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

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Continued ascent by NL-Spicer in Legion ball

Attention turns to the Montevideo diamond for the closing stages of District 7 play. The Division II tournament is building up steam. The "final 4" phase of districts is on. Our Morris Post 29 team came up shy of that level.
Morris did notch a tournament win over New London-Spicer, score of 4-3. But now it's NL-Spicer that is climbing, while the Morris boys have hung up their cleats. Morris bowed in a re-match vs. NL-Spicer. Morris also tasted defeat vs. Osakis. The two losses spelled an exit from the district tourney.
The NL-Spicer boys triumphed Tuesday in Montevideo. Ryan Vraa continued with his hot bat, contributing two hits in the 10-8 win. Now the NL-Spicer crew is focused on trying to beat Osakis. NL-Spicer and Osakis will vie in a late-evening game tomorrow (Thursday) in Montevideo.
Vraa, Trey Austvold and Ike Goetzman each had two hits in the Tuesday win over BOLD. BOLD stays alive and will play Madison Thursday in an elimination game. Madison was a 4-2 loser at the hands of Osakis.
BOLD made a good bid to get past NL-Spicer. BOLD had a one-run advantage after three innings. NL-S got a burst of "mo" in the fourth with four runs. Undaunted, the BOLD crew plated three runs in the fifth, so a most interesting game was developing. The score is knotted up.
NL-S pushed forward with a two-run rally in the sixth. Still undaunted, BOLD scored twice in its half of the sixth. A deadlocked score once again! The top of the seventh was the pivotal stage. It was NL-S seizing the momentum with two runs. BOLD put up a zero in its half. Game over.
NL-Spicer gets to play in the winners bracket game while BOLD seeks to regroup. Will it be NL-S or Osakis capturing the winners bracket? Can BOLD or Madison find new life? Fans are eagerly awaiting the outcome at the Monte field.
Michael Arnold tripled and doubled for NL-S Tuesday, while Trey Austvold socked a triple, and Ike Goetzman and Wyatt White contributed two-baggers. Ryan Vraa made his presence felt at bat - quite typical.
Vraa has had a four-for-four game along the way. Against Morris in his team's loss, he hit a very unusual drive that had the ball get lodged under the fence. Had the ball stayed free, the score would almost certainly have gotten tied and NL-Spicer's chances would have been substantially enhanced. The lodging forced a "ground rule double" call that hindered NL-Spicer.
I have been present at at least one game where a "lodging" incident like this happened, and I have seen teams most chagrined, and in at least one instance there were charges of a "faked" stuck ball. I'm surprised fields aren't designed to simply prevent this. You might say it's "bush league." In the recent game between Morris and New London-Spicer, it benefited Morris.
NL-Spicer overcame that misfortune. They're eyeing the District 7 crown at present.
Osakis 4, Madison 2
Ky Zimmel at the fore! Indeed, this premier Osakis athlete made the difference Tuesday. This he did with his bat and pitching arm.
Mr. Zimmel drove in the go-ahead runs in the fifth. His decisive RBIs came in Osakis' three-run fifth. The game's outcome was a 4-2 triumph by Osakis over Madison. Zimmel worked on the hill for six innings. He showed prowess with eleven strikeouts. He allowed just two earned runs.
Jordan Frederick's pitching arm was called upon for the seventh. Jordan fanned two batters and was awarded the save.
Zimmel's productive bat was complemented by Drew Fearing who tripled twice as part of a perfect three-for-three line. Drew crossed home plate twice.
Madison committed costly defensive lapses. Pitcher Garrett Olson was victimized by that. Better fielding would have allowed Olson to work smoothly. Such was not his lot on this day.
Dylan Lillejord doubled for Madison and drove in both his team's runs. Madison is a quite fine team that now owns a 14-4 record. They can't afford to lose again. They'll strive to get past BOLD, hopefully with more reliable gloves. All eyes are on the Montevideo diamond.
Let's look at our community, sans hype
Sometimes I think we have the Garrison Keillor syndrome in Morris, feeling convinced we're all above average. Keillor's fictional town certainly pats all its young people on the back. The kids are all wonderfully talented, at least in their parents' minds.
We can rationalize this by saying self-esteem is important. Studies have been done showing that even though USA education lags on a worldwide basis, our kids' perception of themselves and by extension their schools is much more generous than that. Superiority seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or is it?
Our Morris is a little like an isolated island. Because of that we can create our own delusions. The surrounding towns have declined or rather they have adjusted, adjusted to becoming quite nice bedroom communities or havens for retirees. The towns are happy places but in some cases, not what they used to be. As a newspaper person I covered countless lively special events at the Alberta school. What has become of the Alberta school? Also in my career I covered Cyrus High School events including gala graduations. Such things seem to be gone with the wind. Starbuck has been through a similar scenario.
"The cheese stands alone" in Morris where we have the grand or maybe grandiose Morris Area School. The campus seems a bit much to me. Somehow we got all that built so I suppose we should thump our chest.
We got our absolutely state of the art football field built - look at the artificial turf. Big Cat Stadium is a shrine built to a sport, football, that is absolutely under siege today. If education reflects enlightenment, we should realize that football is a throwback sport that increasingly seems ill-advised. Its whole culture seems anachronistic. It reflects a time when macho males occupied a special privileged circle - boys blessed with bodies that were bigger and stronger. So what? We needn't pay attention or keep reinforcing that culture.
Morris as a whole projects a feeling of being the "cock of the walk," affording the best of most anything. Maybe compared to the small hamlets around us (and getting smaller), such effusive pride is called for.
Our family occasionally visits Fergus Falls and I can't help but think this is just as progressive a town as Morris. I would readily compare its assets with Morris. I will bet they have a public library that has been open all summer. I'll bet it's a quite fine library.
Here, because of a whopping dose of negligence by someone, the library has been scarred by a rather routine weather incident. The city blames a roofing company but I'm not sure this is the last word.
That incident should have put up a red flag, reminding everyone to be vigilant about water damage risks. I have been vigilant around our own house. But weeks after the library debacle, the very same thing happened to the Catholic school, maybe even worse. It takes herculean efforts to remedy this problem. The cost? It would be interesting to know the figure for both buildings. Insurance is involved - I should certainly hope so - but insurance companies don't just routinely cut huge checks without ramifications for the parties involved. Rain may be an act of God but these disasters were not acts of God. It wasn't too much to ask for preparedness to be exercised.
Morris regularly proclaims its fantastic quality of life. We can certainly brag about UMM and justifiably so. But I wonder how the community is really faring if you were to take UMM out of the equation. Too few people look at our community that way.
It's in UMM's interests for the outside community to thrive and be inviting. Yet we have only one real grocery store in the county. Coborn's used to be an asset with its 24-hour schedule. Coborn's is now a building on the edge of town with a message on the side proclaiming that it's open 24 hours. Except the building is vacated.
We have a McDonald's restaurant but its prices are constantly going up (and portion sizes are reportedly getting smaller). McDonald's has a monopoly of sorts too. We used to have a Burger King.
Where can people enjoy outdoor swimming around Morris? Come on, tell me. We used to have an earthen pool out at Pomme de Terre Park that for a while at least, was quite the rage. There was even a concession stand out there. (I heard the concession stand workers were paid ridiculously well.) Lifeguards were positioned. That pool would be right along the bike trail that circles the area.
The pool was closed and deteriorated to a swamp. I might have been one of the last people to swim there. (I got a bloodsucker.) Today there's a mere "spray park" that doesn't seem quite the same.
Morris is located close to Alexandria where the lakes are a huge attraction and swimming abounds, like with the Lake Latoka public beach. Alexandria is tempting for Morris residents for many reasons: its array of dining establishments, big box stores and lakes recreation. Let's be honest: Morris really does not compare well.
This is a town where you have to be scared to see a police car. I doubt that such fear circulates in Alexandria.
I recently contacted our local humane society, a spokesman of which in a terse manner referred me to the Lakes Area Humane Society in Alexandria. "Our kennel is full," she said. I'm glad I have never made a monetary donation to our humane society. Incidentally, we were undecided about keeping a stray cat but we decided to keep it for the foreseeable future, if it can become a little less "hyper." We have had him to the vet! We call him "Toby."
Alexandria has a new public school campus, right? And I'll bet Alex has school administrators who are non-controversial and non-notorious with their behavior. Morris certainly can't claim that! So, I'm not sure we abide by Garrison Keillor's criteria for being so wondrously above-average, unless said perception is only in our own heads (which I think it is).
Maybe "I Love Morris" for the intangibles!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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