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Reflections On The Day America Exhaled & Then Gasped + Defending My BIRGing (corrected version on Phil Niekro's win-total)

"January 6, 2021 may go down in history as the Day America Exhaled." I wrote that sentence around noon on Wed. Jan 6 when the dual Democratic victories in the US Senate races in Georgia were confirmed.  

The winners were the first Black in Georgia to earn the Senate, Raphael Warnock, minister of Martin Luther King's Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and the first Jew in Georgia, 33-year-old Jon Ossoff, a documentary film maker and mentee of the late great Congressman John Lewis. 

The thought of a demoted to "Minority [Leader] Moscow Mitch" McConnell in the U.S. Senate added to the momentary elation of Jan. 6th. Another moment to celebrate was the nomination of Merrick Garland to be Attorney General after McConnell refused for almost a year to even give him a hearing for a Supreme Court position that President Obama had selected him for.


I needed good news on January 6th because exactly two years earlier my ex-wife passed away.  

Then less than two hours later, the US Capitol was under siege for the first time in over 200 hundred years.  For the first time in the history of our beleaguered democracy, a Confederate flag was brazenly carried under the Capitol dome. 


Our elected legislators ran for cover under desks or in the basement while acts of desecration, vandalism, and violence led to at least six deaths. 


I'm not a prophet about what comes next. I do constantly remind people that we repudiated Trump's leadership solidly on Election Day over two months ago. But because we have become used to his lies, many of us have become numb or resigned to his protracted denial of the results. 

Meanwhile the coronavirus rages with an unfathomable number of over 350,000 nation-wide deaths and many more are still expected. A vaccine is coming which is good news and has even arrived in certain places.  


But mask-wearing is still avoided by too many of our citizens. My heart goes out to the situation in California where people are urged to buy dry ice for bodies of dead relatives and friends while hospitals and morgues are filled to capacity.   

Here's a fervent hope we make it to January 20 without further horrid incidents. And when he officially becomes President Biden, there is an improvement in national mood and national reality.  

Humor always helps.  A friend suggested a musical name for the band of marauders in the Capitol:  The Pillage People.  I offer Hoodz in Da Dome. Any suggestions from you dear readers?

Meanwhile, watching televised sports has provided some relaxation and an outlet for my BIRG-ing. BIRG = Basking in Reflected Glory.  


My twice-beaten Wisconsin Badgers basketball team have a big one at undefeated Michigan on Tuesday night Jan. 12 - ESPN2 7p EDT with passionate informative Dan Dakich likely to provide commentary.  

The Wolverines have added a graduate transfer from my other alma mater Columbia, point guard Mike Smith, and a first year seven-foot center Hunter Dickinson from DeMatha HS in Hyattsville MD.  Local power Maryland spurned him and he burned the Terps in their recent matchup. 


Michigan will be a tough opponent for a Wisconsin team that never plays more than eight players. It is an experienced team starting five seniors, none younger than 21 and a couple are even 24 including star point guard D'Mitrik Trice.   


The Chicago Bulls of the NBA are starting a team younger than the Badgers. But I like to follow a team that has grown together. 


And I should add that the Badgers play better defense than most of the NBA.  The fate of Wisconsin in the grueling Big Ten may well rest on the productivity of frail but talented center Nate Reuvers.  


His fellow big man Micah Potter, the Ohio State transfer, has been more consistent but except to start the game and the first minutes of second half, they rarely play together.  


Before I say goodbye, after a brutal loss of six Hall of Famers in last few weeks of 2020, another loss was announced on December 26 when pitcher Phil Niekro winner of 318 games passed away at the age of 81.

Phil Niekro hailed from the small town of Blaine Ohio in Pease Township, north of Martin's Ferry and 19 miles from Wheeling West Virginia.  He grew up and played all kinds of sports with his neighbor John Havlicek the immortal Boston Celtic.  

Phil won 318 MLB games and his late brother Joe added 221, making them the winningest brothers in MLB history.  Most of Phil's wins were for the Atlanta Braves where he was revered both on and off the field.


On Friday Jan 8th Tommy Lasorda left us at age 93.  A native of Norristown, Penna. not far from Philly, he managed two LA Dodger World Series champions in 1981 and 1988 and also led the gold medal USA team at the 2000 Olympics.  He lived to attend the 2020 World Series where the Dodgers won it all at the new stadium in the Dallas, Texas metro area.


Lasorda was an unparalleled baseball ambassador and raconteur.  One of his favorite lines was when his wife complained that he loved baseball more than her, he said, "But honey I love you more than football and basketball."  (Some versions have other sports mentioned but you get the idea.)    


As always at these times, I think of John Ruskin's essential saying, "There is no wealth but life."

And always remember until the next time we meet, Take it easy but take it!  And also for these uncertain times, Stay Positive, Test Negative.  




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