missed the meaning of this masked and muffled 'aloneness' currently covering my face...and yours. 

     It is not easy to find sufficient seclusion to simply uncover clarity of thought.  We are surrounded by a loud world of suffering, injustice, disease and impermanence.  In the midst of all that, we are called to fully comprehend our own precious place in everyday life. There are so many distractions that conspire to derail us from that important task.  Covid has perhaps helped diminish a few of those distractions.

     Through my own litany of personal failures, I have concluded that without an inwardness amid the din, human thought and human nature seldom gravitate toward good daily habits, which taken together, equal the sum of our lives.  The events and circumstances of each day are, thru the filter of our right minds, the only means by which we hope to approximate authentic lives.

      In search of our own transformation, there does seem to be far too much missionary spirit afield these days, venturing into our neighbors, co-workers, even family members' brains.  Left brains, right brains, even comfortable middle of the road brains.  I am trying instead, to regard myself as a free-will agent and those around me as components of my destiny.  I need to be alone to know what I think..and I also need to be with others to understand who I am.  Thus is the paradoxical teeter-totter in the tilt toward self-discovery. Alone and together in tandem.

     We all need to believe not what we feel like believing, but what we come to believe through honest and hard examination.  Such scrutiny may point to a divine presence in both soil and flesh, sky and soul.  Trying to get at the truth of one's self, to find your own "true north", involves sorting thru an overwhelming array of conflicting messages. It can be terribly difficult to abandon society's traditional highways of ease for the unmarked roads of your own mind.

     In the end, it is all about taking yourself more seriously.  Not with some unrelenting, egotistical, humorless notion of importance, but with an urgent and sacred sense of responsibility toward every day and every life. 

     In the final chapter of her 1992 book Migrations To Solitude, we find the writer Sue Halpern alone in a rowboat with thoughts of her blind grandfather.  Halpern describes how, even when he couldn't see a thing, her grandfather would go to Yankee Stadium and sit with a transistor radio plugged into his ear, just to cheer.  Halpern also recalls when she was 6 years-old, holding a newspaper in front of her grandfather's face, then taking it away so he could see the light.

     What do you and I hold in front of our faces every day to block the light?

      What do we cheer for... when we cannot see?

      Questions marked 'urgent'.




hcummins@aol.com

photo: Monhegan Island, ME



Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Roller-Coaster Ride of Vin Baker

 


By Harry Cummins


     Just a month after Sports Illustrated  ran a headline story calling Hartford center Vin Baker "America's Best-Kept Secret,"  and just a few months before Baker was picked 8th overall in the 1993 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, Baker and his roller coaster life pulled into the Chiles Center in Portland, Oregon for a Saturday night game with the Portland Pilots.

     Portland coach Larry Steele was no stranger at the time to imposing visiting players at the Chiles Center.  In prior years, the likes of LaPhonso Ellis, Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble and Doug Christie had made impressive local appearances.  Yet, Steele was quoted  as saying of Baker, "I took one look at him warming up and was impressed before he even took off his warm-ups."

    For the record, Hartford beat the Pilots that night 97-84.  All of us who witnessed the game would easily remember the performance of Baker.  He scored 33 points that night, to go with 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and a Chiles Center record 7 blocked shots.  Hartford and Baker then completed their trip to Oregon two nights later when Baker dropped 40 points on the Ducks in Eugene.  He was not a secret to NBA scouts.

     Little did anyone suspect after those two games in Oregon, what a wild-ride would soon  await Vin Baker.

     After scoring 41 points in his very first NBA game, Baker fell victim to a hard life of drugs and alcohol that would send him careening thru the NBA as a member of many different teams while still able to win a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympic Games, appear in 4 consecutive NBA All-Star games, and sign a 7-year, 86 million dollar contract with the Seattle Supersonics.

     By 2006, Baker was out of the NBA, his life in shambles.  His 2.3 million dollar home went into foreclosure and he suffered from liver damage caused by his drinking problem.  

    Years later, broke but still determined to pull himself out of his dark and still descending spiral, he contacted his former boss and owner of the Sonics, Howard Schultz.  What transpired next was straight from the pages of Aesop's Fables.

     In short order, Baker became a 6'11" barista making latte's and coffee drinks at a local Starbucks in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, hired by Schultz to become a store manager in training for one of the coffee impresario's many world-wide stores. In 2015-16, Baker would say "It was the best job I ever had." Thanks to Schultz and Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Baker was to find deeper happiness in an ordinary working life than all the glamour surrounding the NBA.

     Completing one of the best redemption stories in NBA history, Vin Baker has now returned to the NBA as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, the team that drafted him some 25 years earlier.  

     Baker's story is about the preacher's son who turned pro, reaching the heights of fame and fortune, then falling all the way to rock-bottom.  But it is only part of the bigger story.  

     It's also the story of every human life that manages to hold onto God's grace along with their own humble spirit.  Maybe a little harder lesson to grasp when you were once America's Best-Kept Secret and steamrolling thru the state of Oregon on a 73 point week-end back in 1993. 

     



hcummins@aol.com



     

     





Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - January 12, 2021

It's Tuesday. And you know what that means? No, it's the new Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings. Let the fun begin!

Men

1) Oregon

2) UCLA

3) Stanford

4) Colorado

5) USC

6) Arizona

7) Washington State

8) Oregon State

9) Utah

10) Arizona

11) California

12) Washington

Note: Now we'll have to see how long it'll be before Oregon's men will be able to resume its season. Meanwhile, as of this posting, Oregon State's men are back with its Pac-12 schedule this Thursday and Saturday night.

Women

1) Stanford

2) Washington State

3) Oregon

4) UCLA

5) Arizona

6) Arizona State

7) USC

8) Oregon State

9) Colorado

10) Utah

11) Washington

12) California

Note: Oregon State could've been ranked higher had it been playing more games. We'll see how the Beavers will recover from its COVID-19 issues once it starts playing again.


Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and sportscaster. Find him on many social media platforms.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

With Yogi On Restoration Road


  By Harry Cummins


     A mere 24 hours after hooligans stormed the acropolis of American democracy, the Cleveland Baseball Club announced they have just traded Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets.

     Clearly we have arrived at that proverbial fork in the fractured road delineated by Yogi Berra.  As for me, I am going with Yogi and taking that fork.  I plan to use it to consume a generous slice of humble pie, become as a child, and hope for greater understanding in the process of rebuilding.

     Restoration Road can feel like a bumpy frontage path right now, lit by foot-candles from a far away stadium light standard.

     Yet hope springs eternal. We have new players in position at the White House, but geez, 'who ya got at short', Cleveland?



Spring Fever! Meet the newest NY Met





hcummins@aol.com

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

To Err is....Divinely Human!


 By Harry Cummins


     It has been 46 years since the night shortstop Bobby Valentine booted a routine double play grounder in the ninth inning of a 4-2 California Angels win over the Boston Red Sox.  No ordinary error, it would minutes later launch Nolan Ryan into the American League record book and leave me with a dangling question for many decades hence.

     Let me set up for you one of the most dramatic record-breaking performances in MLB history.

     Ryan and the Angels would take on Boston that much anticipated August night in 1974. Both starting pitchers, Roger Moret of the Red Sox and Ryan had both lost no-hit bids in their previous starts.  Ryan was two outs away from his 3rd no-hitter just a week prior in Chicago.  Despite 13 strikeouts, he lost the no-hitter, then his shutout, and then the game.  The man who, a year earlier, had set the MLB record of 383 strikeouts in a single season, was on a mission this night.

     The first-place Red Sox entered the game with the 2nd highest batting average in the American League at the time (.271) and a 4 game lead in the A.L. East.  Ryan fanned 4 of the first 5 Boston hitters and racked up 9 strikeouts thru the first 4 innings.  Something special was happening.

     Thanks to a 3-run home run by Bob Oliver just inside the left-field foul pole in the 4th inning, the Angels cruised into the ninth and final frame with a 4-l lead. Ryan had registered 17 punch outs by then, striking out the side 3 times.

     Carl Yastremski lead off the ninth inning for Boston and drew a base on balls after falling into a 2 strike hole. Ryan again got 2 quick strikes on the next batter, Dwight Evans, before surrendering a single. Ryan then fanned Rick Miller to record his 18th strikeout, tying the American League record set in 1938 by Bob Feller. A youngster leaped from the stands and raced to the mound to shake Ryan's hand.

    Ryan gathered himself and faced Doug Griffin with thoughts of the blown game last week under eerily similar circumstances fresh in his memory. Griffin had 2 of the 6 hits surrendered by Ryan on the night.

     Once again Ryan put the hitter in a two strike deficit. Griffin hit the next pitch on the ground, straight at Angels shortstop Bobby Valentine.  All of us in Anaheim Stadium at that moment were in accord. Bobby Valentine would never have an easier chance in his life and would turn two to seal the win for California and their flame-throwing right- hand pitcher.  

     The downside of such a moment would mean that Nolan Ryan would not get his chance to tie the Major League record of 19 strikeouts in a 9 inning game set by Cy Young award winners -- the Mets' Tom Seaver and Philadelphia's Steve Carlton.

     However.....Valentine booted the the ball!  9,345 euphoric fans in attendance begin to think the same thing.  He did it on purpose. Valentine, of course denied such a suggestion in post game posturing.  If the error was intentional, it was also very courageous.  It was a miscue that could brand Valentine as a legendary goat unless Ryan could wiggle out of the resulting jam.  Personally, I was never so happy following an error on a major league field.

     Ryan then fanned pinch hitter Bernie Carbo for his 19th strikeout of the night.  A  woman ran from the stands to the mound, planting a kiss on the new MLB record holder while the stadium scoreboard flashed the magnitude of the moment. 

     With the game still hanging in the balance, Ryan faced Rick Burleson to try and nail down the final out with his 20th strikeout.  Ryan quickly racked up 2 strikes on Burleson, the only Red Sox to not strike out on this historic night. 

     With the entire stadium on their feet, Burleson lined out to right field on Nolan Ryan's 170th pitch of the night.   Ryan had thrown 115 strikes and 55 balls.  He walked only two Red Sox hitters.  Sixteen of his 19 strikeouts were swinging.  Only months earlier in 1974, Ryan had thrown a reported 235 pitches over 13 innings in an extra innings win over these same Red Sox. 

     "In those days," Ryan once told the Los Angeles Times, "I was my own closer."

    Today, Nolan Ryan is enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame.  Bobby Valentine, the No. 5 overall pick in the 1968 MLB draft, went on to play for 3 more teams before managing the 2000 Mets to a World Series.  Ironically, he ended his turbulent managerial career in 2012 with the Boston Red Sox.  Today, he is the athletic director at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

     If I had to guess, I'd say this story just might bring back a sly smile to his face. 

     'Come on Bobby...you can tell me....'






hcummins@aol.com

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings - January 5, 2021

Here we go with this week's Pac-12 Men's and Women's Basketball Power Rankings.

Men

1) Oregon

2) Arizona

3) UCLA

4) Stanford

5) Washington State

6) USC

7) Arizona State

8) Colorado

9) Utah

10) Oregon State

11) California

12) Washington


Women

1) Stanford

2) UCLA

3) Oregon

4) Arizona

5) Washington State

6) Arizona State

7) Oregon State

8) Utah

9) Colorado

10) USC

11) Washington

12) California


Note: Oregon State's women's and men's basketball have paused its seasons due to COVID-19 issues within its programs. The Beavers men's games at Utah and Colorado have been postponed as are the women's games at California and Stanford (Santa Cruz) have been postponed. 


Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and freelance play-by-play announcer. You can find him on most social media platforms.