Sep
5

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The Grouchy Old Man

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I never meant to be a grouchy old man but look at me now, over here killing it. No matter how deeply I pledge to get through the day without harumphing or grouching about one damn thing or another, it always happens anyway. I get up in a pretty good mood every day and any wine-ish residuals are quickly washed away in a sea of coffee and nicotine gum . While I would not describe myself as little Sammy Sunshine, I am generally in a good mood. It never takes too long however before some fucking moron just pisses me off.

It should be difficult to be grouchy today. Innovation is moving forward at lightning speed and all kinds of things are happening to make the world a better place to live. I can actually download all the books I need or want as well as do all my banking and shopping right from a little hand held device. I have access to all the baseball I want to watch right on the same little device.  My Kindle holds more books that some libraries and has driven the cost of my reading addiction down by multiples.  I have a little box I use to back up  my files that can hold something like 2 million pictures, tens of thousands of documents and still have room left for a couple of hundred movies. I can send messages to friends on the other side of the world in a nanosecond or two. It is a wonderful time to be alive.

That’s on top of all the other wonderful run of the mill good shit we inherited through the simple act of tumbling though a vagina and into the world. There is the aforementioned wine and sex as well as sunsets, music (although I do struggle to be grateful for this crap my youngest listens to. Shit sounds like two screech owls stuck in an old tin garbage can being rolled down a steep cobblestone street), books, oceans, lakes, ponds, alligators, sunrises (although I avoid those most of the time. They need to be rescheduled for later in the day so lazy people can enjoy them as well), friends, lovers, soft kisses  and moonlight. All good stuff that should in and of themselves, make it very difficult to be grouchy.

Thanks to the world of medicine and biotech that life is lasting longer and can be of a higher quality. We are seeing cures for diseases and relief for debilitating symptoms being developed every day. Research continues to prove that wine, caffeine and orgasm can all extend life which is the bedrock of my plan for personal immortality. Today doctors can replace limbs, organs, pretty much whatever needs to be fixed. Except brains. And that’s where the problems usually come from during the course of my average day.

I walk outside and accidentally talk to people or see things like some asshole doing 60 down the residential road in front of my house on a street where people are walking babies in strollers and puppies on leashes. It is a god damn epidemic. It’s a fucking residential street not the backstretch at Daytona. Not only are they cruising at madly excessive speeds, the majority of the geniuses are texting while doing so. We have had one dog killed in front of the house and 4 or five trees knocked down on the street while we have lived here. It is only a matter of time before it’s a kid or some over zealous excercise freak on a bicycle. I love driving  fast and can blaze up and down the Turnpike and on the toll road, but speeding in a residential neighborhood is inconsiderate, selfish and it makes me fucking grouchy.

Or I find myself interacting with some helicopter parent who thinks their child is the most precious in the whole wide world and should be given whatever they want while being protected from every possible danger or threat. Poor kids leave the house wrapped up like the bubble boy with a helmet and even then are not allowed to leave the yard. Due to parental demand these kids are graded on a curve when they are graded at all and given trophies just for showing up some of the time. How in the fresh fuck are these kids going to grow  to deal with the real world of work and interacting with people and no curve? These are the poor little bastards that will grow up in fear of trigger warnings and desperately needing safe spaces  and it makes me grouchy.

 

I can be in a great mood all day and then drive up to the middle school to pick up the youngest. Watching these kids spill out of the school and immediately disappear into their iPhones and Galaxies makes me lose faith in the universe. Exposing kids to technology at a young age is a fantastic thing but these little slipshods are not using it to learn, discover and explore. They are sending cat videos and Dr. Who quotes, arranging a meet up with their dealer or some other asinine activity. All the stuff we used to have to do face to face they do on their little phones. That includes bullying other kids. In my day to be a bully you had to risk the other kid growing a pair and knocking your nose into next week. The idea that we have sheltered our kids so much that cyber bulling leads to suicide bothers me no end and makes me a little grouchy.

Then there is the school systems we send the little darlings to. Never have so many spent so much to accomplish so little. I have had kids in public school and institutions of higher education for more than 30 years now so I am pretty familiar with the system. I used to work at a firm that underwrote a lot of municipal bonds so I have read hundreds of school budgets in my day. The problem is not money. It is standardized testing. Its low pay and long hours for teachers. It is a bureaucracy that consumes far too much of the cash before it ever gets to the classroom. We spent something like a trillion dollars at all levels of government last year on the education system and got damn little in return. That makes me grouchy.

There is no easy fix  but parental involvement is a big one. If we had as many parents at the school board meetings as we do at high school football games the education system would get better faster. Unfortunately most parents do not give a shit and just rely on the bureaucracy to do the job for them. Bureaucracies do not give a shit about getting the job done. They care only about protecting and further entrenching themselves and that makes me grouchy.

Then there is the real, overriding and underlying reason for all of my grouchiness.  It is the vast horde of Absolutely Convinced Motherfuckers walking around on the planet. For a variety of religious and political reasons these ass wipes are sure beyond any shade of doubt that they know how I should live my life, spend my money, raise my kids and conduct my affairs. They know to who and under what circumstances I should gift another with my heart or genitals. They and they alone are the arbiters of what goes into my body as well as how and what comes out. They know which books I should read, what music I should listen to, what neighborhood I should live in and what imaginary being in the sky I should pledge my undying and unwavering fealty to. The fact that all the evidence points to them making things worse over the decades rather than better does not phase these folks at all. All is dogma and dogma is all. If it is in the book or the party platform it is the gospel damn truth and I should abide by it by any means required. They are the bane of my existence and the only remaining law that needs to be passed in this great country is the establishment of the length and terms of the Absolutely Convinced hunting season that will allow us to cull the herd and manage the population of these truly dangerous fuckers.

I should not be grouchy. I have a wonderful wife and incredible family. My kids are doing various stage of well at life and their futures are pretty bright. I have a great network of friends all over the world.I have books, I have music. I live in Florida and haven’t seen snow or ice that wasn’t in a cocktail in years now. My Orioles are in pennant contention and Navy Football started off the year with a win. There is a new Carl Hiassen book out tomorrow and offerings from favorites like WEB Griffin and Randy Wayne White on the way soon. The wife and I are off to Captiva in a couple of weeks to celebrate the 6th anniversary of her not killing me in my sleep. Life is good and I should not have to be grouchy.

All I ask of the universe is this. Let me enjoy the world that whatever Deity there is created with all its wonders and pleasures and quit doing stupid shit that makes me grouchy. Close your mouth, open your mind and move beyond dogma and dictates. You don’t know and the sooner you understand and accept that,the less grouchy I will be

Keep your hands out of wallet, your nose out of my business and your kids off my fucking lawn and life will be a dream, Sweetheart.

 

 

 

 

Apr
3

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Baseball Preview- NL

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It is a long fucking season and shit happens.

That’s what makes these spring forecasting exercises so difficult. One big trade and a shitty team is suddenly right in the second half mix. A superstar goes down with an injury and a contender becomes a has been. A manger change and scrubs become superstars. It is a fun intellectual mix but the caveat has to be that something’s going to change during the course of the season. Counting the 17 rounds of playoffs baseball last for 7 month and there will be surprises along the way. Having said that here is my current outlook for the National League.

NL East

This is going to be a fight. Think Ali-Frazier, Patton- Rommel, Grant-Lee, end of a short second marriage, Robison-LaMotta , Greek-Persian kind of viscous nasty fight between the two leading teams. Vile words will be hurled across the diamond, blood will be spilled and great baseball will be played. The Mets and the Nationals are two great teams and they will battle all the way to the end. If Fernandez and Stanton stay healthy all year the Marlins will win enough to play spoiler but I cant see them contending this year. The Braves and Phillies are basically cannon fodder.

  1. Nationals- Dusty Baker makes the difference and they play all the way to the end this year
  2. Mets- they won’t go down easy and Citi Filed will be rocking all year
  3. Marlins- best young pitcher, long ball hitter and coolest jerseys in the major leagues
  4. Braves- in need of biggest rebuilding project since Sherman passed through town. Years away
  5. Phillies- god young talent but not enough for this year

 

NL Central

A three way dog fight but I am going to go ahead and drink the Kool Aid. The Cubs have a young talented roster, great pitching, a Hall of fame lock manager and one of the best GMs in the game. This is the year. The Pirates will outlast the Cardinals in a war of contrition for second place but it will not be an easy task.

  1. Cubs- Goat burgers and Old Style all around. This is the year
  2. Pirates- Just a little younger and hungrier than the Cardinals
  3. Would win easily inmost divisions but this isn’t most divisions. Still one of the greatest organizations form to top to bottom in the game
  4. Brewers- might lose 100 games as they attempt to rebuild after trading away the future a few years back.
  5. Reds- team is just not that good. Could set Franchise record for losses

 

NL West

Everyone is excited about the Diamondbacks offseason moves and thinks they will win the crown this year. They won’t. San Francisco is just too loaded with pitching and a winning culture. The Dodgers always have a Kershaw  of a chance and will keep things tight among the top three. Great division of those of us on the East Coast with insomnia as it beats cooking shows and infomercials for late night entertainment value.

  1. Giants- in this environment Samaardja and Cueto both have career years
  2. Dodgers- good pitching , solid lineup ,a more mature Puig learns to win.
  3. Diamondbacks- better but weak bullpen.
  4. Padres- yet another rebuilding year after last years failed attempt by a title
  5. Rockies- a poor pitching staff in the best hitters park in baseball is problematic at best.

 

Wild cards

Mets

Pirates

NL Pennant winner- Chicago Cubs

In his epic documentary film maker Ken Burns said “Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the generational connection of belonging to a vast and complicated American family, the powerful sense of home, the freedom from time’s constraints, and the great gift of accumulated memory than does our National Pastime.” So it is form and the great game of baseball. The game is not viewed through just the wins and losses or the stats I study so intensely. When I think of baseball I think of the one and only game I attended with my father, a come from behind win in that Orioles Magic season of 1983. He died a few short weeks later and that game was one of the last times we spent together outside of the hospital.

When I think of baseball I remember taking my then infant daughter on the bus, taking the 33 to connect to the 3 to the old memorial stadium in the summer of 1984. We went to a bunch of gams that summer and I can still smell the scent of baby hair and milk breath as she sat on my lap all the way across town.  I think of games with my son and the bond we formed over the game and the team even when he was being a little teen age asshole. Today we share a love for the game and have taken in nay a game and enjoyed cold beers, good games and each other’s company. It is part of the fabric of my life form that transistor radio all the way through to my smart phone that allows me to watch all the games in the palm of my hand today. It is the magical feeling of that first view of Memorial Stadium at 6 years old to a cold beer at Spring training a few week ago.

It’s a long fucking season and shit happens. Hopefully it happens as predicted here but it will happen and another season of the game will be woven into the fabric of my life.

 

 

Apr
3

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Baseball Preview- American League

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I fucking love this game.

Baseball has always has been a big part of my life. From the time I was about six years old I have loved the game and the Baltimore Orioles. Baseball was just part of everyday life. When it was want we played form the moment we got out of the house until we came in at the end of the day when we could hear the chorus of Moms yelling for individual kids.  Looking back it must have sounded like the evening bark scene in 1010 Dalmatians as one by one each mom hollered for kid to get in the house. We played all day, wiffle ball or baseball, stopping only to go to whoever’s house was closest for a hunk of bologna on white bread and some Kool Aid or store brand colas. I had a transistor radio with one of the old plastic white earbuds and if the orioles were playing I was listening to Boog, Brooks and the gang battle the forces of evil. When the adults were done with the paper I would read all the box scores to see what was going on around the league. I loved the game then and I still do today.

Each year I post my expectations for the year ahead and truth be told we have done pretty well with it over the years. I use a bit of math, a bit of common sense and some gut feelings based on decades of watching and studying the game. My results are far from perfect but they don’t entirely suck either. So without further ado here this years expectations and predictions.

AL East- Every bid has fallen in love with allegedly revitalized Boston Red Sox. While adding Kimbrell and Price make them a better team it doesn’t make them a great team. The Blue Jays are the consensus pick and while it is hard to argue against them I am going to anyway. Tampa bay has a fantastic rotation with four of the best your pitchers in baseball.  Kiermaeir is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game and they have dependable if not spectacular bats in Longoria and Morrison. Pitching wins titles and Tamp will win the division. When you starting pitchers can keep you in every game you are going to pick up your share of close games and that is usually the secret to the AL East.

  1. Tampa Bay- Pitching wins games.
  2. Toronto- a solid club what will push the rays to be their best down the stretch
  3. Boston- like the US economy better but not great
  4. Orioles- if they get a pitching miracle they can contend but the Pope has not revealed his favorite team. Given his Latin roots its probably Miami anyway
  5. Yankees- Great bullpen, but rotation is not deep and old guys are injury prone.

 

AL Central- I want to pick the White Sox but the Adam LaRoche incident has created some locker room issues. They have the pitching and  some great bats but everything would have to gel perfectly and Ventura may have to work on rebuilding the locker room. Detroit is getting too damn old to get it done although at times the offense will give pitchers nightmares and a good case of the shits. I am one to hold a grudge and have not forgiven the Kansas City Fucking Royals for the playoff series against Baltimore two years ago but they a very good baseball team and my pick to win the division.

  1. Royals- remind me of Billy Martin Oakland teams. Small ball with constant pressure on defenses
  2. White Sox- They have what it takes but will need exceptional job by manager to hold it all together
  3. Minnesota- better than you might think. Young talent and a great manager
  4. Tigers- lots of fun to watch but will find it hard to win consistently
  5. Indians-Good young pitching but you have to have some offense. They don’t

 

Al West- most are picking Texas and it is a very good ball club. I think the younger across the board Astros may have the core of a great team and will take the divisions. The Angel have Mike Trout but the rotation will not get them through the year. A couple of stars won’t get it done when the rest of the team struggle to be average. Oakland is just not all that good and Billy Beane needs another draft or two to get the club back on track. Seattle will flirt with the division lead at times but won’t be able to catch Texas and Houston late in the year.

1-Astros- young, aggressive, good pitching. Hard to beat that mix

2-Rangers- They will be in the mix all year and if the Astros should falter they have a decent shot at taking the title

3-Mariners- just not enough to compete of the division win

4-Angels – must watch team just to see trout play but not enough across the board to be a force.

4-Oakland- Nope

Wild cards- Texas and Toronto

Al Pennant – Houston Astros

National League up next

 

Dec
24

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To Know and Not to Know

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As over a billion people begin to celebrate Christmas, I’d like to go over a few facts: Christ was probably not born in late December. There is no biblical evidence of such and early Christians never celebrated such a holiday. This time of the year mark’s the winter solstice, a day celebrated by countless cultures for thousands of years, going all the way back to the days of Stonehenge, predating all modern religions. Christmas is most likely an appropriation of the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. A lot of the traditions of Christmas, like the tree or the yule log, originate from Pagan practices in Europe. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25 with a decorated tree and gift giving.

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May
6

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The Philosophy of Willie

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Most of the time I listen to jazz these days but I also still listen to a lot of country. Not so much the new stuff but the good old boys and outlaws like Waylon, Willie, Jerry Jeff and others.  Those guys played what they wanted , lived as they chose and did not give two shits what anyone thought of either. They were cowboy poets with a bottle of whiskey, a bag of pot, a guitar , a carton of Marlboro reds and hundreds of miles of open road ahead. Even today when I listen to these songs I hear a line and think “man that’s some deep fucking shit right there.” It has always seemed to me that Willie Nelson got off more of those deep shit lines that anyone else. The guy is just an incredible song writer and how do you not like a guy who thumbs his nose at the IRS and pays them back by touring around the country in a big ass bus with a few pounds of weed aboard? Today I decided to take a deeper look at the Philosophy of Willie.

When I’d go I’ve been here long enough, So you’ll sing and tell more jokes and dance and stuff, Just keep the music playin’. That’ll be a good goodbye, Roll me up and smoke me when I die.

And there is much of the philosophy of our church in a song lyric. We are here as long as we are here and we should enjoy the ride more than we do. Most religions celebrate denying pleasures while you are here in favor of hoping for something better after. I hope there is something better after just like everyone else that ever drew a breath and had to face the fact that someday they wouldn’t but I don’ t think that means I should deny myself the pleasure and beauty that is here, in front of us, right now.

Don’t cry at my funeral (40 or 50 years from now). Laugh, and tell stories. Talk about the night Marcus and I stole his car back from the illegals his ex sold it to out of spite. Tell the ditch story. Remember all the parties, excursions and good times. Talk about nights in Irish dives on the Upper East Side and along Rush Street. Remember the misadventures of the racetrack trips to Lexington and skin head bars in Louisville. Talk about baseball and books. Don’t cry for me. I was here and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

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