Tuesday, June 21, 2011

U.S. Conference of Mayors Review

Baltimore was privileged to play host to the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, an event held for Mayors of cities with at least 30,000 people. There are currently 1,210 members of this conference, but at the current rate of population loss in Baltimore City due to urban flight (both black and white) and extremely high murder rates, we should expect Baltimore to be removed from this Conference in a few years.

So at these conferences the Mayors get together and talk about economics, public policy, welfare, and other issues plaguing our large cities. To put it another way, it's the annual conference for the Mayors to collectively put their hats in their hands and reach out to the Federal Government and beg for more money.

This year was a little different. This time they didn't exactly ask for money directly. In order to spin their agenda and make it look more legit, they passed a resolution requesting Obama to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, though they made no mention if him ending the current war he's got brewing in Libya. Perhaps that war is okay, because we'll ultimately remove an evil dictator from office. (Can you hear Obama saying, "Put that on my resume'!?) With the wars ending, this would allow the Federal Government to spend the billions of dollars that are currently funding the war to be redistributed to the cities so they can fight crime, urban blight, and the "I don't give a shit" attitude with dollar bills. Nothings solves a problem better than throwing dollar bills at it.

I find this attitude a little disturbing. While we are sitting here staring at a government that is $14 trillion in debt and suffering with economically debilitating unemployment, the politicians are more interested in the continued spending, but redirecting those dollars to them. There doesn't seem to be much, if any, mention of a reduction in spending. From the conference of Mayors, we seem to be hearing a chorus singing, "Screw the younger generation and kick the can farther down the road! Put some money on my plate, because I'm a big-fat toad!"

However, there is some good news. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was elected as the Trustee of the group. This will help because.........I have no idea. I guess it's just good PR for the city. And it gives O'Malley a puppet to help direct his policies and long-term visions that will ultimately help him become Master of the Universe. Or Secretary of State. Wouldn't he be a handsome Secretary of State? What's worse? O'Malley as Governor or O'Malley as Secretary of State? Personally, I prefer: O'Malley, lead singer of O'Malley's March. Come on Marty, focus on your music career! You'll be doing us a huge favor!

So anyway, back to those mayors. They had to stay somewhere while visiting our lovely crime-ridden city. Those dollars were spent in hotels, and bars, and bars, and bars, which the city can tax and use to build their casino. So all in all, I think it's all good. Bottoms-up!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This Time Weiner is Bad

You've heard the stories and if you've watched Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Falon, Letterman, and the gang, then you've also heard the jokes.

For those of you who are following the Conference of Mayors in Baltimore or are glued to the television getting the latest gossip about Jersey Shore cast member Snooki instead, let me bring you up to date. New York Congressman Anthony Weiner was caught "sexting" with women who were not his wife. He even sent some scandalous pictures of himself without a shirt on wearing only a towel, a picture taken at the Congressional gym. And he sent sexually-themed messages to other consenting adult women. This is a guy who was considered a front-runner to succeed Michael Bloomberg as Mayor of New York City. And as we all know, Mayors of New York City must be free of skeletons in their closet, except for the other previous Mayors of New York City who had skeletons in their closets.

I know what you're thinking. Politicians have been in trouble and gotten away with far worse sexual escapades than this. There was Gary Hart, the Democratic candidate for President in the 1980's whose affair with University of South Carolina graduate Donna Rice. That caused him to drop out of the Presidential race that left liberals left with Walter Mondale as their candidate.

You'll also recall about 10 years ago a President played peek-a-boo with a cigar in an intern's vagina (Monika Lewinsky) while he was on a conference call with members of Congress and in another episode left his semen on her dress. This is in addition to the numerous other women who admitted they had sexual affairs with this President (Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Salley Perdue, Dolly Kyle Browning, and rumors of affairs with Gina Gershon, Sharon Stone, and Belinda Stronach).

So do you find a bit inconsistent and hypocritical that Weiner is forced to resign for sending topless photos of himself, and messing around with some women, while our former President could do what he wanted and we were told to mind our own business?

However, we were told that the President's sexual infidelity was none of our business. Furthermore, we were later told that the appointed independent council, Kenneth Starr, who was initially hired to investigate the suspicious suicide of Deputy White House Council Vince Foster, was labeled as sordid sexual predator for digging up such details about the President's sexual affairs.

What puzzles me is that both adulterers are Democrats, so it's not like one party is demonizing the other. The Democrats in Congress were the ones demanding this Democrat's resignation. And the liberal media seemed to be in total support of this demand.

So am I crazy? Well, this is coming from someone who thinks peanut butter and banana sandwiches taste better after running 4 miles while rocking to Van Halen, a character flaw that causes many people to dismiss most of what I think without regard.

Kudos to the New York Post to their Weiner Pulls Out headline. It's right up their with the Elliot Spitzer Swallows puns.

Do you think Weiner should have pulled out?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sykesville Baseball - What I Learned This Season

My son's baseball season finally came to an end. It seemed like we never played in the beginning of the season because of all of the rain-outs. Then we were playing double-headers every weekend to make up the lost games. Along came the playoffs, and now we are done. How did we get there?

Well, to preface the playoffs, we learned there was a blind-draw to determine the match-ups. I'm not sure why they keep standings all season, to then go and seed the teams based on a blind-draw. In perfect retribution, the 1st place team played the 3rd place team in the first round, and the 10th place team played the 12th place team in the first round. In the 2nd round, the 3rd place team advanced and the 1st place team did not. The 10th place team also advanced. So the 1st place team was scheduling tee-times while the 10th place team, who honestly didn't deserve to make it to the 2nd round for beating the 12th place team, got to move on, as well.

We had 3 weekends of double-headers. Our team lived and breathed by the double-header. We won 2 sets of them outright. In the third we had a win and a tie. And if we hadn't run out of time, I'm confident we would have won it in the next inning. I say "we" as if I am one of the players. I was only one of the assistant coaches.

We finished the season at 7-7-1. Not bad, not great. Right in the middle. I think that indicates that we had a well-balanced team. We won the first game of the playoffs. We did it with great pitching. We won the 2nd game with both great pitching and great hitting. In the third game, we pitched below average, then got rained out at the end of the third, then had to come back the next day to finish the game, which was delayed another hour because of rain. We were down 19-3 at the top of the fourth. We shut them down in the 4th, scored 4 in the bottom of the fourth, then we scored 6 in the 5th. As we took the field in the top of the 6th, down 19-13, with the chance of tying the game in the 6th, the umpires called the game because we ran out of time. Apparently we were playing a football game and not a baseball game. So we lost. The team that beat us went on to crush the other team in the championship, 14-0. My conclusion - our game was really the championship game.

So what did I learn this year? Umpires are kids and they are still learning, too.

1) Usually 4 balls is a walk. But sometimes 3 balls is a walk, too.
2) Sometimes a pitch is only a strike if the batter swings at it.
3) Sometimes when the pitch is only a strike when the batter swings at it, a league commissioner will come talk to the umpire in the middle of the first inning and tell him to open up the strike zone, much to the detriment of the other team that already gave up a bunch of walks because of a non-existent strike zone, rather than waiting until both teams batted using the same judgment by the umpire and THEN making the recommendation to the umpire.
4) Sometimes the coaches will "chorus" the umpire to make certain calls. (saying 'good pitch' before the umpire has called it a ball or strike).
5) The coaches that chorus or yell the loudest get the most calls in their favor.
6) Sometimes the umpires will call the infield-fly-rule. Other times they will not.
7) Sometimes when the umpire calls the infield-fly-rule, the coach that screams the loudest will get the umpire to make a bad call, such as tagging runners that have advanced and calling them out.
8) Sometimes the runner will be called out when tagged by the first baseman while the runner is standing on first base.
9) Sometimes the base runner will be called for not sliding in a play, in spite of the fact that the runner is more than 10 feet away from the bus. (see rule #5)
10) Sometimes the umpire will inform the scorekeeper that the run has scored after a third out in the field, because it was not a force out. And sometimes the league official will come out and overrule the umpire.
11) And my personal favorite - sometimes the umpire will tell a team that they are cheering too loud. Ex-squeeze me?

And to be fair, these calls went both ways. The kids are still learning to be umpires, but you have to admit there is way too much fan and league official interference.

If the league wants to make it a learning experience, they should allow the coaches to provide feedback to the league after the game. This feedback should have no impact on the outcome of the game. Like any test, you should be graded so that you know how you do. And each game is a test to these new learning umpires.

Additionally, the league should have the umpires throw out coaches who argue balls and strikes and give warnings when they argue anything else. If the coach argues a second time, then they should be thrown out of the game. The umpires should be in charge of the game, not the coaches.

And that is what I learned coaching baseball this year.
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