Politics Is Just Extremely Organized Cheerleading

ABOVE: David Letterman and Bill O’Reilly have a famous argument sometime in the “oughts,” the 2000’s.

Haven’t talked current events in a while. I’m not someone who likes to talk about any one thing too long. Dwellers don’t make good bloggers, you know?

This whole thing about the Middle East and how this new terrorist group ISIS is now taking Iraq back, rather brutally at that. I haven’t really paid attention to the “blame game” surrounding all of this, because to my way of thinking, it is just noise and not worthy of conversation.

It was a Republican-led White House that re-engaged Iraq in 2003 when they said they had ties to the Al-Qaeda terror organization (ISIS makes them look like choir boys), even though there was never substantive proof of said fact. The GOP allowed us all to assume there was a link there without proving it, and that Saddam Hussein just wasn’t a very cool guy, anyway.

Now that the White House is Democratic, and they decided that our involvement in Iraq wasn’t worth the losses, the GOP goes all critical on the Democrats. Even though they, for the most part, got us into this mess to begin with under less than totally true pretenses.

Who I really feel bad for is our troops serving in harm’s way, who have to deal with this “circular firing squad” of mismanagement in D.C.

Nobody is right up there, everybody is just different shades of wrong, and it sucks. It’s the red team and the blue team, and if you’re not on board with one team, then you belong with the other team. I don’t know about you, but any league with just two teams is just flat out boring.

Open Wide For Some Soccer!

The guy in the cartoons looks an awful lot like Hank Williams, Jr., no?
The guy in the cartoon (from the Simpsons) looks an awful lot like Hank Williams, Jr., no?

I’ve been a big fan of World Cup Soccer (or what the rest of the world calls football) since 1986, when ESPN first carried the event live from wire to wire. Needless to say, it’s gotten to be a much bigger event since then, especially with seven consecutive entries into the finals by the United States. Each time we do poorly seems to be followed by a time we (the US) do well.

You all know what happened yesterday. The US seems poised for an unthinkable qualification into the single-elimination round of 16 leading Portugal 2-1 in the waning moments. But Portugal got that goal on the final kick that kept their hopes alive with a 2-2 tie, and sent the Americans looking for a win or tie against Germany in the final game on Thursday.

Soccer is going to be a very big thing in this country before too long. I see the athletes being born now or recently gravitating to it once they figure out the dangers of the NFL. In fact, I predict the US will win the World Cup in 20 years, if not sooner. It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.

As for the here and now, a win or a tie against Germany advances the US to the single-elimination phase. There are scenarios where even a loss to Germany by a goal advances them, depending on what happens in the Ghana/Portugal game. The experts will say that the Yanks have long odds against a sharp German squad.

But I say: it’s always the darkest before the dawn. The US team can still shock the world yet.

Casey Reaches The Stars

The irony of Casey Kasem passing away on Father’s Day and on a Sunday morning didn’t escape me. On our local station here in Tampa Bay, Casey was heard on Q-105 from 10am to 2pm on Sundays for what seemed to be years on end.

I once nearly had a chance to speak with Casey, if you can believe that.

In early 1991, I was working at the Sun Radio Network, producing for Howard Hewes/Joel Vincent, Chuck Harder, and Sonny Bloch on an early week 12pm to 6pm shift. This was a little over three years before I worked with Chuck at People’s Radio Network up the road in White Springs, Florida. I’m working at Sun’s studios in eastern Clearwater, with Chuck at a studio in Cedar Key hooked up to us via a Comrex device.

One day, Chuck asks me to get a hold of Casey Kasem out in his offices in California. I guess Chuck was trying to get him to pop in for his “For The People” national broadcast, but it would wind up being a game of telephone tag. Knowing of Kasem’s work, I would have immediately recognized the voice, that’s for sure.

It was a shame that his life ended with squabbling and arguing, but everyone but the immediate family were mere spectators in that battle. Hopefully now, he can rest in peace.

Who Gets A Cold In June?

By a considerable deal of luck, I’ve come down with a pretty decent head cold that’s knocked me on my butt these past few days. I thought it had lifted on Wednesday, but the bugger is still around this weekend.

How the heck does somebody get a cold in June?  You know, when it’s WARM out?!?

I’ve drank enough orange juice this past week to turn into a giant orange.

I’ve sneezed enough to where my sinuses are saying, “Uncle!”

I’ve cleaned what I use on a daily basis enough to earn honorary status as a Merry Maid.

If you see a little less of me on this blog next week, you’ll understand. Don’t worry, I’m probably somewhere close by, toilet paper or a paper towel nearby, ready to blow my nose at a moment’s notice.

In the meantime, pass the cough drops…

Board Games Never Bored Me

When I was in high school, I loved board games that revolved around sports. Whenever basketball, baseball, and football season started, I’d already raise the money to get Street and Smith’s previews from mowing the lawns. Some kids were into comic books, I’d read Street and Smith’s.

Some kids got a car for their 16th birthday, while I got a copy of Statis Pro Football for mine. It’s all I wanted, really.

I’d go off and play the games by myself, while my friends looked at me oddly, wondering what I was doing with all that time I wasn’t with them.

I was a baseball board gaming nut, too. Sher-co Baseball was my first foray into simulated balls and strikes, but the game was a little too simple for me. One of my classmates at Largo High told me about something called Pursue The Pennant, and I got hooked right away. I’d have my own “Top Ten League” where I’d put cards in a cowboy hat and picked random teams, assuring that top hitters and top pitchers were also included in it.

Love for these simulations has lasted to this very day. OOTP (Out of the Park Baseball) version 15 (a prior version of which I talked about back in 2012) goes on in the background as I type this post up. It’s never a bad thing to have a hobby, you just have to make sure your hobbies don’t control your life too much.

What’s Wrong With The Rays?

The Tampa Bay Rays are again the talk of the region as June of 2014 begins.

In seasons past, we’ve marveled at how well they’ve performed on such a tight budget. This year, we wonder at how ordinary they’ve gotten.

The three sports talk stations (and a Spanish language sports talk station) plus the countless blogs in our region (including this one, I admit) over analyze it, can’t stop talking about it. But if you ask me, the reason is pretty simple.

Pitches. Not pitching, but just pitches.

These days, most starting pitchers can throw 100 in-game pitches effectively before, on the average, they get tired and need to be relieved. As opposed to the years where the Rays were doing well, this year they seem to get to that magic number of 100 quicker. Instead of reaching that figure in the 5th or 6th inning, they’ve been getting there in the 5th inning or before.

It’s like football, where a lack offensive progress has a cumulative effect on even the best defenses. You keep adding to the workload of a bullpen in a baseball, the same cumulative effect takes place. Sooner or later, someone comes out of the bullpen and gets rocked.

Hope things get better for the Rays. I’m going to see them on my birthday (September 6th), and I hope they can get in the playoff argument by then. Win or lose, I’ll still be there.