More thoughts around Cal Ripken and others

So I’ve been thinking about my post of yesterday. It revovles around a conversation my best friend and I have been having for over 20 years now. (and we’ve come no closer to solving it – so I am sharing it).
When we were kids, and I admit I grew up in the media reduced 60’s and 70’s so the glare and spotlight were not shined on the private lives (and off field activies) of athletes. We as kids imortalized the athletes we watched. Bart Starr, Walter Payton were names that to me represented both great people (which they both are) as well as great athletes (which they both were).
Charles Barkley once said he was not a role model, but Walter Payton, Bart Starr and many others were role models. Men who worked hard and played a game they loved for fans they loved.
They played for one team. They played for the fans of one city.
But now, athetes are less admired then they were. Part of it is glare of the spotlight (ESPN – 24 hours of sports) generated by a massive influx of media sources.
But I think part of it is that athlete’s have forgotten how lucky they are. I don’t care how great anyone is, any athlete is one knee injury away from being average. We all are – there are things that can happen that will in fact make all of us average.
Ultimately I miss the days when I could idolize an athlete without performing a complete background check. And there are many athletes today who would pass that test. The thing is, we never hear about that. We never hear about the giving, only the taking that is done. Where once our athletes were idolized, now they are more stylized.
As my best friend and I have discussed, when did we stop. The why we stopped is pretty clear – you see it in front of you ever day. It’s the what that bothers me. We once had heros.
I still love sports. The beauty of sports is watching the mechanics of someone, knowing that physically they are doing something you can’t do. The thing that is missing for me is the hero, the person that you could model your life after. To paraphrase the song from the 80’s, "we need  a hero."
While I realize that my personal reaction to the change in sports is insignificant as is my person attempt to boycott all professional sporting events, I need someone to root for.
When I was little I had dozens of players to choose from. To me now it feels like there are so few.

Cal Ripken

I recently read an article about Cal Ripken Jr. I was always a fan of Mr. Ripken when he was playing. His honesty, dedication and sheer love of the game was always a joy to watch and enjoy.
I followed his streak for years, in the early days when he not only never missed a game, he even seldom missed an inning. Then later on when he got close to the Iron Man record I followed even closer.
I am not a Baltimore fan, never will be. But I was a Cal Ripken Jr. fan.
Since baseball Mr. Ripken has become like the rest of us, going to our regular jobs and doing the same thing everyday. I have to say that I think I admire him more now then I did as a player. His candor, honesty and love of baseball is something that I think we should applaud. He enters the hall of fame this year, but I think  we need to do something more.
Cal Ripken represents the part of baseball that I loved as a child. I was never a good baseball player. But I love the honesty (and Bull Durham fans – the Geometry) of the game. Baseball is a game of straight lines not curves and Mr. Ripken you represent one of the straightest lines baseball ever had.
I guess my call to action would be to make sure Mr. Ripken knows that his love of baseball, his honesty and dedication and honor will win him entrance to more than the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Thanks Mr. Ripken. You gave me many summers of enjoyment!

From here to there

On the telephone we ask "are you there."
that we are not here.
Yet asking, in knowing we are not here
why then do we not infer we are there?
So quietly
I say
"we are not there, we are here"
to the silence on the other end
which leaves confused silence
and confusion
a changing
"can I speak with…"
which answered
from here to there
is "can you speak?"
more silence
more rustling
until others intervence
and the here
and there
merge into a chatter
of like sounds and bells.
and I am left wondering
if we are here
and not there
then why, when others are not here
but there
do they ask are you there?