Category Archives: Sports

Vick In The Thick Of It (Again)

Michael Vick

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Love and hate.

Two powerful words that are as used and abused as much as any in the English language.

For example, you don’t’ really love the food at a certain restaurant, and you don’t really hate when people act rude in public.

Love and hate has to be more personal.

I hate Neo-Nazis, for example.

I love my family, my friends, and the music that has been the soundtrack of my life.

I love dogs (cats, too, but particularly dogs).

And I love the Philadelphia sports teams, but the Eagles top the list.

This brings me to the great quandary, and controversy, still swirling around one Michael Vick, the former NFL quarterback.

While Vick made his name with his game with the Atlanta Falcons, the quarterback became a lightning rod when his role in a dog-fighting ring was exposed.

He went to jail for 21 months, and his name – as it should have been at the time — was mud.

Vick served his time, and was signed by the hometown Eagles.

That’s when things got pretty interesting.

Some fans turned in their green gear. Their love for dogs was so powerful that they could no longer root for a team that could employ such a person.

Others, figuring he wasn’t going to play much anyway, tried to shrug it off.

Myself, a lifelong Eagles fan? To say I wasn’t happy about it at the time would be an understatement.

For one, just from a football perspective, they needed a fourth quarterback on the roster like I needed a fourth hole in my head.

Plus, well, look what he did those poor dogs.

After one year here of saying the right things, while not really coming across as being overly convincing, Vick ended up not only being a standout on the field for the Birds in his second season, 2010, but a genuine good citizen off of it.

When he led an amazing comeback win in the Meadowlands, the one that ended on DeSean Jackson’s walk-off punt return, it kind of personified his comeback to being a productive and law-abiding citizen and family man.

Vick has since retired, gone on to be a better citizen than many others — including Donovan McNabb (two DUI arrests in Arizona, one of which caused an accident).

Vick has worked for the cause of animal rights while also establishing several charitable foundations for at-risk youth.

Vick has been a positive role model to those who have done wrong and now try to do right, showing that a life can be turned around.

For that, he was named an honorary captain for the upcoming – and relatively nonsensical – Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 in Orlando.

Firestorm instantly ignited. It was 2009, the year the Eagles signed him, all over again.

In my inbox, I received e-mails from Change.org (they have me on file for being a crazy radical who has signed petitions in the past).

One asked for my support in removing Vick as a captain.

The other was to support keeping him.

Even though a pickup game in the park between middle-school kids is more interesting than the Pro Bowl, the question was fairly significant.

And it has some resonance this time of the year, where families put aside differences and New Year’s resolutions are made.

Which petition did I sign?

The choice was pretty easy.

Keep him as captain, I said, lest we ski down an endless slippery slope – putting us into a gray area of serious issues of black and white and selective forgiveness – that we don’t want to get into but probably should.

In a country where the system of crime and punishment is broken (recidivism rate of almost 77 percent within five years of being released), Vick should be heralded as a success story of how it should work.

But, because his victims were dogs – and I love dogs, too – Vick is judged more harshly than if he, say, committed a violent crime against even a woman or child.

We live in a country where someone who bragged about fondling women was elected president, and where charges of sexual child abuse against Catholic priests and those using the football brand of Penn State – get swept under the rug.

People get all weak in the knees over stories about the few white supremacists who changed their ways so much that they want to remove their swastika tattoos.

But a black man in a white man’s world? Not a chance.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, to his credit, has refused to yield to the pressure to remove Vick as honorary captain.

Good for Goodell.

How about you?

It is a true question of love and hate, and it’s a chance to let love in and let it win.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 5, 2020.

Bracing for Civil War 2.0

BattleOfChancellorsvilleReenactment

By GORDOON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — If the gauntlet had not already been laid down for the American Civil War 2.0, recent events have inched us closer.

Let us count the ways:

-Impeachment: The hearings kicked off Wednesday, with the Union (Democrats) and Confederacy (Republicans) painting two entirely different portraits about what your president (not mine) said to the Ukrainian president during a phone call.

The other thing that can prevent this from leading to a bloodbath that will spill over into the streets is that all of us – left, right and center – just don’t have the same attention spans from when the same thing happened with Richard Nixon in the early 1970s or even Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

These proceedings will drag on for weeks, if not months, providing enough lead time for diversionary tactics – ranging from childish 3 a.m. tweets to creating new and inventive instabilities overseas – that will draw the mainstream media away from both the impeachment hearings and who currently leads in the Iowa polls.

The “base” will refuse to believe any evidence that their president did anything wrong. At the least, they will just convince themselves – via the mastery of false equivalencies and believing conspiracy theories – that it was nothing different than what anyone else has done in the back rooms of the West Wing.

They said that about Nixon, too. And, well, we know how that turned out.

The whole election of your president (not mine) was a sign of the times, revealing we were ripe for a Civil War. No qualifications were required, as only venom toward outgoing president Barack Obama – and the use of code words and hot-button topics like immigration – were enough to capture the imagination of those who didn’t want to be bothered with the gory details involved in sorting out fact from fiction.

He has done 1,000 things that cry out “Impeach Me, Hard” – kind of like those “Kick Me Hard” signs we would put on someone’s back in middle school – and this is just No. 1,001.

Whether it does the trick or not is irrelevant.

There are those who see this, and those who don’t want to see it. In the middle, we have a portion of the country – the same portion that will likely decide the next election – who may just want to take the time to understand the US Constitution and whether or not he breached the document he swore to uphold above his own personal interest.

-Sandy Hook Revisited: There may be no more hot-button topic in this brewing war between the states than gun control (yet another school shooting in suburban Los Angeles Thursday morning).

It is said that if nothing changed after the horrific mass shooting of 26 people, including 20 first-graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in 2012, it was never going to happen.

And nothing has.

However, what seemed to be a Hail Mary pass, a lawsuit against Remington Arms Co., the maker of the weapon used by the shooter in the Sandy Hook massacre worked its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And the high court, despite having an extra vote from the right, allowed the families to move forward with the suit, the essence of which states that Remington was at fault because its marketing targeted “vulnerable young men” – i.e. losers – with its phallic symbols thinly disguised as weaponry.

At face value, there is some merit against the lawsuit, as it could create a slippery slope. However, as is the case in the impeachment situation, the devil lives in the details.

The reality is that most of the country, even gun-owning members of the NRA, are for some form of gun control.

Still, the startling fact is that three percent of Americans own half of the country’s estimated 265 million guns, and they are likely not those with any interest in any form of gun control legislation.

This case will be worth watching. The NRA’s deep pockets haven’t stopped its momentum yet, even when going to the right-leaning Supreme Court, the ruling of which will not only will likely open the door to more lawsuits from victims of gun crimes.

If that happens, there will be backlash from those who don’t get the fact that no one is physically coming for their guns in a conspiratorial attempt to trash their rights under the Second Amendment.

-Colin Kaepernick Workout – While it should be a sports story, it is anything but when Kaepernick’s name is involved.

Your president (not mine) infamously called on NFL owners to “fire” (wrong terminology, as players are released or waived, depending on their contract verbiage) any athlete who didn’t stand at attention during the national anthem before games.

Kaepernick, who began kneeling for the anthem in protest, has been out the NFL for almost three full seasons now.

While it is ironic that many of those who insist of their rights under the arcane and misinterpreted Second Amendment are unwavering in denying Kaepernick his right of free speech under the First Amendment, it is also fair to say that Kaepernick was getting more mileage out of being martyr than trying to make a comeback as a rusty quarterback.

The whole saga took a shocking turn this past week when Kaepernick tweeted out that he would be holding a surprise, open workout for NFL executives.

Initial indications were that just one team out of 32, the Dallas Cowboys, would attend the workout via a “team official” who could be nothing more than a low-level scout.

Whether Kaepernick throws another NFL pass, a tight spiral goes into the great divide. If he isn’t signed, he becomes even more of a martyr for the cause. If he is given a chance, others – the Confederates – will be up in arms.

And then there are the nuances of the scenario. If he signs but sits behind a starter who is not a standout, there will be cries of discrimination. If he kneels again during the national anthem, there could be protests at stadiums. If he doesn’t, the Confederacy will declare a moral victory and the Union will see a sellout to the man.

Controversial (and, fingers crossed, viral) Music Video – A bit of shameless self-promotion here, folks. A video of a Gordonville, U.S.A. song “Angry White Male” was released, via Facebook watch party, on Nov. 16 (World Unity Day) and remains available for viewing.

The images of how far we have devolved, with so-called patriots using symbols of those our forefathers fought against to save our union and democracy, are not pretty.

But they were necessary to convey the brevity of the song, which can be found on YouTube and at the Gordonville, U.S.A. Facebook page (give a brother a “like” while you are there).

I would say enjoy, but that’s not the intent.

This column initially ran in Times Herald on Nov. 17, 2019.

Unique Coach Gets His Call To The Hall

LouSofia2

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The first time I met Lou Lombardo, I was a know-nothing twenty-something cutting his teeth as a rookie sportswriter.

Already a fish out of water as a natural slacker thrust into the workforce, I was playing double jeopardy because the sports editor sent me to an American Legion game – the Fort Washington Generals against someone — instead of one in my comfort zone of the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League.

There was this short guy coaching third base for the Generals shouting out weird stuff to his batters and baserunners, and I half-wondered if he suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome before I was assured by someone, perhaps a writer from another paper (back in those bad old days of yore, multiple papers would cover sporting events), who said, “that’s just Lou being Lou.”

I covered the game, and warily approached this strange Lou character after the final out.

Before I could even introduce myself, let alone ask a question, Lou took one look at me and proclaimed “it’s Gene Wilder!”

He then summoned anyone he could – assistant coaches, umpires, players, parents, dog-walkers (and their dogs) passing by – to seek validation in his assessment that I could be Wilder’s stunt double.

Other than that I would have gladly traded paychecks with the star of movies like “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” – among a litany of others – I didn’t quite get the connection.

Once Lou settled down, he was an amazing interview, breaking down the game in such detail that I wondered if we had just witnessed the same one.

It’s now decades later, and I look more like Telly Savalas than the curly-haired Wilder. It was a minor miracle that Lombardo – the longtime coach for both the Generals and the Mustangs of Montgomery County Community College – seemed to have even a faint recollection of me when I called him last spring for more information on his career to build a resume for what I believed to be a long overdue induction into the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame (full disclosure: I’m the chair of the Selection Committee).

Two fascinating hours after what should have been a 15-minute conversation, Lou agreed to let me bring Sofia by his backyard training facility for a hitting “evaluation.”

She had fallen into a terrible slump, and I was desperate for an expert assessment. He cautioned that most of his clients were baseball players, not softball players, but he would take a looksee.

I brought Sofia over for what was to be a 50-minute lesson early last May.

About 2 ½ hours later, her whole approach was broken down and built back up with what he calls linear hitting.

She did so well, that he had her elevated – as a sixth-grader – as being a Division III-level college recruit.

I left feeling like I had flipped Andre the Giant off my back, especially when he agreed to take her on as one of his few softball students.

It was like getting an acceptance letter from an Ivy League school (especially when we added catching to the course load).

The only remaining hurdle was Sofia.

Lou’s passion and enthusiasm seemed to have left her rejuvenated, in terms of confidence, and she couldn’t help but chuckle at many of his antics.

Still, would she want to come back with this guy who claimed to be 79 years old and was encouraging work with a hula hoop to increase power and naming her bats?

That question was answered as soon as we got in the car, even before the doors were closed.

“Wow,” she said, without being prompted, “that was fun. … And I can’t believe he is 79.”

Lou – who is actually a decade shy of 79 — made it clear that he was really an advisor, and only needs to see her every now and then, christening me as her new hitting coach.

I was initially reticent, but I now feel that I can break it down pretty well when we practice in the backyard.

He not only can teach the players, but also the teachers of the players.

And this is just a small sample of all the players – of both sexes and of all ages – that he has helped become better ballplayers.

Ironically, Lou gives homework to his students – and their parents, who he makes stay for the sessions (I would anyway, being a helicopter sports dad) – and I gave some to him as nominee.

As part of his Hall of Fame nomination process, to sell it to the rest of the committee, I wanted him to put together a coaching tree.

What that is, in layman’s terms, is a list of former players and assistant coaches, etc. who have gone on to carve out their own impressive niches in the baseball world.

Football example: Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh, both of whom won Super Bowls, are among those from Andy Reid’s coaching tree (not that I’m rubbing it in Reid’s face too much that he is still chasing a ring down like the last pastry at the buffet table).

The first “tree” Lou gave me was a page, but he knew he was forgetting some people. The next was a page and a half, but the retired history teacher at Upper Dublin High still wasn’t satisfied. The final product was closer to three pages long.

I don’t want to tell Lou this, but the committee barely glanced over the list. His reputation preceded itself, and he was in on the first ballot and will be inducted as part of the Class of 2019 at Presidential Caterers on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Lou touched a lot of people’s lives during his coaching career, and has privately expressed – more than once – how he would like to look out over the room and see a representation of his career, from different eras, looking back up at him as he delivers an acceptance speech that he promises will be nothing short of the Gettysburg Address.

Tickets still remain for the event, and can be purchased at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-montgomery-county-coaches-hall-of-fame-banquet-tickets-72532381305 or by calling 484-868-8000.

Blending In With The Scenery (Finally)

Brynner

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — North of 50, actually nearly 55, my short-term memory is becoming seriously challenged.

Long-term, though? Forget about it – pardon the pun.

I remember the almost-frozen ice cream sandwiches on the beach in Atlantic City (this is before I became Lactose intolerant).

I remember drinking a coke from a seemingly bottomless bottle (this is before I developed a sensitivity to caffeine).
I remember going into the ocean (this is before I stopped wading in past my ankles after seeing “Jaws”).

 

And I remember going to a lot of movies (before there were video stores) and getting popcorn you didn’t have to butter yourself.

And the TV shows, with only three network channels and the UHF stations (no cable, no Netflix) that always needed rabbit ears for better reception.

When I loved a movie, I would see it multiple times. Being from a broken home – yeah, I am playing that card again – it was automatic that one I saw during the week could be seen again on the weekend to get out of the way of the missiles flying at my father’s home.

One movie that was a hit in Gordonville was “The Ten Commandments,” an epic drama about the exodus of the ancient Hebrews from bondage in Egypt.

Starring Charlton Heston as the protagonist, Moses, the plot of what now strikes me as embarrassingly hokey dialogue was stirred by Rameses II, the antagonist played by Yul Brynner.

What set Brynner apart — beyond an accent that was a mish-mash of Russian, Swiss and Mongolian – was his shaved head (with had some weird ponytail thing hanging out of it for a while).

The movie was made in 1959, six years before I was born, but it made the rounds again in theaters in the early seventies.

At a time when men had hair longer than a lot of women, it struck me as a bit unique.

On television, there were a plethora of classic detective shows that all 264 high-tech CSI shows combined could never match.

Savalas

A standout was the gritty “Kojak,” starring Telly Savalas.

In addition to his signature lollipop, the character had a shaved head.

Maybe shoulder-length hair of men had given way to the more “disco” blow-dry look (think John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”), but going all shaved was still way out of the norm.

Most bald men just went bald, usually with those awful fringes around the side that some would let grow out of proportion.

That horror hit close to home.

Clarke

My father would go to a barber – the same guy who “styled” the hair of some of the Broad Street Bullies (he claimed he used the same scissors and comb on my hair as boyhood idol Bobby Clarke) – whose supposed specialty was covering bald spots.

My maternal grandfather used an at-home pullover approach that would never fly today.

The shame of it was so powerful that some resorted to hair pieces that were obnoxious.

Genetically, I was doomed to be bald.

A sad fate for someone who could never get it right.

One constant through my misbegotten youth was a lot of bad hair days trying to emulate either the rock stars or sports stars I so admired.

There was one respite from the madness. It came in fifth grade, when even older women in sixth grade, seemed to have crushes on me.

I got hitched to the adorable Barbara Padgett one day at recess (breaking many hearts in the process), and figured I’d be set as a playboy for life.

But an early onset of puberty was not kind.

By sixth, I was playing in the minor leagues.

My father would order the barber, the Flyers’ guy, to turn my Juan Epstein thing into a “camp cut” before going away to camp (thus assuring being turned down by the fairer sex for roller skating or dance at a record hop).

In protest, once back in the world, I let it grow out into an all-out Brillo pad atop my head.

I made matters worse by blow-drying it, because it seemed like the cool thing to do, as opposed to letting it dry naturally.

Daltrey

Giving up trying to look like Bobby Clarke – or some other hockey players (a guy named Ron Duguay from the New York Rangers had the ideal look) – it turned into an all-out quest in high school to nail the look of Roger Daltrey (lead singer of The Who).

On a good day, the best I could do was Neal Schon from Journey, and that was usually right after a shower.

I eventually went to the John Oates look in college, and got by enough to do OK with the opposite sex – and meet my eventual wife, who says I “grew on her like fungus” – but then genetics set in and I started losing hair.

Fortunately, and fortuitously, I noticed more and dudes on TV – from guest experts to law enforcement officials to aging rockers to athletes – doing away with those hideous fringes and either go closely shaved or all bald.

My cousin, Aimee, told me I could “rock that look” a few years ago, but I filed it away for future reference.

I took it slowly, but I recently instructed my barber – former Kennedy-Kenrick athlete Steve Devlin of Mike Devlin’s Barber Shop in Broad Axe – to shave it all the way down before our trip to Nova Scotia.

I was thrilled. Finally, I looked like everyone else.

Me now

We were north of the border, where people are nice to one another, for so long (2 weeks) that I was sick to my stomach when it grew in too fast.

I have been back twice since, within the span of a week.

Yul Brynner and Telly Savales have become the new Bobby Clarke and Roger Daltrey in Gordonville, and I couldn’t be happier.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Oct. 6, 2019.

Let It Be (And Other Thoughts)

No Wood

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s been a long time, perhaps too long.

Let’s press reset with another installment of “What Is And What Should Never Be” (named in honor of the Led Zeppelin Song).

If you don’t recall how it works, it won’t take long to catch on.

And we’re off:

What Is: We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, providing a chance to relive all the music and magic that took place (without getting caught in the rain and mud, let alone having to sleep outside). One of the most amazing aspects about the festival – beyond featuring a lineup of classic acts (The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) that can only be duplicated by those who turned down invites (The Doors, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel) – is that it was as peaceful as advertised. There were two deaths – one from an insulin injection gone wrong and one when an attendee sleeping in a nearby field was run over by a tractor – and two births.

And What Should Never Be: Attempts to mark the anniversary with a reboot. A 50th anniversary try failed miserably, but at least the plug was pulled to avoid the type of chaos that occurred at the 25th anniversary attempt (although the Philly-area band Huffamoose, featuring some real talented guys I’ve worked with, played the first day – before it went haywire on the second). That should serve notice to anyone wanting to make a 55th, 60th, 75th or 100th. It was a once in a lifetime event. It was a historical event. History naturally repeats itself anyway – often tragically – so we need not spur it along because we can’t think outside the box. In my mind, there was another Woodstock. It was Live Aid in 1985. I was there, at old JFK Stadium. It was my Woodstock. I’m good, thanks.

Iowa

What Is: In the landscape of our country still struggling to reach its potential greatness, consider Iowa as Exhibit A.

And What Should Never Be: Iowa wielding the political power that it currently does in the flawed political system that ultimately leaves voters from the other 49 states – and the District of Columbia, which somehow isn’t its own state – holding their noses in voting booths and feeling like they are voting for the lesser of two evils. Consider Steve King, the Iowa Congressman, who has uttered so many hateful and absurd pronouncements that they are not worth repeating. Do we really want a state whose voters elected this sad individual to disproportionately control to fate of America the way it does?

colin_kaepernick_jan_rtr_img

What Is: As soon as Eagles backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost for 6-8 weeks, which equates to a few weeks of the regular season, the chirping began for the Eagles to sign exiled Colin Kaepernick began. It only increased when the No. 3 quarterback, Cody Kessler, went down for the count with a concussion and the Eagles coaxed 40-year-old Josh McCown out of a short-lived retirement.

And What Should Never Be: Sorry. Not the case. This was a football move, period. To paraphrase “The Godfather” (greatest movie of all time), this is business and not personal. A commitment to Kaepernick would have been complicated. Other teams – most notably, Seattle in 2017 – have kicked those tires. His reported contract demands were unrealistic (immediate chance to start, at starter’s pay). In a league with a fixed salary cap, and considering the pending media circus, the choice against becomes more vivid. I have my own personal feelings on Kaepernick, and where he was and is coming from, but it wouldn’t be fair to put them out there with any proof. Let’s just say, as both an Eagles’ fan and a bleeding heart liberal (i.e. snowflake) who supported his right to protest under the First Amendment, I’m fine with how it went down. If Sudfeld were out for the season, different conversation. He’s not, so drop it.

Bibi

What Is: Israel banned two U.S. Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, from visiting the West Bank, sparking such outrage on the left that Bernie Sanders – my Bernie Sanders, whose family fled the same Nazi persecution that help lead to the formation of Israel – called for an end to U.S. aid there.

 

And What Should Never Be: Hopping, skipping and jumping to the facts here. While it was wrong to not let elected officials visit, it’s also wrong to sweep with one broad brush about Israel. These are the actions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (a graduate of Cheltenham High School right here in Montgomery County). Known as “Bibi,” he was elected by a narrow margin, with his Likud party eking out the more moderate Blue And White party of Benny Gantz. Sound familiar? It should. They are almost as polarized there about their leader, also working on his third marriage while operating under corruption charges, as we are with ours here. Just like many of us don’t want to be judged by the actions of your president (not mine) many there feel the same about their prime minister. When detractors quickly seek to punish “all Israelis,” I can’t help but think some other bells are going off in their heads.

Looop

What Is: John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, dropped out of a crowded Democratic presidential race that most average citizens didn’t even know he was in.

And What Should Never Be: I like to make fun of John Hickenlooper because, well, his name is John Hickenlooper. Worse yet, he actually looks like someone whose name is John Hickenlooper. However, to his credit, he did the right thing here. Not only is the herd thinned by one, but he is now going to run for a senate seat currently occupied by a vulnerable Republican. All he needs is a nickname. Go get ‘em, “Loop.”

This column appeared in Time Times Herald on Aug. 25

Bias Keeping Flyers Grounded

Finns-celebrate

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s almost hard to think back to 2006, considering it is the year before my life changed forever with the birth of Sofia.

It is equally hard to believe — or conceive — that an NHL team that wants to stay relevant would close off part of the hockey-playing universe “just because.”

Not saying that is the case with the Flyers, in regards to drafting players from Finland, but the evidence is mounting.

Finland is a country of about 6 million people (a lame reason often given why they can be more humane to each other on social issues, but I digress). Despite this, it is becoming known “the best hockey country in the world,” much to the chagrin of our friends up in the Great White North.

In last weekend’s NHL Draft, the Flyers continuing their steak of not drafting a player from Finland since 2006 (Joonas Lehtiuvori).

Given the talent coming out of that country, it is an almost impossible feat to accomplish, and yet they have managed to do it.

Since that time, the Finns have won three golds at the Under-20 World Tournament. In the Under-18 tournament, where most of the draft-eligible players have been displaying their games for scouts, they have two golds, two silvers and three bronzes in that time frame.

Yeah, you’ll find a Finnish veteran on their roster, via trade, from time to time, but it’s not the same thing as growing your own talent.

Just scan the rosters of the league’s elite teams, and you will find what they have that the Flyers (no Stanley Cups since 1975 and six losses in the finals since) do not.

You win with Finns.

The Flyers don’t win, and the bias is obvious.

I’m sure they don’t just dislike Finns off-hand, but there seems to be some general fear that their players maybe won’t adjust to playing in smaller rinks with more physical play, or that they won’t be willing to come here on two-way contracts, meaning apprenticeships in the less-glamorous minor leagues.

Lehtiivori might be an example of that. After being drafted, he remained in Europe before coming across the pong and playing 98 games with the Adirondack Phantoms over a span of a season and a half before returning to Europe, where he still plays for pay.

It’s hard to believe that one experience left such a sour taste in the mouths of management that they have passed it along though several regime changes since 2006.

The only common ground between these front offices is no Stanley Cups and not drafting any players from Finland.

 

Every Day Is Father’s Day

MVP

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Only a few Father’s Days ago, I spent the occasion at an 8-hour dance recital just to watch Sofia perform for, maybe, a grand total of eight minutes.

I accepted it as my lot in life.

Sofia was my own personal Tiny Dancer, and I figured this was how it was going to be – waiting all day with a growling stomach, clinging to a bouquet of flowers while racing other dance parents for ideal seats.

At the time, she was the kid – “that kid” — in her first year of 8-U Rec softball that sometimes needed 10-12 pitches (from a coach) before she hit the ball four inches.

I braced myself to become a dance dad and not a sports dad, as she was more in her natural habitat in ballet shoes than spikes.

We fostered her overall creative side with piano lessons, art camps/classes, etc.

Softball was just something cute she did, usually with yours truly serving in some sort of coaching capacity, as she enjoyed being part of a team and accessorizing, via headbands and wristbands.

And it was all fine with me.

It would run its course and we would look back one day and laugh.

As long she did well in school and maintained “angel on earth” status with the Mount Rushmore of teachers she had in the early grades, all was good.

I could not have been more proud.

At least that is what I thought.

Guess where I spent this past Father’s Day?

I’ll make it easy.

It was not at a dance recital.

It was not at a piano recital, either.

We were in gritty Gloucester City, N.J. – literally in the shadow of one of the bridges — for a travel softball tournament.

And not as spectators – well, mama was a tense spectator while I was in the dugout as a low-on-the-totem-pole coach who keeps the scorebook.

Sofia was on the field.

For those of you not familiar with this world of travel tournament softball, the pace of the game puts it several notches above neighborhood Rec leagues.

Players have to audition for teams in mid-summer and, if they earn an invite, they practice year-round in indoor facilities.

I’m not going to say Sofia is a superstar at this level, because she is not – not yet, anyway – but she meets the commitment level needed for travel ball.

She played left field and batted ninth in both games Saturday. She made a nice running catch and lined a single in the first game, a 7-4 loss to the second-ranked team in South Jersey. That performance earned her a chance to be a game captain in the second game, a terse 7-7 tie in which she stole a base and scored a run after getting hit by a pitch (her specialty).

On Sunday, Father’s Day, she was moved up a spot in the batting order, but we were promptly eliminated, 10-0.

Still, in the midst of this early morning drubbing, it hit me as she rifled a throw from deep left field to the cutoff at shortstop, how much she has developed her softball skill set in such a short amount of time.

And she has done it her way.

Sofia still dances – just not at a school that holds recitals on Father’s Day (eye roll) – and we limit her ballet classes to one long night a week to allow for softball practice, schoolwork and her litany of other secondary activities (Girl Scouts, 4H, school choir, etc.)

In the spring, Sofia also played for her school’s softball team, starting every game at her preferred position, catcher, and was named as an All-Star at year’s end.

It was not uncommon for her to go right from a school game or practice to a workout with her travel team, Velocity.

I could take all the credit for not giving up on her, but the truth is that she never gave up on herself and is eternally coachable, meaning the arrow is still pointing way up.

And no, I have zero delusions that she will be one of those young women on TV playing for UCLA or Oklahoma in the College Softball World Series.

Sofia was never going to be dancing at Julliard, either.

She is what I said I always wanted, an all-around kid.

This is not to be confused with me thinking Sofia is perfect, because she is not. She is the princess of procrastination. She is not quite as compliant with authority at home as she is with teachers, coaches, dance instructors, etc.

And she is bit too addicted to social media.

But Sofia is a young lady of many deep passions.

Beyond softball and dance, she is turning into a mini-me with her love for music (I wish she’d let me show her how similar my bands are to hers, but I’m not giving up). She enjoys going to museums, art and historical, especially if they are about ancient Egypt.

Sofia will soon return to her beloved creative arts camp – well-prepared with a purple streak in her air — to indulge herself in all it has to offer (except sports, as the kids there are, uh, not too athletic).

As parents, all we can do is let our children engage with the world, and embrace their passions with both arms.

In her case, she might need three.

Sometimes, it’s her mother helping her rake in the overflow.

Sometimes, it’s me.

That’s just what fathers do.

It is my lot in life — a life where every day is Father’s Day.

No matter where I am spending it.

This column  first appeared in The Times Herald on June 23, 2019.