Bob Franken

THE YIPS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE YIPS

The mind can play tricks on a person, and little is crueler than the “yips.” Most sports fans can identify the yips, the disconnected mind-body muscle memory where, for instance, the championship golfer suddenly — or not so suddenly — gets self-conscious about putting. In tennis, the automatic-since-forever serve abandons you. Then there’s the Major League Baseball player who loses his ability to pitch or throw. For example, Ryan Zimmerman was a sparkling third baseman for the Washington Nationals. In 2009 he won a Golden Glove. The next season, he couldn’t make the routine infield throw: Every game was an adventure. What he had done without thinking since peewee baseball was awkward. As he said later, “If you let it consume you, that’s what gets you.” It nearly consumed him, but he had the opportunity to change positions, moving to first base, and he was able to beat the yips.
In gymnastics, the same thing is called “the twisties.” Simone Biles has the twisties. She told reporters: “I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun.” It’s dangerous, for obvious reasons. When you take flight, as you have since toddlerhood, and you get the twisties, landing badly can injure you for life. “It just sucks,” said Simone to reporters “when you are fighting with your own head.”
Part of the problem is the gaggle of news people who attach themselves to a superstar, as Biles certainly is. It’s fun having your own crew — until it’s not fun. I can only imagine how much pressure Biles is under being on top of the world, where it’s hard to breathe. It finally becomes an obligation, then a heavy weight, as she described it. Then always achieving the impossible becomes impossible.

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TEAM NAMES

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

TEAM NAMES

The Guardians?! After being known as the Indians since 1915, the best team name that the Cleveland baseball club could come up with was the Guardians?
There are so many questions: Why did it take more than a hundred years to realize the previous name was obviously offensive to Native Americans? Why not return to one of the squad’s earlier nicknames, like the Spiders? It’s what they were called before the turn of the century — the 20th century. Why name the franchise after statues on a bridge that crosses the Cuyahoga River, which is most famous for catching fire in 1969? Why not the Flames? Particularly since three years later the city’s mayor at the time, Ralph Perk, set his hair ablaze with a blowtorch. (By the way, I am not making this up.)
But Guardians it is, after this season. What will they call themselves in the meantime? The Cleveland Baseball Team? Sorry, but that idea has already been taken. The Washington Football Team is the best that owner Dan Snyder could come up with after deciding that he couldn’t squeeze another nickel out of the depleted NFL franchise by insisting on calling them the R-word, which is even more pejorative than Indians.
For some reason, Snyder cannot get his act together and come up with a nickname until next year, although I’m sure he has heard scads of ideas. Lobbyists would be on the list, with a logo of a fat cat, although you could save time and effort by just renaming the squad the FatCats. Then we’d have the NFL FatCats, the MLB Nats, the NHL Caps and the NBA Wizards.

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A SHOT OF LIES

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

A SHOT OF LIES

A serious question: After a while, does Donald Trump believe his lies?
Trump has convinced his millions of devoted followers that he won the 2020 presidential election and should be serving a second term, in spite of unquestionable evidence to the contrary.
Some of his most passionate fans are showing their undying loyalty. But they are dying, because they refuse to get the demonstrably lifesaving Covid vaccine. The Trumpster has convinced them it’s understandable that they won’t. In a statement made Sunday, Trump lumped together conservatives’ reluctance to get vaccinated and their belief that he won the 2020 election. He claimed the two are related because, “They don’t trust the Election results, and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth.”
Donald Trump hammered “stop the steal” so often that those in his base believe in their heart of hearts that they must go the ends of the earth to support him — and that includes refusing to take the inoculations. Never mind that they’re risking not only their own lives, but the lives of their fellow earthlings. The result is that innocent bystanders are returning to a precarious state at the mercy of the coronavirus because Trump tells them that somehow Joe Biden and his associates had the wherewithal, the sinister smarts, to pull off the biggest swindle in history and take over as president. It doesn’t line up.

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NEXT DECEMBER’S DILEMMA

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

NEXT DECEMBER’S DILEMMA

How could it be that even though reservations have been open since mid-June and it’s nearly six months away, sales for Donald Trump’s Florida and Texas appearances in mid-December have been blah. You’d think they would have been sold out by now, particularly since Trump will be paired with … wait for it … Bill O’Reilly!
The reaction has been underwhelming, even though the Trumpster promises that the four-appearance conversation tour will be “fun, fun, fun for everyone who attends.” O’Reilly adds, “It will not be boring.”
Tickets run between $100 each for the cheap seats and $300 for the not so cheap ones. There is a package available for $8,500 — the VIP Meet and Greet combo — which includes pictures and a 45-minute reception. It’s tempting.
Apparently, not tempting for enough people. A promoter at one of the four venues says that sales should have been higher. “It hasn’t been [selling] like crazy.” This would have been unheard of in the good old days, like a few months ago. The pace of sales and the state of mind of those scooping up all the rally tickets could have been counted on to be frenzied, particularly for a Donald Trump-Bill O’Reilly extravaganza. Is this a case of out of sight out of mind?
Perhaps the erosion has imperceptibly started, taking its baby steps. To be sure, the Donald Trump magic is still there in Republican circles. Among GOP diehards, defying Trump would seem to be displaying a death wish.

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THE DEMOCRACY PLATITUDE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE DEMOCRACY PLATITUDE

In a democracy, the majority rules. Well, that platitude is only partially true. We get what we elect only if the choice is a stacked deck. And in the US of A, our government is replete with stacked decks.
The Republicans are trying to add a few cards to that deck to make sure they maintain their clout. They are choking off access to the ballot box for those out of power; people of color, the poor, the elderly and the unhealthy — anyone who could be expected to vote Democrat.
As anybody who reads this column (both of you) knows all too well, the GOP has a two-pronged attack that involves two levels of government: the red state legislatures and the federal. Right now, the state battle is being fought in the best little madhouse in Texas, the state capitol building in Austin. And elsewhere.

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