Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Potpourri No. 39


When I first began paying serious attention to Olympic sports, right around the time puberty was setting in, my favorite athletes were the distance runners, mostly because their typical body type (tall and skinny) was the most like my own. The big star among U.S. distance runners at that time was Jim Ryun, who held a number of world records and was the favorite to win the 1500 meter gold medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. He came in second in that race, some say because of the altitude.

My first real brush with "the agony of defeat" came at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Ryun was fouled by another runner and fell during his preliminary heat in the 1500.

Even though Olympic officials agreed that a foul had occurred, they declined to reinstate Ryun in the event, ending his chance at Olympic gold and effectively ending his amateur career.

Since that time, the 1500 meters (my favorite race) has been a source of nothing but disappointment. In the eleven Olympiads since Ryun's silver medal performance in 1968 the United States had earned a grand total of one medal in the 1500.

All of that disappointment melted away yesterday, though, as Matthew Centrowitz became the first United States runner to win the 1500 meters since 1908.

"108 years is quite a dry spell."

Yes, it was...but it's over now...

Feast Day

Pope St. Pius X, October 1903

Today is the feast day of Pope St. Pius X, an early 20th century pontiff best remembered for his work in bringing the laws of the Church together in a single book. Though he did not live to see the project completed, the 1917 publication
of the Code of Canon Law is his legacy.

Pius X also sternly resisted attempts by modernist philosophers and theologians
to subtly undermine Church teachings by subordinating them to the prevailing attitudes of the day.

He was beatified by Pope Piux XII in 1951, and canonized by him in 1954.

Had my parents been able to afford it, I would have attended St. Pius X High School in Kansas City. I did my student teaching there, and ironically Pius was the biggest sports rival of Bishop LeBlond High School in St. Joseph, where I taught for nine years.

Pope St. Pius X is the patron of catechists, and of the Diocese of Des Moines.


Less than 16 hours after their rain-delayed marathon game ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning my beloved Kansas City Royals were back on the field at Kauffman Stadium. They showed no ill effects from their lack of sleep, blasting the Minnesota Twins 10-0 for their seventh straight win. The victory also clinched the team's fifth consecutive series win heading into this afternoon's finale.

Now 8-9, 3.58 ERA

Royals starter Ian Kennedy was dominant again, holding the Twins scoreless on just four hits in his eight complete innings of work. He struck out six and did not walk a single batter.

LHP Brian Flynn needed just 12 pitches to close out the Twins in the 9th inning.

"Boom! BOOM!"
The biggest day offensively belonged to LF Alex Gordon, who went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three runs scored. Alex has now scored a run in his last nine straight games, and has five homers in his last five games.

RF Lorenzo Cain was also 3-for-4 and collected three RBIs.

"So, how far are we out of the last Wild Card spot now?"

Just shut your pipe, jinx...

Water Hazard

From the pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

In the music business, some artists enjoy success early in their careers and parlay that into long-term popularity, enjoying recording and performing careers lasting for decades. Other artists allow the sudden fame and pressure to destroy them. The Britpop band Oasis is a sad case of the latter trajectory.

The band's 1994 debut album, Definitely Maybe, sold over a million copies in the United States alone and received a platinum certification from RIAA. I didn't discover them until they released What's the Story, Morning Glory? in 1995, just as I was starting to pay attention to pop and rock music again because I had returned to high school teaching. I became a fan thanks to that album, widely regarded as one of the best rock albums in history. It produced four Billboard charting singles, including two No. 1 hits, and received four platinum certifications (4 million in sales) in the U.S. alone.

Even in the midst of all of this success, though, there were stories of discord among the band members (especially between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher), drug and alcohol excesses, and a disdainful attitude toward their own fans.

On August 21, 1997 the band released Be Here Now, one of the most hotly-anticipated albums of the 1990s.
All of the negativity surrounding the band overwhelmed the album's release, however. In the United States it debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 but sales quickly fell off, and it barely sold 1 million copies in America. Worldwide sales were down two-thirds from their previous release.

The album produced three Billboard charting singles, but the U.S. market had soured on the group, and their album sales here fell off a cliff. They would only chart two more singles in America before breaking up in 2009.

My favorite song from Be Here Now was "All Around the World," actually one of the first songs Noel Gallagher ever wrote. He famously declined to record it early in the band's career, because he wanted to make sure the production values he envisioned for it could be brought to fruition. The song is one of the longest hit singles ever recorded, and was used by AT&T in a well-received advertising campaign.

Today's send-off is the official video of the song from the band's VEVO channel. It reputedly took six months to produce back in 1997. Enjoy...

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