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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Home Stretch - A Railbird's Meditations


By Harry Cummins

     There was lunacy in Louisville last week where 7 horses died in the lead- up to the Kentucky Derby and no one seems to know why.  Elsewhere, political violence and militarism in this country continues unabated in the wake of endless mass-shootings. Seems we are all stranded somewhere along the spectrum spanning anger and desensitization as our age-old institutions seemingly unravel at an alarming rate.

     Then, out of the blue, something nice happens in our ordinary back-page lives.

     I received a note on social media this week from a woman who once sat next to me 60 years ago in an 11th grade history class. She remembered that I used to carry her text books between classes. Probably not as bent toward generosity as I was back then, her note nevertheless triggered a softness in my current stance, along with the realization of the current play of light and dark in my own life.

     My belief was reinforced that there is an uninterrupted laser-like light source that can guide us thru life... if we don't loose sight of it, obliterated by long stretches of darkness. It operates, I surmise, much like the current pace-setting system using LED lights employed by the sport of track and field in keeping athletes on task.

     This beam of obedience, kindness, forgiveness, or whatever label you attach to it, still radiates in a world coming apart at the seams.   

     Like every jockey knows.... hold on tight and look for the light.



Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Passion and Paradox - Understanding A Lost Love

By Harry Cummins

     The year I turned forty, fit and fanciful, was the same year I fell hopelessly in love.

     My mid-life romance was absorbed into that peculiar juxtaposition of pain and pleasure known as the mile run.   As a miler at middle-age, I had suddenly became one of life's more pronounced captives of time.

      Held hostage by hope and the promises on some distant stop-watch, I would dream of moments when the contours and contradictions of my imperfect life would come together on that final, perfect straightaway.   A reward for fidelity... for keeping the faith.  A garland for the thistled steadfastness of my daily training.  A bit of glory, I imagined, for those rubbery-legged repetitions that sought to proportion speed and strength in just the right mix.

     No matter what our ages or our particular passions, are not such moments our fondest hopes?  For John Walker, his 1975 crossing of the 3:50 threshold must have been the moment - that fleeting exposure to the outer limits of human experience.

     As I write this, today marks the anniversary of that historic May evening in 1954 on Oxford's Iffley Road track when Roger Banister became the first man to break 4 minutes in the mile.  Years later, he describes a paradox he eventually would discover:

     "I was resting on billowing white clouds that would, I thought then, always protect me from the worst of life's buffeting." 

     As I round the curves of advancing age myself, I have come to understand Bannister's words regarding all athletic achievements in life.  Or all achievement for that matter.  More often than not, such pursuits of perfection do illuminate our existence and are worthy of pursuit.  But the reality is that these self-absorbed moments don't always protect us, and sport, of course, must never be mistaken as finally sufficient in itself. 

    Today, carrying the unwanted weight of indulgence and a series of surgical setbacks, I am no longer a runner.  For the longest time, my passion for the sport had persisted and shaped who I became.  But I am no longer in love.

     I have come to realize that it can be a hostile world, four minutes to a mile and fourscore years to a lifetime.  We all need traveling companions other than our own thoughts, to carry us thru. 

     So many of our passions in this life dissolve with the passing of time.  But there is a kind of love that still endures. A kind of love that  "Beareth all things, beliveth all things, hopeth all things."

     It is with memory intact, and what remains from a lifetime of understanding, that I now venture out of my house into this global pandemic aftermath.

      In aspiration, perhaps I still remain on a starting line.  Torso tipped slightly forward, ready to push off on one foot.......  into a new fascination and fury.

     Love is still in the air.

-- In 1983, the author competed in the first ever Invitational 5th Avenue Masters Mile in New York City. He finished 4th in a time of 4:33.  He also met John Walker, who ran much faster.


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Random Notes From MLB's Junior Circuit


BEAVERS SWIMMING UPSTREAM: Baltimore Oriole catcher Adley Rutschman tops the American League in walks with 22. His former Oregon State Beaver teammate Steven Kwan of the Guardians is 6th in the league in stolen bases with 7.

MILLER TIME:  The most intriguing pitching match up Tuesday night occurs in Oakland where a pair of 100 mph rookie flame throwers hook up. Mason Miller of the A's vs. Bryce Miller, making his MLB season debut with the Seattle Mariners.  No fewer than 27 pitchers in April have hit 100mph or more. Unfortunately, you can expect most of them to land on the injured list this year. I will leave it to our sports business expert Greg Crawford to sort out the fact the MLB teams paid $486 million last year to 427 pitchers on the injured list.

Mauricio Dubon, filling in at 2nd base in Houston for the injured Jose Altuve, is now hitting .317, good for 5th best in the American League. He is also in the Top 10 in runs scored with 20. Houston, do we have a (nice) problem when Altuve returns?

New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole looks to up his season record to a perfect 6-0 when he faces touted Cleveland pitching prospect Tanner Bibee tonight.   Harrison Bader has been activated from the injured list and is expected to make his season debut in center field for the Bronx Bombers.

PICKS TO CLICK TONIGHT:  Hitter- Joey Gallo, Minnesota.... Pitcher- Hunter Brown ,Houston.


Matt Chapman, Toronto .379  /Bo Bichette Tor .344/ Randy Arozarena TB .327/ Yandy Diaz TB .319

The jury is in on the pitch clock this season. Games are decidedly shorter. It would also be interesting to see numbers on the time saved by the new rule that limits BATTERS only one time out in which to step out of the batter's box.  


Harry Cummins

Monday, May 1, 2023

Is Handshake Line Really Necessary

 By Gregory Crawford. Founder of Craw's Corner.

Draymond Green is upset, but what is new? Apparently he was snubbed by Sabonis in the handshake line after his Warriors defeated the Kings to win game 7 and the hotly contested playoff series.

For years I have been saying no handshake lines in basketball on any level, no matter what the circumstances. Too much can go wrong and it often does. And by not doing it, it doesn't show a lack of sportsmanship at all. It shows someone is smart and has figured a handshake line is worthless.

In this day and age of all kinds of technology. use that instead to congratulate the other team or possibly a friend on the other team. Handshake lines can often be actually dangerous, with developing into physicality. 

Your thoughts are welcome