I’m all ears except for those parts that aren’t ears
Ears outnumber mouths.
My math skills can be suspect, but I think that’s true.
We can’t help but listen. Someone is always speaking loudly on a cellphone and not eavesdropping isn’t a choice. We hear the petty gripes and personal swipes whether we want to or not. We yell into our phones when we have trouble hearing the party on the other end.
I listen because I’m a storyteller.
So are you. We all are. Everyone has a story to tell.
Some folks are shut-mouthed, but most people are willing to tell a story. Some are willing to tell more than they know. There are those who are inclined to give the long version of everything and are capable of talking more than others can listen. Mouths close and ears don’t. There are know-it-alls and there are say-it-alls. It could be argued that selective hearing is more common than selective talking.
I take guidance from Winnie the Pooh.
“I’m scared,” said Piglet.
“A story will help,” said Pooh.
“Oh. Don’t you know? Stories make your heart grow.”
A good friend, Arlo Tweeten of Hartland, called me aside. “Aside,“ he said, and we shared stories of family, friends, basketball, Alaska, fishing, travel, eating raccoon meat, lutefisk, health (life ages a guy) and assorted tales that teetered on the fuzzy edge of memory of those thrilling days of yesteryear when we claimed to have cut trees during the day and pulled stumps at night. It was all good. I enjoyed hearing all his stories, but particularly those of seeing the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. I’ve always wanted to do that, but I’ve seen enough white stuff this winter. Once the snow melts, I’ll regain my desire to see a polar bear--in Churchill, not here. I appreciated Arlo’s stories.
Each day, when I returned home from school, my mother asked me what I’d learned that day. There were days when I hadn’t learned anything. That was all on me and not my teachers’ fault. I was subject to brain cramps. On those days lacking learning, Mom’s inquiry hit like a sack of wet skunks. I’d make something up. It was nincompoopery in action. Mother knew what I was doing, but was relieved that I’d possibly learned something. The question might have been stress-producing, but I appreciated her listening to my fanciful stories.
A woman called me and asked if I’d be willing to stop to see her aunt who enjoyed my peculiar scribblings. I said I would and I did. I visited with her and enjoyed her company immensely.
I stopped many times after that. Why wouldn’t I have? She was a nice woman who told wonderful stories and made me happy that both of my ears were still on my head. She said that the people who knew the least about our home area were the ones who had never visited here and the ones who had never left. She’d lead an interesting life, just as you are doing.
I’d stop listening with reluctance. Each time I bid her farewell, I’d say “Mange takk” or “Tusen takk.” Many thanks or a thousand thanks. I’m Norwegian by marriage. I said those things because they made her smile break into a chuckle.
As I left from what would prove to be my last visit, her niece thanked me and told me that not much made her aunt laugh anymore, but I did.
I knew my looks would pay off one day.
The niece added, ”She loves how you listen to her stories.”
I loved how she told them.
I’ve been told that a man listens because it gives him something to do while he waits for his turn to talk. That’s not always true. I’m a good listener. Not good enough to earn a ticker tape parade in my honor, but I listen more than some, less than others. I make an effort. I’m interested. I listen to music, the radio, audible books, the birds, the wind and people. Listening is easier than folding fitted sheets. I may be chronically clueless, but I’m curious and listening makes my understanding more acute. I love to hear stories. I listen while I can because I know my ears didn’t come with a lifetime guarantee.
If you want to make someone feel like the most important of persons, listen to him or her. You don’t have to agree with anyone. Just listen. Listening matters.
It will make your heart grow.
© Al Batt 2018
Satchel Paige - What an Arm!!
In memory number seven, Maury, Grandpa told you about playing against Satchel Paige in 1951. Remember, that was the game our centerfielder, Bob Hoerner, homered off the great pitcher, and we won it 4–3. This is another memory about Satchel’s great pitching arm but in a “different” way!
Grandpa almost forgot this ever happened. It took place before a packed house and just before the Chicago Union Giants had finished their infield warm up. Before I relate exactly what occurred, Maury, Grandpa wants you to know Satchel Paige, besides being one of the greatest pitchers ever, was also a great entertainer and showman. What he did that night, before the game, displayed that along with his athleticism. Minutes before our team was ready to take infield warmup, Satchel walked over to our dugout and said, “Who’s your third baseman?” Immediately I replied: “I am.” He then took me to one side, shook my hand, and said, “I’m going to come out while your team is taking infield warm up and take your place for a few minutes – is that O.K.?” I replied, not having a clue what he was up to, “OK.”
About five minutes into our routine infield warm up Satchel walked on to the field, glove in hand, came to me at third base and asked to take my place. I immediately went to the sideline. For the next several minutes he took every grounder hit to him by our manager and THREW BEHIND HIS BACK to Matty at first base! Now, Maury, anybody who has played the game can easily throw behind his back, but NOT THAT FAR! Also, the throws from third to first had only a slight “arc” to them and it was amazing! You could hear the fans surprised reaction plus everyone’s admiration for this simple but incredible act!
Much love, Grandpa
1. Since 2000, two major-league starting pitchers have won a regular-season MVP Award. Name them.
2. The Cleveland Indians set a record in a game in 2016 for most pitchers combining for a shutout. How many did they use?
3. Who was the last running back for the Titans franchise before DeMarco Murray in 2016 to throw a touchdown pass and run for a touchdown in the same game?
4. When was the last time all four No. 1 seeds in men’s basketball made it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament?
5. Who was the last NHL player before Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov in 2017 to start a season by scoring in seven consecutive games?
6. Who was the first U.S. male to win a World Cup downhill skiing race?
7. Golfer Phil Mickelson set a record in 2017 for most career victories (26) in the Presidents Cup. Who had held the mark?
1. Justin Verlander in 2011, and Clayton Kershaw in 2014.
2. Nine pitchers.
3. Earl Campbell in 1980, when the franchise was in Houston.
4. It was 2008 (Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA and Memphis).
5. Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux, in 1992.
6. Bill Johnson, in 1984.
7. Tiger Woods, with 24 wins.
© 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.
I’ll admit it’s difficult sitting around WATCHING everybody else play in the NCAA basketball tournament. Iowa’s year ended at Madison Square Garden in late February at 14-19 with Coach Fran McCaffery vowing to turn over every stone in getting back to postseason in 2019.
It’s not like the thing is completely broken. The Hawkeyes could score with anybody and out rebounded most. With Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, Nicholas Baer, Cordell Pemsl, Jack Nunge and Ahmad Wagner all returning with another year’s seasoning, the inside game......the post, will be well secured again. That’s a lot of size.
The issues were on the perimeter. There just weren’t enough scoring options after Jordan Bohannon. Granted, it wasn’t going to be easy replacing Big Ten scoring champ Peter Jok, but in Isiah Moss and Brady Ellingson, the Hawks thought they had enough. Moss was a double figure scorer on average but couldn’t find the consistency needed. Now enter a pair of prolific high school scorers in Joe Weiscamp from Muscatine and Kentucky’s C. J. Frederick. Weiscamp averaged 30 plus most nights and Frederick was at 25 a game. Help is on the way for Bohannon. Still, had Iowa guarded the ball better it could very well still be playing in postseason. Connor McCaffery, now healthy, will help that situation next season.
Iowa also has to take much better care of the basketball. Too many live ball turnovers led to opponents easy baskets at critical stages.
The good news is the problems are obvious and correctable with six months ahead to find the answers.
The Iowa women’s season ended prematurely against Creighton Saturday in the first round of the Ncaa tourney. Turnovers and poor defense were issues as well for the Hawkeyes this season but they had All-American Meghan Gustafson to bail them out more often than not. What a year for the 6'2" center, where she averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds and put up a gaudy 28 double doubles. The senior-to-be leads a potent roster returning for Coach Lisa Bluder next season. Iowa loses just two seniors.
Enjoy the warming weather. Next month we’ll preview the Hawk’s spring football season and ending game April 20th.
Thanks for the Memories
For some, it’s the longest walk they will ever make, the trek from the parking lot to the field.
Some will think “they grow up so fast” as their kid — new cleats, clean uniform — jumps out of the car and runs toward the sound of other kids laughing and yelling. You’ve dropped your kid off at school before, but that was different ... you figured it was for the best. After all, what did you know about teaching reading and writing and arithmetic? There are some things you can’t do for your kid.
But sports? Surely you can. After all, you were pretty good in the day, right? Well, except for the first few years when you were afraid of the ball, but you came around. You’ve been prepping your kid for years, too. The first clothes you bought your kid had the logos of your favorite team. Your favorite picture of your baby was the one where they were propped up on the couch holding the red rubber football.
You think about respect. Granted, you don’t like the guy who is going to be coaching your kid. You’ve seen the way he yells at his own kid ... a 7 year old who has no clue how to play goalie and likely never will at the rate he’s going. But you rationalize the situation. The coach is making a sacrifice for the kids. After all, you couldn’t do it this year.
To your right you see the concession stand, where Mrs. Smith is awkwardly turning hot dogs on a grill. You know Mrs. Smith. She’s a Wall Street banker and has a taste for fine French foods. You went to dinner with her and her husband and a few other couples a few months back. She wore a mink. Now she’s wearing a booster T-shirt and getting yelled at for extra mustard, and she couldn’t be happier. She won’t do it again, but she’s glad to play a part.
My kid is concerned that we won’t find the field. Relax, I said, you just look for the group that has the same color shirt as you. Besides, we’re early ... there’s still time for a little extra advice.
“Be aggressive,” I tell my son. “OK, Dag,” he replies. Then he pauses. Something is wrong.
“What does ‘aggressive’ mean?”
I explained to him that it meant putting the ball in the back of the net whenever he had a clear shot, but I am interrupted by another parent. Her kid is in blue ... not the red my kid is clad in.
“Excuse me ... but I think we’re playing you today. Do you know where the field is?”
“You’ll find it,” my kid says. “Just look for the colors.”
He looks at the other kid and offers more advice.
“Hey ... be aggressive.”
In a world where there are too many rules, it’s always fun to remember this about sports ... don’t ever overthink it and always enjoy yourself. The uniforms will get dirty and the cuts and scrapes will come, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Readers: This is sportswriter Mark Vasto’s final column.
© 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.