Friday, November 28, 2008

For St. Louis sports fans only--10 most bitter defeats

I've been a diehard St. Louis sports fan for 51 years, or since I began feeling joy and pain transmitted via the unblinking eye of the TV screen. What follows are the top 10 lows (I'll post the highs some other time; for some reason, they're harder to remember than the defeats). They are my attempt to purge the suffering that never seems to let go of me.


1) Game 6, 1985 World Series. October 26, 1985. The Denkinger game, of course. 500 years from now this may be long forgotten, but not in the lifetime of any Cards' fan who saw it. I know, I know. Jack Clark and Darrell Porter misplayed the foul pop after the blown call; still, if Denkinger gets the call right, we are probably world champs for the second time in four years. Kansas City 2, St. Louis 1.

2) Orange Bowl, Jan. 1, 1970. Penn St. 10, Missouri 3. This game has been overlooked and/or forgotten by many St. Louis-area fans, especially those who don't follow Mizzou. But I live and die with the Tigers, going back to Dan Devine's first year. And this game will haunt me until I die. No one will ever convince me that Missouri was not the best team in college football in 1969. Texas won the mythical national championship by beating Arkansas 15-14 in December, but, in an era when most southern teams were lilly white, Texas did not have the best athletes. Missouri, on the other hand, had Jon Staggers, Mel Gray, Joe Moore, Jim Harrison, Ty Walls, Henry Brown and other great African-American football players. Devine was color-blind. The Tigers ran up and down the field on Penn State, but turned the ball over 9 times. NINE.

3) Game 7, 1957, NBA finals. April 13, 1957. Boston 125, St. Louis 123 (double overtime). Red Auerbach always called this one of the greatest games ever played. The Hawks had the ball with one second left. Alex Hannum threw an inbounds pass the length of the court, intentionally banging it off the backboard. Pettit caught the rebound and missed a 10-footer that rimmed the basket. This was the beginning of the Celtics' dynasty.

4) Game 7, 1968 World Series, Ocotober 10, 1968. Detroit 4, St. Louis 1. The always-reliable Curt Flood misplayed a fly ball, and Gibby got beat for one of the few times in the World Series. Like in '85, the Cardinals blew a 3-1 series lead.

5) Game 4, 2002 NLCS. October 13, 2002. San Francisco 4, St. Louis 3. My son and I will forever after refer to this game simply as the Rick White game. LaRussa horribly mismanaged this game, and hung White out to die against J.T. Snow. The next day SF clinched 2-1, when Matt Morris pitched a 1-0 gem into the eighth before the Cards lost it in the ninth.

6) Game 7, 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs, Western Conference Semifinals. May 16, 1996. Detroit 1, St. Louis 0 (OT). With Hull and Gretzky, the Blues were poised to go to the finals, and they have not come as close since.

7) Nebraska 45, Missouri 38. Nov. 8, 1997. The flea-kicker game. Someone named Matt Davison caught an illegal pass to tie the game at the end of regulation. The ball was kicked by Shevin Wiggen, and I felt like I'd had a shiv stuck in my side. It should have been ruled an incomplete pass, game over, Tigers win. The referee was J. Laurie, the umpire R. Whittenburg, the linesman D. Alexander, the line judge P. Brown, the back judge L. Girouard, the field judge JD Cleavinger, and the side judge L. Williams. How could all of them have missed it?

8) Thanksgiving Day, 1976. Dallas 19, St. Louis 14. The lying, cheating, thieving zebras stole another one from us this day. Our football team, the old Big Red, were called the Cardiac Cards then for their habit of winning games late. And they would have done it again had pass interference been called on Charlie Waters for clocking Mel Gray before Jim Hart's pass got to him.

9) April 15, 1966. Game 7, NBA Western Conference Finals. Los Angeles 130, St. Louis 121. Had the Hawks won this game they might have beaten the Celtics in the finals and saved the franchise. At least, that's what I've always imagined. But Jerry West could not miss that night.

10) March 1961. NIT championship game. Providence 62, St. Louis 59. The NIT meant something then, and, believe it or not, the Billikens were a perennial power. To this day, I remember the Luechtefelds, Dave Harris, Donnell Reid, and the Nordmanns.

Next time, the sweet moments.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

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Friday, November 21, 2008

A Tribute to JFK on the 45th Anniversary of his Murder

Here is my humble homage to President Kennedy. It's an excerpt from my novel, Murder of an American Nazi, in which one of the main characters witnesses JFK's address at American University on June 10, 1963:

from pages 101 and 102--

"Listening to the speech that day, Marie became convinced that Kennedy was going to turn American militarism and secrecy on its head. What he said made her proud, for the first time, to be an American. He spoke of disarmament and world peace. He spoke of commonalities Americans shared with the communists. He spoke of the beginning of the end of the days of conflict. He mentioned the word 'peace' over and over. It flew in the face of
everything Marie had come to know about America...

"...(JFK said) 'What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do I seek? Not a Pax Americana forced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the
security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living.' An end to American military arrogance and domination? Marie was transfixed.

"...(he continues) 'every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward--by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of freedom and peace here at home.' The military will hate this (she thought)...And how about defense contractors and the war weapons industry. This is going to be bad for business.

"...(JFK concludes) 'We are devoting to weapons massive sums of money that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty and the final analysis, our (the US and
its enemies) most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.' "

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why The Lack of New Direction in Obama's Cabinet Appointments?

He's going to keep Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense? Why? Anything and anyone associated with the abomination known as the Bush Adminstration foreign policy should be forever banished from serving in government again. Gates' policies are Bush's policies, and we've all had enough of that. Obama should appoint Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as Secretary of Defense for many reason. He served on Senate committees overseeing appropriations, he's a no-nonsense critic of the the War in Iraq, and he would be a tangible symbol of Obama's bi-partisanship.

As for those who would argue (and I don't know that there are many left) that withdrawal is defeat, they are dead wrong. Withdrawal means victory, because victory is attained when the Iraqi people stand on their own. And it is time to make them stand on their own. The Iraqi army has the training, the national will, and the money (our money, to be exact) to make it happen now. Take the billions we're spending there and use it, instead, to bailout our economy. We can't afford to nation build anymore. It's time to take care of our own.

And please withdraw the Clinton nomination for Secretary of State. Let her stay in the Senate where she can do a good job reforming health care. No need for Obama to have the stench of the Clinton psychodrama hanging over his first term. He 's got a lot of work to do, and the Clintons would be a distraction. Does Obama not realize he has a ready-made cache of goodwill with the rest of the world already? The globe sees America in a new light now that we've lived up to the promise of equality forged by the framers. A person of color running America makes us, again, a beacon of hope and enlightenment for all foreign lands. Obama can capitalize on this by appointing someone who will carry out his policy...not someone with a personal and selfish agenda.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Blog

I'll be posting my random thoughts on politics, history, sports, movies, travel and more. I'm also working on a new novel, and occasionally I will post excerpts. Feel free to reply or comment, and I'll reply to any questions.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Discovery Channel's Laughable JFK Re-Do.

I just got finished watching Discovery Channel's re-staging of the JFK Assassination, ghoulishly titled "Inside the Death Car," and it's filled with so much illogic, distortion, and one-sidedness that its evidentiary value is minimal. It left me wondering what is the purpose of such a program, who really funds it, and why is it being broadcast? If its purpose is to sway the uninformed and uncritical to the "lone-assassin" side, it may have succeeded, but why is this of value? Whose purpose does this serve? Certainly not history's, because the program left out a ton of known facts and happenstances that, if included, would have contradicted the show's obviously preconstrued premise. In other words, in 2008, who is still so avidly invested in covering up the truth?

I perused the credits for funding information, but found nothing. Apparently, it's a Discovery Channel production all the way. I leave it for others to divine why TDC wants so desperately to finger Oswald as the lone assassin, when 80% of America believes he was not.

Anyway, the funny stuff began right away when somebody who contracts with the Australian (did TDC have to go all the way to Australia find an idiot who would agree to do this?) defense industry recreated what was claimed to be an exact replica of JFK's neck and head. Just one problem with that--the fake head swivels and bounces like one of those bobbleheads they give away at baseball games. The brain matter? Oh, they injected that right before the test firing. That's right, TDC hired a world-class marksman to shoot at the replica. But get this, they did not do it in Dealey Plaza, though they had Dallas police close down the Plaza for a limousine run-through; they "re-created" the shooting out in the wilderness somewhere, claiming that it was exact duplicate of Dealey Plaza's dimensions. While the participants admitted it was clear that a shot could have come from behind the picket fence (the most logical locale for the head shot given all the facts) in the Plaza, they had the marksman shoot from what appeared to be a burm in an open field at some undisclosed place. And instead of shooting from the front-right position from which the actual picket fence shooter fired, the marksman shot from a right angle, virtually perpendicular to the JFK dummy. The shot blew a hole through the through the left side of the president's fake head, and the narrator (one Gary Mack, I'll get to him later) gleefully exclaimed, "...this does not correspond to any known wound on the president." Of course it did not, because the marksman shot from the wrong position. Interestingly though, the wound had the exact size and shape as the one Dallas Parkland doctors described the president as having in the back of his head on Nov. 22, 1963! Without realizing it, the TDC bunglers provided substantion for a shot from the front and, thus, a conspiracy.

Other little tidbits that unintentionally prove conspiracy are included. One is the Secret Service agent who wiped off the back seat of the death car at Parkland Hospital. Against all logic, the TDC show tries to convince us that this proves there was only one gunman because the agent wiped away only evidence which would prove that JFK's brain matter flew forward. The agent inexplicably left only the blood, skull and brain matter which indicated a frontal shot. I guess the Secret Service just wanted to make it harder for the Warren Commission to hang it on Oswald? Wow, not even Arlen Specter would lay claim to that one.

To assimilate the 15-20-mile-an-hour winds in Dallas that day, TDC wheeled out a huge fan to blow on the limousine. That one made me howl. An electrical fan duplicating the winds of a scientific!

But the best was Bobby Hargis, the motorcycle cop who was riding to the left rear of the limousine on November 22. Apparently, he is still alive and still breathlessly exclaiming how he was covered in JFK's blood, skull and brains when the fatal shot hit. I guess the producers never considered that this is some of the best evidence of a shot from the front right. The exit wound made by a picket-fence shot would have splattered anyone to the immediate left rear of the death car.

Presiding over this whole mess was Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum in the old Book Depository Building. Mack was once sure that he saw a rifleman wearing a badge shoot from the shadows on the grassy knoll. Now he's certain that the kill shot could only have come from behind. I suppose he'll sway with any wind, even one from a giant electrical fan in the middle of nowhere, to drum up ticket sales for his museum.

Tim Fleming
author of Murder of an American Nazi
available on