Friday, June 23, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: Trolling Tebow

Ran a little long this week.  Sorry in advance.
1. Yanks Are Fine at First for a Change (NY Times)

When it comes to manning first base, the Yankees have been dead last: last in the major leagues in batting average, last in R.B.I., last in on-base plus slugging percentage. And the team’s first basemen are also near the bottom in home runs, runs and on-base percentage.
But on Wednesday, Matt Holliday, in a cameo at the club’s most troublesome position, was the headline maker. Filling in at first for the struggling Chris Carter, Holliday hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to break a 2-2 tie and sparked a two-out rally that carried the Yankees to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
We’ve been following the Yankees closely at my house this season.  And it’s funny because for all of 3rd baseman Chase Headley’s struggles, m kids can live with him.  But my daughter Hannah especially despises Carter, who's under-the-glove error on Tuesday likely cost the Yanks a win in a game they desperately needed.
Hannah and I have been throwing a softball around our backyard a lot lately, and whenever she fails to get her body behind the ball, I tell her, “Don’t be lazy.  That’s the way Chris Carter always tries to do it.”  
Been surprisingly effective as a motivational technique.
That said, last night’s loss was hardly Carter’s fault.  Hannah’s beloved Didi Gregorius made a costly error, as did Starlin Castro, and even Betances threw garbage when he finally came into the game.  Ugh.
From the speech in question:
"Throughout my time at Wyoming Area, I have pursued every leadership opportunity available to me. In addition to being a member of Student Council since I was a freshman, my classmates have also elected me Class President the past 4 years, which has been my greatest honor, and I would like to thank you all for that one final time, it really means a lot.

"However, at our school, the title of Class President could more accurately be Class Party Planner, and Student Council's main obligation is to paint signs every week. Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government and the authoritative attitude that a few teachers, administrators, and board members have, prevents students from truly developing as leaders.

"Hopefully in the future, this will change. Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of power within this school, who do not do so already
, will begin to prioritize education itself as well as the empowering of students.”
I bring this up because I have a daughter who’s done a lot of student council work at her school who’s also expressed many of these same frustrations.  She told me just yesterday that she’s not sure she’s going to keep running for student office because she feels like all she ever does is make posters, and that neither takes nor teaches leadership.  
“It’s a pointless activity,” she says.
I don’t know what the future holds, but it’s clear that there are quite a few teachers out there who are scared to give even smart, responsible kids more than a token voice in their own futures.  That’s not how we build the future that Americans have come to expect in this country.
3. #AvengersInfinityWar
Lots of little details are leaking out about Avengers: Infinity War.  If you read Marvel’s Infinity event a few years ago—I did, and it was fantastic—then I think you now have enough information to assemble a basic frame for the movie’s plotline.
I’ll spare you what I know.  I will, however, share some of the tweets I've seen.

A lot has been said about Tebow — who is hitting .224 this season — getting chances other people wouldn’t since he decided to attempt a baseball career. That’s true. Other 29-year-olds who hadn’t played baseball since high school wouldn’t get this sort of opportunity. But that comes at a cost and you’re seeing it.
No other Single-A players will be mocked like this. No other Single-A players will be forced to be bigger than the potshots dreamed up in a minor-league front office. Tebow, no matter what, has to grin and bear it.
I’ve been covering Tebow relentlessly since he went to the Fireflies, and I think I’ve been pretty pro-Tebow for a guy who is a) a Yankees fan, b) a Vols fan, and c) a decided not-fan of Tebow’s stint as an NFL quarterback.
But.  These tweets are funny as Hell.

5. An Unfortunate Army Football Update
The Jeff Monken Era appears to be taking some academic casualties, and given the sizes of some of Coach’s recent recruiting classes, I confess that I am not overly surprised.  I don’t want to shame anyone, but the Black Knights have lost both a would-be starting wide receiver and a previously productive fullback from a 2019 recruiting class that once numbered a whopping seventy-nine kids.  Army doesn’t typically confirm why kids are leaving, either the football team or the Academy in general, but given the timing—Summer Term Academic Program (STAP) just ended and the Affirmation Ceremony is still months away—academics are by far the most likely culprit.  Mind you, that’s just a guess.
West Point is geared towards kids who come in with strong academic backgrounds, and the Academy then pushes those kids to be the very best that they can be.  The Class of 2017 featured some 27 post-graduate scholarship winners, including Rhodes, Fulbright, and Marshall Scholars among many, many others.  At the same time, there are lots of kids at West Point who are truly outstanding in other ways, but who’re not at anything like that level academically.  The U.S. Army makes fine use of these kids in the Officer Corps, but they still have to slog through Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus, and this is at a school that suffers little incentive towards grade inflation.  
Academic casualties are baked into the Academy’s acceptance rates.  My own class started with just over 1350 and graduated 1006, with approximately 950 in June and another 50 the following December.  I have a friend who was a December grad who is today one of the better programmers at the NSA.  That’s just how life is sometimes.
But I had another friend, Reggie, who was a recruited quarterback out of Alabama, and he had a very different story.  I have little doubt that Reggie was one of the best kids at his high school, but he was academically unprepared for West Point’s mathematics.  He struggled.  In truth, I don’t think that this was really Reggie’s fault.  He worked hard, but he’d never seen anything remotely like the math that we had to do as plebes and yearlings, and it hurt him—badly.  I blame his high school teachers, if you want to know the truth.  They should’ve known better, but I think that they wanted to push their star quarterback as far as he could possibly go, so they maybe went a little easy on him to make sure he had the right grades.  In the event, however, they didn’t wind up doing him any favors.
Alas, Reggie tore his ACL as a plebe, and after that, you could see something go out of him.  He finally left West Point shortly after the start of our yearling year, and though I knew at the time that he didn’t want to leave, I also remember seeing the relief on his face when he realized that he was going to have to find something else to do with himself.  West Point was a bad fit for Reggie’s particular skillset, and when he finally admitted it, he was ready to move forward again.
That’s not a tragedy, except in the moment.
On the football field, life goes on.  Army still has its top two fullbacks from last year’s offense, and firstie Jeff Ejekam remains Army’s #1 wide receiver.  The search for a new #2 is liable to take on some urgency this summer, however, and if you ask me, I think Army fans had better hope that yearling Kjetil Cline comes along at a slightly faster pace than he did during his plebe campaign.
Beyond that, I hope these kids hit the books some this summer.  I get that not everybody’s going to make it, but it sucks, too.  More details are available at Army Football Insider.

* * *
Busy weekend ahead.  Sally & I are hoping to see a reportedly EPIC Def Leppard tribute band this evening down by the water, and tomorrow is Two Roads Brewery's annual Road Music Fest.  Gates open at 2 pm, and they don't close again until 9 pm tomorrow evening.

I don't make it back, you'll at least know I died happy.

That's all, folks!

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