Foul Play In L.A.


Like many of you, I watched Game 2 of the NLDS Saturday night between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In the bottom of the 7th and with Dodger runners at first and third trailing by a run at 2-1, Ruben Tejada fielded a ground ball and went to tag second base to get Chase Utley out as he was forced to the base. With one out, the Mets defense attempted to get a double play, meaning Utley had pretty much no choice but to try and trip up Tejada as he threw to first to record two outs on the same play.

Utley instead missed the bag and submarined Tejada’s legs, braking one of them. As a result, it was originally thought that the Mets registered a single out, causing the runner at third base to score, tying the game at 2-2. Replays would later reveal that Tejada couldn’t have recorded the out at second, even though Utley never touched second base on his slide. With everybody safe and no outs recorded on the play, the Dodgers rallied that inning and held on for a 5-2 win to even the series at one game each in the best-of-five game series to see which team can win three games before the other.

With the two biggest media markets in the US covering the series, reaction to Utley’s slide that broke Tejada’s leg has been spirited. Legendary manager Joe Torre, now in charge of discipline for the league, suspended Utley for the next two games for the hard slide. Utley and the Dodgers quickly appealed, meaning he’ll be on the roster and available for the third game of the series.

The game had a lot of hype, but proved to be an anticlimax as the hometown Mets easily routed the Dodgers, breaking a team record for most runs in a postseason game in a 13-7 blowout in a game not as close as the final score would lead you to believe.

As for Chase Utley, the New York media will berate him for now, but I don’t think anyone on the Mets will bean him. If there’s any payback, it will take place sometime during the 2016 campaign. He did what 95% of MLB players would have done in the same situation: he played hard, to aid his team by potentially sacrificing his body. I’m sure most Met players would do likewise in that situation where a run would tie the game if a double play was broken up. An errant knee could have hit Chase in the head on such an aggressive side, concussing him and/or knocking him out of the game too.

Baseball is a game at times that doesn’t reward or foster sportsmanship, and sometimes hard feelings can erupt over these plays that blur the lines. Ask Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson during the 1973 NLCS and their famous brawl. It’s October, and in this month, teams play to win by any means necessary. It’s just the nature of the game, and even though Mets fans want blood, they should ease off.

Was it dirty? I think so. I’m just saying in that situation it’s easy to get carried away with the moment. The two-game suspension is fair under the circumstances, and I don’t have any problem with it.

Recent Listens And Reads


Here’s what I’m watching and listening to lately:

On Netflix, I’m watching a lot of The Rockford Files lately, a favorite TV show of mine of the past couple of decades. The show features James Garner as private investigator Jim Rockford, a pardoned ex-convict who finds himself in the middle of a series of misadventures, with Stuart Margolin as “Angel” Martin, a mischief magnet who gets Jim into trouble in a lot of the episodes from season two onwards.

The creator of the series, David Chase, would have a big-time hit a couple of decades later with The Sopranos, and I think most of you have heard of that particular show.

I recently got rid of Kindle Unlimited and subscribed to Tunein for it’s wide library of audiobooks. I figured I could get more use out of those than the books KU could give you for $10 or so a month, plus the audio books are a better quality of book then what Kindle offers for their subscription. I’m certainly listening to They Call Me Baba Booey, the life story of Howard Stern’s producer, Gary Dell’Abate. Howard and Gary have a unique relationship as host and producer, something I can relate to with the radio travels I had from 1989 to 1996.

What sealed the deal for me on the Tunein subscription was that they throw in MLB and NFL games (which I just discovered) and other sports events, such as Premier League soccer. As I type this up, I’m listening to the Royals-Astros ALDS playoff game off of ESPN’s radio feed, while my TV has the Patriots-Cowboys NFL game with the sound down.

In other words, I’m media multitasking.

Technical Difficulties At Taco Bell


My love of Taco Bell goes back to 1984, when I was introduced to the restaurant (that had just opened up in southwest Largo) by my Dad, who brought home some Nachos BellGrande for us to snack on. It was the night of my last day of school for the calendar year, December 21st, 1984. Dad wanted to watch the BYU-Michigan Holiday Bowl that would likely give the Cougars the national college football title if they won. (Brigham Young did win the bowl game, and the title was theirs a couple of weeks later. Yes, this is how I remember things, cross-referencing them televised to sporting events.)

There was also a Taco Bell at the time by Largo High School, at the corner of Missouri Avenue and West Bay Drive, which is now a CVS Pharmacy. This was more a less my social hangout back then if hanging around school was an option. If I went to a football game in the fall or a soccer game in the winter, I’d stop in at “The Bell” and get a bite to eat beforehand, or bring it to the stadium with me, which made me look like a glutton to everybody. And yes, my food of choice was usually a Nachos Bellgrande, with plenty of napkins.

I hadn’t eaten at a Taco Bell since my trip to Orlando in April of 2014 at the Florida Mall, which connects to the Florida Hotel I was staying at. There had been allegations in recent years that the beef the fast food chain uses is actually horse meat, and that soured me on them for a while.

A couple of days ago, I thought I’d pay the Taco Bell in Pinellas Park a visit, as they’re about a 15 minute drive from where I live. Before leaving, I checked their online menu to see if anything had changed, and a lot had. According to the site, you can now order what you want online, then go to the store and get it, kind of like Papa John’s except you travel to their store, they don’t travel to you. As a bonus, they had an offer where if you buy $10 or more, they’d knock $2 off the price.

I was suspicious that a fast food chain could do this, so I brought my patience with me when I bellied up to the drive-thru. Sure enough, when I explained I had ordered online, I can hear the hesitation in their voices right away. The online order had never reached them.

I asked, handing my printout over to them: “Well, can I give you the order to make? I have cash on me.”

They agreed, with the general manager, a redhead I’d guess to be in her mid-20’s, explaining to me that next time I should just come in to place the order, and not do so online. I could appreciate her position, and we were both nice about it all, but…HUH?

Back when I lived in Marietta, Georgia in 1996, they had a Taco Bell off of Cobb Parkway where you pushed buttons on a computer monitor to get the food you want, kind of a higher-tech automat. At my local Taco Bell 19 years and change later, they can’t even accept an online order?

Is technology making progress go forward, or is it making it go backward?

Flashback: “Wand’rin Star” by Lee Marvin

Welcome to my new favorite song.

I discovered it last week looking at #1 hits in the British charts in the decade of the 1970’s. Right there off the top was this Lee Marvin song from the western musical Paint Your Wagon.

Wait a minute. A western musical?!? There was such a thing?

Lee Marvin singing?!? That happened?

Lee Marvin sang a song, and it topped the charts in the UK?!? And it kept the Beatles from topping the charts with “Let It Be?” How did THAT happen? Must have been a unique planetary alignment going on over there in early 1970.

Don’t even get me started on Clint Eastwood singing on the B-side of the 45.

After hearing the song last week, I’m watching the Yankees-Astros AL wild card game…and there it is again in an Amazon Prime ad about a dog with a broken leg and an owner who goes online to get the dog a harness so he can carry the dog, thus the dog doesn’t feel left out.

It’s actually a pretty neat song, with Marvin’s unique vocal track fitting it perfectly.

Harry On The Warpath

As the guy said in Casino...look at what they did to my hand, man!
As Joe La Due (the guy who gets the hammer) said in Casino…look what they did to my hand, man!  Photo taken on October 7, 2015.

I’m having a problem with the cat. He’s getting visits from some of a neighboring stray, and the stray and Harry are not getting along.

It all began about 8:30pm Tuesday, with “The Prince” making noises that I thought were sound effects from a TV show at first. You know that “RRR-EEE-AHH” noise a cat makes when it screams? Harry can make that noise perfectly, I have now learned.

Naturally, I go out there and try and keep order. I try and grab Harry to calm him down, as I’ve only seen him act that way one time in the five years I’ve cat-sitted for him, and taken care of him full-time since January of this year.

Attempting to touch Harry was a BIG mistake, as he goes all Tasmanian Devil on my left hand in his blind rage. He’s biting me so quickly and strongly that I don’t even feel pain until a few seconds after his attack. I quickly dab the wound with Neosporin, then go out to chase the stray away from the house. (It has since healed quite nicely, the photo you see was taken a good 24 hours after the attack.) After that, I shoo the stray away from the house to bother Harry no more.

Tonight, it happens again twice, but it proves anticlimatic. I again chase the stray cat away from the house, but this time he or she returns to taunt Harry some more. I have some Keep Off repellent in the house, so I liberally spray that outside to keep the stray away, and a little in the house to try and calm Harry down.

But Harry’s outburst has me worried about his future. Stray or no stray, I can’t have the cat wildly screaming every night like that, nor can he attack his master like that by attacking me.

To be continued at some point in the future…

Pauly Avoids A DUI


One Friday afternoon in October of 1995, I went out and got drunk.

By that time, I was in between radio jobs. My new job at Valentine Communications was a week or so away, so I went to Diamond Dolls, a well known “titty bar” for some wine, women, and song…and a free buffet to boot.

(The “Dolls” was a classy joint, and apparently it still is. The women wore pasties on their nipples and surrounding area, which I’m sure was more of the city of Clearwater’s idea as opposed to the bar’s notions. Didn’t hurt that at least one of my female classmates at my high school WORKED THERE. But that’s another story.)

It was happy hour, so I wound up drinking LOADS of discount beer (think it was $1 a bottle). Sometime during this ingestion of a mass quantity of beer, I get the idea to go down to Lakewood High to watch my alma mater of Largo High play them on the gridiron, so I drive down US 19 hammered, but without any major deterioration of driving skill, thank God.

Located in the southern part of St. Petersburg, Lakewood High has had a pretty good track record producing players who wound up going to the NFL. Earnest Givins, Tom Carter, and William “Bar None” Floyd were all Lakewood alums, with Floyd playing, winning, and scoring a touchdown in Super Bowl XXIX earlier that year of 1995 as the 49ers routed San Diego 49-26.

The aesthetics of the game begin to amuse me. I usually can watch a game quietly by myself, but with a load of beer in me, the Largo High band playing “Rock And Roll Part Two” by Gary Glitter is turning me into a Caucasian version of Gene Gene The Dancing Machine. Shortly afterwards, all that beer is demanding to exit my body, and not in the good, downward way. I’m covertly trying to find a good way to vomit and not arouse suspicion.

I retch out the beer somewhere I can’t remember all this time later, but I’m not successful in avoiding trouble, because soon a police officer approaches. He tells me to go to my car and sleep it off, otherwise I’d be arrested for public intoxication. Needless to say, I do what the cop suggests. I had missed the game, though I knew it was airing on local cable TV. (Lakewood beat Largo that night 27-24 in overtime, if I remember right.)

I woke up just in time to see the crowd beginning to disperse, so I start up the car and head back to my Largo home of the time. I’m still a bit lit on the drive back, but it’s still not affecting my driving skills. I’m just a bit more amused by everything around me than I normally am, so I suppose that this makes me a happy drunk.

It’s also the last time I go out drinking all by myself, to this day some 20 years later. Now, it hasn’t stopped me from partying on occasion, but when I do, I make sure driving is not on my to-do list. If you have to party, do so responsibly. I’m thankful every day that this random night on the town didn’t wind up with me in bad shape. I got lucky…very lucky.

Fouled Up Kicks

Tom Dempsey is about to shock the Pro Football world on November 8, 1970 as he kicks a then NFL record 63 yard field goal to give the New Orleans Saints a 19-17 win over Detroit on that game's last play.
Tom Dempsey is about to shock the Pro Football world on November 8, 1970 as he kicks a then NFL record 63 yard field goal to give the New Orleans Saints a 19-17 win over Detroit on that game’s last play.
I didn’t think I would warm up to the new rule the NFL implemented this season to make the extra point kick a 33 yarder as opposed to the 20 yard kick it has always been. I thought, why not just narrow the goal posts a bit, perhaps to 15 feet across as opposed to the 18 feet it has been for a while?

I have to admit, however, that the rule change is growing on me a bit and is making these games a bit more interesting, so perhaps my initial perceptions were incorrect.

It’s also making a job protection for kickers in the NFL a bit of an art.

Here in Tampa Bay, the Bucs just waived their kicker, Kyle Brindza. The former Notre Damer made his first kick against Houston, then missed every other kick attempted, including an extra point. Then against Carolina’s Panthers, he missed several easy field goals (one being a 29 yarder), and yet another PAT.

My personal theory (such as it is) is that with the extra points being pushed back, perhaps it is leading to the kickers getting tired legs more easily then we’ve seen in previous years as the game progresses. Look at the New Orleans kicker Zach Hocker missing an easy field goal that would have won the game against Dallas in regulation. (They eventually won 26-20 in overtime.)

It could be just a bunch of bad kickers, too. That thought is ruminating in my brain as well.