Putting our Heads Together

Putting our Heads Together
I don't think he sees me

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Year of the Dan: An Open Letter to the Colorado Rockies

I love baseball. When my mind wanders down happy paths (sometimes narrow, sometimes wide) the most expansive areas have a field, a ball, a bat, and nine gloves. I recall as a boy in bed at night, my brother Chris just three feet away in his, the tubes glowing in the small green AM radio on the nightstand between us, as baseball poured from its small tinny speaker. The voices of Milo Hamilton and Ernie Johnson doing analysis and play-by-play for the Atlanta Braves.

My brother and I listened to the Braves religiously through the seventies. We welcomed the advent of WTBS with its broadcasts of the games as manna from heaven. Those were lean years for Atlanta, when losing seemed more realizable than winning, and each newly acquired big named pitcher would seemingly buckle to his knees grasping his pitching arm with some injury as soon as they disembarked the plane at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport.

Such a baptism in following the sport should have hardened me to whatever franchise I would migrate to in adult life. But it is a truism that no matter what you have experienced, no matter what you have seen, you haven't seen it all - yet.

I am in Colorado now, and after living here seven years, Colorado was chosen to get an MLB Franchise, the Colorado Rockies. Now the Rockies are celebrating their twentieth year which they are calling "The Year of the Fan." A great idea, but the follow-through has left something to be desired. So far, the only things the fans have to smile about are the inventive and humorous Colorado Rockies television commercials which star some of their season ticket holders.

Going into spring training (the annual rebirth of the religion that is baseball) the Rockies were believed to be in contention for a spot in the post season. Now with the season in full swing (pun intended), the Rockies will be lucky if they do not lose one hundred games, and what was the “Year of the Fan” has become the “Year of the Dan.”

Dan would be Dan O'Dowd, General Manager of the Colorado Rockies, and harbinger of the Rockies’ doom. He has wheeled and dealed this team solidly out of contention in a year dedicated to the people that have supported the team through its highs and lows for twenty years.

Last year the season was crippled by an under performance from its ace Ubaldo Jimenez, the loss of its number two pitcher Jorge Del la Rosa to Tommy John surgery, the mediocrity of the three man in the rotation Jason Hamel, the inconsistency of forth starter Jhoulis Chacin, and a broken neck incurred by fifth man in the rotation Juan Nicasio. "Wisely" the Rockies dumped their ace to the Cleveland Indians for having a poor season, for which they received two good minor league pitchers and an unknown position prospect.

The season ended with many question marks hanging over the Rockies pitching as-well-as having serious needs for the revolving doors at right field, and second and third base. It was time for the Rockies GM to step up to the plate and show more than his lackluster job of previous seasons. Would it be too much foreshadowing if I were to say that Dan O'Dowd struck out looking?

To his credit, O'Dowd made good moves in right field and second base signing veterans Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro. No off season moves were made about third base and so Manager Jim Tracy divided the duty among Gordon Pacheco, Chris Nelson, Jonathon Herera, and DJ LeMahieu.

I really do not want to address the pitching situation, but I have to. In the off season, O'Dowd dealt mediocre Jason Hamel to Baltimore (where he has become the rock of their rotation) for Jeremy Guthrie (he of the 17 losses for 2 of the last 3 seasons). O'Dowd retained the inconsistent Chacin, strong good-natured Juan Nicasio (he of the broken neck), and added to that Jeremy Guthrie, young untested Drew Pomerance, and spring training acquisition forty-nine year old Jamie Moyer (fresh off Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery). You could almost feel the division quaking in their collective spikes of facing that fearsome five!

Just into the season’s infancy, the first round of disasters struck. Chacin and Nicasio both went on the disabled list and have not seen action since. Guthrie has performed as-well-as a seventeen game loser can be expected to perform. Drew Pomerance was sent to triple A Colrado Springs to work on mechanics, and Jamie Moyer was handed both his cane and his release papers.

In the field, the Rockies lost all star/all world shortstop Troy Tulowiski to what may be a season ending groin injury. This left the infield in chaos and opened the way to expanded micromanaging on the part of Jim Tracy. Tracy decided to share shortstop duties among Scutaro, Chris Nelson, Gordon Pacheco, Jonathon Herrera. Since Scutaro was partially reassigned to short stop, Tracy got to play musical chair at second with Scutaro, Nelson, and LeMaheu.

In case you were thinking that first base is the lone island of sanity in the sea of the infield, Todd Helton (who has done his usual superlative defensive job) is aging and not hitting as-well-as past years, so he is given frequent days off and right fielders Cuddyer and Tyler Colvin (with a dash of let-me-see-which-hat-I-wear-today Pacheco and Yoda-of-the-clubhouse Jason Giambi) alternate on the corner. All this switching around of players is more difficult to follow than Abbot and Costello explaining “Who’s on First.” It is no wonder that our normally high team fielding percentage is suffering. Without stability to the infield, chemistry does not have a chance to form, to gel into the familiar bonds necessary for a 6-3-2 double play, or even sometimes to know where to throw the damn ball.

This juggling act has its effect offensively as well. There is for all practical purposes no fixed batting order save that when the game starts the pitcher bats ninth. Batters are not getting the chance to settle-in to the leadoff spot, or four-hole, or lower half of the order, or wherever. Each place in the batting order requires a different strategy. Shifting personnel around so much weakens the offense that the Rockies can produce (as an example, the Rockies have been outscored this year in the second and third innings by approximately sixty runs).

Back in the land of the pitcher, the Rockies moved Guthrie to the bullpen, brought up Alex White along with rookie Christian Friedrick to start, Josh Outman was moved to the starting rotation from the bullpen, and resigned Jeff Francis to the club. Around this core, Jim Tracy implemented a league perplexing four man rotation. Based on the theory that the less opposing teams see of the Rockies’ starters, the better the chance the Rockies’ starters can put the team in a position to win a game. Because of the short time between starts, starters are limited to just seventy-five pitches with the hope they can make it through the fifth inning, then the long reliever can take over, and the holder and the closer can then play their parts – I call it “pitching by committee.”

What actually happened when this system was implemented was that both Alex White and Josh Outman were shelled out of their first starts within the first few innings, ultimately resulting in both being sent down to the minors. Drew Pomerance was brought back up, and Jeremy Guthrie was given another shot at the rotation. Pomerance has performed well, though due to arm soreness took a drubbing last time out. Jeremy Guthrie had not changed his shaky ways and was shuttled off to the Kansas City Royals for Jonathon Sanchez (1-6 when acquired, 1-7 after his first outing in a Rockies jersey). The primary bright spot for the Rockies pitching has been the surprising play of Jeff Francis who has pitched consistently and has been a solid veteran presence on the field. Francis however is no longer an ace, and is better suited as an anchor of a rotation and not its best performer.

If it is confusing finding your way through this maze of names, positions, and moves, it has been doubly so to the fans who root against the tide of crumbling hope for the Rockies. As I mentioned, I am a veteran of witnessing promising melt down, but the dreams-turned-to-dust of the Rockies’ season is like nothing I have seen in my more than four decades of being a baseball fan.

This year I have watched both the moves by the GM and the juggling by the Manager and have found both wanting. I join the multitude of Rockies’ fans, lantern in hand, searching in the dark not for an honest man, but an honest assessment of the team. I am looking for ownership to say more than, “Man, we really aren’t that good, are we?” The fans need and deserve decisive movement, decisive change. I am not talking a sacrificial response such as changing the hitting coach, or sending the pitching coach to be special assistant to the GM. I am talking about replacing Dan O’Dowd and Jim Tracy immediately.

The position players we have are fine, and look to grow into the high ceilings that scouts have predicted for them. The starting rotation is a disaster and needs complete reconstruction, but I am unsure who is available that would make a significant difference at this point. Much of the damage is done this season, but ownership can at least make the infield more stable, ownership can at least give the batters fixed spots in the order, and ownership can show the fans that it cares about putting out a quality product by firing O’Dowd and Tracy. Any argument revolving around direction or stability to this move would be spurious and hollow as ownership had no difficulty in removing Clint Hurdle as Manager at mid-season when that change was required.

The fans are still coming to the park, the fans are still following the broadcasts, and the fans are still loyal. Show them that they are justified in this love and trust, pay more than lip service to the “Year of the Fan,” move out O’Dowd and Tracy, and move on to what this team can be.

Friday, July 20, 2012


There is a special thrill for people who go to a mid-night premiere of a new movie, they expect something special, they expect to be thrilled, they are recalled by the innocence any new fun experience brings, they do not expect chaos and death. Early this morning in the city of Aurora, Colorado at a movie theatre in a nice area of this town nestled within the metro Denver area a man in a gas mask and bullet proof vest, armed with a rifle and handgun tossed a smoke bomb or tear gas canister into a crowded theatre and began shooting. What was it like? Twenty-two year old Jennifer Seeger was the first person the shooter (James Holmes) saw, she survived; this is some of her account:

“He came in and he threw in the gas can and then I knew it was real," Seeger told NBC News. "Then he shot the ceiling. Right after he shot the ceiling he pointed the gun right at me. At that point I drove into the aisle and I got lucky because he didn't shoot me.

Then he started to shoot people behind me and the bullets were falling on my head. It was burning my head it was so fresh. I could smell gunpowder. At that point he went up the stairs.”

Hot shells, ejected, burning, pelting her head. The smell of cordite so strong she could easily distinguish it from the thick smoke filling the theatre from the thrown canister. How was she able to act so quickly to save her life? Thank God she did.
Another witness to this horror said:

"I'm with coworkers and we're on the floor praying to God we don't get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding."

No matter how much cartoon violence we see on screens large and small, no matter how gory a movie gets, the sight of true blood whether yours or someone else’s is startling, unique to be in the presence of this intimate fluid that should remain internal, unseen, sustaining life. So many reports on the radio of people shot, of friends helping wounded and bleeding friends from the theatre. One of the wounded was a 3 month old child (who takes a baby to a midnight showing of a PG13-rated movie?), fortunately this child was treated and released, unclaimed by the reaper in its midst.

James Holmes, the “suspect” in custody, is reported to be Caucasian and educated – he was a former grad student of Neuroscience. His mother lives in San Diego, and when police there went to her, she was apparently unsurprised by her son’s actions.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.

"You have the right person," she said.

"I need to call the police," she added. "I need to fly out to Colorado."

Upon arrest, Holmes told police something about explosives or bomb making supplies at his apartment. Police, Fire Department, bomb squads, FBI, and ATF converged on the building and evacuated it. From a perch atop a Fire Department ladder truck, an agent sited through the third floor window explosive substances and booby traps set to prevent entry. Who is this man? What motivates him? What internal time bomb makes him a mass murderer, killer of men, women, and children? What makes him a monster?
They are questions with no answers. In the coming days, weeks, months, and years these questions and others will be posed, probed in an attempt to fit the jagged, irregular pieces of this puzzle together. It is a puzzle without a box to provide clues as to the order of pieces, it is a puzzle without smooth borders to define edges, it is a puzzle that may form a picture that sane minds will be unable to process. No one knows.

Ultimately in the wake of senseless death and terror is unreasoning fear. As I drove to work, glued to my radio listening to 850 KOA out of Denver, I worried for my friend Ben and his family who went to a midnight showing of the movie, praying that they were alright, even though Ben lives more than half a continent away from the massacre. No sane reason for me to fear, but that was one of my first thoughts. Shaking this thought, I recalled that less than three months ago, our eldest daughter and our grandson were living in Denver, what if they had been involved? Thoughts and worries cascaded, our son is only a week away from moving back from South Carolina to his house in Denver, what if he had been there? We have many friends in the Denver area, are they safe? My heart races, my head pounds, my eyes moisten and my fingers strain to work on this as these thoughts renew, replay.

I do not know what is going on with the world. I have always known it to be violent and polarized, but this kind of horror is a gut punch that leaves me breathless and gasping on my knees. The killing did not come from a known enemy who might have been caught through webs of intelligence, murmured hints at some evil to strike. This was an act of mass random violence, unpredictable, one that could approach us out of the corner of our eye at any time in any place and for no reason. It is the kind of act that leaves us feeling insecure and unprotected.

We will follow the investigation intently, as we did with Columbine. We will hang on each word and speculation. We will incorporate what they learn from this crime into our shields, and we will lie to ourselves that we are now safer for the experience so that we may sleep easier believing the world is a sane place. I know that prayers will flood to the victims and the dead as naturally as the rising of the moon, and all I can do for those I know and love is hope they are safe.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Take Me to the River

Life is a river that you are baptized in, anointed in its holy waters from the cradle to the grave. It teaches you first to learn, and then to teach before you simply melt away and become part of its flow, part of its fertile silt. It is a lonely river if you never have any one to pass your knowledge of shoals, rapids, falls, calms, pools, and life on to. With each step into it, with each inch towards its relentlessly speeding current, you find out more about yourself and the river, even if that next step is on your tip toes. When you are younger, time moves slowly because you are at the rivers edge, as you get older it moves more quickly because you are further out into its currents. At fifty, I can still see the shore but I can also feel the rivers strong pull as I round this bend and look towards the next.

At birth, I was dipped in playfully at the bank by my parents, as I grew older they held my hand as I tottered into water muddied by my awkward foot falls to investigate eddies, and pools with crayfish in them. They watched as I took my first solo steps and wound up plopping down butt first in the water, sometimes crying sometimes laughing. These were my early years, where my parents were with, by me, looking over me, allowing me to drink at the rivers edge, but were careful not to let me slip in, not to let time run away with me too quickly.

Growing older, I waded further into the river but always with my parents’ knowledge of where I was going, where I would be. The river flowed a little faster for me, the pull of it a little stronger. I saw fish swimming about my feet in the shallows. I felt invincible as I flew over the sun splashed water on a rope swing, laughing and howling with friends, both scared and exhilarated. Life passed about, or we passed through it, sometimes it is impossible to tell. In the hubris of my youth, I believed the river was my own and that I would know it from headwaters to sea.

Knowledge of mind grew, comfort with body gained, insecurities of whom I was and what I would do with my life churned and swirled not unlike the river itself. The river had broadened and its current strengthened. I went off to college, feeling only a tenuous life line to home as I waded out further still with toes blindly groping for safe foot falls. I made friends, I established identity, the river for the moment did not seem so frightening, and my life line slowly rotted in the stream as all such lines must.

The river took me from my home, and gave me to the mountains and to the west. My parents and family were still strong within me, but I was chest deep and heading for rapids, my life was my own and I had to learn to swim or sink on my own. As my first brief marriage tumbled through white water and rocks ending in divorce, my hand grasped reflexively for my mommy’s and daddy’s grip at he waters edge. They were there in spirit and gave me all the love and encouragement I could want, but ultimately I had to keep myself afloat.

The rapids changed into a long meandering stretch where I could rest myself, cool in the waters, and bask in the sun. Far from family, bounded by far reaching prairie to the east and ragged mountains to the west, I was the better off for what I had been through, I found more of myself. I found likes and dislikes; I found life in friends, and life in people I could help (which in turn helped me).

The river only began to speed again when I met Jean-Marie, and her three incredible children. No longer was I alone in the river, Jean-Marie floated beside me. We watched over the children as they took their own tentative steps from the banks, their own daring dives from tire swings. The river seemed easier to manage with love and companionship, held less fear of self when there are children to watch over and guide on their own river’s journey.

It has not been a lazy river since then, friends and family have passed, children have gone through rough patches, the marriage itself has gone through rapids, but with each other to cling to there was less of a chance of drowning and with each mishap and heartache and insult to our lives, having each other has kept us from sinking. I don’t mean to say that there were no slow spots, because there have been many, there will be many more. I will enjoy the ease of floating down them, hugging my wife to me as we smile and laugh.

When I look to the bank now, I see our children wading into the deeper faster water, I see our grandchildren look for fish and play on the tire swing. I am both joyous and afraid. I know some of what the river can do, some of what it can bring. I cannot change its course, I can only go with it and watch out for the one’s I love as best I can ultimately knowing how they handle the rapids and the white water is up to them.

Turning fifty has not been the plunge over the falls that some have warned me of, but it is humbling to go back and look at the winding river, to see its length and breadth and know that I am only looking at a tiny part of a bigger picture, a world river, a flow of time and souls that began longer ago than my memory can process, and will not reach its end at the sea until a time my imagination cannot conceive of.

Cross-Dressing Cuttlefish

I once was blind but now I see – thanks to the cuttlefish. A battle has long been raging between evolution and creationism, a battle to be forever personified by the Scopes Monkey Trial, a battle in which I have sided with Darwin. Darwin built a cogent logical argument for how animals developed on earth from the simplest of foundations to the most complex of creatures, man. Creationism has its scientists too, but so often creationism comes across with the weaker “Then a miracle happened!” argument. Now, because of the cuttlefish, I am leaning away from Darwin and closer to God.

The cuttlefish is small and squid-like in appearance and is known for being able to change skin color and pattern in the blink of an eye. This ability is well documented, but there is a very special aspect of this camouflage talent which has just come to light. In observing the mating rituals of cuttlefish, scientist noted that when more than one male was in the presence of a single female, the male in closer proximity showed male skin patterns to the female, but the side facing the other males was patterned after the female! This makes the cuttlefish, the first non-human species on the planet to have adopted the social behavior of cross-dressing.

Scientist currently interpret this behavior (which occurred thirty-nine percent of the time during observed courtships) as an attempt on the part of the cross-dressing male to avoid conflict with other male cuttlefish, thus raising his procreation chances with the female of interest. Since cross-dressing in the human population is often conceived as a deviation by fundamentalists, there can be no reasonable explanation for the cuttlefish evolving a supposed socially unacceptable behavior. Therefore, cross-dressing in cuttlefish can only have been achieved by God’s plan, and if something can be considered a gift from God in a lower species, how can it not be celebrated as such in humans.

The ramifications of this are enormous, earth-shattering, of universal importance. Think of it, God created cross-dressing, therefore cross-dressing is acceptable. Since cross-dressing has been for quite some time associated (though not exclusively) with the gay community, there now exists both scientific and religious proof that homosexuality is both a knowing creation of God and socially acceptable.

Think of the relief that will sweep across the fundamentalist and extremist communities. Finally there is a hate to cross off their list. These people so strongly opposed to so many things will wake up tomorrow or the next day with a considerably lighter heart, and perhaps the things remaining for them to hate will seem just a little bit less important.

With this revelation, I cannot shake the image of the lion now lying with the lamb or in this case Pat Robertson lying with the drag queen. I can almost hear the pen scampering to the paper to re-write next Sunday’s sermons. With creationism now behind the gay community, trumpets will blow and walls will crumble. To hell with gay unions, gay marriage will easily become the order of the day.

As farcical as this argument seems, it is far more farcical that we treat same-sex couples as anything less than complete people by denying them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples. Laws pass and are struck down out of religious zeal much more so than any substantive legal argument. To me this denial seems to violate the constitutional rights of religious freedom and free speech as-well-as the constitutional separation of church and state.

On the religious side of the coin I have always been drawn to the Matthew 22:36-40 :

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The second greatest commandment and the one that guides us in how we treat all those around us, demands of us to treat our fellow man as we ourselves wish to be treated. Christ does not say love only those that think like you do. In fact, God and the Declaration of Independence seem to me of one mind on this matter as one of this country’s founding principles is that all men are created equal.

I admit that I am often angered at the fight over gay marriage which seems to me to have such a self-evident answer. It seems if you believe in God’s love and the word of Christ then you must come to the conclusion that an adult couple is an adult couple and should be granted the sacrament of marriage. It also seems if you prefer to think like an American, then you believe all men are created equal and you must come to the conclusion that an adult couple is an adult couple and should be given the legal right of marriage. My life and the lives of my family have been too deeply touched by gay couples who define love and commitment for us. I must contain my temper on this issue, because I am called to “love my neighbor as I love myself” even if that neighbor may be closed minded and more homophobic than God-fearing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wrestling with the Past

I was raised to love reading, enjoy classical music and the arts, open doors for women, and to use a cloth napkin. One would never guess that beneath the refined shell of this Renaissance man beats the heart of an old school professional wrestling fan. I am not talking about the hyper-thyroidal muscle bound monsters that perform in mega-stadiums with jumbotrons and fireworks. I am talking about wrestling as it was when I was growing up. Before the WWE, wrestling was much less global and each region of the country had its own regional promoter-owned wrestling alliances. It had a local feel that made wrestling not only fun to watch, but for me it became a bonding experience with my two brothers and my father.

I couldn’t wait for the weekends when we would sit down and watch Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (a Jim Crocket Production) and Georgia Championship Wrestling (hosted by legendary announcer Gordon Solely – renowned for inventing the names of muscle groups being tortured in the squared circle). To me, this was the hay day of the “sport.” Physique was not as important as mic skills and the ability to “sell” both moves and personas. The other thing was that not everyone was a superstar. Many of the wrestlers were “jobbers.” Jobbers were there to lose on the TV shows, get crushed by the main eventers. The fans loved watching these hapless men beat pillar to post, but even some of the jobbers had their own following. What aficionado of the sport could ever forget the Mulkey Brothers? They were malnourished looking twin toe heads who were so bad that the fans became consumed by “Mulkey Mania” (a term coined by wrestling manager Jim Cornet). Unlike today, the stars mainly battled at the halls and auditoriums where the customers paid to see the action.

While my father was never glued to the TV shows like Chris and I were, he was a fan and would tell us tales of watching wrestling when he was a boy, of seeing legends like Lou Thez. More importantly he actually took us to a few live events. Event is a term that I use loosely, because when wrestling came to my area they weren’t even staged in a large gymnasium. We would drive the fifty miles to the big city of Columbia to watch the matches at the Township Auditorium (advanced tickets could be purchased at the Taylor Street Pharmacy). I remember one show we attended, there was an elderly black man with white hair and few teeth sitting near us and he kept predicting the winners, cackling, and providing a lively commentary that kept me in smiles and stitches. The main event that night was Rick Flair (still wrestling now in his sixties!) against Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones. You would have had to have seen Rufus to really appreciate him. He was a fan favorite and a son of South Carolina. He was large, overweight and as with so many black wrestlers of the time his main weapon was the head butt. Not politically correct; I know, but it was after all the seventies. The match had an hour time limit, and as I recall most of that time Rufus kept Rick Flair in a headlock (a classic “rest” hold). Still it was great match, with Flair retaining his title and the fans happily booing the outcome.

Chris and I enjoyed wrestling so much we started the Handal Wrestling Alliance (HWA). When our little brother Greg (seven years my junior) was old enough he joined in the fray as well. We made belts from poster board for the HWA Champion, and the TV Champion, but we also had the Sofa Champion and the Hall Champion for when matches were held in those portions of the house. Chris and I knew that wrestling was staged and therefore we never applied full strength to our fights, however we faked with amazing gusto! We became masters of the figure four leg lock, the spinning toe hold, the sleeper, and the highly illegal pile driver (a cause for instant disqualification). This bit showmanship escaped our little brother who thought our matches were real, so Chris and I endured some bit of pummeling from Greg because we didn’t want to ruin it for him.

My enthusiasm for this pastime amongst the three of us (which continued through our early twenties) led me at times to assume a wrestling alter ego. I gathered scraps of cloth from my mother’s sewing room and fashioned a mask for myself with the uneven bits of cloth crudely stitched together in a Frankenstein’s monster jigsaw fashion. I would leave a room as Teever and return as the Crusher! The Crusher while never really involved in matches was primarily a purveyor of the sneak attack, to leave my brother Chris in a confused heap. After each attack, the Crusher would disappear as mysteriously as he had arrived.

I could go on for pages reliving favorite matches (those between my brothers and those we watched on TV and read about in magazines), but I realize my passions are not everyone’s. Watching wrestling, reading the fan magazines, and fighting in the living room, on sofas, in hallways and any other place the mood struck were some of the happiest times I spent as a young man. Forever in my memory, I will recall the names of the greats: Jack Brisco, Mr. Wrestling I & II, Dusty Rhodes, Ernie “the Cat” Ladd, Ox Baker, Ricky Steamboat (brother of the legendary Sam Steamboat), Paul Jones, Wahoo McDaniels, Andre the Giant, Gene and Ole Anderson (the Minnesota Wrecking Crew), and so many others.

The only bitter memory I hold is the night in 1986 when I was the reigning Handal champion and lost the title to my brother Chris. It was the night before his wedding, in a hotel room, alcohol was involved, and the title changed hands in an impromptu bed match. I appealed the board of directors but justice was not to be mine, they upheld the decision. It was a travesty as anyone present would tell. My shoulder clearly lifted from the mattress before the count of three.