Oops, with a capital ‘OOPS’…

I just made a colossal error. It was huge… Amazingly stupid…The Godzilla of Goof-ups. This is a word of warning to everybody else out there who creates anything in Microsoft Word. Before you try to post your literary creation to your blog…SAVE IT FIRST!!! I had just completed the latest installment of this blog, and as I was in the process of moving it over to be published, I somehow managed to delete all 2600+ words. It was the longest article I had ever written, and it was chock full of….insight into recent events. I had some frank observations, interesting quotes, important and relevant statistical data, some Reductio Ad Absurdum, and maybe even a glimmer of hope. However, because of my stupendous stupidity, we will now have none of it. I don’t even think that I can recreate my subject matter. I mean, I know what I was writing about, and I can perhaps get back to some of it, but maybe it was Gods’ way of saying that I ought not post what I was writing about. Okay, fair enough. I will now write about other things. Hopefully they will be as interesting and thought-provoking as the stuff that took the big dirt nap. And just maybe, if I am lucky, I can remember some of what I was writing about before this little oops of mine…
The Stanley Cup finals are set. It will feature the New York Rangers versus the Los Angeles Kings. The last time that there was a Los Angeles versus New York match-up for a major sports championship was back in 1981, when the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series 4 games to 2. What does this match-up from 33 years ago in a completely different sport have to do with the Stanley Cup? Nothing. Not a damn thing. It is just some useless filler that some color analyst or announcer will bring up at some point during the series. It is supposed to be interesting. Okay, if you say so. Most of the guys playing in the 2014 Stanley Cup finals weren’t even born yet in 1981, but don’t let that fact get in the way of some useless information which I refer to as ‘fluff’. Anyway, about the Stanley Cup finals… The New York Rangers are my hockey team. I make no excuses for it, and I do not run from it. They are one of only two teams in all of sports that I can say without any reservation that I truly care about, that I truly LOVE. The other is the Boston Red Sox. When the Rangers last lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup at Madison Square Garden in 1994, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing and who I was doing it with. I remember being on my knees on my living room floor, my long since ex-wife screaming from the excitement and my two cats hiding under the couch. There was 1.6 seconds left to play in Game 7. The Rangers were leading 3-2, and there was one last face-off to the right of Ranger goalie Mike Richter. The Vancouver Canucks had the dangerous Pavel Bure taking the face-off against Craig McTavish. Bure had been a major thorn in the Rangers side for the entire series and he was an excellent face-off man. It made sense that he would take the draw. The puck was dropped. McTavish won the draw, and then the most amazing words that I had ever heard (up to that point in my life…) were excitedly screamed by Rangers play-by-play announcer Sam Rosen, ‘The waiting is over! The New York Rangers are the Stanley Cup champions! And this one will last a lifetime! No more curses! This is unbelievable!” The Rangers had not won the Stanley Cup since 1940, and this finally ended 54 years of frustration and disappointment. I remember speaking to my late father on June 15th, 1994, the day after the Cup was won. We jokingly (for the most part) said to each other that we were ‘halfway to being able to die in peace. Now the Red Sox have to win a World Series!’ For the next few days, everybody was a Ranger fan. There was an excitement, a pop and electricity just about everywhere you went. My mail person that delivered the mail to where I worked at the time had her face painted red, white and blue, and she had New York Ranger ribbons in her hair. No matter where you turned, it was all Rangers, all the time, and it was great! I will never forget it. Almost everybody that I knew called in sick to work so that they could be a part of the victory parade down New York City’s ‘Canyon of Heroes’. It took 10 years for me to experience that kind of euphoria again when in 2004, the Boston Red Sox erased 86-years of futility and won the World Series, and yes, thank God, my dad did live to see it…

Food, glorious food…

I love food. There, I said it. I-LOVE-FOOD. With me, it’s not just something that I get to do a few times per day because that is what the clock says that I am supposed to do. I genuinely love food! I do the ‘SMH’ thing whenever I hear somebody say that they really don’t like food, or even really care what they eat. WHAT?!? I don’t get it. Do these people (men) who say this think that it makes them sound tough, like they could eat what a Billy goat eats and not care? And for women, is it a body image thing, where if you say that you don’t like food perhaps it will lead to a smaller derriere? I don’t know…
It seems to me that the reason that a person has a full complement of taste buds is so that they can enjoy the extensive flavor palate that God provides on this earth every day. I really look forward to the different tastes and cuisines that are offered from all over the world. And, you no longer need to be a world traveler to try any (or most) of it. The culinary scene in the United States is so diverse now, that if you want to try most cuisines, a passport is not required, although in some places, you still need to bring plenty of cash…
The Food Network has been a blessing for foodies like me. I still do not like most competition shows, although Iron Chef America is one of my favorite shows. Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri, is almost on the level of ‘must-see’ programming for me. It is amazing to me all of the different offerings that exist here in this great country of ours. Who would have thought it? It seems that if you can dream it, you can find it. It just takes a little detective work, and ‘Triple D’ takes a lot of the mystery out of it. This show just never gets old for me, and it has inspired me to take a few chances in my own kitchen as well…
I was raised around food…good food. My mother, who can be compared to Tanta Kringle, was and is one of the best ‘home cooks’ that has ever lived (IMHO). Some mom’s (and dad’s too) looked at mealtime for the family as something to be thrown together with whatever you had around and took the least effort to prepare. That is a shame. Here is a golden opportunity to bond with family over a good meal, and maybe even some conversation, but the opportunity is tossed away like the fish sticks and canned green beans that were hastily prepared and served and promptly tossed in the garbage. My wife tells tale of her own mother (God bless you, Jackie…) who looked at dinner as a task to be done as easily as possible. Jackie used to say that if it was something that took more than 30 minutes to make, she wasn’t making it. Now granted, there were 6 kids, plus Ed (father-in-law), and two of the boys were especially finicky, but still…My wife was the oldest of the family, and probably could have, and probably did, help where she could, but who knows…
My point is that I will bet that it was and is the case more often than not, and I wonder if that is just indicative of our problems regarding the breakdown of the family unit as a whole? What is more basic than gathering the family around the fire and eating the kill form the days hunt? We can debate that topic in another blog, because I really want to try and stay on point with this food thing.
Back to Tanta Kringle (mom). It is in no small part that I owe my love affair with food to her. She always made sure that as a family, we ate together, and we ate very well. I can count on one hand and have a few fingers left over, all the bad meals that we ate together. She always knew how flavors worked, and that is important because so many people today have no clue, largely because no one ever taught them. I was lucky, because I was always hanging around in the kitchen with my mother when she was doing her meal magic. She allowed and encouraged me to taste, to cook, to try new ideas, and to really enjoy the creative experience. My mother always said that ‘food is an expression of love’, and I couldn’t agree more. I use that as my cooking mantra today. While I am certainly no professional chef (although one of my best friends growing up, and the drummer of the rock band I was in became one), I am reasonably confident and competent in the kitchen. I enjoy creating. I enjoy tasting. I enjoy eating. I hate cleaning up. It is awesome because my wife is also a ‘foodie’, and although she is not the ‘addicted foodie’ that I am, the pretty redhead can hang. It is so much fun to have someone (and a really pretty someone, too) to try all different food things with. At home, she is perfectly happy to let me flap my culinary wings and see what brand of havoc I can create. I have done everything from smoked ribs and brisket, to seafood bisque and ratatouille, to all sorts of Italian and German classics, and just about everything in-between. It is a rare day indeed when I don’t feel like doing something creative regarding mealtime. I admit that it is not always ‘creative’ in the classic sense, but it is always ‘good food’, in the tradition of my mother. I do not ever, nor will I ever, just ‘throw something together’ because it was easier to do so. I am lucky, because my pretty-someone of a wife is also a really good come cook too! We always say that she is a better cook, but I am a better chef. If you want simple, good, everyday food, you would pick her. If you want something tricky and involved, you want me. We have made some amazing meals together…
Another thing that is really cool, and that has brought some really creative out-of-the-box food ideas is the resurgence of food trucks. I am not talking about the roach-coaches and ptomaine-travelers of yesteryear. No sir! I am talking about Gourmet Food Trucks. Some of the trucks exist simply because of the economics’ of today’s world. A chef wants to ply his trade, but there is no way in H-E-Double Ladles that he can afford the rent, the insurance, staff, food costs, and the myriad of other expenses that come with owning a brick and mortar establishment. So what is he to do? Give up and flip burgers and shake out baskets of French fries in his local McWendKings? I don’t think so! What this chef can do is, for a significantly smaller investment, start a gourmet food truck. We have all seen them, and there are more and more of them popping up every day, and believe me, it is a good thing! Do you remember that thing that I was saying a few paragraphs back, about trying different diverse cuisines but not necessarily needing a passport? Well, you erstwhile food critics, this is what I was talking about. On any given day in just about any city all across America, all you need to do is go to a busy downtown area around lunchtime, and you will see a cornucopia of trucks, all with different and frankly quite amazing culinary offerings. You will really see, smell, and taste it all, from classic American to Vietnamese Bahn Mi and everything in between. It is Nirvana for foodies! If you ever get the chance, stop by and check one out. The prices are generally reasonable, and they are very eager to please, because they know that in today’s world of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, not to mention residents of the blogosphere, word of mouth will either make them or absolutely kill them.
Let me close todays’ non-sports blog with this. Food, glorious food…it’s not just for filling the pie hole anymore…

From the hip…Random musings for a slow afternoon.

  So the Red Sox broke down and resigned SS Stephen Drew. When speaking to a few of my friends from Red Sox Nation, the reviews of this move were as mixed as any I have ever seen. They ranged from 5 stars to 0 stars. It certainly ran the gamut. There are those who contend that Drew will have absolutely no impact on the team. There are those who believe that this is the best thing that could have possibly happened. The Sox are giving Drew a 1yr/$10M deal, which equates to the prorated salary that Drew would have received if he would have accepted the Sox’ qualifying offer ($14.1M) in the offseason, and thus could have avoided all of this drama. But Drew is represented by one Scott Boras, and that is never a good thing for any team, and in this case, it wasn’t good for the player either. There is bound to be some ill will and some hard feelings amongst the Yawkey Way faithful, and perhaps even some teammates. Drew, even though he has been working out daily with a baseball trainer hired by Boras, still needs to get himself up to ‘game speed’. That might take a little while.
Let’s leave the hype and drama out of this for a second, and concentrate on the baseball side of things. As everyone knows by now, Will Middlebrooks, the current Boston 3rd baseman, cannot hit and cannot stay healthy. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is actually a natural 3rd baseman, but he is playing shortstop. They also have Brock Holt bouncing between Pawtucket and Boston on a regular basis. It would appear that with the signing of Drew, Middlebrooks suddenly becomes expendable because Bogaerts can be moved back to his natural position (3B). Drew takes over at shortstop, Holt keeps yo-yo-ing up and down, and Middlebrooks gets a ticket out of Boston, destination unknown. The Sox have more than one hole to fill right now, but the signing of Drew will, in my humble opinion, help. I like Stephen Drew. Although he is a bit injury prone, he plays hard, and he is an excellent defender. The double-play combo of Drew and Dustin Pedroia is impressive. His bat is inconsistent, but maybe he will be a little better than his career stats indicate? It could happen…As I stated earlier, the Sox have more problems than middle infield, but it is a start…
Hats off to Julio Franco. Yes, that Julio Franco. The Julio Franco that is now 55 years old, and is getting back into professional baseball. He played in the majors for parts of 23 seasons and didn’t stop until he was 49 years old. The Elias Sports Bureau indicates that he is the oldest player to ever hit a home run in a Major League game. This gives Franco a chance to play professional baseball in five different decades. This is in the rarefied air of Minnie Minoso. I think that it is great, and I wish him all the success in the world when he steps up to play for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League during the club’s first homestand, which starts Tuesday night at LaGrave Field and is nine games long.
The NFL has awarded the 2018 Super Bowl to the City of Minneapolis. This could be interesting. The consensus among NFL observers is that the new $1 billion dollar stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2016, sealed the deal. I guess it is being looked at as a ‘reward’ for getting a new stadium approved…
This really burns my burrito. Mexican fast-food purveyor Chipotle has decided to ask that law-abiding concealed carry license holders leave their guns at home. My response is that I will be leaving my wallet home, too. Sorry Chipotle. I like your food, but I hate your politics. There are plenty of other Mexican restaurants’ that will not infringe upon my Second Amendment rights, and I will happily give them my hard-earned money.
How am I going to survive the TV ‘off-season’ without new episodes of ‘The Big Bang Theory’, and ‘NCIS’? Thank heavens that there is plenty of baseball to see me through!
That’s all for today!

Parity

I was going to write a column today about the apparent parity that so many people are talking about in the current Major League Baseball season, and I may have somewhat agreed with these vocal few…until I took a good look at the standings as of Monday morning, May 18th,2014. Here are some not-so-scientific or Sabermetric observations…First off is that parity is NOT alive and well, as some might have you believe. In the AL East, the distance from first place to last place is a meager 5 games. The N.L. East is 3.5 games. So far, that sounds like reasonably competitive divisions. Okay, here comes the counterpoint. In the A.L. Central, first-to-last is 10.5 games, and in the A.L. West, it is a staggering 12.0 games! It does not get any better in the National League. The N.L. Central differential is 11.0 games and the N.L. West is 10.5 games. The Major League average for all 6 divisions combined is 8.75 games. The season is only 6 weeks old, and we already have teams that are more than 10 games out of first place. Does that sound like parity? Now I will give you that some of these divisions are being held back by the likes of the Houston Astros (16-28, 12GB), and the Chicago Cubs (15-27, 11GB), but jeez! Every team in the league has played between 41-45 games. After such a short distance, no team should already be out by 12 games. That is not parity. That is still demonstrative of some teams being pretty good, most being at or around average, and some teams really sucking the big one, and perhaps considering getting out the golf clubs that they so recently put away.
Before we get completely away from baseball today, I have another observation or two. First, regarding the American League East… This is generally considered to be the best (read: most competitive) division in all of baseball, and it usually is, but I want to read into that a little deeper. The Damn Yankees are in first place with a 23-20 record, followed closely by Baltimore (22-20, .5GB), Toronto (23-22, 1.0GB), Red Sox Nation (20-23, 3.0GB), and lastly Tampa Bay (19-26, 5GB). On the surface, you might say, ‘Wow, that’s a tight division! See, there is parity, you big dummy!’. Ok, but let’s dig some. The division is tight, but let’s look at why this is so. As of this morning, nobody in the American League East has won a game since at least Saturday. EVERYBODY lost on Sunday, and the Red Sox have lost 4 straight. Nobody, except the Toronto Blue Jays, has a positive run differential (runs scored versus runs allowed). The first-place Damn Yankees have a differential of -8, and the Tampa Bay Rays have a differential of -22! Heck, the dismal Chicago Cubs only have a run differential of -3! Of course, we can go completely in the other direction and say the Arizona Diamondbacks have a run differential of (gulp!)-60! We will get to the D-Backs in a minute…My point in all of this is that parity is not what it appears to be. In the AL Central, there is some parity, for now, and that only exists from 2nd to 5th place (3.5 games). The distance from the first place Detroit Tigers (27-12) to the second place Kansas City Royals (22-21) is seven games! No other division can make a claim like that at this point, and a distance like that between 1st to 2nd places is not parity.
Please don’t misunderstand what I mean by all of this. I am not one of those who whine about ‘fair competitive balance’ as an absolute. I think that the good teams should win and that the bad teams should lose. I know that this will bring up the ‘have’s versus the have nots’ discussion, but that may be a conversation for another day when I have had much more coffee, as opposed to today, when I clearly have not…
Ok, on to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-backs… Thosee guys in the desert with the awful record (18-28, 10.5GB, -60 run differential). The team with the’ Duncan Yo-Yo’- like yearly won-loss record, although in both 2012 and 2013, they finished each season with a perfectly bland and mediocre 81-81 W-L record. They are currently managed by Kirk Gibson, and the General Manager is Kevin Towers. They are owned by Ken Kendrick and Jerry Royer, and I only bring up the ownership because apparently they think that a change is needed. And quite the splash was made in the Arizona desert! The D-backs hired former St.Louis Cardinals skipper and baseball genius Tony LaRussa to be the new Head of Baseball Operations, after he most recently worked for Major League Baseball as a special assistant to Commissioner Bud Selig. Tony LaRussa retired from managing after the 2011 season, and it was evident that he wanted to get back into the fray. Tony LaRussa has been a success everywhere he has gone. He is a winner, and he knows how to get a team to perform at its best. He is a shrewd evaluator of talent, and he will be an asset to the D-backs. What I read into this is that the owners of the team are growing weary of mediocre, and that the horrid start to this season has signaled to them that a change is needed. I believe that Gibson and/or Towers may be on the way out of Arizona, perhaps not immediately, but I am sure by the end of the season…
Does anybody really care about award shows anymore? I have never really cared to watch, even though my dad (God rest him), because he was in the industry, watched the Academy Awards every year. It seems that the various award shows were different back then. Now, in my opinion, they are nothing but over-hyped, over-blown, ‘I love me! Look at me! Look at how great I am!’ ego-fests. It is amazing to me how so many of these so-called entertainers will do just about anything to keep the spotlight on themselves for as long as possible, and the more raunchy and over the top they can go, the better. You all can probably name them and their antics better than I can, so I won’t bother. It just makes me sick, and therefore I do not watch.
We are fast approaching Memorial Day 2014, and I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. It seems like only yesterday that we were discussing polar vorticies, and now I am running around in shorts with my wife shopping around for a new grill to go along with the smoker that we bought last year for our back patio. On the Monday that is Memorial Day, I plan on smoking and grilling all kinds of meats and vegetables, and generally making a chubbier penguin out of myself than I already am. But more importantly, I will be filled with reverence for those who have fallen so that I might have the right to sit on my back patio with my gorgeous wife and enjoy the freedoms and blessings that we have today. I will remember that there were those that didn’t make it home. I like to think that Memorial Day is something more than just remembering the fallen soldiers, but also about remembering the fallen Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters (all of which I have had the honor of being at one time or another…), and the military Nursing Corps, because they have lost lives as well. All have written a blank check to the United States of America for their lives, and sadly, sometimes those checks come due and are cashed. May God bless them all, and may He continue to allow us to be the greatest country on earth. We may have our differences. Democrats versus Republicans, Bears versus Packers, ketchup versus mustard, dog versus cat, Yankees versus Red Sox, and on and on and on. But at the end of the day, we are all Americans. Sometimes we lose sight of that. On this Memorial Day, let’s not do that. Let’s remember what is truly important.
And in closing, I am remembering to wish all of you a fun and abundant and safe and blessed Memorial Day!…Bruce M. Lager, Blagers Blog.

How to lose readership…

Simply put, I am going to get a lot of people very angry with me today. There will be many of you who will not agree with what I have to say. There will be many of you who will say that I have drifted too far to the Radical Right. There will be those of you who will say that I am in favor of bloodshed and violence, dead bodies in schools and in the streets, and enabling lunatics and criminals to run amok over an innocent America. Please allow me to respond. For those of you who wish to think that way, it is your right to do so. You are an idiot, but being an idiot is also your right in a free America. And rights are what this is all about…
I am speaking specifically about the Second Amendment. You know the one? It goes a little something like this. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”… SHALL-NOT-BE-INFRINGED. It says it right there in black and white, right between the First Amendment (Freedom of Religion), and the Third Amendment (the Forced Quartering of Soldiers). What is so hard to understand about this? Let’s rephrase the question. Why is it that when there are people who do not want something, they feel that I shouldn’t have it either, because they don’t want it? What? By that logic, if you are a vegetarian and you do not want a big ol’ cheeseburger, I shouldn’t have one either because you don’t want one? WHAT? Or if that concept is too difficult, let’s try this. Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it tougher for sober people to own cars. Did that help? No? Ok, how about this concept…If guns kill people then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk and spoons made Rosie O’Donnell fat. I am not trying to make light of the struggle between the gun-grabbing people who think that nobody should have a gun, and the intelligent sensible people who know better. There is nothing funny about it. Simply said, if you don’t like guns, then damnit DON’T BUY ONE! But do not try to tell me that I can’t either. You anti-2nd Amendment folks simply cannot accept that you are not the only ones with rights in this country. And speaking of rights again, all the rights that you enjoy now are protected by…wait for it….THE SECOND AMENDMENT! Think about it…
Why do the gun-grabbing idiots in our society insist on disarming the people who are most likely to act responsibly? I am referring to Concealed Carry License holders. If these ‘no-guns-for -anyone’ people would just look at the crime and violence statistics in this country, they would see very clearly (unless they choose to ignore the data and insert their own reality, which is so often the case…), that CCLH’s do not commit the violent crimes on this country by a staggeringly wide margin. In fact, it has been proven time and time again, year after year that an armed society is a polite society. It is logical, and therefore irrelevant to those who would seek to take your Constitutionally Guaranteed Right to defend yourself, your family, and your home and possessions. The FBI concluded in their collection and analysis of crime statistics that, ‘87.3% of rape, robbery, and assault during the ten year period sampled had NOTHING whatsoever to do with firearms. If there were NO FIREARMS available to criminals, common sense tells us that most of the 12.7% that does involve firearms would shift over to knives or other non-firearm weapons with no real change in the number of victims. Common sense and real world experience also tells us that if criminals never had to worry about their intended victims being armed because of firearms bans, the rates of rape, robbery and assault would be much higher, as they are in gun-ban cities’. Wow, huh? What can we conclude from this? Sorry, gun-grabbers, but guns are not the problem. Instead of preaching your flawed theories on gun control, perhaps your calories would be better expended on people control. Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to release violent felons from prison so quickly. Perhaps the answer is not less guns, but more guns in the hands of trained, responsible citizens, and that those citizens not be afraid to use them. Yes, we have a police force, but they are sadly undermanned and overworked. Wouldn’t armed, trained civilians be a more intelligent option here? Taking away the rights of law-abiding gun-owners because of the acts of non-law-abiding criminals simply does not make sense. Think! Bans-by-location are hilariously flawed as well. Consider this… There is a ‘No Guns Allowed’ sign on an establishment, okay? A law abiding citizen is probably going to say to himself that, “I am not allowed to bring my gun in to this establishment. I guess I will leave my gun in my car.’ Now let’s take’ Mr. Not-So-Law-Abiding’ person. He wants to commit an act of burglary. I am reasonably sure that he is not going to give a cow-pies worth of care to the ‘No Guns Allowed’ sign on the door. He is going to take his (most-likely stolen) gun in to the establishment and do what he came to do, or do worse if there are people inside at the time. Do you mean to say that the big sign on the door didn’t stop the baddy-bad misunderstood criminal? DUH!!!! Now let’s look at what might have stopped him. From the deterrence side of things, would the criminal have been as quick to target this establishment if he knew that there was a possibility that there may be people inside who were armed and would be able to put up a fight and stop him? I doubt it, due to the simple fact that criminals choose their victims because they are easy targets, not difficult ones. Is a car thief going to spend his time disarming a complex car security system when there is an unlocked car with the keys in the ignition sitting right next to it? I seriously doubt it. He is going to pick the easy target, and that is exactly what an establishment with a big, ‘No Guns Allowed’ sign says. ‘Pick me! I am an easy target! No one in here will be able to stop you! Take what you want, but please don’t hurt us!!!’ Is that really the message that we want we want to send to the criminals? Is the way that we really want to live? The gun-grabbers would have you believe that the only way to deter crime and make it so we can all hold hands and make S’mores and sing’ Kumbyah’ with unicorns dancing on rainbows in the sky is to take away the rights of citizens, your Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights, to keep and bear arms to protect and defend themselves. Have I shown you where this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever?
Another example would be homeowners (or apartment dwellers…). Shouldn’t they have the right to defend their homes and their families as they see fit? If the anti-gun lobby wants to have no guns in their households, that’s fine…for them. But do not even THINK about telling me what I can or cannot do to defend MY family! If you, Mr. No-Guns-In-My-Home, want to lay out the welcome mat to allow burglars and other such criminals in to your home to steal your possessions, beat you to a pulp, and rape your wife and daughters, when you had the means to protect and defend it all, then that is on you. If you are relying on the humanity of Mr. Criminal not to do these things to you and your family, then you are truly a fool. In my world, a criminal may very possibly break in, but I will have a fighting chance that he does not get to my wife and daughter, and he will most likely leave in a body bag. I like to think that the lock on my door is more for his protection than it is for mine…
For you gun-grabbers who feel that I/we shouldn’t have the right to keep and bear arms, and defend ourselves and our families, let me leave you with this thought. Molon labe. It is ancient Greek for “come and take”, and is a classical expression of defiance reportedly spoken by King Leonidas I in response to the Persian army’s demand that the Greeks surrender their weapons at the Battle of Thermopylae. So, if you want to try and take away my guns and my right to defend my family as well as myself, allow me to speak for the 52,000,000 gun owning households in America, who believe that their Second Amendment rights SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED….Molon Labe, gun-grabbers….MOLON LABE.

What happened?

What happened?….
I was sitting on my couch the other night, looking for something to watch. There was no baseball that I could watch, because I will not pay extra for the all-baseball, all-the-time channels (IE; MLB Extra Innings..), and everything else just seemed, well, meh. It got me thinking about TV the way it was say 10-years ago. In the grand scheme of things this is not a very long time, but in the world of mass media such as television, be it over-the-air or cable, 10 years is an eternity. This also got me thinking about the content that is aired on the various networks. The main players such as ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX are not being considered, as their content is for general consumption and basically runs the gamut of television offerings. I am more specifically referring to the cable networks. I am going to attempt a simple graphic representation of where my general point is going. The question that I am really asking is, ‘What happened to the cable networks as far as their original format was and what did they become in the years after?’ Here we go…
Network… What it was… What it is now.
MTV… Music Videos and news… Really bad reality TV.
HGTV… Design / Home Improvement… Really bad Real Estate Reality TV.
History Channel… Historical documentaries. …Auctions and pawn shop TV.
Discovery… Interesting knowledge… Reality car building/ lumberjacks.
Bravo… Interesting films… Real Housewives etc…
TLC… Learning about things… Really bad reality TV.
National Geographic… The world… Reality cops and bad folks.
Biography… Famous and historical.. People Reality Real Estate.

Are you seeing a trend here? I understand the economics of it. Reality TV shows are dirt cheap to make, meaning that the network gets to keep more of the green stuff. Hooray for them. However, the programming SUCKS. Let me repeat that. THE…PROGRAMMING…SUCKS. So we as consumers pay the ever skyrocketing monthly cable/satellite rates for less and less quality programming. I am as guilty of it as anyone. I have tried to mitigate the issue in my house by getting a Roku (streaming TV device, thanks to my brother Marshall…), but it still only slightly lessens the pain. I know that there are many who are ‘cutting the cord’, and some have actually seen some satisfaction and success. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case with most of the people that I have spoken to about this. I am still looking into a hybrid solution which simply means cutting back on cable-offered services, keeping the internet, and watching more streaming free and subscription based content. I will update you all on how this works out…
Alright, let me get this out of the way and be done with it. Donald Sterling. Racist. Scumbag. All of the things that we hate in a human being wrapped up in one philandering, prejudiced, miserable, cheap old man with a beastly gold-digger on his arm. Got it… The things that he said in the past, as well as most recently were reprehensible, and not acceptable in polite society. Check. He has been simply the worst owner in any major professional sport, possibly in the history of owners. Check. But should this reprobate, this misery, be stripped of his livelihood because of what he says and thinks? Now before you have the same knee-jerk reaction that just about everyone else has had regarding his remarks about blacks and latinos that we have all heard ad nauseum, think about this simple question…Did he break any laws? Even one? In these United States, a person is allowed to state his opinion, no matter base and vile and disgusting it may be. He is allowed to think whatever he wishes. This is not George Orwell’s 1984. There is no such thing as ‘thoughtcrime’. I understand that the NBA has bylaws that govern how its owners and players behave. He signed it. He broke it. He is now been fined $2.5 million dollars, and he has been banned from any and all NBA and team activities for life. The other 29 NBA team owners will be prevailed upon to take action to force Mr. Sterling to sell his franchise. The bottom line is that he is indeed allowed to say and think whatever his sick diseased heart and mind want to, but with the understanding that with great power comes great responsibility, and sometimes it comes with consequences as well…Now I need to go take a shower and scrub vigorously to get the stench of this topic off of me.
From the ‘stupid is as stupid does’ file. Florida State quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was issued a civil citation after sheriff’s deputies say he walked out of a supermarket without paying for $32 worth of crab legs and crawfish. Really? You are a Heisman Trophy winner, and you decide to steal some crab legs? While this does not qualify for a Darwin Award nomination, there should be another category of awards for things like this. I can guarantee that he will (at the prodding of his lawyers), go on TV and show some contrition and say how really sorry he is. Uh-huh. It will be a canned apology that was written by some paralegal, and it will be really obvious that it was. I think that the only things that Jameis Winston will be truly sorry for is, 1-that he got caught in the first place, and 2-this may damage his value in a future NFL draft. In short…what a schmuck.
I just read where John Tortorella was fired as the coach of the Vancouver Canucks, just one year after he was fired as the coach of the New York Rangers. Hey Torts? Get a clue that your hard-ass act may be wearing a little thin. On a related note, my beloved New York Rangers defeated and eliminated Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in Game 7 of their series. The Blueshirts had gone down 3 games to 1 before mounting their epic comeback! I actually got to watch some of it, which is unusual. I have no problem with the Penguins as an organization. They have been classy and reasonable consistent since the days of Mario Lemieux. But you can bet that there will be changes coming…perhaps BIG changes. I would be willing to wager that Dan Bylsma will no longer be the head coach, and GM Ray Shero may be gone as well. The only players that are still reasonably secure are Sidney Crosby and Evginy Malkin. Everyone else is, shall we say, expendable.

Back from a long winter’s nap…

It’s been a long winter and I am glad to be back! As I explained on one of my earlier installments, sometimes my job takes me away from home and absorbs enough of my time that writing just isn’t on the radar. There, apology done. Now let’s get to the stuffy stuff…
First up, we have some ridiculousness from the world of college football. There are 120 FBS (formerly NCAA Division 1-A) teams. The “Cure Bowl” in Orlando, FL, will bring the total bowl count to 40, which means that some 80 teams make it to what is essentially the college football ‘post-season’. That works out to 67% of all the FBS teams getting a post-season game. In what other sport is there such a lopsided post-season ‘playoff reward’? It almost reminds me of the amazingly stupid practice of ‘Everyone who participates gets a trophy! Why? Because in our books, you are all winners!!! Now let’s all go to Dairy Queen for chocolate and unicorn fart Blizzards!!!” Just based on sheer numbers, with 6-wins being the cutoff for bowl eligibility, it seems that a lot of less-than-6 win teams are going to need to be bowl eligible. 67% (80 of the120) FBS teams are not going to win the required 6 games. Every time a bowl gets added, the whole process gets watered down and a little less meaningful. Believe me, there is no 5-7 team that thinks it deserves a bowl game. Nobody is going to want to watch the scintillating matchup of 4-8 Podunk Polytechnich versus 5-7 Acne Scrub State. And on a similar note, why does Orlando need 3 bowl games? With the addition of the ‘Cure Bowl’, they will now also have the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Capital One Bowl. They already have Disneyworld, Sea World (I love Sea World…), and Universal Studios. It is truly the tourist capital of the world and rightly so. I lived there for 15 years so I should know. They really do not need 3 less-than-premium Bowl Games…
Ok, so now we are talking baseball. I had to decide what to write about today, because there is so much happening. I really didn’t want to recreate a baseball version of ‘War and Peace’, so my offerings will be somewhat selective. I will start off with two notes about the Cincinnati Reds. First is that Billy Hamilton is really fast. I mean, he is MLB’s version of The Flash. I thought that Jerod Dyson of the Kansas City Royals was fast, but Billy Hamilton is off-the-hook fast. Secondly is that Johnny Cueto is pitching lights out. He almost pitched two shutouts back-to-back! That is amazing. As it was, he had to settle for two complete games back-to-back. Who does that in this day and age?
Last night John Lackey pitched a real gem. Lackey allowed one run and seven hits in eight innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks. That is a hell of a performance! Unfortunately, that is not what will be remembered, talked about, over-analyzed, overhyped, and beat to death about this game. That honor is reserved for the ejection of Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda, who was caught with a copious amount of pinetar on his person. That kids, is illegal. It has also been going on in baseball ever since someone figured out that pinetar makes it easier for pitchers and hitters to get a grip on a bat and a ball. The problem isn’t so much that Pineda had the sticky, gooey, piney stuff. The problem is that he was so blatantly obvious about it! Look, almost everybody in MLB is looking for some kind of advantage. It reminds me of the old adage that says that’ if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying..’. It is accepted practice that basically everybody does something along these lines, and baseball history is replete with its practitioners, but you are not supposed to be obvious about it. That is considered bad form, and is akin to showing the other team up, and that friends, is simply verboten. If PINEda had kept the pinetar discreetly hidden, nobody would have said a word about it. But alas, he did not. It was seen by everybody. The entire Boston bench saw it. The owners of both teams saw it from the luxury boxes in Fenway Park. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy from NESN Sports saw it. The current occupants of the International Space Station probably saw it. That is how overtly visible that pinetar was. Red Sox manager John Farrell had to say something, although it was obvious that he did not want to. He was willing to overlook it, but he simply could not. Simply put, one could excuse the pinetar, but one cannot excuse the stupidity of Michael Pineda. So he got tossed and will probably get fined. The Yankee GM Brian Cashman said that the Yankees as an organization are embarrassed. And lastly, another page has been written into the endless rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
Has expanded replay been the panacea that MLB hoped that it would be, or has it been the downfall of all things holy in the pantheon of the baseball world? The umpires are getting more calls right with the use of expanded replay. There is no denying that, and it is a good thing. The idea, as I said in an article that I wrote many months ago, is to get the calls right. That is happening now, and I for one am glad to see it. If the technology exists to make the game better and fairer, then count me in as a proponent. What I don’t understand is why managers are arguing after replay has either confirmed or overturned that call on the field? The play in question has been reviewed by the MLB replay officials in NYC from many different angles and television feeds, and basically everyone has come to the same conclusion. So after all that, you are still going to argue? Really?? Yes, Mr. Baseball Manager, everybody got it wrong except you…
Lastly, 4/23/2014 was the 100th anniversary of the Opening of Wrigley Field in Chicago, home to the historically hapless Chicago Cubs. Just when it looked like the Cubbies were going to give their fans a reason to celebrate this milestone, the Cubs did what the Cubs do. Yes, with a 3-0 lead going in to the 9th inning, the Cubs managed to give up 5 runs and lose 5-3. Harry Carey is probably spinning in his grave…