"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, March 28, 2015

Cullen's leaving enhances bleak tone

Whither Morris' main street?
Cullen's is leaving Morris. It's beyond the rumor stage.
Remember when Coborn's was an anchor on the north end of our so-called business district? That parking lot was abuzz with people who were patrons of both Coborn's and McDonald's. Buses and large trucks would be parked there. What has become of that space now? An ugly fence has been put up.
Coborn's closed a long time ago. For a long time after that, the parking lot remained an asset of Morris. Now a fence divides it. I would guess it was put up on the recommendation of a lawyer for the old Coborn's property. Yes, we all cheered when the dinosaur ate the lawyer in the movie "Jurassic Park." Weird Al Yankovic declared, in referring to that scene: "Dinosaurs aren't all bad."
Remember when the old Pamida parking lot was so bad with potholes, navigating it would feel like going through some sort of U.S. Marines training exercise? That problem is now fixed with Shopko.
But Cullen's leaving is a problem. It's a problem just from the standpoint of perception. From a physical standpoint it was simply a large business. We have said goodbye to the Morris Auto Plaza car dealership. An upsetting trend is developing here.
We rely on UMM as a base for our vitality or survival as a community. However, the likelihood is strong that the University will employ steadily fewer people in the future. UMM will respond to all the "efficiency" trends, fueled by tech, seen throughout our economy.
We always hear that without UMM, "we'd be like Elbow Lake." Shudder. I'm not sure we aren't headed in that direction anyway. Should we care? Many of us, it seems, are taking the attitude "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," and are moving to Alexandria. BTW is it "Alex" or "Alec?"
This trend of businesses closing probably has something to do with our proximity to Alexandria. Increasingly it is simply no big deal to make a trip to "Alec." What will Morris be like if we become like a "satellite community" or "bedroom community?"
The newspaper in Morris has become largely an extension of the Alexandria business community. The paper is owned by the same company that owns the Alex paper, which is really unfortunate. The paper pays lip service to "support Morris." Well, what would you expect them to say?
I have tried persuading Paul Martin of Willie's Super Valu to buy a page occasionally in that Heather Storck publication. I have also implored him to stop paying to have a weekly ad circular sent out via the Morris paper. A monopoly business does not need to advertise so much. He could pocket a little extra profit or maybe give his employees a little raise. But of course with the new "self-checkout," there may be fewer employees to have to pay. Of course, they'll say they won't be laying off or firing anyone, but watch: As employees leave through natural attrition, they won't all be replaced.
The Morris newspaper said they wouldn't be laying anyone off after going to once a week, but of course they eventually laid off a couple people. There are seven listed employees with the Morris newspaper, and they are all women. Why is that? Is it an accident? Or, is this one of those businesses that has a culture of nurturing women? Why are dentists male but their assistants are seemingly 100 percent female? Why is that? 
I should quote Paul Martin on what he said when I made the suggestion of discontinuing the weekly paper ad circular. He said the store needed to keep "reminding people that we're here." I can't imagine a business that is more conspicuous in Morris than Willie's Super Valu. So, this can't be the real reason. I suspect the weekly ad circular is just an old habit. It's an expensive old habit. Oh, but we need to find out about store "specials." Why even have "specials?" Why not just charge reasonable prices throughout the store?
So, you study hard to save a few pennies and then on your way home, you get pulled over by police for not wearing your seat belt. There goes 110 bucks. Which brings to mind a negative in Morris that we can ill-afford these days: overly aggressive police officer activity.
When I think back to Cullen's, I'll remember how that business was hindered by the trees on main street. Their store sign in front was seriously handicapped by that. Main street is trying to hang on with business viability. I'm sure all those trees don't help any. If they don't help, why were they planted? It was probably because of the usual glory-seeking do-gooders who have no sense of business instincts - the same people who promoted the "green community" for the old school property. That won an award, remember?
Will anything new move into Cullen's? Might it be some new second-hand store? I once read that the first sign a shopping mall is going to hell is when the second-hand stores start moving in.
How about an indoor miniature golf course?
I would like to know how many people are still reading or looking at the Morris paper. The newsstand price got raised from a dollar to $1.25. Yeah, like that was really necessary. For that price you get a massive pile of advertising. Shopping in Morris is not that complicated.
We just assume that a large number of people pay attention to the Morris paper, just like Paul Martin assumes he needs to send out a weekly circular "so people will know we're here." It's an old habit. The millennials are going to slowly change that. Change can be a slow process, though. It's like this trend of people using "flushable wipes" instead of the old TP. I have never felt TP really does the job. I seek to wear undershorts that do not have "brown stains," even after riding a bike. It's about time we got civilized.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sauk Centre girls end up No. 2 in state hoops

Streeters 67, N-YA 45
Sauk Centre made Section 6AA proud in the post-season. The Streeter girls climbed through the various state levels. They ended up just shy of the state title. They carried the 6AA banner into state where first they played Norwood-Young America. This quarter-final game was close in the first half, not so close in the second.
I use the name "Streeters" but the formal name is "Mainstreeters." Let's all remember Sinclair Lewis.
The Sauk Centre girls shot 34 percent in the first half versus N-YA, then got hot in the second to the tune of 65 percent. The 67-45 win was the 30th of the season for this high-flying unit. It was also win No. 28 in a row. Wow! Along the way they beat the dynastic New London-Spicer Wildcats for the Section 6AA title. Sauk was top-seeded for state.
The Streeters made six of eight 3-point shot tries over the last 18 minutes in the state quarter-final game. The second half was really key, especially a seven-minute span. When that span was done, the Streeters had a commanding 22-point lead.
Kelsey Peschel, just a freshman, topped Sauk's scoring on the night with 17 points, eleven of which came in the second half. Madison Moritz was a monster rebounder, snaring 16. She led her team to a 40-25 advantage in rebounds.
The Raiders of Norwood-Young America were led by Kali Grimm, a freshman, who put in 12 points.
 
Streeters 54, Minnehaha 49
Sauk Centre's next mission was to play Minnehaha Academy. Now we're in the state semis. Minnehaha had size as an attribute. They're known for having physical guards. They used that attribute to cause Sauk Centre problems in the first half. Sauk's shooting was off in the first half. However, Sauk Centre picked up freethrow attempts as a result of Minnehaha's physical nature.
Sauk made ten of 12 freethrow tries in the first half, and they were in quite decent shape at halftime. The score was 31-29 with Sauk in the lead.
The game stayed close in the second half. Minnehaha guards Sarah Kaminski and Gracia Gilreath were a force to be reckoned with. They dealt a physical brand of play which, like in the first half, can result in the opponent getting freethrows. This happened in the second half. Sauk Centre was able to gain the edge it needed via this.
Madison Moritz shot freethrows in the clutch late. For the whole game, Madison was eight of eight in freethrows. She wasn't as sharp shooting field goals. She cited the physical nature of the game as a limiting factor. "Luckily we made our freethrows," she was quoted saying.
Sisters Mauren and Maesyn Thiesen were standouts in Sauk's 54-49 win. The Thiesen family moved from Becker to Sauk Centre over the summer. Mauren Thiesen scored 14 points vs. Minnehaha. Maesyn Thiesen put in 12. "I'm glad they're here now and I'm glad they're on our team," Moritz said.
 
Dover-Eyota 71, Streeters 58
The state finals matched those Mainstreeters against Dover-Eyota. Dover-Eyota was the No. 2 state seed. That storied arena on the U of M campus - Williams Arena - was the venue.
Could Sauk Centre make it 30 wins in a row? It wasn't to be. Dover-Eyota was the 71-58 winner. Those Eagles showed poise, never seeming overwhelmed by the elite situation. Their junior center Megan Hintz overcame foul worries and ended up with 24 points scored. Plus she collected 17 rebounds. She carried four fouls.
But it was Eagle Brandi Blattner who led all scorers with 25 points. Brandi is a senior guard. She also contributed 14 rebounds. Madison Nelson, junior guard, had 15 points and 15 rebounds.
Sauk Centre was in fact flirting with victory, owning a 55-51 lead with just under six minutes left. The Eagles went on a 13-0 run.
The Streeters were uncharacteristically erratic in shooting. The Thiesen sisters held then own, as Maesyn scored 23 points and Mauren 14. Together they made five of the team's seven 3-pointers. But Sauk's team numbers in 3's were quite off. Dover-Eyota did well collecting rebounds off those missed shots. My, they out-rebounded the Streeters 71-32! That's astounding. And yet Sauk had that late lead.
Hintz was quoted saying this game was the type in which her team feels comfortable. "We usually put up quite a few points and rebounds," she said.
The books are closed on Sauk Centre's season with an abundance of special memories having been made. Just imagine Sinclair Lewis writing about it!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Remember the Schocks? They're in the news

Aaron Schock
Maybe Aaron Schock was too good to be true. And, when something seems too good to be true, it might well be. Mr. Schock was a national-level politician who seemed downright fuzzy-cheeked with his young age. He seemed refreshing.
On the other side of the coin, maybe a little more wisdom is required, the wisdom that comes with a greater body of life experience. Strom Thurmond was too old. Aaron Schock was too young.
I haven't heard much talk about how Aaron has a Morris MN background. Has the local corporate media reported on this? I haven't seen anything. The family was well-known and respected here. I especially remember Aaron's sister Lisa who was a premier student-athlete. She had height as an attribute. I remember doing an article about her when she went out of state to play college sports.
I have only a faint recollection of Aaron. He was in the fourth grade when his family moved to Peoria IL. He was the youngest of four children. Father Dr. Richard Schock was quite esteemed as a medical practitioner and school board member. The family lived on a rural farm site where the children were given the responsibility of tending a three-acre patch of strawberries and selling the fruit.
Mother Jan was a homemaker with a sweet personality. I think her maiden name was Joos because I had a friend who referred to her as "that Joos girl." There are women around Morris who I still think of with their maiden name. Actually this practice whereby women change their last name upon marriage, while men don't, reeks of sexism. It is far easier to Google an old male friend than an old female acquaintance.
Anyway, to continue our story of the Schocks, they got dragged into the world of celebrity. I'm not sure I envy anyone in this position. Aaron built a resume that was absolutely stunning for someone of his young age. Chris Matthews of MSNBC seemed amazed.
Many of us who felt concerned about too many grizzled old politicians, politicians whose mental capacity almost seemed at issue, found Aaron to be most welcome. If only he had panned out. It's sad to see the unraveling of this once bright career.
Aaron has had to resign from the U.S. Congress. He was the first member of the Congress born in the 1980s. Prior to entering Congress, young Aaron served two terms in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Over a period of weeks, Aaron has been besieged by questions about his use of taxpayer dollars and campaign cash. If you have heard a reference to "Downton Abbey" in the news recently, it's because of Aaron. A photo of a $40,000 "Downton Abbey" redo of his Capitol Hill office led to an ethics charge by an independent group.
Once the first nugget of scandal was revealed, you know how it goes. The individual in question gets under a microscope.
Other revelations followed, like how Aaron billed taxpayers $1,200 for a charter flight to a Bears game at Soldier Field. Oh, he repaid once word got out. But there was another $14,000 in private flights last fall on top of $40,000 worth of travel on planes owned by campaign donors. He recently had to defend a trip to New York in September, connected to a visit by the prime minister of India. Schock brought along ten staffers, all paid for by tax funds.
He has faced questions about a shell company connected to him. Political donors built, sold and financed a home Schock owned in suburban Peoria, and were involved in the sale of a Peoria apartment complex in which he invests.
All in all, there's a background emerging now in which Aaron's priorities are going to have to change quickly. No longer in the firmament of young and rising, he's now in the circle of those who need a gaggle of top-notch lawyers. It's likely Federal investigators are taking a look at some of Schock's reported dealings. He has sought to reimburse funds. Will that be enough? I rather doubt it. "The Feds" can be like snarling dogs when they're at your doorstep.
Seeking to reimburse funds may look good, but on the other hand, this can be seen as tantamount to a confession.
The Schock family members haven't been immune from press attention. Father Richard, who I always found to be quite agreeable, got "ambushed." When CBS 2's Brad Edwards and another reporter approached the good doctor to discuss his son's situation, he at first told them to leave his house in Peoria. But then, he completely opened up. He went to bat for his son - quite understandable and endearing.
His choice of words wasn't always the best. Like when he said his son "wears stylish clothing, and yet he's not gay. And, he's not married and he's not running around with women."
Dr. Schock needs a little coaching on how to behave and talk like a semi-public figure. Of course, media people love that kind of candor, like when Roger Maris (according to the movie) said "maybe I'm just some redneck from Fargo."
Dr. Schock also said some more benign things re. his son's travails, like "he's had a good run, he's done a lot of good, he has helped a lot of people. Everybody I talk to still supports him, and prays for him, and hopes he comes through this. He's going through a very tough time right now, because in his heart, he's always wanted to do what was right and what was good, and got a little careless."
The doctor also blamed the rancor in politics today, the "viciousness."
Maybe there's a reason why well-known politicians tend to be up in years. They have slowly, methodically and patiently worked up the ladder, realizing in a very sober way the august nature of their responsibility, and making sure all the i's are dotted and t's crossed in their public functions. It's called wisdom. Aaron hasn't gained enough of if. Good luck to him and his family. I suspect he longs for those placid, innocent days in rural Morris.

Dr. Richard Schock (image from Twitter)

- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why has chimes controversy festered so long?

It is unfortunate to be writing about the chimes at the cemetery. Online writers often write about controversial subjects. But the chimes controversy shouldn't even be happening. This matter should have been adjudicated long ago. City officials should have taken charge.
The chimes do not serve an essential function. If the chimes had never been installed, no one would be out at the cemetery thinking to himself: "Why on earth can't we hear music at the cemetery?" It wouldn't cross anyone's mind. Our family now has a monument that we're quite proud of. But I absolutely could not care less if we're "serenaded" by music out there.
The chime supporters say that mourners can find "solace" due to the music. What the hell does that mean? Music isn't going to bring my father back. Actually, quiet is the best atmosphere to have at a cemetery. Quiet for contemplation or whatever.
The chimes issue makes our community leaders look stupid. They're too stupid to realize that the "quality" of the music, or its merit, is not the issue here. Don't broach that aspect at all. The issue is whether a man's home is his castle. It's a purely American principle. Is a person entitled to reasonable peace and quiet where he lives?
The sounds of commerce cannot be completely eliminated. That includes trains and busy highways. We seem as a society to want to give a pass to church bells, although I think that ritual is outdated. Again, the cemetery chimes serve no useful purpose. They are noise pollution.
Yesterday I told Matthew Carrington, a former city council member, that the chimes simply need to be removed permanently, for one simple reason: If they are not, the issue will keep coming up periodically. It's like that high school in South Dakota that had the "Satans" nickname for sports. Finally a town leader spoke up and said if it wasn't changed, the issue would never go away.
We don't need this chimes controversy. Controversies are dangerous for small towns. I remember when our public school became a focal point for controversy in the late 1980s. It was a horrible mess. Businesses got affected.
Now we have a person associated with Ace Hardware becoming a high-profile public advocate for the chimes. Our family has always been annoyed by the chimes, and we live way out north of Shopko. Should I be less inclined to do business at Ace Hardware because of this? It's a shame we even need to entertain such thoughts.
What the hell is an organization like "Widows on Wednesday" doing, getting involved in a public controversy? This should be a totally benign, beloved group. Why are the city council people talking like they're so sympathetic to the chimes? Was it because your classic "pressure group" showed up at a council meeting? What would you expect them to say in this setting? "Man, those chimes really suck."
No, those council members were pliable on that night, or naive or whatever. They were not leaders. They should have thanked the assemblage for its input but remained noncommittal.
Some say the chimes can be "adjusted." Turn down the speaker pointed at Pine Hall. But if this is so logical, why wasn't it done in the first place? Why such horrible judgment up until now? And if the judgment has been that bad, can we now count on it to change?
Can we now suddenly assume that our city leaders will add a few brain cells? I never assume that about government. Let's just have the chimes removed and not bring up the subject again.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sauk Centre beats NL-Spicer, makes state

No state tournament for the New London-Spicer girls this year. They can take pride in winning the sub-section title. That would certainly be a plum for our MACA Tigers.
The Wildcats took the South crown but couldn't parlay that into the section championship. Instead it's the Sauk Centre Mainstreeters carrying the 6AA banner into state play. The Streeters now enjoy an incredible win skein of 26. Naturally they are ranked No. 1 in state (Class AA).
Holy mackerel, the sizzling Streeters scored the final 17 points of the first half. They continued taking care of business in the second half, finally winning in the 56-40 final. The site was Halenback Hall on the campus of St. Cloud State University (my alma mater).
Let's emphasize that Sauk didn't own the whole game versus NL-Spicer. With five and a half minutes left in the first half, Sauk Centre trailed by nine points. They hadn't scored in six minutes. Coach Scott Bergman of Sauk Centre called a timeout. It's never good to get down by double figures versus those Wildcats. The ship had to be righted.
What a turnaround! Whatever Bergman told his charges, it infused tons of vitality. Momentum took off for those Streeters. My, they took off with those 17 unanswered points. Coach Berman later said he felt the timeout was simply therapeutic as "a break."
The Streeters are now readying for state. The site will be Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, Wednesday.
Those Wildcats of NL-Spicer can feel satisfaction with their 24-win season. The squad had just one senior starter back in the fold. The loss of seniors off last year's state team didn't take the kind of toll some might have expected. Last year, NL-Spicer beat Sauk Centre in overtime in the section title affair.
This season the Wildcats handed the Streeters their only regular season loss, on December 9. NL-Spicer finished the season with a 24-5 record - numbers that would surely be relished by our MACA Tigers. Maybe in the future? We'll see.
Sauk Centre goes to state with a 28-1 record. They were nine of ten in freethrows in the section title game. In total field goals they were 19 of 45. They made noise with three-pointers. Maesyn Thiesen made three long-rangers. Jill Klaphake made two, and Madison Greenwaldt and Kelsey Peschel each made one.
Madison Moritz led in three categories: rebounds (8), assists (5) and steals (5). It was Thiesen at the top of the scoring list with 15 points. Klaphake put in 12 points. The list continues with Moritz (9), Peschel (7), Mauren Thiesen (6), Rebecca Weir (4) and Greenwaldt (3).
NL-Spicer got just seven freethrow attempts and made four. They were 17 of 36 in total field goals. Megan Thorson, whose time on the bench (due to fouls) might have been a factor in NL-Spicer's fading, finished with 20 points scored. Shea Oman scored ten points. Alyssa Fredrick put in seven, Ashlyn Geister had two and Brooke Beuning one.
Fredrick canned two 3-pointers. Geister snared eight rebounds and Thorson had five. Kabrie Weber dished out four assists. Oman and Thorson each had three steals. Now it's on to state for the surging Streeters of Sauk Centre.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NL-Spicer overcomes Litch for South title

The 6AA girls hoops championship game will match a couple of real powers. It's no surprise to see New London-Spicer there. This is the team that ended the MACA girls' season. MACA put up a game battle most of the way, but in the end the Tigers couldn't put together a strong enough stretch of play - not quite. New London-Spicer is a "money" team. They're proving that once again in 2015. They own 24 wins on the season.
The Wildcats' 24-4 record compares to an absolutely sterling 27-1 record sported by their next foe. That foe is Sauk Centre. The Wildcats and Streeters will vie at 7:45 p.m. Friday, March 13, at St. Cloud State University. The St. John's-hosted phase is over.
And, how did Sauk Centre get that one loss on their record? My, it was at the hands of those Wildcats of New London-Spicer. The 6AA title game will begin at 7:45 p.m.
The Wildcats garnered the 6AA-South title with a win over Litchfield on Tuesday. The score was 59-48 as the Wildcats clawed past the Dragons at SJU. Long-range shooting was a New London-Spicer asset. Alyssa Fredrick made three 3-pointers. Brooke Beuning made two shots from beyond the three-point arc. Shea Oman made one.
NL-Spicer was six of ten in three-pointers. In total field goals, the Wildcats put up 17 of 30 numbers. They got a huge number of freethrow attempts - 31 - and made 19. Fredrick topped the scoring list with 15 points. Oman put in 13 points and Thorson had ten. The list continues with Ashlyn Geister (8), Beuning (6), Kabrie Weber (4), Erin Tebben (2) and Lindsay Vagle (1).
Thorson was the top rebounder with eleven, followed by Geister with six. Weber was the top assist producer with five, while Oman had three. These three Wildcats each had two steals: Oman, Fredrick and Morgan Swenson.
Litch had only eleven freethrow attempts, making six. The Dragons were 20 of 57 from the field. Breanna Sittig and Macy Huhner each made a three-pointer. Here's the Litch scoring list: Hannah Norlin (27), Huhner (8), Hallie Euerle (4), Sittig (3) and these three Dragons each with two points: Kyndra Beavers, Savanna Pater and Sydney Weires.
Norlin was the top Litchfield rebounder with eight, while Mariah Hoff had five boards. In assists it was Hoff setting the pace with eleven. Beavers contributed three assists. Norlin had three steals and Huhner executed two.
Litch had a quite competitive stance on the court and led by four points at halftime, 27-23. But Litch had to accept the end to its season, and does so with a 16-13 record. It's a modest record but perhaps they play a lot of bigger schools.
It's not a stretch to imagine our MACA Tigers as the 6AA-South champion. Really, it seems just a hair's breadth separates these teams.
Litch's Norlin had the game-high point total. She was a force close to the basket. Litch worked to a lead of as many as nine points in the first half. The second half was a nightmare by comparison for them. The Dragons lost fire in shooting, especially over a 12-minute stretch of play.
The dynastic Wildcats of NL-Spicer are focused now on Sauk Centre, a familiar high-level rival. The Wildcats and Streeters battled into overtime in last year's section title showdown.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, March 9, 2015

Girls beat Minnewaska, fall to NL-Spicer

MACA was able to achieve a post-season win in basketball. That's enough to keep the waters calm in this community. Everyone is happy. All those people who spent money and time following the Tigers all winter can feel rewarded and fulfilled, based on the win achieved by the MACA girls basketball Tigers on Thursday, March 5.
The Tigers did go on to lose in the second round. No matter, the win over Minnewaska Area ensures that the fans will be totally content. Now we'll move on for the next few months.
 
Tigers 67, 'Waska 49
The game was played here. The Tigers achieved their 15th overall win of the season. The squad had things well in hand at halftime, as we led 36-13. 'Waska outscored the Tigers 36-31 in the second half. For the game we made 25 of our 55 field goal attempts. In freethrows the stats were 14 of 23.
Three Tigers scored in double figures: Lauren Reimers with 18 points, Correy Hickman with 15 and Becca Holland with ten. Three Tigers each made one three-point shot: Reimers, Elizabeth Tiernan and Tracy Meichsner. Meichsner's point total was seven. The list continues with Kayla Pring (six points), Tiernan (5), Moira McNally (4) and Piper Gibson (2).
Meichsner led in rebounds with eleven followed by Hickman with seven. Hickman dished out eight assists, and Reimers had four steals.
Bayley Pooler was Minnewaska's top scorer with 18 points. Abby VerSteeg scored eight points followed by Ariel Ostrander and Carley Stewart each with seven. Taylor Amundson added six to the mix, and Ashlyn Guggisberg scored three.
Pooler was a long-range shooting standout with her five 3-pointers. 'Waska did quite fine as a team in long-rangers. VerSteeg and Amundson each made two 3's, and Guggisberg made one.
Ostrander led 'Waska in rebounds with six. Pooler dished out seven assists and Stewart contributed three. 'Waska closed its books on the season with a 16-11 mark.
 
NL-Spicer 54, Tigers 44
It's never a picnic facing the New London-Spicer girls in the post-season. The Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers faced the challenge on Saturday, March 7. We won that opportunity by having beaten Minnewaska Area. The Tigers and Wildcats squared off on the court of St. John's University, Collegeville.
Not surprisingly, NL-Spicer owned the top seed. They owned the No. 4 ranking in Minnesota Class AA.
The Tigers kept it close for much of the way. We were down by just one point at halftime, 21-20. The scoreboard showed just a one-point deficit in the middle stages of the second half. But coach Dale Henrich's Tigers couldn't get that surge of momentum they wanted. In the end it was the Wildcats prevailing over our Tigers, 54-44.
So, our season ends with a record of 15-12. New London-Spicer advanced with 23-4 won-lost numbers.
The game revealed disparity in freethrows. New London-Spicer got 27 freethrow attempts and made 14. The Tigers put up nine tries and made four. Our field goal shooting numbers were 18 of 60.
Four different Tigers made three-point shots. Lauren Reimers, Tracy Meichsner, Elizabeth Tiernan and Becca Holland each made one '3'. Meichsner was the rebound leader with 12 followed by Tiernan and Holland each with five. Meichsner's four assists led in that department. Correy Hickman was the steals leader with three.
Here's the MACA scoring list: Meichsner (11), Lacee Maanum (10), Tiernan (9), Hickman (6), Holland (5) and Reimers (3). Yes, Reimer's 3-point shot constituted her only scoring of the night, and that had to hurt.
Two Wildcats were real standouts with three-point shooting. Shea Oman and Alyssa Fredrick each made four 3's. Here's the Wildcat scoring list: Oman (16), Fredrick (14), Megan Thorson (10), Ashlyn Geister (9), Kabrie Weber (4) and Morgan Swenson (1).
Thorson was team-best in rebounds with 12 followed by Geister with eight and Weber with five. Weber had four assists and Geister had three. Thorson, Geister and Weber each had one steal.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rod Carew: a baseball career fit for a song

Rod Carew, superstar
Rod Carew was an amazing player for the Minnesota Twins. He had this innate skill to make solid contact. He'd hit "frozen ropes" all over the place. In this sense he was much like Tony Oliva. He didn't have Oliva's power.
I always thought Carew could have hit more home runs if he wanted to. Perhaps he saw "batting average" as his meal ticket. Bill James was not yet in ascendancy. James of course changed baseball thinking so that batting average wasn't some sort of be-all and end-all.
When it came to batting average, Carew was king. He did not have an endearing personality. He seemed aloof. I cannot readily find any evidence of any tribute song being written about this amazing baseball player. That's one reason I wrote one. I recently had the pleasure of getting my song put on the Internet, on YouTube. The song is called "Number 29 That Rod Carew." I had it recorded in Nashville TN. My favorite music people ply their talent there.
I invite you to give a listen by clicking on the link below. Thanks for checking in. - B.W.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzHx_8mRd2E
 
Rod Carew may have been misunderstood. Yes, he did seem rather cold and aloof. It's not easy existing in the fishbowl of being a professional sports star. Perhaps we need to empathize a little. Perhaps we need a little more background. A friend emailed me the following background showing Rod's extra little dimension in terms of personality:
 
Did you ever hear the story about Herb Carneal being invited over to Rod's house one day? As he entered the Carew home, Rod said he wanted to show Herb "some slides," and asked to be excused. Mr. Carew returned to the living room dressed in full baseball uni, pushing a wheelbarrow full of sand. He dumped the sand right there on the carpet, backed up, and did a slide into a pile. A sense of humor the public never saw. . .
 
My song has an AABA structure. So, there's an 'A' section and a bridge. My bridge lyrics get repeated. Here I'm delighted to invoke the names of both Herb Carneal and Halsey Hall. "Herb and Halsey joined that reverie." I invoke Calvin's name: Calvin Griffith, the original owner of the Twins. I talk about Calvin smiling when watching the Panamanian star, Rod Carew. Calvin of course had a curmudgeonly image. He lived up to that image but he was still most capable of smiling.
I cite "all those steals of home." Indeed, Carew stole home seven times in the 1969 season. He just missed Ty Cobb's major league record of eight.
We might forget that Carew frustrated us fans when he had to leave periodically to fulfill a military commitment. He served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He was a combat engineer. This was in the 1960s. Remember, a commitment of this type could spare one from being sent to Viet Nam.
Those were the days of military conscription: the draft. The youth of today have no idea what it's like growing up under the cloud of the draft. War may have been necessary in the 1940s. In the 1960s, it was a whole different matter. Carew would later say that his military experience helped him in his baseball career. He said:
 
When I joined the Marine Corps, it was a life-changing event for me because I learned about discipline. When I first came up to the big leagues in 1967, I was a little bit of a hot-head. But after two weeks of war games every summer, I realized that baseball was not do-or-die. That kind of discipline made me the player I became.
 
OK, it's nice he benefited from it. Carew was American League Rookie of the Year in 1967. It was fun seeing him emerge as a star. But the '67 season may have been the most heartbreaking ever for the Twins. We got edged out for the pennant at the very end. Boston beat us. Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva were in their prime.
Great as Carew was, his Twins tenure fell in between the 1965 and 1987 pennants. He was on the Twins team that won the division in 1969 and 1970. Those were bittersweet years for our team. We could be dominant so much of the time. But we got clobbered by the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs both years. The '69 season was the first for the divisional format.
Carew won his fourth straight A.L. batting title in 1975. It was in September of that year that he moved to first base, where he'd stay for the rest of his career. He previously played second base.
He was spectacular in the 1977 season. His batting average was .388, the best in the A.L. since Ted Williams' .406 in 1941. Carew was the A.L. Most Valuable Player in '77. That summer saw him appear on the cover of Time Magazine. He left our team in 1979. He was off to California to become an Angel. His prowess continued as he hit between .305 and .339 from 1979 to 1983. He had 17 total steals of home in his career.
His first and middle names of "Rodney Cline" are from the doctor who delivered him. He was born to a Panamanian mother on a train in the town of Gatun, which at that time was in the Panama Canal Zone. Rod is thus a "Zonian." The conductor stopped the train when Rod's mother went into labor. Dr. Rodney Cline was on board the train. He did the job.
Rod was age 14 when his family came to the U.S. He was discovered by the Twins when he was playing for the semi-pro Bronx Cavaliers. He played Single-A ball in the 1966 season. From there he vaulted to the bigs in '67. The rest is history.
We cherish the memory of "Number 29 That Rod Carew." A song about Rod Carew is most apt, helping us revive the memories of those "disco '70s" in Minnesota. I remember dancing disco at the Persian Club in St. Cloud, complete with that spinning ball.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com