Greetings sports fans and welcome back once again to that thrilling little journalistic ride I love to call Vegas Valley Sports Beat the little column that gets knocked down but it gets up again. Today’s column is brought to you by Chumbawumba, Grandpa John’s White Corn Squeez’ns, and the letter F. Proud sponsors of public intoxication and F words since 1929.
It was a beautiful Saturday here in The Verdant Las Vegas Valley but Sunday is almost here now and the weatherman says that it is going to be unseasonably cold for winter. Meanwhile, most of the remaining states are under a winter storm watch to one degree or another and Florida was hit by a massive tornado yesterday. It’s a good thing winter isn’t here yet or we would all be in Deepschitt, Arkansas wouldn’t we?
If you are planning on going up to Mount Charleston to play in the over-abundance of Fall snowfall this weekend with your family or alone, the Nevada Highway Patrol asks that you please be sure and take along a set of snow chains because you will not get past the state trooper whose job it is to stop you below the snow line and make sure you do not go past him without putting snow chains on your tires.
Please do not give your friendly overworked, and underpaid public servants a hard time just because you are irresponsible and do not have the proper gear to drive up a steep, treacherous, snow-covered mountain road safely. It’s a long uncomfortable ride to take in handcuffs to the Clark County Detention Center from Mount Charleston in the back of a patrol car. And the word on the street is they’re having year-end mystery meat and moldy cheese sandwich festival at the jail this weekend that you will surely want to avoid at all costs. However, if you’re really that big on eating green bologna then please, by all means, do whatever you feel. Just don’t bring my name into it, or, God forbid, name it after me.
Let us turn our attention now to the ever-widening world of sports and stuff. What a day a difference makes, eh? Here I was all but certain that Jalen Hurts of OU was a cinch to win the Heisman Trophy this year. But such was not to be the case. Saturday evening it was announced that LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the prestigious award by a landslide. Which is cool too because Joe was my second choice candidate and he definitely earned the honor.
Congratulations to you, Joe Burrow, our 2019 Heisman Trophy honoree, and to Louisiana State University who had the foresight and the good sense to bring you into their football program and take a chance on you at starting quarterback. I would say break a leg but I don’t want to jinx your career like that so I will say the world is literally your oyster now, Joe. Go on get you some.
It would be really nice to see you in a Dallas Cowboy’s uniform sometime in the near future. Hint hint.
But I digress.
On a more somber note, former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Leon Spinks, is in a Las Vegas hospital tonight in the Intensive Care Unit battling the advanced stages of prostate cancer. It has reportedly spread to his bladder and the prognosis is dim.
I remember very well watching the match between Leon Spinks and World Champion, Muhammad Ali on February 15, 1978, I was 14. I still can’t believe Spinks won the fight because Ali was my hero, he was The Greatest. Nobody thought Spinks could beat Ali but win he did and he was the World Heavyweight Champion. Even if it was for a very short time, how many men can even say that? Very few. Consider the case of former heavyweight champion, Max Baer Sr who held the title for 364 days from June 14, 1934, to June 13, 1935. One day shy of a full year and he lost the belt to James J. Braddock in his first defense of the title. That had to suck. But he was still the world champion for 364 days which is pretty damned respectable if you ask me.
No matter how anyone might feel about the Ali-Spinks fight and its outcome, it’s a heart-wrenching tragedy to know that a once-great athlete has been brought so low by something so small. Our hearts and prayers go out to you, Leon Spinks, and to your friends and family. I pray that you will beat cancer’s ass and win this fight too, Champ.
My neighbor’s daughter beat stage 4 liver cancer just before I was diagnosed with stage 2 kidney cancer in July of 2017 so don’t even let me find out you’re going to let an 11 year-old-girl and a tired-ass, broken down old sportswriter show you up in a fight. Just don’t be afraid to lose and you’ll be undefeatable like us, Champ. Godspeed.
Two survivors and Doc.
I was born with a tumor on my left eye in 1963. Fortunately, it was benign. But the second time around I was not so lucky. I’m only 2 years 2 months, and 11 days ahead of the 10cm malignant tumor that took a kidney and almost took my life, but I won. Again. Now they tell me I have a growth in one of my lungs. They don’t know what it is yet and I have to wait 3 months for a second MRI to see if it grows any. If the growth is more cancer then I see it as a ticket home that I should have cashed in the last chance I had. But, c’est la vie, that’s just me.
There is very little that anyone, even a pastor such as myself can say to someone who is dying from such a horrendous disease and in such terrible pain. There is practically nothing you can say to their loved ones that will ease their pain more than slightly, if at all. You can’t throw a nickel out of a window anymore and not hit someone whose life has been deeply affected in some way by cancer and in their grief, many people have a tendency to blame God for these misfortunes. But if you look at your own heart then you have to know that while it is all part of God’s plan, it is in no way God’s doing because God is good all the time. That is the very nature of God. Love cannot coexist with hate and vice versa.
If we were the product of a hateful and evil creator we would have ceased to exist a long time ago. Our eternal souls having been destroyed and our atoms scattered across the universe for the sheer hell of it. Just for laughs. I’m sure Job would agree. If God were evil we would all have cancer and super nasty boils and runny sores all over our bodies. Or even worse, Hillary Clinton would be President now. Which proves my point beyond all doubt. I voted for her so you will please direct all hate mail, marriage proposals, fruit cakes, and other toxic waste to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
Human beings should fight for their lives tooth and nail to their dying breath, but nothing we can do or say will add one moment to our time here. The fight then should be to give meaning to the life, and to the moments that are given to us. Not a single one of those moments should be given to worry or to despair for the future since it’s not going to change a single thing anyway and you can never get them back. That is in God’s hands and has been since day one when He wrote the expiration date on your birth certificate. That still doesn’t make your fate God’s fault. If it’s a scapegoat you’re looking for to pin your troubles on, start your search in front of the bathroom mirror. So you say your baby was born with a horrific birth defect and you blame God for it? God didn’t make you shoot dope, smoke crack and/or vape while you were pregnant.
Never should anyone simply give up and go quietly into that final good night. Nor should you fear the dying of the light. There is no death or darkness in eternity only life, love and light. That is all part and parcel of who and what we really are inside. We are as timeless as the energy we’re made of inside. The soul is eternal but a human being is not and life is frail no matter how tough one thinks they are. One little stone ruined the giant warrior, Goliath’s whole day and his army lost the war.
Death, darkness, and disease can only exist in this physical plane. The very first law of physics, for those of you who subscribe only to the scientific approach to the nature of life, is that the other side of this existence has to be its polar opposite. No matter what you choose to believe in regards to who or what created it all or why this is an immutable law that governs our existence. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Every dark cloud has a silver lining.
The good news is that whether I am right or whether I am wrong it’s not going to matter to you either way once you’re dead. Why not? Because you’re still going to be dead, that’s why not.
Whether you are conscious after death or you simply blink out of existence like a burned-out light bulb, trust me, you will not care even the slightest bit either way.
Been there done that. I was drowning when I was 4 or 5 and I knew that I was dying and what it meant not just to me but to my family too. But I didn’t care because I knew that it would be all right I knew it in every part of me and that is where that perfect peace comes from. That knowledge. I’m sure other people who have shared my experience would agree with me. I saw the other side of life. It was only for a brief moment in time, but it was pretty cool. I didn’t see God but I saw angels and I saw a light in the clouds that looked like it was alive and aware like living gold light. I knew Jesus was there but the only people I saw I didn’t recognize. They were just people in eternity. To experience that peace that surpasses all understanding and live to talk about it changes your entire outlook on everything because then you fully comprehend that peace. A couple of other people who have drowned and come back said the same thing in that regard.
What I found even more amazing when I was on the other side of life was that you understand everything almost instantly at that moment when that perfect peace washes over you. And I do mean everything and you become a more conscious part of it all. I know now that death is nothing to fear. It is actually something for every person to strive for and look forward to with all their hearts, minds, and souls.
Lastly, today, December 15th, is my mother, Sylvia Combs’ 75th birthday. I would like to take this time to wish her a very happy birthday but since she says I’m the only person on Earth she’s ever hated, why bother? At least I don’t have to shop for a gift. Woohoo! Silver lining! Instead, I will wish you all a safe, happy, and blessed Sunday morning, and bid you be good to yourselves and to one another and cherish every moment in your heart. All the money in the world can never change a life or even human history as profoundly as one kind act, or word can.
Just imagine how different the world would be now if Adolph Hitler’s art teacher hadn’t been such a critical A-hole and taught him what he knew instead of belittling his dream of being a painter. That further proves the first law of physics and how it applies to everything.
Let your conscience be your guide.
Many warm and gracious thanks to Joe Burrow, Leon Spinks, and the estate of Muhammad Ali for the use of their images and for whom all rights are respected and preserved.
Charles Ramos Jr.