THE BOYS OF SUMMER ARE BACK – GARRY ARMSTRONG

This used to be my favorite day during my TV news career. Fenway’s Opening Day in baseball!  I dodged the murders, political scandals, and other mayhem for this special day. Baseball’s opening day is a rite of passage.

As a kid in the 1940’s Brooklyn, I’d devoured all the winter sports magazines which included predictions for the upcoming season and thumbnail breakdowns on players, including the “pheenoms,” prospects sure to be the next mega stars.

President Truman would throw out the first pitch for the old Washington Senators. Calvin Griffith’s bedraggled team — first in the heart of the nation, last in the American league.  Unless you were Mickey Vernon or Eddie Yost, there was little to root for as a Senator’s fan.

Cal Griffith and Connie Mack were the last of the patriarchal baseball owners who dated all the way back to the days of Ty Cobb, Cy Young and the “dead ball.”  I remember the grainy black and white images of these elderly men, dressed in turn of the century street clothes, patrolling their dugouts. Connie Mack managed his Philadelphia Athletics. In his white suit and straw hat, he was a throwback to baseball’s infancy.

You always saw Mr. Griffith and Mr. Mack on baseball’s opening day. They were the fabric of baseball.

In those days, I was preoccupied with the fortunes of my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. Every opening day signaled the beginning of what could be “our year.” A World Series championship. The defeat of our mortal enemies, The New York Yankees.  Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier the previous year and the Dodgers seemed poised to climb the mountain with young stalwarts like Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella and a veteran pitching staff. The “Bad Guys”, the Bronx Bombers lined up with Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer and an élite roster of all-star pitchers.

I would have to wait until 1955 before I could celebrate a BROOKLYN Dodgers World Championship. It would be the first and last for the faithful as our Bums abandoned us for the glitter and gold of  La La Land.

Fast forward through my love affair with Casey Stengel’s “Amazin’ Mets,” their “Ya gotta believe” World Series victory in 1969, and my transformation to a member of Red Sox nation.


Work relocated me to Boston in 1970. I found myself interviewing untested rookies including Carlton Fisk and Dwight “Dewey” Evans. When my status as a baseball maven was established, I leapfrogged over other TV News reporters in gaining access to players. TV reporters were still regarded with suspicion and a little scorn in many dugouts. Print “beat” reporters abhorred their electronic colleagues as “plastic, empty-headed no-nothings” and refused to share information.

Again, I triumphed with my stats and anecdote-filled repartee. Plus, I  had Polaroid pictures of myself with Mantle, Maris, Snider and other luminaries. I could swap John Wayne stories with Ted Williams, who was suitably impressed. The one-of-a-kind Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky, took a liking to me and would greet me at the Fenway players’ entrance. I’d get the latest clubhouse poop plus insight as to what the front office suits were doing. Johnny Pesky even offered to intervene when I was getting some static from my own suits. This was the backdrop for my assignments as opening day “color” reporter at Fenway Park for almost 31 years.

Ironically, the “Curse of the Bambino” would not be broken until after I retired. 2004. My 3rd year of retirement. That historic comeback of comebacks against the dreaded Yankees left me staring at the television with my mouth open.

This year’s opening day game at Fenway is now in the record books including a 3-run homer from rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi.  A 5-3 interleague win against the Pittsburgh Pirates was just “okay.” Just okay because the bullpen was shaky.

Our Boys of Summer are back — with great expectations — and one major difference.  There’ll be no more clutch home runs from the retired #34, “Big Papi.”

Fenway may be a little quieter. On the field, in the dugout … and the clubhouse.

THE FUTURE CUSP – POLITICS AHOY

To say that we are on the cusp of “old” politics while beginning the “new,” is an understatement. Our world has changed. Fast and hard and it’s barreling down that mountain with every intent of flattening us.

There has been this “issue” in American politics for a long time … twenty, maybe 30 or more years. Maybe since we started being a country at all.

Our citizens have a fundamental, irreversible belief that an “outsider” can fix whatever is wrong because “they aren’t part of the establishment.” If you think, for a moment, about how the United States became a government, it makes more sense. We weren’t “released” from our status as a colony to become part of England’s worldwide network. We fought them and threw them out. We won. They left. Even when they tried to come back (and damned near succeeded), even after we had to abandon Washington DC, we never returned to English over-lordship. We don’t have the Queen stamped on our money. We don’t bow — even reluctantly — to him or her Majesty in London.

We were free and not because they let us go. From that time since, we have viewed other nations as potential oppressors. When we decide we need to be “fixed,” we don’t look for someone who has spent a lifetime studying the system and making it work. Rather, we look for someone who comes from somewhere else. Who knows nothing. The less the better.

This policy doesn’t work. It never did. Let’s not even go back far in our short history. Look at James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924). He is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. He was and is an exceptionally intelligent, thoughtful man with a heart of gold. Who was practically run out of office. He didn’t fix the government. No one gave him half a chance. He was the governor of a southern state and he didn’t have the background to make it work. Not a single run as a senator or even congressman in DC. Since leaving office, he has worked ceaselessly on our behalf. He was — absolutely — a really good guy.

If you aren’t part of the establishment, you’ll won’t easily get legislation through congress. Maybe not at all. Many presidents who were governors before election have had trouble getting help from congress. They weren’t half as stupid and bizarre as Trump-O-Matic.

There is a way business gets done in every parliament and congress around the world. It’s the way it has always been done.

Like this.

You give me something, I give you something. We call in our own personal markers — on both sides of the aisle — and voilà, the business gets done. The give-and-take of congress is the essence of democracy — yours, ours, or theirs. The most effective presidents (like Lyndon Johnson) were those who had a lot of markers to call.

Markers are not money. In fact, markers are rarely money but more “I owe you for this one.” Next round? Your guy comes through. Usually. You can’t just strong-arm everyone to “do your will.” It isn’t like that. This process is not evil. It’s simply how its done. How it was done back in Rome and Egypt. There is nothing new under our sun.


The critical thing that made this work well — when it works — is because people running a government care about us. The people.

Greedy? Maybe, but they certainly aren’t in it for the money. They are in government to try to do something worthwhile. Many (probably most) were wealthy to begin with, so the money was neither here nor there.

Power hungry? Probably, though maybe for good reason. Who else would bother to run for president or prime minister? You have to have a powerful drive to get to the top and a potent belief that you can do something worthwhile once you get there. Few of us have the will to even start the process. I sure don’t, nor does anyone I know. There are plenty of other ways to get rich.

So it isn’t really so hard to figure out why people would elect someone like Trump-O-Matic.  What’s a lot harder to figure out is why anyone trusted this moron to have some good ideas and to care whether or not he helped anyone but himself and his rich pals.

Trump-O-Matic was never in it to help anyone. I’m not convinced he understands that we — all of us — are his people. He doesn’t know what the first amendment is supposed to do, what an intelligence briefing is about … and I doubt he can read more than a few sentences at a time. He is too stupid to understand basic stuff like the constitution and how it works and should never have been president of anything. He’s a bigot, a con man … and worst of all … he’s a fool.

Don’t forget — the only reason Trump-O-Matic isn’t doing even more harm is his party is in fragments. They don’t like him. They dislike him almost as much as I do, though I think my reasons are better. It’s the single thing in this long nightmare for which I am grateful.

WAITING FOR SPRING

Yesterday was bright, but today, it’s back to rain and just a bit of sleet. Mostly icy drizzle. The woods are full of fog. Easy enough to photograph, but hard to process without losing the fog or the mood the fog creates, other worldly. Meanwhile, I’m lost trying to find the head of that bird. I know it’s there, but it appears exactly the same color as the tree.

ODDBALLS – WELCOME TO APRIL!

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: April 2, 2017


Yesterday, it was warm and lovely, but nasty today. We know, regardless of day-to-day changes, winter is over. It’s going to take however long it takes for the warm winds to arrive. I think soon. Two weeks. Maybe less.

Chairs of winter, soon to be summer
Dog treats
The sink
Dish towels

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