Check Skinny: Remembering Che Still

Funny how finding a picture can unleash all kinds of emotions.  Jefe found the picture above a few weeks ago while cleaning out an old filing cabinet.  In it are two former football players (Brian Head and Che Still) he had coached at their high school graduation. Sadly, Che is no longer with us.

It has been three years to the day since Che was taken away from us in a plane crash.  Below were some thoughts Jefe had about him a few days after he passed.

The look on his face said it all – disbelief, joy, and relief.  Che had just caught a laser of a pass from Lamar Broadway and scored the decisive touchdown of Corona Centennial’s first football CIF championship.  There’s a picture of that moment in Coach Logan’s office.  It was an up and down year for Che because he had so many catches…and so many dropped passes.  Guys on the team would mess with Che and call him “stone hands”.  But that one catch, that one moment, said it all.

I ran into Che at the gym during the summer. He was yoked out!  Not the same skinny kid I remembered coaching.  We talked more than we worked out.  The hour and a half I was supposed to be getting my swole on, I spent talking with Che.  It was great catching up.  He asked if I had seen or talked to any of the guys from the team.  We then talked about the recent Centennial team that just went to the state championship game.  I told him that as good as they were, there was nothing like the first championship team from which he played.

Of course, we talked about that season and the championship game against Elsinore.   Then, Che told me something I never knew about the play where he caught the winning  pass.  Terry Richardson, our All-World wide out, had told Che that the pass would go to him because Terry was going to be double covered.  To me, that spoke volumes because 1)Terry was just a freak of nature – a great athlete who would and could catch everything; 2)Lamar had enough confidence to throw to Che even though he had dropped some passes; and 3)Che knowing that the ball would come his way, had the courage and the confidence to forget past failures and focus on the moment and the goal that was ahead.  That is what heart is about.   That is what Che was about.

I’m going to miss him. His easy smile and soft mannered way. I’m feeling the tears well up even now as I remember giving him a hug and telling him, “I’ll see you soon.”   Soon never came and almost two months later, I’m making plans to go to his funeral.

Life is but a vapor and tomorrow holds no guarantee.  Hold close those who are dear.  Call somebody you haven’t talked to in a while.  Reconcile what needs to be.  Never be afraid to love. 

Dedicated to Che and all former players I have coached.

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The NCAA: Need Cash Always Association

Jefe has had it with the monopoly that is the NCAA.  Let’s be real here.  The only reason the NCAA exists is to make sure major colleges and universities keep making money and they don’t ever want to kill that cash cow.  Here’s where the biggest problem lies: The two biggest sports under the NCAA are football and basketball and the powers that be are in collusion with those two sports professional leagues, the evil four letter station (ESPN) and money hungry universities.

The reason there is no NCAA football championship is money.  Why do you think there are so many crappy bowl games at the end of the year?  Every major sport represented by the NCAA has a playoff.  Hell, every football division save division 1 has a playoff. 

The reason why the NCAA basketball tournament is expanding is money.  Outside of football, college basketball (especially during March Madness) garners so much money that every network wants a piece of the action.

Don’t get Jefe started on how the NCAA “polices” their student-athletes.  That in itself is a joke.  You hear of all kinds of scandals involving pay for play athletes in football and basketball but hardly any in say, lacrosse or tennis.  Why is that?  Because football and basketball are big business and they rake in dollars for universities in the millions.

The mess that is going on in places like USC, Ohio State and Miami is really nothing new.  Terrell Pryor jerseys have brought in over 20 million dollars to Ohio State.  Does Pryor see a cut of that money?  “Oh but he gets a free  education”…ok, does that add up to the amount of money he brought to the university?  CHALE!  Jefe is not saying education isn’t important but when you got all of these athletes getting paid or looking to get paid, which is an NCAA violation (mind-boggling I know), you have to wonder who is policing the police.

You know what sport pays its players the most?  It’s not football nor is it basketball.  Baseball falls second to soccer.  Yes soccer.  European clubs pay kids as early as seven years old to join their training academies.  Golfers can go pro as early as 16; tennis players turn pro as early as 15; baseball players as early as 17.  So why do football and basketball players have to wait?  Football and basketball don’t have developmental leagues and most important, universities would lose out on the millions (if not billions) of dollars college football and basketball generate.

Jefe doesn’t have all the answers for fixing college football or basketball but why not let kids choose their own path.  If they want to play in the NFL or NBA, let them.  Set a hard rookie cap and after four years (in which would have been spent in college) you pay them according to their progress and growth.  I guarantee you that you will see kids discouraged from making the jump to pros when they see how hard it is.  Yes, there is the occasional Kobe, Garnett and Lebron that actually make it but you gotta kill the monopoly that the NCAA has and the hypocrisy of their “virtue through academics and athletics.”  Somebody is getting paid and often than not, it’s the NCAA.  Jefe calls BS on those pendejos, boosters, corporations, networks (especially the evil 4-ESPN), and greedy universities.

The ESPYS (And Moments That Didn’t Suck)

When it comes to the evil four letter station (ESPN), Jefe is cynical about it and their programming of the sporting world.  They do get a few things right such as SportsCenter, the 30 for 30 documentary series, Erin Andrews (cheeow!) and sometimes – The ESPYS.  Here are some of Jefe’s favorite moments from The ESPYS and other comments that he just can’t keep to himself.

Brian Wilson is rad!  That crazy vato from the San Pancho Giants sported a spandex tuxedo.  Forget the beard and hair, he just took fashion to a whole other level.  Which level that is remains to be seen but there are only a few people in the world that would be able to pull off that look.  Then again, maybe not.  Only Brian Loco.

Raphael Saadiq is a bad…shut yo’ mouth!  Unlike other musical performers of the past, this soulful brother and New Jack Swing pioneer can just bring it.  Here’s an idea, keep brother Raphael playing the ESPYS until he can’t play Hideo Nomo!  *Brownie points if you get that reference and are not a cholo Dodger fan.

Serena Williams is a time traveler.  She has to be because only she could inspire the lyrics to the Commodore’s classic, Brick House.  To borrow from some famous lines, “She’s mighty, mighty…just lettin’ it all hang out; She’s a Brick House!”  That hyna is built.  Somewhere, Sir Mix A Lot is smiling.

The Miami Heat and Los Angeles Dodgers are terrific punch lines.  Add any and all jokes here.

Cee Lo Green is the world’s tallest midget.  En serio, Jefe did not “fix” that photo in any way, shape or form.  That chaparrito has to be from Oaxaca because not only is he short, he’s one ugly summa ma.  It’s a good thing he can sing.

Jefe & Emmanuelle Present...

Emmanuelle Chriqui needs to be a presenter at every award show.  I don’t care if it’s the Emmys, the Tonys, the Heisman Trophy Ceremony, The Nobels…she just needs to be there!  I’ll even make a few up just so she could be a presenter with me.  It’s a win-win situation.  God bless America!

Jeter, Women’s Soccer & The Canos

I’m a huge fan of Derek Jeter for no other reason than the simple fact that he has always played the game the right way – with integrity and heart.  He’s what is right with baseball and sports in general.  I was extremely disappointed he didn’t show up for the All-Star Game but that’s  different story.  By the way, he should have gone. Willie Mays said it best: I was voted into twenty-four All-Star games and I showed up twenty-four times.  Enough said.

Jefe gets sidetracked, despensa.  Anywados, Jefe knows the significance of reaching 3,000 hits and the Yankee captain reached it in style: he hit  home run.  That vato has had so many great moments, it’s almost become routine for him to do amazing things.  Just when you think that you have seen amazing,  a group of women representing our country in soccer steal the spotlight.

Now, Jefe has never been a big follower of soccer but he was transfixed to his TV when team USA played Brazil.  The drama that unfolded before and after Abby Wambach’s header was stuff of legend.  The Brazilians are a great team but they were being helped by taking dives and referees who seemed to be on the take.  When things seemed the bleakest, our girls showed what the American spirit is all about and overcame adversity.  Great job, ladies!

The biggest winner to me, however, is the wonderful setting of the Home Run Derby.  Don’t get me wrong, I hate the new format and Chris Berman’s mindless dribble.  What made Jefe somewhat emotional was Robinson Cano’s father pitching to him during the contest.  What kid that grew up playing baseball can’t relate to that?  There is nothing more beautiful than a father and son playing catch or having a batting practice session. 

Baseball will always be one of the best things about life to Jefe.  It is a game that brings fathers and sons together in ways that are magical.  Yes, Jeter’s 3,000th hit was special and the woman’s soccer team had a game for the ages; but the beauty of a father and son sharing a moment that many have had and continue to have is worth its weight in gold. 

 

What’s Your Intro Music?

Go to any professional sporting event and you are sure to hear some type of music blaring to get the crowd hyped.  You will get some kind of musical production at the beginning of any major sporting event.  It has become the norm. 

Jefe ‘members the Philadelphia 76ers were the first to use music as part of their player introductions in the 80’s.  Soon, a lot of the NBA began doing the same.  For all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Showtime, the Lakers didn’t succumb to that trend.  The entire Fabulous Forum would break out into a rhythmic clap during the Lakers introduction.  It was cool and sessy.

The 90’s brought the hype machine during introductions as the Chicago Bulls had the best with the Alan Parson Project’s Sirius.  Everything else, paled in comparison.   Basketball wasn’t the only sport to utilize music.

Baseball has used music in a more personalized way.  As a player approaches the plate to hit, a portion of his favorite song is played.  For example, Tori Hunter has the Sanford and Son Theme played as he is introduced to hit.  Mariano Rivera of the Yankees, has Enter Sandman by Metallica played as he enters the game for a save opportunity.  Trevor Hoffman (now retired) had AC/DC’s Hells Bells played as he entered the game. 

Jefe got to thinking – what would be his intro music/song?  With a plethora of music to choose from, he had a hard time deciding.  Since a tiny portion of music is played during an at bat, Jefe would have to go with the opening of Bulls On Parade by Rage Against The Machine; next at bat would be the intro of Buddy by De La Soul and another at bat would have the intro of Como Ves by Ozomatli.  Closers like Mariano and Hoff get the whole song so if Jefe were a closer, he would go with another Rage song – Renegades Of Funk.  That song’s intro is pretty bad-ass with the opening line, “No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop us now!”  I’m surprised a closer hasn’t used that one already.

So, what would your intro music be?

D’oh, Canada!

In 1994, the Vancouver Canucks lost to the New York Rangers in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  Riots broke out on the streets of Vancouver following that devastating loss.  Jefe would hate to imagine what would have happened had they won.  Fast forward to 2011.  The Canucks were back in the finals in another game 7.  On this go around, they faced and lost to the Boston Bruins.  Guess what happened?  Another riot.  En serio?  Ay que pendejos!

I’m a sports enthusiast but I’m not gonna go get hopped up on booze or sheer idiocy and go looking to cause trouble or mayhem.  I just don’t get it.  I didn’t have a pony in this race but I was pulling for the Canucks just because I can’t stand Boston teams.  It’s not too far-fetched to say that Jefe has a deep-rooted hatred for the Celtics, Red Sux, and Patriots.  As far as the Bruins are concerned, I actually could care less.

Here's an idea; put down your camera phones and try putting out the fire!

Does this really make sense – your team loses/wins a championship and you proceed to trash your city in “defiance/celebration?”  As the late-great Chick Hearn would say: That makes two kinds of sense, little and none.

I know it’s almost been twenty years since a team in Canada has won the Stanley Cup and there’s a lot of pride on the line, but that doesn’t condone what happened in Vancouver.  Don’t get it twisted, either.  We in the US are just as bad when it comes to senseless riots.  Get it together North America, we’re on the verge of joining our Euro counterparts as having hooligans attached to us instead of fans in regards to sports.