Tuesday, June 28, 2005

John Walton died yesterday when his homebuilt ultralight crashed.

I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart. Not even close. In fact I loathe the stores, but I find myself in one from time to time. I force myself in by remembering that John was Sam Walton's son.

I don't think that John had anything to do with running the chain. In fact, there may have been a falling out-I don't remember. But he was an heir nonetheless.

John's claim to fame, other than being a Walton, is that he served as a Special Forces medic in Vietnam. According to the guys who were there, John was one hell of a guy and quite the hero. I don't know the details, but he apparently saved several team mates while under fire. Word is that he was a pretty modest guy and never made very much of the whole thing, but there are some guys walking around today who wouldn't be here if not for his heroism.
While Ward Churchill continues on his "noble crusade" wherein he exercises his right of free speech, certain truths do and should continue to haunt him.

First, hateful as his speech is, yes it's protected and he has every right to spout it. But his university is under no obligation to continue to pay him to spew his hate. Free speech is a fundamental underpinning of our society, but there is no obligation for the public to support financially any speech. We're often told that the right to free speech exists especially to support speech that most of us find offensive--without arguing that point I'll point out that no person or institution is constitutionally obligated to financially support such speech. If Churchill's University wakes up and terminates him (remember--it's now established that he gained his chair via falsifyed history), so be it. Offensive speech, free though it may be, is not guaranteed public or corporate funding.

Via Michelle Malkin, I came across some incredibly hate-filled, offensive statements by Churchill.

Oh, and in case you really believe that free speech truly exists in our society, try going into work tomorrow and commenting on just how attractive you find a female coworker in her outfit.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Milblogger I link to has been injured in Iraq.

CPT Chuck Ziegenfuss, author of From My Position...On the Way! received substantial but non-life threatening injuries when an IED was detonated next to his vehicle.

His wife is providing updates on his blog.

I'm sure that you thoughts are appreciated.

Hat tip to Blackfive.
Turns out my brother is a point of contact in the Any Soldier program. He was an active duty engineer officer for several years, and during the drawdown he was given a cash buyout to resign from active duty. With the need for engineers to clear IEDs and whatnot in Iraq, he found himself once again an active duty officer at the age of 41.

In addition to being a point of contact, he's tasked to post messages to the Any Soldier site describing the particular needs and wants of his unit.

Think about shipping some items to one unit or another. Remember that you only have to pay postage as far as NY (the military takes over from there through the APO system). He notes that they like "freeze pops". I can practically buy those things by the pallet at the local discount club and even regular grocery stores, so I'm sure that you can, too. They're dirt cheap. He notes that snack foods are a popular item as they often miss meals while on patrol. Big bags of trail mix and that sort of thing aren't that expensive. I think I'll send a couple of bulk bags along with some boxes of ziplock sandwich bags so they can portion it out.

I was going to copy his posts to the Any Soldier site and put them here, but there are warnings all over the site to the effect that EVERYTHING is copywrited. They tell you not to even print a page. I can't imagine why I couldn't post his messages here, so I'll try and work that out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

As the baseball season winds down, I find myself contemplative. A bit maudlin, even.

As horrendous and trying as this season has been, due to my taking the position of umpire coordinator, I'm still going to miss it.

Baseball is simply the most beautiful game on Earth. (Lilly's brothers are going to beat me up for using “baseball” and “beautiful” in the same sentence, but they can get in line behind a couple of team managers who haven't read the rule book but know it all, anyway)

I like the power of football, the violence (yes, I admit it) of rugby and the speed of lacrosse. I'm not much for soccer, but that's because I'm a clod and don't understand the rules. I just see a bunch of guys kicking a ball around, unless it involves Europeans in which case you get the added entertainment of histrionics every time a player thinks he's been kicked and falls down, writhing in pretend agony. Basketball occupies the same niche for me—a bunch of guys in funny shorts dashing back and forth.

But baseball, now there's a game. It's a team game, and as such the efforts of the individual are subordinate to the team, but yet the individual can shine. The beautiful hit, the incredible catch, that amazing slide under the tag to score the winning run. And team efforts can become legendary: Tinker to Evers to Chance. Some 187 double plays in the brief time the Ripken brothers played together.

Hell, I'll even miss the day I umpired two back-to-back games in 90o+ weather, ending up with a deep red sunburn around my neck that hurt for days.

But then again, fall ball is just around the corner...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sent a reply to Mr. Cheng Pui re. the email I posted below.

Let's see how familiar he is with US culture.


I am in receipt of your email and find your proposition interesting. My personal information is as follows:

Full Name: Barney B. Rubble

Residential Address: 330 Cobblestone Way
Bedrock, CA 90210

Thank you for your attention.
419 Scams.

NOTR recently wrote about 419 scams at ROFASix. They've been around for years in one form or another. To me, the things are utterly transparent, but apparently a lot of people fall for them nonetheless. A few months ago Readers' Digest did an article on them and some some guy showcased his utter lack of self-esteem and intelligence by admitting he'd fallen for the scam and let them use his name and photo.

Anyway, here's the most recent proposal emailed to me. It's the second one to use the war in Iraq as the backdrop for the situation in which they need my assistance. Who says scammer don't keep up with the times?

Read this, and if you can't immediately see through it please email me and we can discuss some business proposals.


Dear Friend,

Let me start by introducing myself. I am Mr. Cheung Pui director of
operations of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd,Hong kong. I have an obscured business
suggestion for you.Before the U.S and Iraqi war, our client Major Fadi Basem
who was with the Iraqi forces and also business man made a numbered,fixed
deposit for 18 calendar months, with a value of Twenty Four million Five
Hundred Thousand United State Dollars only in my branch.

Upon maturity several notice was sent to him,even during the war early last
year.Again after the war another notification was sent and still no response
came from him. We later find out that the Major and his family had been
killed during the war in bomb blast that hit their home.After further
investigation it was also discovered that Major Fadi Basem did not declare
any next of kin in his official papers including the paper workof his bank
deposit. And he also confided in me the last time he was at my office that
no one except me knew of his deposit in my bank.So,Twenty Four million Five
Hundred Thousand United State Dollars is still lyingin my bank and no one
will ever come forward to claim it. What bothers me most is that according
to the laws of my country, at the expiration 4 years the funds will revert
to the ownership of the Hong Kong Government if nobody applies to claim the

Against this backdrop,my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a
foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Major Fadi Basem so that you will
be able to receive his funds.


I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall
come out successful. I have contacted anattorney that will prepare the
necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to Major Fadi
Basem , all that is required from you at this stage is for you to provide me
with your Full Names and Address so that the attorney can commence his job.

After you have been made the next of kin, the attorney will also fill in for
claims on your behalf and secure the necessary approval and letter of
probate in your favor for the move of the funds to an account that will be
provided by you.

There is no risk involved at all in the matter as we are going adopt a
legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessary documents.
Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this
issue.Once the funds have been transferred to your nominated bank account we
shall share in the ratio of 70% for me, 30% for you . Should you be
interested please send me your full names and current residential address
and I will prefer you to reach me on the email address below;


Finally, after that i shall provide you with more details of this operation.

Your earliest response to this letter will be appreciated.

Kind Regards,
Mr. Cheung Pui

By the way, thanks to all who wished me a happy Fathers' Day.

It was an interesting day (as in the alleged Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times).

Had an umpire cancel out late Saturday night. Called all night Saturday, all morning Sunday and finally a guy called back and said he could do it if we postponed the game until 6:00. Called both managers, everything is cool.

Then I was concerned the umpire misunderstood me. Called him all day--no answer. Called other umpires--no luck.

Game time approached and the "other" team didn't have enough players, anyway. Something their manager knew damn well, but ignored in hope...

The team that didn't have enough players promptly identified me as their target (You don't really have an umpire for this game, do you?), even as the umpire was suiting up in the parking lot. So they transferred their anger at not having a team to me. Ok with me, except that I almost threw down with a big dumbass of a coach over the whole thing.

Bunch of dumbasses.

I did get about a 15-minute interlude where I laid with the Bear on the hammock. I can't complain since soon the Bear will be nine and next thing I know she'll be 16. I have to treasure every moment.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A recent email exchange with a good friend reminded me of the situation in Aruba--the missing girl. First, repeat after me: She's dead. They haven't found a body, but if you harbor any hope for her at this point I have a bridge you might be interested in. And the odds that she died swiftly and painlessly are just about zero.

Funny. Everone acknowledges that the US can be a dangerous place. And it can. Leaving a bar with a bunch of guys is plain foolhardy.

But to keep things in perspective, the US is one of the safest places on the planet. Crime makes the front page here. It's always in front of us, so it seems pervasive. But I remember someone once writing that when airplane crashes no longer make the front page, that's when you'll know that air travel is no longer safe. A couple of years ago, Matthew Shephard, a homosexual who was into rough trade, so to speak, made a play for the wrong guys in a bar and ended up dead. It should never have happened, but it did and it made the front page for months. It still does. But--There are places in the world where that sort of thing would hardly raise an eyebrow.

One of America's major exports, it seems, is wide eyed young women. They go to exotic places where they succumb to the atmosphere and allow themselves to be picked up in bars. They take bus trips through countrysides where even nuns are fair game for the local thugs. They stand in front of bulldozers as though their frail bodies can turn aside centuries of blood hatred. They chuck their razors, don Birkenstocks and sing Kumbya for the oppressed locals.

And they die.

What the hell are they thinking?

First, ladies, you've got something guys want. You know exactly what I mean. Most of us can accept "no" and it ends there. But it's a big world and a lot of guys out there could give a damn what you think about the situation. I've mentioned before the Iraq experience. The Army is very reticent about this, lest it be perceived as making an anti-women in combat statement, much as researchers shy away from the terminated pregnancy-breast cancer link lest they be perceived as being anti-abortion, but the fact is that most of the women captured in the two gulf wars were repeatedly raped. Rhonda Cornum admitted it publically a year after her release. Melissa Rathbun-Nealy has made allussions to it. You can bet your sweet posterior that faux heroine Jessica Lynch, the cute, petite little blond, was quite the prize as well.

Then there's the Middle East. If the world could fit into a teacup, the hatreds and passions in that region would overflow to fill a two quart pitcher. Yet there seems to be no shortage of starry-eyed women who want to go and protest on behalf of the poor, oppressed Palestinians (who wouldn't give a second thought to tossing a grenade in those same girls' laps if the mood struck them). Construction equipment is dangerous stuff. Large, heavy, powerful and pitiless, bulldozers also afford the operator very little view of what he's actually bulldozing. Usually that's not a problem as the mission of a bulldozer is to simply push large amounts of material around. But when idealistic young women decide to stand in fron of one, things get ugly quickly. I'm sure that Rachel Corrie's parents taught her to look both ways before crossing the street, but they neglected to tell her that standing in front of a bulldozer in a region where people could teach us a thing or two about hate is just plain stupid.

By all means hit the deepest recesses of some undeveloped country to show your solidarity with the poor oppressed nobles. Uninhibited by our mores, they'll thank you for your kindness by raping you to death and then shoving your bloodied remains into a trash bin.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I guess I like helping out with kids. I was a Cub Scout den leader for several years, I'm a Boy Scout merit badge counselor and committee member and I've also recently applied to be a committee member for a new Boy Scout Venture Crew (Used to be called Explorers. Apparently the "change of name for its own sake" bug has hit Boy Scouts now as well). I've helped out with my daughter's basketball team and I've even worked with Brownies, although the decibel level there is second only to an AV-8 Harrier on takeoff.

I hold a hard line on the Boy Scouts who are looking for advancement. Here are the requirements--accomplish them. I'll help you, but I can't do them for you. Doesn't make me the most popular person in a troop that is simultaneously trying to set records for the most Eagle Scouts and the least level of personal responsibility and discipline.

Doesn't make me at all popular in a troop where a mother/father team is heavily involved and their 13-year old addresses them by their first names and is allowed to use the word "f*ck" copiously in front of them with no recourse from either the parents or the troop...

Then there's baseball. I go out there and call games to make a baseball experience for the kids. Am I the best umpire in the world? Hell, no. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've watched a close play go by, wondered just what the hell I saw, and had all of two seconds to decide and make the call. I've blown calls, and I've admitted it. At the same time, batters strike out, pitchers throw balls and coaches make bad decisions. Yep, we all make mistakes.

Nice game last night. Partly my fault. I had to take my son to practice in another town and got to the game just in time to get things started. Didn't have time to read the coaches the riot act, which is something that regrettably needs to be done at the 9/10-year old level where the kids barely play baseball and the parents and coaches have a lot of maturing ahead of them.

Game time was preceded by the fringe of a thunderstorm and the temperature was 90+ degrees. Humidity is anyone's guess. Let's just say if it were any more humid I'd have been swimming across the diamond.

Team that I've had trouble with in the past is hammering the other team, so their coaches are just this side of magnanimous. The other coaches, unfortunately led by the league commissioner, were not happy campers. At one point there was a runner on third and a blooper was hit toward third. The third baseman took several steps toward home, right on the foul line, to get under the ball. Two outs, so the runner on third hauls for home, slamming into the third baseman just as he was about to catch the ball. The situation is crystal clear. The runner must make every attempt to avoid the collision, and in that situation the rules state that the runner can deviate from the baseline if that's what it takes. The fielder must be allowed an opportunity to field the ball. Period. Had he been allowed to field the ball the batter would have been out, ergo the runner is out. Period. Interference, the runner's out.

Let the whining begin. They cried like babies even though they had no hope of winning the game at that point.

Then, one of the last plays, a batter overruns first, makes a slight turn to second and comes to a dead stop. Ball arrives at first just as he is heading back to first and the coaches start yelling "Tag him!". I was incredulous. First baseman interposes himself between the runner and first and tags him repeatedly. I finally yelled at him "You can't do that, runner's safe". The losing coaches almost lost their minds. I mentally snapped and yelled back at them that you can't tag a runner who overruns first. "He made a turn!". Doesn't matter. The rules state only that a runner can overrun first as long as he/she immediately returns to first. We are cautioned never to read anything into the rules that isn't written. In other words, the rule says nothing about making a turn--only that the runner must immediately return to first. At any rate, making a bit of a turn then screeching to a hault hardly qualifies as an attempt for second.

The coaches cried and whimpered like infants (even though they were 12 points behind by now). Game ended and I was confronted by coach/commissioner who denounced me in front of every parent in the stands and some jerk who claimed expertise as a "former coach". I walked away. What the hell else could I do? Beat the moron up in front of his kids and parents?

Got home and damned if he doesn't call me to apologize (for one of the calls, not both, and with qualifications). I was gracious, but the damage is done.

A coach and league commissioner, who is supposed to set an example for his team, behaved abominably on the field. In full view of his team. Nice.

And now let's all recite the Little League Parent/Volunteer (as in coach) Pledge:

I will teach all children to play fair and do their best
I will positively support all managers, coaches and players
I will respect the decisions of the umpires
I will praise a good effort despite the outcome of the game

Some of our managers/coaches might even follow two of those points...

Monday, June 13, 2005

I think that this is a new blog, but it has great promise. Read it.

The Pumpkin Spy.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Started doing the umpire thing around 1990 or 1991. Called games for a while, then went into a long hiatus. When Snake Eater, Jr. began playing baseball I began working with his teams in various capacities--coached bases, kept order on the bench, that sort of thing. I applied repeatedly to work as a coach, but wasn't part of the clique.

This year the opportunity to become "one of the guys" presented itself. I became a league officer, in charge of scheduling umpires. Since I was scheduling umpires, I went back to working games as an umpire as well. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it. I've been doing games this year and thoroughly enjoying it. Further, I've been able to put myself in to back up younger umpires in tough games. I get a certain satisfaction from that. I was able to prevent three miscreants from coaching All-Star teams and caused action to be taken against one particularly odious manager that led to him announcing that he is through with Little League. Good.

I've had a good time on the field and feel like I've done some positive things.

BUT. Scheduling umpires has been a nightmare. I can't make guys call games. I can only call them and ask them to. Most weeks I'm on the phone every night. When I do take a night off, I pay for it. If unreturned phone calls were worth a buck apiece I'd take the family to Disneyworld for a week on those earnings. Then, when I do find umpires, I get the phone calls. "I didn't like the way he called the game. Find someone else next time", "Your (yes, they're apparently mine) umpire was mean", you name it. It goes on and on. If I can put one umpire on every game for a given day, I'm in fat city. It's playoffs now. They want no less than two, and preferrably three umpires for every game. Ain't happenin' because there aren't that many umpires. Had a lot of rain this past week. At 8:00 Friday evening I got phone calls informing me that five rained out games had been rescheduled for the next day, starting at 9:00 AM. Think I found umpires for those games? If you do, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to scheduling surgery to have the minor/major league commissioner removed from my lower intestine once this is all over. He's very good at rescheduling games last minute and then climbing up my a$$ when I don't have umpires. Or the umpire doesn't show. Or he gave me (and thus the umpire) the wrong game time. I'm the sixth umpire coordinator in four seasons. Now I know why. I guess my claim to fame will be that I actually stuck it out for an entire season.

I'm gonna keep umpiring. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I started doing it again. Oh, and I'm one of four umpires in the whole league who doesn't turn in lineup cards to get paid. Our guys get paid as much as $40/game. A grand total of four of us just do it for the kids.

Anyway, I'm going to keep dressing in blue for games, but I guarantee you it's more likely I'll score with Angie Everhart than ever, ever be the umpire coordinator again.

Angie Everhart Posted by Hello

Friday, June 10, 2005

A study in contrasts, as they say.

Got to see the best and worst in youth sports this evening.

Had a game tonight involving the team that I've already ranted about--worst coaching staff in the league. A collection of the biggest jerks you can imagine, all gathered together on one team.

I had two umpires scheduled for the game. Two is good--almost extravagant. If I can manage to schedule just one umpire to every single game on a given day, things are going well. Two umpires to a game is fat city. I had two 15/16 year olds assigned to call a game involving 9/10 year olds. Standard practice. The teenagers work the younger leagues and gain proficiency before they move up to the older leagues. Based on the bahavior of the coaching staff of the Indians, I decided to put myself in as a third. More umpires = less grounds to challenge calls, and putting an adult on the field would give them some defense against the boneheads on the Indians.

I'm glad I did it. To give you some background, the reputation of the Indians' staff is such that the district umpire supervisor was at the game to jump in in case no adults were on the crew. He called me as I was walking across the field to get to the diamond. I told him I was on the way and he said fine, but he hung out at the game to "observe". Now, I say I'm glad I was there. Had I not been there, Gary (the district guy),would have jumped in and done a better job than I could dream of doing, but he had a game to go to a bit later, so he couldn't have done the whole game.

Given that, I'm glad I decided to do the game. The Indians were ahead the entire game, but cried like babies at every call. Eventually, we got to "that" call. Base umpire awarded an extra base to a runner due to a ball thrown out of play. All hell broke loose. I waded into it and rather assertively announced that the call was correct and we needed to get back to playing ball. They retreated, but continued to mewl and whimper behind the fence. They played that game where you say things to one another within earshot of the umpire. I'm married, so I'm immune to that, but it was beginning to get to the guy I had calling first base. I didn't realize that until we were talking during a break between innings. I'd have called time and issued him his one and only warning had I known. As it was, during this break first base coach went and whined to the district guy. I could see the body motion and hand language and knew the district guy was telling him to sod off, but Snake Eater Jr., being a pretty smart guy, maneuvered himself in that direction and was able to report to me that the district guy backed us up.

They were subdued after that, but after the game ended I realized that first base boy (who looks just like a large Ken doll) was still looking through the rule book. He walked by the league commissioner and announced "I still want to talk to you about this".

I've heard of sore losers, but I've never heard of sore winners before...

Now here's the contrast:

The other team, the Mariners, had only nine kids. Some were apparently ill, don't know about the others, or even if there were others.

Just before the game their third baseman unloads lunch next to the bench. The coach is caught in a conumdrum: In regular season play you can put eight players on the field, you just take an automatic out every ninth batter. However, local rules state you must field nine players in playoffs. If he calls the game off, it's a forfeit. If he plays one full inning, it's a reschedule. Does coach go up to the kid and say "Tough it out for the team boy"? (there's a place for that, but not with three-foot high kids). Nope. He goes to the kid's mom and tells her he'll rely on her judgement. Talk with the kid and let me know. Kid has just barfed, so he feels ok. Play ball.

Kid lasts the first inning, so the coach asks him how he feels. Ok. Start second inning.

Make it to the top of the fourth inning and the poor kid loses it again just as the first pitch of the inning is about to be thrown. I called time and the coach talked with the kid for a minute. He came back to me and told me that the kid felt he could last the rest of the inning (games are six innings, but are considered complete at four if they have to be called for any reason).

They were losing at this point. The coach told me the kid had given him four innings and he just couldn't ask him to keep giving. He went on to say that if they were still losing at the end of the inning, he'd take the loss. Game over. If they managed to pull ahead, he'd find some way to keep the game going for the sake of the other team.

I went over to the Indians' bench and told their manager what was going on. Now, if ever there was a moment to be gracious, this was it. Instead, he tried to stare into my eyes and said "He needs to find out why the rest of his team isn't here". Ok, Mr. Manager. It's the fourth freaking inning, he's offered to let you win, and you think he needs to start making phone calls that he's probably already made. There's a stomach virus going around (in case you missed the third base incident...). He has what he's gonna have and the top of the fourth inning is a bit late to suggest that he needs to interrogate his missing players. You get the Einstein Award, sh*t for brains.

The bottom of the fourth found them still behind, the coach called the game and it was done.

Your assignment: Compare and contrast the behavior of the two coaches. One was ahead the entire game and cried like a baby at every call, the other was more concerned with the well being of his kids and accepted a loss rather than keep an ill child on the diamond.

Oh, and lest you be led down a different path, the bad coach mostly raised hell with his kids and the good coach was very involved in the game and called for time frequently to go out and talk with his pitcher, make adjustments, etc. He was as involved with the game as you could be.

My consolation is that the bad coaches had applied to coach All-Star teams and I managed to get their applications pulled and now bad manager has apparently announced that he's finished with Little League and won't be back. Not a loss, trust me.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Someone has rediscovered manliness. At a time when we had to watch Billy Clinton wipe tears from his face because he felt our pain and then got caught getting his knob polished by a girl roughly his daughter's age, when they make television shows in which poofters go through the closets of male saps, a presidential candidate poses for photos with a daisy zipper pull on his jacket and some guy in a place called Neverland Ranch gets himself surgically converted to Liza Minelli and preys on small boys, someone is finally getting it right.

By God, this is what MEN are.

Hat tip to CPT Chuck at My Position-On the Way.
Time for a rant. The kinder, gentler thing couldn't last. Mr. Caustic is back. You want the Snake Eater to get ugly, here you go.

I am sick to death of youth league managers who play their kid and their coaches' kids like the team is their own private club.

Sports parents come in several flavors. There are the parents who just want their kids to play an organized sport or two and benefit from the character building and exercise. There are dads (and moms) who think sports are the living end and since they never amounted to much they're going to live vicariously through Junior and by God, Junior is going to be one hell of a player to enhance that vicarious experience. And then there are the tough guys who shove Junior out onto the field to make a man out of him.

My son's manager would be menu selection number three. He's a physically imposing guy—tall and broad shouldered. Talks like a tough guy. I was surprised to find out that he's a cop—he comes off more like a ditch digger.

His kid is a wimp, so he shoves him out on the field to make a man out of him. He was on the All-Star team with my son a couple of years ago (making the All-Stars or travel team doesn't require any talent if your old man coaches one of the teams). The kid was utterly terrified of the ball. He would literally back out of the batter's box with every pitch. One day they put an equipment bag behind him to force him to stay in the box and he backed anyway, falling over the bag and landing flat on his back.

Nancy boy hasn't sat out a single inning this season. He's a miserable ball player. Every kid should play, regardless of their ability, but there's no compelling reason to play this wimp every inning of every game. The other kids have to take turns.

The kid doesn't even seem to want to be there. His play is mostly indifferent. When warming up he snaps at the kid who's throwing to him when he bobbles the ball. Somehow it's the thrower's fault. Today while warming up he snapped at one kid to “get out of my way”, then hit the ball and yelled at another kid to go get it. I finally walked up to the fence and informed him that he's only a part of the team.

Several times now, just to prove what a class act the manager is, he's slapped the kid when they returned to the dugout after an inning. First time he slapped him was when he put him in as catcher. Take a kid everyone knows is afraid of the ball and put him to catch? What an idiot.

The comments among the parents are flying hot and heavy now. Everyone's tired of the show. The kids who ask if he could please let them try another position are answered with his standard speech “I have 12 guys to rotate...blah, blah”. Yeah? Well sit your little wimp out for just one freaking inning.

Today was the topper (so far—I suppose it can possibly get worse). A good kid was at shortstop while Nancy boy was at third, where he can do the most damage with his inability to field a ball. High hanging ball gets hit to shortstop. Nancy boy goes charging for the ball while shortstop calls the catch. Nancy boy is still running. Shortstop repeats “I've got it” and waves his arms at Nancy boy. Somehow the shortstop made the catch. I say “somehow” because at that point Nancy boy slammed into him, shoving his glove over the shortstop's. They both went down in the sort of collision that I've seen leave people bleeding on the field. Somehow shortstop held on...

I have never yelled at my son on the ballfield. I'm not one of those parents. But if he ever does what that kid did, I'll eat his a$$ right in front of everyone there. Manager said not a word. Goes to the bottom of the inning and some kids get on base. Nancy boy manages to connect with the ball in spite of himself. Fielder's choice, fielder makes the wrong choice and a kid comes screaming in to home. Game over.

So far Nancy boy has performed so abysmally that the manager has slapped him in front of everyone, and pulled that stupid, greedy stunt where he tried to steal a catch from the shortstop. End result? Dad says kid's a hero, awards him the game ball....The puke factor was so outrageous that even my wife grabbed me and said she needed to leave—NOW. Normally I'm the only one who gets worked up over this stuff.
I'm liking Howard Dean better all the time. The man is completely unhinged.

Now it's up to the Democratic Party to either demonstrate good taste and can his butt, or demonstrate that they are, as I think, so consumed with unreasoning hatred that he is the man for the job.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I have baseball rants just stacked up, awaiting permission to land on this blog. The season is drawing to a close and people are getting more and more worked up.

Let me be as clear as I can on this. The purpose of organized youth sports is to teach the kids. It's to teach them teamwork, it's to teach them to work and strive for a goal, it's to teach them humility--accept defeat (but strive to win) and be gracious in victory. And (this is a generational thing...) get them off of their video game butts and out into the real game.

Right now we're in the playoffs. Oddly, the regular season isn't closed and will resume after the playoffs, but that's where we are now.

The playoffs. Ah, yes. The chance for glory. The chance for someone coaching nine-year old kids in a rural town to make the cover of "Sports Illustrated". Yeah. And an equal chance that all of the local pigs will sprout wings.

When these guys die their obituaries might just mention that they worked with local youth in sports, but I can promise you that their win/loss records won't be a part of the obituary.

What sort of world do these boneheads live in?

There is one Minor League (9/10-year olds)team that is absolutely infamous. One manager I know, who is somewhat edgy himself, referred to them as "psychos". Abandoning all decorum as an umpire, I told another manager that the manager of the team in question is a pain in the a$$. He told me the guy lived two doors down from him and I had no idea just what a pain the guy could be. In other words, everyone in the league knows these guys are over the top.

Called a game for them a week or so ago and thought I was going to have to throw down with the first base coach. I had a talk with the commissioner after that and it turns out that the manager and both coaches had applied to be All-Star coaches. He yanked their applications, which means their kids probably won't make the teams now, either.

My biggest bone with these guys is that their attitude permeates the team. Coaches are supposed to set an example, and set an example they do. The parents and even kids on the team are boneheads. I had some nine-year old kid telling me in no uncertain terms what bases I should be covering that game. I felt like I had a hamster tugging at my pants leg or something.

Put myself on the schedule to call their game tonight. Not to "get" the manager, but because Minor League games are generally called by 13-year olds and these guys lean on them mercilessly. As it was I ended up shuttling umpire gear to another field and arrived about five minutes before game time. Someone had jumped in to call bases and the game was already underway, so I dropped off the gear and went down the hill where I knew another umpire was on his own.

We had a good game. It went both ways, one team dominated for the first two innings, then the other team came roaring back. Some of the usual stuff, where the first base coach waves his arms calling the runner safe when I knew he was out (and called him so), but very civilized. One or two comments from parents, but that's part of the deal.

Our game ended, so we walked up the hill to the concession stand for something to drink (it was brutally hot). The other umpire's brother was playing a game there and his mom is the team manager. So I hung out with him and watched the game.

Batter swings for the ball, umpire calls strike three. Now you can huff and puff all you want, but judgment calls are final. Someone not touching a bag is a concrete fact and can be appealed. Balls and strikes are judgment and are final. Period.

Psycho boy starts shouting that it was a foul tip, he heard it strike the bat. Walks past the umpire, entering the field without asking for time, and starts shouting at the other bench and pointing at people "It was a foul tip. Did you hear it? How about you? Did you hear it?". It wasn't my game, I was just a spectator, but I had on umpire gear and basically nobody knows exactly what authority umpires have and don't have so I blew and told him to get his posterior back to his box. When he got back to his box I called the plate umpire back to the backstop and told him I was here and would back him to the hilt and if that guy even looked at him funny again he was to eject him. Next batter struck out and psycho boy's team, the number one seed, lost to the last place team. Maybe there is a God.

I left right after the game, so I apparently missed the "good" part of the evening. Since it wasn't during the game and didn't involve umpires it falls into the "none of my business" category, but I understand it involved parents from the two teams and sodas from the concession stand. I can only conjecture. But this goes back to my assertion that the example set by the coaches sets the tone for the team. Granted, it possibly was set off by someone from the winning team, but I suspect not. I've experienced psycho boy's parents and they are not a class act. They lost to a team they theoretically should have clobbered, so I'm sure emotions ran high. In short, I strongly suspect the parents followed psycho boy's example. Nice, eh?

I already have a two-man crew scheduled for their next game. I'm going to be there to make it three. Not to "get" psycho boy (but I will eject him in a heartbeat), but because the more umpires, the less chance for controversy. And I want a loud, large adult as part of the crew...Yes, I fill that role admirably.

Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself as a moderator, pushing back parents and coaches who are in danger of wreaking havoc on their own kids' games. I should just be an umpire. But I can't allow adults to urinate all over their own kids' games just because they sucked at sports and want to live vicariously through Junior.

I love baseball. Unfortunately, it takes an adult to really screw up a kids' game.

Think I'm pissed? Yep.

Just wait 'til Friday.

Monday, June 06, 2005

As I feared, the military's need to eat its own has claimed another career.

2LT Pantano has submitted his resignation.

I'm too exhausted to say much about it except that it's a damn shame. There's some commentary at Euphoric Reality and Assumption of Command.

Hat tip to Blackfive.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

On the fundamental unfairness of life, and the irresponsibility of those with whom we have to share this planet and the roads we've lain upon it.

David Cantu felt the draw to serve his country. He had other options. His sister is, I believe, working toward her PhD in a biotech-related subject. Given that, it's obvious that David was no dummy for whom military service was the only option.

Nonetheless, he felt drawn to serve, and serve he did. David finished up his course work and took an early out from high school so that he could enlist in the Marines as soon as possible. Promotions come slowly in the Marines, but nonetheless he achieved the rank of Lance Corporal in a short period of time.

At the age of 19, when his peers were hitting the beach, knocking down a couple of cold ones and introducing themselves to the comely young things that inhabit such areas, David was ducking mortar blasts and covering his buddies' backs. Cover their backs he did well--his superiors had nothing but good things to say about him, despite his relative youth.

David survived the crucible of combat and came home. After all that he had experienced, the first thing he wanted to do was call his girlfriend and tell her how much he loved her and ask her to marry him. She said "yes" and everything fell into place for David. The only thing remaining was the cross country drive home.

At some point during that drive David stopped for gas, then called his now fiance' and told her he was on the way. Within minutes of that phone call David was dead. Killed by a stone drunk who sideswiped him, sending him end over end off of the highway.

Pissed of yet? You should be. But it gets better.

The guy who killed David says it was David's fault. Huh?? Stone drunk boy says David swerved toward him, and totally ignoring the laws of physics, sent himself tumbling off of the highway.

David's family has been through more than any family should ever be asked to endure. First, the uncertainty of a son deployed to a combat zone, then the death of a son, and now the utter weaseling of attorneys who want their son's killer to walk.

My advice to the killer: Be a man. You did it, suck it up.





Friday, June 03, 2005

I can't remember what led up to it, but I found myself explaining what mimeographs were to the kids the other night. This led to memories of other long-forgotten classroom devices such as the reel-to-reel projectors that would begin to flicker until you pushed the little lever to put the loop back in the film and the top-loading slide projectors that looked like little cannons. Start the record player and move to the next slide when it beeps...

Singularly appropriate since I've increased in vintage just this day.

Here's a chance for everyone else to disclose their vintage: Who can tell me the first thing everyone did when a teacher passed out mimeographed sheets?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

It was pretty obvious, but now it's official:

I'm a conservative.

Your Political Profile

Overall: 95% Conservative, 5% Liberal

Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Ethics: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

I'm not sure how I got that 25% marked off, though...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Found another interesting blog by way of Mudville Gazette. Chuck is a company commander in an armored battalion (a Treadhead) on the ground in Iraq. Read about his life and times at From My Position...On the Way!

CPT Chuck repeats one of the mantras I recall from way back when: Once the pin has been pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend.
I guess I'm on a roll tonight.

Had something Monday that struck me low early in the evening--just when I needed to be calling umpires to schedule them.

Slept some ten hours, got up to get the kids off, then slept a couple more hours. Well, whatever got into me is gone and now it's 1 AM and I'm rarein' to go after all of that sleep.

Just wanted to put a plug in for the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, since I mentioned it the other day.

There's a good Special Forces museum associated with the JFK Center on Ft. Bragg proper. Lots of good stuff there, including the original sand table used to prepare for the Son Tay Raid. (A sand table is a model of a target. While out in the field it's often created using natural materials such as sand. The model on the top right of the linked page is the sand table).

There are also 12.5mm Soviet machine guns captured on Grenada. The reason I remember those is an outraged op ed piece at the time, condemning the invasion of Grenada. Among other things the author cited that there were no ".50 caliber weapons" on the island, despite US claims that there were. I guess you could say that, but do the conversion from 12.5mm to inches and let me know what you come up with...

Anyway, when we went by Ft. Bragg in the wake of 9/11, the post was locked up tight. Pretty wild for a post with two highways running through it. So we passed up the JFK Center museum and headed for the new Airborne and Special Operations Museum. Wow.

I can't recommend it enough. It's incredibly well done, it's comprehensive--I thought I knew a lot of military history and I not only learned a lot but got surprised by a couple of things.

They have one of those things that matches motion to a movie screen and I swear that when they were making a helicopter assault and skiing, I was there. It was amazing.

Go there. Buy some souvenirs. Make a donation. But definitely go there.
Ok, I'll admit it. Maybe sometimes I let the situation get the best of me.

I was turning around in a parking lot when a van came flying up and parked me in. The little guy in the control room up in the cerebral cortex hit general alarm and slammed the throttles forward. I was pulling up on the door handle when I recognized the face behind the other windshield, laughing hysterically.

He got out and and said "Jeez (well, not quite) Tom, I was about to jump out and light you up".

He said "I knew you would, that's why I did it".