This Week’s Book Review – Sports Makes You Type Faster

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Book Review

Jenkins shows he’s still in the game

By MARK LARDAS

Sep 18, 2018

”Sports Makes You Type Faster: The Entire World of Sports by One of America’s Most Famous Sportswriters,” by Dan Jenkins, Texas Christian University Press, 2018, 176 pages, $32

Dan Jenkins is a sports reporter. He writes in a way that has made him legendary. If you can name only one sports writer, it is probably Dan Jenkins.

“Sports Makes You Type Faster: The Entire World of Sports by One of America’s Most Famous Sportswriters,” by Dan Jenkins is his latest, which is a collection of original essays.

Jenkins has been a professional sports writer since the early 1950s. This book, demonstrates he is still in the game seven decades later. In many ways it is a retrospective of his career. He touches on all aspects of his experiences; a sportswriter, a child growing up in love with sports, as a student athlete and simply as a fan.

It includes personal reminiscences, pieces on sports history, profiles of famous athletes (many known personally by Jenkins), examinations of different sports, and a lot of short stories. All demonstrate Jenkin’s distinctive humor.

In many pieces, Jenkins may be writing, but others speak: college football recruiter Red Dog Hawkins, the professional football player convinced by his “woke” girlfriend to demonstrate patriotism by burning an American flag in a Texas stadium parking lot; baseball player Big Boo Childers, who cannot figure out how to be the man of the house; and race car groupie Maxine Hubbard making the book tour about her tell-all, among others. Jenkins uses these to skewer the sport’s absurdities. He is equal opportunity in his skewering. At least one piece will leave a reader cheering; at least one howling “no fair.” Jenkins obviously loves sports, yet is unafraid to expose its flaws.

Much of the book is devoted to Jenkins’ favorite sports: college and professional football, baseball and golf. Yet the breadth of the sports Jenkins covers is impressive. Jenkins spends a turn on about everything: basketball, tennis, track and field, winter sports, and car racing. He even has a chapter on air racing.

Those who are sports fans, especially readers who enjoy Dan Jenkins’s writing, will want to read “Sports Makes You Type Faster.” Those who dislike sports will likely still find it an entertaining reading. Jenkins has the knack for writing amusing and entertaining prose.

 Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.


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Tennis Officials Are Clearly Sexist

This is the data from Yahoo News.

Here are some of the biggest fines, from the New York Times:

  • Racket Abuse — Men 646, Women 99
  • Audible Obscenity — Men 344, 140
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct — Men 287, Women 67
  • Verbal Abuse — Men 62, Women 16
  • Ball Abuse — Men 49, Women 35
  • Visible Obscenity — Men 20, Women 11

______________________

There is only one way to read this data. The officials are deeply prejudiced against men. I think if we dig deeper we will find that they had problems with their fathers. I think Congress should hold hearings and the Tennis Federation should pay money to these men who were so shabbily treated. I think only officials who access penalties equally between the sexes should be able to work.

 

(H/T instapundit.com)


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This Week’s Book Review – Battle of the Brazos

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Book Review

‘Battle of the Brazos’ a fascinating sports and mystery story

By MARK LARDAS

Aug 29, 2018

“Battle of the Brazos: A Texas Football Rivalry, a Riot, and a Murder,” by T. G. Webb, Texas A&M University Press, 2018, 184 pages, $27

Football is often compared to war.

“Battle of the Brazos: A Texas Football Rivalry, a Riot, and a Murder,” by T. G. Webb shows what happens when fans overdo that analogy.

The book relates events from an October 30, 1926, football game between Baylor University and the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (today Texas A&M University). Interscholastic rivalry flared into a halftime riot. One A&M cadet died.

Astonishingly, the game resumed after the riot and was played to completion. More astonishingly, although the fatal assault occurred before thousands of spectators, the perpetrator was never caught. The crime was never officially solved.

Webb examines all aspects of this incident. He opens with a history of college football in Texas. This includes the increasingly bitter rivalry between two of the Texas schools on the Brazos River: Baylor and Texas A&M. The annual matchup soon became labeled “The Battle of the Brazos.” Webb shows how both student bodies took that title too seriously. In the 1920s, incidents of increasing violence accompanied games before the fatal 1926 riot.

Webb provides a detailed study of the 1926 game. He looks at the buildup to the game, taking readers through a step-by-step examination of its events, including the halftime riot. He follows this by relating the aftermath of the riot. He shows how the schools reacted and what both schools did afterward. (He also peels away some myths. Despite many stories there is no evidence the Aggies commandeered a train to take a cannon to Waco to avenge the death.)

Webb also examines the mystery of who killed the cadet, and why the culprit was never caught. He offers several reasons contributing to the crime’s going unsolved. It was suspected the assailant was related to a politically connected Waco family. State law enforcement was primitive. A hired private investigator lacked authority to compel witnesses to speak. He came close to identifying the assailant, but lacked sufficient proof to obtain an indictment.

“Battle of the Brazos” is a fascinating mix of sports history and true crime mystery. Webb’s book offers insight to a bygone era in Texas sports.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.


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Sports Wednesday: 2018-8-15 The In-gate is Open

As the sun sets on the ides of August, I bring you one of the most annoying things that can happen at a horse show: the open in-gate.  An open in-gate is exactly what it sounds like…the entrance to the arena is empty. Everyone is waiting for the next competitor.  The judge is annoyed.  The other competitors are cooling their jets trying to quash their nerves, worried that their trainer is going to put them in out of order.  There is gossip about the inexperienced trainer who is somewhere else, holding up the show.

In the end, the trainer arrives, the competitor enters the arena–the show goes on.  Everyone is polite,  an apology is offered, a laugh is shared.

I’m holding up the show, keeping the in-gate open. When I come back, ready to actually post, I will tell you how to enjoy a hunter/jumper horse show. Now may be a good time to hit the porta-potty or get a snack.  Just remember, the horse world is very small. If you say something about this missed commitment, it will get back to me and I’ll tell everyone about how you jumped that oxer backwards in the warm-up ring.


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Wednesday Sports: Ski Down K2? “Nie Ma Problem!”

So this góral named Andrzej Bargiel decided to climb K2 carrying his favorite pair of skis, then ski down. He asked his brother Bartek to bring up the snacks and take the drone footage. His brother said sure.

This was on July 22, 2018; a report made it into the August issue of Polish-American Journal. I was so relaxed and comfortable in my reading chair, despite ink glomming on my fingers from the exercise of turning the pages of the print edition, when this shocking report destroyed the peace of that athletic endeavor.

From the PAJ item:

Andrzej Bargiel, 30, has become the first person to ski down the world’s second-highest  mountain.  With skis in hand, the highlander from Zakopane climbed the 28,251-foot peak and skied back down to base camp intact.

He didn’t  use any oxygen.

The downhill “run” took him a little over seven hours. When you look at the drone camera footage, you can see that it was seven hours at steepness rating “Ridiculous”.

 Last year, he had attempted the same daredevil feat but had to abandon the bid due to bad weather. . .

There are moments in the footage when cloud obscures everything. What can you do if the cloud settles in for a few days as you sit there on a 45- or 50-degree slope of snow with a crevasse on either side?

. . . Three years ago, Bargiel became the first skier in the world to descend from the nearby 26,295-foot Broad Peak. He has now skied from the summits of five of the 14 highest mountains.

Here is another good compilation of the day’s footage.

The górale of the Tatra Mountains are famed for mountaineering and for the white-wooled sheep they raise. The traditional images are like these:

Nowadays, it’s bye-bye Tatras and hello Karakorums.

It’s a different look.

And there are no sheep to rescue on K2!

Is this nuts?  Of course it is admirable and valuable to pursue excellence and expand its definition. And of course, if someone has skills, he feels compelled to exercise them and perfect them. But suppose you had his talents: would you look around for an application of them that produced immediate practical benefit?  Or would consider it simply a good, even a necessity, to keep up and advance the traditional skills just so one’s descendants can do daring rescue ops on Luna some day? What do Ratburgers think?


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The San Antonio Spurs Can Go To Hell

Get a load of this: Spurs’ Lonnie Walker Says He ‘Will Never Celebrate 4th of July.’ From the article:

Lonnie Walker IV, the recently selected 1st round pick of the San Antonio Spurs, took to Twitter on Independence Day, to say that he “will never celebrate 4th of July.”

The tweet read: “Will never celebrate 4th of July. Know your history!! and stay woke.”

Between this and Gregg Popovich’s sub-literate anti-Trump blatherings, I have never before seen a team so determined to alienate their fan base.

After all, San Antonio is known as “Military City, USA.” Who is running the Spurs nowadays, Mullah Omar?


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Diplomacy, Machiavelli, and the Art of the Deal

Per EThompson’s recommendation in the comments to my last post, I will share James Day Hodgdon’s verse on Machiavellianism and diplomacy from American Senryu:

Cynics first dictum:
For persuasion to succeed,
Conceal the intent.

Hodgson explains:

“Polls show that the title ‘diplomat’ draws a reaction of great respect among the public. How puzzling! From the time of Machiavelli through Metternich and beyond, diplomacy has been associated with duplicity. Can it be that the triumph of the diplomat lies in his ability to use tools associated with duplicity to fashion a humane result? Possibly.”

Like Ronald Reagan with the fall of the Soviet Bloc a generation earlier, Donald Trump has made great progress toward a goal once thought impossible: peace on the Korean Peninsula.  Trump’s success is a direct result of spurning the conventional wisdom and hidebound ideologies of both the left and right.

That observation is just as applicable on the domestic front.  Buckleyite conservatism is the political equivalent of prevent defense in American football: ceding ground to the opponent for the purpose of achieving victory.  Such an approach has not worked and will never work. One cannot win by continuously retreating.  Any ideology that advocates such must be rejected outright.

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She Only Talks That Way To The Cat

Like Mark Steyn, I love cats and am not afraid to admit it.

In my life, I’ve had three: a Japanese bobtail named Woody, a calico American shorthair named Lindy (named after Green Bay Packers head coach Lindy Infante), and a Maine Coon named Dusty.

Sadly, they all passed to their eternal reward years ago, but their memories live on. I know my life would have been poorer without them.

So, what pets bring or have brought joy to my fellow Ratburghers’ lives?


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The Green Jacket

I’m a little wistful this afternoon missing the glory days of Tiger Woods (dysfunctional personal life aside). He was fun, he was young, and I loved the Tiger Fist Pumps  …

However, congratulations to a fine young American today for this:

The Clinching Putt: 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed 

It’s hard enough to earn the right to even play on this course let alone win on it!!


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George, Stick to Baseball

I just read this from one of my former favorite writers. He used to never disappoint. Things change. I am talking about George Will.

Here is the article.
https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/02/billy-graham-legacy-neither-prophet-nor-theologian/

What I found so confusing is Will not understanding the different “positions” in the “game”. It was like saying “Hank Aaron neither pitcher nor coach” as if that meant something. Billy Graham was what he was. He wasn’t a prophet. He wasn’t a college professor teaching theology. And he wasn’t a pastor. He didn’t “play” those “positions”.

I still enjoy when George Will writes about baseball.


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Assault rifles age limit helps Christmas shoppers

I saw a bunch of articles in the past few days that mentioned one initiative proposed to help forestall future mass shootings by mentally troubled youths.  The proposal is to raise the age limit required for a youngster to attain before he is allowed to purchase an “assault rifle” on his own.

In their rush to press forward any and all limitations on guns, eager beaver journalists rushed to state capitols all around to get soundbite quotes from politicians.  In red states they tried to buttonhole Republicans, looking for quotes that could be used during electioneering later this year.   In my state, they raced around the Tennessee capitol and got a number of GOP officials to opine on some proposals that they might be willing to consider or at least permit debate on.  I was amused, sort of, by some of the Surrender Caucus saying their usual weaselly things.

I laughed out loud, though, at one passage.  This is from an article in the dead tree pulp edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal that soiled my driveway this morning.   I did not check, but since it is probably behind their paywall, I transcribed by favorite section below.  The article has a byline by Joel Ebert of the USA Today Network.

House Speaker Beth Harwell said she was unfamiliar with the issue regarding bump stocks and wanted to study it further before reaching a decision.   “I’m certainly, with the President of the United States supporting it, it certainly makes it high profile and gives it credibility.  I’d have to study the issue a little bit more” she said.

Harwell declined to answer a question about raising the age to buy assault weapons, noting that she recently purchased one for her son.   “When that’s the only thing he wants for Christmas, what do you do, right?” she rhetorically asked.

Har har har har, hoo hoo hoo.   Journalists want to raise the age for her son to purchase the weapon she just gave him for Christmas.   Of course; this is a great answer.   It is already really hard to find good Christmas gifts for teenage sons, so, if they cannot buy the assault rifle they want, it simply goes under the Christmas tree.  Win-win!

Representative Harwell is running for governor of Tennessee.  This just makes me even more inclined favorably to her candidacy than before.   I don’t know her sons’ ages, but I have no doubt that Tennessee is a more safe place because they are armed.