Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gonna Party Like It's 1982

The 26-year drought is over! The Milwaukee Brewers have gained a spot in the postseason for the first time since 1982. The Crew earned that spot Sunday by knocking off the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in front of exuberant fans.

The Brewers had indeed done their part by beating the Cubs. However, they still needed the New York Mets to lose to the Florida Marlins for their dream to be realized. The final two innings of the Mets game was shown on Miller Park’s video screen. Brewer fans weren’t going anywhere as they watched anxiously as the drama unfolded.

The Mets fulfilled those dreams by losing 4-2. The crowd roared as blue and gold streamers and confetti rained down from above. After celebrating briefly in the locker room, Brewer players and coaches came back onto the field to whoop it up with the fans. The champagne sprayed everywhere as both the Diamond Dancers and players alike danced on top of the dugout. The party had begun.

Watching Brewers bench coach Robin Yount spraying the Milwaukee faithful with champagne was special for me. I was fortunate enough to attend a game the last the Brewers were in the playoffs back in 1982. During the post World Series celebration, I remember watching Hall of Fame shortstop Yount racing around venerable County Stadium’s warning track on a motorcycle.

Sunday brought back many fond memories for me. I just pray the Brewers can continue to provide new memories. Hopefully, it won’t take another 26 years before these memories get stirred. Until next time…From The Booth.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Remember…Part Three

You might be getting tired of all this "remembering" that I have been doing recently. Hopefully you're not. In my last column I promised to share with you my memories of angels being turned into lightning and, also, a situation where someone used a donut as an alarm clock. Being a man of my word, here goes…

I remember walking to school back in the early 1970s. It was a public school located at 4515 80th street. That school was Lance Jr. High. Our athletic teams were known as the Blue Angels and competed against teams from four other Kenosha Jr. High Schools. They were the Bullen Bobcats, Lincoln Indians, McKinley Jaguars and Washington Wildcats.

Almost 40 years later, that school located at 4515 80th street is now a middle school. There are now five other middle schools offering Lance athletic competition. Mahone Middle School is the new addition. Their teams are called the Mustangs. Still competing are the Bullen Bobcats, Lincoln Indians, McKinley Jaguars and Washington Wildcats. So, besides becoming a middle school and the Mahone Mustangs joining the mix, it would seem that things have not changed much for Lance.

Unfortunately, something else has changed for Lance. Somewhere along the line it was decided to change their athletic teams' nickname from Blue Angels to Lightning. The Lightning! What a revolting development. The Bobcats are still the Bobcats, the Indians remain the Indians, the Jaguars are still called the Jaguars and the Wildcats are still Wildcats. I don't know the "official" reason for changing the name and I don't really care. I have a hunch or two why, but it doesn't matter. You see, I was a Blue Angel; I am a Blue Angel and will always be a Blue Angel. Yes, I remember walking to school back in the 1970s.

Okay, enough whining. On a lighter note, I remember when a group of ladies from the Finney's New Yorkers softball team used a donut as an alarm clock. It happened on an early Sunday morning during the Women's Marathon tournament at Finney's West. The annual event began on Saturday morning with games being played non-stop through the night, with the championship game taking place sometime Sunday afternoon.

Leon Rosko, the owner/operator of Finney's West, was hard at it, making sure everything was going smoothly. He ordered the trophies, scheduled the umpires, dragged the fields, stocked the coolers - you get the picture. If there was something that had to be done, chances are Rosko did it or was going to do it. Factor into the equation he had been doing this since the sun came up Saturday morning.

Early Sunday morning, just before dawn, an exhausted Rosko tried to take a well deserved "break" on the floor of the announcer's booth. He had barely started to snore when the New Yorkers entered the booth, armed with a box of Dunkin' Donuts. They decided Mr. Rosko had rested long enough and attempted to wake him. Calling his name didn't work. When poking Rosko had no results, the ladies proceeded to wave one of the sugary delights under his nose. Needless to say, Rosko's nap was over and breakfast was served. Yes, I remember when a group of ladies from the Finney's New Yorkers softball team used a donut as an alarm clock.

This past week or so I have shared my memories on a wide variety of subjects. I reminisced about lovable losers, standing in the cold, fans booing a guy for getting a hit and fantasy football. The column today was about angels being turned into lightning and a donut being used as an alarm clock. Who knows what I will write about next - I don't! The only way to find out is to keep reading my blog. Until next time…From The Booth.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Survivor Gabon

“Want to know what you’re playing for?” Emmy award winning host Jeff Probst uttered that famous phrase twice as Survivor kicked off it’s 17th season last night. True to form, producer Mark Burnett introduced a twist to go along with the Survivor standards we have grown to love.

Burnett has an uncanny ability to change things just enough to keep you interested and wondering what’s next. But don’t worry; the old Survivor classics are still there, the traditional elements that have kept the show on the air since the year 2000.

Set in Gabon, Africa, the usual beautiful people make up a large portion of this season’s cast. The 18-contestantt troupe has no less than 6 “babes” and 4 “hunks”. 13 competitors are less than 30 years old. The eye candy is definitely there.

Of course there is the ubiquitous wise old sage, the quirky gay guy, the high-strung black diva and the pretty girl with the weird first name. Who can forget Parvati?

Yup, all of the traditional elements are back. The first new twist Burnett gives us is a 2-hour season opener. Perhaps it was done to combat Fox throwing 120 minutes of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares at us, put I prefer to think it was just Burnett giving things a new look.

Episode 1 Recap - The two tribes are named Kota and Fang (pronounced to rhyme with thong. Hmm…). Despite Kota having 5 of the babes in their tribe, it totally dominated Fang in all three of the challenges. Oops, was that a chauvinistic remark? Maybe so, but the fact remains Kota knocked the snot out of Fang and looked good doing it.

With that being said, obviously the first two contestants eliminated were both from Fang. First ousted was Michelle, a whiney babe with an ample collection of tattoos. She made the classic blunder of referring to her teammates as “dorks”. Not a good move, Michelle.

Next off was Gillian; the 61-year-old retired nurse. She was the “mom-type” that seems to show up each season. Her problem was that her attitude was too much rah-rah, while her performances in the challenges were blah, blah. See ya Ma!

Survivor is back and that is a good thing. Next week’s coming attractions teased us with the babes and hunks wrestling in the mud! I can hardly wait, but I have to. Until next week…From Gabon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Remember…Part Two

I remember when playing fantasy football meant I got to be Paul Hornung. It meant my younger brother was forced to be Willie Lanier of the Kansas City Chiefs, and he had to attempt to tackle me. When we got together at the "cottage", my dad and uncles would throw passes to us. They were Bart Starr, my cousins and I would be Boyd Dowler, Max McGee or Carroll Dale. When we caught the ball we would run for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears or the Minnesota Vikings.

We played our fantasy football on grass and dirt, or even better yet, snow. I didn't play fantasy football on a computer. No, I remember when playing fantasy football meant I got to be Paul Hornung.

Speaking of remembering, I remember watching a large crowd of fans at Simmons Field boo a Goofys of Minnesota player for getting a single. It was a clean base hit, and no, it wasn't against a Kenosha team. This heinous display of rudeness occurred during Sam "Finney" Perry's invitational softball tournament in the late '70s. Teams came from all over the country to participate in this prestigious competition.

Booing a player for getting a hit. You might be wondering why the good people of Kenosha would do such a thing. You are probably thinking it was totally uncalled for. Well, it wasn't! They were totally justified in booing him loudly. You see, nine of his teammates had just homered consecutively. That's right; nine straight Goofys players had all knocked the ball over the fence at expansive Simmons Field. After that incredible display of power, this guy had the gall and audacity to hit a measly single. Sheesh!

Yes, I remember watching a large crowd of fans at Simmons Field boo a Goofys of Minnesota player for getting a single. Next I will tell you about some angels being turned into lightning and someone using a donut as an alarm clock. Have I got your interest peaked? You will have to wait until next time…From The Booth.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Remember: Part One

I remember when the Chicago Cubs really were lovable losers. They are the team from the north side of Chicago who millions of people from all over the country root for, despite the fact that they haven't won the World Series since 1908.

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of that last triumph, so everyone is pulling for them to go all the way. Their torrid start this season, and a NL Central Division Championship, indicates this just might be the year for these lovable losers.

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not like the Chicago Cubs. I have a strong distain for all things Chicago, with the Cubs and Bears topping the list. The current success of the Cubs saddens me. Unfortunately, the 2008 Cubs are anything but losers. But I hearken back to a happier time, when the Cubs truly were losers.

Things were so bad at that time that Wrigley Field's upper deck would often be closed due to a lack of attendance. The few fans that did show up back in the '70s could be heard amusing themselves by stomping on empty cups. The "popping" sound would reverberate throughout the half empty ballpark. Those were good times.

I don't think anyone actually wants to watch a loser, lovable or otherwise. Yes, I remember when the Chicago Cubs really were lovable losers.

I also remember standing in the Recreation Department's parking lot at 2:30 on a cold morning in March, freezing my considerable backside off. I was joined in this foolish endeavor by a growing number of fellow softball zealots, all hoping to secure a precious spot in one of Kenosha's "City" leagues. We would stand in line, shuffling from one foot to the other, pretending not to be cold. But we were freezing, trust me.

When the doors to the Rec Department finally opened around 7:30, well over 100 of us rushed into the warm building - only to wait some more. Depending on your place in line, you might not get a chance to register your team until 11 o'clock. But it was all worth it if you were able to acquire that seemingly priceless spot for your team.

Yes, I remember also standing in the Recreation Department's parking lot at 2:30 on a cold morning in March, freezing my considerable backside off.

Coming up next, I will share my memories of fantasy football and a softball player getting booed for getting a base hit. Now, that's an interesting combination. Until then…From The Booth.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

From The Booth

Sometime before Easter, Pat Hegewald let me know that he was going to begin writing for the Daily Kenoshan. Having known Pat for many years, I was anxious to see how his interesting take on things would translate to the written word. He has always possessed a rather unique manner of expressing himself.

A couple of weeks later, Pat reminded me with an e-mail that he was indeed writing for the Daily Kenoshan. I finally got around to checking out his efforts. Keep in mind that it had been quite a while since I had checked out the site. WOW! The Daily Kenoshan has changed. And that is meant in a positive way. It has a very clean, uncluttered look that is easy to navigate.

Equally impressive were the articles that Pat had submitted. They brought back pleasant memories of the fine sports talk show he once hosted with Tom Roders. His article, "Softball Season Is Here", brought a big smile to my face. You see, I first got to know Pat through softball. It was during a time that I refer to as the Golden Years of Kenosha softball.

Like many Kenoshans, softball was a major part of my life during that period. Beginning in the late '70's, I managed the 400 Club. Perhaps you might remember me by my nickname. I was affectionately known as "Puddles". When not managing the 400 Club, I could be found in the announcer's booth at Finney's West, calling softball games. On average, I was in that booth for 18 to 24 games a week, plus countless memories.

Thanks Pat. Your article in the Daily Kenoshan has reminded me of (for lack of a better term) the good old days. Maybe in the near future I can share a few of those stories and memories..."From The Booth"

P.S. Check out the Daily Kenoshan - http://dailykenoshan.com/

Prejudice On A Large Scale

Recently the Daily Kenoshan had a new "contributor" offer some rather mean, hateful remarks in the Forums section. Fortunately the problem was addressed professionally and the disgusting posts were removed without much incident.

Regrettably, prejudice is a very real and ugly part of our society. It always has been. However, thankfully today most forms of prejudice, even when poking fun, are not tolerated.

The reason I say most forms are not tolerated is because there is still one class of people in the U.S.A. who it is still acceptable to make prejudicial fun of - big people. Listen to Leno and Letterman's monologue some evening. Chances are you will hear a wise crack or two about someone's size or weight.

Not too long ago, a "man of size" who happens to host a local morning radio show, related on the air a personal incident that further illustrates my point. It seems he had stopped at an area supermarket to pick up a few things. While walking from his vehicle to the store, a car full of young people pulled up to him and shouted, "Hey fat ass, can't you move any faster?" He told them no he couldn't and continued inside to do his shopping.

An amusing radio bit? Perhaps, but I guarantee that inside it had hurt the radio host. At the very least, he was sick and tired of hearing such moronic comments. I, being a large man myself, have heard and dealt with similar comments most of my adult life. You try to grin and bear it and shrug it off, but deep down those prejudicial barbs are painful.

Prejudice - "Preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual evidence. Dislike, hostility, or unjust behavior formed on such a basis." That pretty much says it all. You might not think that "fat-bashing" is a form of prejudice. Based on this online definition, I feel it is.

Just as all people of Jewish descent are not money hungry bankers, all large people do not have poor personal hygiene. Likewise, just as all people of Polish descent aren't stupid morons, not all large people are gluttons. Similarly, just as all people with a Hispanic heritage are not lawn mowing thieves, not all large people are slow-moving and lazy. Do you see my point? These are all stupid reasons to hate someone and they have no just basis at all.

Some people who are overweight are that way because of their genes. Sometimes, it's due to other physical conditions, not related to obesity, which preclude them from regular exercise. Others have excess weight because of medications that they might be required to take. To be sure, there are those that do make poor food choices and do overeat for various reasons, but does this give others the right to be mean and hateful to them?

Does anyone want to be fat and have other people make fun of them for it? Of course they don't. Let's begin thinking of people's feelings before we ridicule others, for whatever reason. Here's an idea - Let's all try to "lighten up" just a little! Until next time…From The Booth.