Winners and Losers

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Minnesotans were big losers last night. The Vikings lost 38-7 to the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau, “Grumpy Old Men”

Floridians were also losers. The Jacksonville Jaguars lost 24-20 to the New England Patriots.

Minnesotans and the North Floridians are both grumpy today. But there’s on big difference between the grumpy old men facing a depressing winter on the Florida coast and the Minnesotans up north in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

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Minnesota ice fishing houses

We get to go ice fishing!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 22, 2018

 

Philadelphia Mean and Minnesota Nice

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Being candid is not always wise. But, some days, like today, it feels like a requirement.

Yesterday my adopted team, the Minnesota Vikings, brought “Minnesota Nice” — everyone’s supposed to be “nice” in Minnesota — into the stadium of Philadelphia Mean. Philadelphia fans are as known for their meanness as Minnesotans are for Minnesota Nice.

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Philadelphia Eagles fan throwing beer bottle

Philadelphia fans weren’t nice! They threw beer bottles at Vikings fans. They ridiculed their Minnesota guests by chanting “Skol!” when the Vikings did belly-flops. And that was just up in the stands! Down on the field, it was worse. The Eagles were mean. The Vikings didn’t play football. They played nice, and they got whooped!

In case you’re wondering why Views from the Edge is spending time on a football game, let me explain.

I’m a relative newcomer to Minnesota Nice, a 1994 transplant from Philadelphia Mean. But I was never an Eagles fan. Phillies? Yes. Eagles? No. But my brothers and high school friends are. They love the Eagles. So a part of me is happy for my brothers Bob and Don and my old Philadelphia classmates. I’m trying to be nice, but it doesn’t come naturally.

It gets more complicated. The New England Patriots will bring New England Haughty to U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis for the Super Bowl that was supposed to include the Minnesota Vikings. My family roots are in Boston (my father) and Maine (my mother). All my relatives — ALL of them — except for brothers Bob and Don, will be cheering for the New England Haughties on Feb. 4.

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U.S. Bank Stadium, host of the 2018 Super Bowl

When the Eagles take the field against the Patriots in the Vikings’ home stadium, I’ll be a bit conflicted. But, here’s the thing, to be quite candid. I’ll be in Florida with my less conflicted brothers Bob and Don. I’ll shout “Skol!” for the Eagles and privately give thanks that being patriotic isn’t Patriot-ic, and that life is not a football game.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 22, 2018.

The Light Show

The moonless night beyond the picture window contrasts with the candles that wash a warm glow on the orange rough-cut pine walls inside the A-frame cabin in a place without a name.

flightA flock of Canadian geese flews over the wetland before dusk, honking their way south before winter comes to the Upper Midwest, while inside the cabin walls the Toronto Blue Jays had flown south to Minneapolis over the radio to play a ballgame with the Twins. Unlike the Canadian geese, the Blue Jays are going nowhere; the Minnesota Twins are preparing for a long flight to the World Series.

votive-candlesThere is something strange about being alone in a remote wilderness cabin without a remote or internet, but some things stay close. Like the radio I bring to listen to the Twins games, and my canine companion Barclay who doesn’t care about the Twins or the radio but does care about candlelight. Barclay had headed for his kennel for the night an hour after the Twins had broken the sacred silence—until the sound of a match drew him back to the sofa to watch the candlelight flicker against the walls.

Sometimes I wish I were a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel instead of a lone silly goose who needs a radio to stay sane in an otherwise silent night in a warm-lit cabin in a place without a name.

d6dbdcca-1865-4dbf-b1dc-9cfda368e47d.1By the seventh inning stretch, I’m tired of the Twins game, blow out all the candles, see Barclay to his kennel, and head up the ladder to the loft in the darkness. Only then do I notice the light show beyond the cabin walls: the Northern Lights dancing across the sky, a natural light show no World Series can match. Through the loft window I watch the light that knows nothing of matches, candles, or our whereabouts off the human map.

Sometimes, when awe reduces me to lightening bug, it feels good to be human.

 

The Gophers and the Groper

Until University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler shared with the university football players (“the Gophers”) the investigation report of alleged sexual assault that led to the suspension of 10 of their teammates, the team was ready to boycott the Holiday Bowl. The grizzly details — and lots of parent tweets urging them to protect their own futures — put the young Gophers between a rock and a hard place: stand with your 10 teammates and be tagged forever as condoning sexual assault, or reverse the decision to stand together — all for one and one for all — and admit that some things go far beyond “boys will be boys”.

Early yesterday morning, team spokesman Adam Wolitarsky announced the team’s decision to play in the Holiday Bowl.

Rumor has it that the Gophers immediately received a tweet from someone in New York:

“Win one for the Groper!”

 

 

All Saints Day

This  All Saints Day —the first without Steve Shoemaker, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan whose life ambition was to see the Cubs win the World Series –I took the liberty of re-writing a stanza of the signature hymn sung on All Saints Day, Sine Nomine, “For All the Saints Who from their Labors Rest”. Tonight the Cubs try to even the World Series at 3-3 in Cleveland, OH.

Oh, may Thy Cub-bies, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

With apologies. Go Cubs! Do it for Steve on All Saints Day.

Gordon C. Stewart, Nov. 1, 2016

Limerick on Chicago Cubs

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Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot.

For the Cubs 1-0-7 long years
Crying No-Series-Winner sad tears.
Yes, I live far away,
But soon on that great day
Baby Bruins will sure hear my cheers!
Steve Shoemaker (1943-2016).

Views from the Edge published Steve Shoemaker‘s Limerick on Chicago Cubs one year before his untimely death October 11, 2016. He wrote it in honor of Harry Lee Strong, another long-suffering Cubs fan.

Tonight the Cubs meet Cleveland for the 2016 World Series.

We republish it in hopes of World Series victory shouts!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 12, 2016. Updated October 24, 2016.

Limerick on Chicago Cubs

For the Cubs 1-0-7 long years
Crying No-Series-Winner sad tears.
Yes, I live far away,
But soon on that great day
Baby Bruins will sure hear my cheers!

– Steve Shoemaker (1943-2016).

Views from the Edge published Steve Shoemaker’s Limerick on Chicago Cubs one year before his untimely death October 11, 2016. He wrote it in honor of Harry Lee Strong, another long-suffering Cubs fan.

Tonight the Cubs meet Cleveland for the 2016 World Series. We republish it in hopes of World Series victory shouts!

Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot.

Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot, during trip to Wrigley Field with seminary friends Harry Lee Strong, Don Dempsey, Bob Young, Wayne Boulton, and Steve’s blogging buddy.

Last night the “Baby Bruins” had an improbable (dare we say ‘miraculous’?) come-from-behind ninth-inning victory over the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco. Now they’re one step away from the World Series.

The day after Steve’s death, I think I heard the beginning of a full-throated bass cheer from Urbana, as well as from Harry’s home in Prescott, Arizona. Two cheers for the Cubs; three cheers for Harry Lee, and four cheers for Steve!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 12, 2016. Updated October 24, 2016.

The Baseball Cap on Memorial Day

I’m a baseball fan. I love baseball. I  turn on the TV.

It’s Memorial Day. My team, the Minnesota Twins, is wearing visitor’s gray. The Oakland As are wearing white. That’s tradition.

But today something’s different. Both teams are wearing the same baseball cap: military camouflage.

Why?

Memorial Day is not a salute to the military. It’s a day to remember the dead who have fallen in the service to their country. The Twins and the As are not soldiers, sailors, Marines, or special forces. They’re baseball players in different uniforms and different caps with different logos. They throw. They catch. They swing. They hit. They walk. They strike out. Nobody kills. Nobody dies. But Major League Baseball is big business that knows how to strike up the band and confuse civilian and military life. Not good. But it’s become the new normal.

A moment of silence followed by Taps would better fit the occasion – and the removal of all caps.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 30, 2016.

 

 

 

Super Bowl Halftime

It’s halftime. It’s a FOOTBALL FIELD. Football players play on this field. Except at halftime when the field becomes a hug stage – a plastic-wood-steel or something stage rolled out to the middle of the field. That can’t be good for the grass.

On the grass itself are marching bands, Beyonce and 40 other women with boots bouncing around on the football player’s field.

This can’t be good for the guys in the locker room, wondering which hole they might step into in the second half.

Has the NFL Players Union asked for an end to this? Has the union stood up for the players’ safety? Nope. It’s about money, not concussions, hips, or legs – except for Beyonce’s.

I confess. I love football. I know I shouldn’t. But I do. I don’t like concussions. I don’t like halftimes. But I still like a great play. Great plays take place in the first and second halves. I regret that halftime entertainment makes the second half less safe than the first.

  • Just a thought from an as yet unrepentant football fan waiting for the second half in 2016. Go Payton. Finish the game without injury. Then run for your life from the NFL! Gordon C. Stewart, Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Became a Catcher

Once upon a time a long time ago, I was a little “Big A”, a Little League baseball team in Broomall, Pennsylvania. So was Coach McBride’s short son, Dickie, the 10 year-old Little League All Star catch. I was the smaller than small 8 yr. old Big A’s bench-warmer without a position.

I came to the plate once as an 8 yr. old. “Stewart,” said Mr. McBride, “Get a bat. You’re going to pinch hit. We’ve got to get somebody on base. You’re the man. Robin Williams is the best in the league, but you’ve got the smallest strike zone. So… here’s what I want you to do. Crouch down. Don’t take the bat off your shoulder. Make him pitch to you. No matter how good the pitch looks, DON’T SWING. Got it?”

“Got it, Coach.”

Three pitches later, the bat was still on my shoulder. I struck out on three called strikes. But the truth was I could barely see Robin’s fast ball!

When the McBride family moved to Cleveland the next year, the Big A’s had no catcher. The new coach lined all us Big As up in a row along the first base line. “We don’t have a catcher. Who’d like to catch?”

No hands went up. Not a one.

“Here’s my big chance to get off the bench. Dickie was short. Size didn’t matter to Dickie!” said I to myself.

“I’ll try it!”

They strapped on the shin guards, six inches taller than my knees. The chest protector draped over my torso like a horse blanket over a pony. The mask and catcher’s mitt were heavy. Freddie Lamb took the mound. Bobby Lawson stepped into the batter’s box. The pitch came. Bobby swung and missed. I blinked…but, to my surprise, caught the ball. From that moment on I was the Big A’s little catcher.

Moral of the story? If you’re short, don’t count yourself out. You, too, could proudly wear the tools of ignorance, and become another Big A’s All Star catcher.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Big A forever with Freddie Lamb, Bobby Lawson, Ron Nagy, Kenny Olson, Arden Silverian, Gary Boen, Robbie Gillmor, and all the rest. You guys were the best! Love you all. November 10, 2015.