Category Archives: Slice of Life

A Cool Idea

hot_day_thermometer

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

 

GORDONVILLE – It is a typical pastime in a typical American.

What will your child be when they grow up?

Not sure yet on Sofia. Many roads to travel, and passions to come and go.

However, it would surprise me if she wanted to be like her old man and be a writer – even if it’s a side thing while making real money in the real world with a real job.

How do I know this?

Because she loves stories. Not just to be amused, but to retain for future use. I can talk by the look in her eyes that it is being retained, kind of like bank deposits to retain interest (i.e. embellishment).

We drive through Conshohocken, and she queries her mommy all about her hometown with questions well beyond that of the average incoming missile of a ‘tween.

The other night, she asking me about old Atlantic City – the Atlantic City I remember as a kid around her current age; the Atlantic City before gambling made it the weird combination of glitz and the pits that it is now.

Among the stories was how my grandfather, Poppie, would wake up each day and, with a broad smile on his easy-going face, ask if it was a “beach day or a Two Guys day.”

Two guys, for the uninitiated, was a catch-all department store – a sorta pre-historic Target – where they had it all, from an arcade and a place to eat to a furniture department.

You could buy food, a new baseball glove or bell-bottom jeans for your platform shoes.

After Sofia drifted to sleep – these stories are often meant as biofeedback to cure summertime insomnia – an old idea resurfaced it what is left of my brain.

Beach day or a Two Guys Day?

That more or less sums up the forecast for every day from Memorial Day through Labor Day, does it not?

Especially here in the Melting Ice Age, the forecast is pretty much in the same octave range, is it not?

It is either going to be hot or very hot, with a chance of rain to varying degrees.

So, I wondered, why do we need met meteorolgists in the summertime?

No offense to them, or the profession.

And the world doesn’t need more journalists working at a coffee shop.

And the loss of eye candy – from any perspective — would mean less sweetness in the world.

All I’m talking about is a three-month furlough.

I’m willing to bet that nine out of 10 of us could care less, especially if the time is better spent on real news.

Seriously, why do we need to be told the obvious three times in a half-hour span – and all before the important news, like the sports?

Just throw a graphic up on the screen and the anchor can do a quick summary. Hot or very hot, and the chance of a thunderstorm by percentage.

In and out faster than Chris Christie at a burger joint drive-thru on his way to the beach.

And, since this is my idea, it must follow the rule of being after the sports, lest you run the risk of FCC fine.

I took the liberty of breaking out the calculator.

According the “fake news” on the “internets,” the average weather person makes $89,820 a year. There are four stations – the three networks plus FOX in Philadelphia, employing an average of three meterologists – which brings our three-month (Memorial Day to Labor Day) savings to $269,460 that can be donated to help causes more worthy than letting people know if it is going to be a beach day or a Two Guys Day.

 

Cope With No Hope

Vigil

Cope With No Hope

Another long night, another slain teen

Take a sneak peek, as the dawn bleeds

Splash of cold water, read the tweets

News, views – more prayers for peace

By dusk a vigil, let the cycle repeat

Darkness descends, hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets

 

Up for air, come pastor and the priest

How many of these have they seen?

Hear what you want, not what you need

Sing a song, prayers for peace

From all this, who will take heed?

Maybe one day we all can break free

Until that day comes, hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets

 

Now it’s less than a week later

Pick up the local newspaper

Story is gone, never to be followed

Back to the zoo and its baby cougars

Those with jobs, head back to work

Once numb, how much can it hurt?

The root cause, never gets learned

On and on and on, the fire just burns

 

All that is said cannot be believed

Like blaming it all on the police

Is it the poverty or the money?

The money we all think we need

Take it past these prayers for peace

Prayers end when you hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets

-Gordon Glantz

 

 

 

Reality Bites for We Democrats

Hillary

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE – Put away your wallets.

No need for an annual triple crown here in my Soul Town of Gordonville.

It’s always the same coming down the homestretch. Sports and music are neck-and-neck in a photo finish.

Third? Politics.

For the purposes of this drill, we will go with a sports analogy to put a political issue to rest.

If you have watched as many football games as I have – high school, college and pro – you come to learn that a loss can’t be laid on the doorstep of any one player.

Sure, the kicker may shank the chip-shot field goal at games end or the receiver who is “paid millions to catch the ball” drops the go-ahead pass in the end zone, but the hard facts remain. If team X (usually a Philadelphia team) was at the point where it came down to a missed field goal by a soccer player dressed up in football gear for Halloween or a receiver who caught everything else thrown his way all game, there is a laundry list of reasons why they were trailing in the first place.

Cut and paste this analogy, and apply to politics.

And let’s use it to put one falsehood to bed, if only for the sake of breathing life back into a moribund Democratic party.

Hillary Clinton did not lose the 2016 election because of Russia.

And I’m not saying Putin’s long reach didn’t allow his fingers to dip into our Fourth of July apple pies, because he clearly did.

It didn’t help, and it probably hurt.

A fatal blow?

Nyet (“no” in Russian).

Russia was guilty the same way our nation committed nefarious acts to influence elections elsewhere, particularly since two World Wars left us as a world power.

But Clinton didn’t lose because of Russia.

Clinton lost because of Clinton.

And the sooner we cross that bridge into the land of reality, however bitter the taste, the better.

Why? Because we have issues that affect all of us that are simply more important.

And if you make yourself sick over this, you may wake up to learn you do not have the health care to get well.

Catch my drift?

We have critical mid-term elections coming up, and taking back the House and Senate will be the first step in rendering President Twitter-thumbs as powerless as possible.

Yes, I understand that Clinton had a tough task, trying to extend a run of one party in the White House beyond two terms.

Beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower, it has only happened once – when George H.W. Bush went from Ronald Reagan’s second banana to first for a four-year stint (before falling after one term to Hillary’s husband, Bill) – and not at all with a non-VP (let alone someone daring to be the first female president).

But her path to the Promised Land was strewn with penalty flags (see what I did there, sneaking in another sports reference?).

Many, myself included, resented the RFS (Royal Family Syndrome) that was being quietly perpetrated. We had two Bushes, and now the Democratic leadership was trying to prematurely send a queen to the throne while pushing all challengers to the fringes.

And here comes Bernie Sanders – for the record, my candidate – blowing up their early touchdown dance (Why stop with the analogies now?).

He was supposed to go away – with the likes of Jim Webb, Lincoln Chaffee and Martin O’Malley – after being humored for one debate and a few primaries.

But if it were not for O’Malley, and his phony-baloney grin, Sanders would have won Iowa instead of finishing a close second. Come New Hampshire, Sanders crushed Hillary – and her team seemed curiously stunned, even though it was a neighboring state to Sanders’ own Vermont.

Sanders’ progressive message appealed to the under-30 crowd and he was filling college arenas (not that you would ever see it on CNN) while cameras had to pan it tight to make crowds at Clinton’s appearances seems larger than they were.

She was being out-flanked on the left, and badly, so she played her Obama card in debates and on the stump for the swath of Southern (i.e. Red State) primaries for the sole purpose of drumming up the black vote.

It was a smart short-term strategy that hurt her in the long-term. Attaching herself to Obama’s hip, and with Obamacare, was a Scarlett letter she then had to wear as she needed PAC money and party backing to barely edge Sanders’ campaign of $27 dollar donations (I gave several) at the finish line.

Sanders exposed her weaknesses, especially in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, but her campaign arrogantly felt they need not campaign hard there – or in Pennsylvania, since the coronation was held in Philadelphia.

Did Russia seize the weaknesses in these swing states? Yes, more than likely.

Could and should she have still won them? Uh, yes.

Just pick Bernie Sanders as the running mate.

Too much eating crow, with a side dish of bad blood?

Fine.

How about Cory Booker, the standout star of the convention?

How about Elizabeth Warren?

How about anyone but Tim Caine, who not only added nothing to the campaign but detracted from it?

When I saw anyone, I mean anyone.

Or anything — up to and including a Cigar Store mannequin.

I see Cain now and I immediately think of Mike Michel, the Eagles’ emergency “kicker” who missed not only game-winning field goal in a 14-13 playoff loss to the Falcons in 1978, but also an extra point (hence, 13 points instead of 14) and a field goal that would have made it 16-0 before Atlanta scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

I don’t know how to say that all in Spanish – the way Caine would – but you get the point.

Michel was not qualified to be a NFL kicker. He was, by trade, a marginal punter. Coach Dick Vermeil figured he was “good enough” but he wasn’t.

Maybe someone should have read this parable from the Philadelphia Fan Book of Horrors to Clinton before tabbing Caine.

And yet, while a key reason for the loss, he was not the only.

There was Hillary herself. While her opponent gained steam all summer – in the full glare of the cameras from the networks he now loathes for not giving unconditional adoration due only Greek Gods and rock stars – leading “lock her up” chants, Hillary locked herself up by not finding a way to counter punch.

Personally, I don’t believe one needs to be inspiring — or likeable — to be qualified for most jobs, including president. In a prior life, I interviewed people for jobs and often went with the most qualified person, even if they were neither likeable nor inspiring.

But the reality is that, in today’s political world, you need to be both. And she was neither.

Maybe a fiery running mate would have helped to offset that issue, but she went the milquetoast route with Caine.

Maybe it was her campaign more than Clinton. Whatever it was, she went into the general election sounding a little disingenuous by touting more of Sanders’ issues than the disjointed talking points she started off with out of the gate.

And this well-oiled Clinton political machine, the one Sanders himself seemed to blame his noble second-place finish on, was a bit of a mirage.

At the least, it was overdue for an oil and lube change and never got one.

Deferring to the better half, a Clinton backer who punched me in the arm a lot during the primary season, we went to the closest office for a lawn sign 2-3 weeks before the election. The overwhelmed twentysomethings there couldn’t help us.

We eventually got one from a few towns over by calling in a favor from a politically connected friend.

Meanwhile, the opponent had phallic symbol messages all over. And yes, considering she lost the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, it seems that signs matter. They matter so much that we still see them – erections lasting more than four months – often next to Confederate flags (just from finished a 10-day Pennsylvania road trip, and I know what my eyes saw).

And then there were the debates. While SNL had a grand time mocking the other guy, the satire only skirted the deeper concern that had me screaming at the television as much as when my beloved Eagles or Flyers or Sixers are locked in mortal combat.

She missed chance after chance after chance to land the knockout punches he was leaving himself open to receiving, perhaps figuring she didn’t want to come across as a bully.

Instead, the guy on the bully pulpit bullied her out of making history and shattering the glass ceiling.

He may have had some help, and the thought of being a foreign government is abhorent, but she likely had some tools up her sleeve, too. It is how the game is played.

And she still lost.

Some say she should come back and try again.

I say stay away. Please.

You don’t move ahead by looking back.

The next time Hillary Clinton smiles and waves, let’s hope it is goodbye.

 

An Open Letter To Flyers’ Brass

 

Nico

Dear Flyers,

Hello orange and black, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.

And don’t play dumb with the Simon and Garfunkel reference. We go back almost that far, back to the 1972-73 season, when I discovered hockey amid the vast wasteland of the Philadelphia sports landscape of the time.

As such, the Broad Street Bullies are the predominant sports team of my youth.

To this day, if I call for a takeout pizza, and they tell me I’m No. 6, I remember by saying “I’m Andre Dupont.” Heck, I’ll reveal some declassified information. Past passwords have included the likes of “MacLeish19” and “Leach27.”

I wanted to be like my heroes so badly that I became such a hockey legend on the backstreets of Northeast Philly that I was seen as a Charles Manson with a hockey stick at summer camp, where it is said that my ghost will one day find a place in the haunted Camp Arthur Rec Hall.

When I slashed some poor kid across his shoulder for accidently tripping me when I was about to pull my patented Bobby Clarke move from behind the net, I was dumbfounded by subsequent suspension – one that was mysteriously lifted before we played a rival camp – thinking I was only doing what “Hound” Kelly would have done.

Speaking of Mr. Clarke, my boyhood idol, I was floating on air when my two front teeth were knocked out playing street hockey (my quest to have diabetes, like he did, was not fulfilled until 2012).

My vocabulary was bolstered more by Gene Hart – with words like “ignominy” and sayings like “fare thee well” – than any English teacher.

That team may have skated on bloodied ice, but they walked on water so much that I have stayed along for the ride ever since.

That includes six bitter trips the finals, coaching and general manager carousels that would put a traveling carnival to shame and the dark years when Jay “Snide” Snider took the reins from his father, the late Ed.

Where is all this going?

It goes to history.

I know you better than you know yourself, a true blessing and a curse – kind of like Behn Wilson.

Just as I loathe Leon Stickle, and wonder how Game 7 would have gone had there been replay back in 1980, I spend many waking hours working through what should come next as a course is plotted away from the nuclear wasteland that Paul Holmgren turned the franchise into as general manager.

After “Homer” – among my favorites of the post-Bully era, particularly on that would-be Cup team of 1979-80 (still the best Flyers team of my lifetime, in my non-humble opinion) – Ron Hextall has made all the right moves (well, Dale Weise signing aside).

What he has done equates, in my mind, to the best save of his hockey career.

But now comes the moment of reckoning.

Hexy, and I think I have earned the right to call you that, you have an opportunity before you more golden than an open net and plenty of space for you to launch one of your patented shots toward.

But I sense trepidation.

Take it from one who has been riding these waves since you – a year older than I – were a lad in Brandon, Canada, with no allegiance to any team except whomever you were tending net for at the time.

We make our own breaks in this world, and getting the No. 2 pick in the draft lottery was not as much luck as it was an opportunity earned with your ability to bring light to darkness.

As the opportunity knocks, I wonder will if you will answer.

I wonder if you will seize the moment and accelerate the process – dare I use that term, but that’s what it is – and not worry about being semi-competitive in the interim.

There comes a time when you have to throw some of that caution to the wind and sacrifice short-term cheeseburgers for long-term surf and turf.

Sure, the easy part in the upcoming is taking whichever center – Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier – that the New Jersey Devils don’t at No. 1. There is no need to overthink this and try to parlay this pick into something more by trading back and picking up something extra, like a proven veteran or a few high-end prospects.

And I think I know you well enough to know you probably won’t.

But that is a blessing and a curse.

I know you well enough now to know you will gobble up one of the two – I am personally hoping it is the Swiss-born Hischier, who is a little more creative and more responsible, defensively, than the Jeff Carter-like Patrick – and then safely tuck him away for safekeeping in juniors and saying you don’t want to rush things by putting him in the NHL next year.

Unlike some others, I am fairly comfortable you won’t dip into the collection of top-tier defenseman prospects you have carefully curated and trade one way.

You see what I see: pairings of Samuel Morin and Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov and Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers.

I also see Patrick or Hischier with last year’s first-round pick, German Rubstov, up the middle.

While I see it by the season after next, you probably see it by the start of the next decade.

You know what, Hexy? I’m good with the patience, and not getting nudged to trade away any of the prospects you and your scouts have artfully collected. But what I’m not good with is being mired in the current purgatory of being just good enough to not be good enough.

The reality is that by the time the prospects all reach the NHL level, particularly on your timeline, the alleged “stars” of this very mediocre team will have less fuel in their tanks than a Hummer traveling on an open road through Nebraska.

Who am I talking about, while risking the hairy eyeball from fellow Flyers’ peeps?

I think you know, but I’ll come right out and say it. Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier come readily to mind.

If you have to sweeten the pot, why not do so with Scott Laughton before he has as much value as a Smith-Corona typewriter in an Internet Café.

I can hear it now. Giroux’s contract and no-trade clause (or whatever the heck it is). Voracek’s contract. Couturier is still young and will wake up one day and be a two-way player on a nightly basis.

Spare me.

So let’s forget what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do – getting close to equal value – and doing it do the best of your ability.

If Giroux knows he’s not wanted here, why would he stay? Heck, Hexy, he might be relieved.

The reason you didn’t make the playoffs? Because, on a playoff team, Giroux is not a No. 1 center and is past his expiration date. A good team, which you are not, would love to have him as a No. 2 center. If that means selling low, and getting a late first-round pick along with a mid-round pick, so be it.

And let’s face it, he is a not a captain. That “C” on his jersey has been weighing him down ever since he jumped the line ahead of Kimmo Timonen to get in the first place.

From where I sit, on my recliner in front of the TV, it seems Wayne Simmonds is more of the leader of this team anyway.

Voracek and “Coots” still have value, enough that, in a draft that has some depth but is not going to confuse anyone with 1979 (Ray Borque, Mark Messier, Mike Gartner, Brian Propp, Mike Ramsey, Paul Reinhart, etc.) or 2003 (Shea Weber, Corey Perry, Eric Staal, Ryan Getzlaf, Zach Parise, Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, etc.), they could get you picks in the middle of the first round.

Maybe you then package these three mid-to-late firsts for two between picks 5 and 10 and get yourself wingers to ride shotgun with whichever center falls to No. 2.

There is Owen Tippett (6-2, 204), who possesses the best shot in the draft and netted 44 goals in juniors last year. There are two Finns, Eeli Tolvanen (a surreal quick release) and the ascending Kristian Vesalainen, who would also help ease the pain of struggling to find the twine for painfully long stretches of a season.

And speaking of Finland, this draft is loaded with the guys who led that country to the Under-18 World title.

Even though, we can’t knock the fact that we had a league-best nine players at the Under-20 World Junior Championships (where Hischier stole the show and single-handedly kept Switzerland competitive), we had not one player from Finland

That has to change. Too much talent coming out that country, as well as Sweden, right now. But I think you know that. You went with the flow of the draft last year and selected a lot of North American power forwards (including Tanner Laczynski, who represented the US) in the middle rounds.

I’m not worried about that.

Swede Oscar Lindblom, a fifth-round pick in 2014, will likely play – and play better than Chris Vandevelde or Michael Raffl – for us next season.

A round earlier in 2014, you took forward Russian Mikhail Vorobyov, who had 10 assists in seven games at the World Juniors and is considered an NHL-prospect, too.

No, unlike Holmgren, your drafts have been superb, top to bottom.

And you will do it again.

I know you will, because I know you better than you know yourself.

Therein lies the problem. Just get what you can get for players of diminishing value now, go with the kids – and also in goal, with whichever of the several prospects shows he wants the job bad enough, just like the Flyers did with you – and use the cap space to add the right veterans to guide them.

It’s not easy, but please don’t take the easy way out.

I’m counting on you.

Respectfully,

Gordon Glantz

Hometown: Gordonville, USA

This column originally appeared at Phillyphanatics.com

A ‘Super’ Sentiment

tampa-bay

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — By the time many of you read this, the Super Bowl between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots will have already been played.

Nonetheless, I want to get my pre-kickoff state of mind on the record, should I lose my mind as a result of the game, which I would not be surprised will be a good one (we’ll see if I’m right about that).

For the record, I would only be disturbed if a zebra came out and crapped on the field (i.e. an official altered the outcome, either way, with a bad call).  That aside. I’m not going to lose any sleep over the outcome.

That means none. As in zero.

I’ve been deprived so many beauty winks over the past nearly five decades of being a Philadelphia sports fan — and such an ardent devotee of the Eagles, in particular, to the extreme point where I really don’t even enjoy the games anymore — that I would have looked more like Brad Pitt and less like, well, me if I had been more into making model airplanes on autumn Sundays instead.

Ask me who I think will win today, and I will run in through my personal processor and come out with a New England triumph to the tune of 41-35 (give or take a few points).

I’d like to be right, but I have been known to be wrong on some rare occasions. It would uphold my status as someone who knows something about the sport beyond an excuse to drink and belch and play meaningless taproom pools to stay interested.

But I’d also like to be right for another reason. I know it means I should — and could — be burned at the stake the next time I venture out for a cheese steak, but that’s how I feel.

The reason: I would rather see the Patriots win.

That’s right, I said it.

I can hear the chorus now: B-B-But Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan is a local boy.

Yeah, I know. Don’t care.

He is not from Northeast Philly, let alone an alum of Northeast High. He is not from my adopted home ‘hood of Central Montgomery County and did not play for one the schools I covered in my long sports-journalism career.

And he did stay home and play college ball at Temple, instead going to Boston College.

Ryan is from Exton and played scholastically at Penn Charter (eye roll … like that is a common occurrence … second eye roll … for normal kids paying their own way).

May as well be from Mars and have played on Neptune before going to Jupiter for college ball.

Next, you’ll say: B-B-But it will be someone different, another team winning for a change.

Keep talking, and then keep walking.

Not gonna work here in Gordonville.

If the Falcons win today, they will be something like the eighth team (no, I’m not looking it up to verify!) — just since Jeffrey Lurie has owned the Eagles — to win their franchise’s first Super Bowl while we wait in line.

In many cases, these are rent-a-franchises without histories dating back to the earliest days of pro football.

Talking about Tampa Bay and Carolina.

One more for the winner’s circle?

Screw that.

And don’t try to get political, saying our newly elected dictator’s favorite team is the Patriots.

Sports is the one place where politics and other things that divide us are usually put to the side.

And given the rise of anti-Semitic acts since a certain someone was elected on what I see as an arcane technicality (the electoral college), it would be a strong message — for those who dare to comprehend it — to witness said “president” hanging with Patriots’ Jewish owner Robert Kraft.

Yes, the Falcons have a Jewish owner, too, in Arthur Blank.

The fact is that there probably more Jewish owners in the NFL than there are Jewish players.

And yet, two of those players — Julian Edelman and Nate Ebner — are  not only rostered with the Patriots, but are pretty good. Edelman is the favorite target of Tom Brady and Ebner is an All-Pro special teams guy.

A win will make the Patriots the top dynasty of the league’s Super Bowl era and Tom Brady the Super Bowl quarterback with the most wins (which may get him to retire). Sports doesn’t have enough dynasties anymore, so that’s fine.

I’ve seen them celebrate before, including beating the Eagles in my presence. I am numb to that pain.

A new team? A “somebody else for a change” team? Can’t stomach the idea.

Let it be us, or no one at all.

That’s about enough to give me a rooting interest, and while having me still sleep like a baby — and dreaming that recurring dream of the Eagles winning it all — this Sunday night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Shakedown

Handshake

By GORDON GLANTZ

Gordonglantz50@gmail.com

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — In a perfect world, the now-completed 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio should have been a rallying point in Casa de Glantz.

No more fighting for the remote when it is time to decide between “The Bachelor” or a sporting event. No more zoning out when an obscure topic comes up at the dinner table.

With Sofia now 9, these were to be the first Olympics when she really could fully comprehend what was happening up there on our new 60-inch screen.

And even though I’ve gained the smarts to work the Smart TV, I figured Netflix would have to take a break for the Olympics.

But something happened on the road to Rio (yes, I’m aware of the movie by that name).

HBO’s “Real Sports” kept it “real” and shed light on the dark underbelly that is the whole Olympic syndrome we buy into every two years (Winter Olympics come two years after the summer these days, so that we stay nice and inundated with the concept of good will through sport).

Exposing the exploitation tactics of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Real Sports confirmed a semi-quelled inkling that sports journalism may now be the standard-bearer of the once great fourth estate.

And it turned me off, just about completely, to any interest in the Rio games, while serving as a stark reminder that an event designed to make the world seem perfect is a delusion.

But then I had to consider my 9-year-old ultra-precocious daughter, Sofia, who was going into the Games buoyed by a Lifetime movie on Gabby Douglas she had seen on Netflix after a long détente over what to watch once the Smart TV riddle rhymed.

She was deeply interested, and asking a lot of questions. When it comes to all things sports, whether I know or not, I’m the Answer Man around here.

As it was, the two most televised sports in the first week were gymnastics and swimming. Sofia, inbound for fourth grade, has been taking gymnastics since the summer after Kindergarten and has been taking more serious 1-on-1 swimming lessons this summer.

She was doing her own “routines” in front to the TV, and pretending to swim back and forth. It was too cute, and too reminiscent of what I used to do – often in full costume – when I watched sports. (Confession: I still watch the Eagles in a jersey and hold a now half-deflated football as a comfort toy.)

So I put all disgust from the “Real Sports” segment on the shelf and watched with her, even when Mommy and Nana slithered away from the scene.

This is what we Dads do.

Sofia was cheering for Douglas, after seeing the aforementioned movie, but I reminded my half-Jewish daughter that she needed to hold a warm thought for team captain Aly Raisman. We also cheered for Michael Phelps to make history, were amazed by Katie Ledecky and couldn’t understand how and why Sweden would be formidable in swimming when the other more “winter” countries (Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Finland, etc.) were struggling to get on the radar in any event.

It brought back memories of my first real Olympics experience: the Munich Games of 1972.

I was 7, and my whole world was sports. I remember watching from the couch for much of Mark Spitz’s exploits. I also remember being on “vacation” in Washington, D.C. for the end of the Games, and trying to understand – as much as I could at that age – what was going on when the Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by Palestinian terrorists.

At the time, I thought the subsequent theft of the basketball gold medal from the U.S. men’s basketball team was more egregious, but I soon came to learn that it paled in comparison. It came full-circle when I read a Doug Collins interview stating that what had happened to the Israelis pretty much dampened the spirits of the team and that they “just wanted to go home” as much as play that gold medal game against the former Soviet Union.

Olympic officials tried to separate sports from politics, but they were proven – just as Hitler’s Berlin Games of 1936 and the black power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on a Mexico City medal stand in 1968 or the mass boycott of the Moscow Games of 1980 did – to be impossibly intertwined.

That’s the one aspect of the modern Olympic Games in which the spirit of the ancient Greek Olympiad cannot be recaptured. In those days of yore, with the likes of Plato and Socrates among the honored spectators, there was a mandatory cessation of regional hostilities to allow for safe passage of soldiers to travel and be able to compete.

How and why could that have been the case in a supposedly less-evolved time in history? Maybe because the ancient Olympics also had a spiritual side.

They believed the Gods were watching.

These Gods probably looked away in disgust sometime between the full-time modern revival in Athens in 1896 and the stripping of Jim Thorpe’s 1912 gold medals in 1913.

Although smoke-and-mirror productions – like the grandiose opening ceremony in Rio –  can put a proverbial bandage on a gunshot wound, the internal bleeding had already begun behind the scenes.

And it was clear there was no cessation of regional hostilities to allow safe passage – even to the opening extravaganza.

That night in Rio, members of the Lebanese delegation refused to share a bus with the Israeli team.

And so it began.

And continued.

A female representing Saudia Arabia, which has a poor record on women’s rights, withdrew from the judo competition rather than risk having to compete in the second round against an Israeli, Gili Cohen. (If the Saudi didn’t want to compete, her name doesn’t deserve to be mentioned.)

On the men’s side, in judo, Israel’s Or Sasson was graced in competition by Egypt’s Islam El-Shehaby. After Sasson scored what is the sport’s version of a knockout (or pin), Sasson’s fervent attempt at a handshake was rebuffed. While the crowd jeered, the referee ordered Shehaby to take the customary bow and eventually got a feeble nod.

The action was a post-script in most places. Given the volatile nature of the Middle East, who wants to take sides, right? Decried in the Israeli press and met with passing disgust in the U.S., excuses were initially made by officials (the IOC has a history of anti-Semitism going back to Hitler’s games).

In a delayed move, El Shehaby was sent home by his own country – likely to a hero’s welcome, which he will need to avoid the shame of losing to a Jew.

And make no mistake about it, this is what this all about.

Recognition, and treatment of the Palestinians, are just easy excuses. It is the same reason Israel has a harder time qualifying for the World Cup in soccer or the Olympics in basketball. Instead of competing against nations from its own region, it has to compete against European nations because neighboring countries refuse to compete.

Meanwhile, the “Real Sports” report delved into safety in Rio. During the games, there have been incidents, up to and including U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte and teammates half-concocted their story about being held up at gunpoint (it was kinda sorta true, but not really, and yet another controversy that got a ridiculous amount of mainstream media coverage while Louisiana literally floated away).

According to Associated Press, these other incidents include the following:

  • An Olympic security officer was fatally shot after he and two others got lost near a slum near the airport.
  • A pair of Australian rowing coaches were robbed at knifepoint Friday in Ipanema. A day later, also in Ipanema, Portugal’s education minister was robbed at knifepoint.
  • Stray bullets have twice flown into the Olympic sports complex in Deodoro.
  • Two windows were shattered on a bus carrying journalists (local official say rocks, but those on the bus think bullets).
  • Bomb squads have set off several controlled explosions after finding unattended items such as the backpack near the basketball arena. Detonations also have happened near the finish line of a cycling race and of a Copacabana Palace hotel.

While all these actions pale in comparison to what happened in Munich, just think of the mileage – the positive international press – that would be generated if the animosity was dropped, like when there was a cessation in battle in the ancient games, if something as simple as a shared bus ride and a handshake and man-hug occurred.

We know that would play well in, say, the UK or Canada or Australia or the Netherlands. But it would be seen as a national disgrace in places like Lebanon and Saudi Araba and, yes, Egypt (treaty or not).

How do I explain all of this to Sofia, when she is watching with the same wide eyes I once had?

I want to tell her all, and one day I will, but Olympic moments – like the so-called 1980 Miracle on Ice (I personally don’t think it was quite the miracle it was made out to be) – should be coveted before her innocence is lost.

For now, I suppose I’ll keep it simple.

And do what we Dads sometimes have to do.

I’ll lie.

I’ll say the Gods are watching.

Long Walk Home

MacLeish

By GORDON GLANTZ

Gordonglantz50@gmail.com

@Managing2Edit

Been giving a lot of thought lately to what it means to grow old.

Being on the north side of 50, if only by a year, will do that to a guy.

More or less, I still love – or at least like, or am bemused by – the same music and television shows from my youth (while picking up some strays along the road of life).

I am still given to bouts of unabashed to immaturity, often manifested by practical jokes with Sofia serving as my assistant.

And that little girl, sometimes 9 going on 19 and sometimes 9 going on 19 months, keeps me young in so many ways.

Yeah, there are the physical reminders – less hair up top and more girth in the gut.

And I am mastering the art of small talk. I can do the wave and nod thing and the final plunge of discussing the weather and traffic patterns.

But I think we age as we lose drip on our youth.

Listening to Bruce Springsteen 24/7 won’t halt that that inevitability.

No one gets out of here alive.

We lose our grandparents, our parents, our aunts and uncles and we age with each loss.

By the time we lose our friends, well, you don’t need a calendar to tell you how old you are.

Rick MacLeish was not a personal friend of mine. I met the man twice. Once, I wait in long line at car dealership – Matt Slapp Something or Other (I think Chevrolet, but don’t hold me to that) in the Northeast – but they hustled us all through the line pretty quickly.

My heart pounded as I approached. He quietly asked my name and I stammered with a response. He proceeded to spell it incorrectly – G-O-R-D-E-N – which is actually amazing, considering the number of people named Gordon, like Gordon Lightfoot, from his native Canada.

Because of the length of the line, my impatient stepfather told me he would be back to pick me up. Because of the precision of the movement of the line, he was nowhere to be found when I was done. So, I did what any stupid 9-year-old would do.

I walked home.

By the time I got there, the late autumn chill had taken its toll and my mother put me in a warm a tub. I didn’t quite understand my stepfather’s panic when he got back to Matt Slapp, but I can only imagine how I would feel – actually I can’t – if the same thing happened with Sofia if she were waiting in line for an autograph from Becky G (her second-favorite teen idol behind Sabrina Carpenter).

When he saw me in the tub, he couldn’t get too mad. I was home. And, really, he should have waited and he knew it.

But this was 1974. Parents didn’t see child abductors lurking on every corner. We played, out of view, until dark.

My favorite sport to play was street hockey, pretending to be like guys like Rick MacLeish.

All was forgotten and I went to bed happy, despite any panic I caused. I had interfaced with my second-favorite Flyer – Bobby Clarke was like Secretariat pulling away from Sham in the Belmont Stakes – and I had his autograph (I had Clarke’s too, but it was not from a personal encounter).

The second meeting with MacLeish was a bit different. I was acting in a professional manner as working member of the press at the Philadelphia Sports Writer’s dinner in Cherry Hill. I walked out of the press room to look for Tommy Lasorda (I worked for the Norristown paper, and we were required to write about Lasorda whenever he passed gas) and almost collided with someone around my own size.

He politely said “excuse me” and timidly stepped aside. His face, like any of the Broad Street Bullies, was unmistakable.

“Rick MacLeish,” I pronounced, much more confident than when I was nine, introducing myself as he shifted his beer to his left hand and shook mine.

We spoke for about five minutes, tops, during which I did most of the talking in a quiet corner where there were so many other Philadelphia sports icons walking around that no one would have even noticed.  I told him he was my second-favorite Flyer, about the Matt Slapp incident and how I spent hours in my garage trying to replicate the quickness and power of his surreal wrist shot.

I also told MacLeish that whenever my father manage to get tickets for a game – no easy task in that time frame –  he always scored a goal, and that I even saw a hat trick or two.

He quipped that he would have gotten me season tickets if he had known.

We also talked about the goal he scored against the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, which held up for the duration in a 1-0 win. He explained that the deflection was not an accident. He explained that he and Andre “Moose” Dupont tirelessly worked on it in practice. Dupont would shoot it about an inch off the ice and he would deflect it. By the time the situation arose in the game, it was like second nature. For the first time in a game situation, it worked.

He joked that the other power-play point men, Bill Barber and Tom Bladon, shot too hard to spend time on it with them but that “Moose shot it nice and slow, but accurately, and could only get it as high as around the ankles anyway.”

I saw Lasorda – actually, I heard him, too – from the corner of my eye. I was promised five minutes to do a power interview, so I had to excuse myself. MacLeish shook my hand again (hockey players were always gentlemen) and blended back into the crowd from which he came.

I spotted him again, alone in a corner of the VIP area, and thought about resuming the conversation. But I had a story to write, and wanted it out of the way before the dinner, and I didn’t want the man to think I was some sort of a stalker.

So, those are my Rick MacLeish stories. It might be a sign of age, but neither is ever told that often.

From time to time, I would run into someone from overnight camp or somewhere else in my youth, and they would luckily remember me more for my wrist shot than by buck teeth and Jewfro.

My response would be that “I got it from watching MacLeish.”

And I starting watching MacLeish again.

Part of staying young, I suppose, has been some small semblance of computer literacy. The Flyers’ first of two cups is recalled most by the final series, with Clarke winning Game 2 in overtime and MacLeish’s tally in Game 6 that goalie Bernie Parent would preserve, but they got there by edging past a New Rangers team in seven games that was probably better than Boston.

I found Game 7 of the Ranger series on You Tube and what immediately struck me was how dominant MacLeish was in that decisive contest.

And after he passed away this past week at age 66, I watched it again. The whole thing.

It made me feel young.

It made me feel old.

Most of all, it made me feel he was worth that long walk home.