MUSING FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST QUARANTINE – MARCH 30
By David Alexander

Things to do in Portland when you’re bored:

My Five favorite sports movies:

Hoosiers: I just watched this movie a few weeks ago, before the world slowly ground to a halt. The lack of live sports since then is a reminder of the role it plays in building a sense of community.

Bull Durham: I choose this over “Field of Dreams,” the other Kevin Costner baseball movie. Minor league ballparks, the endless bus rides, “Hit the Bull and Win a Suit,” and of course…Susan Sarandon.

Remember the Titans: One of the forces behind integration in a lot of communities in the 1960’s was sports. Young men, black and white, working together for a common cause and showing their elders a better world. A movie that reminds us that the best coaches don’t stop when the game is over.

Invictus: Nelson Mandela wore a South Africa rugby shirt while he was confined on Robben Island. He knew that sports were a unifying force and a sign to the world that change was possible without blood being shed.

Slapshot: I was never a hockey player, but this movie made me want to risk losing a few teeth. No uplifting message, no tear-jerking moments…funny and depressing at the same time.

Honorable Mention: Rocky (just the first two), Field of Dreams, Breaking Away, Friday Night Lights, Eight Men Out

My Five Favorite Sports Books:

The Game, Ken Dryden: Dryden, fresh from his senior year at Cornell, was a rookie goaltender for a Montreal Canadiens team that won the Stanley Cup. He kept a diary that first season that has become one of the best sports books ever written.

The Blind Side, Michael Lewis: A tough choice over this other great sports book, “Moneyball.” The first chapter of the book recounts the terrible injury Joe Theisman suffered when he was sacked by Lawrence Taylor. As he’s done in all his books, Lewis weaves together a bunch of stories, from the improbable journey of Michael Oher in the midst of big time college football in the South, to why left tackles have become such a valuable commodity in the NFL.

Semi-Tough, Dan Jenkins: Rude, crude, funny as hell. Billy Clyde Puckett, a running back for the New York Giants, keeps a journal. There’s a great chapter on country western song titles, another on what makes a woman a “10,” and lots of language that would be considered “politically incorrect.”

Ball Four, Jim Bouton: I found a used copy in a bookstore in East Lansing, MI last summer. Bouton changed the way we looked at athletes by simply telling the truth. He was vilified for writing it, but the sporting world is a better and funnier place.

The Long Season, Jim Brosnan: Before there was Ball Four, there was The Long Season. Brosnan was a relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds in 1961. His tone is different from Bouton’s, but his tales of the inner workings of a baseball team, especially the relations between black and white players, was a revelation.

Honorable Mentions: The Boys of Summer, Paper Lion, Seabiscuit, Eight Men Out

My Five Favorite Athlete Names:

God Shammgod: Played basketball at Providence in the ‘90s. Played in China with Stefon Marbury for a few seasons.

Fair Hooker: Wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns in the ‘70s

Dick Trickle: Former NASCAR driver, probably better known as a great short track driver

I.M. Hipp: Running back for Nebraska in the ‘80s. Came to Lincoln as a walk on, and left as Nebraska’s all time leading rusher

Sonny Sixkiller: QB at the University of Washington in the ‘70s. He was called “The Cherokee Chucker.” Good QB, bad nickname!

Honorable Mention: CoCo Crisp, Dick Sisler, Jim Bob Cooter, Popeye Jones, Ha Ha Clinton Dix