With the World Series getting underway, many smart  Americans turn their attention away from politics to enjoy our national pastime.
Having watched baseball for nearly all of my 65 years, I can say with a high degree of certainty that this makes a lot of sense as baseball is infinitely better than politics.

First, there are rules in baseball. Such as 3 strikes and you are out. Baseball even has an official rule book. These rules are inviolate and they permit baseball to peacefully coexist with its players and fans. Not so with politics. Government changes its rules all the time, and chaos ensues. There is no rule book in politics.

Also, as Tom Hanks notes, there is no crying in baseball. However, crying and whining  are perquisites in politics.
In baseball, if you are a manager and you screw up, you get fired. Just Ask Dusty Baker, ex manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

In politics, if you screw up, you get protected or even promoted.

A few recent examples of this practice are:
–The Attorney General, has never been held to account for the illegal activities known as Fast and Furious.

–The IRS department heads despite being caught harassing political opponents of the president, have never been brought to account for their clearly un-American, illegal activities.

–The Secretary of State, has gotten a free pass over the tragic Benghazi affair. In fact, she is planning her own run for the presidency!

–And now we have the Secretary of Health and Human Services, being given praise by her boss while his showcase healthcare act is crashing like a gigantic Hindenburg. To top it off, she says the President did not know about the brobdingnagian problems with his “showpiece”  plan.
That tells me two things, either she is lying and he did know of the problems, or if he really didn’t know then he is an incompetent chief executive for not knowing the status of his hallmark activity. Either way, in the real worlds of baseball and business, both he and his subordinate would be fired.
Baseball, after 150 years, remains delightfully true to itself and the patrons of the game. Politics sadly can not say the same.



The Feud

March 25, 2013

It’s been 150 years since the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky began their notorious quarrel that lasted nearly 30 years and left several citizens and family members dead.

Things have been relatively quiet since then, however, a confrontation is brewing in my little part of southwest Florida which just might get very ugly, very fast.
This past week saw the start of what might become  southwest Florida’s version of that famous 19th century hillbilly fight.
I am referring to The Great Tennis/Pickle Ball War of 2013.  And it seems the combatants have ironically chosen peaceful Gilchrist Park as their battleground location.
Gilchrist Park is roughly the eleven acre preserve that runs along the placid Peace River from the great Banyon Tree to Fishermen’s Village.
It has been the home of walkers, runners, sitters, lookers and  hot dog eaters for nearly a century.  It has also provided  a scenic place for tennis players, basketballers and more recently, pickleballers to hone their sport.
Here in lies the problem. With no dedicated courts for their sport, pickleballers have begun poaching the tennis courts. This has not set well with the more established tennis crowd. Two weeks ago some unnamed individual ignited the explosive situation by drawing  pickle ball court lines on the tennis courts.

There was shock, outrage and mortification that anyone would deface these ancient courts, which are considered by many locals to be just as hallowed as the green grass of Wimbledon.
Well, this upstart aggression was just too big an insult for the clubby tennis players to swallow, so they (allegedly) volleyed back and “erased” the pickle lines with oil and pickle juice.
So now, Punta Gorda ‘s major case squad has been brought in to assess the situation, determine who is at fault and bring the perps to justice.

The investigation is ongoing and the police department is keeping a close eye on the situation before any racquets get thrown in anger.

Meanwhile, the jogging, walking, looking, sitting and hot dog eating continue unabated.

More Chocolate Cake.

October 8, 2012

When three-year old Sydney was told her new baby sister was coming home from the hospital and her name was Kate, she said wistfully, ” I want to be named, Cake!”

To a three-year old’s ear, Cake and Kate sound pretty close, I have to agree.
Well now Kate is nearly  twelve and Sydney is almost fifteen. And I think their parents picked the correct name for Sydney’s sister. Kate is very close to cake.

This past weekend was the Interstate Fall Festival soccer tournament. Kate’s team travelled to Illinois to compete. It was an all weekend affair with the girls playing several games in two days.  Kate’s team kept winning and kept advancing with strong defense and relentless attacking by Kate and her sister striker, Hadley.

Late Sunday saw the girls in the finals. It was a classical nail biter with Kate’s team coming out on top 2-1. The winning goal was scored with only seconds remaining on a penalty kick by Hadley when Kate was fouled in the box.

The girls won the day and the trophy (It was too big to put here) But most important of all, Kate got close to her big chocolate cake!

The best of Baseball

May 14, 2012

Last week, my friend Mike called me.

Mike is a giant of a man who used to play football for a big ten university. Now,  he sells stocks and bonds for “The Bull” on wall street. We usually have lunch at the river city grill. That is the little river city on the Peace River not the big city on the Mississippi.

We always talk sports and that day,  he call to ask me if I wanted to watch the Stone Crabs play the Cardinals. Not the St. Louis Cardinals,  the Palm Beach Cardinals, the single A minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

I said sure.

I have been to a lot of professional baseball games, but I think I enjoy the minor leagues the best. First, the stadiums are much smaller and you get to sit closer to the field and the players. The players are for the most part young kids, except for the occasional Crash Davis.

The Charlotte Crabs’ stadium holds about 7000 fans as it is the spring training camp for the Tampa Bay Rays. The night we went, there were about 500 people there for the minor league game.

Another good thing about the minor leagues are the prices. Tickets cost about $7  with $2 hot dogs and $2 beers. We got to watch a great game. The Cardinal pitcher, a kid from the Domincan Republic was throwing 97 MPH fastballs for strikes.

How can you spend a better evening, beautiful weather, baseball and beer.

Cardinals beat the Crabs 7-4…and I bought a cool Crabs hat,

The Maiming of the Shrew*

January 27, 2012

Ground moles live in a subterranean world and feed on worms and grubs. They are nearly blind, unattractive creatures looking like you would look if you spent 98 percent of your time digging tunnels in the dirt and eating worms and grubs. Despite their lack of a cuddle factor,  I usually prefer to live and let live with creatures that share my neighborhood, but this year these moles have become a nuisance. They have dug about a mile of tunnels in my yard and gardens and in general have been destructive.

So, yesterday when Mikey got his first mole I was thrilled.

You should know that being a Welsh Corgi, Mikey and his breed are used to hard work, but mainly herding cattle and sheep. Hunting is new to him. but he is able to sniff out the moles and dig them up with his stumpy little legs. In the process, especially if it has been raining for two days, he gets a little muddy. Well, a lot muddy.

Every day during our walks, we walk through the “glade” by the contemplative bench. It was there, in a little stand of bushes that he pounced on the unsuspecting mole. His technique mimicked that of foxes I had seen doing the same thing. I guess it runs in the family.

With the mole exposed and flipped out of his hole, Mikey barked and bit at it a couple of times, but did not attempt to eat it, probably because he was too full from his treats earlier in the day. I wanted to get the mole transported to another location (such as my neighbor, Jim’s yard) or otherwise dispose of it, however I did not have the equipment to do either. Given that second chance, the mole disappeared under the leaves and down his hole again.

Nevermind, It was catch and release day. The important thing was Mikey got his first mole. He was so proud as were his parents.  His swagger revealed the air of confidence and pride he felt as he walked back to the house.

His joy however was short-lived and disappeared altogether when  we had to hose him off in 34 degree temperature to get the mud off of him, before he could come inside.

Clean, happy again and laying by the fireplace with his peanut butter bone, the herder (now hunter) no doubt basked in the excitement and glory of his first “kill.”

Mikey, cleaned up and ready to hunt again.

* No moles were harmed during this activity.

Dave and his fish.

August 4, 2011

I have known a number of fishermen in my life. Some of these anglers were so good, they could catch fish with a bent coat hanger. Others  like Dave could not catch a fish, even if it jumped into the boat.

This poor record of  unproductive fishing by Dave is not due to his lack of trying. Dave has tried everything to catch fish. First he bought a lake house so he could spend more time near the water. Then he bought a boat. But it was not the right kind of boat, so he talked his father-in-law into buying another boat… which Dave uses.

Dave has spent thousands of dollars on poles, reels, lures, hooks, nets and bait to equip himself with the finest available fishing gear. Nevertheless, while his neighbors continue to reel in a bounty of big mouth bass and mountains of  mountain trout, Dave’s daily catch continued to be small… well actually non-existent.

That was until last week when he caught not one, but two pickerel.

Now, pickerel are a freshwater fish found in lakes and streams on the east coast. They are similar to pike, but not considered great eating because of the many small bones in the fish. They do however put up a good fight and nearly always are released when caught. Pickerel feed primarily on little fish and  have very sharp, needle like teeth that will hurt you if you put your hand near their mouth.

Poor Dave, did not know this.

In his excited state having  just caught his first fish in two years of trying, Dave let his hand get too close to the business end of the pickerel and the fish exacted revenge for having been caught.

Dropping the fish, Dave proceeded to stop the blood-letting and then noted the real reason for having  those needle nose pliers in his tackle box.

The extraction of the hook from Dave’s second pickerel went smoother, using the pliers.

Once bitten twice shy says Dave.

All in all, Dave’s combined catch weighed in at about 4 1/2 pounds. Considering the cost of all the equipment needed to catch these two pickerel, Dave’s outlay was about $12,500  per pound. Not a record, but impressive nevertheless.

I pointed out to Dave that he and his wife, Danny could have flown to Monte Carlo first class,  stayed in a fancy hotel for a week and eaten some very delicious Dover Sole  prepared by the world’s finest chefs for the money he spent catching those two pickerel. He shrugged and said,  “Where is the glory in that?”

Dave’s Pickerel….

How refreshing

February 1, 2011

Have you heard about the professional baseball player who recognized he was not worth his $12 million salary and decided to quit?

Gil Meche
Gil Meche
Kansas City Royals starter Gil Meche walked away from the one year $12 million remaining on his contract. In a rare show of honesty and humility from a professional athlete,  Gil Meche declined the cash from the Kansas City Royals baseball team after what he admitted was a terrible 2010 where he made only nine starts and had a 0-5 record and an ERA of 5.89
Actually compared to some other non performing, highly paid athletes, his stats were not that bad. Nevertheless, Gil Meche should be congratulated for his integrity.
Now, don’t think that I am concerned that the billionaire baseball owners might miss a meal or a bottle of their favorite 1982 Petrus Pomerol by having to pay out a few extra million here or there. 
I just think that the gulf  between the owners/players and the average fan who is being charged  higher and higher ticket and refreshment prices at the ballpark is getting out of balance . Especially when the on field performance is sub par.
When a family of four has to spend $500 for seats and a couple of hot dogs and sodas, while athletes and entertainers make millions,  something is wrong.
Remember, this country was founded as a land of relief and refuge from pompous royalty.  Now, it seems to me that this country’s wealthy, elite and politically powerful have become a 21 century royalty; a royalty that is promoted by a media collusion and paid for by you and me.

I say well done Mr. Meche and I wish you all the best!

Too bad Mr. Meche’s degree of honesty and humility is not evident in  many of the country’s highly paid non performing bankers, politicians,  celebrities  and athletes.