A Saturday Night with the Monday Knights

by Bob Sparrow

Monday Knights in our bowling shirts

I not only don’t have some interesting place to tell you about this week, but I also don’t have anything interesting to say.   Contrary to popular belief, we are not on the road all the time.  Yes, we are on it a lot, but I’ve been consumed with our band, Monday Knights’ performance at Yorba Linda Country Club for the last several days, maybe weeks, OK! months!!

At last, it’s over!  We performed last Saturday night and It’s hard to know if our show was really any good, as most of the 140 or so in attendance were friends, golfing buddies, neighbors, or relatives – what are they going to say?!

Guest celebrities, Sonny & Cher

It was our second show this year, and third overall at Yorba Linda; our first show was in August 2021, which was a Yorba Linda’s Got Talent, talent show featuring club members singing while we did a number of pop songs, OK, maybe older pop, sort of like a coke that you opened three days ago.  Between our second show, which was all Country-Western, and the one last Saturday, which was labeled ‘The History of Rock & Roll, Part I (50s & 60s), we acquired two new band members, a drummer, Jimmy Cleveland and a lead guitarist, Richard Raunch; along with Alexis Hall, who subbed in ten days before our last show, for our female singer that have to have emergency surgery.  Her story is sort of like the baseballs’ Lou Gehrig story, who took over for an injured player and set a record by playing in the next 2,130 consecutive games.  We probably don’t have that many games, or gigs, remaining, but she is hitting it out of the park.  These three have brought an immense amount of talent, energy and enthusiasm to the band.

The show on Saturday was ‘rockin’, the music was loud, the dance floor was packed, and there were lots of people singing along.  We’re fairly sure that everyone got their money’s worth, as the numbers work like this, the cost of the dinner and show was $55 a person, and we were told by the club that they never offer a dinner for less than $50 per person.  So, once they did the math, they really couldn’t complain about a five-dollar show.  I think we actually gave them a seven-dollar show!

Pam, Jeff, me, Linda, Dana, Stephanie

We’re not sure what theme or when our next gig will be; clearly, we need to continue the History of Rock & Roll at some point with 70s & 80s, but we may throw something else in there in between.  Or, the band could be broken up as I’m writing this and I’m not even aware of it – I hear that stuff happens with rock & roll bands all the time.

A special thank you to my family, Linda, Stephanie, Dana and Jeff and Pam, who were all in attendance, and a public thank you to all those who came and made the evening a very fun one.

DASH THE WONDER DOG TURNS 10

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an empty space we don’t even know we have.”  Thom Jones

           An Irresistible face

Tap. Tap. Tap. I wake each morning to paws gently tapping my shoulder. I roll over and Dash the Wonder Dog’s face is one inch from mine, with an expectant look on his face.  I roll over and obediently scratch his ears.  He has me well trained.  I bid him a good morning and ask how his sleep was.  He response is 100 kisses – just to make sure I’m awake and to alert me that he’s ready to start his day.  This is his morning routine, and whether I have had 8 hours or 8 minutes of sleep, it never varies.  On the mornings when my sleep has been closer to 8 minutes, I wonder why I have let this dog take over my life.  I resent, just for a moment, that once I have let him out to sniff and pee, he curls up on the sofa, rests his head on his soft blanket, and falls blissfully back to sleep.  I, on the other hand, put extra coffee in the pot.

           Dash – 2nd from left

Ten years ago, on November 16, 2012, I received a message from Dash’s breeder that he and his four brothers had been born.  She sent me a photo of them, snuggled up together, looking a bit like tiny guinea pigs.  I didn’t yet know which one would come home with me, but it didn’t matter – I loved them all instantly.  I had waited a long time to own another dog and pledged that this dog would be special.  Little did I know I really had no choice in the matter.  Dogs have a way of wriggling into your heart and staking their claim on your soul.  In January 2013, I drove to the breeder’s home to select which dog would be mine.  Of course, what really happened is Dash chose me.  As I stood in the backyard, with dogs and puppies romping and vying for attention, Dash came up and scratched on my pant leg.  I picked him up, he gave me a lick, and I was done.  Dash was my dog, and I was his person.

“What do dogs do on their day off? Can’t lie around – that’s their job.” – George Carlin

             Dash’s first day home

We brought him home on February 3, 2013. I vowed early on that I wasn’t going to be a sap about this dog.  Who was I kidding? I was a sap by the time we backed out of the breeder’s driveway. From that first day, Dash has lived up to the nickname for Cavaliers – he is a “comfort spaniel”. No matter how bad a day we might have had, it is impossible to remain sad or depressed when greeted at the door by his wagging tail and twirling body. My husband and I vie over who gets to sit next to him on the couch.  Dash doesn’t care, he is an equal opportunity snuggler.  He plasters himself next to us and miraculously transforms into a 1,000 lb. dog – absolutely immovable.

“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.”  Andy Rooney

       Dash visiting a WWII hero

We acknowledge that over the past ten years he has put a crimp in our social life. Spending an evening with Dash, vs dinner with someone blathering on about their hook shot on the 10th hole, is not even a fair fight.  Our friends tease us that they have met the “Dash bar” when we go out rather than stay home.  But we are not the only ones who are smitten by him. He has put smiles on faces wherever he goes, especially when he worked at the Vi Care Center, bringing some sunshine to people who didn’t see much of it.  We have taken him everywhere we traveled, and as luck would have it, he loves car rides.  He doesn’t really care where we go, as long as he is with us.  He is the reason we have met people from all parts of the world, who engage us in just enough conversation to justify their real reason for stopping – to pet Dash. He made friends with a little girl from England in Squaw Valley, and he snookered the people in the gift shop in Sun Valley to give him treats every time he passed by.

                        My sweet boy

When we first brought Dash home, I told my husband that I’d be happy if he lived ten years.  After all, most Cavaliers suffer from mitral valve disease, so their lifespan can be shorter.  Two years ago, Dash was diagnosed with it.  He is on medication and so far, it seems to be keeping the disease at bay.  He still loves to play fetch every night.  Mostly I do the fetching, as he manages to put his toy exactly one foot beyond my reach.  I can almost see him laugh as I heft myself off the couch to retrieve it.  He would do this for an hour, but oftentimes my knees give out before he does.

His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me… whenever… wherever—in case I need him. And I expect I will—as I always have.  Gene Hill

Dash the Wonder Dog at 10

And now that he is 10, of course I want more time.  I want more snuggles and kisses, more twirls when I get home, more waking in the night to his chainsaw-like snoring.  I dread the day when I won’t wake to the tap, tap, tap on my shoulder.  But for now, we’re taking it a day at a time, and enjoying each day to the fullest. At night, before we tuck in, I set Dash up on the bed and review our day – where we went (nowhere), what we did (nap and eat) and any special people we might have seen (the crazy dog down the street).  And then I tell him how much he is loved.  I bury my face in the scruff of his neck and tell him what a good boy he is and how blessed we are to have him in our lives.

I’ve done nothing to deserve this sweet, gentle boy, and yet he chose to grace me with his presence.  For that, I am the luckiest person on earth. Happy 10th birthday to my most cherished companion!

Our National Pasted Time

by Bob Sparrow

The World Series is over!  If that’s news to you, you’re not alone.  It concluded last weekend sometime with a team from Texas beating a team from Pennsylvania, taking the series four games to two.  I assume there were lots of home runs, lots of great defensive plays, lots of strikeouts, actually, I heard there was even a no-hitter (although it took four guys to do it.  The only other no-hitter in a World Series was done by one guy, Yankee, Don Larson, pitching the whole game!), but few people watched or cared for that matter.  It didn’t help that there was not a team from the west coast in the series, but regardless of what team is playing, TV viewership has declined significantly over the last several decades.  In the 80s viewership for the World Series was between 55-60 million, compared to the last three-year average of around 10 million.   So, why have people stopped watching America’s national pastime?

I could suggest that the World Series comes at a time when college football, the NFL, the NHL, and the NBA are all in full swing, so there are just too many other sports to watch.  But I recently read an article by Derek Thompson, in The Atlantic that had a different answer to that question, which helped me understand why I didn’t watch any of the World Series games this year. I understand that I run the risk of you not reading any further about the decline of a game that you cared little about in the first place, but it’s a break from the political ads with which you’ve been inundated via mail and TV for the past month.

There really are a number of disassociated events that helped cause the lack of interest in baseball; first there was:

  • Players cheating:
    • Using steroids and other PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) to hit the ball harder and farther

      Batting helmet with earphones

    • Corking a bat to create a trampoline-effect to hit the ball farther (physics research has shown that it really doesn’t work)
    • Pitchers using ‘foreign substances’ on the ball to make it do funny things on the way to the plate
  • Teams cheating, like the Astros who stole the pitcher-catcher signals and uniquely passed them along to their hitters while at the plate

But Mr. Thompson suggests another reason, simply saying, “You can make a thing so perfect that it’s ruined.”  To him It all started with a term, aptly portrayed in the 2011 baseball movie, Moneyball . . . analytics, defined as the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics.’  Yes, the geeks took over baseball and ruined it by being catastrophically successful.  Through crunching the numbers, they found:

  1. If managers wanted more strikeouts from their pitchers, they needed to cut down on the number of pitches by each pitcher and thus use more pitchers during a game. They found that with fresh pitchers, the average velocity and spin rate per pitch, increased.
  2. Hitters responded by increasing the launch angles of their swings, raising the odds of a home run, but this adjustment also caused more strikeouts, quite a few more. In the 1990s, there were typically 50 percent more hits than strikeouts in each game; today, there are consistently more strikeouts than hits. Singles have swooned to record lows and hits per game have plunged to 1910s levels.

So today, watching a baseball game is akin to watching two guys play catch, while another person swings wildly at some pitches and mostly misses, but occasionally hits one out of the park.

The article I read offered no solutions to the declining popularity of the game, although it mentions a few changes, that have come very slowly, in order to improve the game or the pace of the game.  For example, in an effort to make it more palatable to the consumer, in 1973 the American League installed a ‘designated hitter’, typically for the pitcher. So we wouldn’t have to watch the pitcher strike out every time he got up to bat.  The National League just adopted the rule this year!  The ‘intentional walk’ used to require the pitcher to pitch four straight pitches out of the strike zone before the batter was given first base.  It wasn’t until 2017 that they eliminated pitching and just sent the batter to first base.  But neither of these changes had a dramatic affect of the palatability of a game that needs more hits and more runs, i.e., more action!

So what needs to happen to change the game?  If you ask me, and no one has, or will, I’d say move the pitcher’s mound back about 10 feet or so, maybe back by second base.  Then, teams can use as many pitchers as they want, but the ball is going to be moving much slower when it finally reaches the plate and the batter will have a much longer look at the ball.  Thus more hits, more runs, more fun!

Someone let me know if they ever do something like that; I don’t watch baseball!