Desktop Sportsman (10/21/09)This week's Desktop Sportsman column from PCH sports editor Sean Scallon
By: Sean Scallon, Pierce County Herald
Way back when, after I had finished my first year as a page State Assembly while I was in college, I received a letter from one of the legislators named Harvey Stower, a fellow from a town up north I had never heard of before called Amery. It was a thank you letter, appreciating all the work we had done for him. No one else who was a member had sent such a letter or so much as a thank-you note. And indifference was least they could do given how many stories I had heard or things seen with my own eyes of pages being used for personal tasks or treated like dirt by the members.
But Harv’ said thank you, and that stuck with me for long time, long enough so that when I moved into this area, knowing Amery wasn’t too far away, I made it a point to call upon Harvey and his family when I came to town, be it for a tournament meet, a game, a match or just passing through. I valued our friendship at a time when I didn’t know too many people around here and he always opened his home for me. But as the years went on and my stops in Amery grew fewer, I didn’t see as much of old ‘Harv as I should have, knowing how his health was deteriorating. It is with profound regret and sadness that I have to say good-bye now at his passing a couple of weeks ago, putting my thoughts only on paper instead of in person. There’s a poem that was published in the Amery Free Press entitled “A Tribute to Harvey Stower” that will do on this occasion:
We travel life’s path, meet others on our way
Some will leave us, some stay
Stay for just a time or stay for journey far
But all we’ve met have now become a part of who we are
The quiet dignity, a knowing word
The kindness shown, the gentle smile
Some will last forever, some just for a while
The things about them we held dear
Become now, so they are near
Their goodness lives on in what they were
And become a part of all they’ve met
And they to one another and on to every other
Lives on in deeds we do and words we say
All of us are all the better for they have gone this way
Good-bye my friend. Requiem im Pacem.
— This poem could also be said of others I’ve met along the way and have passed in time: Jim Stohr, Katie Huppert, Phil Ottney, Richard Fuller, Bert Hoyer, Jackie Kosin, Nick Bayer, Dave Logghe.
— I don’t how many people I’ve met around here who say they were at Game 7 of the 1991 World Series at the Metrodome and say that it was one of the greatest sporting moments of their lives. I think those who were at the playoff game between the Twins and Tigers will no doubt say the same thing. It may be a little premature to say this was one of the greatest baseball games every played, but it had all the elements as such: an extra inning contest with the winner going to the playoffs, edge of your seat drama, great plays by Alexi Casilla to bring in the winning run and Carlos Gomez to score it, Joe Nathan to keep the Twins alive on the mound, Nick Punto in the field and Michael Cuddyer, Matt Tolbert and Orlando Caberra at the plate with an electric crowd of over 54,000 to watch it. No doubt in time, and it will be a short time, I will bump into persons who say they were there when the Twins won their final game in the Metrodome over the Tigers to clinch the AL Central for the fifth time in eight years.
— It just goes to show as I said a week ago, its great moments that make stadiums. For as maligned as the Metrodome was for baseball, one cannot deny all the great games that have been played there . As we look back at all those moments, I would say there will be some wistful nostalgia for the ‘Dome, especially when it’s snowing in early October in the Twin Cities and Twins wrap up their regular season with a night game at Target Field. Yes they will remember and say “Remember when we played the Tigers in that playoff game and we were nice a toasty warm while the weather was brutal outside?”
— All that effort spent to win a regular season tie-breaker just to play the Yankees. As said this past summer, even if the Twins make the playoffs they would still be first round fodder to the Yanks or Angels. Although it must be said the Twins played as competitively as they could in difficult circumstances and sometimes it seems as if they’re snakebit against New York. But it also must be said the Twins had their opportunities that they didn’t take advantage of.
— Speaking of playing well down the stretch (as opposed to the Tigers grand choke of becoming the only major league baseball team in history to give up a three-game lead with four games left to play), the Brewers did play well enough in Septemember to reach 80 wins for the season. Unlike the Twins, they had a little tougher division to make a late season run in. Still, with the Brewers their offseason mission is clear: Get more and better pitching to go with all their good hitters. The Twins have a more complicated picture this offeseason in terms of moving around players and finding new additions. But one thing is clear, they have set in motion the process to make sure Joe Mauer stays a Twin for the foreseeable future. If he was ever lost in free agency, it would be devastating to the franchise for years to come. They need to sign up Mauer to play in the new stadium and they need to start now.
— Vengeance is mine sayeth Favre! Well yes, Brett Favre got back at Ted Thompson and all those in Green Bay who said he couldn’t play anymore (or was it Deanna Farve who got revenge?) by beating the Packers in the Metrodome, although he’s said the same thing himself many times. Now that that sideshow is done with (or almost given Farve’s return to Green Bay) he can concentrate on leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl, which he has done a good job of so far. Exciting wins over San Francisco and Baltimore show Favre’s arm and instincts have aged well. Whether it lasts and how long it lasts is the $64,000 question. It wouldn’t take much to turn Favre into the old gunslinger’ once again, especially if the Vikings’ defense doesn’t begin to play better or if Adrian Peterson goes down with an injury. Then the Vikings become last year’s Jets.
—Is it just me or are we witnessing some pretty awful football in the NFL this season (I feel bad for Nick Schommer to be a part of the winless Titans, latest loss 59-0)? It may very well be that these things are cyclical, but I also think its a surface of a building volcano that may erupt on the league by 2012. Some of the aforementioned doggy teams include very shaky franchises that can’t sell out their stadiums during these bad economic times like Jacksonville, or are in decaying cities like Buffalo or have ownership problems like St. Louis. Some of them have owners that have become senile like Al Davis in Oakland and Ralph Wilson in Buffalo, or who are just plain idiots like Daniel Snyder in Washington. Whatever is going on two future momentous events could affect the game in the next few season. One is a possible players lockout in 2011 and the other is a new stadium in Los Angeles. Don’t be surprised if the NFL puts two franchises in there, an NFC and an AFC team to share the stadium just like in New York. The problem is there are seven candidates: San Diego, Oakland, Jacksonville (although they would move to Orlando if they get a new stadium there), St. Louis, Buffalo and yes, the Vikings if nothing gets done by the end of 2011. This Vikings team and season and even Brett Favre may have more riding on it than people realize.
— I prefer that college football wait four weeks into the season before ranking teams. It saves said teams the embarrassment of being ranked and being “upset” by another club even though your may very well have been overrated by so-called experts and analysts to begin with. There’s nothing one can do about this. A team cannot control where it is ranked or what people choose to say about it, but it just seems to me to be a little unfair to heap expectations on a team before they have earned. A good example of why it’s good to avoid this is the University of Wisconsin football team. They were 5-0 and unraked (in the AP anyway) before playing Ohio State and Iowa. Many people wondered why and now they know the answer. Wisconsin is simply not ready to be a Top 25 team, yet. If they run the table and go 10-2 they may very well be ranked but at least at that point they will have earned that ranking rather than have it bestowed upon them, then yanked away with a loss.