1-Man’s Opinion on Sports–Friday “Memorial Day Weekend & Memories”

Posted by on May 26th, 2017  •  0 Comments  • 

Flags, Friends and Family

By Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton

CW 6-Sports

Memorial Day weekend. Picnics, family, Padres games, the Indy 500, the NBA playoffs and the NHL playoffs, the Stanley Cup finals. Lots to see, experience and think about.

Memorial Day weekend is a time to remember also. We see hometown heroes amongst us in San Diego. The Padres icon broadcaster Jerry Coleman flew fighters and even landed upside down on a flight deck. The late Red Sox hero Ted Williams was a fighter pilot both in the Pacific and in Korea, survived two crashes, and came home to super stardom.

The are two Purple Hearts in my house, family members who served in our World Wars, were wounded, killed, and whose relatives’ lives were forever changed.

When you come from an extended large family of that era, you are influenced by their experiences. Influenced by those you know, those you loved, those you lost.

I’ve been to Arlington, to the Punch Bowl cemetery in Hawaii, to Rosecrans Cemetery here, and know full well about the U.S. cemetery at Normandy.

I wept when I went to the black granite Vietnam Wall in Washington and was moved by the D-Day Memorial in Virginia. If you go to the Balboa Naval Hospital you are impacted. When you know them, when you care about them, when you see them, when you ache for them and their memories, it leaves a lasting impression.

Maybe it is my Baby Boomer mortality catching up to me. Friends are passing, saying goodbyes to family members. Virtually all of them are linked to the military. In this situation, Memorial Day becomes more than a holiday.

I hardly know the full background, except my dad was a Sea Bee in the Navy, in the Pacific. He built runways as the Navy, then the Marines brought in planes to continue the assault to recapture all those islands from Japan. He told me only once about being shot at and diving under planes to avoid snipers. My dad was only 22 at the time and experiencing that.

Nick was my Godfather. He was slight of build, big of heart, with no fear. He was a point man hit by snipers in a hedgerow at Anzio. His life was forever changed. He spoke only once about it to me. Twenty-nine surgeries later, he died from wounds. They gave me his Purple Heart, ribbons, the 1944 telegrams that said he was killed in action, then missing in action, then rescued.

Jack was my uncle. A decorated journalist, island hopping the Pacific with Douglas McArthur. He wrote for the International News Service, the forerunner of UPI. He saw horror and death. He interviewed Tojo, who tried to commit suicide. He covered the Peace Treaty signing on the USS Missouri. He came home a broken man. He was never the same sports journalist covering the old Brooklyn Dodgers after that. They gave me his war photos, ribbons, and wire service stories when he passed. He never spoke of it.

Danny was another uncle. I never knew much, except that he was a teenager who died on the Bataan Death March. I found his name on a plaque, but like so many others, nothing else. Gone at 19.

Vin was a paratrooper. Jumped into the dark behind the Normandy lines. He was 24 and part of the glider brigade. He was wounded twice, but did come home. His Purple Heart is in a glass case, with a piece of autographed fabric from a crashed glider that went into the woods when they missed the landing zone. Virtually all with him perished.

Vito was in South Africa, chasing Rommel across the desert. All that heavy infantry fire led to his loss of hearing.

Joe was a medic in the heat, humidity and suffering in the Philippines. His lasting memory before he died was malaria and quinine.

Smitty was 19 and a turret gunner on B-17 and B-24 raids. The average life span of those crews was 13 flights. He made 35 missions, over places like Ploesti and Dresden. He laughs that his pilot was only 19, old enough to drop bombs, but not old enough to get a drivers license in Michigan. He told stories till dementia took over his mind.

Curt was a gunner on board a Flying Fortress when 60-planes in all went down in one day over Regensberg, Germany, flying without fighter support.

Memorial Day touches friends too. Seven in my tiny graduating class on Long Island were lost in my war, Vietnam.
Murph was a wrestler and a jokester. A land mine ended it all very quickly for him. Lew was a basketball player taken out on a ridge by either sniper fire or friendly fire. Charley went off on night patrol in the jungles; he never returned after the firefight. Three others were done in not by the VC, but by Agent Orange.

Memorial Day is also about brothers. One who is a career officer, with service time in Iraq and Afghanistan. He struggles with seeing wounded men booby trapped when our medics go to treat them. He angered many by saying “if you fire on my soldiers from a mosque, it is no longer a mosque.” He has sat on transports with the caskets and body bags of his soldiers.

The other brother is in anti-terrorism, who never forgot 9/11 and what he sensed the minute the second plane went into the towers. He won’t speak, but he knows much, and this weekend means much to him too.

I will visit a cemetery to say thanks and to remember. An aging friend, who landed on Normandy, told me the only thing missing from the movie Saving Private Ryan was the smell of diesel fuel. Another in a rest home was part of the Royal Air Force and the heroism of the Battle of Britain, with burns and ribbons as remembrances.

Fly a flag this weekend. Enjoy the picnics, the Padres, the Indy 500, the NBA and the NHL, but remember the past.

Many went and came back. Many went and never came back. Many went, came back, never the same.

Memorial Day is a hard time for me. Two Purple Hearts are in my house. A thankful heart. A heavy heart too.

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1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Thursday “Padres Future-Does It Begin Today?”

Posted by on May 25th, 2017  •  0 Comments  • 

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“Padres-Future-Begins Today”

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We know where we are today…buried in last place just a quarter of the way into the season.

We know where they used to be when they had quality young pitching.

But that was so, so long ago.

You do remember Jake Peavy and Mat Latos. Here for sucess, then shipped off.

Before that the last good young arms we saw around here, were home grown high draft pick Andy Benes and Joey Hamilton, first round draft picks, but that was two decades ago.

And there were a couple with promise, sidetracked by arm ailments.

So as we sift thru the wreckage of this year, and what has happened in just the last week, we are looking for anything, anyone to give us hope.

The Padres dragged 38-pitchers in camp, an assortment of aging veterans, 1-year rentals, guys coming off bad seasons, some with injury history. It was with the hope they could be competitive. More bad outings than good, has gotten you to this (17-30) record at breakfast.

Of course, added a record 40-pitchers to their minor league farm system last summer, 17-whom they drafted, and a record 23-they signed when the International free agent window opened.

This week alone, Jered Weaver gave us an 8-run opening inning. Jhoulys Chacin staggered thru a 7-run first inning. Even Louis Perdomo gave up 5. The same for Clayton Richard.

We know what might be down road, if you are paying attention to the past draft, and what is happening at Lake Elsinore.

But Calvin Quantrill, Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchessi, are a long way from San Diego, and I am talking distance between the California League and the National League.

Same thing for the internationals, led by teenagers Adrain Morejon and Ron Bolonos, who will make debuts in the next two weeks, after coming from Cuba a year ago this time.

Again, we’re talking Arizona Summer League, and we’re not talking about driving distance from Peoria to San Diego.

But tonight we get the first glimpse of the future. Young righthander Dinelson Lamet arrives from El Paso.

The 6’4 hurler has moved quickly thru the farm system with success at every stop.

Lamet has a (20-20) career record in 3-plus minor league seasons. But really iimpressive is a (2.99-ERA) he has rung up.

He has electric stuff, but sometimes home plate moves on him. Lamet ha s 336-strikeouts in 298-innings, but he also has 125-walks and 16-hit batsmen.

He pitches tonight at Citi Field against the Mets.

Monitor his innings, his location, and how he handles whatever adversity he faces, and he will face adversity.

Andy Benes went an impressive (89-75) with the Padres before being dealt to the Cardinals. He finished with 148-career wins in a quality career..

Jake Peavy was (92-68) before he became too expensive and was dealt to the White Sox. He has pitched well in San Francisco and Boston, but appears to be done. He has 111-career wins.

Joey Hamilton was (55-44) and then was moved to the Blue Jays, winding up with 74-career wins.

Mat Latos appeared with a flourish,then flamed out. He was (27-29) here, then moved to Cincinnati, but physical woes have trailed him thru stops with 6-clubs. Just 29 years old his career mark (71-59) as he hangs on in the International League.

Others have come here with promise, only to break down…righthander Greg Harris…lefthander Corey Luebke, done in by devasting shoulder and elbow surgeries.

So tonight we will watch Lamet and hope he is a new beginning, the first new one of many this franchise will need to pan out on the Padres hill.

Hope is better than what we are suffering thru right now.

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1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Wednesday “Chargers Coach-All Business All the Time”

Posted by on May 24th, 2017  •  0 Comments  • 

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“Chargers Coach-All Business-All the Time”

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He didn’t smile. He didn’t joke around. He answered respectfully.

There were some cliches, some curt answers, some generic stuff.

Anthony Lynn is still getting used to being a head coach. Sometimes you wonder if he feels strange standing on the defensive side of the ball with his coaches. Sometimes standing and talking to his kickers.

His entire life has been on offense, running back in the NFL, special teams guy, running backs coach, then the brief interim head coach tenure in Buffalo.

What he said after the lst full day of OTAs at the LA Chargers camp in San Diego (and doesn’t that feel strange too)

Philip Rivers..”Everything I’ve always heard. Serious all the time”
Melvin Ingram..”He needs to be here-we’re installing a different defense”

Keenan Allen..”Most pleasant surprise..just 6-months removed from surgery”
Mike Williams..”Will hold him out another week-still back spasms-he has so much to learn”
Melvin Gordon…”Running-make all the cuts-no problems with knee”
Brandon Oliver..”Fully back from Achilles surgery-doing all running:

Forrest Lamp-Dan Feeney..”Learning the speed of the game-game will slow down for them with more reps”
Jamal Jones..”FA WR been the most impressive newcomer”

Donnie Inman…”New knew he needed surgery-do it now-maybe be back when camp opens in late July.”

Punters…”We have two in camp because I want competition”
Defense..”Putting everything that’s new…we don’t have a problem with this year’s defense”

It was an interesting exchange. There were no ‘aw shucks’ expressions from Norv Turner. There was no mention of words like ‘in the best interest of the team’…or the ‘best 53 on the roster’…the typical junk we got from Mike McCoy.

GM Tom Telesco came around, shook hands and said hi, unlike the former GM AJ Smith, who would stand on his tower overlooking all of his football empire, giving off a glare and stare of dislike.

Not to be seen, the cowardly owner Dean Spanos, but then again he was probably packing boxes to fill the moving vans that were parked outside.

Anthony Lynn has worked hard to deserve this opportunity. His personality is all work, all the time. We’ll see if that equates to wins.

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1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Tuesday “NHL-Sometimes the Best Team Does Not Win”

Posted by on May 23rd, 2017  •  0 Comments  • 

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“Sometimes the Best Team Does Not Win”

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Gut wrenching, sickening, saddening, maddening.

How did you lose this? How did you not win this? How long a summer is this going to be now?

The hockey season came to a crushing end last night for the Anaheim Ducks, losing in Nashville to the Predators.

A series that became a ‘War of Attrition’. A 6-game bash that more resembled a nasty rock fight, with so many injuries.

Credit the Preds for surviving the loss of its top two forwards, Ryan Johanssen with a serious thigh injury blood clot problem, then captain Mike Fisher.

More credit to Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who made 38-cat like saves with all types of traffic, contact and combat infront of him.

The body bag count was pretty high for the Ducks, who bashed and trashed Nashville all night long, pumping 41-shots on goal in the loss.

A hurting goalie John Gibson was scratched. Missing were forwards Rikard Rakell and late season hero Patrick Eaves. Then Nick Ritchie got himself tossed for a brutal 5-minute boarding penalty that drew blood. Tough player, stupid penalty, draw that up to youthful enthusiasm.

The Ducks missed their goalie, their goal scorers, and the grit and sizzling wrist shots Ritchie could have provided.

The heart and soul of the Ducks veterans left it on the ice. Ryan Getzlaf, probably the best power forward in the game; the worker that is Corey Perry; and the fiesty Ryan Kesler. They gave it all, but it wasn’t enough.

Sure you can ask why Randy Carlyle pulled his goalie with 2:40 left in regulation, down by a goal, when they had the puck in the Nashville end virtually all nite and were peppering Rinne.

Empty net….and 20-seconds later, empty net goal.

But this series really was lost on home ice. How a power laded Ducks team would lose a couple at home to a Nashville team that had a tepid group of goal scorers, is the real stunner.

Maybe this series was also lost on the cross country airlines schedule. The Ducks had to grind thru tough series with Calgary, Edmonton and then the guys from Dixie.

10-games in 20-days and five long distance flights probably had lots to do with this.

Tough to accept considering the clock is ticking on Getzlaf and Perry to get back to the Cup as their careers move beyond age 35.

The Ducks come home unfulfilled. A really great season, but a disappointing end.

The NHL Stanley Cup…toughest trophy to get in sports. Just ask the Black and Blue guys wearing Orange and Brown, the Ducks.

Best team on paper, played lots of games where they were the best team on the ice. But sometimes the best team does not win. The Ducks would probably tell you that too.

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1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Monday “Padres Baseball-Nothing Now-Waiting for the Future”

Posted by on May 22nd, 2017  •  0 Comments  • 

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Padres Baseball-Nothing Now-Wairing for the Future”

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Cuba, that’s where it’s at, at least the San Diego Padres think so, hope so.

As spring turns to summer, last place Padres baseball has become a reality. Empty seats too at Petco Park.

Wait till next season, or a couple of seasons beyond that, is the reality of Friars baseball right now.

The city has seemingly turned its back on the team, watching bad pitching, infrequent hitting, defensive lapses and losses upon losses.

The Padres are paying more attention to the future crop of players on the way, and what they will draft in early June, than what is going on here in San Diego.

Hunter Renfroe has shown great resilience in right field. Manny Margot has been very consistent in center. And young outfielder Alan Cordoba, who was in the Class A-Appalachian League this time last year, has been the biggest surprise with his consistency.

There’s not much else to get amped about with the team in this town.

Up next the bidding war for the last big name Cuban on the market, 19-year old outfielder Luis Robert, about to become a millionaire. He will sign before July 2nd when the new International salary cap kicks in.

The Padres, who have spent 91M in signing draft picks and internationals since last June, , think they are still in the bidding, though they face a huge luxury tax payment if they are to sign Robert.

Because of last summer’s signing spree, the Padres have rocketed over the luxury tax threshold. For every international signing, they have to pay a $1 luxury tax for every $1 they spend on Robert.

The asking price is reportedly 20M-package, which means it would cost GM-AJ Preller another 20M tax payment therefore a 40M investment.

Last summer, when they signed 17-year old left-handed pitcher Adrian Morejon they spent 11M on him, and another 11M on a tax fee, an enormous investment.

A new salary cap kicks in this July, and because of their expenditures last year, the Friars will be limited to just $ t300,000- packages for each of the next two years, on any international signings, starting this July.

It’s too early to determine how the investments have gone. Only 1-Cuban is currently playing in the minors, 20-year old outfielder Jorge Ona, who has been rock solid as a .280-hitter in Ft. Wayne.

Within 2-weeks, the Padres will decide what to do with the some 45-international players they have in extended spring training over in Arizona.

The team will field two teams in the Arizona Summer League, stocked with last year’s signing haul, plus what they draft next month in this year’s Amateur draft.

If you take a trip to Lake Elsinore, to see the Friars Class A-team, you can get a sneak preview of the young arms they drafted last June, Cal Quantriill, Joey Lucchessi, Eric Lauer, have been exceptional out of the gate.

The Padres know they have a huge investment to take care of. .

Their blueprint going into last summer was based on the fact, at least 11-clubs, many of them big money, had spent huge amounts in 2014-15 to sign Latin players, and would not be able to write those checks in the summer of 2016.

The Padres jumped in and signed a combined 71-draft picks and those from Latin America. And so we wait.

In Arizona, they are running a baseball school in the morning. The young internationals take English lessons three times a week. There are cultural seminars. Life skill meetings. Counseling.

They stay in a team hotel, have a curfew and are fed two meals a day by a dietician.

The structured environment is about baseball, but also life in America. The Padres have decided to keep Morejon and all the other hot prospects together, seeing value, in helping them develop those on field skills, and those life in the fast lane skills.

Padres sources say they still have money in their checking account to sign Luis Robert, whom they have scouted and meet with. But then again so have the Cardinals and the White Sox, who reportedly are prepared to bid high also, the White Sox deal worth 25M.

A source used the term ‘dry powder’ to describe the money that might be available to sign the last Cuban.

Cuba, something to look forward too. Obvious there’s nothing with the Padres that gives you reason to pay attention to the ‘now’ of this last place baseball season.

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