Friend of ours was driving from the upper Midwest to the East Coast the other day, with family. They left at night, got hungry for breakfast around dawn, and then remembered:
“Yikes, we’re in Indiana.”
Indiana, with the new law permitting bigots to refuse to do business with gays – on religious grounds.
Just for the record, this is not a family that is going to arouse the deep fears and prejudices of the smugly religious. But this is a family with quite American values. So they kept going, 153 miles from west to east on Interstate 80/90, heading east, toward gasoline and biscuits.
That is the way to go, while Gov. Mike Pence makes a total ass of himself on national television, trying to explain what is so obvious from the hard look in his eyes.
He is standing up for his base, the rabid core, that will say it loves everybody but doesn’t want to make a wedding cake for two men or two women who love each other, or sell coffee to them, or gasoline.
The reaction from major companies like Eli Lilly and Cummins Engine Co. has been instructive. I can speak about Cummins a bit. When we lived in Louisville, Ky., one of our most beautiful outings was on a crisp fall Saturday, visiting the great architecture of Columbus, Ind. -- a Saarinen church, courtesy of Cummins. Just memorable.
I loved the southern part of Indiana, near the Ohio River, even with its county-by-county time zones that could make you nuts. Loved the stone county courthouses. Loved the hills of Brown County. Loved the great music from Indiana University.
But these are new times. The base is threatened by having to do business with the emerging America, the minorities-becoming-majorities, plus the gay couples getting married, many of them raising children.
Indiana has made its statement. Drive on.
All my apocalyptic tendencies toward sport -- mostly from covering the NFL, but other stuff, too -- were sorely tested the other day.
An ambitious web site, medium.com, asked me to wax profoundly on the question of whether we -- we? -- should ban sports. They handed me the symbolic plunger of 500 words and said, go for it, big guy.
Then I had the vision of a nice May day, in the company of a few friends or relatives, sitting behind right field at New Shea, my hands clutching a hero from Mama's of Corona, watching Juan Lagares go back on a fly ball.
It was the moment of truth.
Seven philosophical souls got to express themselves on the subject of whether sports should be totally banned.
Readers are urged to give their opinions -- NOT HERE but on the site, after reading the contents in the link below:
Anjali was in biology class with her nice teacher. Somebody came in and told the students to look out the window, at a red-tailed hawk with the remains of a pigeon.
The other day I wrote a column for the Times about Major League Soccer, which stimulated comments on the NYT web site, most reflecting the readers’ knowledge and passion for the sport and the league.
This response only strengthened my point that modern communications – the web and cable TV – have involved American fans with the best soccer in the world, and raised hopes and expectations for MLS.
I’d love to address a few points the readers made:
1. I did not fully represent the fan experience at MLS matches. Excellent comment. I have watched matches on TV and have matches at Red Bull Arena and am well aware that fans have come up with clubs and traditions and chants that can only grow over the years. They have seen the singing and demonstrations of love (and disdain) from the best leagues and want to be just like it (maybe without the nastiness.) The rebellion in New Jersey over the sacking of Mike Petke is one example of loyalty.
2. I did not stress the new stadiums. Another good point. The league has pushed clubs to come up with soccer-specific stadiums, medium sized, so that crowds of 25,000 will seem intimate yet large. Early soccer stadiums were functional but I was in the new Kansas City stadium two years ago and it was state-of-the-art.
3. How could I underestimate Lionel Messi? Fair enough. After watching Messi pick Man City apart, I wrote: “Up to now, I have resisted talk of Lionel Messi among the very greatest players — dismissing him, in a way, as a finisher.” This struck some readers as ludicrous, given his all-time stature in assists as well as goals. Let me add: Messi has earned those statistics by staying with the same club in the same league since he was a kid, but obviously he is a great player. I think I resisted ranking him among Pelé, Cruyff, Maradona, Eusebio, Puskas, Drogba, you name it, because I have seen him limited in some of the biggest World Cup matches. (Not that every great player can win a World Cup; four I mentioned did not.) I did see Didier Drogba carry Chelsea on his broad back in a Champions League final in 2012, and had never seen Messi carry his team the way he did last week. I stand up for my comment – as a mea culpa.
4. I need to subscribe to beIN. My correspondent Joel Berger has virtually ordered me to spring for the upgrade so I can see La Liga. I should. But I am not. My cable bill is huge anyway, and as a humble pensioner I just don’t want it to go any higher. I’ll take my chances watching Champions League and Premiership and World Cup qualifiers.
5. How could you say MLS is “perhaps the eighth- or 10th-best league in the world?” Key word there is “perhaps.” Attendance figures put MLS eighth in the world, but perhaps we can chalk that up to American affluence, American ability to put fannies in seats. (The U.S. still holds the World Cup record, going back to 1994. Somebody remind Sepp Blatter.) After watching Our Lads get burned by Denmark – oh, yeah, leave Nicklas Bendtner alone upfield; the game is almost over, anyway – I’d be willing to concede that a top club in a less-attended league could eat our boys’ lunch. Still, MLS is growing in all ways.
6. You clearly know nothing about soccer. Ouch. A few readers did point out that I wrote a book, “Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer,” that got a lot of attention last year. The paperback edition will be out in a few months, with a new chapter about the 2014 World Cup, which I watched on the tube. I also picked Germany in Cigar Aficionado magazine. (Picked Manuel Neuer to be one of the stars of the Cup; said Spain was worn down.) I know what you are saying: “Dick Tracy!” It is great to be in the electronic age with world soccer fans.
John Robben of Connecticut has fourteen grandchildren and loves them all the same. One happens to play in the National Hockey League, so it's easy to keep tabs on him.
John has been telling me about Cam Atkinson since the young man was scoring 68 goals in three seasons at Boston College. Now John follows him on his swings around the league, even when Columbus is playing in a distant time zone like Vancouver.
John sent this mass e-mail Saturday morning:
I watched the first period last night against Vancouver, then stuck around for the beginning of the second period. When Vancouver struck twice for a 2-0 lead I turned the TV off and went to bed. I knew their record was better -- a lot better! -- than the Blue Jackets, and it was already after 11 PM and I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.
First thing GM said to me this morning was, "The final score last night was 6-2."
"Oh," I replied. "Too bad. At least Columbus got two goals."
"Columbus won 6-2, not lost. And Cam got the winning goal!"
Well done, Cam!
First of all, GM is Grandmother, Margie, whom John spotted at a church dance in the Bronx, oh, a few years back and predicted, on sight, that they would be married.
Before that could happen, John had aircraft carrier duty off the Korean coast. His pen pal at the time, writer named Hemingway, sent him a letter that said, "Remember kid, if it's rough at sea, it's rough all over." Then John got home and married Margie.
John, a fine writer and long-time e-mail pal (we have never met), never misses a game on television when Columbus is playing in the east. The young man is small by modern NHL standards – 5-foot-8, 174 pounds – but clearly has a feel for the net, with 53 goals and 49 assists in 208 NHL games.
On Saturday evening, Cam tipped in a goal on a power-play late in the second period to put his team ahead. Next game is Tuesday at home. John is going to catch all of that one.
* * *
Here's the link to the screen above.
Cam's career statistics.
The game result from Saturday night.
This is a good week for the Pennsylvania part of the family.
Our oldest grandchild, George, forgot to check his email Monday, until 2 o’clock in the morning. Then he sent the above text message to his parents, down the hall.
I keep telling George he reminds me of me, a late bloomer. He fell in love with the state university at Bloomsburg, where he has some family history, along the Susquehanna River, two hours from his home.
He’s had a pretty good year – made himself into a reliable wrestler, holds a job in a nice supermarket chain, got his license and a car, but was sweating out college, until he discovered the email from Admissions.
George’s enthusiasm at getting into the college he wanted reminded me how I felt at home the first time I walked onto the nice little campus of Hofstra College a long time ago.
There are many right colleges for people, as Frank Bruni is saying in his latest book, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be,” aimed at people facing the elite-college-admissions rat race. All colleges have good teachers, good courses, a mix of students. We think he’s going to thrive.
George's sister is also having a good week. Lulu and her dad Peter (and later her mom Corinna) are flying to Las Vegas for the Players College Showcase soccer tournament, attended by many college coaches.
Lulu plays for the FC Pennsylvania Strikers, currently rated fourth nationally in the 15-and-Under class, coached by Jim McLoughlin, a former Canadian Olympian and member of the old New York Arrows.
Lulu travels from Harrisburg to the Philadelphia suburbs once or twice a week for practice, competes with very good players for playing time, and also plays for the high school team with her friends from home. She’s an A student and is thinking about becoming a doctor.
There are no guarantees, plenty of work ahead, day by day. For the moment, George and Lulu are having a good week.
The young lady in the change booth at Heathrow inspected my maroon Éire passport.
“So, you are a plastic Paddy?” she said.
This was my first time using my passport, two decades ago, and I was feeling quite proud.
The shiny new passport had already gotten me through the European Union lane, quicker than the regular Arrivals lane, but now the change agent put me in my place. My newness, my American-ness, came through. Plastic, indeed.
I think about her every St. Patrick’s Day when I rummage around for some vaguely green sweater or tie but decline to join any parade that might be taking place.
My second passport, beside my beloved American passport, is courtesy of my grandmother, born in County Waterford in 1875. We lived under the same roof until she died when I was twelve (actually, it was her house, thrifty woman that she was) but I don’t recall her ever talking about the Ireland she left as a teen-ager. (I wrote about her three years ago.)
Being Irish, via a maroon passport, is a state of mind, and I claim to be Irish, deep down inside. I say it is the moody, emotional side, the side that cares. I love to hear the trace of an Irish accent, particularly in women, newscasters on the BBC or Euro News, or the lovely staff at Foley’s on W. 33rd St., and a few friends (they know who they are.)
Last Sunday, Christine Lavin was filling in for John Platt on WFUV-FM, and was host to Maxine Linehan in the studio, singing “Danny Boy” live. (This is not a song most artists rush to perform, just as jazz musicians charge extra for “When the Saints Go Marching In” at Preservation Hall.) But Linehan sang “Danny Boy” and damned if I didn’t get tears in my eyes.
Being Irish is part genetic – and part choice. I had a three-week binge on “Ulysses” back at Hofstra, and now I re-read it every five years or so. I am touched by Seamus Heaney and Frank McCourt and the plays of Brian Friel and Sean O’Casey.
My wife, with her own spouse passport, talks about a visit to Galway or Cork. Our one visit to Ireland (Canadians and Australians and Americans buying all kinds of green souvenirs), I remember the way old men chattered with each other, and one old lady who stopped us on a street corner in Ballsbridge and apologized for the heat wave. (It was 75 Fahrenheit, in July.) I file away some terrible things that have happened on the island. Life is complicated. But there are few days when I don’t remember the maroon passport in my desk, and my grandmother’s gift.
* * *
(Maxine Linehan, below. Go for it, it's St. Patrick's Day.)
Martin Goldman was the valedictorian at Jamaica High School in 1956, which is saying a lot. We had 821 graduates and needed two graduation sessions.
Martin’s average of 97.484 was the second highest in the history of the school at the time. He was also president of the General Organization and was widely respected as both smart and genial, and he remains so today, as a physics professor at the University of Colorado.
Goldman is also a project scientist at the successful launch at Cape Canaveral Thursday.
From Kenneth Chang’s article in The New York Times on Thursday:
“A NASA mission called Magnetospheric Multiscale, scheduled to be launched Thursday night, aims to make the first detailed measurements of a region of colliding magnetic fields about 38,000 miles above Earth. The magnetic collisions, which can potentially disrupt satellites and power grids, are not well understood.”
It continued: “The protective bubble of the Earth’s magnetic field typically deflects high-speed particles from the sun. But an onslaught of particles from a solar explosion can pop the outer layers of the bubble.”
Asked to describe his role in the mission, Martin wrote in an e-mail: “I am the PI and Team leader for one of three Interdisciplinary Science Teams which each received a ten-year research grant from NASA seven years ago to do research in support of MMS. Our mission was to predict what MMS will measure by performing computer simulations of magnetic reconnection, by developing mathematical models to describe the physical processes and to study relevant results from existing spacecraft.”
Martin continued: “MMS is NASA's most complex mission ever. There are over 100 experiments on board each satellite. This kind of "robotic" exploration of space has a much greater scientific payoff than manned exploration of space (such as the space shuttle) and is much more cost effective. The MMS mission will reveal key energization processes triggered by the sun in Earth's magnetic field over many 10's of Earth radii.
“These processes occur explosively and can affect our power grid as well as expose astronauts and pilots to high levels of radiation. The same processes cause the auroral borealis at northern latitudes. We need to know how to predict when they will occur and how much energy will be released from Earth's magnetic fields. The physics that will be learned will be relevant to other venues in which magnetic reconnection occurs such as in astrophysical objects and in harnessing the fusion energy of hydrogen for sustainable energy production far into the future.”
Martin and Helen Goldman, who catch up with old friends on trips home to New York, were at the blastoff at 10:44 PM Thursday.
“It was a Hollywood launch,” Martin wrote. “I was just as thrilled as my 25 family members surrounding me at the lift. My 11-year-old niece Cella Sawyer expressed my feelings perfectly.” Cella wrote:
“THIS IS NOT THE SUN!!! It’s a rocket, and it seriously lit up the ENTIRE SKY!!! Like NO JOKE!!! It is also 11 PM – not the morning!!! This is probably the most AMAZING 5 minutes of my life!!! Thanks Uncle Marty and Congratulations!!!”
Congratulations from all of us, too, Martin and Helen.
* * *
The mission can be followed on NASA various sites:
Great assortment of photos:
Project Scientists (including Martin Goldman)
Launch Schedule for Cape Kennedy:
Tom Moore, a leader of this mission, was a student of Martin’s at Boulder:
Colleges seem to have lost their way. I think about that as I follow the blatant breaking of rules at so many schools – North Carolina! Notre Dame! Syracuse!
But it is not just football and basketball. More and more, college seems to be a highly expensive country club, forcing less affluent students to mortgage their futures for the right diploma, the right contacts (never mind the right education.)
The food services. The pools and health clubs. The exotic “study” programs abroad.
Now we are reminded that colleges can also be a breeding ground for prejudice and arrogance. Fraternity boys and their girls (I deliberately do not use the words “men and women”) at the University of Oklahoma chanting vile (and apparently traditional) doggerel about African-Americans while in formal wear on a chartered bus.
What a caricature of America, no doubt leading to the racist scams of places like Ferguson, Mo.
These privileged fraternity louts and city officials take their cues from the highest court in the land:
“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote with smug assurance in the 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act.
Fortunately, David L. Boren, president at Oklahoma, came down hard on the punks and punkettes who rode the charter bus. He shut down the fraternity house, which should be razed, just to exorcise the bigotry, and he has ordered two ringleaders expelled. Boren’s righteous anger was appropriate, but there is a broader question:
Why have colleges become a haven for rich boosters to underwrite powerful basketball and football teams that have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with education?
Yet at the same time, less affluent students cannot keep pace with the tuition and luxuries at the landmark schools? It’s all connected, you know.
In the Times on Monday, Joe Nocera discussed better ways to deliver actual education at a reasonable price. There needs to be a way for qualified students to learn from the best schools and teachers, via the web at times.
Three separate articles and columns in the Times on Monday, all describing higher education out of control. But now it’s time for March Madness, prime athletes shoehorned into “college” for a year – I’m talking about you, Kentucky -- another gross caricature of higher education.
Have a good bracket.
Our daughter Laura has had many good assignments in her career as sports columnist in Albany, Seattle and Baltimore and as political columnist in Harrisburg.
This would appear to be one of the better gigs. Just saying.
But she has been working. Here is the proof:
Some of her stories:
Bob Goldsholl once saw two teammates squabbling over a uniform -- with No. 9 on the back.
This memory came flooding back as New York University begins its first baseball season since 1974. Goldsholl, a retired New York sports broadcaster, pitched NYU into the College World Series in 1956, wearing a hand-me-down uniform from a certain team in Boston.
The venerable NYU coach, Bill McCarthy, had friends with the Red Sox, ranging from a scout to the owner, Tom Yawkey. Every year, the Red Sox shipped used uniforms to NYU, which led a couple of top dogs to bicker over Ted Williams’ elongated uniform. (The team name was altered on the front.)
Those were great days for baseball in New York – three teams in the major leagues and seven local rivals in the Metropolitan Conference – City College, Wagner, Brooklyn, St. John’s, Hofstra, Manhattan and NYU.
Personal note: As the student publicist for Hofstra, I sat on the bench, kept score and heckled the other team. The St. John’s players used to shout, “Shut up, Pencil.” Three players I saw made the majors – Chuck Schilling of Manhat-tan, Ted Schreiber of St. John’s and Brant Alyea of Hofstra.
From the home-and-home series, you got to know the players in the Met Conference. City College had a squat little center fielder named Tim Sullivan who bravely wore No. 7 in a city with another outfielder bearing that number, and a junk-balling lefty named Lubomir Mlynar. (My Hofstra guys made fun of his nose and his name and his stuff – but they could hardly hit him.)
City College had an all-star third baseman, Weiss, who had missed a scholarship to NYU because of a bureaucratic slipup. He savored playing his good friend, Jerome Umano, the shortstop, whose NYU uniform had Johnny Pesky’s name sewed inside.
(Weiss would play well into his 70’s in adult hardball leagues, and is currently featured in a book about New York and baseball, Penance and Pinstripes: The Life Story of Ex-Yankee John Malangone, by Michael Harrison.)
NYU had a great history, sending Ralph Branca to the majors plus Eddie Yost, Sam Mele and my good friend, a two-sport star, Al Campanis, who had a war-time cameo with the Dodgers. They played on the uptown campus, right next to the Hall of Fame.
No New York team had ever reached the College World Series in Omaha until Goldsholl and Art Steeb pitched NYU there in 1956.
“I was warming up in Omaha before our first game against Arizona,” Goldsholl said Thursday. “The public-address announcer introduced the squads -- NYU, with a record of 16-4-1 and the University of Arizona, with a record of 45-6.”
Struck by the ludicrous disparity between northern baseball and southern baseball, Goldsholl said, “I just stopped throwing and started to laugh.”
NYU lost to Arizona and Wyoming. Goldsholl played two years in the Giants’ system, and later became a familiar New York voice. NYU gave up baseball after 1974 and moved from Division I to Division III and consolidated (to say the least) its presence in Greenwich Village.
The new players need not inspect their uniforms for any Red Sox names.
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.