Just heard about the passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash, and I wanted to make note of it here.

My interest in basketball has waned in the past few years, mainly because the NFL season has gotten longer. Once the Super Bowl ends, there’s a few weeks before the start of MLB season. Not a lot of room in-between for the other sports.

There’s no denying Kobe was (and it is so weird to use the word “was”) a tremendous talent to the game of basketball and to the sports world – and it is incredible that his life after basketball has now been cut short as it has.

My condolences to his family and to the sporting world in general – this loss is going to sting a bit.

Flashback: "Countdown" by Rush

We heard late last week that Neil Peart, the drummer and top lyric writer for the Canadian rock band Rush had passed away at age 67.

“Tom Sawyer” is probably their best known song, but this is song from 1982 (thanks to MTV) that got my attention – a commemoration of sorts of the first shuttle launch on April 12, 1981.

Another One Of The Good Guys

Another one of my radio colleagues passed away during the week. Most people in the Tampa Bay Area knew him as Howard Hewes – I got to know him as Joel Vincent, another one of his radio monikers.

I knew of Howard as early as 1985 at the age of 14- working my first job at The Coffee Mill off of Indian Rocks Road In Largo. He was the afternoon drive host on WHBO, and it was my first experience hearing this new format called “oldies” – hearing songs from previous decades I’d never heard of before.

I’d see him on TV on Saturday mornings hosting a car show in the late 80’s – which advertised local car dealerships. In early 1991, I got the chance to work with him at Sun Radio Network, as he would host a two hour talk show that was usually open topic.

For a time, I had to rely on public transit to get to work – back at a time when the local system didn’t make it all that easy to get to eastern Clearwater. I’d walk east on Ulmerton to the SRN studios, and Joel would show up as I got on the side roads, wanting to give me a lift the rest of the way.

A classy guy who I look forward to seeing again when my time passes. God speed, Joel.

El Paso (Then Dayton)

By all early indications, there has been another mass shooting -and there have been quite a few of these in recent years. This time, it was a Walmart in a mall in El Paso. In my life, I’ve been through that lovely town in west Texas (twice in 2000), and I’ve worked at two Walmarts (one in Charlotte, NC and one in Largo, FL) – so this hits a little close to home as the Vegas shooting did.

Why it happened, who did it, and what was his motivations (assuming the early reports it was a white male are true) – that will be revealed in the hours and days to come.

Both sides will score their political points as they always do – because, when don’t they score their points? I must tell you that I don’t think this is a gun control issue as much as some in the media would like you to believe it is. I don’t own my guns – and I hope I never will. However, take away the guns from everyone and the bad guys will still find ways to pull off these incidents no matter how illegal you make firearm usage – so that changes nothing in itself.

Personally, I think it’s a mental health issue more than anything else. People wanting their 15 minutes of fame – people wanting to be known as “that guy” in the history books.

I simply wish it would stop – and I’ve probably said that a few times over the years, too.

(EDIT, 8/4/2019, 10:00 AM:) What I wrote above, I wrote on August 3rd. The following day (today, as I type this) I turn on the computer and see that there was another shooting in Dayton, Ohio which killed 10 – including the shooter who extinguished the lives of the first nine of that incident.

My thinking hasn’t changed – though I’m sure the politicians will yell at each other a little louder.

Ross Was A Boss

As a general rule of thumb, I try not to eulogize everybody who passes on too much anymore. Better put, when I get around to do as such – it is for a good reason.

Yesterday, 1992 Presidential candidate Ross Perot passed away at the age of 89. To date, he is the last Independent candidate to have been included in the debates you see each election cycle – and no candidate since, outside of the Democratic or Republican nominee, has gotten more of a vote percentage as he did in 1992.

To this day, he’s the only candidate for President I’ve ever gone to see in person at a rally. On October 31, 1992, I took one of my aunts, who was a staunch Perot supporter, to the USF Sun Dome – and saw Mr. Perot speak to nearly 9,000 people in Tampa.

Of course, Perot didn’t win – Bill Clinton did, then the governor of Arkansas. At one point, Perot dropped out of the race despite polling well initially based on his frequent interviews with CNN’s Larry King. Had he not dropped out – what would have happened? Would there have been a Electoral College stalemate – where none of the three candidates get to the required 270 electoral votes? Could it have been possible that Ross would have won the popular vote but yet lose in the House of Representatives?

Assume for a moment we had a President Perot in 1993. If that had took place, then I think you would have seen the “derangement syndrome” we see now with President Trump a quarter of a century earlier. Perot would have formed essentially a coalition government with the Republicans with a Democratic run Congress – and the Democrats would treat Perot like the outsider they do now with the current President. Perot would come up with solutions, and the Dems foiling him at every turn – perhaps manufacturing a scandal that entices some sort of impeachment. Sound familiar?

Perot would have also fixed the economy – again, a lot like you’re seeing with the current President. How the 1996 elections would have worked – well, your guess is as good as mine there. Maybe the GOP recruits Perot to their side, and likely he would accept such a deal, at least to my way of thinking. Of course, that alternative 21st century might wind up different – and maybe everything we know, such as 9/11, never happens. Perhaps a New York businessman named Trump never gets on TV or has the need to enter the political arena – and how different that reality might have been.

Billy Bucks

Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.com

Can I be honest with you, my readers?

Another thing I don’t like doing anymore is obituary posts – they tend to be downers. But my blogging policy tends to be that there are exceptions to every rule, and I think this is one of those times where an exception applies.

William Joseph Buckner passed away yesterday, known to baseball fans as simply Bill Buckner. Instead of looking at his career accolades of which he amassed 2,715 hits – he is sadly remembered for an error he made during the sixth game of the 1986 World Series that allowed the New York Mets to score the winning run that night after Boston’s Red Sox had a 5-3 lead going into that fateful tenth inning. Had Boston gotten that final out that wound up eluding them – they would have won their fourth game that series, which more importantly would have given them the World Series championship.

I was a Mets fan when that chain of events happened, and when the Mets scored that run to win – the 15 year-old version of me went crazy, even though there was a seventh game of the series yet to be played. But the first team I followed religiously was the 1979 Chicago Cubs, thanks to that absurdly crazy 23-22 game on May 17th of that year against the Philadelphia Phillies. On that team was a first baseman named – you guessed it – Bill Buckner.

Buckner is the main reason why I don’t like to use the word “choke” when it comes to sports. I never thought it was entirely fair to blame him for the Red Sox not winning the 1986 World Series and for Boston fans to turn on him as they did. When you get two teams of high skill together, games seem to get determined more often than not on sheer luck – and luck was with the Mets that night to the fault of no one else.

Rest in peace, Bill. Whatever suffering there has been with time is now at its end.