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Category: Sports

skates, horses, sails and stones

by Andrea Elizabeth

Since they’re not being broadcasted on network tv, I subscribed to watch the World Figure Skating Championships on-line. I didn’t realize that just the pairs short program was going to take over 3 hours. The networks really pare it down for tv, only showing the top contenders.

I’m noticing that my favorite sports are co-ed, which are equestrian events, and pair skating and ice dancing. Equestrian events are less about men and women working together than about the synergy between horse and rider. Sailing is also co-ed apparently. I saw an article that said that men and women perform equally well at curling too, so why isn’t that co-ed?

It seems these co-ed sports require a vehicle. So there’s something about the way humans handle tools and animals that is universal. Other sports are more about muscle power, so that’s the inequality there. Skating isn’t officially co-ed because there’s such a difference in the men’s and women’s roles when skating together. That makes it even more interesting to me.

Work ethic

by Andrea Elizabeth

New developments about Whitney Houston’s financial situation bring to light another societal issue. Yesterday when I mentioned reinventing onesself, or struggling to keep up the same level of performance, I did not consider the idea of having to because of mounting debts. I was thinking of it more aesthetically. Paying the bills is a sad fact of life. The psychology going into it is pretty interesting, however.

I try to keep bills low so that I don’t have to work as hard – or actually, because I find hard work pretty stressful physically and emotionally. I wonder if there is a comparison to working out. Ricky Gervais said today on The View that he eats and drinks a lot, and a couple of years ago decided that he needs to intensely work out an hour every day to keep control of his weight. I’d rather eat less.

Then there’s the idea of achievement. That goes back to aesthetics. For now I’ll put conscience and moral responsibility in that category too. How much effort is required of us? There’s the minimum, low budget, but pay your own bills with low spending attitude, and then there’s a more competitive, or accomplishment oriented mindset too. And this doesn’t have to be selfish. One can be really driven to spend a lot of energy helping others. I just got stressed.

I like Stephen King’s work ethic that he describes in On Writing. He is very serious about writing a certain amount every day. Yet I don’t get the feeling it’s drudgery for him, though sometimes it is. In general, I get the feeling he enjoys what he does, and it is enjoyable to read him. The only fiction book of his that I’ve read is The Girl Who Liked Tom Gordon, and had to put one or two others down because they were too crude. But I’ve seen a lot of the edited for tv movies, which I quite enjoy. George is reading one of his newest, 11/22/63, which he says is cleaner than his others. It doesn’t seem that Stephen King finds it that big a deal to be number one, which is probably why he is, or is close to it, in sales.

In sports, however, being number one is all-important. We watched Money Ball the other day where it is pointed out that the only team that gets respect is the team that wins the last game of the year. It was stressful for me to watch it as I haven’t been able to watch any type of team sports since the upset at the World Series last fall. The last game is too important and the stakes are too high. There are die-hard fans of lesser teams, which I suppose means that they aren’t afraid to die a slow death every year. It’s too hard for me.

This is not to say I’m not competitive. I have my field of interest. And I worry that when I get to heaven I’m not going to achieve the position I want. I need to adopt Stephen King’s work ethic.

Other less positive motivations for working hard are informatively discussed in this psychologist’s blog:  http://njpsychdoc.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/do-the-careers-of-child-abuse-survivors-mirror-the-abuse/ Very interesting.

Perfection

by Andrea Elizabeth

With culture’s obsession with youth, what are aging pop stars supposed to do? Either somehow keep their youth by artificial means or go and hide until they die? After some pictures of Macaulay Culkin’s gaunt appearance made the rounds last weekend, I heard an interview where he said he’s become a recluse. Other stars like Greta Garbo also went underground after they started declining. Some famous people, like Roger Staubach, have been able to reinvent themselves to adjust to aging, but it seems a lot can’t make the transition to something less glamorous. Glamorous is too shallow a word. Popular, or more specifically, our culture’s idea of perfection is more accurate.

Before I criticize that ideal, I have heard from Orthodox the saying that “love demands perfection.” Yesterday I heard someone comment that they prefer to remember so and so how they were 20 years ago. Maybe it was about Bruce Springsteen at the Grammy’s. I think maybe it is mostly the public’s reaction to fading looks and talent that makes these stars hide. There is very intense negativity when someone gains weight, when their face sags, when their voice cracks. People don’t want to put up with it. And should they? If someone isn’t strong enough to keep up appearances, what should they do?

Accept a dwindling amount of admiration, I suppose. Admiration is a hard thing to handle in the first place. So should no one capitalize on their talents when they are blooming so as to prevent the inevitable decline? I don’t think so. They just need to be better prepared for that eventuality. Nothing lasts forever. And I don’t want to give advice on how they should redirect themselves.

May God have mercy on Whitney Houston’s soul, whatever the cause of her death.

nominalism, the second for today

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m reading The Gulag Archipelago more intently today because my life is calming down for the moment, and I don’t want to have to recheck it from the library a third time. In addition to individuality, since letting myself get sucked back into caring about a sports team, I’m also thinking about identification with groups. A universalist would say there exists a higher concept of the idea of “group” even. I say groups exist voluntarily, even if you aren’t the one who volunteered yourself, someone else did. Your parents, and theirs, are responsible for where you are born which makes you affiliated with others in a certain location. There are many choices in the past that are variables in the idiosyncrasies of a certain geographic group making it possible to make some generalizations. People still have a choice as to whether to keep these traits or adopt new ones. Some people keep their accents, for example, while others don’t.

Last week while the Rangers looked like they would win the World Series for their very first time, I would have talked more about the ontological qualities of Texans that made it possible. While I wont do that now, I have a lingering impression that a name has a tremendous psychological effect, which is why there are podiatrists named Dr. Foot. The Rangers seemed to be overcoming their franchise’s traditional reputation, though not entirely. There was greatness in the ’70’s that the Oakland A’s kept trumping, but it was there. I don’t want to blame Micheal Young for the defeats last week, but it did not bode well with me when he said before the first game that people need to quit saying the Cardinals are mediocre and look at all the World Series wins they’ve garnered and show some respect. He brought traditional reputation, not present individual ability, not that that was lacking, to the forefront, and I think it had a daunting effect. He’s their morale spokesperson so he sets the tone. Therefore I think the Rangers identification with how they’ve never been able to rise to the very top influenced how they played. I don’t think it had to be that way. But if you are a winner, tapping into a winning reputation can be a momentum booster, especially if it’s the other team reminding you of it, Michael!

A name is like a habit. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it needs to be overcome. A person has a choice.

Essence and energies, fatherhood and baseball

by Andrea Elizabeth

I have explored the idea that the essence/energies distinction enables multiple objects to co-exist. One thing doesn’t get totally absorbed or annihilated in union with another. One popular way of self-preservation is to place oneself as preeminent. This has the effect of annihilating the other instead. Or one can disappear, so to speak, in order to let the other have a place. But is this spoiling the other? Or does it place too great a burden on the other to take turns so that they don’t feel selfish. Ideally both feel fulfilled in relationship. This is where needs are met without selfishness. Is a child selfish when it is receiving food and shelter from its parents? They shouldn’t feel that way. Parents seem to hold that over their head as a manipulative tool though when they imply that the children owe them for it. When someone is in need, we owe them to help fulfill it. To not do so is neglect. To do so doesn’t mean that more is owed back. “Each according to their need” is provided by the Father with human cooperation. To not cooperate is to be in a person’s debt. “Forgive us our debts,” in Orthodox teaching, is about when we don’t give to others according to their need when it was ours to fulfill it, not necessarily for a breach of voluntary contract. Selfishness is when needs are met in sinful ways. When we take things that aren’t ours.

I just saw a PBS documentary about a sperm donor and his “children”, who as older teenagers have sought him out after he revealed his donor number. He is basically a beach hippie who had been an “exotic dancer” and was also somewhat of a philosopher. He believed most things weren’t real and wouldn’t last (annihilation), but also in “I”ness (everything but me will be annihilated). He also had an icon of Mary who he considered the cosmic mother, and he regularly prayed for and blessed, after he smoked something out of a pop bottle contraption, the mothers and all the countless souls that had emanated from him. Four of the donor siblings (a fifth didn’t want to go) said they felt a positive energy after they arranged a reunion with him. And they also knew not to expect anything from him (except honesty), but felt good that he was there, nice spirited, if paranoid about conspiracy theories, and not some disembodied liquid in a frozen test tube. If he believed in the I-ness of himself and other souls and animals, it seems he did not believe in cosmic re-absorption. Maybe he believed in the beatific vision of essences that does not share energies. Regarding other things being of limited existence, he may have somewhat of a point. The children that he spawned are eternal beings whom he helped bring into the world. They have grown up with the physical gap of the lack of his presence, but did seem to have somewhat of his spirit about them, which they commented on. The California donor facility also played a part in their conception, including the rooms with the visual aids. I tried to observe any affect that had on the kids, and it’s hard to sort out if the way the girls dressed was a result of that or because almost all available clothing is of that type these days. Yet to have that be such an exaggerated aspect of their origination must do something. However, I got the sense that 20 years later, it had been diluted, if not annihilated altogether.

Regarding the mothers, they had entered into an agreed-upon contract with him to preserve his anonymity with no expectations, and desired no continued involvement. All but one, the one whose daughter had initiated the reunions, appeared at least hesitant about their children’s curiosity and subsequent actions. That same daughter was the most open to subsequent involvement while the others kept a safe, “oh, so that’s who he is” attitude.

I didn’t post this the other day when I wrote it, and now, after watching the exhausting game 6 of the World Series, I’ll tie this post into baseball. The pitcher is like the father. The best ones put a lot of action on the ball. It is not a piece of trash that they are getting rid of and don’t care about after it leaves their possession. Some pray over it, some talk to it, but all have a committed interest in how it leaves their hand and how what they do to it will affect its future. The batter is like the mother, very tuned into the pitcher and how they can best receive and also guide the ball. The outfielders are like the community who want the ball properly placed and guided back to the pitcher. Homeruns, well I guess they go to heaven. In the world, that would be that they are able to transcend all obstacles and reach new heights of achievement. It’s sad that the pitcher and batter are often on different teams. That could be like divorce or even the situation above. Teams oppose each other because of the fall and ultimately the battle with demons. Both those in your own team and those in the other’s. Either way, nothing is annihilated. Everything has eternal significance in that it influences the course of the game, even if some things are forgotten, or are very distant, for now.

playoffs

by Andrea Elizabeth

If Texas wins the American League Title against Detroit, which it looks like they may at 2 and 0, then they will either play Milwaukee or St. Louis in the World Series. In light of the new PBS miniseries on Prohibition that aired last weekend, it is interesting that Arlington, home of the Rangers, was completely dry when I was a kid, and now you can only buy beer there. St. Louis and Milwaukee have different reputations.

Apparently however, beer was allowed at Arlington Stadium even in the ’70’s, as this Wiki article on the “10 Cent Beer Night” riot details. Unbelievable.

God, athletes and money

by Andrea Elizabeth

Josh Hamilton, last year’s red hot batter for the Rangers, is pleased with the results of his negotiations with the club over his salary. They just agreed to give him $24 million in the next two years. It seems to me like incredible hubris to ask for that much. Here’s how he defends it: “The talks, they’ve obviously gotten better,” Hamilton said Monday. “Like I’ve said before, it’s not just about me and what I’m going to get, but it’s about the guys coming after me and doing the same things for those guys that the guys in front of me did. The biggest thing is just being fair.”

Nolan Ryan and co. just spent millions of their own dollars buying the indebted Rangers last summer. A large part of the debt was due to A-Rod’s outrageous promised salary. He still gets boo-ed when he comes back to Texas. I guess this all goes back to the infamous player strikes back in ’94 which canceled the last part of the season, including the playoffs and the World Series, which hadn’t happened since 1904.

The dispute was played out with a backdrop of years of hostility and mistrust between the two sides. What arguably stood in the way of a compromise settlement was the absence of an official commissioner ever since the owners forced Fay Vincent to resign in September 1992. Vincent described the situation this way:

“The Union basically doesn’t trust the Ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players. I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it’s the reason Fehr has no trust in Selig.”[1]

So because of a couple of high up crooks, now all the players have license to ask for the sky, no matter if a team can afford it or not. My feeling is that the players probably had a pretty nice life before the strike, even though Bud and Jerry had a nicer one, comparatively speaking. Their actions make them seem jealous of crooks. But the fact that there are hundreds of millions of dollars available for the most intimidating person or group points to a different problem to me. The high cost of tickets. Rangers regular season fans will pay from $7 for the players to look like ants, to $425 to see the best games over the batter’s shoulder. Since the Rangers went to the World Series last year, the stadium will probably be a lot fuller this year, and ticket prices have risen. I’ve heard they’re getting a large (not by Cowboys’ standards) LCD screen this year, the first major improvement since George W. built the new stadium which opened in ’94, right before the strike.

When I was a kid I sat in the nosebleed section of the old stadium, and enjoyed the game as a fan. When I was a single mother I went to the new stadium with some church friends who had company seats in the nice section. Too bad I wasn’t into the Rangers at that time to appreciate them to their fullest. I thought the new stadium was very nice, but not necessary. What do I know? George and I took the kids to a game a few years ago and I mostly enjoyed the crowd dynamics from the upper levels. The wave is cool. The players were too small and I wasn’t into the Rangers then either. Now that they’re a winning team, I’m thinking about going again, as I have become interested due to their recent success. Fickle me. George’s childhood passion was baseball, but for the Pirates. He’s liked the Rangers for a while, for some reason. He kind of likes the Cowboys, but mostly he’s a Steeler’s unhappy fan since Sunday. He may like the Rangers better than the Pirates since he moved down here. I’ll have to ask.

I’m at the point now where I’ll probably want better seats than the outfield high up bleachers. I’m more into analyzing every move, than just what the count is, as I was when I was a kid. With modern technology, that is more democratically available with a large screen, but to me it’s weird to go to a stadium to watch the game that way. At least they can do the wave. Anyway, to fill the stadium you have to have a winning team, and so the better players will demand the bigger bucks. Perhaps the profits are more equitably distributed now between the players and the owners, but it’s still such an outrageous amount of money. Apparently it’s based on supply and demand. The supply of good players is rare, and demand is high, so the price is high. Now we’re getting into capitalism.

I believe valuable things should be rare and achieved by much effort. This goes along with Orthodox who believe in running the race for the prize. Seems to me prizes are set by the owners of the game. Strikes and revolutions seem like activities of whiners for the most part, but I’ll not negate the abuse that usually instigates them, as I’ve already talked about above. I just wish people were happier with less. The desire for more never ends.

What’s to keep the possessors of rare talents from heaping up exorbitant rewards available in mass markets? A lot of them end up being huge contributors of charities. Still, you know they are skimming off the top. But that’s as it was in the Bible when Jesus talked about the widow’s mite. The less you have, the more the sacrifice. I don’t see that it can be helped. It seems to me individuals should learn to control their greed, but I’ll not hold my breath for that to happen, even in my lazy, gluttonous self. I think George would think me a better wife if I bought us some Ranger tickets than gouged the eyes out of some potatoes.

Well, I didn’t get to God, except for sideways about the widow’s mite. I wanted to talk about highly paid praying players who think themselves examples, (h/t Ochlophobist). I’ll just say maybe they are and maybe they aren’t as I don’t know where the Spirit isn’t. I think God may smile on their prayers and give them some favorable winds from time to time, but I don’t think he’s on one side’s team over another because of what he said to Joshua.

Cliff Lee and David B

by Andrea Elizabeth

My curiosity about what David B. Hart is up to and my subsequent curiosity on whether Cliff Lee is going to stay with the Rangers (probably not) met each other in the former’s First Things article, “A Perfect Game”. He is a delight to read. However, I’m glad he identifies his views as Platonic, and not Orthodox in the piece. My intuition lines up more with his Buddhist and Biblical comparisons with baseball, which seem more incarnational than his elusive Platonist forms.

In his later philosophy, Heidegger liked to indulge in eccentric etymologies because he was certain that there are truths deeply hidden in language. It is one of the more beguilingly magical aspects of his thought and therefore—to my mind—one of the more convincing. Consider, for instance, the wonderful ambiguity one finds in the word invention when one considers its derivation. The Latin invenire means principally “to find,” “to encounter,” or (literally) “to come upon.” Only secondarily does it mean “to create” or “to originate.” Even in English, where the secondary sense has now entirely displaced the primary, the word retained this dual connotation right through the seventeenth century. This pleases me for two reasons. The first is that, as an instinctive Platonist, I naturally believe that every genuine act of human creativity is simultaneously an innovation and a discovery, a marriage of poetic craft and contemplative vision that captures traces of eternity’s radiance in fugitive splendors here below by translating our tacit knowledge of the eternal forms into finite objects of reflection, at once strange and strangely familiar. The second is that the word’s ambiguity helps me to formulate my intuitions regarding the ultimate importance of baseball.

There are things I recognize in the above as pertaining to being made in the image of God, but the pathos and melancholy he describes throughout is about the elusiveness. One can tell he identifies with the batter in his descriptions and how low the odds are that he’ll hit a home run when he comes to bat. While I was watching the playoffs this year, I was identifying with the pitcher. Here is my psychological evaluation of Mr. Hart.

He has a very complicated relationship with his father and thus with God. The pitcher to him is the powerful almighty who is trying to trip him up, but if he’s good enough, he can anticipate and use the pitcher’s power for his own ends. He can’t win his approval, but he can beat him. This possibility sustains him even when most efforts fail. These failures inspire him to constantly outdo himself. Hence DBH’s over achievement in reading and writing. I think his writing can be classified as pretty consistent home runs though. Face to face, maybe not so much, which is what he’s upset about with his dad.

The pitcher to me has to be constantly aware of everyone and what they are doing. Pitching is like serving dinner on time while making sure the laundry’s done and the pool filter behind my back isn’t getting clogged up with leaves. One miscalculation or negligence will ruin everything and it’s “Good-bye baseball” as my favorite announcer, Dick Risenhoover, RIP, used to say.

beards et al

by Andrea Elizabeth

According to Tolstoy in War and Peace, wars, victories and defeats are products of countless variables. In examining the current World Series, I’d like to list a few.

Intimidating beards. Though the Giants made use of theirs during the first two games, our Jeff Francoeur, who was last at bat during game 2, sent a chilling message back to them with his. This is a major reason the Rangers won game 3.

Home-field advantage. This is needed for the less stout of heart. The Giants’ hearts seem to have no lack of stoutness.

Experience. This is needed more in Texas than in San Francisco too. Colby Lewis got his in Japan. Josh Hamilton got his fighting addictions. We’ll see tonight if Cliff Lee has enough (actually I have other plans and wont be able to watch).

God. Josh and Neftali Feliz give him the glory for their awesome successes, but the Giants’ Edgar Renteria’s right there crossing himself too. I’ve never seen so many praying fans as I did Saturday night in Arlington before the Rangers’ win. Not so Sunday night, the devil’s holiday, during the Giants’ third dominating win. But if God is on the Rangers’ side, it could be that they need to be taught more humility and Christ-likeness through the agony of defeat. It’s a tough call. Some people don’t totally resurrect until the last day. Finally going to the World Series after 39 years and winning at least one of the games will have to do for now.

The Rangers, Indians, animals and women

by Andrea Elizabeth

‘He [H.L. Mencken] … conducted an epistolary debate on individualism with a socialist acquaintance that eventually appeared in book form as Men versus the ManMen versus the Man shows how his political thinking had solidified — hardened, really. The law of the survival of the fittest, he declares, is “immutable,” thus making socialism an absurdity; human progress is the product of the will to power, and all social arrangements failing to take this fact into account are doomed to failure; inequality is natural, even desirable, both in and of itself and as an alternative to mob rule; the world exists to be run by “the first-caste man.” ‘(quote in this very interesting, though sometimes disturbing, article by John Derbyshire. H/T facebook friend)

My newly awakened sense of ‘go get ’em’ in this World Series bid is leading me back to my individualistic political mindset. By the way, it is interesting to me that the article links individualism with nationalism, which is a group identity. I disagree with the point made about inequality, but see how one must accept a certain version of it to promote individualism. We do not all have the same abilities. My view on education has been that everyone can learn. I have not thought that much about can everyone think. I think my opinion about this comes largely from having a brother who was born with some brain damage. In many ways I think he was put in a category and not challenged enough. I think he could have excelled more than he did but for the “tyranny of low expectations” (G.W. Bush). I sense that tyranny in some places of the article.

On the other hand, for two of our six children it seems that most subjects come easier and more naturally to them than the other four, though of course they all excel in their own ways. The article does give a nod to people whose strengths do not match the current demand, and that this demand may change in time. For those two sons, however, it seems they have less blocks to learning. The wheels seem more greased. I think that everyone’s mind has a capacity to explore an infinite variety of subjects to an infinite degree, and some people’s bodies let them go further than others (because of the fall) in either sense. Inheritance (instead of “nature”), nurture, and will contribute to which limitations are placed on us. But we are not made to be limited. Our wills (still possibly shaped by inheritance and nurture) will keep us individuals though, even if all limitations are someday removed.

So here we are with varying strengths in varying areas. What about nationalism, which I’ll use as an affiliation with a group, and how we treat those “weaker”? Socialism seeks to even the playing field, which to some extent is the accepted thing to do nowadays. There are even new rules that keep rich baseball teams (Yankees) from buying all the best players. I don’t mind this, but what I mind more is that teams with a city’s name on them don’t have players from that area. But that’s not too irritating because I believe in adoption.

I also like the idea of the strong being able to see how far they can go. But that leads to the Yankees going to the World Series every year, monopolies, slave labor, genocide, extinction of animals and ancient trees, and women wearing burkas. Ideally strong people will be good sports and nice Christians and consider not only can we, but should we. Historically laws have to make this happen.

Back to the Rangers. On one hand I don’t like the Giants’ intimidating beards, or San Francisco’s non-Bible belt behaviors. On the other hand, I don’t want them to adopt our behaviors just to even the playing field. May the best team win, whatever that means.