The picture that accompanies this post is of a golfer that my dad made out of nuts and bolts. It sits on my desk at work, and it serves as an inspiration to me whenever I give myself the opportunity - check that - the privilege of looking at it. Today it inspired this post, which I am writing on the fly with no notes and only a spell-check once I complete it. However this comes out, don't blame my pops, as though he may have inspired it, he didn't write it. I'll own this, for better or worse.
I used to write a lot of feature posts here, but as the years have passed, I have found myself enjoying most of my StR time in the threads. The conversations are, like my dad's golfer, a privilege to look at, and a work of art. The threads are the ultimate in collaborative writing, and I am a huge, huge fan of the collaborative process. I've always been a bit of a counter-puncher, so the threads bring out the best/worst in me. (Also, Tom, Aykis, Greg and Rob bury me when it comes to producing feature articles with...oh, what's that word that I'm searching for...you know...oh yeah...content.)
I thoroughly enjoy the threads in the same way that I used to love reading Mark Kreidler and pre-sellout Rick Reilly. I might strongly agree or disagree with what I was reading, but I always enjoyed the read and the style and I respected the crafting that went into their articles. And I almost always learned something new, and the time spent reading them was always a good investment of my time. I feel the same way about the Tom, Aykis, Greg and Rob (as well as Kevin's writing and artistic skills). And I feel the same way about those that collaborate to generate our epic threads. I place a high value on our threads. I am way too mother-hennish about our threads. They are, to me, at rare times, a golfer made of nuts and bolts.
The year was 1969, and dad was recovering from the second of what would be five heart attacks (that we knew of) during his somewhat abbreviated lifetime. Willie Mays was still patrolling center field for the Giants, the Jets became the first AFL team to win a Super Bowl earlier in the year, and Lew Alcindor was heading to Milwaukee.
I was 10 years old. My dad suffered his first heart attack when I was 4, so this was the first one that he had that I truly remembered. I remember how gray his skin looked when we visited him in the hospital - I had never seen anything like that. I also remember the doctor coming into his room at Mercy San Juan Hospital, and instructing the nurse that dad was Jewish and therefore the Jesus-on-the-cross that was on the wall should be removed. My dad told the nurse not to bother, stating "I don't mind sharing the room with a nice Jewish boy who just happens to be in traction." I took that one to school two days later and was sent home early...tough room.
Dad recovered, and the aforementioned nuts and bolts golfer was created during his recovery. Dad would go on to live 13 more relatively healthy years, heart attacks notwithstanding. The one that finally got him came on Super Bowl Sunday, Redskins vs. Dolphins. For years I would watch Super Bowl highlight shows, and I could not place John Riggins running over the place. It didn't dawn on me that Riggins' big day came while my dad was passing in front of me. But this time it was not the gray of dad's skin that got my attention, but his sharp, blue eyes. He gave me one last look and he was gone. I was 23, and not fully prepared to lose the man that was both my father and my best friend.
The ambulance arrived and attempted to revive him, taking off his hearing aid and glasses and laying them on the kitchen floor. Mom went with dad in the ambulance, and I cleaned up the kitchen before making my way up to the hospital, knowing that at this point there was really no rush, other than to be there for my mom. The last thing that I did before locking the front door was take the nuts and bolts golfer out of the den and place it on the dash of my car. He rode with me for a couple of years before becoming part of my permanent work environment.
It took me several years, but I finally came to realize how lucky I was to have even known my dad. He could have been gone when I was 4. As the years passed, I came to feel sorry for the people that never met my dad, for it was truly their loss.
And when I gaze at the nuts and bolts golfer that sits upon my desk, I remember dad's honesty and integrity and humor. I remember how universally respected he was by his family and his friends and his co-workers. It is impossible for me to look at the nuts and bolts golfer and not be filled with pride and privilege, every time.
Around this same time, I was playing baseball in Sacramento summer and night leagues. My favorite team was managed by a gentleman by the name of Al Simas. Al was meant to be in baseball, as he was, I swear, completely made of leather. One of the blessings that I count in my life is having Al Simas manage me. Another is not being the guy that came to practice one day and did not take his watch off before heading out to his position at 2nd base. "What time is it, meat?" Al crowed over and over again...and for the remainder of the season...and the next one.
One of Al's big things was to never let the other team see you with your head down. "Never let the bastards know that something's getting the better of you," Al would say. If you struck out, Al wanted you coming back to the dugout, head held high, as though that's what you were trying to do. This is not to say that Al wouldn't take a giant chunk out of your arse once he had you one-to-one, because he sure would. "You're better than that!", Al would growl.
This included not reacting if you got hit by a pitch. Don't look at the pitcher. Don't rub it. Don't even acknowledge that you've been hit - make the ump tell you to go to 1st base twice before you leave the box. Al said that this served two purposes. First, it showed that they could not get to you. Second, it did not tip them off as to whether or not your pitcher was going to stick it to one of them (we did - we were Al Simas' team, meat!).
Al came along at the right time in my life, and imparted a lot of the life lessons that my dad was in the process of laying on me prior to Riggins' big day. It wasn't about turning the other cheek, or putting up with anyone's crap. It was about not acknowledging someone's efforts to knock you off your game, and then cramming it down their throats in stealth-like fashion. It was about focusing on your job and your task. At the end of the day, the best way to eviscerate your opponent was to make them feel like they didn't matter to you at all. Hate was not the opposite of love. Apathy was the opposite of love. And it drove our opponents crazy.
I never thanked you for the life lesson, Al. I knew at the time that you made me a better ballplayer than I ever thought I could be, but I didn't realize until years later the positive impact that you've had on my life. Thanks, meat.
Daughter214 is now closing in on 19 years old. She graduated high school early with honors (proof that she is her mother's daughter and that I am but an adoptive father). She immediately enrolled at Paul Mitchell, has graduated, passed her state exam, and is now making the greater Sacramento area a more beautiful place to live, one head of hair at a time. She is my life.
D214 shot me a text today, asking if I wanted to get together for dinner tomorrow night. Any parent can tell you what a thrill it is when your kid wants to get together with you, regardless of the fact that she probably is hungry and needs a few dollars. My daughter wants to see me, dammit!
So after firming up our plans, I turned in my chair and looked at the nuts and bolts golfer. I realized that my daughter has no nuts and bolts golfer. If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I'm not sure what would be significant to her. But I do know that I have left one helluva social media footprint here at Sactown Royalty, as have a lot of us. And I wonder what my daughter would see if she reviewed my "contributions" here. Would she see a nuts and bolts golfer? Or would she see something else entirely?
I began lurking on StR in 2006. I was working in loans and real estate at the time, and as business slowed, my time on the site increased. Debrixtha1 worked in the same office, and we would read Tom and Louis' articles and laugh about otis and pookeyguru and others. In 2007 Tom, who I believe was under medication at the time, asked me if I would join the staff. I made my first front page post on July 25, 2007. And baby, I was home. It's been a love affair for me ever since.
Back then, double digit comments was a sign of success. Even three years later when I composed my eight-part series on putting together the all time Kings team, comments were somewhat limited compared to today. The whole "blog" thing was still in its infancy, and there seemed to be a limit when it came to what people would put into writing to (or at) each other. I'm not saying that it was better, because I don't think that it was. But it was different. Considerably different.
So with all of this as a backdrop, we come to these highly emotional past couple of years. As though dealing with standard M*loofery wasn't enough, we have suddenly found ourselves neck deep in a group of people that would make our team theirs. We've had some great Seattle fans visit Sactown Royalty and bring some great conversation, and we've also had more than our fair share of Douchebucks roll through here as well. Unfortunately, the Douchebucks have made it more difficult for the genuine conversationalists to partake here, as many of us have lumped them all into one pile. And our membership has alternately risen above the trolls or wallowed in the filth with them, depending on the rawness of our emotions at that particular moment. Given how long this has gone on and what is at stake, I am shocked (and impressed) that we can even carry on a civil conversation around here. Kudos to all of you.
The one thing that I have not been able to understand is the fascination of some of our members with Sonics Rising. I mean, they really aren't a news source, are they? I suppose that you can put a finger on the pulse of their fan base to an extent, and I suppose that's where I have the disconnect. I don't care what their fan base thinks right now. "Pay attention to what's going on in your own dugout," I can hear Al Simas telling me. "You can't play this game wearing rabbit ears." (My dad wore a hearing aid, so he would just turn the world off at the flip of a switch.) This is not to say that I am not sensitive to their plight. I would sign any petition to get them an expansion team. But after what we have been through as a fan base, I would not support any team relocating to Seattle, as that would mean that some other fan base is having its collective heart ripped out.
Slam_Dunk hit me with some clarity as to why some StR members keep looking in on SR: "Going over to the site is like driving by an accident on the side of the road. You just have to look out of curiosity no matter how gruesome it may be." Thanks, Dunk. That rings incredibly true. I get it now. Of course, I don't go out of my way to look at an accident on the side of the road, but if one is in front of me, yes, I peer in.
I guess what I'm saying after approximately 2,000 words that have virtually nothing to do with basketball is this: Sactown Royalty is my nuts and bolts golfer. I proudly tell people about our site. I have enjoyed every single person that I've ever met through StR (except one, and I throw that in to keep all of you humble). I have gone to games with betweentheeyes (summer league, too) and Aykis16. I have shared coffee and tapas and mojitos with jjham15. I have met Tom Ziller. Once more for emphasis I HAVE MET TOM ZILLER! I have marveled at the boundless energy of Ed Montes at Here We Stay nights. I met Kfan in Korea without having to travel to Korea! I've had a beverage with pookey! But I've never met otis...how is that even possible?!?
I spend a huge portion of my time here. StR is the reason that I don't Facebook or Tweet - I spend all of my social media time here (with time off to read Grant at McCovey Chronicles). And I do this with an immense sense of pride in this community, coupled with a great deal of humility due to your acceptance of me.
My goodness, I am so far from perfect that it is absolutely laughable. But my goal moving forward is to aspire higher. To make sure that I don't shame my father or my daughter (fortunately, both of them like/liked a good dick joke, so I don't have to curtail that part of my...personality). My goal is to write nothing on this site that I would not say to your face. I may disagree with you, even passionately, and vice versa. But I will respect your right to your opinion (if not the opinion itself). I will make every effort to not wallow with the trolls that are certain to frequent this site now and again (and again and again), and I will not call someone a troll just because they have the temerity to disagree with me.
I'm going to let them say whatever they want in their dugout. My rabbit ears are put away. I'm in it to win it, and my opponents mean nothing to me at this point. I'm going to aspire to a higher level. I'm going to build my own nuts and bolts golfer.