By Phil DeBasket
There was an uproar--though a very brief, subdued one because we know how to control ourselves--after John Ronayne called the Graybeard League "gimmicky" in his ode to the Men’s Open that was in last week’s Wave. (As we go to press we believe the long-awaited, much anticipated return of Ronayne won’t amount to much more than a cameo because it’s expected the Men’s Open will have its plug pulled. League officials, various block associations, and Lew Simon won’t stand for the tantrums and tirades that now regularly plague the once proud division).
Used to be players were congratulated on good plays. Now you hear, "hey, good curse." "Nice swearing." Used to be someone would say, "hey, he’s good. He shoots like a pro," now they say, "Hey, he’s good. He curses like a longshoreman."
But who knows, maybe the division will get an eleventh hour reprieve---though that seems unlikely unless a few bad apples get the heave-ho. Maybe the Men’s Open could use a few more gimmicks. Like league banishment for those who just don’t get it.
Which brings us back to Ronayne’s description of the esteemed Graybeard Division. Could he have been more right? The list of gimmicks is as long as the hair growing out of Chris Boyle’s ear.
Gimmick number one: you gotta know the secret handshake to get in the league. Gimmick number two: you’ve got to let nothing come between you and your Velcro. Gimmick three: you can’t have a full head of hair (and if you do, it better be Steve Stathis-gray). I mean, jeez, we’ve lost count of the gimmicks. Let’s see, there’s no three second rule in the league because nobody can get across the lane in less than six … You used to have to be 35 years old to play. Now that’s been upped to 40 (a gimmicky, sure-fire way the Graybeard League never gets any younger). Another gimmick is you better be sociable or else.
Perhaps the best known gimmick of all: subjecting unruly players to fines and embarrassment. (The overriding philosophy of Graybeard ball---a philosophy Ronayne hopes his brethren soon learn---is: you ain’t gonna be in the NBA, so chill out).
Remember that show, Scared Straight, where all these animalistic inmates get in the face of kids teetering on the edge of lawlessness? "You come to jail, boy, and you gonna be mine!"
Well, the Graybeards have a similar program. When a player throws one too many tantrums he’s made to sit in the middle of a locked in room with seven or eight of the biggest, brawniest Graybeards. They yell and curse (again, it’s behind closed doors) and tell the offender to get real, to relax, to reform. Now! Toward the of the session, Dan Edwards, Richie Ryan and Louie Pastina come in and tickle the offender. (Mark Cannon has been sent to the room six times. Once more, and he gets demoted to the Men’s Open).
Rim shots: And the regular season MVP is…Danny Leary. It’s the first time Superman Dan has bagged this impressive piece of hardware (though he did win the playoff MVP a year ago). But don’t go patting Leary on the back just yet---league historians note that winning the regular season MVP rarely means championship glory.
Although the MVP trophy is much-coveted there is, essentially, just a handful of legitimate contenders each year---ya know, the usual suspects that don’t need a mention here.
The top honor, the league Good Guy award (a trophy depicting the Tin Man after he gets his heart) is, thankfully, a much more competitive contest. To be eligible for the top prize you’ve got to have perfect or nearly-perfect attendance; you’ve got to play hard and try to win---but you can’t be a psychopath during or after the game no matter how bad the refs are (this requirement tends to narrow the field), and you’ve got to be happy to still be playing ball at such an advanced age. And you let it show at the post-game social.
This is not, repeat, this is not, the equivalent of the dreaded "sportsmanship trophy" given to CYO youngsters who get no playing time and would never win any other kind of trophy. In fact, a few all-league types---Greg Raphael, GI Joe Farrell, Bob Bruns, and Leaper Howley---received considerable support from the voting members.
League coaches were asked to submit two names from each team for consideration for the top honor. (The Red team couldn’t honestly submit two names, so Tom McVeigh gets the lone nod from that notorious bunch of sore winners).
Kevin Judge and Kevin Raphael were the official reps of the Green Gents while Dan Murphy and Sean O’Leary represented Maroon. The Blue Crew endorsed Kevin Lunny and Harry Werner for top honors while the Dark Blues offered Bill "Whopper" Armstrong and Jim Dunn. The white knights of the White Castles were Steve Stathis and Richie Ryan. A more gracious bunch of gents you will never meet.
Of course this list will provoke more controversy than any other. The typical rant will go something like this: "It’s one thing to say I’m not MVP but you practically called me a jerk for not putting me on the Good Guy list." (Funny, how so many of my friends didn’t make the list).
So, who’s this year’s winner? It’s Kevin Lunny. Let’s hear it for this chucking fool with the right tude.
Lunny wins the league’s top honor and nearly came up with a double. He was nipped at the wire for Most Improved Player by Jim Dunn---who gets this award after picking up the slack, and then some, when Happy Jack Meade was lost for the season with a bruised ego. It seems Dunn put some softener in his jumpshot because suddenly all those field goal attempts were transformed into field goals made. This shocking development led directly to a couple of wins for the Dark Blue squad. Most Improved? At his age? He should be ashamed of himself.
**After last week’s performance at the foul line Brian King is pushing league officials to install another gimmick: Foul shots from 14 feet. Seems he thinks he’ll have a better chance of catching iron if he’s allowed to shoot a step closer.
**If you buy futures look for a shortage of poly-cotton as textile mills will have to work overtime to fill the long-sleeved t-shirt order necessary for that rather rotund bunch of Marooners. Yep, that’s who’s gonna win it.
**The Gimmicks Committee will meet August 12 at the Beach Party.