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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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Scully and Wooden ... For the Aging
2008-06-13 23:20
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

The night was billed as "Scully and Wooden ... For the Kids," and indeed proceeds for the evening will benefit those at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.

But the content of the 90-minute chat at the Nokia Theater, across Chick Hearn Court from Staples Center, was for the grownups, and generally speaking, the older you were, the more meaning it probably had. Not just because John Wooden and Vin Scully have been part of your lives longer, but because of how prominently reflections on career, life and death figured in the conversation.

To clarify, it was a joyous evening, through and through. (There are no plans to repeat the one-time telecast of the event, though we'll see what the bootleg market has to offer.) Times columnist T.J. Simers, who initiated the gathering, declared shortly before the event began that reverence would be off-limits, and while his banter and questioning style verged on the annoying at times (I know, shock), it did serve to free up sides of Scully and Wooden that the public doesn't get much exposure to. The 97-year-old Wooden in particular knocked off several one-liners at Simers' expense - I mean, real winners - much to the delight of the crowd. And Simers actually did ask the favorite curse question: "Goodness gracious sakes alive" for Wooden, "Darnit" for Scully.

Little of the conversation settled on UCLA basketball or Dodger baseball, however. There was the isolated wonderful story about Jackie Robinson challenging Scully to an ice-skating race even though Robinson had never put on skates in his life - "That's how I'm going to learn," Scully recalled Robinson pointedly saying - and an almost offensively odd line of questioning from Simers to Wooden about how angry a man Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was and is, even though the former center has been nothing less than a warm and open personality in this town in recent years. (Even if Abdul-Jabbar were still angry, why exactly would that be relevant?) But to his credit, Simers opened the door for Wooden and Scully to talk more openly about themselves and their personal histories and feelings.

Scully said that he had been raised not to show emotion, whether it be rubbing the hand that the nuns at his grammar school slapped with a ruler because he was using his left when they wanted to retrain him to use his right, or whether it was about emotional pain or fear. And Scully said he was less of a man because of it. Simers asked Scully how he has weathered the adversity in his life, and Scully responded that he depended on his faith, and that he had learned not to ask "Why?" when things went badly. After all, Scully pointed out, you don't ask "Why? when fortune smiles kindly upon you.

The story of Wooden's deep and abiding love for his late wife, Nell, is not new, but remains truly affecting, and details only enrich it. Wooden had been working in the fields one day when Nell came up to visit, but stayed away from her out of embarrassment at how dirty and sweaty he was. When Nell later asked him why he hadn't approached her, he said that she was afraid she would laugh at him. She replied, "I would never laugh at you," and Wooden never dated another girl. (When Simers noted that Wooden broke his coach's rule about dating during the basketball season religiously, Wooden cracked, "I wouldn't use the word 'religiously.' ")

And now, though he by no means tries to hasten it, Wooden does not fear death, because death will bring his reunion with Nell. Wooden recited from memory, without so much as a blip, a poem that former UCLA center Swen Nater wrote for him after hearing him speak about Nell:

Yonder

Once I was afraid of dying,
Terrified of ever-lying,
Petrified of leaving family, home and friends.
Thoughts of absence from my dear ones,
Drew a melancholy tear once,
And a lonely, dreadful fear of when life ends.

But those days are long behind me; Fear of leaving does not bind me,
And departure does not host a single care.
Peace does comfort as I ponder,
A reunion in the Yonder,
With my dearest who are waiting over there.

I fear death. I fear it greatly, and I fear the death of members of my family even more. I fear it achingly. My wife fears death even more than I do. (We joke, though it's entirely based in truth, that we're both most afraid of her dying.) My parents are now in their 70s, and I feel blessed that they are still alive, yet I'm not at all ready to let them go. And I live in utter fear for the safety and livelihood of my three children, and am not sure how something happening to one of them would not destroy my wife and me. I know death comes to families every day and the survivors survive. Except those that don't. Some don't.

I don't have faith. I can dream, but it's just a dream, not a belief. I do have beliefs, but they aren't comforting ones. I am living in this life, working to make it better yet reluctant to work so hard that I miss it along the way. I know - that's not an original conundrum, but it's ever-present.

And I know those unconfrontable days are coming. I can't dodge them forever.

It was fascinating for me to hear Wooden and Scully on these subjects, yet frustrating that I could not share in their apparent peace of mind. It's not enough to make me change my beliefs. At the same time, neither Scully nor Wooden, each of whom have suffered through the loss of a spouse (and in Scully's case, a child), not to mention their parents, achieved their peace of mind without the greatest of trials.

And so, as I head toward bed tonight and find myself looking for comfort after what frankly was an exhilarating evening, I have this to tell myself. If you can't believe in an afterlife, at least force yourself somehow to believe that there is life after death in this world, that it's possible to survive when the loss of a loved one tries to smother you.

I don't know if it will work, and I'm not eager to find out. But someone remember to remind me when the time comes. If it does work, that will be the greatest reward Vin Scully and John Wooden will have ever provided me. Which is saying something.

Maybe this one was for the kids after all. Because I feel as much like a child as I ever have.

Comments (97)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-06-13 23:38:47
1.   ucladodger
Awesome piece, Jon. I was lucky enough to be at the event with my Dad, and it was pretty awesome. I'm a youngin' (only 21) compared to most that are on this website and especially Wooden and Vin, but they've always been a huge part of my life. I grew up on UCLA basketball and Dodger baseball, and being at this event reinforced my belief in each one. Hearing these two men speak just makes you want to live life better and be the best you can be. It's pretty inspirational stuff, and being there and seeing the affect they each have had on so many people is proof to me how important they have been, not only in this area, but throughout the country. I know i consider myself extremely lucky to listen to Vin call a game or hear Wooden reminisce about Walton and Alcindor, and it is something that i really cant wait to pass on to my children.
2008-06-13 23:41:59
2.   therickdaddy
Wow.
2008-06-13 23:47:19
3.   Bob Timmermann
I was quite surprised to realize that Wooden was almost like Nietzsche when asked how he dealt with all the passings and death in his life.

He said something like, "I believe that once all that grief is done with you and gone, it makes you stronger."

I come from a much different perspective. My grandparents and parents are deceased. The generation before me consists now of two aunts, both in their 80s. I had another aunt pass away this week in her 90s.

Somewhere there's a big family reunion going on. Meanwhile, I can only press on.

I fall back on the wisdom of John Madden who said during a Super Bowl where the Broncos where getting killed by the 49ers. "They said they never quit. Of course not, they don't let you quit!"

I think once Wooden and Scully came to grips with that idea, their lives became better for it and it's sort of how I look at life.

2008-06-13 23:53:51
4.   Lexinthedena
Jon,

Beautiful piece. I left the Nokia theatre tonight thinking about what it is to be successful. Wooden and Scully are considered models of succes, yet seem to arrived there without having ever resorted to the cut-throat selfishness that is often implied to be the key.

I was ther ewith a close friend whoas a child suffered the loss of a parent in a most horrible way. He was deeply affect by the story of Wooden writing letters to his lost wife, and deeply offended by the way Simers approached the subject.

I came home to my almost three month old girl and her mommy thinking about so much. These two great men are that. Great. I am inspired, humbled, and motivated. Sports seemed to fade into an almost invisible backdrop tonight, while we were treated to something far more tanscendent than I expected. Men who have achieved greatness through believing in themselves and what they do. As I enter full on adulthood I will remember tonight. Thanks for the post Jon, and I'm glad that many of us were there.

2008-06-14 00:51:06
5.   Longhorn Bill
Jon, that was a joy to read.
2008-06-14 01:08:31
6.   Zak
Man Jon, that was awesome. My worries are very similar to yours and our family is going through a tougher-than-heck time right now with the health of our seven month old daughter. Honestly, I can't tell if reading this and writing about this makes it more difficult or harder. One thing I take away from this.. something I am terrible at and yet something I strive for more than anything... learn not to ask why.
2008-06-14 01:33:18
7.   bhsportsguy
Jon, great writeup. No question, John Wooden, Vin Scully and your family are better subjects than the day to day adventures of our local ballclub right now.

I don't really think about death in the same way Jon does. I guess I feel the same as Bob though my grandparent and parental situations are completely different.

But being raised in philosophy where there is no afterlife, I try to treat everyone well now not for some payout at the end but because it is the right thing to do. I am not saying my way is better than those who have a different faith, heck I wish I could believe in something like that sometimes.

Certainly, if I was in Jon's situation with a wife and three small children, my outlook would be different, certainly I would have new fears and worries.

The one question that Simers did not ask Vin Scully was did he ever regret the time away from his family in pursuing the career he has had. I think I know the answer but maybe I am wrong.

2008-06-14 01:36:38
8.   bhsportsguy
6 All my best wishes and hopes for your daughter.
2008-06-14 01:49:17
9.   Zak
8 Thank you.
2008-06-14 01:52:13
10.   fanerman
Great piece again, Jon. My own mortality has been something I've wrestled with a lot lately. Between graduating from college, getting a 9-5 job, realizing I'm nearly half as old as my father was when he passed away... I've been worrying about life passing me by, what awaits me after death (though I would consider myself having a fairly devout faith), accomplishing whatever lifelong goals I have and haven't come up with, and taking advantage of the time I have left. There's so much to do and so much to get done and I'm afraid I've wasted so much time already.

When I think about Vin Scully, I think about how he is the very best at what he does and how he must love what he does and how special a feeling it must be to find that "calling." To say, "this, certainly, is what my career is supposed to be." Obviously there's a heck of a lot more to Vin Scully and Vin Scully's peace of mind than talking about baseball, but that small part is a feeling I wish I knew.

Anyway it's a struggle. Thanks for the post, Jon.

2008-06-14 01:53:11
11.   fanerman
6 All the best from me, and I'm sure everybody at DT, too.
2008-06-14 03:01:00
12.   dzzrtRatt
Some of you who've followed the comments on DT for a few years might have read where I mentioned that my wife Lori died of mesothelioma, a horrible form of cancer in 1999, leaving me with a 13-year-old stepson (who eventually moved in with his father) and an 8-year-old son. It was relatively sudden: A persistent but mild cough and shortness of breath in October turned into unendurable pain and heavy medication by November, last-ditch surgery in January with some hope coming out of it, only for that hope to be dashed by the unexpected spread of the cancer to her brain, causing her death in February. Every day during that ordeal when I thought it couldn't get worse, it got worse. It was like riding a roller-coaster than only went down, faster and faster. I'd be out driving her to an appointment and see people on the street doing normal things, like enjoying a cup of coffee, and feel anger at the tremendous injustice of life.

In her last few days, Lori would wake up in the middle of the night and start talking. I'd think she was in pain or thirsty and prepared to help her, as I had been doing for weeks. But these particular times, it was like she didn't know I was there. She was talking to somebody. I could only hear her side of the conversation. I heard her pleading, "why...why," ...and then I heard her relax into a kind of acceptance, saying, "Oh. Okay. Okay." And then she'd go back to sleep. I never knew what to make of that. She was too far gone to ever explain it to me coherently, but I got the feeling she believed she was talking to Jesus or Mary -- someone on the other side that she trusted. She was much more religious than I. But watching this, I became convinced that something like this happens for all of us when we die. Someone will help us, or so it will seem.

I was devastated to lose her, and completely unprepared -- perhaps even resentful -- of having to be a single parent. But those kids kept me sane. I couldn't fall apart, not really. At least, not while they were awake. I had to get them to school, help with their homework, talk through their grief, yes, but also their little schoolyard problems; I had to teach them how to become men. I had to keep working. Life did not stop, it lurched forward and I had no choice but to hang on and see where I could take it. Going back into my old life wasn't an option. That life was dust and memories, nothing more.

Now, 9 1/2 years later, I'm remarried to a wonderful woman. My stepson has finally arranged to go to college full-time, and my son just yesterday graduated from high school. Both kids are happy -- my son was skipping around like a six-year-old after the ceremony. He is living out his mother's greatest unfulfilled ambition, to write a musical. He's already written one. But he came by it on his own, not realizing what she would have given to have his talent and focus. He loves his Mom and wishes he could compare notes with her, but he is secure in the love of his father (me) and stepmom. The horrible thing that happened to us beginning almost 10 years ago hasn't lingered as a tragedy. We have absorbed it. Maybe we understand sadness a little more than most people. Maybe we don't fear death as much as most people. But for the most part, we're living our lives like everyone else, pressing forward, bumping into walls, stumbling across hidden treasures.

Death is part of life. Death can be a gift for one who is suffering, as Lori was. We are all born to die, and that fact gives a kind of meaning to our lives and might well be the source, the spring from which we derive our capacity for joy. Joy is the sweetness of life appreciated fully. To know we won't pass this way again is part of what makes the feeling of joy so exquisite. More than most men, Wooden and Scully have experienced intense moments of joy and continue to do so, even amid despair. They are strong enough to keep feeling joy in momentary occurrences no matter what else has happened, and for that they are to be admired and emulated.

Jon, you wrote (again) a beautiful essay. Your second or third just this week! But your candid admission of fear made we want to reach out to you in this way. I don't think I'll change your philosophy, and I can't offer any religious comfort because I'm not religious. But I do feel confident in saying you won't need to find strength when bad things happen, as they inevitably will. That strength is already there, a gift from evolution or God, the gift of insight that will arrive just in time, I promise, and will sustain you and your family.

2008-06-14 06:41:22
13.   D4P
A pastor at a church I used to attend tried to use "the peace that comes from knowing you'll go to heaven when you die" and "the way that belief in God gives meaning and purpose to life" as reasons to believe in God. That made/makes no sense to me. Having peace of mind and purpose in life may be benefits of believing in God, but they're not really reasons to do so, or evidence that God exists.

That being said, though, I do wonder what the meaning and purpose life is if you don't believe there's anything after your life on earth. Is it simply "eat, drink, and be merry"? Is it to reproduce and try to give your offspring a better life than you had?

Neither of those seem particularly compelling to me. My own observations suggest that an Epicurean lifestyle is ultimately unfulfilling for people. They find it fun for a while, but it gets old and they end up looking for something else to fill the void.

With respect to raising kids, it makes little sense to think that reproducing is an "end" in itself if the things you reproduce are just going to view their purpose in life to be reproducing as well. At some point, there has to be a reason to reproduce, or a reason to be alive in the first place. Reproducing has to be a means to some other end, otherwise what's the point.

I guess some people think, "Maybe my kids will serve humanity in some way, by finding a cure for cancer or achieving world peace." But then I think, why not try to do those things yourself? Why do you need to produce another human being to do those things? Why will your kids be any more qualified than you are?

2008-06-14 07:18:57
14.   Jon Weisman
Thanks so much, Ratt and everyone. I mean it. And my best thoughts to you and your family, Zak.
2008-06-14 07:29:55
15.   CodyS
13 Supposing the absence of an afterlife, that makes this life infinitely more important. It becomes critical that you make a difference in your time here. How you interact with every other person, and what goals you work toward (in yourself and the world) become something you really want to consider. You do what you can for the world and society and yourself, and you train your kids to build on that. Each generation has its own challenges and its own rewards. (that's just supposing the absence of an afterlife. But even assuming an afterlife, it's not such a bad idea to live that way).
2008-06-14 07:49:46
16.   Bob Timmermann
I never knew that having kids had anything to do with an afterlife, but was just a case of two people in love with each other and wishing to people share that love with another generation.

I can't picture that my parents had children for any other reason.

2008-06-14 08:01:57
17.   Eric Stephen
Worst Team OPS+, LA Dodger History
2003 - 84 OPS+
1987 - 86
2008 - 87
1984 - 91

The good news is that each of the other three teams won the division...the next year.

2008-06-14 08:03:24
18.   Ken Noe
Sometimes, what I read on this site just staggers me with its depth. I've been a church member for two decades, an active one most of the time, and yet some nights I lie in the darkness and fear it, fear death and the grave and what is beyond. I fear the loss of my wife and my child. And I wonder if my life has meaning, a reason. At fifty, death is not something still ahead in my infinite future anymore. I don't know if that means my faith is weak or not--after all, Christians believe that even Christ feared death in Gethsemane. I do know that my mother died when I was an infant, and my grandparents who raised me (and made me a Dodger fan) are gone as well. By the time you reach fifty, you've buried friends. So I hang on through those nights and hope, and I'm okay in the morning.
2008-06-14 08:14:31
19.   Bob Timmermann
17
So you're wondering if the Dodgers will outOPS+ John Wooden's age or Vin Scully's age?
2008-06-14 08:16:50
20.   Gen3Blue
Though Wooden was not really much of a part of my life, last night seems to have been a wonderful thing and certainly has provoked a lot of thought. Together with Tim Russert's untimely death this is becoming a fathers day week-end that won't be soon forgotten.
2008-06-14 08:21:56
21.   Eric Stephen
19
I hope they out OPS+ this lady:

http://tinyurl.com/3hvu6t

2008-06-14 08:27:44
22.   Marty
It's times like this that I wish I could write. I've seen lots of death in my family. Its whittled us down to me and my two sisters. I've never been closer to anyone than my brother. When he died I realized I could deal with the death of a loved one and get on with living. Still, I miss him every day. I'll say this, life isn't for the faint of heart. It also helps to have a sense of humor.
2008-06-14 08:32:19
23.   D4P
16
The question I was addressing was not "Why do people have kids?" but rather "What do people think is the purpose of life when they don't believe in an afterlife?". I've heard a number of people say "I think my purpose in life is to raise kids."

18
I think Christ feared pain at least as much (if not more) than he feared death.

I'm at an age where most of my relatives are still living. My maternal grandparents are both dead, but everyone else is still around. I'm also at an age where I pretty much never even think about my own death, but I guess that will change over the next few decades or so (assuming I'm still alive).

2008-06-14 08:33:22
24.   Daniel Zappala
Thanks for the beautiful thoughts, Jon. I think a lot of people can identify with your experience.

When I was in college, I was exposed to lots of religious perspectives that I hadn't encountered before. It forced me to examine a lot of my own beliefs, and to wonder about my place in life. I spent some time thinking about whether God exists, and exploring different religions. Coming to find faith was a struggle. I spent a great deal of time in introspection, meditation, and prayer. During my senior year in college and my first year of graduate school I learned about my current church, studied its teachings, and had several experiences that led to my faith and my subsequent decision to join. It was the best decision of my life and has changed me a great deal.

One of the comforts of my faith is the belief that God knows and loves us as his own children. It helps to be able to talk to him and to receive answers, the way a struggling child would seek comfort and counsel from his father and mother. We also believe not just in an afterlife, but that we can be married and have a family that remains together eternally. This helps take away some of the fear of death, because I do have the comfort that we will be together again. I still worry about death, because of the struggles that this would mean for me and my family, but it is tempered by that faith. One of the most spiritual experiences I have had has been to attend a funeral of a friend's father. The joy and hope at that funeral was so overwhelming, and so unlike the sadness and grief I was accustomed to in my childhood as an altar boy.

I'm not sharing this to boast, because my life is far from perfect, and like everyone I have challenges and difficulties. Everyone has their own struggle with faith, and I can only hope that you find peace in your own way. The struggle is worth the effort.

2008-06-14 08:34:17
25.   Bob Timmermann
They can't even get tragedy right:

From Chris Dufresene's story in the LA Times about epic collapses in L.A. history.

Call it a worst of three

The Dodgers and Giants were tied for the National League lead on the final day of the 1962 season and forced to play a three-game playoff. Game 1 was played at Candlestick Park, where the Dodgers accused the Giants of soaking the field to slow down top base-stealer Maury Wills. The teams split the first two games, with the Giants winning the third, 6-4, at Dodger Stadium, by scoring four runs in the ninth.

Wills was 0 for 4 in the game and didn't even hit the ball on the ground until his final at bat.

The ground-watering happened earlier in the season and I believe it was on July 7 (it's referred to in a July 8 L.A. Times story).

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN196207070.shtml

Wills didn't reach base in that game either.

If you check the boxscore, you will notice that on July 7, Tommy Davis already had 89 RBI!

2008-06-14 08:38:42
26.   Marty
25 Pretty bad error in their front page caption on the web site too. Jack Youngblood never played quarterback as I remember. I alerted the web editors.
2008-06-14 08:45:56
27.   Bob Timmermann
I'm going to be late for work trying to put my shoes on the right way.
2008-06-14 08:48:15
28.   Marty
I did a really stupid thing yesterday. I got money out of an ATM and evidently left without taking the receipt and my debit card. I didn't discover it until I reached for my wallet at Trader Joes.
2008-06-14 08:53:06
29.   Daniel Zappala
22 I think this is evidence that you can write. You left me wanting to hear more.
2008-06-14 09:01:18
30.   bhsportsguy
26 Didn't Jack Youngblood throw the interception pass to Jack Lamebert in Super Bowl XIV? Or maybe he was lineman who moved on the goal line in Minnesota that day?
2008-06-14 09:01:27
31.   bhsportsguy
26 Didn't Jack Youngblood throw the interception pass to Jack Lamebert in Super Bowl XIV? Or maybe he was lineman who moved on the goal line in Minnesota that day?
2008-06-14 09:03:02
32.   Branch Rickey
13. I am an atheist and although I don't have kids, I'll offer my thoughts. It seems like the "point" of life is life. When we say that without a God or an afterlife "what's the point?" we are taking for granted the extraordinary experience it is to have experiences. And the statistical miracle that is your life existing in the first place. Add in your life intersecting with those you love and it's a gift so great that gratitude seems like the only choice. Having kids is one big life experience. Perhaps it's one of the best because it almost guarantees to introduce you to someone you will love. But it isn't necessary for happiness or even fulfillment (I'm sure we all know happy and sad people on each side of the marriage/parenthood/money having/etc side of the fence). Gratitude for the life you are having is the only constant I see with happy fulfilled (and perhaps un-scared or at least less scared) people. And you can reason your way to gratitude without any leaps of faith that require leaping higher than reason will allow without discomfort.
2008-06-14 09:14:35
33.   Daniel Zappala
32 I agree. In addition, I reject the premise that only those with religious faith can find meaning in life. I likewise reject the premise that morality can only be derived from faith. These are some of the silly arguments I hear, but I have enough experience with agnostics and atheists to know that faith has no monopoly on morality and meaning.
2008-06-14 09:18:43
34.   BlueMamma
I feared death until one month ago.

On May 14, my two and a half year old son was killed by a drunk driver, on the sidewalk, in a school zone, in the middle of the afternoon. I was pulling him to the market in a little red wagon. The infant I was carrying and I were completely unharmed.

I'm trying to think of a way that one might cope with such a disaster without faith in an afterlife. When my son died, I wanted to die. Everyone said to me "Wow, it's so lucky that you were safe," which was the hardest thing for me to hear. Lucky for my remaining four daughters and my husband, perhaps, but not lucky for me. But I didn't want to die out of self-pity, I didn't want to die because life here was unbearable. I wanted to die to stay close to my son, my only boy, my sweetest little Charles.

In the meantime, as the intensity of that grief fades (as I hope it will), I now live my life with an acute consciousness, but not fear, of having to live worthy of the next life, or else that parting will indeed be forever. Man is a creature that loves - that may well be a better definition than many that philosophers have invented. It is through love of God indeed that we are saved, but it is through love of other men that we obtain our necessary motivation to do good. We cannot become good people unless we have someone to be good for, or at least, it is very, very difficult.

Jon, your children are all right around the same ages as my children. I hope that you are spared the pain of losing one, but I know that death will touch you nearly at some point. When it does, you may see that it is not something to be feared. Certainly, it is the most painful thing on earth for someone close to you to leave you behind, but it is not frightening.

2008-06-14 09:19:11
35.   Breitbart
If this isn't the best "blog", I don't know what is. I, too, am beyond fearful of death and in addition to fear of my own death and the death of my loves ones, I have always tried to prepare myself emotionally for the shock that will come with the passing of Vin Scully -- easily the most important person in my life I don't know personally.

As baseball fans, we spend six-plus months with each other following the same ups and downs (injuries, call-ups, wins, losses, errors, drama, etc.). It's not like football (too few games) or basketball (the game's pace is too fast for deeper contemplation). We invest ourselves in the players, the announcers, we get to know them like family members for the time they are in the public eye. Do you recall how you felt on opening day with the Field of Dreams procession of great and near great Dodgers of the past walking on to the field? The weight of our fleeting lives and the inevitability of death walloped me that day. As regards the magnificent Vin Scully, he has been with us since our first baseball memory. As a hopeful non-believer, I have to think there's a chance of a greater scheme of things with the blessing in our lives that is Vin. (Though not a huge basketball fan, Wooden clearly represents a similar transcendent status.)

I think that Dodger (Deep) Thoughts is a cut above the rest of the sports blogs perhaps because most of us have been imbued with Scully's sense of morality, decency and a perspective on life vis a vis baseball.

Thanks, Jon, for a healthy dose of perspective on a day we unexpectedly lost a great one, Tim Russert. (dzzrtRatt, thanks for sharing with us your personal story.)

2008-06-14 09:21:48
36.   BlueMamma
32 and 33 As a person of faith, I have to agree with you. Meaning and morality, in my life, arise not out of faith at all, but out of love. Anyone can love, whether they believe in a God or not, and one who believes in God and does not love is much further from any kind of spirituality than one who believes in nothing but what he can see, yet loves at least one other person.
2008-06-14 09:24:01
37.   Bob Timmermann
34
I am deeply sorry for your loss. Which is very little consolation I know. I've often had things to say to people in this situation, but this is one that leaves me speechless and grieving with you.
2008-06-14 09:24:59
38.   BlueMamma
6 I am sorry you are having problems with your baby - hope that goes well for you, and you continue to be strong,whatever the outcome.

But don't be afraid of asking why - you may find an answer.

2008-06-14 09:31:10
39.   Daniel Zappala
34] Wow. Thank you for sharing that today.
2008-06-14 09:31:20
40.   Ken Noe
34 Like Bob, I'm speechless, except to say that I'm very sorry, and you are in my thoughts and prayers.
2008-06-14 09:31:58
41.   Bob Hendley
Bob's blurb on the 1962 Dodgers make me feel old when I realize just how long ago that was, but at the same time it allows me to relive my childhood agnst. Having not lived any where near LA for the past 40 years, DT let's me get back in touch with the passion (non-Kent variety). I know that much of the discussion here has been on mortality, but thanks Jon for the post, and the rest of you guys and gals, for helping to bring those gentlemen back into my life.
2008-06-14 09:34:51
42.   Jon Weisman
34 - I am so, so sorry. I hope you continue to find such strength and support. I am so sorry.
2008-06-14 09:35:20
43.   Bob Timmermann
41
Having not lived any where near LA for the past 40 years

Trust me, the statute of limitations has long since expired. ;-)

2008-06-14 09:35:37
44.   Branch Rickey
36. Thank you for recognizing and saying that. It would certainly be understandable if you didn't feel that way right now. One of the joys of life is love not just from those immediately around you but from your community. This is a community that I can guarantee you is feeling very strongly for you right now. Without anyone here having ever met you, you can be sure there is a lot of love going out to you from people of all faiths and of no faith. I certainly will be thinking of you.
2008-06-14 09:40:35
45.   Bob Hendley
43 - That's just to keep them off the scent. Next time I blow one at SS and the cameras are trained on me, I'll give you guys a little wink and a smile.
2008-06-14 10:03:22
46.   BlueMamma
Thank you, Bob, Ken, Daniel, Jon, Branch... you would think that condolences would be meaningless, but in fact they mean a lot, even more so from strangers.

Anyway, I'm re-reading this wonderful blog entry and the comments, and I had a thought. Death is something to fear, perhaps, when you think of trying to fit everything in. It's like a looming deadline. You have to "meet your goals" or "make something of yourself" before such and such a day. The twist being, of course, that no one has told you when your deadline is. You can make educated guesses based on your lifestyle and family medical history, but in fact, you have no idea, as it can come completely out of the blue.

But when life is centered more on simply being, on living each moment as it comes and enjoying each and every one of the blessings of the moment, death is no longer fearsome. If you spend all your life trying to achieve your goal, to the exclusion of enjoying the road, whether you get there or not, death can render your life less meaningful, unless your goals were lofty indeed. However, a life actually lived, alive and awake to love and joy, can never be robbed of its significance. Those who shared that love will be forever changed long after such a life has ended.

I think that may be what touches so many people so nearly about the death of a young child. A child simply is. He does what he does, and takes joy in the smallest things, and every Grown Up longs for that kind of simplicity.

2008-06-14 10:05:43
47.   DaDoughboy
As a new(ish) poster I just wanted to thank all of you for your beautiful insight.. Jon, Ratt, BlueMomma, etc...This has been a consistent topic of conversation between my father and I the past few months. My grandfather passed 3 weeks ago and my step-mother a little over 9 years ago (coincidentally, also named Lori)..Reading the different thought processes in dealing with lifes adversity is comforting and fascinating. I never thought the community I found here would not only help me with understanding the ebb and flow of a Dodger season but with that of life period.
Thanks again..
2008-06-14 10:08:49
48.   Bumsrap
I am not comfortable with the thought that I would have even one opposite piece of wisdom from Vin Scully or John Wooden. The more wisdom I share with them the better person I should be. But, I think we earn glimpses into the meaning of life when we do ask why and we begin to evolve when we do ask why.

We can ask ourselves why me but only if we also ask what might this nudge or situation I find myself in be all about. If we are to have more noble things come our way, not that we have all the wisdom needed to discern which things are the most noble, we need to be introspective and wake up.

Wisdom brings peace and when we seek truth and understanding we are expanding ourselves. We can experience more joy in our lives if we understand more about what this life is about and why it is shared with the people it is shared with. We can only reach someone to the depth we have gone in ourselves.

Most of the time we are not in the middle of a dramatic experience and it is when life is more normal than not that we might look at life and death with a since of humor. We might find ourselves having to walk back to the dugout after striking out on a curve ball that bounced in the dirt more often than others have to do and we will continue to do that until we learn from the experience. Some of us require more of those walks back to the dugout than others. Some of us will laugh at the experience because we recognize the process.

2008-06-14 10:13:58
49.   Michaelpop
Wow, just incredible stuff all around. Thanks for the great recap, Jon, and everyone else for sharing such moving personal stories. The caliber of the readership here never fails to amaze, and I believe Jon deserves a lot of the credit for cultivating it and keeping it at such a high level.

35 put it best: "I have always tried to prepare myself emotionally for the shock that will come with the passing of Vin Scully -- easily the most important person in my life I don't know personally."

After watching the telecast last night, I was thinking about how he's been the one true constant in my life. In a tumultuous world, he's always been there, year-after-year. To think about a time when he's no longer around is incredibly depressing, and yet, that's life. We have been so incredibly fortunate to have had him with us this long, and to be able to call him ours, but that won't make his loss any easier to bear.

There were more than a few moments last night when I teared up. There were even more times when I laughed out loud. I wish I could've thanked both Wooden and Scully personally for being such incredible role models, and for living lives the right way. Their perspective is awe-inspiring, and it makes me want to follow their examples to be a better person.

2008-06-14 10:47:16
50.   Andrew Shimmin
23- There's a line from a Philip Larkin poem I like: "our flesh/Surrounds us with its own decisions." Ferrets and fruit flies reproduce without believing in an afterlife--people aren't that different. We just have better hobbies.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-06-14 10:50:32
51.   Bumsrap
Somebody once said about life that sometimes we are the pigeons and sometimes we are the statues.
2008-06-14 10:53:54
52.   Eric Stephen
The Solution gets moved up, and Pee Wee gets to play!

Pierre, LF

DeWitt, 3B

Kent, 2B

Loney, 1B

Martin, C

Ethier, RF

Kemp, CF

Young, DH

Berroa, SS

Penny, P

2008-06-14 10:55:57
53.   Suffering Bruin
Jon, I'm in tears as I type. A deeply moving and wonderful post. I'd prefer not to cry but sometimes you just can't help it.

Beautiful, beautiful post that touched on many of my own feelings. Thank you.

2008-06-14 10:56:32
54.   D4P
50
Some people think we are biologically "wired" to reproduce, just like other organisms.

Apparently, though, people like you and I didn't get the wire.

2008-06-14 11:00:43
55.   Bob Timmermann
David Villa makes Ken Arneson sad.
2008-06-14 11:02:22
56.   Bob Hendley
52 - I have only one comment on the line-up, but I have my own Rule 8 regulator so I'll keep my mouth shut and be content with an underdog {sigh}. With only three hits yesterday, who am I to complain about such matters. One of my Tiger buddies sent me what I presume to have been the headline from a Detroit paper, which at least is trying to be humorous "Dodgers Hit Zero Mark Again".
2008-06-14 11:02:26
57.   Reddog
I go by Satchel Paige's philosophy, "Never look back, something might be gaining on you."

Another good one to live by is his "Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching."

2008-06-14 11:03:34
58.   Bob Hendley
57 - I recall that particular comment everytime underdog posts a Giant Watch.
2008-06-14 11:06:50
59.   Michaelpop
57 What about "age is nothin' but mind over matter. If you don't mind, it don't matter." That's a good one, too.
2008-06-14 11:17:27
60.   ChicagoDodger
52 No runs in 23 innings. It would appear a perfect time to shake things up a bit.

Like:

Martin C
DeWitt 3B
Kent DH
Loney 1B
LaRoche 2B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Young LF
Berroa SS

What's wrong with a line-up like that? Does it not give them the best chance at scoring? At this point, it's not about the best chance at winning. That's too greedy! Scoring is a more realistic goal!

2008-06-14 11:23:26
61.   bhsportsguy
BlueMamma, I am so sorry for your loss.

What I write here are just words that appear on a computer screen and they cannot convey the depth of sadness I felt when I read your comment.

All my best to and your family.

2008-06-14 11:23:54
62.   DaDoughboy
In an attempt to see some winning baseball (and for my pops for fathers day, a die-hard, 1986 World Series ticket buying/burning Angel Fan), heading down to the Big A tonight.

Morton vs. Santana

Should be a great night for a ballgame.

"The charm of baseball is that, dull as it may be on the field, it is endlessly fascinating as a rehash". ~Jim Murray

2008-06-14 11:28:28
63.   underdog
Thank you so much for posting this Jon. Especially for those of us who could not attend the event or watch FSN in LA. Almost like being there and being moved by it, even if remotely. Both such amazing men who have had more impact on our lives than either will ever know, or know but are too modest to acknowledge. (I still have to wonder, "Why TJ Simers?" but sounds like it worked out okay.)

Anyway, beautifully put thoughts, too.

---

And Bob H, I promise to sigh less here the rest of the weekend. I am going to meditate if things continue to go poorly for the Dodgers, meditate offline that is. ;-)

But hey, that's about as good a line-up as I could've hoped for. Seriously, if that line-up can't score at least, well, a run by gum, there's no hope!

keep hope alive!

2008-06-14 11:33:02
64.   Andrew Shimmin
54- The wire has more to do with the process than the product. That some people game the system doesn't refute the design. Our short is in a different circuit.
2008-06-14 11:33:21
65.   underdog
The earlier part of this thread makes me want to cry. But in a good way. Bless everyone for expressing themselves here. I could post some thoughts on my own experiences but think I'll hold off for now. It is enough to know that these things are on my mind and how other people have dealt with them. My condolences and blessings to you, BlueMamma.

--

Baseball seems such small potatoes compared to all these things, but... can you win today for crying out loud, Dodgers??!

2008-06-14 11:35:30
66.   underdog
Drat, the game isn't on Fox here in the bay area (reds-red sox is), which is disappointing but makes sense and is probably just as well. I shall listen to some of it on the radio until I can't take it anymore and switch to Gameday.
2008-06-14 11:41:31
67.   Alex41592
Eddie Bonine the Tigers pitcher for today's game throws a high 80's fastball and he also throws a knuckleball.

I don't have anything new to add to anything that has been said above. I'm truly touched by the things that have been written and thank you for sharing with all of us.

2008-06-14 11:43:18
68.   Linkmeister
Thanks for the summary of the event, Jon, and for your thoughts.

Thanks too to all the others who've expressed things not often said aloud.

Bluemamma, my condolences to you and your family. I don't know what else I can say.

2008-06-14 11:43:25
69.   D4P
The wire has more to do with the process than the product

Does this vary by gender...?

2008-06-14 11:46:20
70.   BlueMamma
I'm going to miss this whole game because I have to play the organ at a wedding. Drat.

Though come to think of it, my obligation today should give me greater cause for joy than baseball has of late.

2008-06-14 11:49:39
71.   Bob Timmermann
70
You should play "The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song" on the organ during the wedding.

I know it doesn't lend itself to the organ, but it would still be a nice touch.

2008-06-14 11:50:06
72.   D4P
I'm going to miss this whole game because I have to play the organ at a wedding

The last wedding I played at (some 6 years or so ago now) had a an electronic keyboard (which I loathe). I found out the hard way that it shuts itself off automatically when unplayed after a certain amount of time. The bride and groom exited the church in relative silence, sans the intended celebratory musical fanfare.

2008-06-14 11:51:04
73.   Bob Timmermann
sans the intended celebratory musical fanfare.

Barber's Adagio for Strings?

2008-06-14 11:53:15
74.   D4P
I can't remember the name. It was originally a trumpet piece, and is relatively well-known, though I doubt most people actually know the name of it. I'll go see if I still have the sheet music.
2008-06-14 11:57:44
75.   berkowit28
74 Try "Trumpet Voluntary" by Jeremiah Clarke.
2008-06-14 11:58:06
76.   D4P
A-ha! "Trumpet Voluntary in D Major" by Henry Purcell (ca. 1658-1695).

It's supposed to be played with "majestic dignity", which is ironic given that I sat there looking pretty stupid not knowing why no sound was coming out and with everyone looking at me waiting for me to play.

2008-06-14 12:04:18
77.   berkowit28
76 It's actually by Jeremiah Clarke (1673-1707), not Purcell. It's a misattribution to Purcell (who was a lot more famous down the centuries) in some quarters (more common until quite recently). The full title is Trumpet Voluntary 'Prince of Denmark's March', but most sources don't include that.

Check some online downloads to see if it's the same piece or not. I'm pretty sure (90% or so) that it is, and that the correct composer is Clarke, not Purcell. But I guess you mighty have a different work in mind.

2008-06-14 12:04:23
78.   Ghost of Carlos Perez
Comment 13 reminds me of a conversation I had with my best friend's dad several years ago. He was as devout a christian as any I've met, and as he understood his church's doctrine, he did not believe that families could be together in the afterlife (he did, however, have a strong belief that he and his family would separately enjoy being with Jesus in heaven).

I mentioned to him that my church's teaching that families could be together after death was a source of comfort to me. His reply stuck with me: "just because it is comforting does not make it true."

I agree with 13 that the happy or comforting teachings of Christianity (or any other religion) are not a reason to believe in that religion. However, I think that the comfort offered by those teachings is a reason for someone to try their best to find out if those teachings are true, e.g., through a process described by 24 .

2008-06-14 12:08:07
79.   D4P
77
This is it:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=zP0X2XsHuCk&feature=related

2008-06-14 12:09:50
80.   gibsonhobbs88
Jon, Beautiful essay. My wife and I throughly enjoyed the evening with John and Vin. Two extraordinary men who are humble in themselves. As Christians, we do believe in an afterlife and we aren't here to preach as each person has to have their own path to faith and belief. There are things in this world that reveal themselves to those that are open to it and I hope you can find your own peace of mind in your own time. You are loved by God as you are one of his creations, (despite what some people of hate that use the Bible out of context for their own agenda) would say.
There are unexplained things out there I or even the smartest human can not answer as Vin said last night. My wife and I have seen both of our fathers pass away and even though we have tried, we have suffered the fact that have not been able to bear children of our own. We are considering adoption. My wife saw her father in his last hours talking to someone in the room that wasn't my wife(he wasn't looking at his daughter at the time. It was a blank space in the room.

Anyway, the humor and depth to both Coach and Vin were as always inspirational and touching and the price of the ticket was inconsequential considering how the night filled our hearts. The night was Priceless in our minds.

To you Dzzrtratt, That story touched me and made me cry. All the best to you and your boys. Whether you believe it or not, you are loved by God.

2008-06-14 12:16:32
81.   berkowit28
79 Right. Check the title and composer there. The discussion includes something of a debate as to who actually composed it, with the definitive explanation given in comments 9 & 10:

'it's not Purcell. Its by Jeremiah Clarke.'

'Originally titled "The Prince of Denmark's March," this harpsichord piece was popularized in an arrangement for trumpet, organ, and percussion by Sir Henry Wood, who renamed it "Trumpet Voluntary" and ascribed it to Henry Purcell. So you are technically correct; however, many published versions of the work do still attribute it to Purcell.'

2008-06-14 12:17:54
82.   rockmrete
I wasn't happy about Torre, and his staff to begin with. They should have hired Kirk Gibson to manage, and to bring in a different pitching coach (Orel maybe) because Honeycutt is not the answer.

Has anyone in management taken a real look at Pierres numbers since he became the lead off man? With him at leadoff preceeded by the ptichers spot and the Need to use Borroa now you have an entire inning of outs bunched together. And when Torre makes the matter worse by putting in Maza to replace Kent...we get what get don't we. Should I bring up Sweeny not only getting at bats, but in the starting line up...Come On!

Replace the batting coach for starters.
Bench Pierre, and Maza, live with Borroa.
Play LaRoche, DeWitt, Young, Andre, Kemp, Loney

2008-06-14 12:18:23
83.   berkowit28
60 Trouble is - you left out the pitcher. Even if they get a few runs, Penny will give away 5 in one inning, and maybe a couple more elsewhere. They'll have to score at least 7 runs to win.
2008-06-14 12:18:32
84.   D4P
81
Poor Jeremiah. Did he write anything else to make up for it?
2008-06-14 12:20:15
85.   D4P
Wow. Greece dodged a bullet there, after giving up a pretty sweet goal just moments earlier.
2008-06-14 12:21:28
86.   Bob Timmermann
Stanford gets the first run at the CWS. The Cardinal lead Florida State 1-0 going to the bottom of the 4th.
2008-06-14 12:25:00
87.   DaDoughboy
I'm not a quote-aholic, but to any new dad out there (or just any dad who has changed a diaper period):

"Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again". ~Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby, 1968

2008-06-14 12:30:53
88.   berkowit28
84 Not much. he didn't live long (37 years). According to wikipedia "'A violent and hopeless passion for a very beautiful lady of a rank superior to his own' caused him to commit suicide by shooting himself. Before shooting himself, he also considered hanging himself and drowning himself."

They add that "The famous Trumpet Tune in D*, also misattributed to Purcell, is actually taken from the semi-opera The Island Princess, a joint musical production of Clarke and Daniel Purcell (Henry Purcell's younger brother), which is probably the reason for the confusion."

*(a different work)

According to 8notes.com "In 1704 he was appointed organist of the Chapel Royal, sharing the position with William Croft. He wrote theater pieces, anthems and sacred music, and some harpsichord pieces. Subject to periods of deep depression, Clark apparently shot himself, but was buried in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral."

I don't have access to the best guide, New Grove's Encylopedia of Music, from home, but I could look it up later. I'm sure the gist above is correct.

2008-06-14 12:33:46
89.   Eric Stephen
Tigers' lineup:

C. Granderson cf
P. Polanco 2b
C. Guillen 3b
M. Ordonez rf
M. Cabrera 1b
J. Larish dh
E. Renteria ss
M. Thames lf
I. Rodriguez c

2008-06-14 12:41:52
90.   D4P
Before shooting himself, he also considered hanging himself and drowning himself

I take it he wasn't afraid of death.

2008-06-14 12:42:31
91.   scareduck
0 - great piece, Jon.
2008-06-14 12:50:38
92.   Jon Weisman
Game thread, I'm almost reluctant to say, is open. But think good thoughts, everyone.
2008-06-14 12:54:46
93.   Eric Stephen
Beimel should do the lineups every game.
2008-06-14 17:37:09
94.   Michael Green
Sorry not to have logged in sooner to say how wonderful your essay is, Jon. I watched last night, and Simers actually got Vin to talk a bit about himself personally. Simers clearly wanted him to talk about the tragedies in his family--the death of his first wife and his son--but I think he also knew Vin didn't want to do that. The event was enjoyable but also moving. So was your essay, Jon.
2008-06-14 18:25:46
95.   68elcamino427
Jon, I hope that you leave this thread open for awhile.

For now I will say that I do Believe.

Love is my most favorite word.

Love is a choice.

Hate is my least favorite word.

I love this site.

Peace and love be with all.

2008-06-16 14:00:27
96.   JRSarno
Woah. I never really post in here. But THAT was some powerful writing. Hats off.
2008-06-25 08:06:14
97.   zambezi1
Jon, How can we purchase a copy of the Scully Wooden video?

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