Friday, May 17, 2024

The choice in the November 5th election

This message is for American voters who are undecided about their choice for president on November 5th.  It's not really a choice between Biden and Trump. It's a choice between democracy and autocracy. Trump does not believe in democracy. He does not believe in the rule of law.  He will only accept the result of an election if he wins.

Please keep the following  in mind:

In his 2020 debate with Joe Biden, Trump refused to condemn white supremacy.  

Trump treats women like objects.  He bragged that he could do whatever he wants with women because he's rich and famous.  A jury verdict in May 2023 found Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll.

On January 6, 2020, Trump and his mob of far-right zealots tried to overturn the democratically elected government of the United States.  It was a violent insurrection.  However, Trump and the far-right have called the insurrectionists "hostages."  I watched with my own eyes that day.  Those criminals were ready to hang Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, because he wouldn't do Trump's bidding.

If he wins the election, Trump will help his pal, Vladimir Putin, take over Ukraine.  This will embolden Putin and he will attack other countries.  Don't forget what Hitler did!

Trump will give tax breaks to billionaires.

Trump will make climate change worse.

Please vote for Joe Biden if you want to preserve democracy in America.  Donald Trump does not belong anywhere near the White House.  If he wins, the 2024 presidential election may well be the last free one in American history  Are Americans so foolish and brainwashed by social media, right-wing conspirators and Fox News that they would give up their democratic freedoms for the cult of Donald Trump.?  Democracy must be nurtured and protected or it dies.  Don't forget what happened to Germany in the 1930s.

- Joanne

Monday, May 13, 2024

Sheldon Keefe firing: He was a sacrificial lamb

Sheldon Keefe

Sheldon Keefe did not really deserve to be fired.  The Toronto Maple Leafs decided that someone had to take the heat for their usual early exit from the playoffs.  That someone was Sheldon Keefe.  With the exception of the first game of the Boston series, the Leafs acquitted themselves fairly well against the Bruins.  They were not completely outplayed by Boston.  They did not choke.  It wasn't entirely Keefe's fault that they ultimately lost the series early in the first overtime period of the seventh and deciding game.

Some may argue that Sheldon Keefe had his chance and didn't succeed.  He failed to coach the Leafs to any real playoff success.  Keefe was gracious in the wake of his firing.  He accepted responsibility for the teams inability to get past the first round of the 2024 playoffs.  "I didn't get the job done in the playoffs," he said.  "I didn't help push our team over the line and deliver.  I accept responsibility for that.  No excuses.  That's the job.  I didn't get it done.  It's the reality of the business and I accept it."

In the Age of Trump, it's refreshing to hear someone accept responsibility (Ross Atkins, the Blue Jays' GM, should do more of that).  However, the Leafs' failure to advance in the playoffs should not rest squarely on Keefe's shoulders.  That's not fair.  Surely Brendan Shanahan, the team's president and Brad Treliving, the team's general manager, share some of the blame, as well as certain players.  There was also some pure bad luck, such as injuries to William Nylander, Auston Matthews and Joseph Woll.  Let's be honest though, when push came to shove, the Leafs were not quite good enough to defeat the Boston Bruins.  A championship team should be able to overcome injury and adversity.

When Brendan Shanahan retuned to T.O, in 2014, he came up with a plan, the so-called ShanaPlan.  He was going to end a Stanley Cup drought for the Leafs that goes back to 1967.  Shanahan, a hometown boy from Mimico, Ontario, intended to bring the Cup back to Toronto.  There was going to be a parade along Yonge Street and Leaf fans dreamed of captain John Tavares, another hometown boy, hoisting Lord Stanley's Jug.  It hasn't happened,  In the decade since Shanahan's arrival, the team has failed miserably in the playoffs, only getting past the first round in 2023.

Brendan Shanahan

Shanahan became convinced that the Leafs could win with their celebrated Core Four, consisting of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander.  Ten years later, after another first-round defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Leaf Nation is disappointed, distraught and absolutely frustrated.  The Leafs have performed well in the regular season, but have never gotten the job done in the playoffs.  It seems obvious to almost everyone but Shanahan that the Core Four can never succeed in postseason play.

Due to the high salaries of the Core Four, the Leafs don't have a balanced team.  They lack a great goalie and a really strong defence, two major ingredients for contending in the playoffs.  Granted, it's extremely difficult to win the Stanley Cup.  The path to victory is long and gruelling.  There are now 32 teams in the NHL.  When the Leafs last won the Cup in 1967, there were only six teams.  Instead of a one in six chance of winning the championship, the Leafs now have a one in 32 chance. There are too many teams and the playoffs drag on far too long.  I understand that the NHL is a business, but the integrity of the game should still count for something.  

I am a Baby Boomer.  I was a child when the Leafs won the Cup in 1967, Canada's centennial year.  I wonder if I will ever see them do it again in my lifetime.  I will be greatly satisfied, however, if the Edmonton Oilers or the Vancouver Canucks triumph this year.  No Canadian-based team has brought home hockey's most coveted trophy since 1993, when the Montreal Canadiens were victorious.  Oh yes, while I'm up on my soapbox, I have to question why there isn't an NHL team in Quebec City, which has a beautiful new arena.  By the way, I an not talking about an expansion team.  I mean that Quebec City could replace a struggling team in the Eastern Conference, possibly the Columbus Blue Jackets; but I digress.  

That's a discussion for another day.  Let's turn our attention back to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Sheldon Keefe.  As Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star so eloquently put it, "Keefe is the fall guy for a much broader and graver dearth of internal resolve on the team, a cultural hurdle they haven't been able to clear.  A scapegoat because that's what the franchise requires at this moment - excising a blighted part."

After a decade, it's time to admit that the ShanaPlan hasn't worked.  It's time to break up the Core Four and move on.  It would be wiser to build a team more suited to the playoffs.

- Joanne

Friday, May 10, 2024

Summer reading suggestion

If you are looking for a novel to read during those lazy, hazy days of summer, may I suggest The Missing Reporter, written by yours truly.  

Just click on this link to my author's page.



The Missing Reporter is a novel of intrigue and mystery set in 1989. What really happened to TV crime reporter Sandra McKay? Why did she suddenly vanish after starting a new job? 

Is her disappearance linked to the death of prominent dental surgeon Lawrence Somerville, whose brother works for a mob boss? Intrepid private detective Norm Trapper is on the case and he is looking for the answers.

Your support is much appreciated.  I am currently working on my third novel, a sequel to The Missing Reporter.

Thank you,


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Willie Mays at 93

"I just felt baseball was a beautiful game, especially at night. The sun -- I mean, you had the lights out there and all you do is go out there, and you're out there by yourself in center field, and it's just a beautiful game. And, I just felt that it was such a beautiful game that I just wanted to play it forever, you know."

- Willie Mays 
Academy of Achievement Interview, February 19, 1996

Yesterday, May 6tth, was the birthday of the great Willie Mays.  "The Say Hey Kid" turned 93 years old.  I always remember Willie's birthday because my late father was also born on May 6th.  I hope Willie enjoyed his special day and I wish him all the best.  By the way, there are different stories as to how Willie acquired his nickname "Say Hey Kid,"  According to New York Journal sportswriter Barney Kremenko, Willie, who was generally known as a quiet man, "would blurt 'Say who, 'Say what, 'Say hey.'  In my paper, I tabbed him the 'Say Hey Kid.' (in 1951), It stuck."  However, Willie's family, friends and later his teammates, fondly referred to him as "Buck."

Willie Howard Mays, Jr. was born on May 6, 1931 in Westfield, Alabama, a predominately Black company town. near Birmingham.  It's no wonder that Willie was such a good all-round athlete. His father, Willie Sr, a steelworker, was known as "Cat" Mays because of his quickness.  Cat Mays was aa talented baseball player with the Black team in the semi-pro Birmingham industrial league at the local iron plant.  Willie's mother, Annie Satterwhite, was a high school track star 

Willie appeared in his first major league game for the National League's New York Giants on May 25, 1951 at the age of 20.  Willie's Giants played the New York Yankees in a Subway Series that year.  The '51 series also featured two of the most flamboyant managers in baseball, Casey Stengel of the Yankees and Leo Durocher of the Giants.  Willie played centrefield for the Giants, but the Yankees, with Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle defeated the Giants in six games.  Willie was later named National League Rookie of the Year for 1951. 

After the 1951 season, Willie Mays was drafted by the United States Army to serve in the Korean War., but he still played the first few weeks of the 1952 season with the Giants.  On March 1, 1954, Willie was discharged from military service.  He reported to the Giants' training camp the very next day.  Willie was on fire during the 1954 season.  He led the league with a .345 batting average, and slammed 41 home runs.   The Giants went on to win the World Series that year, the only time in his career that Willie received a World Series ring.  He was also chosen the National League's Most Valuable 1954.

The highlight of Willie's career, and one of the most memorable moments in baseball history, occurred that 1954 World Series against Cleveland.  In Game One at the Polo Grounds in New York, Willie performed an amazing athletic feat known as "The Catch."  In the eighth inning, he made an incredible off the shoulder running catch of a Vince Wertz fly ball.  With his back turned away from the infield, Willie caught Wertz's long shot near the outfield wall. That catch preserved a 2-2 tie, and the game went into extra innings.  The New York Giants scored three more runs in the tenth inning to win the game 5-2.  They defeated Cleveland in the next three games and swept the Series in four games straight.

Willie in 1954

Willie continued to play well during the 1955, 1956 and 1957 seasons in New York.  He hit 36 home runs and stole 40 bases in 1956.  In 1957, he won the first of his 12 consecutive Gold Gloves.  Low attendance and a desire for a new stadium prompted the New York Giants to move to San Francisco after the 1957 season.  During Willie's first season in San Francisco, he led recorded an impressive .357 batting average.  

The Giants made Willie the highest paid player in baseball, with a contract of $750,000 for 1959.  He was named team captain prior to the 1960 season.  The Giants captured the National League Pennant in 1962, but were defeated in the World Series by the New York Yankees.  In 1965, Willie won his second MVP award and hit a career high 52 homers.  Four years later, in September of 1969, he smashed his 600th homer.  Willie spent over 14 seasons in the City by The Bay, where he became a fixture.

In 1972, 41-year-old Willie Mays returned to New York when San Francisco traded him to the Mets for pitcher Charlie Wilson and $50.000.  Willie received criticism for continue to play when he was over 40 and obviously past his prime, but he defended his decision to keep playing.  He said, "You know, a lot of people said when I was 40, I should quit, but I don't think so.  You should play as long as you can and as long as you enjoy the game.  In '73, I wasn't enjoying the game.  I retired and they wouldn't let me retire.  So I finished up in the World Series"

In 1973, Willie Mays played in his fourth and final World Series as his Mets challenged the Oakland A's, but the A's prevailed over the Mets in seven games.  Willie played in three games and had a batting average of .286, with 2 hits in 7 at-bats 

Willie finished his playing career in 1973 with a batting average of .302, 660 home runs, and 1,903 RBI.  He stole 338 bases.


* On October 3, 1951, Willie Mays was in the on-deck circle when Bobby Thomson hit "the shot heard round the word."  With Thomson's home run, the Giants defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the National League pennant, although they lost to the Yankees in the World Series.

* Willie has been married twice. In 1956, he married Marghuerite Wendell Chapman (1926-2010).  In 1959, the couple adopted a baby named Michael.  They separated in 1962 and divorced in 1963.  Eight years later, in 1971, he wed Mae Louise Allen, a San Francisco child-welfare worker.  In 1997, Mae was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  Willie cared for her until her passing on April 19, 2013.

* In January of 1970, Sporting News named Willie Mays  the 1960s "Player of the Decade."

* Willie was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility with 95% of the votes cast.

*Willie played in 24 All-Star games.

* The San Francisco Giants retired Willie's Number 24.

* In 2015, former President Barack Obama presented Willie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

* Since 2020, Willie has lived in Atherton, California with his personal assistant.  He suffers from glaucoma.

-  Joanne