There he was, sitting there, my blue couch discernible through his apparition. It was my grandpa, Julius Lipshez, my father's father.
Julie, as his nephews and cousins called him, came to the U.S. in about 1900 at 13 from the Ukraine. He died in the early 1970s while arguing vehemently with SNET about a telephone bill. Yes, there are many who knew us both that say I'm a chip off the old block.
Grandpa, who attended the 1926 World Series game when a hung over Grover Cleveland Alexander closed the Series for the Cardinals against his beloved Yanks, came back to ask me some questions about sports. Perhaps the internet has finally made its way to heaven. Lord knows it's been to hell and back countless times.
Which provides an interesting segue for the reason of his visit. Julie didn't say anything. He just handed me a sheet of paper with the following comments and questions, folded his arms and waited for answers.
1) It costs how much to see a baseball game these days? Why I could never have taken your Dad to the Polo Grounds when he was a boy with me working as a laborer in the textile industry. And if I hadn't taken him, would you have ever developed your love for sports? Would you be writing sports right now? It's a good thing your Grandma was understanding as it was.
2) The Red Sox won 2 World Series in 3 years? What the heck is that all about? Who's cheating down there? Well at least they never won again in my lifetime. Heck, your dad was a year old when they had last won in 1918. Boy, I'd like to thank them for Babe Ruth though. He was fun to watch when I'd take the train to NYC.
3) I was looking at the NHL standings. Now you know our family was never much into mathematics but can you please tell me how the teams collectively have more wins than losses? Every time somebody wins, somebody has to lose, right? Grandson, when did that change? Has this politically correct bourgeois I keep hearing about really taken root in sports?
4) What on earth is going on in colleges these days? I was a heck of an athlete in my day. I told you the stories how I wrestled, and I don't mean that Gorgeous George crap on the television. Legitimate wrestling. Now they're dishing out scholarships to guys who can't even read just because they can play basketball or football and attract big crowds? If I had that opportunity, you wouldn't be struggling to make ends meet right now. I'll tell you that. That great-grandson of mine living under your roof would be getting a college education instead of having to struggle like his great-grandpa.
I remember when some Yale kids boldly challenged some Harvard kids in a few sports like football and baseball. It was all in great fun. I remember going over there to see it from time to time. Yale was a great sports college. Would still be, I reckon, if corruption and greed hadn't consumed the sports world. Where's Grantland Rice when you need him, son. four Horsemen of Notre Dame. Aah, those were the days. I could still smell the wet grass on a fall afternoon at Yale Bowl ... and what's this about you not even playing on grass anymore? What's that plastic stuff all about?
5) When are you fellas going to come up with a better way to report sports than that ESPN? Who do they think they are with their irreverent junk? If they want to be comedians, have them see Milton Berle. How about giving us the scores and who hit the home runs without their idiotic commentary.
6) One last thing, grandson, and it's not about sports, it's about newspapers. I've been looking at all the papers down there and see that this African-American Obama is running for president. That's fine, but I can't seem to find any articles on who he's running against.