Wednesday, September 30, 2020

American Football in Action and Travel Reading


Tuesday-Wednesday, September 29-30, 2020

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that I still wanted to coach American football.

In some capacity, somehow, somewhere . . . 

I think American football
is lots of fun!

I really need to get a copy of this poster.

Thus motivated, on Tuesday evening I joined an American football Zoom clinic sponsored by some college coaching friends in Mexico.

Brian Q. Guzman
Tec Toluca Borregos
Offensive Coordinator

Brian's topic was
"Running Game Out of the Spread"

I first met Brian after our first Europe Warriors game in Mexico City back in 2017 when he was coaching the Aztecas of the powerhouse Universidad de las Americas in Puebla (UDLAP) about two hours outside of Mexico's capital city.

After our game, the Warriors coaching staff had been invited to visit with the Aztecas coaching staff and observe their practices for a few days.

The entire UDLAP experience was extremely impressive.

Brian quickly stood out as a bright, young coach who was on top of his chosen profession.

Nothing since then has change my mind, especially after hearing Brian speak on a couple of other Zoom clinics this year.

Brian took on a new job as the O.C. of the Tec Toluca Borregos just in time for the 2020 pandemic halting season.

Still, he works at his profession.

"Culture Beats Strategy"

AMEN to that!

The blue field at "La Congeladora"
Tec Toluca's home stadium

Brian coached over 60 of us up for nearly two hours. GREAT TALK!

Brian's talk whetted my appetite for American football, but I needed more.

Well, I do have a long distance American football coaching job . . .

Time to break down some video for
Barcelona's Pioners L'Hospitalet!

The Pioners' U18 team had a camp
over the weekend so I had a lot
of video to analyze!

Nerdy computer work with American football is time consuming fun for me!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

Interesting read if you want to visit
Italy but are tired of the sights in
Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice and Milan

Frances Mayes is famous for her book and movie Under the Tuscan Sun

This book is more of a travel guide than literary tome as she visits many of Italy's less traveled cities.

Her travels tell of amazing meals, wines, hotels and, of course, piazzas in the regions of Piemonte, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Toscana, Umbria, Le Marche, Lazio, Puglia, Sardegna and beautiful Sicilia.

This would be a perfect book for Mike and Susan D'Antuono before their next visit to sometimes offbeat but always interesting Italy.

I loved the author's last thoughts in the book . . .

"The greatest gift of travel: the steep learning curve.

Second best: how your vision refreshes and you see with infant eyes.

Third: memory. How the places seen will layer into life as time moves on."

I could not agree more.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Of Covid-19, Baseball, American Football and the Usual Dreams of Italy


Thursday - Sunday, September 24 - 27, 2020

A solid weekend for us in our continuous, never ending, self-imposed Lockdown.

Let's start with a look at internet related Coronavirus pandemic news from the embattled USA . . .

I think that most teachers,
parents and grandparents can
relate to this student

No, this is not one of our grandkids.

But it could be.

Mark Twain was ALWAYS right!

JFK was RIGHT ON as well!

Our President NEVER ceases to
amaze me in keeping to his solemn
oath " . . . to preserve, protect and defend
the Constitution of the United States."

Hmmm . . .

I love this quote

Now if he could only get his legions of priests under control . . .

Now to sports, the shortened 2020 Major League Baseball season ended on Sunday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers
43-17 record was the best in both leagues

That made them National LeagueWest
Champions for the 8th straight season

The post-season playoffs start on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers (29-31, Fourth place NL Central).

The Klu loved to show off his
American football related arms

Ted Kluszewski was the power hitting First Baseman for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1950's.

He was my favorite player until 1958 when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn. All bets were off after we finally got a team.

Besides playing for the Reds, Pirates, White Sox and Angels in an eight year career, The Klu also was an End at Indiana University where in 1945 he was a starter for the Hoosiers Big-9 American football Championship team that, with a record of 9-0-1, finished fourth in the final National Championship poll.

Army was the National Champion in 1945 and Michigan State would join the Big-9 in 1950 turning it into the Big-10.

We watched a lot of college football on Saturday as well as the Dodgers.

Sunday was NFL Day with the
2-0 Rams traveling to play the 2-0 Bills

Love the old school uniforms

REALLY old school . . .

. . . when men were MEN!

My mind drifted off to other pro games from long gone leagues like . . .

. . . the World League of American Football

Mike and I once drove up to Sacramento to see the Surge play although I can't remember who they played that day.

If more GREAT players were
still this humble today

It was tough day to be a Rams fan

The Rams fell way behind scoring only three points in the First Half. Their furious Second Half comeback saw the Rams and their still awful uniforms actually took a 32-28 lead with not much time left on the clock.

The Bills converted a 3rd and 22 on their final drive and also took advantage of a fourth down defensive pass interference call to score their winning TD.

The Rams attempted and missed the first Field Goal of the game. The mere attempt meant that, as NFL statistics bear out over the many years, the Rams then had a whopping 75% chance of losing the game.

Which, of course, they did.

Now, as to my dreams of returning to Italy . . . 

This cannoli "cake" got
my juices flowing

Driving one of these classic
Fiat 500 through the country would be

And then there is this

Yolanda's Mexican Restaurant
was liberal with their t0-go salsas
for a recent meal

Reading Is FUNdamental!

Commissario Brunetti always gets
me thinking with his philosophical,
quintessential Italia approach
to law enforcement

As usual, I checked this book out of the Camarillo Public Library.

I loved the cost saving notice
on the library's receipt

By checking out this one book and a 16 DVD box set of the BBC's  Brother Cadfael series, I saved myself $99.99 USD by not going out and buying them.

Good to know.

I want go coach again but Covid-19 remains a stumbling block.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Europe Warriors News


Monday - Wednesday,

September 21 - 23, 2020

As you may recall, when I decided to end my EuroBall coaching career, I still kept the door open to coaching in any and all Europe Warriors games, Covid-19 permitting.

In the past we have played five of these fun, entertaining Europe Warriors games. Our Men's Team played in a 2017 game in Mexico City, Mexico and in a 2018 contest in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Our U19 squad played in Texcoco, Mexico in 2017 and our U18 club had a game in Vienna, Austria in 2019.

Our inaugural Women's game was played in Mexico City in 2019.

The Warriors had scheduled a U19 game vs. Team Turkey to be played in Istanbul last June but the Coronavirus curtailed that contest.

At the start of this week, we still had three games on the Europe Warriors slate for 2020.

Again, Covid-19 permitting.

We've had issues with our
Women's game in Barcelona

This game would have pitted our Women's squad against Team USA.

Last Spring, Team USA played a game in Costa Rica but then got quarantined for several days after the game in Central America because of the pandemic. Add to that experience the current European Union ban on Americans traveling to Europe because of our country's dismal showing on the pandemic and you have a game in trouble.

Team USA backed out about two weeks ago but Team Spain volunteered to play instead.

Then the possible, feared Second Wave of Coronavirus started in Spain. Individual countries within the EU let our ladies know that if they traveled to Barcelona for the week of practice before the game, they would be required to quarantine for two weeks upon their return.

Many of our Women stated that they could get off of work for a week to practice and play the game but that there was no way that they could afford to take three weeks off from their jobs when the quarantine time was added to the equation.

Thus, on Monday our Women's game was cancelled which seemed to me to be the only logical option.

Until better days then, "Test Negative, Stay Positive!"

Our U19 game in Wroclaw, Poland
is still a go somehow

In part, I'm guessing, it may be because Poland is not the hotbed of Coronavirus outbreaks that Spain is at the moment.

Of course, I still have the current problem of not being allowed into Poland as a traveler from America even if the game is played.

Finally, we are still scheduled to play another Men's game in Mexico City in December. Coronavirus protocols and travel restrictions are both still issues in this one.

Nothing is easy these days . . .

. . . especially if you constantly
dream of Italian cuisine

WHAT THE . . . ?

A new food truck in Oxnard might be the answer!

I checked out their website and found Arancini for $11, Polpette for $15 and Gnocchi for $15 on their menu.

Highway Robbery!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

Another Venetian Crime CORKER!

Crazily, this was one of three books that I was reading at the same time due to Lockdown mental issues on my part.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

A Good Week of American Football

Tuesday - Sunday,
September 15-20, 2020

This week would mark my first departure in a long time outside of Ventura County.

Of course, it would be American football related.

Mike Regan, on the left,
with Bob Richards

Mike is a former Thousand Oaks H.S. player who is now a teacher/coach at Pioneer Valley H.S. in Santa Maria, California about a two hour drive north of Camarillo.

Bob was Thousand Oaks Head Football coach when Mike was a player. Bob is currently the highly respected, veteran Offensive Line Coach at Simi Valley H.S. here in Ventura County.

There will be more on Bob and Thousand Oaks H.S. American football later in this blog post.

Mike called me about two weeks ago to simply check in to see how I was doing and to talk American football.

During our discussion he mentioned that the Head Coach at Pioneer Valley wanted to install the Delaware Wing-T which was our base offense for 20 seasons. Would I be willing to meet with their staff to clinic them up a tad on the Wing-T?


John Beck
Head Football Coach of the . . .

. . . Pioneer Valley H.S. Panthers

The lure of a famed Santa Maria BBQ Tri-Tip sandwich for lunch before we started our clinic on Thursday was all that I needed to hear in John's sales pitch for meeting.

Also, a long drive in a car just sounded good to me.

The Los Olivos General Store
is about 2/3s of the way to PVHS

I had made good time driving, so I stopped at this quaint village in the heart of California's Central Coast wine country.

I needed to pick up a couple of bottles of wine to bring home to Laurie.

Happy wife, happy life you know.

Los Olivos' funky garden shop

I picked up a couple of trinkets for Laurie as well.

After our delicious BBQ Tri-Tip sandwich, I spent about three hours in a classroom with John and two of his socially distanced assistant coaches going over the basics of the Wing-T and answering questions.

We had ourselves a good session I believe.

Friday's lunch had literally a bit of 
Italian flavor to it

GREAT point!

After that lunch on Friday,
I tended to agree

Now, back to Coach Bob Richards and Thousand Oaks H.S. American football . . .

The 1970 Thousand Oaks H.S. JV Lancers
7 Wins - 2 Losses

We were a big, bruising group as
our roster weights would indicate

The reason I bring this team up is that on September 19, 1970, exactly 50 years ago this past Saturday, I helped coach this team in what was my first ever game as an American football coach.

We would win that Saturday morning game at home over the Simi Valley Pioneers by a final tally of 22-0.

I would go on to coach a few more games after that as it turned out.

That's Bob Richards and me in
the 1970 TOHS Homecoming program

Bob was the squad's Head Coach and I was the Defensive Coordinator. That was it, just a two man coaching staff and 38 players. We had 37 Sophomores and one Freshman on that team.

For me, it was a magical season.

A special thank you to Bob for teaching me so many things about coaching that first year.

Damn, I had a lot more hair back then and a lot less body mass.

Saturday marked the end of a long serial on TV at long last . . .
This 1940 Serial was based on
Milton Caniff's popular comic
strip of the day

As it turned out, friend Mike D'Antuono and I both spent the better part of the last four months watching the action packed 15 episodes of this critically acclaimed, high-tech serial.

We were treated to one new episode each Saturday morning on the Turner Classic Movies channel.

Heroes Pat Ryan and Terry Lee

These two can escape any dangerous situation through a combination of skill and incredible luck against their sinister foe Fang.

How did they do it week after week?

Maybe these two should be put in charge of the CDC's response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Terry and the Pirates
confirmed this completely!

I believe in Science too

Princess Mary was at
the house on Saturday

Jacob and Mike came with her to make for a fun day to say the least.

On Sunday, it was time for
the NFL version of American football

The Los Angeles Rams (1-0) were on the road taking on the Philadelphia Eagles (0-1).

It was a chance for the Rams to avenge
their 14-0 loss to the Eagles in the
1949 NFL Championship Game

In 1949, the Western Conference Champion Rams (8-2-2) hosted the eastern Conference's best club.

The Eagles (11-1) entered the game as a seven point favorite in the first NFL title game played in the western United States.

Philadelphia coach Earle "Greasy" Neale did not like to fly so the entire Eagles squad was forced to take the long, 2,700 mile train trip to the game.

Even today on Amtrak, that trip would take a minimum of 70 hours!

The lure of playing the game in the Los Angeles Coliseum was that the Rams were drawing huge crowds and an expected 70,000 fans would buy their way into the game.

Tickets were sold in two tiers that year. For $5.00 you purchased a reserved seat between the goal lines. All other seats sold for $3.60 a piece.

This was huge for the players as their reward for playing was a guaranteed percentage of the tickets sold.

One problem . . .

Sunny southern California's
mythical sunshine weather was
just that on game day . . .


The weather gods did not cooperate and it rained heavily leading up to the game turning the Coliseum into a quagmire.

Note the lack of fans in the stands in this picture.

Not good for the players' bankbooks.

Instead of the expected 70,000 fans, only 22,245 actually showed up in the rain although 27,980 tickets were sold.

Due to this crowd being only about 1/3 of what was expected, the Champion Eagles only earned $1,090 per player. Each Rams share of the gate for their efforts that day was $789.

The 2020 NFL Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs earned $124,000 for beating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20. The 49ers earned $62,000 for their loss on that Sunday back in February.

NFL economics have changed a bit over the years.

Hall-of-Fame Eagles RB
Steve Van Buren (#15) came
up big on that long ago day

Although he did not score either Philadelphia TD that day, he did tote the rock 31 times in the mud for 196 yards for the Eagles.

In about 2010, the Rio Mesa H.S. football program sold concessions for one week at the annual Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, California.

During that time, I worked this snack bar just one time and had the absolutely random opportunity of meeting this Hall-of-Famer who simply wanted to buy a Gatorade.

We started talking about American football (what else) and he never referred to himself in any way, he was just a man purchasing a beverage to help out a local high school football program while watching an NFL practice.

It was his daughter who proudly clued me in to this nice gentleman's name, Steve Van Buren.

I was flabbergasted to find out that I had been in the presence of greatness.

She gave me an autographed football card of her father that she carried in her purse.

I still have it, he was nice, humble, down to earth man.

Steve Van Buren

He passed away in 2012 at the age of 91.

As for the Rams today . . .

The 2-0 Rams avenged that loss
from 71 years ago at last!