Monday, July 30, 2012

I’m Glad…

When Chicago lost its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I was glad. Very glad. The news was announced by Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, at a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark on October 2, 2009.

At first it was because of Chicago’s proximity to Kenosha that I was glad they didn’t receive the bid. If Chicago had gotten the 2016 Olympics, it would have most certainly had an impact on my hometown and its inhabitants. While there would have been some positive effects on Kenosha, the negative repercussions would have far outweighed them. I am quite sure of this.

After this weekend, I am glad for a whole new reason.

Chicago, or any city in America for that matter, doesn’t deserve to host the Olympics. After hearing the commentary coming from Americans during the opening weekend of the Olympics, I am convinced we would not appreciate it. We would be too busy criticizing and bitching about it.

Criticizing and bitching, it’s what we Americans do best.

Why appreciate and enjoy something when we can find fault and cast aspersions on it? It’s much more our style to disparage than it is to admire. We Americans do it on every level, every chance we get.

But it’s not like that everywhere. Definitely not in Great Britain. Having nearly twenty facebook friends in England, I have been made keenly aware of how much they are appreciating the Olympics being held in their country.

It almost makes me envious.

It started Friday afternoon when I had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of the Opening Ceremonies with my dear friend Bev Cooper via Skype. I heard about Mary Poppins, Mr. Bean and the Queen’s remarkable parachute jump well before most of my American friends did. I was even able to post on facebook the scoop about Sir Paul McCartney several hours before NBC aired his closing performance.

While chatting with Bev, comments started popping up on facebook. Her sister, Margaret Martin wrote, “This is fantastic!” When Bev commented, “Nice outfit, Queenie”, her niece, Sarah Crabb quickly replied, “She looks amazing, bless her.” There were also several “Wows!”

My favorite facebook comment came from Bev’s brother, David Taylor. At the completion of the event, he simply wrote, “That done us proud.”

What kind of observations do you think were being made in America? A reported 42 million viewers saw the event Friday night.

Well, of course the first ones I heard were political. Former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney made sure of that when he said the Olympics would be a failure. His blunder was compounded because he made it while on a visit to London.

Predictably, this set off a barrage of back-and-forth rants between both sides of the political fence. The Liberals excoriated Romney and wanted him crucified, while the Conservatives thought he was spot on and should be canonized.

Fortunately, the Republican Presidential candidate sought to repair his damaged reputation the next day with a series of interviews where he praised the host country and went so far as to call the weather in the UK “great”.

Meanwhile, while we Americans were making the Olympics political, my friends ‘cross the pond were elated because cyclist Lizzie Armistead had won the host nation’s first medal by taking silver in the women’s road race.

The British were ecstatic about a second-place finish and the Americans were squabbling about a politicians unfortunate remarks.

On Saturday evening, the criticizing and bitching continued on facebook. Dan McNeil, WSCR talk show host, posted the following:

 “I love Paul McCartney, but they dropped the ball at the Opening Ceremonies. ALL British Invasion stars should have been there. Jagger. Richards. Daltrey. Townshend. I could keep going. They all should have been there.”

Expectedly, the responses were moronic. Iron Maiden should have been there. Judas Priest. Sabbath. The Kinks. Cream. Even UFO was mentioned. You get the picture; nothing is ever good enough for us. We Americans always know how to do it better. We are never satisfied. It’s so hard for us to quietly enjoy anything.

On Sunday, while my British friends were busy cheering each and every event, I ran across another post. It complained that the Opening Ceremony included a memorial to the victims of the 7/7 attacks, but failed to do the same for those victimized by the Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich games.

Maybe it would have ruffled less feathers had the hosts modestly lit the flame and went directly to the parade of nations. I heard this suggested a minimum of three times this morning. Honest.

All of this criticizing and bitching made me wonder what it would be like in 2016 if Chicago had won the bid for the Summer Olympics. Would we be as enthusiastic and gracious as our British counterparts? We shall never know, but I seriously doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong; I heard a small amount of concern about the length of the Opening Ceremonies. Of course, there is also considerable discussion on how the Olympics has interfered with their daily commutes. But mostly, my friends from Great Britain are passionately supporting their British athletes and enjoying the 2012 Summer Olympics.

And they aren’t criticizing and bitching. And I’m glad.

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Crazy Day

It’s been established that Koos Inc. was the first job that I had after graduating from high school. However, it wasn’t the first place that I worked. While in high school, I worked at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant out on I-94 as a busboy and dishwasher. After that I enjoyed a stellar career at the Burger King across from Ace Hardware. Prior to those jobs I cut lawns and shoveled snow, typical jobs a junior high kid did to earn a few extra bucks. However, there was one job that I had in my youth that was anything but typical.

It only lasted one day, but it was a crazy day.

The job took place during summer break when I was about 14 years old. Tired of working around the house for our folks, my cousin John Dean, my brother Mike and I decided that if we were going to work we were going to get paid for it.

Being enterprising lads, we found a program through Manpower designed to obtain summer work for young people. The three of marched into the KYF to signup, determined to find a job. We didn’t care what the job was; we just wanted to get paid.

After filling out the necessary paperwork, we eagerly started digging through the listings of available jobs. It didn’t take us long before we discovered the ideal job. The carnival was coming to town for Crazy Days and it needed help setting up the rides. It was one full day and paid $1.50 an hour. This was perfect! Or so we thought…

Let me provide a quick explanation for those of you unfamiliar with Crazy Days.

Crazy Days was an event that took place each summer in downtown Kenosha. Local merchants set up tables outside of their shops to sell their goods at unbelievably low prices. Food vendors hawked tasty delights and the streets were closed off to make room for a bevy of amazing carnival rides.

It was a wonderful festival that would kick off on Friday night, lasting the entire weekend. In our adolescent minds, Thursday morning couldn’t get there fast enough. We were going to set up the rides and get paid for the honor. It was going to be great! Or so we thought…

When Thursday finally got there, our folks dropped us off on the corner of 55th Street and 6th Avenue across from Nehlsen’s Sporting Goods. The three of us were greeted by a small gathering of kids. We exchanged smiles, and then looked up at the blazing July sun. It was going to be a hot one.

Shortly after 10:00 o’clock, four rough looking characters with cigarettes dangling from their lips walked towards us. They were the carnies and were dressed in filthy, tattered work clothes. Wide-eyed, my cousin John Dean looked at my brother and me and muttered, “Oh shit.”

He was right. Oh shit.

There was no way that this trio of naive, fairly clean cut Catholic boys were prepared for what was about to transpire. Over the next ten hours we were exposed to not only, hard manual labor in extreme heat, but also to four of the stupidest, most vile, foul-mouthed barbarians that we would ever encounter during our young lives.

Here are a few highlights:

Lifting the massive, rusty base of the ride was not done with a fork truck or some sort of mechanical device. No, it was hoisted off of the back of a flatbed truck by the four grubby carnies and 6 or 7 young boys. I think that I experienced my first groin pull that day. Or maybe it was a hernia, I’m not quite sure.

Needing some nuts to secure the bolts being used, a carny ordered me to hand him a “couple of nuts”. Not wanting to incur the wrath of the unwashed cretin, I quickly handed him three nuts. He immediately called me stupid and said that a “couple” means two. A mere twenty seconds later he asked me for another nut.

Speaking of nuts and bolts, the proper size weren’t always available. When this happened, a nail was inserted into the hole and then bent over with a pliers. Honest. That is what was holding together many of the rides we rode at Crazy Days.

At one point, a pair of attractive women clad in skimpy tank tops and shorts waked by, one pushing a baby in a stroller. This caused one of the grimy carnies to blurt out, “Hey baby, I’ll give you another one!” Not to be outdone, one of his cohorts shouted, “Oh ya, I’ll give you twins!” To which the first carny replied, “F#ck you, go ahead!”

Stuff like this went on the entire day. But at sundown it was over and we were free to go home. Our “perfect” job was complete. All that was left was to find the carny boss and collect our pay.

After asking a few questions we were directed to a small, dilapidated trailer attached to the back of a pickup truck. The only problem was that the trailer had backed into a Volkswagen parked behind it and their bumpers were locked.

You guessed it, before we got paid, the carny boss had us climb up on the bumpers and jump up and down to unlock them. When that was accomplished, we were at long last paid. Granted we had to haggle with him about many hours we had worked and it was cash, but we had got paid. Finally.

Looking back, it was probably good that it was cash. We grabbed our pay, bought a slice of pizza and walked as quickly as our sore bodies could up to Sheridan Road to wait for our ride home.

As I said earlier, it only lasted one day, but it was a crazy day.

                                    *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This blog was first posted August 8, 2011. My friend Patty deserves the credit for inspiring me to repost it. She messaged to me about a half hour ago all excited because it was Highwood Days and the Carnival was in town. Thanks, Patty.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Now Batting…

It was it was the third inning of the last game of the night at historic Finney’s West and I had seen enough. I just wanted this game to be over with as quickly as possible. It was supposed to have started at 9:00 o’clock, but thanks to an earlier slugfest and an extra inning affair, it didn’t start until after 9:30. It was hot and humid and the softball being played was hurting my eyes. These teams were playing like they didn’t want to be there and neither did I. I just wanted to go home.

Evidently I wasn’t the only one in the booth feeling that way.

Glen, my teenaged scoreboard operator, had been persistent in reminding me of how far behind the games were and how hot it was. His incessant whining had started right before 8:00 o’clock and there was no relief in sight. I just nodded my large sweaty head and mumbled, “I know, I know.” A lot.

When he started whimpering that he wanted to go home, I almost snapped. Almost, but not quite.

It was at this point that I realized that rather than throwing Glen bodily from the booth, I just had to suck it up and make the best of this miserable situation. Maybe, I should even try to set a good example for my pubescent sidekick.

Okay, let’s not get ridiculous, that wasn’t going to happen.

Instead, I told Glen to quit his bellyaching and pay attention to the game. I thought to myself that I had better do the same thing. I needed to make this godforsaken game as enjoyable as possible. That was my plan and I was sticking to it.

Dammit.

My announcement of “Now batting for Super Sports, the veteran shortstop, Ron “Pigpen” Greb” drew a mild chuckle from the gathering of fans. That made me think that I just might be able to make these final four innings entertaining. All I needed was a little cooperation from the teams. Give me a little action, some material to work with.

And that’s exactly what I got.

With an 0-and-1 count on him, “Pigpen” Greb rifled a shot into right-center field. The outfielder charged the ball hard, determined to play it on one hop. He played it on one hop all right. Well, it might be more accurate to say the ball played him on one hop.

The sharply hit 12-inch ball took a wicked hop at the very last moment and caught the outfielder right in a sensitive area. A very sensitive area.

It got him in the junk.

Right in the nads.

A direct shot to the package.

For the Spanish audience, the cojones.

For my British friends, the bullocks.

Okay, he took one in the sack.

(I thought it might be in bad taste to say testicles.)

Anyways, upon impact, the outfielder dropped like a rifle had shot him. A hush immediately came over the previously enthusiastic crowd. Instantly, the ballpark had become completely subdued. So much for making the game lively and fun.

Then it happened. Maybe there was still hope.

Almost as quickly as he had fallen, the stricken player popped up as if nothing had happened. He looked fine. The crowd burst into cheers and applauded to show their relief.

No delay. No injury. Time for me to get back to being amusing. I knew just what I was going to do.

The moment I saw the outfielder up and seemingly ready to play, I was back into comedy mode. As the next hitter approached the batters box, I announced in an exaggerated falsetto, “Now batting…”

Get it? The outfielder had gotten hit in the family jewels moments ago, so I was doing a funny high-pitched voice because that’s how guys (supposedly) talk after they get hit there.

Pretty funny, right? Right?

Well, it didn’t really matter if it was humorous or not, because as soon as I said “Now batting”, the outfielder dropped in a heap and couldn’t continue. He was done and had to be helped off the field.

I got a few dirty looks. I think the guy’s girlfriend even called me a jerk. It wasn’t pleasant. I think I finally left the park at 11:00 o’clock. That was after telling young Glen to shut up a couple of dozen times.

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Finally…

Hall of Famer Ron Santo
Pardon my language, but the pricks that vote for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame finally got it. Tomorrow, they will finally induct beloved Cubs great Ron Santo into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, this honor is bestowed on the hard-hitting third baseman posthumously. Santo passed away on December 3, 2010. In homage to him, I am reposting the blog I wrote the day I found out he had passed on.

Getting It

Yesterday my dreaming was abruptly interrupted by Mannheim Steamroller’s lovely version of The Holly and the Ivy. I can’t remember the last time it was necessary for my “alarm” to wake me, but it was pleasant and for the most part, painless.

The next thing I heard wasn’t so pleasant. At least not initially.

After the last notes of the beautiful song ended, I switched on the radio just in time to hear WLIP’s Bill Lawrence doing the sports. The first thing he reported was that Ron Santo, legendary Chicago Cubs player and broadcaster had passed away at age 70.

I was immediately saddened. A great man was gone. Although I am no longer a Cubs fan, I have always admired Mr. Santo. Not because he was an outstanding ballplayer, having appeared in nine All-Star games and receiving five Gold Glove awards.  It wasn’t for his twenty years of “enthusiastic” color commentary of Cub games on WGN radio.

The reason that I held number 10 in high esteem was that he was a special human being. Despite battling type 1 diabetes, which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs and bladder cancer, he continued to work Cubs games and enjoy life. I don’t ever recall having heard him complain about his problems.

Not only did Santo continue celebrating his life, he made a difference in the lives of others.

Starting in 1974, Santo established the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's annual Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes.  To date, this event has raised over $60 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Ron Santo understood what was important. He knew what to do and just did it, without looking for accolades. Sure he was an unabashed homer for the Cubs, but more importantly he was a homer for the right thing.

He got it.

One of the nicest compliments I ever received came from a good friend of mine. After reading my blog, “One Of Them… Sort Of”, he sent me an email and simply said, “Way to go. You get it.”

Please don’t think for a second that I am comparing myself to what Ron Santo has done. I’m not.

But it was nice to hear that for that brief moment, I got it. Those words have stuck with me ever since. When I see how people handle different situations in their lives, I sometimes think to myself, “They get it.”

Doing the right thing without ever thinking about it is one of the most wonderful things that anyone can do. I am fortunate to have several people in my life that get it and I thank God for that. It is a true blessing.

We all have people in our lives that get it. They deserve some sort of recognition. Mind you, they aren’t expecting anything, that’s not why they do what they do. They just get it.

Remember, none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. My Dad got it. Ron Santo got it. They are no longer with us. Please do something to show those people in your life that get it that you appreciate them. Show them you get it.

                                          *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Congratulations Ronnie on this well-deserved honor. It’s too bad it took so long for the pricks to finally get it. Now go ahead and click your heels number 10, you always got it.

Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gotta Remain Positive

Last night I began to write a blog titled “People Are Stupid!” I started it out by explaining that there is a difference between being ignorant and being stupid. I noted that ignorant is the lack of knowledge or information and stupid is defined as lacking intelligence or common sense and being able to think clearly. Then I started feeling negative and when American Restoration came on, I lost my desire to continue writing.

So I stopped.

Today I decided to scrap the “People Are Stupid!” blog. I gotta remain positive. That being said, people really are stupid. Stupid people do exist. Here is the graphic I had planned on using. It was perfect.

 I’m not even going to get into the inspiration for the blog that I didn’t write yesterday. I’m not going to mention how people believe anything they hear on the radio. Even if it comes from some guy still wet behind the ears.

Nope, I gotta remain positive.

I won’t write about how people are incapable of critical thinking. Or how they never consider the context from which a statement was taken. I guess it is easier to hate and be angry.

Nope, I gotta remain positive.

I’m certainly not going to tackle the moronic discussions on facebook. Discussions like me being “to tech” because I brought up the Rotary Club coining the phrase non-winners bracket.

Honest – “to tech”.

So in an effort to remain positive, I shall avoid talking about stupid people. Rather, I thought I would spend a pleasant night watching Jonathan Lucroy while he plays in a rehab game with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

He reached on a base hit to right in his first at-bat. That’s positive.

While I watch and write I am listening to my iPod. Currently, The Clash is belting out London’s Burning. Okay, the title isn’t that positive, but it’s gotta catchy beat.

Wait, R.E.M. is on now. Talking about the passion is definitely positive.

Let’s see, what else is positive? Oh ya, I have added some new BOOBS of the Week. Check it out; they are located right below the massage cleavage photo just below the Blog Archive.

There is more positivity right below those boobs – a new poll question! This weeks question is “Would you eat beans and eggs on toast?” Bev, my pal from ‘cross the pond insists that this dish is quite tasty. I’m not so sure. Make certain to cast your vote and let me know how you feel about this gastronomic delight before you leave the blog.

Well, Jonathan Lucroy is at bat again and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ is coming out of my iPod. I guess this is a good time to wrap things up. YES! Lucroy just doubled to right field. That’s positive!

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

C’mon! Really?

On page C3 of the Sunday morning edition of the Kenosha News there was a brief article titled “Ten teams alive at Rotary”. Something in the third paragraph immediately jumped out at me. Take a look and see if you can see what caught my eye. It was blatantly obvious to me.
DLB plays Coins/Jay Bee Auto in the semifinal 12:30 p.m. today at Lincoln No. 1. The winner advances to the championship round of the double-elimination tournament. The loser moves to the non-winners bracket and will need a victory to force a rematch in the title round.

Non-winners bracket. C’mon! Really?

I went back and read the entire article again. And again. And a fourth time. There it was – non-winners bracket. Not once, but twice. Non-winners bracket.

During roughly 20 years of softball, I was involved in close to 300 tournaments. Either I was managing the 400 Club in one or I was helping Sam “Finney” Perry and Leon Rosko run one at historic Finney’s West. Never once did I see or hear the phrase non-winners bracket.

Non-winners bracket. C’mon! Really?

People, it’s called the losers’ bracket. LOSERS’ BRACKET! Not the non-winners bracket. I must have drawn up over 200 bracket boards in my life and never once did I write the phrase non-winners bracket on one of those boards. Not once. It was always the losers’ bracket.

My 400 Club team played in tournaments all over southeastern Wisconsin. Not once in Kenosha, Racine, Salem, Kansasville, Whitewater, Elkhorn, Menomonee Falls or Milwaukee did we ever play in the non-winners bracket. Not once.

Over the years, we also played in Illinois and Minnesota. Each time we lost in one of those tournaments, we went into the losers’ bracket. It seemed appropriate enough. You lose, you go into the losers’ bracket. Not the non-winners bracket.

Non-winners bracket. C’mon! Really?

Here’s a blank 16-team double-elimination tournament bracket. Nowhere on it will you see the phrase non-winners bracket.

While the print is rather small, you may have noticed the phrase losers’ bracket. It’s on there, smack dab in the middle. Along with the word loser. In fact, the word loser is on there 33 times. That’s what happens when you don’t win. You lose. At least that’s what I thought until I read that article in the Kenosha News.

Now, evidently, when you do not win, you are declared to be a non-winner. As far as I can tell, based on the article, that’s what happens in the Rotary tournament now. Apparently, these are kinder, gentler times and feelings must be spared. We now have the non-winners bracket.

Non-winners bracket. C’mon! Really?

What’s next? It’s kind of unpleasant for an umpire to shout, “You’re out!” on a bang-bang play. The base runner might take it personally and require counseling. “You are non-safe” would be more suitable.

Not to offend pitchers, from now on, umpires should refer to balls as “non-strikes”. After all, the guys on the mound are sensitive and have feelings too.

Keeping in the spirit of things, perhaps the Kenosha News could change the name of its Sunday feature, Laurels and Darts. A dart is pointy and can hurt. I can see it now – “Laurels and Non-Laurels”. Much less hostile, don’t you think?

In all fairness, I’m not sure if it’s the Rotary Club that has coined the non-winner phrase or if the Kenosha News staff simply took it upon itself to be positive and upbeat. All I know is that before this morning I never saw the phrase non-winner.

Regardless of who came up with it, I think that from now on, the Rotary Club and the Kenosha News should co-sponsor orange slices for everyone playing in the tournament.

That’s right. Beginning next year, whether you’re a winner or a non-winner, all players at the end of a game would receive a sweet slice of orange. That way no one will have his or her feelings hurt.

Non-winners bracket. C’mon! Really?

Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame

Over the last 39 years, the Rotary Club Tournament has become the "mark-your-calendar" event of the summer in Kenosha. Hot temperatures, ice cold beer and top-notch softball action still draw large crowds to Lincoln Park each year. In conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of their tournament, the Rotary Club will be the introducing the inaugural class of the Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame.
 Softball has been part of the fiber of Kenosha dating back to the 1930s, whether it was 12” or 16”, fast-pitch or slow-pitch. The high talent level of Kenosha softball is well known across the United States. In 1934, the Ke-Nash-A Blue Streaks fast-pitch team won the second-ever National Softball Association World Championship.

In 1962, the legendary Tirabassi Excavators proved their excellence by when they became A.S.A. World Champions. They accomplished this feat by running the table, going undefeated in the 64-team double-elimination slow-pitch tournament. Tirabassi added another World Championship in 2000.

From the mid 1970s through the 1990s, the popularity of softball skyrocketed, forming the “Golden Age” of Kenosha softball. Beginning in the 1980s, it was necessary to use ten diamonds to accommodate the vast number of teams playing city league softball. In addition to the city parks, there were also nine private venues in the area providing teams the opportunity to play every night of the week.

In recent years the number of teams playing softball in Kenosha may have diminished, but the level of talent certainly has not. The deep passion for this great game lives on and is evidenced by the huge success of the Rotary Tournament each year.

This year, the Rotary Club of Kenosha-West is proud to recognize the excellence in Kenosha softball by establishing the Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame.

Here is the inaugural and historic class of 2012:

Sponsor:
Domenic & Amelia Tirabassi and Family

Umpire:
George Chromcick

Contributor:
Fred Bistrick

Players:
Mario Bonofiglio
Denny DeLoria
George Georno
Mark Hackbarth
Cheryl Hanks
Tom Keating
Harry Kraft
Dick Laba
Chuck Lange
Bill Pecnick
Nick Perrine
Gary “Wizard” Petersen
Jack Rice
John Rommelfanger
Joe Rosko
Jack Tracy
Joyce Westerman

Dr. Jim Fulmer honored me by asking me to be a member of the first-ever Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame selection committee. The other members of the committee are Pat Hegewald, Jerry Herrick, Chuck Lange, John Lynn, Gary Petersen, Jack Rice, Rocky Tirabassi and John Tracy.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!

People sure do like to bitch don’t they? Everywhere I turn, somebody is complaining about something. Everywhere. On TV, TMJ4 has a segment called “Sound Off”. The Kenosha News has the Voice of the People. Every talk radio show, whether it’s politics or sports, is a huge whine fest. Facebook… where do you begin? Maybe its because I’m getting old, but all of the bitching is getting old. Don’t get me wrong; I have done more than my share of bellyaching over the years, but this current level of griping has reached epic proportions.

Enough is enough!

On their Live at 3:00 show, TMJ4 poses several “thought-provoking” questions during the Sound Off segment to ├╝ber-conservative Jeff Wagner and a random liberal, usually a female. This wouldn’t be that bad, but TMJ4 doesn’t stop there. Before the show, they post these same questions on their web site and on facebook so that the unwashed masses can also weigh in.

You can imagine the intelligent responses, especially if the names Walker or Obama are mentioned somewhere in the question. Don’t hold your breath expecting a rational thought. All you get is a lot of criticizing and grumbling.

The Voice of the People in the Kenosha News is unique in that it allows people to spout their opinion without having to sign their name. Veracity is never considered, just let the people spew their venom-filled point of view and sign it “Name Withheld”.

Another interesting element is added to the Kenosha News VOP if you read it online. There you get even more anonymity! People are allowed to comment on the VOPs while only using screen names. “Parasite” and “….” are a couple of my favorites. They hate anything that isn’t a deep shade of red. Actually, hate might be mild.

In the past, I have opined on the topic of talk radio ad nauseam, it is a passion of mine. During an average week, I listen to between 40 and 50 hours of radio. It’s the first thing I turn on when I wake up and it’s the last thing I hear when I fall asleep.

As can be expected, sports makes up a major portion of those hours. However, I also manage to squeeze in some political radio. Although I hate politics, I want to know what is going on. That’s why I make time for Lenny Palmer, Don Rosen and Alan Colmes.

I would be hard pressed to tell you which format has more hare-brained callers – sports or politics. One is worse than the other. Everyone is an expert and they think that their opinion is gospel. No one seems to be happy about anything.

Fortunately, I have discovered a wonderful method for minimizing this overwhelming onslaught of bitching.

I don’t watch Sound Off on TMJ4’s Live at 3:00 show anymore. I have seen enough Jeff Wagner to last a lifetime.

When reading the comments for the Voice of the People on the Kenosha News online edition, I now skip those by “parasite” and “….”. There is enough hate in this world. I don’t need any more added by a couple of incognito nut jobs.

When it comes to the radio, I now switch stations when a caller is particularly annoying. I can’t remember the last time I listened to a call from Sherry, Mike from “Hodunk”, or Spanky on WLIP. I just can’t handle know-it-alls that are constantly complaining about the current state of affairs.

Same thing goes for sports radio. Everyone wants the manager or coach fired but they never have a replacement in mind. It’s just a lot of whining by overly opinionated people that don’t really know very much.

No more bitch, bitch, bitch for me. At least not from those mindless mopes. I have plenty of family and friends that have legitimate reasons to complain. Life hasn’t exactly dealt them the greatest hand. They could bitch.

But they don’t.

My baby brother who is having his third major surgery in less than two years doesn’t bitch.

I have never heard one peep from my friend who is currently battling cancer. No bitching from her.

Another friend lives in debilitating pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. She doesn’t bitch.

Out of respect to these fine people and the others that don’t bitch although they have every right to, I am going to make every effort to keep my bitching to a minimum. The complaint department is closed.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

All-$tar Game Time

The 2012 MLB All-Star game will be held on July 10, 2012 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, home of the Royals. This will mark the third time the Midsummer Classic has been played in Kansas City. Last year the game, which pits the American League against the National League, was played at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the Diamondbacks. The National League was victorious, 5-1 with Prince Fielder garnering MVP honors with a game-winning home run. Fox will televise the 83rd edition of the contest.

Here are the starting lineups for Tuesday night’s game as vote by the fans:

American League

C – Mike Napoli, Rangers
1B – Prince Fielder, Tigers
2B – Robinson Cano, Yankees
3B – Adrian Beltre, Rangers
SS – Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF – Josh Hamilton, Rangers
OF – Curtis Granderson, Yankees
OF – Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
DH – David Ortiz, Red Sox

National League

C – Buster Posey, Giants
1B – Joey Votto, Reds
2B – Dan Uggla, Braves
3B – Pablo Sandoval, Giants
SS – Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
OF – Matt Kemp, Dodgers
OF – Melky Cabrera, Giants
OF – Carlos Beltran, Cardinals

Due to injury, Matt Kemp will not be able to participate. Ryan Braun of the Brewers will take his place.

Each team will also have at least additional 26 pitchers and reserves to fill out their rosters. When you add in the players that are replacing those that are injured, like Kemp, the total number of All-Stars will be around 75.

You would think with that many competitors, all of the top players would be participating. You would think that all the very best of the best would be represented. You would think that no superstar would be absent from the game.

Well, you would be wrong.

Oh, this isn’t about players that were snubbed. Sure, you could make a good case that Zach Greinke, James McDonald and Johnny Cueto all got screwed and deserved to be All-Stars. But that’s not what I am talking about. Those aren’t the high profile players that won’t be in Kansas City Tuesday night.

No, this absentee group of nine megastars is so elite that their combined salaries is only $637,870 less than that of the total team payrolls of the Astros, Athletics and Padres added together.

Based on data from USAToday.com, I give you my 2012 Big $$$ Non All-Stars:

C – Brian McCann, Braves – $11,500,000
1B – Mark Teixeira, Yankees – $23,125,000
2B – Chase Utley, Phillies – $15,285,714
3B – Alex Rodriguez, Yankees – $30,000,000
SS – Jose Reyes, Marlins – $11,000,000
OF – Vernon Wells, Angels – $24,187,500
OF – Carl Crawford, Red Sox – $20,257,142
OF – Alfonso Soriano, Cubs – $19,000,000
DH – Michael Young, Rangers – $16,174,974

Total Salary - $170,630,330

Here are the figures for the three teams that I mentioned:

Houston Astros - $60,651,000
Oakland Athletics - $55,372,500
San Diego Padres - $55, 244, 700

Total - $171,268,200

In fact, the Big $$$ Non All-Stars combined salary is larger than every Major League team’s entire payroll except for the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox. Just think if I would have added a pitcher to the Non All-Star team. Put Met hurler Johan Santana on the team and total is approaching 194 million dollars.

Obviously, a grave injustice has been done to the Big $$$ Non All-Stars. It is crystal clear, that based on their exorbitant salaries, they should be playing ball at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night. Players making that much money do not need any extra days off. They should be entertaining us every day from April to November.

Hopefully these glaring omissions won’t spoil your All-Star experience. I sill plan on watching the game because my favorite player, Prince Fielder is playing. He doesn’t take days off. He can’t afford to, he’s only making $23,000,000, not $23,125,000 like Teixeira. Enjoy the game.

Until next time…from the booth.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. 

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.

While Independence Day is the national day of the United States and celebrates our separation from Great Britain, I still hold a fondness for our friends across the pond. So much so, I have even been referred to as an Anglophile. In honor of my endearment with England, I would like to repost a blog written back on December 14, 2009.

My Americanization Of Britain

In 1964 the film “The Americanization of Emily” was released. “Emily” starred James Garner and Julie Andrews. Set in London, in 1944, the film is based on a novel by William Bradford Huie, a former naval officer and aide to an Admiral during World War II. In 2005 I joined Pogo, a gaming website that offers a variety of casual games, ranging from card and board games to puzzle, sports, and word games. While playing, you are able to “chat” with people from all over the world. That is where I met a lovely lady from the U.K. named Bev.

That is when I first embarked upon my Americanization of Britain.

And it hasn’t been a small undertaking. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This ambitious endeavor not only includes the Americanization of Bev. Nope, it has branched to the rest of her family and a couple of her friends.

No big deal you say? Well, Bev’s family is nothing to sneeze at. Her parents, Alfie and Elsie, obviously had a favorite hobby. The results of their hobby were Sue, Margaret, Hazel, Christine, Carol, Beryl, Donald, Barry, Keith, David and Debbie. In that order.

Where is Bev you ask? Bev’s given name is Beryl, sibling number six of eleven. She might be the middle child, but she compensates for it with an abundance of nicknames. She is also Doris. And Bell. And B. And Coops. You get the picture.

Over the years Bev and I have become dear friends. I have gotten to know a lot of her family and have no less than fifteen of them as facebook “friends.”

The language barrier was the first bridge to cross. In England, football is soccer and soccer is also soccer. In America, football is football and soccer is soccer. We still struggle with that one.

Then there are chips and crisps. Okay, pay attention. The British call French fries, chips. They call potato chips, crisps. I am having more success Americanizing Bev’s family in this regard.

This was made obvious one night when Bev’s daughter Louise asked her if she could speak to me on Skype. Bev said sure. Louise sat down in front of the computer, said hi and told me that she had just been to McDonald’s. I asked her what she had.

Her reply made me grin.

With a big smile, the pretty young Brit said she had a burger and a milk shake. She then paused, and proudly added, “And French Fries!”

My hard work was beginning to pay off.

Other inroads in my effort to Americanize include providing Bev’s husband, an electrician, with an American-style nickname of his very own. He is now commonly referred to as “Sparky”.

Bev’s enchanting eldest sister Sue has become a regular reader of this very blog, leaving comments on a consistent basis. She is a big fan of my tales of Koos, especially when they involve the legendary Arno.

I have also introduced the Brits to my favorite sport teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Brewers. Bev loves it when I email videos to her of Brewer home runs at Miller Park, so she can see Bernie Brewer descend down his slide. She insists on calling him “Barney”.

Bev’s charming baby sister Debbie is another member of her family that I have become good friends with. Here, my attempts at Americanization are aimed mostly at Debbie and husband Scott’s rambunctious son, Jake.

Jake loves sports. On weekends he plays football (soccer) one day and rugby on the other. If that wasn’t enough, he swims competitively two days a week and has Judo on another. With this daunting schedule, it’s amazing that Debbie has any time for games on Pogo.

Back to the Americanization of young Jake. This past Saturday, Bev had a family get-together at her house. The function served two purposes. Not only was it a Christmas party but it also celebrated Jake’s eighth birthday. He was born on Christmas Eve, so in her infinite wisdom, Bev decided to combine both of the events at one time.

Bev had graciously extended an invitation to me, but unfortunately my schedule prevented me from attending the festive bash. Not wanting to be rude, I did however mail a present to the guest of honor.

If the pictures below are any indication, it looks as if he enjoyed the gifts that I had sent to him. Quite American, don’t you think? It goes without saying that Jake is clearly the coolest kid in England.
 
A British Packer fan
Prince has a fan "across the pond"
My efforts to Americanize Britain aren’t finished, not by a long shot. I think my next venture will be to have them consolidate all the different things for which they use the word “piss”. Don’t even ask.

Have a happy and safe Fourth, everyone! Make sure you do all four polls if you have not. Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jump On My Pole!

Because my right wrist is still not up to par (no jokes, Patty), I have not been writing as much as I would like to. Nonetheless, I still want to provide something for you “From The Booth”. Please check out the column to the right of the blog.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have added a new feature – BOOBS of the Week. It is located just below the Blog Archive. Current boobs are Brewer outfielder Nyjer Morgan, Kentucky senator Rand Paul and talk radio host Michael Savage. This list will change as other boobs pop up. And you know they will.

Directly below the boobs is my popular poll. The topics vary from week-to-week, trying to be as current and relevant as possible. I try to remind you when there is a new question, but sometimes I am negligent in this regard.

That’s not the case today!

Yesterday I posted four brand new poll questions for you to mull over. Take some time to look them over and cast your votes on all four. Here is what I came up with:

What is your favorite pizza topping?

I am talking a single topping. If you only get one topping (besides cheese), what would it be? Your options are: Anchovies, Black Olives, Cheese Only, Fresh Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Meatballs, Mushrooms, Onions, Pepperoni and Sausage.

Who is your favorite member of Monty Python?

Which “Python” of the legendary British comedy sketch show that debuted in October 1969 is your favorite? Although I have left out blonde bombshell, Carol Cleveland, there are still six choices. They are: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

What is your favorite Popsicle flavor?


Here in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the seven-day forecast is for temperatures in the low to mid 90s. A great way to beat the heat is sucking on that frozen delight called the Popsicle. Which do like best? Here is the list to choose from: Banana, Cherry, Grape, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Raspberry and Root Beer.

Who is your favorite actor to portray Bond, James Bond?

In researching this final poll question, I was a bit surprised that there are a total of nine actors that have appeared as the iconic spy. Here they are: Barry Nelson, Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Christopher Cazenove, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Bronson and Daniel Craig.

Those are the four poll questions. They will be up until Thursday night at 7:00 PM. Please cast your votes. Tell your family and friends to vote. Heck, even tell your enemies. Let’s get out the vote!

Please note that there have been some issues reported while casting votes. You may have to click twice or hit “Change your vote” for your vote to show up. Make sure your vote shows up! Thanks.

Until next time…from the booth.