Suddenly Milwaukee wins the central

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This weekend the Milwaukee Brewers will be in a playoff game. Not only that they beat the Chicago Cubs to get there. They went to Chicago for one game tiebreaker and finished the first chapter of their story about overcoming huge odds.  They are the hottest team in the major leagues and have a legitimate shot at going all the way. It has definitely been fun to see the team celebrating. i wonder what will happen next.

Hot thrills from the Milwaukee Brewers

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In 2017 the Milwaukee Brewers finished the regular season with a respectable record of 86-76, six games behind the Chicago Cubs. But today one the last day of the regular season they are 94-67 , tied with Chicago for first place. They have clinched a playoff spot in a stirring drive that surpassed almost one’s expectations for the team. After the Brewers  hired young David Stearns to be the general manager just 3 years ago, analysts expected that the team would provide fans with agonizing and mediocre baseball for years to come. One local writer declared that Stearns was in way over his head.

However last year showed that the team was within reach of the playoffs if they shored up some weaknesses in the outfield and the pitching. There were several highly paid starting pitchers available through trades and free agency but the team spurned off of them. They signed Jhoulys Chacin to be their number one starting pitcher and they smartly picked up players like Wade Miley who had been discarded by other teams. Their most significant move was in early January when they traded for Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich the same day they signed Lorenzo Cain as a free agent to shore up their outfield. The number crunchers weren’t pleased because neither player profiled as a power hitter. That’s why they tell wait until they play the game. Yelich leads the team in almost every batting statistic and has seemingly willed the team to keep winning during the pennant drive. Cain still isn’t hitting homers but he makes solid contact and often draws walks from pitchers dying to pitch to Yelich.

The team provides thrills with comebacks sparked by a host of hitters including Ryan Braun who the number guys had been urging them to trade. Never mind the fact Braun has the right to veto any such trade and wasn’t going anywhere. Jesus Aguilar hit everything in sight during the first half of the season when some people thought he might be a candidate for most valuable player. The Brewers traded for Travis Shaw in a very one-sided deal that has worked out extremely well. And the Brewers were making deals all the way up to August 31st. Fans have been on the edge of their seats even while site such as ESPN kept patiently waiting for the Cubs to overcome them. Milwaukee kept inching closer and closer and pitchers Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel  and Corbin Burnes kept inducing batters to strike out. The Brewers even overcame controversy surrounding a young reliever Josh Hader, a fastballer who was almost unhittable at times. Hader was revealed to have posted some very ugly tweets several years ago but his teammates literally stood behind him.

This is clearly the most excitement the Brewers have provided since the days of Braun, Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia and the bonus is that the core of team will remain with them for several years to come. Like Yelich said, let’s go.

What I learned last week

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I looked at the world through the curious eyes of a young African boy seeking to understand the world. As children we are told to keep our hands to ourselves, to be honest and respectful. We are supposed to wait until it is our turn to speak and to answer questions as fully as possible. A child would look at the picture of the snarling Brett Kavanaugh and wonder if he or she had been deceived. That in fact we get ahead by becoming angry, making baseless accusations and not answering questions at all. How was it that Kavanaugh transformed from being calm, polite and judicial into a Republican party operative from one week to the next. It was clear given the speed with which Republicans produced lists of his supposed long time friends that they had expected to hear about Kavanaugh’s past. The idea that he kept his appointment books from years ago was unbelievable. What purpose would it serve?

Would I want to be judged according to what I did 30 years ago? Why not? I was in mm mid 30s and had completed bachelor’s and master’s degree and started my professional career as a librarian. It was a brief career but the things I learned enabled me to adapt to the changing environment and explore different careers. And I am happy to report that I had completed high school and college without committing any sexual assaults. I never found that I needed to drug girls and I seldom found that getting drunk improved my ability to enjoy myself.

Once I experienced having the room spinning around from being drunk I learned my lesson pretty quickly. I thought about Kavanaugh portraying himself some kind of young innocent and laughed. I remembered that I was in a hurry to find a woman to have sex with as soon as possible after I finished high school. I had been warned by my family not to get a girl in trouble in the days before Roe v Wade. I learned to resist doing things that I did not understand and that would have had long-term consequences. Several years ago I met up with an old girl friend from high school and relived the memory I had buried in which I had angrily left her after I learned she had become pregnant after we broke up. I also learned she had overcome struggles with alcohol and had been sexually assaulted.

My proudest moments of my youth were of marching in various cities for peace, racial equality and justice as a member of several different political groups. Although I am not proud of everything I did I am glad and aware of boundaries I did not cross. I have seen some statements by people who suggest things that Kavanaugh should have said as an apology in explaining his behavior as a youth. He was not a big enough man to say them. Instead he became the man who showed most clearly why he should never be appointed to the Supreme Court. If it was in my power I would impeach and remove him from the federal court altogether.

Being a leader

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I am entering my second year as the chair of the Black Lives Matter Committee at our church. This is a difficult task for many reasons. The first is that I am very introverted. I stand at the ready during coffee hour ready not to go speak up to people. I may be a very educated and bright man with a lot of knowledge but I will be damned if I am going to allow you to force me to share it with you. I read the stories black UUs who tell of microaggressions by whites that make them feel uncomfortable being there. This comment deserves some explanation. First is the fact that despite the fact Unitarian Universalists are by and large liberal and have a history of supporting wonderful causes our churches are very white dominated with some notable exceptions.

Our church has a history of attempts to create more racial diversity and the most recent was in response to the events from 2 years ago which exposed the dominance of white supremacy in Unitarian Universalism. I found that I was not seeing this white supremacy all around me. I just thought, oh that’s how the services are supposed to be. Oh they haven’t been able to hire African-Americans. I was strangely distant from the few African-Americans who I saw due to my introversion.

Last week there was an event conversation across differences which offered an opportunity to talk. One interesting aspect was that there was a small group set aside for people of color. I participated in this group which was more diverse than one would have expected. There were four of us and I was the oldest. Two people were bi-racial in very different ways. While I cannot divulge what we discussed I can say that it made me think about the ways in which my introversion was preventing me from becoming as effective as I believed I could be.

I retired from work recently which gave me more time to pursue committee work. We have a very exciting project underway to develop and submit a grant proposal to a fund created within the church. Our project would provide resources to a small struggling organization which assists mothers whose children have been murdered. I see the project as something I could be involved with in a way that will allow me to overcome my interpersonal problems while aiding the community. I am quietly optimistic that by learning how different African-Americans can be, I will be a better person and a better leader.

 

 

 

 

 

Was young, gifted and black only for my generation?

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If there was ever a song that changed my life it was Young Gifted and Black. I heard the version by Aretha Franklin which was the title track of an album in 1969. I was graduating from high school and going through a lot of changes. I was depressed, becoming more politically radical, facing the Vietnam war and wanting to surround myself with more black people. I was trying to decide which college to attend. There was St. Bonaventure a local Catholic university or Howard in Washington, a traditionally black institution. I was also struggling with depression and my role as a support for my younger brother.  i was desperately in love with a woman I had met at a campaign headquarters a few blocks from our family’s house. And there was Aretha and young gifted and black. And I knew that somehow I would survive even if my brother did not.

Since that time I have attempted to live up to the vision of that teenager I still have some years to go, maybe even 20 or more years. What surprises me is that this seems to be a song that most impacted the baby boom generation. Music has changed. Maybe one of younger performers has already created the song for this generation and I have yet to hear it. But I will be listening. She told us “yours is the quest that’s just begun.” There are new quests out there.

 

actually it is pretty ease not to sexually abuse women

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It is hard to believe the lengths to which Republicans will go to excuse the behavior of fellow republicans regarding sexual indiscretions. Most recently I read comments from people regarding the things that Judge Kavanaugh is accused of involving attempting to rape a teenager at a party and I remember never in my wildest dreams would I have tried something like that. My mother and my sister would have been shocked at the idea. I have my share of faults but when I hear Republicans say that you would have to eliminate men from office if you had to stop nominating men who attempted to rape women, well I figure that would be an easy problem to solve. Just nominate women.

 

 

So now I am retired

Well this is quite a shock. I had expected to keep on working at the same place because the money was good and it would pay for the things I enjoyed. But suddenly I decided no I could not. It is the end of the week in which I simply walked away. My work phone only rang a couple of times. I am facing the usual problems of the newly retired wondering what to do and how to manage a schedule. There are a couple of meetings next week I could attend but they are in the evening. I talked today about the things I enjoyed: I had volunteered years ago at a literacy center for adults. I also though about getting exercise. I noticed that I had a surprising lack of energy although with a brief rest I was able to keep going. I saw an enjoyable photo exhibit that reminded me of my family. Well so long youth.

 

 

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