Category Archives: Slice of Life

The Eternal Home Run

Schmidt

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Home … run!

Michael … Jack … Schmidt!

From the voice of Harry Kalas, the late great Phillies announcer, that was the ultimate sound of summer for me.

More specifically, when it was from grandfather’s transistor radio while sitting on a windswept porch in the Chelsea section of Atlantic City.

My grandfather would watch any sporting even on television – he was able to get Mets and Yankees games on channels 9 and 11 down the shore – the world revolved around the Phillies.

And when the Phillies were playing at home, at Veterans Stadium, the games were not on TV.

That sent us to the front porch, with bowls of ice cream, and the transistor radio that I can still close my eyes and see now.

Looking back now, it was better that way.

My grandfather was a bit hard of hearing — a trait I inherited (I’m hoping for the genes, too, as he made it to nearly 95) — and generally preferred an ear plug (I can still see that, too).

But that would have made it impossible for me to listen as well, so he gladly made that concession to have me at his side.

To this day, I still believe baseball is better followed on the radio. It comes across too slow on television, and has too many staged distractions in person.

True confession: The Phillies are a distant fourth on my priority list now, but that’s not the way it started out.

At least until the Broad Street Bullies made us feel like winners in the middle of the 1970s, the Phillies were No. 1 back when Gordonville was mostly farm land to be tilled.

The thing is, though, they pretty much sucked.

My form of a pennant race was checking the standings each day to make sure we at least had a lead on the last place team in the NL West, which I remember as being the San Diego Padres.

As a matter of fact, I asked my father to get tickets when the Padres came to town, and I was devastated when Terry Harmon grounded out with runners on base in a 2-1 loss.

Yeah, sigh, it was that bad.

But it slowly got better, culminating with the 1980 World Series title that remains my baseball pinnacle. No other postseason push, or even the 2008 World Series win, could recapture that magic.

I was grateful to Pete Rose for helping us get over the top, but I was happiest for the players that had been here during the slow and steady ride to the top.

And none more than Mike Schmidt, who is generally regarded as the best third baseman of all time.

However, before 1980, he was pretty much regarded as a great player who chocked in the clutch who did match his numbers when it mattered.

Even though he led the league in home runs several times in the 1970s, there was a running joke that they all came as solo shots in the the eighth inning when they were either winning or losing 9-1.

After that season, one in which he won both MVP for the season and the World Series, those labels were put to rest.

I had a lot of favorite Phillies growing up.

They tell me it started with Cookie Rojas when I was still in diapers, but I have no real recollection of that alleged fixation that probably had more to do with his first name anyway.

I do recollect a steady roll call of Tony Taylor, Joe Lis, Tim McCarver, Willie Montanez, Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski.

There was a deep connection with Richie Hebner, who batted fifth and played first base, just like I did in Little League, but he was gone – to make room for Rose – by the time it all fell together in 1980.

When I put in the tape and hit rewind now, it is easy to pick out not only my favorite Phillie of all time, but also one of my all-time favorite athletes, period.

It’s Mike Schmidt.

He puts me back on that porch, with my beloved grandfather and his transistor radio – eating ice cream (before I was lactose intolerant) – and waiting in anticipation for those words from Harry Kalas that would follow the crack of a bat coming through loud and clear amid any static.

Home run!

Michael … Jack … Schmidt!

Lesson Learned While Cutting School

Police patrol, stop sign

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Senior Cut Day?

It was too good to be true.

Cutting class, and school, was such a perfected specialty of mine that other kids at Northeast High would come to me for advice on how to pull off their own daring escapes, whether they be inside or outside the building (and how and where they could best go undetected – like the underground railroad – once they made it).

I don’t remember the reason why the day existed in late May of 1983. I’m taking an educated guess it was the same day as the Senior Prom, but that fete was only for the 150-200 rich and famous of the 1,000 kids in my class, so it was a free pass for everyone else.

You didn’t need to tell us twice.

A free pass? Took some of the fun out of it, but let’s drive around a crank up the Def Leppard.

Def Leppard

We even convinced a black friend of ours dating back to grade school to also cut and drive around with no particular place to go or be.

Somehow, we ended up outside the mega-sized movie theater (in a senior moment here, I’m blanking on the name) that used to be in the far Northeast – an area that was then a bit more, uh, less colorful – than the lower northeast.

The lines were forming outside for the third of the Star Wars movies – Return of the Jedi, or some such nonsense – well before the first matinee. In those lines, were plenty of minors who should have been in school. Some smaller kids were with adults. The teens, though, were in groups.

It was a school day, and there was a police presence, but the police were clearly looking the other way on truancy.

Except when a patrol car pulled up alongside my beat-up 1974 Chevy Malibu and in the parking lot across the street. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there, but the officer’s glare spoke volumes. Three white kids with one black kid? In that part of the city, at that time of day?

Clearly, if we weren’t already guilty of the crime of the century, we were planning it.

I’m not going to bend the truth and say what came next was a case of brutality, but the following interrogation bordered on harassment. Abuse? No. Abuse of power? Absolutely.

I can’t help but think that the whole thing would have unfolded differently had our black friend, with ID revealing an address in North Philly, had not been in the backseat.

Racial profiling, anyone?

The officer probably suspected he was our dealer when, in reality, he was more “straight” with the use of illegal substances than any of us. He also needed the most convincing about hanging with us that, and was shaky about going into unfamiliar terrain.

Given all that is coming out in the open about the two Americas and the way they are policed, we were lucky to walk away — in era where the shadow of former police commissioner and mayor Frank Rizzo (below) loomed large — with a stern warning.

Rizzo

Despite my rather obvious ethnic features (see pic below) that would belie an attempt at saying I went to a school of mostly Irish Catholics, I told the officer I went to Father Judge (I knew from one of my hockey friends who attended the boys-only Catholic school that they were off for some reason).

HSGRAD

One of my friends with a more obvious Jewish last name and a more tame Jewfro than what I working (see above), confessed that it was Senior Cut Day at Northeast (leaving me to stick to my flimsy Father Judge story all alone). The officer was still dubious about my black friend in the backseat, but when he couldn’t find evidence of wrongdoing or that my car had been stolen, he reluctantly told us to leave and not come back.

Why am I relaying this story, which is rather benign in the light of the George Floyd case that was merely the final straw on the camel’s heavy back? Because I remain convinced, all these years later, that the whole confrontation would not have happened without  a black friend in the car.

And this was 1983.

And on Senior Cut Day, we learned more about the harsh realities of the world than if we had been in school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flag on the Field

KaepReb

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE –  I wouldn’t do that if you paid me a million dollars.

Who among us hasn’t used that saying?

Truth is, there is not much most of us wouldn’t do – short of something hideous and sadistic – for that kind of a payday.

But I can name two acts that my conscience would never allow.

One is to wave the Confederate flag, that of the side of the traitors, either proudly or to make some sort of a pointless point.

The other would be to take a knee during the national anthem — even though I strongly believe Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” has been, and remains, a better long-term fit, but I won’t go there (even though I just did).

The only difference is that I can understand, in the abstract, why the latter act (like the black power fist, sitting in or the flashing the peace sign) – all public displays of a peaceful protest – would spur one with a different life experience than mine to feel compelled.

None of those are hate speech.

The Confederate flag, well, that’s another story.

The two bloodiest wars for Americans, with more than one million casualties (deaths and wounded) each were the Civil War and World War II.

If you don’t believe me, look it up. I’ll wait.

You back? OK.

It goes way beyond that, though.

It was how they died. A lot of the weaponry was no different than what was used in World War I, and a lot of the battles were fought more up close and personal.

Many of the deaths were slow and painful, coming via infection after limbs were sawed off when wounds refused to heal.

Then, there was the psychological toll, one that we are still calculating in fits and starts.

In some cases, the Civil War pitted brother versus brother. In many more, it was cousin versus cousin.

There were – and still are – many ways to understand what the Confederacy was fighting for, as they will tell you it was a way of life that someone else was telling them not to live and for states’ rights.

But let’s not talk falsely now. The hour is getting late (Dylan reference).

The way of life, the states’ rights yarn, was about one thing: Slavery.

And the slaves were black, brought here in steerage from Africa for decades.

The prime source of income for the South (i.e. Confederacy) was cotton, and the slaves bled their figures raw picking cotton for, well, nothing. They were slaves. Their families were separated, sometimes when children were less than five, or they never existed as family units as all.

It would be unfair to say they were second-class citizens, as they weren’t citizens at all.

Up North, even as they also reaped the economic reward of the cotton trade, this whole centuries-old act wore so thin that a brutal and bloody war seemed inevitable.

And so it was.

I’m not sure why, in 2020, there would be any other need to display – out in the open and proudly – the Confederate flag than to pledge allegiance to racism.

I’ve been told it’s more about the right to do it, if they want, but that falls directly under the definition of prattle.

Often waved alongside that of the Swastika flag of World War II enemy Nazi Germany, which makes even less sense (as if that were even possible), we see it.

We often see the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, which has meant many things to many different people since the 18th century. At present, it seems to be where patriotism flows into jingoism, but not as offensive to all-out flags of hate speech – at least not yet.

It doesn’t need to be.

I was startled – and aghast – in the summer of 2016, when we took a Pennsylvania road trip.

The first stop was Gettysburg, where the seminal battle of the Civil War was fought on July 1-3 in 1863.

There were some Confederate flags there – whether or T-shirts, bumper stickers, paper weights, mugs etc. – for sale (especially on the outskirts of town). I guess that could be expected, while not condoned.

As we drove through the rest of Pennsylvania, though, it got a bit strange. Weaving through some small towns on the way to our other destinations (Johnstown, Pittsburgh, the stupid place where the ground hog comes out once a year, etc.), I continued to see plenty of Confederate flags — from porches, pickup trucks and tattoos.

So many, in fact, that I had to remind a much younger Sofia – and myself – that we were, still above the Mason-Dixon Line.

It was a sign – or flag – of the times.

The times of doom.

A certain entity – an entity I will neither refer to as a “man” or a “person” – was mounting what was a controversially successful bid for The White Horse, and this so-called “human” was running plays out of Hitler’s playbook by throwing chum to a staunch base fed up with a black (biracial, actually) president for two terms.

Following a route that their GPS systems first took them, which was to join Tea Parties, they made another sharp right and let their patriotism crash into a wall of jingoism.

The saying, “Make America Great Again,” was too hard – on either side – to ignore.

Against this backdrop, in the summer of 2016, Colin Kaepernick – then the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers – didn’t stand for the national anthem of a preseason game.

When asked about it, he told reporters it was in protest of how blacks were treated in the United States.

After some backlash about disrespecting veterans, which seemed a bit off-point, he began to kneel instead of sit on the bench and stare into space (poor optics, if nothing else).

Players around the league soon joined, giving the presumptive Republican candidate more red meat.

To this day, while I’m with Kaepernick on both his right to peacefully protest and the basics of his cause of racial injustice, I’m not 100 percent convinced the whole thing wasn’t a tantrum because he was bumped to No. 2 on the depth chart behind a white quarterback.

He didn’t help himself during the whole controversy by wearing socks with cartoon pigs depicted as police officers to practice (more bad optics), and it should be noted that he is biologically biracial and was raised in an upper middle-class adoptive family.

One – either a person of color who has a had it tougher or a white person from the right trying to drive a truck through his argument — could successfully ask: “What does he know about it?”

However, President Obama was also biracial and raised by his white grandparents outside the ghetto walls. That didn’t stop the Confederate flag-waving hate machine – including a birther movement wondering if he was a Muslim and not a Christian – from churning its wheels.

That didn’t stop the current person who calls himself your president (not mine) to exploit it all to his advantage  (including tirades against Kaepernick, who hasn’t played in three years and probably never will again, and other players who exercised their right of free speech and supported him”.

Would I personally kneel? No. Not for a million dollars. But it is interesting to note that those most critical of him – and others that your president (not mine) demanded be “fired” – condone, at least on some level,  are the same who take no issue with displaying the Confederate flag.

That’s different, they say.

It’s free speech.

Standards, anyone?

Once you got two, you got none.

Kind of like flags.

 

 

Casalduni: Small Town, Long Reach

Casalduni2

By GORDON GLANTZ

For Paula Bodden, the American experience couldn’t be more … American.

Her mother, Teresa, cooked an authentic Italian meal for former president George H.W. Bush three times (once as a presidential candidate, twice as vice president), and he returned the favor by inviting mom and dad, Bob, to the White House to a state dinner in honor of the then-president of Italy.

“I was very lucky to have such great parents, and (Bush) and Barbara just fell in love with them,” said Bodden. “My mother grew up poor and on a farm there on Belvoir Road, yet she had no problem talking to the president.”

The friendship began when her dad introduced himself to Bush at a town hall held at the former Valley Forge Music Fair.

“My father was very charismatic, so they became fast friends,” said Bodden.“Many times I would stop by and Bush would call my father to talk about different things. I know it really sounds unbelievable.”

For Bodden, this connection even meant a tour of Air Force Two (vice president’s plane).

Nonetheless, she never forgot where she came from – literally.

She always felt connected to her roots and, in an era of DNA kits and the Internet, she was able to scratch that itch. Her journey became a quest, and that quest lead to what seemed like the ideal place.

On Facebook was a page dedicated to Casalduni (“My Casalduni Roots”) – in honor of those around the globe connected to the small municipality of around 1,500 in Italy, northeast of Naples, from which many made the Blackhorse (or Black Horse, depending on your preference) – a part of Plymouth Township bordering Norristown – their home for generations.

One-stop shopping? It was too good to be true.

But, when Bodden requested entry, she was greeted by the page administrator like a security guard for the National Mint.

“She wouldn’t let me in until I could prove who I was,” said Bodden, now chuckling at the initial layer of security.

It was, in the alternate Facebook universe, a private group.

After Bodden satisfied the requirements of the page administrator – Anna Frangiosa, who was born in Casalduni but has lived in Brisbane, Australia since the age of 3 – Bodden found herself in a Land of Oz.

As the two forged a bond, speaking regularly over the Internet, Bodden’s figurative family tree – with three of four grandparents tracing their roots there – naturally blossomed.

“She could tell me so many things about my family,” said Bodden of Frangiosa. “It was like having her tell me my fortune. Here she was, living half a world away, and she put me in touch with my roots.”

“And the more you know, the more you want to know.”

BoddenPaula

The Name Game

If the name Frangiosa rings a bell, it is not an accident.

It is one of several last names – i.e. Corbo/Carbo, Sylvester/Sylvestre, Salamone/Salomone, Borzillo, Romano, Mancini, Longo – that originated in Casalduni and became rooted in Blackhorse before eventually expanding throughout the entire Greater Norristown area.

Bodden’s maiden name was another common one, DeAngelis (sometimes D’Angelis).

“I was always interested in my roots,” she said. “It might have been because my grandparents lived with us. They were amazing.”

“This makes me regret not asking my family members for more stories. You can’t get that opportunity back.”

Bodden’s great-great grandmother had 13 children – leading to, literally, hundreds of descendants “all over the world,” which made the connections made by Frangiosa easy pickings.

It’s what she does.

“This whole exercise and the DNA testing that has come with it has put so many of 4-6th cousins in touch with one another and it has been an absolute pleasure to find so many people with an ancestor from Casalduni, such a small town that only survives on tourism from people like us that want to retrace their roots,” said Frangiosa, whose father migrated from Casalduni to Australia in 1953, after which she followed with her mother.

“Having fully assimilated into the Australian way of life, I was concerned that my heritage would be forever lost so, while I still had my parents and grandparents, I wanted to document the relatives of my parents and grandparents and as I was told so many inter-married I started documenting the “paesani” of my parents, knowing for sure that they would be connected to the family somehow.”

Frangiosa added that the “initial reason for starting my research” was to find a cousin who had been fostered out in Switzerland as a child of an unwed mother. By establishing a database of over 23,000 names, all in some way connected to people with their ancestry in Casalduni, it allowed her to help others find their roots.

“It was a manual painstaking journey but has been made so much easier by the digitalized records currently available,” said Frangiosa, who refers to Blackhorse/Black Horse as “Norristown” because of the former mailing address (it’s now Plymouth Meeting).

Added Bodden: “People are willing to cross the country to meet other people. It’s bringing people together and we want to meet each other. There are hundreds of us, all over the world.”

Bodden’s great-great grandmother’s brood led her to the movie theater, watching the credits roll with pride.

“One (relative) is a man from Los Angeles named Don Sylvester,” she said. “He just won the Oscar for sound editing for that movie ‘Ford Vs. Ferrari.’”

Plans On Hold

Due to the town’s population and the diligent work of its mayor, Pasquale Iacovella, Casalduni has avoided the direct impact of the Covid-19 outbreak that has ravaged Italy – especially to the northern part of the country.

Still, it has indefinitely derailed Bodden’s plans to travel there in October with her husband, Bob, and her cousin, Jim Romano, and his wife, Angela.

When she does go – and she vows she will – Bodden will come bearing gifts.

“Yes, my grandfather came to Plymouth Township in 1905 with his family when he was nine,” said Bodden. “He traveled back there in 1937. I have a lot of pictures and postcards from that time, and even earlier.

“There is a young guy there who has started a museum and wants to preserve the history of the town, so he welcomes anything from the past.”

History of Migration

When the Boddens and the Romanos eventually get there, there will not exactly encounter a thriving metropolis waiting.

Casalduni was once a bigger town but, due to earthquakes and landslides, the nearby town of Ponte – with a railway station — became more prominent.

Said Frangiosa: “There was no manufacturing or scope for advancement or employment opportunities in the mainly farming community so many of the male contingents, at least my ancestors, left either for other parts of Europe or farther afield for Argentina, USA or Australia.”

She explained that the lure of the United States were the reports for employment opportunities, which remained until there was an embargo in the early 1950’s, which is why her family went to Australia.

“My father tells of reports from the returned interned servicemen who recounted stories of ‘streets paved with gold’ and ‘money growing on trees’ but not sure where that came from,” said Frangiosa. “Most of my ancestors were not afraid of hard work because of their farming backgrounds and would do just about any work for their family’s betterment.”

Frangiosa, herself, has a strong connection to the Blackhorse area, as four from her grandmother’s family went there.

“As my husband and I are second cousins, my grandmother and my husband’s grandfather were brother and sister and that is where the Frangiosa connection came to be in Norristown,” she explained.

She added that favorable reports were recounted to the family by her grand uncle, Nicola Antonio Frangiosa (1862-1946) when he went back to his home country for a holiday.

“The family still remembers the gifts he brought with him,” said Frangiosa, added that his wife was Luigia Frangiosa (1907-1986), a Frangiosa by birth and by marriage and from the same home town of Casalduni. Her father was Lorenzo Frangiosa.

“Again by tracing her lineage I found she was related to my Mother’s father’s side of the family,” she said.  “My grandfather, Francesco Salomone (1892-1986) also went to USA to work in the quarry between the years 1906-1911.  With all the marriages within Casalduni and surrounding communes, the same names keep on recurring.”

Anna1

Plans to Return

Frangiosa spends time caring for her 95-year-old father, limiting her travel opportunities, even before the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, I have only been to Norristown once to connect with the family of my grandmother and my husband’s grandfather, but was made aware of many people whose roots originated in Casalduni,” she said. “I would love to revisit and intend to but am currently caring for my dad. … He is my source.”

Frangiosa added that, once she achieved what she required from her and her husband’s direct family lineage, she started concentrating on the families of our grandparents and great grandparents’ siblings and that is where she uncovered so many descendants of deceased relatives that went to Norristown.

“The names were all so repetitive, but having connected with people that match our DNA, it did not prove too tedious to match their data to mine and hence make a family connection,” she said. “It has helped that I come from a very close-knit family who kept in touch with cousins all over the world and that I knew all our 18 grandaunts and uncles and my father, who is 95, is alive and still lucid enough to feed my insatiable desire.”

Frangiosa recount a success story that she called her “greatest joy,” which was bringing closure for an American woman who matched DNA — and through mutual research and her hiring a private researcher — she was able to unravel out who her biological father was and, as a result, connect her with more family.

“It was so coincidental that I had actually met her father when he travelled from Norristown to meet the Australian branch of the family,” said Frangiosa. “It was very gratifying to be able to convey information and photos about a father she never knew.  He also never knew he had a daughter and went to his grave without ever knowing.

“As you can probably tell, I love Australia but am passionate about my birthplace and love my connections to kinfolk all over the globe. The internet has been a blessing and has helped connect Brisbane to Norristown to Casalduni.”

Casalduni1

 

 

 

Mock Draft 4.0: House Money

dollar-currency-money-us-dollar-47344-1

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I’m baaaaaack!

Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to endure me on Zoom while I do twice as many Mock Drafts leading up to Thursday’s first of three days of drafting that we in Eagle Nation can only hope don’t turn into a mockery of a sham.

Before we begin, let’s review the first three:

Mock 1.0) – There was a drill in proving that the Birds could go receiver-heavy, as I took four. I know they won’t take four, but it was fun to speculate.

Mock 2.0) – I was like a Jewish person eating pork on this one, as I did something that is against my Draftnik religion. I factored in some trade scenarios. It’s not like there won’t be trades. I suspect there will be, but it’s so impossible to say with which team and what will be the return. As such, I never bothered. This year, while sheltered in place, I bothered.

Mock 3.0) – Otherwise termed a “joke” by one of the mental midgets on an Eagles Facebook page, the small print clearly stated that it was a new exercise in taking the wind of the sails of we in Eagleville by showing not what I would do or what Joe Blow would do, but would be oh so Eagles to do (i.e. wait until Day 3 to address the receiver need while addressing the trenches).

Since I plan to reveal my serious Mock within 24-36 hours of the actual draft, why not try to sneak in a bonus.

The goal here will be simple. While not going the trade route, I will be staying put and drafting players I have not already tabbed in the three previous Mocks – all while addressing the same obvious needs.

Let’s call this the “Look, Ma, No Hands” Mock.

Ready? Let’s Mock (How did I need think of that before?):

Round 1 (Pick 21): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor, 6-3, 215

Rationale: I honestly don’t see the Eagles staying at No. 21, especially now that LSU receiver Justin Jefferson is not expected to make it past No. 18. They could move up to get Jefferson or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, but it’s more likely they move down to pick up extra picks and still grab a receiver. It could be Miami at No. 26, Green Bay at No. 30, Kansas City at No. 32 or Cincinnati at No. 33 (first pick of Round 2) – or some other team altogether that is desperate to jump in front a division rival. If and when that happens, there will still be plenty of receivers – including the athletic but somewhat unrefined Mims (pictured below) – on the board. They just can’t afford to fixate on any one player. Mims, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, Arizona State’s Brandon Ayiuk, TCU’s Jalen Reagor and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler all have strengths and weaknesses but something special to offer to a team with a receiving corps that will look vastly different beyond 2020. There has been some talk of going in another direction in Round 1 and then addressing receiver. That could always happen – what the Eagles do is out of our control, and what other teams do is out of their control – but getting one secured early allows for other needs to be addressed.

Denzel-Mims

Round 2 (Pick 53): Prince Tega Wanagho, OT, Auburn, 6-5, 305

Rationale: This seems like a luxury pick, but only on the surface. While a three-year starter at left tackle, this man-child has also played the right side. That makes Tega Wanagho (pictured below) the ideal candidate to be molded into a third tackle by offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland without having to bring back Jason Peters at three times the salary. Ironically, the general consensus is that his pro comparison, if one believes in such things, is the future Hall of Famer, Peters, himself. Why not take a clone? If not for a deep class at tackle, he’d likely be gone early as the late first round in other years.

Prince Tega

Round 3 (Pick 103): Nick Harris, C, Washington, 6-1, 302

Rationale: The fan base will go apoplectic with the choice of yet another lineman, but my projection is that runs at other positions will push this ideal fit to eventual replace Jason Kelce into the Eagles’ laps. Harris (pictured below) is not a power blocker, but the two-time All-Pac 12 selection is known for getting to the second level, much like Kelce. Additionally, he brings some experience at guard, giving him value as a non-starter.

Nick Harris

Round 4 (Pick 127): Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State, 6-3, 260

Rationale: As soon as I saw his last name, I knew he was destined for Philly, as it will be spelled wrong more than it is spelled right. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this overachiever is likely to make enough of an impact, even if it is only a role player making the most of his situational snaps on passing downs. Willekes (pictured below) won the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the college player who began his career as a walk-on. He finished his career with 51 tackles for a loss and 26 sacks.  As expected from the fact that he was a walk-on, Willekes is technically sound and works hard but will need to add strength and some moves to his arsenal.

Willekes

Round 4 (Pick 145): Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt, 5-10, 215

Rationale: Vaughn (pictured below) is an interesting story. After running for a little over 1,000 yards combined in two years at Illinois, he transferred to Vanderbilt and ran for over 2,000 yards the last two years (although he fell a bit short of a grand last year as a sole running option on a three-win team in a tough conference). He brings to the table some traits that NFL scouts value – compact frame with good vision and burst, natural hands, plus the ability to make tacklers miss in tight spaces. Guys who can do that find places in running back stables around the league, even though his collegiate travels have him entering the circuit at age 23.

Vaughn

Round 4 (Pick 146): David Woodward, MLB, Utah State, 6-0, 235       

Rationale: Another Mock, another inside linebacker. This time, I’m going with the guy who might be so underrated that he may end up being overrated and going higher than this point. Woodward (pictured below) fell off the radar a bit because he missed five games last season due to injury. Coming from the same program that produced Bobby Wagner and others at the position, Woodward is lauded for his natural instincts, which allow him to play the position with the patience needed to not look foolish in the NFL. While he will need to show he is healthy and can play at full speed, expect a rookie to bolster special teams put of the gate.

Woodward

Round 5 (Pick 170): Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii, 6-3, 190

Rationale: Another Mock, another developmental quarterback. But, wait, hold up a second. I kind of like this one, and might just return to it in the final version. McDonald (pictured below) took advantage of running a passer-friendly attack the last two years, accounting for around 8,000 yards and 69 passing touchdowns. He is also a running threat (11 rushing touchdowns). While it’s easy to put up numbers for the Rainbow Warriors, the tape shows applicable skills for the next level – accuracy on throws outside the numbers, decisiveness, mobility and noble willingness to stand in and take a hit. Why, then, is he projected as a Day 3 pick? At 190 pounds, there is a legitimate fear about his health and well-being. He has also rarely played under center and doesn’t really have a rifle for an arm. Then again, he is favorably compared to Gardner Minshew, the same Gardner Minshew who displaced the beloved Nick Foles as a rookie last year in Jacksonville. Don’t get excited out there. He wouldn’t be supplanting Carson Wentz, but maybe – just maybe – he could be an OK No. 2 after Nate Sudfeld pushes on in 2021.

Cole McDonald

Round 6 (Pick 190): Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota, 6-2, 205

Rationale: This isn’t the sexiest pick, but this highly productive receiver will find a place in the league somewhere. Why not let it be here? Johnson (pictured below) hauled in 199 passes for 3,164 yards and 32 touchdowns in the last three years. What is he still doing here this late in the draft? For one, he is not a sexy pick. It is almost as if he peaked and, with limited tools, reached his ceiling already. Plus, his 40 time is slightly north of 4.5. A little bigger and a little faster, and he’d like go late in Day 2 instead. Just keep in mind that an annual rite of passage are receivers everyone fawns all over who don’t make it while guys like Johnson do. Not saying it will be him who defies the odds this year, but the risk-reward in Round 6 is worth it.

T Johnson

Summary:  I was just having fun here and throwing caution to the wind without overthinking it. You know what? I kind of like what I did here. I would be fine with this haul when the dust settles. Yay, me!

Super Bowl 39

 

 

 

Upon Further Review: Obamacare

Obamacare

The following is how a column I wrote in 2012 about how I felt about Obamacare …

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Back when hockey was hockey, they had these things called ties.

For we hockey purists, there was nothing inherently wrong with ties.

The key is that there were good ties and bad ties.

If three 20-minute periods – and later a mini-me frame of five minutes that usually saw both teams play it so conservatively that you would have thought Barry Goldwater and Pat Buchanan were coaching – left the score knotted (except in the playoffs), so be it.

It wasn’t until non-hockey people – cut from the same cloth as those who were appalled by outbreaks of fisticuffs – came along and said they couldn’t take the sport seriously because they went to a game once and it ended in a tie.

I presume that left them feeling unfulfilled.

What hockey haters didn’t know was that there were good ties and bad ties. Example: If a team was playing its sixth road game in eight nights and battled back from a 4-1 deficit to earn a 4-4 tie, that was a good tie.

For the other team, well, not so much.

Being a hockey guy (pronounce that ‘gee,’ giving it a French Canadian flare), I don’t always view life’s twists and turns as wins and losses.

Just like arguments are not always being black and white, the outcome was not always a win or a loss.

But we live in a society where the vocal minority gets appeased.

Now, in place of a righteous deadlock, hard-fought games are settled in the most stupid fashion known to professional sports – shootouts (like playing H-O-R-S-E if a basketball game is tied, or having a home run derby – in lieu of extra innings – in baseball).

Sometimes, in the game of life, there are ties.

Upon further review of the Supreme Court’s recent health care ruling, the narrow victory for President Barack Obama is a tie for the American public.

True, a loss would have been devastating for the proletariat, not to mention the death knell for Obama’s re-election bid against Mitt Romney.

In that sense, we the people are looking at a good tie.

But time, more than any Supreme Court justice acting on transparent political motivation, will be the ultimate judge.

The health care system is still in critical condition, and all you have to do to confirm that ongoing status is talk off-the-record with the doctors and nurses on the front lines.

Dreaded Obamacare – a right-wing code word for letting ‘them’ have something for nothing, even though it is a virtual identical twin to Romney’s health care plan when he was governor of Massachusetts – will, among other things, do the following, now that the high court upheld the Affordable Care Act by a 5-4 vote:

•Young adults, you know the ones who are lucky to get part-time jobs in retail after taking out obnoxious amounts of dough from legal lone sharks to catch a whiff of whatever stench the lure of the American dream is giving off these days, are allowed to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

•Not denying children – yes, children (not inmates on death row) – insurance via some non-medical person behind a desk who may or may not know what it’s like to have a sick child.

•Not allowing people with pre-existing medical conditions to be denied coverage – if they can avoid the grim reaper until 2014 (nice, huh?).

•Thirty million Americans (excluding illegal immigrants) who don’t have health insurance can get it (the White House estimates only 4 million people will reject that benefit).

Go ahead, read them there bullet points again.

I’ll wait. Now let it sink in.

Making sure children get health care, whether or not their parents knew the rules of the game (and make no mistake, this ain’t nothing but a cruel game)?

Letting young adults, thrust into an economical nightmare not of their making, have a safety net should they get into a car accident or tear a knee playing hoops?

That’s s-s-socialism? That’s giving the country away?

That’s what you think is making the founding fathers spin in their graves?

Sounds more like an attempt – and more like a bunt than a home-run swing – at solving human problems with semi-humane solutions.

The high court equated the mandate to have health insurance to a tax, a hot-button word (tax) which makes many on the right go apoplectic before they even stop tea-partying enough to learn the facts.

Your tax money is going to go somewhere, folks.

That’s a fact. I don’t get how it is better for the money to go toward a nuclear warhead that can help us blow up the world 1,001 times over instead of 1,000, than to heal a sick child who may find the cure to cancer one day.

I don’t get how it’s acceptable to let the health industry and drug companies – the same unholy alliance that would probably conspire to keep that cure to cancer under wraps so they can keep making money – hold us hostage.

I don’t get how you don’t want the government, the one theoretically in place to protect us from such evil pursuits, to serve as negotiator and free us from these chains.

Doesn’t sound very American to me.

Doesn’t sound very Judeo-Christian.

Doesn’t sound like we are taking care of our own.

Doesn’t sound like waving the flag – and chanting ‘U.S.A., U.S.A.’ – is going to make it go away.

I’m as a patriotic as the next guy, but give me a reason to be proud.

We are ranked 37th in the world in health care, while leading the world in health care spending.

If you accept that – and to the illogical point that you don’t want to even try out what eight presidents (including ones with skin as white as Ivory soap) have wanted – the only conclusion to draw is that you are not playing to win.

That’s why we are losing. That’s why ties – like the the Supreme Court gave us – are the best we can hope for right now during these days of being torn in the U.S.A.

Never Can Say Goodbye … to 1971

First 1971

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – I’m told I was repeatedly played Civil Rights anthems like “We Shall Overcome” and “Blowin’ In The Wind” — after my earthly debut two days into spring of 1965.

Knowing my mother’s penchant for tall tales and exaggerations, I’m not 100 percent convinced of the accuracy of this folklore, but I think there could be a strain of truth it.

I can say, for sure, that I never had time for nursery rhymes.

My grandparents, a more reliable source of information, said I was fully captivated by the song “Georgy Girl” by the New Seekers, which was released in late 1966 and continued its heavy air play and chart climb in 1967.

I have vague recollections of being called “Georgy” because of this, so I’ll buy it.

I was just learning to walk, but I had an ear on the Top 40.

Fast forward to the holiday season of 1970, and I was totally hooked on “Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson.

From there, well, there was no looking back.

If there was a time to fall in love with music, 1971 was it.

I was 6, but I could have been 16.

The feel of the breeze, the smell in the air, the feel of drizzle — they all collide as first-time memories with amazing music coming from anywhere and everywhere.

I guess it was car radios (some with 8-track machines), the turntables of my older cousins and stepsisters, or just piped in somehow from the skies above.

There was Carole King’s groundbreaking Tapestry album – featuring “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel The Earth Move” and “So Far Away” – and “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor (written by King, and a deep track on “Tapestry”).

King Taylor

The Beatles were just breaking through with solo careers, with George Harrison hitting my heart with “My Sweet Lord.”

By the middle of the decade, no one was taking a piano lesson without learning “Colour My World” by Chicago or “If” by Bread – both 1971 megahits.

You also had “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology” and “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “I Am … I Said” by Neil Diamond, “Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and “Rainy Days And Mondays” and “For All We Know” by The Carpenters.

There is my all-time favorite of the year, Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” which had nothing to do with his first name (although I was pumped to find out once I was hooked on the song).

And there was the song that prompted this trip back in time, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” by Bill Withers (pictured below), who sadly became the latest to join so many of these artists in leaving us in body but not in how they touched us with their music (“Lean On Me,” though not from 1971, has quickly become the theme song in this current national crisis).

bill-withers-1972-feature-billboard-1500-1585946742-768x433

I could go on, but I’m actually getting emotional – with serious goose bumps – by scratching the surface here with this list that doesn’t even go into a lot of the classic rock that I discovered down the road.

I just turned 55, meaning it’s almost the golden anniversary of that year in music.

A lot has happened since 1971, that’s for sure.

Richard Nixon wasn’t yet impeached, Russia was still the Soviet Union, the Flyers had to yet to become bullies and win two Stanley Cups, the concepts of AIDS and 9/11 seemed surrealistic, Barack Obama had not be elected president and there was no such thing as the coronavirus to make us all freeze in place and, if we’re lucky, think back to simpler times.

“Godfather” and “Rocky” weren’t movies, and the concept of cable TV and original programming – bringing “The Sopranos” and others – seemed as far-fetched as home computers and microwave ovens.

A scruffy kid from New Jersey named Bruce Springsteen (pictured below in 1970) was a year away from releasing his first album.

1970 Bruce

Just like I had no latency period with music, I didn’t with the fairer sex.

I liked girls enough to propose to one in the schoolyard that first-grade year (maybe it was the music), but it would take another three decades until I got down on one knee and asked a woman to be my bride.

And then, in 2007, my daughter was born, becoming the rightful center of our universe.

It’s no surprise that she also caught the music bug early. A ballet dancer/softball catcher, it is the acoustic guitar that is her spirit device (see below). Her musical tastes are not the same as mine, but 1971 was not her time to fall in love with music.

It was mine.

One more song from that year, “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Jackson 5, sums it up the best.

As deep as I’ve gotten into other kinds of popular music, including that of the 1960s leading up to it, I will never say goodbye to the songs of 1971.

Sofia Guitar

 

Dying With The Consequences

Coronavirus

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — So there I was, a nice (well, sometimes) Jewish boy from Northeast Philly, sitting at a Catholic Mass while Sofia (raised Catholic, in deference to her mother) did her altar service.

The priest went through that portion of the Mass (I’m getting to know the routine) where the assembled flock is asked to pray for certain specific people and situations.

Included was a plea to pray for those – patients, medical professionals, etc. – dealing with coronavirus.

Given the fact that this was several weeks back, you have to give the priest props for being well in front of the curve on what has quickly turned into a pandemic that has left us sheltering in place until further notice.

Which brings me to the point of my Sunday sermon: You can’t pray this away.

This is basically what your president (not mine) was doing when he put your vice president (not mine) in charge of combating and containing it before it invaded our “great again” shores.

But it came anyway, like the invasion on the beaches of Normandy.

No, we can’t blame them for the disease itself, but we can for the sheer lack of leadership that has been clear since before this administration was selected.

Those of us with foresight asked real questions about how a circus master and his lackey would handle any crisis, and we were told to stop being such “snowflakes.”

As you battle for half-cartons of eggs and loaves of bread at the store, and then sit inside your home, scared literally to death of something we can’t see, we are all snowflakes now, are we not?

There are silver linings to almost anything, and there are here.

Families are spending time together. I have learned to live without sports on TV. Sofia, as I type in this mad fury, is taking her guitar lesson via Skype or Zoom or some such thing.

School districts have developed extensive learning plans that will come in handy on snow days or in other unforeseen scenarios.

We have all had sudden graduate-level lessons in hygiene.

The list goes on.

And topping it is that enough people – maybe, hopefully, finally — see that your president (not mine) is unfit to serve.

If Charlottesville and Puerto Rico weren’t horrifying enough, they were harbingers of what was to come.

It’s no longer about politics, to vote him out. It’s about the future health and well-being of your children and your children’s children.

Right-wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh and politicians like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R, Fla.) led the propaganda parade against coronavirus.

Ironically, Gaetz donned a gas mask to mock the hysteria before having to self-quarantine after a constituent died. Now, he is asking for the same paid sick leave he voted against as a dutiful Mitch McConnell stooge.

Limbaugh, the racist talk-show host who got a Medal of Freedom from your president (not mine) during Black History Month – and with a Tuskegee Airman in attendance – is dying of cancer and among the most vulnerable to coronavirus.

Pundits are public figures, and have an extra sense of responsibility with medals around their necks.

Politicians are, by definition, leaders.

At times such as these, we need responsibility and leadership.

The failure to take it seriously – and leaving an immediate science-based crisis to a second banana who doesn’t believe that cigarettes cause cancer or that climate change is real – put every single one of us at risk.

The bitter irony here is that many of of the respiratory issues relating to smoking  put people more at risk for coronavirus, not the mention that global warming is a mother ship for infectious diseases.

Pence

It was done while keeping one eye on the stock market and the other on the golf course. That left no hands on the wheel, and a serious crash on the side of the road.

The attitude from the top went from predicting we will have “zero” cases of coronavirus to that it is no worse than the flu to being summoned from some Fantasy Island to chopper back to the real world.

You wonder why he is not my president? This is why.

And, after this fiasco, there is no reason why he should be yours, either.

As fate would have it, there is a decent chance that coronavirus will be handled – not conquered, but handled – by the fall.

Again, it will still be there – just like AIDS, the threat of terrorism, etc. — but not to the point where we can’t live our daily lives.

This will be fodder for your president (not mine) to spike the ball in the end zone and do a touchdown dance at a red state rally.

He will pound his chest at debates and claim that he, like Neanderthals before him, hit coronavirus over the head with a rock and dragged it back to his cave to be cooked and devoured over an open fire he started by rubbing two sticks together.

Be on guard for such talk. While it is the fuel of a classic sociopath/narcissist, you don’t have to let it fill your tank.

You know it’s not true.

You know better.

I don’t say this lightly, but it is a matter of life and death.

And we need – we deserve – a president we can all call our own (even if he is not from same political party or supports all the same policies.)

And if you need to pray on it before reaching the same obvious conclusion, please do.

This column ran in The Times Herald on March 22, 2020

It’s About Time (to end DST)

driving-with-headlights

The following column ran in The Times Herald on March 8, before coronavirus put us on all lockdown and matter that now seem more trivial were more in the mainstream:

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It doesn’t take much to move me to tears, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Tears of sadness. Tears of joy. Tears from a harsh March wind blowing so fierce in my face that they can’t be avoided.

Since getting a new used car last January, I have been able to cry tears of relief when we fall back and spring forward on the clock.

My new used car, which is a 2018 Ford Edge, came equipped with all the computerized bells and whistles. It’s so easy to change the time that, yeah, it makes me want to cry. I almost want to reset it and do it all over again.

While that makes today’s spring back drill easier to take, I’m not off the hook.

While the time automatically changes on our computers and phones, I still have to go from clock to clock around the house and reset them all.

Then there’s my wife’s near-antique car, a Honda that historians believe was used to transport troops to the front in the War of 1812. It requires a degree in nuclear physics to figure out.

Then, when we visit my mother at her assisted living place, it gets to the point that the best option for trying to figure out changing the time on a cheap clock radio is to just go get a new one.

Turns out, that this source of tears and frustration is needless.

I’m talking on the A-List scale of needlessness – with the likes of the Iowa caucuses, hockey shootouts, chop sticks, the running of the bulls, overusing the word “very” and playing games at carnivals that are impossible to win.

When we fall back, we gain an hour of sleep but lose an hour of daylight for months. We lose the hour of sleep by springing forward, but the days are longer.

You really need to be in another part of the country, in another time zone, to completely understand the extremes of it all.

A few summers back, we were in South Dakota, enjoying the indoor pool of a hotel with the worst excuse for a continental breakfast ever (Fig Newtons instead of donuts and no decaf coffee). The sun was still up at 10 p.m. Sounds cool, but the only view was of a trailer park across the street in a town where the hot place to eat was a Dairy Queen.

Really no need, in that time zone, for the sun to catch you crying.

It is more than some annoyance that costs me my beauty sleep in the spring and makes me take out the trash and walk Rex in the dark in the fall and winter.

This raises the deeper question: Why do we do this drill, Daylight Saving/Savings Time (DST) as if we were marching around like zombies at a military academy?

Turns out, falling back and springing forward are acts – like the creation of the electoral college – that have far outlived their usefulness.

While the concept dates back eons, and Benjamin Franklin pontificated about it as a way to preserve candle light, DST first became a “thing” in America during World War I to conserve coal.

That made sense at the time, but my history books seem to indicate that World War I ended more than a century ago.

While your president (not mine) lies to the faces of coal miners to get their votes, we know that industry is pretty much a shadow of its former self.

Repealed after World War I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt put the action back into play during World War II.

Following the war, it was more of a state by state thing until Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1966, set into law that DST should begin the last Sunday in April and end the last Sunday in October.

And so we sit, hearing some vague arguments for the status quo (mostly economic) but others against it (mostly health-related, such at workplace injuries).

According to those who have studied it, it would mean a lot to make a change – certainly a lot more than we think, beyond anguish over remembering how to change clocks and watches that do it on their own, to stop the needless madness of springing back and forward.

They suggest it would reduce headaches – fatal car crashes — especially to pedestrians — and heart attacks.

Consider two studies by the University of Colorado. One found a spike in car accidents the first week after the DST change (with the apparent cause being drivers less sharp with one hour less of sleep).

The other found the heart attack risk spiking 25 percent the following Monday after the “spring forward” but fell to almost normal when the clocks fell back in the Fall.

In this era of partisan politics, this surely sounds like one issue we can all get behind.

And it’s about time.

Middle of the Road Leads Nowhere

Middle of the Road

The following is a modified version of  a column that ran in The Times Herald on March 1, 2020:

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — There once was this girl. For whatever reason, she batted her eyes at me twice in French class (either for the sport of it or because she had something stuck in her eye).

I was hooked, hopping the one-way train to Swoonsville, and not catching the return trip for a few years.

Even though there were other girls who entered and exited the picture back then, she ranked in a category of her own (and I have the pile of songs written about her to show for it).

I would try to shake the status of being the low man on her depth chart to no avail. On numerous occasions, I would ask her to meet me — the mall, the pizza place, bowling alley, etc. — only to have her never show up (she would usually giggle and say she forgot, and I found the airhead act endearing).

I couldn’t help but take this bumpy road down memory lane when listening to those bemoaning that Bernie Sanders was not the best choice to unseat your president (not mine) in the general election because we need a more centrist candidate who will meet the other side in the middle.

It exemplifies an extreme naïve attitude, the same as the one I had as a teenager (without a fully developed brain), and it tells you all need to know about this waltz wherein Democrats dance with two left feet and end up tripping over themselves.

A review: Your president (not mine) made a hard right turn back in the 2015-16 campaign season, and took a lot of supporters — including plenty that didn’t see themselves as being what they became — with him.

More than a few right of center Republicans worried about it costing the White House after it had been, well, a little too black for their taste for eight years.

Pundits, with their degrees from places tucked far away from the real world, concurred that not moving to the middle helped him in the primary but would cost him the ultimate prize in the general election.

Logic may have been the immovable object, but the whole Make America Great Again (eye roll) thing was the unstoppable force.

Because of this recent history, one wonders if there is even a real middle for left of center Democrats to go to anyway.

And now, we have a separate but equal scenario heading into the 2020 election, with so jeers and fears toward and about a progressive candidate, Bernie Sanders, that his candidacy is on life support.

What your president (not mine) and Sanders have in common, while not agreeing on the time of day on policies, are flocks so loyal that the opinions of so-experts may no longer hold up.

 

Even as voters flowed in with the tide in recent primaries and went with “Status Quo” Joe Biden, exit polls showed they were thinking more progressively, and in line with Sanders.

The message, the takeway: There is no need to fold like a house of cards on a speed boat.

There is something happening in this country, albeit at street level, and only those willing to get down and dirty need to put their ears down to the ground can hear it.

The voters outside the base want more than just change from what your president (not mine) wrought upon us. The need change. If you want to mock it, calling it a revolution, go ahead. You don’t defeat a dictatorship without one.

If you think that meeting the other side in the middle is the way to go, you are conceding defeat before the coin flip.

Just take a hard look at the crowd at the next rally for your president (not mine) and ask yourself if anyone there, even with the help of GPS, would know their way to the theoretical middle if Ted Nugent was playing a concert there.

I would postulate that since Biden as wrestled the driver’s seat from Sanders, his views — – or lack thereof — will only be taken as a sign of weakness and he will be incessantly mocked for it by the right.

Rachel Bitecofer, a 42-year-old professor from a small college in Virginia (and recent guest on Real Time With Bill Maher), agrees. And it just so happens she rattled the cages of traditional political science thought when she nailed the 2018 midterms like Nostradamus.

Her theory is that there really is no such animal as a swing voter, and no such a black hole as a center. They both still exist, she concedes, but not to the extent that her colleagues think.

In a recent article in Politico, she described it as “flipping giant paradigms of electoral theory upside down.”

So, fellow lefties, it’s time to eat your Wheaties and grow spines. Stop worrying about meeting and greeting anyone in a Ghost Town once known as the middle.

You are just asking to be stood up, the same way I was on those windswept streets of 1980s Northeast Philly.