The real American heroes

A few days ago, I heard an announcer talk about what a hero a certain player was for making a game winning shot to lift his team to victory.  The term hero is used very frequently in the world of sports. But in the grand scheme of life, these so-called heroic acts of making a crucial play to win a game pales in comparison to what many men and women do in our military  everyday and have for decades.

My real heroes have always been the men and women who have given their lives so that we can enjoy our many freedoms today. If it wasn’t for their efforts and sacrifice, we might be living in some totalarism type of country with few and little rights. Or our country would consistently be invaded by terrorists and we would be living in fear everyday. There is no more honorable way of dying than giving your life to this country.

I often hear stories about soldiers who sacrifice their own life in order to save several members of his combat mission. It tears me up when I hear of a soldier who covers himself up over a grenade to protect others from serious harm. That is really what taking one the team is really about! Many people in this country don’t even have 1o percent of the toughness that these soldiers have. Imagine putting yourself in harm’s way like these people do. I cannot even imagine doing it myself. That is far more heroic than being a star player in a big game.

During this Memorial Day weekend, many families will gather for barbeques, picnics and perhaps high school or college graduations. I think everyone should stop for a moment of silence and honor those who gave their lives for this country. These people are the true American heroes. We owe it to them.

A few thoughts on the NBA playoffs

It seems like just yesterday when the league and players association announced a deal in the labor lockout.  Now, after a shortened, condensed season with many games in a short period of time, the NBA is about to have its finalists for the conference championships. The Western Conference playoffs pretty much have gone as expected while the Eastern Conference has had a little more drama with the unexpected first round loss of the Chicago Bulls and the mild problems Miami has had with Indiana. With that said, here are a few observations and thoughts I have concerning this year’s playoffs.

1. Injuries, injuries and more injuries.   When all is said and done, this year’s playoffs may be remembered more so with all the key injuries that have taken place.  The Chicago Bulls were severely affected by the loss of Derrick Rose in the first game of the playoffs. There chances at a title went up in smoke when he went down. The same will happen to the Miami Heat. They are going to have a tough time winning the title with Chris Bosh sitting on the sidelines. I highly doubt they will even win the East.

2. Horray for the small market teams.  How can anyone not be pulling for a team like Oklahoma City or San Antonio? Never city is a real glamorous market to play in but they have outstanding, loyal fans without all the glitz and showbiz. I doubt too many players will be saying in the future that they want to take their talents to the great state of Oklahoma. But if they want to get a ring, they might want to think twice about playing in New York or Los Angeles  anytime soon.

3. LeBron.   If there is anymore debate about who the best player in the league is, it should stop immediately!! This guy has really stepped up his game during the past few playoff games. While Kobe jacks up forced 3 pointers in the final quarter and foolishly calls out teammates, LeBron actually makes his teammates better. He is by far the best all around player in the game today.

4. The Lakers woes.  For the second straight year, the Lakers get bounced in the playoffs which should make for an interesting off-season. Outside of Kobe, who do they really have who can consistently make big shots down the stretch? Their point guard situation needs to be addressed too.  I hate to say this but the Clippers are slowly overtaking the Lakers as the best pro team in LA.

5. Great playoff coverage by TNT.  The studio show on TNT is outstanding and one of the best in any sport. I just love the funny banter between those guys. Bringing Shaq to the show was a great move.  And is there any better play by play man than Marv Albert? He is definitely the voice of the league.

Oh and by the way, as for a prediction, umm. I like San Antonio to beat Miami in 6 games for the NBA title.


Lessons to be learned from Europe’s problems

Last week, leaders from several countries met to discuss the ongoing financial and economic problems of many European countries.  Rising unemployment and staggering debt have gripped many countries across the sea and the ripple effects are sure to hit the United States soon. I found it rather interesting to listen to some of the leaders talk about a solution to these problems. Some of the leaders actually want more stimulus spending, while others such as Germany want tighter budget controls and less spending. A rather stark contrast in philosophy which also is a key political issue in this country.

Personally, I believe the biggest issue facing this country in the near and long-term future is the mounting debt. It is the biggest campaign issue in my opinion and I am greatly interested to see how the candidates will deal with it.  We cannot sustain these levels much longer before we end up going bankrupt. Good economic growth cannot happen when the debt is at record levels.

I often wonder why many leaders and politicians do not open their eyes and observe places that have good economic growth and job creation.  There are several examples to follow not only here in the United States but in other countries. Funny, but the one common denominator in all these places is lower taxes and keeping spending under control. In other words, NO BIG GOVERNMENT!!! But some places such as France, elect a socialist leader who believes more stimulus spending is the key to reviving the economy again. Perhaps the newly elected leader over there should look at how President Obama’s stimulus program worked here. It was largely a failure and only added millions to our debt. Oh sure, it may save a few jobs but stimulus spending really only puts a band-aid on a problem. Our unemployment rate really went down after that stimulus package didn’t it? Haha!!

Since many companies tend to look at the future when making plans to hire and create more jobs, the uncertainty with the rising debt and new taxes force them to hold off in creating jobs and hiring people.  Sooner or later, something will have to be done to pay off this debt and it usually means higher taxes for everyone including businesses. That certainly is not a recipe for good economic growth.

I also find it interesting that many people over in Europe do not want to elect a candidate who is in favor of  drastic spending cuts. Instead, they would rather elect someone who feels the solution is through more stimulus dollars, why? That reasoning is absurd!! Overspending and fiscal irresponsibility is how many countries and states got into their mess in the first place. Of course, it is only natural that people don’t want their government handouts taken away from them or reduced. But sooner or later it has to happen in order for economic growth to start happening again. Unfortunately, maybe some of these government handout people might have to go out and get a job, what a shame!!

In summary, there is a blueprint for economic and job growth. One just has look at what is happening now to places with growth and low unemployment.  I just wish leaders would take a history lesson and learn from the past.




That evil club in my golf bag

If you’re an avid golfer like myself, you probably have a few clubs in the your bag that you absolutely detest and try to find ways of not using them. An example would be the driver.  You would figure that a club with that huge of a sweet spot and the potential to sent the ball into orbit would be the favorite of any golfer.  But it is the least accurate club to hit and has helped many sporting goods stores in golf ball sales since many drives go wayward into the woods. Other golfers do not like hitting a 3 iron, myself included.  However, the club that has caused me the most pain on the course is none other than the putter.

Since I began playing golf on a regular basis about 15 years ago,  that club has caused me countless moments of frustration, heartaches, rising blood pressure, you name it!! There is nothing more frustrating on the golf course than putting for birdie and ending up getting a bogey. It surely is not the fault of the operator is it? I mean, how can someone with my athletic ability miss a 3 foot putt?  That is why golfers are constantly changing putters in hopes of having greater success.  It surely does not have anything to do with my setup or technique does it? Of course not! It all falls on the club that I am using.

I have used the same putter for about ten years and usually it has given me the same poor results. I have threatened many times  to send my putter into solitary confinement in the darkness of my storage area. Or send it flying into the nearest pond. But every time I get on the verge of doing so, my putter does something special for me like helping me drain that tough, breaking 30 footer for a birdie.

Then one day while watching the golf channel, it dawned on me. It is not the putter’s fault after all.  No wonder I am missing all those short putts. My head is moving up while I’m stroking the ball. It is all my fault!! The instructor mentioned that a good player should be able to put with a tree branch, well he was kind of exaggerating but I can see his point.  But I still hate my putter and some day, it may be found in the bottom of a pond at my golf course.  No piece of sporting equipment that I have ever owned has been so cruel and mean to me.

The gay marriage debate

Last week, President Obama finally came out and offered his support of same-sex marriages. The announcement really came as no surprise to me given Obama’s left-wing view on many topics. The whole issue of gay marriage is becoming a hot topic in this country and many states have or will be holding referendums on whether to set into constitutional law that marriage should be defined as a union between a man and woman.

I have friends who are homosexual and even though I disagree with their lifestyle,  I find many of them to be normal folks who just prefer to be with someone of their own sex. It really is none of my business who they date or what they do in the bedroom but it is my business when they demand to have the right to get married.

Imagine what this will lead into if all states were forced to legalize gay marriage? Suppose I was bisexual(which I am not!). Do I then have the right to marry both of my partners? I don’t you say, why not? You are discriminating against me you bigot!! If same-sex partners can get married, why not extend those rights to bisexual people? Or let’s not stop there. Suppose I wanted to marry my one of my hot cousins or my sisters.  I know this sounds foolish but I can just see those type of scenarios develop if we legalize gay marriage.  Why change an institution that has been with us for centuries?

I strongly believe in the old-fashioned marriage of having a wife and husband raising children. Studies have shown that children are more likely to grow up as successful, emotionally stable people when they are raised by both a man and a woman.  I don’t know how anyone can dispute that!! That is the real reward of marriage to society.

When we start to re-define what marriage should be, we are just heading down a slippery slope of messing up one of the world’s longest institutions. A person does not have a right to something is it affects someone else or society in a negative way.  I just wish people would look at the consequences of what gay marriage will lead to.


The worst team in MLB

Of all the pathetic professional sports teams in this town, a new one is quickly making its way to the top of the ladder. Yes, none other than those beloved Minnesota Twins. In fact, this team will be hard pressed to win more games than last year’s dismal 63-99 squad.  They are simply a bad team with little hope for the near future.

During a stretch from about 2002 to 2010, the Twins were known as a very solid franchise, not great but a team who consistently contended for the AL central crown every year and won it many times. They may not have had much success in post season play, due in a large part to the Yankee jinx, but it is hard not to like a team who consistently wins games and contends for the playoffs every year.

Things looked really rosy for Twins fans in the spring of 2010 with the opening of the brand new ballpark. Tickets were in high demand and interest in the team was at one of the highest points every. Despite another AL central crown, the Twins fell once again the Yankees and things have gone down hill ever since.  Believe it or not, they only have a winning percentage of around 27 percent since last June.  For a major league baseball team, that borders on historic mediocrity.

So what is the problem? Many people like to blame key injuries as the reason but when you have a very below average pitching staff combined with a team who struggles at the plate, that is not a good recipe for winning baseball. The fact that they got no hit last week was no accident. I just hope they don’t get embarrassed again by another pitcher this year. While the pitching is at times awful, the hitting is even more so especially with men on bases.

This team needs to rebuild quickly and I hope it starts with their starting pitching. I always believe the best way to build a contending team is to develop a strong starting staff. It is not easy to find good starting pitching so teams with a good staff can usually contend for a long period of time. I just hope that GM Terry Ryan can work some of his magic and come up with a few good starters. And another thing, please do not fire the manager. Ron Gardenhire is one of the best in the game. It is not his fault that he was given this pathetic roster. Of course it is always easy to blame the manager or coach when the front office are the ones who should be taking the heat.

I enjoy watching the Twins both on television and in person. The new ballpark in downtown Minneapolis is awesome and a very welcome relieve from the worst baseball park ever, the Metrodome. Now that we have a major league ball park, I wish the home team played like a major league team. But unfortunately, it may be a long time before that happens.



The cruelty of life

Recently, I read an article in one of the local papers about a young high school girl and her battle with cancer. She had lymphoma and battled the disease for nearly 2 years before her life ended at the young age of 17. It was extremely touching and inspirational to read about the young lady’s bout with the disease and the courage she demonstrated. A thought occurred to me while reading the article. I wondered what was going through her mind during the time she was fighting the disease. What are the odds of someone that young developing a terminal type of cancer? It has to be almost 1 in maybe 100,000? Here is a young lady who was supposed to be experiencing all the wonderful things that someone her age goes through . Then all of sudden, her life changes just like that. She probably had the totally opposite feeling of winning the jackpot. Why ME! Why is life so cruel to me!

I have seen first hand how cancer totally ruins and takes a person’s life away. I have seen people in hospitals who are just hanging on for dear life with the disease. It has to be one of the worst ways to die, seeing your body just getting eaten by the disease until death. Fortunately many forms of cancer are extremely treatable these days. But even if you have a treatable form, it is a very difficult journey to experience. And don’t say it cannot happen to me. Almost 35-40 percent of all people develop some form of cancer in their life time. There is not a person on this earth who is exempt from this awful disease. It is very sad when anyone gets the disease especially someone as young as this girl.

I think we all get down on certain silly little things in our lives. The truth is these problems are not even close as to what some people go through. I can’t help to think about the problems of most teenagers. Many do not like their physical appearance or maybe they are upset with a zit on their forehead. Compare those problems with having a terminal disease. It could happen to any teenager out there and unfortunately, it happened to this brave young woman.

I think this story really woke me up as to what is important in life. We and myself are very guilty of taking things for granted in life. We get upset and depressed if we break something or have a bad round of golf. But just remember there probably are many people out there who are dying in some hospital who wish they had another opportunity to break something or play another round of golf. Enjoy life while you can because there are no guarantees of not having your life turned upside down.