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Tampa Bay Rants And Raves



TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports, lifestyle and nostalgia items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


USF lets our community down


Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have well over 32,000 teachers and no institution has provided more of those than the University of South Florida. The 32,000 figure does not take into account the number of teachers in contiguous counties (Pasco, Polk and Manatee) that also have been provided by the University of South Florida’s School of Education. Now USF is shutting down the School of Education which it says will save $6.8 million over the next two years – a very paltry sum when compared to USF’s $1.8 billion dollar budget. It is little wonder that outrage has been expressed in local education circles – most of whom were not even give a heads up on the move. And what of local high school graduates who plan a career in education? Sure, there are other options in Florida – options that require dorms rather than living at home, travel and, often, the loss of opportunities to hold on to a part-time job that will help defray educational costs. This decision was not at all well-thought out, and we suspect (and hope) when the tidal waves of protests come, a decision that should be revisited in conjunction with local education officials. 


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Quote of the Week from an observer of the Senate Judiciary Hearings on Amy Coney Barrett: “Joe Biden needs a teleprompter just to introduce his wife at a campaign event. Amy Coney Barrett handles 10 hour hearings with no notes in front of her.”

2. The guys in St. Pete who put out that twice weekly rag should hire the editorial writer for The 5:05 Newsletter. To wit: Editorial: To me, members of the current U.S. Congress are like "Post Turtles." You are driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top. That is a "Post Turtle." You know it didn't get there by itself. It doesn't belong up there. It doesn't know what to do while it is up there. It is elevated beyond its ability to function and you just have to wonder what kind of dumb ass put it up there to begin with. Best Congressional commentary we’ve read since Mark Twain’s “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”

3. Anticipating the wailing and gnashing of teeth when some ballots don’t get counted in next month’s general election, we offer the following advice. Mail the ballot tomorrow! There are over two weeks until Election Day. Don’t cry crocodile tears if you mail your ballot two days in advance and it doesn’t make it on time.

4. The Pinellas Sheriff’s race is getting ugly with some attack ads from the Democratic Party against incumbent Bob Gualtieri regarding his office’s handling of rape cases. The Sheriff claims the Democrats are using rape victims as “political pawns.” Perhaps so, but this is not the first time his office has been chided for categorizing rape cases as “a waste of time” or worse.

5. Let us try to understand this: many of the same people who support or actually have knocked over statutes of Christopher Columbus are more than willing to take the second Monday in October off with pay.



Sports, media and other stuff:


6. The recent passing of Conchata Ferrell at age 77 reminded us again of how much supporting actors add to the flavor of shows. Can you imagine what Two and a Half Men would have been without the beloved Berta? The same holds true for Wayne Knight’s Newman on Seinfeld; Edward Winter’s Colonel Flagg on M*A*S*H; Jack Riley’s neurotic Elliott Carlin on The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart himself as Professor Proton on The Big Bang Theory. And there are dozens more just like them.

7. This post season oddity: twice in the NLCS the Atlanta Braves’ Ozzie Albies homered and both times Braves closer Mark Melancon caught the ball in the Braves bullpen. The Braves ace has caught more home runs (2) in the bullpen this season than he has given up on the mound (1).

8. Two weeks in a row, we, with sorrow, report the passing of a pitching immortal. Last week, it was Bob Gibson; this week “The Chairman of the Board” Whitey Ford, a stalwart with the Yankees for 16 seasons. Whitey was 91. Also passing away was Red’s star second baseman Joe Morgan at 77.

9. Strange managerial moves. The White Sox say thanks for getting the team to post-season for the first time in 12 years by firing Manager Rich Renteria. And the Red Sox tell Ron Roenicke thanks for helping us get out from under a cloud of cheating by firing him after one season - curious set of values.

10. From an internet friend: You know you’re getting old when “friends with benefits” means having someone who can drive at night.


Things we are glad we still have


As a corollary to our TBR&R Remembering article of 9/27/20, here are a bunch of people, places and things we are glad we still can enjoy: The Stanley Cup as well as both a major league baseball team and an NFL football team, both relatively successful this year; Capogna’s Dugout; the scenic docks at Tarpon Springs; one of the world’s best beaches; the Beachcomber; one of Florida’s best fishing fleets; a good minor league affiliate (most years) in the Threshers; Ferg’s in St. Pete; some good television stations headlined by Channel 13; the Frenchy’s seafood chain; top notch higher learning institutions –St. Pete College, UT and Eckerd College; the county’s outstanding library system; Keegan’s on Indian Rocks Beach; Morton Plant Hospital; WFLA’s Jack Harris; Publix; The Sweet Sage Cafe on North Redington Beach; our three bay area Spring Training sites; our favorite diner – the Largo Family Restaurant; the people at Regions Bank; Pier 60; the Sheraton Sand Key; and most of all, our family and friends.

NEXT UP: Scary quotes; Century old landmark; Q for Don & Joe





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports, lifestyle and nostalgia items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


Keeping Keene green and other down ballot stuff


The issues are way down below the Trump-Biden equator but there is potential dynamite on the second page of your ballot. First, for Clearwater voters, one of the most important issues is the very last on the ballot – the referendum to allow the city to lease some 58 acres of the Landings Golf Course, by the Clearwater Airpark, for light industrial use. That is simply too much green space to give up and there is already plenty of light industrial space available in North County. We recommend a “no” vote. No votes are also important on Constitutional Amendments 2 and 3. Amendment 2 urges us to arbitrarily increase the minimum wage in the state to $15.00 an hour by 2026. Well and good if you don’t mind $15 Big Macs or $6.00 a pound tomatoes. (More on this in TBR&R 1/12/20). The second poison amendment is Number 3, which urges us to allow cross party voting in primaries. This defeats the entire concept of primaries – for Democrats to nominate their strongest person to face off with the best in the view of Republican voters. The proposed amendment invites partisans with only one viable candidate in an election to jump parties and attempt to vote in a less qualified nominee from the opposition party. This so-called “top two” primary is practiced in only two states – California and Washington – that should tell you all you need to know.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. We are also being asked (depending on where you live) to elect almost a majority of our Pinellas County Commission. Unlike previous years, there is not much to choose from. Charlie Justice and Rene Flowers have been average public servants, but the difference is their opponents are woefully unqualified. But it’s not the same with Janet Long, at best an average county commissioner, whose opponent Larry Ahern brings a much stronger resume to the table. A fourth commissioner, Karen Seel, is unopposed – no surprise as she has been arguably the shining star of the commission in her twenty plus years on the board.

2. It is hard to feel any sympathy for potential voters who were inconvenienced by a 15-minute glitch in the registration system on the very last day to register. What were they waiting for – a check from Bloomberg?

3. With Justice Ginsburg’s passing, who becomes the liberal lightning rod of the high court? It’s just about 50-50 between Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, like Ginsburg, both ultra-liberal and protectors of abortion clinics.

4. Let us try to follow this. California wants to ban gas-powered cars replacing them with electric cars - this in a state that already has rolling blackouts. What are we missing here?

5. From the Purellitzer award winning 5:05 Newsletter, this thought: “Every single frozen corpse on Mt. Everest was once a highly motivated person. Stay lazy, my friends”.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Idle thought: what a difference a good quarterback makes for a pro football team.

7. In TBR&R 6/7/20, we opined on our “dream pitching rotation” specifically Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan. One of those five giants passed away last week at age 84. All five hurlers were extremely competitive, but none more than the Card’s Bob Gibson – who chose baseball over a pro career in basketball.

8. Ah, can't you see me standin' here; I got my back against the record machine; I ain't the worst that you've seen – a classic line from Van Halen’s biggest hit – Jump. The band’s namesake, Eddie Van Halen, succumbed to cancer last week at age 65.

9. It was an odd year in baseball indeed. Two sets of numbers jump up – NL MVP Christian Yelich finishing the season just over the Mendoza line (.205) and Dodger’s slugger Max Muncy coming in at .192.

10. Recently seen on a bumper sticker: “Pray for our Police.” Amen to that.


MLB: Twelve down, four to go


The extraordinary field of 16 MLB teams has now been trimmed to four. Probably the biggest surprise survivor is Houston. The Astros limped into the playoffs but their big bats prevailed over the A’s. An errant Aroldis Chapman pitch to Mike Brosseau allowed our home town nine to squeeze into the AL finals to contest the legitimacy of the Astros’ season. The Marlin’s incredible streak of seven straight playoff series victories ended at the hands of the Braves’ powerful lineup and the top bullpen in major league baseball. And the Dodgers were again the Dodgers – simply the best team in baseball. We think this is their year after a 32-year drought.

UP NEXT: Things we appreciate; Mail it now; Chairman of the Board





Special edition – why Biden is the wrong choice


(With one month to go before Election Day, we present the numerous reasons why Joe Biden is the wrong choice to serve as our President.)

1. First and foremost, he will not be our President. Biden is so beholden to left wing causes that the troubles we’ve seen over the past several months in liberal climes like Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland and Seattle willseem like a picnic.

2. He’s too old. Granted, Trump is no spring chicken. There are young 70-somethings and there are old 70-somethings. Biden is the later to the extreme. And, if God forbid, he is elected and passes away during his term, because of a politically motivated rather than rational choice, we would be stuck with a freshman Senator as our chief executive. America has never had such an inexperienced Veep take the reins and this is not the time to find out how that would look.

3. But let’s assume Biden is elected and does survive his term. Again, there are young and old 70-somethings and anyone who says Biden’s brainpower is not diminished is in denial (see TBR&R 9/6/20).

4. The Supremes. In TBR&R four years ago, we opined that the number one reason to vote for Donald Trump was a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Now comes the death of Justice Ginsburg; and a couple of her colleagues will likely need replacements in the next four years We, at last, have balance on the Supreme Court and you know Biden will do everything in his power to bankrupt that balance – he is ambivalent about “packing” the court as FDR unsuccessfully attempted in the 30s.

5. He will most likely try to resuscitate the failed Obama health plan – the either buy it or be taxed plan. It didn’t work then, and it won’t in 2021.

6. Speaking of Obama, Joe likes to attach himself to the former president’s coattails. We don’t know why. For example, Black unemployment doubled during the Obama administration. Even with Coronavirus, it has significantly rebounded during the Trump administration, but then so has every other employment segment.

7. While on the subject of employment, Biden was part of an administration that lost millions of jobs to overseas corporations during its eight years in office.

8. His “plan” to eliminate Coronavirus, whatever that plan is, will be moot as conditions on that front are improving daily.

9. Biden is proposing the largest permanent tax increase since World War II. That burden will fall on the middle class.

10. Speaking of the middle class, there is absolutely no way one can foresee a better standard of life over the next four years under a Biden administration – higher taxes, yes; higher standard of living – no.

11. That’s as in 11 million illegal immigrants to whom Biden wishes to grant amnesty complete with jobs and unearned benefits.

12. Then there is the old, tired “Trump’s going to eliminate your Social Security” argument. First, if he was going to do that, why hasn’t he done that? Second, and the answer to number one, he can’t without the consent of congress – who won’t do it unless they wish to be unemployed.

13. His hypocrisy – Biden touts his Catholic faith, yet is a staunch supporter of abortion and his running mate Kamala Harris, in the words of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, “is the most openly anti-Catholic bigot to be on a national ticket in modern times.”

14. Biden’s buddy, Mike Bloomberg, a failed candidate who pumped millions into his own campaign, is now trying to buy Florida for Biden with about $100 million. Footnote, Bloomberg’s enormous cash outlay netted him only American Samoa on Super Tuesday. It’s harder to buy votes in Florida and elsewhere than it might be in New York or Chicago.

15. Lastly, “Florida’s Best Newspaper” supports him as they have every Democratic Presidential candidate in the paper’s history. We always use FBN as a guide if we are undecided on a race. We simply vote for their endorsee’s opponent.

UP NEXT: Back to our regular programming!





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports, lifestyle and nostalgia items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


Bloomberg, Amendment Four a farce


So the billionaire who could not buy the election for himself is now trying to buy it for Joe Biden. Michael Bloomberg’s spending spree in Florida is anything but altruistic. Let’s look at the facts – first about 5 out of 6 felons who show a party preference list Democrat – you don’t think Bloomberg’s cash is seeking out Republicans, do you? Second, we’re not quite sure paying off court fees in order to enfranchise someone is even legal. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz certainly doesn’t think so. Another, in our mind, larger problem is fines are being paid off – no mention of restitution to harmed parties. It’s just sick that felons are being portrayed as victims rather than the injured party in the crimes. It’s even sicker when rich people like Bloomberg think they can buy their way out of anything.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. The revelation that the President and First Lady have the Covid virus will no doubt have the far left screaming “unable to govern, blah, blah, blah.” Give us a feverish Don over stumbling, bumbling Joe any day.

2. The nonsense surrounding the case of a dying 87-year-old Supreme Court Justice re-emphasizes the need to put an age limit on Justice’s terms. 75 years of age seems a logical number with current Justices being exempted.

3. Number of the week – 96 as in 96 years ago. That’s the last time a Presidential candidate was successful without carrying Florida. And you wonder why Bloomberg is trying to buy the state for Biden?

4. Do we watch the Presidential debates? No, virtually everybody who does watch them is what political observers call “high information” people who already know the arguments – and who they are choosing. If we have any questions about who won the debate, “Florida’s Best Newspaper will tell us – Biden (the story having been written before the debate took place). And more importantly, the baseball playoffs are underway.

5. Prompted by the recent bad news from Stein Mart, you’ve lived in Clearwater at least a little bit of time if you remember when Stein Mart occupied the former Maas Brothers location on Clearwater’s bluff.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. To the casual hockey fan, it seems incredible that 16 years have passed since the Lightning last won the Stanley Cup. Way to go Bolts!

7. Just a guess on our part – Dodgers over the A’s in the World Series. The two teams have a bit of a home field advantage over Central and Eastern Division teams.

8. Seen recently on a bumper sticker – When I die, please don’t let me vote Democratic (see #10 below).

9. In our misspent youth, your humble blogger spun the discs at a couple local radio stations as well as in Panama City. Two truly talented people from that era passed away last week – singer/song writer Mac Davis (Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me) and Helen Reddy (Delta Dawn, Angie Baby and I am Woman all topping the charts). Both were 78 years old.

10. Some Chicago notes from the latest 5:05 Newsletter: I asked Alexa what I should pack for my upcoming trip to Chicago and she said "heat." And this gem: Chicago cemeteries aren't allowed to be fenced in. It's considered voter suppression.


Some interesting first round playoffs


It was the first (and probably last) 16-team MLB playoff with a record seven teams from the Central division’s – all seven lost in the first round. First round winners in the Rhyming Bowl: Rays over Jays. And in the Cheater’s Bowl, the Garbage Can Astros beat the Twinkies whose domed stadium folks did funny things with the AC and exhaust fans in the 1987 and 1991 World Series. And in the Strikeout Bowl, the Braves advanced over the Reds. In the 13 inning opener, the two teams struck out a record 37 times. The Yanks, the Rays’ second round opponent, proved that good pitching doesn’t always beat good hitting in postseason, battering the celebrated Indians’ staff for 22 runs in two games. The Dodgers, as expected, advanced, but anything less than the World Series will be a shortfall for baseball’s best team. San Diego is coming on, taking out a Cardinal team that did not play like a typical Cardinal team with their leaky defense. The A’s, just like our Rays, do it with smoke and mirrors – winning on a small market budget and the Marlins still have never lost a post season series; we think this might be the year they do, but what an improved team! Here’s hoping Round Two will be as entertaining as Round One

UP NEXT: Mid-week special; Top groups; Keeping Keene Green





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports, lifestyle and nostalgia items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


1970: The darkest year in college football


This week marks the 50th anniversary of the darkest six weeks in the history of college football. It began on October 2nd when a Martin 404 airliner carrying a traveling group of Wichita State football players, coaching staff and family crashed into Mount Trelease in Colorado. There were 40 people on the plane (including approximately half the football squad). A plane carrying the other half of the team took a far safer route to their Logan, Utah destination. Eight people survived the crash, and they and their teammates decided to continue the season in honor of their fallen teammates. Just six weeks later, on November 14th, a Southern Airways DC-9 charter from East Carolina University to Huntington, WV carrying the Marshall football squad, crashed just short of the Huntington Airport killing all 75 people on board. It remains the worst sports-related air tragedy in U.S. history. After great consideration, Marshall decided to resume their football program the next year using JV players and athletes from other sports and did manage to win two games in 1971 despite the obvious handicap. Today, it remains a strong member of Conference USA with an 8-5 record last season and an appearance in Tampa’s Gasparilla Bowl last December. As for Wichita State, sixteen years after the tragic crash (1986), the school discontinued their football program.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Quote of the week: From the late Justice Ginsburg – "There's nothing in the Constitution that says the President stops being President in his last year,” Of course, this comment was made when Barack Obama was in the White House and tried to fill Justice Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court just prior to the 2016 election.

2. It is going to be interesting how Democrats present their arguments against Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett given her incredible resume. This time, they won’t have bogus frat party charges like they tried with Justice Kavanaugh. Biden is already railing that Judge Barrett was opposed to Obamacare like it was some sort of Holy Grail rather than the deeply flawed plan it was.

3. We know they mean well, but Presidents and other high-ranking officials should simply stay away from areas ravaged by fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Airport security and motorcades merely draw resources that need to be used in restoration. The best thing a President can do is phone a governor or mayor and ask “what can I send you?”

4. Sign of the times: In Louisville, two journalists for a conservative media outlet are arrested while covering the out of control demonstrations. In St. Pete, a couple is verbally assaulted by demonstrators, and we get some wimpy proclamation from the city’s ultra-liberal mayor – and no action by St. Pete police.

5. You gotta love Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd’s sidebar news conference in conjunction with Governor DeSantis’ crackdown on thuggery in Florida. He demonstrates through pictures a peaceful demonstration (folks carrying signs) and a not peaceful demonstration – a business being torched and another picture of looters rifling a store.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. This sports note: A-Rod and J-Lo have dropped their quest to buy the New York Mets in favor of a more promising investment – an Edsel franchise.

7. You can probably count on one hand the number of servicemen overseas who didn’t read Stars and Stripes at least occasionally. The newspaper, which dates back to the Civil War, was saved from a September 30 cessation of the paper by an executive order from President Trump. Good news for its millions of readers over the years and those of us fortunate enough to contribute to the paper during our military careers.

8. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Walter Matthau. The prolific actor had dozens of film credits – among them Charade, The Odd Couple, Grumpy Old Men, Plaza Suite and The Fortune Cookie which won him an Academy Award.

9. Justin Verlander’s Tommy John surgery will most likely keep him from pitching in 2021 and could well prompt his retirement. If the man never throws another pitch, he’s a Hall of Famer – most likely first ballot.

10. With the MLB regular season just concluded, the LA Angels finished with the sixth worst record (and second highest payroll) in the American League. Apparently, Joe Maddon is no longer a genius.


Remembering: things we wish we had back


(Editor’s note: In each month’s final edition, we take a look back at the people, places and things that make the area what it is. Previous subjects have included Star Spectaculars, Spring Training, the Clearwater Bombers, High School Graduations, Clearwater’s WTAN, Howard the Trader and water front dining delights.)

In no particular order, rhyme or reason, here are a few dozen people and things, mostly in Pinellas County, we wish we had back: Maas Brothers; Hein’s/Merz Record Shop on Fort Harrison; the Philly Hoagie Shop on Cleveland; across the street – the original stores in Cleveland Plaza; Siple’s Garden Seat; Pontiac with its great cars like the Le Mans, Firebird and GTO; Robby’s Pancake House (you can tell we like to eat); the Gulf-to-Bay Drive In; Chief Charleys; the Carib Theater; two beautiful Bristol Cruiser charter boats at the Clearwater Marina – Capt. Bob Bestle’s Doolie Brook and Capt. Nick Lopez’ Flo Jo; the short-lived Krispy Kreme doughnut store on Gulf-to-Bay; the two-seater Ford Thunderbird – both the original and the retro models; Howard Johnson’s (later the Beach Diner) at the end of the causeway; Tampa’s Golden Gate Speedway; the Old Schoolhouse Restaurant on Alt. 19; Clearwater’s original putt-putt golf course and driving range on Gulf to Bay; the REM go cart track on NE Coachman Road where Walmart now sits; Gulf Discount on Drew Street where you could get an iron, a toaster or a razor fixed instead of throwing it away; The Clearwater Sun; Capt. Fred Price’s Rainbow party fishing boat; Clearwater Ten Pin Lanes; the Clearwater Beach Hotel; the bay area’s smooth jazz station, WSJT; Post Corner Pizza; Eckerd Drugs; the Marina Restaurant; The Sandy Book Store; Morrison’s Cafeteria; The Tampa Tribune; Glen Oaks Golf Course; Bob Edwards on NPR’s Morning Edition; the trampolines on Clearwater Beach; Ronald Reagan; Aunt Hattie’s; Woolworth’s and McCrory’s Five and Dimes on Cleveland Street; The Pelican Restaurant; the Clearwater Auditorium and the many dances it hosted; Wolfies on Central in St. Pete; the Little Big produce stand on S. Fort Harrison Ave.; Young’s BBQ; the four way red light at Cleveland and Fort Harrison; the Palm Garden Restaurant and, finally, full service gas stations.

Many thanks go to some long time Clearwater residents (our unofficial historian in particular) for helping jog our memory on some of these terrific items from our past.  


UP NEXT: Buying Florida votes; MLB season wrap up; Chicago





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports, lifestyle and nostalgia items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


Replacing Justice Ginsburg


Despite the desire of a majority of Americans who feel the U.S. Supreme Court is far too liberal, replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg needs to await the outcome of our Presidential election six weeks away. This was the way it played out when Barack Obama tried to force a liberal appointee on the country prior to the election four years ago, and it should be no different now. Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee, created this situation when she did not voluntarily step down as it became increasingly apparent her advancing illness was severely limiting her effectiveness on the nation’s high court. But fair is fair and what was fair four years ago should hold sway now. And it also reinforces the need to keep the liberal ticket of Biden-Harris out of the White House.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. You can understand the ire of a family in California who lost their home in the wildfires. They are not allowed back onto their property to see what can be salvaged, but VP candidate Kamala Harris and Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom were allowed to trespass on the poor couple’s property for a photo op. Just sickening.

2. Many analysts are calling ABC’s Town Hall with President Trump “an ambush.” Folks, it’s ABC with former Clinton mouthpiece George Stephanopoulos; did the President and his supporters expect anything short of an ambush?

3. Number of the Week – 26 years. It was 26 years ago that Fox 13 debuted Good Day, Tampa Bay. The constant during that run has been principal anchor Russell Rhodes, a terrific TV journalist.

4. Bill Heller, the man behind the considerable growth of the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg passed away last week at age 85. The USF Education Building is named in his honor.

5. From the most recent 5:05 Newsletter:CNN continues to call rioters demonstrators. What are they demonstrating? That Portland is the world's longest infomercial for Duraflame?


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. We know our alma mater USF’s first two opponents were worlds apart (Citadel and Notre Dame). But this weekend’s game against Florida Atlantic should prove interesting as Jeff Scott’s Bulls take on their former head coach Willie Taggart.

7. As the regular baseball season winds down, our first choice would be to see the local nine competing in the World Series. Failing that, give us an inter-city series between the Cubs and the resurgent White Sox.

8. Idle thoughts on crafty lefty pitchers – the first provided by our nephew, far wise beyond his years - The thing about a lukewarm heater is that it tends to reduce exit velocity, thereby allowing the batter more time to admire his homer. So true – only one or two Tom Glavines come along in a lifetime. But there was Bobby Shantz from the previous generation. He couldn’t break a pane of glass, but at age 95, he is the oldest living MVP recipient (24 wins in1952 with the downtrodden Philadelphia A’s).

9. Our TBR&R “unofficial historian” reports an arthritis flare up from having to push her mute button so often during the deluge of political ads. And it will only get worse in the weeks ahead – the ads and the arthritis.

10. From TBRR Five Years ago (9/20/15) The fashionable Clearwater neighborhood of Harbor Oaks wants to return to brick streets and avenues in conjunction with upcoming utilities work. A majority of their residents are willing to be assessed for the additional cost. Like the undergrounding of utilities on Sand Key several years back, this seems to be a no-brainer. (Update – unfortunately, it did not happen).


FBN recommends – why bother?


A week or so before the Florida primaries, “Florida’s Best Newspaper” spewed 12 paragraphs on how they make their recommendations of election hopefuls. The process is only slightly different from the general election in that they endorse races in both Republican and Democratic primaries, often endorsing Republican candidates they feel would not be the strongest candidate against the presumed Democratic hopeful. In the general election, it goes like this – the recommendation goes to the person with a “D” after their name unless the choice would be so ludicrous as to make an even bigger laughingstock of FBN. In its over one hundred year history, the paper has never endorsed a Republican candidate for Governor or President. This gave you great selections like the now drug-rehabbing Andrew Gillum, Charlie Crist when he was a Democrat, but never as a Republican and Presidential stalwarts like Mike Dukakis, John Kerry and Walter Mondale. The process is so laughable that many candidates just don’t show up for interviews – why bother? And any discerning voter would say the same of the one-sided recommendations – why bother?

UP NEXT: College football’s darkest year; Stars and Stripes





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports, lifestyle and nostalgia items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


Trump was the right pick in 2016 – and 2020


We sometimes forget why we voted for Donald Trump in 2016. More than anything else, it was a response to eight years of an Obama presidency with its failed medical system which, in effect, fined people if they didn’t buy in. The vote represented displeasure with a stalled economy which took off like a rocket once Obama and crew vacated the White House. It was a vote that said we’ve had enough with a corrupt Justice Department which did its bidding for the Obama/Clinton coalition rather than the American people. Voters decided they wanted to be rid of an unbalanced Supreme Court churning out decision upon decision vastly tilted to the left. Four years later after rejecting the Obama agenda, we are being asked to elect his flunky of eight years. Instead, remember why we voted for Donald Trump.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. $40 million – that is the amount of money the Biden campaign is throwing at Florida thus far. Think winning back our state isn’t important to the Democrats?

2. Why, in heaven’s name, would organizations like NPR and The New Yorker give a crackpot like Vicky Osterweil a forum for her book In Defense of Looting? The book and its author have been roundly criticized by officials of both political parties. Free speech, yes, but this is shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.

3. Quote of the Week: "I think it's ridiculous when you make decisions that are knee-jerk political decisions that are not based on evidence, not based on research," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, whose department is welcoming law officers to his city who have been affected by knee-jerk reductions in other cities.

4. Election item from The 5:05 Newsletter: The Democratic Party election strategy is phenomenal. When I awoke after anesthesia from dental surgery this week I had an "I Voted" sticker on my shirt.

5. A sign of the times, one of Clearwater’s and Florida’s very first Checkers Restaurants on Gulf to Bay Blvd. has closed.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Idle thought – until the last week or so, we were seeing less of the “5 o’clock express” than we usually see in late July, August and September. That is the five o’clock shower from the east that helps cool off the late afternoon and evening.

7. Cardinal great Lou Brock passed away last week at age 81. The first ballot Hall of Famer was at the center of one of the most lop-sided trades in baseball history. The big name coming to the Cubs in trade for Brock was Ernie Broglio who won just seven games in his three years with the Cubs while Brock starred for 15 seasons with the Redbirds.

8. The Rays are currently ranked as having the best farm system in baseball. It’s a nice accolade, but means little. Over the past five years, the top systems have been the Braves, the Nats, Tigers and Padres. The Nats and Braves have shown a knack for turning those prospects into All-Stars (Soto, Acuna, Albies etc.). The Tigers and Padres have gotten little production from their farm or have traded away top prospects.

9. While it looks like the National League will go down to the wire with teams qualifying for playoff sports, the American League, with a larger set of weak teams, is pretty much set with Tampa Bay, the Yanks, Toronto, the White Sox, Twins, Indians, As and Astros moving on. As it stands now, in the first round, the Rays would play the Yanks – a team nobody wants to play in post season.

10. Sixty years ago this week, a song went to Number 1 on the charts – one of only two identical songs to ever top the charts in different years. It was Chubby Checker’s The Twist which would again hold the top spot for two weeks in 1962. The only other song to do so was Bing Crosby’s White Christmas which topped the charts in 1942, 1945 and 1946.


Every MLB team’s greatest


MLB.com had an interesting piece a couple weeks back on every team’s greatest player. Their selection of the Rays’ greatest was Evan Longoria. You sometimes forget how many offensive categories in which #3 holds the team record – homers, runs and RBIs to name just three. He is also one of just three active players named the best in their franchise history – the others being Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout (the only one of the three still with their original team). The rest of the list is pretty predictable – Ruth, Williams, Mays, Aaron, Musial, Koufax, Cobb, Feller, Brett, Griffey, Seaver, Schmidt, Banks, Rose and Gwynn. Our only two arguments might be picking the Twins’ Kirby Puckett over their home run machine Harmon Killebrew and Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner over Roberto Clemente. Granted, we never saw Wagner play while, as a kid, we thrilled to the cannon of an arm and the magnificent gap power of Clemente. Those are minor quibbles about an incredible list of players.

UP NEXT: A-Rod & J-Lo; Hitting the mute; Crafty lefties






TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


The Landings golf course – yes or no?


Your humble blogger (and perhaps you as well) received a provocative polling call last week asking if Clearwater should allow some light industrial development where the Landings golf course now stands – just west of the Clearwater Airpark. The only recreation facilities falling on harder times than golf courses are bowling alleys. But you’re looking at approximately 45 acres of green space you can never get back – cue Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi (pave paradise and put up a parking lot). You will have a voice in this as the designation of open space, recreational lands in Clearwater is subject to a referendum. Clearwater needs jobs, but it also needs green space – a tough call – one that we all will have to make in the not too far future.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Quote of the week: “COVID has taken this year — just since the outbreak — has taken 100 year. Look, here’s…the lives…it’s just…I mean, think about it. More lives this year than any other year for the past 100 years.” Joe Biden on the campaign trail last week, prompting one veteran commentator to say, “I like Joe Biden. But there’s a reason they’ve kept him hidden in the basement. This is hard to watch.”

2. Second Quote of the Week: “I served on the mission to capture Saddam Hussein. @SpeakerPelosi, I know what an enemy of the state is. Do you?” Tennessee US Rep. Mark Green replying to Pelosi’s ridiculous comment that President Trump is an enemy of the state.

3. Number of the Week: $1.7 million dollars. The amount of money spent thus far by the state of Florida grappling with the felons’ voting mess created by a poorly executed Amendment 4 on 2018’s ballot.

4. Medical marijuana will now be available in forms like candies, cookies and other taste treats. Can’t see anything going wrong with that plan.

5. Another institution falls to political correctness and knee-jerk reactions. Dixie Hollins High School founded over six decades ago and named for Pinellas County’s first Superintendent of Schools has had its name and team name changed. Mr. Hollins, a very progressive educator, had as much to do with the Confederacy as you or me. Perhaps we need to voice our displeasure in future school board elections.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. The Nall family lost its matriarch last week. Barbara Nall, who died at age 87, was one of the sweetest, kindest human beings in this world. For over two decades, she was a fixture at Kennedy Middle School. Our condolences go to her husband of 65 years, Carroll, and their sons Andy and Scott.

7. If you ever in your life doubted where Google is on the political continuum, do this: search Fox News and one of the first things you’ll see is a piece titled “What’s wrong with Fox News?” No such entry when you search ABC, CNN or NBC or any other left-leaning news organizations.

8. 311 – the number of wins primarily for the Mets and Reds in the career of Tom Seaver. The Hall of Famer died last week at age 75.

9. Several years ago, Major League Baseball instituted a rule that protected catchers from being “blown up” by a runner coming from third. As a former wearer of the tools of ignorance, we appreciated the rule. The caveat was the catcher could not block the plate without possession of the ball. That part of the rule is now roundly ignored prompting one respected major league manager (and former catcher) to say,“They need to take that off the book and just start blowing up catchers again." If the prohibition of blocking the plate without the ball is disregarded, we agree.

10. From the latest edition of the 5:05 Newsletter: “Chicago to limit looters to 25 per store.”


MLB has but one month to go!


As we write this, most major league teams have completed half their seasons (30 games) and there are less than a half dozen teams that have no chance to make the “come one, come all” playoffs. Pittsburgh is the only NL team to have buried themselves. In the weaker American League, Boston, Kansas City, Texas, Seattle and the Angels are out of contention. There has been a power shift this year with the NL West possibly having four playoff teams. The World Champ Nats are in jeopardy of not making the dance. The power division in the AL is the Central with the Indians, White Sox and Twins all in play for post season. The most surprising team in the AL is Oakland winning two out of every three games while the NL’s Marlins are hanging tough in a division where everyone picked them fifth. Teams not in first place but well could be at the finish are the Yankees who eventually will get well and in the NL, the Phillies who seem to have patched their one glaring weakness – their bullpen. Best move at the odd August 31st trade deadline would seem to be San Diego’s acquisition of ace right-hander Mike Clevinger. But San Diego has a reputation of moving around a whole lot of bodies (well over a dozen this time) with negligible results. As for the local nine, most baseball experts give them a D or F for their trade deadline moves (or lack of).

UP Next: A very unique 45; Summer weather; Each team’s best





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Memo to MLB, NHL and NBA, let us relax!


To quote an old Kingston Trio song, these are the times that try men’s souls. We’re fighting an unprecedented pandemic, our jobs are in jeopardy, and we’re being badgered by political ads every three minutes. We need to relax, and at least fifty percent of our population turns to sports for relaxation. The one thing we absolutely don’t need is a bunch of social commentary and other mumbo jumbo infiltrating our brief respite from the rest of the world. We get enough of that nonsense 24/7. Your job MLB, NHL and NBA is to entertain us, not barrage us with junk we can get on CNN, Fox News or MSNBC. We get the feeling if our major sports can’t (or won’t) separate their political agenda from entertainment, folks will walk away. And a goodly portion may not come back.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Joe Biden has a plan to eliminate the coronavirus pandemic. And Richard Nixon had a plan to end the Vietnam War. We predict both plans will have the same success.

2. And about Joe’s running mate Comma-lah: she strongly opposes people’s right to own those deadly firearms, but has absolutely no problem with the murder of unborn children.

3. Idle observation: the weekend before the Donkey convention, FBN shouts “its’ coming, it’s coming,” from the front page. Last weekend’s GOP convention coverage nets page 15 placement. Tampa Bay deserves so much better.

4. Nancy Pelosi moves heaven and earth to get more money for the post office hoping somehow that will get more liberals elected. But on the same day, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows approaches her about getting more money in the pockets of folks affected by the Coronavirus and is blown off. Easily translated – get us liberals elected, the hell with people suffering.

5. A few weeks back (TBR&R 7/19/20) we suggested some proactive consumer action against companies that wish to force their political correctness on us – and their employees. The latest offender is Goodyear and their pronouncement that employees may wear BLM and LGBT garments, but don’t dare show up in Blue Lives Matter or MAGA attire. Like Pepsi and Nike, the good news about snubbing Goodyear, once the gold standard of tires, is there are now far superior options in the market place.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. The passing last week of Paula Caray, widow of the late, great Braves broadcaster, Skip, reminds Brave fans of what a hurtful month August is for the faithful. The three key elements of the WTBS Superstation days, Skip, Ernie Johnson and Pete Van Wieren all passed away within a block of a few years in the month of August.

7. Another baseball broadcasting note: the Southeast, including the bay area, is loaded with fans of the Blue Jays, Braves, Cards, Cubs, Phils and Yankees plus a few others. Those fans can probably understand a blackout on their favorite team’s game when they play at Tampa Bay, but not when the game is played in their team’s home park. Fans play over $100 a year for the privilege to see their team and their announcers on cable. MLB should revisit this broadcast policy.

8. Be honest, did you know the NBA playoffs were even going on? The playoffs ceased for one day in some sort of social protest after which the overpaid NBA stars realized the world would not stop spinning if they stopped dribbling.

9. Mention the name Bert Parks to a millennial and you will get a blank stare. It’s hard to believe forty years ago, the perennial host of the Miss America pageant was dumped after a quarter century with the pageant seeking a “younger look”. It created a furor with many former Miss Americas and TV giant Johnny Carson taking up Bert’s cause. The pageant has not been the same since.

10. Answer – 1910. The question: when was the last time a state capitol was changed? In 1910, the state of Oklahoma moved its state capital from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. Someday, perhaps Florida will do the same and move the capital to a more central location.


Remembering: waterfront places where we ate


(Editor’s note: In each month’s final edition, we take a look back at the people, places and things that make the area what it is. Previous subjects have included Star Spectaculars, Spring Training, the Clearwater Bombers, High School Graduations, Clearwater’s WTAN and Howard the Trader)

Clearwater and environs have been blessed with many fine restaurants over the years. This month we remember some of the best and most popular on or near the water. First would be the granddaddy of top restaurants – 72 years and counting, Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber on Clearwater Beach. Back in the day, its main competitors were virtually across the street – Henry Henriquez’ Pelican and Buckley’s. Just down the road, was possibly the best kept secret on the beach, the dining room at the Clearwater Beach Hotel.   And at the south end of the beach was Fisherman’s Wharf. As you venture away from the beach, you had to make a stop at the Flagship or the double-decked Seaspire on Island Estates. Once on the mainland, there was the down to earth Bay Drive In on the bayfront where they would cook your catch from one of Clearwater’s numerous fishing boats. Lastly, you had the elegance of Siple’s Garden Seat, on Druid Road, with its beautiful lawns that sloped down to Clearwater Bay. All but the Beachcomber are gone today, but what a treat these fine restaurants provided to Clearwater residents in the middle of the 1900s.

UP NEXT: Come to Houston; MLB update; Enemy of the State?





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.



Will the “everything free” plan work for Biden?



More and more, we get the feeling that a lot of folks are going to vote for Joe Biden expecting him to be the next incarnation of Santa Claus. You’ve heard it –free tuition, free medical care, free monthly checks, free Eskimo Pies (okay, we made up the last one). But we get the feeling that if enough people asked for it, Joe would promise it. Forgive us if we think all this sounds a bit like the Bernie Sanders platform which Democrats rejected as too socialist. And while this seems great, somebody has to pay for it. And no matter how Joe and his spin doctors try to twist the numbers, it will be that revered middle class Joe is always talking about who will take the hit.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Voters are, and should be, nervous about mail-in balloting in states that have never before handled anything of that magnitude. Florida’s “request it and get it” mail-in ballot is much more sound than, say, Nevada which intends to mail ballots to everyone on the voter rolls – without confirming if the person even still lives in the state – or is even alive.

2. Biting commentary from The 5:05 Newsletter: If you won the lottery, would you mail in the ticket? Or would you go in person? Why is that? (Remember this when you go vote.)


3. Okay, Ms. Pelosi, you stomped your feet and held your breath until you got your way on the postal service. Now, do as you intended and call back the House and get some relief for people who need it.

4. “Florida’s Best Newspaper” devoted many, many column inches on the op-ed page last week on how to pronounce the Democratic Veep nominee’s first name. It’s like the punctuation mark comma with a la like in la de dah at the end. No space required here on pronouncing Mike.

5. Quote of the week: “We have a right in our home to live in peace." Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on banning protests on the street where she lives, while encouraging protests in other parts of the city. Rotations of over 100 police officers have been assigned to protecting her home. Again, more of the Chicago Mayor’s do as I say, not as I do guidelines (TBR&R 5/17/20).


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. To paraphrase Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore show – “it all began at a 5000 watt radio station.” Glenn Beck, who began his conservative talk show career at Tampa’s WFLA radio, has been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

7. The answer: Luis Garcia of the Washington Nationals. The question: who was the first player born in the 2000s to hit a major league home run? He did it last week.

8. At this writing, there would be no teams with a losing record in the baseball playoffs – barely. The National League would have two teams right at .500 qualifying (Miami and Milwaukee) and four of the five teams in the NL West would make the dance. In the American League, only one .500 team (Baltimore) would qualify for post season and the Rays are solidly in with the fourth-best record so far in the AL.

9. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Charlie Parker. The jazz great played a mean sax and was instrumental in the development of the bebop genre.

10. Factoid – a few weeks ago (TBR&R 7/19/20) we mentioned Coke’s dominance in the soft drink industry. Here are the Top 5 soft drinks 1. Coke leads with more sales than Pepsi and Mountain Dew combined, 2. Diet Coke, 3. Pepsi, 4. Mountain Dew, and somewhat surprisingly, 5. Dr. Pepper just beating out Sprite.


Election reflections



Local primaries did not offer a lot of surprises unless you consider a couple of folks who were outspent and were victorious. That was the case of U.S. House District 13 hopeful Republican Anna Paulina Luna who defeated the better-funded Amanda Makki and will face off against Charlie Christ in the November general election. It’s an uphill battle for Luna in a Democratic-heavy district. Former school board member Rene Flowers also prevailed against State legislator Wengay Newton who raised more money and brought a heftier resume to the table. But the three-way race pitted two men against a single woman, all well-known, and the two men split half the vote. Now the games begin with just over two months until Election Day.


UP NEXT: The Landings; Bert Parks; Joe and Dick’s plans





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


The misuse of the term “patriot”


About a month ago, we nearly choked on our morning coffee when one of the liberal news outlets described a recently passed public figure as a patriot. The individual in question was one of the most divisive Americans in recent history. We’re not sure we can give you an ironclad definition of a patriot, but we know what a patriot is not. Patriots never dodged the draft; they never boycotted an inauguration of a President because the “wrong” party won; patriots don’t tear down statues of individuals who gave great service to our country; they never blindly attempted to reject a qualified appointment because the party leadership so directed. To describe people like this as patriots is an affront to people like Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Nathan Hale and thousands of others, all with some human flaws, who put their nation ahead of some private agenda.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Many would say that is karma as the sheriff is putting inmates at his 49th Street jail facility at risk by not providing face masks – completely irresponsible.

2. Joe Biden’s pick of Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate is hardly a surprise. All but two of the names being floated by Biden came with rather serious baggage – the other safe pick being Rep. Val Demings of Florida. Obviously, Rep. Demings would have been a better choice for Florida if Biden prevailed. We also suspect she would have been a better choice for Biden from a geopolitical standpoint. California will go for Joe Biden – or Joe Stalin for that matter. Florida is more of a toss-up and Demings could have helped here.

3. Will the last rational person to leave please bring the flag when they exit Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle or Portland?

4. Factoid – in this time of need for a lot of folks, the three biggest and most effective non-government charities remain The Salvation Army, The United Way and Catholic Charities.

5. Number of the Week – 4. That’s the number of companies that are part of the current Dow Jones Industrial Average that were there fifty years ago. They are GE (the oldest on the DJ - since 1907), Exxon/Mobil, Procter & Gamble and Raytheon Technologies (originally known as United Aircraft).



Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Here is a money making opportunity for cable and unwired providers. We assume the technology exists to charge each customer who wishes an extra fee to block all political ads between now and November, replacing that 15 or 30 second block with a period of smooth jazz or new age music.

7. Major League baseball’s elite starters are taking it on the chin in this convoluted season. Four of the ten best starters in the game, Houston’s Justin Verlander, the Nat’s Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer along with the Brave’s Mike Soroka have all been hit with injuries in the first two weeks. Soroka is out for the season, the others are in various stages of recovery.

8. We knew the baseball season would be odd. At mid-week last week, the St. Louis Cardinals had played but five games (the Rays at that point had played 18) and the Atlanta Braves finally got a day off after being scheduled for 20 straight days.

9. He made his mark by adding pop styling to Peter, Paul and Mary songs like If I Had a Hammer and Lemon Tree. Trini Lopez passed away last week at age 83.

10. Again, your Humble Blogger celebrates the anniversary of his greatest feat – convincing an otherwise very intelligent girl to marry him 51 years ago this week.


The Mount Rushmore of female vocalists


The TBR&R focus group reconvenes - this time with the task of creating a Mount Rushmore for female vocalists. Our matriarchs chose the Canadian school teacher turned pop phenom Anne Murray and a woman who charted 11 number one records, but whose career ended all too soon – Whitney Houston. The guys opted for another phenomenal act whose career started in 1967, Linda Ronstadt, along with a name who gets a bit of an asterisk, because she was technically part of a group with her brother, but oh what a voice – Karen Carpenter. And the singular musician (and youngest member) in our group of ancients chose the legendary Billie Holiday. An incredible quintet to be sure.

UP NEXT: Coke, election reflections and vote Joe, get free stuff





TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


75 years ago – the week WWII ended


This is the week that World War II ended for all intents and purposes. America had just dropped two nuclear bombs on a recalcitrant Japan. Japan’s Emperor addressed his people on radio saying it was time to end the war. Remarkably, the vast majority of the nation’s populace had never heard his voice prior to the broadcast. The events leading up to Japan’s capitulation is neatly chronicled in Chris Wallace’s bestseller Countdown 1945 which tracks the 116 days since FDR’s death and ascendency of Harry Truman to the end of the war. It took the sweat of millions, many of them our Dads and Granddads, as well as the sacrifice of 418,000 American lives, to bring about the end of this global conflict. We remain in their debt, this greatest generation.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. We’ve often been critical of the Hillsborough County School Board and their infighting at the cost of intelligent planning. This week, we tip our caps to the board for their measured decision to push back in-school instruction at least a month. We wish other school boards would follow suit and that the state stay out of what is a local issue. Numerous states have mandated virtual learning for the beginning of their school year.

2. Jurisprudence update: It makes you feel secure when some 17-year-old punk hacks the accounts of folks like Apple, Gates and Buffett. Early indications are authorities are going to throw the book at the Tampa resident and his two confederates - as they should.

3. Don’t you wish you could get into the brain of New York’s Rep.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and find out what affliction makes her say things like recognizing the work of Father Damien of Hawaii constitutes colonialism and white supremacy? The man, now a Saint, worked in Hawaii’s leprosy colonies for 16 years before the disease claimed his life.

4. Number of the week – 6 weeks. That’s the length of time it’s taken to decide a Democratic primary in New York due to 12,000 disputed mail-in ballots. My, won’t November be fun?

5. Pinellas County’s first Public Defender, Robert Jagger, died last week at age 92. If you followed his 35-year career, you know Pinellas County got their money’s worth and much more from this devoted man of the law.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Media note from the 5:05 Newsletter: One big difference between the U.S. and North Korea is that North Korea forces its people to listen to endless propaganda; while in the U.S., we pay a monthly cable bill to listen to it.

7. A Happy 55th Birthday this week (8/13) to former Atlanta Brave Mark Lemke – the best fielding second baseman to never win a Gold Glove. The switch-hitting “Lemmer” does hold one major league record however – 3664 career at bats and never hit by a pitch – seems unbreakable with pitchers throwing inside more and more these days.

8. Answer: 1954. The question is when is the last time, until this year, that at least one team did not start the season 3-0. 1954 was a great year with the Giants upsetting the packed pitching rotation (Feller, Lemon, Wynn) of the Indians. Bobby Avila of the Indians (.341) and Willie Mays (.345) were the batting champions. Both Lemon and Wynn had 23 wins and the Giants’ Johnny Atonelli 21.

9. Is that so? Not so long ago, the city of Clearwater was the 10th largest city in Florida. Now, with a population of slightly over 114,000, it ranks 17th just behind Lehigh Acres and ahead of Brandon. For what it’s worth, the state’s top five cities by population are Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and St. Pete.

10. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember when TikTok was not an app, but a cocktail lounge (Tick Tock) downtown.


MLB: twenty percent of the way home


Major League Baseball has managed to stagger through the first fifth of their season and still be playing – in itself a major achievement. We had forecast that some strange things (other than virus related) would happen, but things are pretty much normal with the Yanks, Twins, Astros, and Athletics showing the way in the American League, while the Braves, Cubs and Dodgers are the cream of the NL. The Padres are the only real surprise in the NL. A lot of optimists liked the local nine’s chances in the AL, but they can’t win on the road and their bullpen is pretty much toast after overuse during the first stanza of the season. The Rays might have wanted to hang on to that Pham fellow who at this juncture is hitting a cool .305 and a big reason for the Padre’s surprising start. But there’s still a lot, no, make that a little bit, of baseball yet to be played.

NEXT UP: Patriots? Great gal singers; a couple of cable suggestions






TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Ya gotta have friends (Thanks to Bette Midler)


This week’s day of issue for TBR&R (8/2/2020) is National Friends Day - a day to celebrate the guy who knocked on the door of your new home to ask if he could borrow your ladder; the kid you met on the Little League field over sixty years ago; the couple who taught Sunday School in the room next to yours; the great guy who shared a part-time retirement job; the neat couple who wouldn’t see you socially until their daughter graduated from your wife’s school to avoid any conflict of interest; a couple of friends you didn’t know all that well in high school but became good friends later in life; the nice couple who, by luck of the draw, became your baseball season seatmates; the wonderful couple who came to be your daughter’s in-laws and finally, the gal who said “hi” in the hallway of St. Pete Junior College who became your very best friend. Different circumstances have brought us into each other’s circle of friendship. This week, contact them (particularly those you haven’t chatted with in a while) and tell them how much their friendship means.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Grade of the week – “A” to Attorney General William Barr who maintained a calm demeanor while deflecting politicized charges of a Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee last week.

2. Imagine what fun that noted trustbuster Teddy Roosevelt would have had with today’s tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google who are now in the gunsights of Congress.

3. Further reinforcing the truism that a liberal is someone who has not yet been mugged, this report from Oakland’s Channel 7 – an ABC affiliate - Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf voted against further police budget cuts Tuesday after vandals defaced her home earlier the same day.

4. Hey Barack, it was supposed to be a eulogy, not some attack speech. Way to keep it classy.

5. Good for the Hillsborough Charter Review Committee. They rejected a proposal for a nine member County Commission. Hillsborough’s seven member board is dysfunctional enough. In fact, five would be even better. That seems to work for the majority of bay area communities.



Sports, media and other stuff:


6. The Rays, Oakland As and Atlanta Braves were the beneficiaries of the first three T–Ball League rule games that place a runner on second in extra innings. Curiously, all the teams scored more than one run in the 10th inning using this “novel” approach.

7. Speaking of the Rays, one observer of the team noted that during the Corona Virus protocols, the stands at the Trop look pretty much the same – empty. But there’s good news – despite being in a grouping with 3 or 4 of the best teams in baseball, the Rays have a decent chance of being one of the 16 playoff teams if the season does play out – something that is very problematic right now.

8. From the nearly world famous Gassman Law Firm marquee on Court Street, Corona Virus 19 - Florida 0.

9. The entertainment industry lost two giants last week – 104-year-old Olivia de Havilland, who along with her sister Joan Fontaine, were the only siblings ever to win an Academy Award. Miss de Havilland actually won the Academy Award twice, but neither time for her most famous role as Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind. Ubiquitous was an apt description for Regis Philbin. No one graced the television screen for more hours than Regis. Those of us, a bit long in the tooth, remember him as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on late night TV. Then there was Who Wants to be a Millionaire; Regis and Kathie and later Kelly. The man was everywhere! Philbin was 88.  

10. Five years ago in TBR&R (8/2/15) : In a touching final tribute, about 50 family and long-time marina friends said goodbye to David Rulison, the “Can Man”, (see TBR&R 7/12/15) as his ashes were scattered over the Gulf of Mexico from the Double Eagle III last Wednesday evening. The marina and the environment have lost a good friend.


The conundrum that is the Tax Collector’s office


This could be one of our “you’ve lived in Pinellas County a long time” features. That is if you remember when O. Sanford Jasper was our Tax Collector – a position he held for 32 years. Mr. Jasper was the personification of a public servant – honest to a fault, hardworking and the captain of a tight ship. Since then, the office has been occupied by a string of politicians to the detriment of Pinellas County. The latest palace intrigue has the last two office holders/politicians coming out for the incumbent Charles Thomas’ opponent – Joyell Bobala even though the two conspirators encouraged Thomas to run for the office four years ago. Oh, there is a Democratic candidate for the office – Joe Saportas – who has governmental experience, but not in the area of tax collection, but perhaps he could become the next O. Sanford Jasper which Pinellas County badly needs.

UP NEXT: The War Ends; Saint Damien & Ms. Cortez




WEEK OF JULY 26, 2020


TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally. 



America’s gerontocracy and its poster girl



The word above is a real word. We admit we had to look up the correct spelling. It is defined as rule by elderly people. The American poster girl is, of course, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. At 87, she currently spends more time in the hospital than on the bench at the Supreme Court. She’s not alone. Fellow Justice Steven Breyer is closing in on 82. Four of the other seven Justices are at what normally is considered retirement age – 65 or older. Up the street in Congress, we have geriatric leaders Nancy Pelosi (80) and Mitch McConnell (78). Come next January, the man sworn in as President will be 78 or 74 – either person easily being the oldest ever. What has happened to the Kennedys, Teddy Roosevelts or Grants (only 46 when sworn in)? America needs to find a new crop of competent leaders – and, we strongly suggest, put an age cap on public service to avoid having a bunch of leaders on life support.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Wow! The liberal spin doctors are not going to like this one. Texas U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert is demanding the Democratic Party change its name given the history of the party on slavery and bigotry. Seems the shoe doesn’t fit quite as well when on the other foot. Thank you, Rep. Gohmert.

2. In our Alice in Wonderland type world, extreme left wingers, including elected officials, don’t seem to understand that lighting a fire in a court house is not protected by the First Amendment. In fact, we would have been terrified to see what would happen to such people during the days of our founding fathers.

3. If the accounts of our immediate past president and other heavy hitters can be hacked, we want no part of Twitter – plus your technologically challenged HB has no idea how it works.

4. Idle thought: it’s so easy to have all the answers when you are on the other side of the dais or executive’s desk.

5. A comment by Fox 13 weatherman Dave Osterberg caught our attention last week. Dave wondered why nations don’t band together in their exploration of space rather than sending multiple vehicles towards Mars at the cost of billions – money that could be used for more worthy endeavors here on earth (our comment, not his).


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. This was a week for breakout hits of two America’s biggest acts. Fifty years ago, the Carpenters scored the first of their four number one singles Close To You. Ten years earlier, Brenda Lee had the first of her two number one singles, I’m Sorry, to go along with some 50 other charted records.                                                                    

7. Since the PC police are busy trying to rename sports teams they find offensive in any fashion, we wish to add our two cents. Given their seemingly unending search for a home field, make it the Toronto Refugees.

8. Remember Little League where every kid got a trophy? Major League Baseball is channeling that in 2020 with 16 of the 30 teams getting a postseason appearance, rewarding mediocrity.

9. In this unsteady time of the virus uptick, a surefire safety measure from The 5:05 Newsletter - If the CDC said that staying inside and never leaving your house for 14 days would save the college football season, the entire South would be locked up in their homes right now.                   

10. For years Harry and Janie Cline were a force in making Clearwater a better place to live in so many aspects. Janie passed away last week at age 77 - our condolences to Harry and their daughter on the loss of this lovely lady.


Remembering: Clearwater’s home town radio station


(We continue our monthly Remembering feature. Previous subjects like Star Spectaculars, Spring Training, The Bombers, Howard the Trader and the Rites of Graduation can be found in each month- ending issue of TBR&R)


WTAN went on the air in 1948 operating from studios in Clearwater’s old Auditorium on the bayfront. About five years later, studios were built across the street on Pierce Blvd. The people who were the voice of the station tended to stay a long time - foremost Frank Parker who was with the station well over twenty years on the air and also doing fishing reports and broadcasting Bomber games after another long time voice, Bob Weatherly, left to pursue politics full time. Another name that was a household word was Scott Dilworth, who hosted the station’s immensely popular “Scotty’s Swingshift” evenings for the station’s teen audience. Clearwater residents woke up daily to the very talented Harry Lytle, a combination of quick wit and extreme intelligence. Two other early voices on the station, Gene Allen and Chuck Adams, were part of the 1950s crew until they left to start their own station - day timer WAZE. WTAN responded to its first in-city competition by launching an FM station in 1963 under the genius of engineer/programmer Frank Reid and bringing a kid over from a St. Pete station who would hang around for twenty years. Unlike many stations whose personalities come and go, WTAN’s folks were part of the community, like the station itself, until its sale in the mid-1980s.

UP NEXT: Friends; In search of O. Sanford Jasper; More on Frank



WEEK OF JULY 19, 2020


TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


The sports nickname games begin


The Washington Vanilla football team is the first to cave in the tidal wave of political over-correctness cascading on the world of sports. Dan Snyder the Washington owner, who has been the target of so many anti-Semitic insults from the far left (hardly ever reported), has finally thrown in the towel after being pressured by corporate sponsors FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America to name just four (more on that below). Next in the set of dominos will be the Cleveland Indians who have already ditched their Chief Wahoo logo. If the whack jobs promoting all this PC garbage actually looked at the Cleveland franchise, they would see possibly the most progressive franchise in baseball history – first Black player in their league, first Black manager and first Latin players. But the progressive police target the Cleveland nickname while overlooking franchises like the Boston Red Sox who stalled for over twelve years after the color line was broken to add a Black player.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Do you have the feeling that Florida with its mounting virus numbers may have to go the way of California and start shutting down restaurants, bars, gyms and churches again? It may be necessary, but you shudder to think of doing anything that California does.

2. From our “glass house” department, a quote from “Florida’s Best Newspaper” on paycheck protection loans: The Florida Chamber of Commerce, one of the primary backers of Republicans in Florida, received up to $350,000. It should be pointed out that “FBN” one of the primary backers of Democrats in Florida received over twenty times that amount - $8.5 million dollars to be precise.

3. Idle election thought: entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s endorsement of Joe Biden is disappointing. On the other hand, Cuban is a bit of a wild card, but can’t help thinking he’d be a better chief executive than either Biden or Trump – unless, of course, my friend Joe (no, not that B name) runs.

4. Number of the week: 9200 – the numerical advantage of registered Democratic voters versus Republicans in Pinellas County. There are almost 200,000 non-aligned potential voters in Pinellas according to this month’s numbers from the Supervisor of Elections as we near next month’s primaries.

5. From the latest 5:05 Newsletter: History Thought: I'm just curious. For all the millennials who would erase Southern heritage to signal your virtue, I have just one question: How many of you drive a Volkswagen?


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. He was one of the area’s leading foot specialists for years in addition to a community volunteer in Rotary, the Boy Scouts and other organizations. Dr. Scott Hale passed away last week at age 91. He and his charitable efforts will be missed.

7. A few weeks back (TBR&R 6/7/20) we mentioned some nice discoveries on television to ease the tedium of our self-imposed isolation. We add a few more that we’ve found entertaining - Bosch, Goliath and the quirky Burn Notice. Only downside is you have to have access to Amazon Prime to enjoy a few of these shows.

8. Baseball begins its bizarre 60-game season this week. The cynic in us wonders how many team personnel will have to be affected by the Corona virus before they shut it down. By the way, with the weird scheduling, the toughest early season schedules belong to the Yanks and Braves; the easiest to the Reds and the World Series champion Nationals.

9. A follow-up to our “Mount Rushmore” of starting pitchers (TBR&R 6/7/20) – here are five pitchers who we would have liked to see have a full career without some debilitating injury: Cleveland’s Herb Score, Houston’s J.R. Richard, the Cubs’ Kerry Wood, the Braves’ Steve Avery and the Tigers’ Mark “the Bird” Fidrych.

10. Five Years Ago in TBR&R (7/19/15): Tale of two counties: Hillsborough County wisely continues their moratorium on “pain management” clinics while Pinellas drops theirs. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says the county is “virtually pill mill free”. Sheriff, we’ll give you the name, address and phone number of a pill mill operating in downtown Clearwater any time you want. (Update – it’s still there).


In our small way, time to strike back


In our lead article, we mentioned four major corporations who put the squeeze on the Washington Redskins to change their name. Perhaps it’s time to say we don’t like your very selective political correctness. Let’s start with Bank of America. They pressure the Redskins, but have no trouble marketing a credit card complete with the Atlanta Braves logo, including a tomahawk to us. We’ve cancelled the card. Nike does so much that’s offensive to a person with a social conscience that we’d never buy any of their products. Pepsi is a poor second to Coke in the minds of Americans, so boycotting them is simply a favor to our taste buds. We dine out a lot, so if the only choices at the restaurant are Pepsi products, it’s water with lemon, please. Granted, these are small gestures, but if multiplied by 100 or 1000 or 10,000 perhaps corporate America would get the message – leave our sports icons alone.

UP NEXT: Brenda & Karen; Clearwater’s radio station; Gerontocracy



WEEK OF JULY 12, 2020


TBR&R is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Thanks, Mr. Justice


Your humble blogger had the privilege of attending CHS when Bill Justice was the assistant principal. Like many other long time Clearwater folks, we later had the opportunity to work with him on various civic and community projects, but he was never “Bill” to us – always Mr. Justice. You just had too much respect for the man to call him by his nickname. On the occasion of his passing, we share a story only our immediate family knows. In our senior year at CHS, our many pranks and indiscretions proved too much even for the usually patient William Justice, and he suspended us for a day – terming the suspension a “lifetime achievement award”. Many years later your humble blogger replaced Mr. Justice when he stepped down from the Clearwater City Commission. In the newspaper article covering the event, he referred to us as “a good boy” during our CHS days – conveniently forgetting the events of thirty years previous. We hadn’t – just as we never forgot what huge shoes we were attempting to fill on the city commission. William Justice was one of the few individuals in this community to truly deserve the term legend.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Quote of the week: “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along” -the words of Rodney King during equally disturbing times in the spring of 1992. It has been twisted to “can’t we all get along” over the years but either way, it should be the mantra of our nation right now.

2. One of the best organizations in Pinellas County is recruiting its next class. Leadership Pinellas dates back to the 1970s and its graduates are a who’s who of Pinellas County movers and shakers. To learn more about this unique program, go to leadershippinellas.com/programs/apply. The deadline for applications for this fall’s class is July 31.

3. Ah, do you get the feeling Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wants to run for governor in 2022? The commissioner, whose only agriculture experience is pushing for marijuana usage, criticizes our governor at every turn.

4. The city of Clearwater, like every other city, is facing a budget crunch due to the corona virus. The good news is the city is in a lot better shape than other cities, but they still have to tighten the belt. One of the most obvious areas to cut is the possibly nice to have, but certainly not necessary, proposed changes to the city’s bay front.

5. Tampa International’s decision to delay almost a billion dollars in construction projects generated this idle thought. We would probably loan a close friend or family member money for the trip; look after their dog; water the plants – virtually anything as long as we didn’t have to pick them up at the airport.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Another gem from the 5:05 Newsletter: “Breaking News: Nancy Pelosi Orders Destruction of the Entire Side of the U.S. Capitol That Faces South”.

7. With the bizarre MLB season (TBR&R 6/28/20), our wizard of odds, Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) will not lower himself to prognosticating pennant races only slightly longer than Little League seasons. For what it’s worth, the pros in Vegas have the Dodgers and the Yankees as the top two choices with Houston and Atlanta the next two. Frankly, it could be the Tigers and Marlins as strange things can happen over a short span of games.

8. Good for the Ivy League! The collection of eight prestigious schools has cancelled all Fall sports reminding us of the dangers of the corona virus and – that sports are secondary to education on our college campuses.

9. A happy 25th anniversary this year to the Morton Plant Treehouse, Clearwater’s version of the Algonquin Roundtable (TBR&R 1/28/18 and 6/10/18).

10. Our humble publication bids fair winds and following seas to Tommy Duff who, like many other Pinellas residents choose to do, is relocating to North Carolina. Tommy and his restaurant were a part of the fiber of Clearwater for a couple of decades.

11. (An extra remark as we do on occasion). Thanks again to James Foster, of Right Click Computer Consultants, for his work in getting our blog back up after it crashed like the Hindenburg last week.


The Mount Rushmore of Male Vocalists


This week, the TBR&R Focus Group (five old, cranky people) welcomes a new member whose many credentials include being Pizza Hut Employee of the Month for March 1979 – and we should add for the sake of this ranking, the only musician in our august group. We asked the group to help us place five faces on the Mount Rushmore of Male Vocalists. Our elder chieftain says Elvis called Roy Orbison the best he ever heard and that’s good enough for him. Our two female matriarchs weighed in with the King and Michael Buble’ while the other two ancients went for two great ballad singers – Mathis and Sinatra. A solid list for sure.

UP NEXT: Drive a VW; Score, the Bird and J.R.; Mark Cuban



WEEK OF JULY 5, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Happy Birthday America!


(We apologize for the delay in getting this week’s edition to you and give a hearty thank you to James Foster of Right Click Computer Consultants for straightening out the problems we would not begin to understand)



Think before asking for the back-up quarterback


Each fall when things get tough at good old Everyman U, the fans immediately call for the coach to bring in old what’s his name, the back-up quarterback. He looks really good carrying the clipboard; surely he’d be better than what we have on the field. No doubt some (but hopefully not many) will fall for that logic this November. Was Donald Trump’s reaction to our pandemic perfect? No, but the U.S. recovery is going as well as any other sizable nation. Would Biden have been any better? He would probably tell you so with that “trust me” face. The virus is the best time for Monday quarterbacking since Seattle’s failed pass play in 2019. But the facts remain the facts. Trump’s administration handled the pandemic as well or better than any nation in the world; he turned the muddling Obama economy into the best in decades; and our nation’s defense is strong. Those facts ignore another reason so many voted for him – he brought balance back to the U.S. Supreme Court – a tenuous balance we cannot afford to lose.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Thousands and thousands – the number of people, including your humble blogger and saintly wife, whose lives were touched by Bill Justice. The former Marine, coach, educator and city commissioner passed away last week at age 98 – just weeks after the passing of his wife, Marian. We offer our condolences to his son and fellow CHS classmate Garry and his daughter Julie.

2. Perhaps you caught it on line – good for the spunky New York City 60-something woman who stood up to some punk trying, with other punks, to vandalize a statute of Teddy Roosevelt – someone the kid wouldn’t know from Teddy Williams. It was a classic example of the free speech our forefathers strove for on this weekend over two centuries ago – free speech the radical left is trying so hard to extinguish.

3. Apparently our concerns over absentee balloting (TBRR 5/10/20) are well founded as two New Jersey Democratic city councilmen are facing ten and over thirty years respectively for voter fraud in their recent election – and it’s early!

4. Los Angeles to cut $150 million from police budget. In the words of a great American, “what could possibly go wrong”?

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you remember S&H Green Stamps main competitor in our area was Top Value Stamps – given primarily by Winn Dixie stores. Top Value and S&H faded from the retail scene in the 1980s and 90s.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Over 30 major league players, including a couple superstars, have the Covid-19 virus. This is more than an entire major league roster. Mr. Manfred, it’s time to shut it down.

7. One of our TBRR focus group (a group of five, old, cranky people) recently viewed Hamilton and pronounced it well worth viewing. We will take her word for it.

8. The answer: Linda Cohn. The question: Who has anchored more Sports Centers than any other person? The 28-year veteran of ESPN really knows her stuff – particularly hockey where she is an absolute encyclopedia.

9. It is very difficult to think of a more versatile TV personality than Hugh Downs. Today Show, Tonight Show, 20/20 and Concentration are just some of the successes on his resume. The TV legend passed away last week at age 99.

10. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s greatest television journalists – David Brinkley.


America cries out for a new dictionary


About a month ago, veteran Tampa city council member John Dingfelder was called out for using the word “thug” in describing looters in his city. Apparently, this word that has been around for over two centuries is no longer appropriate in describing hooligans who do bad things like looting and burning businesses. In fact, we’re not even sure hooligan is acceptable any longer. Dingfelder was counseled by a new member of Tampa’s governing body, Orlando Gudes, saying, “Everyone needs to learn the changing acceptability of language.” This would apply to Gudes himself who, earlier this year, uttered an anti-Semitic term during public debate. We desperately need Merriam-Webster or some other company to publish a PC Dictionary listing words that someone, somewhere will find offensive as well as a glossary of new words like woke, sus or lit to name a few. It would be a great aid to us Neanderthals who grew up in the 20th century.

UP NEXT: Great crooners; Tree House; A personal note on William Justice





Special Edition - Ten questions radicals should be able to answer before they vandalize monuments.


(Editor’s note: as we approach the 4th of July, the birthday of our country, we are sickened by a bunch of radicals who want to rewrite American history in 90 days. Before they try to do so, we propose they be able to answer at least eight of the following ten questions).


1. How many Presidents are on Mt. Rushmore – and who are they?

2. Teddy Roosevelt distinguished himself in what war?

3. Who were the first and last generals to become President of the United States?

4. Who was the last President to serve in the military?

5. How many Presidents did not serve in the military?

6. Before the Civil War, in what war did Robert E. Lee serve?

7. In what city was the U.S. Constitution signed? And the Declaration of Independence?

8. How many Vice-Presidents have become President without the benefit of incumbency caused by their predecessor’s death?

9. Who is the only President to win the Congressional Medal of Honor?

10. Which of this year’s presumptive Presidential candidates served in the military?

The answers are below. And shame on the know-it-all radicals who have to go to Google or somewhere else to ascertain the answers. But at least they would have learned a thing or two about the nation they are trying to disassemble.

1. Four - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

2. The Spanish American War.

3. Washington the first, Eisenhower the most recent.

4. George W. Bush

5. Thirteen with an asterisk. Taft was appointed a General in the Red Cross during WW I, but had no actual military service. There were 12 others including three of our last four.

6. The Mexican-American War

7. Both documents were signed in Philadelphia.

8. Only five – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush

9. Teddy Roosevelt won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish American War.

10. Trick question – neither President Trump nor Joe Biden ever served in the military.


WEEK OF JUNE 28, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Biden or Trump – neither is Jimmy Carter


As more allegations of impropriety are thrust Joe Biden’s way, we can be assured we will not be electing a puritanical chief executive this November. Trump’s inappropriate behavior is legendary and apparently, Biden is no saint either. But does it matter? Americans, unfortunately, have become used to the foibles of their chief executives. In fact, it is probably easier to list the straight laced Presidents of the last century than those who strayed. We have Clinton, LBJ, JFK, FDR and Harding to name five Presidents who had confirmed affairs while in office and there are whispers about a few others. So, if you’re looking for Jimmy Carter, forget it and concentrate on things like the economy, national security and other things you value in a President.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Quote of the week: “Right now the officers feel like they can’t win. And I would have to agree with them.” From Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan. And any rational citizen would agree with Chief Dugan.

2. Protesters who randomly are tearing down statues honoring war heroes need to learn a little history before they tear down statues of Ulysses Grant and other patriots.

3. The bay area counties face mask ordinances provide a two-pronged defense against corona virus. First, the obvious – masking helps reduce the spread of the virus and secondly, the masks are a pain. So you’ll rethink all but essential trips to businesses. The downside, of course, is the negative effect this will have on businesses that are just starting the recovery process.

4. Tarpons Springs’ initiative to buy a marina across from the sponge docks seriously fails the sniff test. The marina is being brokered by one of the city commissioners. Recusing yourself from the voting is not enough. You need to back out of the deal to make it seem clean.

5. Five years ago in TBRR (6/28/15): Item: former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor has changed party affiliations from Republican to Democratic. Are we the only ones who were surprised Castor was not already a “D”?


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Number of the week – 39 years. The number of years Pat Sajak has hosted Wheel of Fortune – the record for hosting game shows. Another Sajak fact – he replaced Adrian Cronauer on Armed Forces Radio’s Dawn Buster show in Vietnam – the radio show that was the focus of the movie Good Morning Vietnam.

7. We must take part of the blame for the financial troubles of the iconic Brooks Brothers chain. We think Bush II was in office the last time we wore one of their excellent dress shirts and ties – or any other shirt and tie.

8. We’re coming up on the biggest boating weekend of the year. If you’re a boater, and have not perused the site “Qualified Captain,” you need to. Some bad luck, but it mostly features folks you see on the water who make you shake your head or use foul language.

9. From the sometimes accurate 5:05 Newsletter: “ In Chicago, 60 people died last month from COVID19 related gunshot wounds. This means they will have to vote by mail in November”. Additional note: 5:05 Newsletter to move its offices as bars are forced to close.

10. The answer: Northeast High School alum Craig Lefferts. The question – who was the last pitcher to hit a walk-off homerun? He did it while playing for the San Diego Padres in 1986. Lefferts, a southpaw, also pitched for the Angels, Cubs, Giants, Orioles and Rangers in a 12-year career.


One giant *


(Editor’s note: our month-ending Remembering feature will resume next month)

Baseball traditionalists have shuddered over the years as one gimmick after another has been added to the game. It started in 1960 when a third major league was formed – the Continental League. It was short lived when major league baseball agreed to expand. Today, all but one of the proposed Continental League cities has a team – Buffalo being the exception. Expansion brought more games each season and the first asterisk – Roger Maris’ 61 home runs the first year of expansion. Ten years later came the abomination that is the designated hitter (1973 to be exact). The rule is being forced on National League teams this season without forewarning where they could have picked up one of the half-a-players who serve as hitters only. The only change that makes some sense is larger rosters as traditional spring training will not happen. The most ridiculous, by any measure, is starting extra innings with a runner on second base – something that shouts T-Ball league and was panned by 80 percent of Major League Trade Rumors readers. This 60-game, money grab season by players and owners is nothing more than one giant asterisk. We might as well bring back Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and their traveling medicine show.

UP NEXT: New dictionary needed; Top Value; Linda Cohn



WEEK OF JUNE 21, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.



Things just get curiouser and curiouser!



We seem to have to reach back to authors of a different era to describe what is going on in our country- first George Orwell (TBRR 5/17/20) and now Lewis Carroll. The knee jerks to police brutality in Minneapolis began with some wack jobs wanting to get rid of police departments. We still haven’t heard the plan when one’s home is broken into or a girl is being beaten up by her boyfriend. To borrow from Ghostbusters, “who ya gonna call?” Not satisfied with stripping Americans of their protection, the radical left now wants to rename military bases, pull America’s number one film of all time, Gone with the Wind, off the airwaves and God help you if you’re a television show with the words police or cop in the title. At least two have already been canceled. You have to ask yourself when is this madness ignited by four bad cops in Minnesota going to stop – and what are the consequences? Or to reach out to another renowned man of the pen, T.S. Eliot, “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them.”


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. One of the businesses damaged by senseless rioting in Minneapolis has announced it is leaving the troubled city for a new location. Sigma-7 had been part of the city’s business landscape for a third century. Their plant was destroyed by fires during the turmoil in the twin cities.

2. Idle thought: a great many bad things in the world can be avoided by simply obeying our laws.

3. Suddenly, it’s a big deal that Publix won’t allow BLM face masks on its employees? Any major corporation has standing policies on politically charged wearing apparel in the workplace. You won’t see masks with MAGA on their employees either.

4. Speaking of Publix, did you ever wonder why The Times chose Wednesday to go along with Sunday in their diminished two-a-week circulation? Surely it has nothing to do with the thousands and thousands of dollars they reap from the supermarket’s weekly flyer.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you ever feasted on a Biff Burger. Bonus points if you ever ate at Burger Chef. Biff Burger originated in Clearwater and now has just two stores left - on 49th Street and in Greensboro, NC. Burger Chef sold out to the Hardee’s chain in 1982.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. With your Humble Blogger, it’s always been Faith, Family and Job followed very closely by baseball. But at this juncture, we’re good with punting the 2020 season – particularly with recent developments at the Blue Jays’ and Phillies’ complexes.

7. It’s the start of summer and time for our annual summer playlist suggestions starting with two great Carolina beach songs – John Franklin’s haunting Ocean Drive Sunday and Alabama’s Dancin’, Shaggin’ on the Boulevard along with the Beach Boys’ recollection of summers past – Do It Again; add in Keeping The Summer Alive by The Legendary Surf Riders and, in our first summer as a very young DJ, the most requested song, the Tymes’ classic So Much in Love.


8. Sticking with music, the recent passing of Bonnie Pointer reminds us that only a half dozen acts had more popularity than the Pointer Sisters but no number one record. They did peak at number two with both Fire and Slow Hand.

9. We bow to the marketing geniuses at Ford and Quaker Oats. Ford wanted to return the Bronco to its product line on O.J. Simpson’s birthday while Quaker Oats has decided to eliminate the branding of its Aunt Jemima pancake line after 130 years – a brand that made ex-slave Nancy Green (aka Aunt Jemima) a millionaire. Who thinks up these things?

10. Hard to believe: Erin Murphy who played Tabitha on Bewitched turned 56 last week.


Brand loyalty isn’t what it seems



We begin with a story from our youth. In the 1950s, our Dad managed a division of Westinghouse in the southern tier of New York that manufactured radio and TV tubes. They would do a run of a particular tube and then halt the line briefly and change the stamp on the tube from Westinghouse to Sylvania or RCA or GE. Being young and naïve, we thought Dad was going to get arrested for such a practice. About 75 miles down the road, a GE plant was cranking out tubes with Westinghouse and other brand names on them. Yet, so many folks would not buy a product unless it had a Westinghouse or GE or RCA nameplate. It’s the same with the “Buy American” campaign. By 1968, there was only one American television manufactured entirely in the U.S. Today, the transmission in your Ford could likely be manufactured in France. Conversely, the Toyota Camry is built in Kentucky and the Buick Encore and its Chevrolet cousin, the Trax are both built in Mexico. The good news – the Hershey Bar is still made in Hershey, Pa. You just don’t mess with some things!

NEXT UP: Waterfront dining; Craig Lefferts; In search of Jimmy Carter



WEEK OF JUNE 14, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


The worst public policy proposal in US history


In the epitome of a knee jerk reaction, several cities are seriously looking at “defunding” or disbanding their police departments in the wake of the Minneapolis mess. Exactly what are these civic leaders using for brains? Wack job groups like “Take Back the Block” are leading this very misguided initiative which constitutes an open invitation to come to Minneapolis and start looting. In New York, their left wing mayor is talking about police cuts – just what is needed right now in America’s most screwed up city. Remarkably, other liberal-led cities are considering similar measures. This will work great until some folks wake up and realize why we have police departments. It all goes back to the whimsical but oh so true observation - “A liberal is someone who has not yet been mugged”. Reform yes, radical surgery – a menu for disaster.

Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Quote of the week: “I think (that’s) more of a knee jerk reaction than sitting down and actually assessing the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies and the need out in the community.” - Tampa Mayor (and former police chief) Jane Castor’s response to Minneapolis’ radical plan cited in our lead article.

2. Also related to our lead item: CNN’s Chris Cuomo, brother of New York’s distinguished governor, declared that police officers are those required to remain peaceful — not demonstrators. Supposedly, Mr. Cuomo has a law degree. We also suppose that he was absent the day when his Constitutional Law class discussed the 1st Amendment and the right to peaceful assembly.

3. Another offshoot of the corona virus is the unavailability of large appliances right now. The industrial shutdowns and diversions to virus-related materials have created a backlog of orders for things like refrigerators and washing machines. Another area of shortages right now is bicycles.

4. Congratulations to Clearwater Central High graduate Msgr. David Toups who has been named Bishop of the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you dined at Maas Brothers Suncoast Restaurant at Westshore Mall with its view of takeoffs and landings at TIA.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. We always enjoyed and were informed by ABC’s This Week with David Brinkley. Recently, we were in a situation where we were more or less forced to view this generation’s version of the show with former Clinton mouthpiece George Stephanopoulos. Brinkley, the great TV journalist, would be embarrassed. Truth be told, the entire news division of ABC is an embarrassment.

7. Number of the Week – 5. That’s the number of U.S. cities that have multiple daily newspapers from which to choose. They are New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Washington. The bay area lost its second (and best) newspaper The Tampa Tribune when the St. Pete Times bought and folded it in 2016. The Times itself is now just a two paper a week sheet.

8. Best wishes to former Rays’ outfielder Denard Span who has announced his retirement. A career .281 hitter, Span was acquired from the Giants for legendary, but fading, third baseman Evan Longoria and was later flipped to the Seattle Mariners after only 43 games.

9. Answer: former Ray’s reliever Jesse Chavez. The question: what current major leaguer has been traded more than any other active player - eight times? The veteran reliever has modeled nine uniforms – including Texas and Toronto twice. While the property of the Rays briefly in 2009, Chavez did not pitch in the majors for Tampa Bay.

10. And this gem from the 5:05 Newsletter: California News: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered store owners not to resist rioters and looters and, instead, "show them love and humility." Minutes later he was named the defense minister of France.


College athletics have become a joke


Think back to when you were a kid and the college athletes you admired. Being older than dirt, we admired the great athletes of Bud Wilkinson’s mid 1950s Oklahoma teams like Tommy McDonald, Clendon Thomas, Jerry Tubbs and Jimmy Harris. And the San Francisco basketball teams lead by Bill Russell and K.C. Jones. Now, the best you can hope for is one season from your college superstar and three, at most, from your favorite school’s football BMOC. And it’s getting worse with the NBA, in particular, coming around to every kid being a LeBron James or Kobe Bryant – going straight from high school to the pros – or maybe even skipping their high school senior year. It seems the madness is headed in that direction. It’s probably Pollyanna to say okay, you dozen or so kids go straight to the NBA, the rest of you, we expect four years for the tuition, room and board, we provide. And if you want to leave early, we’ll take 15 percent of your salary for every year until your graduation year – returning college sports to what it was meant to be.

UP NEXT: Summer songs; Biff Burger; Qualified Captain



WEEK OF JUNE 7, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


The cost of doing business


We suppose it was inevitable that some Japanese steakhouse would add a surcharge for their cost of masks, cleaning supplies and the like to a dinner tab. Elsewhere, dentists are adding a similar charge to their fees – ten bucks a head. This is simply a cost of doing business – did they not clean and sanitize before the epidemic? Oh, UPS is tacking on some surcharge for an undetermined reason. Then there’s gas stations and other businesses who want to surcharge you for using a credit card – we avoid those folks like we avoid poisonous snakes. The same with our vendors who added delivery charges during high gas prices – most of which did not disappear when as prices normalized. A price should reflect all costs and then the consumer can decide whether to purchase or not. But don’t surprise us with added fees after food or services have been rendered.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. An addendum to our lead article. If there is one person         who would be justified in an added charge, it is a physician friend. His patients were stealing bottles of hand sanitizer from his exam rooms during the height of the virus scare – pretty cheesy.

2. “Florida’s Best Newspaper” is completely clueless. They recently took White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to task for voting by mail in her home county – Hillsborough County. She and the rest of us would have no problem with vote by mail if it was all done in Hillsborough or Pinellas County instead of various places around the country and our state where “funny things” happen during elections (TBRR 5/10/20).  

3. Joltin’ Joe Biden takes on Amazon, saying they don’t pay their fair share of taxes. Amazon responds with their $15 billion tax bill from 2019 and pointing out they pay those taxes under tax laws which, for the most part, were developed while Biden was either in the Senate or VP. Try taking on a hungry grizzly bear next time, Joe.

4. Let’s just say we’re glad we never had Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey leading our troops into battle. And a tip of the hat to the city of Tampa for their quick imposition of a curfew in response to bands of thugs who chose to make a tragic situation a reason for looting and destruction.

5. GE’s recent sell off of their light bulb division after 125 years reminds us that most of the home appliance names from the 50s and 60s are no longer around. We think of Admiral, Curtis-Mathes, Philco, Sylvania, Westinghouse and Zenith to name a few.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. 80 years ago this summer – a pivotal event in baseball. A very promising pitcher for the Daytona Beach Islanders injured his pitching shoulder diving for a ball during batting practice. With the severe injury, the youngster’s manager, former MLB pitcher Dickie Kerr, suggested he try to further develop his hitting skills and become a position player. The kid's name was Musial.

7. Idle thought – the best five starting pitchers we have had the privilege to watch over the years are Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan.

8. 65 years ago this week, NBC Radio premiered their weekend-long show Monitor – one of the best productions in the history of radio. It would air for twenty years and become the model for NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

9. A friend shared a not so complimentary nickname for the Neiman Marcus Stores which we profiled a couple weeks back (TBRR 5/24/20) – ‘‘needless mark-up.” The same could apply to the pricey Pier 1 – which has folded the tent permanently.

10. And from the always credible 5:05 Newsletter: “When expelled into the air by people speaking very loudly or shouting, the Coronavirus can hover for 15 minutes ... which explains why the infection rate is highest in New York City.


The pandemic – rediscovering television


Years ago, FCC Chairman Newton Minnow described television as “a vast wasteland.” Overall, we can’t say we disagree. Other than Channel 13’s excellent morning news program and baseball (remember that?), we don’t spend much time in front of the set. But with our “interesting times,” we discovered a few enticing things to make up for the lack of books and outside activities. Mostly we’ve watched shows we were going to get around to someday like The Good Wife, Monk, Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm plus a dozen or more historical documentaries. The only current running show we’ve latched on to is the captivating The Amazing Mrs. Maisel – arguably our favorite of the bunch with its excellent scripting and outstanding cast. These shows along with MLB’s airing of the last two baseball seasons have made the quarantine tolerable. Granted, there were just as many disappointments such as our visit back to Pardon the Interruption which is still ridiculously overloaded with inconsequential pro basketball stuff and little of value, but overall, the return to TV has been a pleasant experience.

UP NEXT: The worst public policy proposal in US history



WEEK OF MAY 31, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Here comes summer and Cristobal and Nana


As we officially enter the hurricane season this week, Arthur and Bertha have already come and gone. Officials are telling us to expect an active 2020 season with Cristobal next up followed by Dolly and later Nana – our granddaughter’s name for her paternal grandmother who hopes her namesake and her fellow storms will be “weak and feeble.” From her lips to God’s ear! We’ve seen tremendous acts of help and kindness during our pandemic just as we saw during the last two major Florida hurricanes – Irma in 2017 and Michael in 2018. What we hope not to see is the hoarding prevalent during the coronavirus and the gouging (7-11 and Chevron being the two biggest offenders) we saw during Irma. Stay safe!


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. All the brouhaha over the state employee cashiered for insubordination. Rebekah Jones violated so many principals of corporate or governmental communications. It is surprising her dismissal didn’t come earlier. If you disagree with policy, you take it upstairs, not to the internet which is career suicide.

2. Now, if we were running President Trump’s re-election campaign, our advice would be don’t say a word about Joe Biden (which we know is impossible) and just let Biden keep talking. Joltin’ Joe’s interview with a Black media outlet last week was a doozy.

3. We love the lawn signs all over Pinellas County proclaiming a 2020 grad lives at the residence - more on graduations below.

4. The latest decision by a federal judge on the felon voting issue is far from final. It will certainly be appealed as a first year law student can see flaws in the judge’s order. And relieving a felon of their obligation to pay restitution to an innocent victim is simply unconscionable.

5. Just when we were starting to feel really good about humankind, along comes Minneapolis.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Quote of the week: As one of the more willing of union spokesmen, he was far more articulate than some goofball in Tampa - a national sportswriter’s characterization of Blake Snell in comparison to one of the leading spokesmen among major leaguers during the last work stoppage 25 years ago.

7. In a related note, Snell has signed on with agent Scott Boras. A perfect match of possibly the two most disliked men in baseball.

8. Tale of two lefthanders: while the narcissistic Snell complains about his multi-million dollar salary. David Price is quietly writing $1000 checks to each of the Dodgers minor leaguers who will not have a season – or payday. That is over 200 young players – good for the ex-Ray!

9. Maria Morales, the owner of Hair Du Soleil, is one of the finest stylists on the planet and a friend for a couple decades. Your Humble Blogger and Saintly Wife are in her debt for making the two of us a lot less shaggy in the safety of her salon.

10. With thanks to a dear friend, you’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you remember Toppers on South Garden Avenue (now the site of Emily’s) in downtown Clearwater and their outrageous ice cream creations.


Remembering: The rites of late spring


(Editor’s note: we continue our end of the month series of looking back on people, places and things that shaped the way we remember the bay area. Previous features on Star Spectaculars, Spring Training, the Clearwater Bombers and Howard the Trader can be found in the last editions of each month in TBRR.)

We feel for the graduating seniors of 2020 and their missed proms, walking the stage and other rites of passage. We start with prom – usually honoring the senior class and their dates and put on by the junior class at most schools. You dressed your best, bought a corsage or boutonnière for your date and cleaned up the family car – no limos back in the day! A little later in the month was the legendary or more mythical senior skip day. Then came the signing of yearbooks – and don’t you wish you could take back about half of what you wrote? But hey, you were seventeen. Then came the big day when you walked in front of family and friends and at some point in the evening threw your cap in the air. For Clearwater High seniors, there was an extra special treat FAG (Festival after Graduation) Night staged by the Rotary Club of Clearwater for graduates and their dates. It started with a dance, followed by a movie and ended with breakfast usually at the Clearwater Country Club. That was followed by about eighteen hours of sleep! About a week or so later came Beach Week, a less formal gathering of graduating seniors to say their goodbyes before they headed for Gainesville, Tallahassee, Tampa and other points across the state and nation. For many, the next time they would see each other was the first reunion, usually ten years hence. But what an unforgettable month!

Next Up: Gas Wars; Monitor; Musial;



WEEK OF MAY 24, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Memorial Day – Remember what others have done for you


Polio, Pearl Harbor and the SF earthquake


We begin with a thought from the oft-quoted 5:05 Newsletter – “Biden Slams President Trump For His Response To The Polio Epidemic”. Very tongue in cheek, but the very same week comes some harebrained commentary from a guy named Eugene Robinson blaming President Trump for all the ills spawned by the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Robinson writes for the Washington Post – now there’s a surprise. The missive from the lunatic fringe conveniently overlooks about 100 or so facts like America’s recovery compared to any other major nation in the world; the fact that our country is getting back to work daily and, of course it offers absolutely no worthwhile (or not worthwhile) alternatives to what is being done. It’s simply Trump’s fault for the 80,000 plus U.S. deaths from the pandemic. What twisted logic. The poison pen piece stops short of blaming our President for the nearly 300,000 deaths worldwide as well as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the San Francisco earthquake, while assuring us all will be better if we place Joe Biden in the White House this fall. This assumes, of course, Lonesome Joe finds his way out of his basement bunker by then.  


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. The Hillsborough County Commission is tone deaf. Their proposal for increased impact fees could not come at a worse time when Florida has close to a half-million people unemployed. Granted, new development does impact infrastructure, but now is not the time to bump up rates as our fragile economy tries to rebound.

2. The St. Pete Police Department is looking really bad in their skirmish with two demoted lieutenants who allege others did what they were accused of – padding time sheets. The city dragging its feet and their lame excuses for same doesn’t reflect well on the county’s largest department.

3. Pot calling the kettle: “America’s sweetheart” takes a jab at President Trump regarding his fitness in regards to his weight and age. Trump, like most of us, not as trim as he once was, is 73. The leading harpy of the Democratic Party is 80.

4. Our nomination for the last bay area place to reopen would have been the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa with its shoulder to shoulder gambling and a demographic best described as long in the tooth.

5. You’ve lived in the bay area (or anywhere else) for a long time if you grew up reading Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy books as a kid. They were both written by a syndicate headed by Edward Stratemeyer with nom de plumes Carolyn Keene and Franklin Dixon being used for the many folks who actually wrote the books. Bonus points if you read two other popular books of that era – Clair Bee’s Chip Hilton sports series or the Rick Brant sci-fi series by John Blaine (aka Harold Goodwin).


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Recent CNN panel show on the coronavirus featured several former high ranking medical experts and Greta Thunberg, Thunberg is a high school student from Sweden who is famous for not attending high school. Was Ralph Nader not available?

7. NBC’s Chuck Todd deliberately edited a response from the nation’s Attorney General changing the context of the answer. Frankly, we are shocked (see disclaimer above). This is certainly not the first time Todd has played fast and loose with the facts.

8. One of the more interesting things about a potential baseball season is the concept of a taxi squad for MLB teams. The additional 25 on each roster would play 5-6 inning games before the big clubs each day, keeping the taxi squad sharp for potential call-ups.

9. Number of the week – 18. That’s the number of Gold Gloves won by Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, the most in history – one more than Oriole third baseman Brooks Robinson and Jim Kaat who modeled six different uniforms and won 283 games and, incredibly, is not in the Hall of Fame.

10. Five years ago in TBRR (5/24/15): Don’t know about you, but there wasn’t a dry eye in your HB (Humble Blogger’s) home during last week’s send off for Channel 8’s Gayle Sierens. What a class act.


The downfall of Neiman Marcus


There were stores and then there was Neiman Marcus. In its halcyon years, it was headed by Stanley Marcus, a shrewd businessman with a flair for the flamboyant – especially at Christmas. Each year, Neiman Marcus would feature one or more outrageous gifts for the “one per cent”. One year, it was a $120,000 sleepover at their Dallas flagship store for six ladies; a first class trip to the Ryder Cup worth over $200,000; then there were cars – a his and hers Jaguar – a car for him, a jaguar coat for her. In 2002, the store offered the retooled Ford Thunderbird two-seater before the public could buy one – detailed in the company’s corporate colors – now a collector’s item. There have been other “experience” type gifts too – like a $425,000 VIP trip to the Academy Awards. A certain portion of each of these extravagant purchases went to charity making them slightly less ostentatious. Now, Neiman Marcus is in bankruptcy – not the same company that Stanley Marcus led, but the product of several buy-outs; going private, then public and other machinations. We hope they will survive, but it will never be the store of the Stanley Marcus days.

NEXT UP: Bertha, Cristobal & Nana; Rites of late spring; Topper’s



WEEK OF MAY 17, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Politifact: some animals are more equal….


That bastion of journalistic integrity, Politifact, recently blew off the claim by Tara Reade that Joe Biden was less than a gentleman when she worked for him in his Senate office. We guess we might tend to concur if Ms. Reade were the only woman making those accusations against the former vice-president. And we might give it more credence if Politifact had not all but hung Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings two years ago. Perhaps Politifact should have watched Biden’s two-step even when faced with questions from a left-leaning interviewer before they all but absolved him. As always with Politifact, it comes down to which letter (D or R) follows your name. Or, in the words of George Orwell, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” How true.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:



1. Number of the week: 72% - percentage of U.S. citizens who believe the information in the nation’s major news media to be false or deliberately misleading. They too must read politifact.

2. Quote of the week: “I am the public face of this city.” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot defending her violation of her own order shutting down beauty salons. Again, some animals are more equal than others. By the way, some interesting numbers – Illinois has a population of 13 million; Florida 21.5 million, yet the Sunshine State has half the number of coronavirus cases as Illinois and half the deaths from the pandemic.

3. A little over a month ago, we offered up a mantra for this unusual time from wellness expert Dr. Don Ardell – “Cave and Roam Alone” (TBRR 3/29/20). Now from our long-suffering bride comes “Secure and Shaggy.” Sure enough.

4. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the revered Pope John Paul II.

5.From a recent 5:05 Newsletter: Do you realize that 100 years ago, in 1920, the U.S. outlawed alcohol and now liquor stores have been ruled an essential service. We've come a long way!


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. If we had any respect for Rays’ pitcher Blake Snell, it went out with the garbage after hearing him whine about getting about half his salary (approximately $3.5 million) – while people in Florida are hoping they finally get an unemployment check.

7. Our daughter whose baseball (and personal) IQ is about three times her Dad’s, fears the 10-team alignments being proposed might provide the slippery slope for the dreaded DH to be forced on NL teams. The nuclear clock is nearing midnight for pure baseball.

8. Years ago, I thought I was on an intelligence level with my daughter until I learned her 4 plus GPA had been accomplished in one year as opposed to the cumulative three years it took me to get to four plus at CHS.

9. Another shake-up in the MNF booth. The show will never have the cachet as in the days of Frank, Dandy Don, Howard and Hank. That was must see television.

10. Idle sports thought – Arnie, Jack and Tiger – the three best golfers in the history of the game. You pick the order, but no one else comes close.


Two stalwarts in the entertainment biz


Good Golly Miss Molly, Long Tall Sally, Jenny, Jenny and Great Gosh A’Mighty were just four of the hard driving songs from the large library of Little Richard. He was truly one of the pioneers of rock and roll along with Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. Only Jerry Lee is still with us. Little Richard was 87 at his passing last week. And when you say Jerry Stiller, you think of his irrational fatherly roles in The King of Queens and Seinfeld. We often forget the brilliance of his comedy routines over the years with his wife, Ann Meara to whom he was married for over 60 years. She preceded him in death in 2015 and he is survived by their son, acclaimed actor/comedian Ben Stiller. Jerry Stiller was 92.

UP NEXT: Neiman Marcus; Nancy Drew; The Blame Game





WEEK OF MAY 10, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Mail ballots may be needed, but they are scary


Full disclosure, we have not voted at the polls in any election since 1998. It is just too easy to fill in a ballot provided by the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections and mail it in. But this is Pinellas County, not Chicago, New York City or even the southeast coast of Florida where funny things happen during election time. It appears mail ballots may be the only avenue to full (but not “fuller”) participation during the year of the pandemic. We’re okay with full just not fuller voting where Grandma Brown, who has been dead for three years, miraculously casts a ballot. And then there’s a left wing suit alleging that vote by mail constitutes a poll tax. Nonsense, if you don’t want to mail it, you will still be able to drop it off unless you want to spin the tiny bit of gas you might use to get it to a drop box as a poll tax as well. In any event, with all mail balloting must come much stronger federal and state oversight so we avoid the bad times like 1960, 2018 and other abuses of years past.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. A monstrous black mark on the otherwise good job done by our governor in the coronavirus response is the total meltdown of the state’s unemployment system. Heaven and earth must be moved to get this right. And any bureaucrat who adopts any sort of attitude with someone trying to get their rightful benefits should be summarily dismissed.

2. Related to our lead article, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down a bid by the Democratic Party to undo a Florida law that places the party in power first on ballots. This law was first enacted by a Democratic-controlled legislature in the mid-20th century. If ever the term “hoisted by their own petard” applies, it’s in this case.

3. Quote of the week: “I will not die of stupid” – from a left wing South Florida columnist whose gibberish appears way too often in “FBN”. If you’ve read his meanderings, you would know if you could die of stupid, this guy would have been six feet under a long time ago.

4. News from the Biden Bunker: While Me Too activists are now reluctantly admitting that Democrats do bad things too, there is good news – the endorsement of Hillary Clinton – and yes, we get the irony of these two events. And nice “virtual rally” in Florida this past week, Joe.

5. The best thing about the coronavirus epidemic is that it has given birth to a new bunch of 5:05 Newsletters. From their latest: The first toilet paper roll of the spring appeared today in our grocery store so, hopefully, we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Before his arrival, south Florida’s NFL team was a joke with a 15-39-2 record over its first four seasons. Don Shula took the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first year and the NFL’s only perfect season two years later. The legendary coach passed away last week at age 90.

7. If there were a Mt. Rushmore of Tampa Bay restauranteurs, some of the names would include Gonzmart (Columbia), Heilman (Beachcomber), Siple and Laxer (Bern’s). The matriarch of Bern’s Steak House, 93-year-old Gert Laxer, died on April 28.

8. A happy 15th anniversary to our go-to site for baseball news MLB Trade Rumors. A spin-off of Tim Dierkes’ Roto Authority, it attracts something like a half-million viewers per day and is a welcome respite during these days of empty ballparks.

9. Pinellas libraries to open at 25 percent capacity on Monday the 18th. Yippee! But do check hours at your favorite facility. They will be staggered during the day to allow for cleaning. Hair cutting facilities will, for the most part, open on the 11th.

10. You had to wonder where the stars from the mega hit Big Bang Theory would wind up. Jim Parsons, of course, already has a gig narrating Young Sheldon. Next up would appear to be the loveable Mayim Bialik (Amy) in a Fox Network show Call Me Kat which will premiere later this year.


Phils could have had Girardi two years ago


As we opined last week, the best off season baseball move may well be the Phils hiring Joe Girardi as their manager. The sad thing is with a phone call, they probably could have had him two years ago avoiding their disastrous hiring of Gabe Kapler. It probably took Phils brass three games into the 2018 season to realize they had made a horrible choice. In his first game, Kapler yanked ace Aaron Nola after 68 pitches and a 5-0 lead. He then mismanaged his bullpen into an 8-5 loss. Two games later, he yanked starter Vince Velasquez, but had no one warming up. The reliever, rushed into the game, coughed up three quick runs. The Phils under Kapler blew division leads in both 2018 and 19. The second year was particularly egregious after the club added two of the best position players in baseball – J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper. Girardi should turn that around this year even with the screwy schedule and have the Phils in the hunt to the very end. A coda to this story, the Giants astonishingly hired Kapler to replace their retiring Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy.

Next Up: Golf’s Big 3; All animals are equal; One of rock’s pioneers



WEEK OF MAY 3, 2020


TBRR is a weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - certain accounts printed here should not be taken literally.


Opening up Florida – slowly


Count us among the near unanimous collection of folks who applaud Governor Ron DeSantis’ cautious approach to reopening Florida. The ability to get a meal at your favorite restaurant, if you wish, to patronize a favorite store and (thank goodness) to check out a book is a great first step. Frankly, being in the so-called at risk group, we plan to hold off on that first meal for a while and, despite our shagginess, a much needed haircut when salons first open. And we hope others in that “older than dirt” group will exercise similar care. We will still order out from our favorite restaurant once or twice a week, but will wait a few weeks to see how things develop before dining in. It’s so tempting to just break out of the house after the past several weeks, but caution should continue to be the byword. This was evidenced by the leader of the area’s largest group of the faithful, Bishop Gregory Parkes of the Diocese of St. Petersburg delaying, at least for a while, the resumption of Masses in the five county diocese. And again, we pay tribute to our governor and his staff for their management of an incredibly difficult situation.



Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Our world famous beaches are now open. Kudos go to Pinellas Commissioners Dave Eggers and Karen Seel who took the lead in this initiative. We need to move slowly, but the vast expanse of beaches is a good place to start.

2. We normally respect Microsoft founder Bill Gates, but his defense of China in the coronavirus pandemic is, well, indefensible. Where does he think this mess started – the Fiji Islands?

3. Fox News morning host introduces Tampa mayor as Jane Castro – well, there are some similarities.

4. News from the Biden Bunker – as reports of improprieties mount up, there is good news. The former VP has received the endorsement of Nancy Pelosi. That should push him over the top.

5. As we labor through coronavirus, another lighter note from the 5:05 Newsletter: "I've washed my hands so many times that I can read the answers to a math test I took in 1966."


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Ouch! MLB’s proposed 10-team divisions would place the Rays in a division with NL East powerhouses the Mets, Nationals and Phillies, not to mention the Yanks.. The only bright note for the Rays is geographically-challenged MLB thinks Atlanta is in the Midwest.

7. One of the most amazing baseball items of the off-season is that the Washington Nationals have not yet exercised their 2021 option on manager Davy Martinez who did something no Washington manager had done since 1924 – win a World Series.

8. While patiently waiting for the start of Spring Training 2.0, this thought - the best acquisition in the offseason is not Cole, Rendon, Betts or Donaldson, but the Phillies finally getting some stability in their dugout with Joe Girardi.

9.Alas, in more normal times this would be Derby weekend. Side thought – with a fall running this year, will the ladies’ hat fashions change?

10. The New Orleans Saints signing of Jameis Winston is curious. They have a Hall of Famer under center in Drew Brees, a valuable back-up in Taysom Hill and just drafted Mississippi State QB Tommy Stevens.


MLB’s next ten years


Frustrated baseball fans are searching through their closets for their old Strat-O-Matic. But as the calendar flipped to a new decade, a selection of MLB players were asked about their predictions for the next ten years in various categories such as number of World Championships. Besides the “chalk” picks of the Yankees and Braves, the next team mentioned most prominently by these big leaguers was the Chicago White Sox – a team like the Yanks and Braves loaded with a bunch of young stars – maybe just a step or two behind the other two teams right now. And briefly in the pitching categories, besides DeGrom, Cole, Buehler and Bieber was the name Nate Pearson who has not thrown a game in the majors – yet. The Blue Jays prospect from nearby Odessa has the fastest heater in organized ball and amazing control for a power pitcher. Keep your eye on him, this year and in the future.

NEXT UP: Amy’s next gig; Rise & fall of the turn signal; More on Joe



WEEK OF APRIL 26, 2020


A weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.



Economic recovery: a tale of three companies



This week, the tale of three companies – CB Lundy’s, small catering company in mid-Pinellas county, Shake Shack, a 200 store fast food chain based in New York and the bay area’s Tampa Bay Times. Briefly, CB Lundy’s is struggling but can’t seem to get any of the bailout money from the federal government intended for small (under 500 employees) businesses. Shake Shack somehow got $10 million dollars and promptly returned it – rightfully so given their size. The Times, who employs just short of 100 times the folks as CB Lundy’s, had no quibble with taking $8.5 million which rightfully should go to much smaller companies like CB Lundy’s. The Times, which has found little they like about our government’s recovery plans, apparently is willing to look the other way while their pockets are being stuffed. If they had any integrity at all, they would follow Shake Shack’s (and other larger companies) example and return the money so smaller companies like CB Lundy’s and hundreds of others can survive.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Listening to the pronouncements of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo helps you understand why the rest of New York State would like New York City to become our 51st state.

2. Number of the week – 10 percent - the percent of fatal crashes in the U.S. caused by texting while driving. In hard numbers, that is just about 4000 people a year. In case you’re wondering, there is no hard data yet on the number of texting while driving tickets issued since Florida’s new law took effect on January 1.

3. Presidential politics 100 years ago – Warren G. Harding defeated James Cox and his running mate in the 1920 election. Both men bounced back nicely from the defeat. Cox focused on building the media giant Cox Communication and his running mate (FDR) became the only four-term President in U.S. history.

4. From TBRR five years ago this week (4/26/15): Add New Port Richey to the growing list of central Florida cities who are dumping their red light cameras. And give them credit. They were very forthright in saying the reason they are dropping the camera is they are no longer making money for the city as opposed to other cities that ask us to drink the “safety issues” Kool Aid.

5. With thanks to a friend, by the time this isolation thing is over, you’re going to need either AA or Weight Watchers – or both!



Sports, media and other stuff:


6. We’re not sure whether signing Gronk will improve the Bucs’ offense, but it sure is not going to hurt ticket and jersey sales!

7. As we go to press nearly two dozen MLB teams have stepped up and agreed to pay their non-players through May. Not among the two dozen munificent teams – our Tampa Bay Rays.

8. What a light slap on the wrist for the Boston Red Sox in the MLB cheating scandal.

9. The 5:05 Newsletter is at it again with this absolute gem: There should be a reality show where 16 congressmen are forced to take jobs in the private sector.

10. Over the past few months, Bay News Nine has lost two of their principal anchors – Veronica Cintron and Al Ruechel – one plus, one minus on the ledger.



Remembering “Howard the Trader”



Editor’s Note: This marks the fourth in our “Remembering” series posted on the last issue of the month. Previous features have been the Star Spectaculars (1/26/20); Tampa Bay Spring Training (2/23/20); the Clearwater Bombers (3/29/20) plus a preview piece The Way We Used to Shop (12/22/19).


Long, long before there was a Home Shopping Channel or QVC, there was Clearwater Florida’s Howard the Trader. Based in a series of Quonset huts at the northwest corner of Gulf to Bay Blvd. and Duncan Avenue, Howard Ewing’s operation was a sight to behold. There were daily auctions, many of them televised, which drew not only a TV audience but a “studio” audience in the rather hot facility. Usually, during the evening of bidding on items, a shouted bid of “nine cents” would come from the audience to which Howard, acting as auctioneer would say, “Sold, but one only” because you could buy whatever merchandise was up for bid at the same price as the auction price as long as supplies lasted. It was 1950s and 60s small town entertainment at its best with Ewing stoking the crowd with his famous “Talk to this old boy!” Unfortunately, the house of cards created with stretched credit, collapsed in the early 60s along with the equally famous 65 cent haircuts at the property.

UP NEXT: MLB’s next ten years; Stability in Phil’s dugout; Mail it in?



WEEK OF APRIL 19, 2010


A weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


Our recovery - one size does not fit all


Mark Sharpe of the Tampa Innovation Partnership stole our thunder this week (see his op-ed piece on line). Our lead piece was to be one size fits none in regards to the pandemic recovery. Florida is beginning to see things stabilize; New York is still a hot mess. Places like South Dakota are asking what pandemic? Even in Florida, other areas will normalize before South Florida. Our leaders seem to have a grasp of this, and we should follow their lead.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Quote(s) of the Week (both from Tampa Mayor Jane Castor): March 29 - “This is the highest level of unpreparedness from the federal government that I have ever seen in any type of an emergency.” April 15 - “That’s not my style. Frankly, I think it’s just a waste of time to be critical of others.” With a herculean amount of restraint, we offer no comment to the above quotes.

2. Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says, in so many words, his presidency would be an extension of the Obama regime. Didn’t Clinton say that? And didn’t Americans reject that?

3. Looking for silver linings during this stressful period? Here’s one – the outbreak of coronavirus in China has led many U.S. companies to rethink their physical presence in China as well as how much we outsource there.

4. We would argue that many who will be receiving stimulus checks really don’t need them, but we are gratified that earliest checks went to those with the lowest incomes. And for those who insist on nitpicking even in times of national crisis, who really cares who signs the checks?

5. Idle thought related to #4 above: Maybe if you were one of those folks who really didn’t need a stimulus check, you might want to cut a check or two to some of your favorite non-profits.


Sports, media and other stuff:



6. Thanks to the NFL for throwing sports fans a bone by holding their draft on schedule this week – specifically the 23rd through the 25th. We’re guessing viewership ratings for the event will be at an all-time high.

7. Speaking of the draft, barring a monumental turnaround, it’s safe to say the top two picks in the NFL draft five years ago, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, were busts.

8 What with the library closed, we thank goodness for Amazon Prime, MLB.com and good old AMC and TMC. Speaking of the library, Pinellas libraries want you to hold on to your checked out materials – no past dues or fines until further notice.

9. It has survived Marvin Miller, a few strikes over the years, and the infamous 1919 throwing of the World Series (chronicled well by Charles Fountain’s The Betrayal) and the national pastime will overcome the shutdown occasioned by coronavirus pandemic.

10. From the recent special edition of the 5:05 Newsletter: Entertainment News: The Rolling Stones announced they will be doing another world tour this year. World tours used to be easier for them in their younger days because the continents were much closer together.


Wild ideas in the sports world; some may work


Imagine, if you will, a come one, come all playoff in the NHL – maybe the same for the NBA. Baseball seems focused on a Florida-Arizona system. That’s not good news for the Rays because in addition to the Yanks, Twins and Astros, they might also have to face the World Champ Nats, two National League division winners – the Braves and Cards, plus the Red Sox, who are not chopped liver. Biggest problem with the scheme is each state has 15 teams which means two teams (one in each state) are off every day. There, of course, are others. If you think Florida is hot in the summer, try Arizona. Financially, all three schemes are tough financially because they most likely would be played without fans and the concessions they patronize. Revenue would only come from broadcast rights and we’re not sure networks and cable providers would be all that willing to pay top dollar for what they might perceive as one step up from exhibition games. Our best bet for normalcy in sports is probably the NFL season and that is far from a sure thing.

UP NEXT: Talk to this old boy; 5:05’s reality show; The toll of texting



WEEK OF APRIL 12, 2020


A weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


A blessed Easter to all


Florida’s chief executive needs our support


We first saw Ron DeSantis on a baseball field as a 12-year-old, and we were impressed. He impresses us now as he deals with something no governor, senator, mayor or any other elected official saw coming. He has a lot to deal with. What he shouldn’t be dealing with is a bunch of second guessing by folks armed with a fraction of the knowledge he has at his disposal. Chief among those is Tampa’s mayor flaunting her resume of 11 months in elective office. Mayor Castor is already sounding like someone who aspires to replace Governor DeSantis – good luck with that. But between now and when qualifying begins for the next election cycle, how about you and the rest of the vast squad of Monday morning quarterbacks getting on board and supporting our state’s efforts?


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. In a follow up to last week’s lead piece about the very possible demise or sell off of “Florida’s Best Newspaper,” if we had a choice of a new parent company it would be Cox Media whose Atlanta Journal Constitution is, by far, the best newspaper in the south, if not the nation.

2. Headline of the Week: Jane Castor gets 78% approval rating in pandemic, outdoing DeSantis, Trump, new poll shows. Even a casual reading of the story below the headline reveals incredible playing with numbers. As the old saying goes, figures don’t lie, but liars figure.

3. Zev Buffman who oversaw the expansion of Ruth Eckerd Hall, and tirelessly pushed for the controversial Coachman Park amphitheater project, died last week at age 89.

4. Item – new area code coming for Hillsborough County as 813 combinations are virtually exhausted. Back in the mid-90s, a printing company owner conservatively estimates that the 727 area code and zip code changes on business stationary and forms put a child through college.

5. During these troubled times, thank goodness for the several special editions of the 5:05 Newsletter. From a recent edition: In his last video, Joe Biden lost his train of thought. There were no survivors.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. XFL and the Vipers – we hardly knew ya.

7. As April 15th approaches (though the deadline has been extended), this tax thought from the Farmer’s Almanac,“If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation.”

8. Introduced 56 years ago this week was the Ford Mustang. Projected to sell 100,000 models the first year, it sold 400,000. The iconic car debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair.

9. You walk into a restaurant at a Princess Cruise Line resort in Fairbanks, Alaska and the last person you would expect to see at a table is baseball great Al Kaline, but there he was. The 18-time All Star passed away last week at age 85.

10. Good move by the Bucs to bring back QB Blaine Gabbert. He knows the Buc’s system and will lend a veteran presence should the unthinkable happen and Brady goes down with an injury.



Ode to a big brother


Forgive us this week as we dwell on something deeply personal - saying farewell to a brother-in-law who was never a brother-in-law, but the big brother I never had. I was about eight when I first met Joe, a guy who was hopelessly in love with my sister, nine years my senior. I remember how mature I was at age 16 (not at all) and how mature my brother-in-law to be was at that age. He was like a surrogate dad, - helping with my limited baseball skills, building me a soap box derby-type car and, worst of all, having to act as co-babysitter with my sis should one of my parents’ social activities conflict with their date night. What fun that must have been. Joe was a hard worker, fiercely independent, a superb athlete, champion skeet shooter and a great Dad, Granddad and Great Granddad. Even though we were separated by some 1300 miles, we managed to see each other at least once a year – the last time being December when the love of his life passed away. His heart was broken and now less than four months later, he will join her again. That gives some comfort to the love of my life and I who will miss him dearly.


UP NEXT: The Draft; The Stones; Wild sports ideas; Hypocrisy reigns





A weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


The Times: beginning of the end?


We begin with a piece from the August 17, 2014 TBRR – our first year of publication: Think of things that were here a quarter century ago and now gone forever (i.e. the Pontiac and VHS). Think ahead twenty five years about things that now exist and will be gone then. Two candidates – AM radio and the daily newspaper.

It’s beginning to look more and more like we were about two decades off in the demise of the daily paper. The Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s Best Newspaper (FBN), as they are fond of labeling themselves, has announced today it is becoming a twice-weekly paper. Those with a sharp memory will remember this was the first step in the demise of the beloved Clearwater Sun. The paper, of course, lays its troubles at the foot of coronavirus, but there were stormy seas much in advance to the pandemic – salary cuts, layoffs and a continuously shrinking paper. Even cash infusions from some deep pocketed individuals have not been enough. The reasons for their perilous position - there are many, but some of the major missteps – a disconnect from their population base in Pinellas in an attempt to become more “regional”, their continual march to the left (if you believe the Times, there never has been a GOP presidential or gubernatorial candidate worthy of their endorsement in the paper’s entire existence) and dragging their feet in entering the digital age. Will the Times go away? Probably not, we see them eventually bowing to the inevitable and being absorbed by a chain which hopefully would lead to more balanced reporting. But if the paper does succumb, we will not dance on the grave, but sorrow in the loss of our last daily newspaper – a tragedy the Times, for the most part, brought upon themselves.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. In a related note and further reason for their troubles: we’ve always considered FBN’s John Romano a hack, but his recent branding of Governor Ron DeSantis a coward is beyond the pale. Forgetting his naval career as a SEAL and JAG, DeSantis has busted his tail to do the right thing for his home state in an unprecedented crisis. Romano’s irresponsible words and FBN’s allowing them to be published show just how far the art of journalism has sunk. He and his paper owe the Governor of this state an apology.

2. Buried by all the coronavirus news was the swearing in last week of Clearwater’s new council members – one an avowed anti-Scientologist, the other endorsed by Scientologists during the election. Should be fun.

3. In a related note, Arizona’s chief elections official is calling for an all-mail election during the current crisis. This is something that makes way too much sense - pandemic or not.

4. Things could be worse on the health front. While we all self-isolate, in New York State’s hospitals, workers are simply not showing up for their shifts. We’re sure Governor Cuomo will find a way to blame this on our President.

5. Idle thought: Funny how you adapt to a failing device and then see how inefficient it had become when you replace it – like the mouse on the computer that generates this weekly drivel.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. It has almost become a weekly again – from the most recent “special edition” of the 5:05 Newsletter -Sports Thought: This is the perfect time for Jerry Seinfeld to create another television "show about nothing." They can call it ESPN.

7. A belated Happy Birthday to Tampa Bay’s WTVT Channel 13 which signed on 65 years ago last week. Channel 13 is one of the many, many good things about living in the bay area.

8. Given their history of excellent ads over the years, we shouldn’t be surprised by the content of the most recent Publix ad, explaining in simple terms what they are doing to help us and we can do to help them and our fellow shoppers.

9. We note the passing of long time media figure, Earl Emmons at age 85. Earl held many positions at The Tampa Tribune over the years, and we enjoyed sharing a broadcast booth with him covering prep sports in the late sixties and early seventies. Earl was an interesting and terrific guy.

10. Speaking of the media and reflecting back on our Remembering piece of last week, you’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember two men who chronicled the Clearwater Bomber’s success – the Clearwater Sun’s Bill Currieand WTAN’s “Mayor Bob” Weatherly.


Return of the TBRR focus group:


It’s been awhile since our TBRR Focus Group (a group of four old, cranky people) has convened due to health issues and, sadly, the passing of one of our members. We queried the group about the things they miss most during the self-imposed isolation during the virus outbreak. Their answers were major league baseball, their favorite restaurant, attending church, the library, gathering with friends and, from the workaholic in the group, going to the office.

UP NEXT: Monday morning QBs; Birth of the pony car; MLB’s future



WEEK OF MARCH 29, 2020


A weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.



The virus: Our Roses and Onions:



We will couch our comments on the virus to this point in the form of Roses and Onions. Roses to Governor Ron DeSantis and his team for the handling of the pandemic to this point. We are in uncharted territory – there’s no playbook and the governor has done well. Roses to the members of the Pinellas County Commission, particularly the few who have actually had to make a payroll in their lives, for guiding their fellow members away from a ruinous “shut down everything” ordinance. Onions to St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman for trying to impose his city’s (or his) will upon our entire county. Onions to Tampa’s Mayor Jane Castor for the same, plus her unwarranted criticism of the federal government’s handling of the crises – specifically her snarky “This is the highest level of unpreparedness from the federal government that I have ever seen in any type of an emergency.” This from an ex-cop who has been in office what six months? More Onions to dopes who keep hoarding things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. But Roses to merchants who are telling those hoarders “Enjoy your one gross of toilet paper, but don’t expect to return it for credit after the crisis is over.” More Roses to our nation’s Department of Justice cracking down on hoarders and gougers. Further Roses to folks who have suggested that policy makers who are hell-bent on suggesting safety practicing businesses shut down and rob folks of a paycheck forfeit their own paychecks first.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Watching our Pinellas County Commission attempt to deal with a Safer at Home resolution revealed some very strong commissioners, particularly David Eggers and Karen Seel and a few who, frankly, are an embarrassment. You owe to yourself to watch/attend when possible your particular jurisdiction’s public meetings rather than just blindly voting for a name every November.

2. Some news that has somehow remained buried. Life in China, after about two months of quarantines, is returning to normal with schools scheduled to reopen the first of April, no more face masks and even gyms reopening.

3. Another sign of the times is going to be longer hair as shop after shop closes. We were able to watch our publicity seeking sheriff on TV personally attaching one of his flyers to the shop we frequent.

4. Should Clearwater’s city elections become partisan? You could argue they already have with clumsy attempts by both political parties to influence the last two elections plus undue influence guised as news coverage by our left-leaning area newspaper.

5. You’ve lived in the Bay Area a long time if you remember that conservative talk show host Glenn Beck launched the political opinion phase of his career twenty years ago this year at WFLA Radio. Prior to that, he had been a successful morning DJ in several major markets.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. From the brilliant and sometimes quirky mind of our friend and wellness guru, Dr. Don Ardell, a motto for the pandemic – “Cave and Roam Alone.” Indeed, a few miles of solitude on a trail or bike path can do wonders for pandemic-induced stress.

7. The more you got to know former Clearwater Police Chief Sid Klein, the more you appreciated him. Sid passed away last week at age 78. And the entertainment industry also lost an icon – Kenny Rogers who began singing counter-culture songs and transitioned into one of America’s most successful country-pop singers. The “Gambler” was 81.

8. Thanks to the AAA Living Magazine for their short feature in their March/April issue on one of our favorite places on earth - Alachua’s Retirement Home for Horses. You’ll find it on Page 14.

9. A shout out to MLB.com for making available all 2018 and 2019 games for starving fans. We are personally through game number seven of our favorite team’s 2019 season.

10. And on a less happy note, last Thursday would have been Opening Day.



Remembering: The Clearwater Bombers


(Editor’s note: During 2020 on the last issue of each month, we will be looking back on people, events or things that shaped our memories of the bay area. We welcome your input.)


It was just about this time of year that the Phillies headed north for the summer and Jack Russell Stadium was converted for softball play. If you wanted to find anybody on a Friday or Saturday night, they were probably at the Clearwater Bomber game. The Bombers, for a quarter century, were the best in the game winning their first national championship in 1950 and their tenth and last in 1973. Pitching was always their strong suit with left hander John Hunter and righty Weldon Haney both winning three MVPs at the national event. There were also names like Herb Dudley and Eddie King, the winningest Bomber pitcher, who formed the nucleus of the staff over the years. These four men along with 17 other Bombers are in the Men’s Fast Pitch Hall of Fame – the most of any team in history. The Bombers’ ten world championships is another mark untouched in the history of men’s softball. The Bombers and their success put Clearwater on the map in the mid-1900s.

Next Up: Bill and Bob; Mail it in; Beginning of the end for "FBN"? 





WEEK OF MARCH 22, 2020


A weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


(Editor’s Note I: Other than a casual reference below, this is not your source for coronavirus news. We are a weekly blog and, as we all know, this situation is changing hourly. The around the clock media has done a decent job in keeping us informed without, for the most part, politicizing this pandemic. Be well!)


Memo to newly elected Clearwater officials:


First congratulations, although in time you will probably realize, as one very recognizable council member once said: “the job is not all it’s cracked up to be.” Once you’ve learned where your seats and offices are, get on with the most important thing you can do for your city – stop trying to save downtown Clearwater! A couple of decades of your predecessors have tried and have been met with mixed results at best at the cost of many, many tax dollars. Just like the ill-fated Harborview Center, a 4000-seat amphitheater won’t turn around downtown Clearwater.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Good luck to newly-elected Mayor Frank Hibbard. He’s been saddled with a one-trick pony (anti-Scientology) council member along with another new member with some extremely radical and potentially very costly ideas. Neither new member received a majority of votes in their contest - unlike Hibbard. The Mayor does have a solid returning crew in David Allbritton and Hoyt Hamilton, but Hibbard could be presiding over the most dysfunctional city body since the mid-1990s.

2. Funny, we did not hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from “Florida’s Best Newspaper” when a Democratic-backed group tried to derail the election campaign of Clearwater Council member Hoyt Hamilton a couple years ago.

3. No refunds for the cancelled St. Pete Grand Prix? That’s going to play really, really well. It’s probably time for this event and its promotors to shuffle off to Sebring or some other destination.

4. Looking back on the Presidential race four years ago this week, Rev. Al Sharpton declared he would leave the country if Donald Trump were elected President. So where’s your country of residence Al?

5. Idle thought with thanks to a Facebook friend – One moment you’re 20 in the 70s, now you’re 70 in the 20s.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. We guess the Bucs agreement with Tom Brady would have created more excitement but for the world pandemic and the fact that other big name quarterbacks like Bridgewater, Newton, Rivers and, of course, Winston are also on the move.

7. Back when the 6:00 anchorman was like part of the family, Channel 8’s Arch Deal was a welcome guest in the living room each evening. The veteran anchor died tragically last week at age 88.

8. It reads well that “Rays pledge $1M to help Trop staff.” Truth is they had little choice with pressure being applied by MLB.

9. From a recent special edition of the 5:05 Newsletter - NFL News: The Buffalo Bills announced that they will allow Senorise Perry to be the first player in 42 years to wear OJ Simpson's old number. That number is 1027820.

10. Born 100 years ago this week was character actor Werner Klemperer best known as the bumbling Colonel Klink on Hogan’s Heroes, but his acting career included Broadway roles, opera and even a cameo on The Simpsons. Although a native of Germany, Klemperer served in the U.S. Army in World War II’s Pacific Theater.


Another set of six, yes they’ve won but….


(Editor’s Note II: we’re holding off on this week’s scheduled Achmed Walled’s (pronounced wall-ED) predictions until MLB gears up to start their season – optimistically sometime in late May. My, that seems like a long time!)


Three weeks ago, we profiled the six teams including our boys in the Trop who have never won a World Series. This week, we feature the half dozen teams that have won a World Series but have since suffered a drought of decades. The Indians have the longest dry spell – 72 years although they came oh so close in ’97. Others who haven’t seen a championship for a while – the Pirates (1979’s We Are Family team); the Orioles (1983); the Tigers (1984); the Mets in 1986 and, most surprising, the Dodgers who last won the big one 32 years ago although they are the co-favorites with the Yankees to win the 2020 World Series.

NEXT UP: The team that put Clearwater on the map; Stones; Virus Rant



WEEK OF MARCH 15, 2020


A weekly airing of national and local politics, sports and lifestyle items from a very politically incorrect viewpoint. As always, beware - much of what is printed here should not be taken literally.


TBRR turns six


(Ed. Note – The official anniversary of our first publication was last week, but all that Super Tuesday stuff took precedence.)

Perhaps you were one of 1700 plus misguided folks to read our first edition back on March 9, 2014; or maybe this is your first stop by these quarters. Either way, we humbly say thanks. A lot has changed over the course of some six years and a quarter million words. We’ve chronicled the changing of the guard at the White House, the continued futility of the Bucs, the demise of two great publications – The Tampa Tribune and The 5:05 Newsletter and continue to endure The St. Pete Times. Ahead, we have two important elections – Clearwater’s this week and our nation’s in November. And we hope to enjoy a Rays World Series victory and, at least, a winning season for the Bucs and Bulls. Hope you’ll stay with us as we continue to view things through our politically incorrect eyes.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Surreal is the way one sports site described the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the sports world – an appropriate word for all of our world with schools closing, going to online instruction and, yes, our recreational pursuits being shut down one by one. It’s all being done with an abundance of caution and anyone who criticizes these moves is simply nuts.

2. And while on the subject, a friendly request to our national and state legislative leaders, work to resolve the issue, don’t politicize it.

3. Joe Biden’s win in Michigan pretty much wraps things up. The Democrats have to win Michigan in November to have a chance at the White House and if you can’t win the Democratic primary, chances are good you won’t win the general election.

4. We were saddened to read of the passing of former St. Petersburg city official Rick Dodge, a truly nice man. Dodge led the quest for a major league franchise for St. Pete first by relocation, then expansion. One of our most precious possessions was a Tampa Bay White Sox shirt Rick gave us during the quest to bring the south siders to St. Pete.

5. With thanks to the world’s best Nana, you’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you remember the thin Top 50 Surveys distributed for free each week by WLCY Radio.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. ESPN either has to deeply refine their “All Access” feature, which we sincerely hope will be confined to spring training, or get rid of it. The audio is awful with the players not being able to hear the commentators; the game on the field is completely ignored and in a couple games, conversations between booth and field were completely in Spanish – fine for ESPN Deportes but not for an overwhelmingly English speaking audience.

7. For a great basketball story, Google Snacks – Jackson State - some precious video.

8. You have to be a bit of a music geek to know the name Hal Blaine. He was without doubt the greatest studio drummer of the rock era adding distinctive drum lines at the beginning of the Beach Boys Don’t Worry Baby and Johnny River’s Poor Side of Town or at the end of Roy Orbison’s I’m Hurtin’ and literally hundreds of other hit songs. Hal passed away a year ago this week, and, to our great regret, it was not mentioned at that time.

9. Answer – J.K Simmons. Question: who is the actor who does such a great deadpan in the Farmers Insurance ads? A couple Simmons tidbits - He won an Academy Award for his role in the 2014 film Whiplash and he actually has a name in the Farmers commercials – Professor Nathaniel Burke.

10. Elizabeth Warren is the latest politician to do a bang-up job on one of the network comedy shows. The tradition goes all the way back to Dick Nixon’s famous “Sock it to me” on the classic Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In.

For sports, the timing couldn’t be worse


As pointed out above, the moves to cancel large gatherings is the best and only course to deal with our world pandemic. But three crown jewels of the sports world will be adversely affected. Principal of those is the NCAA basketball tournament that fans of every size and shape look forward to annually. Next month’s Masters, golf’s crown jewel will hopefully become this fall’s Masters. We feel for those folks who through years of begging and pleading finally got ahold of probably the toughest ticket in sports and hope they can rearrange their schedules. And the oldest major event to be at least temporarily cancelled is the opening day of our National Pastime. And speaking of long standing events, if this world wide crisis is not soon resolved, an event even older than baseball’s opening day, May’s Kentucky Derby, dating back to 1875, may be in danger.

NEXT UP: World Series droughts; Memo to city newbies; Thanks, AAA





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.


Takeaways from Super Tuesday


In as few words as possible, it’s a two man race. Even as the Democratic field narrows the questions expand exponentially. For instance, is Biden simply Obama II which most of America doesn’t want? Is his age (78 when he’d be sworn in) a factor? Of course, his rival Bernie Sanders is even older. As for Sanders, most of middle income America is terrified of him. He seems to think a family that earns more than $60,000 a year is rich and can be heavily taxed to support his socialist agenda. With Bloomberg out of the race, it’s comforting to most Americans that millions and millions of dollars can buy you American Samoa and nothing else. In our mind, Biden will get the nomination and then the decision becomes do you want four more years of Trump or Obama II? Neither choice is very tasteful.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Related to above: Answer – George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, and Calvin Coolidge. Question: who are the last three vice-presidents to be elected President on their own without the benefit of incumbency (like LBJ). Bush and Coolidge were elected immediately after serving as vice-president, Nixon eight years later.

2. Quote of the Week (Irrational Class): “You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Senator Chuckles Schumer issuing a warning to Supreme Court Justices should they rule on the side of a pro-life issue before them. Second Quote of the Week (Rational Class): Chief Justice John Roberts on Schumer’s remarks - “Not only inappropriate, but dangerous.”

3. As we all know, every self-anointed expert can run a restaurant, hotel or baseball team better than those in place. Now, we are privileged to have the same group weigh in on how to better deal with the world’s latest health crisis.

4. Come on Duke Energy, dispense with the phony line item Asset Securitization Charge and truthfully say “we really botched our nuclear energy program and we’re charging you a few bucks a month into infinity to make up for it”.

5. With thanks to our unofficial TBRR historian, you’ve lived in the bay area a long time if you dined at the 94th Aero Squadron at the St. Pete-Clearwater Airport.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. We feel for the employees of the erstwhile St. Pete Times being forced to take a ten per cent pay cut. It isn’t like the old days where you could take a job across town at the Independent or in the next city at the Tribune or Sun. Such is the state of the newspaper industry.

7. Sports oddity – Dusty Baker who has been out of baseball for three years, will manage the American League in this year’s All Star game by virtue of being an emergency hire by the AL champ Astros after the house cleaning in Houston.

8. The National League East favorites, the Atlanta Braves, have to be a bit concerned about their $36 million dollar investment in pitcher Cole Hamels and outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Hamels, with a shoulder injury, has not picked up a ball this spring and Ozuna is, at this writing, zero for spring with over half his at bats being punch-outs.

9. Another takeaway from our February “Remembering” segment (TBRR 2/23/20) was during the Blue Jays’ first spring training in 1977 meeting rookie second baseman Garth Iorg – a class individual. He marveled at our career in the media. This failed amateur catcher could only reply “Want to trade?”

10. Topping the charts fifty years ago this week was Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Water, the biggest hit of the year.


Clearwater’s Election Day coming up


Next Tuesday is Election Day in Clearwater. Last month, we previewed our choices for the three council seats – Frank Hibbard, Bruce Rector and Bud Elias, although candidly, there are other good choices in all three races. It’s a good problem for the city to have, and we hope some of the unsuccessful candidates will return to the ballot in two years when there will be at least one vacant council seat. As for the six referendum questions (make sure to turn over your ballot), we recommend six yes votes as some are just some housekeeping issues except the use of city land for workforce housing and the right to deed over some unproductive city land pending a hearing. Extending the length of time between charter review committees makes sense – in fact we would have been happier with ten years between charter reviews.

UP NEXT: World Series droughts; Insurance guy; Publix closing 





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.


That troublesome Amendment Four


The most recent “victory” for Amendment Four backers isn’t really a victory. This mess promulgated by a sloppy constitutional amendment initiative will end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. When you are limited to a certain number of words, as are Florida constitutional amendments, you leave room for vagaries open for everybody’s interpretation – specifically the “complete the terms of their sentence” line in the ballot issue. The devil is in the details of what complete terms of their sentence includes. Is it all court costs and fines? Is it all restitution – which it should be? In the end, the nation’s highest court will decide this. In the meantime, felon’s voting rights, or lack of, will hang in the balance.



Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:



1. It took about a New York minute for Mike Bloomberg to politicize a world-wide health epidemic. Disgusting.

2. TIA has announced some modest increases in parking prices. Unless another revolt occurs like it did a couple years back, it will soon cost more to park at the Clearwater Marina than at TIA – outrageous.

3. Uber announces that rides soon can be secured by calling a phone number. What a concept!

4. In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, every automobile in the bay area is currently green – or is it the pollen combined with no rain?

5. Idle question - what percentage of remarks attributed to Mark Twain and Yogi Berra did they actually say?


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. It was one of the best pieces of fiction we ever read. Clive Cussler who started his string of successful novels with Raise the Titanic died last week at age 88. He authored over 80 novels in his career.

7. Suddenly our mornings seem a lot less phony – just saying.

8. Yes, we are as confused as you are about the future of Jameis Winston and the Bucs. NFL.com predicts that the most likely landing spot for the bewildering quarterback is …. The Bucs. The next likely teams according to NFL.com are the Raiders (wouldn’t that be interesting?) and the Colts. Stay tuned.

9. With baseball’s tradition of bobble head, T-Shirt and cap giveaways, our son has come up with the ultimate giveaway idea – a miniature garbage can lid with a small mallet for when a certain AL West team comes to town.

10. Our Remembering segment from last week reminds us that a lot of the younger folks attending Phillie’s spring games this year never attended a game at the revered Jack Russell Stadium. And there are an even bigger bunch of fans (your Humble Blogger included) who never attended a game at the original Phils venue – Green Field.


Now, there are six


With the National’s feel-good win of the World Series last year under former Rays coach Davy Martinez, there are now only a half dozen teams who have never won the World Series. They are the Brewers, Mariners, Padres, Rangers, Rockies and, of course, our Rays. The good news, according to Las Vegas, is of the six teams, the Rays have the best chance to win it all at 25-1 with the Brewers the second best chance at 50-1. The Mariners are the longest shot at 500-1.

NEXT UP: Trading careers; The 94th; TBRR turns six





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 the Democratic nomination be purchased?


Mike Bloomberg certainly hopes so, while Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the other contenders hope not. You have to admire the strategy, if not the man; – don’t waste your time on the crazy Iowa caucus or New Hampshire with next to zero delegates. Bloomberg’s hopes and millions are focused on next week’s Super Tuesday votes in some 14 states. It’s a calculated gamble, if he wins enough of those states on March 3rd; he’s right up there with the other established Democratic candidates. If enough voters in enough states resist his attempt to buy the nomination, he’s probably finished. It will be a bellwether day for the 2020 presidential nomination.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:             


1. In a related note, Tampa Bay’s most famous carpetbagger (TBRR 3/9/14) Alex Sink has come out in favor of Bloomberg. That should play well in Pinellas County.

2. Happy trails and best wishes to Deborah Clark who will step down as Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections at the end of next month. In contrast to contemporaries on Florida’s east coast, her office has been quietly efficient in her two decades of leadership.

3. Good news for pet owners in east Clearwater. A new emergency clinic has opened up on the US 19 service road just south of Clearwater Mall. It is called CARE and will be open 24/7 eliminating the need to drive almost to Ulmerton Road on Belcher for emergency service.

4. Idle thought while looking at the plethora of campaign signs at the shuttered Steak and Shake on US 19 – we will vote for whoever pledges to get one of our favorite burger joints re-opened.

5. Continuing that thought, you’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember when the city’s lone Steak and Shake was on the northwest corner of Gulf-to-Bay and Duncan Avenue.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Hawaiian Eye and Wild, Wild West were the two shows that launched Robert Conrad’s career. But we remember him best for his portrayal of the legendary “Pappy” Boyington in Black Sheep Squadron. The veteran actor died last week at age 84.

7. We mentioned the retirement of Deborah Clark above. A hallmark of her early campaigns for Election Supervisor was giving out Clark Bars at campaign events. The Clark Bar has had a rugged few years, but now is under the wing of the Boyer Candy Company (Mallow Cups) and will be back in most stores by Easter.

8. Not to be outdone by baseball’s ridiculous playoff trial balloon, the NFL is now running its own scheme up the flagpole – a convoluted system with only one first week bye and the possibility of a few 8-8 or worse teams making the playoffs.

9. With spring training games now underway, our baseball expert and former assistant to Dr. Harry Raitano, Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED), is warming up in the bullpen and will present his surefire predictions in our March 22 edition.

10. Born 100 years ago this week was the very versatile Tony Randall who made his mark in films, on Broadway and particularly as Felix Unger on The Odd Couple. Not as well-known was his encyclopedic knowledge of opera – making numerous appearances as a panelist during intermissions of the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts.


Remembering: The bay area’s spring training seasons

(A series of look backs at the people, things and places that shaped our memories of the bay area   – appearing in the last week’s edition every month in 2020).


Over the past half century, the constant has been the long standing relationship between the city of Clearwater and the Philadelphia Phillies which began in 1947. Only the Detroit Tigers-Lakeland association has lasted longer (1934 – with an agreement that will have the Tigers there through 2034). Dunedin is right up there as well – hosting the Blue Jays since their inception in 1977 and unveiling a completely remodeled stadium this spring. The Yankees began training in the bay area in 1925 (St. Pete) and have left and come back several times finally settling in Tampa in 1996. For many years, the Yanks’ spring training partners in St. Pete were the Cards who trained in the Sunshine City for over fifty years (1946-1997). So you got to see a lot of Stan the Man along with the Mick, Yogi and Whitey. Prior to the Yanks, Tampa hosted the Cincinnati Reds (Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and company) for over fifty years before they moved eastward to Plant City for about ten years and finally landing in Arizona. Our home town nine started training here at their inception, but trying to expand their west coast market moved to Charlotte County in 2009. Spring training has gravitated from the center of the state to the coasts over the past decade with Lakeland now being the only site not located very close to either of the coasts.

NEXT UP – Green Field; Green cars; Then there were six






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 trip every pro-abortionist should have to take


Every grandstanding pro-abortionist, the disgusting Mike Bloomberg comes to mind first, should have to take a trip to the outskirts of Chicago. That is where a grisly discovery was made last week – some 2500 fetuses discarded by a now deceased butcher/abortionist named Ulrich Klopfer. The dead children were given a decent burial last week in Indiana where the murderer plied his trade. The story of this atrocity was buried inside our ultra-liberal local newspaper while garbage like Roger Stone’s sentencing and student activism take center stage on Page 1. Our moral compass is badly broken.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Breaking news – a special edition of the 5:05 Newsletter hit the internet this past week with this and other nuggets: France News: President Macron announced that France would not participate with the United States if it goes to war with Iran. A war without France's help would be like... well, World War II.

2. In a related note, McClatchy Papers which publish the Miami Herald and the Kansas City Star among others has declared bankruptcy. An investment group is going to bail them out, but the writing is on the wall for the newspaper industry. Funny, the newspapers who are the healthiest are papers with a more moderate tone than the left of center Herald and her sister papers.

3. Three Florida cities that Northerners always butcher – Dunedin, Kissimmee and Wimauma.

4. Number of the Week: 93% - the percentage of traffic stops in the state of Kansas that are out of state plates. My, my, the United States has its own larger version of Waldo, Florida.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember the Sea-Orama on the second floor of the Clearwater Marina.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Noted sports author Roger Kahn passed away last week at age 92. He authored the cult favorite The Boys of Summer. But in our mind, his overall view of the New York baseball scene, The Era, was an even better book.

7. Spring games begin next weekend and Pinellas fans will get to see a few “name” clubs with the AL East champ Yanks visiting both the Phils and Blue Jays twice. The NL East champion Braves will make one visit to each park and the Red Sox also make an appearance in both Clearwater and Dunedin.

8. As spring training ramps up, it’s funny how things work out. The Mets, being the Mets, pass on Joe Girardi as their manager for Carlos Beltran and after the cheating mess, end up with a guy who looks like a desperation hire.

9. Idle thought: The black cloud over the Houston Astros probably will not go away until Jim Crane divests himself of the team. There is probably no smaller group in sports than those who believe he didn’t know what was going on.

10. Just how many NHL coaches have been fired this season? It seems like half the league has a new coach.


What in hell are they thinking?


Pardon the first ever use of bad language in a TBRR headline, but if you follow our thoughts on the National Pastime, you knew it was coming. Rob Manfred is suddenly making Clueless Bud Selig look like a genius by floating a trial balloon that would turn major league baseball’s successful playoff system into a version of the NBA and the NHL’s “come one, come all system” of playoffs. After years of tinkering, MLB finally got it right – putting a premium on winning your division – without automatically dismissing wild card entrants – see Nationals, Washington. But expanding the playoffs to virtually half the teams in the league and allowing teams to pick their opponent makes all those gimmicky football leagues that have come and gone seem downright sane. (For what it’s worth, more than three quarters of some 13,000 fans polled by Major League Baseball Trade Rumors voted thumbs down on the radical idea).

NEXT UP: Mark and Yogi; Felix; Spring training through the years





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.


Bud Elias for Clearwater Council Seat 3


Again, we lament the fact that Clearwater has too many qualified candidates and not enough council seats to go around. Too many times in the recent past, the city was scraping the bottom of the barrel to find candidates. The Council 3 seat features two good candidates and one who is just plain scary with some of their radical proposals. The incumbent Bob Cundiff has brought some fiscal soundness to the board – often being the lone voice against some questionable spending. In most years, his bid for a second term would be a walkover. But Bud Elias brings a set of credentials seldom seen in first time candidates. With years and years of Clearwater residency and public service, he knows the city’s neighborhoods, its problems and its many assets. We only wish he had chosen to run for the open seat on the council as he and Cundiff would present a strong duo. But playing the hand the voters are dealt, Elias presents a stronger option for Seat 3. We feel he, former Mayor Frank Hibbard, Bruce Rector and holdovers Hoyt Hamilton and David Allbritton will give Clearwater a strong council moving forward.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Only the Democratic Party could run a calamity like the Iowa caucus. We fully expect a winner to be announced before the 2020 presidential election. No truth to the rumor the Democrats have brought in former Broward County elections chief Brenda Snipes to sort things out.

2. Publicly tearing up the President of the United States’ state of the union speech. Way to keep it classy, Nancy. What an embarrassment.

3. It’s beginning to look like the asset/debit balance sheet on Gasparilla is leaning more and more to the debit side. Fun is fun, but when drunks beat up kids and generally endanger the public, it’s probably time to rein in things more than a little.

4. A rainy day or two, but overall good weather for the Florida State Fair that runs through Monday the 17th.

5. Idle thought: Best reason not to retire early – day time TV.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. If you’re a football fan, you have to be happy for Andy Reid, one of the sport’s truly nice people who grabbed pro football’s ultimate prize in Super Bowl 54.

7. Different segments of the entertainment world suffered losses last week. Prolific (and our Saintly Wife’s favorite) author Mary Higgins Clark passed away at age 92. She authored over 50 best-selling novels. The Kingston Trio recorded five #1 selling albums as well as 17 charted singles in the late 50s and the 60s – the heyday of folk music. Their last surviving member, Bob Shane, died last week at age 85. And actor and producer Kirk Douglas who had a decades-long career died at age 103.

8. Since MLB chieftain Rob Manfred seems to think it should be no problem for players to maintain households in two cities 1500 miles part, we suggest that the MLB office split its year between New York and Oklahoma City – approximately the same distance apart as Tampa and Montreal.

9. Hello, is anybody home in the Rays’ front office? The hometown team loses another top executive with James Click taking over as GM of the troubled Houston franchise.

10. As pitchers and catchers get ready to roll into town, the answer is the Cleveland Indians. The question: what was the last team to train in Clearwater before the Phils arrived in 1947?


A fitting tribute to Freddie Dyles


Last week, Gibbs High School did something that should have been done about two decades ago -paying a fitting tribute to the greatest high school basketball coach in Pinellas County history – Freddie Dyles by naming their gym after the coaching icon. Awesome is an often overused word, but not when describing Dyles’ Gibbs High Gladiators of the 60s, 70s and 80s. He won three state championships with teams that played a fast tempo game – ShowTime before there was a ShowTime. We witnessed firsthand his team’s rivalry with the other top basketball program at that time – Clearwater High with those games often being moved out of the respective school’s home gyms to a neutral site that could hold the huge crowds the games drew – including a 7000 person crowd at the old Bayfront Center. We had the privilege of broadcasting some of those games and watching two coaching legends Dyles and Clearwater’s Jack Wilson match wits. It’s hard to understand why it took so long for this honor for Dyles who passed away in 1999. He was simply the best.

Next Up: A trip every "pro-choice" advocate should have to take;Sea-Orama





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.


Our choice for Clearwater Council Seat 2: Bruce Rector


We wish the choices we face in selecting a candidate for the Clearwater City Council were always this difficult (as is the Mayor’s race TBRR 1/26/20). Too often in recent years, we’ve had to choose who would do the least damage – the last election cycle being the exception. Council Seat 2 offers two appealing choices – Mike Mannino and Bruce Rector. Both men appear to be very neighborhood oriented which Clearwater has seemed to drift away from in recent times. What sets Rector apart for us is his focus on economic development – another area Clearwater has badly neglected since the halcyon days of the late 1990s. Clearwater cannot go wrong with either candidate, but Rector brings more to the table and should be a strong presence on the Council. (Next week Seat 3).


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Mark your calendar for February 22nd. Clearwater High is inviting grads to have a “last visit” of the nearly 70-year-old school before it is razed for a new facility. The event is from 11 am to 1 pm. Later that day, the Classes of 1963 through 66 are having a get together at the Clearwater Country Club. Class of ‘66 grad Sam McClelland (441-3493) can give you details.

2. Former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has been hit with $17.5 million in penalties by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for the company’s egregious scamming of its customers. Get back to us when the former CEO and the other players do some jail time. And why is this company still even in business?

3. Breaking news: Michael Bloomberg endorsed by Judge Judy - just another reason not to vote for the latter day Ross Perot.

4. Great thought: Any effective committee should fit inside a taxi – from the father of the Polaroid camera and other great inventions – Edwin Land.

5. You’ve lived in Pinellas County for a long time if you remember when the grocery store was called Winn Dixie/Kwik Chek.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. If you were picking a Top-10 all-time NBA team, Kobe Bryant, who died along with eight other people in a tragic helicopter crash last week, would have to be on it.

7. The Rays top the major leagues with six prospects in the Top 100. A number of teams have five including the Braves, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners and Marlins. Only one team, the Brewers, had no prospects in the Top 100.

8. Breaking sports news: Astros hire septuagenarian Dusty Baker as their manager. Baker has an interesting legacy – he managed the Giants, the Cubs and the Nationals – all teams that won World Series just a year or two after he was let go. Astro fans can’t be happy.

9. Quote of the week: “I’m coming back to the NFL” – Antonio Brown. Yeah, good luck with that. The guy is radioactive.

10. They’re here! This week in 1964, topping the charts for the first time (they would top the charts 20 times total) are the Beatles and I Want to Hold Your Hand. It would be the biggest hit of the year.


Everybody loves a good conspiracy theory


Some of the great conspiracy theories include FDR knowing about, even inviting, Pearl Harbor; Amelia Earhart being on a spy mission went she went missing and the dozens of JFK conspiracies. A more recent vintage theory involves the loss of the U.S. nuclear sub Scorpion some fifty years ago. Two books, one by Panama City based author Ed Offley (Scorpion Down) and the other by veteran submariner Kenneth Sewell (All Hands Down) cover the subject. Both gentlemen reach the same conclusion – that the sub was sunk by the Soviet Union. Only the methodology differs. And both authors agree on the reason for the sinking – the Soviet Union’s suspicion that the U.S. downed one of their subs – the K-129 – a separate conspiracy theory that is documented by Sewell in Red Star Rogue as well as at least a couple of other authors. Would we bet our house on either theory? No. But given the extensive documentation of all three books, we wouldn’t bet against the theories either. All three books are well worth a read.

Up Next: The Clearwater Indians; Don’t retire early; Honoring Freddie





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.



Two good men; can only pick one – Hibbard’s our choice


The vote by mail ballots for the Clearwater city election will be in your mailbox soon. Chances are good the election will be decided before Election Day. And yes, we know there are four candidates running for mayor, but there are only two with a legitimate chance of winning – long time city council member Bill Jonson and two-term mayor Frank Hibbard. Frankly, Clearwater would be blessed with either candidate. The two men present differing profiles – Jonson is extremely analytical and that has served the city well during his time in office – better translated, he has saved you and me a lot of tax dollars during his tenure. Hibbard is not what we would call a free spender with tax dollars; he just has more of a big picture approach to governing. That is an approach we feel Clearwater will need as it moves ahead during the next four challenging years – not to mention the fact that he governed ably from the center seat during his two previous terms. Hoping that he will revisit his stance on 4000 seats on the bayfront, Frank Hibbard will get our vote on March 17. (In the next two weeks, we’ll review the two city council seats up for election).



Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. In the upcoming session, Florida legislators will address a bill that would provide for a state-wide referendum to limit terms for school board members to two four year terms – a proposal that seems to make a lot of sense. We’ll have more on this in the weeks ahead.

2. In a related note, the Hillsborough County School Board made what appears to be an excellent hire in Addison Davis as their new superintendent. Now, if they will just stay out of the way and let him do his job.


3.The Tampa Bay market has not been kind to specialty grocery stores - the latest evidence being Lucky Stores pull out leaving the former Albertson’s site at Gulf to Bay and Belcher in Clearwater looking for a new tenant.

4. Hooray for the airline regulators who are putting a stop to the ridiculousness on airliners regarding bogus “support animals”. Now how about the supermarkets and other retail establishments?

5. Idle thought: it’s been almost a year since the 5:05 Newsletter ceased publication. We really miss it, Joe.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. We have absolutely no argument with the inclusion of Derek Jeter and Larry Walker in the Hall of Fame. Our very unofficial ballot also included another Rockie, Todd Helton along with baseball’s best left handed reliever Billy Wagner. Our other two selectees were post season stud Curt Shilling and the man who arguably is the second best fielding shortstop to Ozzie Smith, but was also a better hitter - Omar Vizquel.

7. No surprise that the Mets were the first of the three “managerless” teams to strike a deal since they had internal candidates not tainted by the sign stealing scandal. But they could have done a lot better.

8. Our predictor par excellence Achmed Walled (pronounced wall-ED) says put your money on the 49ers on the 2nd.

9. There are a few naysayers, but we absolutely believe that retired Giants QB Eli Manning will join his brother in Canton.

10. Topping the charts this week in 1962 was The Peppermint Twist by Joey Dee and the Starliters. Joey Dee, a native of New Jersey, has for the past several years, called Clearwater home. More music stuff directly below:



Remembering: The Star Spectaculars


(Editor’s note: During 2020 on the last issue of each month, we will be looking back on people, events or things that shaped our memories of the bay area. We welcome your input.)


In the 1960s, the Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department in conjunction with WLCY radio would bring big name acts to the Clearwater Auditorium on Clearwater’s bayfront. To the young teens who flocked to the relatively inexpensive dances, it seemed incredible that acts like Brenda Lee, Roy Orbison, Mitch Ryder, Del Shannon and others would come to the relatively small (population at that time of about 35,000) city of Clearwater. Little did they know that the next night the same act would be in Orlando followed by perhaps Jacksonville the following evening as part of a cavalcade throughout the Southeast. It was a win-win for the city and the area’s biggest rock and roll station with WLCY heavily promoting the event and then having their disk jockeys host the dance gaining good karma for “Fun Radio” as it was known.

UP NEXT: Committees and taxis; Yeah, yeah, yeah; CHS





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 problem is obvious


Three items caught our eye this past week. Here in Florida, two companies that sell pot are pushing an initiative called Make It Legal. The proposed ballot item would allow medical pot dispensaries to sell recreational grass. Wow, who didn’t see that coming when Florida passed its ill-considered medical pot referendum back in 2018? Make It Legal is full of holes – the biggest is the fact that even if we go off the deep end and allow recreational pot to be sold, it is still illegal under federal law. As it looks now, the legislature will at least kick that can down the road to 2022. The other news items that caught our eye were the story of a New Jersey woman, fueled by a doobie got tired of waiting in line at a DMV, went on a rampage and destroyed about 25 grand worth of equipment at the office. Worse yet was the death of a prominent Tampa man on Bayshore Boulevard killed by a driver high on pot and booze. As a great, great American is fond of saying – the problem is obvious.



Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:



1. And now there are twelve. Cory Booker’s exit from the Democratic presidential sweepstakes brings the number of candidates to an even dozen – with more dropouts soon to come. The field at one time had swelled to over twenty.

2. Speaking of elections, Clearwater will elect a majority of its city council in March. You owe it to yourself and your city to attend a forum and learn a bit about the candidates.

3. The Florida Supreme Court’s refusal to allow people who have served their time on felony charges to vote without paying off onerous “court fees” is very disappointing. As we advocated (TBRR 5/5/19) some time back, released felons should be responsible for restitution (i.e. losses to their victims) but not court fees. Those fees are more or less just a method for the state to shake down folks who need every penny they can hold on to. We hope the legislature will sort out this mess this spring.

4. Factoid – Kennedy Township, Pa., located just west of Pittsburgh is the last municipality to be named after an American president. That happened in the mid- 1960s.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you remember “Uncle Al” Cook’s bike shop on Cleveland Street and East Ave. “Uncle Al” was one of the pioneers of the three wheel adult trike.


Sports, the media and other stuff:


6. The consequences were harsh, but MLB said enough of this cheating and Astros owner Jim Crane agreed when he fired both manager A. J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow just a month before the start of spring training. This, at least in the short term, should put an end to sign stealing through electronic means.

7. If you think Hinch and Luhnow got harsh punishment, wait until the Wily Coyote anvil falls on fired Red Sox skipper Alex Cora who was involved in both the Astros and Red Sox cheating scandals.

8. Full disclosure, we correctly predicted the Super Bowl favorites, the Baltimore Ravens, would not reach the big game (TBRR 1/5/20), but we didn’t see the Tennessee Titans as the spoiler.

9. Bill Cowher’s election to the NFL Hall of Fame says as much about the Pittsburgh Steeler ownership as Cowher himself. The newly minted Hall of Famer is only the second of three coaches in the past 51 years of Steeler history. And you might as well clear wall space in Canton for his successor Mike Tomlin, now in his 14th season with the Steelers. The Rooney family certainly knows how to run a franchise.

10. Give us Clemson in the 2021 college championship game. Dabo Sweeney is building a dynasty in South Carolina.


The Houston Astro tsunami


Just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see in baseball, along comes a bizarre string of events that leaves three potential pennant contenders without managers a month before pitchers and catchers report. Realistically, only the Mets can reach from within for a manger. Current bench coach Hensley Meulens or third base coach Gary DiSarcina could be possible fits. Both have earned the opportunity, but neither has held the top job. It would be hard to justify an internal hire in either Boston or Houston given the scandals from within. Only three top shelf former managers are out there and two of them, Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost don’t want to come back. Either Houston or Boston could do a lot worse than the third of the elite group – Buck Showalter. The rest of the field is composed of some tired retreads and some guys who’ve never managed. You need to go for an experienced hand given the short period of time to get up to speed with a new team. It will be interesting to watch.

Next Up: Peppermint Twist; Star Spectaculars; Our pick for Mayor





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 folly of the $15.00 minimum wage


What good or service is going to increase in price by over 70 percent in the next five years? Hopefully, nothing will jump by that astonishing amount. If something(s) does, it will make the Carter years look like a picnic. But that is what backers of the $15 minimum wage want to do over a five year period. Just take a moment to think about the ramifications of the minimum wage going up 70 percent. The hardest hit industries will be food and hospitality. The ten dollar burger will probably be considered a bargain and hotel room rates, extremely critical to Florida’s economy, could easily jump by 20 percent without even factoring in other economic pressures. But most important will be the inevitable shrinkage of the job market. Some jobs simply aren’t worth $15 an hour. Those jobs will go away or be covered by other employees – increasing the effort they must expend to hold on to their jobs. From an ivory tower, it looks great; from street level where business is really conducted it, stinks.



Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:



1. The state of Florida’s stinginess represents a golden marketing opportunity for a Florida based company. The state has cut out free orange juice at the welcome centers in North Florida. For a mere $250,000 (chump change to a major corporation) a company could take over the distribution of the free OJ complete with corporate emblazed cups and displays. Let’s see who jumps at this opportunity.

2. Okay, it’s 2020 and about nine months until we cast ourselves into blackness again with the silly changing of the clock. It’s time to start filling the email boxes of Senators Rubio and Scott along with Reps. Billirakis, Castor and Crist and get Congress off the dime in honoring Florida’s wishes regarding Daylight Savings Time.

3. Last week President Trump issued a statement that compared briefing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y on the Iran drone attacks to giving a heads-up to the Iranians. Yes, the distinguished gentleman from New York does love to hear himself talk.

4. Number of the week: $26,000 and change. The amount we Clearwater taxpayers paid for a survey telling us what we already know – we like Clearwater. Here’s your sign, city officials.

5. Our Facebook friend, Paula Christ Dalton, posted an interesting question not long ago – Do you still talk with your senior prom date? We carry that one step further and ask do you remember who your senior prom date was – or even if you went to the senior prom?


Sports, the media and other stuff:


6. It is no longer chic to be a series on network TV as witnessed by virtually no nominations for network shows at the recent Golden Globe Awards - this despite the fact that only just over 30 percent of viewers watch services like Netflix, Hulu or HBO.

7. Tis the season for Girl Scout Cookies. If you’re trying diligently to keep that New Year’s resolution, there is a program in place where you can buy the cookies and have them donated to our troops or other worthy causes.

8. We know it’s early but the Yanks (3-1) and the Dodgers (6-1) are the Vegas picks for October at this juncture – approximately a month and a few days before pitchers and catchers.

9. Idle question: when will the Buffalo Bills playoff ineptitude end?

10. His annual bets with lumberman and Gator, Carroll Nall, were legendary. Realtor, entrepreneur and ‘Nole through and through, Bobby Byrd passed away on the last day of 2019 at age 79.


Team with the best talent gets the best coach


You almost saw it coming, the Dallas Cowboys the coach-less team with the best, although underperforming, talent reels in the best free agent coach, former Packer head coach and Super Bowl winner Mike McCarthy. There are a few skeptics that argue the game has outgrown McCarthy. Get back to us on that next post season. McCarthy’s hire dashes the hopes of teams like the Browns, Giants and Panthers all of whom had him on their radar. The only other name on everybody’s list is Josh McDaniels whose only head coaching experience was a subpar two year 11-17 stint with the Broncos in 2009-10. He, too, was mentioned in the Dallas search. Inexplicably, the only other name to surface in Dallas was Herm Edwards, a .500 coach, who is winless in seven postseason appearances. Dallas has been watching that movie for the past ten years going 3-9 in playoff games.

UP NEXT: The problem is obvious; Uncle Al; Astro tsunami





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.


Mayor Jane and the business of baseball


First, an admission, we don’t know very much about Jane Castor’s professional field – law enforcement, but we know a little about the business of baseball and from the Mayor’s recent comments, she doesn’t. She seems to like the idea of locating a 41-game stadium out near the fairgrounds in east Hillsborough – a move that would pretty much cut ties with the Ray’s Pinellas fan base. She hopes an east Hillsborough site would draw from the Orlando metro area. Orlando has their own plans for baseball and has the Mayor driven I-4 much? And no, Mayor, a baseball stadium that hosts half as many games will not cost half as much. The Mayor is probably a quick study, but she really needs to start cramming and get up to speed on the business of baseball.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. As we enter the 2020 election year, what group of Republicans is going to have the intestinal fortitude to tell Donald Trump “you need to step aside.”

2. Speaking of elections, March’s Clearwater city contest will have a field of over a dozen contesting three seats. Only problem is the two best candidates for the city council are in the same race.

3. Spectrum has announced they will no longer send you a written statement. No option of opting out of a paper statement – they are just doing it because as a semi-monopoly, they think they can get away with it. It will save them thousands upon thousands which, we are sure, will be passed on to their customers.

4. Some advice from Gas Buddy – the national service that keeps track of gas prices and trends – best time to fill up is Monday morning. The worst time? Friday afternoon most places. For some reason, Thursday is the worst day in Florida to top off. And, of course, the three best prices are at the bay area’s three club stores – BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s – usually nine to twenty cents a gallon lower than anywhere else.

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time (and attended Clearwater High) if you remember the annual Senior Assembly where the highlight was a harmonica solo by then Vice Principal Bill Justice.


Sports, the media and other stuff:


6. Bold prediction: the darlings of virtually every NFL observer, the Baltimore Ravens, will not make the Super Bowl.

7. Number of the week – 17. The number of years the Cleveland Browns have not been to the NFL playoffs. Otto Graham, Lou Groza and Paul Brown are rolling over in their graves and Jim Brown isn’t too happy either.

8. Sports lost some legendary folks the first week of the new year (see below), but broadcasting took a hit in late December with the passing of shock jock Don Imus, a New York city staple for a couple decades.

9. Biggest bowl win – Clemson over Ohio State despite losing one of their key offensive players early in the game and having a very woozy quarterback after a cheap hit by an OSU defender.

10. Happy trails to Al Ruechel who brought a measure of credibility to Bay News Nine. The veteran newscaster retired in late December.


Tough first week for the sports world


The week started with the passing of former NBA commissioner David Stern who probably did more than any other commissioner to turn the NBA from a baseball-football afterthought to a major force in pro sports. Stern was 77. His passing was followed by a journeyman pitcher who caught lightning in a bottle on an October day in 1956. Don Larsen, career record 81-91, is the only man to pitch a perfect World Series game, shutting down a Brooklyn Dodger lineup that included Hall of Famers Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider. Later in the week, the Tampa Bay Bucs most colorful, if not most successful, head coach Sam Wyche passed away. A college and pro quarterback, father of the no-huddle offense and former Bengal head coach, Wyche improved the Bucs record each year of his tenure, but it was not fast enough for the Glazer wizards who fired him at the end of the 1996 season. Wyche later successfully dabbled in politics and broadcasting. He was 74.

UP NEXT: Best talent, best coach; $15 an hour; Bye, bye Big Top





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


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sports, the media and other stuff:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Our last song together


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








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 refuse to allow the Grinch to steal Christmas


The Grinch has been out in full force these past couple weeks. In Largo, a couple of punks vandalized the beautiful tree that graces the city’s Central Park. In West Chase across the bay, mail is being stolen and an Amazon delivery guy is arrested for stealing packages and gift cards he was entrusted to deliver. Despite all this and the embarrassing exhibition in our nation’s capital, the spirit of Christmas will win out as it always has. To all of you, our wishes for a blessed Christmas!


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Only a couple of days left – don’t forget the Salvation Army’s red buckets. Few agencies do more good for mankind.

2. A tip of our cap to Frontier Communications for installing a pair of robocall fighting tools in their system. We should expect Spectrum to step up as well.

3. Time comes up with another off-the-wall choice as their person of the year. Joining previous such persons of the year as Wallis Simpson and “You” is 16-year-old Greta Thunberg an “environmental activist” who in her efforts leaves a carbon footprint equal to a large fleet of tractor trailers.

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

5. You’ve lived in Clearwater a long time if you enjoyed a Krystal hamburger at their store on Gulf to Bay across from Clearwater High. Now, the closest Krystal is on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Two of the best Christmas songs you may not have heard, both with same name but with different lyrics, Hey Santa by the unique group Straight No Chaser and the second by Carrie and Wendy Wilson, Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s daughters.

7. Mark September 26 on your 2020 calendar. That’s when the Jeff Scott coached USF Bulls play the Florida Atlantic Owls and their new coach (and old USF coach) Willie Taggart.

8. In a related note, not to nitpick but was it really necessary for Coach Scott to cashier every one of Charlie Strong’s staff? You know he wants his own folks, but you have to believe that some of the former USF coaches are as good as or better than anyone Scott is going to recruit.

9. The Rays made a risky move to increase their power signing Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. For every one Ichiro Suzuki, there are three or four Kenshin Kawakamis.

10. Thought of the week (thanks to longtime friend Bob Green): “All I want for Christmas is June.”


Remembering: The way we used to shop


(Editor’s note: this is a sneak peek at Remembering - a monthly feature that will appear in each month’s- end edition in 2020.

Having just completed our Christmas shopping on Amazon, Vermont Country Store, EBay and Card Universe, we reflect back on how it used to be starting with our cards that usually came from the Sandy Book Store on Drew Street. Then it was down the street to our go-to store for something nice for our wife – Maas Brothers. Maybe a record album or two from Merz Record Shop on Ft. Harrison Avenue. For a nice guy’s gift, there was Shorts, Wolfe Brothers and Webb’s. If a big family present like a TV was on the list, there was Gordon’s on Drew Street, Irions or Towers on Gulf to Bay. And we remember the year of the really big family gift – a new Olds 88 from Lokey Olds also on Gulf to Bay. Then there were the many stores on Cleveland Street like Fremacs, Colony Shop and the inviting jewelry stores like Tilley’s, K. K. Smith and Trickel’s. It wasn’t as easy as sitting in front of a computer, but it sure was more fun!

UP NEXT: Our annual retrospective





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.


Crackdown coming on texting?


In just a few weeks, the gloves come off and careless drivers caught texting while driving will be formally charged. The first offense is only $30 – way too low although court costs would be additional. With the second offense, the fine (again sans court costs) is double. These fines are ridiculously low, but it is the hand law enforcement was dealt by the legislature. Now comes the tricky part, seeing if the new law is indeed strictly enforced come January 1.


Great Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. Our military families living at MacDill AFB should not have to go to court to seek relief from mold permeating their living quarters.

2. The merger of BB&T and SunTrust was completed last week. The first of the year will begin the rebranding of all locations to the new name Truist. You, me and a third person we picked up randomly on the street could have come up with a better name.

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

4. Breaking news: Democrats bash Trump for lack of help for Puerto Rico. But wait, isn’t this the same party that played political games delaying aid for the area surrounding Tyndall AFB in the panhandle?

5. You’ve lived in Pinellas County a long time if you ordered holiday citrus for the folks up north from Bilgore or Orange Blossom Groves.


Sports, media and other stuff:


6. Wow, it seems like the NHL is jettisoning a coach a week in their still young season.

7. It’s kind of sad the Army-Navy game doesn’t draw the attention it used to in the days of Staubach, Bellino, Davis and Blanchard.

8. The playoffs are out of the question for the Bucs, but the first .500 season in three years is obtainable with two very winnable games out of the last three.

9. Ted Simmons was a decent pick by the Hall of Fame old timers committee, but the selection of Marvin Miller was an affront to the vast majority of fans who have followed the game for any length of time.

10. Factoid: Bing Crosby’s classic White Christmas is one of only two recordings to top the charts in separate years. The other was Chubby Checker’s The Twist in both 1960 and 1962. Crosby’s record is the largest selling single of all time at over 50 million and counting.


Solid hires by USF, FSU


The hirings of Mike Norvell and Jeff Scott were excellent moves by FSU and USF respectively. Norvell has taken a moribund Memphis program and made it a perennial bowl team during his four years at the school. He is an offensive maven. The only black mark on his record is a winless bowl slate. It has also been mentioned that he lacks Florida roots, but then again, so did Bobby Bowden. As for Jeff Scott, he checks the box as for Florida roots; his Dad is a USF grad. And he is one heck of a recruiter and, like Norvell, a whiz on the offensive side of the ball. This branch of the Dabo Sweeney coaching tree should bring better times to USF. The only concern is how long do we keep him?

UP NEXT: Hey Santa; 9/26/20; Kudos to Frontier





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 





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      





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!)





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





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”


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





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





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!





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






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





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





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





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







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





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





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





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





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?





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





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



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



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




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



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



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. 



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



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


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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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



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     



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



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



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






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





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




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





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;





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





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







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





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





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





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





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!





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





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.






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






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