There is a surprisingly long list of great thinkers and philosophers associated with Baltimore. When most people think of Baltimore things like riots, crack cocaine, murder rates, and bad beer come to mind more quickly than great thinkers. I have lived in Baltimore and became very familiar with the great minds like HL Mencken, Upton Sinclair, Edgar Allan Poe, John Waters, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Slappy White who have called Baltimore home for some period of their life.
However, I think that the greatest philosopher and biggest thinker produced by the city is overlooked and rarely mentioned except by those who spent time in the 60’s and 70s sucking down cheap beer and listening to the dulcet tones of Chuck Thompson recite the day’s antics at the world’s greatest outdoor zoo on 33rd Street. Rather than the rare air and pleasant savagery of the Algonquin Roundtable, this philosopher was more likely to be quoted in Sam Lorea’s Tavern on the docks of Annapolis or The Horse You Came In On Saloon along the Fells Point waterfront. It is a philosophy built on cold beer and unfiltered cigarettes, but I believe that the mind and often profanity-laced words of Earl Weaver contain many of the secrets of life.
The Earl of Baltimore managed 17 seasons in Baltimore and won over 1400 games with just one losing season. His team won 4 pennants and one World Series. They had 5 100 win seasons. Earl didn’t make many friends among the umpire’s or players, but the barstool tenants in Highlandtown and Dundalk loved the guy. He won often, and he took no shit from anybody, He was one the more quotable managers of all time and his words leave us guidance for living a life that might win as much as he did.
It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts
This was the title of one of Earls books and should be a guide for all of us. At many points in our life, we will be convinced that we know everything that matters. This starts in the teenage years and repeats several times throughout our lived. The day after college graduation are often among the worst of these times when those who had the top marks in law school or business school or other advanced degree program emerge to challenge the world with their brilliance only to discover that not one fucking thing they learned in the last 7 years has one ounce of usefulness in their chosen profession. To succeed they will have to forget all but the most basic knowledge they spent so much to acquire. All the elegant formulas and grandiose knowledge they accumulated are pretty much worthless. It is shocking to learn that you do not, in fact, know everything, and in fact, it is highly likely that you do not know shit about these are the moment sin life where we will learn the most.
The most dangerous people you will ever meet are those who think they know everything because of their superior political or religious views. These folks are highly unlikely to learn anything one their leaders have poured their heads full of falsehoods and dogma and hey believe they have the high moral ground to simply destroy anyone who does not agree with them. They are the Absolutely Convinced and should be avoided at all costs. There is a pretty good chance these folks will take all of you money and beat you to death while telling you it is for your own good and they are killing you to show how much their magic man in the sky loves you.
You do not know everything. You do not even know as much as you think you do. A liberal use of the phrase “I don’t know” will make your life much more enjoyable and as a bonus, you are likely to learn more if you admit you don’t know.
I became an optimist when I discovered that I wasn’t going to win any more games by being anything else.
We don’t have a hell of a lot of control about what is going to happen to the world, but I don’t see any real point and spending a hell of a lot of time worrying about it all. Most of the stuff I have worried about in my life never happened anyway so why waste the energy?
There is a lot that can wrong in the world and life, but there is also a lot that can go right. I prefer to focus on that. I prepare for what can go wrong as best I can and then concentrate on the brighter parts of the future. Not even the most optimistic soul back in 1950 could have conceived of what cars, medicines, and homes look like today. The pessimist would have just assumed we would all be radioactive dust by now and if he is still alive and he has benefitted little from all the advances we have seen in the last 67 years.
Life will bring what it will bring. In the meantime, there is music, books, kisses, love, wine, beaches, bourbon and baseball to enjoy. You might as well look on the bright side. If the light does turn out to be a train at least you will die singing.
Do the dull things right, so the extraordinary things will not be required too often.
The simple truth is that life is made up of a lot of boring shit that has to be done. Earning a living, cleaning the toilets, doing the dishes, all that sort of dull stuff that is so easy to put off. Just fucking do it and do it well. It takes 10 minutes to do the dishes, or you can just let the shit pile up until it’s a health hazard and you need to pay a Hazmat team armed with a few hundred Brillo Pads to fix the mess. Do the dull shit and do it well. Your life will be better for it.
You win pennants in the offseason when you build your teams with trades and free agents.
A great baseball team is great because of the people on the team. You need a guy that can play the game and add something to the team be it an arm, speed, a bat or a glove. You need good people to have a great team. If they don’t add something to the team, you have to cut them and get someone that does.
Apply that standard to the people in your life. Do they add value? Do they encourage you or just sit around bitching about life’s bad breaks? Does their presence in your life make your life better? No, apply that standard to yourself and the people in your life. Do you add value to their life? Do you make their life better? If not then perhaps you need to start being part of the team.
Only have people in your life that make the team better. Make sure you are doing something every day to make the team better. Your life will improve dramatically if you apply these simple tests to your relationships and acquaintances. Above all don’t be afraid to make the cuts. If your shortstop is making errors that are costing games cut their ass and get someone who can play the game.
The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers.
This is the key to life in my opinion. It needs to be a sign on your wall, stitched into a pillow or for you avant-garde types tattooed backward on your ass and read in the mirror every morning when you step out of the shower.
Fundamentals matter. Do what you need to do and do it well. Stand out from the crowd because you execute often and you execute well. If you are a ditch digger, be a good one. If you are a writer, then write well. If you handle others people money, then do it honestly with integrity as your first concern. If you are a cop, then be a good cop. If you are a parent be a good one. Learn the things you need to do to be good at living your life. Ask, practice, read and learn the things to you need to know to be good at your job, your marriage, or whatever else is important to you. Learn them, practice them and also be looking to get better. Avoid the stupid mistakes that cost games and can ruin your life.
Do what you can to get on base every time up at the plate. If you are on base someone else can drive you in and the runs matter as must as it does for the one who hits it out.When the pitchers float one or hangs a curve rear back and knock that son of a bitch out of the stadium. If you drive someone else in they, get to score a run, and you get a RBI so do what you can in life to drive others in.
Life will hang curves. I see it all the time in the financial markets. It sure as happened to me in my personal life as I finally found that one person who can live with me without giving into the overwhelming desire to kill me in my sleep. It happened to me professionally back on 2008 and I have had the best nine years of my life as a result. The key here is that when I realized the pitch was not going to break, I swung from the heels and took advantage of the opportunity. I have missed a few in life, but I also missed every single one when I didn’t swing. If life offers a floater swing. If you miss, there is another game tomorrow.
Protect yourself, avoid unforced errors, do not make stupid mistakes and when life hangs a curve plant that fucker ten rows back.
Tell politicians and preachers to leave you the fuck alone. You and Earl got this.
In the furor of the few days after the election, political rants from both sides were spewed out on social media covering the mind of those unfortunate to read the crazed material like a coating of bile spewed forth by the vilest of drunkards who has been imbibing of the noxious of liquors. One very admirable fellow in my timeline just answered each and every piece of mental vomitous with a tweet or post that simply said: “Read Montaigne.” Indeed the philosopher and essayist about whom Nietzsche once said “That such a man has written, joy on earth has truly increased. If my task were to make this earth a home, I would attach myself to him ” would seem to offer some words and thoughts that might give pause to some of the hateful Absolutely Convinced diatribes that have occurred since November 8th. Unfortunately, the moronic diarrhea of the mind and the mouth has continued unabated, so I thought I might examine some Montaigne’s thoughts and ideas and provide if nothing else a brief respite from that is shat forth as dialogue these days.
Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
This one simple phrase holds much of the world’s woes within its grasp. People grasp onto beliefs and values that are unproven at best and pure evil at worst. They insist that they know these things to be among the higher truths but have not spent so much as a minute researching it. One of the best news items I have seen is when Jesse Waters of Fox News will ask ardent supporters of a particular candidate if they agree with their candidates positions on certain issues. He will then present the opposition’s views on wide range of topics and attribute to the individuals chosen favorite. 100% of the time they not only believe it but support it with all their heart and soul. These folks have not even taken the time to read their candidates’ positions on the important issues of the day but swill with their dying breath they are the only hope for their world and call you 16 kinds of a fucking moron if you aren’t voting the way they think you should.
If you are going to talk to me about medical issues, read a medical book or 10 first. Should you wish to advise me on tax policies, have some clue how the tax code and enforcement process works. Before telling me which economic policies will save the world have a basic grasp of how economics and business work. Before you passionately support some belief or cause and have the effrontery to insist everyone else share it with you, have some fucking clue about what you are proclaiming.
I speak the truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more as I grow older.
In reality, very little truth is told today. To tell the pure, unvarnished truth is to invent ridicule and rebuke. Like the philosopher, I find that as I age, I care less about those things and think a little truth telling is good for the soul. Even if it is just my soul that feels better. So, to wit, some truths:
I do not own my fellow citizens one fucking thing except the courtesy to leave them alone, so they can live their lives as they see best.
Whatever God exists does not give a fuck about who wins a football game, I am pretty sure She is a baseball fan but has the wisdom only to interfere when it’s the Cubs in game 7.
The government cannot help you.
There is scant evidence that any one religion is better or worse than another.
Your children are not better looking and smarter than every other kid.
Your shit does, in fact, stink.
You do not know best. Neither does Father.
Taxes are merely a government endorsed form of armed robbery.
The Pope looks ridiculous in those shoes.
Pure democracy is a vile form of government that leads inevitably to some malignant form of socialism.
The Boston Red Sox signing Chris Sale is proof that evil exists and flourishes in the world.
Formal political parties are a cancer on a free society.
An excess of political correctness is an advanced form of idiocy.
And so on and so forth.
Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.
I confess that religion troubles me greatly and along with the IRS is one of the few things I fear in this life. People in the grasp of religion can justify any foul act, or cruel measure as they insist is suits the purpose of their all-knowing and all-powerful God. In the name of this loving being, their forefathers invented out of necessity and fear of the unknown people will kill anyone who does not share their desperate beliefs. We rely on the crutch of religion to carry us through the troubled times when it might be best if we got off our knees and worked for a solution but praying is easier it seems. Having a divine reason to insist everyone else thinks and acts as we do is so much better than admitting that we are close minded ass hats who cannot embrace different thoughts and opinions.
I am pretty sure there is some being, deity or great intelligence behind this miracle we call like. There is too much order, sprinkled with exactly the right amount of disorder to encourage growth to think otherwise. I am just not arrogant enough to suggest I know what he./She/It looks like or the name of the force involved. I do not know the grand purpose or meaning if it all. I do know that by considering the act of sex, the process of defecation and the fact that men have nipples whoever created all this has a fabulous sense of humor.
It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.
I will take this one step farther and say that it should be brains that do not always agree with us. At times it should be with someone who disagrees with every single thought and belief we have so our own may be tested. Spending all of our time talking with only those who believe as we do limits us from understanding the world we live. To learn you must be willing to entertain the notion that you are wrong. Of course you will have to learn to interact with the modern method of discourse which appears to involve beating the living shit of those who do not share your point of view in favor of a nice discussion over some wine and cheese but it is still a worthwhile endeavor to engage with some who thinks differently even if you do not get the pleasure of knocking their fucking teeth out.
There were many terrible things in my life, and most of them never happened.
We all worry about things, and we are all morons for doing so much of the time. Being afraid of what might happen and what could happen to the point of paralysis is mankind’s favorite pointless activity it seems to me. Anxiety is rampant in our society, and it really should not be. We have little to no control what particular brand of shit the universe will throw at us on a given day, but we can control how we react to events. If it isn’t going to kill you, you can deal with it. If it kills you, you will no longer give a shit.
When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
This has been the case for as long as I can remember. Mine was not a happy house to grow up in much of the time, and I escape the shattered crockery, the sister who was medivaced on a regular basis, my mom’s’’ propensity for affairs, fathers drunken absence and other childhood moments via books. I lived in the world of knights and astronauts, kings and philosophers, wizards and villains and other times and places just by the mere act of opening a book. The one thing I will always be grateful to my mother for, as many differences as we had in life, is that she encouraged us to read and instilled a love of reading in all of us. It was not until much later in life that I understood that she had hidden from the darkness of her own childhood in books and wanted to be sure that we were all able to do the same.
Whatever measure of success I have had in life is a result of this love of reading. I taught myself how to think, how to invest, how to write, how to cook a meal and just about everything else I know today by reading. My moral center or lack thereof comes from reading the thoughts and ruminations of great minds like Jack Schaeffer, Robert Parker, and Louis L’Amour along with Rand, Friedman, Twain, as well as a host of others. Whatever I am reading made me and continues to make me.
Even today when things get too much, or I just want to relax and not think about taxes, elections, protests, executive orders, resurgent New York Yankees, high-frequency trading, the rise of the robots and other evils of the day I turn to books to free my mind and relax my soul. When asked my favorite hobby I always reply reading but more than a hobby it something close to the center of my existence.
By the way, you can substitute the word baseball for books in Montaigne’s quote and have a great truth staring you in the face as well. Baseball was the other great escape of my childhood, and my love of the game remain unabated today. 3 hours or so of watching a good game can realign the whole world. I often combine books and baseball by watching the game over the top of my book and hours spent in this manner are pure bliss.
There is indeed much to learn in Montaigne’s words and thoughts, so much so that we cannot cover them all today. Doubtless we shall return to the subject at some future date, but for now, I leave you a parting thought:
Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee
The bats have fallen silent. After last Wednesday game seven we shall not hear the thwack of a well-struck ball or the thwap of a fastball finding the back of a mitt until the middle of February. No more box scores with morning coffee. No more late night West coast games as an excuse for staying up too late. No more double plays, no hit and runs and no grand slams about four months. Rogers Hornsby once said “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” There are 102 days to go until we get back to baseball and I will be counting down the days.
It has been a fantastic season. For my Orioles, we made the playoff wild card game and then dropped it to Toronto, but it was a winning year with some solid highlights. Zach Britton saved 47 out of 47 opportunities. Mark Trumbo led the league in home runs. Manny Machado gave us another season of Manny. Gausman and Bundy developed solidly. The bullpen as strong. We need to get some front line pitching and will probably have some free agent loss to replace, but I like our team and look forward to spring training.
The Cubs had themselves a year. The fairy tale came true down on Addison and Clark as Wrigley Filed at long last turned into Cinderella’s castle. The team that Theo built was the best in baseball with 203 wins. If you play in the National League, you have to be concerned because that team is young and free agents are going to have the Chubs high on their list of preferred teams.
The playoffs were as good as gets. The Indians were a juggernaut rolling over two hard slugging teams in Toronto and Boston and then gave the Cubs everything they could handle in the World Series. We will also see them again in the playoff picture for the next few years. The World Series was one of the best you will ever see, and I got to go to a game with my daughter. All in all a great year of baseball.
There were some questions as well including:
What the Fuck happened to Bryce Harper? He is better than he played for much of the year.
What the hell was Jose Fernandez thinking?
What in the fresh hell prompted Dan Duquette to trade for Wade Smiley? For that matter when do you get smart and just eat the contract on Ubaldo?
Will Giancarlo Stanton ever play a full year?
How did Tamp Bay get so little from such strong pitchers?
Why is Manny Machado avoiding talking about a long-term extension with Baltimore?
How good is Gary Sanchez going to be and how good will that makes the Yankees?
For now, the season is over, and the question is just something to talk about over the winter. There will be distractions, and I will stay on top of the Hot Stove League, watching MLB Tonight to keep track of all the maneuvering. I have a mild interest in college basketball, and we have several weeks of Navy Football left to follow. There are lots of books to read and some series the wife wants to binge watch now that there are no games on every night. There will be weather report to send to my Northern friends shortly in my annual ritual and tracking the snowfall in daughter Chicago neighborhood is always amusing. But there will be no baseball.
It will be back. There will be therapeutic afternoons in the stands of major and minor league professional baseball. There will be spring training afternoons and beach bar nights over in Sarasota in just 101 days or so. There will be box scores and radio broadcasts and the Orioles on MLB-TV on my phone just a surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. As sure as the heart of a politicians heart is black Baseball will return. But for today there is no baseball.
And I don’t fucking like it one little bit.
You don’t know. You don’t know who will win the World Series next week. You don’t know which teams will play in the Super Bowl. You don’t even know who will win the election in a few weeks. You don’t know what the stock market will do in 2017. Hell, you don’t even know what the stock market will do on Monday. You don’t know any of these things. You may have an opinion, belief or hope but you do not know. But you like to pretend you do.
You don’t know if which is worse for those looking to unwind at the end of the day, a bong hit or a bourbon. You don’t know who I should love or how I should love them. You don’t know what best for my children. You have no clue what is best for my body. Hell, you don’t even know if coffee is good for me or killing me on sip at a time. You have no clue where I should live or how I should earn my living. But you like to pretend you do.
You have no idea if God Exists. If God is real, you have no idea what she wants from us. You have no idea what the voice of God sounds like but God is not talking to you. You have no idea what the meaning of life is. You do not know what God looks like. You have no clue what God created all of this. You may have deep beliefs and an unshakeable faith, but you do not know. Of course, that’s no reason not to pretend that you do know, is it?
If you want to have your beliefs about God, life and everything else that would be just fine with me. But that’s not enough for you, is it? I have to believe exactly as you do or I am a heretic, a godless heathen; I am going to burn in hell, roast in the eternal fires weeping and gnashing my teeth while you wither quietly strum your harp or screw your brains out with all those virgins depending which story you chose to favor. What’s all the hype about virgins anyway? I find highly unlikely than any of the 72 know how to give a solid blowjob for know about the reverse cowgirl so I can’t imagine it is going to be all that much fun. Teaching 72 women the doctrine of “No Teeth” seems almost arduous to me. And the harp is one of the most overrated and boring instruments of all time. Of course none of that matters I must believe as you or am condemned for all time.
Naturally, I must also agree with all your thoughts about how to runs society and the world as well. Should my beliefs be different than yours I am a fag loving pothead communist fuck head or a racist, bigot, misogynist, genderist fuck head. I have to agree with every scrap of dogma your political leaders spoon feed you or I am unfit to be a citizen of the country or live in this world. You know exactly how much of my money should go to support your particular cause or invasion and if I don’t it like I can go to jail or better yet, just go straight to hell. Because your side knows what best and there is no room for disagreement. You know what’s best and you are going to do it for the children. And by the way that includes my kids even if I don’t like it.
Three little words would make the world a much better place. I don’t know. I don’t know who God is. I have my ideas, but I won’t force them on you because the reality is I am not sure. I have an idea of how I should live my life but have no clue how you should live yours so I’ll just let you go about your business as long as it cause me no harm. I know who I like to have sex with, but I do not know your preference so I will just get along your way and best of luck to ya. I understand how I like to spend my money but simply do not know what is best for you. I know what kind of things I like to eat and drink but have no idea what your choices might be so “Cheers.” Enjoy whatever you choose. I know what I think life is about but have no clue whatsoever what it all means and the point and purpose of it all so I will just live my life in accordance with my thoughts, hopes, and dreams and leave you alone to do the same.
I don’t know would solve a lot of the world’s problems. Why won’t more people just say the three magic words?
I just don’t fucking know.
This is the year I stopped giving a shit about the NFL. It has been coming for some time as my interest in the game has faded the past few years. I knew I had crossed over into Notgiveashitstan when I looked at the cable bill and realized that under no circumstances did I think the NFL package on Direct TV was worth $45 a month. I canceled that day and decided just to settle for whatever local game was on. The problem with that is that I live in Florida and all of the local teams are horrid. I figured given my love of all things Pirate, the Buccaneers over in Tampa would be a natural choice until I tried to watch a game. I was asleep on the couch before halftime. It was just boring football.
It is not that I don’t still like football. I am still a huge fan of the college games, and there is a lot of yelling and screaming going on here when one of the two teams of my youth are playing. Being an Irish Catholic kid in the 1960s growing up in Annapolis, Maryland I root for Navy and Notre Dame, although the Irish are making it a little difficult this year. I have adopted the Florida Gators as my instate team and although they can be hard to watch they play incredible defense which has always been my favorite part of the game. Plus I look fantastic in Blue and Orange.
However, the Pro game has become boring. All the rule changes to make it safer have turned the games into flag fests. They have also turned the defense into bystanders. Let me let you in on a little secret. Football is not a safe sport, and everyone on that field knows it. It is not like they are gladiators in ancient Rome taken as slaves and forced to fight. Each and every one of them has worked their whole life to get exactly where they are. They love the game, and they love the money. If you told them they had to play with no pads and leather helmets, they would still play. It is like boxing in the 1950s and 1960. It is dangerous, and you can hurt but if you succeed you succeed beyond your wildest dreams. We watch NASCAR for crashes and Pro Football for the big hits. Take the violence out of football, and we might as well be a bunch of Englishman sitting around sipping tea and watching soccer.
The league has also made it against the rules to have a personality. No uniform additions. No end zone celebrations. No taunting whatever the fuck that is. No excessive celebrations. Mr. Goodell, nothing exceeds like excess and trying to turn an NFL game into a dull day at the office takes half the fun out of the game.
Of course, in today’s world of participation trophies, we have parity rules to make sure every team has a chance. All parity rules have done is ensure that there is a whole lot mediocre football played each and every Sunday. It takes a rare combination of coach and owner found pretty much only in New England these days to consistently field a good team year in and year out.
I grew up with the Baltimore Colts. We had Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry doing things that had never been done. We had Bubba Smith and Artie Donovan, Mike Curtis, Ted Hendricks and Rick Volk. They were blue collar guys who played smash mouth football in the world’s largest outdoor zoo on 333rd street. They didn’t always win, but they won a lot a lot, and they were fun to watch. And then in 1983 the moving fans showed, and they were gone.
I moved out west after that and while I followed the 49ers and admired how great those Bill Walsh teams were I was not a rabid fan. I went to a few games while I was out there but that was because I was given tickets. I never bought a ticket to a game in the five years or so I was in California.
I had a football renaissance of sorts when I lived on Kent Island in Maryland from about 2000 to 2010. Baltimore had the Ravens, and they were defensive wunderkinds in the last era where you were allowed to kick ass on the defensive side of the field. Football was also a huge social thing in the fall and winter. The boats were in storage; it was cold, and there is not a hell of a lot to do in a boating town when the boats are out of the water, so football took center stage. If you had tickets you were at the game and if you didn’t you were at Annies or Lukes to watch football with a bunch of friends, eating lots of food and above all drinking a lot of beer. There were Ravens fans and Redskins fans in the area and the taunting while good natured was endless. It was a hell of a good time with a bunch of great friends, and I became a serious NFL Fan. Fantasy Football was a blood sport played for a pretty good amount of money, and that helped further energize Sunday afternoons.
When I moved to Florida, I lost a lot of the social aspect of the game. I found some bars in the areas that are Ravens fan bars and of course the local sports bars all have pretty good Sunday crowds, but I lack the motivation to bother. My days of drinking all day Sunday and being moderately functional before Tuesday are behind me now. My wife would probably happily drive me to the game just to get me out from underfoot, but I prefer to stay home. I would rather putter around the office, doing some research, maybe read a book and get a decent nap in then spend the day in a bar watching bad football.
The NFL is now on the same level as the NBA for me. I can catch the highlights on Sports Center, and that’s all I need. I will probably watch the championship games and the Super Bowl, but I won’t care who wins. I will spend the offseason like Hal of Famer Rogers Hornsby who once said “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.
It is a combination of things- the rule changes, restriction on the defense, parity driven mediocrity and yes, the lack of the social environment, but this is the year I stopped giving a shit about the NFL
I Love Everyone….But
Your humble minister issues a mandate from high above
Sometimes when someone asks me what religion I am, and I tell them that I am not, they launch into a lecture on the importance of having stuff…
Everyone wants to be happy but no one can tell you just what the hell happy is exactly.