"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)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tigers stay on a roll, beat ACGC 42-21

A thrilling defensive play got the Tigers started en route to victory Friday. Taylor Staples scored on a 79-yard fumble recovery. Trent Marty passed to Sean Amundson for two on the conversion.
This action was at the ACGC gridiron. It was the Tigers' game #2 and brought victory #2. Some fans might have thought the opener win was just a case of a big school thumping a smaller school. Game #2 brought more of a sense of legitimacy to the Tigers' success. The Tigers won 42-21 over the Falcons of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.
ACGC is the long-time home of Morris native and coach Jeff Tanner (1973 MHS grad).
The first quarter ended with the score 8-8. The ACGC score came on a Cullen Hoffmann two-yard run. Tanner Olson ran for two on the conversion.
The game turned into a blow-out in the second quarter. Three Tiger touchdowns made it clear who'd prevail. The very proficient passer of the Tigers, Marty, tossed a 65-yard aerial that had Amundson on the receiving end. Ricky Hernandez kicked the conversion. Next it was Staples gathering in the football on a pass from Marty - 18 yards. Hernandez again added the PAT. The very opportunistic MACA defense struck again for the third touchdown of the second quarter. Toby Sayles was showcased this time. Toby scored on an interception return. Hernandez continued with his efficient toe.
So, halftime arrived with the Tigers up 29-8. The Tigers added insurance points in the third quarter. Marty tossed a TD pass to Chase Metzger covering eleven yards. Hernandez's toe was true.
ACGC summoned a couple of TDs in the fourth. ACGC's Tye Olson scored on a two-yard run. Colton Minnick kicked the point-after. Beau Anderson scored on a 16-yard run.
MACA scored the final TD of the night: a big 46-yard run by Dakota Luepke. The kick try failed.
Thus far in the season, the Tigers' quarterback Marty has been mighty efficient with his tosses. If the NFL passer rating formula were to be applied, Marty would have a superlative rank. On Friday he connected with receivers five times in eight attempts. His completions covered 126 yards and he wasn't picked off.
Amundson and Metzger each had two catches with Amundson's picking up 76 yards, Metzger's 32. Staples had an 18-yard catch.
Jacob Zosel rushed for 62 yards in 13 carries. Luepke had one big carry for 46 yards. Ryan Dietz had seven carries of the football for 23 yards, and Metzger had six carries for ten. Ryan Bowman did the Tigers' punting.
Brady Jergenson had eight solo tackles and three assists. Dietz came through with 3/8 numbers as a defensive performer. The list continues: Staples (6-2), Philip Messner (3-6), Scott Iverson (4-1), Sayles (3-2), Metzger (3-1), Denner Dougherty (0-7), Amundson (2-3), Cole Watzke (1/3) and Steven Koehl (1-3). Staples had two quarterback sacks and Josh Wagner came through with one.
Yes, the score looks like a blow-out. And yes, the score represents the most important numbers. But the Tigers were outgained by the Falcons, 324-266. We showed lapses in the form of eleven penalties. In terms of possession, we owned the ball a mere twelve minutes. So, maybe MACA fans should restrain some of their giddiness. It was our big plays, certainly on defense, that clipped the wings of those Falcons.
Tye Olson did ACGC's passing and had seven completions in eleven attempts for 69 yards. He had one pass picked off. Beau Anderson dominated ACGC's running game with 146 yards on 30 carries. Colton Minnick caught three passes for 31 yards.
The Tigers' game #3 will be at home against Benson, Friday.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tigers to play ACGC on the road Friday

We have to train ourselves to be attuned to football when summer is still on. Summer can be a pleasant time to enjoy sports. If your fanny is in the bleachers, yes it's enjoyable, even though the Big Cat bleachers are a little hard, aren't they? Too bad we didn't have a benefactor like Ralph Englestad to make the place a little snazzier. You remember Ralph, the Hitler's birthday guy, who got people to worship at his shrine at University of North Dakota. Money's honey, my dear sonny, and a rich man's joke is always funny.
Our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers have one game under their belt already for 2015. It was played on August 22. Fortunately we didn't have overbearing heat (for the sake of the players). One of these years that could happen.
This week the Tigers will play on Friday. The team will battle the ACGC Falcons on Friday, Aug. 28, at ACGC. The Tigers' game #3 is presented on Friday, Sept. 4, against Benson at home. The three games will be played before school even starts. What a shock!
Another big shock is the disappearance of conferences. No more West Central Conference. Everything is now set up with the post-season in mind. The post-season is also the reason why the schedule starts so early. The playoffs need to be completed before weather might deliver an ugly clout (not that it couldn't anyway). You see, we don't have the Metrodome anymore. That's rather sad. Man, if the fans of the 1950s could have looked into the future and seen the Dome, they'd have to pinch themselves. But now it's not good enough.
I have rich memories of covering the Chokio-Alberta Spartans in their championship seasons. One down note is the memory of George Dieter having his health affliction at the time of one of those games. In a way it was kind of a blessing because he was so close to the best medical assistance. I remember George with his unique sense of humor at C-A spring athletic banquets. Those banquets should be joyous affairs. I remember a winter banquet at Morris Area that was absolute hell, devolving into a stew of local petty politics. Only at Morris Area could that have happened. I'll never forget it.
The MACA football team debuted pretty spectacularly for 2015. We beat West Central Area 41-6. I'm not sure how to interpret the outcome. Are we really overpowering? Kevin Fick of the Craig Olson Sports website shared some interesting background:
This was truly a battle of David vs. Goliath as the 2A Knights entered Big Cat Stadium and went to battle with the 3A Tigers. For a reader who thinks that there is not much difference in 3A to 2A football, think again. With conference football now a memory of the past, crazy district matchups will happen across Minnesota. From this writer's perspective they can be viewed in two ways. A 41-6 loss such as this could be blamed on large vs. small. Excuses such as bigger, faster and stronger are always available, or this can be used as a measuring stick, a tool to gauge oneself and say: What do we need to do to get better and not let this happen again? Listening to head coach John Moore address his team after the game, it is pretty safe to say the Knights are choosing the high road. Coach Moore stated: "This gave us a glimpse of where we are and what we need to do to reach the goals we set at the beginning of the season." A question keeps popping to mind: What would they say if we (WCA) would have won? We will never know without opportunities.
Thanks to writer Fick for his commitment. The Morris corporate media were anything but inspiring. The Morris newspaper website was an insult with its lack of caring or enthusiasm. Football is fun. Someone should have just put together some colorful coverage and been proud to click on "publish." As a non-corporate media person, I'm happy to do that myself. Please, please, spread the word that I'm doing this. It costs you nothing to visit my blog sites (two of them). 
Had I known the Morris paper would have no photographer at the game, I would have been delighted to grab my old (film) camera and go out along the east sideline. I have to admit I have old camera equipment now. Thrifty White can no longer give me same-day developing. I'd have to wait at least a week to get the CD back. That's unfortunate. I don't know why it takes a week, when the actual job of developing the film takes only about 1 1/2 hours. I should talk to Marty Ohren.
I suppose that if I bought a digital camera capable of night football, with the appropriate "fast" zoom lens, it would be quite costly, maybe a thousand bucks? I could get a lot of camera film developed for that much money.
I know the school welcomes me for taking game photos. I arrived for the season opener one year and Mark Ekren shook hands with me. For four years, after my departure from that dreary place known as the Morris Sun Tribune newspaper, I took photos and displayed them on Flickr. Come and view them if you haven't already. I have links along the right-hand side of this blog site.
There is evidence that the Morris paper does not approve of me being there with camera. After all, I'm supplying a service for free that they try to make money from. I have discussed this evidence in previous posts. The parents enjoy seeing me there. Marie Hansen said "the more the merrier."
The more the years roll by, the more local residents forget my connection to the Morris paper. What I'll never forget about my last days there, is that the atmosphere didn't improve even after I submitted my written resignation. You know, life is too short for this, at least for most people, but not for Forum Communications, that Machiavellian owner of the Morris paper. Yes, the paper isn't locally owned, in case you didn't know. The Forum has no problem absolutely showering us with ad circulars (pollution) for Alexandria businesses, as if we didn't already know that Alex offers the whole nine yards with big box stores etc.
The Morris Sun-Tribune whiffed on the season opener for football, but maybe they'll get a little more fired-up now. It's not suitable to see links with material from the West Central Tribune - it's deflating. Meanwhile, I'll continue writing about the teams. Thanks for visiting.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, August 24, 2015

MACA football debuts strongly: a 41-6 win

Baseball is supposed to be "the summer game." Sports often breaks through its confines on the schedule. The NBA playoffs go on forever.
Well, our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers were out on the gridiron Saturday night, for the earliest opener I can remember. Would turnout be affected? I rode my bike out to the UMM baseball diamond, as I have done often since Big Cat opened, and took a look at the spectacle at Big Cat. I was actually hoping to see a small fan turnout. I was hoping for signs that parents would be gaining wisdom and holding their sons out of football, for the sake of the boys' health.
Wisdom appears not to be taking over. In spite of the constantly mounting evidence of football's unacceptable risks, MACA has a vigorous program with vigorous fan support. The fan turnout appeared substantial. That's what keeps football going: the support of fans and their dollars. Dollars: that's really the key.
I suppose I should be happy the Tigers won 41-6. I'm pretty indifferent but I'll go ahead and report on the game anyway (duty-bound). There was no suspense. The Tigers were up 20-0 after one quarter. Yawn. We scored seven points in the second quarter and 14 in the third, while all the while West Central Area had zippo.
I'm thankful the Willmar newspaper even had coverage of the game in today's (Monday) edition. That paper often whiffs on Saturday events. I'd wager that only half of last year's MACA football games got reviewed in the Willmar paper. Last year the opener had an 8 p.m. start which prevented coverage in Saturday's edition. Also, the Tigers tended to play in places that weren't known for calling in stuff.
You know, instead of a "scoring summary," I wish that paper would have more details about scoring drives. The actual scoring play might be routine. It might have been preceded by a truly electric play. I sure paid attention to full scoring drives when I wrote for the Morris paper. I might even give attention to key blocks, with names supplied. That was then.
Six touchdowns by the Tigers
Anyway, Chase Metzger scored the first Tiger touchdown on a run from the one. The conversion try misfired. Jacob Zosel plunged in from the one for MACA's second touchdown. The conversion try went awry. Next it was Eric Staebler scoring for the Tigers, on a 48-yard pass reception from Trent Marty. Marty passed to Taylor Staples for two points on the conversion.
It was Metzger scoring the Tigers' touchdown No. 4: a 20-yard pass catch that had Marty on the throwing end. Ricky Hernandez kicked the PAT. The onslaught grew as Staebler hauled in a 37-yard pass from the pinpoint Marty. Hernandez kicked the ball through the uprights on the PAT.
So, now the game has become quite the blow-out. Toby Sayles added cushion with a nine-yard touchdown run. Hernandez again kicked the point-after.
West Central Area scored its only touchdown when Miles Wing caught a 14-yard pass from Jake Larkin.
Let's pore over the stats. Zosel paced the Tigers' running game, taking 14 handoffs and covering 76 yards. Ryan Dietz had six carries for 25 yards. Chase Metzger plunged forward for 20 yards on four carries of the pigskin. Sayles had ten yards on seven carries. Marty picked up eight rushing yards. Diego Arreguin rushed for seven yards and Dakota Luepke for two.
Marty was 100 percent efficient passing the football. His four-for-four numbers produced a whopping 154 yards - quite the memorable night. Sayles had one pass attempt. Staebler hauled in three receptions good for 134 yards. Metzger's catch picked up 20 yards. Staebler punted just once. We sacked the WCA quarterback four times.
The tackle chart reveals the following: Brady Jergenson (6.5), Mitchell Dufault (4), Sayles (3.5), Brendan Goulet (3), Staebler (3) and Luepke (3).
Tanner Johnson rushed for 48 yards for WCA. Caden Fernholz rushed for 32. Jake Larkin completed two of three pass attempts for the Knights. Ross Anderson completed two aerials in six tries. Jordan Beuckens caught two passes and Miles Wing caught one. Jacob Combs did the WCA punting. Blake Amundson intercepted a pass. These Knights stood out on the tackle chart: Ben Anderson, Jacob Dreschel, Amundson and Larkin.
So, the curtain has opened for Tiger football with a triumph, overpowering in fact. Is it a prelude of things to come? A full week of August remains. We're lucky the temperature wasn't overbearingly hot on Saturday.
The Tigers will have two home games completed before school starts. Let's see, there are only two more in the regular season? One of those will be Homecoming. It's early to be focused on school but that's the way it is. Football (here at least) appears as popular and well-supported as ever. It might take a whole lot of laws (or lawsuits) to get football knocked down. Lawyers and insurance companies may take care of things. Don't bet against insurance companies. On the way down, football is likely to become a club sport. Schools will detach. Why do "towns" need to play other "towns." We are more advanced than in the days portrayed in the movie "Hoosiers." (Did Gene Hackman ever get the girl?)
I'm posting this before noon Monday and I see no headline specifically about this game on the Morris Sun Tribune website. I do see a headline making a big deal out of something Vaughn Dieter did. I know how that goes.
- Brian Williams -morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, August 21, 2015

Adjusting away from consuming football

There was a time when I'd easily remember to tune-in for the Vikings' pre-season games. It was hard to maintain attention for very long. I knew that going in: all the no-name players, lack of any sense of real drama, would make the game boring. I'd watch for at least a portion.
I remember more than once doing a little online writing after a pre-season game. I remember showing concern about "Menards" superimposed on the TV screen, as if it were printed on the field, and thinking it was too much of a distraction. I remember that was during the Vikings' experiment with Donovan McNabb. I remember writing about a faux pas by broadcaster Al Michaels: he made a comment based on gambling (the "spread"). That was when Joe Webb was playing quarterback as a rookie.
So you see, I paid more than a little attention to pre-season football once. To date in 2015, I think the Vikings have played two pre-season games. They just came and went. Not only did I miss them, I didn't care about missing them. Let's see, when does the real season start?
All you ardent Vikings fans, can you tell me what the team's record was last year? All the time you spend watching, and can you give me the won-lost records of recent seasons? It becomes kind of a blur, doesn't it? Let's call it a habit: something you're attracted to, kind of like soda pop. A guilty pleasure.
We really all ought to feel guilty about this. My guilt, I feel, has led me to pay far less attention to this well-greased, obscenely rich entertainment activity. The players don't represent us. They pull on a purple jersey because of the contracts they were able to get. They move around like absolute mercenaries, which they are.
Gophers football isn't a whole lot more. Jerry Kill gets a raise which in the old days would have been an entire salary. Money just pours out of a spigot around U of M athletics. People come and go as 'U' hires who seem highly questionable.
Larry Merchant once wrote a book called "And Every Day You Take Another Bite." So many of us tune in because we feel a strange sort of stimulation. We shrug off all the problems associated with big-time sports. We're bored. We become stimulated as if consuming so much candy or maybe an illicit drug. Sports as a drug? Quite likely. "And every day we take another bite."
Television has made this monster into a mega-monster. Where money is involved, humanistic judgment can easily be pushed aside. Dollar signs get in people's eyes. How quaint the situation was in 1948, when the NFL's best team, the Eagles, got 9/10 of their revenue from ticket sales. Ticket sales! Today, the NFL will get about $6 billion in TV rights alone, more than half its total revenue.
A sea of casual fans helps keep the monster healthy. It's a respite from the mundane life they experience most of the week. They consume Cheetos. Let's call it passive consumption. We really need to take a hard look and weigh the manner in which we spend our weekend time. What could we mine, to find enjoyment if we were to just exclude college and pro football? What broad vistas present themselves? It does take a little effort.
Without our eyeballs, this gargantuan enterprise of football would have to scale back. It's only because of us that they can bring in such unlimited riches. The money reinforces a game that is increasingly harmful to all who play it. This includes high school. Us fans in Morris could not have conceived of a facility like Big Cat Stadium back in the 1960s. We had a nice, typical field with real grass that was deemed totally satisfactory. These days in sports, everyone tries to outdo everyone else with facilities.
Back in 1968, we sat wide-eyed on the bleachers at our new gym in Morris, which was deemed light years better than what we had. Today we're barely aware of our '68 gym. There's an expansive new one. We saw our MACA boys team lose in the first round of last year's post-season. We were seeded No. 2 and our opponent was seeded No. 7. We lost in front of our home fans. The new gym is no elixir toward achieving success.
Football? Why can't we pay more attention to the voices of concern about the health effects of the sport? How can anyone in his right mind allow a son to play it? Any sport that is too dangerous for girls is simply too dangerous. We don't need a "man's" sport. The status as a man's sport contributes to football's reputation for encouraging misogyny. At the pro and college levels, let's throw in obvious greed. The violence is a given. Perhaps we should recognize the sport is in line with militarism. It's a model for how we go out and get the bad guys, or at least try to. This nation hasn't been so good at that since World War II. But we still have football - men being men.
Courage in the face of injuries. Or is it foolishness? A growing body of medical research has confirmed that football can cause traumatic injury to the brain, not as a rare consequence, but as a routine byproduct of how the game is played. We're no longer just considering catastrophic injuries. Some football coaches tout "concussion testing" as a way of managing. We should be so lucky. We now have to weigh, based on an ever-growing body of research, that incremental (and thus largely invisible) damage is done by the many sub-concussive hits.
OK parents, the ball is in your court. Can you show some judgment, or not? As for all you passive consumers of the game, you all share the blame in what football has become. Without the viewers, football would be at the periphery. The time is now to take a good, long look and to make immediate adjustments in our lifestyle.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The year I attended the Appleton fair

We have just completed the very hot Stevens County Fair for 2015. Back in 2006, when I had just left the newspaper, I did not attend the fair. Instead I went to the Appleton Fair, a pleasant little affair. I went mainly because Sherwin Linton was performing there. There was a cover charge for entering the grounds.
I didn't attend the Stevens County Fair because I knew I'd be bombarded with questions about why I left the paper. As it turned out, I was bombarded even at the Appleton fair. God bless the people who were curious.
I had no desire to become unemployed. The proprietor of the Cyrus Cafe asked me about my move. I paused, then she answered the question for me: "You just couldn't take it anymore."
I bumped into Fritz Schmidt one day, a man with wisdom gained through his World War II experience. Our family first got to know Fritz when he was the attendant at the warming house for the old skating rink along Atlantic Atlantic. Fritz looked at me and said: "You had too much to do." I suppose I sought a substantial workload in order to justify time reported on my timesheets. Looking back, I see timesheets as really having been the bane of my existence. (Remember Eddie Bane, the Twins pitcher?)
Timesheets have been the downfall of many workers - Postal workers come to mind - who get forced into unrealistic situations and in desperation try to adjust in a way that is untenable. It's water over the bridge for me now.
Fairly late in my career, I was handed the obituary department. I have hesitated writing a whole blog post about the frustrations of dealing with obits, because I might leave something out.
I wish I could have left many obits alone, running them just as they were submitted. However, the Sun Tribune wanted editorial control. Information was supposed to be presented in a certain order. Listing survivors could be thorny with the semicolons, parentheses etc. Was a name in a parenthesis a husband or boyfriend? I won't specify all the frustrations in processing obits. It would be too "inside baseball," but you get the point.
Today? I'm informed that newspapers no longer have obituary departments. They don't have to, because funeral homes have taken over complete responsibility for submitting them. In fact, newspapers aren't even allowed to edit them! Not only that, newspapers get paid for running them. I have a real problem ethically with that. But anyway, this final resolution was a total "win/win" for newspapers. Not only don't they have to pay a staff person to write obits, they get paid to publish them. This is a prime example of how newspapers have survived in the Internet age.
Why couldn't funeral homes have taken total control of obits before? Obits used to come at newspapers in a variety of shapes and forms. We'd get faxed obits where the edges of the text were "shaved off." We'd get obits from funeral homes about 30 miles away, for people who had no connection to Stevens County. We had to weed them out all the time. Jim Morrison would say "those funeral homes just want to get their names in the paper."
I spent the equivalent of a full work day each week doing newsstand collections. We'd collect (small change, really) for the papers sold at various stores. I took over that job from Howard Moser when he phased into retirement. These collections had to be done in Cyrus and Hancock. Collecting in Cyrus was no problem when the paper was printed at Quinco Press in Lowry. I'd pass through Cyrus all the time anyway. I don't know why we had to leave Quinco. But we switched to Willmar where Forum Communications had a base. I tried phasing out the Cyrus newsstand collection on my own - it seemed pointless. But then I was told to get my rear end back over there.
My brain showed stress fatigue in so many ways in those last 3-4 months trying to hang with the Morris paper. If it wasn't one thing, it was something else.
I remember writing two articles where I took the article to the source people and they approved, 100 percent, but then, back at that dreary Sun Tribune, there were issues. In one case, I had made a totally routine and inconsequential typographical error, fairly deep into the story. Phyllis Peterson, former employee, stopped by the office and with me sitting right there, made a big, loud production out of commenting on the typo. Is this what my work had been reduced to? Having to type through a mountain of stuff each day without being permitted a simple typo even?
We received a rather odd email from a student athlete named Aaron Lund. I always proofed my sports material with great intensity and focus, so much so I might start talking to myself or murmuring to myself. We were dealing with deadlines. I proofread track and field articles "holding copy" and paying attention to each decimal point. Lund complained that his name had been omitted for winning the 1600 meters at a meet. He did not specify the location for the meet in question. He gave a date but it made no sense because it was a Wednesday. Track meets aren't held on Wednesday. Had it been held on the most recent Wednesday, the next edition of the paper would not have been published yet. I assumed he was referring to the Wednesday edition of the paper. (The Morris paper no longer publishes on Wednesday.) That Wednesday edition had a review of a meet in Pelican Rapids. I talked to coach Dale Henrich, out taking a walk with his daughter. Dale said Aaron Lund didn't even run the 1600m at Pelican Rapids. He was not aware of any reporting error.
Aaron's email on the matter got forwarded up. This was a typical "s--t sandwich" for a working person like me. Many of you can relate?
As for that incident with Phyllis Peterson, I had spent my own money sending flowers for her husband Jack's funeral. I assure you I will never do anything like that again. I guess we're all out to watch our own backs, and that's a shame.
I don't know how Sun Tribune management could live with themselves in that period around 2006, a period in which all newspapers were realizing they had to live with retrenchment. Profits would only stay decent with draconian moves.
Maybe today the Sun Tribune is doing fine. Remember, they don't have to pay for an obit department anymore. Instead, families get fleeced by the death industry, paying for their newspaper obit along with myriad other things that push the cost of a funeral to an unreasonable level. Even if you can afford a funeral, why separate yourself from all that money? Why not, as an alternative, make substantial memorial contributions to various worthy causes around town? If I had my father's death to deal with again, I'd go that route.
When a person dies, his soul leaves this existence. All that remains is a dead body, a body which, in my father's case, had been failing him at the end. A dignified disposal of the body is all that's needed. Now that I'm aware of the "keep out!" attitude of our local cemetery, I regret having had anything to do with the traditional funeral and burial process. Summit Cemetery foisted those chimes on this community for many years. UMM cannot expand to the west because of the cemetery. The names of so many of the deceased are getting lost in time, meaningless to us. Cemeteries will become obsolete. Maybe newspapers will too. It's just taking too long.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, August 14, 2015

3 Tiger football games before school starts?

We normally don't have to consult the August page of the school calendar a whole lot. Usually we don't think much about school until the Donnelly Threshing Bee. I haven't been to the Threshing Bee since I left the Morris newspaper, sorry. When I look back, I enjoy remembering the Upper Mississippi Bluegrass Band at the Bee.
The August page of the Morris Area school calendar has a surprise. I wonder if the local corporate media will highlight this enough. I'd need quite a reminder to anticipate a football game so early. On the 22nd? Really? The early date probably pushed practices earlier. I'm used to seeing the early-bird football practices at the time of the county fair. I associate the football opener with Labor Day weekend.
This year I'm told there are three Tiger football games before the first day of school. I normally expect tennis to have such an early-bird start, not football. I hope we haven't had a problem with oppressive heat for practices. Perhaps pre-season practice has been limited? Fine, but the team would want to be optimally prepared in order to win.
High school football is apparently starting early everywhere, so as to accommodate the playoffs before winter weather sets in. The old Metrodome is gone. My, what a run our Dome had for accommodating the high school playoffs. What memories are tucked away from that. I especially remember the Chokio-Alberta Spartans carving out memories there. I remember getting up at an ungodly hour to head over to The Old Lumber Yard (or whatever name it had at the time) to board the bus. Coach Neal Hofland was in the clover for those years.
I also remember making the trip (once) for the Morris Area High School team. Morris Area had an entertaining type of passing game, rather unusual at the time in prep football. We had a quarterback throwing darts, as it were. But we couldn't beat Breckenridge in Prep Bowl. Breckenridge must have had awesome personnel to beat us. Is it true the Tigers had pizza and pop the night before the game?
Fast-forward to 2015. There's no Dome, so high school football has been adjusted to try to make the playoffs more practical in the face of weather. Of course, the playoffs steadily reduce the number of teams in action.
Meanwhile, at the start of the season when all teams are playing, we're paying a price, it seems, in two respects. First off, mid-August weather would appear not to be conducive to football. And second, will it be hard to get fan support and numbers through the turnstiles? We aren't programmed to deal with high school football so early. We associate that with when school is on. Our thoughts turn to such things roughly at the time of Labor Day weekend.
Labor Day has become kind of a mystifying holiday. It's not held in reverence. We pay lip service only - no formal observance. You might say it's just another day when the mail doesn't get delivered. I'm stealing these words, actually: they were spoken by the late Barry Goldwater when he opposed the Martin Luther King holiday.
My school calendar says the first Tiger football game is on Saturday, Aug. 22. Saturday? We're normally attuned to Friday. If I were still with the Morris newspaper, I'd really accentuate the football opener date and time with a page 1B feature. I would have sat down with coach Jerry Witt by now over a generous amount of coffee. But of course Witt has moved on, as has yours truly.
Speaking of moving on, is Ken Gagner no longer with us? I'm shocked if that's true. I guess we live in a mobile society. Maybe Ken is trying to go from "Gags to riches" (rimshot). Maybe he wants to establish himself in a school district that hasn't been hurt by scandal in recent years. One online journalist refers to "your dump of a school." Well, that's rather excessive. Morris is still trying to execute a smooth landing from all that.
We now have Mr. Bill Kehoe at the helm as high school principal. He's a former C-A Spartan under coach Hofland. I'm sure he was on one of those state champion rosters. I have a problem of still thinking of him as a kid. I remember watching this young man playing football up north in Stephen MN.
How will football attendance be affected by the early start? The Tigers will host the West Central Area Knights on August 22. Remember the old days of the Hoffman Bearcats? I was a "ringer" with the Kensington pep band when I was in high school. Walt Sarlette directed the band. Del Sarlette was another ringer. We joined a young man named Darcy in the trumpet section. Darcy Rau? My memory is pretty reliable, helped no doubt by never having played football.
As I get older I'm increasingly relieved I did not play football, despite Craig Birch's recruiting efforts. Fact is, I have never been attuned to playing team sports. I remember taking a team handball class at St. Cloud State University. We "chose up sides" (yuk). Early-on I was chosen early, my classmates thinking I had physical attributes. They learned as time went on. I was eventually chosen toward the end.
It is a total blessing I never played football. Will there be a swing toward lower numbers, what with all the alarming revelations coming out about the health effects of the sport? My theory is this: there will at least be isolated communities, communities where soccer is well-established as an option, where football really will decline, perhaps substantially. Mark my words. But it will not happen everywhere. A slow process will kick in. More and more communities will have their male youth get sensible and decide to preserve their future health.
Of course, we have school leaders who should be taking the lead in the process. I once shared concern with Scott Monson. He responded by simply saying "we're following all protocols." In other words, he wasn't going to be a leader in trying to steer boys away from football.
We couldn't make all places smoke-free right away. It was a dragged-out process. We'll see something similar in Motown. If parents love their sons and truly care about them, they will expedite things and steer them to more productive activities. It wouldn't be hard finding more constructive activities than running and trying to knock some poor opponent from another town on his rear end. Someday we'll be perplexed as we look back, just as it's hard to envision a restaurant full of cigarette smoke today. In the scheme of things, it wasn't long ago.
It wasn't that long ago, in the scheme of things, when people drove drunk without much concern. Ever spend time at a Shriners convention?
The Tigers will play their game 2 on Friday, Aug. 28, at ACGC. And their game 3 presents itself on September 4: home against Benson. Can we get in the habit of accepting so much important extracurricular stuff before school starts? Hard to say. I remember the days when we had fan buses to out of town football games. Don Grossman would be among the chipper drivers. I think fan buses are no more. So, time moves on.
Does Morris have a decent soccer option for boys?
Remember, high school football players can undergo significant brain changes after only a single season, even if they don't get a concussion, Wake Forest University researchers have found. But I don't have to worry - I never played football. Sorry Mr. Birch.
Addendum: Is Labor Day supposed to honor all workers or the labor union movement specifically? Time has not been kind to unions, who now find that their last bastion is the public sector. (Always be careful to type "public"and not "pubic.") Unions seem to grate on the populace nowadays. In these recent incidents of police shootings and brutality that appear unreasonable, we see the police unions in a knee-jerk manner support the officers. It seems a departure from reason and reality. It's just "taking care of our own." If the Republican Party stays strong, look for unions to be on the ropes even more. Fox News would seem to have a philosophy of anti-union, but when it comes to police unions, there appears an exception. That's because Fox is "law and order." I'd say it's disingenuous.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Waseca speech was low point for Calvin Griffith

Maybe it's no coincidence that Calvin Griffith's Waseca Lions Club speech came during the Jimmy Carter presidency. It was a Murphy's law era. We read that Carter didn't actually use the word "malaise." It's quite a leap to paraphrase using a word like that. It doesn't seem very journalistic. This isn't to say we didn't feel malaise. It's a word many people would have to look up.
The year 1978 was right at the heart of the discouraging stuff we associate with the 1970s. I concluded my college studies that year. I now learn that college inflation began taking off right after that.
It was in September of 1978 that Calvin Griffith, owner of the Minnesota Twins, traveled south to rural Waseca. First he played golf with a friend. That evening would see him visit the Lions Club. Lions Club affairs are the most tame and innocuous things you can imagine, normally. I'm puzzled how Nick Coleman even came to be there. We're supposed to believe he wasn't at the Lions Club meeting to cover it.
Even with Griffith set to speak, you could hardly assume that anything earthshaking would come out of it. The Lions organization is benevolent and non-controversial, an outlet for career men who ply their professions in a pretty routine manner. Bless them.
Coleman was a staff writer for the Minneapolis Tribune. It wasn't the "Star Tribune" yet. The '70s were a time when that newspaper really did fit the stereotype of "liberal media." There was a paternalistic liberal slant that could grate on readers, even readers who weren't strongly conservative. People like to feel they can think for themselves.
Coleman was a resident of Rochester. History would have it that Coleman was at that Lions Club meeting as a guest of his father in law. The audience introduced themselves. Coleman did so by name only, legend has it, and not by occupation.
Griffith began taking questions from the audience. Somehow Griffith got steered into territory that would be dangerous for him. He made comments that today would set off major alarm bells. The new media could churn things up like a blender. Media were limited back then, and I would further suggest the populace was more temperate.
Why more temperate? I think there was an understanding that generational traits came into play. Remember that book written by Tom Brokaw about "the greatest generation?" There was a chapter called "Shame." We placed that World War II generation on a pedestal. How could we not, given the sacrifice and travail of the WWII and Depression years? But these people by and large were not exemplary on race matters. We got TV's Archie Bunker character illustrating that.
Calvin Griffith was like Archie both in terms of his values and how he carried himself generally. The young generation did not reject the Archie mold out of hand. We understood the anachronistic ways. In a peculiar way we might have loved these people even more. They were products of the culture that nurtured them. Maybe in the Deep South that mold could present some really objectionable things. In the Midwest it seemed more a matter of style and not substance.
I am astonished to learn that Coleman was at this meeting with no notebook or tape recorder. He lacked "anything with which to write," according to an historical account. I would have proceeded with real trepidation, trying to throw together an article with no contemporaneous notes. No way would my memory be that reliable. Paraphrasing is dangerous under these circumstances.
Coleman would end up penning an article for the Sunday edition. I believe it was on the front page, above the fold in fact. The quotes were toxic. Baseball fans my age still well remember it. Heck, people my age in general still remember it.
Griffith was the man who brought major league baseball to Minnesota. He would later help ensure it stayed here. The fact he had some generational tics, Archie Bunker-style, should not have caused turbulent waters. But turbulent waters we got. Coleman was able to construct quotes from memory, which I would bet were not word for word. It's hard enough to quote things verbatim even if you're taking notes. People often talk too fast. But there was Coleman's article, including the following:
“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota,” (Griffith) said. “It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here.”
Griffith went on to make what was interpreted as a disparaging comment about Rod Carew. Most perceptive people believe Griffith was really taking a dig at Carew's agent. He was also venting about the phenomenon of multi-year player contracts. Time was marching on and leaving the Griffiths behind. Bowie Kuhn in his autobiography called the Griffith clan "church mice" within the new model of baseball.
Griffith would sell the Twins franchise in 1984. Calvin bowed out of the business as the last of the family owners whose franchise represented their principal business and source of wealth.
The (alleged) quotes about Carew brought irony. It was Griffith who virtually ordered Sam Mele to play Carew daily in 1967. Griffith had an uncanny eye for baseball talent. Carew was making the jump from Class A. In '67 Carew proved himself, albeit as a streaky sort of hitter. We remember how he had to leave the team from time to time for National Guard duties. My generation is fully aware that "National Guard" is code terminology for "getting excused from going to Viet Nam." Well congratulations, Rodney, you did what nearly all young men sought to do at the time. George W. Bush?
Had Rod pushed his batting average a little higher in his rookie year, maybe we could have won the pennant. We got edged out at the end by Boston, in what is likely the most crushing chapter in Twins history. It could drive one to drink. Griffith was of the type who would avail himself of the cocktail hour. That was another generational trait. Those were the days before aggressive enforcement of DWI. How quaint! Maybe we've forgotten. A police officer might peer into the driver's window and say "are you sure you're in good enough shape to drive home?"
Chris Matthews of MSNBC recently said "everyone used to drive drunk." Ever hang around at a Shriners' convention then? There's real Americana, scary actually. Griffith may have had some alcohol in his system for his Waseca speech.
Carew was initially incensed by Griffith's remarks about him. The passage of time softened any anger. Bob Shower wrote a book, "The Twins at the Met," in which Carew is a narrator. Carew praised Calvin for sticking with him.
Journalists could get a little edgy referring to the Twins owner as "Calvin" rather than "Griffith." This isn't the standard form. Use of first name is often seen as disrespectful too. I thought a lot of journalists actually had problems showing respect for Griffith, because he seemed like such a throwback. That shouldn't have mattered. The power of the media was underscored.
One columnist with a gimlet eye wondered if Griffith's idea of a snappy tune might be "On the Banks of the Wabash."
Power of the press indeed
Coleman's article naturally resulted in a firestorm. If he hadn't been at the meeting: nothing. Paraphrased or not, Griffith came across as the antithesis of politically correct, at a time when the p.c. term hadn't gained circulation yet.
Griffith felt like there was a certain sanctity to a Lions Club meeting, that the comments should be considered private. Coleman's little typewriter caused Calvin to be haunted henceforth. Most obituaries for Calvin in 1999 acknowledged the episode. A big controversy with obituaries is whether they should include any dubious information at all.
Surely Calvin was like a bear with boxing gloves in saying what he did. But I'm not sure the amplification was called for. It was just words. It wasn't sticks and stones.
Griffith famously operated the Twins as a family company. Relatives were all over the place. Griffith was cloaked in total hero status when he brought his Senators to Minnesota in 1961. And for ten years it was a fairy tale type of story. The new Twins were one of baseball's most profitable and successful franchises. But the next decade wasn't so wonderful. A couple key family members died. But most of all, baseball's changing economics undercut Griffith's operational philosophies.
My generation became discouraged by it all. We could clearly see what was happening. We were no longer so enthralled by big league ball. We turned to soccer for a time: the Kicks.
A life immersed on the diamond
Calvin saw the whole broad spectrum of baseball as his life. He was batboy with the Washington D.C. team in 1922. I'm impressed by how the young man got his education from a military academy! Calvin was a 1933 graduate of Staunton Military Academy. He went on to study at George Washington University. He played baseball as pitcher and catcher while at both Staunton and George Washington.
In 1935 he got into the business of baseball in the midst of the Great Depression. Calvin's penny-pinching ways can easily be understood. The Depression made people appreciate every nickel. My father had that trait.
Calvin was elected president of the Washington Nationals in 1955, right after the death of Clark Griffith. The Washington franchise was limping at that time. Leaving the nation's capital would present political difficulties.
In 1959 the specter of a new baseball league appeared. It would be called the Continental League. The main push was to get the Dodgers and Giants replaced in New York City. Major league baseball was prodded to expand, to fend off the new threat. We in Minnesota could have gotten an expansion team. Shudder. Remember how lousy the New York Mets were in 1962? Minnesota was blessed getting an established team and organization: the Senators. But Washington would not be deserted, as a new team would sprout there with the same name: Senators. But even that team wouldn't stick there. Yet another incarnation of a big league team would come along, the one in existence today.
Minnesota fell in love with the Twins. We were charmed by the family aspect of the business. This prompted one observer to say "we didn't get a ballclub. We got a family. It was like being around the Beverly Hillbillies."
The initial decade was like a wondrous dream. But after 1970, we only drew a million-plus in attendance twice, in 1977 and '79. Calvin became quite pressed with his financial resources, and we could all see it. He tried to resist the inexorable changes.
The year was 1982 when the Twins went indoors to the Dome. Competitively we were doing poorly. We heard about an "escape clause" that Calvin might exercise. Tampa Bay eyed the Twins. Harvey Mackay organized a ticket buyout in the face of that escape clause. Griffith proclaimed he still felt loyalty to Minnesota. He wanted to sell to a Minnesota buyer. On the scene came Carl Pohlad.
Griffith made the sale and would have an office in the Dome. I remember seeing him in the pressbox.
Griffith left us for that pressbox in the sky on October 20, 1999, at the age of 87. He chose to be buried outside of Washington D.C. Is it possible his heart was in the nation's capital all along? We can wonder. Surely Minnesota had been the site giving him countless wide-eyed moments, like at mid-season of '65 when Harmon Killebrew hit that famous home run that sank the Yankees.
Calvin Griffith, RIP.
Addendum: I associate Waseca MN with the old Ruhr-American company that solid a wide array of hunting-fishing stuff. They had an outlet in Glenwood. They had an assortment of books, one of which was called, famously, "How to Live with a Bitch." As I remember, the title was intended seriously for those interested in hunting dogs. But oh my, the book became an oddball favorite among men wanting to exchange humorous gifts. "How to Live with a Bitch." File that away in Minnesota lore and history.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sam Mele: a stable source of leadership

I remember a Twins yearbook that had a photo of the Sam Mele family around their organ in the living room. They were singing. Such love, joy and wholesomeness projected from the photo.
Sam Mele! His full, formal name was Sabath Anthony Mele. Make note of the initials. Yes, the name "Sam" was created. It was Sam who managed our 1965 Minnesota Twins to the American League pennant. It was a touchstone experience for the boomer youth of Minnesota. Bittersweet, too, as we lost in seven games to the Dodgers in the World Series. The Twins and Dodgers, only a few years previous were in that East Coast corridor that was the hub of sports and media activity. The Dodgers had been one of three teams in New York City.
The West beckoned. The Twins got perched in the Midwest, becoming an institution which today is huge and we take for granted. We have the luxury of complaining about the Twins and their manager if things aren't going well. But we are blessed every day having big league sports franchises. Before 1961? The Gophers football team was the big deal.
Sam Mele and Bud Grant were like honorary fathers for the boomer boys of the 1960s. They were so stable, thoughtful and brimming with wisdom. They set an example. They pushed standards so high and yet they couldn't quite make it to the summit. We wept over the Game 7 loss in the '65 Series. And we most certainly wept and wanted to cuss over the four Super Bowl losses by the Vikings.
Perhaps a sense of defeatism crept in, among my generation?
I was ten years old in 1965. The Twins were mesmerizing. We ushered in a new era with the '65 success, as no longer would the Yankees be a dynastic, dominating force. The Yankees had barely hung on in 1964. In '65 we delivered the knockout punch: specifically it was a dramatic game-winning home run by Harmon Killebrew at mid-season that dealt the punch.
From 1947 to 1964, the Yankees had won all but three pennants. On came the Twins with the likes of Zoilo Versalles, Tony Oliva, Jim "Mudcat" Grant and Killebrew.
100-plus wins in '65
Mele was the grand orchestrator of success, overseeing a team that won 102 games. The Yankees finished down in sixth. We won the first two games of the World Series. But the Dodgers' pitching would prove too much.
America is a country that highly emphasizes finishing first. Thus, when the Twins followed up in '66 with an arguably fine season - we won just 13 fewer games - it's barely a blip in Twins' history. It's probably even recorded as a disappointment. We placed second in a ten-team league. Remember, in 1960 all we had for baseball was the Minneapolis Millers. Remember anything about them? Nicollet Park is truly a blip in our history.
Baltimore won the '66 pennant and would become the major nemesis for the Twins of that era. We lost to the Orioles in the playoff series of 1969 and 1970.
Only today do I learn that the Twins of the late '60s, beginning in 1966, were plagued by the kind of internal politics and divisions that we all know about and have experienced at some point in our lives. Mele had some volatile people under him. Like Billy Martin. What? Billy Martin volatile? Billy might have been right when it came to an early skirmish. Twins legend has it that pitching coach Johnny Sain wanted Mele fired.
You'll remember Sain well if you read "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton. Sain was rather a genius. He taught "spin ballistics" to Jim Kaat and Jim Grant prior to the '65 season, according to Roger Angell. The Twins, continuing with that legend, devolved into a team of cliques. I know what that's like. It's not conducive to achieving optimal success.
The Twins had the kind of talent that should have gotten at least one more pennant. Instead, like the Vikings, they were stopped just shy of the summit.
In 1967 we might have expected better. Rod Carew came on the scene to play full-time (when he wasn't fulfilling his National Guard duties, remember?). The Twins acquired Dean Chance. But '67 developed into the ultimate frustration of a season. It may have affected my personality formation. By the time we actually won the World Series in 1987, it might have been too late for me. OK I'm kidding.
How I loved the Twins of the 1960s. The U.S. was enmeshed in Viet Nam but we could escape to the ballpark.
The Twins were just a .500 team, 50 games into the '67 season. Mele was removed. Some thought it was time for Billy Martin to get the call. That would have been interesting. But instead it was the obscure (though I'm sure capable) Cal Ermer, a minor league manager, who got promoted. Ermer could have been famous. If only we had eked out that '67 pennant.
Mele's record as a manager was a fine 524-436 (.546). He had an open invitation to join the Red Sox organization, and he availed himself. He would not manage again. But he remained a fixture in baseball. He was special assignments scout for the Red Sox from mid-season of '67 way until 1994 and his retirement.
What a full and satisfying career "Sabath" had. Mele is the oldest living manager of a pennant-winning team. He probably bought a few years when he escaped the glare and pressure of being manager.
A baseball lineage
Mele grew up showing excellence in both baseball and basketball. He was the nephew of two big league baseball players: Tony and Al Cuccinello. He played for the Burlington, Vermont, team of the Northern League in 1941, making an impression and becoming known to the Red Sox.
In 1941 the world was on the cusp of full-fledged war. Mele became a U.S. Marine in '43. He was sent to the Pacific Theater where he found a baseball outlet, playing with the likes of Joe Dimaggio. He joined the Red Sox once the war was over. But he got assigned to minor league duties. Mele won the Eastern League Most Valuable Player honor, leading the league in average (.342). Then, with the Red Sox having uncertainty at right field for the following season, Mele stepped right in. He batted .302. He subbed well in center when Dom Dimaggio was injured.
Mele played with a total of six big league clubs. I'm sort of befuddled by how he bounced around. Did he have some issues being a good teammate? Mele ended his playing career in the minors in 1958. He got on board as scout with the Washington Senators, Calvin Griffith's team. In July of '59 he joined the Senators' coaching staff under manager Cookie Lavagetto. Lavagetto was the Twins' first manager.
The Twins were 19-30 (.388) in early June of 1961. Lavagetto took a leave of absence and Mele filled in. On June 23, Mele got the permanent job, to the extent any manager's job can be considered permanent.
The Twins impressed in '62 and '63, then rather inexplicably stumbled in 1964. There was speculation Mele would get the hook. The Twins were depending too much on their power bats and would have to diversify, trying to employ some speed and finesse. Mele abundantly recognized this. He worked hard doing what needed to be done. Sain was essential.
In '65 the fruits were realized. The rest was history.
Sabath Anthony "Sam" Mele is etched in Minnesota history as a significant leader. He was not able to return for the 50th anniversary celebration recently. It's tough being over 90 years old. I'm happy he has had such a long life. I hope his family enjoyed that organ in the living room for many years. An organ in the living room is a symbol of solitude, so distant from the pressures of big league sports.
Hang in there, Sam. Just hear those soothing organ notes, whether they came from your living room or Metropolitan Stadium!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dennis Anderson's 8/2 column uncalled for

I scavenged for various sections of the Star Tribune Sunday evening at McDonald's. Generally we don't have to fight over these anymore. Newspapers have stabilized better than many people expected maybe a decade ago. It's probably through cuts and consolidation more than anything.
Whatever, we still have copies of the old "Strib" coming to our community daily. I personally got my checkbook out to make sure the Senior/Community Center could keep getting the paper. The Senior Center had decided not to renew but I intervened.
I'm sorry that I paid any money to support a paper that would include the Dennis Anderson column. I paged through the Sunday Strib and came upon Anderson's column in sports. Anderson has ruffled feathers before. I remember reading the suggestion that his column should be placed on the editorial pages. Yes, sometimes a "column" can be so incisive, it can't pass muster anywhere outside of a position clearly labeled opinion.
Anderson writes about hunting and fishing. That makes his stuff pretty harmless most of the time. It's easy for me to ignore. I'm not enamored of the pastime of killing wildlife. These matters can get political like anything else. I regret greatly that we cannot feel some common sense of revulsion about the killing of that lion, "Cecil." Does this issue, like so many, have to follow the typical dividing lines of left-leaning and right-leaning?
The dentists of America must be concerned. The "brave" lion-killer is famously a dentist, a profession where customers increasingly feel concern about prices charged. And now we're seeing how that money gets spent?
I read the Anderson column twice. He seems to thumb his nose at many of the hunter's critics by implying, well, we just don't understand. We don't have all the facts. We might not even understand hunting.
The hunting proponents always talk about the need to "manage populations." Well, I sort of thought the "ecosystem" took care of that. Things balance out. Michael Crichton talked about the "war" among the many forms of wild things, a situation we can easily overlook. I'm not sure God had in mind bow and arrow hunters for being part of this. I have always wrinkled my forehead over bow and arrow hunting. What do you prove using this method? Do you feel kin with Fred Flintstone or something?
We now hear the story of Cecil the Lion's prolonged and obviously miserable death at the hands of that dentist/hunter. We legitimately wonder: what pleasure could any human take in doing this? Why can't we simply reach a consensus on this basic human reaction? The way we treat animals is a reflection of the state of our civilization. I remember when Marv Levy, the old football coach, took the anti-hunting position in comparison to Minnesota's famous hunter/coach Bud Grant. Levy wasn't hostile to anyone and said he wasn't advocating any outlawing of hunting, but he just didn't understand the impulse. He didn't understand any satisfaction in shooting a defenseless animal.
You don't have to think deeply about this. For me it's pretty fundamental. But Anderson has to get all irritated and bend over backward trying to get us to understand "the hunter's side of the story" in connection with Cecil.
The death of a single lion is minor in the scheme of things. Nature can be cruel in and of itself. But human beings have this mechanism called conscience. We would expect dentists of all people to recognize it. I'm writing this on Monday morning and I don't know yet if there will be serious blowback to the Dennis Anderson column. Maybe it will pass quietly. Or, maybe there will be public pleas to stop supporting the Star Tribune, as if the Strib is in any position to absorb that.
Technically we shouldn't blame Anderson at all. We blame the editors. It's like when Jim Souhan wrote that insensitive piece about Jerry Kill and his health issues. Souhan was a bull in a china closet. But we need to blame the editors who take the responsibility of allowing things into print.
I don't think it's necessary at all to print a column suggesting we need to calm down on the Cecil the Lion matter, to respect the hunter's position more and to "get all the facts" before commenting. We have enough facts now. One fact Anderson thought was important: the dentist used a "compound bow" and not a "crossbow" as had been reported. Yeah, that's real important. Or, some drivel about how it was best to wait until morning for finishing the lion off, lest he wander off and suffer even more - something like that.
It is a fact that this poor lion suffered unreasonably. And for what end? So the hunter could chalk up another "big game" kill? For boasting purposes?
Extreme political conservatives are always on the other side of the coin from me. I always hope I'll be pleasantly surprised by these people, but no. Political conservatives erupted with a chorus of wondering why we can't be similarly revulsed over the Planned Parenthood videos. Well, I think there's a reason: most of us don't want to go back to a time where we battled continuously over the fundamental question of abortion itself - whether it should be outlawed. We basically consider the matter to be settled law.
If we should be mad at anyone, we should be mad at God. Yes, I'll assert that. Why did God create us with these sex and reproductive issues that cause so much pain and tragedy? Why did God create pedophile priests? Why did he create Jerry Sandusky and Dennis Hastert? We're supposed to feel rage making us want to utterly condemn such people, but what was in their biological nature making them inclined to their unacceptable behavior? Why did God render our species this way? Why so many unwanted pregnancies?
Sex is more trouble than it's worth, wouldn't you say? I'm inclined to think there's no God at all. All our mysteries can be laid at the doorstep of space aliens, I suggest, who bred with Earth primates and created that curious specimen called "man." We have fought massive wars resulting in the miserable deaths of untold numbers of us, including collateral damage. Look at World War II. And why? Politics?
I am disappointed that Dennis Anderson is a graduate of UMM. And yes, his column should have appeared as an op-ed. I remember when my Morris Sun Tribune newspaper ran a pastor's column on the editorial page rather than where it would normally go. It was soon after 9/11. I laud Jim Morrison for his decision to put the contentious piece on the op-ed page, because it suggested that certain devoted Christians had gotten sort of a subliminal warning on the morning of 9/11, encouraging them to stay out of the twin towers. The non-Christians might be engulfed in the tragedy, including Jews. I'm tempted to type the name of the pastor here but I won't. He's still in Morris. He's not a Lutheran -  he's more fundamentalist.
Christians should be revulsed by what the dentist/hunter did in Africa. I suspect there's only one way out for this Walter Palmer, the great white hunter or whatever: he can redeem himself only by pledging to commit the rest of his dentist career helping people on the economic margins, kids especially. Heaven knows Africa needs help. He can provide his service for the least cost possible. Perhaps he could live in a spartan sort of way. If he follows such a path, he could go to heaven with a saintly level of self-worth.
As for Dennis Anderson, his Sunday column was uncalled for and should have been spiked. His outlook makes me want to puke.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com