With the pointless removal of Net Neutrality — a proposition against which 22 million American objected this time around — they did it anyway. As if letting us have anything going for us offended our lords and masters.
We used to have an elected government. Now, we have vicious little kings in their nasty little domains, set up to take it all and give it to those who need it least from those who needed it most. From healthcare — at which they have not yet succeeded in depriving us, but wait for it — to the loss of net neutrality, the goal of this government is to collect taxes from the poor and shovel the money to the already-too-rich-for-their-own-good.
Meager? Our “working” government are a bunch of Scrooges who never saw a ghost. They will not rest until they have wrested everything they can from us and left us poorer by far than when they arrived.
I have long ceased to ask why. These are men who have no conscience, no vision of the future, no love, no compassion. They are cold, hard, mean-spirited men and I hope with all my heart that we toss them out on their asses as soon as legally possible. Sooner if Mueller gets his act together. Who knows how much damage they can do in the meantime?
Friday was “Fun Day,” or at least that is the way Harold saw it. It was a day given over to sports. Harold read all the sports he could in the morning paper. Watched some on television. He even made time for high school or college games in the area. In the late spring and early summer, there was minor league baseball to be seen. Every Friday could have an appropriate sports theme.
On one particularly nice Friday in the baseball season, Harold decided to drive all the way to St. Petersburg to catch a major league baseball game. It’s not that the Tampa Bay Rays, who did not play in Tampa, were an exciting team, but the visiting team was making a rare appearance. Actually, it was Harold’s favorite Midwest team. The Chicago Cubs and the Rays were having an interleague game and Harold thought that was just about the only reason to drive over an hour to get to a baseball game.
The details of this road trip were laid out in Harold’s computer-like mind the night before. He knew exactly what to take, when to leave and how long to stay at the park. It would be a treat to see the park, as Harold had absolutely no reason to make the trip before this. It would be years before the Cubs would come that way again, so they certainly had to be on Harold’s schedule as well as the Rays’.
Neither team was very good that year. In fact the Cubs were in last place and the Rays were not in the running for anything. The Chicago organization called it a “rebuilding” year, but most years were rebuilding years for the Cubs. It had been that way since 1908. Still, Harold had an inexplicable affection for the team, so he decided to take the trip. When the appointed hour came, according to his expert calculations, he was off.
He arrived at the parking facility more or less on time and spied the ticket office right away. There were not a lot of cars as the team needed a winning season to fill the lot, so Harold got a spot close to the ticket windows. He put up the sun shield in the front window and then added another for the back. It didn’t matter. The car would be hot when he returned, sun shield or not. With plenty of time before game time, Harold took a leisurely stroll to purchase his tickets. He only had to wait behind one person when he heard someone call out.
“Harold? Harold, is that you?” It was George, a former colleague from work and his wife Martha. Whenever he heard their names together it reminded him of a movie or show, but he could not remember which one.
George, like many Cub fans, would travel almost anywhere to see the boys in blue play. Older Cub fans with time on their hands frequently made vacation plans to include a Cubs’ road game.
“Hello, George, Martha,” Harold said, not at all certain he was glad to see them. “What brings you down here this time of year? People normally visit in the winter.” At that, it was Harold’s turn at the ticket window.
“I need just one ticket,” Harold declared. “I don’t want one of those 281 dollar tickets. I think a 66 dollar ticket is quite enough.” Actually Harold thought that was too much but he figured it would be a rare treat. When he collected his ticket, Harold turned around and said to the couple, “Well, it was nice to see you again.”
But when George got to the window, he had other ideas. He said to the person selling tickets, “Can you get us two tickets right next to that last guy?”
“Sure,” she replied and sold him the next two seats. Harold would be on the aisle and the couple from the north would be right next to him.
“Hey Harold, wait up,” George shouted and the couple hurried along to catch up with the master planner. The problem is, George and Martha were not in the plan. They all went into the park together and Harold and George had to stand around for fifteen minutes while Martha went to the women’s washroom.
When they got to their seats, the National Anthem was being played. George decided to sit next to Harold for half the game in order to tell him everything that happened since Harold had retired. Martha took the second half to update George on local gossip, most of it having to do with people Harold could not remember — or possibly never knew.
Harold’s seat on the aisle did not prove to be so ideal, since vendors and fans frequently went by, obstructing his view. Beer vendors were particularly annoying because when they stopped in front of Harold, they were usually there for too long.
The game moved along slowly. The Cubs fell behind early due to errors and poor relief pitching. It did not look major league. At precisely three hours after the start of the game, the alarm on Harold’s watch went off. He announced to the now somewhat tipsy couple, it was time to go.
“Go?” George shouted in horror. “It is only the bottom of the eighth. The Cubs could have a rally. See, I have my rally cap.” At that George took off his cap, turned it inside out, and put it back on his head.
“But I have somewhere to go … and the game has run long.”
Martha protested, “You’re retired. Where do you have to go? Sit down and watch the Cubs come back.” The couple put up such a fuss that Harold sat back down just to put an end to the scene. Rays fans around them were shouting at them to sit down. It was embarrassing to the usually quiet Midwesterner. The Cubs went three up, three down in the ninth, as might be expected from such a team. The threesome filed out with all the others. When Harold got to his hot car, the traffic was building. The trip through the lot and onto the roadway was slow and painful to Harold. The Cubs had played as expected, but the day had not gone as planned by Harold, master planner of retirement time.
It’s Hanukkah. Finding the right candles for my Menorah has proved nearly impossible, so I simply light candles, murmur the prayer and that’s fine. There’s actually no law that says you have to use a specific type of candle holder. Any candles can do the job, celebrating brightness against the darkness.
A friend took me to a Red Sox Game at Fenway Park. It was the middle of April, so there was a chill in the wind. I layered up and topped it off with my retro Brooklyn Dodgers tee-shirt. It was Jackie Robinson day. Everyone was wearing the fabled #42.
April is the beginning of the new baseball season, when hope springs eternal. Anything could happen. The haves and have-nots are equally in the race. For me, it’s also when I open the cookie jar of memories, mentally racing around the bases to those days when I listened to our boys of summer on the radio.
Vin Scully was a 20-something rookie broadcaster, calling his first season of Brooklyn Dodgers games.
The Korean “conflict” dominated the radio news, which preceded the important stuff, baseball. The Brooklyn Dodgers were “America’s Team” in 1950. Vin Scully was a new breed of sports broadcaster. He mixed in stories about President Truman’s desegregation of our Armed Forces and “discontent” about the integrated Dodgers’ team.
Scully used phrases like “Goodnight, sweet Prince”, after Jackie Robinson turned in another memorable game amid jeers from rabble-rousers. It was curious to this young fan who dreamed of becoming a team-mate of Jackie Robinson, Peewee Reese, and Duke Snider. I’d wear Dodger Blue with pride, I promised myself.
I thought it would be wonderful if they played baseball all year round and the stories would always be about the Bums and the dreaded New York Yankees. Heck, it would be terrific to listen to Vin Scully and not those other people talking about grown up stuff. Scully even mentioned things we were studying in school and made them sound exciting. I’ll never forget his referring to April as “the cruelest month.” I’d steal that line a zillion times.
A couple of decades later, opportunity opened the door to meetings with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and other fabled Boys of Summer. Campy was friendly and outgoing, eager to share stories with a newbie reporter. He would say, “Life is good, young fella. You gotta appreciate it.”
Jackie Robinson would glare at Campy as he wove the stories of good times with the Dodgers. Sometimes, he would interrupt Campanella with a sharp, “Enough, Roy. Enough of that fiction.”
Robinson would turn to me, his eyes blazing, seemingly angry. “Life isn’t a ball game, young man,” he once said. Then, he gently patted me on the shoulder, noting that I was a good conversationalist and listener. It was a bit confusing. It happened that way several times.
People like Campy, Peewee Reese and even a reluctant Duke Snider would share that Jackie Robinson was a very complicated man on a mission.
PBS is again running Ken Burns’ two part portrait of Jackie Robinson. It goes beyond myth and legend to examine Robinson, the man. The man from Cairo, Georgia was so much more than the athlete who broke baseball’s racial barrier. The inner turmoil, anger, frustration, and multiple health issues took Robinson from us way too early, at age 53.
1950. So long ago. A time of innocence for many young boys like me.
Another year has rolled to its finale. It’s the middle of December. In a few weeks, it will be 2018.
Vin Scully retired. Though the world is not running short of baseball commentators, no one can match his style, his class, his understanding of the game, or the poetry he added to his commentary.
In baseball, the winter meetings are in progress. Are we going to make a deal? We need a slugger. We picked up someone, but he’s the kind of slugger who is no kind of fielder and misses the ball a lot. I suppose as a DH, maybe. I guess we’ll see. Before I look around, spring training will begin. Maybe the world will seem all fresh and new in the spring.
Roy Moore lost in Alabama. For the first time in 25 years. A Democrat for the Senate. I guess they decided to not elect a pedophile after all. Even in Alabama, there are limits and a glimmer of decency. Doug Jones — one more vote against the horrors of Trumpism.
Baseball has been a saving grace for me during this otherwise disgraceful year of political ugliness and international ill-will. I wonder if a World Series win would fix it? Somehow, I doubt it. We need more than a ballpark win this year.
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