November 23rd, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Don’t Get Cute
Okay, okay … I got it. Yes, enough. “Uncle!” No mas. What? You want me to say it? Okay, here, I’ll say it: It is a Quarterback driven league. I’ve learned my lesson. Next year, I’m not getting cute; I’m taking a QB early.
This is my sixth season of fantasy football. In each draft other than the first which was autoed, I eschewed the elite QB in favor of bargain hunting in the middle rounds. There is a reasonable argument for such strategy, but I no longer have the stomach for it. Last year, I rode the ups and mostly downs of Michael Vick and his woeful offensive line. This year, the “Couple Eli with Carson strategy” had me starting Locker and Jason Campbell in must win games. Their line in those games? 10, -3, and 7. Loss, loss, and yes, a loss.
Now, I must win the last two and get some help to get into the playoffs. And upon whom have I pinned my fantasy playoff fate, you ask? Scott Tolzien. Um, yeah, uh, that’s “Scott” with an “S” Tolzien. T O L Z as in zoo I E N.
And why am I going through all this? Because RBs are so valuable? The guy who’s leading our league in scoring is starting Lamar Miller and DeAngelo Williams. After our draft I was laughing at him and his Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson. Haha …ha … huh?
Next September, if you hear me getting other ideas. Tell me, “Don’t get cute man. Remember Tolzien?”
November 20th, 2013 § 2 Comments
The last thing my Father taught me was this: “You gotta play the hand your dealt.” Neither one of us knew he was teaching me this valuable lesson. But as I’m going through a bit of a mid-life crisis, I harken back to my Father’s last, great life experience – his death.
Somewhere back there in post war South Korea, my Father contracted hepatitis. He probably didn’t know he had it. At forty-six years of age, he collapsed on a golf course. The initial diagnosis was kidney stones. I still remember the light-hearted, pre-surgery visit at the Queen of Angels hospital. The next day with him half conscious, writhing in pain, the surgeon delivered the news. Liver cancer. After two years of a mostly uphill fight, my Father succumbed to the disease. He was forty-eight years old.
He wasn’t planning on dying. My parents had just bought their first home in America. And coupled it with a brand new, brown Cadillac Sedan de Ville. Business was booming in the little sandwich shop they’d purchased in a subterranean shopping center in Downtown LA. Straight off a plane to the American dream in five short years. And then the sky caved in … nothing could be done about it. It was the hand that was dealt.
As much as we’d like to believe that we can affect the Dealer’s turn of the card, we can’t. Once the hand is dealt, within the confines of the cards dealt, we play. But before we can play that hand well, we have to accept it. Throwing it in in disgust isn’t going to help. Wishing ain’t helping either. No, we must accept. I’m not talking resignation. Not saying, “Fold ‘em.” I’m saying without accepting, we’ll not know how to go about playing our hand.
It’s a tough, seldom mastered lesson. As I grope for it, a comforting thought is that I don’t really know what the best hand is … I think I know, but I don’t really. It’s what makes me chase the elusive flush when if played well, I could take the pot with a pair of Jacks.
October 31st, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I can’t remember what initiated the fight. What I remember of it was our youngest’s reaction to it. It was a couple years ago, so that would put her at about six or seven years old. We were all sitting at dinner, when I started in on it with my wife who was sitting across from me. It was heated, but not out of control – voices raised, animated, but not out of line. As I pled my case, I caught out of the corner of my eye my daughter begin to cry.
What’s the matter? Are you crying because we’re fighting?
(A nod. No eye contact)
Why does it make you sad?
I’m afraid you’re going to get divorced.
(My wife and I look at each other)
Hey, we’re not going to get divorced. I love your Mom. I’m mad at her right now. We have a disagreement; we need to work it out. That’s what we’re doing. We’re mad at each other right now, but we’re not getting divorced. We love each other. We love you all. No matter what, we never think about divorce.
It put our daughter at ease. It put our other two kids at ease. The affirmation of our commitment to one another in the midst of a fight actually threw cold water on it. Within a few minutes, apologies were exchanged; forgiveness extended. This event, it wasn’t something that just happened; it was in a way, planned. We had decided some time before this occurred to do our fighting in the open, not behind closed doors. Unlike our own upbringing, we planned to teach our kids how to fight. And like most things, they were going to learn first by seeing us do it.
We’ve continued to do our fighting in the open. Our hope is that when required, our kids will put up a good fight: A fight that is courageously open, that moves toward reconciliation, and displays self-control.
October 24th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
A fight isn’t all bad. In fact, depending on the circumstances, avoiding one might be the real crime. Somethings require a fight, demand a fight. When that something occurs, best know how to go about fighting. That’s my point. In those instances when a fight was the best course before me, I shrank from my obligation. There’s all kinds of things I could point to but more likely than not, like most, I ran because I was scared. The fear was mostly of letting her in, availing myself to her, showing her the soft underbelly. “Nah, I’m fine. Whatever.”
When a fight is required, and not initiated, something even worse happens. That thing gets buried … or better, it gets sown. Eventually, it sprouts and takes over. Once that happens you’re no longer out for understanding. Reconciliation is not the goal. It’s all about payback. “Oh yeah? Is that how it’s going to be? Okay. We’ll see about that. Let’s see how you like it.”
Those sound like fighting words, but they’re not. They only sound like it because we don’t know what a good fight sounds like. We’ve not been taught. Those words are cowardly and out of control. They reek of toxic things like revenge and retribution.
A good fight has some important elements: 1. A good goal. In marriage, the goal is not to win, not to make your point. It’s reconciliation; 2. Discipline. All’s not fair in love and war. It’s not about satisfaction. The passions inflamed in a fight make it all the more important to remain self-controlled. 3. Like all fights, it requires a great deal of courage. Do not give in to fear. In interpersonal relations, fear is a poor counselor.
Just learning, but I’m getting pretty good at it. As we learn, we’ve begun to teach our kids how to fight properly.
October 8th, 2013 § 1 Comment
I never did learn to fight. No one ever taught me. So I watched. Did what came natural. The trouble with this approach is that I was watching people who like me had never learned to fight. They too had watched others; they too did what came natural. And what comes natural? That’s right boys and girls: The will to win. We fight to win. And then I got married.
A couple years into our marriage, I realized we didn’t fight. Oh, we had our conflicts. There were hurts, disappointments. When these arose as they do in every relationship, I didn’t know what to do. I did what came natural. I ran. In retreat, I scorched the earth. It drove my wife nuts. She’s far too kind and well-mannered to put it this way, but if I could speak for her, she’d say, “You chicken shit. Come out and fight like a real man.”
In the past few years, I’ve done just that … come out into the open and fought. I owed her as much. In doing so, I’ve learned a few things. For one, I’ve learned the reason for which I fight. It’s not to win; not to express myself, be justified, get some relief. All these compound the sense of separation that led me into the fight. I fight to get back to her, to close the gap created by the wrong done, the hurt inflicted. For me this has meant that I go to her and start talking. I must resist the temptation to run, to snipe her from the shadows. Funny. Even in a fight, I must not afford myself what I naturally crave.
Learn to fight. We are all different - our spouses, our marriages. A good fight may mean something very different to you. Whatever you do, don’t fight to win. Fight to get back to her, to close the gap and restore the relationship.
September 26th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Jury Duty. Two words none of us want to hear. Yet feeling the paternal eye of civic duty, I made my way to the County’s Superior Court Building. Through the metal detector and onto the Jury Pool. Looking around, I thought to myself, “With all these people, what’re the chances I get on a jury?” Not likely, I happily surmised. “The day is shot, but with a little bit of good fortune, I’ll be back to my own grind by 3 PM.” Not so fast. Once called into the courtroom, before I could warm the seat I’d taken, I was called up to the row of alternates. As the Judge proceeded to give us a primer on what was expected of us as potential jurors, I did the math. I was third alternate. Not in the box, but not looking good.
The attorneys excused three, and that was that. Juror number 12. It took me all of a minute to accept my fate. If this was the seat for which I’d been chosen, I was going to do my part. These people: the plaintiffs and the defendant, the attorneys, the judge, they were all counting on me and the other eleven members of the jury to do our very best in rendering a just judgement. So, I determined that I wasn’t going to fail them because I was too busy whining about inconveniences.
The case was a relatively minor one over a traffic accident. After all the evidence was presented, we went in to deliberate. The consensus was that without actually being there we really had no way of arriving at any certainty. The evidence as best we understood it seemed to point to the defendant not being negligent. After we cast our vote, I told my fellow jurors, “I’m glad this wasn’t a 25 to life case. If rendering a decision on a couple thousand dollars is this agonizing, can’t imagine what a felony case is like.”
During a lunch recess, I sat out in a courtyard adjacent to the Court building and thought to myself, “This immense institution with all it’s countless mechanisms, this multi-million dollar fixture of our society exists because people cannot get along.”
September 6th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Peyton Manning doesn’t look like a Quarterback. Not like Brady does. Or Favre did. Hell, he doesn’t even look like an athlete. Just watch at him run: The narrow shoulders shrugged over the the extra long torso. And those legs; they appear to be operating on a different set of signals from the rest of his body. You know he’s a terrible dancer. Not only does he not look like a Quarterback; he doesn’t sound like a Quarterback. It’s a voice and tone you’d expect more from a local John Deere distributer than an NFL signal caller. The nodding, the pressed lip agreeable expression framing that good ol’ Southern drawl. “Well, you certainly will get the job done with this John Deere Zero-Turn mower, but sounds like with the size of your yard, you might be able to get away with this D120 model. So, um … Green zero, zero; Check. Check. D120. D120. Hurry. Hurry. Hut!” Doesn’t look like a Quarterback; doesn’t sound like a Quarterback. He doesn’t even throw like a Quarterback. He throws an ugly ball. Check the tape.
Last night, in the 2013 season opener, Manning threw for 462, seven TDs, zero picks. Just silly numbers. If not natural born abilities, what makes him so prolific? Work? Yeah, I believe his work ethic has much more to do with his success than his natural gifts. The drive to be great? Maybe. I think even more than these it is his willingness to press into a journey wrought with so many failures. It’s courage.
Everyone talks about what Denver safety Moore failed to do last season. Moore’s misplay on the 70 yard bomb to Jacoby Jones in the waning seconds of last season’s Divisional Championship game gave life to the “All but dead” Ravens. That play overshadowed Denver’s last offensive play of the season: A Peyton Manning interception to Corey Graham in overtime to set up Tucker’s game winning field goal. A crushing failure for a guy who had fought so hard to get back on the field. And not his first either. Manning has a losing record in the playoffs, 9-11. Last year like seven other losses was of the “one and done” variety. No one would blame the man if he decided he’d had enough. The road too perilous. But he was back last night, on the same field, against the same opponent, less than a year removed from one of his greatest failures. Manning up.
It is what makes Manning great. The photo above could have been taken in your backyard. “Honey, that goofy, freakishly tall neighbor with the Southern drawl just got here. What was his name again?” That’s Peyton Manning. You might not know it by looking at him, but he is one of the greatest Quarterbacks of all time.
September 4th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I suspect it was the Geisha that got him up, that sent a jolt of life through him that afternoon. Once awakened, he engaged my brother in a way I’d never seen. And his gift of teaching, his natural artistic skill spun out of him. It was as if an ominous gray statue, one we tip-toed around suddenly came to life and danced before our eyes, filling the room with color. Who knew such things were in him? Looking back, can’t help but think, “It could’ve been different; it should’ve been different.” What got him out of his seat should not have been the hatred of a people under whose heel his people had so suffered. No. It should’ve been the love for his son. His immensely gifted son.
If it were love, he would have gotten up long before that afternoon. If my father had been watching closely, he would’ve seen that his son had that same, natural gift that was in him. A chip off the old block. Eyes that see, and the hand – the skillful, steady hand. An artist. Being an artist himself, he could have cultivated this gift. Taught. Encouraged. Kindled in his son a love for art, and in effect a love for who he was, is. But my father did this only once. Like so many fathers, most other days, he did more wishing than watching. The wishing as it does for us all made him blind to the gift, right there in front of him. Sitting next to him was an artist, and mostly he bemoaned that his eldest son was not a scholar.
I’ll never forget that afternoon. It was the one time that my father engaged his son in something his son loved. About three years ago, my brother picked up that long forgotten brush. He still paints. Beautifully. The gift survived the years of neglect. He’s made the long journey back to that afternoon. His father is not there, but the gift they share comes alive in a quiet garage, filling it with color.
August 16th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Your guess is as good as mine …
My fellow fantasy degenerates: Draft day is eminent. Dum.dum.duuumm… And if you’re as dorky as I am, you’re pretty pumped. Yeah, I admit it. I can’t wait. Once the day is set, that box glows with significance on my calendar. I’m starting to frequent the ESPN Fantasy Football page. Preseason football has taken on relevance. And yep, I’ll have some of those pre-game butterflies when I sit down in that fateful hour. It’s a big day.
On that day, we’ll be making our money in the middle rounds. The first three rounds will go pretty much as expected – the order having as much to do with who you draft as your preferences. In rounds four through ten, you get to “stretch your legs” a bit. The self expression restrained in the interest of safety gets to come out and play a little. In these critical rounds; strategy, gut and nerve can get you the type of value that can have you sitting in abundance during those hard, cold winter months. While other owner are scratching in the barren wasteland of the November waiver wire for Green Bay’s third string RB, your problem could be trying to decide from a stable of startable options.
Who are these guys? Your guess is as good as mine. But if you’re interested in my guesses, I’ll let you look. But before I do, here is a basic principle I follow: Don’t believe the hype. Hype will force a reach. I’ve always felt a reach takes away a pick. Conversely, finding value in effect gives me an extra pick. A couple years ago, I took Stafford in the 7th as my starting QB. He ended up performing like a 2nd round QB. In essence, I ended up with two 2nd round picks. Okay, I’m taking a hard look at these dudes:
QB: Coupling Romo or Eli with Carson Palmer. Romo and Eli are going as low as 8th and 9th rounds. Palmer as low as 12th. They throw to Bryant, Cruz, and Fitzgerald. I also like Michael Vick. Now that might be because I have a hard time accepting that I was wrong. Be careful with that one. Lot hinges on Chip.
RB: Was CJ but I feel the hype meter on the uptick. A couple guys I’m thinking are MJD – contract year, rested from the end of last season, and only 28. And Ryan Mathews. I know, I know. I don’t buy that he’s injury prone. Ahmad Bradshaw is injury prone, Beanie Wells was injury prone. Think DJ Fluker is going to make the line better and Woodhead and Ronnie Brown don’t scare me. Rashard Mendenhall? Did I write that? Only because Bruce Areans, his O Coordinator from Pittsburgh days is his new head coach. And Bruce made Vick Ballard a suitable option.
WR: Tons. Might get all my WR in the middle rounds. Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Stevie Johnson, Josh Gordon and DeAndre Hopkins. Might take a flyer on Michael Floyd, Brandon Lafell, Golden Tate, Kenny Britt, Keenan Allen and Aaron Dobson will do.
TE: Rob Gronkowski in the fifth? How about it? I’m also taking a hard look at Dustin Keller, Jared Cook and Jordan Cameron (Buzz growing with Cameron). If Antonio Gates is there in the eighth or below, why not?
But again, your guess is as good as mine.
August 12th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
First Things First Part 2
I generally distrust that which comes easy. Doesn’t mean that all that is easy is wrong or bad. Certainly, there are plenty good, meaningful things that come easy. It’s just that most do not. So, when it’s easy, I give whatever it is a thorough “once over.” At the most basic level, the concern of self comes with ease for me. Sadly, I must strain to concern myself with others. Not good. Ironically, not only is this way about me no good, it makes me unhappy. Go figure.
For many parents, the love for child comes with ease. Natural. While the love for spouse in time grows tedious. If left unchecked, the child easily glides over into the center of your family’s collective life. And the marriage devolves into a contractual arrangement between two adults to provide the optimal childhood for the kid.
Is it easy? Can you not help yourself from pouring over your kids? Give it a good “Once over.” It’s likely that your devotion to your child somewhere along the way morphed into that love you’ve always known, that familiar love that has always come with ease – the love for self. Love of self by proxy. Oh, man, what a perfect cover! No one suspects you. You come off looking so selfless.
You love your kid? Then first things first: Love your wife. Love your husband.