"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, May 28, 2016

Forest or the trees? Watch "Truth" movie (2015)

Remember when you learned the term "superscript?" It was probably in connection to that "60 Minutes" thing with George W. Bush and the National Guard. Steve Sack of the Star Tribune did one of those cartoons that prompted laughter out loud from me. The drawing included Rather's name with the "th" presented as superscript. Rather had a black eye.
Many of us were capable of looking at that whole matter with levity. You might think it was a matter of great gravity: alleged journalistic malpractice at the highest level. Oh c'mon. I'm 61 years old and am totally aware, with all my peers, how even the most upstanding young men sought to avoid service in Viet Nam. Not only was it an ugly war, we had the draft. Is it possible today to even relate back to that?
There was a time in my formative years when I thought the Viet Nam war would go on forever. Much of my cynicism was built consuming the endless news coverage of the war, and just as important, the domestic protests against it. My generation fully understands that young men sought escape from the war, going to Australia if necessary.
It is elementary, too, to realize that young men from upper-class families might well use that "pull." It is totally plausible to believe that the young George W. Bush used his family's status to do a popular end run around war service, by getting accepted to the National Guard. Everyone back then knew the National Guard was an escape hatch.
So, regardless of whether "60 minutes" crossed the line into unacceptable journalism, we pretty much know what happened here.
The Viet Nam war was not only totally tragic at the time it happened, it left scars and issues that we had to deal with for many years. The "Swift Boat" attacks on John Kerry were an example. Kerry ran against Bush in the 2004 election. That's when "60 Minutes" launched the expose that wasn't as sharp or as certain as it should have been. Documents purporting to support the expose's case began looking suspicious.
The whole thing blew up partly because of the Internet. Special interests from across the political spectrum were finding their home online, and finding empowerment. No longer would the big network news operations have primacy.
That distant age of typewriters
Let's draw another contrast over time: We used typewriters in the 1970s. Those relics bore no resemblance to the word processing of today. Nobody ever really liked to type on a typewriter. The electronic typewriter wasn't that much of a step forward. You corrected mistakes using "white out." Or, you just went in with a pen and made notations. It wasn't the kind of thing you did for fun, not like today when you can do corrections and re-writes so cleanly.
Superscript barely existed with the equipment available at the time of the Bush/Guard episode. People simply didn't write or type as much. People kept details in their head more. Maybe it helped us be sharper. We simply "did" things instead of concentrating so much on documenting what we were doing. We used Kodak Instamatic cameras. Vinyl records ruled.
Were the famous "Killian documents" an outright fraud? Weighing this is like weighing whether the Kensington Runestone (of Minnesota) is genuine. Many high-ranking academics will kick and scream and say for sure the Runestone is a fake. And yet, that argument never takes over. The thought of authenticity is so tantalizing.
It seems to me, that if the Killian documents and the Runestone were blatant fakes, it would be easy to put the matter to rest, for all of us. The Killian documents, regardless of who wrote them, seem to indicate intimate knowledge of everything that was going on at the time. The authors were aware of the idiosyncrasies of all the principals.
The docs also easily support what everyone my age senses is likely: that Bush indeed used his family's pull to get in the National Guard, and then didn't have his heart in his service. Who can blame him? This isn't a decision he would have made were it not for the war and draft circumstances. My generation would shrug and say: that's just how it was back then. We don't like being reminded of it.
All this stuff comes from a dark hole in our collective memory.
The movie "Truth" came out in 2015. The story centers largely on Mary Mapes, a CBS TV news producer. Dan Rather figures in just as much. It's fascinating seeing Robert Redford in a role so similar to what he did in the old "All the President's Men," where his sidekick was the chain-smoking Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein.
"Is there any place you don't smoke," Redford (as Bob Woodward) says to Hoffman as they step out of an elevator. Smoking and manual typewriters were the norm of the day.
Redford plays Dan Rather in "Truth," a match I would not have expected to be effective. It is very effective. Redford exudes the celebrity of the old network TV anchor.
Walter Cronkite was described as "the most trusted man in America." It's too bad we were at the mercy, as it were, of such a small celebrity-like cluster of men known as "anchormen." Today we take for granted our endlessly diverse universe of news/commentary offerings.
If you were to step into a time machine and go back to the '70s, you might faint from culture shock. In the '70s we thought things like "Studio 54" were important. We watched "Laverne and Shirley." No one admitted they really liked to watch TV. We read reports that people who watched a lot of TV suffered from depression.
Bush vs. Kerry in 2004
The movie "Truth" takes us back to the time leading up to the 2004 presidential election. Mapes and Rather enter a firestorm after the airing of a report that President Bush had, in the early 1970s received preferential treatment from officials of the Texas Air National Guard. In other words, we should be shocked that there is gambling in this establishment!
Key memos in this expose went under the microscope from many outside sources. Suspicion built that these "Killian documents" were generated from Microsoft Word. From the '70s, no.
Did I like the movie? I have watched both "Truth" and "Spotlight" in recent weeks, and give both an A-plus grade, exploring as they do the world of journalism and what it can do for us. "Spotlight" showed flawless investigative work vs. the Catholic Church in Boston. "Truth" shows us how journalism can struggle when its stories aren't absolutely airtight. But hey, those of us who were products of the '60s and '70s have a very strong sense of the veracity of Mapes/Rather.
The documents may not have been a slam dunk. But we all have very reliable insights into what likely happened, and it surprises us not at all.
One online reviewer asserted that "Rathergate," as it came to be known, "caused a major blow to the journalistic reputation of CBS News. It also damaged all American journalists, indirectly."
Oh no it didn't. Someday if George W. Bush ends up on that proverbial deathbed, he might well reveal that the whole Mapes investigation was really accurate. There is within all of us an innate urge to see the truth told, to have lies dismissed. That way we can find peace.
Another online reviewer asked: "Have we reached an era of journalism in which Internet nitpicking and clickbait forces news readers to examine each individual tree instead of considering the entire forest?" This is the quote that ought to be left in our minds after viewing the highly engaging movie "Truth." I would give this movie the maximum number of stars, just like for "Spotlight."
As Rather would say, "courage."
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MACA softball turns back NL-Spicer 7-6

MACA held off a late New London-Spicer surge to win in Section 3AA play on Tuesday (5/24), here. Those Wildcats are often a nemesis for our Tigers in girls athletics. Any win over them is a plum.
The game was less than a masterpiece as shown by the team error totals: seven by NL-Spicer and five by the Tigers. But the only numbers that mattered in the end were the run totals. We had seven runs, the Wildcats six.
The Wildcats mounted their late surge with three runs each in the sixth and seventh innings. The Tigers benefited from a hot start, having scored two runs each in the first and second. Our line score was seven runs, eight hits and five errors. The NL-Spicer numbers were 6-6-7.
True, we're in post-season play now, but the Wildcats are not eliminated. Double-elimination is in effect. That can make things complicated for journalists like me. I'll just take one game at a time.
MACA plays next on Saturday. Now we're in the southern phase, set to travel to Marshall. We have been having trouble getting our basketball teams to Marshall. Our softball Tigers will play Martin County West at 12:30 Saturday. Those Wildcats will play Jackson County Central at 11 a.m.
I suppose we may not be done dealing with New London-Spicer.
Generally speaking this time of year, our biggest worry is those teams from southern Minnesota. Don't know why that is.
MACA led by as many as five runs Tuesday. Our pitcher Brooke Gillespie was able to help us hang on for the triumph. Gillespie set down four batters on strikes. She walked two and gave up six hits. Three of the runs she allowed were unearned.
NL-Spicer also had a pitcher go the whole way: Olivia Christopherson. Just three of the seven runs that Christopherson allowed were earned. She was very sharp much of the time as she achieved eight strikeouts. She walked three batters and allowed eight hits.
Becca Holland scored two runs and had a hit for MACA. Bailey Marty was a perfect three-for-three and crossed home plate three times. Lindsey Dierks had two hits in as many at-bats, and scored a run. Gillespie showed her usual productive bat with two hits in four at-bats and three RBIs. Piper Gibson drove in a run, and Courtney Storck scored a run.
For New London-Spicer, Mya Rohman socked a home run and drove in two runs. Alyssa Fredrick had a double as part of going three-for-four, and she scored two runs. Espi Austvold and Shea Oman also hit safely for the Wildcats.
Baseball: Minnewaska 8, Tigers 0
The MACA baseball offense has fallen into the doldrums. The outset of the Tuesday game vs. Minnewaska was embarrassing for our orange and black, as we made errors on the first four 'Waska batters. Well, I certainly couldn't do any better. Those errors set the tone in this humbling 8-0 loss to the Lakers.
Oh my, our offense was limited to two hits, both off the bat of Sean Amundson. The game wrapped up our regular season with a won-lost mark of 12-7.
The Lakers shot out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. They added one run each in the second and fourth, and two in the sixth. The line scores really tell a tale: eight runs, seven hits and no errors for the very sharp Lakers, and 0-2-8 numbers for the Tigers. We could erase this disappointment in a hurry with post-season success.
Our pitching was shared by three players Tuesday: Toby Sayles (the loser), Amundson and Ryan Bowman. Colin Richards was the winning hurler for 'Waska. Going the whole say, Colin fanned eight batters and walked just two.
Riley Kinney went two-for-four with two runs scored for Minnewaska. Chris Claussen hit a double.
Baseball: BOLD 3, Tigers 0
The Tigers failed to push any runs across in the Monday game against the BOLD Warriors. The Tigers were humbled by BOLD pitcher Hayden Tersteeg, who had to keep his arm loose and alive in the face of an extended weather delay. 
Tersteeg tossed a one-hitter gem at the Tigers. His team prevailed 3-0 in this West Central Conference game. Keep an eye on this budding Warrior as he's just a freshman! He walked just one Tiger and fanned seven. We had just three baserunners in this frustrating game. The Warriors manufactured their three runs behind Tersteeg.
Our four errors certainly didn't help. BOLD committed just one error.
Jared Anderson had our only hit. The four BOLD hits were by Luke Ryan, Hunter Evenson, Logan Nissen and Dawson Vosika. Ryan's hit was a triple. Evenson and Nissen both doubled.
Brady Jergenson was the losing pitcher. Ryan Bowman also pitched.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota- bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ryan Bowman shines on the hill for MACA

Shutouts don't mean as much in big league baseball as they once did. Same with no-hitters. That's because of the pitch count. Complete games were once a badge of honor in major league baseball. Today a pitcher's health is paramount.
When I was a kid, many promising young pitchers threw their arms out within 2-3 years, maybe sooner. So, what's behind the change? Are we more benevolent and sensitive today? Or, is it that big league teams have such a huge investment in their players? Whatever the case, it's a positive development.
Tigers 3, LQPV 0
Ryan Bowman of our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers baseball team almost had a complete game shutout Friday. He was one out shy. Ryan showed signs of possible fatigue in the seventh when he issued a walk and hit a batter. Coach Mark Torgerson, playing it safe, called on a fresh pitching arm to finish this one off.
Brady Jergenson was called upon. Jergenson got the out to preserve this 3-0 win over the Lac qui Parle Valley Eagles at LQPV. Our record now: 12-5.
Jergenson had the most potent bat for the Tigers. He had three hits in four at-bats. The Tigers scored one run in the second inning and two in the third. We played flawless defense with a "zero" for errors in the line score. We outhit Lac qui Parle 7-2. Lac qui Parle committed four errors.
Trent Marty had a potent bat for the Tiger cause as he tripled as part of a two-for-three showing, and drove in a run. Philip Messner went one-for-three and Sean Amundson went one-for-four. The LQPV hits were off the bats of Joey Devorak and Isaac Gerdes.
Cole Bungarden and Tyrone Molden shared the LQPV pitching with Bungarden taking the loss. Two of the runs that Bungarden allowed were unearned. He struck out five batters while Molden fanned one.
Bowman of the Tigers struck out two batters, walked three and allowed the two LQPV hits. Jergenson set down one batter on strikes.
Click on the permalink below to read about the following: the MACA softball team's split of a doubleheader vs. BOLD, and the baseball team's 6-2 loss to Melrose. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Was Hanley harassed for racial/political reasons?

Dr. Rodney Hanley
The abrupt withdrawal of Rodney Hanley has been cloaked in mystery, publicly at least. It made no sense: this dynamic man wanting to come and lead our U of M-Morris, winner of an extensive search and interview process. It looked as though he would be an inspiring leader for our "jewel in the crown."
And then out of nowhere: an official email announcing he's not coming after all. It strained credulity, to say the least. Also puzzling was the lack of any sort of official explanation. There was nary a clue as to why this reversal happened. The vagueness surrounding the official announcement seemed almost disrespectful to Morris, as we really ought to know what happened as the culmination of the chancellor search process, a process that presumably cost money.
In a snarky way I suggested that maybe U President Eric Kaler was so accustomed to money getting wasted in athletics, he was numb to such a thing. Surely the Man from Stony Brook is not numb, but his statements regarding the UMM chancellor situation seemed a little maddening, as if the significant development could be explained away on vague "personal" terms. Oh, it was just one of those things.
One might expect President Kaler to express some anger or hint some anger. No such sentiment emerged vs. Dr. Rodney Hanley, the appointee as UMM chancellor. I had to sift through all of this for quite some time, trying to arrive at a nugget of truth. Maura Lerner of the Star Tribune had no success trying to reach Hanley for a comment. Strange, since Hanley's action seemed to impede the continuity of an important public institution in Minnesota's higher education system.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I think I have broken through the fog. This morning (Thursday) I finally read in its entirety, the article profiling Rodney Hanley in the April 28 issue of the University Register. That's the "good" student newspaper on the UMM campus, as opposed to some other (reactionary) ones of late. The whole front page is devoted to Hanley's appointment. There are two photos of the guy, one taking up nearly the whole top half of the page.
The article by Jon Antonsen, news editor, is very well done. We come away with a most positive impression of the appointee, coming here from Nashville TN (one of my favorite cities).
Before reading the article, I had it in the back of my mind that maybe, just maybe, he had given a quote or two in there, or maybe revealed some background in there, that rankled some Neanderthal types.
Here's a hint: Remember that guy with the last name of Stock who sent those anonymous and scary letters to people with adopted children of color, or members of inter-racial marriages? That term "inter-racial marriages" strikes me as quaint now, as we have steadily moved beyond putting labels on people based on "race." See, I put "race" in quotes.
UMM is a campus that has tolerated the "Counterweight" and then the "Northstar" papers. Remember how "Wayne's World" morphed into "Beavis and Butthead" in terms of the tasteless evolution of youth-centered entertainment? The morphing process was similar, from the Counterweight to the NorthStar.
Maybe at age 61 I'm getting too old to understand the currents of thinking among 20-year-olds. Like, the kind of thinking that has now given us "gay devil worshipers" on campus. I feel like a stranger in a strange land.
The people behind the reactionary publications strike me as ugly. It seems they will stop at nothing. There is no way to morph any further from "NorthStar." So, where do we go from here? Do we go to literally harassing a self-defined political progressive and racially nurturing person? I have a theory now. Keep in mind that unless and until the U reveals the real background as a matter of fact, we are forced to speculate. And yes, the real reason may in fact be too unpleasant to report, to Maura Lerner or to me or to anyone.
Let's look at Jon Antonsen's fine article in the Register. It reveals that Dr. Hanley and his wife "adopted two children from two different countries in Africa, and after all that has happened in recent years - like the shootings of African American teens and general direction of American politics - he wants to create a safe and productive space for diverse populations."
Hanley is quoted: "I wanted to do something that would help in some small way in reversing what was happening in the United States. When that opportunity arose, I took it."
Cheers, Dr. Hanley, you articulate my sentiments along with how all proper-thinking people out here on the prairie feel. Was it a political statement? Yes it was.
First we have the fodder for racists re. the adopted children, the kind of thing that would have brought a revolting letter from Stock, and then the implication that American politics has been sliding in a regressive way. It's certainly a legitimate opinion.
Conservatives want all the breathing room in the world to express their opinions, to be sure. Look at that meeting with Mark Zuckerberg. There ought to be another meeting prompted by progressives who want to be sure Facebook doesn't cave or get intimidated by "conservatives." I use quotes because of the large number of conservatives who are in fact reasonable, the conservatives who in a previous age were spoken for by William F. Buckley. I learned about conservative thinking by reading a couple of his books. Responsible conservatism plays an important role in our political system.
But then we have the kind of people who would put out "NorthStar" at UMM.
Hanley would have come here from Fisk University, Nashville, one of the nation's top historically black colleges. More fodder for the Stock types. I suspect some threatening messages may have been sent Hanley's way. This is getting to be an uncomfortable subject for me to write about. So I'll stop here. Peace. Or as Dan Rather would say, "courage."
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Boys score early in rout of ACGC, 8-1

The Willmar newspaper continues to refer to our athletic programs as "MCA" or "Morris/Chokio-Alberta." It's my understanding that we go by "MACA" or "Morris Area Chokio Alberta." Don't worry about those hyphens and slashes. Actually I have long felt we should go back to being "Morris High School." It's understood that we serve a wide area. The names of these little towns don't mean as much as they used to. It's just a geographical convenience now.
Anyway, the West Central Tribune reported that "MCA" or "Morris/Chokio-Alberta" prevailed on the baseball diamond Tuesday (5/17). It was an 8-1 score over Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.
The game's outcome appeared sealed early: all eight of our runs came home in the first three innings. Our line score was eight runs, eight hits and one error. The ACGC numbers were 1-6-1. ACGC's lone run came home in the seventh, spoiling the shutout bid of Tiger hurler Sean Amundson. Amundson's stats looked impressive anyway. He put a smile on coach Mark Torgerson's face, striking out seven batters, walking one and allowing six hits.
ACGC had three pitchers work: Kobe Holtz (the loser), David Kingery and Michael Dallmann.
The MACA (not MCA) offense had Mitchell Torgerson go two-for-two. Amundson impressed at bat as well as on the mound, and in the former category he had a hit and three RBIs. Ryan Dietz had a hit and an RBI. Phillip Messner had a hit in his only at-bat. So did Trent Marty. Toby Sayles socked a double and drove in a run, and Philip Anderson went one-for-three.
These players each had one hit for the Falcons: Jaren Kaddatz, Kingery, Colton Minnick, Jeremy Nelson, Dallmann and Payton Kinzler.
Softball: Tigers 12, Minnewaska 5
The Tuesday chapter of play also had a resounding win by the MACA (not MCA) girls on the softball diamond. Playing at the Minnewaska Area field, coach Mary Holmberg's girls really poured it on in the later innings, downing the Lakers 12-5. We outhit the Lakers 12-10.
Errors were a tale of woe for the Lakers as they booted the ball eight times. The Tigers by contrast committed just one error.
Brooke Gillespie was a cog in the winning effort, both with the bat and on the pitching rubber. Her power bat showed itself again. Brooke homered and doubled in her two-for-four performance. She drove in two runs. She pitched 6 1/3 innings to get the win, scattering ten hits. An oddity: she had no walks or strikeouts. Ashley Solvie finished up the pitching work.
The losing pitcher was Rachel Erickson. Ashley Bakko also pitched for Minnewaska.
Piper Gibson was a major offensive force for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Piper homered and doubled while going three-for-five. Her RBI total was a robust five. Lexi Mahoney's bat resonated with a double and an RBI. Bailey Marty went two-for-three.
Nicole Solvie went two-for-four. Lindsey Dierks contributed a hit and an RBI, and Becca Holland added a hit to the mix.
Erin Edmunds socked a homer for the Lakers. Mason Schlief went three-for-four including a double, and drove in a run. Kaitlyn Lang had two hits in three at-bats. Carly Stewart had a hit in her only at-bat, and drove in a run. Emily Edmunds doubled. Abby VerSteeg had a hit and an RBI. Bailey Stewart added a hit to the mix.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Softball Tigers thump Montevideo 10-3

Tigers 10, Monte 3
MACA softball gained its tenth conference win Monday (5/16). The score was 10-3 as coach Mary Holmberg's Tigers turned back the Thunder Hawks. Our conference record now: 10-1. We're a game up on the BOLD Warriors. A big showdown with the Warriors - a doubleheader no less - is slated for Thursday, here. The Eagles complex will be a packed place, for sure.
The Tigers jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second inning of the Monte game. We really took charge in the third inning when six more runs streamed in. The Tigers cruised the rest of the way, supported by the pitching of Brooke Gillespie. Gillespie pitched the whole seven innings, striking out four batters and walking two while giving up six hits.
The losing pitcher was Breanna Welling. Welling was sharp at times as she struck out seven batters. But she gave up the eleven Tiger hits.
Let's look at that hitting attack. Madison Wevley was assertive with the bat, going three-for-four with four RBIs. Lexi Mahoney socked a double. Bailey Marty had a hot bat with her three-for-four boxscore line. Piper Gibson, Nicole Solvie and Lindsey Dierks all went one-for-four, while Gillespie went one-for-three.
For the host T-Hawks, Taylor Haugen had a double as part of going two-for-two. Ashley McKee doubled. Welling, Abby Olson and Kaylee Glomstad also hit safely for the T-Hawks.
Baseball: Melrose 3, Tigers 1
The recent skein of success by the MACA Tigers came to an end Monday. Melrose had special incentive to win, knowing they could seize first place in the West Central Conference. They succeeded at the Morris field, holding the Tigers to just four hits. Those four hits were by Sean Amundson, Jared Anderson, Toby Sayles and Philip Anderson. Jared scored a run and Philip drove in a run.
MACA pitcher Brady Jergenson could have used a little more offensive support. He was effective, striking out seven batters and walking just one. He did allow nine hits. One of the runs he allowed was unearned.
The winning pitcher was Tyler Braegelmann. Braegelmann struck out five batters, walked two and allowed four hits in his route-going performance.
The Dutchmen had a 2-1 lead after two innings. Melrose scored its third run in the fifth while MACA was contained by Braegelmann. We were outhit 9-4. Fielding worked against us, as we had three errors compared to Melrose's one.
Tyler Moscho went two-for-two with a run scored for Melrose. Colton Meyer went two-for-three with a double, and drove in a run. Mitchell Waldvogel had two hits in four at-bats.
UMM school year concludes
Saturday was graduation day at our U of M-Morris. Our family decided not to attend, based on the crush of people we were likely to encounter at the P.E. Center. We'd have to try to get the attention of those golf cart drivers. We have actually had good luck with that in the past. Thanks.
Did the UMM choir perform the "UMM Hymn?" I think if it had, someone would have told me. If they do, I will direct my annual financial contribution to the music department. Otherwise I will direct it to the Division of Social Sciences, like I did last year. I have much more in common with the social sciences people than the music people. Academic music people intimidate me. Still, they would probably accept my money.
I doubt that the current disruption in UMM administration was alluded to during the commencement, but maybe it was. We have had the bizarre situation of a newly-named chancellor suddenly withdrawing, for reasons that continue to seem vague and inadequate.
Eric Kaler said Rodney Hanley withdrew "after considerable thought and reflection." The logical response is: Why couldn't he have engaged in this considerable thought and reflection before accepting the appointment, or before even applying?
Kaler's statement is harmful, rather a slap in the face to us, because it implies that the Hanleys decided they didn't want to live in such a small town in such a remote place. You didn't assume that? Well, what then did you assume? We could push these assumptions aside if we could just get a better explanation.
I heard someone say Hanley will now be blackballed as an aspiring administrator.
Maybe, though, he has "his side of the story," and maybe he suddenly discovered, or was tipped off to, some bit of unpleasantness he'd have to deal with here. Look how Jacqueline Johnson and Sandy Olson-Loy were humiliated in that "NorthStar" publication. Maybe Hanley has a sense of decorum that wouldn't be at all compatible with that kind of treatment. I'm just speculating, of course. That is what we are forced to do when we are given inadequate information.
Did Hanley find out about the "gay devil worshipers" or "queer Satan worshipers" or whatever they are? Maybe this was just too distasteful for him. IMHO we need an administrator who can come in and tamp down all that ridiculous stuff. The young people at UMM come here to mature, don't they?
I wrote a post on the Hanley withdrawal Saturday for my companion website, "Morris of Course." Click on the permalink below to read, and thanks for reading:
Obviously I have communicated with some friends trying to ferret out the truth on the Hanley matter. Here's an email I received:
Regarding your question as to what me and other townspeople thought about the chancellor withdrawal situation, I missed the opportunity to use a great line I heard on a TV show recently. In answer to a similar but rhetorical question, Detective Bullock on the TV series "Gotham" replied: "That's above my pay grade and below my sense of wonder."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, May 13, 2016

MACA baseball thunders to 19-5 triumph

Tigers 19, Monte 5
It was the MACA bats making thunder in Thunder Hawk country of  Montevideo Thursday (5/12). The Tigers scored regularly in building a commanding lead. MACA bats made noise to the tune of 22 hits! We beat the Thunder Hawks 19-5. We scored six runs each in the sixth and seventh innings.
The offense was truly at centerstage, so let's get into the details of the MACA attack. Sean Amundson's bat was sizzling. This Tiger pounded six hits in six at-bats including a double. He drove in two runs and scored two. Brady Jergenson's bat made noise to the tune of a five-for-six performance. He socked a double and drove in two runs.
Ryan Dietz socked a home run. This Tiger went two-for-three while driving in three runs and scoring three. Jared Anderson doubled as part of a two-for-two showing and scored two runs. Philip Messner's bat resonated with two doubles. Philip went three-for-four, drove in three runs and scored two.
Philip Anderson went two-for-three with both his hits doubles. Philip drove in two runs and scored two. William Hoslien went one-for-one with an RBI and run scored. Chase Metzger had a hit, an RBI and run scored. Mitchell Dufault drove in a run. Denner Dougherty scored a run.
These T-Hawks hit safely: Derek Killbarda, Connor Kontz, Christian Kanten, Jacob Mundt and Jack Tweeter.
Amundson and Ryan Bowman pitched for MACA with Amundson getting the win. Amundson struck out four batters and Bowman fanned two. The less said about Monte's pitching the better. It's back to the drawing board for them.
Congrats to coach Mark Torgerson and his Tigers on such an impressive win. We outhit Monte 22-5.
Softball: Tigers 5, Melrose 4
Ashley Solvie pitched the whole way in the Tigers' 5-4 win over Melrose on Thursday, here. Melrose scored one run in the top of the seventh but was then stopped. Each team had eight hits. The Tigers committed just one error.
Solvie struck out two batters, walked two and gave up eight hits and four runs (three earned). She out-dueled Sandra Sprenger who struck out two batters, walked six and gave up eight hits. Just two of the five runs she allowed were earned.
The Tigers led 2-1 after one inning. Each team plated a run in the third. MACA went on to post single runs in the fourth and sixth. This was a West Central Conference triumph for the orange and black.
Courtney Storck socked a triple. Nicole Solvie tripled as part of going two-for-four. Kalley Hottovy had a hit in her only at-bat. Becca Holland's bat was smoking in a three-for-four performance. Lindsey Dierks added a hit to the mix.
The top Melrose batters were Abby Hinnenkamp and Sprenger, each with two hits. Hinnenkamp scored three runs. MACA had two errors and Melrose one.
Softball: Tigers 10, ACGC 8
Tuesday WCC action had a thrilling note for the Tigers of Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Brooke Gillespie continued with her productive ways at bat, as she drove in three runs. Piper Gibson drove two runs across, homering in the process, as coach Mary Holmberg's Tigers chalked up this 10-8 win.
On the losing side were the Falcons of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. Those Falcons actually outhit our Tigers 15-9, but they had a problem with stranding baserunners, nine in all.
MACA made a statement right away, assuming a 4-1 lead in the first inning. We surged forward with three more runs in the second, then we scored one each in the fifth, sixth and seventh. We overcame five errors. ACGC had two fielding miscues. I remember a Sun Tribune editor who was disturbed and confused about the term "fielding miscues." It's common jargon. When that editor made a mistake, it wasn't a small one, it was an enormous one. She didn't understand "snakebit" either.
Let's look at the whole MACA offensive story. Courtney Storck went two-for-three with an RBI. Becca Holland had two hits in four at-bats. Gillespie had a double as part of her two-for-three boxscore line, and this Tiger drove in three runs. Gibson homered and doubled and drove in two runs. Bailey Marty added a double to the mix.
Riley Wilner stood out with her bat for ACGC, going three-for-three with a double and two RBIs.
Gillespie and Ashley Solvie divided the pitching duties with Solvie getting the win. Gillespie wasn't in the pitching groove on this day as she got roughed up: eleven hits in 3 1/3 innings. Solvie got the win with her stint of 3 2/3 innings. She struck out two batters, walked one and gave up four hits. One of the runs she allowed was unearned. The losing pitcher was Taryn Reinke.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Gaylord Perry pitched for 1958 St. Cloud Rox

Gaylord Perry seemed to have a glowering nature. It may have been misleading. There was an intensity to his deportment that maybe could be explained just by the fact he had to win baseball games.
He had a reputation as a rule-breaker. A good portion of that might have been stereotype. He may not have doctored the ball nearly as much as legend suggests. The mere image may in fact have helped him. He may have intimidated batters with the image. He psyched them out just by getting them to think he was bending the rules with the ball.
The secret to success in pitching is not in throwing the ball hard - lots of high school senior pitchers across the USA build a reputation that way. The secret to success in the bigs is to deceive. For Perry to have had such a long and storied career in the bigs, he must certainly have employed all the psychological tools. Sheer longevity was the prime way he made his mark.
I was three years old when Perry had an important development step. He is among the most sterling alumni of the old St. Cloud "Rox." The Rox were a wondrous chapter in the history of the Central Minnesota community - the "granite city."
The parking lot around that old ball field was full of the kind of cars that today would have classic car collectors wide-eyed. Those fabulous Chevys of that era! Rock 'n' roll was climbing to the forefront of American culture. Elvis Presley was making his ascent. A youth-driven popular culture was developing. And in St. Cloud MN, a young Gaylord Perry played in the Class A Northern League. Fans of the Rox watched as this star of the future fashioned a 9-5 record with a 2.39 ERA. The year was 1958.
"Rock 'n' roll is here to stay, and it would never die!"
Minnesota was a contrast from where this sturdy righthander grew up. He's a native of Williamston, North Carolina. He was named after a close friend of his father, a man who sadly passed away while having his teeth pulled. Gaylord attended Campbell University in North Carolina. Today, "Gaylord the Camel" is the mascot for that institution.
Perry moved on from St. Cloud after that '58 campaign with the Rox, and his next step was at Corpus Christi. He was in the San Francisco Giants organization. He joined the Tacoma Giants of AAA ball in 1961. He excelled, leading the Pacific Coast League in wins and innings pitched, so obviously we'd see this young man in the majors soon.
He got a taste of the majors in 1962. He got roughed up a little, so he got some more seasoning with Tacoma. The Tacoma team of that time was distinguished by having some quite high-tier talent, as noted by Bill James in his writing.
The '63 season saw Perry plod forward in an undistinguished way, but in '64 his talent was recognized in such a way that he joined the S.F. Giants starting rotation. He held his own, going 12-11 with an impressive 2.75 ERA. He was complimenting Juan Marichal nicely - he of the high leg kick, remember?
Stardom still hadn't arrived for the Rox alum. He kept paying some dues in '65, going 8-12. The Giants kept the faith. Finally in 1966, Perry climbed to the forefront. He was red hot up until August. He owned 20 wins before August even arrived. He and Marichal were becoming the equal of Koufax and Drysdale with the Dodgers. Perry lost his momentum after August. Still, his 21-8 record for '66 firmly established him as a player to watch.
Marichal was held back by injury in 1967. Perry responded with a fine ERA but he was below .500 in won-lost.
The '68 season became famous for showcasing pitchers all over baseball. In that "year of the pitcher," which baseball had to correct after '68, Perry had a super 2.45 ERA but struggled again with won-lost, going 16-15. He threw a no-hitter on September 17. That gem came against Bob Gibson at Candlestick Park, San Francisco. Perry won 1-0 with the sole run coming from an unlikely "slugger," Ron Hunt. I remember Hunt as the first real star of the New York Mets.
Perry was a workhorse in 1969, the first season of the divisional format. The Giants were a snakebit team. They finished second for the fifth straight season. Ouch!
In 1970, Perry fashioned 23 wins and pitched 328 innings. In 1971 the Giants won the division as Perry impressed with a 2.76 ERA. Perry left the Giants after 1971 and became somewhat of a journeyman, but his caliber remained high. He was super with Cleveland in 1972 with a 24-16 record and 1.92 ERA. Didn't the Giants miss that? He had been traded for Sam McDowell, well-remembered as a tall, hard-throwing pitcher, then just 29 years old. After the trade, Perry won 180 more games in his career. McDowell? He won just 24.
Perry fashioned a 70-57 record in his Cleveland tenure. He was staff ace until 1975. Sadly his team could not mirror that kind of success. I well remember the feud he had with manager Frank Robinson. Robinson was pioneering as an African-American manager. Perry was Clevelend's last 20-game winner until 2008 when Cliff Lee did it.
The next stop in Perry's Odyssey was Texas, the Rangers. Again Perry would greatly surpass the players who he was traded for, in his case Jim Bibby, Jackie Brown and Rick Waits. Perry was solid, but as with Cleveland, the team had trouble reflecting that. Perry was now up in years. At 37 he assumed the mantle of staff ace for Texas. The Rangers climbed to second place in 1977, at the height of the "disco years" in the U.S.
Perry should have been in the twilight of his career. But in 1978 with his new team, the San Diego Padres, the graybeard won 21 games and the Cy Young distinction. He was 39 years old! Amazing. He had been traded for Dave Tomlin, who made no mark at all subsequent to the trade.
In '79 Perry requested a trade back to Texas. He got his wish. But he was on the move again to the New York Yankees where he went 4-4. The memories of the St. Cloud Rox days were quite distant when the ol' fossil Perry pitched for Atlanta in 1981. The oldest player in big league ball started 23 games and went 8-9. He was released after the season.
So, he's done? Oh, not at all! He was three innings short of the magical 300 plateau. He had to wait a while but he finally got a call from the Seattle Mariners, for whom he finally got his 300th win on May 6, 1982. On August 23 he was ejected from a game for doctoring a ball. This was the first time this had ever happened. Did he really have a long track record of doing this? The legend exists.
On to 1983: Perry started 3-10. Is he done? Well no, he moved on to the Kansas City Royals. August saw him reach 3,500 strikeouts for his career. He began experimenting with a submarine delivery. On August 19 he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against first place Baltimore.
Perry finally retired on September 23, 1983. In all he had pitched for eight teams. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. I hope he remembers that summer of 1958 in a fond way. The summer in Central Minnesota with the old St. Cloud Rox. Fans were privileged to see him there.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Jergenson's bat helps turn back NL-Spicer

Tigers 10, NL-Spicer 7
Brady Jergenson set the pace offensively for MACA baseball in its 10-7 win over New London-Spicer Friday (5/6). Jergenson had three hits in four at-bats, scored a run and drove in three, as the Tigers turned back the Wildcats 10-7.
Jergenson offset a New London-Spicer standout who had quite the boxscore line. John Perkins of the Wildcats went three-for-three with five RBIs and a run scored.
Click on the permalink below to read about the following: the MACA softball team's 13-1 win over Minnewaska, the baseball team's 1-0 loss to 'Waska, and the softball team's 11-10 loss to New London-Spicer. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
MACA had a line score of ten runs, ten hits and two errors. The NL-Spicer numbers were 7-11-1. We had to hold off a late Wildcat surge. We led 10-2 going into the bottom of the sixth. The Wildcats scored three runs in the sixth and two in the seventh. We had a good enough cushion.
Mitchell Torgerson had a hit in his only at-bat, and drove in a run. Philip Messner had a hit and an RBI. Ryan Dietz added a hit to the mix. Seth Staples scored a run. Jergenson packed the main wallop.
What gives? I only get six hits when adding up the individuals, from the Willmar paper, but the line score in that paper has us with ten hits. This type of thing has been happening a lot lately. The paper is rapidly losing credibility. It shouldn't even bother covering this stuff if it can't get the details right, or close to being right.
Toby Sayles was the winning pitcher. He fanned five batters in his five innings. He dealt with some wildness as he issued five walks, and he gave up three hits. He allowed two runs but neither were earned. Ryan Bowman pitched two innings and got roughed up, allowing eight hits. He had zeroes for walks and strikeouts.
Evan Haugen was the losing pitcher for the Wildcats. Landon Tanner and Will Roguske also pitched for the losing cause. Wildcat Nick Reiter had two hits in three at-bats, and crossed home plate three times. Eli Dorry went two-for-two with a run scored. Josh Soine drove in two runs.
Softball: Montevideo 9, Tigers 5
The winning habit of the Morris Area Chokio Alberta softball team was broken Thursday (5/5). Montevideo made a statement early-on that its caliber of play would be high. Thunder Hawk Alex Tongen connected for a two-run homer in the first inning.
The Tigers pushed across a run in the bottom of the first, but the Thunder Hawks erupted with a six-run rally in the third, en route to their 9-5 win over our Tigers. It was a West Central Conference game played on a pleasant day for the diamond sports in Morris. I see where a lot of trees have their blossoms in bloom, like in front of the public library. Now if I can just get my riding lawn mover serviced.
Breanna Walling pitched the whole way for the victor. She set down four Tiger batters on strikes while walking just one. All five of the MACA runs were earned, and Walling gave up eight hits. Our line score was five runs, eight hits and three errors. The Monte numbers were 9-8-2.
Brooke Gillespie was the trooper on the pitching rubber for MACA on this humbling day.
We rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth but just couldn't overcome Monte's lead. Grace Sulflow had two hits in a balanced Monte hitting attack. Other T-Hawks hitting safely were Ashley McKee, Breanna Welling, Abby Olson, Tongen, Sydni Streich and Cali Christianson.
Piper Gibson was a bright spot with her bat for MACA. Gibson socked a home run. Lindsey Dierks made noise at bat too, going three-for-four. Other Tigers hitting safely were Becca Holland, Gillespie, Lexi Mahoney and Callie Hottovy.
Baseball: Marshall 8, Tigers 0
Oh my, no hits by the Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers! Yes, it was a no-hitter by the visiting Marshall Tigers, Thursday. However, one pitcher does not get credit. Would you believe Marshall deployed four total pitchers to accomplish this gem? Sharing in this distinction were Andrew Hmielewski, Logan Tomasek, Mason Penske (the winner) and Ryan VanMoer.
In the majors, a pitcher can be denied a no-hitter these days because of the "pitch count." Of course the pitch count is a great blessing for pro pitchers. When I was a kid many promising young pitchers sadly threw their arms out. I think the saddest example was Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. He was overworked. Billy Martin for a time in his managerial career notoriously overworked his pitchers (with Oakland). "Billy Ball" could be troubling.
Sean Amundson took the pitching loss for MACA in this 8-0 defeat. Ryan Bowman also pitched. Penske was quite in the groove with his hitting for Marshall at our Chizek Field. Penske went three-for-three with four RBIs. Andrew Hmielewski went two-for-three, scored two runs and drove in one. Dylan Criquet-Danielson homered as part of going two-for-four with three RBIs.
Marshall plated two runs in the first inning and three each in the third and fourth. The Marshall Tigers got to the two MACA pitchers for ten hits. The visitor truly owned the day, as the Marshall error total was zero. MACA had just two baserunners. The loss was our third straight after a sizzling 6-0 start.
Today (Friday) feels totally midsummer with the heat! I need to take a bike ride out along the river trail. Mowing can wait.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Clearbrook native Wes Westrum made splash

Wes Westrum is the catcher.
We in Morris beamed with pride over having Jerry Koosman associated with our community. Years before Koosman with his powerful left arm came along, a young man from a small northwestern Minnesota town ascended to baseball's highest level. Wes Westrum was that athlete. He played catcher.
In high school he was an overall natural athlete, with football seeming to be his strongest sport. He played fullback on the gridiron. The winter months saw him play basketball. Perhaps he got lured to baseball because of an early pro opportunity. The year 1940 saw the Clearbrook MN native sign with Crookston, the Pirates of Class 'D' ball. Crookston played in the old Northern League. Westrum was just a junior at Clearbrook-Gonvick High School.
I got out the atlas and found that these towns are quite remote. They are northwest of Bemidji and to the south of Lower and Upper Red Lake. I'm sure Dave Holman of our town is familiar with the towns.
Westrum's pro exposure did not eliminate his high school eligibility to play. These youth got a break because of the scarcity of summer jobs. Westrum got a break when the player-manager of Crookston got a foot injury. Such are the vagaries in pro sports. Westrum got well established on the diamond before he, too, got hurt in an off-the-field incident: a cut right wrist in the team bus. Weird.
Catchers have quite the resilient bodies, though. Westrum would in fact become rather injury-prone. Playing catcher invites this - think of all the foul tips, sometimes taken in the head. Today there would be a concussion protocol. Oh, but not in that bygone age when Westrum had his heyday. He batted .275 with Crookston. Pro ball in Crookston! It was quite the humble beginning but an important step, as destiny was going to be kind to this young man from the desolate environment west of Bemidji. America affords opportunity to all, indeed.
Destiny would have Westrum playing eleven seasons as a catcher in the major leagues. He is firmly associated with the old heyday of baseball in New York City. By "old heyday" I mean the days when the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees entertained the fans there.
As a kid I heard references to the old Giants and Dodgers, teams that had moved to California. I heard about Bobby Thomson's home run for the Giants. It seemed strange to me that these two teams would simply move out of New York with no immediate replacement. The Yankees had a monopoly for a time. It was in that stretch of Yankee primacy that Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961.
Finally in 1962, the National League came back to the Big Apple in the form of the New York Mets, a team that Westrum would eventually manage. It's strange that the major leagues forced the new Mets in 1962 to have to pay such painstaking dues, as if the city was being punished in some way. Many fans just came to see the National League stars again, stars like former New York Giant Willie Mays.
The old New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds. That's where the Mets took up residence in '62. The Dodgers played at Ebbets Field. I have a friend here in Morris who saw a Dodgers game at Ebbets Field when he was in the service. His description of the place was rather unflattering, so I don't think he'd want his name typed here. He said that stadium was a "dump."
The romance surrounding many of the old ballparks covers up their very real deficiencies. Teams could get by with those liabilities when they played in the East Coast media power corridor. Fenway Park with its oddities is accepted. But when Minnesota built a stadium, the old Met Stadium, well, it had better be really good so as to impress the likes of Roger Angell of The New Yorker. Angell described our Met Stadium as an "airy cyclotron." Writers in the East Coast power corridor can get by with that.
When Met Stadium first opened for the Twins, a major league official proclaimed it was "as good as any (stadium) and better than most." I'm sure that was true.
Wes Westrum played catcher for the New York Giants from 1947 to 1957. He was known as a superb defensive catcher. Such a player is a real asset. Certainly he was an asset when the Giants made their run at the Dodgers, coming from 13 games back on August 12, 1951. My, Westrum and his mates won 16 games in a row, sort of like the heroic team in the movie "Moneyball."
Westrum hit 20 home runs and drove in 70 runs that summer. He led National League catchers in baserunners caught stealing. The Giants and Dodgers played in the 1951 N.L. tiebreaker series. The stage was set for Bobby Thomson's "shot heard 'round the world," a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 win in the third and last game. The Giants went on to lose to the Yankees in the World Series.
Footnote regarding that season: The revelation came forward years later that the Giants cheated with sign-stealing. So much for "the good old days."
Westrum was parked behind the plate in the 1954 World Series when the Giants' foe was the Cleveland Indians. Injuries were taking a toll on Westrum along the way.
In 1958 when the Giants left Gotham for San Francisco, Westrum was offered a choice of third string catcher or a coach. At age 34, Westrum opted for coaching. He played a total of 919 games in his career and pounded out 503 hits in 2,322 at-bats. His home run total was 96. His fielding percentage was .985. He committed just one error in 139 games in 1950. His fielding percentage that year, of .999, stood as a record for N.L. catchers until 1997.
Westrum was on the All-Star team in 1952 and '53. He threw out 47 percent of would-be base-stealers in his career. Here's a memorable note: Westrum was in the cover photo of the first-ever Sports Illustrated magazine. Eddie Mathews of Milwaukee was the batter in the photo. The magazine sold for 25 cents.
Westrum joined the Mets as coach in 1964. He became pitching coach in July of '65 after the release of Warren Spahn. So a catcher, of all people, replaces Warren Spahn as pitching coach? The Mets struggled until 1969 when, with our Jerry Koosman, they rocketed to No. 1. It was probably the biggest thrill of my childhood!
Westrum became Mets manager in August of 1965, due to Casey Stengel getting hurt. Alas, the Mets made no immediate turnaround under Westrum. But in 1966 there was a flicker of hope as Westrum's Mets finished in ninth rather than tenth. It was the first time the Mets escaped the basement.
The young pitchers in the Mets system were not developing fast enough to help Westrum. The '67 season brought a return to the cellar. Westrum resigned.
Westrum went back to the Giants, where he got another managing shot in 1974. His San Francisco Giants finished one game under .500 in 1975, good for third place in the division. This was Westrum's last year as manager, and subsequently he scouted for the Atlanta Braves for a long time.
Westrum was back in his peaceful, beloved Clearbrook MN when he died on May 28, 2002. Truly his career was an exhibit for how anything is possible in the USA: coming from a place that many people would describe as "backwater" and ending up on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Wes Westrum, RIP.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 2, 2016

Movie "Spotlight" (2015) shames Catholic Church

Life in America can strain credulity. Belonging to the Catholic Church can expose your child to severe, unreasonable risk. Why do adults choose to belong to such a church?
The movie "Spotlight" is instructive on how serious the problem got. There must have been whispers out and about back in the day. Given the knowledge of risk, how could adults of sound mind allow their kids anywhere near Catholic clergy? Watch the movie "Spotlight" and answer this question for me.
Belonging to the Catholic Church is not compulsory for anyone. Belonging to any church is not compulsory. One can easily live life without church at all. The children of atheists are safer than the children of Catholics, one readily concludes after watching "Spotlight."
We assume progress has been made since the Boston Globe's investigative series. The movie "Spotlight" is all about the gallant journalists who had to painstakingly break down doors to get revelations. Why the heck are the media required for this? Maybe I should ask: Why are the "old media" needed for this? We see the Boston Globe operating just like the Washington Post did for Watergate. Media people are in an exclusive circle, crusading with the strength of a major commercial media outlet behind them.
We all know the commercial media have been pummeled or at least transformed in the digital age. Today "the media" are harder to define. Most experts think we're in a better world because of it. Non-professionals are empowered. The Internet is a meritocracy where the truth tends to win out - oh yes it does. The early days of the Internet were more like a swamp.
Remember the days when we'd hear those buzzwords "you can't trust the Internet?" It's sounding rather quaint. Of course there is suspicious stuff online. But the Internet seems set up to guide us to the truth, and people have become sophisticated enough to ferret out the truth. It has taken time.
In the past we had the "gatekeepers" of the likes of the Boston Globe and Washington Post. A sage commentator on cable news said recently the new system is better.
The movie "Spotlight," made in 2015, takes us back to the time of 9/11. A scene in the movie shows Globe staff watching the unfolding events of 9/11 on TVs. "That wasn't a prop plane," one person says. I remember that morning as we all do. I remember going to the "Excite" home page and seeing a thumbnail photo of smoke coming from the twin towers, but this photo was - can you believe it? - No. 2 as a priority at the time. The Excite page had as its No. 1 story, Elizabeth Dole announcing her candidacy for president. The 9/11 story was just breaking, I realize.
I had a hand-me-down computer at the Morris Sun Tribune shop. Yes, I was part of that old, some say "legacy," newspaper system. The newspaper world was still clutching to its old primacy. We did sense some crumbling of our world, as did characters in "Spotlight." They are anticipating layoffs. A new editor in chief, played superbly by Liev Schreiber, won't rule out layoffs.
Schreiber has such a calm and focused way of dealing with his challenges in the investigation. His character is Jewish and an outsider, two qualities that apparently were much-needed in a city with the clannish qualities of Boston.
The movie would not make you proud to be associated with Boston. How can people stay Catholic after all these revelations? How can they accept clergy who are purportedly "celibate?" What kind of people do you think you'll attract?
Ruffling feathers right here
I remember we at the Sun Tribune published a syndicated editorial cartoon focused on Cardinal Bernard Law. Revelations about the church's systemic negligence were pouring out. BTW I had no hand in publishing the cartoon. I heard the local priest came to our office and was incensed. Our publisher reacted, as he told me later, by emphasizing to this priest that we weren't commenting on the Catholic church in Morris MN. The cartoon wasn't meant to reflect on our local church, it was argued.
I think it's rather specious because all Catholics have to answer for the misguided conduct with its church. They contribute money to it. So, our company line at the paper was that while we published a cartoon about the Bernard Law situation, well my goodness, we certainly were convinced that no sexual type of misbehavior could ever happen in Morris, not out here in the peaceful prairie of West Central Minnesota. That sordid strife happened in places like Boston.
Ugh. Well, we learned years later that Morris wasn't off the grid for this kind of stuff at all. A local priest, last name of Caskey, had to be hauled off because of a child pornography interest and because of writing a letter, the letter being what incriminated him and led to the legal probe, as I recall. Ever wonder what makes newspaper people so cynical? The veneer of propriety is violated so often out in the world we observe.
It was like pulling teeth to investigate the Nixon administration. The daily Washington D.C. headlines coincided with my senior year in high school and the beginning of college. My generation didn't need that, and certainly did not need the hell hole of Viet Nam. Ever wonder why my generation got cynical?
My generation got skeptical about church as an institution. Maybe we saw too much of Billy Graham kissing up to Nixon. The captains of industry built up Graham because they saw he could nurture a docile workforce.
Why is it that when the Pope visits the U.S., it dominates each day's news cycle? Catholicism is not synonymous with Christianity. Why do our media suggest otherwise? After watching the movie "Spotlight," we nearly wonder if the Catholic Church should be outlawed.
Maybe the thing to be outlawed is celibacy? What a weird and outdated custom. It led to the abuse of an untold number of children, abuse that seriously scarred lives. And if it seems like I'm offending the church, fine, I'll accept that. You could switch and become a Lutheran, and your spiritual needs would be filled just as well. Knock off all this tribalism. It's inconsistent with our new digital age. Be reasonable.
"Spotlight" suggested that going after the church in Boston, as the reporters did, came across as an affront to community values. On the micro level, our perfectly reasonable cartoon directed at Cardinal Law got the same reaction from the priest. Were we really treading rough water, publishing a cartoon that simply tried to affirm what the Globe's journalists were telling us? Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.
The idea was to protect children from the worst kind of abuse. And we see this idea run up against well-entrenched parochial interests. If this is what religion is about, I want nothing to do with it.
We see the so-called "evangelicals" behaving in a regressive way too, aligning themselves way too much with extreme right wing political people. We see such interests supporting the North Carolina "bathroom law," for example. You can guess all the other interests they are aligned with. I thought the idea was to prioritize the kind of love that Jesus Christ embodied.
Rise of the "nones"
We hear about the growing portion of the population identified as "nones." They check the "none" box when asked about religious affiliation. A presenter on C-Span said that people who make their living in religion know all about this problem. The problem is of young people equating organized Christian religion with right wing politics. It's a profound turn-off for many.
Between the Catholics and the evangelicals, we'll be seeing a downward arc in the devotion of Americans to any Christian denomination at all. At least our children will be protected.
The movie "Spotlight" makes all of us thankful who are not Catholic.
The movie "Concussion," which I haven't yet seen, makes all of us thankful who have never played football. Football like the Catholic Church is a huge institution promoting itself in America, even in public schools where tax dollars are at work. Talk about straining credulity. Concussions aren't even the extent of the problem - it's all the "sub-concussive" hits, cumulatively, that end up hurting these young men, with effects maybe not seen for years.
"Spotlight" and "Concussion" are movies that may be seen years from now as opening our eyes to Neanderthal approaches to life. To heck with the Catholic Church which isn't even nice enough to allow Lutherans to take communion at a Catholic funeral. To heck with all our leaders who promote football.
Let's push aside these rugged old institutions. There is plenty of fulfillment to be found without them.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com