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Tampa Bay Rants And Raves



This week our yearly look back at the highlights and people that made 2019 the year it was


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Just after the New Year, the gas station closest to our home had regular at $1.97. We made a bet with ourselves that there would be a 2 before the 97 before year’s end. Stay tuned. (12/29 update – it never made it that high).

2. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember the annual downtown Christmas Parade with merchants staying open late that night.

3. In February, the heralded 5:05 Newsletter ended its 23-year run with the sign off: All mediocre things must come to an end. It’s been fun.

4. Elizabeth Warren has announced plans to run for the Presidency in 2020. It will give the country a chance at having its first Native American President, oh wait…

5. Florida now has a Director of Cannabis. Have you ever in your life been prouder to be a Floridian?

6. Florida has added another five specialty license plates bringing the total to just north of 125. Our long suffering bride suggests that the state just issue us blanks and some permanent magic markers.

7. Quote of the week from Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, on the Trump administration’s crack down on government funding of abortions: “This is a major step toward the ultimate goal of ending taxpayers' forced partnership with the abortion industry.”

8. Number of the Week: 56. That’s where Tampa Bay ranks in U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of the best places to live in the United States. Darned if we can think of 56 – or even six places where we’d rather live than in the Bay Area.

9. At “press time”, the Democratic Party had 13 declared candidates for President. That’s one for each stripe on the U.S. Flag – how patriotic. It could well be one for each star on Old Glory before all is said and done. Update - by summer, the group had grown to over 20.

10. With all the nonsense surrounding school mascots like the decades-old Chiefs nickname of Chamberlain High, we’re glad our “mascot” was a Tornado which no one has found offensive – yet.

11. Sign of the week: Observed during the opening week of school on the marquee of a local liquor store – “Welcome Back Teachers”.

12. Several leading conservatives feel that Elizabeth Warren will be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020. We feel that may be wishful thinking from the right.

13. From August: Number of the Week: 21,000 – the number of insurance claims still outstanding from Hurricane Michael nearly a year later. It’s just another reason Florida needs to completely change its toothless insurance regulation laws.

14. You no doubt remember the seemingly endless project that was Druid Road (we changed Presidents during the timespan). Now, it has been replaced by the western end of Sunset Point Road and it’s quite possible we will see another Presidential election before that project is completed.

15. It appears Clearwater may have its strongest mayoral field in at least two decades with long time city council member Bill Jonson announcing he will take on two-term mayor Frank Hibbard next year.

16. From early September: How heartwarming to see the gaggle of power trucks assembling in and around St. Pete College Saturday night along with large buses hauling utility workers to the area to stage for wherever they may be needed. It’s the same feeling we experienced two years ago when we saw so many such trucks headed south on I-75 in the wake of Irma.

17. In October, the ill-fated Moonraker II was finally pulled from the bottom off the Howard Franklin Bridge and towed ashore for demolition, ending the whining of the idle rich along the shoreline (TBRR 6/23/19).

18. Broward County sheriff Scott Israel’s fate should have been decided at the ballot box – not on the floor of the Florida Senate.

19. From November: In our inaugural edition of TBRR (3/9/14), we opined if we had the money, one of our top projects would be restoration of Tampa’s Jackson House. Now, bless their hearts, the Viniks who own the Lightning have stepped up with a million dollars to fund the rehab project.

20. And in August, your Humble Blogger celebrated the 50th anniversary of tricking an otherwise very intelligent young woman into saying “I do”.


Sports, the media and other stuff:


1. If we ever win one of those mega jackpots (guess we’d have to buy a ticket first, but we digress), we would buy the Rays, rename them the St. Petersburg Saints, move them to Al Lang Field and into the National League.

2. Samsung has unveiled a cellphone that will sell for $1980. Amazing as it may seem, some people will buy those things.

3. Our son-in-law who is wise beyond his years, has this simple suggestion for cable, phone and internet companies, just give us a price you can live with which does not necessitate us calling back each year threatening to cancel in order to get a reasonable rate.

4. Capturing Bryce Harper was a great add by the Phils, but we think their stealing catcher J. T. Realmuto from the Marlins will pay bigger on-field benefits.

5. Bruce Bochy to retire after this season - prepare the plaque for Cooperstown.

6. Seven thousand strikeouts – the increase in season strikeouts from the 2008 to the 2018 baseball season. Bring back Nellie Fox who struck out 216 times – over 19 seasons!

7. Idle thought: We’d probably stroke more checks to more charities if they had a check-off box that read “Here’s my yearly contribution, save printing and postage and get back to me in one year.”

8. Factoid: with a Stanley Cup appearance by one of the “original six”, you might recall when there were only six NHL teams and each team had exclusive bargaining rights with any player who lived within 50 miles of its home stadium – a definite advantage for the Canadian teams in the early days.

9. Hats off to the Miami Dolphins for paying out the full salary of Kendrick Norton and keeping him on their injured roster so he can collect NFL insurance. Norton lost an arm in a car accident last month.

10. Likewise, a tip of the cap to the Boston Red Sox for their very classy move of sending a plane for their former slugger David Ortiz so he could receive further treatment in Boston from the senseless gunshot wounds he suffered in the Dominican Republic.

11. The fact that he never grabbed the gold ring at the College World Series does not diminish the career of perhaps the greatest college baseball coach ever – FSU’s Mike Martin who retires after 39 years and over 2000 wins. Happily, his son, Mike Jr., will carry on the tradition as FSU’s new head coach.

12. At last, the Nationals get a manager who can get them beyond the first round of the playoffs – Davy Martinez. It could have been the Rays.

13. Some words of wisdom from ESPN writer Sam Miller – “Baseball people are unanimous in this opinion: The test of a team is the six-month season. The seventh month is largely about luck”.

14. World’s largest outdoor cocktail party to stay in Jacksonville at least through 2023 despite some mild protest from Georgia’s head football guy. Hey, you don’t drop the New Year’s ball in Milwaukee and you don’t play the Florida-Georgia game anywhere but Jacksonville.

15. It took an historical World Series (in which the visiting teams won all seven games) to upset our sports whiz Achmed Walled’s (pronounced wall-ED) pre-season pick of Houston to win it all. Congrats to Davy Martinez.

16. Florida 24 Auburn 13 – Gator head coach Dan Mullen’s biggest win to date? Probably.

17. It took just two weeks for the NFL season to be turned topsy-turvy with injuries to two of the league’s elite quarterbacks – Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. The Saints were a popular pick to reach the Super Bowl and the Steelers given at least a chance to make the playoffs. (Update – we just didn’t see Teddy Bridgewater in our crystal ball).

18. Idle thought - three players who belong in the Hall of Fame who are not there – Roger Maris, Dale Murphy (both two time MVPs) and the game’s best left handed reliever Billy Wagner. And ok, since you didn’t ask, three players in the Hall who don’t belong there – Bill Mazeroski, Phil Rizzuto and Hoyt Wilhelm.

19. Good hires – FSU’s choice of Mike Novell of Memphis and USF’s pick of Jeff Scott as their head football coaches. For the life of us, we can’t think of better fits.

20. Fifty years ago the top three songs in America were Someday, We’ll Be Together by The Supremes ( the last # 1 song of the sixties), Steam’s ballpark favorite Na, Na, Hey, Hey Kiss Him Goodbye and CCR’s Down on the Corner.

And our favorite from 2019: Quote of the week from June: “This is not a staged exit” – Rays’ owner Stuart Steinberg. Those words are almost identical to that of the Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley when he started moving Dodger games to Jersey City in the 50s. Let’s see, Brooklyn still has a baseball team, right?


Our last song together


The CHS Class of ’64 lost one of its best the last week in December 2018. Bob Crown, who over the years quietly helped so many people in need through Isaiah’s Inn, died at age 72.

His Dad was an acclaimed symphony conductor; his nickname (The Captain) was bestowed on him by Beach Boy Mike Love and with the attractive Tony Tennille and some strong Neil Sedaka tracks, the Captain and Tennille charted 14 songs in the 70s and 80s. Darryl Dragon died in January at age 76.

So long Dolly. Few performers have been so identified with a single Broadway show as Hello Dolly’s Carol Channing who passed away at age 97.

An entertainer on a different scale, Max Pierre also passed in January at 61. You could see and enjoy Max and his sax on your way to the parking lot after every Rays’ home game.

January also saw the passing of former St. Pete mayor Don Spicer – a policymaker who truly knew how to reach across the aisle for the good of his community. Don Spicer was 91.

Frank Robinson was baseball’s only MVP winner in both leagues; his number is retired by three organizations. The first ballot Hall of Famer passed away in February at age 83.

Tampa Bay’s Romper Room host June Hurley Young passed away in February at age 87. She hosted the show for 15 years.

Radio legend was the only way to describe Bruce Williams whose syndicated show spanned some three decades. Williams died in February just short of his 87th birthday.

The man whose family brought dinner boats to Pinellas and was a champion for regional tourism, Phil Henderson, Sr. passed away in February.

She was the first woman to ever qualify as a U.S. Astronaut, but NASA’s glass ceiling in 60s and 70s kept Jerrie Cobb from ever going into space. Cobb passed away in April at age 88.

NBA Hall of Famer and the best sixth man in the history of NBA, the Celtics’ John Havlicek died in April at age 79.

May saw the passing of one of the class acts in baseball – Phillies chairman David Montgomery at age 72.

One of the greatest basketball players in Clearwater High School history also passed away in May. Dick Danford went on to star at FSU and have a successful career as a high school and college coach. Dick was 73.

While CHS alumni suffered a big loss, the entertainment world lost two greats in the same week’s span – the perpetual girl next door, Doris Day and one of television’s greatest comics Tim Conway. Miss Day was 97, Tim Conway 85.

He presided over Clearwater’s foremost restaurant for several decades. Dick Siple passed away in May at age 93.

He had as much to do with success of NASA’s early astronaut program as guys like Shephard, Armstrong and Glenn. Chris Kraft, NASA’s first flight director, died in July at age 95.

Clearwater Bomber great and respected Clearwater High teacher and baseball coach, Doug Mason passed away in July at age 88.

August marked the passing of banking executive and community leader Dave Carley who headed both the Bank of Clearwater and Citizens Bank during his illustrious career.

She was TV’s “everygirl” – Rhoda Morgenstern. Talented actress Valerie Harper passed away in late August at age 80.

Her name became a synonym at the legendary Morton Plant Treehouse gathering for a member who came for coffee but didn’t work out. Rosie Ruiz who took a cab to briefly claim the Boston Marathon championship in 1980, died in August at age 66.

She was a superb journalist and one of the classiest women (or men) in her profession. Cokie Roberts passed away in September at age 75.

From October: We note the passing of Clearwater’s Jana Carpenter at age 64. Jana was a champion for the unborn and other human beings termed disposable by today’s secular society. She will be missed.

One cannot measure the effect David Straz had on the Tampa Bay community. His legacy will live on for generations.

Paul Volker, whose monetary policies quite likely cost Jimmy Carter a second term in the White House, died in December at 92. He was the chair of the Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987.

NASCAR icon Junior Johnson passed at age 88 in December. The racing legend won 50 races as a driver and added 132 more as a successful car owner.

Ed Haver, for a quarter century an integral part of the Clearwater Sun sports department, passed away in December at age 88. Ed was a terrific golfer, bowler and all around nice guy.

And a great personal loss came last week when our only sibling, the brighter child in the family, passed away. As a young woman, she did not let cancer defeat her nor did blindness in her later years quash her indomitable spirit.

NEXT UP: Mayor Jane and baseball; Who won’t be in the Super Bowl






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