This year was one of the roughest Christmas’s financially that we’ve honestly had in quite a while. But then again, does it really matter as I said in my last post here?
My kids didn’t get sheltered this year, and have received the same speech my job gives me every year. My job basically says, “You’ve performed great this year…but do to circumstances beyond our control like the economy, higher insurance costs, customers who aren’t increasing their orders…this is all we can do.”
So as my dad used to say, “Do you think the electric company, gas company, house note people tell me I don’t have to pay this month because it’s Christmas?”
Boy do I understand those words in a whole new way now. Perhaps more-so, because Lillpappa didn’t have Sallie Mae to throw in there as well!
However, Lillpappa would always try to get the three of us one “big” gift, and sometimes I could only imagine the looks on our faces when we unwrapped that gift.
This year I was again remembering one of the craziest gifts ever.
Let me set this one up.
This was around the time the Atari 2600 was jumping off the shelves. Kids in and out the ‘hood were getting this for a couple of Christmas’s and my brother, sister and I were expecting to finally get our family’s first video game system. So this Christmas was it, Black “Lillpappa” Santa was about to hook us up!
I can’t remember who opened it, but I just remember seeing that box and…what…what is THAT?
It was the Bally Astrocade! To this day, I have NEVER met anyone who had one of these systems. Let me repeat that, NEVER!
Now my dad is good for cutting-against-the-grain, but this might have been his best one ever. I’m sure this game system was a lot more powerful than we thought, but because it wasn’t an Atari, it didn’t matter to us too much. Obviously somebody else in this world had one because there’s a website HERE devoted to this great game system. Plus, it even has a wiki page!
“On the front of the unit was a 24-key “hex-pad” keyboard used for selecting games and options. Most cartridges included two games, and when they were inserted the machine would reset and display a menu starting with the programs on the cartridge and then listing the four built-in programs. On the back were a number of ports, including connectors for power, the controllers, and an expansion port. One oddity was that the top rear of the unit was empty, and could be opened to store up to 15 cartridges. The system’s ability to be upgraded from a Videogame console to Personal computer along with its library of nearly 30 games in 1982 are some reasons that made it more versatile than its main competitors, and was listed by Jeff Rovin as one of the seven major video game suppliers.”
Now, if you know Lillpappa, any look of disappointment would have meant that the bad-boy was going back to get returned and all we would have had to play with for Christmas would have been the wrapping paper! But reflecting on it today, he probably knew. The Atari was going for around $200, and that was in the late ’70s, so it would have been an extremely expensive purchase. But my dad still came through with something on that day when he didn’t have to do so. He always reminded us that he gave us Christmas all year long and that was no lie. Whether it was the trips to California, the Hot Wheels, baseball cards, GI Joes and dolls (the dolls were for my sister just so you all understand). We lacked nothing as we lived on his sole income in our household. Sure, I wanted whatever was hot at that time, (later it would be an Intellivision and Colecovision), but lacked nothing.
So, not only am I thankful for my Savior this holiday season, I’m thankful for the sacrifices made by the real Santa Claus, the one that worked 16-hours shifts, drove some beat-up cars, paid for our private school, etc.. He did all of this when the lights, gas, insurance, mortgage company and so on still wanted their money by Christmas.
Thanks Dad. The older I get, the more I appreciate the sacrifices, and days like today amplify it even more for me.
Thank you Lord, for providing him a job, us a house, and plenty of food. I was a fat kid growing up so I certainly never missed a meal.
So as you open presents this morning, I leave you with a couple of jams that played in the background every year and a playlist that I put on every year with my family as well (sorry, no Bing Crosby in our house):
If you’ve been a regular listener to the CornerstoneDad podcast (if not, check out the episodes), you’ve heard my son KD on quite a few shows break down his thoughts on sports, race, relationships and anything else thrown at him.
Today is his 24th birthday!
When I was 24, he was 3 1/2 years old. I was working at a grocery store and was entering my 5th year there, struggling to figure out what to do with my life. The only stability I had at that time, was my then girlfriend and now wife, oh yea…and my Mustang!
However, there’s one thing I’m pretty confident about, and that’s the impact that young man had on my life.
Without him, there would likely be no CornerstoneDad.com, because it is through our trials and tribulations that made me appreciate my role even more.
Once again I’d like to remind my young dad’s out there to keep pressing. If you’re struggling being a young father while you’re trying to grow up and be a man your own-self, think of this time period out there as a football game:
0-5 yrs. old – 1st quarter
6-10 yrs. old – 2nd quarter
11-15 yrs. old – 3rd quarter
16-20 yrs. old – 4th quarter
Now, which QB will you be? When I was younger, I always knew that Joe Montana could make comeback. Dan Marino could make a comeback. You did not turn the channel because you never wanted to be “that guy” on Tuesday morning after Monday Night Football to hear, “You didn’t see what happened last night?”, because you turned the game off and went to bed because you thought the game was over. Not with those guys, because even if the Niners or the Dolphins would lose, the game would almost always be close in the end.
Will you give up because of the struggle in the 1st quarter or the 1st half? Oftentimes, the 3rd quarter determines the game, so if you have a good lead (relationship), will you relax and lose it in the 4th quarter? Are you a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady (the two top active career comeback leaders in NFL history) that are always determined to win, no matter what the early quarters looked like? Are you steadfast on remaining in the game because of your integrity and even if you “lose”, the court system, your child’s mother, your relatives, her relatives will all know, that you’re a fighter? You’ll fight to see or be involved in your child’s life regardless of the obstacles.
Personally, I wanted to throw in the towel in every quarter of the game. When the picture above was taken, seeing that young man at 24 was out of my realm of possibility. I thought the tough times would never end.
God is good, and was working even when I was not a good father, and I praise him for allowing me to see my son turn 24, and for me to be alive to say, Happy Birthday for yet another year.
“Nothing lasts unless it can be expressed in the terms of a human spirit.”
Steve Sabol (1942-2012)
I just watched the NFL network’s, A Football Life: Steve Sabol, with my sons. Steve, founder of NFL Films, revolutionized sports television and to a lesser degree, sports video games such as the John Madden franchise.
Steve’s story is absolutely amazing, but the story and relationship he had with his father is even better.
Check out the video below that Steve put together about his dad, Ed Sabol, for his enshrinement as a member of the Hall of Fame class of 2011.
I met with some clients a couple of weeks ago from South Korea. We talked a little baseball, and one of the gentlemen stated that one of the teams had no Korean players on the team, so he was going for the other. I laughed and told him these days, I’m struggling to find African-Americans on any baseball team either!
This years Fall Classic featuring the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals looks like nothing like your father’s baseball teams.
Thirty- years ago in 1983, here’s the opening day line-up I remember shuffling around. My boy Damon and I battled each other daily at the strike-box we made on the side of the building imitating the batting stances and characteristics of the following players:
Four of the nine were African-American, or perhaps we could say they were batting .444, which was very good!
What about the Red Sox?
One of the nine would at considered African-American, or perhaps we could say they were batting .111. Well, Boston was the last team to integrate in the MLB and it’s been said that African-American’s would rather cheer for the opposing team than for the home team (sounds like me actually).
St. Louis, doing well, Boston,…not so much. The Red Sox have always had problems with their racist past (passing on Willie Mays because of his color) but were trying to change things, at least they were 10 years ago according to this article in 2002 (click here).
So how much has actually changed?
The following is an article from the Boston Globe seems to indicate that perhaps the 1983 Red Sox were ahead of the “changing demographic” time. I’m glad that some are still calling attention to the fact that African-American’s are becoming extinct in the National Pastime. Why is that a problem? Because the train will not be returning to the station to pick up the passengers left back. As legendary Father of Sports Sociology Dr. Harry Edwards pointed out in a recent interview, without African-American ball players, baseball is experiencing record profits (check out why Forbes feels it’s more than about ticket sales here). So with the money rolling in, why should that be a primary area of focus for MLB? Bob Costas, appearing on Dave Zirin’s Edge of Sports podcast (listen here), points out that the problem is beyond the changing demographics of teams, but the game itself could face overall irrelevance with future generations. As Costas duly noted, the NFL makes sure that its most important games can be seen by everyone. However, with MLB, the early rounds of the playoffs are nearly impossible to find (in some cases like Detroit vs. Oakland, the game was not on television at all in Detroit!) and the World Series comes on late and lasts long after the bedtimes of its future fans.
Therefore, beyond the extinction of African-American baseball players in the game. Baseball needs to be careful that its current prosperity isn’t the final rally before the Closer (i.e. NFL) comes in to put them away in the game.
Check out this article below from the Boston Globe by Gary Washburn.
Feel free to leave comments below!
World Series shows MLB’s dearth of black players
When Adron Chambers was left off the Cardinals’ World Series roster Wednesday to create a spot for the team’s RBI leader, Allen Craig, Red Sox utility outfielder Quintin Berry realized that he was the sole African-American representation on baseball’s grandest stage.
This exemplifies an issue Major League Baseball has been grappling with for the better part of two decades. The participation of African-Americans has been dwindling to the point where there is not one black starter or front-line player in this year’s Fall Classic.
Berry, 28, who was acquired by the Sox from the Royals in August for his speed, is unlikely to even get an at-bat in the Series. It’s a stirring testament to the decline of baseball’s popularity in the African-American community.
MLB records show that just 8.5 percent of players on Opening Day rosters were black. And now, just one of the 50 players participating in the World Series identifies himself as African-American.
Berry, whose father is black, said he is fully aware of the declining numbers and that many athletes of his generation chose to pursue basketball or football, more fast-paced and popular sports.
“Especially being from the neighborhood that I’m from, you don’t see a lot of guys playing this sport,” said Berry, who went to Morse High School in San Diego. “You see them playing football and choosing that alley.
“But I had to go where my body type and my ability was going to allow me to. It was weird, because nobody in my family knew much about baseball. My father was a football player.”
The problem is not a lack of effort by Major League Baseball. It has implemented RBI programs — for “Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities” — throughout the country to encourage young African-Americans to embrace the sport. But MLB in general has done a terrible job of promoting its sport, let alone to African-Americans who admire athletes such as LeBron James and Adrian Peterson.
Major League Baseball has long struggled with self-promotion, and the past 20 years have been a public-relations disaster considering the scandals involving performance-enhancing drugs. Seven-time MVP Barry Bonds was perhaps the most talented player of his generation, yet baseball wants nothing to do with him because of his association with PEDs.
While the NFL and NBA are busy ushering their all-time greats into the Hall of Fame, baseball wishes Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Sammy Sosa would disappear.
Part of the issue is that baseball is a classical sport caught up in a hip-hop world. The games last well beyond three hours. The pace is slow. The commentators analyze the game as if they were detailing the government shutdown and not talking about a kid’s game. The sport takes itself much too seriously, and for the casual fan — which most kids are — that translates like organic chemistry.
With the sport considerably less appealing than basketball or football to the novice fan, there isn’t the eagerness for parents to register their kids for Little League. A generation ago, it seemed Little League was a staple of every community. Even if you didn’t like baseball, you played on the local park team. Now? Those kids are playing basketball, football, and soccer, or have become part of the X Games trend.
Former major league outfielder Chris Singleton, now a commentator for ESPN, believes the issue expands beyond the playing field.
“I’m looking at management positions in the game,” said Singleton, who is African-American. “I know we’ve had an issue with the declining number of African-American players on teams, whereas you had teams like Minnesota, which had one player, Aaron Hicks, and then when he got sent down, they didn’t have an African American player, which is kind of a first in a long time.
“You can even look at broadcasters if you want to and say there’s 30 teams and there’s one black full-time play-by-play announcer [Dave Sims in Seattle].”
There has been an influx of African-American talent such as Matt Kemp, Jason Heyward, David Price, Adam Jones (Berry’s high school buddy), and Andrew McCutchen, but many of those players would go unrecognized by the casual sports fan.
Also, one current African-American major leaguer said there’s a perception among African-American major leaguers that the game isn’t as welcoming to them as it is to others when their physical skills begin to decline.
A fundamental problem is that baseball didn’t have to emphasize its greatness, its beauty, and its allure to previous generations.
It was America’s Game. The national pastime. That is no longer the case.
Baseball has to restate its worthiness to a new generation, one that didn’t grow up breaking in new gloves with plenty of oil and a couple of nights under the bed post — for those who don’t remember Bo Jackson scaling an outfield wall or Dave Parker throwing out Brian Downing at third base on a bullet from right field.
Otherwise, the sport is simply selling itself on history and tradition, and as with many other genres, that isn’t good enough for the young folks.
“When I go home and tell my buddies what the game needs, they need guys with speed and athleticism and the role that I am doing,” Berry said, “hopefully that will help them or their kids down the line, maybe push them to try to get them into this sport.
“I am happy I am able to do this and hope people follow in these footsteps.”
Remember last week when I said I would lose to william’s Team this week? All I have to say is; I think I have what it takes to be a fortune teller. Here are the summaries.
The Kansas City Chiefs Defense scored a team-leading 26.00 points to help Father_N_TwoBoys (4-2, 773.32) knock off The Crushers (0-6, 635.68), 120.44 – 111.48. The 120.44 points put up by Father_N_TwoBoys was the lowest winning score of the week and the win was the team’s third in a row.
BaldHeadSlicks (4-2, 730.16) got 27.50 points from Marshawn Lynch and knocked off FluffyKittens (3-3, 720.26), 125.36 – 98.40. BaldHeadSlicks scored 12.3% more points than projected (111.58) and has now beaten expectations for three straight weeks.
william’s Team (4-2, 635.08) picked up the league’s highest score of the week from Cam Newton (30.68 points) and waxed The Best Team (3-3, 693.70), 126.68 – 82.80. It was the biggest margin of victory of the season for william’s Team.
I’m hoping I will be able to come back into first place. But for now, I’ll have to do everything in my power to get to that top spot. Unfortunately for me, I hate waiting a week for things to happen.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s update and I’ll see you next time.
Week three is over and again there were some pretty close games in our fantasy league this week. I honestly thought that I was going to lose my game. Others I knew for sure that were going to lose, but they held on, but anyway, let’s get to the recaps.
BaldHeadSlicks against Father_N_TwoBoys. This matchup was more of a lead swapping than anything else. BaldHeadSlicks was first to draw blood with 29.4 points going into Sunday while Father_N_TwoBoys had to start from zero. Then Father_N_TwoBoys took the lead early Sunday but couldn’t hold on to it letting BaldHeadSlicks late Sunday. After that, BaldHeadSlicks wouldn’t give it up. They won 117.48 – 100.88.
The closest game all season was this week three matchup, The Best Team trying to take down FluffyKittens. I never had to taste the bitterness of not being in the lead, being The Best Team. But this was the part where I thought I was going to lose. I had a 17 point lead leaving Sunday night. You might think that that is enough to get me the win. But FluffyKittens still had their player with the highest points to play. I ended up beating them 120.56 – 118.56 in, again, the closest matchup of the season thus far.
FluffyKittens owner had this to say after the game,
“Please give [Cornerstone Kid] my congrats for beating the mighty Fluffy Kittens. I went to bed up one point on him and woke up to find I lost by two. Even in the FF world close ones are tough to stomach.
Knowshon Moreno was to be the difference, but he has a no-show. Noshow Moreno.”
I like the recap that Yahoo! gave for this matchup:
william’s Team got the third-highest score of the week from Cam Newton on the way to their third win in as many matchups when they beat The Crushers 114.62 – 90.64. Both sides missed scoring opportunities as william’s Team had one starter turn in zero points and The Crushers had two. The Crushers falls to sixth place with a 0-3 record. william’s Team remains undefeated and on top of the league having also run over The Best Team (132.70 – 99.32) and Father_N_TwoBoys (108.76 – 96.88).
I was not very happy about that lose to william’s Team, but like my dad always said, “The best way to get payback is on the baseball field.” Well, when he said that, we were talking about baseball. But the meaning is still the same.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s fantasy update. See you next week!