Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hard to feel sympathy for hoop stars' demands

I don’t know about you, but if somebody paid me $10 million a year to bounce a ball on the floor and throw it through a metal hoop and I faced the prospect of not getting paid for a year, I would give some deep thought to stashing something away for a rainy day.

You know, like preparing for a year without any income to pay for the essentials in life — for example, food, shelter, jewelry and tattoos.

The prospect of no professional basketball for a year does not have a lot of people hyperventilating, except for the little people whose existence depends on helping customers find their seats at an arena, selling programs and hot dogs and the hundreds of other routine tasks that go along with a sport whose participants are millionaires and whose bosses are billionaires.

It is difficult to shed a tear for these people, who cannot agree on which side will get the most out of a contract that would support the Department of Defense of several small countries forever.

To see the players holding out a tin cup and asking the owners for a few billion dollars more is a pathetic way of looking at the world of Big Business.

Although I have no great admiration for the owners, it seems to me they should get more than half the money pot because, after all, they have a much larger investment than the players.

I mean, who pays the light bill at the arena while the players are out there, dribbling around and pretending they are grown-ups when you can tell simply by the way they are dressed that they clearly are not.

The players play for a couple of hours, take a shower and go – well, we know they don’t go home.

But they go someplace. The papers are filled with stories about where they go. I don’t know about basketball players, but football players go to nightclubs, where they stay out until dawn and occasionally get into situations that require the attention of the authorities.

Meanwhile, the owners have to worry about getting the arena cleaned up, paying the help, arranging a plane to get to the next game and finding a little time to spend with the family.

All the players have to do is show up for the next game, cash their paychecks and find out where the hot spot is in the next town they will visit.

For these reasons, all of them logical, the owners should get a major share of the money pot. The players should be satisfied with the millions they are paid for playing what is essentially a children’s game.

But the players union issued a statement that the owners have a plantation mentality when dealing with the players. Hah! If life in the National Basketball Association is anything like living on a plantation, I say they couldn’t tell a cotton gin from a dry martini without a program.

And unfortunately for the people selling the programs, they will be out of work until the billionaires and the millionaires can find some common ground on which to split their differences.

Meanwhile, what are the players’ agents going to do for walking-around money? They might have to find real jobs. Egads! What a depressing thought.

I don’t know about you, but as a boy and young man I took hundreds of showers with other kids my age after gym class and after sporting events and whatever, and I never, ever, saw a coach, a teacher or any other adult in the shower with the kids.

It was just unthinkable. I haven’t checked with the girls’ teams, but I seriously doubt if their showers were populated by adults, either.

If an assistant coach ever came into our shower because he wanted to “horse around” or “touch kids on the legs” (Ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky actually said that in an interview) my old man and a couple of other dads would have run him out of town before he could have drawn a deep breath.

That situation should have been recognized for exactly what it was 10 years ago, before it ever got out of hand and before the word “horseplay” was ever uttered.

It is a rotten shame that a fine university like Penn State had to be besmirched before Sandusky got the heave-ho.

The first instance of “horseplay” in the shower should have been the one and only — and definitely the last. Two such episodes is one too many. Ten years of it is intolerable.

Monday, November 21, 2011

South grad’s moment recalled on Frazier’s death

If you walk into Helen’s Sunrise Cafe across from the West End YMCA in Willoughby — something I do two or three times a week — take a step to the right and look straight at the back wall. There is a large framed poster that will arrest your attention.

It is so big you can’t miss it — probably 3 feet wide and 2 feet high. Across the top it boldly proclaims in large letters “World Heavyweight Championship.”

Below that, in much smaller type, “Sat. Jan. 15, 1972 — The Rivergate.”

There are two pictures of prizefighters with their gloves up, in full boxing mode. Beneath the picture on the left it says, “Champion.” Under the right-hand picture it says, “Challenger.”

And in the middle, in very large letters, “Joe Frazier versus Terry Daniels.”

Yes, that Terry Daniels — outstanding football player at Willoughby South, who went to Southern Methodist to play football but suffered a knee injury that cut short his career on the college gridiron.
So he took up boxing.

He was still a kid when he stepped into the ring against the world heavyweight champion, but he had amassed a bunch of knockouts and could land a wallop as well as take a punch. So he had earned a shot at the biggest boxing crown in the world, against the reigning champ — the best fighter on the planet at the time.

That poster picture of Terry on the back wall at Helen’s tells you a lot. Poised, staring ahead, a mop of hair that made him look like a rock singer but with bulging muscles no Beatle ever sported, he looked as if he was ready and willing to step into the ring and take on the champ.

He had the boyish but rugged looks that make him look like a movie star — more so than any other prizefighter. Well, there was one fighter who thought he was better looking, and you all know who that was.

And he said it best: “Outside of me,” Muhammad Ali once said of Terry Daniels, “he’s the prettiest boxer around.”

I kept thinking back to that championship fight involving a kid once known around here as a football player following the death the other day of the champ he took on, the man known as Smokin’ Joe Frazier, best known for his three monumental battles with Ali, including the Fight of the Century and the Thrilla in Manilla.

What was a local kid doing in the ring against a man whose very name always brings mention of his titanic battles with Ali? Frazier, who died at 67, must have been really tough, right?

Well, yes. But the word “tough” also fits Terry Daniels. So does “fearless.”

If he had any fear when he entered the ring in New Orleans against Frazier, it didn’t show.

Judge for yourself. You can see the entire fight, which lasted the better part of four rounds, in which Terry got knocked down several times but kept getting back up, including the last time when he didn’t want to quit but the ref said he’d better.

The bout, all of it, including the introductions, is online. All you have to do is Google “Terry Daniels” and you can watch every second of his brave performance.

There are a lot of people named Daniels around Willoughby and Mentor — some very prominent people, as a matter of fact.

Terry’s grandfather, Lyle Daniels Sr., better known as “Doc,” was one of the original Daniels Brothers at the fuel oil company on Pelton Road. Doc’s brother, Willard, known as “Pete,” was the other brother.

Pete had only one kid, Frank, the renowned piano player. Doc had about six kids, including Bill, Terry’s dad.

I used to see Terry quite often at Helen’s. Sometimes he was with Bill, sometimes he was alone. His dad brought Terry to speak at a Willoughby Rotary Club luncheon shortly after the big fight.

I often sat down and talked with Terry at the restaurant — just small talk, nothing important, mainly just keeping in touch.

They haven’t seen him for about six months at Helen’s, but my daughter and son-in-law see him often where they live, in one of Willoughby’s older neighborhoods.

Terry often goes out for walks — except now with the aid of a walker.

His old strength may have left him, but he is still as ruggedly handsome as ever. Yes, he and Ali were surely the two prettiest boxers around.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Breathing easier after hospital stay with friend

Getting out of the hospital is a little bit like getting out of the Army – when you think back you recall the good times and overlook the bad. Yes, there are unpleasant times in the hospital – the ever-present needles in the arm. But the good part manifestly outweighs the bad.
How I got into the Lake West facility in Willoughby a few days ago involved a great deal of persuasion on the part of the lady of the house, my older daughter and her husband. I was feeling rotten, but insisted all I needed was a couple hours of sleep. I was overruled in dramatic fashion. “We’re taking you to see Steve Baum,” they said, in unison. “Don’t fight it.”
My doctor friend ordered X-rays. He said they substantiated what he had already learned by listening to my chest with his stethoscope. I had pneumonia. I told him I’m not going to the hospital. Period.
After we got to the hospital, I sent Louie, my son-in-law, to Wendy’s for a large chocolate Frosty. I was starved and didn’t know when I would be eating again.
Not to worry. I consumed several meals at the hospital that I had watched going up, brick-by-brick, around 1960. And if you ever hear anyone complain about hospital food, send them to that first-rate facility for a meal. You lie in bed and order all your meals from a comprehensive menu that is as appealing as any you will find in a fine restaurant.
I was there only two nights before they wiped out the pneumonia and sent me home. I was released about 10 o’clock in the morning, but gave serious thought to sticking around for lunch. The food was that good.
The first night I had roast turkey and the second night pot roast of beef. I picked enough side dishes from the lengthy list to dispel any hunger pangs I might have undergone. One day for lunch I had a cheeseburger that was the match of any you will find in any restaurant of your choice. I had a tough time choosing side dishes because they all sounded great. I topped it off with orange sherbet.
Both days for breakfast I ordered orange juice, scrambled eggs, bacon, wheat toast and coffee. The only thing they wouldn’t let me do was order french toast along with the eggs. Too many total carbs. Oh well, the eggs were great.
All the nurses and aides on the fourth floor were outstanding — pleasant and eager to help. But when the nurse who gave me the most attention first walked into the room, I was stunned. I could not believe my eyes. And more often that not I believe my eyes.
He was a clone of my younger daughter’s son, Brian. They looked like twins who had been separated at birth — same height, same build, same face, same haircut, same even, white teeth, same everything. I rubbed my eyes. Except Adam Mayse is 23 and Brian is 22, so they couldn’t possibly be twins.
“Where did you go to college?” I inquired. First year at Lakeland, he said. Then there was a long wait to get into nursing school, so he finished at the Kent State Ashtabula branch. The renowned nursing school at Lakeland is first-rate. It’s only drawback is the long wait for admission.
I continued my interrogation. “Where did you go to high school?” Mentor, he replied. “You look as if you could have been a football player,” I said. He admitted that he had been a linebacker for the Cardinals.
To make a long story short, he is one of three Mayse brothers – another linebacker plus a quarterback. My investigation later revealed that they were all super-talented players who had been the focus of complimentary stories in The News-Herald’s sports pages.
It was all coming back to me now — stories I had read by Bill Tilton and other sportswriters who marveled at their talents. So Adam Mayse was no ordinary football player, but he is no ordinary nurse, either. His talents in the field of health care are the equal of his abilities on the gridiron.
“There’s another football player in the room across the hall,” Adam said. “Bob Gain, from the Cleveland Browns.”
I raced across the hall. What a treat, seeing the great Bob Gain once again.
We have been friends for decades (he still lives in Timberlake) and I barely missed seeing his lovely wife, Kitty, who left before I got there. Bob and I talked and talked and talked.
“I still maintain there are four former Browns who belong in the Football Hall of Fame,” I told him. “Yourself, Clay Matthews, Jim Ray Smith and Gary Collins. In addition to being a great receiver, Gary also led the league in punting one year.”
Bob’s response was: “I told Gary he held two punting records with the Browns — one for the longest punt and one for the shortest punt.”
Ah, fame. It’s wonderful. And it’s wonderful to be famous like that quartet.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vigil a great way to remember violence victims

There’s an old saying, coined many years ago by a dear friend of mine, who once observed, “You can’t copyright a good idea.”
I don’t know if that’s literally true, but it suits my purpose for what I’m about to tell you.
Nearly two decades ago, give or take a year, Lake County Prosecutor Chuck Coulson came up with a very good idea. It was to hold an annual candlelight vigil for members of families and friends who have lost loved one to crimes of violence.
Coulson has seen more violence that leads to senseless loss of life than would fill several chapters in a book on the subject.
It is impossible to enumerate all those who have seen family members and loved ones lost to homicide, drunken drivers and other violent crimes.
The prosecutor felt that a vigil to give aid and comfort to families who have endured such losses would be a means of assisting them through their grief, particularly in the holiday season when the losses seem more severe than other times of year.
Coulson followed through, with the help of staff members who shared his belief and his compassion. So the annual candlelight vigil became a reality that endured until last year, when the event skipped a beat because the prosecutor’s office, as did every other county office supported by the taxpayers, suffered severe budget cuts that reduced his staff and the availability of manpower (and, of course, womanpower) to carry through with the many details associated with the event.
But Lake County’s safety forces have now stepped in to bridge the gap, furnish the help and carry on with the great intentions of Coulson’s idea.
Thus the candlelight vigil will be held this year from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 1 at St. Cyprian Church, 4223 Middle Ridge Road, Perry Township.
Taking a major leadership role in bringing back the event is Chief Arnold Stanko of the Waite Hill Village Police Department.
“The Lake County safety forces recognize,” Stanko said, “that as the holiday season approaches, it may be a particularly difficult time for families who have lost loved ones, particularly to crimes of violence.
“We believe they may find it comforting to join with others who have experienced similar personal tragedies to honor their loved ones at this time of year.”
The candlelight vigil will include an honor guard with a bagpiper, musical selections, memorial tributes by family members, friends and safety forces and photographs of loved ones.
Local safety forces will assist at the candle lighting ceremony. The program will conclude with a procession to the “Tree of Hope,” where participants can honor their loved ones with the placing of ornaments of remembrance.
The Painesville Township Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary will provide refreshments of cookies and hot beverages following the ceremony.
All of us get our fill of senseless deaths of violence simply by reading the front page every day. And Coulson has seen more than his share.
He came up with a fine idea of holding a candlelight vigil. And our safety forces have stepped up to the plate by continuing the program.
Stanko can answer any questions about the upcoming vigil if you call him at 440-942-6279.
Here’s tip of the hat to Chuck, Arnie and all the safety force members who are making the vigil a reality.

A special day

I am not one to memorialize birthdays on significant dates. That was something that was done very well by Chuck Koelble during his lengthy tenure at this newspaper. But this is one I can’t let pass without mention.
Ed Paul has been a mainstay, a part of the real backbone, of the South High Boosters Club, probably since its inception. And I am particularly fond of the South Boosters for a number of reasons, including the fact that all my kids graduated from that noteworthy institution and I doubt if I have missed more than one or two of their Christmas parties from those early days at Dino’s III and thence at Pine Ridge Country Club, where the boosters have been comfortably ensconced for these many years.
Ed will celebrate a birthday on 11-11-11. So will a lot of other people, I imagine. But I am calling attention to his because he is a special guy. And his wife Marilyn is a special gal.