"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn
Our school in Morris is a hub of community activity and enrichment. (B.W. photo)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

MACA softball, baseball vie in 3AA competition

Softball: Pipestone 14, Tigers 3
Pipestone stood defiantly in MACA's hoped-for path to the state tournament. State isn't in the cards for the 2012 MACA unit, despite the very frequent victories. Victories were in fact the norm but not at the end.
Teams from the south can spell trouble for teams from this area. The Tigers lost to Pipestone twice at the end, in a period of five days.
The Tuesday loss in Section 3AA spelled the end of the season. Coach Mary Holmberg's Tigers finish with a 17-5 record.
The Tuesday game stayed close for three innings. After that it was all Pipestone. Pipestone surged to score four runs in the fourth inning, one in the fifth, four in the sixth and two in the seventh.
The Tigers stayed frozen with the three runs they scored over the first three innings. So the final score was a humbling 14-3.
Pipestone matched the run total with 14 hits. They committed one error compared to three by the Tigers.
The Tigers were held to six hits by Pipestone hurlers Tasia Woelber and Kelly Nettick. It was Nettick who got the "W" by her name. She pitched 4 1/3 innings and struck out four batters.
McKenzie VanBatavia gamely pitched the full seven innings for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. She has held down many foes but she couldn't contain Pipestone, whose bats pounded out those 14 hits. VanBatavia walked one and failed to get a strikeout.
Six different Tigers produced the team's six hits: Steph Hennen, Tracy Meichsner, Holly Amundson, VanBatavia, Olivia Reimers and Megan Mecklenburg. Amundson drove in two runs.
 
Baseball: Tigers 9, Montevideo 5
The MACA win skein expanded to ten, most thrilling, with a 9-5 triumph against Montevideo in Section 3AA. The win opened the door for MACA to vie in the final four of this phase of post-season.
The Tuesday (5/29) success was in Montevideo. Coach Mark Torgerson's crew is the third-seeded unit out of the North.
Victory is sweet but the game was no masterpiece. Fielding presented problems for both the Tigers and the Thunder Hawks. The line scores are eye-opening with the error totals of eight by Monte and six by Morris Area Chokio Alberta. The game might have been a baseball purist's nightmare but winning offsets such a judgment.
The Tigers start with a clean slate with the semis, set for Marshall.
The Tigers got much of the winning steam they needed in the first inning. Eight Tigers came up to bat in that initial frame. Tyler Henrichs, who would finish with three hits, helped fuel that rally with a run-scoring single.
Tanner Picht pushed in a run with a ground ball. Jacob Torgerson picked up a timely  RBI with a sacrifice fly.
Henrichs and Tom Holland were standouts in the boxscore, each recording three hits. Holland was three-for-four with three runs scored. Henrichs was three-for-four, crossed home plate twice and drove in two runs.
Chandler Erickson rapped two hits in as many at-bats and drove in two runs. Picht was one-for-three with a ribbie.
Brett Bergeson was on a tear with the bat for host Montevideo. His success helped force a pitching change. Bergeson had a triple as part of going four-for-four. The triple drove in a run and influenced a pitching change from Jacob Torgerson to Sam Mattson.
Torgerson worked on the mound for 3 1/3 innings. Just one of the four runs he allowed was earned. He fanned three batters and walked one.
Mattson got the pitching win with his 3 2/3 innings of work. With so many errors in this game, you can expect unearned runs, and the one run Mattson allowed was unearned. He struck out a batter and walked none.
The losing pitcher was Jordan Thompson who was relieved by Colton Vien.
 
Baseball: Tigers 5, Red Rock Central/WWG 1
Prep sports doesn't pause much for the Memorial Day weekend. Saturday found the orange and black Tigers taking the diamond to play Red Rock Central/WWG. If you want it all spelled out, it's "Westbrook-Walnut Grove" at the end.
The Tigers were the 5-1 victor, thus earning advancement to the Section 3AA quarter-finals.
Sam Mattson was in complete game form on the mound. The reliable pitcher got the win with an eight-strikeout performance. He walked two and allowed four hits and the one Red Rock run which was earned.
Bryan Bierl was the losing pitcher and was relieved by Colby Davis.
MACA held a 2-0 lead after three innings. Red Rock broke onto the scoreboard with one run in the top of the fourth. The Tigers answered with a three-run rally that gave Mattson ample support to finish this one out. A two-run error was part of that rally. So was a run-scoring single off Tanner Picht's bat.
The Tigers carved out a big advantage with fielding. The line scores show MACA with one error and Red Rock with four.
Neither team knocked the cover off the ball. Five different Tigers had one hit each. Here's the list: Tom Holland, Picht, Chandler Erickson, Brody Bahr and Jordan Staples. Picht and Erickson each had an RBI.
Taylor Vollmer had a multiple-hit game for the loser. 
 
Softball: two games on 5/26
The MACA girls like the boys had an important competition assignment on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. In fact, the softball girls played two games. They lost the first but because they were in double-elimination, they stayed alive to play again and win.
The loss was to Pipestone from down south, a team that proved to be a real nemesis for MACA in the season's closing stages.
The Tigers couldn't summon much of a competitive stance vs. Pipestone. On Saturday (5/26) they fell 12-2 in six innings - pretty humbling.
Then the Tigers regrouped to defeat Redwood Valley 4-2. The win gave MACA the opportunity to play Pipestone again with results pretty similar, alas.
 
Tigers 4, Redwood Valley 2
The Tigers' 5/26 win saw McKenzie VanBatavia pitch versus Sam Felt.
VanBatavia wasn't in complete control as she allowed ten hits and walked two. But she allowed just the two runs, one each in the first and fifth, and one of the runs was unearned. She struck out five batters.
The Tigers were quiet offensively until the fifth. Then they went on the attack vs. Felt, recording four runs in the top of the fifth. It turned out that's all the offense they needed. Their final line score was four runs, six hits and two errors. The Redwood Valley line was 2-10-1.
Yes, the Tigers were outhit by four.
VanBatavia had a hit and an RBI. Sadie Fischer socked two hits including a double and drove in two runs. Brooke Johnson picked up an RBI to go with her two-for-three line. Tracy Meichsner had a one-for-three showing.
Redwood Valley's Julia Busiahn was a terror at bat with four-for-four numbers. Teammate Ashley Bhurtas had two hits.
 
Pipestone 12, Tigers 2
Morris Area Chokio Alberta scored in just one inning, the third, and had just one hit vs. the commanding pitching of Tasia Woelber. MACA pitchers Mackenzie VanBatavia and Brianna Abril struggled by comparison.
VanBatavia was tagged with the loss. She has been the ace through this past campaign, relieved occasionally by Brianna Abril. VanBatavia pitched five innings and Abril one in the 5/26 game.
VanBatavia struck out six batters but got roughed up to the tune of nine hits allowed and nine runs (eight earned). Abril fanned two batters while allowing two hits and three runs (earned) in her one inning.
Pipestone went on the attack to score two runs each in the first, third and fourth innings. Then, three runs each came home in the fifth and sixth to seal the outcome and let Tasia Woelber cruise.
A different Woelber - Tiffany - was a terror at bat with four hits in as many at-bats including a double and triple. Her RBI total: three. Amanda Haupert homered and doubled as part of going three-for-four.
Tracy Meichsner had the only MACA hit. The MACA runs were scored by Brooke Wente and Steph Hennen.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Times-Picayune, 3 other papers under scythe

Newspapers aren't dying, they're just fading away. We got the news last week of four papers across the Deep South going into retreat. They are all owned by the same company.
Newhouse Newspapers deemed it necessary to make a dramatic reduction in all four places. That reduction is to publish three days a week. The daily status will be dead and buried. At least that's the plan now.
The expected outcry has been heard. Unless other interests step into the picture, Newhouse (a division of Advance Publications) will apparently carry out its plans.
The news reports focused strongly on New Orleans. Yes, the most significant paper of the four is the Times-Picayune of that city. But the papers in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile (all in Alabama) will have the scythe applied to them too.
Again I emphasize that any initial plan (or ballyhooed announcement) is subject to change. I'm an old media person myself and I'm cautious. I remember when the CBS Evening News reported as fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves were moving to New Orleans. Connie Chung read that script.
The NBA decided to keep the Wolves here, although the league doesn't mind that cities get scared to death about relocation. So let the false reports flow, I guess.
Had our Minneapolis paper cut back, we might not have been harangued daily about how the Minnesota Vikings were hanging by a thread here. Brent Waddell and I called the Vikings stadium story "the undead" - a story that appeared with endless wrinkles prominently on the Star Tribune's pages, often page 1.
Brent and I were not losing sleep about whether the Vikes would have an opulent new palace built for their needs. The NFL is desperate to get such stadiums built because it's getting harder to draw fans to games. That's because the TV viewing experience has become superior.
The Star Tribune acted like a cheerleader. It did this by just prioritizing the story constantly.
"Oh, but the Vikings could leave." Do you have any idea how many people aren't losing sleep over this, fellas?
The decline of newspapers simply means we won't be so fixated on this voice-of-God media voice jumping off newsprint. The new fragmented media world is preferable. Find a media voice that suits your tastes. Gravitate to where you think the truth is bubbling up.
Don't trust the Internet? I don't trust everything I hear at morning coffee but I don't shy away from it. People are smart. They will learn what to trust.
I have reservations about the Star Tribune because I think they need all those big league teams. The irony is that the real sports aficionados are going online to get their enrichment anyway. They read Tom Pelissero for the Vikings, not Sid Hartman or his ink-stained colleagues.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune is going from a full seven days a week for its print version, to three. Ditto the Birmingham News, Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register. Oh, substantial staff cuts loom at all four. So, the very resources that might make these products attractive online are being jettisoned in large part.
New Orleans will be the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without a daily. Will the sun still rise in the east? Assuredly it will.
It's an irony that many supporters of the Times-Picayune have gathered on Twitter!
The sentimentalists can indeed make noise. I have wanted to gag watching some of the sanctimonious analysis on cable TV news. It lacks objectivity and honesty.
Many of these talking heads are at mid-life or somewhat beyond and they express distress at what is happening. Many worked for a newspaper as their media career developed. They view that page on their resume as sort of a badge.
In an earlier time, "many were called but few were chosen" when it came to writing careers. Those who could park themselves at a typewriter could feel privileged. It was as if they were let past a velvet rope.
We deferred to newspaper reporters. The height of this was Watergate. But Watergate was an aberration. The reality is we don't like the voice of God media system. We like a democratized media.
Would these talking heads who bemoan newspapers' decline really like to go back to pre-Internet days? How many of us even take a moment to remember what that was like? We were more beholden to newspapers, I guess.
But what about when a newspaper had an agenda that might irritate us? The best we could do is submit a letter to the editor and hope it got published. Today there are throngs of us on new media platforms who can reach an appreciable audience with a credible message. No printing plant or barrels of ink.
The sentimentalists about the Times-Picayune must know where this is all headed. New realities have tightened the noose around the traditional newspaper. Advertisers have consolidated. Their choices have multiplied, much to their delight. Clients have more options for getting information.
And we bemoan this? Sentiment can exert a strong pull. But let's live in the real world please.
In terms of total revenue, the newspaper industry is half as big as it was in 2005. Newspaper revenue is scant for the Monday, Tuesday and Saturday editions.
What about money from people who "buy the paper?" Don't be naive, folks, it's advertising that buttresses this business.
Newhouse Newspapers is striving not to sound grim. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt please. They give us the new buzzword of "hybrid" - print and online as an effective combo. It's tenuous because print and online represent such different communications models.
A newspaper is a behemoth enterprise that develops a monolithic voice, as in "we need a new Vikings stadium."
Such a mantra gets taken apart online. The pretensions are pierced. Any special interests are readily identified for what they are. This is scary for people in power, people who historically have curried favor with folks "behind the velvet rope" at newspapers.
It's this old model we want to discourage.
We all love the media and communications. It's the voice of God element we need to ease into the past.
A newspaper assumes we all want to read about the same things. How cockeyed for the year 2012! Does anyone doubt this?
Newspapers are going the way of Shriners conventions. A nice online analysis of it all quoted Led Zeppelin: "If it keeps on raining, the levee's gonna break."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Morris Eagles down Madison, Clinton

Town team ball is associated with summer but it gets going in spring. For a while it can get upstaged by the prepsters. But it really begins to blossom in mid-June.
Right now (on 5/26) our blue-clad Morris Eagles are at .500. Back-to-back wins lifted them there.
First the Morris crew disposed of the Madison Mallards 9-5 on May 19. Then they got past the Clinton Cards by an 8-7 score.
 
Eagles 9, Madison 5
This was the Eagles' first triumph of the young season. It saw the Eagles finally separate themselves from the Mallards in the eighth. It was a close game up until then.
A three-run rally in the eighth saw Ryan Beyer sock a two-out triple. He pushed two runs in with this blow. Actually the Madison right fielder almost made a great play. He couldn't quite gather the ball in.
Beyer was able to trot home on an errant throw. Thus Morris had a comfortable four-run lead which held up.
Former UMM student-athlete Nate Haseman got the pitching win in relief. He was solid, allowing no runs and striking out three in his 3 1/3 inning stint. He allowed two hits and walked one.
Nate had his pitching arm called on in relief of Nathan Gades. Gades got roughed up a bit, allowing seven hits and five runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings pitched. He fanned three batters and walked one.
The third Eagle pitcher to see action was Craig Knochenmus. Craig pitched one inning and got all three outs via strikeout. He allowed a hit and walked a batter but those strikeouts put out any fire.
Eric Asche is back into the Eagles' fold after a year away. He was a cog with his bat, hitting safely twice in four at-bats including a double. His RBI contribution was a hefty three, and he stole a base.
Kirby Marquart was a terror in Madison's eyes as the leadoff man. Kirby did what leadoff men are supposed to do: get on base, period. He accomplished this five times, drawing four walks and socking a run-scoring double. He scored two runs.
Ryan Beyer was right behind Kirby in the batting order and certainly made noise. Ryan's boxscore line was 4-2-2-2 (at-bats, runs, hits, RBIs).
Knochenmus went two-for-three with two runs scored. Haseman complemented his pitching with a hit in his only at-bat.
Brett Anderson stroked two hits in three at-bats, scored a run and drove in one. Mitch Carbert scored a run. Cole Riley added to the mix with a hit.
The Eagles' line score was nine runs, eleven hits and three errors.
The Mallards held their own with ten hits.
 
Eagles 8, Clinton 7
The Eagles got outhit 13-11 but prevailed in the column that counts most: runs scored.
This May 20 game at Clinton ended with an 8-7 score with Morris celebrating arrival at the .500 plateau.
The Eagles also had to overcome the errorless ball played by Clinton. Not only that, they had to survive a quite substantial late-game scare. Yes, the Cards rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth. Fans were at edge of seats but Morris was able to survive.
Morris assumed a 3-1 lead in the first inning of this Land O' Ducks League game. Eric Riley's bat made noise in the first, producing a two-run double down the left field line.
The score became 4-1 in the second. Ryan Beyer socked an opposite-field triple in the second, driving in a run.
Riley's bat came through again in the fifth, when the score improved to 6-2 in Morris' favor.
There was still more improvement in the eighth thanks in part to a Brett Anderson RBI single. A double steal pushed in yet another run, so this game is a cakewalk, right?
The never-say-die Cards, striving to bear down at their home diamond, plated one run in the eighth and four in the ninth. Add 'em all up and the Cards are still a run shy. But the Eagles had to breathe a sigh of relief.
Three Eagles worked on the mound in this game. The bulk of the pitching was done by veteran Matthew Carrington. The Cards managed eight hits off Carrington but all were singles. Jamie Van Kempen had his arm called on for 1 2/3 innings and alas, he was off his game. He got roughed up although he did strike out two batters.
Then came Kirby Marquart on the hill. It was up to Kirby to close this one out. He in fact got the save, getting the final out with the tying run on.
Let's look at the offense: Ryan Beyer was in the groove, posting three-for-four numbers on this day. He scored two runs, drove in one and was a baserunning force with two stolen bases.
Marquart went two-for-five with two runs scored. Eric Riley performed well in the meat of the order with his two-for-five line along with three RBIs and two runs. Cole Riley, Craig Knochenmus, Anderson and Van Kempen each had one hit. Eric Asche drove in a run.
The Eagles came out of this game with a 2-2 record and a determination to get over .500.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 24, 2012

MACA girls charge into post-season winning

The post-season is on!
I can't help but shudder a little, because the details can get complicated. Experience has taught me that at a certain point, not necessarily at the beginning, double-elimination kicks in. So you have a losers bracket. Sometimes both the champion and runner-up will advance out of sub-section.
And you'd better get all your terminology right - North and South, A or AA etc.
All that being said, let's celebrate the MACA softball team's initial success. The Tigers won not once but twice on Tuesday (5/22). This was in the 3AA-North tourney.
So now they're in the sub-section semis. The success pushed their season record to 16-3.
Now they're getting focused for their next post-season challenge which will have Pipestone as the foe. Game-time is 1 p.m. on Saturday. The location: Marshall.
In the 5/22 games, the Tigers hosted and defeated Minneota-Canby-Lincoln HI and Marshall.
My updates on Tiger baseball are on my companion website, "Morris of Course." I invite you to read about Jake Torgerson's perfect game. Also in that post is the review of the Tiger softball team's 4-1 win over NL-Spicer. These games were played on May 17. Please click on the permalink below:
 
The Tiger baseball team defeated Montevideo 3-1 on May 22. Click on the permalink below to read that summary. I appreciate it. - BW
 
Softball: Tigers 7, Minneota-Canby-Lincoln HI 0
Coach Mary Holmberg's Tigers had a line score of seven runs, six hits and two errors in this win. Minneota had but one hit and committed two errors.
The pitching of Mackenzie VanBatavia was very much in the groove. She set down eleven batters on strikes and walked just two. She pitched all but one inning, getting spelled by Brianna Abril.
Abril fanned a batter and walked none.
The losing pitcher was Kelsea Tolk.
The Tigers scored one run in the second inning, two in the third, three in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Nicole Strobel and Holly Amundson each had two hits in three at-bats. Sadie Fischer socked a double. Olivia Reimers had an RBI despite being hitless, and Megan Mecklenberg had a one-for-three showing.
Hannah Deis had the only Minneota hit.
 
Tigers 9, Marshall 1
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta dominance continued. Not missing a beat, the Tigers took care of business with another one-sided score, again with Mackenzie VanBatavia showcased in pitching. She struck out six batters, walked two and allowed six hits and one run (earned).
Miranda Fischer was the losing pitcher.
The Tigers didn't get going with run-scoring until the fourth, when they plated two runs. Their big inning was the fifth when they rallied for seven.
Their line score was nine runs, seven hits and one error. The Marshall numbers were 1-6-2.
Brooke Johnson had a multiple-hit game for the Tigers. Other Tigers hitting safely were Nicole Strobel, Jaimie Bergerson, VanBatavia, Holly Amundson and Tracy Meichsner.
Jessica Tubbs had two hits including a double for Marshall.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kudos to "Morris Area Merchants" ad flyer

I was intrigued, as I'm sure many others were, seeing that four-page "Morris Area Merchants" ad publication recently.
There was no evidence this had anything to do with the Morris newspaper. The newspaper exists precisely to provide this kind of service. So, apparently a group of Morris businesspeople felt they needed to find an avenue other than the newspaper.
A quick deduction is that there is dissatisfaction with the paper.
I found it refreshing to see a flyer like this that had bald-faced allegiance to Morris area businesses. It was a breath of fresh air. What's disappointing is that a group of Morris businesspeople found it necessary to take it upon themselves to do this "end run" around the established paper. It's a distraction for them. It's time-consuming.
And, because it's sort of an insurrection, it's disruptive to the life of a small community.
The norm is for merchants to turn to the local paper to have print advertising needs met. Several are showing that this system is no longer acceptable to them. They are having to scrap to come up with alternative resources. This is not their specialty. They have their own businesses to run. It's a big load as it is.
Why might the Morris newspaper be perceived as not sufficient? Is it really the Morris newspaper? I have noticed a great many ad circulars for non-Morris businesses, primarily Alexandria, stuffed in with the weekly paper. The poor Morris businesses can end up lost in the shuffle.
The sheer quantity of circulars is an irritant for many of the people who still acquire the Morris paper. Several have told me they take the whole stack and just heave it into a waste receptacle. If there were just a handful of circulars, primarily for our local merchants, I suspect there would be no instant turn-off factor.
Does anyone think the Alexandria businesses are paying full price to reach the specific Morris area audience? Does anyone think this isn't just a "perk" of sorts for businesses that are advertising with Forum Communications, the big chain newspaper company that owns the Morris paper?
I resent this "invasion" of Alexandria advertising. It's no secret that Alex - or is it "Alec?" - is an attractive destination for Morris area residents. They have the "big box" stores. It's a lakes/tourist area with the expected amenities.
So, fine and dandy. I see no need to page through an ad circular for an Alexandria grocery store or drugstore. It's pollution. All this stuff is an affront to the Morris businesspeople who are trying to get their well-founded ad material in front of their customers.
The Forum pays lip service to being committed at the local level. How could they say otherwise? But I suspect they make more money accommodating Alexandria businesses the way they do now, than if they insisted on the Morris paper being truly local.
Does that mean a truly local Morris paper couldn't make money? I suspect it could - maybe not at the levels the Forum can juice up - but at a decent level. The problem is, our Wall Street-influenced culture no longer thinks "decent" is enough.
The Forum's approach may be working for them in the short term. But when your priorities are out of whack, the long-term picture isn't going to work. There have been signs of crumbling aside from what we're seeing with the new "rogue" publication ("Morris Area Merchants").
Press run and circulation numbers have been tumbling. As I reported previously (on my companion website, in my "False Spring" post), the Morris newspaper has a press run of 2800 copies. This is according to an official report that came out in late September. We have had several months to see further erosion.
For years the press run of the Morris paper was about 4000.
The paid circulation figure is 2340. The number used to be about 3500. The paper appears to discard about 380 copies which seems excessive.
Each fall these numbers come out.
It was a bombshell when the Morris paper went from being twice-weekly to weekly. Not only was there considerable grumbling about this, there was grumbling about how the new weekly paper would come out on Saturday.
Now that we're almost into June, it's a time of year when many Morris residents are gone for the weekend. Yes, there is a push to promote tourism here, but realistically we know we aren't in a true "lakes" area. We travel a reasonable distance to the east for this. UMM shuts down, in large part, which makes for a relatively quiet atmosphere.
I suspect the Morris paper has been hurt by the closing of Coborn's. I used to personally deliver newspaper bundles around town, and I can tell you the Coborn's newsstand was the "hottest." The closing of Coborn's makes life in Morris seem even slower in summer.
It would be healthy for Morris to have a hard-charging, committed print advertising vehicle to really prop up Morris.
The Morris Sun Tribune should probably get an award from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. We don't need that.
Morris businesses, without my help, are taking a very skeptical look at the Forum-owned Morris paper. That's why we see this "Morris Area Merchants" flyer. I hear the flyer is going to continue on a monthly basis.
I hear that a coupon placed in both the flyer and the Morris paper, as a test, got far greater response in the new, Morris-oriented publication. In fact, the numbers are staggering. So, all you businesspeople who lazily advertise in the Morris paper as a knee-jerk sort of thing, pause and take a fresh look please.
I would like to implore all you Morris businesspeople to quit supporting those "sig ads" in the Morris paper. That's short for "signature," although many in the media business whisper that they are "sucker ads."
These are ads with some sort of benevolent message like "Have a happy and safe Fourth of July," and then you see businesses listed underneath. Interestingly, this ad appears on the Saturday of July 4 weekend when all the travelers are gone before they even see the paper.
These ads are like the newspaper using a vacuum cleaner to just vacuum money out of your pockets. Knock if off. Quit paying through the nose to have the name of your business in a tiny box on the edge of a Tiger sports schedule page. Those sports schedules could be attractively displayed on the school website.
This new "Morris Area Merchants" flyer may be refreshing, but it reflects dysfunction in that the newspaper really should be handling this. This is a newspaper's whole reason for being. It's really not about news coverage, or about sports for heaven's sake, it's about accommodating local businesses. If the newspaper isn't doing that, it has its priorities hopelessly out of whack.
For the newspaper to pay an employee to regularly attend sports games, while at the same time leaving businesses so frustrated they feel they have to go out on their own to advertise, is bizarre and sad.
I even resent the "district court news" in the local paper. It just fuels the local gossip mill. It's embarrassing to many upstanding citizens who maybe just commit a minor oversight in their lives now and then. It's public information if you want to take the trouble to go to the courthouse and ask to see it. It needn't be published.
Obituaries in the Morris paper lost much of their value when the paper became weekly. Besides, more and more people are going online to get obituary info. People are anxious to get the visitation and funeral schedule info.
More and more I see the local paper as just an intrusion on our privacy. The extensive sports news appeals to a too-narrow slice of the readership. It should all go online where it could be handled better anyway.
I see nothing wrong, though, with getting a publication like "Morris Area Merchants."
And let's say kudos also to "Senior Perspective." Please click on the link below to read a positive post I wrote about "Senior Perspective" on my companion website, "Morris of Course." I identify three specific things "Perspective" does well in comparison to many of the town papers.
 
Will "Morris Area Merchants" be permanent? It probably shouldn't.
The best scenario would be for the Forum to be pressured to sell either to local interests or to interests that would allow the paper to be run as a local entity with local loyalties - the way it should be.
Frankly, the sooner the better.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, May 18, 2012

Glen Helberg RIP, treasured friend

A good reason to keep religion in your life is the realization that nothing in this life lasts. There are no objective answers forthcoming. So we turn to the more subjective kind.
We reach out to an entity that makes us feel we'll ultimately know the answers.
Such thoughts are prompted by the loss of a friend. I have just been through such an episode.
My overall circle of friends has become limited since becoming unemployed six years ago. It has felt somewhat like an eternity.
Don't mistake the limited number of friends with a lack of richness. The richness has been most fulfilling.
We lost Glen Helberg a few days ago. You'll probably remember him from when he carried out groceries at Coborn's. Once again, "nothing in life lasts," and let's put Coborn's in that list. The vacated building is a setback.
Helberg helped animate that store - give it color and a reason to go there. He couldn't have been more polite or accommodating. Or patient. He recalled someone who forgot where her car was parked one day. I'll bet this happens a lot. Glen said "part of the problem is that so many cars look alike nowadays."
Anyway, this woman got a little flustered, seeming guilty about the inconvenience she was imposing on Glen, whereupon Glen said "Don't worry about me. I've got all day."
We all seem in too much of a hurry. We have "data overload." We get accustomed to "instant gratification." Glen learned there are much higher priorities than instant gratification. First and foremost: life itself.
Glen was the fellow you saw at Coborn's with that problem in the jaw area. It was cancer and it never completely let go. 
He succumbed a few days ago, having enjoyed the company of friends as best he could up until the end. His cat was a valuable companion. He had recently lost another cat who lived to a very advanced age.
His residence along Pacific Avenue was humble but cozy. Howard Moser always referred to the place as "Helberg's corner." People going to West Wind Village would turn west there.
Glen once tried to do a favor by putting up a sign directing people to WWV. It's a part of town where it can be hard to navigate if you don't know exactly where you're going. Oddly, legal action was taken vs. Glen's thoughtful gesture, so he had to remove the sign. Someone later joked that Glen should just place a wheelchair on his property with a sign and arrow saying "it's that way!"
All of west Morris can seem a little confusing. There are too few landmarks. Way back when, that part of town was laid out in an unconventional way, not with nice 90-degree angles in mind. Perhaps the people back then felt Pacific and Park Avenues would be the only streets. They begin at the same spot, by the railroad tracks, and fan out.
Connecting the two became a little problematic. This is why there is at least one "five-way intersection." I have a photo of that on a CD.
Pacific Avenue has a somewhat industrial complexion. But there are lots of residences too. Glen had a nice little house and well-manicured yard - a wholly pleasant place even though there was some industrial noise nearby. It's a stucco house.
That part of town will never be the same now that Glen's gone. He had such ebullience about life. He was philosophical and thoughtful. He could get discouraged about how money could govern our behavior so much.
He lamented, as did I, the failure of this community to raze the old public school once it was abandoned. Here's another exhibit in how "nothing in this life lasts." He'd say "the money for tearing down the old school should have been part of what we voted on (for the new school)."
He advised me that if I should ever serve on a church council, "keep in mind that it's all about money. That's all you deal with."
He seemed to lament the closing of a lot of small churches in the name of consolidation. He mentioned a consolidated church that was limping along with attendance, but a handful of rich people bailed it out. He felt uneasy about this. The sanctuary can be filled and it's no guarantee that the financial waters are calm, he'd say.
"You can keep a church going with four or five very wealthy people," he said.
His talk about wealth could be a little more earthy than that. I have quoted the phrase crossing his lips most often about this: "Money talks and bulls--t walks."
Our idealism must be balanced with a little cynicism. Cynics can grate on us, like tea partiers perhaps, but they have their role in the crazy quilt of our society.
Glen was a mechanical whiz and a bit of a packrat. He tuned up my riding lawnmower one spring, then I had an emergency with it a few weeks later. Mice had gotten into it, in our outdoor storage shed. I would have been embarrassed contacting anyone else. Glen came over with his trailer, rolled up his sleeves and remedied the rather considerable damage. He only charged me what it cost him.
He was a morning companion of mine at our McDonald's restaurant. Toward the end it was getting hard for him to stay the usual amount of time and be sociable the way he wanted to. The ravages of the disease were getting to be too much. He hung in there as best he could.
This is a confounding disease, as I'm sure you realize as you've observed acquaintances battle it. It's unpredictable. Doctors try different strategies and never talk in terms of your days being numbered. I can't blame them, because it's so impossible to predict. Remissions do happen.
Glen's malady was so visible. I know this bothered him.
Sometimes he'd be a little late showing up at McDonald's, whereupon Brent Waddell would get out his mobile telephone and say "where's that Helberg?" (If Mitt Romney can say "aircraft," as in "I just got off the aircraft," I can say "mobile telephone." Let's all be Coneheads.)
Where is Glen now? Assuredly he's in a better place. He's somewhere where money doesn't rule. He's no longer at the mercy of his mortal body which limited his ability to eat normally in his later years.
I hope he's feasting in that "better place."
Glen Helberg, RIP.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MACA gains upper hand vs. YME Sting

Tyler Henrichs gets congratulated on home run vs. Benson. (B.W. photos)
Brody Bahr bats for the Tigers in the May 10 win over Benson.
Lincoln Berget makes good contact during the 5/10 home win.
One run is all you need when the opposition has zero.
Sam Mattson was showcased on the pitching mound for MACA baseball Tuesday (5/15). This was a Tigers vs. Sting affair at YME's Richter Field.
A pitching duel developed between Mattson and the Sting's Austin Thorstad. Both were impressive.
The Tigers pushed across one run in the third which proved to be the game-winner.
Tuesday was a significant day for Tiger softball too. Significant indeed, as the Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls clinched the conference title, beating YME here 11-6.
This post covers both games.
To read about the MACA baseball and softball games played on Friday and Monday, May 11 and 14, please click on the permalink below which is to a post on my companion site, "Morris of Course."
 
Baseball: Tigers 1, YME 0
The MACA line score was one run, five hits and two errors. The YME numbers were 0-4-0.
Bryce Jergenson scored the lone MACA run. He initially walked. He got to second from where he scored on Tanner Picht's double.
A pivotal inning was the sixth. The Sting got the bases full and Mattson had to bear down. He induced a double play that allowed the Tigers to escape unscathed.
Mattson and Thorstad both pitched a complete game. Mattson struck out seven batters, walked four and allowed four hits and no runs. Thorstad fanned five, walked four and gave up five hits and that one run (earned).
Picht had a perfect two-for-two boxscore line including that RBI double. Chandler Erickson and Tom Holland both went one-for-three, and Tyler Henrichs had a one-for-two afternoon.
The Sting players hitting safely were Brandon Grund, Devon Dyrdahl and Thorstad.
  
Softball: Tigers 11, YME 6
The WCC-South crown belongs to the MACA Tigers for the spring of 2012. That distinction was wrapped up Tuesday (5/15).
It came right here at the home diamond. The orange and black turned back the Sting of YME.
The game seemed over before one inning was even done. The Tigers scored eight runs in the first while holding Yellow Medicine East to zero. In the end the score was 11-6.
This was the 12th MACA win in conference play, against one loss. The overall record: 13-3. Fans are starting to focus on what the post-season might bring. Bring it on!
The MACA line score was eleven runs, eleven hits and two errors. YME scored six runs on just one hit and was hurt by five errors.
The big MACA rally in the first inning included a two-RBI single off Nicole Strobel's bat, and a two-RBI triple by Steph Hennen.
The Sting scored their six runs with just one hit thanks to some walks and errors.
McKenzie VanBatavia and Brianna Abril shared the pitching work for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. VanBatavia struck out eleven batters and had some control difficulties reflected in seven walks. Two of the four runs she allowed were unearned. She gave up the one YME hit.
Abril pitched a fraction of an inning and gave up two runs even though YME didn't hit safely. She walked a batter and fanned none.
Allie Trudel was the losing pitcher for YME. She shared the pitching work with Mariah Novell.
On to the hitting story: The eleven-hit MACA attack had Hennen pounding out three hits in four at-bats and driving in two runs. Her bat made noise with that first inning triple.
Olivia Reimers was a perfect three-for-three with four RBIs. Nicole Strobel picked up two RBIs with her one-for-three boxscore line.
Brooke Johnson went one-for-three with a pair of ribbies. Brooke Wente was a perfect one-for-one.
Tracy Meichsner and Holly Amundson both went one-for-four.
Haley Enstad had the only YME hit.
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta softball and baseball!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Goldilocks weather" for UMM graduation

UMM 2012 graduates, in the processional. (B.W. photos)
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler addresses the assemblage.
UMM Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson welcomed all.
The weather hasn't always blessed the UMM graduation. It certainly did on Saturday, May 12.
Graduation was held where it was supposed to be: on the green campus mall. The mall became flooded with people in a joyous mood. It was time to usher UMM's Class of 2012 into the next phase in their lives, hopefully with a continued sense of growth and opportunity.
Based on news reports, one cannot take for granted that a bonanza of opportunity awaits. The challenges may yet be vigorous. But, armed with a U of M diploma, these young people hopefully have more than their share of advantages.
We enjoyed the Goldilocks type of weather Saturday - not too cold or too hot. Music provided the backdrop as the celebrants gathered. The vocal was overseen by Ken Hodgson, associate professor of music.
Then we have band, although "band" doesn't seem to be the accepted term anymore. It's "symphonic winds." Here we had Simon Tillier, teaching specialist of music, handling the baton.
I remember playing in the UMM band for graduation in the late 1960s when there was a shortage of French horn players and I was plucked out of junior high band. I hope I pulled my weight.
The 1960s are certainly becoming remote in time. UMM Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson alluded to UMM's first commencement which was in 1964. She mentioned she wasn't sure if it was inside or outside. I was there and I remember it was outside. We were blessed by an appearance by U of M President O. Meredith Wilson.
That first commencement was a really big deal in town.
In 2012 like in 1964, the U president came to town to celebrate the occasion. We were blessed by a speech from Eric Kaler, relatively new to the top spot. He has had to navigate through a little controversy having to do with money.
We don't hear so much about that now, so perhaps the issues are addressed and the topic is receding. At the crux is (alleged) financial largesse.
The U appears to have a big advocate in Governor Mark Dayton. Hopefully Dayton can stay as vigilant supporting the U's interests as he was in pushing through a new Vikings stadium. Certainly we are weary hearing about this (the stadium). We should pray that a whole new class of gambling addicts isn't created via electronic pulltabs "in bars and restaurants."
I don't go to bars. But I do go to restaurants. Let's pray for some moderation.
Kaler complimented UMM on its diversity. He lauded us on the "town and gown" reputation, i.e. the relationship between town and campus. I would argue this is a work in progress. But Kaler's strong affirmation indicates this is something worthy of more than lip service.
So maybe it's an ideal we'll see fully realized.
Kaler complimented UMM on "its sense of place" with a deep and abiding sense of history of its campus. It has gone through phases. The liberal arts mission dates back to 1960. 
The first memory I have of this campus is the "circle drive."
Kaler talked about the "spectacular prairie setting" of UMM. A short stroll to the east would reveal the prairie panorama that includes the grand wind turbines. The turbines fit right in with UMM's mission. "Sustainability" is a buzzword.
The student speaker was Manjari Govada from Shakopee. This speech each year invokes the memory of Curtis H. Larson. An award named for Larson, who spoke back in that seminal 1964 commencement, goes to each year's chosen speaker.
Govada lauded UMM as a place where "professors know your name." And, as "a community of faculty, staff and peers all of whom have your best interests in mind."
U of M Regent Clyde Allen was back on campus. I remember writing about Allen's appearances for UMM graduation when I was in the print media. So, he seems to have special affinity with our campus. Allen presided over the conferring of degrees.
A Native American Honor Song was performed by the Midnite Express Singers. The earliest phase of our campus was as an American Indian boarding school. Crow Bellecourt is the lead singer for the Express.
Tony Schuster gave a welcome from the UMM Alumni Association.
A post-commencement reception was held at Oyate, although I thought they could have had a little more than party mix. (Just kidding.)
Picture takers were everywhere. It was a day of memories to be made. And futures to be pondered.
Congratulations to the University of Minnesota-Morris graduating class of 2012.

Click on the permalink below to read a second post inspired by the 2012 UMM graduation. This post is from my companion site, "Morris of Course."
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, May 11, 2012

A winning Thursday for diamond squads

Softball: Tigers 8, Benson-Hancock 1
The Tigers soared (or roared) to a 12-1 record with their Thursday (5/10) softball success. Wow!
The orange and black scored in every inning but one as they breezed to an 8-1 win in WCC-South action on the road.
After four innings the score was 5-1. After the full seven, coach Mary Holmberg's squad could savor the winning margin of seven, having built this decisive advantage with just six hits.
Benson-Hancock was held to just three hits.
The line scores show B-H struggling in the field, committing four errors, while the MACA error total was a gleaming "zero."
The Brave Owls of B-H scored their lone run in the fourth.
MACA pitching ace Mackenzie VanBatavia took a break for one inning on this day. VanBatavia pitched six innings and stepped aside for Brianna Abril for one. Winner VanBatavia overpowered the B-H batters, accumulating 12 strikeouts. She walked none and allowed just two hits. It was a true pitching gem by her.
Abril fanned a batter, walked none and gave up one hit.
The B-H pitching was done by Kayla Jones (the pitcher of record) and Serandon Bigalke.
Offensively, Sadie Fischer showed a productive bat for MACA, doubling as part of going two-for-four. Also achieving a multiple-hit game was Nicole Strobel with two hits in three at-bats and two runs scored.
Steph Hennen went one-for-two and Jaimie Bergerson one-for-three.
The lone B-H run was scored by Mackenzie Jensen. Jensen had a one-for-three boxscore line. The two other B-H hits were off the bats of Gabi Doscher and Bigalke.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta came out of this day ruling the WCC-South.
 
Baseball: Tigers 8, Benson 5
Tyler Henrichs connected for an exciting two-run homer in the second in front of the appreciative Chizek Field crowd.
Those runs were important in the Tigers' WCC-South success on a pleasant day (May 10) for home baseball. Rival Benson was in town - the Braves.
Henrichs' homer gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead early-on.
Benson was able to challenge as this game progressed. The score became tied when the Braves put three runs on the board in the top of the fourth. Luke Schwarz drove in two runs with a single that came with two outs.
The Tigers answered decisively in the bottom of that frame. They scored three times and went on to win 8-5. Thus they inched over .500 in season won-lost, to 7-6.
Tanner Picht was a timely contributor in the fourth, singling to drive in two runs. Picht then scored on a single off Chandler Erickson's bat.
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta line score was eight runs, ten hits and two errors. The Benson numbers were 5-7-6. Note that error total of six for Benson.
Erickson was the MACA starting pitcher but it was Jake Torgerson getting the win.
Erickson was on the mound for 3 1/3 innings. He struck out four batters, walked three and gave up four hits and five runs (three earned).
Torgerson came on to pitch 3 2/3 innings. He set down three batters on strikes, walked none and gave up three hits and no runs.
Luke Schwarz was the pitcher of record for Benson. Anthony Berreau and Jake Huston also pitched for the Braves.
Jacob Torgerson's pitching win was his second of the week in a relief role. He has retired numerous batters on strikes while showing fine control.
Torgerson had one hit in three at-bats. Tom Holland was a perfect two-for-two and drove in a run. Henrichs with his homer bat certainly made noise.
Picht had a pair of RBIs and a pair of runs scored to go with his one-for-four line. Erickson had an RBI as part of going one-for-four.
Mac Beyer doubled. Brody Bahr socked two hits in four at-bats with one of his hits a double.
Matt Ahrndt tripled for Benson. Tyler Krienke went two-for-three with one of his hits a double, and drove in a run.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Baseball, softball success vs. Lac qui Parle

The Tigers had the upper hand vs. the Eagles in 5/8 diamond play. This WCC-South competition ended most favorably for the baseball and softball Tigers.
The baseball story had a 9-7 score at LQPV. In softball, the orange and black treated home fans to an 11-1 win. File the day away as a most upbeat one.
Ditto for Monday, a day that saw these squads prevail vs. Paynesville. Click on the link below to read about the Tigers' success vs. the Bulldogs. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course."
http://morrisofcourse.blogspot.com/2012/05/maca-boys-girls-vanquish-paynesville.html
 
Baseball vs. LQPV: The Tiger bats were sizzling to the tune of frequent extra-base hits. The Tigers scored in four of the seven innings.
The highlight was a four-run second. Then came a three-run third.
Lac qui Parle did all right in the early frames but got blanked in the fourth through sixth.
Let's take a look at the line scores: MACA with nine runs, 13 hits and two errors, and the host Eagles with 7-6-1 numbers.
Back-to-back doubles off the bats of Jacob Torgerson and Lincoln Berget resonated in the second. Tom Holland had a role in that rally and finished the afternoon three-for-five. He had a double and two RBIs.
Tanner Picht's bat was sizzling and this Tiger finished at four-for-five. He too helped fuel the second inning surge. Two of Picht's hits were doubles. His RBI harvest: four.
Chandler Erickson made noise with his bat in the second. He delivered a double, one of two he had in this game. His boxscore line was two-for-four and he had two RBIs.
Berget had the perfect boxscore line of three-for-three. Jacob Torgerson was one-for-four.
In pitching, Torgerson and Mac Beyer shared the load with Torgerson getting the win in relief. Torgerson fanned seven batters and walked none in his five innings. He gave up three hits and one run which was earned.
Beyer got roughed up a little, but two of the six runs he allowed were unearned. He was wild at times, walking five batters in his two innings.
The losing pitcher was Brandon Bornhorst. Colby Siegert also pitched for Lac qui Parle Valley.
Two Eagles had multiple-hit games: Preston Kraft and Dylan Erickson. Kraft had two doubles and Erickson had one, so it was a day, truly, for doubles to rule.
Are you ready for some softball? The Morris Area Chokio Alberta softball Tigers, playing amidst weather not the best, gained a 2-0 lead in the first two innings and went on to win 11-1.
The ten-run rule ended this game before the sixth inning was completed. The Tigers rallied for four runs in the sixth.
They had eight hits on the day, and just as impressive was the zero errors.
Pitcher McKenzie VanBatavia held Lac qui Parle to three hits. The LQPV error total was three. VanBatavia struck out six batters and walked three.
The LQPV pitching was handled by Alyssa Harms (the loser) and Mikaela DuFrane.
Offensively VanBatavia had a hit and an RBI. Megan Mecklenburg had a hit in her only at-bat and drove in the two runs that ended the game via the ten-run rule. She performed a bunt single in the sixth.
Olivia Reimers and Nicole Strobel both went one-for-three. Sadie Fischer had a two-for-four boxscore line and drove in a run.
Holly Amundson also went two-for-four.
Three players each had one hit for LQPV: Mackenzie Clark, McKenzie Long and Harms.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hancock boys edge Ashby at home diamond

Taylor Holleman and Austin Steege were called upon as pitchers in Hancock's 4-3 Thursday win.
Holleman was the pitcher of record with his four-inning stint. He was also a force at bat, getting a hit in each of his two at-bats. He crossed home plate twice.
Bryan Shaw had RBIs for all four of Hancock's runs.
The May 3 home affair had the Owls excelling offensively in the third inning. They gained the decisive momentum in that frame, scoring three times. Their other run was scored in the first.
Ashby picked away, scoring single runs in the third, fourth and sixth frames, but the Arrows couldn't push through against Holleman and Steege.
Austin gave them chances as he issued five walks. But Austin was able to suppress any potential Arrow momentum. He was credited with the save. In his three innings he fanned two batters and gave up one hit and one run (unearned).
Winner Holleman struck out four batters and walked three in his four innings. He scattered seven hits and gave up two runs (one earned).
The Hancock line score was four runs, five hits and two errors. The Ashby numbers were 3-8-1.
Holleman had a stolen base to go with his two-for-two hitting stats. Steege had a stolen base as part of going one-for-two.
Shaw, in addition to being the decisive RBI producer, had a one-for-two line with his hit a double. Collin Cunningham went one-for-two with a run scored.
Three Arrows hit safely: Tyler Langlie (two hits in four at-bats with one of his hits a double), Morgan Wing (two-for-four) and Allard Larbe (one-for-two).
The losing pitcher was Riley Mickelson who was Ashby's sole hurler on the day.
  
What's going on with the Hancock Record?
I don't pay real close attention to Hancock's newspaper, the Record, but I glanced at Thursday's (5/3) while at the Morris Public Library. Usually I'm just curious to see how big it is. These are hard times for all newspapers.
I spent about 15 years doing the sports section for the Record, very dutifully, and I hope people still remember some of the spreads I put together. I worked very nicely with the editor who was a Hancock native and "favorite daughter" as it were. I'm a Morrissite. Hey, it's only eight miles between the two.
So, I'm looking at the May 3 sports page - it was "pages" plural when I was there - and I am aghast. You know how, when you wake up in the morning after dreaming, you marvel at the weirdness of your dreams? The stuff I saw on that page is what I'd associate with a bizarre dream.
Jim Morrison says he used to have dreams about sending off the Morris paper without headlines. And then he'd blame me for it, he joked.
What I saw in the May 3 Record sports was just as weird. I hope you're sitting down for this: I saw raw game report forms. They hadn't gone through any sort of professional processing.
The worst was at the bottom of the page: forms that had a coach's handwriting on them. Next to "pitching" we saw the coach's handwritten "Bryan" and "Austin." This is so amateurish on the part of the Record, so shoddy and so insulting to the community, it's hard to find words to do justice.
I never engage in nitpicking criticism of a newspaper. Newspapers have enough problems as they are being displaced by the online platforms. But when I look at this Hancock Record, it becomes necessary to make pointed statements.
There are some junior high baseball results on the right side of the page that aren't quite as bad. They are "raw" but they include no handwriting. However, parts of the Owls' first names are cut off in the box score at the bottom. How did this survive final proofreading?
Isn't someone over there conscientious enough to assemble a reasonably professional product?
We all know the Hancock paper is a tiny part of the big regional chain of newspapers. Does this explain the negligence? Was it really such a great idea to have me leave? I would have loved continuing to do this work over the last few years.
If my work was an issue in Morris, fine, but there's no doubt I was accepted and embraced in Hancock. I know it isn't necessary to be "embraced," but given the nature of my commitments, being available on evenings, weekends and even holidays, it helps to get that little benefit of the doubt. There's more work and time involved than the average person would realize.
I used to finish my proofreading at about 2 a.m. on the night before the pages were taken to Quinco Press in Lowry. The current management would say I was nuts doing that. All I care about is the quality of the product. I loved following the Owls, coming to games often, getting familiar with the players (and yes, their parents), plus I covered lots of non-sports stuff in Hancock.
I loved covering graduation, even though in some years I didn't get outside quite in time to photograph "throwing the caps skyward." I always had to be ready for band director Ken Grunig "scaring" me with how he had his percussion section begin Pomp and Circumstance.
I loved watching the slide show introducing the grads.
I loved coming to Hancock July 4 and buying a hamburger and soft drink at the 4-H concession tent at the tractor pull. So many memories.
Now I look at the Hancock Record sports and wonder "why do they bother?" Here's the headline from the top of the page: "Track results from Minnewaska." That's not a professionally written headline. Neither is "Junior high track in Ortonville." What about junior high track in Ortonville?
And below that: "Benson Hancock takes on Monte, Waska and YME." A headline must do more than simply say a team played some games. What was significant about those games? The highlight, I learn, was B-H's 9-8 win over Monte. Use that as a springboard for the headline.
I can still write online, like I am today, but it's no substitute for the kind of experiences I used to have, all tucked away in my memory.
I see names I'm still familiar with. Where the coach wrote "Bryan," I knew instantly what the last name was: "Shaw." (Actually, those of us who spell the name "Brian" are very conscious of those who don't.)
Oh, I can also instantly put a last name with "Austin." It's "Steege." I wrote the articles introducing Austin's dad Adam to Stevens County when he came here.
These games deserve the kind of attention I would have given. What a travesty the May 3 Hancock Record sports section is. Is there any other community newspaper in America that would be so careless?
I think it would be fully appropriate for the Hancock town council to pass a resolution encouraging the Fargo-based Forum Communications to just leave town.
The first big step backward was when the newspaper office was removed from Hancock. Newspaper offices like post offices give great benefit, some of them intangible, for small rural communities. That's why there's hesitance for cutting so many post offices.
Hancock would be better served by a nice tidy little newspaper like the Chokio Review which is owned and operated locally.
Eventually of course we may see all newspapers wither up and die. The timetable is uncertain. But Hancock deserves better than what the May 3 edition included.
  
And, on the stadium front. . .
Today (Monday) is supposedly the most significant day our state has seen in a long time. We're to decide if we'll all be a bunch of chumps and underwrite a new Vikings stadium.
Wouldn't it be amazing if the death of Junior Seau tempered the new stadium drive just enough to snuff it out? The sad death underscores the hazardous nature of football, it seems. Do you wish to allow yourself to continue to be entertained by this?
Parting is such sweet sorrow but the time has come.
I'm profoundly disappointed by Governor Mark Dayton and his position as a shill or stooge on behalf of the new stadium interests. I'm a Democrat. But I might vote for a tea party Republican before I vote for Mr. Dayton again.
Electronic pulltabs? They're the crack cocaine of gambling.
Mr. Dayton, we need to hold off to see if the Vikings might be willing to come up with more money. If they won't, then it's sayonara, and I won't blame the legislature or governor. After today, let's free the legislature from even having to deal with it.
Seau's brains are being provided to science. I can't help but be reminded of the movie "Young Frankenstein." Remember "Abby Normal?" Marty Feldman was a hoot.
The Frankenstein monster looks as though it could be played by Terry Bradshaw with little makeup.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, May 4, 2012

MACA softball powers along, up to 9-1

The MACA softball girls were fully focused in a four-day stretch, winning throughout.
Monday through Thursday featured abundant success on the diamond for coach Mary Holmberg's squad. They got past ACGC, Montevideo and BOLD in games that receive the focus for this post.
Then there's baseball, an update for which I have on my companion website, "Morris of Course."
The boys' success has been a little more spotty this spring, but there have been notable highlights. Today I review the 10-0 shutout win over Pelican Rapids, along with (on a down note) the 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of Monte and their pitcher Colton Vien.
Please click on the permalink below to read about coach Mark Torgerson's baseball squad:
 
Softball: Tigers 10, BOLD 4
Lots of Tigers hit safely in the 10-4 road win over BOLD on Thursday, 5/3. The Tigers were in the groove with their hitting at Dirks Field in Olivia. MACA upped its sterling season record to 9-1, surely pleasing coach Mary Holmberg.
The Tigers scored in all but two innings. In all they pounded out eleven hits compared to four by the host Warriors. They also fielded better, committing but one error compared to three by BOLD.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta pitcher McKenzie VanBatavia held BOLD scoreless until the fifth. Meanwhile the MACA offense was supplying generous support.
Tracy Meichsner had a triple as part of going two-for-four. VanBatavia picked up three RBIs to go with her one-for-four showing.
Holly Amundson had a double and RBI as part of her two-for-four numbers. Sadie Fischer, Brooke Johnson, Olivia Reimers and Nicole Strobel each had a hit and an RBI. Strobel's hit was a double.
Jaimie Bergerson added a double to the mix. Steph Hennen had a one-for-three boxscore line.
BOLD's top hitter was Taylor Ebnet at two-for-three with an RBI.
VanBatavia pitched against Robin Lubitz. The Tiger ace set down five Warriors on strikes. She walked four and gave up four hits and four runs (earned).
Lubitz pitched the whole way and endured some rough spells. The ten runs she allowed were earned, and she walked five.
The Tigers began their scoring with one run in the second inning, and went on to plate two in the third, three each in the fifth and sixth, and one in the seventh.
 
Tigers 8, Montevideo 0
Shhh. . . Don't tell anyone but the Tigers played a game on Wednesday (5/2). High school sports aren't supposed to be played on Wednesday, are they?
Well, occasional exceptions must be made. I presume it's because of desperation caused by weather postponements. This is a unique aspect of spring sports. So often, the weather just doesn't seem ready for the outside stuff.
On good days it's terrific. But right now, as I write this, on Friday (5/4), it's cool and gray with rain pelting down.
Wednesday was a "go" for the Tigers and Thunder Hawks. The site: Montevideo.
The outcome: a rosy one for MACA with an 8-0 score. The momentum continues.
Mackenzie VanBatavia tossed a two-hit shutout. She fanned eight batters and walked four. She out-dueled Kiersti Grey who gave up the eleven Tiger hits (over seven innings).
The Tigers scored three runs in the first inning and five in the sixth.
Sadie Fischer was a standout at bat, socking three hits in four at-bats with one of her hits a double. She scored a run and had an RBI harvest of four. Brooke Johnson also went three-for-four.
VanBatavia helped her cause with two hits in five at-bats and two runs-batted-in. Tracy Meichsner contributed two-for-four numbers with two RBIs and two runs.
Steph Hennen went one-for-four with an RBI.
 
Tigers 18, ACGC 8
The MACA girls made a firm statement right away in their 4/30 home game against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. They rallied for five runs in the first inning.
The runs kept coming at a pretty good pace after that. So much so, the Tigers won with the ten-run rule.
Tracy Meichsner made it official when she connected for a single to drive in two runs in the sixth. It was her fourth hit of the afternoon! The umpires declared "game over" with the score 18-8.
It was the sixth conference win for coach Mary Holmberg's crew, and seventh overall. Only in the third inning did the Tigers fail to score.
Steph Hennen rapped three singles and got good RBI mileage. Her base raps in the first and fourth each drove in two runs.
Meichsner's first two at-bats each yielded an extra-base hit. Then, her single in the fifth was good for an RBI, before finally her hit in the sixth ended the game.
There were 12 MACA hits so there were several chefs contributing to this broth. Olivia Reimers had two hits in four at-bats. McKenzie VanBatavia had a hit in three at-bats.
Holly Amundson drove in a run with her one-for-three showing. Brooke Wente added a hit to the mix. Meichsner's boxscore line was four-for-five including a double and triple, and she netted three RBIs.
Hennen had a line of three-for-four and her RBI total was a robust four.
The ACGC line score was eight runs, ten hits and five errors.
VanBatavia didn't have her best outing as pitcher but the 'W' ended up next to her name - the main objective. The Tiger pitcher struck out four batters, walked one and gave up ten hits. Of the eight runs she allowed, only four were earned.
ACGC scored in every inning except the first. Natasha Dallman was potent at bat for the Falcons, hitting a double and home run and collecting three RBIs. Payton Wilner went three-for-three.
Sydney Larson pitched for ACGC and had a rough day as she walked seven and gave up the 12 Tiger hits.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May is here and graduations are near

Today (Tuesday) is "May Day." As a kid we were taught about the custom of "May baskets."
There was a time when I observed St. Mary's School students making the rounds with these baskets. I used to joke "Isn't May Day a Communist Holiday?" I don't think this is what the kids were thinking about.
Their baskets were full of sweets - empty calories. I passed on some of it but the ritual was charming. (I would say "heartwarming" but Liz Morrison always hated it when I used that word.)
What can we say about May? If April teased us about summer being near, May comes close to delivering the real article. It's the month known for school life becoming especially hectic. People in education talk about exhaustion.
I'm not sure what it is about May that calls for this. The culmination is of course graduation.
What advice would you give for young people donning the cap and gown? I suspect we're all equally qualified to dispense it. The grads will fall into a spectrum of life experiences much like ours.
Or maybe not. The U.S. economy has gone through changes of late more far-reaching than the usual slow evolution or tweaks. Technology and globalization have had profound effects, many of which are disruptive in a bad way. Occupations like "bank teller" seem to have all but disappeared.
We still project joy at graduation but some of this is perhaps facade. We celebrate the ritual but we look with some panic at the future.
Education itself is panicking some. There is pressure now for education to deliver highly quantifiable results. Why have music or art? Or social sciences?
It was enough in our past for colleges to simply help broaden young people. The students got a taste of various subjects that made them learned in a general sense. It was supposed to build wisdom and stability. The intangibles carried weight, like a course in philosophy.
Today the people who watch the purse strings are nervous about perpetuating this. The intangibles be damned. School must prepare you to do something. This is in spite of the fact that entering the workforce seems puzzling and uncertain.
We react to this by expecting more of school, treating it as a stubborn mule as it were. Are we just flailing?
Nevertheless we treat graduation as if it were some magically transformative event. As if all these young people at about age 17 are ready, simultaneously, to take the big step out of those school hallways.
Is it a reflection of our old manufacturing model? Are the kids "products" who have gone through assembly and are now ready for distribution? Or is the system in fact militaristic, treating the mass of graduates as automatons wearing "uniforms" (caps and gowns) and behaving in a regimented way?
The band and choir do their token numbers. How many of those senior musicians will play those instruments again?
Has our formal education system become outmoded like so many other things due to contemporary pressures? Are we preparing our kids for a 1960s world when in fact things are getting wild out there?
Kids get knowledge in ways that are separate from school. They grow up with computers. They in fact gain much literacy this way. Older people pooh-pooh this but the tech communications boom has been a godsend this way. Thing is, kids don't consume knowledge the way we did.
Let's explore: I have a thick book about the life of Lyndon Johnson in our residence. Looks impressive, but I've hardly begun digesting it. Maybe never will. It's too cotton pickin' big.
I have checked out books from the library that I don't have time to read in full. I have one on the table where I'm writing now: "Then Everything Changed," by Jeff Greenfield.
OK, how would young people broaden themselves on the same subjects? They'd go to Wikipedia. Without even looking I'm sure there's a quite comprehensive page of information about LBJ on Wikipedia. It's more than a thumbnail and less than a godawful thick book. You don't have to buy it or check it out from a library.
No cumbersome legacy systems to deal with. Just learn.
People my age perhaps haven't adjusted to the ease of this yet. We can't believe it's all so user-friendly. Learning is supposed to be arduous, we'd assert. Acquire textbooks, show up at "Room 104" or whatever, and listen to some specially anointed older person dispense knowledge.
Look forward to "study hall" (to take a nap). Fill out worksheets. Get disrupted by a "pop quiz."
These trappings of the conventional education model seem largely annoying now. We got dragged through these processes like a herd. And then we'd be gathered in a big auditorium or gym in that magical spring of our senior year for the sendoff. I'm reminded of that ritual in the movie "Logan's Run." Everyone cheered as the poor souls were actually headed for oblivion.
Not that high school graduation should actually be sad. I'm just encouraging perspective. The school loves an air of pomp, pretension and joy because the ceremony serves to help "sell" the school.
What I would say, if I could have the podium for a moment, is that "you won't wake up any different tomorrow than you are today."
High school graduation is really just a date on the calendar. It's almost cruel, making it clear to the kids that all the peers they've grown up with and developed bonds with, will now be scattered like so many seeds into the wind. Those bonds were almost like a tribal phase. They served a purpose through adolescence.
All of a sudden graduation comes and we're "free" almost as if having been released from prison. Overnight those high school friendships lose nearly all their significance.
Some of them will be maintained, of course. But you'll have to go out of your way. You're really in a new world in which you'll have to relate to a whole lot of new faces.
It's probably good for a kid if his family moves at least once during the public school years. I went K-12 in Morris, didn't flunk, so I had the same faces around me. This lasted 13 years, an awfully long time. Then at graduation, the ties are severed completely. It can have a stunning effect.
We also feel pressure to declare "future plans" as if everything should be mapped out. The high school newspaper even published a "future plans" listing for us. Better be decisive, eh? Those who declared "work" seemed at the bottom of the ladder - a quite unfair appraisal of course.
Many of my generation chose "vo-tech." Fine, but how many of these kids might have been better served learning on the job, or starting out in basic labor and then progressing to something a little more specialized?
I don't think a high school diploma conveys any special qualities today. It just frees you from the shackles - those books and quizzes - of that anachronistic (I would maintain) public school life.
Kids don't need to learn by having the whip cracked over them. By being dragged through lessons that will never have any practical value for them. By playing the clarinet or flute. Or even playing football?
We're learning the human body wasn't made to play football. Why not encourage boys to play volleyball?
Our society is being pushed through rapid change today, so who knows where it will end.
I would tell the grads of today not to be in any hurry to declare your future. Get a feel for what you want to do. Use the Internet as I'm sure you always have.
My generation grew up literally without the Internet. What a night-and-day difference. That's why maybe my peers (i.e. "over 50") just aren't qualified to guide our youth. Our youth have gone way beyond us understanding just how information can be consumed and used. They take these attributes for granted while my generation is still kind of wandering.
Graduation may not be like the ritual in Logan's Run, in which the celebrants were terminated (to keep the population down in a post-apocalyptic world), but it has no magical power in and of itself. Treat it like an excuse for getting family together. Go ahead and overeat at the reception.
Then, sleep in.
 
Click on the link below to read a post inspired by memories of my own graduation from Morris High School. My fellow grad Edie Martin proclaimed "don't be a Milquetoast." This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Here is the permalink:
http://morrisofcourse.blogspot.com/2012/04/graduation-reflects-tenor-of-times.html
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com