Friday, December 29, 2023

Disagreements, Handshakes and Beer

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

The calendar is light.  March Madness and baseball’s opening day have passed.  The NHL and NBA playoffs haven’t started.  The NFL draft is weeks away.  What then?  In these bleachers we still lurk, looking for inspiration, something to quicken the pulse, to bet on, or to argue and fuss about.

That’s it: a good old fashioned verbal sparing among friends.  Why not?  Recognizing I have the stage here (so long as you don’t give me the hook), and 700 words of uninterrupted monologue, I ask for your patience.  Some of this will prompt applause (or at least a quiet, affirming grin).  Irritation will be the defining emotion for others.  There will be a little bit of both for everyone – of this, I’m sure.  So, stick with me.  And thanks – in advance – for the time.

Here are some statements about music.  The Rolling Stones are the greatest band ever.  Longevity.  Ridiculously deep catalog.  Killer live act.  No one has written better songs than Bob Dylan.  Singers: Aretha Franklin has no peer.  None.  Her album “I Never Loved A Man The Way That I Love You” is appointment listening.  Do so soon if not immediately.  No one has ever played the trumpet like Miles Davis.  That’s a difficult admission because I love New Orleans.  And if you love New Orleans, well…Louis Armstrong.  To square with Mr. Armstrong, I anoint him jazz’s greatest artist of all time.  There, I feel better.  As for today’s music, there’s good stuff out there if you hunt.  But most of the popular stuff is artificial-intelligence-generated crap.  I’m laughing as I type that but I’m not entirely joking…it sounds like AI!

The planet’s climate is in peril.  Why this doesn’t bind us is baffling; it threatens our security, the homes of millions, global stability and, for many devout people, the creator’s work.  “Influencers” and Kardashians are overpaid and overrated; teachers are underpaid and underrated.  The obsession with trivial quibbles, demonization of fellow Americans and disregard of the truth, ignores existential threats and emboldens our real enemies.  The concentration of wealth in the United States is disturbing; the lack of support for candidates proposing to address it is confounding.  As a parent, the inaction to combat gun violence, to include common sense gun control, is maddening. 

And for sports, the reason you stopped by, enjoy the parade of likes and dislikes.  The Masters had me in mental knots last weekend.  The LIV golfers annoy me – mercenaries chasing a bigger pot of gold – as does Augusta National and its record of racial and gender exclusion (no African American or female members until 1990 and 2012, respectively).  A “tradition unlike any other”?  But it’s The Masters – azaleas in bloom, Jim Nance’s soothing voice and all the best golfers competing for the green jacket – golf’s Eden. 

Couple points on basketball.  Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time, okay.  If you could pick one player to win one game, it’s Jordan.  Second, I hate “load management” – stars sitting out games.  Jalen Rose has a great idea.  Instead of the statistical champs – scoring, rebounds, etc. - being crowned based on highest average, give it to the player who accumulated the most (points, rebounds, assists, etc.).  Love it.

And finally – baseball.  I’m crushing on the pitch clock.  What do I feel when dumfounded pitchers and hitters get called for violations?  Glee.  Life is too short to see a batter adjust his helmet, gloves and other particulars after every pitch or pitchers staring blankly at the catcher in the set position with no intention of delivering a pitch before next Tuesday.

There’s a chance you find most of that agreeable; others find much of it nonsense, if not pure lunacy.  Universal agreement or disagreement is unlikely.  Which is fine.  There are few absolutes in music, politics, sports or elsewhere.  Opinions are entitlements.  Conversations are healthy.  Disagreements broaden perspectives.  And in the end, there’s a handshake and a beer (if the parties are so inclined), a shared love of a team, a sport or a country. 

Or at least that’s how it was.  How it should be.  How it must be again.

No comments:

Post a Comment