Jean Béliveau and Jane Siberry

For baseball there’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and, of course, “Centefield.” It’s Loudon Wainwright III’s “The Back Nine” for golf, and being from Milwaukee I think of “On Wisconsin” when it comes to football.

And for hockey, there’s Jane Siberry’s “Hockey,” as great a sports song as there ever was, though it’s about more than just sports—and newsworthy now in light of the death Tuesday night of Jean Béliveau, the legendary Montreal Canadiens captain who helped lead the team to an unprecedented five straight Stanley Cups during the 1950s and ‘60s, and 10 total in his career.

“Like millions of hockey fans who followed the life and the career of Jean Béliveau, the Canadiens today mourn the passing of a man whose contribution to the development of our sport and our society was unmeasurable,”team owner Geoff Molson said in a statement. “Jean Béliveau was a great leader, a gentleman and arguably the greatest ambassador our game has ever known.”

Indeed, Béliveau was so beloved that he almost became Canada’s Governor General in 1994.

But he’s immortalized in “Hockey,” in one of popular music’s truly great lyrics: “This stick was signed by Jean Béliveau/So don’t fucking tell me where to fucking go.”

The voice is that of a young kid playing hockey on a frozen river in Canada (“You skate as fast as you can ’til you hit the snowbank/That’s how you stop/And you get your sweater from the catalog/You use your rubber boots for goal posts”).

Also invoked is Béliveau’s teammate Maurice “Rocket” Richard: “They rioted in the streets of Montreal when they benched Rocket Richard.”

Richard was suspended in 1955 following a violent altercation, touching off the Richard Riot in Montreal resulting in some $100,000 in property damage, 37 injuries, and 100 arrests. But the pro hockey references, indeed, even hockey itself, aren’t so much the heart of “Hockey” as Siberry’s magical conjuring of childhood (“Someone’s dog just took the puck/He buried it, it’s in the snowbank…Someone else just got called for dinner”) and its inevitable end.

The sun is fading on the frozen river
The wind is dying down
Don’t let those Sunday afternoons
Get away get away get away get away.

Tales of Bessman: Ray Sadecki, Harmon Killebrew and Henry Aaron…AARON

Nothing like the death of a baseball star from your youth to make you reflect on your own mortality and what you wished would have been.

Ray Sadecki died Nov. 17 at 73. He won 20 games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, when the Cardinals won in the World Series—and the British Invasion began. And I was 12.
He died from complications of blood cancer. I’m being treated for prostate cancer.

But he also had a ballplayer’s name. A real baseball player’s name. Made me think back on Harmon Killebrew, who died back in 2011, or Henry Aaron, who’s still alive.

Playing center field and batting cleanup, No 44, Henry Aaron…AARON.

Hank Aaron. Like I said, a real baseball player’s name, like Harmon Killebrew. Both were really special, on and off the field.

Killebrew’s death brought forth a slew of nostalgic reminiscences from Facebook friends and tributes from sportswriters everywhere. I, too, got into the act, with a piece I wrote for examiner.com, in which I noted that as great a hitter as he was, he was apparently as great a human being. Phil Mushnick, the great sportswriter for The New York Post, picked up on both aspects in his tribute: “Was there ever a man with a more appropriate name than Harmon Killebrew? A fellow named Harmon Killebrew could not have been a spray hitter or middle reliever. He could only have been a big, bald, friendly guy from Payette, Idaho, who hit 573 home runs. And Killebrew didn’t use steroids or HGH, just a bat.”

But the death of Killebrew evoked deeper emotions in those of us who were kids when he was at the height of his career. The death of any boyhood hero will have an effect on the boy who still resides inside the man.

Playing first base, No. 9, Joe Adcock…ADCOCK.

Joe Adcock was first baseman for the Milwaukee Braves in 1957, the only Milwaukee Braves team to win the World Series. I was five-years-old in Milwaukee, but his, Aaron’s and so many other names (Eddie Mathews…MATHEWS, Warren Spahn…SPAHN, Lou Burdette…BURDETTE, Andy Pafko…PAFKO, Del Crandall…CRANDALL, Billy Bruton…BRUTON) are indelibly etched in boyhood memory from hearing the County Stadium announcer repeat each name twice–then reading about what they all did that night in the next day’s papers.

Then there was Earl Gillespie. The voice of the Braves from 1953 to 1963, Gillespie was an excitable radio sportscaster who drove my father crazy with his theatrics–which I loved. He always used to shout “Holy cow!” whenever there was a spike in the action (this carried into his broadcasts of University of Wisconsin-Madison football games, i.e., “Holy cow! What a boot!” to make vivid a long punt). His signature home run call went something like this: “Here’s the pitch to Henry Aaron. [Excitedly] It’s a swing and a drive way back into center field! This could be…IT IS! A home run for Henry Aaron!”

Other things I think I remember but I’m not sure. I think we had the great Braves reliever Don McMahon come visit us once at an Indian Guides meeting (the Indian Guides were a father-son YMCA program for kindergarten through third grade) but it might have been a different Brave. But I’m certain I saw Sandy Koufax hit his first homer–he only hit two–off Spahn at County Stadium in 1962, beating the Braves 2-1 (he laughed as he rounded the bases, like he couldn’t believe that he did it and was embarrassed, as he was a terrible hitter); I also remember seeing the Chicago White Sox’ Nellie Fox hit two homers in one game at Comiskey Park in Chicago, and remember seeing someone hit an inside-the-park home run (I think it was the Cubs’ George Altman).

But what I really remember is fantasizing Earl Gillespie reading my name off a Braves’ lineup–Jim Bessman…BESSMAN–and feeling an awful letdown. Bessman…BESSMAN just didn’t have the authentic baseball ring of Aaron…AARON, Adcock…ADCOCK or Bruton…BRUTON. And besides, I sucked at baseball. To this day I’m haunted by my ineptness.

I couldn’t hit worth a shit. Invariably struck out. Dropped fly balls, that is, if I got anywhere near them. Grounders went through my legs. Never got any better at sports.

But now and then I can hit a fairly decent golf ball–when I don’t slice it into the next fairway. Talk about finding water, I once found water playing in the desert in Scottsdale!

But what always bothered me is I could never hit it very far–seeing as though I’m a good 20-30-40 pounds overweight at close to 200. God knows I’m heavy enough to hit a baseball out of the park.

It must be a wonderful thing, hitting a home run. That’s why all these contemporary players just stand there and admire themselves while they watch their drive way back into center field invariably hit the wall–if it goes that far–and then they’re stuck with a single when if they’d run it out, like they did back in Killebrew’s day, like any kid knows how to do, they’d have made second, easy.

God, I’d love to see if I could do it.

Some years ago I walked the field of the Tulsa Drillers minor league ballpark when I was there for a Beach Boys concert. Tried to figure if I could hit one out. Didn’t think I could.

I mentioned this to my old music business friend Steve in Nashville. Steve’s tall and lanky, a great athlete, who played college ball and earned a tryout with a minor league team, until he got busted for pot–cruelly ending his big league ball dreams. Now he was playing in some serious summer leagues and coaching his son’s little league team (“Shake a hand, make a friend,” he instructed his kids, as they shook hands with the opposing team after every game. How quaint!).

“We have a game tomorrow afternoon,” Steve said one day in June when I was in town on country music business. “Come on down and I’ll pitch to you.”

Okay. It was a just a little league park. But it had a fence and everything. It was the chance I’d been dreaming of for some 40 years, probably.

Now Steve had long explained to me that weight has little to do with home run power. It’s bat speed, really–in golf, club head speed. It’s a simple matter of physics–if physics is a simple matter. Steve also tried to explain that the way a power hitter swings the bat is that one hand pulls, the other pushes, and there’s a real snap to it. Of course I had no idea what he was talking about and was going to have to just swing a bat stupidly with both hands.

At least I remembered to step into it. But I hadn’t swung a baseball bat since I started wearing glasses–and that felt odd. But, hey, this was my big chance.

I also hadn’t taken into account my hands blistering, and even though I train in Filipino stick fighting, my hands swelled up and tore up pretty quick. I was making solid contact, but mostly line drives and grounders. But I finally got one up and away, way back, and IT WAS! A home run for Jim Bessman…BESSMAN! And yes, it was the thrill of this boy’s lifetime.

We ended on that high note, and Steve asked me to throw a few to him. He hadn’t hit in a while, and I hadn’t thrown in a lot longer and could barely get it anywhere near the plate–let alone in Steve’s strike zone, big as it is.
I don’t know what’s harder, hitting a ball or throwing one, but I finally served up one that Steve could chase down, lean over, and essentially scoop up and launch like a rock out of a catapult over the fence, over a building, on and on until it soared out of sight. I’m not sure that it ever came down. My mouth is gaping open now just remembering it.

The glory of sports. The joy.

That’s how I remember Harmon Killebrew. Hank Aaron.

The 1960s Green Bay Packers. And as he slows down to his inevitable stop, Muhammad Ali.

Thanks for the memories, Ray Sadecki.

Tales of Bessman: Vince Lombardi

All praise to Vince Lombardi.

Like everyone else who grew up in Wisconsin, I was a huge Green Bay Packers fan. On Sunday afternoons during the “Glory Years” in the 1960s, the whole state came to a virtual stop.

I was reminded of this by Rachel Maddow, who ended her show last night with a segment on Michael Sam and his continuing quest, no with Dallas, to become the first openly gay player to make it in the NFL and thereby join the chase for the Super Bowl—and the Vince Lombardi Trophy that goes to the winning team. It was a lead-in to what Vince Lombardi, the Packers’ truly legendary coach of the ‘60s, stood for, way more than the oft-inaccurately attributed quote “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

As Maddow pointed out, Lombardi, a Catholic who at one time was studying for the priesthood, was quietly yet staunchly pro-gay—long before gay was the accepted term, let alone an acceptable manifestation. In David Maraniss’s 1999 bio When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, he’s quoted telling a running back coach, regarding a gay player, “If I hear  one  of you people make reference to his manhood, you’ll be out of here before your ass hits the ground.”

Indeed, Lombardi was a winning role model in many more ways than just fielding winning football teams. Years ago I had the great fortune to be invited to an HBO media event promoting a documentary on sports of the ‘60s. When I found out Lombardi’s brother Joe was there—since Vince was so much a part of the doc—I quickly grabbed the seat next to him at the lunch table.

Joe, who looked exactly like Vince, told me another story about his brother, about his blindness when it came to players’ color. Again from Maraniss, Lombardi was determined “to ignore the prejudices then prevalent in most NFL front offices in their search for the most talented players,” explaining that he “viewed his players as neither black  nor white, but Packer green.”

Over lunch, Joe related how one time representatives of the Black Panthers came to Vince and said they wanted to talk to his black players.

“I don’t have any ‘black’ players,” Vince told them. “But you can talk to my team.”

When pride still mattered.

 

YouTube Discoveries: “The Sidewalks of New York”

YouTube is such a wonderful site. I’m on it several times a day, at least, doing research mostly, or just looking up things that come to mind out of nowhere.

In YouTube Discoveries, I’ll share some of my favorites, beginning with a timely double-play.

The day after The Preakness I traditionally begin my three-week rant about how horrible it is that New York, back in the Giuliani days, changed its traditional Belmont theme from “Sidewalks of New York”—a poignantly sentimental 1894 copyright by lyricist James W. Blake and vaudeville actor/composer Charles B. Lawlor that is also known as “East Side, West Side” (the first words of the chorus)—to the “New York, New York” title song sung by Frank Sinatra from the 1977 Scorsese movie.

Then to add insult to injury, the New York Racing Association in 2010 went with the awful Jay-Z/Alicia Keys hip-hop ballad “Empire State of Mind”—though just for that one year. It was back to the “New York, New York” the following year.

It’s like if the Kentucky Derby changed its theme song from “My Old Kentucky Home” to “Kentucky Woman,” or the Preakness switched from “Maryland, My Maryland” to the Bobby Bare country hit “Streets of Baltimore.” Not that either of those are bad songs—and “New York, New York” is fine for a movie song—but these Triple Crown races are steeped in tradition, and for New York to turn its back on it is a disgrace.

Apparently, though, it’s also bad for horses. I saw on Wikipedia how it’s believed that horses who have won the Derby and the Preakness have been cursed because of the change in song from “Sidewalks of New York.” Sure enough, in the years after Affirmed became the last Triple Crown winner by beating Alydar at the Belmont in 1978, there were four dual winners who failed to complete the cycle between 1979 and 1996; in the years following the switch to “New York, New York” in 1997, eight horses have fallen short.

“It is said that the ghost of Mamie O’Rourke will never let another Triple Crown winner emerge unless and until ‘The Sidewalks of New York’ is reinstated as the post parade song for The Belmont Stakes,” it says in Wikipedia—Mamie O’Rourke being the one who taught lyricist Blake how to “trip the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York.”

Well, I like California Chrome, and I’m not taking any chances. So here are two versions of “The Sidewalks of New York,” the first a lovely take by the great Nat King Cole, the second a history of the song and the scene:

Tiger’s Nike commercial and Jay Leno’s stupid question

The dumbest question ever asked of a celebrity is also, for some dumb reason, the most celebrated.

“What were you thinking?” Jay Leno asked Hugh Grant when he appeared on the Tonight Show following his 1995 bust for a publicly lewd act with a prostitute. Leno was probably the only man in America who didn’t know what Grant was thinking when it occurred to him that not only did he want a blow job at that specific moment, but that he had the money on hand to pay for one.

And now Tiger Woods is asked, by way of his long dead father, “Did you learn anything?”–which along with the rest of Tiger’s ghastly, ghostly new Nike commercial, is right up there in stupidity.

The question is prefaced by Old Man Woods, speaking offscreen in the austere tone of a psychologist, stating the objectives of his inquiry, most significantly, “I want to find out what your thinking was….”

Again, obvious. The well-media coached Boy Tiger said it himself, in his mid-February speech: “I thought only about myself…I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled.”

And what do I think?

The commercial shows that Woods and Nike will stop at nothing, exploiting the dead to prolong the commercial life of a terminally discredited brand. And note how Tiger never changes his blank, cadaverous expression, offering no answer, not even a facial tick of response to the billion-dollar endorsement question, Did you learn anything?

“I think you know in life what’s a good thing to do and what’s a bad thing, and I did a bad thing. And there you have it,” was the way Grant answered Len–and it was a dumb answer to a dumb question.

But at least he said something.

Tiger Woods

I started writing a post about Tiger Woods a number of times back when the scandal first broke but it kept getting bigger and bigger so fast that I had to keep scrapping my initial conjecturing and finally just said to hell with it. Probably should have said that to begin with and just let it go. But the media couldn’t, and I couldn’t either.

It was clear from the second day after the crash—and I said as much in a Twitter tweet–that no matter what really happened, we would never look at Tiger the same way again. Something smelled bad from the get-go, though the extent of the spreading stink was then unimaginable—even for those relatively few of us who never bought into his squeaky clean TV commercial role model corporate sponsor image.

But I’m a Jack Nicklaus fan. And Tiger may yet achieve his magnificent obsession of breaking Jack’s record of 18 major championships (he’s stalled at 14 now), but I’ll always argue that Jack was the greater player—and now no one can argue who was the greater sportsman.

This part’s easy—though easily overlooked in Tiger’s media-built role model façade. I’ll never forget the end of the 1980 U.S. Open, which Jack won with a record 272, beating his playing parter for an astonishing all four rounds, the relatively unheralded Isao Aoki from Japan by two shots. Now 40, he had few big victories left in his bag (he’d continue playing sporadically until 2005), and when he cinched his fourth and final U.S. Open win by draining his final putt for birdie the crowd erupted with joy.

But since, Aoki, too, could break the previous record by making his birdie putt—thereby earning big bonus money—the ever-alert, ever-sporting Jack (whether in victory or defeat), waved off the throngs and hushed them to allow Aoki to make his birdie in respectful silence. Contrast this with Tiger’s typically sullen demeanor as he was clearly about to lose to the relatively unheralded Korean golfer E.Y. Yang at last year’s PGA Championship, the year’s fourth and last major: It’s customary for the apparent losing member of the final twosome to putt out on the 18th green of the final day and let the champion-to-be have the  last, winning putt—and the cheers that go with it. But Tiger not only forced Yang to putt first—which was technically within the rules, since Yang was further away from the hole—but then even more unceremoniously bogied the whole after Yang birdied for the win.

But Yang’s win, one of the biggest upsets in golf history, was more noteworthy in that it was the first time Tiger lost a major after holding the lead going into the final round. And it ended a year that was amazing for Tiger in one respect, but perhaps the beginning of the end in another.

Coming back from reconstructive knee surgery, he won six times on the PGA tour last year and was named PGA Tour Player of the Year for the 10th time. But in his all-important major championship quest he went winless for the first time since 2004. He missed the cut at the British Open, and the way he lost to Yang in the PGA was most telling: For the first time maybe ever, a golfer refused to back down against Tiger; indeed, relaxed and enjoying himself, Yang took the fight right to him. He said afterwards that he had observed how others always seemed to choke when paired with Tiger or when Tiger invariably topped the leader board.

“I’ve visualized playing against the best player quite a few times and always sort of dreamed about this,” he said. “So when I was at home watching Tiger, I’d try to visualize and bring up a mock strategy on how to win if I ever played against Tiger. When the chance came, I sort of [felt] that, Hey, I could play a good round and Tiger could always have a bad day. I guess today was one of those days.”

The fact is, Tiger has had scant competition throughout his career. Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh—there were very few golfers remotely of his caliber to challenge him, and they did so rarely. Yes, this shows that he has been far and away the best player of his time, and it also testifies to the intimidating nature of his game and his presence. Jack Nicklaus, meanwhile, regularly had to overcome the historic likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman. To quote blogger Tank Jones, “Nicklaus’ competition would not be hyperventilating when Woods teed off.”

Yang may have actually exposed Tiger as the Mike Tyson of his era of golf. Tyson was considered to be the greatest boxer ever by those too young to know better, who were understandably awed by his fearsome power. But after a second-rate fighter like Buster Douglas refused to buckle under Tyson’s baleful glare, the truly exceptional champions Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis put him away for good.

But there’s another performer who comes to my mind when I reconsider Tiger Woods: Michael Jackson. Tiger apologists, like Michael’s, like to excuse his “irresponsible and selfish behavior”—to use Tiger’s own words from the first paragraph of Friday’s manufactured “press event,” for lack of a better term for it—by blaming it on a domineering father who deprived his boy of a normal childhood as a price for forcing him on the demanding path to superstardom in his field. Hence, neither Tiger nor Michael had the opportunity to grow up.

Sure enough, the New York Post’s enlisted “crisis-control expert” Robert Zimmerman rightly observed that Tiger “looked like an adolescent who was forced to wear a jacket” at the rigidly staged and controlled event. “He was clearly not comfortable in his clothes, and the set looked like a youtube video.” Body-language expert Mary Dawne Arden added, “He had an awful deer-in-the-headlights look.”

Sincerity issues aside, the speech (“the greatest bar-mitzvah speech of all time,” said Howard Stern) was too long, poorly written (likely not by him) and delivered. But there were revealing moments.

Like “I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply”: How did he “convince” himself—and why, oh why can’t I? And his sense of entitlement, i.e., “I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled.” True, no doubt, but sounds too much like someone else wrote it to score points with the corporate sponsors.

His therapy, he said, has taught him “the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping in balance with my professional life.” Say what? Spiritual life? Like in Madonna and kabbalah? Tom Cruise and Scientology? Sounds like rich man’s Buddhism to me.

“So I can say the things that are most important to me: My marriage and my children.” Well, congratulations! Except you know what? Too much information. Yes, it is personal stuff that’s none of my business. You’re not the president–even if the stop-everything-else attention of the event seemed like a presidential press conference. Not my spiritual leader. You haven’t killed anyone. It’s not Afghanistan. It’s not health care.

Then again, as my favorite writer, the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick says, “I suppose that if a fellow accepts millions of dollars in endorsements, payments predicated on an image that turns up fraudulent, that has to be at least some of our business, no?”

Mushnick pointed out yesterday, too, that since he admitted taking controlled substance Ambien, he was driving under the influence when he crashed his Escalade and therefore should have been arrested.

“I don’t get to play by different rules,” Tiger said, but he’s always been allowed different rules, not just by Florida law enforcement but by the golf authorities and media ever since he first came on the scene.

“We can never allow it to be only what it is,” Mushnick wrote a few days after Tiger’s November 27 mishap. “Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the history of the game. We can’t stop there. No, he’s also the world’s greatest human. And to suggest anything less means you’re the one with the problem. Hmmm, perhaps you even have a problem with the color of Tiger’s skin. Team Tiger, you may recall, dropped that hint, early. So if you know what’s good for you, stick with the story, especially you TV guys: Greatest golfer, greatest human. Got it? Now don’t forget it.”

Mushnick has long documented how the sports media has bent over backwards in hyping Tiger, even going so far as to artificially move his name up to the front page of the leader board rather than following tradition by listing players with the same score alphabetically. He’s written how Tiger was taught to beat the rules from the time he was 15, when his amateur career was funded underhandedly by his IMG rep firm. How he beat the PGA Tour rules disallowing appearance fees.

“Even his first TV ad, in 1996 for Nike, days after he turned pro, was disturbingly dishonest,” wrote Mushnick. “Golf’s most privileged amateur–he’d previously claimed that he didn’t want to be thought of as a minority golfer–spoke of himself as a victim of racial discrimination, unable to play certain courses. While no such fact existed–not for him–black pros who’d suffered genuine racism–Jim Thorpe among them–scorned that ad for what it was: insulting.”

Sportswriter/author Dave Zirin rightly compared the nature of Tiger’s private imbroglios with Bill Clinton’s, then documents a number of truly impeachable offenses in Tiger’s financial entanglements with truly offensive entities like Chevron (“if Woods had a shred of social conscience, this partnership would never have existed”) and Dubai (“a city that has been built over the last thirty years by slave labor”)—“business as usual for Tiger who would sooner swallow a five-iron than take anything resembling a political stand.”

But none of this, of course, jibes with the carefully created and maintained Tiger Woods corporate image. Wrote Mushnick: “What soon became obvious on TV–Woods threw foul-mouthed tantrums on the course–was ignored, excused or admired as evidence of his great desire. Such misconduct from others was condemned as inexcusable.”

None other than Tom Watson said pretty much the same thing in a recent CNN report.

“I feel that he has not carried the same stature that other great players that have come along like Jack, Arnold, Byron Nelson, the Hogans, in the sense that there was language and club throwing on the golf course,” said Watson. “I think he needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that other people before him have shown.”

Which brings me to the most important thing, really, that Tiger said Friday.

“When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game,” he said.

If you don’t watch or play golf, you might not know that it’s a game where respect is built in—along with responsibility and honor. The player is responsible for his own score, and is expected to be honest at all times (if you cause a ball to move and no one sees it, you’re still expected to count it as a stroke). You repair your ball mark on the green, you replace your divot on the course, you rake the sand in the bunker. You don’t walk through a playing partner’s putting line or let your shadow cross it.

It’s a gentleman’s game, and Tiger, despite his extraordinary talent and ratings draw, has been no gentleman to it.

Only time will tell whether he will beat Jack’s record, though even with what was shaping up to be the perfect 2010 for him in the majors department—half of his majors wins have occurred at the 2010 majors courses—the cracks in his armor that appeared at last year’s majors are more likely than not only going to widen as the 34 year-old ages, as younger players come up, and as he deals with all the new pressures brought on by the disintegration of his personal life.

Jack, who, incidentally, showed his usual class in  declining comment on Tiger’s personal life other than to note that “time usually heals all wounds,” only won six majors after turning 34. But even then, he was well into his oft-stated mission of “giving back to the game what the game has given me.”

In his statement Tiger referenced his Tiger Woods Foundation and its developmental programs for kids.

“Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids,” he noted. “I owe all those families a special apology. I want to say to them that I am truly sorry.”

He concluded: “Finally, there are many people in this room, and there are many people at home who believed in me. Today, I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.”

I would suggest that he first needs to go back to the basics of the game itself. Not the mechanics—which he has mastered—but the ethics.