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Tampa Bay Rants And Raves

WEEK OF DECEMBER 8, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

 

Dunbar’s exit should mark a new era for city parks

 

 

First, Mr. Horne what took you so long? The shenanigans in Clearwater’s Parks and Recreation Department should have spelled the end for director Kevin Dunbar a year ago or more. All the financial sleight of hand is just part of the parks department’s shortcomings. An equally disturbing trend has been how the parks have become for sale to the highest bidder rather than a place where kids and adults can swat a softball, shoot some hoops or play a game of volleyball. Instead so many of the city’s parks, which we pay for, have fences around them. That is just a sad state of affairs. We hope, no, we should demand that parks again become the property of the people rather than rental spaces for only those who can pony up dollars to unlock the fences.  

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Don’t bet the farm on St. Pete’s decision to nix the split season between Tampa Bay and Montreal for the Rays as the last word. These things have a way of changing, but it’s still a lousy idea.

2. There is probably no excuse for the recent vandalism on Clearwater’s Island Estates aimed at some HOA functionaries. But if there were an excuse, it would be retaliation against condo Nazis, who when given the first taste of power in their pathetic lives, go nuts to the detriment to those who live under their regime.

         

3. During a large recent human trafficking bust in Hillsborough County, Sheriff Chad Chronister referred to the bay area being known as the strip club capital of the United States. Now, doesn’t that make you proud?

 

4. Statistic of the week – one out of every 11 single-family homes being sold in Pinellas County is being bought up by real estate trusts or funds. This pretty much parallels the national average – significantly reducing the amount of homes for sale.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater, or anywhere else, for a while if you ever owned a Chevy Camaro (our first new car was its cousin – the Pontiac Firebird). Now reports are indicating the GM pony car will go out of production in 2023 leaving only the Ford Mustang in that category.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Quote of the week (actually from the 11/17 TBRR): Charlie Strong will be on the sideline at USF (in 2020). Again, our predictions are shifting sand solid. The later thought was valid – the first not so.

7. Related note, with the same caveat as above – we’d guess that the name of the next USF coach will elicit the response from fans - “Who”? More on USF below.

8. One coaching move we did have right (TBRR 1/6/19) was Carolina dumping Ron Rivera. And our next prediction concerning Rivera is that he will pop up somewhere else. Guys who take their team to the Super Bowl usually get a second gig somewhere.

9. The Rays trade of the very effective Tommy Pham is not all that hard to understand as he was slated to make about $8 million this season. Just the same, it seems you could have gotten someone better than Hunter Renfroe who hit .216 last year. By the way, nice rant Blake.

10. Another restaurant in our 2017 weekly list of good dining spots has ended its run. Post Corner on Clearwater Beach is being sold off for yet another tower to scar the landscape. Thank goodness for Capogna’s!



USF football: what’s ahead?

 

Charlie Strong is gone and Nick or Dabo or Jim (as in Leavitt) aren’t coming. There’s no on-campus stadium in the future – nor should there be as there are more pressing issues. USF’s athletic director Michael Kelly, like his predecessors, just doesn’t seem to get it. There is little football heritage at USF. About half of the university’s graduates did not experience football during their education at USF- unlike Florida, FSU and Miami. Even UCF, a relatively new school to football, has a huge base due to their enormous size – they are the biggest Division I school in the country. In the foreseeable future, USF is going to be a middling football program and will draw middling head coaches. As for the reported possible reunion of Willie Taggart and USF, those reunions never seem to work out (we’ll see about Greg Schiano and Rutgers). Plus Willie already has four baggage tags on his luggage (three in the last four years) and once his kid stops playing, or sooner, the wanderlust will probably kick in again. Better to choose someone who elicits a “Who?” who might be around for a few years. It’s not an easy task facing Michael Kelly.

NEXT UP: Oranges; Crackdown on texting; Taking care of our military 

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WEEK OF DECEMBER 1, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Orlando makes way too much sense for baseball

 

Pat Williams, a heavy hitter on the Orlando sports scene, wants to bring major league baseball to Orlando – at last a Florida market that makes sense for the National Pastime. It has been calculated if somewhere around two to two and a half percent of Orlando’s visitors attended one game; an Orlando ball club would draw right at two-million before a local ever entered the park. The Marlins have drawn over two million once since their honeymoon opening year – the Rays never. Stadium? Well, the very attractive Disney Stadium was constructed so as to allow for a second deck or, believe it or not, there’s still a lot of vacant land in the Orlando area that would comfortably hold a stadium. It would take some time to bring everything together – say seven years or so – that would be 2027. There’s something familiar about that date.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

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

2. Good for Clearwater city councilman Bob Cundiff – the only no vote on an ill- advised and premature bond issue for Imagine Clearwater. Council members need to step back and take the pulse of their constituents before rushing ahead with the bayfront project.

3. Idle thought: Dunkin is cutting back on the use of foam cups. What most Americans need is to cut back on the use of Dunkin.

4. In related note, we are now officially in the holiday season; don’t forget to set your scales back ten pounds this week.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) a long time if you remember the rugged Marlboro Man, Joe Camel or Willie the Kool’s penguin.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. The answer – Tim Anderson of the White Sox. The question – who lead the American League in hitting this past season? Bet you could win some wagers with that piece of information.

7. Who ya got in the FSU or USF coaching sweepstakes?

8. Folks who bemoan the stranglehold southern teams have had on the National Championship recently forget the 80s when not a team from the deep south won the championship for almost a decade. These things run in cycles.

9. Lyric of the week: With no name pitchers and local bands and mustard and relish and all the rest. (Alabama’s Cheap Seats). MLB needs to think long and hard about the proposal being floated to eliminate about 25 per cent of minor league teams and the effects that would have on mid-sized communities.

10. Idle thought as we sit approximately 75 days from pitchers and catchers – if you’re a baseball fan and haven’t been to Cooperstown, what’s holding you up? Other than attending a World Series game, it‘s our biggest baseball thrill.

 

A Christmas book of sorts

 

There is very little mention of the Jolly Old Elf, but the setting is the Christmas season of 1941. The subject is the first meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill after Pearl Harbor. The book One Christmas in Washington depicts how America and Great Britain figuratively went to war with each other before eventually uniting to defeat the Axis powers in World War II. The book depicts the super-egos of Roosevelt and Churchill along with their various functionaries laboriously pounding out a global blueprint of men, materiel and strategy to execute the war while at the White House over the holidays. Canadian authors David Bercuson and Holger Herwig do a fine job of profiling the players on both sides of the Allied conference and rightfully pointing out that is neither Roosevelt or Churchill but George Marshall, whose steady hand and, to some degree, temper brought the allies together to shape the strategy for their eventual victory.

NEXT WEEK: Kurt Browning; USF football; Not those Tornadoes      

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WEEK OF NOVEMBER 24, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

November – memory month – Pinellas Past

 

We’re just about through November – the month of Thanksgiving, “No Shave Month”, one of only four months with 30 days and it is also known as “Memory Month”. To celebrate, we remember some neat things from Pinellas Past – the great chocolate milk shakes at Brown Brothers downtown Clearwater; the city’s first strip mall – Searstown; the first enclosed mall across the street on Missouri – Sunshine Mall; Clearwater’s first McDonalds across the street from Clearwater High; Jack Russell Stadium and the Bombers; the opening of “Drew U” in the mid-sixties; an evening stroll with a loved one on Clearwater Beach; the Pinellas County Fair in Largo; the original Clearwater High on Greenwood at Laura; “Florida’s Department Store” – Maas Brothers on the Bayfront; Doc Webb’s fantastic drug store and a Sunday brunch at Siple’s. That’s just a dozen, we’re sure each of you have dozens more of Pinellas Past.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. We take note of a recent judge’s ruling that the Republican Party can no longer have its candidate on top of the ballot by virtue of winning the previous election.The ruling will no doubt be appealed, but Democrats are in ecstasy. Funny thing – this law was enacted by Democrats when they held sway in Florida back in the 50s.

2. As this impeachment thing drones on, possibly the best take on it comes from The Washington Post’s David Von Drehle. You can read it on their website.

3. As of the first of the year, Florida will have less than a half dozen K-Marts left in the state. Linked to Sears, they are in the death spiral with what was once America’s store of choice. Even before that, K-Mart doomed themselves with the philosophy that low prices would offset lousy service. They don’t.

4. 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.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you ran/walked in the first Turkey Trot held 40 years ago this year.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Number of the week – 8 minutes, 36 seconds, the length of the longest song to ever top the charts – Don McLean’s American Pie released this week in 1971.

7. As we head into the MLB post season wheeling and dealing, The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Michael Cunningham points out that 24 of the last 25 World Series have been won by teams in the upper half of the league’s payroll teams – bad news for his hometown Braves, the Reds, Twins and, of course, our local nine among others.

8. The 2020 Hall of Fame ballot is out and includes a third straight first ballot slam dunk following Chipper Jones (2018) and Mo Rivera (2019) and that is Derek Jeter. With the help of our sports wizard Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED), we’ll cast our very unofficial ballot in a few weeks.

9. We’re just a month away from the NFL’s “Black Monday”. This year’s cast of characters could include at least a couple big coaching names.

10. Lyric of the week: “I’m on the next plane to London, leaving on Runway #9” (Rose Garden ‘67). The nonsense about the LA Chargers relocating to London is just that – nonsense. NFL team owners are not going to buy into 3500-5500 mile road trips on a yearly basis.

 

A classic commercial thirty years later

 

Thirty years ago Publix aired their first holiday commercial – the classic Last Train Home – recognized as one of the very best commercials of its time. It aired for several years before yielding to other good, but not great, holidays ads. If you’ve never seen it, or just want to relive the simple beauty of the production (no words), you can find it on YouTube.

NEXT WEEK: A Christmas in Washington; Orlando Dreamers

(Editor’s note: Our Thanksgiving week issue is coming to you a day or so early as your humble blogger and saintly wife spend the holiday with loved ones several states north. The trip may make next week’s TBRR a day or two late. Enjoy your holiday!)

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WEEK OF NOVEMBER 17, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Citrus County newspaper rubbish

 

So the Citrus County Commission doesn’t want to spend just south of three grand so their library patrons can read The New York Times on line. We’re okay with that as the vast majority of their library patrons won’t read it which makes it like ordering a bunch of books in Portuguese which few, if any, would read. Their problem with this financially responsible move came when they started up with the fake news clutter which lit the fuse of every liberal in Citrus County – we’re guessing there really aren’t that many. But what a brouhaha – even attracting the attention of “Florida’s Best Newspaper”. Brief sidebar – who needs The New York Times when you have the St. Pete Times? We’re guessing the library system doesn’t subscribe to The Santa Barbara News Press, arguably the most conservative daily in the county, so why New York’s “gray lady”? But the horse is out of the barn, and the Citrus Commission should probably fold its hand and move on to far more meaningful things.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. To our extreme embarrassment, we failed to note Veteran’s Day last week. Our sincere apologies to our fellow vets – and thanks to Perkins Pancake House, Publix and many others who showed their gratitude to vets. It was appreciated.

2. First the good news, the area is getting $1.4 billion to improve the I-4 and I-75 interchange in the years ahead. Now the bad news, the area is getting $1.4 billion to improve the I-4 and I-75 interchange. Imagine what fun that construction project is going to be.

3. “Florida’s Best Newspaper” dropped its local section last week – yet another ominous peek into its future. It is not yet on the widely publicized death watch of ten dailies which includes its tag team partner in south Florida – The Miami Herald.

4. Amidst the entire impeachment furor and everything else is the extreme oddity that Florida will have only one statewide race next year in an even numbered year and one ending in a zero to boot - doesn’t happen often.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you were in the crowd at Al Lopez Field 56 years ago this week to hear President John F. Kennedy speak – just days before the tragedy in Dallas.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. There is only one legitimate response to the spying mess involving the Astros and that is to the clear the decks from the GM on down.

7. Hard to argue with the post season baseball awards although we frankly expected more voting for Anthony Rendon in the NL MVP contest. The guy had a monster year before an equally great post season.

8. As we go to press, the NHL has over twenty games under its belt – who noticed?

9. In our misspent youth, we occasioned the wrestling matches at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa, but we never saw anything like the donnybrook that broke out at the end of the Browns-Steelers game last week.

10. Idle thought: How many 32 year-old quarterbacks with a bum arm who didn’t take a knee get a special workout before NFL brass – and then openly sabotage it?

 

Tampa Bay football – a couple premature guesses

 

These two predictions are worth every dime you’re paying for it. First, the Bucs – come next September, their starting quarterback will be …. Jameis Winston. Who are the Bucs going to get who’s any better, unless by some miracle they could draft Joe Burrow from LSU and even then there’s the rookie learning curve. Trades won’t bring you anything unless you strip your roster and draft picks. As for Winston, unless we’re missing something, no team is going to be banging on his door. Across town, at USF, we have Charlie Strong. He has even a (pardon us) stronger case because he’s a proven winner with a 74-50 record at three Division I schools. He has a pretty hefty buyout and let’s face it; USF isn’t going to attract Nick Saban. Charlie Strong will be on the sideline at USF. Again, our predictions are shifting sand solid.
UP NEXT: 8 min. 36 sec.; Classic commercial turns 30; Next Plane to London

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WEEK OF NOVEMBER 10, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Lewis Grizzard and an honor long overdue

 

Last week, the late, great Lewis Grizzard was inducted into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame. As mentioned in this space a few years back, if you don’t know who Lewis Grizzard is, you are functionally illiterate. His “home paper” and the South’s best newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution re-published a few of his columns this past week and they may still be available on line. If not, you can read this great man’s writings in one of many books. Our personal favorite is I Haven’t Understood Anything Since 1962. The 19th century had Mark Twain who had no peer as a humorist. The same can be said of the 20th century and Lewis Grizzard.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The comment from one wag on our Scientology-Times piece from last week: “Don’t you wish both of them would just go away”? Yeah, pretty much.

2. Agriculture Secretary and Florida’s number one pot booster Nikki Fried claims pot has 25 million uses which leads us to believe she has been overdoing it in pot’s number one use.

3. The 128,000 new jobs generated in October (most likely subject to an adjusted increase) isn’t good enough for the liberal spin doctors. Do they wish to go back eight or ten years when we were losing that many jobs a month?

4. In the recently concluded St. Pete city commission race, one successful candidate spent $80,000. Are you kidding?

5. Born 100 years ago this week, Groucho Marx’s sidekick and butt of his jokes – George Fenneman. Little known fact about the versatile radio-TV guy: his was the dulcet voice you heard every week on Dragnet with “The story you are about to hear is true, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent”

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Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Lyric of the week: “I know a cat named Way-Out Willie” (credit to Johnny Otis). And Willie is way out after less than two seasons in Tallahassee.

7. The Mets picked the best of their field of managerial candidates in Carlos Beltran. But, frankly, the field was weak. Even though it’s in the city that never sleeps, a lot of top talent steers away from the dysfunctional Mets.

8. Great news that Dewayne Staats is a finalist for the Ford Frick Award at the Hall of Fame. The nomination should have come a long time ago for the longtime Rays announcer who also has been behind the mike for the Astros, Cubs and Yanks.

9. David whips Goliath – Tulsa, the smallest Division I school in the country, beats the largest school in the division UCF 34-31.

10. Our alma mater’s 17-7 loss to Temple last Thursday was ugly, but not nearly as ugly as those USF uniforms.

 

Your White House BFF

 

We recently polled our TBRR focus group (a gathering of old cranky people) on what American President they would to have liked as their BFF. Unsurprisingly, three of the five chose the “great communicator” Ronald Reagan, who to all three, seemed like a truly nice guy. The same was said of another pick by our group – Jimmy Carter. The other selection based on sameness of age and outlooks was Bush the younger - all good picks. Who would you like to have as your presidential BFF?

NEXT UP: Pinellas Past; NFL’s 5500 mile road trip; Running out of 813s

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WEEK OF NOVEMBER 3, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

 

Scientology and the Times

 

First a disclaimer – do not count us as a member of the cult’s fan club. But “Florida’s Best Newspaper’s” (FBN) recent piece on Scientology’s distribution of their magazine Freedom pegged the hypocrisy meter. FBN lays waste to the cult for distributing their publication in the early morning hours. When does FBN deliver – high noon? But the biggest sin of the cult publication was criticizing FBN’s coverage of Mr. Miscavige and his merry band. FBN’s creed seems to be “We’ll criticize (justly or unjustly) all we want, but don’t you dare criticize us.” Interestingly, after our lead piece was written for this issue of TBRR, we (and many others) received an email from the reporter who wrote the most recent article seemingly trying to justify the newspaper’s actions.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Breaking news – Clearwater city officials extend traffic light cameras, claim safety is the motivating factor and do it with a straight face.

2. On another city note, cash irregularities again in the city’s parks and rec department – a department that should have been swept out with a broom well over a year ago.

3. Another year, another year of Congress ignoring Florida’s wishes to be on DST year-round. Senators Rubio and Scott have done their part but we continue to be rebuffed. Let’s see, Florida has 29 electoral votes. Maybe we need to impress that on whatever party wants the White House in 2020.

4. 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.

5. With the new St. Pete Pier nearing construction, you’ve lived in Pinellas a long time if you remember one of the original pier’s tenants was Tampa Bay’s first television station WSUN-TV Chanel 38 which signed on in 1953.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. If only Mike Evans could play quarterback.

7. 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.

8. With all the managerial moves headlining the offseason, one very significant move flew under the radar – the retirement of Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt after 14 notable seasons of guiding a very successful LA pitching staff.

9. 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.

10. World Series reflection: if we were starting a baseball franchise, give us either of the guys managing those two teams and our team would do just fine.

 

Pressure on front offices to perform in 2020

Now that the World Series has concluded and several managerial vacancies are being filled, the spotlight turns to team front offices. Two general managers were let go in the wake of the 2019 season – Boston’s Dave Dombrowski and Pittsburgh’s Neal Huntington. This compares to six managerial firings – two managers Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost left of their own accord. But the pressure will be on the front offices of the Angels, Cubs, Giants, Mariners, Mets and Phils – teams that despite heavy payrolls have been absent from the playoffs too many times in recent history. The front offices are where there could be considerable bloodshed next postseason.

NEXT UP: White House BFFs; George Fenneman; Misguided school bill

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WEEK OF OCTOBER 27, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

There’s no amount of money….

 

We begin with our quote of the week – if not year: “There's no amount of money that's going to change the devastation and destruction that they've done to families not only all across our county but all across the country”. The quote is from Travis Bornstein, whose son got hooked on opioids and eventually died from a heroin overdose. Bornstein was scheduled to testify in the first ever trial of drug companies and their aggressive marketing of drugs they knew were highly addictive. Just before a jury was about to be seated, the companies agreed to settle two Ohio counties for $260 million dollars – a pittance compared to the some 400,000 deaths opioids have caused. It was the easy way out for the multi-billion dollar industry. We still look forward to the day when there is a trial and some of the masterminds behind the drug pushing see some well-earned jail time.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

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

2. Term of the week - “national critics”. Quoted by liberal media trying to gain credibility on some assertion in a news piece. Let’s see, you and I are a couple of old slaps who live in Florida, so if we weigh in on an issue in, say, Michigan that makes us “national critics”, right?

3. That was a nice little bombshell dropped by Bob Ballard during the so-so Titanic feature on the National Geographic channel. His real mission when he found the Titanic wasn’t the ill-fated liner but two lost U.S. nuclear subs – something known only to the geekiest of geeks and conspiracy theorists - more on this in the weeks ahead.

4. Johnson and Johnson recalls their Baby Powder. Can nothing be trusted anymore?

5. You’ve lived in Pinellas County a long time if you remember when Publix was closed on Sundays and gave S & H Green Stamps.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. The NFL is attempting to muzzle players who justifiably criticize officials who make bad calls. Five figure fines are being handed out to players like Baker Mayfield, Clay Matthews and others as the level of officiating in the NFL continues to deteriorate.

7. In a related note, MLB umpire Eric Cooper died last week at age 52.

8. After the Mets swung and missed badly last year, the Red Sox hired Chaim Bloom of the Rays as their chief baseball officer. We predict a resurgence for the Bosox much like that of the Nationals who wisely hired Davy Martinez after other teams passed.

9. The clear winner in the 2019 World Series was West Palm Beach which hosts both the Nationals and the Astros.

10. Bobby “Boris” Pickett left us 12 years ago, but for this week, his claim to fame lives on virtually every music station in America – The Monster Mash – number one on the charts this week in 1962.

 

The managerial turnstile – so far

 

 

You pretty much knew Maddon was going “back home” to LA once he wore out his welcome in Chicago. Girardi to the Phils is a bit of a surprise. We had him penciled in for his hometown (he’s from Peoria) Cubbies. Ross is a likeable guy, but for the most part, the “new fresh face” thing hasn’t been working out –see Mets, Phils etc. Likewise, we expected the Padres to go for a more experienced hand like Ron Washington. Not sure who will fill the Mets dugout. That job is not all it’s cracked up to be – same for the Giants. And the Pirates and Royals are going to have to take whomever they can get.

NEXT UP: Traffic cams; More MLB post mortem; WPB Wins!

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WEEK OF OCTOBER 19, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Media finally waking up to problem in the panhandle

 

You could have knocked us over with a feather a couple weeks ago when we saw a front page story on the year-long agony folks in Panama City, Mexico Beach and environs have been enduring for over a year. Way, way too often, our front pages and newscasts are full of Biden’s kid, Trump’s rants and the usual “if it bleeds, it leads” trash. Our media has completely lost focus on issues like a community that struggles for a year while the pinheads in Washington on both sides of the aisle work on their sound bites for that news cycle and our Governor sits on his hands. It’s disgusting.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. Related to our lead piece, boy do we miss Walter and Chet and David.

2. Our law enforcement agencies have instructed their deputies to look the other way on drivers using pot in all but the most egregious cases. Makes you feel safer on the road, right?

3. Number of the week – one dozen. The number of stores a very occasional mall shopper found shuttered at Countryside Mall. Second number of the week – one – the number of Christmas presents your humble blogger has purchased for his saintly wife in a brick and mortar store – all the rest were purchased on line. Hey, I’m an early shopper.

4. Apparently there is an app that will tell you if your local McDonalds is currently serving the McRib sandwich. There is news we all need.

5. Lyric of the Week: Do you dig the swinging dance with top recording stars - from the ads for Clearwater’s great Star Spectaculars in the 1960s at the Municipal Auditorium.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. As we try to fill the void left by the 5:05 Newsletter as an equal opportunity offender, we offer this: Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Halloween, we guess they don’t appreciate random people coming up to their doors.

7. Let’s chalk off Jameis Winston’s five interceptions in London to jet lag. He had just five picks in his first five games.

8. Joe Maddon’s move to the LA Angels didn’t move the odds maker’s needles. They are 50-1 shot to make the World Series next year, 25-1 to make the playoffs.

9. Earlier, we celebrated the fact that half of the MLB playoff teams were in the lower half of major league payrolls. But when we got down to the final four, it was numbers 3, 6, 7 and 8 playing for the world championship. Money still talks.

10. The Brewers, Cubs – and the Braves have to be scratching their heads after watching the hapless Cardinals asking themselves “these guys beat us”?

 

For the first time since 1933!

 

1933 – Prohibition had just been repealed, FDR, not Teddy Roosevelt like the idiot play by play guy on TBS said, was in the White House. The Washington Senators had three future Hall of Famers on their roster and won the American League by seven games over the Yanks. Alas, the Nationals, as they were also known, lost the World Series to the New York Giants four games to one. The Washington Hall of Famers were outfielders Goose Goslin and Heinie Manush plus shortstop Joe Cronin who would also serve as a manager, general manager and president of the American League. There are probably three Hall of Famers on the 2019 version of the Nationals in Rendon, Scherzer and Strasburg. And there was another guy on the 1933 team – arguably their best pitcher in the postseason - pitching to a sub one ERA over three games. This native Texan would eventually settle in Clearwater and have a stadium named after him –Jack Russell.

NEXT UP: MLB 2019 Recap; Bobby’s Mash; S&H Stamps and no Sundays

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WEEK OF OCTOBER 13, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

 

Tampa back in the hunt for the Rays?

 

 

With all this Montreal talk from the summer, some folks on both sides of the bay took their heads out of the sand and apparently decided maybe we need to do something about 2027 – the year the Rays’ lease at the Trop is over. It appears that St. Pete my yield and give Tampa another shot at finding a home for the Rays. A Tampa venue might help the Rays attendance a smidgen – but not more. If you think Tampa residents wouldn’t cross the bridge to the Trop, wait until you see how few Pinellas residents will head east for a game. One thing about the Trop is the traffic situation is navigable – Tampa not nearly as good no matter where you put a stadium – particularly anywhere near downtown. Pinellas residents avoid Tampa traffic like the plague so the uptick in attendance will be minimal. Stay tuned as the drama unfolds.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. This coming weekend marks Clearwater’s annual signature event – Jazz Holiday at Coachman Park. It has grown into more of a pop event with headliners like Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears, but it remains the year’s premier happening – now in its 40th year.

2. And you wonder why Hillsborough County schools are such a mess? At a meeting earlier this month, their school board spent a vast amount of time micromanaging the design of a flyer advertising their Superintendent position. Priorities people!

3. Breaking news – ATM rates in Florida are some of the highest in the country. Not so breaking news – millions of Americans somehow manage to get along without these devices and smile all the way to the bank.  

4. In Nevada, that cultural centerpiece of America, they have now replaced wine tastings with marijuana tastings. Look how far our great nation has come.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you remember Hood’s Dairy in Dunedin. The Hood family sold out to Pet Milk in the early 70s.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

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

7. The yawning you hear is over the China-NBA tempest in a teapot.

8. The Cardinals now own one of the most colossal collapses in post season history after laying 13 runs on the Braves in the NLDS Game 5; they proceed to get one run on four hits in the first two games of the NLCS – brutal.

9. Game Four of the Rays-Houston matchup proved yet again the folly of starting a pitcher on short rest in the postseason. Every manager and every star pitcher thinks they can buck the trend but history has proven going with a pitcher on short rest is foolishness – even if it’s Justin Verlander.

10. Other idle thoughts from the first round of playoffs – teams should be allowed to have their own broadcast teams do playoffs in their home market; along that same line, why do Natiional League fans have to endure Ron Darling every year? And why can’t one of Tampa Bay’s four dozen or so radio stations carry the postseason games? 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.

 

“The granddaddy of all crime shows”

 

Sixty years ago this week, a TV classic, The Untouchables aired its first episode. Over four years, it would blaze a trail for future crime shows. Its relatively short run was occasioned by an outcry over the violence (for that time) in the show and protests from Italian groups. The last year of programs was a watered down version of the first three because of the violence complaints. Its cast was eclectic with an Italian, Robert Stack, as Eliot Ness, of Norwegian ancestry; Jewish character actor Bruce Gordon as Italian Frank Nitti, Ness’ chief protagonist. Then there was Mexican actor Abel Fernandez playing a Native American member of Ness’ squad; Italian Paul Picerni as a Boston-raised Untouchable, Lee Hobson; Steve London, who later earned a law degree, as agent Jack Rossman and the only surviving member of the cast, Nick Georgiade, a Greek, playing Italian G-Man Enrico Rossi. Add in the staccato narration by Walter Winchell and Nelson Riddle’s dramatic themes and you had arguably the best cop show in television history.     

UP NEXT: Presidents as BFF; Media finally wakes up; Old is new on 2020 models

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WEEK OF OCTOBER 6, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

The most compelling story of the year

 

When was there ever a more heart tugging story than that of Jacquez Welch? The Northeast High School football player collapsed on the field from an unknown pre-existing condition. He was kept on life support at his family’s request until his organs could be used for transplants. Fully 500 people lined the hall of the hospital to say a final goodbye as he was wheeled to the operating room for the last time. The young man and his family are an inspiration.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. For all we know, Bernie Sanders doesn’t believe in a higher power, but even if he’s an agnostic or whatever, his recent health issue has to tell him, it might be time to pull up stakes.

2. You know the idea of a fish farm off the west coast may not be that bad an idea. Most of the arguments against it ring pretty weak.

3. Idle thought – why doesn’t Polk County’s Grady Judd spend less time trying to be a TV star and more time on crime prevention? The same holds true for his compatriots on both sides of Tampa Bay.

4. Halloween falls on Thursday this year. We still think it would be a good idea to move it to either the last Friday or Saturday of October to allow a “sleep in” for kids the following morning.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long while if you enjoyed an adult beverage or two at the legendary Judge’s Chambers downtown.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

 

6. The Rays overachieved this season and now they need to manage expectations for next season when the American League East with a revitalized Bosox and a rising Toronto squad won’t be quite as easy a task.

7. On the NL side, pity the poor fans who have to watch their first round playoffs on TBS. With exception of Ernie Johnson, Jr., you wonder if these guys have ever seen the competing teams prior to the telecasts.

8. Numbers of the Week: 80, 86, 89 and 92. These are the only four numbers never worn by an active major league player. With all the sixties and seventies you see in the bigs anymore, it’s only a matter of time until the remaining four are snapped up.

9. The Bucs 2-2 mark at the quarter post is better than we (and most) expected.

10. Our airwaves have become further polluted with the return of Al Franken to the broadcast realm.

 

With a big payroll, you better win

 

Only half of the top ten teams in payroll made the playoffs this year and that is taking its toll on general managers and managers. Boston, with the biggest payroll, canned GM Dave Dombrowski. The Cubs, underperforming with the second largest payroll, said farewell to Joe Maddon. The Angels (with the 9th largest payroll) fired first year manager Brad Ausmus, deluding themselves that Maddon will lead them to the Promised Land – he won’t. The Mets canned the wrong person. Mickey Callaway didn’t construct that awful roster with great starting pitching and one notch over Triple A everywhere else. And there are other teams like the Angels dreaming that a managerial change will turn them around – see Pittsburgh (Clint Hurdle) and San Diego (Andy Green) – again it won’t. On a more positive note, five teams at or below the average MLB payroll, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Oakland and the Rays made the playoffs although three squeaked in as wild card teams.

UP NEXT: ATMs; Hillsborough micromanagement; Eliot versus Al and Frank

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WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 28, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Insurance companies and their lap dogs

 

Back about two months ago (TBRR 8/4/19), our “number of the week” was 21,000 – the number of unpaid insurance claims from Hurricane Michael which occurred just under a year ago. Since our August 4, edition that number has “dwindled” to 18,000. This is an unconscionable situation that our lawmakers are allowing to happen by making insurance laws with as many holes as Swiss cheese. The time has come to hold Florida lawmakers feet to the fire. All Florida House seats and roughly half the Florida Senate seats are up for election in 2020 and the candidates for election – or re-election need to answer some tough questions about why insurance companies are running roughshod over Florida’s citizens – and what you Mr. or Ms. Candidate is going to do to change it.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. There’s a good deal of whining about the length of Tampa City Council meetings. The reason seems to be some newly elected council members asking some tough questions of staff rather than just rubber stamping items. Good for them!

2. Idle thought: could we just impeach Nancy Pelosi?

3. Good for Publix to place a ban on open weapons in states where there is an open carry law. Fortunately, in Florida it is not an issue on mixing groceries with Glocks.

4. It’s been announced that 7-11s are coming to malls including Brandon’s Westfield Mall. So, does this mean you’ll be able to get ripped off during a natural disaster at the mall now - a bit snarky but as former Attorney General Pam Bondi pointed out in 2017 (TBRR 9/10/17) – they earned it.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a very long time if you recall the sinking of the deep sea fishing boat the Miss Buckeye II around this time of year many decades ago (1951). Fortunately due to the efforts of another long time deep sea fishing boat, the Sea Fever, all 43 people on board were saved.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. And you think the Bucs have kicking problems? The Jets are now on their fourth placekicker of the year. If only that were the Jets’ biggest problem.

7. Number of the week: 1968 – the last time the six-time Super Bowl champs Pittsburgh Steelers started a season 0-4. They play the other 0-3 AFC North team, the Bengals, on Monday Night Football.

8. Coolest name by far of all the MLB September call-ups – Oakland outfielder Skye Bolt.

9. Our crack prognosticator Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) post season picks are below, but here are 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”.

10. We conclude (sort of) our best player by the number series (back story TBRR 3/10/10) with numbers 30 and 31. Number 30 is a close call because this Hall of Famer wore both 30 and 34 over a long career. Both numbers have been retired – 30 by the Angels and 34 by Houston and Texas. We speak, course, of Nolan Ryan. The number 31 has also been retired by multiple clubs - the Braves and the Cubs that number belonged to perhaps the smartest pitcher to ever toe the slab – Greg Maddux.

 

Achmed’s MLB post season picks

 

First the good news, our wizard of odds Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) is on the road to a full recovery from a nasty medical issue a few weeks back. He remains a little shaky – at first predicting the Cardinals over the Browns in six. After we reminded him that was the 1944 World Series result, he got to the task at hand and forecasts the Houston Astros will play the LA Dodgers in the World Series and that the Astros will win their second championship in the last three years while the Dodgers go down to their major league record 15th series defeat. But you have to have been there a lot to lose that many and only the Yankees have appeared in more Fall Classics than the Dodgers.

NEXT UP: Judge’s Chambers; Sensible approach to Halloween; Black Monday

092919

 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 22, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Thinning the herd of donkeys

 

The 2020 Presidential race is over a year away but the field is narrowing quite rapidly. It’s coming down to Biden, Sanders and Warren with first term senator Kamala Harris as a fourth ranked outsider. We can’t see her party, left-leaning as it’s become, putting her at the top of the ticket. Sanders had his shot in 2016 and came up short which leaves Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. If the Demos want to win in 2020, they will choose Biden. While old, he is not that much older than Donald Trump and his age should not be a factor – at least any more than Trump’s age. But the party will have to choose a running mate very carefully and it most certainly will have to be a centralist like Biden to win in 2020. The Democrats best play is to run Biden knowing full well he will be too old to serve in 2024 even if elected and focus on finding a more palatable choice for 2024.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Consult the dictionary under chutzpah and you will no doubt see the picture of former St. Pete Housing director Tony Love. The guy who was justifiably canned has offered not to sue his former employer if they offer him some job that doesn’t exist with his former benefit package.  

2. Number of the week: $50 million. This is the amount the state stands to lose for hiring an unqualified company to handle the processing of its tolls. There were cheaper, more qualified companies than Conduent that somehow lost out in the bidding process. That is simply bewildering.

3. Wow! The first words out of our mouth last Friday when we walked outside to a 73-degree morning. While we’ll still have some warm afternoons, WTVT’s Paul Dellegatto says our summer pattern of really hot days and afternoon showers is just about over.

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

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember when the land now occupied by Clearwater Mall and the Seville condominium complex was a peacock farm.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. 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.

7. After polishing off South Carolina State, the USF Bulls have a couple more cupcakes in the next few weeks, and then Charlie Strong’s boys have a pretty daunting trail the rest of the football season.

8. Factoid: With two weeks left in the baseball season, major league batters are on a pace to strike out more times than they record a hit for the first time in baseball history. We’ll examine this more at season’s end.

9. Speaking of the season’s end, we’re just a week away from “Black Monday” when several MLB managers “get a copy of the home game”. The biggest shuffle could be in the NL East where the Braves’ Brian Snitker occupies the only truly safe chair.

10. We were originally not even close to being a fan of baseball’s wild card. But it sure makes this week interesting for a number of teams – including our local nine.

 

Numbers 28 and 29

 

As the season winds down, we double up on a couple numbers worn by outstanding players. Number 28 is a fairly easy call with honors going to Bert Blyleven, a Hall of Famer who notched 287 wins and over 3700 strikeouts in his Hall of Fame career. There are those who say he owned the best curve ball in the modern era. Number 29 is a bit tougher. Only 29 (coincidently) major league players own a better career batting average than Rod Carew’s .328. On the other hand, no major leaguer has matched John Smoltz’ 200 wins and 150 saves. Like some other numbers - a razor thin call that goes to Rod Carew.

UP NEXT: Reigning in insurance companies; Playoffs; 80, 86, 89 and 92

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WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 15, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Clearwater’s lack of institutional history

 

The city of Clearwater lacks a memory. It’s not alone – most cities want for an institutional history. Recently at a discussion of the future of Crest Lake Park, which turned into a shouting match featuring our mayor and others, the main topic of concern was the city’s plan to cut down some 155 trees in the park that covers a full city block on Gulf to Bay Blvd. Not mentioned in the discussion was a program called “Tree Thoughts” a program fostered by the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce years ago because there were not enough trees in the park – particularly its northern side. Folks “sponsored” a tree planting and a small marker was placed honoring a death, a birth or an anniversary in that particular family. We can forgive the well-meaning city officials who well may have been in elementary school during the project. But this is just one example of the new forgetting what the intention of the old was and why Clearwater, and every other substantial city, should have a semi-official historian to tell them why things were done the way they were done.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. 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.

2. Speaking of council members, the citizens of Tarpon Springs are mourning the passing of their former council member Jim Archer at age 87. Jim was also a major league pitcher for the Athletic and Orioles in the 50s and 60s.

3 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.

4. Another transportation note – the city of Clearwater is now looking at scooters. This is an attraction that looks good on paper but not so much upon implementation – just ask Tampa. More on this next week.

5. Oh, about that Aunt Sandy Hall tease in last week’s TBRR: You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember when downtown offered diverse dining choices like Aunt Hattie’s, Morrisons, Ponderosa, Sandy’s, Vince Anna’s, Jimmy Hall’s and others. Now downtown offers a couple of pizza places and a rotating palate of restaurant failures. Sad.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. In the category of what have you done for me lately, the Red Sox fire GM Dave Dombrowski one year after the team wins the World Series. Perhaps ownership wants to return to the good old days when they went 86 years between world championships.

7. Part of the Rays’ attendance problem is playing weak teams during prime time like last weekend’s series against the Blue Jays. In fact, doesn’t it seem the Rays play the Blue Jays and Orioles like 50 times each year?

8. Numbers of the week: 303 vs. 100 – the number of no-hitters versus the number of immaculate innings in MLB history. An immaculate inning is nine pitches, nine strikes, side retired. Last week, Braves reliever Chris Martin became only the 100th pitcher in history to turn the trick.

9. In the second week of college football rankings, five of the top ten teams represented the SEC which should make for some very interesting matchups as the season progresses.

10. This week, we combine numbers 26 and 27 in our best player to wear the number series (BRR 3/10/19). Number 26 belonged to a hitting machine for the Boston Red Sox – Hall of Famer Wade Boggs who was the first ever player to hit a home run for his 3000th hit – for his home town Tampa Bay Rays. Number 27 is not as clear a choice with the great right hander Juan Marichal and slugger Vlad Guerrero wearing the number. But there’s a future first ballot Hall of Famer playing out in California who outshines both the great Marichal and Guerrero and that is Mike Trout – already a two time MVP plus Rookie of the Year and at the ripe old age of 27 is having the best year of his career and a sure shot for a 3rd MVP.

 

Achmed’s no doubt about it NFL picks

 

Our ace sports prognosticator and former gardener for acting legend, Oscar Homolka, Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) has his NFL predictions in hand. Achmed finds it extremely hard to pick against the New England Patriots in the AFC – particularly with their acquisition of problem child Antonio Brown – he’s a spoiled brat but he can catch passes. In the NFC, Achmed figures an officiating team cannot deny the New Orleans Saints two years in a row and he picks them to oppose the Patriots in Miami on February 2nd. As for the Bucs, Achmed is not optimistic and has them at 5-11. In a couple weeks, Achmed will have some World Series picks you can take to the bank. (Editor’s note: our lifelong friend who does sports predictions under the nom de plume Achmed Walled is battling some significant health issues right now. Please join us in praying for a full and speedy recovery).

UP NEXT: The Clearwater Peacock Farm; Thinning the field; Record whiffs

091519

 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 8, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Unintentional consequences of a bloated constitution

 

It’s only the beginning; more trouble is on the way. The greyhound industry, being put out of business by one of 2018’s bundle of unnecessary constitutional amendments, is suing the state for the loss of revenue and property. For what it’s worth, most legal scholars think they will be unsuccessful. Pray they are right, because if the industry prevails, it would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. The proponents of the amendment didn’t tell you that did they? Even if the state prevails, it’s going to cost the state (meaning you and me) many thousands of dollars to defend their position. There is going to be more collateral damage from other not so well thought out amendments, yet we continue to want to stuff them into our constitution without really thinking out the consequences.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Even though it did minimal damage to Florida, Hurricane Dorian reminded us of the terrible span of some 45 days fifteen years ago when Hurricanes Charley, Francis, Ivan and Jeanne wreaked havoc in the Sunshine State. Even though she was the only “lady” of the bunch, Jeanne did the most damage to the bay area in 2004.

2. On a related note, there was scattered criticism when Pinellas public schools decided to remain closed last Tuesday when the threat from Dorian subsided, but the school system did the right thing erring on the side of caution.

3. Yet a third Dorian note – it was gratifying to see NOAA’s first all-female team do a mission into the hurricane last month.

4. Also storm related – it absolutely stinks to see the critical repairs at Tyndall Air Force Base being turned into a political football by our President and Democratic leaders in Congress.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area or anywhere else a long time if you remember the 50’s fad of “come as you are” parties. We tip our hat to novelist and Daily Guideposts contributor Debbie Macomber for reminding us of this fab fifties trend.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Good Vibrations is a 400-some page tome by Beach Boy Mike Love. If you were into the music of the early and mid-sixties, it an interesting read, but Love belabors his outlook that everything good that happened with the group was his doing and the bad was the fault of his uncle and cousins of the Wilson family.

7. You have to wonder about Sirius/XM’s marketing strategy as more and more new cars have no trial subscriptions as in the past. The satellite service is being squeezed by multiple streaming options.

8. She was TV’s “everygirl” – Rhoda Morgenstern. The very talented Valerie Harper passed away last week at age 80.

9. Going in to the final month of the season MLB’s power rankings have the Astros, Yanks and Dodgers as the top three teams and, mysteriously, the Twins ranked fourth over the Braves and Nats who were a combined 17-3 going into the rankings. Ask any major league front office which team they would rather play in the playoffs – the Braves, Nats or the Twins?

10. Number 25 in our continuing series of “best to wear the number” (TBRR 3/10/19) begins with an asterisk. Two very good ballplayers wore that number and would now be in the Hall of Fame except they weren’t satisfied with very good numbers and chose to use PEDs to make very good numbers even better. We refer to Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. Another great player put up equally good numbers without PEDs – not to mention being a great ambassador of the game and that was the terrific Jim Thome.

 

Waiting for Godot…no wait, Achmed

 

Our sports prognosticator Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) reportedly has been busy putting down a revolution in some obscure middle European area. He promises to return next week with his NFL picks for 2019 and, of course, at the end of the month with his surefire selections for major league baseball’s post season.

UP NEXT: Are you ready for some football? 26 &27; Aunt Sandy Hall

090819

 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 1, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Drejka trial – no winners, only losers

 

The spectacle that was the Michael Drejka trial ended with a trail of losers beginning with four kids who have no father. Their mother whose thoughtless parking in a handicap zone started the tragic chain of events has no boyfriend to help her raise those four kids. Drejka, himself, is a victim but that was self-inflicted. Other folks who came off not so well included our sheriff who went ready, fire, aim in declaring Drejka home free on a stand your ground basis and then had to moonwalk after the state attorney correctly said not so fast. But the state attorney’s boys, particularly Fred Schaub came off as courtroom bullies during the trial while Drejka’s defense team was laughable. Then there’s “Florida’s Best Newspaper” whose inflammatory articles leading up to the trial defied any standard of objective journalism. As a community, it was not one of our proudest times from start to finish.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. 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. God speed folks.

2. 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.

3. While the proposed land lease to the Belleair Golf Club looks like a win-win, the fact is the property in question was donated by the Hallett family for non-commercial use. We too often forget our history in the quest for current satisfaction.

4. Quote of the week: from some liberal media drivel – “Abortion rights remain at risk”. There’s something at risk in the abortion struggle but it’s not “abortion rights”!

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember dining in at the Pizza Hut on Missouri Avenue. It’s been shuttered for years. Now comes word that Pizza Hut will be closing another 200 dine-in locations across the country.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. In a bittersweet moment this coming weekend, the University of Florida will pay tribute to George Edmondson – the man who led the “two bits” cheer for the Gators for some six decades. The “two bits” cheer will be led by his family. Edmondson, of Tampa, died earlier this year at age 97.

7. A more recent loss to the bay area occurred last week with the passing of banking executive and community leader Dave Carley who headed both the Bank of Clearwater and Citizens Bank during his illustrious career.

8. We are feeling at home in our new digs now that we found the box with the picture of Jeff Blauser and Mark Lemke posed in front of the famous press box fire at Fulton County Stadium the night Tampa’s Fred McGriff joined the Braves in 1993. It now, again, graces our desk.

9. Number of the Week: 43 – the number of consecutive losses by Dunedin High’s football until their season opening win. This is hard to imagine for the older crowd who remember Dunedin as quite competitive in football and basketball and a sheer terror in baseball.

10. At the MLB 5/6 mark, there are still 2 ½ races left. The Central Divisions will get the most attention with two teams (Cubs and Cards) vying for the NL title and Cleveland and Minnesota dueling in the AL. Atlanta’s 5 ½ game lead (at press time) looks safe, but they have seven left with Washington and their stacked rotation. The Yanks and Astros are battling for the best AL record and the always preferable opportunity to play a wild card team in the first round.

 

Number 24 in a landslide

 

An argument can be made that the Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider weren’t even the best centerfielders in their own town in the 1950s. The third name in the Terry Cashman song Willie, Mickey and the Duke lead the trio in homers, RBIs - and stolen bases wasn’t even close. Willie Mays was probably the best fielder of the three in the golden age of baseball in the Big Apple. Some other pretty fair players wore #24 like Hall of Famers Ken Griffey, Jr., Early Wynn and Ricky Henderson, but Mays always ranks among the best 5 to 10 players in the history of the game.

UP NEXT: Good Vibrations; Come As You Are; St. Pete Housing Mess

090119

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 25, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Are we “over-teched”?

 

 

Coming out of a summertime tragedy on a football field was a renewed effort to make sure parents and kids knew what they were getting into with summer practices. There was much ado about getting all the information and permissions accomplished by computer, laptop and the like. What has happened to good, old fashioned paper? Believe it or not, over ten percent of American homes do not have a computer. And for those that do, a significant percentage of “sign by computer” documents simply do not work. We, as a nation, have gone a little overboard when you have to have some sort of device to sign a contract, reserve a hotel room or even call a cab.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. Parking lot shooter Michael Drejka found guilty of manslaughter by a jury of his peers. He had been convicted some weeks earlier by the St. Pete Times.

2. More good news on the affordable drug front (see TBRR 8/16/19). Several states are enacting legislation putting caps what an individual has to pay each month for critical drugs.

3. Other good news – this time on the robo call front. While no timetable has been set, major phone companies, cell and landline will have to offer blocking of such calls at no cost to the consumer. It’s a good start, but we’d like assurances that we would still be alive to see that happen.

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

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) a long time if you once owned a Duncan yoyo. Bonus points if you could make it sleep or “walk the dog”.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Last week, we failed to mention the 50th anniversary of one of the great moments in rock and roll history – Woodstock. But as we mentioned last week (TBBR 8/16/19), your humble blogger and saintly wife were busy beginning their own 50 year journey that weekend.

7. Actor Peter Fonda died last week at age 79. He was best known for the early 70s film Easy Rider. The film was, to some, a counter culture classic – to others one of the most overrated movies of all time.

8. Stop the presses! The Bucs seem to have found a reliable kicker.

9. As the Little League World Series winds down, the people of Williamsport, PA will be able to take a deep breath. They look at the World Series in much of the same light that Clearwater looks at spring break – a very mixed blessing.

10. MLB’s balance of power seems to have shifted from the AL East to the NL East. The AL is fielding two competitive teams while the NL East has four teams that nobody wants to face in the postseason.

 

#23 and a bad trade

 

Years ago, Phillies PR chief Larry Shenk introduced us to a promising minor league shortstop and after the brief exchange, told us “he’s going to be something special”. It’s too bad Larry was the long time media face of the Phils rather than their general manager who traded Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa to the Cubs for Ivan de Jesus. The Phils had de Jesus for three unspectacular years while the Cubs moved Sandberg to second base and the start of a 15-year Hall of Fame career while wearing #23. No other player to wear that number comes close to Ryne Sandberg’s accomplishments.

Up Next: #24 – no contest; Two bits; No winners, only losers

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WEEK OF AUGUST 16, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Efforts to make drugs more affordable

 

There’s a lot going on currently to make the cost of prescription drugs less onerous. Forty four states have joined in a suit against the manufacturers of generic drugs for price fixing – a scheme that has seen the cost of some generics jump from 85 cents a dose to well over $10 a dose. The skullduggery has forced thousands of people to choose between drugs that keep them well or food or gas for their car. The suit, if successful, will cost the offending companies millions of dollars, but with their deep pockets it’s like you and I paying a traffic ticket. What we would hope is that some well-deserved jail time be handed out to the executives behind these crimes. That and only that will get the attention of the big pharmaceutical manufacturers. More on this in weeks to come.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. With the liberal media spewing the “R” (recession) word, a cooler head who we respect greatly points out that last Wednesday was the 307th time in the last century that the market fell three percent in a day – or for the math-challenged slightly more than three times a year.

2. As we pointed out before (TBRR 5/5/19), like it or not, the people have spoken on the matter of felons who have done their time getting their vote back. Governor Ron DeSantis does our state (and himself) a disservice by trying to circumvent the will of the people.

3. Pardon us, Duke Power, TECO and Florida Power and Light, but shouldn’t we be trying to save every kilowatt we can? Florida’s big power companies are pushing for reduced incentives for consumers to cut back.

4. This moving thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be with all the address changing etc. But the folks at Pinellas County’s Elections Office, Property Appraiser and Tax Collector couldn’t have made it easier - hats off folks.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember when the unofficial five and a half day work week ended on Noon Saturday with the blowing of a loud whistle downtown. Thanks to our unofficial TBRR historian.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Dale Earnhardt’s scary crash last week reminds us that we have lost some truly great drivers in air plane crashes – Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki and the legendary Curtis Turner.

7. Charlie Manuel is back on the field as the Phils hitting coach – probably one of many moves the “stupid money” Phils will make to their coaching staff.

8. It’s just not the Rays playing the stadium game, the Angels are romantically involved with Long Beach some 25 miles away from their current stadium.

9. The Rays 2020 schedule reveals some good NL draws in the Brewers (home and home), the Cards and the Pirates, but, alas no visit from the NL Central’s biggest draw – the Cubbies. The other downer is finishing the season with seven on the road.

10. The last two picks in our series of the best player to wear a certain number (back story TBRR 3/10/19) were tough. Picking the top #22 is a lot easier. He won three Cy Young Awards and pitched his team to three World Series championships. Baltimore’s Jim Palmer notched 268 wins in his Hall of Fame career.

 

 

It was a dark and stormy night

 

Fifty years ago on August 16, 1969, it truly was a dark and stormy night. Hurricane Camille was just about to enter the Gulf of Mexico. The associated bands of rainstorms held off just long enough for the outside wedding pictures to be taken but the newly married couple drove to their simple wedding reception in a downpour. Since that day, they have sworn that rain on a wedding day is a good omen. Now fifty years later, your humble blogger and his best friend look back and smile at the sunshiny days, the stormy days and all the days in between. So much of life ahead … and yes we’ve just begun.

Up Next: Owning a Duncan; Worst Phils trade ever?

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WEEK OF AUGUST 11, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Districts make as much sense as a strong mayor

 

There has been a call in some quarters for Clearwater to start electing its council members by district. We can’t seem to stop wanting our village of barely 100,000 more like our southern (double our size) and eastern (triple our size) neighbors. Anyone who has a good sense of Clearwater’s history knows there has always been a good geographic mix on its council. There’s been a concern about the lack of representation from the Greenwood area. Boiled down to its essence, that lack of representation lies mostly from the lack of candidates – you have to be in to win. Even without a resident on the council, the Greenwood area has not lacked for services from the city – a trend that started with some progressive council members twenty years ago and has continued. Districts create turf wars – just look at Tampa and Hillsborough County, and to a lesser degree, St. Pete. Like a strong mayor, Clearwater just doesn’t need districts.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Districts or not, it’s good to see a sizable group of candidates lining up for next March’s election – particularly Bud Elias whose activity in Clearwater causes covers a couple decades.

2. Sign of the times – Walgreens is going to shutter some 200 stores. Again, brick and mortar is losing out – this time to the many on line pharmacies that work in conjunction with major health plans.

3. Number of the week – 1800. The number of newspapers that shut down in the last fifteen years – including The Tampa Tribune which brought balance to news reporting in the bay area.

4. It’s been a month since the “extended move” from Clearwater Beach and we are asked daily – “do you miss the beach?” No, been back once for a trimming from Dan, the harbor barber, at the marina. Didn’t realize how noisy the beach had become until moving into our new, sedate neighborhood.

5. The continued escalation of Florida real estate prices reminds us of an old joke told to us about 25 years ago (we have updated the numbers): Potential buyer who wanted to get a slightly larger home asks a Realtor: “What kind of home can I get in the $300,000 dollar range” – the Realtor’s reply – “the one you’re living in.”

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. 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 last week at age 66.

7. Sorry, we can’t get worked up about football when the average high each day is 90 degrees. Check with us later.

8. Okay, a couple items – Bucs lose pre-season opener in Pittsburgh and are picked to win six games this year – a number we feel might be low (hopefully).

9. More than one person is advocating for replacing the Rawlings on the MLB ball with Titleist. Exactly one half of major league teams are on a pace to break their all-time seasonal record for home runs.

10. The American League Wild Card race has dwindled down to three teams – the Rays, Indians and Oakland. It’s a much different story in the NL with fully seven teams within three games of a spot in the playoffs. It’s going to be a fun month and a half.

 

Copping out on #21

 

Let’s cut to the chase on this one – there were two major league icons who wore #21 during their careers. The first, Warren Spahn won more games than any other left-hander in history – 363, including a 23-7 season at age 42. He also hit more home runs than any other pitcher in National League history – 35. These are numbers hard to top – unless you happen to be Roberto Clemente, an NL MVP, four-time batting champion and 12-time Gold Glover. So great was Clemente that a special exception was made for him upon his untimely death on New Year’s Eve 1972 and he was voted into the Hall of Fame without the traditional five-year waiting period. Clemente blazed the trail for Latin major league ballplayers. As for Spahn, one other noteworthy accomplishment – he helped break the 0 for 12 streak for a struggling rookie who took him deep on his 13th major league at bat – guy by the name of Mays. Call it a cop out but we rule the contest for the greatest #21 in MLB history a tie.

Up next: Drugs, the helpful kind; paper and pencil; #22

081119

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 4, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

A Hall of Famer on and off the field

 

 

It’s difficult to judge how many thousand lives Doug Mason touched over the years – as a teacher or baseball coach for many of us; as a Hall of Fame fast pitch softball player and manager for the renowned Clearwater Bombers and as a stalwart for his church both on a local and statewide level. And he did it with an understated style you could not help but admire – and try to emulate. Doug passed away last week at age 88. Those of us who were touched by him are all the better for the experience.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. 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.

2. Yawn, excuse us. We somehow slept through the second round of Democratic debates.

3. Cheers to the city of Dunedin for looking into toning down city fireworks displays and perhaps turning to laser or drone displays.

4. Another serious boat accident last weekend reminds us that Florida, with more boats than any other state, needs much stiffer boat operator licensing requirements.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time, if you ever stopped in for the comfort food offered up by the Branch Ranch, off I-4 in Plant City. The Branch Ranch closed in 2006.

 

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. Dan Le Batard will apparently keep his job after crossing the line on political comment in a sports environment. We enjoy Dan, but like Keith Olbermann and Jamele Hill who was eased out of ESPN for racist statements, Le Batard cannot decide whether he wants to be a sports or political commentator.

7. Speaking of Olbermann, he did a bang up job as co-host of Pardon the Interruption during Michael Wilbon’s absence due to his mother’s passing. We hope Olbermann will reprise his guest spot in the future.

8. The middle of the year rankings are out and Baseball America rates the Rays’ farm system as the best in baseball.

9. It is great to see former Ray Ben Zobrist beginning workouts towards getting back to the big show after what has been a gut wrenching summer for one of baseball’s truly good guys.

10. Lots and lots of moves at the trading deadline with the Houston Astros the clear winners picking up Zack Greinke – shades of Justin Verlander in 2017 – and we all know what happened that year. In the NL, there were no such headliners. The team that probably improved itself the most was the division-leading Braves picking up three solid relievers to aid their previously shaky bullpen.

 

 

#20 in baseball greatness

 

The number in our series of great players (back story TBRR 3/10/19) is like #3 Ruth a slam dunk. It is, of course, the Atlanta Braves’ Mark Lemke. Well, the “Lemmer” is our all time-favorite player on our favorite team, but he may come up just a little short of two other guys who wore 20 – Frank Robinson and Mike Schmidt. It would be tempting to call this one a draw as it will with 21 next week. But only one guy won the MVP in both leagues – not to mention having his number retired by three teams and that was Frank Robby. Michael Jack (as Harry Kalas was fond of calling him), if only you had stayed with the number 22 you wore in your rookie year with the Phils.

Up Next: Roberto and the guy Willie took deep; Districts; Tech run amuck

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WEEK OF JULY 28, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

The error of bail laws

 

Depending on when you’re reading this, it’s okay to shoot off the skyrockets a few weeks late. The reason – for what is usually a once or twice a year event, this blog and “Florida’s Best Newspaper” agree on something – the futility and downright foolishness of cash bails for minor offenders. We’re not talking about letting the Boston Strangler or Al Capone run loose but saving our counties and state a lot of money by not keeping misdemeanor offenders behind bars for the sake of a $250 or $500 bail. Other states have enacted no bail programs with very promising and cost-saving results. It is high time for Florida to follow suit. But know this: Florida’s bail bond industry is a powerful lobby in Tallahassee and won’t go quietly in the night.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. 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 passed away last week at age 95.

2. Now St. Petersburg is looking at scooters in their downtown area. Tampa has served as an alpha test which, surprisingly, has not dissuaded St. Pete from moving ahead.

3. The recent article about oddities along the road included the large pink dinosaur that has reared its head over U.S. 19 near Spring Hill for years. What the article did not say is one of the youthful construction crew on the dino would become a respected Circuit Court judge years later. We withhold his name because we want to remain his friend.

4. Quote of the Week: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill. Well said.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) a long time if you cooled off in the summer with some Sealtest Ice Cream. Production of Sealtest ended in 1993.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. Breaking news about a new political newsletter to be launched this week by “Florida’s Best Newspaper”. We need another liberal media outlet.

7. Happy Birthday to veteran character actor Nehemiah Persoff who turns 100 this week. He played Barbra Streisand’s father in Yentl and was a staple on television series like Hawaii Five Oh, Mission Impossible and The Untouchables.

 

8. 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.

9. The Rays at the 100-game mark were ranked #7 in the MLB power rankings behind only the Yanks, Astros and Twins in the AL (and the Dodgers, Braves and Cubs in the NL).

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.

 

Number 19

 

Three names come to mind when you think of great ballplayers to wear #19 – Waite Hoyt who had his greatest years with the powerhouse Yanks of the ‘20s and ‘30s and went on to a distinguished broadcasting career with the Reds (your humble blogger had the privilege of doing some work for Waite when the Reds trained in Tampa). Also Robin Yount – the face of the Brewers franchise for 20 years. Great as these two were, they are somewhat eclipsed by a kid who broke in at age 18 and went on to win 266 games despite losing the ‘42-’44 seasons to Navy service. Bob Feller is the standard to which power pitchers are held.

UP NEXT: Michael Jack and Robby; Branch Ranch; Bye to a Hall of Famer

072819

 

WEEK OF JULY 21, 2019

 

 

Man, you miss a couple weeks, look what happens

 

 

As mentioned last week, we were homeless and computer-less leading to our first missed publishing date in our five year history. Boy, a lot happened in that space of time – just in notable people we lost in late June and early July. Let’s lead off (pun intended because he would like it) with Jim Bouton the guy who made his mark on the ballfield and off with his famous Ball Four – one of the four or five best baseball books going. Then there was the man who gave us two icons of the road – Lee Iacocca. At Ford, he jazzed up the frame of the compact Falcon and gave us the Mustang. Later at Chrysler, he fostered the not as jazzy but just as popular mini-van. The classic Laugh In show would not have been the same without Arte Johnson – he of the hilarious skits with Ruth Buzzi. Also passing while we were “away” was Ross Perot, who with his presidential bid in 1992 managed to put the Clintons in the White House. Lastly, there was former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, age 99. To some he was a respected jurist, to others who have fought for rights of the unborn and traditional American values, not so much.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. The legacy of crooked regulation of for hire vehicles in Hillsborough continues. Cabs were forced to buy medallions for thousands of dollars to operate under the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Council – which for years was nothing but a shakedown operation. Now the county has taken over with a new system (and fee, of course) and they won’t honor the medallions – many of which have years to go. That just isn’t right.

2. The city of Clearwater’s purchase of the Church of Christ property on Hercules Avenue reflects a growing issue. Our churches are increasingly becoming real estate rich but very cash poor. One major house of worship in downtown Clearwater has seen its membership go from 3000 to 300 in just over a decade.

3. Last week was one of those “where were you” days. For us, we were the weekend guest of a cousin and her family in Muncie, Indiana while in training at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis on Sunday, July 20. It was great watching the wonder of her four young boys at the landing – not to mention my cousin, her husband and your HB (Humble Blogger).

4. Utter speculation in “Florida’s Best Newspaper” about Pinellas County’s school chief Michael Grego moving over to Hillsborough County equals slow news day.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) for a long time if you remember when the first thing that broke on your or your parent’s new car was the clock.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. Katie Couric is going to receive some sort of lifetime achievement award from the Poynter Institute that owns the St. Pete Times. If ever there was a marriage made in, well not heaven, but someplace.

7. Factoid – although it is on everybody’s list of Top 100 or 50 or even 25 best TV shows of all time, The Carol Burnett Show never finished higher than 13th in the ratings in any year – usually it was down in the twenties – hard to believe.

8. The Sports Business Journal reports that advertising patches are not that far in the future for major league uniforms. Let’s see, some teams cite tradition as the reason they don’t put players’ names on the back of uniforms, but apparently it will be okay to have a Nationwide Insurance patch on the sleeve.

9. Quote of the week – “A young player has to be fairly compensated for what he’s doing” – Tony Clark of the MLB Player’s Association. What - $550,000 (the major league minimum) isn’t enough?

10. Now, if the Rays could just keep playing the Orioles every week. Unfortunately, only seven of the remaining 63 games are against the American League’s weakest team.

 

Number 18

 

 

After a couple weeks’ vacation, our countdown of best to wear the uniform returns (see back story TBRR 3/10/19). Two pitchers from back in the day were the best to don number 18. Mel Harder who pitched his entire career with the Indians and Red Faber who likewise toiled only for the Chicago White Sox are both Hall of Famers. Harder won 223 games and Faber 254 with a much better ERA – although a lot of his pitching was in the pre-Babe Ruth era. It’s almost a coin flip but we give the nod to Faber who tossed 16 complete games at age 40!

Up Next: The bail issue; trial by newspaper; Rapid Robert

                       

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WEEK OF JULY 14, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Special Edition: Why the Rays-Expos pact will fail

 

Sorry about the lack of an updated blog last week. We were temporarily homeless and computer-less. This week, a bit of a departure from our usual format driven by the momentous, some would say ridiculous, events of the past couple weeks involving the Rays. The idea of split cities has more holes than half a dozen golf courses – and below we explore the larger craters:

1. Play-offs? As constituted, this year’s Rays team is headed for the playoffs – most likely a wild card one-game affair. Who gets it -Tampa Bay or Montreal? Do we alternate years? Playoffs don’t happen that often. The Rays haven’t been to the playoffs in five years – that’s a long time between postseasons.

2. What’s magic about Montreal? There is a good reason Montreal lost the Expos. In the last seven years of major league baseball in Montreal, the Expos pulled less than a million fans (a paltry 12,000 a game) six out of seven years. Even the attendance challenged Rays have never been below a million. Montreal is a hockey town period.

3. The players and their union will not buy it. Two cities means two homes – not to mention a third home that most players keep outside the market where they play. Even for major league salaries, that’s tough – not to mention the strain on their families.

4. Tax and currency issues. In Tampa Bay, players pay no state income tax. In Montreal, there is a provincial tax – just another reason the player’s union won’t be buying this. Then there’s Canada’s usually devalued dollar.

5. The Bay area gets hosed on the spring-summer equation. Baseball attendance is always higher in the summer months – schools out, vacations etc. While the team may not care which season makes the money, the local employees and vendors surely will.

6. Will the owners play along? Well to begin with, there’s that pesky tax and currency thing. For the owners, a trip to Montreal will involve devalued dollars for their team’s share plus their players being taxed for the money they make playing there. We’ll rate the travel expense as a push – all the AL East teams are closer to Montreal even though flying a charter there is usually more expensive. Most big leaguers already possess passports, so that won’t be an issue. But if we were betting, we would say owner approval is not a slam dunk.

7. The language barrier. The official language of Quebec is French and they are quite militant about it, thank you. Is it not enough for ballplayers from outside the U.S. to learn the vagaries of English and American customs much less the, shall we say, unique customs of Montreal?

8. Disconnects. Stephen Bronfman, of the same family that lost the Expos to Washington in 2005, is already referring to the proposed hybrid team as the Expos. That should fly well in Tampa Bay!

9. Stadiums. Montreal’s lukewarm response to helping build a stadium seems like a groundswell compared to St. Pete’s reaction to the idea of building a new open air facility to host maybe three dozen games a year. The Montreal media is conjecturing that Montreal builds a modest stadium, the Rays remain in the Trop through 2027 playing to crickets and then Sternberg sells out to the Bronfman syndicate and achieves his real goal in baseball by buying the Mets.

10. So many moving parts. As we sadly learned from our recent real estate misadventure, when there are too many moving parts, the deal is usually doomed to failure. This deal with Montreal makes rocket science seem simplistic.

 

MLB at the halfway mark

 

If you had money on the Dodgers, Astros or the Yanks, you’ve got to like your chances. As a pure baseball fan, you’ve got to love the NL Central where four and a half games separate first from last. Two teams to keep an eye on in the second half, but for different reasons. The Twins are starting to fade, and we’re not sure they have the money or the prospects to cure their ills. On the other hand, over the last month or so, the Nats have been the best team in baseball now that their pen is not blowing leads nightly. And speaking of pens, there are going to be some king’s ransoms paid for quality relievers between now and the end of the one and only trading deadline at month’s end. It is going to be a very interesting second half.

NEXT UP: Back to our usual drivel next week.       

 

WEEK OF JUNE 30, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

This country doesn’t owe us a dime

 

Three things happened last week that lead to this pre-Fourth of July rant. First, presidential hopeful (in some people’s minds) Beto O’Rourke hits town pandering to vets (see below); we got two bucks off a car wash at Pat n’ Polish for being a vet and we took advantage of the veteran’s parking spaces at Lowes in Clearwater Mall – an extremely nice gesture. The last we so appreciate as we walk with a bit of a limp which has nothing at all to do with serving in the military. We are one hundred percent behind any and all efforts to take care of our vets who are in any way incapacitated by incidents occasioned in the military. But for the rest of us, we did our duty; were treated pretty well by Uncle Sam in the way of pay, housing and whatnot. Maybe we got a late start at college or had our careers delayed a bit but it is the price we pay for our and other’s freedoms and we who came home in one piece are not entitled to a handout by our nation, although the carwash discount and parking spot are nice. Thanks, we appreciate it!

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. We begin this week with a confession; our memory is not what it used to be. To compensate, we often send ourselves an email to remind us of something – often of a piece intended for the blog. So, if anyone out there can help us remember what our email marked “53” was all about, please contact us!

2. How nice of Beto O’Rourke to grace our shores last week. And good to know that, as a vet, we would be exempt from his looney tunes “war tax”.

3. In a related note, how many of the 20 participants in the Democratic debate in south Florida can you actually name?

4. Quote of the week: “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?

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you or your kids attended Wilhelm School on Keene Road.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. Debuting 60 years ago this year was Studebaker’s answer to the compact car trend, the Lark. The car and the company lasted another eight years.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Break dancing in the Olympics? That surely will cure the games’ sagging TV ratings.

10. On to #17 in our season-long comparison of the best baseball players to wear each number (see back story TBRR 3/10/19). Only one player who wore #17 is in Cooperstown – Dizzy Dean but Diz’s career was truncated by an injury and he pitched only six years of 100 or more innings. He is, frankly, a marginal Hall of Famer. But a guy headed for the Hall as soon as blockheads get over the Coors Field thing is Todd Helton. Helton, also #17, actually has away-from-home numbers almost identical to first balloter Chipper Jones and he’s our pick at number 17.

 

 

Bye, bye Clearwater Beach

 

Twenty five years ago, it seemed like a great idea to move into a brand new town home on Island Estates. There was the beautiful drive across the bridge, a Publix virtually next door and a church of our denomination right around the corner. Twenty five years later, there are overgrown mangroves ruining the view on the causeway; we never really left our “home church” on the mainland and we still find ourselves, more often than not, shopping at the better stocked Publix we used to frequent on the mainland. Plus the traffic has gotten worse and our aging knees and back just don’t like those stairs in the townhouse any more. So this week, it’s back to the mainland. We’ll come back to the beautiful beach now and then - just not during spring break.

UP NEXT: Really not sure

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WEEK OF JUNE 23, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

The Moonraker II – a study in sociology

 

Perhaps you’ve read the story of the Moonraker II. In brief, guy and dad buy a boat as a project. Dad dies, money becomes short for a guy with a large family to support. While taking it to a Tampa boat yard, bad things happened. Bottom line, it is sunk off the Howard Franklin Bridge. The guy who owns it has done everything within his limited means to rectify the problem. Hillsborough County steps in and is slowly moving towards removing the vessel. Meanwhile, the silk stocking crowd that owns homes along the water front is up in arms with one princess whining she can see the half sunk boat from every window in her home. Lady, do you know how many people would like to have a home where they could see the water from every window? Buck up, if the boat is the biggest problem in your life, we’d say life isn’t all that bad – particularly compared to the poor guy who’s facing thousands to get what had been a dream of his and his late dad removed.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The Hillsborough County School System’s top dog, Jeff Eakins, has announced he will retire next year. One can easily understand why – he is saddled with the most dysfunctional government body in the area – save for a couple small Pinellas beach communities.

2. Speaking of beach communities, Treasure Island functionaries have voted to extend last call in that mighty city to 3 a.m. Can’t see any problems coming out of that!

3. Two recent events have made us temporarily scratch two items off our bucket list – Trump’s Cuba travel ban and the cancellation of Tampa to Iceland flights by Icelandic Airlines.

4. Virtually every poll has virtually every Democrat beating Donald Trump in 2020. Get back to us next November.

5. You’ve lived in Pinellas County a long time if you remember when Edgewater Drive in Dunedin was a brick road.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Some baseball/local history – 58 years ago this week, Roger Maris moved seven games ahead of Babe Ruth’s pace in the Babe’s 60 home run season when Maris slammed number 25 off Kansas City’s Jim Archer – the same Jim Archer who years later who would serve as a Tarpon Springs city commissioner.

7. Number of the week – 532,000, the Rays’ total attendance for the season as we approach the half way mark – or slightly more than four times what the Phillies and Braves drew in a three game series last weekend.

8. Another cool baseball nickname – this one for veteran relief pitcher Mark Rzepczynski – “Scrabble”.

9. 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.

10. This week our best by number feature (see back story in TBRR 3/10/19) comes around to sweet 16 and there was nothing sweeter for a Yankee fan than watching opposing batters baffled by the assortment of speed and location served up by Whitey Ford. Some other pretty fair country pitchers wore the number like Ted Lyons and Hal Newhouser, but the guy who still holds more World Series pitching records than any other pitcher owns the rights to number 16.

 

Rays to Montreal, much, much ado about nothing

 

Do not, repeat do not make travel plans to see your beloved Rays in Montreal any time soon. If ever a baseball event deserved the term red herring, this is it. But this shot across the bow might get people like St. Pete’s Kriseman, Hillsborough’s Hagan and others off their high horses and around the bargaining table working towards a solution involving the region and the Rays. Hint, it starts with realizing that Hillsborough is the only feasible location for a stadium. But forget about Montreal as a shared site for the Rays. The player’s association and, most likely, the owners will swat that one right out of the park.

Next Up: The Lark; Rog, Murph and Billy; Goodbye Clearwater Beach

062319

 

WEEK OF JUNE 16, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Guns: local control vs. uniformity

 

On a subject as controversial as gun control, there has to be some uniformity at least on the state, if not the federal level. Yes and good luck with that – at least the federal piece. But something has to be done in Florida. We can’t have folks cross city boundaries and be subject to another set of rules and regulations regarding guns. But at the same time, we can’t have state officials threatening local policy makers with fines and jail time if they want to consider local initiatives. That is just a bit over the top. What we need is cooler heads to prevail both statewide and locally and come up with realistic gun measures. It isn’t going to be easy, but it must be done.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Another argument for beach consolidation (see TBRR 5/19/19) is Madeira Beach – a city that fires its city managers and clerks as often as you change your oil. Add in a former city commissioner with an ethics charge and a loose cannon of a mayor and you have another compelling reason for consolidation of small beach enclaves.

2. The idea of a bunch of scooters to get around Tampa seemed like a good idea. Now there’s talk of the city hiring folks to just go around and pick up the scooters where careless people just leave them after using them.

3. From the merger of B B & T and Sun Trust comes the dynamic new name Truist Bank! Granted it’s not much more vanilla than Branch Bank and Trust (B B & T) but there had to be something better out there like Acme, Ace or Better Than Average Bank.

4. St. Pete College dumps their longtime head of the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, David Klement, without consulting the organization’s high powered Board of Directors. This isn’t going to end well.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you ever enjoyed a summer weekend at The Bath Club on North Redington Beach.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Speaking of summer, time to put together your feel good summer playlist. Here are five great ones for starters – Jimmy Buffet’s Duke’s On Sunday; On the Island by Brian Wilson; California Gold by Gidea Park and two great Carolina beach songs – Beach Music by the Embers and the Drifters’ I’ve Got Sand In My Shoes.

7. Factoid – Barbara Millicent Roberts is the full name of the iconic Barbie Doll which turns 60 this year.

8. The St. Louis Blues are no longer the Buffalo Bills of hockey – been there several times but never cashed. Their seven game Stanley Cup victory has turned a traditionally baseball town into one big hockey celebration.

9. 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.

10. This week’s analysis of the best players to wear a certain number (see back story TBRR 3/10/19) rolls around to #15. Some good choices here – slugger Dick Allen, Yanks’ backstop Thurman Munson, several time All Star pitcher Tim Hudson. But for the first time (and probably not the last), we go with an active player as the best to wear a certain number. Dustin Pedroia has an MVP, a bunch of gold gloves and has been the catalyst of three World Championship teams – next stop for the Bosox second baseman is the Hall of Fame.

 

The very tarnished “Sport of Kings”

 

The Killing Fields are no longer in Cambodia but in southern California and Santa Anita Race Track where over two dozen thoroughbreds have died this year. Is it time to pull the plug on thoroughbred racing? We hope not because it is one of sport’s greatest spectacles. But unless some strong coast to coast measures are taken to protect these beautiful animals, the sport should be put to rest.

UP NEXT: Scrabble, the original six; Whitey. 

061619

 

WEEK OF JUNE 9, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

At last, help for Florida’s panhandle

 

The 2019 hurricane season began last week and finally, our Congress is getting around to providing aid to Florida’s panhandle to deal with last year’s hurricane devastation. That, in and of itself, is unconscionable. Even more incredulous is that two Florida representatives voted against the aid package. Representatives Greg Steube and Francis Rooney cast no votes in a landslide decision to provide the aid. What is even more curiuos is that the congressmen are from Saraosta and affluent Naples – two areas no strangers to storm damage. And just as inexcusable is Governor Ron DeSantis sitting on his hands on the issue for the half a year he’s been in office. All three men need to be held accountable in the next election cycle.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Quiet week on the local political front with a lot of politicians off on cruises or relaxing in the North Carolina mountains where they can’t do anything dumb enough to make our blog.

2. Extremely nice gesture by the major franchisee of McDonald’s in the bay area to take out ads congratulating all their 2019 high school grads.

3. An Island Estates institution, Les Partners is closing its doors after a three and a half decade run.

4. Idle thought: how many more years will it be before there is no newspaper on your front porch in the morning? Our guess is less than a decade.

5. You’ve lived In the bay area (or anywhere else) for a long time if you remember using a flash cube in taking your pictures.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:


6. What a great run by James Holzhauer on Jeopardy which ended last Monday. He ran off 32 straight victories winning just shy of $2.5 million. As crushing as the loss was for Holzhauer, it’s a bigger loss for Jeopardy which had historic ratings during Holzhuaer’s run.

7. The long awaited signings of premium pitchers Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel have taken place with the pitchers going to the Cubs and Braves   respectively. Does either signing guarantee a pennant? Hardly. Most players who have skipped spring training due to qualifying offer issues have struggled mightily once they hit the diamond.

8. A side note to the above free agent note. Apparently, the Rays were a close second in the bidding for Craig Kimbrel according to rumor guru Ken Rosenthal. They offered $39 million as opposed to the Cub’s winning bid of $43 million. Interesting.

9. An inevitable comparison from last week’s Dodgers-Phils series. The opposing right fielders were Bryce Harper, salary $30 million hitting .248 and Clay Bellinger, salary $600,000, hitting a mere 131 points higher.

10.. Hockey traditionalists are all excited about one of the NHL’s “original six” being in the NHL finals for the first time in four years, although it has been a quarter century or more since either the Canadiens, Maple Leafs or Rangers have won the cup.

 

Numbers 13 and 14 in MLB history

 

This week we roll around to the numbers 13 and 14 (see back story TBRR 3/10/19) in the best of MLB to wear the number series. Some asterisks come into play on these two numbers. Two outstanding players get eliminated. #13 ARod for doping and #14 Rose for the unpardonable sin of betting on games in which he was involved. The field is still pretty strong – at 13 you have a best left handed reliever in history in Billy Wagner and one of the two greatest defensive shortstops in the game - Omar Vizquel. It’s a tough call. But Wagner was a dominant reliever until the day he retired and he gets the call. At 14, we have great ones like Ken Boyer, Jim Bunning and Jim Rice, but then you also have “Mr. Cub” – a great player on so many lousy teams, but that never diminished the positive attitude (Let’s play two!) of Erne Banks – a treasure if there ever was one.

UP NEXT: Summer songs; Bath Club; local control vs. uniformity

060919

 

WEEK OF JUNE 2, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Clearwater’s preeminent restauranteur

 

For generations, Siple’s Garden Seat was the place you went on special occasions – birthdays, anniversaries and, in your HB’s (Humble Blogger’s) case, our wedding rehearsal dinner many years ago. Dick Siple and his staff made you feel at home and had the knack of remembering your name even if you hadn’t been by in several months. The restaurant and its gorgeous grounds overlooking Clearwater Bay was sold to Morton Plant Hospital several years ago for, among other reasons, according to Dick Siple, “too many people wanted white linen, china and four courses for $5.95.” The loss of Siple’s was a huge loss to Clearwater and last week the loss became larger with the passing of Dick Siple at age 93 less than a year after the passing of his wife and co-owner of Clearwater’s best restaurant, Laverne.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Kudos to Chairman Rene Flowers and the majority of the Pinellas School Board for standing their ground on the issue of arming Pinellas County school employees despite pressure from our misguided sheriff. Putting that many guns on a school campus only invites bad things.

2. Onions to Texas U.S. Rep Chip Roy and a few other Congressional knuckleheads who are holding up much needed disaster funds from Bay County and other areas while pushing some unrelated political agenda.

3. Among the issues being pushed for the next round of Florida constitutional amendments is legalized recreational marijuana and open primaries. After that, look for legalized heroin and removal of the restrictions of driving on a sidewalk. We joke about the last two – we think.

4. Idle thought: why is it your A/C, water heater or fill in the blank always breaks down right before a holiday weekend?

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you shopped at Clearwater-based Eckerd Drugs.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. It’s just wrong to still be playing hockey and basketball in June – pretty much like scheduling the World Series on Thanksgiving. But give us the Warriors in six.

7. Speaking of basketball, we kind of like the idea floated by NBA Prez Adam Silver of a “play-in tournament” for the teams tanking in the NBA, thus shortening the regular season by a couple of meaningless weeks.

8. Numbers of the week: $500-$45,000 - the cost of lowest to highest “seat licenses” at Atlanta’s home of the Falcons – before you even pay for the tickets. There’s a reason they call it Mercedes Benz Stadium.

9. Second number of the week: less than 13,000. The combined attendance of home games in Tampa Bay and Miami last Tuesday night. Again, Florida is great for baseball in March but not April through September.

10. In our weekly analysis of the best to wear the number in baseball (back story TBRR 3/10/19), we are up to #12. For such a low number you would think there would be a bunch of Hall of Famers who wore the number. Not so. Wade Boggs wore the number with the Yanks and Rays but his most productive days were with the Red Sox wearing number 26. The guy who stands out wore the number in all but his last year in the bigs and that was Hall Of Famer and, coincidently, 12 time All Star Robbie Alomar.

 

MLB at the 1/3 mark

 

If Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman don’t win Manager and Executive of the Year honors in the American League, there should be an investigation. With lineups of no-names like Estrada, Tuchman and Ursula and castoffs like Voit and Maybin, the Yanks are a force to contend with in the AL. Meanwhile, it looks like the Dodgers are unstoppable in the National League with the Phils and Cubs no surprise. Our crack baseball predictor Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) is gunning foranother .700 to .800 season with the Nats his only swing and miss, although the Cardinals are starting to fade. Surprise early Cy Young candidates are former Ray Jake Odorizza of the Twins and Braves wunderkind Mike Soroka whose ERA last week finally eked above 1.00 to a startling 1.07. At least one manager will be missing when we do our end of June update – quite likely from the National League East.

UP NEXT: 13 and 14; flash cubes and less expensive drugs
060219

 

WEEK OF MAY 26, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Thank you Judy…and Betty

 

Talk about the absolute reversal of the gold watch thing. The parting gift as Judy Genshaft steps away from a lasting legacy at USF is $20 million dollars – from her to the school! It was a huge gesture but not really necessary given the leadership and growth she brought to the school over the last two decades. She had a tough act to follow – Betty Castor and she filled those large shoes admirably. We would be hard pressed to find any school in the country with similar strong leadership over the past quarter century. We only hope that USF’s seventh president, Steve Currall, will meet or exceed the quality of leadership that Presidents Castor and Genshaft brought to USF.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne has expressed his desire to retire next year. Here’s hoping he delays his retirement until after the March city elections so his successor can be chosen by leaders going forward rather than a lame duck majority of the city council.

2. Clearwater’s municipal marina is scheduled for a much needed makeover across the next 4-5 years. The city facility has suffered from neglect and weak management for more than a decade.

3. Quote of the Week: The coldest winter I ever spent was one summer in San Francisco - unknown.

4. Winds of War and War and Remembrance were two of the most riveting books and later films we ever encountered. The man responsible for those great works along with The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk, died last week at 103.

5. You’ve lived in Pinellas County a long time if you shopped at a Rutland’s Department Store.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Cool ending to the season finale last week of Young Sheldon with its tribute to its mother show – The Big Bang Theory. It’s worth a watch on Primetime on Demand.

7. Interesting poll among major league players recently; they were asked to name the best looking uniforms among their rivals. Traditional looks won out with the Yanks, Dodgers, Braves and Cards making up four of the top five. Surprisingly, the fifth choice was the Mariners – as opposed to other traditional looks like the Cubs and Tigers to name two.

8. Atlanta’s fans are all gaga about the Braves latest quality rookie Austin Riley who flirted with .400 during his first ten days in the majors including two game winning hits. The conversation now is who will be the greater Brave AR (Austin Riley) or RA (Ronald Acuna). The answer is neither. It is Freddie Freeman who is at least two thirds of the way to Cooperstown.

9. Fifty years ago this week, riding at the top of the record charts in the middle of a six week run at number one was 1969’s biggest song – The 5th Dimension’s Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.

10. This week our season-long feature on the greatest players to wear each number (back story TBRR 3/10/19) comes around to 11. A couple asterisks are needed here. The greatest player to ever wear #11 was Rogers Hornsby – but he only wore it for part of one season. Also Edgar Martinez is in the Hall of Fame and wore the number but you know our bias towards half a player as in designated hitters. The most complete player to wear the number throughout his career was the Red’s incomparable shortstop Barry Larkin.

 

Shutdown time for 40 TV shows

 

We recently read a piece in a media-related publication about the cessation of 40 television (or streaming) series. To show how completely out of touch we are, we had viewed only three of the forty – Big Bang Theory, Suits and VEEP. Granted, we had at least heard of some of the others – notably Game of Thrones which is going to have a prequel. We think your HB (Humble Blogger) and SW (Saintly Wife) are the only two people in the universe who not have viewed Game of Thrones. Not all is lost – Suits is going to have a spinoff and the seven main characters on the BBT were each making one million or more per episode, so their financial future is secure for a bit. Soon we’ll all be hearing about next season’s new shows – of which each of us will also view about ten percent or less.

UP NEXT: Clearwater’s drug store; MLB at the 1/3 pole

052619

 

WEEK OF MAY 19, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Sweet Sage and beach consolidation

 

For some reason, incomprehensible to the average onlooker, the mighty city of North Redington Beach (population slightly less than 1500) has decided to make life miserable for the tiny, but mighty good Sweet Sage Restaurant. It pretty much smacks of harassment. Maybe some city official’s Twice Stuffed Eggs Benedict wasn’t to their liking, who knows? But the incident is just another among a thousand others that cries out for consolidation of some, if not all, beach communities south of Sand Key. The tax savings from getting rid of duplicated services is reason enough. The dismantling of 1500 person fiefdoms is another. It makes way too much sense but egos of the leaders of these fiefdoms will never allow it. Ridiculous.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. What a wonderful gesture by St. Cecelia School holding a special Mass and “homecoming” for their retired educators and administrators last week. If you went to school there or sent children to the school, you’ll enjoy the brief video on the school’s website.

2. Unsurprisingly, St. Pete’s city council dumped three more members of the city’s housing authority last week, but this drama is far from over.

3. Word on the street is that Tampa’s International Mall is going to add a bowling alley and a movie theater – two industries that have been in a decline for over a decade. Why not add a TV repair shop, bookstore and a five and dime while you’re at it?

4. Number of the week: 13 billion dollars. The combined losses of ride share companies Lyft and Uber since their founding. One wonders how long that can be sustained. More on that in the weeks to come.

5. Happy to report that, as promised, the 5:05 Newsletter has published its first “occasional edition”. Among the gems: New York News: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrated Amazon abandoning its plans for a New York headquarters that would have generated 25,000 jobs. Ocasio-Cortez said she is working to lure Barnes and Noble to New York to fill the void.

 

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

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

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

8. This week, the Cleveland Indians come to town to play the Rays. If you go to the game, be prepared to spend a little extra time. Indians centerfielder Leonys Martin is a human rain delay in mold of former Indian Mike Hargrove. We thought MLB had instituted rules to avoid time-wasting rituals like Martin’s.

9. We were too quick on the trigger reporting on the return of the Yanks’ Miguel Andujar (TBRR 5/12/19). The third baseman, who was arguably the best rookie of 2018, is now out for the season, yet the Yanks continue to play over .600 ball.

10. Our countdown of the greatest players to wear each number (back story TBRR 3/10/19) reaches 10. Old timers Lloyd Waner, Lefty Grove and Phil Rizzuto wore that number. Grove was great, but one of the three greatest switch hitters in the history of the game (along with Eddie Murray and Mickey Mantle) wore that number. Larry “Chipper” Jones was the face of the Braves franchise during their incredible 14-year streak of division championships and gets the nod as the greatest #10 in MLB history.

 

NASCAR’s venerable Charlotte Motor Speedway     

 

It’s not the oldest speedway on the NASCAR circuit, that distinction belongs to Darlington; nor the largest, that would be Talladega, but Charlotte Motor Speedway is arguably the most storied speedway in stock car racing. This coming weekend, it will host the 60th World 600 – the longest race on the circuit. The track was the dream of promoter Bruton Smith and Hall of Fame stock car driver Curtis Turner. The beginnings of the track are like a soap opera featuring the preceding two and the imperious Bill France. The book Full Throttle by Robert Edelstein gives the best look at the track’s early history. Charlotte has seen drivers like Kurt Busch, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart participate in the Indy 500 earlier in the day and then fly to Charlotte for the 600. Only Stewart has completed both races in one day – finishing 6th at Indy and 3rd at Charlotte in 2001.

NEXT UP: Say goodbye to 40 shows, The 5th Dimension; Rutlands

051919

 

WEEK OF MAY 12, 2019

 

 

When will Rays, bay area stop kidding themselves?

 

Let us be blunt. Baseball has no future in the bay area. When you have a team with the best record in baseball and you are only outdrawing the pathetic Miami Marlins, the writing is on the wall. It could have been different – with a better located ball park, simply a better ballpark (one columnist recently termed it an air conditioned  baseball warehouse), better initial ownership and a better effort by mass transit to get people effortlessly to the park – a common denominator in almost every major league city. There is another seldom mentioned issue – of all 30 markets, Tampa Bay is the biggest melting pot which means there are long term allegiances to the Cards, Cubs and Yankees – not to mention folks who have lived here a long time and fell in love with the South’s only team – the Braves. It really doesn’t matter where bay area officials locate a new park, the Rays will continue to draw crickets. The best bet is at the end of their lease at the Trop, it will be off to Montreal, Portland or San Antonio, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Mr. President, it was nice of you to finally drop in on Florida’s panhandle. Now, how about doing something for those folks?

2. Funny thing about logos – most successful organizations get something recognizable and stick with it – Coke, Chevy and McDonalds come to mind. This lesson was lost on USF who spent a million bucks on a logo that will join Pepsi Max and others as costly failures. That million bucks would have done a lot for USF.

3. The new Tampa City Council is off to an energized start with new council members asking some tough, thoughtful questions of their staff.  Problem is most of this energy gets worn down by circuitous answers and stalls on the part of staff.

4. One of the true good guys in professional sports, David Montgomery, passed away last week at age 72. Dave was the point man for the Phillies in the effort to get Bright House Field built in east Clearwater. And he did it without holding a gun to the head of the residents of Clearwater as many sports franchises do. David was the Chairman of the Phils at his passing. A class act through and through.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) a long time if you remember cereals with names like Kellogg’s Pep, Post Toasties, Product 19, Frosty O’s or 40% Bran Flakes.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Born 100 years ago this week was piano virtuoso and flamboyant cutup, Liberace. His first name was Wladziu which explains why he went only by his last name.

7. The loss of Jason Pierre-Paul is a double blow for the Bucs. Not only was he a major force for the Tampa Bay defense, but he was a local guy you had followed at USF and then the Giants before his Buc’s career.

8. Piece by piece, the Yankees are starting to reassemble their lineup. Latest to return is Miguel Andujar who had a tremendous rookie season last year only to fall victim to all the hype surrounding Shohei Ontani in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

9. Christian Yelich won the MVP last year and is hitting a cool .350 at this writing. The main cog in the trade for Yelich, Lewis Brinson, was sent to the minors last week. Such is the state of the Marlins who finally hit double digits in wins last week.

10. The first eight numbers in our season long feature (back story in TBRR 3/10/19) has been decidedly Yankee - but the next few numbers not so. Number 9 is pretty much another slam dunk. Some old-timers like Rick Ferrell and Gabby Hartnett wore the number along with a couple admittedly marginal Hall of Famers Bill Mazeroski and Enos Slaughter. But the greatest Red Sox player and possibly hitter of all time Ted Williams is the guy who made that number famous.

 

Trump wrong on proposed service academy change:

 

The American public has gotten used to college athletes leaving school after as little as one year to play pro sports. If universities want to permit this, fine. It’s their money wasted on free tuition and board for the sake of a winning basketball team. But President Trump’s suggestion that service academy athletes be allowed to go pro immediately after graduation is a non-starter. We, the American public, pay for those students to get a great education. The return is four years (hopefully more) of military service. It worked out just fine for Naval Academy basketball star David Robinson and others. We do not want our service academies to serve as basketball and football factories on our dime. That is not their mission.

Up Next: The real name is Larry; Consolidation; Charlotte MS

051219

 

WEEK OF MAY 5, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Restitution yes; fines and fees no

 

Full disclosure – we were foursquare against making it too easy for convicted felons to regain their voting rights on a whim when there was a procedure in place to restore those rights. But the people spoke. Now in Tallahassee, there is more “sausage making” over this issue. The legislature wants released felons to satisfy all restitution, fines and fees before being franchised. This was not what the majority of Florida voters had in mind. We strongly agree with the restitution piece as this represents losses to innocent people. But frankly, most fines and fees are just a way for the state to pick someone’s pocket- a someone who has done their time and is trying to make a clean start without the state grabbing every dime they can. We’re not saying waive the fees and fines, as onerous as they are, but don’t make them a condition to vote.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. It’s currently a lovefest between Democratic mayors Kriseman and Castor, but wait until the rubber meets the road on where the Rays locate.

2. Next Thursday, the 16th, should be interesting. That’s when the St. Pete City Council takes up Mayor Kriseman’s decision to drop several members of the housing authority’s board. No controversy there!

3. Much ado about the new dining spots at TIA. We really can’t see Pinellas folks driving to the airport, jockeying for parking and enduring whatever security checks, when you can enjoy a relaxing evening at the Beachcomber, Palm Pavilion or Frenchy’s on this side of the water.

4. 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 a year.”

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember the concession run by the blind at the historic Clearwater Post Office.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Number of the week – 64 – the number of years Texaco sponsored the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts. We cannot find any sponsorship that lasted longer. The majority of those years the Met’s announcer was the incomparable Milton Cross.

7. Are we the only ones who don’t get all this fuss over “likes” on Instagram? And are we the only ones who wouldn’t care even if we got it?

8. Darn! We missed out on Grady Judd bobble head night at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Field last Friday.

9. At month’s end, baseball’s two $300 million dollar men, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were hitting .231 and .236 respectively. But in Machado’s defense (literally), he has been putting on clinics at third and shortstop for the Padres.

10. Gary Carter, Joe Morgan and “Pops” Stargell were among the truly outstanding major league ball players to wear #8 on their backs. But that number was also worn by one of the greatest clutch hitters in the history of the game – Yogi Berra. Casey Stengel who managed stars like Maris, Mantle and DiMaggio was once asked, with the game on the line, who did he want up at the plate? His immediate answer – Yogi Berra – a pretty fair county catcher as well. We’ve quoted this back of Yogi’s ball card before – 1950 – batted .322 with 28 homers, 124 runs batted in – and 12 strikeouts in 151 games! He was also the first major leaguer to win three MVPs – ironically 1950 was not one of those years – he lost out to teammate Phil Rizzuto. Yogi was bigger than life and actually said about half the things Joe Garagiola attributed to him.

 

One month down, five to go

 

Major league baseball’s first month has seen an incredible amount of injuries, spectacular bullpen meltdowns and the arrival of the game’s next uber prospect – Vlad Guerrero, Jr. In the National League – no real surprises except a slow start by the Rockies who have recently turned it around. In the NL East and Central, as expected, you can throw a blanket over the top four teams. The Yanks and the Rays are the story in the AL – with the Rays winning two out of every three games and the Yanks playing .600 ball despite over a dozen players on the DL (sorry, just can’t get used to the politically correct IL – for years that meant the International League). If the season were to end right now, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger would be the runaway MVP and in the AL quite possibly Austin Meadows, if he can stay healthy. And why hasn’t one of about ten teams whose bullpens are on fire signed Craig Kimbrel?

UP NEXT: Teddy Ballgame, Liberace and Winning but not drawing

050419

 

WEEK OF APRIL 28, 2019

  

Tampa’s next mayor

 

To no one’s surprise, Jane Castor will be Tampa’s next mayor. She brings a somewhat unclear agenda to the table – what about Tampa’s horrific traffic problems; their failed Rays adventure and so on. The campaign also exposed some troubling issues regarding her days as police chief and serious questions about whether she’ll be able to keep her significant other and her partners out of City Hall business. As for the departing Bob Buckhorn, he leaves, for the most part, a solid record behind, although the Mayor’s chair did not provide the springboard to the Governor’s mansion as he may have hoped.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. So Hurricane Michael may have been a Category 5 storm rather a four? Really, the people of Bay County don’t give a damn. As pointed out a couple of weeks ago (TBRR 4/14/19), what they do care about is getting some long overdue relief!

2. As predicted here last fall, the city of Clearwater’s flirting with a strong mayor concept has cost them a strong candidate for the soon to be vacated City Manager’s job. Deputy City Manager Jill Silverboard is leaving the city for the number two position down the street at Pinellas County.

3. So Joe Biden is running for President, as a centrist as opposed to Democratic left wing wack jobs; he could garner a lot of votes from Republicans disenchanted with Trump – if he weren’t as old as Methuselah.

4. The old Bismarck line about laws and sausages came to mind last week as the Florida legislature watered down a much needed texting while driving bill. Guess something is better than nothing, but the final result will fall far short of what it should be.                 

5. You’ve lived in Florida a long time if you remember the original admission price at Walt Disney World was $3.50 for adults, a dollar for kids under 12.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. More politically correct garbage – the Philadelphia Flyers are no longer using a recording of Kate Smith’s God Bless America at their games. The reason?  She sang some allegedly racist song back in the 30s – a song, ironically, also recorded by Paul Robeson. We prefer to think of Kate Smith the way FDR introduced her to the King of England, “This is Kate Smith. Miss Smith is America”.

7. He was, by far, the best sixth man in NBA history. John Havlicek along with Bill Russell was the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics in the 60s and 70s. Havlicek passed away last week at age 79. Havlicek grew up in a tiny Ohio town (Lansing) without a stop light. A few doors down was his best friend, Phil Niekro. We doubt any other similar town produced two Hall of Famers on the same street.

8. Scary stuff:  With fully 11 regular players and pitchers out, the Yankees are only a game and a half out of the AL East as we go to press.

9. Factoid: Rays’ reliever Diego Castillo is the hardest throwing pitcher in the American League with his fastball averaging 97.9 miles per hour – a full mile per hour faster than better known Yanks’ closer Aroldis Chapman.

10. Another week and another easy choice in our season-long picks of the best baseball players to wear certain numbers (Back story in TBRR 3/10/19). Hall of Famer Al Simmons, who hit a lot of home runs in the band box that was Connie Mack Stadium, wore #7. But the perhaps the greatest switch hitter of all time also wore the number – and that was the Mick – that is in every year with the Yanks except the first when he wore #6 for a while until #7, Cliff Mapes was traded to the St. Louis Browns – remember them?

 

Focus group weighs in on the comic section:

 

Our TBRR focus group comprised of five old, cranky people were asked to select their favorite comic strip from their youth. The selections: Chester Gould’s somewhat futuristic (remember the wrist radio?) Dick Tracy,  plus another franchise still popular – Archie, the pre-historic satire Alley Oop which still runs in 600 newspaper and finally two of the five votes for Blondie with its strong Clearwater roots. There was only one rule in the focus group selections – they could not pick Peanuts, which let’s face it, everybody loves.

NEXT UP:  Texaco and the Met; One month down, five to go; Sweet Sage

042819

 

WEEK OF APRIL 21, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Florida’s bloated Constitution

 

As was mentioned here a few weeks ago (TBRR 3/31/19), the 232-year-old U.S. Constitution contains a relatively few 27 amendments while the Florida Constitution ratified in 1845 has a whopping 140 – many of them that have no place in a constitution. Our American forefathers made that mistake only once in 1919 and erased that mistake in 1933 (Prohibition). Meanwhile, Florida continues to load their Constitution with similar stuff (the most recent medical marijuana). Next up, among others, is a drive for solar power. Things like solar power might seem like a good idea at the time but if we change our direction on power generation, it becomes very difficult to remove it from the Constitution. Rep. Rick Roth is pushing legislation to make it not so easy to willy-nilly change our Constitution in the future. It’s a common sense approach that deserves passage.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff 

1. Craig Kopp, the GM of WMNF was right to resign his position - just as right as the station’s board of directors was wrong in rescinding his firing of news director Rob Lorei. Real radio doesn’t work that way. You hire a GM to run the operation and then stay the heck out of the way – unless the bottom line isn’t there. Hobby radio, as in the 24th rated station in the market, obviously, works differently.

2. We think we heard it the first time at a meeting about ten years ago – “this is how we did it in Michigan.” That came to mind when we recently heard about “Michigan left turns” as the savior for the Gulf to Bay and Belcher intersection. What works in a state less than half our size doesn’t necessarily work in Florida. Keep trying guys.

3. You may not recognize the name Jerrie Cobb, who passed away last week at age 88, but you should have. She was the first woman to qualify as a U.S. Astronaut in 1961. But the glass ceiling at NASA kept her out of space. It wasn’t until 22 years later when an American woman, Sally Ride, went into space. The first woman in space, Russian Valentina Tereshkova, is still going strong at age 82.

4. Idle thought: the express line at Publix and similar stores should have a sign to this effect: “You must be able to count to ten to use this lane.”

5. This submission comes from, in her words, “Official Old Broad aka as Unofficial History Contributor”. “You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you ever quaked in your boots while appearing before the legendary Judge Bird. (Editor’s note – she is actually a very lovely lady who has lived in Clearwater all her life).

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. We wish major league baseball could come up with a better way to honor Jackie Robinson rather than every player in baseball wearing 42 for a day. Isn’t that why we retired the number?

7. NHL News: Well that was certainly stinky.

8. PGA News: Well that was certainly a welcome surprise!

9. Number of the week – 13 (years old) – the youngest age at which a recording artist hit number one on the music charts shared by Stevie Wonder (Fingertips) and Donnie Osmond (Go Away Little Girl). The youngest females to top the charts were “old maids” of 15 - Little Peggy March (I Will Follow Him) and Brenda Lee (I’m Sorry).

10. In the sixth week of our countdown of great players (see back story in TBRR 3/10/19), we consider great ballplayers who wore #6. It’s basically a two-man race. It’s the pride of the Tigers Al Kaline who burst on the scene as a 20-year-old versus Stan the Man. Great as Kaline was, it’s hard to compete with Stan’s .331 career average – and his home court advantage – having owned the original Hilton Hotel on south Clearwater Beach.

 

North Ward – imagine the possibilities

 

The Clearwater City Council hasn’t excited anyone with their first quarter labors – save one item –their decision to purchase North Ward School on North Fort Harrison Avenue. So many longtime residents, both former students and those who were not, feared the attractive school would fall to the wrecking ball. Other communities have turned similar classic schools into unique retail operations, Franklin, N.C. comes to mind, restaurants or arts venues. The next step is for the council to establish a blue ribbon committee of local residents to weigh the options and not, please, turn the school’s future to some out of town consultants. There is great potential in that little schoolhouse.

Next Up: He started as #6; Comic Strips we loved; Disney on $3.50 a day

042219

 

WEEK OF APRIL 14, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

The forgotten city

 

This past week your HB (Humble Blogger) had a conversation with a member of the medical profession in Panama City. Having spent the first small part of our married life there, we inquired as to how things were going post hurricane. Her reply was “not well at all.” The school system in Bay County which comprises Panama City as well as Panama City Beach, Mexico Beach and other communities is faced with having to lay off some 600 school employees if aid is not forthcoming soon – that’s lot of lost jobs for a county whose entire population is less than 70 per cent of that of St. Petersburg. Yet, the rest of that state hears nothing of this sad state of affairs. It’s no wonder the medical professional and her fellow residents refer to Panama City as “The Forgotten City”. Perhaps Governor DeSantis should focus less on trips to Israel and more on the forgotten city just west of his mansion in Tallahassee.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. 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.

2. Scary statistic – in Florida, chances are one in four that the driver who may be involved with you in an accident is uninsured.

3. The Miami Herald ran a piece last week about the elimination of automatic tips at the city’s International Airport which will, in many cases, slash server’s income in half. We’ve never been a fan of automatic tips, but strongly suggest if you cannot afford or are unwilling to leave a fair and equitable tip, don’t dine out.

4. Tax week wisdom from Will Rogers: “The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember the Harborview Club (not Center) on the top floor of what was then the Bank of Clearwater Building at Garden and Cleveland Streets.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Fans of the quirky four segment series Life in Pieces will be happy to know their new season begins on April 18 with a pair of premier episodes.

7. From above, remember when network TV shows premiered in September, ran 26 episodes and then went into summer re-runs?

8. As we go to press, who had Tampa, Detroit and Seattle as the division leaders in the American League? The National League, however, is pretty much chalk with the Phils, Brewers and Dodgers leading their respective divisions.

9. Sports factoid: The San Diego Padres celebrate their 50th year as a team in 2019. Lots has happened for the Padres, but one thing that hasn’t - they have never no-hit an opposing team – the only MLB team with that dubious claim.

10. This week, we take a look at the best MLB players ever to wear uniform #5 (see back story TBRR 3/10/19) - It’s quite a list with Brooks Robinson, George Brett, Johnny Bench and Hank Greenberg wearing the number. Bench was the greatest catcher of all time but he’s not quite the legend that Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was. The Yankee Clipper gets the nod.

 

Mr. Baseball

 

There were probably better broadcasters and certainly better players, but you have to wonder if there is a more beloved person in baseball than Bob Uecker – “Mr. Baseball”. The latest testament to the love for the guy was the Milwaukee Brewers voting him a full share of their playoff bonus from last year – over one hundred thousand dollars. Uecker, being Uecker, immediately split it into quarters and donated it to four charities. The Hall of Famer has delighted folks over the years with his roles in Mr. Belvedere, Major League and his famous Miller Lite commercials – “must be in the front row!” As mentioned, he’s in the Hall of Fame – not bad for a guy with a career batting average of exactly .200 (so why don’t they call it the Uecker line?). In this era of fancy, some would say meaningless, statistics, his wins above replacement stat or WAR for his career was -1.0. The guy may not be in the front row, but he’s in the Hall and in the hearts of tens of thousands baseball fans.

NEXT UP: Judge Bird, Peggy March and Stan Musial

041419

 

WEEK OF APRIL 7, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Arming teachers is utter nonsense

 

Newly elected Governor Ron DeSantis and others (including our esteemed sheriff) are way off base in their proposals to arm Florida’s classroom teachers. As the husband and father of classroom teachers, the last thing we want is to have our untrained loved ones packing heat. The truth is both their schools (the one where our wife taught for three decades and the other where our daughter now teaches) have simple, but effective policies and infrastructure in place to severely limit the chances of any Stoneman-like incident occurring on their campuses. Foolproof? No, but a far sight better than creating an armed militia out of Florida’s some 175,000 educators.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The merging of the Clearwater Regional and Clearwater Beach Chambers is long overdue and makes way too much sense. It ends over two decades of duplicated services and, quite often, rancor between the two groups.

2. What’s the big deal about Publix contributing a few thousand dollar checks to politicians on both sides of the aisle in Tallahassee? If you want some examples of really egregious political giving, look at companies like Nike, Johnson and Johnson or Bank of America.

3. Apple stock is making a come-back after a weak fourth quarter thanks to its shrewd business model of constantly coming out with costly new products that require costly new battery chargers that are completely different from all the costly Apple battery chargers you already have.

4. Idle thought: With Costco and Sam’s already in place, is Pinellas ready for a third warehouse club (soon to open BJ’s)? Years ago, Pace Membership Warehouse proved that the answer was no.

5. Our reference to Chick Smith Ford last week leads us to a natural segue that you’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you ever ate at the Chick Inn at the merge of Cleveland and Gulf to Bay.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Manager with the hottest seat this baseball season is Gabe Kapler of the Phils. He presided over the Phils’ historic collapse last year, now his roster is populated by players purchased with “stupid money” and in a recent poll of major league players, he was voted the current manager they would least like to play for. He better win. Honorable mention goes to Joe Madden in a contract year with the Cubs starting 1-6.

7. It took exactly four games for every team in the majors to be tagged with a loss or to get a win – nobody is exactly breaking out of the box with a head of steam.

8. Another season, another visit to the disabled list (pardon us, the Injured List) for Troy Tulowitzki – the guy just can’t stay healthy – and it’s spreading to his Yankee teammates who currently have 11 guys down with injuries.

9. Longtime friend and master jeweler Ken Smith boldly posted a picture on Facebook recently of two very different shoes he wore all day never realizing they didn’t match. It takes a man to admit that!

10. This week we continue our parade of great baseball numbers (see back story in TBRR 3/10/19) and we’re up to #4 - our choice of the best player to ever wear #4 is not quite the slam dunk of #3 (Babe Ruth). Several Hall of Famers wore the number, Luke Appling, Joe Cronin, Ralph Kiner, Paul Molitor and Duke Snider. But Ruth’s teammate, Lou Gehrig, stands head and shoulders above the others.

 

The curse of Phil Bengtson

 

You look at the name above and it rings a bell. Who was Phil Bengtson? His name is linked with names like Mike Matheny, Raheem Morris, Mike Brown and now Holly Warlick. Bengtson was unfortunate enough to replace the legendary Vince Lombardi as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He lasted three seasons, logging a 20-21 record and never was a head coach again. It’s tough to replace a legend – just ask Matheny (Tony LaRussa), Morris (the Buc’s Super Bowl winning Jon Gruden), Brown (the Laker’s Zen Master, Phil Jackson) and now the recently departed Warlick (Tennessee legend Pat Summitt). Warlick had an otherwise excellent 172-67 record over seven seasons but under the shadow of college basketball’s winningest coach, it wasn’t enough.

UP NEXT: Will Rogers wisdom; the Clipper; our bloated Constitution

040719

 

WEEK OF MARCH 31, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Another Harborview?

 

For years, if not decades, residents of Clearwater have rallied to get the Harborview Center torn down – at last that is happening. But lurking in the background is, we suppose, a well-meaning proposal to build a 4000-seat amphitheater directly below where the former Maas Brother building now stands. Think about that – a structure holding approximately half the people Spectrum Field holds even closer to the waterfront than Harborview. Clearwater has an entertainment venue just a block away in the Capital Theater – a venue where oppressive heat and rain do not spoil a performance. The largest event on the bay front every year is Jazz Holiday and Coachman Park seems up to the task. There just doesn’t seem to be a need for a venue that would bring some 2,000 cars to an already parking challenged downtown. Not to mention what it would do to the vistas along the bay. If Harborview was a bad idea, this one ranks a close second.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. Three things you don’t want to be: associated in any way with the Laser Spine Institute, or with Port Richey politics or be the general manager of WMNF Radio whose decision to fire Rob Lorei was undermined by his bosses on the station’s board of directors.

2. As more and more disclosures come out of the hot mess that is the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, it becomes more and more apparent that chief executive Tony Love has to go – and all the current governing board with him.

3. Factoid: the U.S. Constitution has 27 amendments, the Florida constitution 140. More on that in weeks to come.

4. Word of the week: Circularity – used by a Walmart spokesperson to describe their effort to package more and more products in plastic that is truly recyclable. A noble effort by America’s biggest retailer but do we need the fifty cent words?

5. Nobody, but nobody who has lived in Clearwater a long time, will ever forget “Chick Smith Ford in sparkling downtown Clearwater!”

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Okay, we admit it. We picked Belmont to reach the Elite Eight and didn’t even know Texas Tech was in the tournament.

7. 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.

8. The Rays opened their home season with the Astros. It still seems unnatural to some of us that the Astros are an American League team. Of course, to some of us, it seems unnatural that the A’s are not still in Philadelphia.

9. Below, we examine the number 3 in our baseball number rankings. But we tip our cap to Bryce Harper for choosing that number to wear with the Phils, avoiding an awkward situation involving his old number 34 which, although not retired by the Phils in honor of Doc Halladay, probably will be some day.

10. This week, we look at the great ones in major league baseball to wear #3 (back story in TBRR 3/10/19) - Let’s not waste a lot of space, several good ballplayers like Earl Averill, Harold Baines, Harmon Killebrew, Dale Murphy and Bill Terry wore the number, the man generally considered the greatest ballplayer of all time owned that number– Babe Ruth.

 

Confusion in North Port

 

There is a local painter who participated in the work that brought together the new Cool Today Park in North Port – the spring home of the Atlanta Braves. As a reward, he was given a few comp tickets to the Braves spring opener there on March 24 – no small prize since the game has been a sellout for months. He no sooner arrives there the day of the big game, and is called into action as the powers that be forgot to put the traditional distance markers (like 401 to center) on the outfield fences. For his service above and beyond, he left the game with several merchandise souvenirs – again no small prize since many shirts and caps were sold out. On a more serious note – the park and those who run it were not ready for prime time as there were many gaffes like the one above. The most serious was a post-game fatal accident on the sole road leading to and from the park. We attended the opening Braves spring game at Champions Field in ‘96 and it ran smooth as silk, but that was Disney who does things right. As for North Port, they have a year to get it right before the start of the ’20 spring training season.

Up Next: Pride of the Yankees, Chick Inn; Phil Bengtson     

033119

 

WEEK OF MARCH 24, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

The best person for the job

 

Recently, much was made of the fact that election results in Tampa will yield an all-male city council for the first time in over a decade. So what? It’s quite likely that the most qualified person for each seat was a male. No doubt, there will be some sort of backlash in the next election cycle. But we need to focus on who is best for the job, not some sort of politically correct quota system. It is extremely likely that next month the Tampa electorate will select a gay woman to be their mayor. Again, so what? She is the most qualified for the job and that, and only that, should be the determining factor in that race – and every race for elected office.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. USF’s next president will be Steven Currall from SMU. While we wish him well, we, and others, are left with the feeling that our alma mater should have been able to attract better candidates than the four finalists for the job.

2. Anybody out there want to be mayor of Port Richey?

3. 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.

4. What she did was dead wrong, but you have to admire the moxie of Kathryn Socash of Clearwater who, after waiting two hours to get out of a parking garage after a Rowdies game, took matters into her own hands and busted down an unmanned gate to allow fellow drivers some relief from an unconscionable wait.

5. Sometime in the future in a blog similar to this, there will be a posting: “you’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you ever shopped in an indoor mall”. Tampa’s University Mall is the latest mall to either be torn down or “repurposed.”

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. To no one’s surprise, Pardon the Interruption’s Michael Wilbon whines about three teams from the powerhouse ACC getting #1 seeds in the dance while his beloved Big 10 gets none. Call us when your Big Ten guys play Duke, North Carolina and Virginia two times a piece each year.

7. Trent Thornton, a 25-year-old kid struggling to make the Blue Jays, accidently hits the Phils’ Bryce Harper and begins receiving death threats. Any baseball fan with a brain knows (1) if you want to hit a guy you don’t aim for the foot (2) you don’t hit a guy when you’re struggling to make a ball club. But we’re talking Phillies fans here.

8. Did Blake Snell leave some money on the table? Probably so – surprising since he seemed bitter about the Rays’ puny raise before the sudden extension.

9. As baseball season begins, five of our favorite baseball nicknames: Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, Harry “Suitcase” Simpson, Tony “Push ‘em up” Lazzeri, Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Mark “Dirt” Lemke aka “The Lemmer”.

10. This week, we examine the greatest baseball players to wear #2 (back story in 3/10/19 TBRR) - Despite two solid second basemen, Nellie Fox and Red Schoendienst, the competition narrows to Tiger great Charlie Gehringer and Yankee icon Derek Jeter. These were two outstanding players. Jeter was a rookie of the year, 14-time All Star and had a lifetime .310 batting average. Gehringer hit .320 lifetime, was an MVP and a 6-time All Star – the hitch here is that there were no All Star selections during the first nine years of his career. When established in 1933, Gehringer was a selection for six straight years. And for what it’s worth, there was no rookie of the year award in Gehringer’s era. The Tiger second baseman gets the nod over Jeter.

 

Just in time for Opening Day, Achmed’s surefire picks:

 

He hit 8 for 10 in predicting playoff teams last year and our baseball expert and former valet to wrestling legend Pedro Godoy, Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) looks to improve on that .800 winning percentage. Teams in the NL that should not book vacations in October include the Nats in the East, Brewers in the Central and the Dodgers in the West. Best bets for wild cards are the Cardinals and Rockies. But keep an eye on the Mets if they can remain injury free. Biggest disappointment in the NL will be the division champ Braves’ fourth place finish after their front office fiddled while Atlanta burned during the offseason. In the junior circuit, despite their 2-0 start, Achmed has finally given up on the Mariners who have spoiled what could have been a perfect record three years in a row. This year, he goes for the well-armed Yankees in East. In the Win by Default (Central) Division, he’s got the Injuns. Out west, it’s hard for our mysterious prognosticator to pick against the Astros. For the wild cards, Achmed likes Oakland and, hold on to your hats, the artists formally known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He ignores an obvious post season pick in the Red Sox because he doesn’t like their bullpen – or anything else about Boston – and he never has. On to October!

Next up: Mr. Baseball; another Harborview? Circularity

032419

 

WEEK OF MARCH 17, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Keep your eye on this bill!

 

It had to happen – law enforcement and responsible medical authorities predicted it would. There is a bill in the Florida House to legalize recreational pot, sponsored by South Florida Democrat Michael Grieco. Right now, there are long odds against the bill including strong opposition from House Speaker Jose Oliva. But it’s important for Floridians to remember that pro-medical pot advocates managed to cobble together enough support to get a medical pot amendment passed despite opposition from virtually every law enforcement and medical group in the state. This bill bears watching by every concerned Floridian.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Election officials are talking about a future where we vote with our smart phones. Does this mean the old, unwilling to change codger who authors this drivel will be disenfranchised with his flip phone? Just being facetious, but voting by smart phone or other electronic means, given today’s security technology, is just scary.

2. Number of the week – 48 billion – the number of robocalls in the U.S. last year. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and her colleagues in all the other 49 states, are joining together get legislation to crack down on this plague. The proposed legislation would put the onus on the telephone providers to help in the suppression of such intrusions.      

3. Idle thought – how does David Straz expect to beat Jane Castor in the April 23rd Mayoral Runoff? Castor got just two points short of a majority, so Straz has to pick up virtually every non-Castor vote to win. It isn’t going to happen – by a longshot.

4. Our last two governors fired two incompetent election officials for creating a mess much, much smaller than the chimps running Sun Pass. That bunch needs to be shown the door.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you remember when the Cards and Yanks trained in St. Pete and the Reds in Tampa. You’d often see Yogi and “The Man” at Derby Lane.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s greatest singers – Nat “King” Cole.

7. 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.

8. One old school baseball guy’s take on the miserly raise given by the Rays to Cy Young winner Blake Snell – “ Maybe if he wore a major league number (usuallydouble digits for pitchers) instead of a Little League number (4), he’d get a major league raise. Harsh.

9. A t-shirt appropriate for March 17: “So this Irish guy walks out of a bar…no really, it could happen.”

10. As promised last week (TBRR 3/10/19), we’ll spend the baseball season picking the greatest player to wear each number starting with number 1 - You would think #1 would be a premier number, but it’s not. Only four player members of the Hall of Fame ever wore it (Ashburn, Doerr, Reese and Ozzie Smith). Ashburn was a great lead-off hitter and won two batting crowns but the Wizard of Oz was a 15-time All-Star and 13-time Gold Glover. Ozzie gets the call as the greatest #1.

 

The best college basketball markets:

 

As the “dance” begins, the personal finance website WalletHub recently ranked the best cities for college basketball fans. The rankings were based on, among other things, attendance, season ticket prices and overall team performance. The top five were, in order: No. 1 Lawrence, Kansas; No. 2 Durham, N.C.; No. 3 Los Angeles; No. 4 East Lansing, Mich.; and No. 5 Chapel Hill, N.C. We can understand the homes of Kansas, Duke, Michigan State and North Carolina. Los Angeles, while a major market, hasn’t had an outstanding basketball team since Lew Alcindor. We would think markets like Lexington (UK) or Louisville would rate a higher ranking than L.A., but it’s hard to argue with the other four.

Up Next: The Mighty Walled predicts; Picking the right person; Best #2

031719

 

WEEK OF MARCH 10, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

TBRR turns five

 

Some five years and over 200,000 words later, here we are at age five. What have we accomplished? Not much that is socially redeeming. But hopefully, we‘ve made you think once in a while; laugh out loud occasionally and probably ticked you off more than once. We’re proudest of our initial thrust of helping beat back the incursion of some Thonotosassa carpetbagger in a Pinellas County congressional race; of our stand against a Clearwater strong mayor and, in a lighter vein, our yearlong tribute to Tom McEwen and some good dining spots in the bay area. Our greatest regret was our unsuccessful crusade against legal medical pot – especially now watching all the predictions of the law enforcement and medical experts who opposed it come to be. Oh well, onward and upward, here’s the start of year six ….

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Leading off with a lighter note and one of the best ever from the marquee of the Gassman Law Firm – Bye Bye Miss American 3.14159265……..

2. Not too many observers were surprised to see Jane Castor and David Straz emerge as the leaders in last week’s primary. Straz will again outspend Castor in the general election, but can he outpoll her? The smart money says no.

3. Speaking of elections, four months have passed since Florida’s gubernatorial and Senate races but the whining continues. Yeah, and Nixon probably got jobbed by Illinois in 1960, but somehow we’ve gotten over it.

4. Okay, Daylight Savings Time begins this week which means Congress has approximately eight months to act on the will of Floridians and pass on our initiative to make DST year-round in the state. Time to generate an email to Scott, Rubio, Crist, Castor, Billirakis and company to fast track this!

5. Snippet from the last 5:05 Newsletter: Seattle became the first major U.S. city to completely ban plastic straws and utensils in all restaurants. San Francisco, sensing a threat to its status as the leader in Progressivism, responded by banning food and beverages in all restaurants.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Shame on the Straz Center for adopting what amounts to seat licenses for their performances. More and more limited income individuals are being squeezed out of attending the performing arts.

7. Are we the only one surprised that one of the Harper/Machado duo did not choose an AL team where they could get a day off a week as a DH? Perhaps both players feel that Armageddon (the DH in the NL) is not that far off.

8. On the same subject, is there a bigger horse’s rump in baseball than Scott Boras?

9. And this breaking Harper news, Bryce made his debut last Saturday and was walked twice by the opposing pitchers. We weren’t at the game but we’re sure the always congenial Philadelphia fans treated those pitchers with their usual grace.

10. Khris Davis, outfielder, Oakland As – the answer to the question “What major leaguer has hit the most homeruns (133) over the last three seasons? Playing for a west coast team, his considerable pop is one of the best kept secrets in baseball.

 

 

Fun with great numbers:

 

Last year, we had an enjoyable time picking the best pitchers and position players from all 30 franchises from the past six decades. This year, we’re going to have fun with numbers – selecting the greatest player to wear each individual number. Who was the best 6 – Musial or Kaline; how about 20 – was it F. Robby or Schmidt; and we’ll tip you off in advance - #3 is a runaway. We’ll kick it off in next week’s TBRR.

Next week: The number one #1; keep your eye on this bill; robocalls

031019

           

 

WEEK OF MARCH 3, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

A bill that makes too much sense

 

The Florida legislature opens this week and among the bills the session will consider is one long, long overdue – making texting while driving a primary offense. You, no doubt, can count the number of times each week that you were nearly side-swiped or worse by a distracted driver. The bill would also focus on other distractions like putting on makeup and other things best left for home or the office (in the case of texting) rather than behind the wheel of a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds. There are several studies that show that texting and phoning behind the wheel is every bit as hazardous as drinking while driving. This is one where you need to reach out to your local legislator to see it gets passed and not watered down.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. AmSouth, Bank of Clearwater, Barnett, Citizens Bank and City National Bank are just five names we can enumerate of defunct bay area banks going A through C. We’ll probably be able to add B B & T to the list by year’s end as they merge with SunTrust.

2. Hot mess is the only way to describe the recent events at the St. Pete Housing Authority. It makes you only appreciate more the splendid job the late Deborah Vincent did over the years at the Clearwater Housing Authority.

3. So, did anybody jump into the Democratic Presidential sweepstakes last week that we may have missed?

4. 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.”

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you shopped at the very upscale John Baldwin clothing store.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. There are smiles in a lot of front offices over the Bryce Harper signing. Fully 80 per cent of major league teams weren’t going to play in the Harper Bizarre sweepstakes and they are happy with the enormous amount the Phils paid which can only limit the “Fightins” in future endeavors. Even the Phils do not have an unlimited supply of cash.

7. Who would have guessed the Lakers, upon adding LeBron James, would miss the playoffs? But it’s looking more and more like an early end of the season for the boys from L.A.

8. You’re missing something good if you have Sirius/XM and don’t occasionally enjoy the oasis that is Spa on the satellite channel.

9. We think we’re finally getting the lexicon of the polti-fact stuff. When a liberal speaks, the meter can be anywhere from “Half True” to “True”. A conservative peaks at Half True with something like “the sun is up.” But it’s all downhill from there.

10. Remember when you could just look at your daily planner to see an appointment? Now you have to sync your notebook with your phone and check and sync with your wife’s electronic devices as well before you dare make an appointment.

 

A great business, an even nicer family:

 

You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember Clearwater Lumber, Hamerick Lumber and Pinellas Lumber companies. Now about the only independent yard left is Nall Lumber being run by the third generation of that long time Clearwater family.

This item appeared in the January 14, 2018 TBRR. Now the Nall family has closed their business after a 100-year-run. We have been so privileged to know Carroll, Jr, son of the founder, and his son Andy who ran the yard in later years with his Dad. It was a place you could go with small or large projects and get good advice, good products and even a recommendation of someone to do the project if it was beyond your abilities. Nall Lumber will be missed.

Up Next: TBRR turns 5; the arts get pricier; Manny & Bryce reflection

030319

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 24, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value.

 

Booming tourism; loss of a tourism leader

 

If you’ve “enjoyed” one of the lengthy queues leading to Clearwater Beach recently, you know that, despite red tide and some economic uncertainty, tourists are back with a vengeance. All of us benefit from our number one industry in one way or another whether it be wages from a tourism related or linked job or simply less of a tax burden because of how many tax dollars visitors supply while vacationing in Pinellas County. Our great start of the tourist season is tempered somewhat by the loss of Phil Henderson, Sr., who passed away earlier this month. Phil and his family brought dinner cruises to Pinellas years ago and he worked continuously for the good of tourism in our region - our condolences to the Henderson family.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. All the attention focused on the next U.N. Ambassador (Nikki, we hardly knew you.) reminds us of some folks who have stood out in what is a difficult position: Adlai Stevenson, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Madeleine Albright come to mind. And, of course, 41 was the only future President to serve in the post.

2. Who does Darryl Rouson think he’s kidding about his blatant conflict of interest involving his wife’s non-profits? In a previous life, we had similar issues where there might have been a conflict and you, without hesitation, stepped away from the debate.

3. Of the early applicants for the USF Presidency, none knocked our socks off. The university has recently been blessed with two strong leaders, now is not the time for anything less than Presidents Castor and Genshaft brought to the table.

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

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember tossing a token into the bucket to cross the Sand Key Bridge. Bonus points if you still own one of those tokens!

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6.If we ever hit 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.

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

8. Manny Machado to the Padres! Who saw that coming? The other part of this season’s big ticket quiniela, Bryce Harper, may also land in a place you least expect.

9. 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.

10. The “retired” editor of the renown 5:05 Newsletter has promised his many fans an occasional (once a month or every two months) missive. He blames the end of the Newsletter’s run on spiraling printing ink costs.

 

 

The making of a beer league

 

Shades of 1969 when, thanks to Bob Gibson, the majors lowered the mound after the Cardinals ace posted a 1.12 ERA, the major leagues again are attempting to create a soft-pitch softball style beer league. The insanity includes talk of further lowering the mound, moving it back and, of course, that old standby bringing the DH to the last vestige of real baseball – the National League. In the last forty years or so, only four or five pitchers have had sub 2.00 and those names like Maddox, Clemens, Martinez and Carlton are very special names. It’s as much the mentality of hitters and their swing for the fences with skinny handled bats as lower mounds and other factors that have led to less contact and way too many strikeouts.

Up Next: 100 years in business; another Harborview? Banks we knew

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 18, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Editor’s Note: We are late getting on line this week due to some technical glitch that we would not be able to understand. But thanks to the team that put this site together (See Rants 5/25/14) we are back up and running. Kudos guys!

 

Tampa would win with any of several candidates

 

With less than a month to go, Tampa’s mayoral race is blessed with several very qualified candidates, former Police Chief Jane Castor, long time transportation savant Ed Turanchik, Dick Greco, Jr. and businessman David Straz, Jr. to name just four. Castor is the presumed leader if for no other reason than she is the only female in a crowded contest. Each of the male candidates’ strategy needs to be keeping Castor from a fifty plus one percent total in the primary thereby forcing a more balanced one on one contest in April. Regardless of who emerges from the March 5 primary, the city of Tampa is fortunate to have such a strong field of candidates to choose from.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Related to our lead article, we’re not a Tampa resident but if we were, David Straz’ promise to eliminate red light cameras would win our vote. Study after study has shown the cameras don’t reduce accidents but they do increase revenues.

2. 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…

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

4. Speaking of things that are addictive, we mentioned this last year and it bears repeating. It’s Girl Scout cookie season and even if you’re watching the calories and carbs, you can help out by buying a few boxes and donating them to our troops or locally-based Pinellas Hope.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you remember when there were not one, but three afternoon newspapers – the Sun, Independent and The Tampa Times.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. The somewhat bizarre firing of Channel 10’s Reginald Roundtree has led him to speak out with among other things “I made that station what it is”. What it is and has always been is last or next to last in evening news ratings – not an indictment of Roundtree but the fact since the station signed on the air in the mid-sixties.

7. If you’re over 40 and want a good four-minute laugh google teens and rotary phone.

8. So what is the difference between players in the 60s holding for more money and Harper, Machado and company taking forever to sign?

9. Recent article in MLB Rumors dealt with expansion with the author opining expansion would not happen until the stadium issues in Oakland and here are resolved. He further stated the feeling among observers is that Oakland will find a stadium site somewhere in the Frisco Bay area while the Rays would move elsewhere – a little different take than the Kool Aid we get from the local media.

10. June Hurley Young, the host of Tampa Bay’s Romper Room from 1965 to 1980 passed away last week at age 87.

 

Bruce Williams, a radio legend

 

Sometime in the early 1980s driving in to our own early morning radio gig, we were tuned to one of our competitors and for the first time heard Bruce Williams’ syndicated radio show. Our first thought was “Who is this guy and why is he wasting his time on the radio?” We had never heard a person with more business street smarts than Bruce Williams. Fast forward to the late 1990s and we are co-hosting an economic development summit, and we have the opportunity to check off a major bucket list item by finally meeting this guy and introducing him to a crowd of several hundred folks, some of whom, had never heard his pearls of wisdom on the radio. By the end of the day, the uneducated became educated about street level business. Bruce’s syndicated radio show spanned three decades– a few broadcast from a hospital bed just a couple weeks after a near fatal airplane crash (pilot error by his own admission) and the last years from his home in New Port Richey. In our mind, he was America’s greatest radio talk show host. Sadly, in the segment above (Sports, Media etc.) we originally had wished him a happy birthday which would have been February 18. Bruce was 86.

Next week: Beer league baseball; bridge tokens and specialty tags

021719

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 10, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

The cashless Trop (what could possibly go wrong?)

 

The Tampa Bay Rays have announced that Tropicana Field will be “cashless” beginning this season. It starts when you hit the parking lot where instead of handing the attendant a ten or whatever it costs to park, you now must fork over a credit card. Can’t see how that will speed things up but when you’re only averaging 14,000 a game there aren’t that many cars. Inside no cash, that will be fun watching the vendors who are used to an $8.00 beer and “keep the change”. Baseball fans are an older crowd – particularly in Tampa Bay and a lot of them still carry cash and prefer to do so. If you don’t have a credit or debit card, you can buy cards in particular amounts. If you don’t use it all and don’t come back, the Rays are going to love you. But we really can’t wait for the night where a power outage or electrical storm renders the card taking devices useless. That will provide high entertainment. 

                

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Breaking news – after 23 years, the 5:05 Newsletter published its final regular edition last Thursday. What are we, Jack Harris and others going to use for material in the future?

2. Other than the sobering news above (never thought we’d see sober and 5:05 in the same space), this is the greatest week of the year. The reason, of course, is pitchers and catchers report this week!

3. Another new Apple product, another major problem. Wow, who saw that coming?

4. There is a proposal in the Democratic-controlled House to make Election Day a federal holiday. The idea sounds great except to those who have to absorb another paid holiday without offsetting revenues. This is typical of a body of people who have not had to make many payrolls over the years.

5. The 5:05 Newsletter is tracking the actions of the Dem’s new superstar: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for a 70% income tax and compared herself to Abraham Lincoln. An old tape came up of her dancing on a bar table in college. A lot of table dancers compare themselves to Lincoln with all the five-dollar bills that get stuffed in their pants.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tennessee Ernie Ford, bless his pea picking heart.

7. Would the Saints have given the Pats a better game? Yes, and the reason in two words – Drew Brees.

8. We are, by no stretch, Patriots fans, but name us one coach in history better than Bill Belichick.

9. You might want to check out the website K Zone. It’s been running a fascinating series on how major league teams got their names.

10. Related to our first item, while pitchers and catchers go at it, our baseball soothsayer and former ticket taker at St. Pete’s Beaux Arts Theater, Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) is preparing his can’t miss baseball predictions for the end of March.

 

Ode to Frank Robby

 

It’s difficult to label a Hall of Famer underrated, but too many take the incredible career of Frank Robinson for granted. Judged as “an old 30” by the Reds’ front office, he was traded in 1966 to the Orioles where he promptly won the MVP – the only player to ever win the MVP in both leagues. He was also the World Series MVP that season. Later, he became the first Black manager in the majors with the Cleveland Indians. He was a first ballot Hall of Famer and his number 20 uniform number has been retired by three organizations – the Reds, Orioles and Indians. There was little else for Frank Robinson to accomplish.

Up next: Tampa’s mayoral race; 100 years in business; Girl Scout cookies;

021019

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 3, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Where have all the characters gone?

 

With the passing of Max Pierre, saxophonist extraordinaire, the bay area has lost yet another “character” – a term we use only in the most endearing way. You would find Max blowing the sax after every Rays’ home game as you headed for your car. Win or lose, Max put a little zip in your step with his music – offered up with the hope you’d drop a buck or two in the instrument case. Most did. A few years back, (TBRR 7/11/15) we noted the passing of another “character” - David Rulison aka “The Can Man” who gathered tons of cans off the fishing fleets over decades – another “character”. In that same piece we mentioned the “Skater Dude” who for many years entertained folks with his skating prowess at the foot of the Clearwater Causeway. We’ve not seen him for quite a while. We’re losing really interesting people like this and there don’t seem to be many replacements in this hurry up world of ours.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and other stuff

 

1. You may not know the name Debbie White, but she has been a tireless worker for the good of upper Pinellas County for decades. She very deservedly was named Ms. Clearwater by the Clearwater Chamber last week.

2. How many screw-ups does a governmental official get before they are cashiered? In Hernando County, the answer apparently is one as they dumped their county administrator. In certain city of Clearwater departments, the answer apparently is infinity.

3. Help us understand this. The IRS is shut down for a month and it will be 12-18 months for it to “recover”? Man, does this organization need to be imploded.

4. Ambulance chaser/pot entrepreneur John Morgan is beating the drums for another cause – the $15 an hour minimum wage which sounds grand until you first pay for a $15 Big Mac at McDonalds. Do you want the $10 fries with that?

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) for a long time if you waited until after six to make a long distance call.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. June 21st – the first day of summer. It’s also the over/under on the day Keith Olbermann will get his third pink slip from ESPN. The guy is a brilliant sportscaster, but cannot refrain from saying stupid stuff that gets him fired.

7. St. Pete is playing host to baseball’s arbitration hearings. First case saw the Nat’s Michael Taylor “losing” and getting $3.25 million after a season in which he hit .227. That number is approximately 25 times the highest salary another center fielder named Mays ever made in a year.

8. To many baseball fans, the more intriguing off-season speculation is not where Harper or Machado will end up but where J.T. Realmuto lands. As a good backstop with genuine offensive abilities, he may be more valuable than either of the two more publicized stars.

9. Next year Nike takes over as the uniform supplier for the big leagues. This is bad news for pro-life baseball fans who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing something with a swoosh on it as Nike is a major contributor to Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion causes.

10. Factoid: The worst fielding right fielder in the major leagues last year? It was Bryce Harper – bet that wasn’t part of agent Scott Boras’ presentation to clubs this winter.

 

 

A coda to our Mill Creek feature

 

Just a few weeks ago, we wrote of our much too infrequent visit to the Mill Creek Farm in Alachua where our adoptive retired Army horse Possum resides. No sooner had we penned that piece that Jack Hanna, the animal guru, did a show on the best rescue operations in the western hemisphere. Mill Creek was ranked number one. Better yet, it had Jack interviewing founder Mary Gregory and her late husband, Peter. It appeared on Channel 28 and will no doubt be on again in the future. Keep your eye out.

Next Up: Cashless Trop; Hillary and Little Alexandria; Pitchers and Catchers

021019

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 27, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Another hit for Tyndall AFB

 

Your humble blogger’s first permanent station in the Air Force was Tyndall AFB in Panama City. We weren’t there long because we had this little dispute going on in Southeast Asia. But we were there long enough to realize how vital the air base was to Panama City. Here, we have MacDill but we also have several universities, numerous corporate headquarters and three professional sports teams. Panama City’s second largest enterprise was probably Tommy Thomas Chevrolet. Adding insult to injury, the ravaged base was hit by a tornado last week. There are significant strategic aspects to Tyndall, but even more importantly the some 40,000 people in Panama City (which doesn’t include the military population)  depend on the base and its spinoffs for their livelihoods. Florida and the federal government need to get it back on line as quickly as possible.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The incredibly distressing admissions blunder by USF points out again why the university needs to be under one umbrella. The Tampa campus has safeguards against such missteps – the St. Pete campus obviously not.

2. Tip a stewardess? The average flight attendant (to be politically correct) makes just south of fifty grand a year.

3. Don’t you wish Pelosi and Trump would grow up?

4. Kamala Harris announces she is running for President in 2020. And 97% of Americans say “Who?”

5. In a related note, this report from the 5:05 Newsletter: The DNC said it has narrowed down its potential 2020 presidential field to pretty much every Democratic politician ever, all of whom believe Trump will be vulnerable in 2020, as confidently predicted by the many DNC expert political observers who also confidently predicted Hillary Clinton's presidency.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Two thoughts from the NFC Championship game. It is inexcusable for such an important game to be decided by a blunder by the officiating team – a team that should never officiate another playoff game. And Alvin Kamara is the most underrated player in the NFL.

7. Little to argue about with this year’s Hall of Fame inductees. Both “Mo” Rivera and “Moose” Mussina were on our ballot. We conceded that Edgar Martinez would make it, although we don’t feel one-dimensional players belong in the Hall. As for Roy Halladay, he would have been on our ballot next year, just didn’t have him as a first ballot guy like Rivera this year and Jeter next.

8. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember when the Phils trained not at Spectrum Field or Jack Russell Stadium but Green Field across Greenwood Avenue (now MLK) from Jack Russell.

9. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of pioneering major leaguer Jackie Robinson.

10. Put a sawbuck on the Patriots for us this coming weekend.

 

A good baseball book to get you to P & Cs

 

It’s still another few weeks until pitchers and catchers report. What’s a fan to do? A good baseball book will get you through at least part of the barren weeks ahead. Try The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow. It deals with knowing when and when not to steal (usually a five run lead); not bunting for the first hit of the game; when a hitter deserves a plunking and just general respect for the game. And how the consummate pro, Brooks Robinson, was fined by the Oriole’s Kangaroo Court for winning the MVP of the 1970 World Series – the charge showboating. It’s a solid book on the many nuances of the National Pastime.

Up Next: Waiting ‘til after 6; “Characters”; Trying to fix stupid

012719

 

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 20, 2019

 

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Is the government shutdown all that bad?

 

First, President Trump’s reaction to not getting his precious wall is, to be charitable, juvenile. But a long stretch like this tends to show rational people that maybe, just maybe, there are some services and agencies in our bloated federal government we could do without. Our top candidates have always been, as presently constituted, the IRS and the EPA. If you’re a family with a modest five figure income, you shouldn’t need to hire outside help to pay your taxes. And the EPA has become little more than a device to shake down American business. We hope that there will soon be a resolution to the shutdown that is affecting many hard working federal employees; but we also hope that the shutdown might lead to some much needed trimming of fat from the federal government.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The tragedy in Broward County is only made worse by all the Monday morning quarterbacking by our governor, our sheriff and others.

2. Speaking of which, despite a knee jerk reaction to the Broward County report, the early report card on our governor – better than expected. But then we weren’t expecting all that much.

3. Wow! Now we know that the length of a day on Saturn is 10 hours, 33 minutes and some seconds. And just how much manpower and dollars did we expend on that little nugget?

4. Another year, another record number of passengers for St. Pete-Clearwater Airport. Still, you worry that virtually all of that growth is driven by one airline.

5. Speaking of the airport, you lived in the bay area a long time if you remember when airlines like Eastern and others would take off from St. Pete-Clearwater hop the bay and land at TIA to pick up or drop off passengers.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

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

7. Last weekend’s Disney Marathon had a cool (literally) ending as the stragglers finished to spirited applause. The reason for their somewhat tardy finish became apparent when the crowd noticed the margueritas they were toting.

8. Some spring training highlights – the Yankees visit both Clearwater and Dunedin twice - likewise the Rays. Clearwater gets the Astros while Dunedin will have appearances by the World Champ Bosox and the NL East champ Atlanta Braves.

9. Speaking of spring, we’d be very surprised if either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper wasn’t wearing a Phillie uniform this pre-season.

10. Factoid: The great Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Warren Spahn first faced each other in 1946 – Musial doubled. They last faced each other in 1963 – Musial doubled. Spahn on Musial – “he’s consistent.” - a snippet from Roger Kahn’s The Head Game – a treatise on the art of pitching.

 

Day trip to a bit of paradise

 

A few weeks ago, your humble blogger and sainltly wife made a long overdue trip to Mill Creek Farm in Alachua just a bit north of Gainesville. There we visited our adopted mustang Possum, a retired Army horse. He is just one of some 120 horses cared for on some 200 acres by Mary Gregory and her son Paul. Mary and her late husband, Peter, started this mission 35 years ago. Paul joined in when his father passed in 2014. Every horse on the farm was unwanted – either retired by the Army or police like the guy we adopted ten years ago, or given up because of hard times or just plain neglected or abused. Each equine has a heartwarming story and each will never be worked or ridden for the rest of their lives. You can find the story of Mill Creek Farm on line at millcreekfarm.org. Better yet, visit the farm (20307 NW CR 235A in Alachua) and see the wonderful works the Gregorys and their band of volunteers do. The farm is open only on Saturdays from 11 to 3. It’s a bit of a drive from the bay area but well worth it. Kids love it. Oh yes, bring some carrots and you’ll make a lot of new friends!

Next Up – Baseball Codes; Jackie Robinson; Saints get hosed

012019

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 13, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Can’t anybody get anything right?

 

Over fifty years ago, well-known journalist Jimmy Breslin wrote a book about the then new Mets and their total ineptness. Over the last several months, this book (Can’t Anybody Play This Game?) came to mind as we struggled with the wireless company (incorrect bill several months in a row); the library (book turned in they then lost); insurance company (failure to notify our bank of a policy renewal) and Spectrum (more issues than space allows). Think back to your own, say, ninety day period and how many emails or phone calls you’ve had to make to straighten other people’s mistakes or omissions - and how many of the same that were not returned occasioning more action on your part. In short, customer service has gone to hell. And no, we don’t mind naming names – AT&T, Clearwater Public Library, HUB Insurance and, of course, Spectrum. We can’t fire the library, but in time, the others will no longer subject us to this nonsense. Let the consumer revolt begin!

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. Re: our lead article: in fairness, we must salute our bank (Regions), Duke Power, Clearwater utilities, a trio of credit card companies and others we may have omitted for painless service.

2. Newly minted Governor DeSantis had his inauguration upstaged (at least in the bay area) by the Buc’s hire of a new coach.

3. Idle thought: Why does everyone (especially the liberal media) think that every convicted felon who gets their vote back is going to be a Democratic vote?

4. Just after the New Year, the gas station closest to our home had regular at $1.97. We made a bet with ourself that there would be a 2 before the 97 before year’s end. Stay tuned.

5. Legal/media news from the 5:05 Newsletter: FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller said that "Some major things will happen this month." In anticipation, CNN unveiled a special panelist desk that will seat 170 panelists all simultaneously expressing outrage and bringing CNN one step closer to the day when it has more panelists than actual viewers.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the births of TV curmudgeon Andy Rooney and TV’s Eliot Ness – Robert Stack.

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

8. Best line of the first week of NFL playoffs from our long suffering bride while enduring the Eagles-Bears game with her hubby and son as guys keep getting hurt – “They’re going to need a bigger tent”.

9. Ratings are up for the NFL regular season and first round of wild cards. Might have something to do with guys no longer taking a knee – just saying.

10. Who foresaw the vanquishing of the Tide by Clemson? Not this observer. Give the 15-0 Tigers their due.

 

Did the Bucs make the best hire?

 

In a few words – probably so. Bruce Arians has won everywhere he’s been as a coordinator and head coach. We had hoped the Bucs would have at least talked with Adam Gase, but many teams (excepting the Jets) tend not to hire recently fired coaches no matter what their credentials. It doesn’t hurt that Arians is “getting the band back together” as he had assembled an excellent coaching staff in Arizona. His relationship with Jameis Winston played up in the media is more tenuous as it might seem – the guy attended one of Arians’ quarterback camps – no more guarantee that Arians will get more out of the turnover king than did Dirk Koetter. Speaking of which, the Falcons made an excellent move in re-hiring him.

Up Next: A bit of paradise; Edgewater Drive; Spahnie and Stan the Man

011319

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 6, 2019

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Just what are our nation’s values?

 

In a recent editorial, “Florida’s Best Newspaper” used a throwaway line about “a recommitment to the nation’s values. What are those values? We know for sure that this humble blog would disagree mightily with “FBN’s” definition of what this nation’s values should be. But let us give it a stab starting with the fact that all life is precious and should not be willfully taken. That politicians should emulate the days when LBJ and Nixon would reach across the aisle for the good of the country. That we work really hard to see that every kid has a Mom and a Dad to come home to and that those same kids, here and abroad, never go to bed hungry. A good start on some New Year’s Resolutions.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

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

2. So many people, especially losing candidates, are pulling out their hair over some 7,000 ballots that went uncounted because they did not arrive on time. The solution is simple – don’t wait until the last minute to mail your ballot!

3. This week’s stupid scam: Got an email from “Amazon” saying our account was not secure and go to this site to make it secure. We’re not the fastest draw in the west but we’re guessing something addressed to “Dear Value Customer” may not actually be from one of the slickest corporations in America.

4. It’s going to be a real treat watching the logic of newly elected New York (where else?) U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez who recently compared migrants from Central America to Jews fleeing the Hitler regime in World War II.

5. You’ve lived in Pinellas County a long time if you ever enjoyed a steak at Moock’s Tavern on 16th Street North in St. Pete.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Idle thoughts during the Gators’ win in the Peach Bowl. To play on a bigger stage, they are going to need somebody better than Feleipe Franks at quarterback. And Michigan is number challenged with a starting QB, PK and DB all wearing #2. There are 93 available numbers – six have been retired; couldn’t they spread them out?

7. Seen on a T-Shirt recently: I sometimes wonder what happened to the people who have asked me for directions.

8. The Brewers last week signed infielder Cory Spangenberg – that’s a lot of letters to put on the back of a uniform or in a box score – but still three shy of record holder Jarrod Saltalamacchia who has suited up for seven teams since his 2007 MLB debut.

9. 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!

10. With pitchers and catchers just six weeks away, this sports oddity – Hank Aaron was once fined by Commissioner Ford Frick for reporting early to spring training. It’s hard to believe the guy (Frick, not Aaron) is in the Hall of Fame.

 

You can’t fire the owners – pity

 

Who will be the next Tampa Bay Bucs coach? The answer is – it doesn’t matter. Since the incredibly stupid firing of Jon Gruden, the Glazer family has burned through four coaches in ten years. There’s a trend here. It might seem that the coaches aren’t the problem. It’s an ownership making bad choices of head coaches, the drafting of a turnover machine as their franchise quarterback plus other unwise trades and draft picks (see Catanzaro, Chandler). The Jets, Browns (somewhat surprisingly), Broncos, Dolphins, Cardinals and Packers join the Bucs in a head coaching feeding frenzy.  A couple coaches who survived Black Monday, Carolina’s Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin probably got another year based on prior accomplishments, but both of them had better win in 2019.

Next Up: Getting it right; The Captain; Baseball Codes

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WEEK OF DECEMBER 30, 2018

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

We conclude the year with some of our ’18 favorites

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The debate rages on as to who will benefit from the new tax plan and who won’t. All we know is until it does indeed include a post card on which to file your taxes and the IRS, as we know it, is abolished, it cannot be a total success.

2. (From January): The spirit of Gasparilla is spreading with news there will be a mini-invasion of Indian Rocks this year. It’s not the first invasion of Pinellas County. There was another in Clearwater back in 1976. Unfortunately those invaders never went away.

3. (Also from January, but could be from any of another six months through the year including Palm Sunday): Another Sunday, another morning of gummed up traffic as folks try to get to church, restaurants etc. in the face of another foot race that could just as easily be run on the miles and miles of publicly financed trails in our county.

4. The 60-40 beat-down of the strong mayor initiative in Clearwater should put that issue to rest for the near future. Curiously, a lot of folks who should be able to better read the tea leaves got on the wrong side of that issue.

5. Question: Is there any reason why Purdue Pharma who has relentlessly marketed their addictive drug oxycodone to doctors over the years be treated any differently than tobacco companies who have been sued for billions of dollars for their assault on America’s health?

6. Tax Day Wisdom from President Ronald Reagan: “Republicans believe every day is the 4th of July; Democrats believe every day is April 15th.”

7. Floridians may now smoke medical marijuana. Oh goody, that will make our roads so much more interesting.

8. (From June): We want to tip our cap to Shawn Morrison, the owner of Car Tunes on East Bay Drive in Largo. We came in with an issue involving our new car’s radio and our MP3 –player. It certainly was not a big money making project for Shawn, but he treated us like it was. Thanks!

9. Alice Marie Johnson, a cocaine trafficker, was pardoned by President Trump after intervention by the famous for being famous Kim Kardashian. Ms. Johnson served 22 years in jail. That is probably a few days each or less for all the lives she and her fellow drug pushers ruined.

10. Idle thought – thinking back to Miss Ketchum’s fifth grade class at Skycrest Elementary where the day began with the pledge and a short Bible reading. Today, just think what would happen….

11. You’ve no doubt heard from Spectrum that they are going all digital.Translation: they have come up with another scheme to remove money from your pocket.

12. Liberals are throwing their hands up in the air over the fact that over 20% of the doctors “certified” to distribute medical marijuana have significant blips on their records including several in Hillsborough and Pinellas. This is something the mainstream medical profession and law enforcement officials warned us about prior to last year’s vote.

13. (From August) Democrats think they can take out long time U.S. Rep. Gus Billirakis this fall - good luck with that. The family has held the seat for three decades and the Demo challenger is a former FBI agent – not the best credential right now.

14. From September: Idle thought during the first full week of autumn. In Florida, you gauge the beginning of fall not by the temperature, but by the changing colors of the license plates.

15. Over the years, Ford has produced the Model A, Falcon, Taurus, Fairlane, Galaxie, Crown Victoria, the infamous Edsel and the iconic Mustang and Thunderbird vehicles. Within three years, there will be only a couple sedans (including the Mustang) left in the Ford inventory as they focus almost completely on SUVs and trucks.

16. (From October) Talk about wanting your cake and eating it too. Democrats pout and hold their breath until they get an FBI investigation. After it blows holes in their witch hunt, they suddenly don’t like it.

17. (Also in October) One of the best suggestions to come along in quite some time is moving Halloween to the last Friday or Saturday in October. If we can randomly move dates like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day around, why not move Halloween to a day where kids don’t have to go to school the next day?

18. (From November) Now that the election is over and many elected candidates are already looking towards their next office before they get their seat warm. Great wisdom from one of America’s greatest mayors – Fiorello La Guradia: “It’s bad to be thinking of another office when you have one. It’s vain and impairs the officer holder’s usefulness.”

19. We guess it’s probably an over-reaction to suggest secession over the Congressional inaction on Florida’s initiative to keep daylight savings time year-round. None the less, it’s frustrating to have the will of the people in the Sunshine State thwarted by foot-dragging. Hopefully newly minted Senator Scott will get the ball across the goal line in time for next fall.

20. There’s a new terminology that has creeped into the American lexicon – “non-violent felon”. It is being tossed about by supporters of the move to add felons to Florida’s voting rolls. Brought down to its essence, a non-violent felon is someone who rather than killing people with weapons, sells them drugs that can kill them. We fail to see the distinction.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

1. From the 5:05 Newsletter, never afraid to reach beyond our borders for its version of the news: President Vladimir Putin announced that he will run for a sixth term as president in 2018. An hour later, he announced that he had won.

2. Our granddaughter’s BAF (best animal friend) Nicholas, a dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, is now 6 for 7 in picking the national college football champion with Bama’s win. Each year he’s given two toy footballs representing the contenders and this year picked the Tide over the Dawgs.

3. If the bay area’s major league baseball team is going to move to Tampa, at least rename them with a brand that has some legacy – the Tampa Tarpons. Think of what it would generate in new merchandise sales alone!

4. Yet another baseball note: best hire of the offseason was not Jake Arietta, Yu Darvish or J.D. Martinez, but the White Sox re-hiring of Nevest Coleman, a former groundskeeper, who spent 23 years in prison falsely accused of murder.

5. Idle thought: while it is great to hop on the net and find any possible baseball item we want, we still miss the postman dropping off our weekly copy of The Sporting News, baseball’s Bible, which ceased publication five years ago.

6. The Tampa Bay Rays are planning to go into the season with a four man rotation. That worked well for the Cleveland Indians some sixty years ago when the four were Mike Garcia, Bob Lemon, Herb Score and Early Wynn. We’re not so sure about Archer, Eovaldi, Faria and Snell. We give it a month – or less. (Ed. note – it lasted slightly longer but not very successfully).

7. The Cardinals’ dismissal of manager Mike Matheny falls into the ready, fire, aim category. The Cards never had a losing season under him and you can bet he won’t be cashing many unemployment checks.

8. Great line from late Oriole lefty and baseball executive Mike Flanagan - “You know you’re having a bad day when the 5th inning rolls around and they drag the warning track.”

9. From the trendsetting 5:05 Club Newsletter this gem: There is talk of legalizing marijuana in Utah. However, Mormons are worried that marijuana may be a gateway drug to coffee.

10. Hey Dos Equis, how did that new “most interesting man in the world” work out?

11. (From June) Best word of the week: “Stupid” – USF’s eminent political guru Dr. Susan MacManus when asked on 97-WFLA what word she heard in the ubiquitous Laurel/Yanny sound bite.

12. Other than yawns, LeBron’s move to LA was greeted by one question – does he want to end his season earlier? At least in the Eastern Conference, he had a chance to advance to the finals and lose to Golden State. Now, that vacation will come earlier.

13. Sports quote of the week: “The Rays keep playing for tomorrow and tomorrow never seems to come”- crack baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal.

14. The so-called Rice Commission has made it clear – college basketball and,worse, high school basketball will become nothing more than a farm system for the NBA. The Commission needed to go the other way and eliminate one and dones. Sadly, they failed.

15. Super hero news from the 5:05 Newsletter: Last month marked the 80th birthday of Superman. Now that he is 80, Superman is rendered helpless by Kryptonite and his email password.

16. (From September) As the NFL regular season prepares to kick off this week, here’s perhaps the oddest fact in the NFL: the Falcons stadium, now in its second year of operation, has among its concessions a very large Chick-fil-A. You see the problem there, correct? The chain is not open on Sundays – including Sunday, Feb. 3 when the stadium will host the Super Bowl. It is open during concerts, college games and such, but still…

17. The NFL is quickly morphing into the Arena Football League with its unrealistic roughing the passer and other anti-defense rules. Nobody likes 7-3 games but no one wants “last one with the ball wins” contests either. Changes are needed.

18. (From October) Step back a few years and if you were told three Florida football teams were in the Top 25, you’d never dream two of the three would be UCF and USF.

19. As the year was winding down, the three biggest hits on the December 1968 charts were Heard it Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye, Steve Wonder’s For Once in My Life and Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman.

And our favorite of the favorites from 2018: Quote of the week: from a recent “politifact” article: “To make a point, politicians are increasingly picking out just facts that make their case”. But hasn’t that been politifact’s business model since its inception?

 

Our Last Song Together (with a bow to Glenn Yarbrough)

 

Folks who made their mark nationally and locally whom we will miss:

In late December: “The alphabet now ends at Y." The words of Sue Grafton’s daughter in announcing her famed mother’s passing. The mystery writer’s signature was alphabetical titles – the last being Y Is For Yesterday.

In January, Keith Jackson, the charming good old boy from the South, passed away at age 89. Saturday gridiron has never been the same since his retirement – arguably the best college football play by play man ever.

He was in nearly three dozen movies, but we all remember him warmly as the plain spoken Martin Crane on Frazier. The great character John Mahoney died in February at age 77.

Also leaving us in February: a colorful baseball figure who had one sweet swing. Tito Francona hit as high as .363 in his 17 seasons – doing that in 1959 with the Indians, the team his son Terry now manages.

He, probably more than any American in the past century, crossed religious and political lines. Billy Graham, who died at age 99, was truly America’s pastor.

In March, Roger Bannister the first athlete to crack the seemingly impossible four minute mile died at age 88.

As Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester, he was one of about a dozen amazing regular and recurring characters that made M*A*S*H a television classic. David Ogden Stiers died at age 76.

The man who turned a few record racks in his Dad’s drugstore into an international giant, Tower Records, died at age 92. There is a neat bio on Russ Solomon and his company you can find on some of the history outlets. Well worth a viewing.

“Stephen Hawking was a giant of theoretical physics who bridged the divide between science and popular culture” – from the Independent. It’s sad that perhaps the greatest scientific mind since Einstein was known as much for his appearances on The Big Bang Theory as he was for his work as a distinguished physicist. He was 76.

Peter Stamas, who with his brother Nick founded the iconic Stamas Boat Company, passed away in Tarpon Springs at age 94.

Also in March, Baseball lost one of its finest with the passing of “La Grand Orange” as Rusty Staub was known in his Montreal playing days. Good as his on-field efforts were, they were overshadowed by his charitable works both during and after his playing days. Staub was 73.

April saw the passing of Dene Locke at age 86. Dene was a long time educator in Pinellas County schools. Her late husband, John, was a respected Clearwater attorney for several decades.

He was an irreverent judge on Night Court and Dave Barry’s alter ego on Dave’s World, but to us, his bit roles as grifter “Harry the Hat” on Cheers were classic. The incredibly talented Harry Anderson was 65.

America’s matriarch, Barbara Bush, died in April at age 92 – one of only two women in American history to be both a wife and mother of a U.S. President.

Earle Bruce, who passed away at age 87, made his mark at Ohio State but also coached the University of Tampa Spartans and gave current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer his first job.

In May, Clearwater lost one of its nicest and loveliest “first ladies” with the passing of Karen Aungst, wife of former mayor Brian Aungst, Sr.

Further proof that only the good die young, long time Pinellas politician and all around good guy John Morroni succumbed to cancer at age 63.

He was the baseball man’s baseball man. Red Schoendienst, the oldest living member of the Hall of Fame, died in June at age 95. The redhead made his mark in St. Louis, but was also part of a World Series championship team in Milwaukee in 1957.

There were media conservatives Charles Krauthammer and George Will and then there were the rest. Krauthammer, 68, who overcame early paralysis to become a formidable conservative voice, died from cancer in June.

She started at the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce and then led the Dunedin Chamber for 18 successful years. Lynn Wargo died in June at age 57 – a tremendous loss to our community.

He played to two very distinct audiences – SiriusXM’s Margaritaville and WUSF’s Morning Edition. Veteran broadcaster Carson Cooper passed away in July at age 58.

America said goodbye to its Queen of Soul in August with the passing of 76-year-old Aretha Franklin.

Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite and Promises, Promises – four great Broadway shows that just scratch the surface of the genius that was Neil Simon. The heralded playwright passed away in August at 91.

August also saw the passing of war hero and respected statesman John McCain at age 81.

He was the heart throb of teen and twenty-something girls in the 60s with roles in Gunsmoke, Riverboat and Dan August – not to mention Smokey and the Bandit. Burt Reynolds, who lived life to the fullest, died in September at 82.

Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor, a vital cog of the great Packer teams of the late 50s and early 60s, passed away in October at age 83.

In 1959, he was NL Rookie of the Year, ten years later, the league’s MVP, in 1986 he joined the other Willie in the Hall of Fame. Giant great Willie McCovey died in October at age 80.

He was a renowned heart surgeon as well as the founder of Tampa Bay’s first nationally recognized band – the Rockers. October saw the passing of Dennis Pupello, age 79.

Laverne Siple, Clearwater native, who with her husband Dick, presided over Clearwater’s foremost restaurant for decades passed away in November at age 89.

Wayne Stayskal whose excellent political cartoons graced the pages of the TampaTribune for two decades died in late November at age 86.

He was truly a man for all seasons, fighter pilot, U.S. Rep., UN Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President and our 41st President. George H.W. Bush died November 30 at age 94.

In December the bay area said goodbye to one half of the area’s most dynamic and giving couples when Joan Steinbrenner passed away at age 83.

To most, she was Laverne in Laverne and Shirley, but behind the camera, she was the force behind Big and A League of Their Own. Penny Marshall died in mid-December at age 75.

UP NEXT: Our nation’s values; Moock’s Tavern; Fining Hammerin’ Hank

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WEEK OF DECEMBER 23, 2018

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Tampa Bay sports scene won’t quite be the same

 

 

There was Tom McEwen and then there was Tom Jones. Over the last thirty years or so, the two Toms were unparalleled as sports columnists. They were as different as night and day. McEwen was folksy and could skewer you so you never felt a cut. Jones had more of an edge and was more focused on sports media. We couldn’t wait for his early week column analyzing the analysts from that weekend’s sports activity. McEwen left us many years ago and now Jones is leaving us for the Poynter media think tank – what a waste. Local sports commentary won’t be the same.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. We are not sure Tampa Bay Rants and Raves has ever had back to back weeks with sports as the lead article in its five year existence. But the major events with the Rays last week and the loss of a preeminent sports columnist, we believe, justifies it.

2. The passing of Joan Steinbrenner last week reminds us of how much this dynamic couple did for the bay area – the majority of it quietly. You don’t see their names on the fronts of a lot of buildings because they preferred their giving to be low- key but far reaching.

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

4. We’re often critical of slow moving road projects. On 62nd Street North in mid-county, a sign announced a week or two for a road project. Two days later, the road was paved, striped and the sign was gone. Pinellas needs to use that contractor more often!

5. Travel news from the 5:05 Newsletter: A new "Titanic" will set sail in 2022. Cruise line officials say they hope to attract travelers who loved the movie but forgot how it ends.

 

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Publix hit the ball out of the park (forgive the baseball metaphor in December) with this year’s heartwarming Christmas commercial. It’s the best we remember since their original holiday commercial – the Last Train Home classic that first aired in 1989 and several years thereafter.

7. Speaking of which, we hope to see at least some visuals of the beautiful Clydesdales from Budweiser during the holidays.

8. With the vultures circling around Dirk Koetter, folks are starting to speculate on his replacement. How about a guy who went 36-44 in his first NFL coaching assignment and, after five years on the sidelines, went 5-11 in his first year with his second team? The name was Belichick. As for us, the optimum coach near term is already on the sidelines in Tampa.  

9. Best wishes to Channel 8’s Mark Douglas who retires after some forty years in “the biz”. If you were a bad guy, you didn’t want to see him at your front door. Otherwise, you knew you would get a fair interview. Fair winds and following seas, Mark. 

10. Sixty years ago, topping the record charts this week (and for the next three weeks) was The Chipmunk Song. No Christmas-themed song has topped the charts since.

 

Focus group looks back

 

Hopefully you’re old enough to relate to some of these, but we polled our TBRR Focus Group (comprised of five old cranky people) about their favorite Christmas gifts from their childhood. Two dolls led the list – the Story Book doll, popular in 40s, 50s and 60s and the Toni Doll, an offshoot of the Toni hair products company. Other focus group favorites were a Lionel Santa Fe train from the 50s and 60s plus a custom made wooden toy truck. Our fifth member said a hula hoop, but they have been forced to take a lot of medication recently, and we’re not so sure about their memory.

UP NEXT: Our annual year-end retrospective

Merry Christmas!

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WEEK OF DECEMBER 16, 2018

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Tampa Bay Rays moving forward – or backward? 

 

It was indeed a busy week for the Tampa Bay Rays. They in essence served as a conduit for a trade between the Mariners and the Indians. The Rays net was basically an infielder who has less than 400 major league at bats while losing a young first baseman who showed some promise last year. On the stadium front, it’s also hard to see a lot of progress. We think Tampa officials are right when they declare the Rays are doing a lot of posturing on the Ybor City site. Smart money says the Rays will circle back around to that location. In-between money says they’ll bolt. Our dumb money says the Rays should revisit the Al Lang option. It would take some doing, but the Rays would have one of the best two or three stadium venues in the country. Stay tuned.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. We don’t see what the rush is to put everything in place on Clearwater’s waterfront. Too many times over the years, the city has rushed into things and later regretted it. The soon to be demolished Harborview Center leads the list.

2. There was a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking on the tragic casino shuttle fire of early this year. Lots of fingers pointed. But one thing sticks out; there is inherent danger in wooden boats carrying large groups of passengers. Sooner or later, federal law is going to have to significantly limit passenger loads on wooden for hire watercraft.

3. Talk about irony. Cable operator Spectrum went to court to seek protection from an irate customer in Hillsborough County. It was denied. If only the general populace could get protection from Spectrum’s constant rate hikes and less than stellar service.

4. Sad to see the former Country Harvest Restaurant razed. The Missouri Avenue institution was where you ate well and made new friends both with fellow diners and staff. It was a Sunday after church tradition for so many families.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you remember when stations like WFLA, WSUN and WTAN began and ended their broadcast days with the National Anthem.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Tough to see Tampa’s Lou Piniella lose out by a single vote in the most recent Hall of Fame balloting. The committee did make two solid choices in hitting machine Harold Baines and relief ace Lee Smith – a guy who should have made it in the normal Hall of Fame balloting. Kudos to the old timers committee (or whatever they are called these days) for correcting this injustice.

7. There’s a changing of the guard in the NFL this year. The Packers, Steelers, Panthers and Eagles are pretty much non-factors while teams like the Chargers, Rams, Bears and Chiefs are emerging.

8. The AAC is trying to lock in its teams as they approach a new media deal. UCF should be hesitant to sign any long term deals. They are a hot property and sooner or later a Power Five conference is going to come knocking.

9. The Florida Gators say they will only consider a series with upstart UCF on a two home games for UF against one for UCF basis. Let’s see, UCF is #7 in the nation, the Gators 10. Over the past two seasons, UCF is 25-0 versus Florida’s 13-10. Things have changed in Florida football which the Gators don’t want to seem to acknowledge.

10. If you’re a sports fan and haven’t read anything by Will Leitch, you need to. He is one terrific writer.

 

A great baseball book to help you through the winter

 

We don’t like most baseball books and tend to toss them aside after 25 boring pages. But a book recommended to us by our baseball expert Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) has shot into our Top Five All Time. It is Roger Kahn’s The Era – stories behind the period from 1947-57 when New York truly was the epicenter of baseball. There was Willie, Mickey and the Duke, Joltin’ Joe, Marilyn and, of course, the incredible story of Jackie Robinson. Kahn is heralded for his award winning Boys of Summer (which we intend to reread before Spring Training), but even if you were not a Dodgers, Giants or Yanks fan, this book is must reading.

UP NEXT: Our nation’s values, stuff “you can’t live without”; Chipmunks

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WEEK OF DECEMBER 9, 2018

 

A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!

 

Clearwater City Council’s very curious choice

 

A veteran Clearwater city hall watcher described the City Council’s choice of former council member Jay Polglaze to replace resigned council member Doreen Caudell as very curious. And the observer had good reason – primarily because just two years ago Clearwater’s electorate rejected Polglaze’s bid for re-election after one undistinguished term in office. It was only the third time in a quarter century that an incumbent has been defeated in a Clearwater city election. Second, Polglaze brings a built-in conflict of interest to the table as he serves as executive director of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership whose strong mayor initiative was crushed at the polls last month. Even if he severs those ties, as he should, there will still be lingering doubt as to where his allegiance lies. And it was some conflicts of interest that, among other things, led to his defeat in 2016. There were better options out there such as former council member Carlen Peterson. As it is, Clearwater politics keep getting more and more curious.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Continuing in the vein of curious politics, Hillsborough County (pretty much the home of curious politics) has a county commissioner trying to overturn the wishes of the majority there with an attempt to undo their transit tax that passed with nearly 60 per cent of the vote.

2. Although his allegations of malfeasance and incompetence are on target, Governor Scott served no useful purpose by suspending Broward election chief Brenda Snipes. There were no more elections for her to mess up (or manipulate) before her scheduled resignation. Why not let her go quietly into the night?

3. Joe Biden is proclaiming he is the most qualified to be President in 2020. He would also be the oldest to ever take office by five years. Surely the Democrats could find someone not yet drawing Social Security to run.

4. Come on city of Clearwater, you can do better than just a few skimpy holiday banners on a picturesque roadway leading to one of the world’s best beaches.

5. Biting commentary from the 5:05 Newsletter: Brenda Snipes resigned as Broward County Supervisor of Elections. Some voters praised her work saying that thanks to her their grandparents voted democratic for the first time, adding, "They would never have done that when they were alive."

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. With Urban Meyer’s retirement, every pundit in the world is comparing him to other high achieving coaches. It astonishes us that almost every list omits the name Bud Wilkinson. We chalk it off to the youth of today’s writers. Look him up – starting with his three national championships at Oklahoma.

7. Remember when the PAC-10 championship game meant something?

8. More sports news from out west: Seattle, which managed to lose a basketball franchise for lack of attendance, now gets the NHL’s 32nd team. Why? Wasn’t Ft. Wayne, Indiana available?

9. For the last several years, only one playoff team has come from the NL East. With offseason moves by the Mets, Nationals and Phils, not to mention the division winning Braves, the road to the World Series will run through the NL East in 2019.

10. A treasured kid’s Christmas gift turns 100 this season. Lincoln Logs were conceived by John Lloyd Wright, son of noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The logs joined other icons like Monopoly, Slinky and View Master in the Toys Hall of Fame in 1999.

 

 

A great day of football

 

Last Saturday’s day of football was something out of one of Clair Bee’s Chip Hilton novels – come from behand victories – several of them engineered by backup quarterbacks – last play of the game Hail Marys. It is hard to remember a single day of college football with more drama. You had two coaches dueling who could have called each other’s plays (Saban and Smart). There was a rookie coach going 13-0 and, alas, a couple very worthy teams (or at least one) falling short of the final four playoffs. We could make a case for either Georgia or Oklahoma. Football fans will be talking about Saturday, December 1, 2018 for a long time to come.

UP NEXT: The Era; Ray’s Stadium controversy

Editor’s Note: Sometimes an item mentioned in the “Up Next” section above does not appear as scheduled. Usually it’s one of our 100-125 word lead or concluding commentaries being bumped by some major occurrence such as the passing of President Bush two weeks ago. The referenced item being bumped usually appears one or two weeks later.

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WEEK OF DECEMBER 2, 2018

 

 

St. Petersburg’s five cent bag

 

No this segment isn’t what you may think. It’s about St. Pete trying to become more like California all the time. The sharpies in south Pinellas have formulated a plan to charge five cents for every bag you carry out of a grocery store with four of those cents going to city government to spend wisely (see St. Petersburg – sewage treatment). They refer to the bags as “single use”. In most households, they are anything but. Additionally, virtually every store has a bin to recycle those bags. Sewage treatment aside, St. Pete has enough ills to be dealt with without some imprudent grocery bag scheme.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff

 

 

1. Now that election season is over and he can turn his attention to things other than appearing on campaign ads, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri wants to turn the county’s teaching force into an armed militia – ignoring the fact the state and the teachers themselves strongly oppose it.

2. Due to illness, your humble blogger is missing out on the Salvation Army bell ringing for the first time in about 30 years. But the three favorite women in our life, wife, daughter and granddaughter are pinch hitting. By the way, the Army is a little short of volunteers this year. You can volunteer for an hour or two by calling 727-725-9777. Thanks!

3. The first Christmas Stamp was not issued until 1962. The record-setting original run of 350 million stamps sold out quickly. Eventually one billion were printed in ’62. Cost of the stamp – four cents.

4. Wayne Stayskal whose excellent political cartoons graced the pages of the Tampa Tribune for two decades died last week at age 86.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if your Christmas season wasn’t complete without a trip to Rogers’ Christmas House in Brooksville.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Topping the charts forty years ago this week was the Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond duet You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. The song was one of those rare records that went to number 1 then slipped down the charts and later went back to the top. This classic was audio mixed by Clearwater High grad Ron Hitchcock.

7. We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating once a year. Clearwater would get a lot more out of its downtown asset, the Capitol Theater, if it had some sort of marquee advertising coming attractions.

8. If Jimbo Fisher never does another thing at Texas A&M, he’ll be remembered for presiding over the greatest win in school history – the 74-72, seven overtime shootout with LSU.

9. Former UCF coach Scott Frost presided over a 4-8 season at Nebraska – the same record that got his predecessor fired. Meanwhile, UCF rolled to another 12-0 season, so we guess it was the team not the coach.

10. As a kid, we enjoyed watching two powerhouses - the Cleveland Browns (Jimmy Brown, Otto Graham and Lou Groza) and the Detroit Lions (Hopalong Cassidy, Leon Hart and Bobby Layne). Now we wonder if we will ever see the two teams become competitive again.

 

George H. W. Bush – a man for all seasons

 

It’s very difficult to find a man who, in the last century, did more for his country than George H.W. Bush. Starting with his experience as a World War II fighter pilot and moving through his assignments as a U.S. Representative, U.N. Ambassador, head of the CIA, Vice President and finally America’s highest elective office. When his nation called, for six decades George H.W. Bush answered that call with outstanding service. He will go down in history as probably one of our most underappreciated Presidents, but he was the right man at the right time. Patriot is a word we do not use lightly, but that one word best sums up the life of America’s 41st President.

UP NEXT: Baseball Codes; Lincoln Logs; knowing when to leave

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WEEK OF NOVEMBER 25, 2018

 

 

OK Spectrum, step up

 

We recently viewed a special on Bay News 9 on the plight of Puerto Rico after last year’s hurricanes. Host Veronica Cintron was quick to point out government delays leaving many homes without roofs. If Bay News 9 and Spectrum are so concerned about these folks, why not stroke a check from their enormous reserves they gain as a semi-monopoly and help these folks out? Many of us have aided relief efforts through our churches and synagogues; why not them?

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Related to our lead item, Spectrum has announced yet another rate increase, piling on after their “all digital” scam added seven bucks to the cost of virtually every TV in your household.

2. Post-election note: those folks who strongly opposed the show-up and get it restoration of voting rights to felons can probably take solace in the fact that most felons didn’t vote before their crimes and probably won’t vote going forward.

3. The re-focusing of the northwest corner of Gulf to Bay and Belcher appears to be nearing completion with the announcement that Lucky Market, which has connections to Kroger, will be filling the old Albertsons location. Bealls and West Marine previously took over the adjacent K Mart location.

4. Tampa Heights Elementary – now there’s an inspiring name that probably took all of five minutes to dream up.

5. Breaking health news from the 5:05 Newsletter: Dunkin' Donuts announced next year they will shorten their name from Dunkin' Donuts to just “Dunkin'.” And their customers will shorten the name of their disease from diabetes to just “betes.”

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Cool piece on Channel 8 News last week on the Noyes family who celebrated what would have been their Mom’s 90th birthday by giving out the fixings for Thanksgiving dinners to 90 families – an annual tradition that grows by one each year. Mary Noyes was the music teacher at St. Cecelia School for over thirty years.

7. Don’t know what UCF did to tick off Tom Jones leading him to write an article trashing a program that won something like twenty straight. Worse was his suggestion that there be a “little” nation championship every year. To carry that to the extreme, just schedule Alabama-Clemson every Jan. 1 and let the rest play for the scraps.

8. Idle thought – came across one of those annoying pop-ups on the internet titled “What food not to eat in a Chinese restaurant”. Our immediate thought was – everything.

9. A month ago (TBRR 10/28/18) we commented on the Rays losing some valuable coaching assets. Now another probable future manager, Jared Sandberg, has headed for the west coast and a position with the Mariners.

10. The guys who set sports odds don’t see much difference in contending teams next baseball season. They have Boston and Houston as the teams to beat with the Yanks and Dodgers just behind. A lot could change depending on where people with names like Corbin, Harper, Machado and Realmuto wind up by next spring.

 

Our very unofficial Hall of Fame ballot

 

We have almost two months until the 2019 Hall of Fame class is announced, but we decided to do our very unofficial voting early. As we mentioned earlier (TBRR 1/7/18), there were three locks over the next three years. Chipper Jones took his place this year; Derek Jeter will do the same in 2020. The year 2019 belongs to the game’s greatest reliever, Mario Rivera. Joining “Mo” on our ballot are the game’s best left handed reliever, Billy Wagner, clutch post season hurler Andy Pettitte, consistently excellent Mike Mussina, fielding wizard Omar Vizquel and sweet swinging Todd Helton. Edgar Martinez will probably make it on his last ballot, but our ballot rules are one-dimensional (read DH) and juicing (read Bonds, Sosa et al) players need not apply.

UP NEXT: Apple junk; St. Pete’s five cent bag; Roger’s House

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WEEK OF NOVEMBER 18, 2018

 

 

The math, Senator Nelson, just doesn’t work

 

Virtually every elections expert in the free world has declared there is no way for Senator Bill Nelson to close the gap on Governor Rick Scott in the Senate race – no matter how hard the election folks in Broward and Palm Beach County try. Each of these experts agrees the only way to a win for Nelson is to change the rules after the fact. That would require a ruling from a judge who didn’t care about his judicial future. As that sage Kenny Rogers says, “you have to know when to fold them”. It’s past time to do just that Senator.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. If the vote holds, Florida will get its first female Commissioner of Marijuana as Nikki Fried has come to be known. What an embarrassment.

2. Seriously, how can Broward County continue to hang on to that circus act they have for an elections supervisor?

3. Now that the election is over, many elected candidates are already looking towards their next office before they even get their seat warm. Great wisdom from one of America’s greatest mayors – Fiorello La Guardia: “It’s bad to be thinking of another office when you hold one. It’s vain and impairs the office holder’s usefulness.”

4. We guess it’s probably an over-reaction to suggest secession over the Congressional inaction on Florida’s initiative to keep daylight savings time year-round. None the less, it’s frustrating to have the will of the people in the Sunshine State thwarted by foot-dragging. Hopefully newly minted Senator Scott will get the ball across the goal line in time for next fall.

5. Laverne Siple, Clearwater native, who with her husband Dick, presided over Clearwater’s foremost restaurant for decades passed away last week at age 89.

 

Sports, the media and stuff:

 

6. Curiously, neither local baseball beat writer who has a vote cast a first place ballot for Kevin Cash as Manager of the Year.

7. It didn’t get a lot of fanfare but two guys with strong Hall of Fame credentials retired at season’s end – the Twin’s Joe Mauer and longtime Phillie – Chase Utley.

8. Earlier this year (TBRR 4/30/18), we wrote of USF’s desire to build an on-campus football stadium. Recently, we hear of their basketball team being transported by commercial coach to a season-opening tournament. Priorities?

9. Athletes, particularly star athletes, don’t always make the best broadcasters. But two stars who have come into their own as broadcasters are the NFL’s Tony Romo and MLB’s John Smoltz.

10. From the 5:05 Newsletter: Target announced that it will hire 100,000 seasonal employees during the holidays. Ten of them will be on the register; the rest will wander around saying, “I don’t work in this department.”

 

One the eve of Thanksgiving, people we are thankful for

 

These people had an enduring effect on our life: Helen Richardson, Roger VanGorder, Ed Cenendella, Dr. Joseph Chamberlain, Bill Brady, Catherine Wood, Hugh Brooks, Russell Cantwell, Jean Garrett, Emmett Lowry, Joseph Maier, Col. Parker Colmer, Col. Carl Casto and Ralph Spina. And yes, they were all educators – and darn good ones.

UP NEXT: Will felons really vote? Belcher & Gulf to Bay; national championship

111818

 

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 10, 2018

 

 

Florida’s elections: there has got to be a better way

 

It’s hard to understand. Here in Pinellas County, Deborah Clark’s elections office has everything wrapped up by 8 p.m. In the panhandle, Bay County, battered by a Category Four hurricane, has not a vote left to count – the same is true of 65 of Florida’s counties. But the Sunshine State’s versions of Cook County – Broward and Palm Beach Counties just can’t seem to get their votes counted. Does any rational person think this is a coincidence with Democrats losing and election officials Susan Bucher and Brenda Snipes (shockingly, both Democrats) unable to get final totals? Broward County’s Snipes is no stranger to standing before a judge and explaining her actions, having illegally destroyed ballots from a previous election. When all this is done, the legislature and Governor DeSantis need to enact serious reforms to the way Florida runs elections.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The 60-40 beat-down of the strong mayor initiative in Clearwater should put that issue to rest for the near future. Curiously, a lot of folks who should be able to better read the tea leaves got on the wrong side of that issue.

2. Pinellas’ District 16 Senate seat is in good hands with veteran policy maker Ed Hooper’s solid victory over Amanda Murphy who spent way too much time trashing Hooper rather than telling us what she is all about.

3. Yet another race (following another two weeks previous) and another massive traffic jam in downtown Clearwater and on the beach. Our city officials need to show more consideration for the average Clearwater resident, or we need to find new city officials who will.

4. Quote of the week: “The one thing that has got to change in politics is that it’s gotten way too nasty on both sides. It should be about ideas; it should be about what you bring to the table” – newly elected U.S. Senator Mike Braun of Indiana.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you ever dined at O’Neal’s on the Rocks on Indian Rocks Beach.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. The Rays should have gotten a lot more for a rising star like Mallex Smith than a catcher who strikes out nearly 40 percent of the time.

7. Texas made a solid hire in Dodger coach Chris Woodward who has connections to the Bay Area. Given some time and a little more talent, he can return the Rangers to being a contender.

8. Former Phil’s GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. will leave his coaching position with the Mets and move back into the front office as a top advisor to new Met’s GM Brodie Van Wagenen – a good move by the Mets.

9. How ‘bout those Bolts! Best record in the NHL.

10. Yes, we know the Steelers beat the Bucs 30-27 at Raymond James earlier this year, but more telling about where the Bucs stand is the Steelers 52-21 thrashing of a Carolina team that only a week earlier beat the Bucs by two touchdowns.

 

What will be TV’s next great comedy?

 

The TV season is well underway and it’s been announced that Sheldon, Leonard and Penny will shut it down after 12 seasons. The Big Bang Theory unquestionably has been the biggest TV sitcom of the last decade. What will be the next BBT, Two and a Half Men, Friends or Seinfeld? Will it come from Chuck Lorrie? Is it part of this season’s new crop of shows?   Initial indications are no new show has separated itself from the pack. Last year’s breakout hit was Young Sheldon, but we don’t think it has the staying power. But it’s early and the next M*A*S*H, The Office or Cheers could be right in front of us and we just don’t realize it – yet.

UP NEXT: Spectrum’s empty words, rising TV sports voices; DST and secession

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WEEK OF NOVEMBER 4, 2018

 

 

Groundbreaking Tampa Bay musician

 

Recently your humble blogger had Doug Allen of the renowned Bananas Record Store come by to hand over our 1500 some record collection in anticipation of a move to smaller quarters. Doug got all but a few of our records. Principally among the hold backs was the beautiful Would I Still Be Loving You by Tampa’s Rockers – the first local group to get a deal with a national label – Warwick Records. The record made it on regional charts – going to Number 1 on Tampa’s WALT radio in 1961. Ironically, the national recording did not credit the Rockers as there was already a national group with that name, so the record credits the Tides. The leader of this seminal group, Dennis Pupello, passed away last week at age 79. It was Dr. Pupello, mind you, as his career as a leader of Tampa’s first successful band was followed by a distinguished career as a heart surgeon. He will be missed but lilting lyrics of Would I Still Be Loving You will live on in the minds of Tampa Bay teens of that era.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Nice of Mayor Bob Buckhorn to throw in his two cents on the strong mayor vote in Clearwater along with some insignificant member of the Pinellas County Commission. Folks, both of you have issues that need attending to at home without worrying about little old Clearwater.

2. The chairman of the FCC really gave panhandle cellular providers what for when cell service wasn’t restored as quickly as he liked. Maybe he should climb a few cell towers and string a few miles of cable before being quite so judgmental.

3. Idle thought: We’d gladly go for a quarter or half cent tax increase if it meant we could get the confounded traffic lights on Pinellas’ major arteries in sync.

4. Fifty years ago this week, Richard Nixon completed his political comeback defeating Hubert Humphrey for the presidency. The comeback kind of went downhill from there.

5. Breaking tech news from the 5:05 Newsletter: FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller was spotted at an Apple store. When he said his computer is really slow, the employee said, “Like 'normal' slow or 'your investigation' slow?”

 

Sports, the media and stuff:

 

6. In 1959, he was NL Rookie of the Year, ten years later, the league’s MVP, in 1986 he joined the other Willie in the Hall of Fame. Giant great Willie McCovey died last week at age 80.

7. Most interesting trade that didn’t happen last off season. When the Atlanta Braves inquired about Christian Yelich, the Marlins asked for prospect Ronald Acuna, Jr. in return. The Braves said no. Yelich, who wound up in Milwaukee, will most likely be NL MVP and Acuna its Rookie of the Year.

8. We’ve always admired Brad Ausmus as a player and a manager, but we hate to see him take the job with the Angels – a team that has nearly a quarter billion dollars tied up in three players – two of whom (Upton and Pujlos) are in the sunsets of their careers.

9. Jeff George, Terry Baker, Steve Bartkowski and Jack Concanon – just four other #1 draft pick quarterbacks who flopped. If Jameis Winston doesn’t improve, he won’t be the first #1 QB flop by far.

10. Idle thought: perhaps the only thing worse than strolling on to a car lot is strolling into a cellphone store. (Actually we’ve been dealing with the same car dealer for two decades, and Dick and Doug Norris make that experience extremely pleasant).

 

Managing by the numbers or managing to win?

 

It’s Game 4 of the World Series; Rich Hill of the Dodgers is twirling a masterful one-hitter. He walks a guy with one out and here comes manager Dave Roberts with the hook. Roberts goes to the bullpen which wastes no time in coughing up a 4-0 lead, turning a win into a loss. In the old days, it was called going by the book, now baseball geeks call it sabermetrics or whatever. Either way, it’s losing baseball. Today’s managers are so pressured by the front office to pay attention to tons of stats turned out by geeks who never played the game that they don’t trust their gut that, in Roberts’ case, has been conditioned by years on the field and then in the dugout. There is a reason that some pitchers are starters and not relievers – they’re simply better pitchers. And if front offices, don’t trust their managers to rely on those years of experience, then they need to install a pre-programmed robot in the dugout and see just how well that works out.

Up next: The election; ’19 World Series odds; O’Neal’s

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WEEK OF OCTOBER 28, 2018

 

 

The time for talk is thankfully over

 

Most of the ballots have been cast and, unfortunately, whoever wins the governor’s race, it’s going to be a big step down for the residents of Florida. By every measure, Rick Scott was good for Florida – something we saw graphically just a few weeks ago with his decisive actions in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Neither DeSantis nor Gillum will adequately fill his shoes. But the good news is we may finally get a Senator in Washington who does something other than issue platitudes. Scott’s work in Florida over the past eight years is a harbinger of what we can finally expect in Washington.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Are we the only one who finds it strange that State Senate candidate Amanda Murphy refused to reveal in a newspaper profile her marital status or whether she has any children? That aside, for so many reasons, Pinellas will be much better represented by Ed Hooper in this race.

2. As for this year’s amendments, use them for your birdcage – except for Amendment Six that will strengthen our court system and do more to protect victims of crime.

3. At the risk of repeating ourselves for about the tenth time, Clearwater does not need a strong mayor form of government. The big money being thrown at this cause is downright scary – almost as scary as the fact that “Florida’s Best Newspaper” agrees with us on this issue.

4. Our baseball analyst, Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED), somewhat shaken by his failure to predict this year’s World Series winner, has Nelson and DeSantis as the winners next Tuesday. If betting, we would put our money on Scott and Gillum.

5. On election eve, you’ve lived in Florida a long time if you remember when Florida elected its first Republican governor since Reconstruction Days – Claude Kirk.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Even though we didn’t have a rooting interest in either team, we have never seen a better baseball game than the Dodgers 18 inning, 3-2 victory over the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series. You just have to feel for former Ray Nathan Eovoldi who pitched his heart out only to lose after six great innings of relief.

7. This year’s World Series is being contested by the teams with the two highest payrolls in baseball. We hope this is not a precursor to future fall classics as do fans in Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Kansas City.

8. Step back a few years and if you were told three Florida football teams were in the Top 25, you’d never dream two of the three would be UCF and USF.

9. One of the best suggestions to come along in quite some time is moving Halloween to the last Saturday in October. If we can randomly move dates like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day around, why not move Halloween to a day where kids don’t to go to school the next day?

10. Megyn Kelly joins the roster of media types doing really stupid things. Her blunder aside, Kelly and NBC were never a good fit.

 

Raiding the Rays

 

Next spring, there will be three ex-Rays coaches sitting in major league dugouts. Rocco Baldelli and Charlie Montoyo will join Davy Martinez in commanding major league teams. Curiously, all three were considered by the Rays for the top job before Kevin Cash was brought in from outside. Despite a surprising 2018 season, the jury is still out on Cash and his .490 winning percentage over four seasons. In addition to the three coaches, Rays’ de-facto general manager Chaim Bloom is a finalist for the Mets’ GM job. Even if he doesn’t get it, despite being the most qualified candidate, Bloom will be sought by other teams when vacancies for the top job come available.

Next up: Spectrum, FCC chair and Pinellas’ ill-timed traffic lights

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WEEK OF OCTOBER 21, 2108

 

 

The death of civility

 

We’ve never been huge Ted Cruz supporters but a recent story about the Texas senator struck a chord. During the insanity that was the Kavanaugh nomination, Cruz, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took a much needed break for a date with his wife at their favorite dining spot. They were literally barred at the door by screaming morons opposed to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. The senator and his wife were finally admitted to the back door of the restaurant by the kitchen staff. Forget about the inconvenience to the senator and his wife, think of the restauranteur and the business lost because of a bunch of me first and only me trolls. R.I.P. civility.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff

 

1. We’ve already advocated for Amendment Six (TBRR 10/14/18) but our words pale compared to the moving statements by Kelsey Grammer currently on our airwaves.

2. “I looked down from space and I saw no political divisions…” This from the guy who said he would vote against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before he even knew who it was. Keep it classy Senator Nelson.

3. Good news for diners. One of the restaurants featured in our year-long dining spotlights (TBRR 2017) is about to re-open. While an official date has not been set, Cheddars on Roosevelt Blvd. has been refurbished and is beginning to hire staff.

4. Idle thought: If companies like Verizon are going to push their customer service offshore (TBRR 10/14/18), at least don’t insult our intelligence by renaming your offshore worker with the heavy Indian accent “Susan” or “Paul”.

5. Breaking travel news from the 5:05 Newsletter: Hawaiian Airlines now holds the record for the longest nonstop flight. It travels from Boston to Hawaii. However, it is only a one-way flight since there is no demand for return flights.

 

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

 

6. Joe Girardi’s Yanks come within one game of the World Series last year, and he gets fired. This year’s team with added firepower is out in the first round under Aaron Boone. If I own the Yanks, I’m not real happy with GM Brian Cashman’s managerial decisions.

7. Another victim of high tech, apps and so forth is that you cannot hear many of the post season baseball games on the radio in the Tampa Bay area. We have literally three dozen stations in the bay area, and one can’t carry the games?

8. And no, we were not pleased when we turned on our very expensive Spectrum cable to the message that “FSN1 is not currently available” at the beginning of Game 6 of the NL championship. How do you nicely say Spectrum s**cks?

9. Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor, a vital cog of the great Packer teams of the late 50s and early 60s, passed away last week at age 83.

10. We’re sure glad the Bucs got rid of that Matt Bryant guy.

 

Yet another post season umpiring gaffe

 

 

We all remember the Bartman incident that cost the Cubs a playoff series in 2003. Then there was the Rich Garcia non-call in 1996 on clear fan interference in the American League playoff that cost the Orioles a playoff series. In 2012, Sam Holbrook made his infamous “outfield fly rule” call that cost the Braves a wild card game with the Cards. Now because “Country Joe” West couldn’t waddle out to right field quick enough to see a ball that obviously went in the stands, the Astros get hosed out of two runs that would have made a difference in a crucial playoff game. We should also mention Angel Hernandez who had four of five challenged calls overturned in this year’s playoffs. The best teams in baseball deserve the best umpires calling playoff games – nothing less.

Up Next: What will be the next great comedy? Election stuff; moving vans

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WEEK OF OCTOBER 14, 2018

 

 

Florida’s proposed amendments a waste of ballot space

 

There are a dozen amendments on next month’s ballot – way too many. Virtually all of them, save one, should be voted down – especially the onerous Amendment Four that grants convicted felons the right to vote. There is a process in place to restore released felons the right to vote – on a case by case basis – not willy-nilly like Amendment Four. The other ten (one was thrown off the ballot) have all sort of unintended consequences attached and are not needed. The exception is Amendment Six that strengthens our court system and allows sitting judges to serve another five years if they choose although most don’t. But more importantly, it strengthens the rights of victims of crime who so often come off as defendants in trials which should never, ever happen.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The Trump administration suffered a large set back with announced departure of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. It adds another reason to last week’s lead article on avoiding public service (TBRR 10/7/18). It is not for folks with less than sizeable incomes who have to put kids through college. Haley’s departure leaves a large vacuum at the UN.

2. We recently dumped Verizon after some twenty years because they wouldn’t work with us on a new plan. Even if they had, their moving thousands of jobs offshore would have clinched the deal.

3. Breaking news: “Florida’s Best Newspaper” endorses Gillum for Governor continuing their unbroken string of never endorsing any Republican for Governor - or President. When you look back at some Democratic candidates over the years, that speaks volumes about the paper’s credibility.

4. A few more folks rightfully lost their jobs in the aftermath of the Clearwater Parks and Rec scandal (TBRR 8/5/18); but the overall outcome is just a slap on the hand for several culpable officials at City Hall.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you dined at (and, like us) really miss the Flagship Restaurant.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. How ‘bout those 6-0 USF Bulls!

7. The word out of Chicago is that Joe Madden’s act has worn thin with the front office, and 2019 will probably be his last as Cubbies’ manager.

8. Madden’s successor in Tampa got a well-earned extension. But we’re not sure some of Kevin Cash’s gimmicks, especially starting relievers, will stand the test of time.

9. The NFL is quickly morphing into the Arena Football League with its unrealistic roughing the passer and other anti-defense rules. Nobody likes 7-3 games, but no one wants “last one with the ball wins” contests either. Changes are needed.

10. Idle thought: Why is it that just as you master a piece of technology, it becomes obsolete? Our guesses begin with Apple and Verizon.

 

A coda to all this strong mayor talk

 

 

“Florida’s best newspaper ran a piece some weeks back on possible candidates to become Clearwater’s first strong mayor. This assumes the citizens of Clearwater approve such a measure. We strongly believe they will not. But if logic is ignored, the problem with the list is two-fold. Better than a third of the people mentioned don’t even live in Clearwater (and not a mention of Alex Sink). Another third aren’t qualified for such an undertaking and the first and second lists overlap in some cases. Plus two or three of the suggestions are downright scary. Hopefully November will put all this nonsense to rest for at least a decade.

Next Week: The death of civility; dream jobs – sort of

101418

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 7, 2018

 

 

Why in the world would you choose public service?

 

 

Light years ago, your humble blogger decided to run for office. Being an absolute novice, we engaged the services of a well-respected expert in the field. After warning her she was not getting the sharpest pencil in the box, we assured her that our business engaged in no shady practices and there were no girlfriends out there. Her response was simple – “It doesn’t matter, they’ll make it up”. Never were truer words spoken. Over six years in office, we suddenly obtained a “girlfriend” and, along with our fellow public officials, was caricatured with money hanging out of our pockets. Our long-suffering bride knew the “girlfriend” personally and is still asking about all that money. These memories bubbled up as an election is a month away, and we watch a respected jurist twist in the wind. Why would anyone want the abuse?



Great Tampa Bay, politics and other stuff:

 

1. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it too. Democrats pout and hold their breath until they get an FBI investigation. After it blows holes in their witch hunt, they suddenly don’t like it.

2. It’s been reported that celebs like Hillary Clinton and the Obamas will line up behind gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum down the stretch. He could still win despite that.

3. You’ve no doubt heard from Spectrum that they are going all digital. Translation: they have come up with another scheme to remove money from your pocket.

4. Space News from the 5:05 Newsletter: NASA is considering selling naming rights to rockets and spacecraft. I get that NASA needs cash, but I think corporate sponsorship might have changed the moon landing. “That's one small step for man, one comfortable leap thanks to Dr. Scholl's Insoles.”

5. The 5:05 Newsletter piece above opens up other opportunities for a cash-strapped NASA – have the astronaut’s space suits channel NASCAR drivers with Boeing, Honeywell, Dr. Scholl’s and, of course, Tang patches.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

 

6. TBS lost what little credibility they have with baseball fans last Sunday. With dream games that would decide division championships in both the NL Central and West, they opted for a meaningless Yankee-Red Sox game. TBS should stick to Friends and Seinfeld reruns.

7. You saw his post season picks last week, but we took a moment to look back at baseball prognosticator par excellence Achmed Walled’s (pronounced Wall-ed) pre-season picks (TBRR 3/25/18). He correctly predicted eight of the ten play-off teams. As our wizard of odds is fond of saying: “not bad”.

8. What quarterback controversy? With the Bucs defense playing the way they played against a mediocre Bear’s offense, they could start Johnny Unitas or Bart Starr at quarterback, and it wouldn’t make any difference.

9. Remember when Monday Night Football was must see TV with Hank and Frank and Dandy and Howard. Despite some good contests like last week’s KC-Denver game, the appeal just isn’t there, even with the welcome return of Hank.

10. Factoid: Orville Wright first flew in 1903. Forty-one years later, he piloted, although briefly, his last aircraft – a Lockheed Constellation. He commented that the wingspan of the “Connie” was longer than his initial flight.

 

Not a happy time for a few major league managers

 

Anaheim, Baltimore, Cincy, Minnesota, Texas and Toronto are all looking for new managers. There are a lot of seasoned names out there like Farrell, Girardi and we think Jeff Banister, late of the Rangers, deserves another chance, although clubs tend to allow a fired manager to “cool off” before making a hire like that. One of the best minds in baseball, Buck Showalter could probably have another job if he wants it, but we question whether he does. A couple managers who did less than sterling jobs will probably be retained because of their “newness”. Davy Garcia’s Nats were prohibitive favorites to win the NL East and while the Phils were not, their astounding collapse from division leaders on August 1 to under .500 by season’s end (something that never happened in history) does not bode well for Gabe Kapler whose team basically quit on him in September. Both will have a short leash in ’19.

Next Week: Coda to strong mayor debate; the Flagship; Verizon heads offshore

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WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2018

 

 

Take it to the bank; the mighty Achmed Walled predicts

 

Usually our sports stuff goes “below the fold” but when your baseball predictor has nailed four of the last five World Series winners, it goes to the top. After getting his meds (he originally liked Catfish, Vida and the A’s in five), here are Achmed Walled’s (pronounced WALL-ed) predictions: Despite the phenomenal seasons by the Red Sox and Yankees, Achmed sees the Astros emerging from the American League and, in a rematch, defeating the Dodgers for a second straight World Series title. Two cautionary remarks from the TBRR soothsayer, beware of wild card teams Oakland and Milwaukee.

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The plight of the Cremo family in St. Pete’s Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood is yet another example of a city bureaucracy gone amuck. That city, particularly, has much bigger issues than a residential driveway.

2. Couldn’t help thinking of the Wall Street Journal’s article on Florida being the deadliest state for bicyclists as we watched a uniformed biker whiz through a red light on the Memorial Causeway. It isn’t just lousy drivers folks.

3. That shrinking violet, Pasco County Sheriff Grady Judd, is starting a podcast this month called “Not in My County”. With one of the top ten crime rates among counties in Florida, maybe Grady should spend a little more time arresting bad guys and a little less time in front of the camera.

4. The 5:05 Newsletter can’t be bothered with Red Tide when they have this breaking news: Giant plastic-wrapped bundles of marijuana have been mysteriously washing ashore along the coast of Florida. Or as they are calling it now, the Great Barrier Reefer. This story gives new meaning to the terms “seaweed and “high tide.”

5. You’ve lived in Pinellas County a long while if you pronounce it pie-nellas rather than puh-nellas.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. There just shouldn’t be any reason why Blake Snell doesn’t win the Cy Young Award. Granted, Sale and Verlander are having their usual quality years along with the Indians’ Kluber and Bauer, but Snell leads the field in too many important categories.

7. Would the Bucs have been 2-1 with Jameis Winston at the controls? Looking at Fitzpatrick’s stats, it’s unlikely.

8. Idle thought now that pitchers are allowed to have the same little cards that position players have – just can’t imagine Early Wynn, Goose Gossage or Don Drysdale having such a card in their hip pocket. Kaat, Perry and Sutton – yes, as long as they were laminated with emery.

9. Fifty years ago this week, the top song in the country was The Beatles Hey Jude. It would stay on top for nine weeks – the most of any song since 1960’s Summer Place by Percy Faith. Hey Jude was the biggest hit of the decade.

10. In our rankings of the 30 franchises, best player/pitcher, we saved the best for last – the Yankees. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, their track record speaks for itself. We turned this duty over to our oldest and dearest friend, a guy we’ve known since we played Little League ball together at age 11– but most important, he’s a lifetime Yankee fan. His picks: best pitcher – Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. And when they write a hit song about you, you’re pretty good and the middle name in Willie, Mickey and the Duke (Talking Baseball) gets the nod as the greatest Yankee in thepast seven decades. Fun fact provided by our Yankee expert, everybody knows the Yanks have retired number 7 in his honor but in his rookie year with the Yanks, the Mick wore number 6 (now retired in honor of Joe Torre).

 

 

Look hard at Marlins before putting up public money

 

The Miami Marlins have closed out their season with a total attendance of just over 800,000 despite the baseball palace built to host their games. For comparison, the LA Dodgers lead the league with 3.8 million and the median attendance is right at 2.2 million. The second worst attendance is our own Rays at just over one million despite a very competitive team. Do we seriously think a new stadium will boost that puny number to a sustainable number? It didn’t in Miami, and we need to be darn sure it will here before a whole bunch of valuable public dollars are spent in Ybor City.

Up Next: Like abuse? Run for office; MLB manager carousel

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WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

 

In the aftermath of Florence

 

There’s something about the month of September. We remember our college classes being cancelled the day after Labor Day by hurricane threats three of the four years we were there. And last year, your heart was warmed when you saw Duke and other power trucks heading south down I-75. This year, you hated that it had to be done, but your heart was again warmed by the sight of trucks rolling north to help our neighbors in North and South Carolina. Things like this, tragic as they are, bring out the best in people.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. After the Eagles game, the answer is yes. If you don’t know the question, you haven’t been following the Bucs’ drama all summer – and now fall.

2. The circus surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh makes you wonder why any well-qualified individual would ever choose public service. More on this in two weeks.

3. If Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had a shred of decency or any sense of public spirit, he would step down. He apparently has neither.

4. Idle thought during this first full week of autumn. In Florida, you gauge the beginning of fall not by the temperature, but by the changing colors of the license plates.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if your high school principal was Robert Glenn, your band director “Rocky” Yanetovich, your football coach Earl Brown,your hoops coach Jim Carr or your baseball coach softball Hall Of Famer Doug Mason.

 

Sports, the media and stuff:

 

6. Speaking of high schools (see #5 above), remember when you could open up the paper Saturday morning and see how your favorite school’s football team did the night before?

7. The Browns finally win a game and Bud Light installs coolers round town with 200 cans each that open upon the win. What possibly could go wrong?

8. As we come down the home stretch of the baseball season, a gem from Red Sox great Ted Williams: “the only thing dumber than a pitcher is two pitchers”. Unless, of course, the pitcher’s last name is Maddux.

9. Sixty years ago this summer, a couple of brothers opened a pizza joint in Kansas of all places. Today, Pizza Hut is, by far, the biggest pizza chain in America.

10. In our next to last review of each franchise’s best players (see back story TBRR 3/25/18), we turn to the Chicago White Sox. Starting with pitching – at 5’10”and 160 pounds, he wouldn’t get a second look today, but the crafty Billy Pierce won 186 of his over 200 wins with the Sox. And after much thought, we are declaring a tie for the best White Sox player in the modern era –two Hall of Famers - the Big Hurt, Frank Thomas and the diminutive Nellie Fox – two guys as different as can be, but both huge cogs during their playing days with the Pale Hose.

(And this week only) 11. The Braves are back!

 

Dude, if you can’t show the game until the end, don’t show it

 

We’re all jacked up by a Bucs’ win over the Super Bowl champs, and here comes another game with two powerhouses, the Vikes and Packers tied, headed for overtime. Fox breaks in and announces due to NFL rules, they can’t continue to show it. For older football fans, it was a flashback to the Heidi game back in ’68 when the Raiders scored twice in the final minute to rally past the Jets. But NBC broke away before the end to broadcast the movie Heidi leaving most of their viewers to find out what they missed the next morning in the sports section. Don’t tease us; either carry the game to the end or not at all.

Up Next: Achmed Walled’s postseason picks; best of the Yanks; 60s’ biggest hit

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WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 15, 2018

 

 

New county head’s career off to a rocky start

 

The acrimonious salary negotiations between the Pinellas County Commission and their soon-to-be administrator Barry Burton means he will not exactly be welcomed with open arms when he takes office in six weeks. Not all of the blame can be heaped on Burton. The commission, itself, was clumsy in the way they handled the negotiations. Many of them acted like they had no knowledge of what kind of package Burton was seeking. As for Burton, he needed to realize that Florida and Illinois are apples and oranges as far as salaries and cost of living is concerned. It’s not a good start for a guy with whom we entrust a two and a quarter billion dollar budget. And it shakes our confidence in his bosses.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Local politics have gotten out of hand. Time was when you ran for city office a few close friends would write you checks for fifty bucks and you put up a couple dozen yard signs. Now, out of towners are ponying up upwards of ten grand to influence Clearwater’s form of government.

2. Will there be a “none of the above” space on the Florida gubernatorial ballot? The Feds are circling Gillum and DeSantis can’t open his mouth without something shockingly stupid rolling out.

3. Pam Iorio wouldn’t be all that bad a pick for USF’s next president.

4. Speaking of USF - we get it – a lot of USF students and grads don’t like the new logo. This grad wonders why it needed changing at all.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you attended the grand opening of J.M. Fields in Largo headlined by teen idol Conway Twitty. The last J.M. Fields closed forty years ago.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. David Wright will suit up for the Mets next weekend after an absence of over two years. He will then retire – a brilliant career cut short by spinal stenosis. We literally feel his pain.

7. Factoid: Braves’ wunderkind Ronald Acuna, Jr. has slapped over 25 home runs this season becoming only the sixth player in history to do that before age 21. Five of the other six are in the Hall – Cepeda, Kaline, Matthews, Ott and Frank Robby. The sixth was Tony Conigliaro whose career was derailed by a pitch that severely injured him in 1967.

8. Idle thought: Is the Buc’s offensive that good or is New Orleans’ defense incredibly bad?

9. Second idle thought: Last week on the gridiron, Duke beat Northwestern 21-7. You’ve got to wonder what the average IQ was in the stands – or on the field.

10. This week’s best of the bunch (see back story TBRR 3/25/18) focuses on the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins. The Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960 and one of the players making that move was a young left handed pitcher named Jim Kaat – our choice as their best pitcher based on his 190 wins for a mostly mediocre Twins team. That Kaat is not in the Hall of Fame remains a mystery. There are three Twins hitting stars in the Hall - Carew, Killebrew and Puckett – all good but Rod Carew’s lifetime .328 batting average (.334 with theTwins) is the fifth best in modern era, giving him the nod as the Twin’s best position player.

 

Le’Veon Bell – latest example of a spoiled athlete

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room is far from the happiest place on earth these days with several players, most notably Center and former Gator Maurkice Pouncey, openly critical of running back Le’Veon Bell’s holdout. You have to believe the Steelers’ stunning 21-21 tie against the lowly Browns would not have happened with Bell toting the ball 15 or 20 times. As it is, he remains at home; forfeiting game checks of over $800,000 each game. Think about how many years it takes you to make what he makes each game. He replaces Colin Kaepernick as the most self-absorbed athlete in pro sports.

Up next: Earl, Rocky, Dougie and Whistlin’ Bob

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WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 2, 2019

 

 

What the primaries mean to us

 

First, you can’t believe the polls as Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum proved last week. And never underestimate the bullheadedness of Donald Trump’s followers who choose to ignore qualifications and nominate an ill-prepared Ron DeSantis to be the GOP standard-bearer. It took DeSantis less than 24 hours to commit his first major gaff. Neither man was the most qualified among their party’s nominees, but they are what we have to choose from in November. Who will win? The early money is on Gillum, but the next six weeks will be interesting.\

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Gillum’s win was the only real upset in Florida’s balloting. Most other races went as experts predicted.

2. Kudos to Deborah Clark and her crew at the Supervisor of Elections office who had everything wrapped up just after 8 p.m. And onions to Bay News Nine whose coverage was like amateur hour with assorted technical problems and ill-prepared on-air staff. But at least they put out something as opposed to 8, 10, 13 and 28.

3. A few days before last week’s primary election, we received a postcard telling us not to vote for Republican Nick DiCeglie – but not a single mention of who his opponent was – and somebody paid good money for that. By the way, DiCeglie won convincingly over the unknown opponent.

4. Our friend Luke Palmer recently shared some aerial footage of Clearwater Beach. It reminded us what a spectacular place we call home.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if your first day back at school was the day after Labor Day. This Labor Day, the kids have been back in school for almost a month. Good grief!

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. The NFL regular season kicks off this coming weekend and here’s perhaps the oddest fact in the NFL: the Falcons’ stadium, now in its second year of operation, has among its concessions a very large Chick-fil-A. You see the problem there, correct? The chain is not open on Sundays – including Sunday, Feb. 3 when the stadium will host the Super Bowl. It is open during concerts, college games and such, but still…

7. Pre-season predictions have the Bucs winning anywhere from 2 to 7 games. We think a repeat of last year’s 5-11 is just about right.

8. My, it was fun watching the Hawaiian team in the Little League World Series. They reminded us what the great game of baseball is all about.

9. Number of the week .01 per cent - the expert’s chances of the Rays making the playoffs – better than the 0.0 per cent of the already eliminated Orioles and Royals.

10. On Labor Day Week, here is the third of our “doubleheaders” involving franchises’ best player and pitchers (see back story TBRR 3/25). We lead off with the Colorado Rockies in existence since 1993. As for a position player, it’s hard to argue with Todd Helton, a future Hall of Famer and owner of a .316 career batting average. On the pitching side, nowhere is it tougher to pitch than Denver and the pickings are slim, but we’ll go with closer Brian Fuentes who logged half of his 204 career saves in a Rockies uniform. Our second team this week is the Royals who have a couple World Series pennants hanging in their stadium. When you think of Royals position players, you first think of Hall of Famer George Brett – like Todd Helton above, owner of one of the sweetest swings in baseball. On the pitching side, hard-throwing Dennis Leonard notched three 20-game win seasons with the Royals and gets the nod over some other good KC hurlers like Paul Splittorff, and relievers Jeff Montgomery and Dan Quisenberry.

 

Their generation was also pretty great

 

A little over two months ago (TBRR 7/22/18), we said goodbye to an American hero we witnessed up close and personal – Lt. Gen. Dick Leavitt with whom we served during the Vietnam conflict. And last week, another great man from that conflict, Senator John McCain passed away. We know about the greatest generation – our Dad’s generation, but we must never forget the sacrifices men like Dick Leavitt and John McCain along with their colleagues who fought in Vietnam and Korea made for their country. Those two wars were not abided by the general public, but the sacrifices made were, nonetheless, greatly significant.

Next Up: Remembering Irma; KK; the Tigers’ best

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WEEK OF AUG. 27, 2018

 

No compelling reason for strong mayor

 

If the City of Clearwater had a succession of weak city managers, you might make a case for a strong mayor system. The city has had the same steady hand at the helm for almost two decades. Perfect? No, but consistent in doing what’s best for the city while herding cats (read city councils). Bill Horne is leaving in a couple years, but that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. You find a suitable replacement without drastically changing a system that worked for over a century. There simply is no compelling reason for a strong mayor in Clearwater. We predict the citizenry of Clearwater will return that verdict in November.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff

 

1. Another side problem with all this fuss over a strong mayor is it will probably cost Clearwater its best candidate to replace Bill Horne when he retires. Jill Silverboard, the city’s assistant city manager, has already started circulating her resume and was a finalist for Pinellas County’s top administrative job.

2. People in the media are making a big deal over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene stopping his TV ads late last week. Whether we want to admit it or not, the election is over with well over 50 per cent of voters already casting their ballots via mail or early voting.

3. Idle thought: don’t you wish the state would stay out of local government’s business and vice versa?

4. A tip of our cap to Southwest Airlines for banning service poodles and chihuahuas from their flights.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you ate at a Sweden House restaurant. The last Sweden House closed in 2006.

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. UCF begins their schedule this week ranked #21. Pretty low ranking for a 13-0 team, but it should improve as they play no ranked teams and their toughest test will probably be the season finale against USF.

7. Two very diverse personalities, Jameis Winston and Urban Meyer both begin their seasons with three game suspensions – curious.

8. A piece in “Florida’s Best Newspaper” last week crowed about how wrong pre-season critics were about the Rays’ fortunes. It isn’t like they’re challenging for the post season. Only three teams in the entire American League are further out of first place.

9. Updating a feel good story from a year ago this month (TBRR 8/20/17) when Chris Rowley, pitching for the Blue Jays, became the first ever West Point graduate to win a major league game. Turns out that has been his only win. The Blue Jays released him, and he’s now in the Texas organization pitching at Triple A.

10. No baseball franchise dates back further than the Cincinnati Reds, and their recent history is sprinkled with outstanding players. In this week’s look at the Red’s best since 1950 (back story 3/25 TBRR), we focus first on position players. You have names like Rose, Morgan, Perez, Larkin, Robinson and Bench to choose from – that’s tough. But one man, Bench, is generally recognized as the greatest to ever play his position and gets the nod over five other great players. Pitching has typically been the Red’s Achilles’ heel over the years. Tom Seaver had some good years, but he is remembered best as a Met. The Reds most dominating pitcher in the 60s – with two 20 game win seasons was Jim Maloney and our pick among an admittedly weak field.

 

MLB: One month to go - a lot to be decided

 

Suddenly there is some excitement in the American League with the hard charge by the Oakland A’s and the recent fade by the World Champ Astros. A month after the trade deadline, the best pick up by far has been Cole Hamels, who many folks wrote off. Without him, the Cubs are looking up at first place. The Mets pitching staff is intact again, and no contender wants to play them in the remaining month. And this is what we guess the folks at MLB were visualizing when they expanded the playoffs. The Braves, the Phils, the Cubs, the Brewers, the Cards, the Rockies, the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers all have a shot at the playoffs – and all of them have an equal shot at being shut out of a playoff spot. September will be interesting.

Up next: What we learned from the primaries; Orville’s last flight; Royals & Rox

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WEEK OF AUGUST 19, 2018

 

Countdown to an important Florida primary

 

Most of us have already cast our ballots in next week’s primary. But if you haven’t, shame on you – unless, of course, you are like some folks who don’t feel like they voted unless they actually show up at the polls on Election Day. For us, it lost its luster when you could no longer pull a lever. So you know how long it’s been since your humble blogger actually went to the polls. This year Florida elects three of its most important positions – Governor, U.S. Senator and Attorney General. All are hotly contested and remember a majority is not needed in Florida primaries so there is no second chance to decide your party’s candidates.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. So Senator Nelson let us try to understand this. You charge Russian interference in Florida’s election process. You offer no proof, saying it’s classified. So, if it’s classified, why did you bring it up in a public forum? Dementia perhaps?

2. We hope the State Attorney charging Michael Drejka with manslaughter will be at least a small step to quelling what has become a shooting gallery in the bay area and the state of Florida in general. And by the way, was the slain man’s girlfriend ever assessed the $255 fine that comes with willfully violating handicapped parking restrictions – the illegal act that started this tragic chain of events?

3. We in the bay area are going through what is traditionally the hottest time of year –the first three weeks of August which will explain the rather large check you’ll be writing to Duke Power or Tampa Electric next month.

4. Ya gotta love State Senate candidate Leo Karruli. With absolutely no platform except a handful of platitudes, his strategy is to rip his GOP opponent who has a platform plus a notable track record. Anything over 35 percent for Karruli will be an upset.

5. It’s never too early for the 5:05 Newsletter to look ahead to the 2020 election: “The New York Post reported that Hillary Clinton is considering a run for the Democratic nomination for president again in two years. There are pros and cons. Hillary Clinton does have tremendous name recognition, and if she can overcome that, she could win the nomination”.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Fishing off the gulf coast is taking a double hit these days with water temperatures just below the boiling point and now traces of red tide showing up in the area.

7. Watching the Little League playoffs reminds us that Joey Jay of the Braves and Reds was the first Little Leaguer to make it to the major leagues when he debuted in 1953. He would later have back to back 21-win seasons with the Reds.

8. America said goodbye to its Queen of Soul last week with the passing of 76-year-old Aretha Franklin.

9. Idle thought – what if you had to attach just a word or two to a presidency? Some thoughts that occurred to us: FDR – great war, Eisenhower – interstates, Kennedy – space, Lincoln – freedom, Truman – plainspoken and Reagan – communicator.

10. This week’s best player/pitcher segment (see back story TBRR 3/25) deals with the storied Boston Red Sox franchise. The Boston fans made it easy for us as far as the player is concerned. In two separate polls, 1969 and 1982, the Bosox fans voted Ted Williams the greatest Red Sox player of all time. On the pitching side, there have been some good ones but three-time Cy Young winner (two of them with the Sox) Pedro Martinez pretty much laps the field.

 

Look quick, the Bucs are undefeated in the regular season

 

Forget about bad boy Jameis Winston’s three game suspension, his presence wouldn’t make any difference. It’s a pretty solid bet the Bucs will open the regular season 0-3 or 1-2 at best. They take on the Saints in New Orleans, and then home games against two powerhouses – the Super Bowl champ Eagles and the always tough Steelers. Week four brings some relief – the Bears, but in Chicago. The only other cupcake on their schedule is Cleveland. Last year’s 5-11 record might look like a high water mark come December.

Up next: MLB with a month to go, new guy at the county, Sweden House

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WEEK OF AUGUST 12, 2018

 

 

 

Putnam is GOP’s only choice

 

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Gwen Graham emerging from the Democratic gubernatorial primary. As the only female candidate in a crowded field, she will win. Does it mean she is the most qualified candidate? Not by a long shot. Her main attribute remains her last name. But here’s where it gets tricky. Virtually every poll shows her defeating Donald Trump-backed Ron DeSantis in the general election. Conversely, the vast majority of polls show her losing to Adam Putnam. So, if you want another Graham in the Governor’s Mansion hosting teas for Planned Parenthood, vote for Trump’s boy. If you want ready to govern, conservative leadership for our state, we need to nominate Adam Putnam.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Related to our lead item, a quote from “Florida’s Best Newspaper” in their endorsement last week: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam knows Florida, and he is as well-prepared as any candidate in memory to move into the Governor's Mansion. We certainly hope they remember that come November.

2. When you think of outstanding public safety officials in Pinellas’ past, three of the names that come to mind are Fire Chief Peter Treola, Sheriff Don Genung and Clearwater Police Chief Willis Booth. Booth, who served for over a decade as Clearwater top cop, died earlier this month at age 92.

3. Idle thought - whether you agree or disagree with their endorsements, shouldn’t our local sheriffs stay the hell out of politics and just do their jobs? Although we must admit we concur with politician/sheriff Bob Gualtieri when he suggested some travel plans for Al Sharpton.

4. Many of us who have swung a hammer for Habitat for Humanity have been put off by their sale of home mortgages to a company notorious for their aggressive tactics towards their mortgagees along with flipping of homes for profits. It’s a black eye for an otherwise noble organization.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you shopped at Kash and Karry Supermarkets which became Sweetbay which was folded in Winn Dixie. Making the story even more confusing, the original Kash and Karry in Plant City was first named Big Barn!

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. Again the rumors begin to swirl about a possible Alex Trebek retirement from Jeopardy in a year and half. To some, he’s an institution; to many others he’s a pompous twit. At one time, a leading replacement candidate was Matt Lauer. Guess that’s not going to happen.

7. The so-called Rice Commission has made it clear – college basketball and, worse, high school basketball will become nothing more than a farm system for the NBA. The Commission needed to go the other way and eliminate one and dones. Sadly, they failed.

8. Earlier this summer (TBRR 6/24), we recognized David Wright as the all-time career Met. Now, we are happy to report he is beginning a rehab assignment in the minors after playing just 75 games for the Mets since 2015 due to injuries. It would be great to see him back

9. We mentioned last week the Hall of Fame now contains two #1 draft picks – Ken Griffey and Chipper Jones. Incredibly, since the draft began in 1965, three #1 picks retired without even having a cup of coffee in the big leagues.

10. In our week to week ranking of each franchise’s best players (back story TBRR 3/25), the alphabet rolls around to the home town team – the Tampa Bay Rays – one of two teams in MLB with the shortest history. Obviously no Hall of Famers to pull from, but the top position player is a pretty easy choice – recently departed Evan Longoria leads the team in virtually every offensive category – doubles, homers, RBIs and runs scored to name a few. On the pitching side, and this could change in another year or two, it’s a close race between wins leader James Shields and ERA leader David Price. Price only had five fewer wins than Shields and better ERA and WHIP, so the nod goes to him.

 

Channel 13: the best way to start a morning:

 

If you want morning news, you have the choice of the painted on smiles at Channels 8, 10 and 28 plus the continuous tape loop on Bay News 9. Then there are the folks at Channel 13 – real people like Walter Allen, Jennifer Epstein, Laura Moody, Dave Osterberg, Russell Rhodes, and their Everyman – Charlie Belcher. They just seem like family or very close friends. There is banter and some humor yes, but when it comes to getting you the news, this team is without peer. Channel 13 has always had a strong news reputation since their founding in 1955 and their current morning team has done nothing but enhance that respectability.

 

UP NEXT: Presidencies in a word; strong mayor won’t go away; Bosox best

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WEEK OF AUGUST 5, 2018

 

Enforce laws on handicapped parking - now

 

The escalation of a parking violation at a Clearwater convenience store was tragic and unnecessary. And the stand your ground issue aside, the thing that triggered the episode was the epidemic disregard for designated handicapped parking spaces. Quoted in a local paper the girlfriend of the slain man said “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Wrong, wrong and wrong. She willfully ignored a posted handicapped parking sign. It’s one of those laws that is ignored ‘because everybody does it’. It shouldn’t be that way, either our sheriff or local law enforcement agencies need to form a task force to crack down on these scofflaws. Too costly? At $255 per violation, it won’t take much to pay the salaries of a team of six or eight officers to range countywide. Our law enforcement people need to get off their chairs and do something about this impunity.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. It is hard to understand how $150,000 in receipts skipped by rankling Parks and Recreation officials in Clearwater. The man responsible, Robert Carpenter, has been arrested, but those above him have some serious explaining to do to their superiors at City Hall.

2. New stadium for the Rays, upgraded stadiums for the Phils and Jays and USF wants its own on-campus stadium (more on that in a week or two). Where’s all the money going to come from?

3. There’s a new terminology that has creeped into the American lexicon – “non-violent felon”. It is being tossed about by supporters of the move to add felons to Florida’s voting rolls. Brought down to its essence, a non-violent felon is someone who rather than killing people with weapons, sells them drugs that can kill them. We fail to see the distinction.

4. Service dog scams have gotten out of hand. We simply can’t believe a French Poodle or similar breeds can carry out the duties of a service dog. Government agencies are planning to crack down, but hopefully not before I register my service cat Murphy.

5. Tampa Bay’s answer to Wide World of Sports, The 5:05 Newsletter offers up this hunting news: A new federal law will allow hunters to use donuts to attract bears. The move was strongly opposed by police, many of whom have been mauled fighting a bear over a donut.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. He played to two very distinct audiences – SiriusXM’s Margaritaville and WUSF’s Morning Edition. Veteran broadcaster Carson Cooper passed away last week at age 58.

7. Chipper Jones’ induction into the Hall of Fame last week doubled the number of #1 draft picks in the Hall. The only other is Ken Griffey, Jr. The amateur draft started in 1965 and the first #1 selection was Rick Monday.

8. For only the third time in club history, the Rays will host one of the major league’s biggest draws – the LA Dodgers next year. The West Division’s strong Diamondbacks and Rockies will also visit along with the yearly stopover for the Marlins.

9. Baseball is, indeed, a funny game. The Rays held their own in June against a brutal schedule that included the Mariners, Nats plus the Yanks and Astros twice. But last weekend, they get pushed around by the Orioles – the team with the worst record in baseball.

10. This week’s best pitcher and player analysis (see back story TBRR 3/25/18) falls on the Texas Rangers/Washington Senators II. Established as an expansion franchise in 1961, the Senators moved to Texas in 1972 becoming the Rangers. Over that two city journey, their most outstanding player and only Hall of Famer is Pudge Rodriguez – generally recognized as one of the five best catchers in baseball history. Pitching has never been a strong suit for either second Senators or Ranger teams. By a close margin over Charlie Hough, the Rangers best pitcher over three stints with Texas is Kenny Rogers who racked up 133 wins with the club.

 

MLB at the two-thirds pole

 

Some thoughts while we wait for the Washington Nationals’ push we knew was going to come, but now looks like a mirage: J.A. Happ’s first start for the Yanks was good. They just hope he won’t be the next Sonny Gray. The AL is pretty well set with Bosox, Yanks, Indians, Astros and Mariners playoff bound unless Oakland or the Angels have a run in them. We don’t think they do. A team must win the NL East to get in. We still think the Braves are playing for next year, so that leaves the Phils. Cubs win the Central with Brewers possibly getting a wild card ticket although we forecast, like last year, both wild cards will come from the NL West. And the best pick-up at the trade deadline – the Dodgers addition of Manny Machado. Don’t think there is anyone in baseball who would not agree that the Rays got a very good return for Chris Archer.

Up Next: Putnam GOP’s only choice; The Rays’ best; Kash and Karry

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WEEK OF JULY 29, 2018

 

 

Rick Baker – timing is everything

 

Somewhere former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker has to be punching walls and overturning water coolers as Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration continues to unravel. It’s just one hot mess after another. Timing is everything and if the election were held tomorrow, Baker would leave Kriseman in his dust. Unfortunately for Baker, most of this happened after the election. Will we hear from Baker again on the political front? Hard to say, he’s pretty bright, although not all that likeable a guy.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The family involved in the tragic shooting in Clearwater has hired attorney Ben Crump who represented the family of Trayvon Martin in Florida’s highest profile “stand your ground case”. Shouldn’t they hire an attorney who actually prevailed in such a case?

2. Tax free weekend is coming up – let the shopping begin!

3. The best fifty cent investment of the year – the stamp you put on your absentee ballot for next month’s primary.

4. Speaking of the primary, before you jump on the Ashley Moody for Attorney General band wagon, take a hard look at her stance on abortion. Frank White, on the other hand, is a staunch pro-life candidate.

5. Breaking Justice Department news from the 5:05 Newsletter: According to a report released by the Justice Department's internal watchdog, former FBI director James Comey used a personal Gmail account on numerous occasions to conduct FBI business. When she heard that, Hillary Clinton punched a wall so hard the building collapsed.

 

Sports, media and stuff:

 

6. Hate to see Jonny Venters go. He was the feel good story of the year after four years of inactivity due to injuries. We’re happy for him that he’s returning to Atlanta where he made his mark as an unhittable set-up man.

7. We’re sure we’ll be proven wrong, but as of now, it doesn’t seem like any major league team has added a ‘difference maker’ for the stretch drive.

8. The “Uggla-ist” regular season performance by a position player is about to be erased. Braves’ second baseman Dan Uggla hit an all-time low (for a regular player) .179 back in 2003. Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis is chugging along at a .158 pace as of this writing.

9. Idle thought – thinking back to Miss Ketchum’s fifth grade class at Skycrest Elementary where the day began with the pledge and a short Bible reading. Today, just think what would happen….

10. Our all-time players/pitchers series (back story TBRR 3/25/18) heads to the Steel City. Your humble blogger grew up in Pittsburgh before migrating down to Atlanta Braves territory, but we’ve been watching the hometown team for decades and picking their greatest player is a cinch. He is also the greatest Latin American player to ever suit up – Roberto Clemente. His incredible gap to gap power and the best arm to ever patrol right field make him a no brainer pick. The Pirates have been a team known for hitters rather than pitchers over the years but one man stands out – he saved 188 games while also winning 100 including an incredible 18-1 record in 1959 – a winning percentage record that still stands today. Roy Face was the prototype of the modern reliever in the 1950s with his unhittable forkball.

 

Times’ Carlton – don’t bother me with the facts

 

We don’t ever mention the Times’ Sue Carlton because, frankly, she never writes anything worth mentioning. But her recent characterization of Rotary International as some sort of frat house cannot go unchallenged. Rotary is a century-old organization spanning over a hundred countries involving outstanding men and women. It’s done little things like wiping out polio world-wide, providing sustainable potable water systems to needy countries and tens of thousands of local projects. To characterize Rotary as some sort of good old boys’ organization is completely unprofessional and irresponsible.

UP NEXT: MLB at the 2/3 mark; parking scofflaws; parks and rec mess

 

WEEK OF JULY 22, 2018

 

Who will NOT be endorsed in the GOP primary

 

Florida’s Gubernatorial and Senatorial primaries are less than two months away. The GOP’s presumptive candidates are Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam for governor and current Governor Rick Scott for the senate nomination. With that in mind, here’s something to look out for – neither of these men will be endorsed in the primary by the liberal media. Rather than endorse the most qualified candidate on the GOP side, Florida’s left-leaning newspapers will, as they have consistently in the past, endorse the candidate they believe the Democratic nominees have a better chance of beating. It’s an old, tired process that only the feeble minded buy into.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. As Clearwater continues to stub its toe on downtown and other economic development issues, we repeat our assertion that the city needs to recruit a heavy hitter in the area of economic development. The last several low to mid-level functionaries have been bitter disappointments.

2. Senator Bill Nelson appears to have joined the Charlie Crist School of Politics. First he says he will oppose any Trump nominee before the nominee is announced. Now, it appears he feels it might be politically expedient to at least listen to Judge Kavanaugh before voting no as he most assuredly will.

3. Democrats think they can take out long time U.S. Rep. Gus Billirakis this fall - good luck with that. The family has held the seat for three decades and the Demo challenger is a former FBI agent – not the best credential right now.

4.He’s done a lot of what he said he would do – most notably in the Supreme Court, but like him or hate him, our President is a bull in a china shop and badly needs a Miss Manners - type at his side constantly.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you shopped at A Place for Cooks on North Fort Harrison Avenue – thanks to CHS classmate Gary Winter for reminding us about A Place for Cooks. Another similarly neat place was Susan Brown’s original Beans About Cooking in Northwood Plaza.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. The Cardinals’ dismissal of manager Mike Matheny falls into the ready, fire, aim category. The Cards never had a losing season under him and you can bet he won’t be cashing many unemployment checks.

7. Mindful of Kenny Rogers’ admonition, you have to know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em, the Rays let the ship sail without Chris Archer on it. His value, at an all-time high a year ago, is now greatly diminished and he would bring little in return.

8. Idle thought – there are a whole big bunch of really awful shows on TV these days.

9. It didn’t get a lot of media attention but the troubled New England Confectionary Company was purchased at auction by an Ohio-based company and the NECCO wafer and Clark Bar among others (TBRR 4/14/18) will live on.

10. This week’s best player and pitcher series (see back story TBRR 3/25/18) focuses on the team that has called Clearwater their spring home since 1948 – the Philadelphia Phillies. We turned to an old baseball friend who has been following the Phils for close to 70 years and his answers were quick and we cannot disagree with them. His best player is one of only two Phillie position players to have their number retired (Rich Ashburn was the other) – Mike Schmidt – arguably the best all-around third baseman in history. Three former Phil pitchers are in the Hall of Fame – Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning and Steve Carlton. All three were great but “Lefty” was the best left hander of his era. Carlton gets the nod over Bunning and Roberts.

 

Belated farewell to a true American hero

 

Sometimes bad news doesn’t travel so fast. We just learned last week of the passing quite some time ago of retired Air Force Lt. General Lloyd R. (Dick) Leavitt. General Leavitt was in the Air Force from its beginnings after graduating from West Point (there was no Air Force Academy back then). In the Air Force he did it all - flying B-52s, the super spy plane the U-2, F-84s in Korea and F-4s in the Vietnam conflict where we knew him as Col. Dick Leavitt, the wing commander of our fighter/recon wing - flying 150 combat missions – hardly a desk jockey. He ended his career in 1981 as the vice-commander of the prestigious Strategic Air Command. His life can be encapsulated in his favorite expression “Press On” – he was a true American hero.

UP NEXT: Baker’s bad timing; best of the Pirates; Hillary and Comey

 

WEEK OF JULY 15, 2018

 

 

High court – Trump forgoes TD pass for safe 15-yarder

 

 

President Trump had an opportunity to throw a touchdown pass in his second selection for the U.S. Supreme Court but chose a safer 15-yarder with his selection of Brett Kavanaugh. The touchdown pass, in the eyes of conservatives, would have been Judge Amy Comey Barrett, a staunch pro-life advocate, but likely the target of a tougher confirmation process. Although, it would have been fun watching Democratic puppets like Bill Nelson try to explain why they voted against a highly qualified female jurist. It appears that Kavanaugh’s nomination, while no Sunday picnic, should be successful. And, through back channels, the White House has hinted Judge Barrett most likely would be the next nominee when a position comes vacant on the high court.  

 

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. While somewhat sympathetic to Mayor George Cretekos’ desire to remain at street level (TBRR 7/8/18), we agree with one highly placed official who points out Cretekos’ move to the Municipal Services Building will require some dual staffing (and additional expense). The mayor comes off as a little pouty in the grand scheme of things.

2. Forget about the tempest in a teapot over Adam Putnam, but Publix, over the past couple years, has made several missteps that have tarnished their image – the latest being holding an 81-year-old and her 92-year-old husband captive for three hours over some allegedly pilfered cat food.

3. We continue to be amazed at election signs that give you a bunch of razzmatazz but all but hide the candidate’s last name and office sought. On an election sign that’s all that matters.

4. IHOP’s fake name change (TBRR 6/17/18) reminds us of “New Coke” of years ago. Was it a blunder or just a savvy way to remind us how good “old Coke” tasted?

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you pre-date the chain drugstores and shopped at D’Anna’s, Greenwood or Skycrest Pharmacies.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. There will always be inequities in All-Star balloting. The Ray’s Blake Snell should have not had to wait until the last minute for selection to the AL pitching staff and in the senior circuit, the league’s leading hitter the Reds’ Scooter Gennett was hosed in the second base balloting losing out to a much less qualified Javier Baez of Chicago, but should anybody be surprised by fishy elections involving Chicago?

7. Another All-Star tidbit from MLB.com: “How many players since World War II have notched 2,000 career hits, 400 doubles and 1,000 runs without ever making an All-Star team? Well, that's a trick question, because the answer is now "none." But prior to Sunday, the list began and ended with Nick Markakis”. It’s unbelievable that a guy like the Orioles/Braves professional hitter had never made an All-Star team until now.

8. Below this week, you’ll find our review of the top players in Orioles’ history. Although he didn’t make the cut, the Birds’ lefty Mike Flanagan owns one of the best all time quotes – “You know you’re having a bad day when the 5th inning rolls around and they drag the warning track.”

9. So what’s up with another spike in gas prices after the 4th of July? Was it Kavanaugh’s nomination; Trump does Europe; or the Rays going over .500? As we’ve reminded you before, it has absolutely nothing to do with greed.

10. This week we take a look at the Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns – which was the team name until 1954. Picking the most outstanding pitcher in the O’s history is relatively easy. Although stellar pitchers like Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally and Steve Stone passed through Baltimore, Jim Palmer spent his entire career there racking up 258 wins and four Cy Young Awards. On the player side, you could toss three names in a hat – the Robinsons, Brooks and Frank, and Cal Ripken. F. Robinson we eliminate because he was not a career Oriole – Brooks and Cal were. Cal holds the record for most consecutive games played, but Brooks was probably the best defensive third baseman in history and gets the nod.

 

Focus Group’s Top Five Flicks

 

We use the old timey term flicks because our TBRR focus group (comprised of five old, cranky people) is extremely old timey – as are the films they chose – National Velvet, Gone with the Wind, Midway, The Graduate and When Harry Met Sally. When you consider that the most recent of these pictures is almost thirty years old, you learn something about our focus group – or about the quality of productions coming out of Hollywood the last 30 years.

Up Next: Too late for Chris; NECCO wafers; GOP endorsements

 

WEEK OF JULY 8, 2018

 

Clearwater smart to move ahead with City Hall demo

 

It’s a move that’s a long time coming. The city of Clearwater is finally going to abandon its antiquated City Hall and temporarily move to an office tower at the corner of Garden and Cleveland downtown. They had a chance to move across the street over 20 years ago but stupidity won out over common sense. We understand Mayor George Cretekos’ concern over isolating city functions from the public, but the building is easily accessible with a parking garage right across the street. We had only hoped the council would have set a date certain to be out of the temporary quarters. That should happen sooner rather than later.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Florida Senator Bill Nelson displaying his usual open-mindedness announced he will vote against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the Chief Executive’s choice is even named.

2. Dunedin’s seemingly wise plan to limit pharmacies and thus pot dispensaries in their downtown has foundered. Much of the blame lies with the state which seems hell-bent on making pot just as available as a Big Mac.

3. Idle thought, should Rep. Ron DeSantis list his party affiliation as Fox rather than Republican?

4. Some years ago when your humble blogger ran for office, our request to our teenage son who was (and still is) a bit of a rounder was do not have any involvement with (Police Chief) Sid Klein’s people and, bless his heart, he didn’t. The reason for the request was apparent last week when a relatively minor incident involving Gus Billirakis’ son became breaking news. Ridiculous.

5. Related to our lead article, you’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you shopped at the downtown Maas Brothers Department store which is scheduled to be leveled along with City Hall to open up the waterfront. Incredibly, it has been 27 years since Maas closed. It was truly “Florida’s department store”.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. In early June, we pointed out that all but three of the Rays’ games in the month were against teams over .500. Our boys acquitted themselves nicely going 13-14 against the cream of the crop.

7. Tom Jones’ neat piece on four great baseball movies reminded us of a film that probably isn’t even considered a baseball movie – Dream Team. It featured a stellar cast of Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd and Peter Boyle. But it was Stephen Furst who stole the show as the mentally challenged Albert who couched everything in baseball terms - worth a watch or a revisit.

8. One of our favorite baseball nicknames is 1950s outfielder Harry “Suitcase” Simpson who was traded five times in an eight year career. Simpson has nothing on right-hander Edwin Jackson who joined his 13th major league team (Oakland A’s) last week.

9. Other than yawns, LeBron’s move to LA was greeted by one question – does he want to end his season earlier? At least in the Eastern Conference, he had a chance to advance to the finals and lose to Golden State. Now, that vacation will come earlier.

10. As we continue to quantify the best players/pitcher of each MLB franchise (see back story in TBRR 3/25/18), we focus on a relatively new franchise – the Washington Nationals’/Montreal Expos. Founded in 1969 and moving to D.C. in 2005. Their best player over the years by a slim margin is Hall of Famer Gary Carter, although few would argue with Andre Dawson. On the pitching side, and this could change if Stephen Strasburg continues his stellar career, but Steve Rogers had nine opening day starts and 158 wins for the Expos who were not all that good a team during his days north of the border.

 

Time for fireworks to go the way of the buggy whip?

 

Several local cities’ fireworks fizzled last week due to either weather or vendor’s issues. Meanwhile many cities are moving away from the noise and danger of fireworks for drone displays. If you’ve seen them, they are every bit and more the visual awe of fireworks. And they are noiseless – something very child and pet friendly. Anymore, we use every excuse from the 4th to Arbor Day to set off fireworks. At least on America’s birthday, our municipalities ought to look into the less obtrusive drone spectaculars.

Up Next: GOP endorsements; another Publix slip; old time movies

 

WEEK OF JULY 1, 2018

 

 

Flight 370 - still no credible answers

 

It is the greatest aviation mystery since Amelia Earhart went missing in the 1930s. Unlike Earhart’s craft, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014 carried sophisticated tracking gear – all which was switched off not long into the flight. It is presumed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean after making an inexplicable 180 degree turn from its original northerly flight plan. Since then – lots of theories including very recent nonsense that the pilot is in a Taiwanese hospital – he isn’t and that Chinese searchers have identified wreckage on the bottom of the ocean – they haven’t. CNN’s Richard Quest has written a compelling book on the subject (The Vanishing of Flight MH370) including a believable hypothesis on what may have happened. If you can skip past the self-congratulatory segments on himself and his network, it is well worth a read as the four-year old mystery gets no closer to conclusion.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. In the midst of all uproar about the separation of children, Laura Ingraham had a compelling interview with three mothers separated from their children – permanently. Each mother lost their child to an illegal alien who had been jailed and then allowed to walk free.

2. Pardon us if we don’t buy the argument that President Trump’s tariff policies are harming the newspaper industry. That industry has been on life support for a couple decades.

3. With summer’s temps and power bills going up, we haven’t talked to many people who have bought into Duke Energy’s “same bill every month” plan. Most who ran the numbers found it to be advantage Duke.

4. Speaking of energy, we’re sure it’s Justice Kennedy’s resignation, Jameis’ suspension or Joe Crowley’s loss in New York that the oil companies will blame for last week’s 15-20 a gallon price hike. It cannot possibly be the 4th of July holiday and a chance for them to gouge the American public.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you dined at the Steak and Ale on U.S. 19 just south of Gulf to Bay Blvd. The chain’s last restaurants closed about ten years ago.

 

Sports, media and other stuff

 

6. It was a July 4th weekend when we saw our first major league game – a Giants-Pirates doubleheader at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. If we were commissioner, teams would have to play at least one home doubleheader on a summer holiday weekend.

7. This week back in 1966, something happened in baseball that had never happened before – a player hit two grand slams in one game – a pitcher no less! Other players have equaled the Braves’ Tony Cloninger since but he remains the only pitcher to ever turn the trick.

8. Michael Kelly’s hiring as USF’s new AD looks like a big win for the Bulls.

9. Television insiders do not predict a long future for The Connors, the Roseanne spinoff. Many say that once contractual obligations to actors and behind camera folks are fulfilled, it’s bye-bye – possibility as soon as ten episodes.

10. As promised, each summer holiday edition of TBRR, we’ll have a doubleheader in our series selecting the best player/pitcher of each MLB franchise (see back story TBRR 3/25); this week – the Marlins and the Padres. The Marlins have one of the shortest histories in the game and no Hall of Famers. Their top winning pitcher won only 62 games but what an ambassador for baseball – Dontrelle Willis (he was a heck of a hitter, too). On the player side, there hasn’t been a lot of longevity, but former Marlin Giancarlo Stanton tops the list as the Marlin’s top player in their brief existence. As for the Padres, they have a little longer history than the Marlins and two outstanding folks to consider. Anyone who is called “Mr. Padre“ is probably a good choice. Tony Gwynn was a 15-time All Star and 8-time batting champion and first ballot Hall of Famer. A more recent Hall of Famer gets the nod as the Padres best all-time pitcher – Trevor Hoffman who holds the NL record for saves with 601, all but 47 of them in a Padres uniform.

 

MLB at the half way mark

 

Three months down and three months to go in the national pastime: Some thoughts – half season MVPs – Braves’ Freddie Freeman and Boston’s Mookie Betts. Cy Young – Max Scherzer and his former teammate Houston’s Justin Verlander. It’s hard to imagine the teams in the AL now qualified for postseason changing. The National League is different with every division and wild card race extremely tight – which will make for an exciting second half. Teams to watch in the second half – the Nationals and the Mariners. Teams likely to be most active at the end of July trade deadline – Cubs, Dodgers, Indians and Yanks. Big sellers will be the Orioles, Mets, Reds and our local nine.

UP NEXT: Goodbye City Hall; guess what icon closed 27 years ago?

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WEEK OF JUNE 24, 2018

 

 

The “art” of returning calls

 

We were looking for a sporting goods item a few weeks back. Scrolled through our options on the internet and came across Dicks Sporting Goods. Was about to look, then suddenly remembered this is the same company that failed to return a family member’s call on a fairly important matter during the past year – scratch them in our search. It amazes us that companies (and individuals) cannot take the few minutes it takes to return a call from a customer, potential customer or vendor. In saying call, we are grouping all those modern conveyances that we do not practice – emails, texts and a twitter – if that is applicable in this case (still don’t know what twitter is, but our current President seems to). Beside the fact, returning a message is just common courtesy; not doing it can cost you customers, potential customers and, worse, friends.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. There were media conservatives Charles Krauthammer and George Will and then there were the rest. Krauthammer, who overcame early paralysis to become a formidable conservative voice, died from cancer last week at 68.

2. If the Democrats want to have a chance at reclaiming the governor’s mansion, they need to run Philip Levine, but the Demo candidate will most likely be Gwen Graham who will not beat Adam Putnam.

3. We want to tip our cap to Shawn Morrison, the owner of Car Tunes on East Bay Drive in Largo. We came in with an issue involving our new car’s radio and our MP3 player. It certainly was not a big money making project for Shawn, but he treated us like it was. Thanks!

4. We’re not sure we are ready for valet parking at Publix which is being tested in South Tampa, but we sure like the covered parking at the Island Estates store particularly during summer’s rainy season.

5. Super hero news from the 5:05 Newsletter: Last month marked the 80th birthday of Superman. Now that he is 80, Superman is rendered helpless by Kryptonite and his email password.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. We repeat our assertion of earlier this year (TBRR 1/7/18) that the Bucs need to cut their losses with Jameis Winston. It’s too late to salvage the ’18 season with the possible three game suspension looming, but this year’s draft priority needs to be a potential franchise quarterback.

7. Times beat writer Marc Topkin’s look at the 2019 Rays last weekend read very much like a concession speech.

8. Gee, do you think the U.S. Open will wind up at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club any time soon after last weekend’s debacle?

9. The answer: George Malone, Warren Davis and Charles Patrick. The question: Who wrote The Book of Love? – a smash hit 60 years ago this month.

10. In our continuing series of each MLB franchise’s best players and pitchers (see back story TBRR 3/25/18), the Mets are up this week. Choosing their best all time pitcher is an easy one – Hall of Famer Tom Seaver who won 198 of his 311 victories with the Mets. On the player side, it’s a little tougher as the three best players (all Hall of Famers) to wear a Mets uniform, Gary Carter, Willie Mays and Mike Piazza all had significant time with other clubs. One career Met stands out even though his later career has been ravaged with injuries – 13-year Met David Wright who has poked 242 career home runs and maintained a batting average just shy of .300 and is a seven-time All Star.

 

Clearwater and the Phils

 

First full disclosure, we were more than casually involved in the original effort to build the Phils a new stadium back at the turn of the century. What is shocking to us is the price tag of proposed renovations to the complex at Drew and 19 is double what the entire stadium cost in the early part of this century. And in looking at the menu of upgrades, there are more than a few “nice to haves” rather than need to haves. We like the fact that the Phils, as they did with the original stadium, are on the hook for any cost over runs, but just the same, there seems to be the need for a little value engineering for a city facing a tax increase and uncertain county and state support for this very large project. Finally, an admittedly cynical analysis will tell you that the days of cities in Florida and Arizona jumping through hoops to land 18 or so spring training games each year has come and gone.

UP NEXT: Flight 370; celebrating the 4th; MLB mid-season

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WEEK OF JUNE 17, 2018

 

Telephone home invaders need to be punished – hard

 

The once vaunted “Do Not Call List” has become a joke. Telemarketers and worse call homes on that list with impunity. Some conscientious folks report violations to the Do Not Call hotline but, by most accounts, those folks are either overwhelmed or just don’t care. The newest spin by these phone creeps is using 727 and 813 area code numbers making you think it’s someone you know but don’t recognize the number. Bob Driver, the former Clearwater Sun columnist had a tongue in cheek piece on dealing with these miscreants (Beach Bee – March 16) – his best suggestion is answering the phone “IRS Office, this is agent Johnson”. Speaking of the IRS, perhaps it’s time for the feds to step in and, after say five or so violations and warnings, revoke phone service for the various companies and their officers/owners. Draconian? We don’t think so.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff

 

1. It was a good move by the Hillsborough County Commission to trash a proposed single district scheme being touted by Commission chair Sandy Murman. The plan was fraught with problems including an unwieldly nine-person commission.

2. She started at the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce and then led the Dunedin Chamber for 18 successful years. Lynn Wargo died early this month at age 57 – a tremendous loss to our community.

3. Alice Marie Johnson, a cocaine trafficker, was pardoned by President Trump after intervention by the famous for being famous Kim Kardashian. Ms. Johnson served 22 years in jail. That is probably a few days each or less for all the lives she and her fellow drug pushers ruined.

4. We agree with several posters on Twitter. The International House of Burgers name will be short lived. Why? Let’s see there’s IHOP, Perkins and little else. On the other side of the coin, there’s McDonald’s, Burger King, Checkers, Wendy’s, Hardee’s, Five Guys, Red Robin, In and Out plus a dozen more. Some restaurant experts say it’s just a summer thing and the IHOP brand will return when the weather turns cool.

5. From the trendsetting 5:05 Club Newsletter this gem: There is talk of legalizing marijuana in Utah. However, Mormons are worried that marijuana may be a gateway drug to coffee.

 

Sports, media and other stuff: 

 

6. The Rays may not have the best team in baseball but their broadcasters match up with any team. Dewayne Statts is destined for the broadcaster’s wing in the Hall of Fame and Andy Freed and Dave Wills are a terrific radio duo.

7. Factoid: Only ten out of every million adults in the U.S. have never seen The Tonight Show.

8. Summer begins this week and here are five great summer tunes to crank up on your music device – Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69 (a very good year); Johnny Rivers’ Summer Rain; The Beach Boys classic Kokomo; Beach Baby by First Class and arguably the ultimate summertime theme – Surf City by Jan and Dean.

9. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you shopped at Kash and Karry Supermarkets which became Sweetbay which was folded in Winn Dixie. Making the story even more confusing, the original Kash and Karry in Plant City was first named Big Barn!

10. In our season long series on the best player/pitcher of each franchise (see back story TBRR 3/25/17), some weeks are tougher than others. With the Indians our focus this week, you immediately think of pitching – Hall of Fame pitching like Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Early Wynn. The nod goes to Feller who won 266 games for the Tribe despite missing three and a half years during World War II. The signature endorsement for Feller comes from the great Ted Williams who called him “the finest pitcher I ever faced”. On the player side, it’s a tight race between two Hall of Famers – Larry Doby and Jim Thome. Both were great but Thome’s numbers are just overwhelming.

 

 

One the eve of the Governor’s race, a good read

 

Floridians will be electing a new governor in a few short months. There’s no time like the present to reflect on those who have come before our current governor and his successor. For instance, did you know that we had a governor who ran on the Prohibitionist Party ticket or one who claimed that Pope Benedict XV was trying to take over Florida or one who ran for governor when he discovered he could live rent-free in the Governor’s Mansion? And they were all the same person – just one of many interesting things about our chief executives in Robert Buccellato’s Florida Governors Lasting Legacies. It’s a good primer for the primaries and November’s general election.

Up Next: Clearwater & the Phils; Return the Call; who wrote The Book of Love?

 

WEEK OF JUNE 10, 2018

 

On medical pot, Nelson’s memory is short

Quote of the week from current Senator Bill Nelson: “I don't want a government or a politician to get in the way of a doctor recommending what should be the treatment, the medical treatment, for that doctor's patient.” He was referring to smoking medical marijuana. Nelson’s memory is short. What he conveniently forgets is that Florida’s doctors (and law enforcement authorities) were foursquare against the half-baked constitution amendment allowing for medical pot.

 

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. We make a slight change in the header directly above in honor of one of our early career mentors. Roy Nilson, the man behind the tremendous success of WLCY radio, coined the term “Great Tampa Bay” in the early 1960s.

2. As economic commentator Stuart Varney points out, McDonalds’ move to kiosks in their stores is going to eliminate that first job option for many of our youth. It’s also just plain irritating to those of us who want to order food from a human being.

3. You wonder about the future of Tampa’s Citrus Park Mall, once a high flyer. It lost upscale pieces like Brooks Brothers and Restoration Hardware several years ago, and now a major anchor, Sears, departs. Can game rooms and tattoo parlors be far behind?

4. Treehouse update: back in January (TBRR 1/28), we profiled our favorite group on earth – the Morton Plant Wellness Center Treehouse and reported the café where they meet closed. Clever individuals they are, the boys simply started bringing Yetis full of coffee from home and continue their daily efforts to strengthen our world.

5. Not sure whether this latest tidbit from the 5:05 Newsletter qualifies as legal news or sports but here goes: “The Supreme Court has struck down a federal law that banned sports gambling. The ruling came down seven-to-two, which cost me a bunch of money because I had bet on six-to-three”.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Hey Dos Equis, how did that new “most interesting man in the world” work out?

7. If the Rays are still at .500 at the end of this month, they are for real. But the odds are they won’t be. All but three games this month are against teams over the .500 mark. Stay tuned.

8. For what it’s worth, our All-Star Ballot includes three Braves, two each Indians and Angels and an all-Florida catching tandem in Ramos and Realmuto. But we’re still having trouble dealing with no voting in the parks and being able to vote up to 35 times. This isn’t Chicago.

9. He was the baseball man’s baseball man. Red Schoendienst, the oldest living member of the hall of Fame, died last week at age 95. The redhead made his mark in St. Louis, but was also part of a World Series championship team in Milwaukee in 1957.

10. Last week we reviewed the great players of the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers. It’s only logical to follow that up with a look at the best player and pitcher of their longtime rivals – the New York/San Francisco Giants. The Giants are a team with a lot of great players – Bonds, Cepeda and McCovey to name three. But the Giant of all Giants is the Say Hey Kid – Willie Mays. On the pitching side, Gaylord Perry was a stalwart for the Giants over the years but even his impressive numbers pale in comparison to those of the Dominican Dandy – Juan Marichal.

 

Roku – the baseball fanatic’s dream come true

 

If you, like us until a year ago, have never heard of Roku, you are in for a treat. The Roku device itself, sells for considerably south of $100. You pair that with a $90 or $120 investment and you are in baseball heaven. The former number gets you the MLB package, which according to your taste, can provide you with every game of your home town team with your announcers. The later number gives you the games of every major league team – the only exception if your home town team happens to be playing at the Trop but then you can rely on the Fox network. It’s relatively easy to hook up (you must have a router) and the Roku customer support is terrific. If you don’t have time to watch the whole game; Roku and the MLB package give you a condensed game of about 15-20 minutes in length usually within two hours of the game’s conclusion. With Father’s Day just around the corner, it is an ideal gift for a Dad who’s a big fan.

UP NEXT: Summer sounds; telephone invasions; Florida’s governors

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WEEK OF JUNE 3, 2018

 

Think long and hard about giving felons the vote

 

Last month, a federal court of appeals rightfully agreed that the state of Florida does not have to willy-nilly grant voting rights to every felon who completes their prison terms. It will now be in the hands of the voters who, one hopes, will look hard at the crop of potential voters they would enfranchise. Truth be told, it may not matter as there has never been any accurate measure of how many of these model citizens ever took the time to cast a ballot. We guess they were too occupied with peddling drugs, stealing cars or counterfeiting bills. The silver lining is even if this improvident measure passes, murderers and rapists (at least those who could not bargain down their crimes) will still be barred from the ballot box. The not so silver lining is Florida would be adding 1.2 million people to voter rolls who have demonstrated little regard for the law.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. Floridians will soon smoke medical marijuana. Oh goody, that will make our roads so much more interesting.

2. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the last biennial legislative session in Florida. Many observers feel we should return to every other year legislatures feeling less harm would be done if legislators meet only every other year.

3. Quote of the week: “I’d win in a landslide”. Blustery ambulance chaser John Morgan on what would have happened if he had run for governor. We think not.

4. 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani is this year’s National Spelling Bee champ. He should have been given the prize for simply spelling his own name. Without our meds, we occasionally have trouble with our name – the third most used first name and 25th most common surname.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you ate at the Owl Diner on Park Street – now part of the footprint of the PSTA bus station.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. Roseanne Barr was justifiably cashiered for her insensitive twitter last week. But the sad thing is that similar diatribes from the left appear every day on TV, the internet and elsewhere, and the lunatic fringe authors live to tell the tale – witness the consistently disgusting Samantha Bee’s latest.

7. We’ve prepared a treatise on what we perceive as the value and advantages of sabermetrics in baseball. It is attached at the end of this week’s blog.

8. Sports quote of the week: “The Rays keep playing for tomorrow and tomorrow never seems to come”- crack baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal.

9. NBA finals – our crack prediction team likes Golden State in seven – and hopefully before baseball’s All-Star break.

10. We continue our rundown of MLB franchises’ best player/pitcher since 1950. This week we feature another storied franchise – the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers and turn to a fellow baseball fan and friend since the third grade – not to mention a long time Dodger fan. His picks were the incomparable Sandy Koufax as their best pitcher and picking from a bunch of Hall of Famers on the offensive side like Campy, Duke, Jackie and Gil (who should be there); he picks their elite outfielder for 16 years – Duke Snider. And he votes an honorable mention to a non-player but certainly a Dodger legend – Vin Scully.

 

Induct Anka and Sedaka before they reach Rock n’ Roll Heaven

 

We feel it important to mention at least once a year the absence of Paul Anka and Neil Sedaka in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The two men combined for 83 charted records and six number one hits – plus writing dozens of songs for others including Sinatra, the 5th Dimension, Connie Francis, Captain and Tennille and Buddy Holly. There is a petition on the internet for Sedaka – probably one for Anka as well, but we can’t research it as we have been without internet access for two days thanks to the knuckleheads at Spectrum. These two guys are 76 and 79 respectively. They need to go into the Hall while they can still savor it.

UP NEXT: Giants’ best, Roku, Nelson’s weak memory

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WEEK OF MAY 27, 2018

 

Remember

 

The case against a strong Clearwater Mayor (Part 3)

 

To recap parts 1 and 2 (TBRR May 13 and 20). Will a strong mayor lessen the burden of Scientology in Clearwater – no. And do the citizens of Clearwater want to be a St. Pete or Tampa – again a no. What’s it going to cost? A question that needs an answer before Clearwater considers a strong mayor. A peek at our neighbors to the east and south can give us some clues. In Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn gets paid just over $150,000 a year – more than Clearwater’s city council combined. And because, he is a politician not a manager, a top administrator is required. In Tampa, that is slightly more than $200,000 – more than an 18-year city manager makes in Clearwater. And that’s the best case. In St. Pete, Mayor Rick Kriseman comes in at roughly $180,000, but he has used his some four years in office to build a top heavy pyramid complete with deputy mayor, chief of staff and assorted other functionaries all pulling in north of $150,000 each – you’d think it was Chicago. For that kind of money, you better get a Lexus. But – does Clearwater need a Lexus and, more importantly, is there any guarantee we get a Lexus? No, there isn’t.

 

 

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. Some weeks back, we promised a further list of companies that have recently moved to suppress free speech from the conservative side. It seems especially appropriate to list them this week. They are, but not limited to, Jenny Craig, Wayfair, Nestle and Office Depot. We had already mentioned the multi-layered Johnson & Johnson conglomerate in a previous post.

2. There was a moving ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Jude last weekend ordaining three young men as priests, but the biggest response from the packed cathedral came when Bishop Gregory Parkes mentioned that the three young men were Noles, Gators and Bulls respectively.

3. Further proof that only the good die young, long time Pinellas lawmaker and all around good guy John Morroni succumbed to cancer last week at age 63.

4. All this tempest about Publix’ support for Adam Putnam. The guy has deep roots in Polk County as does Publix. Do you expect them to support some Tallahassee dweller?

5. Hurricane season begins this Friday. Alberto is our first storm name and we offer this sage advice from 5:05 Newsletter: How do I prepare for hurricane season? Answer: STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least five days. STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car. STEP 3. Drive to California and remain there until Halloween. Good advice – wish we had that last year when we drove to Jacksonville and drowned our four month-old car.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. The seven game lost to the Caps was disappointing, but we take solace in the fact we had a better run than all but two hockey fandoms.

7. A local electrical lineman said it best last week – “If I carried on at a customer’s home or anywhere else in my workplace, I’d be fired. So why is the NFL players’ workplace any different”?

8. It’s fun to watch a visiting team’s telecasts from the Trop and listen to visiting announcers try to explain the rings at the stadium. It’s like hearing someone attempting to explain a very complex video game.

9. Techno geek alert, if you use Carbonite for your cloud services, you might want to re-think that. The company has a disturbing habit of collecting money and then not providing the services promised. Experts tell us pcloud, BACKBLAZE and Amazon Cloud are better alternatives.

10. This holiday week, here’s the first of our doubleheaders concerning franchises’ best players/pitchers. (Back story 3/25 TBRR) We take up two teams with somewhat shorter histories – the Diamondbacks and the Mariners. For the D’Backs, one only need to look to the heroes of the 2001 World Series – Luis Gonzalez who holds virtually every hitting record for the club plus the winning base hit in ’01 Series. But the MVP of that series was one of the most dominant pitchers in recent history, Randy Johnson with four ERA titles, nine strikeout titles and a perfect game. What’s not to like? Our second franchise is the Seattle Mariners. Let’s save space and just say Ken Griffey, Jr. – the face of the franchise for 11 seasons. On the pitching side, for the second time in this series of articles, we select an active player as the franchise best – King Felix Hernandez who has notched 160 victories and a Cy Young Award in his 13 seasons with the Mariners.

 

MLB at the 1/3 mark

 

It’s two months down and four more to play – some thoughts: The Mets are star crossed. They started the season on fire but one injury after another has doomed them to fourth place in the NL East. The AL East is going to be fun with the Yanks and Sox. Biggest disappointments at the one-third mark – the Dodgers, in danger of missing the playoffs, and the Indians who lead a weak AL Central by default. The nicest surprises are the local nine who are flirting with .500 and a team that should be flirting with .500, the Atlanta Braves, with the best record in the tough NL East.

UP NEXT: Should felons vote? The Owl Diner; Roku

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WEEK OF MAY 20, 2018

 

The case against a strong Clearwater Mayor (Pt. 2)

 

Last week (TBRR), we dealt with the argument that a strong mayor would lessen the burden of Scientology in Clearwater. In brief, it won’t. This week, we look at our neighbors with their strong mayor government form – and ask ourselves do we want to be St. Pete or Tampa? We wager the overwhelming response of Clearwater residents would say no. Tampa is little more than an Atlanta, Charlotte or Jacksonville wannabe without the corporate headquarters to pull it off but just as much traffic congestion as any of those. St. Pete can’t make up its mind what it is - artsy? touristy? city of green benches? Clearwater isn’t and can’t be any of those. It is a beach community, with, like most cities, a downtown on life support and an eastern half that doesn’t want anything to do with either the beach or the downtown. No shift in a form of government is going to change that. In fact, if you look at the most successful city in Pinellas County – it’s Dunedin by a landslide. They are doing quite well with a manager-council form of government. (Next week – the concluding Part III – the cost of a strong mayor form of government)

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. The ill-advised race to get a cop in every Florida school is having a trickledown effect with smaller city agencies losing their officers to larger ones and not enough new folks to draw upon.

2. Many liberals are squalling over Gina Haspel’s nomination to head the CIA. The woman has three decades of experience in the agency and, as for her treatment of post 911 terrorists. We need to remember this is not a Scout troop she will be heading.

3. Clearwater city council member Doreen Caudill correctly read the tea leaves and dropped out of a planned race against incumbent County Commissioner Pat Gerard. Time is short and it appears that Gerard, regretfully, might get a free ride in November.

4. Want to know what makes Pinellas County’s School Board look so good? It’s being compared to the train wreck that is the Hillsborough County School Board.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you shopped at the Skycrest Supermarket on Drew Street.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Best word of the week: “Stupid” – USF’s eminent political guru Dr. Susan MacManus when asked on 97-WFLA what word she heard in the ubiquitous Laurel/Yanny sound bite. 

7. Just missing our list of future Hall of Famers last week (TBRR 5/13) was Robinson Cano. He probably will not be able to overcome last week’s 80-day PED suspension.

8. During last week’s two-game Rays-Braves series, one of the Rays’ beat writers referred to the visiting Braves as “the old home team” as they were the only team in the South from 1966 to 1993. A lot of local folks, understandably, have not been able to give up that 50-year allegiance.

9. Here are five guys who may never make it to the majors but if they do, what fun announcers and writers will have. They are (with their parent organizations) Trey Cabbage (Twins), Walking Cabrera (Rockies), Cash Case (Reds), Cutter Dyals (Braves), and J.D. Murder (Cards). Our local nine has a couple interesting names in the minors – Trey Hair and Phoenix Sanders.

10. Another week of franchise best players (see back story TBRR 3/25) and another legacy franchise although most of that legacy has been losing. The Chicago Cubs best player is a three way race – Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams and Mr. Cub – Ernie Banks. It’s hard to deny the honor to someone nicknamed Mr. Cub – a two time MVP on teams with losing records. Pitching is a two-man race between Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddox. With four Cy Youngs, albeit only one with the Cubs, the honor goes to probably the smartest pitcher in baseball history – Greg Maddox. Interesting side note here – both Jenkins and Maddox wore #31 and the number has been retired by the Cubs in honor of both pitchers.

 

The case for a 140 game season

 

Mike Viso, who writes for a baseball site Foul Territory, makes a compelling case for shortening the major league baseball season twenty games or so. We’re approaching Memorial Day and warmer weather but surely we haven’t forgotten the cancellations in the northeast and some of the terrible conditions at Wrigley and elsewhere in April.  Viso proposes ending spring training around Tax Day – giving us at least something to be happy about (our thought not his). For Florida, this shortens the “dry spell” between the end of spring training and the start of summer vacations. Fewer games would mean less revenue, but the argument can be made the fewer the games the higher the per-game demand. It’s better for groups who split season ticket packages – fewer games to cover. Fewer in-division games – 19 is way too many. And a few less inter-league games might not be so bad either.  And the World Series would not be played in a blizzard. A lot of solid reasons, but will it happen in our lifetimes? By the way, a recent poll of some 10,000 MLB Trade Rumors visitors split right down the middle on shortening the season.

UP NEXT: Strong Mayor Pt. 3; hurricane season; MLB at the 1/3 mark

 

WEEK OF MAY 13, 2018

 

The case against a strong Clearwater Mayor (Pt. 1)

 

We subtitle this first installment of three “The Elephant in the Room – or the Downtown”. The small core of supporters for a strong mayor form of government say (behind closed doors) that a strong mayor would make a difference on the chokehold Scientology has on the downtown. Yet they don’t say how – because it won’t. That ship sailed with the inaction of city commissions back in the late seventies and early eighties. Scientology is here to stay, like it or not. How the city deals with them is another matter, but that is a matter of timing, personalities and outside influence as in the federal government developing a spine and dealing with this pseudo religion and their abuses. A strong mayor system would have little, if any, influence on the millstone that is Scientology. (Next week – Part II – do we really want to be St. Pete or Tampa?)

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Liberals are throwing up their hands over the fact that over 20% of the doctors “certified” to distribute medical marijuana have significant blips on their records including several in Hillsborough and Pinellas. This is something the mainstream medical profession and law enforcement officials warned us about prior to last year’s vote.

2. Factoid: One larger U.S. company has quietly put together an HR task force with the goal of significantly reducing the number of millennials in their work force citing the age group’s less than strong work ethics.

3. If you missed out on the annual postman’s food drive last weekend, please drop off a few items at your place of worship or directly to Religious Community Services on Druid Road just west of Myrtle Ave. This time of year is the toughest for this great organization. Thanks!

4. One of the nicest and loveliest “first ladies” of Clearwater, Karen Aungst, passed away last week after a battle with cancer. Our condolences go to former Mayor Brian Aungst and Brian, Jr.

5. Tech news from the 5:05 Newsletter: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced he will invest $125 million in a research lab to teach artificial intelligence machines common sense. I am not sure I like the idea of inanimate objects having common sense. I don't need my refrigerator to be like, “Yeah, maybe you don't need any more ice cream.”

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. All-time Rays’ great Evan Longoria probably didn’t make any friends with his opinion that the Rays should probably leave the bay area, but he’s probably right. The local newspaper editorial bashing him and pointing out the increased attendance of the Giants with a new park overlooks (as usual) an important fact – the Giants have won three World Series in this decade – the park had nothing to do with that. Just like the Marlins with their glitzy new park drew 8200 over the weekend in a match up with the hottest team in the National League.

7. Speaking of the Rays, one of the great feel good stories of 2018 is the return of former Brave ace reliever Jonny Venters as a Ray. After three Tommy John surgeries, he’s getting people out like the old days including a shutdown inning against his former team last week.

8. Ah May - the time of year you fondly remember names like Vukovich, Unser, Ward, Johncock and Foyt.

9. Last week’s analysis of the best Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers players got us thinking about the players who comprised the one year and done Pilots. Here are a few names you might remember: pitchers Jim Bouton and Mike Marshall along with position players Tommy Davis (a former batting champ), speedy Tommy Harper and slugger Don Mincher – all but Marshall were beyond their prime when they were Pilots.

10. In our continuing series of major league franchises greatest player/pitcher (back story BRR 3/25), we have another storied franchise to look at – the St. Louis Cardinals. Since we limited ourselves to the past 75 years, we eliminate stalwarts such as Dizzy Dean and Frankie Frisch. Only one player in MLB history is known as “The Man” and Stan Musial earned that title. On the pitching side, during his heyday in the 1960s Bob Gibson had no other right-handed peer – an easy pick as the best hurler for the Cards.

 

What Hall of Famers are we watching play right now?

 

There are seven players in the major leagues right now that, if their career ended tomorrow, would be in the Hall of Fame. They are Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw, Albert Pujols, Max Scherzer, Mike Trout and Justin Verlander. Here are seven more that are on their way but need probably another 3-5 seasons at their current level to make it to the Hall – Kris Bryant, Madison Bumgarner, Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Votto.

UP NEXT: 140 game season? Strong Mayor Part II; Skycrest Market

 

 

WEEK OF MAY 5, 2018

 

The short memories of the voting public

 

A recent poll by a left wing organization showed the number one issue among left leaning voters is gun control. "If we'd done this poll two months ago, gun control would have been in the single digits," said a spokesperson for the Democratic leaning Public Policy Polling. Does this spell the death knell for Republican candidates this fall? Hardly. Two things are operative. Voters on the right aren’t likely to change their stance on 2nd Amendment rights and it’s a long way from March (when the poll was published) to November. Lots can happen to Joe or Josephine Voter – loss of job, bigger paycheck, a hurricane or two or trouble overseas to name a few. Voters have short attention spans – just look at what happened to the anti-gun numbers six months after the shootings in Newtown, CT. In short, memories are short. Check back with us in mid-July.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

1. Michelle Wolf’s career is now on the same path as that of Kathy Griffin. When you get panned by such diverse individuals as Sean Spicer and Andrea Mitchell –along with the New York Times, your future doesn’t look extremely bright.

2. This month, “Florida’s Best Newspaper” gets a new business editor. We ask the same question we asked when the last one was appointed – wouldn’t it make sense to have a business editor who had actually been in business at some point in their career?

3. We wish to announce we do not plan to run for mayor of Tampa next year. Apparently, everybody else in the bay area is.

4. We got several answers to our rhetorical question last week (TBRR 4/29/18) about not using glass soda bottles these days. The most logical answer is the weight differential between glass and plastic/aluminum.

5. Breaking international news from the 5:05 Newsletter: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding cake will be lemon elderflower instead of the traditional fruitcake. Incidentally, “Lemon Elderflower” is the name Queen Elizabeth uses on Tinder.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. USF’s football schedule is out beginning with North Carolina’s Elon University and ending with UCF. We like the fact that the UCF-USF game is becoming a Florida-FSU, Georgia-Georgia Tech or Clemson-South Carolina type game.

7. This is scary if you happen to have the Atlanta Braves on your schedule. Last week, the Braves had the three youngest players in baseball in their line-up. One, Mike Soroka, started and won the game with a one-run major league debut; another, Ozzie Albies, leads the NL in homers and the third, MLB’s top prospect Ronald Acuna, entered the game hitting a sizzling .417.

8. Over the years, Ford has produced the Model A, Falcon, Taurus, Fairlane, Galaxie, Crown Victoria, the infamous Edsel and the iconic Mustang and Thunderbird vehicles. Within three years, there will be only a couple sedans (including the Mustang) left in the Ford inventory as they focus almost completely on SUVs and trucks.

9. With TV season nearing an end, the two new breakout shows for the year were: Drama – The Good Doctor and Comedy – Young Sheldon – both ranked in the Top 10 of most watched shows.

10. This week we take a look at yet another expansion franchises’ best players/pitchers – the Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers. It’s safe to say no one will ever enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Pilots trident. But some Brewers are there and the two best are career Brewer Robin Yount and their best pitcher, who also had some great years in Oakland, but Rollie Fingers was the best of all the Brewers to this point.

The SS United States and Amelia Earhart

 

Last month (TBRR April 1 and 8), we had pieces on America’s last flag liner – SS United States. And recently, several news sources have reported new evidence that famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart may have perished, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, as castaways on the Pacific’s tiny Gardner Island. The connection between the ship and the aviatrix is this – Noonan was not her original navigator – the future Captain of the United States, Harry Manning, was; but due to delays caused by the plane’s mechanical issues, Manning had to return to his normal profession as a liner captain. Noonan, a good navigator, but one who reputedly had troubles with the bottle, replaced Manning. Would Manning’s presence in the cockpit have made a difference in history? Like Earhart’s ultimate fate, we’ll never know.

UP NEXT: Strong Mayor, Pt. 1; current Hall of Famers; red light scam

 

 

WEEK OF APRIL 30, 2018

 

Does USF need an on campus football stadium?

Although our household contains three degrees from USF, we were not part of the “stakeholders” survey regarding an on campus stadium for USF. But we did obtain a copy of the nine-question survey. We could only honestly answer yes to one of the questions – that it would enhance the college experience for current and future students. But no to us visiting the campus more often; the stadium elevating the school’s national profile; making the school more selective in enrollment (they tightened that up right after your humble blogger left); also no to increased fund raising across all departments; engaging more alumni; enhancing USF’s chances of moving to a more attractive conference or increasing student enrollment. We fudged on a question of it being a tremendous asset for enticing future recruits as we have a problem with “tremendous”, plus we imagine a lot of recruits salivate at the prospect of playing in a pro football stadium. To recap that’s one yes, seven no’s and a weak maybe. We’ll be anxious to see what fellow alums think.

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff

1. It’s not a particularly fun time to be in Clearwater city government with the salary and leave scandal at the Fire Department along with one of their staffers being hit with drug charges; missing money in the Parks and Rec. Department and a costly gas outage on Clearwater Beach requiring restitution to beach restaurants for lost earnings. The gas issue can be charged off to a freak situation – the rest strictly lack of oversight.  

2. If the city of Clearwater is going to do a long-rumored relocation of City Hall, they need to fast track it. Nearly a quarter million dollars in renovations to the half-century old building are scheduled. Why put that kind of money into something you’re going to soon tear down?

3. Moves are on to eliminate plastic straws in many communities including some in the bay area. Sea World already uses degradable paper straws. The rub is they cost approximately 20% more than a plastic straw. The logical answer is to make plastic straws an “asked for” item at restaurants.

4. Looking back fifty years ago to 1968, “new” items included the 747, the Big Mac and the 911 emergency phone number. The newest actor to burst on the scene was Dustin Hoffman who played the rather confused Benjamin Braddock in the classic The Graduate. The biggest new group of the year was Gary Puckett (a Clearwater resident) and the Union Gap.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) a long time if you remember returning your glass Canada Dry, Coke, Pepsi, Royal Crown or 7-Up bottles to the market and getting your deposit money back. In this era of trying to conserve resources, why don’t we still do that?

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

6. Earle Bruce, who passed away last week at age 87, made his mark at Ohio State but also coached the University of Tampa Spartans and gave current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer his first job.

7. The reincarnation of Roseanne is off to a strong start in the ratings and has already been renewed. Interesting spin – where arch conservative Archie Bunker was played by the very liberal Carroll O’Connor in All in the Family; the right-leaning Roseanne charter is indeed played by an actress with strong conservative views.

8. Word on the street is Amazon is developing a home robot. When it is able to vacuum the rugs and clean the bathrooms, give us a call.

9. Idle thought: while it is great to hop on the net and find any possible baseball item we want, we still miss the postman dropping off our weekly copy of The Sporting News, baseball’s Bible, which ceased publication five years ago.

10. A lot of our early selections in our best player/best pitcher series have dealt with expansion franchises, but this week is a bit tougher with the storied Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves franchise (see back story TBRR 3/25). You had two great third basemen in Matthews (the only man to play in all three cities) and Jones, but also had one of the greatest outfielders of all time in Hank Aaron, our choice. Pitchers – take your choice of Glavine, Maddox, Niekro, Smoltz or Spahn. We take Spahn as almost all of his success was with the Braves while the others, especially Maddox, thrived elsewhere.

MLB at the 1/6 mark

Baseball runs approximately six months. At the end of the first of those months, some observations: places where the season is going to seem awfully long –Cincinnati, Kansas City, Miami and, yes, here in Tampa Bay. Small sample size but early season disappointments are AL -- Twins, NL – Nats. Everybody who had Ryan Flaherty, Asdrubal Cabrera and Dansby Swanson in the Top Five batting averages in the NL, raise your hand. In the AL, not many surprises with names like Betts, Mauer, Moustakas and Judge in the Top Five. Turns out those predicting the downfall of the Nats’ Ryan Zimmerman in 2017 were a year early – he heads into the end of the month hitting .188 – although that’s up from .121 a week ago.

UP NEXT: Voters’ short memories; royal wedding; SS United States and Amelia

WEEK OF APRIL 21, 2018

 

 

Objections to dual enrollment plan make no sense

 

As mentioned previously in these environs, we seldom agree with anything columnist John Romano writes, because he seldom makes any sense. Take his latest diatribe against funding of dual enrollment for private school students. Romano objects to students from private schools getting a free ride in dual enrollment programs (as do public school kids) because the public schools foot the bill. And where does this money come from? Taxpayers – whom we often forget have kids in both public and private schools – the difference being the private school kids don’t require buses, texts, computers and other peripherals on the public dime – a monstrous savings to the public school system. Romano then raves on about the lack of oversight and standards at private schools. Hogwash – take a look at any standard of performance by private school kids versus public and draw your own conclusions. Talk about being off base!

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. More on education – agree or disagree with her, you have to admire Pinellas School Board member Linda Lerner’s tenacity. The veteran of six terms will call it quits at the end of this term.

2. Move over Sully, there’s someone with whom you need to share the spotlight. What a great job by Southwest Capt. Tammie Jo Shults and her crew of Flight 1380.

3. Pinellas County’s proposed approach to stopping young people from stealing cars is so much pie in the sky. A think tank believes putting victim and car thief together and singing Kumbaya along other methods previously proven ineffective will stop the epidemic. The solution is much more obvious – for the sheriff to do his job and the courts to hold offenders accountable and not turn them loose back on the street.

4. Every time you think Planned Parenthood can’t do anything more foolish, they do just that. We give you their tweet looking for Disney Princesses who have committed any number of unnatural acts.

5. From the equal opportunity offender the 5:05 Newsletter: Costco is selling a Doomsday food kit that can feed a typical family for a year. Walmart sells the same kit, but it only feeds a typical Walmart family for six days. Wow, that’s harsh.

 

Sports, media and other stuff

 

6. You know you’re getting old: last week in a AA game, Vlad Guerrero, Jr. took Jose Mesa, Jr. deep. They are the sons of a newly minted Hall of Famer and a steady reliever for the Phils and Indians. It seems like just yesterday.

7. The latest big box store that has observers worried is Bed, Bath and Beyond whose stock dropped to its lowest point in several years last week.

8. He was an irreverent judge on Night Court and Dave Barry’s alter ego on Dave’s World, but to us, his bit roles as grifter “Harry the Hat” on Cheers were classic. The incredibly talented Harry Anderson died last week at age 65.

9. Factoid: Cher, Petula Clark, Olivia Newton-John, Elvis and B.J Thomas – five terrific singers, all with at least one #1 song to their credit, but none of the five ever wrote any of the songs that they put on the charts at any position.

10. In our continuing 2018 feature of best players/pitchers for each team since 1950 (back story TBRR 3/25) – this week the Blue Jays. Best player is easy – Hall of Famer Robby Alomar. Pitcher – a little tougher, but we give the nod to the late Roy Halladay over another Blue Jay icon – Dave Stieb.

 

America’s matriarch

 

There was only one other woman in U.S. history like her – Abigail Adams – wife to a President, mother to another. Like Abigail Adams, Barbara Bush was very plain spoken and, like her predecessor, did not always agree with her husband on policy matters. She was a voice for change particularly in the areas of literacy and AIDS. She was, of course, also the mother of our state’s 43rd governor and said famously during his failed presidential campaign, that perhaps the U.S. had enough of the Bush family. We did not always agree with her, particularly on right to life issues, but admired greatly her immense fortitude. America has suffered a great loss.

UP NEXT: USF Stadium, plastic straws, MLB at the 1/6 mark

 

WEEK OF APRIL 14, 2018

 

Yet more shoddy journalism

 

Perhaps you read last week’s front page story concerning how Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is personally withholding state restitution for lost trees for some southwest Florida citrus growers. What in fact is the case is a Circuit Court Judge trying to write law rather than uphold it. There is a plan in place to pay these folks but continuing litigation has held it up. Similar cases where there was not on - going litigation have been resolved. And it is the state that is responsible for payment – not Putnam. A couple other side issues – Putnam wasn’t even the Agriculture Commissioner when this action was taken – under a Democratic administration. And by the way, Putnam is the leading candidate for Florida’s governorship, but alas, he is a Republican. Other than all the facts above, the story in “Florida’s Best Newspaper” was correct i.e. they spelled Putnam’s name correctly.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Tax Day Wisdom from President Ronald Reagan: “Republicans believe every day is the 4th of July; Democrats believe every day is April 15th.”

2. Mid-April – the time of year you pay your taxes and finally get someone over who knows what they’re doing to set up the electronic device you got for Christmas.

3. One would hope that fired FBI Director James Comey will net enough from his tell all book to sustain him for the rest of his life as he has lost credibility with both Democrats and Republicans and the American public in general.

4. Interesting statistic from last month’s Clearwater city election. Well over 4 out of 5 voters cast their ballots prior to Election Day which will, no doubt, result in further combining of polling places in future elections.

5. (With thanks to a dear friend) You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember the Carillon Concerts on the Brown Estate in Harbor Oaks.

 

Sports, media and other stuff:

 

6. It didn’t get a lot of play in the local media but the U.S. sled hockey team won the gold medal at the winter Paralympics in South Korea – thanks to some last minute heroics by 20-year-old Declan Farmer whose roots are here in Pinellas County.

7. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has taken Facebook to task over privacy issues. While the allegations against Facebook may be justified, Cook needs to do more than a little cleaning up in his own kitchen before he targets other companies.

8. The Tampa Bay Rays’ worst season was 2002 when they lost 106 games. The 2018 edition is on track to clear that with room to spare. First step in reversing things – get rid of the ridiculous bullpen days and bring in a couple journeymen innings eaters to spare what talented arms the Rays possess.

9. While the Miami Marlins are just as awful as predicted, their telecasts took a large leap forward with the addition of MLB’s Paul Severino as their play by play man.

10. Each week during the baseball season, we are selecting the best player and pitcher from each franchise over the last seven decades (back story TBRR 3/25).This week’s spotlight falls on the Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland A’s. Ironically both of their best players/pitchers also made a mark later in their careers with the Yankees. They are Reggie Jackson and, in a close vote over Rollie Fingers – Jim “Catfish” Hunter.

 

Century old candy bar in danger

 

News broke this past week that New England Confectionary might shut down. They are famously known for the NECCO wafer. But for residents of western Pennsylvania, their more significant product is the Clark Bar – introduced 100 years ago in Pittsburgh by David L. Clark. The Clark family sold out in the 50s and the brand has passed through several hands (including Hershey) sometimes causing the bars to temporarily vanish from store shelves. There was a particular time in the mid 90s when we needed the bar in large quantities when the only place we could get them was a Food Lion store in Tarpon Springs - thanks to a kindly manager. For the uninitiated, the Clark Bar is packaged in an orange wrapper with dark blue lettering and tastes something like a Butterfinger – only better. If the New England Confectionary Company does indeed close its doors, the bar might again find a new home – or like lost choclate treats like the Cabana, Secret, Texan, Toffo and others will become just an historical note.

NEXT UP: Telephone home invaders; car thieves; guys headed for the Hall of Fame

 

WEEK OF APRIL 8, 2018

 

 

Cancer in Clearwater’s Fire Department continues

 

People who have lived in Clearwater a long while should not be surprised by the recent revelations of vacation and sick leave abuse in the Clearwater Fire Department. Over twenty five years ago, stories were being printed about retired “disabled” Clearwater firefighters taking on post career jobs involving lifting furniture, working under cars and other activities that are not usually done by the disabled. We had hoped that City Manager Bill Horne bringing in a fresh face from outside the system in 2016 would turn the department around. It hasn’t. These latest findings have cost Clearwater taxpayers nearly a quarter million dollars in unearned leave time and the overtime required covering the absences. The consequences for this must start at the top – not the bottom of the food chain.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Related to above item: at the risk of repeating ourselves, the answer to what ails the Clearwater Fire Department – and several others is a unified county firefighting system.

2. Two cities doing it right – day in, day out, the sidewalks of Dunedin and Tarpon Springs are loaded with visitors and locals alike.

3. Random question: why is it that folks like District Judge Mark Walker, U.S Reps. Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist seem so devoted to giving convicted felons the right to vote and pay so little attention to the rights of law abiding citizens and, worse, the victims of the felon’s crimes?

4. Our condolences to the Locke family on the passing of their matriarch Dene Locke at age 86. Dene was a long time educator in Pinellas County schools. Her late husband, John, was a respected Clearwater attorney for several decades.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater long time if you dined at Bill Irle’s on North Fort Harrison Avenue.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. If you believe in free speech, there are several companies you might want to stop patronizing – the most ubiquitous – Johnson and Johnson which makes so many products not under their name i.e. Aveeno, Benadryl, Visine and many more – all which have alternatives, often less expensive store brands. More on speech suppression companies in coming weeks.

7. A literary preview from the 5:05 Newsletter: The publishers of former FBI Director James Comey’s upcoming memoir are taking extreme precautions to prevent the manuscript from leaking. “Yeah, it would be a shame if something got out at the wrong time and ruined everything for him” said Hillary.

8. NCAA Notes: Other than the alumni of the three other schools, was anybody in the country not rooting for Loyola of Chicago in the NCAA? Other schools might want to take note that eventual champion Villanova (winners of 2 of the last 3) started four juniors and a freshman – not a crew of one and dones as has become the fashion.

9. Last week (TBRR April 1) we highlighted the efforts of a devoted few to save the liner SS United States. The story of its birth, life and now life support is told very well in a couple books – A Man and His Ship by Steven Ujifusa and SS United States by John Maxtone-Graham. Maxtone-Graham’s effort is a bit more of a coffee table book, but both are full of knowledge on America’s last great liner and worth a read if your interest lies in the sea and its ships.

10. Our season long player/pitcher ranking continues with the Astros (see back story TBRR 3/25). Best player – it’s a near tie between the right side of their infield for so many years – Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio – the nod goes to the more versatile Biggio. And in a close vote for their best pitcher, Larry Dierker wins by an eyelash over Mike Scott remembering that Nolan Ryan already secured a spot on the Angel’s all time listing.

 

Baseball’s most historic games:

 

Major League Trade Rumors’ writer Jason Martinez answered a question from a reader a few weeks back about the one historic baseball game he would like to witness or re-witness. His answer was a good one – April 15, 1947 the day Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line. We asked some fellow baseball fans for theirs and this is what we got – the incredible 7th game of the 1960 World Series where the underdog Pirates beat the Yanks 10-9 on the first 7th game walk-off home run in history; the very first World Series game in 1903 between the Boston Americans, as they were then known, and the Pittsburgh Pirates - both teams had playing managers – Jimmy Collins and Fred Clarke - both Hall of Famers. Boston prevailed in what was then a nine game series. How about a game where the two pitchers combine to give up one-hit in nine innings? It happened in 1965 when Bob Hendley of the Cubs threw the game of his life – giving up one hit to the Dodgers. The home team’s pitcher, the legendary Sandy Koufax, threw a perfect game winning 1-0. Ironically, Hendley was not quite as good four days later back in Chicago – giving up four hits but beat Koufax 2-1! Another nomination went to the famous “called shot” by Babe Ruth in the third game of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley – the Babe’s last World Series.

UP NEXT: Reagan wisdom; Putnam attack; a three-city franchise’s best

 

 

WEEK OF APRIL 1, 2018

 

Notes from a baseball geek’s best day of the year:

 

Several leftovers from baseball’s Opening Day. The Rays gave their opening day customers cow bells. If there is anything that captures 20 years of Rays baseball, it’s a cowbell. Both Joey Cora of the Bosox and Gabe Kapler of the Phils made rookie managerial errors in their debuts – pulling dominating pitchers early leading to comeback wins by the Rays and Braves respectively. We folks on the east coast don’t get the full picture of teams playing out west – like the fact that Felix Hernandez just pitched his tenth consecutive season opener. That’s stuff that only applies to names like Robin Roberts, Tom Seaver and Walter Johnson. It’s another season, another stint on the DL for Troy Tulowitzki. If the guy could have stayed on the field, he might have been headed for the Hall. Also, now that Peter Gammons has semi-retired, there probably is not a better baseball writer in the country than MLB’s Richard Justice who spent years covering both the Rangers and Astros.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Happy Easter – and April Fools Day. This is only the first or second time this has happened since many of us were born – 1956 was the last time.

2. Quote of the week: Sheriff Grady Judd at a recent Polk County commission meeting responding to a question: “I’m not here to discuss politics”. Who is he kidding? Sheriff Judd is the biggest politician in Polk County if not all of central Florida.

3. There’s an election in New Port Richey next week with a healthy field of seven candidates to fill two vacated council seats. Most cities have trouble pulling together a field – to see seven candidates in New Port Richey is refreshing.

4. Peter Stamas, who with his brother Nick founded the iconic Stamas Boat Company, passed away in Tarpon Springs last week at age 94.

5. Florida’s most recent unemployment rate was 3.9 per cent – lower than the national average of 4.1. Among the highest, somewhat surprisingly, are Alaska at 7.3 per cent and D.C. at 5.7.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Baseball lost one of its finest last week with the passing of “La Grand Orange” as Rusty Staub was known in his Montreal playing days. Good as his on-field efforts were, they were overshadowed by his charitable works both during and after his playing days. Staub was 73.

7. Guess we’re one of the few who feel FSU coach Leonard Hamilton owes no one an apology for his reaction to CBS reporter Dana Jacobsen’s repetition of the same question over and over. It became not an interview but a clear case of badgering. Jacobson aside, the NCAA deserves a lot better than some of the hacks CBS ran out there this year.

8. Forty-five years ago this week (1973), Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly With His Song was the Number 1 hit in the country and would be the biggest hit of the year – the second year in a row this happened for Roberta following The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face in 1972. The only other artist to have the biggest record two years in a row, as you might expect, was Elvis with Don’t Be Cruel (’56) and All Shook Up (’57).

9. Yet another baseball note: best hire of the offseason was not Jake Arietta, Yu Darvish or J.D. Martinez, but the White Sox re-hiring of Nevest Coleman, a former groundskeeper, who spent 23 years in prison falsely accused of murder.

10. As promised, the first of our week by week look at each baseball franchise’s greatest players and pitchers in the past 75 years (back story – TBRR 3/25). We lead off with the Angels and our best player goes to a still active Angel – Mike Trout. It is only a matter of five years after he hangs ‘em up when Trout is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Best pitcher – he could qualify as several teams best pitcher, but it was with the Angels that Nolan Ryan really broke out to a Hall of Fame career. Next week – the Astros best two.

 

Some modern day Don Quixotes

 

She was once the face of America – a glamorous, well-engineered beauty of the seas – the fastest ocean liner ever. Today, sadly, she sits in the Delaware River, in a full view of the highway – pretty much a rusting hulk – the SS United States. Built in 1952, designed by acclaimed naval architect William Francis Gibbs, she ruled the seas in the 50s and 60s. By the end of the sixties, the airplane had pretty much eclipsed trans-Atlantic voyages. The United States and her foreign competition, the Queens and the SS France were retired. Many attempts have been made to turn her into a more modern cruise type ship, a floating hotel – and now a museum. Unfortunately, the cost of doing any of those is more than it would cost to build a replica. There is a SS United States Conservancy, headed by the designer’s granddaughter Susan Gibbs, that raises money to keep the grand old lady from the scrap heap. But they face daunting odds - $60,000 a month just to dock it and hold off further damage from Mother Nature. We’ve seen the vessel and it’s a sad sight. We wish them well as they tilt at windmills.

NEXT UP: Fire Department issues; historic baseball games; the Astro’s best

 

 

WEEK OF MARCH 25, 2018

 

 

Disney theme parks have lost their way

 

“To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” These were the words of Walt Disney at the opening of Disneyland in 1955. Since then, Disneyland and its several spin-offs including Central Florida’s Disneyworld have veered far afield from Walt’s dream back in the innocent 50s. The parks have become havens for the rich only. A normal family cannot afford the prices which top $100 a day, plus parking, plus innumerable gift shops with overpriced objects, plus very average food at very expensive prices. The annual passes which began at about $100 a year with some blackout days now are pushing $1000. The latest assault on a family’s pocketbook is a charge to park at the on property hotels, which before the parking charge, begin at well over $300 per night plus admission to the parks, other things cited above plus transportation. Walt Disney envisioned Disneyland as something the average family could enjoy. His successors have lost sight of that vision.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. A few, brief thoughts on the need for school resource officers (RSOs). Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri’s numbers are a little askew when he speaks of having to fund sick leave and vacations – he estimates 31 additional hires. Sick leave – yes; vacations – no. Schools are closed over two months each summer not counting holidays. RSOs should be hired on the same basis as educators – you work your vacation around the school calendar – this would chop probably a quarter million or more off the tab. And Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard expressing frustration over underfunding by the legislature? How long have you been in government, ma’am? Unfunded mandates or underfunded mandates are as old as government itself. Imitate private enterprise and sharpen your pencils folks.

2. Just a little over six months ago (TBRR 8/6/17) we were heralding the completion of the never-ending Druid Road construction west of Belcher Road. Now, we somewhat patiently await the completion of Druid Road construction that is snarling traffic east of Highland Avenue.

3. We bow to some readers who question the wisdom of year-round daylight savings time (TBRR, Feb. 25). Frankly, we don’t care whether it’s EST or EDT as long as it’s constant year round.

4. Idle thoughts: three people/things we could care less about: Stormy Daniels, the Scientology Network and who says what at whatever performing arts award show.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember the modernistic Clearwater Chamber of Commerce headquarters on Clearwater’s bluff – the site is now a part of the downtown library footprint.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. The man who turned a few record racks in his Dad’s drugstore into an international giant, Tower Records, has died. Russ Solomon was 92. There is a neat bio on his company you can find on some of the history outlets. Well worth a viewing.

7. The Tampa Bay Rays are planning to go into the season with a four man rotation. That worked well for the Cleveland Indians some sixty years ago when the four were Mike Garcia, Bob Lemon, Herb Score and Early Wynn. We’re not so sure about Archer, Eovaldi, Faria and Snell. We give it a month – or less.

8. NCAA Notes: It was tough seeing our alma mater USF’s women’s team get vanquished in the first round of the tournament. As we noted last year (Rants 4/1/17) and as Tom Jones opined last week, there needs to be some sort of arrangement where ESPN’s Dick Vitale works some of the key games of the NCAA Tournament. There is no greater ambassador for the game.

9. That crusading metropolitan “news” source, the 5:05 Newsletter strikes again: The U.S. Senate heard testimony detailing the threats posed by Russian interference in our democracy. The probe included the ads they bought on Facebook. We cannot allow Russia to deploy misleading propaganda to unfairly influence a U.S. presidential election. That’s the U.S. media’s job.

10. Our baseball guys are going to create a little controversy over the upcoming season. Each week of the season, we’re going to look at one of the 30 teams and pick their best player and pitcher since the arbitrary year of 1950. As the season runs a little less than 30 weeks, we’ll cheat and, like the old days, have doubleheaders on the weeks of Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day; up first next week (in mostly alphabetical order) – the Angels.

 

 

Noted baseball soothsayer Achmed Walled predicts:

 

First, Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) does not see a World Series in the Ray’s future. Now on to less sure predictions: In the Senior Circuit, Achmed likes the Nats, Cubs and Dodgers to take their divisions with the Brewers and Rockies securing wild card spots. His falling off a cliff team is a tie – the Cards and Diamondbacks. In the American League, our mystical man from the east likes the Yanks, Indians and Astros to take their divisions with the rejuvenated Twins and the always tough Bosox taking the wild cards. Our crack prognosticator and former tube jockey says to look for the Rangers to circle the drain this year.

UP NEXT: The Angel’s best; modern day Don Quixotes; telephone home invaders

 

WEEK OF MARCH 18, 2018

 

 

Where to retire?

 

One of the things we permit to arrive in our email daily is Everyday Health which offers some helpful ideas on healthier living without an overabundance of commercial content or “way out there” medical advice. The email recently touted eight places best suited for retirement. This particular piece triggered our “way out there” alarm. Among the places cited were Okinawa, Ikaria in Greece, Costa Rica and, get this, New York City! In order, way too distant, very shaky economy, nice place to visit but… and couldn’t you find any place more expensive? There was one Florida locale mentioned – Gainesville with its great medical reputation plus the university. As for us, we’ll take the bay area, thank you.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Clearwater voters chose wisely sending veteran policy maker Hoyt Hamilton and Clearwater native David Allbritton by overwhelming margins to seats on their city council.

2. Two years hence, Allbritton and Hamilton will be getting at least two new fellow council members with three seats up for grabs and the mayor and council member Doreen Caudell termed out. Word on the street is former mayor Frank Hibbard might seek a return to the center seat with at least one former council member also weighing a return. First term council member Bob Cundiff is eligible to run again.

3. Quote of the Week: “Keep on marching and keep on speaking out." Senator Bill Nelson to a rally of high school students. Our response to Sen. Nelson: stop talking and do something.

4. As alluded to late last year, (TBRR 10/15/17) some 30,000 people will be out of work as Toys ‘R’ Us seeks to liquidate its U.S. holdings, another brick and mortar victim of the internet.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you dined at Tampa’s famous Los Novedades which dated back to the 1890s and closed its doors in the early 1970s.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. “Stephen Hawking was a giant of theoretical physics who bridged the divide between science and popular culture” – from Great Britain’s The Independent. It’s sad that perhaps the greatest scientific mind since Einstein was known as much for his appearances on The Big Bang Theory as he was for his work as a distinguished physicist. He was 76.

7. Tiger didn’t win the Valspar, but his remaining in contention all weekend was a big win for the sport.

8. Quote of the week: 'The 15,000, 18,000 people a night that we get is comparable to 75,000 people a night in Manhattan. We are a smaller community and that's okay’ - the words of Rays’ CEO Brian Auld. 18,000? The last year the Rays averaged 18,000 was 2013. They have the lowest attendance in baseball by over a quarter million fans yearly.

9. Admit it – you had never heard of the University of Maryland Baltimore County until last Friday night.

10. The Blue Jays will retire Roy Halladay’s #32 before their home opener next week against the Yanks. Next step for the late Blue Jay ace will be Cooperstown – maybe not on the first ballot but his 203 career wins versus only 105 losses put him in a rare stratum of modern day pitchers.

 

In baseball, like everywhere else, hogs get slaughtered

 

There were three noteworthy MLB signings over the past couple weeks – Carlos Gonzalez with the Rockies for 8 million dollars; Jonathon Lucroy with the A’s for 6.5 million and Mike Moustakas rejoining the Royals for 5.5 million. The amounts are slightly more than each of us will pocket this year. But these gentlemen earlier turned down three year deals of 45 million, 21 million and 45 million respectively – wanting yet more than that. The phrase has been attributed to Mark Cuban, Bruce Williams and numerous folks on Wall Street. Pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered – if you can call a multi-million dollar deal for a year’s work getting slaughtered.

UP NEXT: Our baseball soothsayer, Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) predicts

 

WEEK OF MARCH 11, 2018

 

TBRR beginning its fifth year – a retrospective

This week marks the start of our fifth year of Tampa Bay Rants and Raves (TBRR). We open this edition with a look back at the beginning and subsequent anniversaries. Four years ago (2014) the blog was launched pretty much by outrage at carpet bagging Alex Sink strutting into Pinellas County to save us from ourselves. She was defeated for a U.S. Representative seat by a much more qualified David Jolly. In 2015, we were comparing a sensible Lyft-Uber regulation plan in St. Pete with a return to the old days in Tampa – fortunately statewide regulation has come to Florida eliminating fiefdoms like Tampa. In 2016, TBRR proved we never take ourselves too seriously by paying tribute to Tampa’s Sportatorium and its assembled characters like Eddie Graham, Haystack Calhoun and Gordon Solie. And a year ago, we questioned the viability of a Scientology backed shopping experience in downtown Clearwater - haven’t heard much about that lately.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Related to the lead item – as we move through our fifth year, we’ll do occasional flashbacks to a previous year’s edition over the past four years.

2. Almost as scary as the threats to our schools are, just as scary are some of the knee jerk reactions mostly from the left – including one internet newsletter advocating the repeal of the second amendment. Hey, while we’re at it, let’s repeal the first amendment – at least the part about freedom of the press which isn’t liberal or religions with which the left might have issues.

3. Related to the above: hope you caught the column by respected journalist Bill Maxwell on the folly of turning our educators into an armed militia.

4. Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. circle of life: Pep Boys is back on Gulf-to-Bay after several years’ absence. Had they waited another six months they could have had their old location back which was recently abandoned by West Marine with their move into part of the old Kmart location.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you remember the Ellis Bank chain.

 

Sports, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Friday, March 2, 2018 marked some sort of record for NBC Nightly News. Due to a world class winter storm and a double murder on a college campus, the nightly news went eight whole minutes before finally trashing President Trump – keeping it classy.

7. We turn our clocks ahead today (3/11) hopefully for the last time. Both chambers of the state legislature have passed the bill making Daylight Savings Time the year-round time for Florida. It now goes to Congress which should not be a great hurdle.

8. It appears that Phillies star shortstop Jimmie Rollins is going to call it a career and perhaps have some sort of advisory role with the Phils. Is the former MVP, three-time All Star and four-time Gold Glover a Hall of Famer? It’s a tough call as middle infielders usually don’t need as gaudy offensive numbers as other position players.

9. Two passings of note from the past week, Roger Bannister the first man to crack the seemingly impossible four minute mile died at 88. And Charles Ogden Stiers, one of the dozen or so regular and recurring actors who made M*A*S*H the great show it was, passed away at age 76.

10. From the 5:05 Newsletter going where no man has gone before: In a major scientific discovery, NASA announced that a star system 39 light-years away contains seven Earth-size planets, at least three of which appear to have Starbucks.

 

A throwback to Clearwater’s ancient drawbridge

 

Over a decade ago, Clearwater finally bid adieu to its outmoded drawbridge leading to the Memorial Causeway and its best in the world beach. Now, the merry crew down at City Hall has decided to place a crosswalk at the entrance to the beach complete with red light to gum up traffic – and just in time for spring break. The city already has a underground cross walk at the east end of the marina – not 500 feet from the new one. If, the city was hell-bent to put in another crosswalk, wouldn’t an elevated one make a whole lot more sense? Granted, it would have cost more, but it would have been about 10,000 times more effective.

UP NEXT: Where to retire; Roberta and Elvis; Los Novedades

  

 

WEEK OF MARCH 4, 2018

 

 

Highway texting: Senator Rob Brantley just doesn’t get it

 

A common sense bill that would allow police officers to pull over drivers who text behind the wheel sailed through the Florida House of Representatives. And it passed three Senate committees until Sen. Rob Brantley decided to play God and not have it heard in his committee – the Senate Appropriations Committee. He bases his stance on the weak argument that allowing cops to pull over texters would lead to racial profiling while ignoring the hard facts that among teens alone, 11 deaths every day are attributable to texting. And nearly a quarter of all accidents are attributable to cell phones. Florida is now one of only seven states that doesn’t have a text and get pulled over law. It is way past time for Senator Brantley and his colleagues to get their heads out of the sand and do something about this epidemic.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Question: Is there any reason why Purdue Pharma who has relentlessly marketed their addictive drug oxycodone to doctors over the years be treated any differently than tobacco companies who have been sued for billions of dollars for their assault on America’s health?

2. The recent dustup between Fox News’ Laura Ingraham and a couple of basketball stars (“Just shut up and dribble”) leads to another thought – stop dribbling and take a shot at running the country (or state or county) yourself. It isn’t as easy as it looks boys and girls - we know, we’ve been there.

3. Related note: right now, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is saying all the right things in support of NBA players who wish to trash the President and others. Will we be hearing the same song from Mr. Silver if his attendance and TV ratings tank like the NFL’s have?

4. Speaking of tanking ratings, Papa John’s Pizza has stepped away from its NFL sponsorship due to the furor and ratings drop caused by a bunch of malcontent players. Pizza Hut has replaced them. Good luck with that.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you enjoyed a steak at Jimmy Hall’s Steak House on Hendricks Street in downtown Clearwater.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. For the second week in a row, a very notable quote from local sports columnist Tom Jones - regarding the NCAA basketball scandals, “I'm confused as to why the FBI is involved. Doesn't it have better things to do than crack down on something that might be breaking NCAA rules but is not necessarily illegal? Right you are Tom – maybe like figuring out how the hell to keep our kids from getting slaughtered in the classroom.

7. A postscript to our concluding item last week (TBRR Feb. 25): several of those budding stars you’re watching this spring, like Ronald Acuna, Vlad Guerrero, Jr., and Bo Bichette, were part of the Florida State League last year. After the big teams move north later this month, there will be another bevy of top prospects performing in Clearwater and Dunedin during the FSL season.  

8. Your humble blogger turns another year older this week. As a kid, I asked my folks for the same birthday gift every year – to attend a spring training game at Jack Russell Stadium and, bless them, they always took me. Now at an advanced age, I still treat myself to the same delight at Spectrum Field every March.

9. Fifty years ago, riding the charts at #1 was Paul Mauriat’s Love Is Blue – the first #1 instrumental in over five years since Telstar in late 1962. There would be a second top tune instrumental in ’68 – Hugh Masekela’s Grazing in the Grass in July.

10. Breaking political news from the 5:05 Newsletter: “Joe Biden said he is open to running for president if no other Democrats step up. You know your party’s in trouble when someone signs up for president the way you sign up for karaoke”.

Baseball’s teams with the brightest futures

 

Let’s start out by emphasizing prospects are just that – prospects. For every number one draft pick like Ken Griffey, Bryce Harper and Chipper Jones, there are folks like Shawn Abner, Mark Appel and Brien Taylor also number one picks and all three busts. Given that, there are some franchises right now whose future looks full of World Series appearances with the young talents they possess. Specifically, the Atlanta Braves with nine of the Top 100 MLB prospects. Others are the Yankees with seven, the White Sox with six, then Pittsburgh and Milwaukee with five each. The thing about this list that’s downright scary is the already stacked Yanks with seven of the best prospects. At the other end of the spectrum, the Cubs, Mets and Royals have no Top 100 prospects – manageable perhaps for the Cubs but not very encouraging at all for Mets and Royals fans in the years ahead.

UP NEXT: Beginning year five; Starbucks in space

 

 

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 25, 2018

 

 

At last, common sense about time changes

 

The Florida House of Representatives by an overwhelming 10-1 margin has voted to put Florida on daylight savings time year round. The measure, which still must pass the State Senate and then Congress, gets rid of the antiquated system of springing ahead and falling behind. Most importantly, it means another hour of sunshine for Florida’s largest industry – tourism. And just how important is tourism to Florida? Consider that it employs 66,000 people – at Walt Disney World alone. And then there’s the bay area with its beaches, fishing, cruises and aquariums. When implemented, it will be a big win for Florida – and long overdue. A letter to your State Senator, and later, our Congressional members would help.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. St. Petersburg is planning to ignore their long standing policy of not naming things after living individuals and re-name their library after our 44th president. Perhaps they should first review last year’s Corrine Brown Transit Hub debacle in Gainesville.

2. Ruth Eckerd Hall is asking the city of Clearwater for a 3-million dollar grant to help with their 20-some million dollar refurbishing. The vote is March 1. The city and the hall have always worked closely together, but with an election just days away, shouldn’t the sitting council defer to the new council on this matter?

3. And speaking of that election, the gloves have come off in the race between incumbent Hoyt Hamilton and challenger John Funk with both sending out incendiary mailing pieces attacking their opponent. The irony is Funk worked in Hamilton’s campaign four years ago.

4. We would hope the Pinellas County School Board will not cave in to a thin-skinned member’s request to stop doing business with a long established recreation center because of a flyer to which she objected.

5. Breaking news: Clearwater Beach named the number one beach in the nation by Trip Advisor. What’s not to like?

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Speed Weeks are over - the 500 just another race. The races that used to capture the fancy of race fans more than any other were the Duel 125s that were do or die for racing teams. It was rendered meaningless by the fact that there were not even enough entries to fill the field, much less having cars that potentially would miss the race. NASCAR has truly tumbled.

7. Quote of the week from world class sports columnist Tom Jones: As great as spring training is, prices are still too high for exhibition games. Anything over $20 for games that don't count and have players you've never heard of playing half the game is obnoxious. Actually, come to think of it, anything over $10 is pushing it.

8. Major league baseball has changed the rules regarding one of biggest time wasters in a game – visits to the mound. Teams are now allowed six “no-pitching change” visits a game. That sounds good, but there are a bunch of exceptions which render the rule virtually useless. Count on still witnessing three hour plus games.

9. He, probably more than any American, crossed religious and political lines. Billy Graham, who died at 99 last week, was truly America’s pastor.

10. Now that the Winter Olympics have concluded this thought from the sports desk at the 5:05 Newsletter - “The Winter Olympics seem like many of the sports were invented by drunk people”.

 

Spring Training: A baseball geek’s treasure trove

 

(Tom Jones’ comments above aside for a moment) Spring training in Pinellas County: the Yankees will be here, as will the Orioles, the Braves, the Pirates and the Bosox. But none of their stars will be present. Big names like Stanton, Freeman, Machado and Pedroia just don’t travel. And even the names you might recognize will be gone after two at bats. But it’s after those two at bats that baseball geeks relish. There you will see names like Ronald Acuna (MLB’s #2 overall prospect), Vlad Guerrero, Jr. (3), Gleyber Torres (5), Brent Honeywell (12) and Bo Bichette (14). These guys representing the Braves (Acuna), Blue Jays (Guerrero and Bichette), Yanks (Torres), Rays (Honeywell) are the All-Stars of the future. Enjoy them now because five years from now, like Pedroia and the bunch, they won’t be traveling to away games. Do some research and see who your favorite team’s budding stars are and enjoy them this spring. A postscript: as we were “going to press” we learned of Brent Honeywell’s impending Tommy John surgery – a major blow to the already striped-down Rays.

UP NEXT: World Series winners five years from now; parking nonsense

 

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 18, 2018

 

 

Our dubious method of picking sheriffs

 

The Tampa Bay area has morphed from having legitimate lawmen as sheriffs to politicians heading their sheriff’s departments. Hillsborough County will have an “election” this fall to choose a sheriff. Unfortunately, as has become the custom, former sheriff David Gee “retired” before the end of his term and engineered the appointment of Chad Chronister – giving him incumbency. Chronister has already accumulated a war chest of a quarter million dollars which, in itself, is just sick. The same thing happened in Pinellas a few years back with politician Jim Coats “retiring” so fellow politician Bob Gualtieri could assume incumbency and have a huge advantage in the sheriff’s election. Long time Pinellas residents remember when we had true lawmen such as Don Genung, Jerry Coleman and Everett Rice heading the department. It appears that on either side of the bay, that era is over – making for not the best leadership and not serving area residents well.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Quote of the week: from a recent “politifact” article: To make a point, politicians are increasingly picking out just facts that make their case. But hasn’t that been politifact’s business model since its inception?

2. Spectrum cable bills going up again – if ever there was an area of commerce crying out for competition, it’s the cable industry. Unlike other quasi monopolies, there is no government oversight – there should be.

3. Related to number two above, a little tip: if you are not a cable junkie who has to have 500 channels, ask about Spectrum’s TV Choice plan. They aren’t going to tell you about it until you ask where they want their equipment dropped off.

4. Good grief! A virtually rain-free State Fair run - when was the last time you remember that happening?

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you ever stopped into Kelly’s Sundries on Drew Street in Skycrest. As a kid, that’s where you bought your model airplanes and you always left with Mr. Kelly’s “take it easy now” echoing out the door.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff\

 

6. Each year, baseball geek sites have this inexplicable love for the Rays. Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA rankings (to show how geeky, it has both the words empirical and algorithm in it) have the Rays at 84 wins and a wild card berth. We’d wager some serious money against that outcome.

7. Whether or not you’re a big fan of ESPN, their 30 for 30 show featuring Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells is a must watch for both the serious and the casual NFL follower.

8. Philadelphia sports scribe Geoff Mosher recently penned a fascinating article on the future of Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. It’s worth a trip to the Fan Rag sports site for a read.

9. He was in nearly three dozen movies, but we all remember him warmly as the plain spoken Martin Crane on Frazier. The great character actor John Mahoney died two weeks ago at age 77.

10. We also note the passing of a colorful baseball figure who had one sweet swing. Tito Francona hit as high as .363 in his 17 seasons – doing that in 1959 with the Indians, the team his son Terry now manages.

 

Common sense returns to the baseball marketplace

 

Websites that deal with baseball hot stove deals are singing the blues over the lack of movement particularly in the free agent market. Sure, there have been some blockbuster trades involving stars like Stanton, Ozuna, Cole and Longo. But some top notch free agents remain unsigned with spring training days away. The labor union is whispering the “C” word (collusion). But the vast majority of observers are seeing baseball execs finally coming to their senses and not offering ridiculous contracts that will have 40-year old designated hitters or pitchers earning a king’s ransom based on their performance from six years ago. Scott Boras might not like it, but to most baseball observers, it’s downright refreshing.

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: Finally, the correct time; baseball fan’s delight

 



 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 10, 2018

 

Is Ybor City a fait accompli?

 

St. Pete (or shall we say Pinellas County) gave up without much of a struggle and it appears Ybor City will be the most likely site for a new baseball stadium. Will it turn attendance around? Yes for a year or two. Then it will be just like Miami and back to crowds in the four figures every night. The bay area is a great baseball market – for the four or five weeks of spring training. It simply doesn’t have the demographics or the corporate sluggers to support an 82-game season no matter where you locate a new stadium.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Florida’s legislature is kicking around term limits for county school boards – not a good idea unless it applies to Hillsborough County where the limit should be “time served”.

2. Happy 70th birthday to Clearwater’s first radio station – WTAN – still broadcasting since 1948 - now from studios on N. Myrtle Avenue in Clearwater. For most of its history, the studios sat right on Clearwater’s Bayfront, and at its zenith, it was a strong AM/FM combo.

3. State Rep. Joe Gruters has been named to Amtrak’s board of directors. Given Amtrak’s record of the past two weeks, we can only surmise captaincy of the Titanic was not available.

4. Attorney General Jeff Sessions drew some heat last week with his suggestion that maybe Americans should take a few more aspirin and a few less opioids. That just doesn’t seem to fly with this generations’ need for instant gratification or relief.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you shopped at the Food Fair grocery store at Gulf to Bay and Duncan Ave.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Just a thought related to our lead item. If the bay area’s major league baseball team is going to move to Tampa, at least rename them with a brand that has some legacy – the Tampa Tarpons. Think of what it would do in new merchandise sales alone!

7. Hottest selling baseball apparel in the last two weeks – anything with the Cleveland Indians’ 70-year-old logo on it.

8. Chutzpah defined: a 5-11 team raising ticket prices after yet another year of declining attendance.

9. It’s only logical to assume that Josh McDaniels is the Patriot’s head coach in waiting after he passed on the top job with the Colts. Many rumors suggest that next season will be Bill Belichick’s last as head coach.

10. Back in the day we had AP and UPI for our international news, now we have the 5:05 Newsletter with this report from Great Britain: Princess Charlotte went to her first day of nursery school last week. It was a little intimidating for the other kids… for “Show and Tell,” she brought Scotland.

 

52: One for the ages

 

Some thoughts on last week’s Super Bowl…Scratch another team off the list of those who have never won a Super Bowl, there still are 14 who have not (more on that in a future issue)…Big rivalry between east and west Pennsylvania - Flyers-Penguins, Phils-Pirates etc. but last Sunday everybody in the western part of the Keystone State was rooting for the Eagles to keep the Patriots from that 6th title – a distinction held only by the Steelers…To win, the Eagles had to play a perfect game – and they did…Credit to Al Michaels for correctly saying that a single turnover would decide the game and it did…His broadcast partner Chris Collingsworth needs to decide if he wants to analyze the game or ref it…But Collingsworth is right in joining several others who say the catch rule has to be fixed right now…Despite the high octane offenses, SB 52 had the lowest rating since ’09…If Horatio Alger were still alive, he’d surely write a book about Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles…Amazing how some Boston media and fandom has turned on Bill Belichick after the Patriots loss. Can only think of about 20 teams who would welcome him tomorrow….Finally, we just don’t recall a better Super Bowl.

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: Bad way to choose lawmen; pitchers and catchers

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 4, 2018

 
 

The most dangerous man in the Florida Senate

 

The most dangerous man, or woman, in the Florida Senate is Democrat Gary Farmer from Ft. Lauderdale – and given recent events, that’s saying something. An unabashed proponent of medical marijuana, Farmer sees no danger at all in moving to the next step – legalized recreational grass. This is something the medical profession and law enforcement agencies saw coming and why they so strongly opposed an ill-conceived constitutional amendment for medical pot. In a recent interview, Farmer blithely segued from legalized pot to his frustration over Florida’s opioid crisis. And what does every study in the history of mankind show as the first drug of use prior to opioid addiction? Marijuana! Guys like Senator Farmer are a very real danger to Florida’s future.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Good initial effort by our Chief Executive in the State of the Union. The “Americans are dreamers, too” remark will live on in history. And young Joe Kennedy acquitted himself nicely in the reply although it lacked the positive tone you would have expected from his forbearers.

2. Next Wednesday, we have the opposing confluence of Valentine’s Day, a day of chocolates and sumptuous dinners, and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a season of self-denial. Another quirk of the calendar is six weeks hence when Easter falls on April Fools’ Day.

3. The failure of the 911 system over a large part of the greater Tampa Bay area is downright scary. The public needs an explanation and vastly improved safeguards - like yesterday.

4. Idle question: why on the days folks have the most leisure time (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) is the Clearwater main library open the fewest hours – just five hours each day?

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you dined at the Lum’s Restaurant on Gulf to Bay Blvd. – famous for their hot dogs steamed in beer.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. On the eve of the Super Bowl, a report notes that interest in the NFL is down – most alarmingly in certain demographics the league holds precious – young men. There’s some spin doctoring going on as to the cause of such a significant fall – blaming the concussion issue. But let’s be honest – a bunch of spoiled brats taking a knee during our national anthem has done irreparable harm to the NFL.

7. We justifiably take MLB’s Commissioner to the woodshed below, but his ideas on speeding up the game (a proposed limit of six mound visits a game and keeping batters in the batter’s box between pitches) makes a lot more sense than a pitch clock. Let’s hope the player’s union sees the light on this one.

8. Local media gave just three lines to the most significant baseball trade of the off-season – Christian Yelich going to the Milwaukee Brewers making them the odds-on favorite to win the AL Central Division.

9. Word on the street is that ex-Blue Jay Jose Bautista, who has Tampa roots, would like to play for the Rays - advice to Rays’ front office – run, don’t walk.

10. Remember when the Dallas Cowboys were known as America’s team during the Tom Landry era. Now, they vie for the title of America’s most disliked team along with the New England Patriots.

 

Bud Selig’s weak-kneed successor:

 

Congratulations to MLB Commissar Rob Manfred who now has forever cemented his legacy as the man who stripped a 70-year old icon off the jerseys of Cleveland's American League baseball team. This is the team that brought the first African American player to the American League in Larry Doby - a team of Catholics like Herb Score; those of the Jewish faith like Al Rosen, in addition to Doby, pioneering Black stars like Al Smith, Luke Easter and baseball's first Black manager Frank Robinson; early Latin American players like Bobby Avila, Chico Carresquel and the current Francisco Lindor. In short, this franchise doesn't have a racist bone in its body, but political correctness and Rob Manfred must prevail. Manfred strips away the iconic Wahoo logo while looking the other way as wife/girlfriend beaters get a slap on the wrist instead of the lifetime ban they deserve. We only thought Bud Selig was bad; he comes across as another Judge Landis when compared to his weak-kneed successor.

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: pioneer radio station, free agents and 60s shopping

 

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 28, 2018

 

 The Clearwater city election

 

Surprise! There is an election in Clearwater in less than two months. Two of Clearwater’s five city council posts are being contested. One incumbent is up for re-election – longtime councilman Hoyt Hamilton. He is being challenged by Clearwater Beach Realtor John Funk. Easy call here – Hamilton’s experience and his Clearwater roots outweigh Funk’s rather limited resume. Councilman Bill Jonson is termed out of his seat which is being sought by Clearwater native David Allbritton and political newcomer Tom Keller. Here again, Allbritton’s grasp of his community and his service on city boards over the years make him an overwhelming choice. The election is March 13 and mail ballots will be going out soon.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. In a 19-paragraph article on Florida’s robust economy and employment rates – the best in a decade and a half by all measures, not a mention of Governor Rick Scott or the programs he put into place upon election to “Get to Work”. Now, if he had a letter other than R after his name…

2. The folks at USF are losing sight of their primary mission in the bitter infighting over who should be calling the shots at their satellite campuses. Their job is to turn out well-qualified graduates, not to engage in meaningless turf wars.

3. By proclamation, the Morton Plant Hospital Treehouse (see below) proclaimed that elected officials not be paid during any government shutdown – to include any back pay after the end of the shutdown.

4. The spirit of Gasparilla is spreading with news there will be a mini-invasion of Indians Rock this year. It’s not the first invasion of Pinellas County. There was another in Clearwater back in 1976. Unfortunately those invaders never went away.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) if you remember the old fashioned soda bottle vending machines filled with ice cold water where you slid your purchase along a rail and through a coin-activated lever.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. The Patriots should win the Super Bowl, but they seem to be winning by just enough each game, so give us the opening line of the Eagles plus 5.5 points. We would be happier with six.

7. Now that the Hall of Fame ballots are in (congratulations to Vlad Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome) don’t dismay if your favorite player did not get a big vote. On their first time on the ballot, Hall Of Famers Duke Snider and Bert Blyleven got 17 and 17.5 percent respectively.

8. Allow us to hop on the bandwagon and predict a terrific season for the San Francisco 49ers next year. Jimmy Garoppolo has taken the reigns of the offense magnificently and Kyle Shanahan has far exceeded our expectations. No, that’s not right. We simply were completely wrong about the job he would do.

9. Idle observations: last week (TBRR Jan. 21) we mentioned Pittsburgh’s KQV had gone silent at the end of 2017. KQV was unique in several ways. It was one of just a few stations east of the Mississippi with a “K” rather than “W” call letter – its long time Pittsburgh rival KDKA, America’s oldest station, is another. And KQV was one of a handful of stations with just three call letters. We have a couple in the South – WBT in Charlotte and Atlanta’s WSB – both 50,000 watt regional stations dating back to the 1920s.

10. From the sports section of the 5:05 Newsletter: The Winter Olympics are a few weeks away. That means you have less than a month to pretend you understand curling.

 

Farewell, at least temporarily, to the Treehouse

 

The late Skip Carey once said he did not want to belong to any organization that would have him as a member. We disagree. For over a decade, a group of leading citizens (known informally as the Treehouse) has allowed us to occasionally sip coffee with them and help right all the wrongs in the world weekday mornings between 7:00 and 7:30 at K’s Cafe in the Morton Plant Wellness Center. Coffee follows a morning workout (wink, wink). The group consists of a restaurateur, an attorney, CPA, insurance agency owner, neurosurgeon, retired judge, former politician, current politician, Realtor, builder, retired hospital executive, a competitive sailor and a guy who defies description. Main qualification is a thick skin as feelings are not spared. Your humble blogger is frequently targeted for allegedly having a cellphone with a rotary dial. We recently corrected that by getting rid of the cellphone all together. Sadly, K’s Café closed last week leaving the august group temporarily homeless. Hopefully, Clearwater’s answer to the Algonquin Roundtable will reform in the near future. It is a terrific group of gentlemen (a few of our wives occasionally visit to class up the place) and we wouldn’t swap our tenuous membership for any other group on the planet.

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: The most dangerous man in the Florida Senate

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 21, 2018

 

 

Casino shuttle boat fire

 

The coverage of the tragic boat fire in New Port Richey revealed the print and, for the most part, electronic media’s depth of ignorance concerning boat safety. Stories cited Coast Guard reported violations. Virtually 90 percent, if not higher, of Coast Guard inspections of passenger vessels yield violations – the Coast Guard takes their job very seriously. The vast majority of violations, like all those cited in news reports, are the fix these within a certain amount of time variety i.e. they are not hazardous to boat operation. The more serious violation earns the boat a “do not sail” designation. The issue has to be rectified and re-inspected before the boat can leave the dock. None of the issues on the Island Lady came even close to that status. Lastly, let it be said that Captain Michael Batten did an incredible job of handling the situation. He is to be commended; the local news media not so much.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. If we were a member of AARP, and we’re not for several reasons, we would be furious that our membership money was spent on some puffy full page newspaper ad congratulating Sen. Bill Nelson for basically doing nothing – in an election year, of course.

2. Another Sunday, another morning of gummed up traffic on Clearwater Beach and Sand Key as folks try to get to church, restaurants etc. in the face of another foot race that could just as easily be run on the miles and miles of publicly financed trails in our county.

3. Idle observation - at least once a day on the road we spot a car with chrome wheels that are worth considerably more than the vehicle they grace.

4. Number of the week – $11.1 billion- the annual budget of the IRS. Good grief.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you enjoyed an Italian meal at Vince Anna’s on Cleveland Street downtown.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. Fifty years ago this week, the ground breaking show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In hit the airwaves. In virtually every analysis over the years, it has been voted one of the two dozen or so best television shows in history with good reason. Where else could you see Richard Nixon say “sock it to me”!

7. Another sign of the times for the critically ill newspaper industry. The Boston Herald was filed for bankruptcy. The Herald is Boston’s second largest paper with circulation slightly less than half of the Boston Globe which is also witnessing its circulation and revenues shrinking.

8. Speaking of media troubles, folks who grew up in Pittsburgh would be shocked to learn that KQV, the city’s top rocker in the sixties, and a respected news channel in this century went off the air at the end of 2017.

9. Speaking of Pittsburgh, if there haven’t been already, there need to be
shakeups in the Steeler coaching staff after a mistake-riddled loss to a so-so Jacksonville. Mike Tomlin’s job is probably safe, but both his coordinators need to go.

10. Exactly a year ago (TBRR – Jan 21, 2017) we wrote a piece about the five sports voices that will forever stay with us – Lindsey Nelson, Curt Gowdy , Skip Caray, Vin Scully and Keith Jackson. The charming good old boy from the South passed away last week at age 89. Saturday gridiron will never be the same without Nelson, and now, Keith Jackson – one of the greatest.

 

The seven cities without a World Series trophy

 

Nearly a quarter of all major league teams have never won a World Series. Living in the bay area, we surely know one of them. Other than our Rays, there are the Brewers, Mariners, Nationals, Padres, Rangers and Rockies. The interesting thing is five of those seven could change that in 2018 and it wouldn’t be a monumental upset. Only the hapless Padres and our local nine have virtually no shot. Two stand out as possibilities in ’18 – the Nationals with all that talent and finally a decent manager and the Rockies who made the playoffs in their first year under Bud Black. Both have strengthened some weak areas and could pull off a World Series win this year. Of the seven, our money would be on the Nats.

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: More on KQV; the 49ers and Clearwater’s election

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 14, 2018

 

 Oprah for president? As long as we’re being ridiculous:

 

We guess television maven Donald Trump opened the door for anybody and anyone to run for the White House. Recently, left wingers began to salivate over Oprah Winfrey, but why stop there? How about Ellen DeGeneres – wouldn’t it be classy to have a president wearing tennis shoes? Or any of the talking heads at the various awards programs – the folks who think the 38th parallel is a geometry term. The list goes on – why not Morning Joe or Colbert or maybe just a governing body of the participants on The View? Suddenly, Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein or Alfred E. Newman seem to be solid choices.

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Last year, we were quick to take a bank (Wells Fargo) to task for their shady dealings (TBRR August 13 and Sept. 10). On the other side of the ledger, we cannot say enough good things about how Debra Jones and her staff at Regions Bank helped us out when our account was breached through no fault of their own – kudos!

2. Retail notes: South Tampa Sam’s Club is closing – part of about five dozen shutterings nationwide. “Odd”, “dysfunctional” and simply “I don’t like it” are among the prevailing reviews of Island Estates’ new Publix.

3. The debate rages on as to who will benefit from the new tax plan and who won’t. All we know is until it does indeed include a post card on which to file your taxes and the IRS, as we know it, is abolished, it cannot be a total success.

4. Factoid: Clearwater is the 16th largest city in Florida. At the 2000 census, it was 10th. For the record, Tampa is the third largest, St. Pete fifth and Largo follows after Clearwater at 28th.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember Clearwater Lumber, Hamerick Lumber and Pinellas Lumber companies. Now about the only independent yard left is Nall Lumber being run by the third generation of that long time Clearwater family.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. A recent article on the late Trans-Siberian Orchestra founder Paul O’Neill revealed him as strikingly similar to another famed orchestra founder in terms of passion for his work, plus a larger than average dose of inflexibility and paranoia. The other orchestra founder from eighty years ago was Glenn Miller. His story is portrayed nicely in George Simon’s book – The Glenn Miller Orchestra.

7. It’s Girl Scout cookie time – if you’ve sworn off the Thin Mints to help shed a few pounds, there is a program where you can buy the cookies and have them donated to a member of our armed services – neat (and healthy) idea.

8. Our granddaughter’s BFA (best animal friend) Nicholas, a dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, is now 6 for 7 in picking the national college football champion with Bama’s win. Each year he’s given two toy footballs representing the contenders and this year picked the Tide over the Dawgs.

9. Watching the breakup of the Marlins, there are two prime trade chips left – outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto. Yelich is very good but the combined defensive/offensive skills of a catcher like Realmuto come along once in a blue moon. He is the more valuable asset.

10. A semi-sports note from our friends at the 5:05 Newsletter: China increased the penalty for disrespecting the National Anthem from 15-days to 3-years in prison… in case you were thinking of taking a knee on your next visit there.

 

Bucs 2018 – Forget about a winning season

 

The Bucs with a last minute miracle pulled out a win on the last play of the season to finish a disappointing 5-11 for 2017. A peek at next year’s schedule reveals that 8 of their 16 games will be against 2017 playoff teams plus a tough road game in Dallas and a match up with 2017’s most improved team – the San Francisco 49ers. Even with the awful Browns and Bears on their schedule, it’s hard to forecast a significant improvement from this year’s 5-11.

 

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: Clearwater election, fancy wheels and Laugh-In

 

 

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 7, 2018

 

 

Time for the Bucs and Winston to part ways

 

Might as well start off 2018 with a very large bang - it’s time for the Tampa Bay Bucs to trade Jameis Winston and start fresh with a quarterback with equal skills and much less baggage. Winston’s value is going to continue to spiral downward, not that he ever was that much with his alarming tendency to give the opposing team the ball about three times a game. Tellingly, Kevin Clark of The Ringer lists the star QBs of tomorrow as Garoppolo, Goff, Prescott, Watson and Wentz – no mention of #3. The Buc’s record during the Winston era is 19-29 – a couple of those wins with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm - not exactly Tom Brady-like. And with the Buc’s draft position this season there are two excellent quarterbacks who could fall in their laps – Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and USC’s Sam Darnold Both are excellent college quarterbacks (we particularly like Jackson), again, without the rape, groping and shoplifting baggage – not to mention how often he loses his composure on the field. It’s a daring move, but has a lot more upside than down. The question is - are the Bucs willing to admit they made a large mistake with Winston?

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Recent developments give hope that Florida will not become California or Colorado East. The city of Dunedin votes to extend the moratorium on medical pot dispensaries. Meanwhile, First Green Bank, the first Florida bank to handle pot producing clients, has dropped them effective a week ago. Rock on.

2. We have now completed another round of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and New Years – or as we like to refer to it, The Festival of Carbs.

3. In that same vein, the stars aligned during the holidays with Florida-perfect weather, thousands of happy visitors and happy merchants and attraction operators.

4. It looks unlikely that Governor Scott will call a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jack Latvala. If he does, the overwhelming favorite would be former State Rep. Ed Hooper, who plans to run for the seat in the regular election. Latvala would have been termed out.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you enjoyed a slice or two of pizza served up by Shakey’s Pizza Parlors – good pizza complete with a ragtime piano. There are now only about 50 Shakey’s left – virtually all in California.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. “The alphabet now ends at Y." The words of Sue Grafton’s daughter in announcing her famed mother’s passing last week. The mystery writer’s signature was alphabetical titles – the last being Y Is For Yesterday.

7. The I-4 teams (USF and UCF) acquitted themselves nicely against SEC and SWC teams in last week’s bowls.

8. Regardless of Monday’s college championship game outcome, the winner is the SEC. With revenue sharing, all SEC teams get a piece of the total revenues from the game rather splitting the take with another conference – a rather significant pay day for Alabama, Georgia and their playmates.

9. Related to our lead piece: Memo to Bucs’ front office – did you happen to catch the Tennessee-Kansas City game?

10. From the 5:05 Newsletter, never afraid to reach beyond our borders for its version of the news: President Vladimir Putin announced that he will run for a sixth term as president in 2018. An hour later, he announced that he had won.

 

Our Hall of Fame ballot:

 

The Hall of Fame announces their 2018 Class in a couple weeks. We emphasize that we do not have a ballot BUT if we had one, six names would be checked off starting with this year’s only certainty – Chipper Jones. Joining him on our ballot are hitting machine Vlad Guerrero, consistently excellent right hander Mike Mussina, Cleveland slugger Jim Thome, fielding magician Omar Vizquel and the game’s greatest left handed reliever Billy Wagner. We continue to be baffled why this critical major league position gets short shrift (see Hoffman, Trevor and Smith, Lee).

 

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: Next governor, taking a knee in China, tax plan

 

WEEK OF DECEMBER 31, 2017

 This week the last of our tributes to some good dining and a wonderful journalist, Tom McEwen, who inspired this year-long effort. During the holidays, we feature a homemade treasure – Tennessee boiled custard – a lot like egg nog only better. You can find recipes in numerous cook books including the Foxfire book and Light of Christ Church’s recently published Recipes from the Soul. Our personal favorite was the wonderful concoction made by our longtime Clearwater neighbor Helen Leach.

 

As usual, we wind down 2017 with a few of our favorite tidbits

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

 

1. Here’s a thought regarding the anticipated pot-related epidemic in Florida. In exchange for the privilege of using medical marijuana, you forfeit your driving privileges thereby protecting the rest of us on the road. Hey, if you’re that “sick”, you probably should not be behind the wheel of a car anyway.

2. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you, your kids or grandkids enjoyed “Breakfast with Santa” at one of the Maas Brothers’ restaurants.

3. (From February) Quote of the Week: “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge” – America’s new Supreme Court Justice, Judge Neil Gorsuch.

4. Breaking news: Politifact rates claim that President Trump was responsible for Pearl Harbor attack as “Mostly False”.

5. There’s been some gnashing of teeth over a decline in the state’s arts funding – it’s still at nearly $25 million. The arts, unfortunately, have to compete against fire trucks, areas that flood and hungry people who need fed.

6. Just an idle thought, most highly praised presidents weren’t really as good as legend has them and most universally damned presidents weren’t all that bad – with the possible exceptions of Andrew Johnson and Warren Harding.

7. (From February) Quote of the week: “Regulators exist to give certainty to those they regulate” – new EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Comforting words for businesses and individuals who have been severely harmed by the EPA’s “make up the rules as we go along” philosophy of the past.

8. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you enjoyed a Big Boy at the Frisch’s Restaurant on Gulf to Bay Blvd. The last Frisch’s Big Boys left Florida in the early 1990s.

9. You can now get an Uber or Lyft ride at TIA. Most third world airports have offered this for the past five years.

10. Remember that Texas Instruments calculator you bought in the 70s for $100? You can now buy one of equal capabilities at Dollar Tree.

11. With all our restaurant suggestions this year, our Rants and Raves focus group (comprised of four old, cranky people) looks back at four restaurants they wish still existed. They are the elegant Siple’s Garden Seat on Clearwater’s bluff, the not so elegant but really good Robby’s Pancake House, and two other Gulf to Bay landmarks, Chief Charley’s and Young’s BBQ.

12. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you were taught English or American History by the legendary “Uncle Russ” Cantwell at CHS.

13. Just an idle thought: Is the Tesla this generation’s DeLorean?

14. Are we the only one troubled by a shamelessly self-promotional piece in the mail from Charlie Crist? The one with the tiny six-point type proclaiming it was paid for at taxpayer expense?

15. With the negative reaction to the Paris accords pullout by some folks labeled “corporate titans”, we call to mind a thought from O’Reilly and Feirstein’s book Old School: “don’t hector us about climate change while you fly around in private jets and have multiple houses with the carbon footprint the size of Kazakhstan”. Well said.

16. (From August) Breaking news: East Druid Road between Belcher and Hercules is now open. As a reminder, when construction began Obama was still President, spring training was months away and the majority of us were a year younger.

17. (Post St. Pete mayoral edition) - And yes, the irony isn’t lost on us. What passes for a newspaper in our area endorsed a Republican for the first time in a millennium, while the reactionaries here at TBRR gave a nod, albeit tepid, to Mayor Kriseman.

18. You have to imagine the Vegas odds are very strong that neither 2016 Presidential candidate will be on the ballot again in 2020. Carrying that one step further, both parties need to coalesce around a strong one or two candidates for 2020 within the next year.

19. We wonder what Alexander Graham Bell would think observing a group of lemmings lined up to buy some overpriced phone that they never answer.

20. TIA’s renovation includes new trams to get folks around – built in Japan. Less than 90 miles away is one of the world’s busiest and most efficient tram systems (Disneyworld) all built in North America.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

1. Our Rants and Raves focus group (comprised of four old, cranky people) wonders why Gen X and Millennials never carry a single dime with them and go into full panic mode when they encounter a situation where they can’t use plastic.

2. Five names that remind us baseball is still the most unpredictable of all our sports –Kirk Gibson, Don Larsen, Bill Mazeroski, Dusty Rhodes and Bucky F. Dent.

3. (From the first edition after Super Bowl Sunday): Add us to the long list of people who at 28-3 said “the heck with this, I’m going to get some shuteye”.

4. From April - We understand the rationale of major league baseball scheduling a day off after opening day to allow for inclement weather – but in the Trop?

5. From the 5:05 Newsletter, the hits just keep on coming: Democratic National Party Chairman Tom Perez took over the party with a mission to overhaul the party’s direction and energy and give it new life. He immediately ordered all DNC staffers to resign, causing four network newscasts to go dark.

6. From the nearly world famous Gassman law firm sign on Court Street: “Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be”.

7. (From May): Number of the week - $36 bucks – the least you could pay for a ticket to last weekend’s Rays – Yankees series. Second number of the week – 30 per cent – the percentage of seats (28,000 total) that went unsold against the best draw in baseball. The Rays just don’t get it.

8. With the addition of the Las Vegas franchise, the NHL now has 31 teams, one more than major league baseball. Why?

9. (May): Idle thought: remember when you could recite the winners of the Indy 500 back ten years or so? Now, we had to look back 23 years to find a name we actually remember – Al Unser, Jr., whose dad and uncle were also winners when the race truly captured America.

10. Bumper sticker seen on the car of a dog lover: “Wag more, bark less”. Good advice for all of us.

11. A name you did not hear mentioned during the celebration of the Houston Astros world championship was Ed Wade. The former Phillie and Astro GM laid the cornerstone of the World Championship team with his drafting of Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel and series MVP George Springer. Ed is one of the truly nice men in the game.

12. (August) What a great story in major league baseball last week. Chris Rowley wins his first start for the Toronto Blue Jays – the first West Point graduate to ever start a game in the majors – proving once again no matter how long you follow baseball, you will always see something new.

13. (From October) A recent study valued the University of Florida Gator football program as a franchise at $682 million. FSU’s gridiron organization came in at $385 million. Which would you want – Gators at 682, Noles at 385 or the Miami Marlins at $1.3 billion?

14. Our Rants and Raves focus group (comprised of four, old, cranky people) have selected their most annoying words or phrases in the English language. They are “you know”, “whatever”, “it is what it is” and “quick question” (they’re never quick and they are never singular).

15. (From October): Cue Etta James’ 1961 hit At Last. The Washington Nationals have named ex-Rays bench coach Dave Martinez their manager. Now Tampa Bay fans can get a glimpse of what could have (and should have) been when Maddon blew town.

16. Getting there – that has to be a primary concern as bay area leaders stumble towards a stadium site for the Rays. One of the things that doomed the Trop from the beginning was the lack of cooperation from PSTA in running routes from north Pinellas to the park. This time, HART and the PSTA need to step up.

17. Be honest, you have a contending team, who do you hire - Aaron Boone or Joe Girardi? As one long term Yankee follower put it, GM Brian Cashman wanted a yes man, not a manager.

18. There’s been some push back in Gainesville to the hiring of Dan Mullen as the new head coach. Perhaps it would have been nice to have hired the mercurial Chip Kelly – a somewhat proven commodity. But the wailing about not getting UCF’s Scott Frost is ridiculous. Let’s see how he does against a schedule that doesn’t include Austin Peay, Cincinnati and UConn before we judge him ready for prime time. We think Mullen will do just fine.

19. Ah the joy of being a Bucs’ fan, you know it’s going to end badly (see Carolina vs. Bucs), but you can’t turn away because you need to see just how.

 

And this year’s favorite of favorites:

Yet another acorn of wisdom from the 5:05 Newsletter: Hollywood is the only place where you are awarded a Doctorate in Political Science after completing your third movie.”

 

Our Last Song Together (with a bow to the late Glen Yarbrough)

 

At year’s end, we say good bye to some folks who left their mark, both locally and nationally.

The iconic mother-daughter duo of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher died within a day of each other in December 2016.

Also passing in late December was Tampa Bay area banking scion Bronson Thayer at age 77.

(From January) William Christopher, one of TV’s most famous priests, (M*A*S*H) died at age 84.

Eugene Cernan, as of now, the last man to walk on the moon.

She was the consummate girl next door – America’s sweetheart. With a shadow of a tear, we said goodbye to Mary Tyler Moore in January.

(From February) We note the passing of longtime acquaintance Fred Brown at age 89. An area businessman for decades, Rotarian and traveler, Fred saw one of his fondest wishes come true last fall when his beloved Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series for the only time in his life.

Skip Schafer, Pinellas County attorney and Circuit Court Judge, succumbed to cancer at age 69 in February.

(Also from February) - Moonlighting, Morning and We’re in this Love Together – just three great songs of many from jazz-oriented vocalist Al Jarreau who died at age 76.

(From March) Bad things often happen in threes. In early March our community has lost three outstanding women. Barbara Bissonette, Jean Hamilton and Peg Mallory all made their mark in their own very unique ways. They will be dearly missed.

Liberal and likeable commentator Alan Colmes, the Colmes of Hannity and Colmes on Fox News passed away at age 66.

Dick Fitzgerald, career army officer, distinguished member of Clearwater’s city council and a mentor to those who followed him on the Clearwater dais.

(From March) “Chuck Berry’s checking in from St. Lou, he’s going to sing Maybelline and Memphis, too” – from Jan and Dean’s They Came From all Over the World. The guy who grew up in St. Lou and found fame on Chicago’s Chess record label left us at age 90.

Also in March, we said goodbye to the man who brought the Phillies their first World Championship, Manager (along with pitcher and club executive) Dallas Green.

From April: He and his best friend in show business, Bob Newhart, were two of the best “clean” comedians ever. Don Rickles, the man who was universally loved by everyone he insulted passed away at age 90 – a terrific loss.

No team has won more Super Bowls than his Steelers; he was a gifted prep quarterback, second team All-Pittsburgh to a guy named Unitas, but his lasting legacy will be the Rooney Rule – clearing the path for more minority representation on NFL sidelines and front offices. Dan Rooney passed away at age 84.

From May: The world of baseball and our nation suffered a loss with the passing of Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher who authored no-hitters in both leagues and had a noble political career as a U.S. Representative and later Senator from the state of Kentucky.

From June: Former major league outfielder Jimmy Piersall passed away at age 86. To term him colorful would be an understatement.

Was there ever a campier show than Batman? Adam West, the original Batman died at age 88. A final BHAM! POW! to the TV legend.

In July: The early sixties saw him as a young hood on The Untouchables; ten years later, he was impersonation wizard Rollin Hand on Mission Impossible and then there was the 1990s Oscar for playing Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. The extremely versatile Martin Landau was 89.

From August: He was recognized as one of the three greatest coaches in Notre Dame history, but his winning record at moribund Northwestern may be even more impressive. Football legend Ara Parseghian passed way at age 94.

A bad week or so for sports fans with the passing of Don Baylor, Dutch Daulton and John Reaves – all made an indelible mark on their respective sports.

He was a Wichita Lineman, a Rhinestone Cowboy and a Country Boy with his feet in L.A. But above all, the late Glen Campbell was one heck of a musician.

If Dick Clark was America’s oldest teenager, Jerry Lewis was this country’s oldest adolescent. Known for his teaming with Dean Martin, his own solo career and his tireless work for MDA, Lewis passed away at 91.

From September: We apologize for being a couple weeks late in noting the latest addition to Rock and Roll Heaven – Walter Becker, one-half of a terrific band of the 70s – Steely Dan.

Back when radio news was still radio news, there were a bunch of terrific radio journalists in the bay area – WTAN’s Dennis Crandall, WDAE’s Ronald J. Ebben, WLCY’s Clair Linn and WFLA’s Marty Giles to name four. Giles, one of the deans of radio news, died left us at age 80.

From October: Admit it guys, we all lived vicariously through him. The keeper of the bunny hutch, Hugh Hefner, was 91.

Also in October: Rock and roll lost a great one in October – Antoine “Fats” Domino passed away at age 89. As we mentioned a couple weeks back (TBRR Oct. 15), the “Fatman” charted 68 singles in his incredible career.

From November: There was no more dominant pitcher in the 2000 decade than Ray “Doc” Halladay whose life ended all too soon in a plane crash off New Port Richey.

The fight world, the bay area and Ybor City, in particular, are mourning the passing of Dr. Ferdie Pacheco at age 89. He might have been best known for his role in Muhammad Ali’s corner, but the depth of his existence far surpassed that.

The Florida Gators lost a big fan and country music a legend with Mel Tillis’ passing.

She was probably best known for her work in TV’s Touched by an Angel. But music buffs will never forget her classic recordings like And That Reminds Me, Don’t You Know and Not One Minute More. Della Reese died at age 86.

(From December) Carolyn Brink was a dear, sweet lady whose function for many years was keeping track of the comings and goings of Clearwater’s city commissioners – the equivalent of herding cats. Mrs. Brink passed away earlier this month. She will be greatly missed.

Few announcers had a catch phrase that was as well-known all over America, but Dick Enberg’s spontaneous “Oh My” captured us all. The versatile sportscaster and Baseball Hall of Famer died just a week before we went to press with this issue.

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: Starting the year with a big bang!

 

 

WEEK OF DECEMBER 24, 2017

 

This week’s dining tip (see back story in Jan. 1 TBRR): We will spend this week devoted to the family staying in our pajamas just a little longer and cheating on our diet with a breakfast of a large glass of milk and our beloved mother’s raisin filled cookies. Hope you’ll take a moment this week to feast on a similar family tradition. Merry Christmas!

 

As we conclude our yearlong dining suggestions

 

Next week we wrap up our yearlong list of 52 dining suggestions.   We hope that we may have made you aware of a gem or two of a restaurant you had not tried before. We have eaten in every one we listed – most much more than once. Sadly, two have left us during the year - Roosevelt Boulevard’s Cheddars and Clearwater’s Farmer Boys. We’re sure there were some oversights – after all, there are hundreds of restaurants in Pinellas County alone. But we have given you a year’s worth, and we hope you’ll try some of them and perhaps maybe shoot us a comment below on a place we might have missed. We will feature some of those in 2018. In the meantime, bon appetit!

 

Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:

 

1. Forgive us for not joining the hoards piling on State Senator Jack Latvala. The longtime Pinellas legislator did the right thing in resigning. Now it’s up to the proper authorities to sort things out. We can only say that Latvala was unquestionably the most effective legislator for Pinellas County over the past two decades. The alleged indiscretions, if true, are inexcusable, but let us see how things play out before reaching any final judgement.

2. Every year when your HB (Humble Blogger) rings the bell for the Salvation Army, we hear a heartwarming story or three about the Army’s good works. This year was no exception as a woman related how the Army helped her almost a decade ago when times were very tough. Now she can’t pass a kettle without dropping in some money. Thanks to all of you who did the same this holiday season. And thanks to our SW (Saintly Wife), daughter and granddaughter for ringing at our side along with the wonderful Hilkert family.

3. Idle musing: in our sixty years as a Florida resident, we’ve become familiar with cities like Archer, Coleman, Jay, Malone and Paisley. But until some recent research, we had never come across Hypoluxo, some 2000 residents strong, in Palm Beach County. How it got its name is more complicated than space allows.

4. Stolen from the creative marquee of attorney Alan Gassman: Santa and Mrs. Clause, your postnuptial agreement is ready.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you enjoyed the jazz at Woody Riley’s Warehouse on Garden Avenue – especially Paulette Pepper and the Garden Avenue Seven.

 

The diamond, the media and other stuff:

 

6. As predicted, the break-up of the Rays has begun with the trade of Evan Longoria. The return was about as expected – the Arroyo kid they picked up has a lot of potential and outfielder Dennard Span was just a salary dump by the Giants in exchange for taking on Longo’s rather hefty contract.

7. The Yankees acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton is causing seismic waves all the way from Tampa Bay to Anaheim. But just as important was their reunion with C.C. Sabathia, a strike throwing machine - more on the Yanks and 2018 in a couple weeks.

8. Fifty years ago as 1967 wound down, the top three hits in America were Hello Goodbye by the Beatles; Heard It Through the Grapevine by Gladys Knight, down from number one – this song would also be number one a year from now, but by Marvin Gaye and at number three - the Monkees’ Daydream Believer.

9. NFL takeaways from Week 15 – with the induction of Jon Gruden into the Bucs’ Ring of Honor – the trinity is two-thirds complete. Tony Dungy needs to be added to that list. Along with Gruden and previously inducted John McKay, Dungy made the franchise what it is – no other Buc coach comes close to that trio’s accomplishments. John Fox, Hue Jackson and Chuck Pagano are just three coaches who will be hiring moving companies in the next week. The Giants and Bengals have already made moves for a total of five and there could be one or two more.

10. Happy 7th birthday to our greatest Christmas gift ever – our granddaughter Emma Kathleen.

 

Bing, Nat, Perry and other Christmas favorites

 

On Christmas Eve when our Raves and Rants focus group turns on the Victrola (hey, they’re old) these are their particular favorites – Bing Crosby’s I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Perry Como’s Home for the Holidays, Nat Cole’s The Christmas Song, Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24 and Wham’s Last Christmas. In the words of another Christmas tune (thanks to Les Brown) from TBRR – We Wish You the Merriest!

SNEAK PEEK AT NEXT WEEK: Our year-end retrospective