July 30th, 2012 § 2 Comments
There was this co-ed sleepover. It was back in ’79 or thereabouts. I was nine, maybe ten. It was innocent enough. I can’t remember everyone in the room – my older brother, couple/three girls, I think. The oldest was maybe twelve. At some point that night, talking in our beds with the lights off, I confessed that I had a thing for one of those girls. Her name was Nancy. If I remember correctly, her response to my confession was less than reciprocal. Nancy screamed and dove under the covers. I should’ve known right then that love is a battlefield.
What is love anyway? For a nine year old kid, it was a strange feeling I had. For whatever reason, I liked this girl. I noticed her – wanted to be around her. And as I got older, the definition really didn’t change. Love more than anything was a wanting: To have someone. And the “better” she was the better off I was. If she wanted me too, then yeah, I must be somebody. Cheap Trick sings, “I want you to want me, I need you to need me, I’d love you to love me …” It’s the anthem of the co-dependent, infantile conception of love. It’s the one I confessed to Nancy back in ’79, the one I held into most of my adult life.
A couple years ago, I was sitting in Southern California traffic. I looked around at all the people sitting in their cars around me, and thought, “Everyone wants something … real bad. Everyone.” Then I thought, I live on a planet of 6 billion and change of people of wants. Most of us can hardly spare a moment from our pursuits to consider what another wants, what another needs. It’s no wonder that love is a battlefield. Hell, it’s a wonder that love exists at all.
I had mistaken this wanting as love for so long that love strikes me as strange. “Wait, you mean, love is surrendering my wants to give another what they want, what they need? This is love? I don’t know. Hmm … strange love, man. Strange.”
July 27th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Tight Ends Continued
Something to consider here is in most leagues there’s only one spot for the tight end. Like Quarterbacks, Kickers, and D/ST, the one spot start has to factor into value on draft day. Conversely, Running Backs and Wide Receivers, if your league has a flex spot make up five spots on your starting line-up. If you have one solid TE, you’re good. Even with two solid RB/WRs, your screwed. Taking this one step further, a TE can only give one spot’s difference against an opponent. So, as you look across the aisle at your opponent and his Jimmy Graham, you can take some comfort in knowing Jimmy alone can only do so much. While even a marginal advantage at RB/WR just by virtue of the number of start spots can result in a 30 pt thrashing.
I’ve heard of leagues that start two QBs. If I’m in one of those, I’m drafting a QB number one. I’m not, so I won’t. Likewise, until I can start two TEs, I’m not drafting one early.
At the very top, there’s not much mystery. The Gronk will probably go number one. Jimmy Graham, number two. I think they’re the same guy, and actually I like Graham better because there’s no Hernandez in New Orleans. And then you got the second tier: Witten, Davis, Gates, Finley, Hernandez, Gonzo maybe. You’ll have to grab them fairly early, but you know what you’re getting. Since I’m planning on going bargain hunting at TE, here are some intriguing dudes.
1. Jacob Tamme – Comes over to Denver with Manning. Manning loves the TE. Have you heard of Dallas Clark? A converted WR, he’s faster, more agile, and has better hands than most TEs. Two seasons ago, when Clark went on IR with a wrist injury, Jacob Tamme was the no. 3 TE rest of the way. Wow! Right?
2. Dallas Clark – Curtis Painter. Okay, that’s all I gotta say. Now, Josh Freeman will be throwing him the ball. He’ll not rekindle the magic that was Manning to Clark, but I think he’ll be a great value in this year’s draft.
3. Greg Olson – Lots of hype around him last season because the Chudzinski. Who’s Chudzinski you ask? He is Carolina’s O Coordinator. He was the TEs Coach in San Diego. You know, Antonio Gates. Olson disappointed finishing 17th amongst TEs. Combine the scoring of Olson and Shockey, the other Carolina TE, you get the number 3 TE last season. Shockey is no longer in Carolina. Chudzinski? He’s still there.
Other intriguing deals: Celek (Phi), Davis (Wash), Cook (Tenn), Fleener (Indy), Kendricks (St Louis), Moeaki (KC)
July 25th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
With our first two, we didn’t find out their gender. We wanted to be surprised. With our second, we got what we wanted. There are all kinds of “hokus pokus” theories on determining gender – day of conception, morning sickness patterns, the positioning of the baby, and so on. Everyone who had an opinion on my wife’s second pregnancy was convinced that this one too was going to be a boy. When people get excited and tell you what they think, especially when it’s something as whimsical as a guess on the gender of your wife’s pregnancy, you smile, you nod, and give the look, “Oh, that’s nice. Maybe you’re right.” But there was this lady. We were walking through an outdoor mall. My wife was about eight months pregnant. An older lady, Middle-Eastern, a shawl framing her wrinkled, sage-like face walked up to us. “Your baby. It’s a boy,” she said in an ancient accent, and walked away.
We were convinced. So, convinced that in the delivery room, upon hearing, “It’s a girl!” we looked at each other with the same expression: “What? It’s a girl?” I’ll never forget it. Literally, my wife’s first expression – the very moment she pushed our daughter out, her feet still in the stirrups – was, “What?” In fact, we weren’t even settled on a name. We had a boy’s name. It took us a couple days to choose between two girl names, neither of which we thought we’d use.
I had heard the thing about a girl, “There’s something about a girl.” It’s true. They unlock something reserved, deep inside a father. A girl somehow highlights the beauty and the precious fragility of a baby. And I don’t think it ever really goes away. She was beautiful. I remember the long fingers and toes, the fuzzy ears, head full of dark hair, a crooked scowl, and a single dimple on her lower right cheek. I remember holding her and wanting like I’d never wanted anything before to protect her from the world. She’s still beautiful.
Like all the rest, the old lady was wrong. Twelve years later, I can’t tell you how glad I am that she was.
July 24th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I think the thing that gets you in the end is the disappointment.
Wants are often presentably disguised demands. What a husband wants, really what he demands of a wife? No way she “cleans and jerks” that kind of weight. She doesn’t know it at first, but eventually a day comes along when she realizes she’s standing on stage, holding her breath, violently quaking under the weight of your demands. Looking across at you, your unwilling hand hovering over the “approval buzzer”, she wonders “How the hell did this become an evaluation anyway?”
Listen, what you want, what you think you’re entitled to in a wife, no woman can lift. The whole she’s the ONE – the savior (I refer to this in the post, If you want to live, let go). The “You complete me …” mythology, that’s already a load. Heap on it fantasies spun by everyone from knuckleheads like Nicholas Sparks who pander “love” stories of forever young, beautiful people doing other worldly things for love, for amor to fools like Hugh Hefner who demean something as beautiful as sex down to a vice – using for pleasure. Then the weight is just impossible. Man, fantasy is heavy. But that’s not all; it’s plenty, but there’s more. The worst yet is comparison. And it’d be bad enough if the comparisons drawn were remotely fair; they’re not. In this day of unprecedented access to info, the line of women to which you compare her is endless: Photos, film, internet, Facebook, … everywhere. Population density. Google Earth. Real life has no chance against snapshots, vignettes, and hypotheticals. You end up with the law of probability saying, “Good chance you missed The One. There’s got to be somebody better.” Now, she’s done.
The disappointments I’ve experienced in my 14+ years of marriage have very little to do with my wife. She’s nobody’s disappointment. I came to this thing with a lifetime of inability to look squarely at what marriage was. Inability? Unwillingness? Probably both. Now, along with those, I deal with a good measure of reluctance. And not just marriage, but with what love is. Really, what life is.
Ah, to be able to look squarely. Then I’d remove the weights; I’d escort her off the stage. Then I’d live in the truth: “‘Disappointment?’ No. She’s the One.”
July 20th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Wide Receivers Continued
Alright, I’ve laid out my skepticism about taking a wide receiver early. Just gives me the heeby-jeebies, man. Last year, I took Vincent Jackson in the 2nd. I reasoned: “He’s playing for a contract – probably the last “pay day” of his career. Rivers loves to throw it down field. Big, fast. I need VJax to anchor my WR corps. He’s a lock.” Wrong. In fifteen games, he went double digit a meager five times. Seven of the ten in which he went single, he went sub 5. VJax was about as reliable as a T-Mobile connection through the Mojave Desert.
So, yeah, I might be sitting there at our draft forced to choose between Marshawn Lynch and Andre Johnson. And I might be compelled to take the Houston wide out, but I won’t be happy about it. I’ll walk away feeling my hand was forced. If you suffer from the same aversion to wide outs as I do, you’ll have to go looking for some bargains. The undervalued. Here are a few I like:
1. Stevie Johnson – Inked a new deal. Buffalo looking to make a move. And he’s a tough competitor. Last year, played the whole season with a pulled groin, and still managed solid games on his two trips to Revis Island.
2. Hakeem Nicks – Victor Cruz took some of the luster off Nicks. Still #1 option on a increasingly pass heavy offense. Huge mits; best red zone option.
3. Miles Austin – Injury plagued year. Still the same hard working, good route running WR on a team that likes to throw. Bryant means the safety can’t cheat.
4. DeSean Jackson – Nothing gets a secondary clinching butt cheeks like DeSean with the ball. Happily signed, he can have a monster year. Again, Maclin keeps safety honest.
5. Brandon Lloyd – I know, I know. After Ocho, can you really trust any WR in New England other than Toby Maguire? I do think he fits better than Chad, and somebody needs to be single covered, right?
6. Randy Moss – When Moss respects the head coach, he plays. Played for Belichick, think he plays for Harbaugh. I think. Don’t quote me on that.
7. Kenny Britt – Was going to put him higher, but as of this morning, he’s been busted for DUI. The dude can’t stay out of trouble.
Who doesn’t like a bargain? Yeah, there are some chips, and you can’t expect to get the exact color and style. But if it’s not the centerpiece of your team, it makes sense to take a clearance item home and see if it works. When it comes to shopping for wide receivers, I love a bargain.
July 19th, 2012 § 2 Comments
So, I thought, “A small step I can take toward laughing into the darkness is to smile a little.” Smile at my kids. You know, a child should grow up with their father smiling on them. Don’t you think? I decided when I see my kids, I’m going to smile. Really. When I see them in the morning, I smile when I say, “Good morning.” When I peak into their room to ask what they’re up to, I smile. At night, I send them off to bed with a smile. Don’t worry; it’s not that fake, forced smile – the frightening, conflicted face in which the eyes resist what the mouth is trying a little too hard to do. No, it’s a real smile. And if you try this I recommend you try to be genuine too.
If you do, I suspect you’ll experience an unexpected gift. Interestingly, as I told myself to smile at my kids, I was reminded that I am happy with them. Sure, it’s complicated. They worry me and often drive me crazy. These things – the worries, the challenges – they’re the darkness. A small part, yes. But a part none-the-less. And the darkness that tries and mostly succeeds in crushing us, it makes us forget all the good. And maybe that is when we begin to crumple, when we forget, when all we see is painted over by fear.
So, smile a little. Take a small step to demonstrate to your kids that you are happy with them. Abandoning yourself to tell them that they make you happy might end up reminding you, you’re happy after all.
July 18th, 2012 § 5 Comments
I got my Dad to laugh once. It was the one and only time I got him to laugh. It was thrilling. So thrilling, that that moment is etched in my mind. We were driving somewhere close to my Uncle’s shop near Alvarado and 8th. A warm, sunny afternoon. It had to have been summer. We were headed west with the late afternoon sun flooding the car with that dreamy glow. My parents were talking about my Uncle’s new home which came with a built in sauna room. Both my Dad and his younger brother were slight of build. I commented from the backseat that if my Uncle spent any time in his sauna, he’d pass out. My Dad busted up – his face in a wrinkled scrunch. Bearing all his teeth, he did this rapid hissing laugh. The whole car: my Mom, my Bro, me, we all broke into laughter – the rest of us, I think more in wonder at my Father’s laugh than at my comment.
My Father seldom laughed. He rarely smiled. What’s so funny anyway? Like I mentioned in an earlier post Old Photo, by the time I came around, my Father had seen a few things. Life has a way of crushing a man. It doesn’t have to be particularly tragic. We all see loss, experience uncertainty, unmet expectations. It seems nothing of worth is gained without a fight. A struggle. And right when you’re trying to concentrate on the fight, there’s that background drone of meaninglessness. “Is this it?” Then there’s death. A couple years after that fleeting moment of sunlight, my Father went into surgery for kidney stones and came out with cancer. After beating him up for two years, that cancer killed him.
A couple years ago, one of my kids mimicked my expression. “This is Dad.” And did a serious scowl.
“Really, that’s how I look?”
“I don’t smile much, huh?”
“No.” (All three of them in unison)
You know what I’ve wondered since? I have to overcome. It is a father’s job to laugh into the darkness. “Hah! That ain’t nothing. Let’s go kids. It’s going to be okay. And with a little work, it can really be beautiful.”
July 13th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I got one thing to say about wide receivers: Who knows?
Calvin Johnson is the consensus number one wide out. Megatron deserves it, and ought to be drafted in the first round. Okay, granted. But despite his monster year, you know what he did in the critical five week stretch of weeks 10-14? Megatron forgot to be Mega. In four of those five weeks, Tron went single digit. The one week he doubled, he barely scratched 10 on the board. Need a broader sample? Okay, let’s take a look at the number ten WR, Mike Wallace. Wallace was an early round pick last year. And in most leagues, he towed #1 WR duties for some poor sap, who got one double digit output from Wallace in the second half. From weeks 10-17, he scored 2 TDs, both of ’em in one game. That’s 7 of 8 games without a TD. Ouch, mommy, that hurts.
I think as the trend moves toward pass heavy offenses, it hurts the #1 WR. It sounds crazy, but bear with me a minute. Pass happy offenses mean defenses need to adjust. Corners and Safeties are drafted higher; they sign bigger contracts. More teams are stocking three, four legit corners. The #1 WR obviously gets the lion’s share of attention from these beefed up secondaries. Andre Johnson, Larry Fitz, and Megatron will always be doubled. Always. The defenders they pull opens gaping holes for #2s, slot receivers, tight ends. Why throw to Dez Bryant through a tight window when Laurent Robinson is standing alone in the end zone? It’s why we know names like Antonio Brown, Victor Cruz, and Jordy Nelson.
No doubt about it; you need a couple solid receivers. The trend of ballooning pass offenses demand it. What remains in doubt is who those solid receivers will be. Again, who knows? I don’t. And so I’m planning on waiting … you know, put something together piecemeal.
July 11th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I pray for my kids. Just about everyday. That might get you thinking, “But I don’t believe in God.” Do you suppose that prayers are said only by those who “believe” in God? Think about it. Even at this very moment, how many people are saying, “Oh, please …” In how many places? How many languages? In many cases the one to whom the petition is directed is not even identified. A soldier looking out into a battlefield, a parent in an ICU waiting room, the starving, the homeless, they utter the call of the desperate. It raises for me some interesting questions about the nature of faith.
I have a vision for my son, for my daughters. I didn’t have to try formulate one. Just held ’em in my hands, and Wham! There it was. Can’t shake it, this beautiful picture of the lives they will lead. Part and parcel with the vision are the fears. Holding the most precious things I’d ever held, I could sense them gathering at the door – real and imagined, all that would oppose the realization of my hopes.
You know what I’ve learned? Forget about bringing my children through all that oppose them; forget about me making it happen. As much as I’ve tried, I’ve learned that I get in the way. It’s rough. The countless times I’ve caught myself not able to get out of my own way. I know what I ought to do, but for the life of me, can’t get myself to consistently do it. And yet I love my kids. I can’t shake the vision. So, I pray. I do. And it’s not so much evidence of my “belief” in God as it is a confession that I do not believe in myself.
Just about every day I utter the call of the desperate, the call of a father, “Please help …”
July 9th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
If you want to live, let go …
Awhile back, a friend, a former Los Angeles County lifeguard told us a harrowing story. He was on duty at a beach notorious for attracting a heavy crowd of inexperienced swimmers. During his shift, he saw two large women in trouble. According to him, once you swim out, the prudent thing to do is to take a moment and assess the situation. The reason being: A drowning adult is a dangerous person. On this occasion he could not because he was alone, and one of the women was already going under. He threw his flotation device at the one above water, and went under to grab the submerged woman. As soon as he got to her, she clamped onto him like a hungry octopus. When he tried to tear away, he discovered not only was the woman large, she was strong. He tried to swim up for air. The drowning woman instinctively latched onto the part of him pointed toward the surface – his head. With the large woman wrapped around his head by an adrenaline juiced death grip, he was now fighting for his life. Fear drove the woman to try to drown the one man there to help her.
It’s a good picture of so many marriages. You’ve waited all your life – a life, let’s face it, that often feels like you’re barely keeping your head above water – for someone to come along and rescue you. While dating, you hide your fears and your need for a savior so as not to spook ’em. “Oh, I’m fine. Look, you see. I can kinda swim.” And then he/she swims in, puts a hand on you, and “BAM!” The death grip. Save me! That’s fear talking.
Your husband cannot save you. Your wife cannot deliver you. Your spouse is not the answer. No one can swim with you wrapped around their head. No one.
If you want to live, let go.