Ten Ways That Baseball Is Better Than Football

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I completely understand that this will be a most unpopular position I am taking, being that the National Football League is this country’s most popular spectator sports enterprise and all.

Indeed, I can hear the “You must be out of your mind!” and “Baseball’s so boring!” and “You’re such a wimp!” rants now.

Before I’m summarily dismissed as some out-of touch wuss, however, let me say this…

Just because it’s my opinion that baseball is better than football and is still the national pastime does NOT mean that I don’t like the pigskin game, or the battles on the gridiron that are played out every Friday, Saturday and Sunday around this time (as well as Thursday and Monday nowadays).

In fact, I consider the UCLA Bruins football squad my favorite team in all of sports, as I have been attending their games at the Rose Bowl for over 25 years, dating back to my days as a UCLA student.

However, there are quite a few reasons why the game played on the diamond, in the long run, is better than the game played on the gridiron.

Here are ten of those reasons that I think football fans will be forced to acknowledge if not agree with, starting with this…

 

1.  MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS HAVE – ON AVERAGE – A LONGER CAREER THAN NFL PLAYERS

The average time an athlete has in MLB is seven to ten years, while his NFL counterpart’s tenure in that league averages out to a mere four seasons due to a MUCH higher chance and certainty of injury – which brings us to…

 

2.  LESS CHANCE OF DEBILITATING INJURIES (concussions, destroyed ACLs and cartilages) IN BASEBALL

This is especially the case when it comes down to head injuries that curtail a player’s quality of life years after retirement; how many MLB players have gone the way of guys like Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, NFL stars who after they killed themselves were found that their brains were permanently affected by all the collisions they endured on the field?

I’ll bet anything that there are far fewer baseball players who fit into that tragic category.

 

3.  AVERAGE LIFE SPAN OF AN NFL PLAYER:  55 YEARS OLD

As opposed to 75 for the average American male, which ties into numbers 1 and 2 in that the debilitating and crippling injuries definitely take their toll later in life.

I really don’t think its the same for baseball, even for pitchers who had Tommy John surgery for blown ligaments in their elbows.

 

4.  CTE – CHRONIC TRAUMATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY – IS A LOT MORE COMMON IN THE NFL THAN IN MLB

Also known as Dementia, the instances of NFL players suffering and ultimately dying from this disease are well documented.

Among CTE’s symptoms are memory loss, depression, a change in behavior for the worse, and loss of coordination.

Along with Seau and Duerson, at the end of 2012 it was found that 39 former players were found with this disease after their untimely deaths, including ex-Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster and ex-Atlanta Falcon Ray Easterling.

Meanwhile, former Cincinnati Reds catcher Ryan Freel was the first MLB player to be diagnosed with CTE after his death in 2012.

Which makes the score thus:

National Football League – 39 (and counting),

Major League Baseball – 1

 

5.  FEWER REPORTED INSTANCES OF WOMAN OR CHILD BEATING IN MLB

To put it another way, when was the last time you heard of a Major League Baseball star beating his wife or his child – besides Ty Cobb, of course.

However, you would have had to have lived under a rock on Mars to not have heard about the issues that Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Jonathan Dwyer are facing.

 

6.  BASEBALL PLAYERS EARN MORE MONEY THAN FOOTBALL PLAYERS

Minimum salary of an NFL player:  $420,000

Minimum salary of an MLB player:  $500,000

Average NFL salary:  $1.9 million

Average MLB salary:  $3.3 million

Pretty self-explanatory, I believe.

Especially when you consider the physical risks that have been covered in this post.

 

7.  LABOR RELATIONS BETWEEN PLAYERS AND OWNERS MUCH MORE PEACEFUL IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Last work stoppage in MLB:  1994 

Via a player’s strike that wiped out the World Series and wasn’t resolved until mid-April 1995 when a judge – Sonia Sotomayor, who would go on to the Supreme Court – ruled that the owners were engaging in unfair labor practices.

Last work stoppage in the NFL:  2011 

Via a owner-induced lockout that lasted 136 days, the longest in league history.

 

 

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8.  FOOTBALL PLAYERS FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO THE PROS DROPPING DEAD AFTER PRACTICES AND GAMES. NOT SO MUCH IN BASEBALL.

The most notable instance of this was the Minnesota Vikings’ Korey Stringer, who died during training camp in 2001.

There have been quite a few others passing away on the gridiron before and since then, due to factors such as undiagnosed defective hearts – which meant that they shouldn’t have been playing.

Meanwhile, I haven’t heard of anyone dying on the diamond, at least not nearly as often.

 

9.  HISTORY IS MORE IMPORTANT TO THE BASEBALL FAN THAN TO THE FOOTBALL FAN

As a perfect analogy of this, let me ask a few questions, all having to do with the top records in the NFL’s record books…

– What is Jerry Rice’s final career touchdown total? And what was Emmitt Smith’s when Rice passed him?

– What is Emmitt Smith’s final career rushing yardage total? And what was Walter Payton’s when Smith passed him?

– What is Brett Favre’ final career passing yardage total? And what was Dan Marino’s when Favre passed him?

– Who broke the NFL’s color barrier, what team did he play for, and when did he do it?

If you asked the die-hard football fan these questions, the fan who spends every hour of his Sundays either watching the NFL at home or at his local sports bar, owns ten jerseys of his favorite team, bets good sums of none on such team, and spends the wary part of the weeks in a deep funk if his team loses, guess what?

Odds are, he wouldn’t know!

And more importantly, he wouldn’t care!

However…

The casual baseball fan, the one who doesn’t keep track of all 162 games that his team plays, goes to maybe one game a year, and is only a fanatic when his team is in the World Series, knows that Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs.

He knows that Henry Aaron broke that mark in 1974 and ended up with 755 homers.

He knows that Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 straight games, which stands as the record to this day.

He knows that Ted Williams was the last man to hit .400 in a season when he batted .406 in 1941.

He knows that the Boston Red Sox went 86 years between World Series titles.

And he definitely knows that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

That makes it fairly clear that football, despite the NFL’s status as the #1 pro sports league in the U.S. and despite their championship game, the Super Bowl, being the most-watched TV show, still doesn’t have a hold in the fabric of American society the way that baseball does.

 

Last but not least…

 

10.  THERE IS NO CLOCK IN BASEBALL, WHICH MEANS THAT NO MATTER HOW FAR BEHIND A TEAM IS DURING A GAME, A COMEBACK IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE

Unlike in football, where if it’s one or two minutes left in game that is a blowout, coaches on both sides are expected to clear their benches and play their scrubs because there is no chance for a comeback due to lack of time.

Meanwhile, in baseball you have to get 27 outs (or 21 in softball’s case).

You can’t just take a knee and kill the clock.

A perfect example of this was during a pick-up softball game which I was personally involved in a few years ago, when the team I was playing on was winning by 20 runs in the ninth and last inning. I believe there were two outs before something incredibly devastating happened…

The other team got hit after hit after hit and scored run after run after run.

Roughly 20 minutes later we actually found ourselves on the losing end of the contest!

Which illustrates and proves once and for all Yogi Berra’s time-honored cliche of how “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”.

 

As was said, I don’t expect – at all – for probably the majority of football fans out there to agree with me on these convictions of mine.

I suppose I’m just old school that way.

But I do hope that I have – at the very least – triggered some things to think about among you disciples of the gridiron as the season hits its quarter point…

 

 

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Has Anyone Ever Noticed That…

MUSINGS AND RAMBLINGS FROM SOMEONE WITH NOTHING ELSE TO DO

1.   Whenever someone talks about who they were in a past life, they’re almost always somebody famous? As the longtime minor league catcher in the iconic baseball movie Bull Durham, Kevin Costner hit the nail on the head when he asked this question to Susan Sarandon, playing the uber-groupie Annie Savoy, and added, “How come they are never Joe Schmo?”

Which is a very good point.

2.   Whenever a guy proposes to his girlfriend at a sporting event by posting the big question on the message board or getting down on one knee when the “Kiss Cam” comes on the video screen, the girl never says no? I know the girl doesn’t want to humiliate the guy in front of anywhere between 15,000 to 70,000 people – millions if you count the fans watching on TV – but,

I’ve often wondered how often the girl says yes in public, then later on in private says to him while taking off the ring and giving it back…

“I really sorry; I didn’t want to do this in front of everybody, but I just can’t marry you.”

Which would be more humiliating due to the dishonesty.

3.   Virtually all of the images of Jesus Christ in Bibles, churches, movies, and pretty much everywhere else throughout the world depict the Son of God as a Caucasian of European descent, looking like a hippie from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district circa 1967, when there is proof that our Savior did NOT look like that? This proof is in Revelations 1:14-15, which says,

“He had hair like wool, and feet the color of brass.”

To put it another way, I will be one happy individual when I see our Lord being portrayed by an African American or someone of color in a future film depiction of His life.

4.   SO many critically acclaimed network TV shows get cancelled after only one season – and sometimes not even that – while programs considered to be silly and stupid last several years? I fully understand that the reason why such is the case is money lost for the low ratings that shows like My So-Called Life or Freaks and Geeks generated.

Indeed, Garry Marshall, who created mega-hit shows like Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, once stated that it it came down to having a show that critics loved which only lasted a season or two and having a show which was asinine but lasted ten years, he’d choose the asinine show.

Which is rather sad, really.

Fortunately we have HBO, with standouts like Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, to fall back on.

5.   Bargain-priced movies – what theaters charge to see a film during daylight hours – cost more than what was set at full price once upon a time?

I’m sure that’s why Netflix and Redbox are so popular.

Personally, except for movies I really want to watch like The Hunger Games films, I usually wait a few months for Direct TV to put a movie I’m interested in seeing on its cinema channels; that way I only have to pay $5.00 instead of the $10.00 I’d pay at the show.

And finally, has anyone noticed that…

6.   Despite all the wife and child beating incidents, not to mention the recent alleged racial slur uttered by a prominent quarterback and the recent brawl between two of its teams, the NFL hasn’t seemed to lose too much popularity with the fans?

Many fans will say that the vast majority of pro football players are NOT Ray Rice (woman beating) or Adrian Peterson (child beating), or engage in brawls like what went down between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington (due to it being offensive on an epic scale, I will not mention their nickname), which I agree with.

However…

It is often said that one bad apple spoils the bunch.

If that’s the case, there are certainly a bunch of alleged bad apples that are well on the way to spoiling this quintessentially American enterprise.

I wonder if that’s the reason why I prefer baseball?

Oh well, these are just a few ramblings from me.    

My Personal Encounter With Racism: When I Was Denied Something Because of (In My View) Skin Color

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Early Spring, 1991.

I was in my final year as an undergraduate student in college and heavily involved in what I hoped would be my life’s work: working with children.

In this case, I was heavily involved in coaching baseball and softball, and had been for several years despite my young age (23).

Although I was the manager of my brother’s Little League baseball team that Spring, for some reason I wanted to coach softball as well; to keep myself busy and occupied and continue to obtain the necessary experience that was needed for my career plans…

Which was to either become a social studies teacher or a P.E. teacher/coach, or both.

So imagine my feeling that a golden opportunity had revealed itself when I took a look at my college newspaper and found an announcement that a girls’ softball team from a different little league from where I was coaching my brother was looking for someone to join its coaching staff.

I wasted no time in calling the number listed in the ad that evening, confident that I would impress the person doing the hiring with my knowledge of softball.

On the other end of the line was a woman who was the manager of the team, which consisted of nine, ten, and 11-year olds. She informed me that as she was a parent who volunteered to coached and wasn’t too experienced in softball, she was looking for someone who was and could teach her charges how to play the game.

I also recall this lady stating that her players weren’t very enthusiastic about being on the team or playing softball in general, that at times those girls behaved like they were only there because their parents wanted them in an enrichment activity. This lady – who shall be nameless – likewise said that being that they were from an affluent area and well-to-do families,  they sometimes acted entitled.

Not that they were exactly spoiled brats, but a more accurate description  according to her would be kids would were not used to, and didn’t like, hearing the word “No”.

I could easily tell that this manager of the team was very much impressed by my replies regarding experience and reactions to her various issues with her players as I was giving anecdotes about how I handled similar situations with the teams that I had coached, as well as what I do to get her team up to speed, namely putting them through batting and fielding drills.

In other words, do activities with those girls that would make them better softball players.

My enthusiasm for potentially working with these youngsters, which I conveyed over the phone, was what I believe impressed her the most.

As our phone conversation went on, it was painfully obvious that she liked what she was hearing, and eagerly invited me to her team’s next game so we could meet face-to-face and – or so I assumed – formalize my officially joining the team’s coaching staff.

Imagine how taken aback I was when I arrived at the park a few days later and approached this lady whom I had such a good interview with over the phone, all enthusiastic at what was going to be a good adventure and experience for me…

I could feel the freezing tension from her as she gave me a most peculiar look that said, “What the hell?!”  like she was shocked at the sight of me, which looking back I’m sure she was.

In what was a much more unfriendly tone than she exuded over the phone, she told me to have a seat in the bleachers behind her team’s dugout, watch the game, and she would talk to me afterwards.

So the game began and ended, and afterwards I approached this woman to make arrangements to impart my knowledge on her band of ballplayers as an official coach when with that same unfriendly look, she told me something that nearly 25 years later I have not forgotten:

” I’m going to hire someone else to join us because he asked first, but I’ll put your name on the board for future opportunities, if any other openings come up.”

Which of course was a fancy way of saying,

“We’ll keep your name on file.” 

Or more accurately, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,”  both of us knowing full well that there would be no intention of doing so.

Now I understand that there will be folks who will say that I shouldn’t pull the race card, that I am needlessly crying victim and maybe someone else really did ask first.

However, here’s the rub in all of this…

This was the same lady who was so impressed with what I had to say and was so friendly with me over the phone, she practically anointed me as a superhero-like savior.

Then she takes one look at me and her body language and vibe turns 180 degrees from how she was on the phone, to where she seemingly saw me as an Ultimate Pariah who in her opinion ought, to coin a phrase, “Stick with his (my) own kind”.

Of course she didn’t tell me flat-out that she didn’t want me around her team or her girls because of my being an African American, that she was uncomfortable with some big black dude coaching and interacting with her little white girls – at least to my face.

For the record, I’m not sure if this was a huge factor, but the league that her softball team was in was, at minimum, 98% white with a handful of Asians thrown in; I was told by a parent that the only African American kid in the entire organization was the son of some celebrity.

I strongly suspect that during the game in the dugout, out of earshot, she was expressing her unpleasant surprise that my skin color wasn’t the same as hers and that she was most apprehensive about working with someone who was of my ethnic culture.

I should have confronted her about it that afternoon, saying…

 

“I would like you to tell me something, and please be as honest as you can…”

“Being that you were so friendly and enthusiastic with me over the phone and you interacting with me in such a different way now – which is how I perceive it – is this a case of you being uncomfortable with having black men among you and your players, that when it comes to situations like this you feel that  African Americans and whites are better off separated?”

 

I would have respected this lady if she had told me that I was right in my assumptions, because I have always felt that raw, naked, brutal honesty is needed as far as espousing racist views if any true progress is going to be made in this country.

As opposed to the old standby, “I’m not a racist, but…” that so many people seem to say.

Unfortunately, that is all a moot point in this case because after this manager said what she said, I simply stood there, replied “OK”, and went home.

I don’t even remember her shaking my hand.

What I should have done was go to her league’s board and file a formal complaint/accusation of racial bias.  But alas, that failed to cross my mind.

I would go on to have a great season coaching my brother’s team, which (along with that league) was much more culturally diverse, but what happened on that softball field that cool spring afternoon bothered me for a while.

I certainly received a valuable life lesson, that despite all the gains that African Americans and other people of color had made during the previous 30 years there were still – and most likely always will be – folks who will see you as a lesser being because of your skin color, or your surname, or the fact that English isn’t your first language.

And will consequently refuse to hire you because of that.

Please don’t misunderstand – there’s been a lot of water flowing under the bridge since that day in 1991, and it would be very ignorant of me to harbor any grudges or hate of this girls’ softball manager for what happened over two decades ago.

But how I was personally affected by this rejection, and how it remains entrenched in my memory, says something about how seemingly indelible this issue of racism continues to be.

Despite the presence of an African American president.

do remain hopeful that things will change, that every living person will at all times be judged strictly by the content of their character; I believe that it’s only a matter of time.

How much time, however, remains very debatable.

 

Children Running with American Flags --- Image by © Kevin Dodge/Corbis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racial Tensions in the 21st Century: Are Things Are As Bleak As They Seem?

As an African American male living in these United States, considering the recent incidents and issues that this country is going through with regards to race – the recent police killings in Ferguson, MO and in other places, the immigration issue and the ongoing backlash to Obama’s presidency – I felt that I had to voice my opinions to all of this and speculate whether harmony between the races and cultures can truly be achieved on these shores.

 

I believe Martin Luther King would be bitterly weeping if he saw what was happening in America today, what with the killings of Michael Brown and others by white policemen in recent weeks and – more significantly – the support by conservative whites of the man who killed Brown, Darren Wilson.

And the longtime issue raised by so-called “Patriots” and “Minutemen” of desperate immigrants from Latin America crossing our southern border.

Not to mention the nearly six-year long backlash of Barack Obama’s presidency largely due to the fact that he’s the first Commander-in-Chief that is not of Caucasian descent, no matter how many times people – again, mostly whites – say that race has noting to do with their opposition of that man.

Not too long ago I read comments on an article regarding the troubles in Ferguson on MSN.com that greatly disturbed me.

Commenter after commenter sounded like they were card carrying, sheet-wearing members of the Ku Klux Klan they way they talked about how African Americans were lazy and always playing the “victim” mentality whenever something negative happens to them.

I though I would try and explain to those folks something about that stereotype, which judging by the large number of people that espoused it in the comments section of this particular article seems like a common sentiment among Euro-Caucasians in the U.S.

 

 

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First, if you take so much as a cursory look at this country’s history…

You will find that no group has been less lazy than black people of African descent on this North American continent as for exactly 246 years, from the time the first slave ship docked in Jamestown, VA in 1619 until the 13th Amendment passed in 1865, blacks worked at mostly hard, back-breaking labor anywhere from 12 to 15-hour days not only for no pay or benefits or sick leave or anything like that, but under conditions that rats shouldn’t have to face.

How in the world can anyone in their right mind call that being lazy?

In fact, being that the white slaveowners were forcing their chattel to do their work for them, I think it’s high time to state that it was those white slavemasters who was being lazy, NOT the black folks.

As for the “Victim” mentality that seemingly so many Caucasians of European descent who lean toward conservative political and lifestyle sentiments wail on about so bitterly…

There are an infinite number of good reasons why so many African Americans see themselves as “…a victim of America!”, which is what Malcolm X stated in one of his speeches.

I won’t list the reasons here as one can look at any history book (written in the 21st century of course, as history books published during much of the 20th century have been notorious for shortchanging not only black contributions, but those of other races and ethnic groups who were not white) to read about all the Jim Crow laws, lynchings, beatings, and other, more subtle ways that whites in the North as well as the South kept their “White Privilege” by making sure that blacks, Latinos and other people of color didn’t get the same outcome as far as getting jobs, homes in affluent neighborhoods, and the like.

Even in this modern day black males, including celebrities, professionals with Ivy League degrees, and respected scholars such as Henry Louis Gates have lamented how they have experienced being followed around in stores and profiled by police while driving as if they were criminals, in a classic “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” assumption.

Keep in mind that these are the men that have, to coin a phrase, “Overcome” and by all standards have experienced success in achieving the “American Dream”.

I know people will say that these cops were and are merely doing their jobs.

But if that were the case, how come you don’t see white males being followed around in stores or stopped on the road for “Driving While White?”

I also know that folks will point to the fact that the current “Leader of the Free World” is a person of color whose father hails from Kenya.

To which I’m positive that many will say, besides the fact that history was made in a positive manner when he was first elected in 2008 and again in 2012, these two words:

“Big deal!”

The reason? Because for too many blacks and Latinos in undesirable situations, their lives and circumstances have not changed for the better.

It can certainly be said that no president has been attacked for his policies and actions more than Barack Obama in recent memory; personally I’m more than convinced that if Obama were white, he would not be getting nearly as much grief that he’s been getting for things like Obamacare and the Bengazi situation.

And in addition to all of this, I have often wondered how come there has been such a heated movement against immigrants coming north to this country from Mexico and points south, while those coming from Europe have suffered no problems or have encountered a multitude of people bent on sending them “back where they came from!”

I remember a movie made in 2003 called In America, depicting a family from Ireland who migrated to New York City for the same reason Mexicans, El Salvadorans and Hondurans have come to “El Norte”; to attain a better life.

The border patrol agents in that film gave that family no trouble whatsoever, and I couldn’t help thinking that if they had brown skin, Spanish surnames, and the lack of ability to speak English, they would have been pulled out of the car, put into a holding cell, and roughly shipped out of the U.S. at the earliest convenience.

Yes, I’m very much aware that there are plenty of whites who have supported Obama and continue to do so, and have felt much sympathy for the immigrants who went through so much torture in reaching this country – children fleeing gang brutality in Honduras in this case – and for the young African American males like Brown, Trayvon Martin and the mentally ill man in Los Angeles who was gunned down in the street the day after Brown was tragically killed.

I’m also very much aware of the nearly $450,000 that has been raised for Wilson, the man who ended Brown’s life, thanks to different websites.

 

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So what are my conclusions to all of this, if any?

In light of all the negativity that people have espoused online, which I cannot specify due to the various epithets that have been written, I am beginning to believe that the issue of race relations in America may never be truly resolved in a way that will foster true harmony, love and brotherhood.

Despite the presence of a black President, the continuing rise of the middle class in black and Latino communities, and the fact that interracial dating and marriage is at an all-time high.

Not as long as there are people who, while they would never wear sheets or use any racial slurs, feel the same way as those who do as far as seeing African Americans as lazy with a victim mentality and Latinos as folks who are doing nothing but taking their jobs, who would like nothing more than to see these United States be free of those who cross the Rio Grande from Latin America once and for all.

And not as long as there are whites who see themselves, even consciously, as, in Malcolm X’s words. “…better than anybody black.” (or Latino in this modern day)

To be perfectly honest, I’m really not sure where all of this leaves us, and to say otherwise would be lying.

However, I will say this…

If nothing is done, if nothing changes for the better – and soon,

We may well be looking at the end of America sometime down the road.

 

 

 

UCLA FOOTBALL 2014: My Impressions of the Bruins After The First Two Games

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I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t write this post immediately after UCLA’s game at the Rose Bowl this past Saturday, because I would have brutal in my criticism of how my alma mater performed – namely on defense – in barely beating a team in which they were more than a three touchdown favorite over.

Visions of the ultimate worst-case scenario – losing to a Memphis Tiger team that was considered to be an easy opponent and is projected to finish near the bottom of their conference this season – created nightmares in my head as Fritz Etienne picked off our quarterback Brett Hundley and pranced into the end zone to tie the game at 35 in the 4th quarter, sending his Memphis teammates into a frenzy and putting a finger to his lips at the crowd.

Which incidentally should have gotten him a 15-yard penalty for taunting/celebration.

Even though UCLA managed to hold off the Tigers (a real original name as there are, by my guess, around ten schools in the South that have adopted those big cats as nicknames), I was one unhappy Bruin going up the steps and through the Section 1 tunnel.

Two days later, I am pleased to say that I am a little calmer and am more able to be more objective in my analysis.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be one of those fans who will never have anything unpleasant to say about my team as I have soaked the Bruins in what I feel is legitimate, constructive, tough-love criticism for years, going back to my student days at UCLA and certainly during the time I have covered them online.

To those fans who say that the Bruins need to  be loved win or lose, I don’t disagree with that – at all – but please understand that my criticisms are done out of  love and an extreme desire to see them play better.

After all, they can always be better.

And they really need to be such.

Or else.

All right, here’s how I saw things with UCLA during the two opening games and how I see things going forward:

1.  I knew that Memphis – and Virginia the week before for that matter – being that they were considered as easy, warm up teams for the Bruins, had nothing to lose and were going to bring it on a pronounced scale, which is exactly what they did.

As the Memphis game progressed, I saw those Tiger players jumping up and down on the sideline pumped up to beyond the moon on many occasions as I could read their minds like a kindergarten book, in that there was NO doubt in their mind WHATSOEVER that they could pull off what would have been the biggest upset and the biggest win in their history.

Indeed, I saw roughly half the team showing some visible frustration when the game ended as they had the ball and the clock ran down to zero while they were trying to get a Hail Mary play off.

Which was honestly a failure on UCLA’s part in that this was a team that the Bruins needed to blow out, a game which needed to be over by the fourth quarter or even the late 3rd as this was supposed to have been a game in which the second and third string players would get to see some playing time during the last 15 minutes.

Which obviously didn’t turn out that way.

2.  Those Tigers need to given much credit for their offensive game plan, rolling the Bruins for 469 yards of total offense, and their lack of fear in playing a team like UCLA in what is widely considered the most famous sports stadium in America; as was said, they had nothing to lose and they played like it.

Same goes for those Cavaliers from Virginia.

3.  I felt that the AP Poll was quite merciful and generous in only dropping UCLA down to 12th. I thought the Bruins would go down to 15th in the nation at best.

4.  Though I had much trouble seeing them, there were and are some silver linings, such as the offense’s performance as Hundley and company came through big time with over 500 yards – 396 through the air – after playing like a bad high school team against Virginia.

And the fact that the Bruins ARE 2-0 despite playing far short of my personal expectations says something about the talent that is in Westwood this year as if this bunch can only execute the way everybody expects them to on both sides of the ball,  the expectations that everyone has for them will be more than fulfilled.

HOWEVER…

5.  I have to be brutally honest: If little-regarded Memphis can put up a 35-spot on UCLA, imagine how many points Oregon will score when those Ducks come to the Rose Bowl on October 11th!

I’m thinking perhaps 70, unless that defense of ours straightens up, quits missing tackles and starts making quarterbacks run for their lives in applying hard pressure from the front seven.

NOW!!!

Indeed, that Memphis QB had all day to throw throughout the night, which was a significant factor in him and his mates doing all that damage and which upset me greatly.

Which can NEVER, EVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

OK, time to wrap this up…

The most positive thing I can say about these Bruins is that there’s time for them to fix things, starting this coming Saturday evening with a Texas team that lost to BYU by 27 points at home in their last outing.

Those Longhorns, by their standards, are hurting as their starting QB is out with a concussion and their coach has been suspending and kicking players off the team left and right.

If UCLA not only wins, but brings their A+ game on both sides of the ball, I’ll feel a lot better about things going forward into conference play.

Because starting on the 25th of this month on the road against Arizona State, these Bruins will be in a true gauntlet.

By this time next week my concerns about this football team will either be at 50 on a scale of one to ten.

Or  they will be at zero.

Which will it be, Bruins?

Memphis UCLA Football-1

Black And White: One Significant Aspect of Having Asperger’s

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Don’t let the title of this post mislead you; this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with race WHATSOEVER.

Rather, this has to do with something that has been a big part of my having Asperger’s Syndrome for pretty much my entire life, and continues to do so often to my detriment…

 

THE EXTREME DIFFICULTY OF ME SEEING ANYTHING OTHER THAN IN BLACK IN WHITE TERMS.

 

I’m sure that everyone has heard of the term “black and white” when it comes to absolutes, as well as “Shades of Gray”.

Which I am fully aware that the majority of life, society and culture is made of. However…

While not intending to use it as an excuse of a crutch for any of my shortcomings, the disabilities in my brain – particularly in the frontal cortex, which controls judgement – that come with being an Aspergian, renders seeing things in shades of gray as difficult on a pronounced scale.

Here’s why, which can be summed up in one word:

 

CONFUSION

 

Let me attempt to explain this…

Back when I first started high school so many years ago (never mind when), I was in the marching band, where I played the baritone saxophone that sophomore year as my high school began in the 10th grade in those days.

There was another bari sax player who was a senior and Mr. Established, who took it upon himself to sort of mentor me. I definitely won’t call his name out of respect for his privacy; I will refer to him as “The Senior”.

There was nothing wrong with a senior mentoring a newbie like myself, trying to show him the ways of the marching band, how things rolled and what was expected.

During pre-season practice and more or less throughout that first semester, “The Senior” would interact with me as if he were a drill sergeant in a Marines boot camp and I was a brand new recruit, which in a way we were.

“The Senior”, even know I know he would deny this and say that he was motivating me, would berate me and constantly get on my case, saying things like “How do you hold your instrument” in a way that in my mind was like he was an overseer and I was a slave.

The worst instance of this was one afternoon during a marching drill, I made a newbie mistake and “The Senior” made it clear his contempt for and impatience of me, blatantly stating, “You’re stupid, Derek.”

A real sweetheart, wasn’t he?

Now here’s where the confusion set in…

I remember a few months later, right after the New Year, the band gathering in the music room for announcements of what was being planned since the marching band season was over when “The Senior” sat down next to me and greeted me like he was a lifelong best friend who had known me since kindergarten.

Now a neurotypical – someone without any disabilities – would know and understand that “The Senior” basically liked him and saw him as a good guy, but during the times he screwed up needed to be held accountable, and it wasn’t personal.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t a neurotypical.

Which meant if a person was mean to me once, I saw him as an enemy who hated me – or at least strongly disliked me – 100% of the time and will hate me forever.

And vice versa.

Add to that the fact that I was a 15-year old adolescent boy with Asperger’s who was mainstreamed into regular school because I was too high functioning for special ed, and you had a person who had no choice but to be clueless.

As it was, I barely made it through that first year, and through high school for that matter as in retrospect, it may not have been the best idea for me to have gone to a regular comprehensive high school with nearly 3,000 kids.

Putting it another way, if there were non-public schools geared toward those on the Autism Spectrum Disorder during those formative years of mine, like there are in droves today, I would have gone there – at least for my 10th grade year.

But that’s neither here nor there as the bottom line is, having difficulty for me to see things on a gray scale was a big part of my aspieness.

And even though I’m a little better able to see things in gray now in my mid-forties that I was in my teens, it’s still a part of my condition. Particularly when I interact with someone who normally has never spoken to me and my mind tells me that they’re unnecessarily jumping my case or telling me things I don’t want to hear as I tend to see them as  someone who regards me as an inferior human being.

Which confuses me in the extreme when they treat me nicely, as if my brain says, “Why are you being so nice to me when you were so mean in the past?”

That has happened in recent years whenever I have ran into folks who bullied me during our school days but greet me as if we were BFFs back in the day, like when someone who called me names and picked a fight with me during the 4th or 5th grade acted as if we were the best of pals a couple of years ago.

Although to be fair, this person did apologize when I mentioned how mean she was to me, “Confusion” was an understatement there.

Though I wish things were different, honesty must be expressed here…

This aspergian confusion will always be a part of me.

And that’s the way it is.

 

 

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