Island Issues

It’s Spring & The “Crack Of The Bat” Beckons

It’s Spring & The “Crack Of The Bat” Beckons

The good news is this is the first week of spring and the even better news is that baseball season officially opens in the U.S. next week Thursday, March 28.

There’s something energizing about walking into a baseball park on a warm spring day whether it’s a major league or minor league stadium, a little league or high school field.

There’s the smell of freshly mown grass, the polite crowd filing into their seats, the chatter of the players warming up on the field, vendors hawking hot dogs and peanuts, excited autograph-seeking kids, and folks standing for the national anthem. It’s inspirational and comforting. The atmosphere confirms it’s going to be a very good day.

When the umpire yells “Play Ball!” you can forget about elections, Republicans, Democrats, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, the chaotic border, inflation, crime, the fentanyl epidemic, paying your neighbors’ college loans, and more. There are no Democrats or Republicans at the ballpark, just baseball fans united in their passion for America’s pastime.

While working and living in Paris and Brussels in the early and mid-1980s and late 1990s, I read a column headlined: “The crack of the bat” in the Paris-based Herald Tribune that expressed my sentiments as well as fellow American expatriates who missed the game. Here’s an excerpt:

No, a Yank can’t describe to a Frenchman

The rasp of an umpire’s call

The continuing charms of statistics

Changing hist’ry with each strike and ball

Nor the self-conscious jog of the slugger

Rounding third with the tip of his hat

Nor the half-smothered grace of a hook slide

Nor the sound of the crack of a bat.

Initially written in the 1960s by Herald Tribune sports editor Dick Roraback, the column ran annually and maybe still does. Read it all at: https://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/31/sports/IHT-the-crack-of-the-bat.html.

***

What! What? MLB says opening day was played between the Dodgers and Padres Wednesday, March 20  in Seoul, South Korea. SOUTH KOREA? What the …..?

Obviously it’s time to boot current Commissioner Rob Manfred, the guy who moved the 2021 All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver to protest black voting discrimination that never existed. Moving the All Star game just three months before it was to be played cost Atlanta’s black-owned businesses millions of dollars and exposed Manfred and the Delta and Coke HQ nitwits that backed him as the pandering idiots they are.

In 1951 the USSR under Joseph Stalin claimed it invented the game? In addition to his other sacrilegious antics, Manfred’s changes to the game such as ghost runners, time clocks, etc. are making the game so unrecognizable that even Stalin wouldn’t lay claim to it if he were still around.

Oh, and no matter what Manfred proclaims, the real opening day is in North America Thursday, March 28, when all 30 clubs are scheduled to play.

***

Vandermeer at his Tampa home.

An Unbreakable Baseball Record: There are a handful of baseball records that knowledgeable fans of the game say will never be equaled much less broken. Those include Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, Cy Young’s 511 career pitching victories, and Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played.

The one I’m most convinced is unreachable is held by Cincinnati lefthander Johnny Vandermeer, who on June 11 and 15, 1938 at age 23, pitched back-to-back no-hitters.

I met Vandermeer when I was a student at Tampa’s Plant High School. His daughter, Evelyn, was a classmate and invited me to visit their house. I eagerly accepted and chatted with the amiable minor league Tampa Tarpons manager as he lounged in a backyard hammock. At the time Vandermeer managed both Pete Rose and Lee May who were members of that 1961 Tarpons team.

On one wall of the den of their modest house was a huge photo of Vandermeer throwing the last pitch in that second game against the Brooklyn Dodgers to Leo Durocher to win his second straight no-hitter. Durocher flied out. That second game the Dodgers’ Ebbets Field was its first night game under the stadium’s newly-installed lights. After that second no-hitter Vandermeer was named honorary mayor of Tampa, where the Reds held spring training.

To break his record a pitcher would have to throw three consecutive no-hitters. It’ll never happen. It’ll probably never be equaled. My pal American Spectator writer Larry Thornberry agrees saying “In today’s game even pitching three complete games in a row would be out of reach.”

Vandermeer died in Tampa at 82 in 1997 and was buried holding a baseball in his left hand.

***

Speaking Of The Tampa Tarpons: Last year (2023} Rachel Balkovec was  named the manager of the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate, making her the first full-time female manager in the history of affiliated baseball at the Major or Minor League levels, an impressive baseball first.

***

Baseball Coming To Its Senses: Like Commissioner Manfred, Gabe Kapler is a misguided whacko who managed the San Francisco Giants and took political wokeness to another level.

Kapler refused to take the field when the national anthem was played in the wake of the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. “I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel like there’s a better direction for our country,” he said at the time.

That has all changed in San Francisco, of all places. Kapler is gone and new manager, Bob Melvin has reversed the woke nonsense. “It has nothing to do with whatever happened in the past or whatever, it’s just something I embrace,” said new manager Melvin, who is rightly demanding that all his players stand for the national anthem.

Keep in mind, San Francisco is where disrespect for the national anthem all began. Colin Kaepernick, a left-wing ideologue who played for the NFL’s 49ers, began kneeling during the national anthem in September 2016 to protest alleged police brutality and so-called racial oppression — while playing under a $114,000,000 contract.

It must take a lot of practice even for a disgruntled America hater to do such a thing, but $114 million probably provides a comforting “who cares what anybody thinks” attitude.

***

Thornberry

And Speaking Of Larry Thornberry: A few weeks ago I wrote a piece headlined: “You Might Be A Democrat If…” a takeoff of comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s popular “You Might Be A Redneck If…” books.

I wasn’t the first person to do this, substituting Democrats for rednecks. Tampa Plant High School pal and American Spectator writer Larry Thornberry informed me that he penned a similar piece Oct. 19, 2020. I read them and Larry’s stand up pretty well three and a half years later.

In his 2020 piece https://spectator.org/you-might-be-a-democrat/ Larry suggested that folks who weren’t sure of which political party they identify with should use them as a test before November to clear things up. Here are some of my favorites plucked from Larry’s clever list:

  • If you believe Buffy and Skylar should be able to idle at university for years in order to earn a degree in vegetarian studies at taxpayer expense, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe Donald Trump is a racist and Al Sharpton is a civil rights leader, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe the COVID virus spreads promiscuously at church services but not during urban riots, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe police officers should be treated as criminals and criminals treated as victims, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe the recent slight warming of the planet is a threat to our very existence rather than just part of the up-and-down cycles that have occurred as long as the planet has existed, and that somehow politicians and bureaucrats could devise a planetary thermostat so that all parts of Earth will be at the proper temperature, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you wish to abolish police and replace them with social workers, psychotherapists, and yoga instructors, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe that “endangered” worms, bugs, and plants should be saved at all cost, but unborn human children are expendable, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe small business owners should be obliged to pay a 16-year-old $600 a week ($15 times 40) to sweep the floors, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe men and women are interchangeable, just undifferentiated persons, and that women make just as good warriors as men, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe felons, who can’t be bothered to obey the law, should vote to determine who makes and administers those laws, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe wind and solar can replace fossil fuels as a reliable and relatively inexpensive source of energy, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe Black Lives Matter, not the unassailable sentiment but the Marxist organization, really just wants equity between the races rather than revolution, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe the United Nations is a serious organization that has promoted world peace and its resolutions carry more weight than a note passed in study hall, you might be a Democrat.
  • If you believe blocking roads, throwing rocks and bottles at police and civilians, starting fires, looting, and intimidating anyone you don’t think shares your mania is “mostly peaceful protest,” you might be a Democrat.

Larry concludes his much lengthier list concluding: “If you’ve answered yes to two or more of the above, you are a Democrat.”

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19 Comments

Roz Latimer Simpson - 05. Apr, 2024 - Reply

Thanks for the memory of Johnny V. DH and I are huge bb fans and think often about his unreachable record. One of my brothers was married to his other daughter.
On EV’s – depends on what brand you own. We bought our first Tesla 5.5 years ago recently purchased our second Tesla. Would never have another brand. We travel all around the US in it; made possible because there are super chargers strategically placed throughout the US. Wondering what will happen with the old batteries? There is a company who recycles them.

Al Macdougall - 26. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Donald Trump is a self-defeating candidate–likely to become a modern Al Smith.
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Fred “the original” - 28. Mar, 2024 - Reply

That’s hilarious. The former President and soon to be again is self defeating?

Doug - 25. Mar, 2024 - Reply

One of the great traditions of Baseball started to slide several years ago…..the Cincinnati Reds, the oldest franchise, were always awarded the “first pitch” of the season. Their game would be scheduled about 5-10 minutes ahead of all the others on Opening Day. I’m a bit of an old school baseball traditionalist. After all, the game had survived nicely for more than a century without tinkering with it……now the changes come fast and furious.
The speeches in “Field of Dreams” by Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones about “baseball” were classics. I wonder what “Moonlight” Graham would think today…..

My Life Matters - 25. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Suggest y’all look into “Social Reform Sundays”. It’s an encouraging step in the right direction for a sport that prides itself on the legacy of Jackie Robinson and seeks to be an agent of societal change.

Patrick J. Keogh - 22. Mar, 2024 - Reply

What happened to Dave? My bet is he took some time off and this new nice guy surrogate put out the blog this week? Without Dave doing the writing all Dave’s cranky old delusional lefty critics took a holiday too.

Moderate Majority - 23. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Take it as the perfect time for you to pick up the mantle and convince us why we should invest in Trump Media & Technology Group. I mean, $1.1M in revenue in the 3rd quarter, paired with $26M in losses over the same period makes it a sure thing, right? At least, I’m sure Trump’s followers will think so. GO RANGERS!

Julia - 24. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Quite simple. Because, as a result of the numerous adverse judgements being entered against him, Donald needs the money and there are actually idiots like Fred “the original” (WTF is with this guy whose name isn’t even Fred to begin with?) who still support him.

A. Friend - 26. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Donald Trump’s tumultuous life has been rocked by bankruptcies to included each and every company that he has taken public.

Hank Walker - 26. Mar, 2024 - Reply

That is simply a false statement. Yes, some of his public companies have filed bankruptcy including 3 Atlantic City casinos. Please back up your false statement with some facts A. Friend.

CL - 27. Mar, 2024 -

Donald Trump brags about how well his businesses have fared in bankruptcy. And in fact, no major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump’s casino empire in the last 30 years.

Moderate Majority - 26. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Trump tells [to whomever listens to this guy] that Truth Social is “hot as a pistol” and it’s going public. However, he’s spurning the New York Stock Exchange in favor of Nasdaq because, in New York, the NYSE is “treated too badly.” By now, we can only assume that Trump’s advisors have since informed him that Nasdaq is headquartered in Manhattan, which coincidentally, is the same borough where the NYSE is located. As such, all of the New York laws and political oversight that would have applied to the company if it was listed on the NYSE will apply to the company when it is listed on the Nasdaq. Stable genius, this guy.

Fred “the original” - 23. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Looks like MM didn’t take the same approach this week. It comes down to this MM… do you want another 4 years of Bumblin’ Joe or Donald? All your rambling and bloviating isn’t going to change that choice. So, either accept defeat and move on or just shut the hell up. Nothing you say or do at this point makes a bit of difference. Better yet, take you leftist/liberal doctrine to your own blog and let the rest of us enjoy Dave’s as we see fit.

Kayla D. - 24. Mar, 2024 - Reply

As a growing number of ex Trump insiders are finally saying, Trump needs to be kept out of the White House. Why you are such a fan boy of Trump is a mystery to me. As far as suggesting that those whop do not share your views do not participate in this blog, and I’ll point out that MM’s posts are well written and not of the nasty type often seen on this blog, that really says a lot about you, sir.

Fred “the original” - 28. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Sure they are “Kayla”… LOL

A. Friend - 26. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Are you aware that Trump left office in disgrace after trying to steal the 2020 election? “TDS”, as you call it, is the sign of a sane mind. Suggest you do a reality check with someone outside this group.

Fred “the original” - 28. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Any person that is still butt hurt over Trump’s presidency is suffering from TDS. Have you heard the definition of insanity? You’re living it, if you are still upset over Trump. Funny how “disgrace” has turned to an overwhelming approval rating over the idiot that actually stole the election in 2020.

Ginger Baker - 26. Mar, 2024 - Reply

Trump said the bond amount he has to pay to appeal the $464 million civil fraud judgment against him was preventing him from giving money to his campaign. As we all now know, the New York appeals court reduced the amount Trump has to put up to appeal to $175 million. Want to bet on whether or not Trump will actually put his own money into his campaign?

Jack Bruce - 26. Mar, 2024 - Reply

No reason to think he won’t put his own money into his campaign. He put $66 million into it in 2016. With Bidenflation, that $66 million would amount to around $100 million today.