Friday, August 30, 2013

Totally random thoughts

Absolutely all over the board this morning with thoughts and opinions ranging from the crisis in Syria to Tim Tebow ... and everything in between. Some of these thoughts might be sobering ... others completely facetious and sarcastic. So strap on the seat belt and let's go ...

Let's start with this: Jerry Remy may or may not have been an attentive father. It's hard to imagine he was too "all-in" with the myriad of issues and problem's he's had in the last five or six years. And considering he's been doing color for the Red Sox since 1988, this pretty much encompasses the entire childhood-to-adulthood transition of his three children.

It's probably safe to say that Phoebe (his wife) probably did a lot of child-rearing alone.

But it's a stretch to hold either of them accountable in any way because their 32-year-old son allegedly murdered his girlfriend. No. It's absurd. There a lots of bad parents in this world, and only a fraction of the kids end up committing murder (allegedly). So to all you people who want to drag him into this awful, awful mess ... grow up and get a life. Talk about kicking a man when he's down ...


 I guess Rolling Stone is making a last stand toward being relevant. First, the profile on the marathon bomber (you know what? I can't even waste my time looking up his name so I spell it right) and now the expose on the life and times of Aaron Hernandez.

Let's see. Hernandez is charged with the premeditated murder of one person and suspected of gunning down two more people last year. So we get it. He's a bad-ass. The angel dust is a new revelation, but you'd have to have been naive to think that he was clean ... or that marijuana was the beginning and end of his drug involvement.

But blaming the Patriots for his debacle is like blaming Remy for his son's (alleged) crimes. There are lots of sleazy coaches, and pro football -- as driven by the dollar as it is -- will always put its organizations and coaches in the position of having to make some slippery-slope compromises to keep winning teams on the field.

But just because the Patriots looked the other way at a lot of the "signals" Hernandez may have sent up, that doesn't mean they're complicit with these alleged murders. It just means that moral and ethical ambiguity reigns in the NFL. "Thugism" isn't exclusive to Foxborough. I suppose the Patriots are fair game for their pious claims that their "way" would preclude such scandal, but to sit there and blame either Bill Belichick or Bob Kraft because Hernandez is accused of murder is simply wrong.

Oh, and one more thing: The media are paid to ask questions, even if they know the answers won't be forthcoming. It's not their job to cover up for the Patriots, or to lead the cheers regardless of what the issues are. It's Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft's prerogative to refuse comment on these issues, but don't expect the media to shy away from asking the questions.


Tim Tebow.

Just writing those words is enough to start a war. For a guy who seems like an inherently decent human being, Tebow is labeled "polarizing." It's because his presence on an NFL team raises all those questions about whether the hype is worth more than the substance. In his particular case, he seems to be the beneficiary of a hype machine that went into overdrive the moment he left Florida, and hasn't abated.

Everywhere he goes, he stirs up dust. These days, he's stirring up up with the Patriots.

Here's what I think: Tebow is a "lockerroom guy." Every team has to have a few of those. They rarely see the field (and you hope to God the situation never arises that they have to be thrown into action) but they're part of the glue that holds teams together. Maybe, someday, he'll be good enough to be a backup, but not now.

Yet, the Patriots -- as we saw this summer -- seem to have a paucity of real-live "lockerroom guys" whose nature and willingness to use themselves as examples create a winning environment. The question you have to ask yourself is whether "lockerroom guys" are so valuable that keeping them on the rosters is worth saving a spot for that final running back or tight end.

I think if you're down to that last roster spot, you're not expecting much out of whomever you pick for it, so this caterwauling about "wasting a roster spot" is silly. The 53rd guy on a team is never going to do more than be a backup on special teams, or be on the scout squad in practice. 

Sometimes you do get lucky, and your "lockerroom guys" turn out to be the stars too. Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes with the Red Sox are two examples; and so is Patrice Bergeron with the Bruins. Other times, I'm afraid you do have to sacrifice a 53rd player who is the next diamond in the rough so you can get a guy in there who can give you what all good-teams have: self-policing. If that is to be Tebow's lot in life, so be it. After the Hernandez mess, it's obvious the Patriots need some good citizens.


Now, with regards to Syria ... I can't think of too many wars that haven't been incredible wastes of life and resources. Even the so-called "just" wars have extracted a horrible price on the world.

So the idea of just going into Syria with bombs to punish Bashar al Assad for poisoning his own people with chemical bombs might sound noble on the face of it, but even so, it is frought with all the dangers we've come to know so well with regards to anything we do in that part of the world.

So let's just keep that in mind before we join the chorus of "let's bomb them and teach them a lesson." I'm not sure, at this point, whether Assad is interested in being taught a lesson. He's interested in staying in power, and as we've seen, he'll do anything to keep it that way.

Yet this is a ticklish situation. As Secretary of State John Kerry has said, the use of chemical weapons has been such an anathema over the decades that even those with whom we have practically no common ground have refrained from using them. We went through two wars in Iraq -- which was supposed to have an enormous cachet of them -- and never encountered one of them.

Also, the U.S. is on some shaky ground when it comes to disciplining other countries for employing weapons of mass destruction or casualties. We are, after all, the only country to have dropped a nuclear weapon ... and we did it twice in three days. This isn't to stir up a debate over whether doing so was justified, because there are so many sides to this, and most of them contain more than just a small kernel of truth. But it is a reminder that we've done it.

There's also this to consider: Earlier this month, the military group that ousted Egypt's president managed to murder up to a thousand protesters on the wrong side of that country's coup. We didn't do anything for fear of the geopolitical ramifications of doing so. But even if a lot of those people were fighting on behalf of the ousted regime, they're still human beings, and they were still killed by the existing power structure ... tenuous though that might be.

So what's the difference? Are we picking and choosing how our enemies kill people now ... as if gassing them is somehow less moral than generic murder?

I agree the United States has to stand for something, but I'd think mass murder -- in whatever form it takes -- is equally odious, and not just because the murderers used gas and not bullets that tear the insides out of people.


Since I was a teenager, Sunday night of Labor Day weekend meant one thing: The Jerry Lewis Telethon, which was discontinued in 2011. I didn't watch it very often, but I knew it was there ... and often guffawed loudly at how corny some of the "comedy" was.

I also loved to make fun of Jerry Lewis, whose manic comedic stylings got him into a lot of trouble with advocates for mentally and emotionally challenged people. He also took a lot of heat for portraying physically challenged people as pitiful as opposed to inspirational ... at least until he (or his producers) wised up and changed the way he portrayed them.

But I could never knock him for making the attempt to raise money, not to mention awareness, for the plight of challenged people everywhere. However slow he  might have been to begin portraying challenged people as inspirations to the rest of us, as opposed to objects of our pity, he was in there fighting, and helping to fight against the very illnesses that forced muscular dystrophy victims to endure those challenges.

And in that sense, I miss the telethon. In the Boston area, WEEI and NESN had a two-day Jimmy Fund (children's cancer research fund) marathon that was filled with heart-warming stories about cancer survivors who never would have been alive were it not for the Dana Farber Institute and the fund. Jerry Lewis pioneered this type of programming and for that, he deserves everyone's gratitude.

We live in very self-absorbed times, where this type of "giving" is emphasized less and less. Jerry may have been slow on the uptake, but his heart was always in the right place.

Happy Labor Day. It's back to reality Tuesday.

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