Fortunate Son

One of the well-known fight songs for Old Blues like me, “Sons of California”

Tardy in getting around to this, as it’s been that kind of week into the weekend and back into the week.  The Cal baseball team has faded into the sunset for 2011 after it was eliminated by Virginia, which, in turn, was eliminated by eventual National Champion South Carolina. Still, it’s of interest.

Former Cal baseball coach Bob Milano looks like he put his foot right smack into a steaming pile of poop.

From the article:

A year before coach David Esquer was told his team would be eliminated for budgetary reasons, his predecessor was telling former players to boycott the program’s fundraising efforts.
In a 2009 e-mail addressed to several former Cal players and circulated among scores more, former coach Bob Milano urged them “to keep the pressure on the Baseball Program” by not contributing money to the program and not taking part in the team’s annual golf tournament, alumni day or preseason dinner.

The Cal baseball program was targeted for elimination for Title IX and budgetary reasons in Fall of 2010, despite the fact that the school had had an active baseball program for over a century.  It spurred an active fundraising campaign that eventually managed to save the team (as well as other sports programs that had also been targeted for elimination).  What was more stunning was the baseball team itself.  Almost as if by some Hollywood scriptwriter, the baseball team, despite losing 3 players who transferred when they heard the initial news, started the season on a roll, continued the roll into the start of Pac-10 play, struggled, recovered, and then limped to the finish line.  Nevertheless, it had made enough of an impression to get selected to the college baseball regional playoffs, where the team staved off elimination in its regional bracket, swept out of its super-regional, and managed to last 3 games into the College World Series before the team’s clock struck 12 on Thursday against UVa. 

It was therefore ironic that at around the same time that Cal coach Dave Esquer was getting national award accolades for the job he did in steering the program to it’s most successful season since at least 1992, if not the 2 national titles the program won in the late 1940s and 1950s, this story about its previous baseball coach began to hit the newswire.  

Yeah, it sucks to read this.  Somewhat shocking, as well, but on the other hand, I totally get it.  Bob Milano, like myself, is an Old Blue. 

Now, mind you, I’m not trying to analyze Milano’s motivation, because I don’t know the man, but if his motivation was based upon hurting his alma mater because of a perceived slight, I can perhaps commiserate.  

One of the things I do in my spare time, such as it is, is to work College Nights at local high schools for UC Berkeley.  My job is to essentially serve as a conduit, in my role as an alum, to interested students and parents.  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to also trying to stay in contact with former students of mine who’d also consider UC, even in the midst of the endless budget cuts that are threatening the system as a whole, not just at Cal.  I enjoy working these local college nights, as well as past experiences interviewing incoming freshman for scholarships and reading scholarship applications.

I enjoyed it so much so, that early last Fall, the wife and I decided to see if I might be able to pursue an opportunity working for the Admissions Office up at Cal, reading and scoring the actual college applications themselves.  It was at this point that I realized that this was my “dream” job, i.e. being able to work for the University.  Steeling myself, and composing my little cover letter, I sent off my information with the hope of hearing back that I had been selected.  Of course, this would have meant trips to the Bay Area in the midst of report cards and conferences, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up.   

Sadly, some time later I learned that I had not been selected.   Unfortunately,
we have a very strong pool of applicants and hires were made that more
closely met our requirements.
Well, that sucked. 

Suffice to say, I was disappointed.  It affected me.  While work, as it tends to do, ultimately chipped away at the random free time that didn’t involve my preschooler, I lost motivation to actively work additional college nights, much less volunteer for scholarship reading or leadership interviews as had been my practice in previous years.  For the first time in a while, I felt ambivalent towards my relationship with my alma mater.  It was an unusual feeling for me.  I am completely ambivalent towards Pepperdine, where I got my M.A. degree, but that has a great deal to do with this guy being appointed the dean to the law school, more than something that directly affected me.  (Even after that had gone done, I continued to mentor Pepperdine student teachers in my classroom for a couple of years afterwards…)  

But, unlike Bob Milano, in the article above, I wasn’t actively going around, trying to get students to go to schools other than Cal.  Whatever disaffection I felt, was not, in any way, treasonous, so to speak.   I’d get over it.  

Which I did.  Open House was late at my school this year, but it became memorable for the simple conversation I was able to have with a former student, about to graduate from high school a week or so later.  He was not headed to Cal, staying local, but it began to reignite in me the enjoyment I feel in trying to provide some guidance to students in terms of their college choice.  Then, on the last day of the school year, I was visited by the family of another former student, who was a cousin of yet another young person who’d been in my classroom.  It was from them that I learned that she had been accepted to Berkeley (although her story gets complicated from there…).  

I could sense the thaw in my disaffection.  Unlike my fellow alum, who, in his mind, wished to destroy the baseball program in order to “save” it, I had to simply admit that I was disappointed, and move on.  The school hadn’t “rejected” me, they chose to go in a different direction.  It was those directions that attracted someone like myself to head to Northern California in the first place.  

Unfortunately, Bob Milano has got some thinking of his own that he apparently still needs to do.  I think petty hits it right on the head. 


Repeat Offender!

The last time I attempted to type in something, I was so taken aback by the response by a former high school classmate.  I was shaken by the fact that the vitriol directed at me by this classmate was not in response to anything that my first blog posting had mentioned, but in some sort of anger directed upon me by things I had done while in high school! 

I am not the person I was then.  Thankfully.  Going away to college was the first step towards a more broadened horizon that my old high school newspaper adviser had recommended.  Still, it would take another 15 years before I finally figured out who the hell I was.  And Facebook offered that opportunity to share out the weird stuff I enjoy.  But while I will wear my political leanings on my sleeve, and initially would get on a soapbox when I found something, I wanted to post stuff up on a blog that was not necessarily political, but rather reflective.  While I follow politics with an “inside baseball”-sort of mentality, I know that rambling on without a coherent take, or by simply doing a “me-too” from other blogs I read, would be a waste of time for myself as well as anyone bored enough to read this thing.

But back to the personal attack by former classmate, which I kept as a comment to my original post.  I decided to not answer it, although my wife and I did contemplate a personal visit to his real estate office in South Orange County to confront him in person and see if he would man up enough to repeat that crap in public.  Suffice to say, I was sufficiently disturbed that I immediately decided that it was best to stay away from my high school’s reunion that year, for the simple reason that it made no sense to spend time with people that I legitimately wouldn’t enjoy being around.  While I missed out on the chance to see some friends with whom Facebook has allowed me to resume contacting, the anger he demonstrated is indicative of all that is wrong about the political process these days.  And, sadly, he knows even less about American history than even some of the struggling 5th graders I used to teach. 

Anyway, I wanted to start this project over again.  Let’s see how this goes.  I intend to touch base about the innocuous, share some views about my end of the school day wars, and post long form comments that make no sense on a more general Facebook page.  Ok, then. 

From one of my favorite films, Raising Arizona:

Parole Board chairman: They’ve got a name for people like you H.I. That name is called “recidivism.”
Parole Board member: Repeat offender!
Parole Board chairman: Not a pretty name, is it H.I.?
H.I.: No, sir. That’s one bonehead name, but that ain’t me any more.
Parole Board chairman: You’re not just telling us what we want to hear?
H.I.: No, sir, no way.
Parole Board member: ‘Cause we just want to hear the truth.
H.I.: Well, then I guess I am telling you what you want to hear.
Parole Board chairman: Boy, didn’t we just tell you not to do that?
H.I.: Yes, sir.
Parole Board chairman: Okay, then.