Monday, November 23, 2015

Frank Gives Thanks

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 9:03 AM

I have so much to be thankful for; not quite enough room on the Internet. But I can start with a column on blessings from the world of sports.

• I’m grateful for the annual Martin Luther King Day game at FedExForum. It’s astonishing to me that this game isn’t televised nationally on ABC (or at least ESPN). A basketball game that celebrates tolerance and decency in mankind? We need more of these. Glad this one belongs to Memphis.

• I’m grateful for Phil Cannon and his extraordinary courage and grace in the face of cancer. One year after another, the FedEx St. Jude Classic sets a standard for professionalism and hospitality beyond the reach of your average PGA event. That’s Phil’s legacy.

• I’m grateful for “The Mask Game.”

• I’m grateful for American Pharoah. Truth be told, I’d given up on seeing a Triple Crown winner. The abundance of thoroughbred breeding and trainers bypassing the first two races to prep for the Belmont seemed to preclude such a three-year-old lightning strike. So glad I was wrong.

• I’m grateful for the impossible debate over which of the Grizzlies’ “core four” will have his number retired first. (It will be Zach Randolph.)

• I’m grateful for Justin Fuente and his “1-0” plan. It’s worked more often than not.

• I’m grateful for a visit to AutoZone Park by St. Louis Cardinals hero Willie McGee. Influence across baseball generations is a beautiful thing to see.

• I’m grateful for a man named Jeremy Hazelbaker. And his considerable talents on a baseball field.

• I’m grateful for memories of the leftfield bluff at AutoZone Park. The Redbirds have done so many things right since arriving here 17 years ago, but shutting off that bluff (after shaving it down) was a strikeout. My daughters grew up on that grassy slope (and its neighboring playground), as countless other Mid-South children did. In my mind, it was the best park (within a park) in the city. Last seen with a pickup truck and a target for winning said truck.

• I’m grateful for Josh Pastner’s optimism. We live in a cynical, sobering world. Find positive energy where, when, and however you can.

• I’m grateful for Jake Elliott on fourth down.

• I’m grateful for an NBA Finals with the cities of Oakland and Cleveland represented. It will happen, Memphis.

• I’m grateful for the Memphis Open and the survival of professional tennis at the Racquet Club. There are far more NBA and NFL teams in America than ATP events, making a week in February distinctly “big-league” for local tennis fans. Now, if we could just talk Roger Federer into a visit . . .

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• I’m grateful for reaching a place where a three-game losing streak by the Memphis Tigers (football team!) seems painful.

• I’m grateful for the White Station Middle School soccer program. Over the last six years, I’ve seen two little girls grow into young ladies (and young leaders) under the guidance of coach Tom Pickering. A soccer field was merely the setting.

• I’m grateful for the time I got to spend this year with members of the 1984-85 Memphis State basketball team. Unforgettable group.

• I’m grateful for Paxton Lynch’s mobility. And his arm strength. And his field vision. So are NFL scouts.

• I’m grateful for the hope Dedric Lawson has restored for Memphis Tiger basketball. An extraordinary, precocious talent. May his drive to improve and develop match his drives to the rim.

• I’m grateful for the local Race for the Cure, and its new home downtown at AutoZone Park. We’re winning the fight against breast cancer, but many more miles to run.

• I’m grateful for the Flyer’s loyal readers and advertisers, who are welcome at our family table every year, one after another.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

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