Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: July 2022

For the penultimate edition of this series, I have two winners who have come aboard midstream to provide a spark to the team, which ended July by taking 5 of 6 in Lynchburg.

After getting yet another hit, Frederick Bencosme leads off first in a recent game against Salem.

This is a good photo of Frederick Bencosme because it shows him at a place he often hangs out: first base. After two games in June getting his feet wet in the Florida Complex League, Frederick was promoted here June 9 and has worked his way around the infield: mostly at short, but also getting a handful of starts at second and third.

Even though he hails from the Dominican Republic and not Panama, the kid reminds me a lot of Rod Carew – plays the similar positions, has good bat control, and hits it where they ain’t quite a bit – for the month, Bencosme slashed a team-best .369/2/10/.960 OPS, which followed up a similar June. For the season here, Frederick is hitting .362 in 40 games, with a knack for putting the ball in play – just a combined 35 strikeouts and walks in 167 plate appearances here. It follows up a solid season in his native DR, where he slashed .310/2/16/.816 OPS in 44 games for the Orioles 2 team.

Signed as an international free agent August 14, 2020, the cancellation of the 2020 season meant Bencosme couldn’t begin playing until last season (although it’s likely he would have waited anyway as a late-season signee.) But the 19-year-old has shown he can hit pitching at each level he’s played; perhaps the one drawback to his game so far is the need to improve his fielding a little bit as he lags behind his league peers at shortstop. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t spend a few weeks at Aberdeen before the summer’s out, depending on what happens with the plethora of infield prospects ahead of him on the depth chart.

Dylan Heid took the loss in this, his debut against Lychburg, but has recovered since to become one of the most reliable Shorebird pitchers.

Drafted in the 11th round last season out of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Dylan Heid had a July where he led the Shorebirds in strikeouts as well as OPS against, effectively shutting down the opposition to the tune of a 2-0 record and 2.25 ERA in 16 innings pitched – close to a starter’s workload in 5 relief appearances.

2022 was the pro debut for Heid, who – like his position player mate Bencosme – made two appearances in the Florida Complex League before coming to Delmarva late in June. After strugging in his two June appearances here, allowing 6 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, he’s whittled that lofty ERA down to 4.22, with a 2-2 record in 21 1/3 innings, striking out 28 while walking 12.

Heid was one of those players who waited out last year’s draft as a member of the MLB Draft League, suiting up for the Trenton Thunder, a former Eastern League member that lost its spot to the previously independent Somerset Patriots. That experience may have been helpful for Heid, a Pennsylvania native who came from a school that’s only sent a handful of players to professional baseball. One knock surely to come on him is that he’s old for this level, having turned 24 in May, so he’ll need to be impressive to keep moving up the ladder.

This monthlong stretch may be of great assistance in that regard.

As I noted above, this is the penultimate edition. I’ve decided to combine August and September since the latter schedule has just 10 games. So the final Shorebirds of the Month will be selected September 15, with the Shorebird of the Year picked September 22. Then it will be time to embark on a new, exciting baseball-related project I’m putting together called The Knothole.

Surveying the wreckage?

The great thing about the 2022 Maryland Republican primary is that it drove Brian Griffiths out of the party – ironically, he’s leaving six years to the day that I resigned from the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee. That’s sort of funny because his reasoning was very similar to mine but he did it six years later because Dan Cox, a Trump-endorsed candidate for governor, and Michael Peroutka, who once ran for President as the nominee of my Constitution Party, both won Republican primaries. (Peroutka is running for Attorney General with the tagline, “Liberty forever, mandates never.”) In both cases, it was over Donald Trump.

Where Griffiths and I differed was that I was fed up with Larry Hogan well prior to the 2018 election. (Hogan careened rapidly downhill in the two years from 2016 to 2018 to the point I voted for the Libertarian.) When it came down to Hogan vs. Trump, he went the other way. For all Donald Trump’s flaws, at least he didn’t sell out good candidates in 2018 like Larry did; then again Hogan already had practice in selling out Eastern Shore farmers and Western Marylanders invested in the opportunity to create jobs in the energy industry by allowing fracking. And that reverse Midas touch Larry had back in 2018 really came out in this one since I’m sure he wasn’t interested in backing either Cox or Shalleck. Well, he can go vote for his dad again.

But the point of surveying what could be called the wreckage to some is to ask the question: where are all the “party over everything” people now? Are they going to be like Griffiths and take their ball and go home? Had I still been in Maryland, I may have been inclined to vote for Dan Cox and if I had I would have finally had a winner in a contested gubernatorial primary – truth be told, though, as an outsider who didn’t have a vote anyway I would probably have been okay with Kelly Schulz or Jim Shalleck winning their respective primaries. But the heads exploding in certain segments of the Maryland GOP are a spectacle to behold.

I lost with Brian Murphy in 2010 and with David Craig in 2014, although the “insurgent” in that 2014 primary would likely have been Charles Lollar. Yet those who backed the more conservative aspirants in those elections were always told by the “party over everything” crowd that staying home on Election Day was a vote for Martin O’Malley, Anthony Brown, or whoever. So guess what, Audrey Scott types – now you have Dan Cox or you have Wes Moore, so suck it up, buttercup. We had to.

In 2016, I thought for sure Donald Trump was going to lose, but after looking at it through the lens of history I found I misread the electorate. If you look at Wes Moore’s policies and consider them a state-level rehashing of what’s failing a few miles west down U.S. 50, that’s how you win the election.

I will give the Maryland GOP credit for one thing though: they only spotted the Democrats five Senate seats; unfortunately, they also gave away over thirty House seats so next year’s House of Delegates will probably look depressingly like about a 100-41 split, while the Senate should end up around 33-14 as usual. I think Maryland needs to go in a deep depression along the south end of its I-95 corridor as the federal government is rightsized to take care of that problem with its state government – either that or just burn down the Maryland GOP entirely by giving the DC statehood people the vote they demand by retroceding most of DC to Maryland as it should be, but all that is for another election to resolve.

Here are the stakes

I just figured I’d pop in over here and remind people what’s on the ballot this November.

As you likely know if you’ve been here long enough, I’ve followed the Indivisible movement pretty much since day one because they essentially billed themselves as a progressive (read: regressive) answer to the TEA Party, and as you also should know, I have a vested interest in that particular political genre. So this paragraph in their latest missive crystalized things quite well from their perspective.

MAGA Republicans know this bill will not make it through the Senate as long as the filibuster remains in place, but inaction from the Progressive bloc is simply unacceptable. With the GOP holding the future of Roe hostage and threatening access to contraception, marriage equality, and more, we must take action to expand our majorities in November, codify Roe and other fundamental rights, and then expand the Supreme Court to protect ourselves from the extremist justices who are putting us all at risk.

“Today: The Congressional Progressive Caucus just helped pass the Women’s Health Protection Act in the House”, Indivisible e-mail, July 15, 2022.

Beware the ides of July, I guess. And when my representative – whose qualifying characteristics to her were the facts she’s black and believes she’s a woman – crowed about passing this bill, I told her:

“Good thing that bill goes nowhere in the Senate… (Y)our party used to believe that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. Now they believe it should be just another form of birth control right up to the moment the baby is born.”

But as a matter of fact, in commenting on what Indivisible said, I find inaction from those regressives quite acceptable. Maybe they should sit down, shut up, and let the adults be in charge for a bit given their adeptness in screwing up this country and its economy over the last 542 days or so. (Heck, let’s even say a century or so.)

Roe has no future aside from a hopefully-reviled footnote in history books as an example of poor decisions the Supreme Court should avoid, right there with Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson. (Now they need to reverse Reynolds v. Sims to give state-level voters some relief, but that’s a post for another time.)

As for the threatening access and all the other items we’ve adopted lately on the regressive wish list, I think Clarence Thomas was right: let’s revisit some of those and revive the Tenth Amendment.

But the tell was the call for expanding the Court, which I would be all for as long as the effective date was January 21, 2025. (I’m kidding. Nine is fine.) But haven’t they said that the Republicans “stole” Gorsuch’s seat, so wouldn’t they be stealing seats until the people get to decide in an election who picks them?

Actually, if the next Republican majority in Congress had any balls and had a conservative President, they would invoke their Article I, Section 8 power “To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court” and just start over by picking all new judges for an expanded number of circuits. We could reuse the good ones and toss out all the Clinton, Obama, and Biden appointees. Probably half of the Bush appointees (41 and 43) would go, too. But I know they won’t because people seem to lose their gonads the moment they begin working inside the Beltway.

Chief among that group of gonad-losers is the Indivisible crowd, who seem to take joy in being useful idiots for those who would extingusish what little flame of liberty we have remaining. Just remember: by using MAGA as a derogatory term, what they show they’re against is making America great again. They want us to be a second-rate world citizen left to the behest of an unelected elite. Don’t forget that.

Is the era of free passes finally over?

If you want to change a body, you first have to run people to make the change.

The conservative element in Delaware has begun to learn that lesson with school boards, and while success is coming slowly, at least it’s coming.

By the same token, the Delaware General Assembly currently sits at 26-15 Democrat in the House and 14-7 Democrat in the Senate. In 2020 there was no net change in the House and Democrats gained two in the Senate; however, redistricting put one House district into play for Republicans and may have made Senate districts more competitive as well.

But since I like to do research into these things, I wondered how many free passes were given to House and Senate candidates over the last two decades. It’s easy to see from election information, so I was curious whether the decades of Democrat dominance have affected this. Let’s see how this worked out for the general election in these years:

  • 2002: 9 of 21 Senators were unopposed (6 Democrat, 3 Republican) and 17 House members were unopposed (7 Democrat, 10 Republican.)
  • 2004: 5 of 10 Senators were unopposed (3 Democrat, 2 Republican) and 19 House members were unopposed (9 Democrat, 10 Republican.)
  • 2006: 5 of 11 Senators were unopposed (4 Democrat, 1 Republican) and 16 House members were unopposed (9 Democrat, 7 Republican.)
  • 2008: 4 of 10 Senators were unopposed (all Democrat) and 10 House members were unopposed (7 Democrat, 3 Republican.) It was a big year for minor parties, too.
  • 2010: 5 of 11 Senators were unopposed (3 Democrat, 2 Republican) and 10 House members were unopposed (5 Democrat, 5 Republican.) Still a lot of minor party action.
  • 2012: 7 of 21 Senators were unopposed (6 Democrat, 1 Republican) and 16 House members were unopposed (12 Democrat, 4 Republican.) Aside from a few Libertatians, the minor parties were fading.
  • 2014: 2 of 10 Senators were unopposed (both Democrats) and 16 House members were unopposed (12 Democrat, 4 Republican.)
  • 2016: 5 of 11 Senators were unopposed (3 Democrat, 2 Republican) and 20 House members were unopposed (16 Democrat, 4 Republican.)
  • 2018: 2 of 10 Senators were unopposed (both Democrats) and 13 House members were unopposed (9 Democrat, 4 Republican.)
  • 2020: 4 of 11 Senators were unopposed (2 Democrat, 2 Republican) and 22 House members were unopposed (15 Democrat, 7 Republican.)

We went from 28 of 63 Senators in the decade from 2002-10 (71% Democrat to 29% Republican) to 20 of 63 Senators in the decade from 2012-20 (75% Democrat to 25% Republican.) Using the same measuring sticks, we went from 72 of 205 House members in the decade from 2002-10 (51% Democrat to 49% Republican) to 87 of 205 House members in 2012-20 (74% Democrat to 26% Republican.) So if there was an unopposed seat in the last decade, there was a 3 out of 4 chance that a Democrat was the beneficiary. Perhaps that explains why the state is in the shape it’s in when Democrats are spotted a couple Senators and 7 to 8 House members each election.

With a couple days left before the filing deadline here in 2022, it appears the GOP might do a little better. In the Senate, Districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, and 13 have no Republicans running, giving the Democrats 8 of the 11 seats they need for a majority. The Republicans only enjoy that advantage in Districts 15, 16, 19, 20, and 21. (A total of 13 of 21 seats are unopposed right now, which would be the highest total ever.) Senator Darius Brown was the last Senator to file on Friday, leaving only two open seats as Republican Ernie Lopez and Democrat Bruce Ennis have already announced they’re leaving.

As for the House, once again the Democrats are by themselves in Districts 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 16, 17, 19, 23, 28 and 24 while Republicans have 11, 21, 22, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, and 41 owned at the moment. That gives Democrats a 12-10 advantage at the moment, which isn’t awful all things considered – especially when the “DemComs” were spotted a 15-7 cushion last time around. The total of 22 seats unopposed, though, would match the recent high of the 2020 race. So far we know that Representatives David Bentz, Bud Freel, John Kowalko, and Steve Smyk won’t be back, with Smyk being the only Republican. (Steve’s running for the vacated Senate District 6 seat; the others are retiring. Freel won the March special election for Gerald Brady’s district that has been relocated to Sussex County.) At this time only Andria Bennett and Shannon Morris have yet to file for re-election, with Bennett’s seat attracting Democrats like circling sharks and Morris’s District 30 the only legislative position with no filings at all.

And while the countywide offices in Sussex County have healthy Republican primaries, apparently Council members in Districts 1, 2, and 3 along with any Democrats are waiting until the last minute. (Since I’m now in District 1 I’m waiting with bated breath too. I’ve been redistricted out of the old District 5 that John Rieley – who has already filed in the new District 5 – represents.)

Since I remain a member of the Constitution Party, I can’t vote in the primary. But I can see just what I’ll have to choose from come November.

Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: June 2022

Sometimes this column is about stats, but there are times when it’s about expectations. Because of expectations – and the fact he was around the whole month – your Shorebird Position Player of the Month for June is outfielder Trendon Craig.

You see, Trendon put together a solid month at the plate by any measuring stick: Slashing .309/1/13/.826 OPS, this 20th and final pick by the Orioles last year out of the small-time Louisburg (N.C.) College turned around a slow start to the season in May to bring his overall slash to .235/2/21/.691 after Monday’s game. It came on the heels of a .294/1/8/.796 OPS mark in 24 Complex League games last season after being drafted. And watching how overmatched Trendon looked in May, I’m pleasantly surprised to be writing this. But his across-the-board consistency across the offensive numbers combined with a flawless season in the field gave him the nod.

A native of Georgia, Trendon went to high school in the Fredericksburg area of Virginia before going to the same junior college that produced some nobody you’ve never heard of, Cedric Mullins. Given the fact he’s only 20 – turns 21 this coming Sunday – and his average and OPS are trending higher, Trendon may be on track for a look-see in Aberdeen later this summer; if not, certainly for 2023. Not bad for a guy who had 586 guys picked before him – a relative position that would have put him 585 spots behind my other major contender for this month, Heston Kjersted. If Heston had been here a week (or even 2-3 days) earlier, he would have been the winner and Trendon in the agate type, but I use both cumulative and rate stats and the cumulatives is where Heston was lacking just a bit.

As for my pitcher, he was the fifth and last pick in what’s been sort of a star-crossed 2020 draft for the Orioles. Because of the pandemic and injury issues, it took until this season for Carter Baumler to make his pro debut, and Carter has been assigned so far a unique plan for this season: if you don’t come out on Wednesdays, you miss him. (Hence, I haven’t seen him since I usually go Thursday and Sunday.) Moreover, due to another arm flareup and an ill-timed rainout, Carter hasn’t pitched in a game since June 15th – since he’s not on the injured list, though, he remained eligible for Shorebird of the Month despite not pitching.

In a month where the Delmarva pitching was pretty brutal, though, the 2.08 ERA and 15/6 strikeout/walk ratio in just 8 2/3 innings stood out. A product of Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, he grew up on the outskirts of Des Moines and took a $1.5 million bonus in lieu of a commitment to TCU. (Ironically, money saved on signing the aforementioned Kjersted sweetened Baumler’s bonus pot. Wonder if Carter’s ever bought Heston lunch?) Things looked good until he needed Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2020 after beginning his workouts with the Orioles. So this is the first step back, and the Orioles are being cautious.

Overall on the season Carter’s only pitched 11 2/3 innings, allowing just seven hits, seven walks, and striking out 20. At just 20 years of age and lacking experience, I see no reason for him to pitch anywhere but Delmarva this season with the expectation he’ll be let loose a little bit next season, whether here or (more likely) with the IronBirds.

The other good pitching candidate this month was Ryan Long, who led the team in innings pitched and won one of the few games the Shorebirds were victorious in last month. No one else really had a month that wasn’t mediocre to awful.

One housekeeping note before I go: it’s looking more and more like I will combine August and September for my final Shorebirds of the Month. With only ten games scheduled in September, it didn’t seem fair to the pitchers to base it on maybe two appearances. July’s selections should be ready August 4.

Not done with me yet

Even as I slowly walk out the door, those people who try and tell me what to do continue to pester me. Case in point, from a recent e-mail:

Dear business owner of monoblogue.us,

How is it possible that your website is having so many errors? Yes, most of the people share their anger and frustration once they get my email.

Now, I will show you the number of broken links, pages that returned 4XX status code upon request, images with no ALT text, pages with no meta description tag, not having an unique meta description, having too long title, etc., found in your monoblogue.us.

I have a large professional team who can fix all the above issues immediately at an affordable price. I guarantee you will see a drastic change in your Google search ranking once these are fixed.

If this is something you are interested in, then allow me to send you a no obligation audit report.

Best Regards,

Kris Macri

Guess what, Kris? You can show me whatever you want, and I couldn’t care less.

I’m sure that, over nearly 17 years, I have plenty of broken links (like the years of photos I lost) and whatever other gobbledygook you were talking about, but that comes with the territory. I write to impress readers, not Google searches.

So thanks to your “large professional team” in some Indian basement somewhere, but no thanks.

Now here’s where they tell me I can make some REAL money:

Hello monoblogue.us Team,

We would like to begin by congratulating you on maintaining a fantastic website. You are doing a great job.

We are contacting you on behalf of Blog Management, a platform that has helped process orders for more than 10,000+ publishers and website owners.

Currently, we are working with more than 47+ SEO and Digital Marketing Agencies that might be interested in placing guest posting and link-building orders on your website.

If you are interested in publishing high-quality guest posts and working with some of the best brands and agencies in the world, please respond to this email with-

Guest Posting Price & Text link insertions price

Do you accept Grey Niches- CBD, Crypto, Adult, Gambling Links?

Are there any Content Guidelines that you follow?

Thanks for your consideration,

Thanks & Regards,

Parama.

Some content mill.

Something tells me those “gray niches” are where the real coin is.

And then we have one more. This guy is persistent.

Hello ,

I see your website www.monoblogue.us and its impressive. I wonder if advertising options like guest post, ad content are available on your site?

What’s the price if we want to advertise on your site?

Note : Article must not be any mark as sponsored or advertise or like that and we can only pay by paypal.

Cheers                                                                                                  
andrew robbin

Making my website less impressive one blockquote at a time.

I think my IQ dropped two points when I read that one, Mr. English is my third language.

When I get these posts it makes me wonder just who is out there making a living on these things. Having been there once myself (“you’re doing it for the ExpOsURe!”) and knowing people are lucky if they get a penny every hundred words from these content mills, I’m half tempted to turn my website over to these guys and cash out. But my name would still be associated with it, so I’ll let them wait until the domain becomes available. (Or maybe I’ll buy a new domain just for funsies, sort of like making a mythical portfolio of the “pumpin’ and dumpin'” stocks I did once upon a time and see what kind of depressing dreck I get. Domain names aren’t that expensive. By the way, in rereading that junk fax post I remembered it had one of the best comment sections I ever had. I hit a whale of a niche that week.)

Why not? Maybe it will give me something to write about on my Substack and net me twenty bucks.

The slow walk away

This is a very difficult post to write, but write it I must.

We’re not to the end of monoblogue quite yet, but I can see it now from here. After I reread my last post, I took a deep breath, began thinking about it, and said to myself, “it’s time. My heart just isn’t in this political game anymore.”

Perhaps it was the idea that I actually linked to something I wrote nine years ago on the very subject in another state, but regardless this website has become more of a chore than a pleasure and when that happens maybe it’s time to move on. I couldn’t bear to be without it six years ago when I resigned from the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, even when I said back then, “I can see the iceberg as I’m standing on the deck of the Titanic but no one hears my warnings.”

So I tried to take another road with two lanes, which led me to writing my Rise and Fall book. It’s hard for me to believe that, three years ago this month, I was doing my reading at Pemberton Coffeehouse and embarking on a five-month, twenty-stop DIY radio tour of the nation to promote the book. Certainly it was an experience. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and so have I. Right now, I couldn’t say if I had another book in me or not. But I think I’ve written some good stuff here, too – problem is I think it’s being ignored in our headlong rush toward tyranny and debauchery.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what I’m going to do now. I have a light-hearted post in mind that should be up next, but I think all I’m going to have left to do here is finish out the season for Shorebird of the Month, select a Shorebird of the Year, and do my picks and pans. I’m also going to do one final edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project for 2021-22 – and it looks to be a doozy. The website is paid for through the first of November, and I think I’ll pay for it one more year for archival purposes. (It’s not an expensive hobby, but there are places I can average 100 readers a week for free, like social media.) But I think I’m just going to go ahead and broom the 2022 election widget since I’m not seeing that many races here in Sussex County and the candidates can promote themselves. It’s yet another chore to maintain and I don’t feel like it anymore.

I’ve always intended for writing to be my retirement, and in some ways I have succeeded: I have the paying job writing for The Patriot Post and maybe stepping away from the blog is what I need to write book number 3 – Lord knows I haven’t had much success or inspiration since Rise and Fall with all this going on. I’m really not going away, either – I’m just going to let someone else handle the back end of trying to keep a website up, constantly worrying in the back of my mind about being hacked again, and being pestered to upgrade WordPress on a daily basis. On Tuesday I set up a Substack account, so that’s where my musings and rants will go. I’m going to try and set up a twice-a-week schedule for my subscribers on a variety of subjects.

By the time I finish this endeavor, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I should have just about 5,300 posts over 17 years. It’s amazing because the only place I have worked longer than this blog is for the aforementioned Patriot Post, which I began writing for in 2003 while I was still living in Ohio.

But there is a season for everything, and I believe the time has come to make a change. Thank you for being there, and for understanding.

Knees jerked with record speed

You know, they couldn’t do much with important stuff like the economy, gas price relief, or using the state’s vast surplus of borrowed out of thin air federal funding to give the taxpayers a realistic break, but I tell you what: take an incident where kids were killed by a combination of evil that pays attention to no law and police incompetence that failed miserably in upholding the right to life of some number of children and suddenly there’s a stampede by the majority in the Delaware General Assembly to DO SOMETHING – even if it does little to nothing to address a problem. And while everyone was fixated with their criminal stupidity on one issue, they took advantage of it to ramrod a provision that may allow them to keep themselves in perpetual power.

Here are the issues I have with Delaware’s gun bills: first of all, you copied off a bill that’s been shown to do nothing in Maryland over ten years aside from curtail peoples’ Second Amendment rights. The criminals laugh and keep killing people in Baltimore, which has “achieved” a record number of homicides since the bill was passed in 2013 – the last four years have been four of their top six years in terms of homicide numbers. Essentially, all this series of bills will do is make people either criminals or defenseless, and something tells me that these newly-minted criminals who run afoul of the complex new gun regulations will be prosected with the greatest of zeal in comparison to run-of-the-mill street criminals.

Secondly, what kind of business has it become of yours just how large a magazine someone owns? Leaving aside the Uvalde police force’s ineptitude or cowardice, having a force of multiple police officers means you probably have more rounds than the criminal does. Having said that, though, would those of you who voted for this garbage rather face a quartet of armed home invaders with a ten-round magazine or a thirty-round one? Thought so. (And remember: when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.)

Nine years ago I expressed my opposition to the Maryland gun law the DGA essentially copied and I still stand by every word. The only difference is the number of coffins while ignoring the hundreds of lives saved by law-abiding gun owners who respect their weapons. Ask some folks in West Virginia, for example. (And pay attention in that story to how well gun laws stopped the criminal perpetrator. He was stopped by a good girl with a gun.) Since it didn’t match the narrative, I bet you never heard this on your nightly news, now did you?

And one more thought on this gun subject: remember how Sussex County Council turned gutless on the great idea of a county-level right-to-work law because they were worried about how they would be sued? The same went for the City of Seaford when they passed the fetal remains law but put it on hold because the state bullied them with a lawsuit? Obviously the knowledge that the state would face a lawsuit on these prospective laws on Second Amendment grounds wasn’t going to stop our Democrat legislature because power-seekers gotta power-seek, I suppose.

Speaking of that, notice how they let the voting bill sit for the better part of a year before rushing to pass it in the final weeks of the session? Moreover, they rejected an amendment to push the effective date back to next year, meaning that the Democrats couldn’t stand the thought of having an election without the crutch of mail-in ballots. (Wonder how many mules are in Delaware these days?)

The least that could be done before mail-in balloting would be accepted is to clean up the voter rolls of duplicate, deceased, and inactive voters. After the 2020 election where the results of machine votes and mail-in balloting were so drastically different, an audit of the voter rolls is a must. (In 2020, machine votes would have given the state to Donald Trump, elected Lee Murphy to Congress, installed Donyale Hall as LG, resulted in a 12-9 Democrat Senate instead of 14-7, and a 24-17 Democrat House instead of 26-15. It would have flipped three offices in Kent County as well. All these changes accrued to Democrats at the expense of the GOP. What a shock they voted for it, huh?)

I know I should take a deep breath because I know God is in control, but sometimes I get angry about the foolishness my fellow man does in the name of law.

A less worrisome trend

One of the things that surprised and helped attract me to this area 18 years ago was the fact that Salisbury had a minor league baseball team. I’ve always had a little bit of familiarity with the minor league system from following my Detroit Tigers and seeing the back of thousands of baseball cards, but it never dawned on me that Delmarva was the team representing Salisbury, just like one may not guess that the old Tidewater Tides were actually playing in Norfolk, Virginia or that the Down East Wood Ducks are from Kinston, North Carolina.

After the pandemic wiped out the 2020 season, we learned that a few of our erstwhile opponents in the South Atlantic League would be saying goodbye to the affiliated baseball ranks without giving their fans a chance to say sayonara to the team. While the Lexington Legends transformed themselves into a franchise in the independent Atlantic League, followed by the West Virginia Power – who were reborn as the Charleston Dirty Birds – the Hagerstown Suns disappeared from the baseball world, done in by poor previous attendance and facilities. (The good news for them: they will get a new stadium and also join the Atlantic League for the 2023 season, at least as of last September.)

In baseball’s realignment for 2021, the Shorebirds were one of five former South Atlantic League teams shuttled to the Carolina League, which flipped levels with the SAL to become a full-season class A league. (The SAL became what’s known as an advanced-A league.) In that respect we were joined in the move by the Augusta Greenjackets, Charleston (South Carolina) Riverdogs, Columbia Fireflies, and Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (who had already planned a name change from Intimidators and new stadium for 2020 before the season was scrubbed.)

This all may be old news to the folks who read this website and know I’m a passionate fan of the Delmarva Shorebirds: enough so to take the time each month to select a position player and pitcher of the month, pick a Shorebird of the Year each season, and host a page on my site for the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame for all the guys who make The Show. But it’s important to the reason I felt it necessary to do this post.

In the winter of 2020, I was very concerned that the Shorebirds would follow the fate of the aforementioned Legends, Power, and Suns. Knowing that the Orioles enjoy having most of their affiliates within easy driving distance and also knowing the game of musical chairs enforced by Major League Baseball was going to leave one team standing on the sidelines, it was apparent to me that the cut was going to come down to either us or Frederick, since the teams in the upper minors appeared safe and they were going to find a way to keep Aberdeen with the closeness to Baltimore and the Ripken influence. As it happened, Frederick was the odd team out.

Because of the pandemic restrictions for 2021, I knew attendance would be way down – truth be told, I was just happy to get the season we did given how heavy-handed the government reaction to the CCP virus was. The Shorebirds ended up with about half their usual attendance, although toward the end of the 2021 season things began to look a little more “normal.” So I was concerned about how things looked in April this season, when we had several nights with three-digit attendance figures. And I got to thinking: was it just us, or was this a league-wide thing? So I decided to do a study, and here’s how it worked.

As I said above, there were five teams that shifted from the SAL to the Carolina League which I could use as comparisons to a previous base year, 2019 – the last full “normal” season. However, the new stadium in Kannapolis eliminated that apples-to-apples, leaving me Augusta, Charleston, and Columbia to use as comparisons. While there were affilation changes at all three due to realignment, I presumed that would be of little to no effect. (Maybe somewhat in Augusta since they went from the San Francisco Giants to the nearby Atlanta Braves, but Yankees to Rays in Charleston or Mets to Royals in Columbia – eh, not so much.)

My methodology, taking games played between the season opener and Memorial Day – which was a leaguewide day off this season – accounted for both attendance and weather, since the box scores indicate both. I even came up with a formula to determine how good the weather was for each team and season because that’s an important factor as well: based on the weather at game time I factored the weather as a zero for rain or drizzle, one for overcast, two points for cloudy, three for partly cloudy, and four points for clear or sunny.

So is the issue only with Delmarva or are we not alone? Let’s take a look, beginning in alphabetical order with Augusta.

Augusta Greenjackets

Home stadium: SRP Park (2018), capacity 4,782

In 2019, they had 23 home dates prior to Memorial Day and averaged 4,125 fans per game. Their average temperature at game time was 83 degrees and the weather factor was 3.44, meaning their games generally occurred in clear to partly cloudy weather (only one had a delay.) Their record at Memorial Day was 24-27.

Three years later, they had 24 home dates prior to Memorial Day and averaged 4,175 fans per game – basically a wash. This despite an average temperature that was three degrees cooler and weather just slightly worse at a factor of 3.33, with just one delay. This year they were 23-22.

What this tells me is that whatever slight bit of luster the stadium has lost is being countered, perhaps by taking marketing advantage of the new Braves affiliation. (Three of their four affiliates are now in Georgia.) They look to be in pretty good shape for the time being.

Charleston Riverdogs

Home stadium: Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park (1997), capacity 6,000

The 2019 season saw the Riverdogs average 4,327 fans for their 27 home dates prior to Memorial Day, with great weather: a 3.52 weather factor, with just one delay, and average of 80.8 degrees at game time. (Can we borrow some of that?) The team was 28-23 at Memorial Day 2019.

This year, despite a better team at 31-14, their attendance slumped to 3,810 per date for the same 27 dates. I don’t think there’s THAT many passionate Yankee fans in Charleston, so perhaps the reason was the weather: while the weather was less than one degree cooler at 80.4 degrees, the weather factor was down to 2.78 thanks to three cloudy days and two games that began in the rain. In terms of real bottoms in the seats, the team is down 14,000 from their 2019 total-to-date, and if that tracks for the season like 2019 did it would make a significant dent in attendance that totaled over 300,000 that year. A drier summer, though, may allow the Riverdogs to catch up or at least hold serve.

Columbia Fireflies

Home stadium: Segra Park (2016), capacity 9,077

The Fireflies were still rather new to Columbia in 2019, so they averaged 4,201 per date for their 22 pre-Memorial Day dates that year – this despite a weather factor of 2.77 and three games with rain delays, as well as an average gametime temperature of 77.6 degrees. The team wasn’t great on the field that season, hitting Memorial Day with a subpar 19-32 record.

Three years on, they still don’t have a great team despite new affiliation, trailing the Carolina League with a 14-31 record on Memorial Day. So even though the gametime temperature (77.4 degrees) held remarkably steady between the two years, and they had better weather (a 3.24 factor) and only two delays, their attendance has declined markedly to 3,367 per game.

Historically, Columbia hasn’t been able to keep a team very long – their previous team, mostly known as the Capital City Bombers, lasted a couple decades before being moved upstate to Greenville in 2005 and becoming what’s now known as the Greenville Drive. But it’s somewhat of an unfair comparison because the team came to Columbia in 2016 and had the benefit of Tebowmania in 2017, so attendance wasn’t going to stay on such a plateau. Still, a drop of nearly 20 percent would be concerning to most owners and league officials. And that leads me to…

Delmarva Shorebirds

Home stadium: Arthur W. Perdue Stadium (1996), capacity 5,200

At the start of 2019, the Shorebirds were opening a fantastic season – they began with a 24-4 record, hit Memorial Day at 39-11, and finished with 90 wins and the first half SAL North title. So despite a weather factor of just 2.96, one delay, and an average gametime temperature of 70 degrees, the Shorebirds averaged 2,398 for their 25 openings.

Fast forward to 2022, and we have the opposite team: just 16-29 on Memorial Day. While it’s seemed like a cold spring here, our gametime temperature was only a degree cooler at 69.3 and the weather factor only slightly worse at 2.86. The team had no weather-related delays. (They did get an umpire delay at a game I was at. Need to make sure not to eat where he did.)

So the drop in attendance to 2,147 per game is a little troubling, but not as significant as Columbia’s. In fact, it’s fairly comparable to Charleston’s, which means a dry and warm summer could get us back into the neighborhood of 200,000 fans overall. (We will have four fewer scheduled dates for the foreseeable future as A-ball teams are now scheduled for 132 games instead of the previous 140.) Based on average, that’s a drop of 12,000 fans for the Shorebirds right there but because most of that shortage is on the Mondays they now have as an almost-perpetual off day, it’s more like about 8,000 fans.)

And because this is a phenomenon hitting three of the four teams I studied, I think it may be the setting up of a new normal that’s hopefully just a base which can be improved upon once economic conditions finally improve – that, however, will have little to do with baseball.

If – and that’s a pretty big if at this point – the Shorebirds do somehow manage to get 200,000 fans at this point, that’s going to be a testament to a loyal fan base that hasn’t minded the mediocre-to-bad teams Baltimore has normally sent us over the years to show up and see the boys play. To see all the empty seats in April I was pretty worried Seventh Inning Stretch LLC, the owners of the Shorebirds, may find an excuse to leave our friendly confines by their selling the team to someone who wants to move it either the available facility in Frederick or the new stadium in Hagerstown but if attendance stays reasonably steady or improves for the next few seasons they’ll maintain their investment.

Do that and, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be there.

Postscript: since the original draft of this I wrote the week after Memorial Day while the Shorebirds were on the second and last two-week road trip for the season, the Shorebirds had a five-game homestand that featured wildly varied attendance figures: high triple-digits on Tuesday and Thursday, the usual nice 2,000-ish crowd on Wednesday from the Silver Sluggers (age 55+ promotion where they get discounted tickets) and solid crowds on Friday and Saturday of over 4,000 apiece – the two largest crowds of the year and first ones over 4,000. Friday may have been helped a bit by the long-awaited pro debut of Heston Kjerstad (2nd pick overall in the 2020 draft, sidelined in 2021 by myocarditis and since early spring training with a hamstring injury) and Saturday was a Little League day. Both Friday and Saturday had fireworks as well. (Sunday’s game was rained out and Saturday’s was delayed two hours by rain as well.)

Overall, they drew 12,957 for the five games, so if you round it up with what could have been a decent Sunday attendance of 2,043 to make the math easy it’s 15,000 for the set. (That number would have been doable since the Shorebirds were planning a postgame mini-clinic for kids.) Going back to my “picks and pans” last year I mentioned that their largest 6-game set in 2021 brought 14,249 to friendly confines of Perdue; well, this year they beat that number with the last 6-game set before Memorial Day and most likely would have again this week had rain not foiled those plans. (In looking back, though, that six-game set was only five due to a Thursday rainout so it probably would have been someplace around 16,000 for six games – just about even with what we drew the last week of May.)

Going forward, the end of the school year will hopefully help build the midweek numbers a bit and there are several good promotions and big-crowd events still to come. So I feel a little less worried than I was and I like having the numbers to back it up.

A rookie mistake?

While I work in Wicomico County, my wife and I neither live nor vote in Wicomico County. So this misdirection seems a little strange.

As you can see from the photo, I am in possession of a mailing from one Julie Giordano, who is a Republican running for Wicomico County Executive. (This actually came in our mail for my wife’s “household,” which is logical as she at least is a registered Republican.) I do believe most people who read this are familiar with the fact that I’m a recovering Marylander and ex-Republican who now lives a few miles across the line in Delaware.

So this probable simple mistake by the company mailing this out (not noticing that the address pre-printed on the flyer was in Delaware) got me to thinking about how the political process works now. One thing about my leaving the state of Maryland and the Republican Party is that I don’t get their mailings anymore, but my wife does. However, since she’s not a 4-4 Republican in Delaware yet I don’t think she gets the volume of stuff we (mainly I) received in Maryland. But what she does get seems to reflect the idea of security.

Believe it or not, I took a photo of the total of two flyers my wife received for the entire 2020 election from State Senator Colin Bonini’s ill-fated campaign for governor – one extoling his 2A bonafides and the other as a letter from his wife. (I think I was going to use them for a post I never ended up writing – until now.) It was obvious that Bonini was scanning the voter rolls looking for a few nuggets as well as cutting into the “mama bear” vote in a primary where his main competition was a woman, that being Julianne Murray (who ended up winning.) So here’s that example, a blast from the past.

We didn’t feel at home in Delaware until the political flyers started showing up. But in the election of 2020, this was all we got – both addressed to my wife. Definitely going for the female vote.

To me it’s obvious Julie Giordano is looking to shore up the female vote in an election where she’s going up against the man who’s currently the acting County Executive, but who doesn’t have a ton of name recognition because he’s never sought office before. (John Psota, who was initially appointed as the Director of Administration for the county, is the acting executive who stayed on because County Council couldn’t agree on a formal successor to the late Bob Culver, who passed away in July, 2020. After going through the process twice without success, they threw up their hands and kept Psota in the job until this year’s election.)

While Giordano has a background as a teacher and parent, this flyer talks about security, as in not defunding the police but defending them. On the other side is a quote, presumably from Julie, that says, “If you want to change policing and the end product, I suggest you go to the academy and walk their walk.”

It’s actually a pretty good flyer, but it’s not going to get Giordano any votes from our household because we can’t vote in Maryland anymore. (At least my wife’s name better not be on the list, since I made sure mine was removed.) Maybe they were thinking in terms of donations or word-of-mouth? If so, I suppose she’s getting some pixels but maybe not in the sense she would like. A better campaign would have culled the list before spending a buck or two on printing and postage given she only has about $8,000 in the bank to play with and her primary opponent was bankrolled by some serious coin. (For example, why is lobbyist Bruce Bereano involved in the Wicomico race? That’s a post for another day, particularly since a reporting date is coming up.)

Let’s hope the attention to detail is a bit better if she’s elected as County Executive. (And a message for the current one: can you get your folks to cut some of the roadside weeds around the county? It’s a hazard at some corners.) In the meantime, I’ll be interested to see what shows up in our mailbox later this fall from candidates we can actually vote for.

The rapid jerking of knees

Every time there’s a disaster, whether natural or man-made, there’s always that moment of passion when it’s determined the politicians have to DO SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter whether that action is really necessary and not ill-advised, it just has to appear to deal with the problem and make them look good.

The last time the liberals came so hot and heavy for our guns was the aftermath of Sandy Hook, but that was a case of curious political timing: since the shooting occurred during the lame duck period between the election and the swearing-in of a new Congress, it meant that some of the momentum for change was blunted by the three-week interim before a new Congress, who hadn’t run so much on gun control, was sworn in. Yes, there was a call for “common-sense” (read: overrestrictive and unconstitutional) gun laws, but that wasn’t really part of the Obama re-election platform.

Almost a decade later – and with a detour to a Florida high school included – we have the same situation with the Uvalde massacre. Yes, the situation in Uvalde is complicated by what appears to a be a badly botched response by local officials, but that portion of it doesn’t fit the narrative that the guns the shooter had were completely responsible. By gummy, dem guns just up and fired themselves – a shame the guy holding them had to be shot by a police officer to stop the gun from shooting. And it’s amazing that all this comes up in an election year when the Democrats have exactly zero avenues of success to run on.

Anyway, some of these bills were already languishing in the Delaware General Assembly, but in the days after the tragedy there was a renewed push for gun reform in the same warmed-over package that was going nowhere. The bodies were barely cold when most of these provisions were introduced:

  • Banning the sale of assault weapons (HB 450) – new bill
  • Limiting high-capacity magazines (SB 6) – introduced in March 2021, substitute bill put in place June 7, 2022
  • Raising the age from 18 to 21 to purchase most firearms (HB 451) – new bill
  • Strengthening background checks by reinstituting the Firearm Transaction Approval Program (FTAP) (HB 423) – introduced May 2022.
  • Holding gun manufacturers and dealers liable for reckless or negligent actions that lead to gun violence (not yet introduced)
  • Banning the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons (not yet introduced)

Out of the six, the Republicans seem to be most supportive of HB423, as several are either sponsoring or co-sponsoring the measure because it brings the background check back to the state. That bill has advanced out of committee already, as has HB450 and HB451. The substitute SB6 has already passed the Senate on a 13-7 vote, with the “no” side being bipartisan thanks to lame-duck Senator Bruce Ennis.

A state 2A advocate by the name of Brad Burdge had this to say about these bills being considered in Delaware:

HB450 – “Cut & Paste” law from Maryland’s law, passed nearly 10 years ago that would outlaw purchase, possession and sale of AR-15 and similar weapons.  Weapons already owned would be grandfathered.  This has been proposed and rejected by several legislative sessions, yet the current rash of events reported around the country appears likely to sweep it into law.  The Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association (DSSA) is already preparing to take this to court as an unconstitutional abridgement of Article 1, Section 20 of the Delaware Constitution with provides that ” A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use.”  The AR-15 and similar rifles are not “weapons of war”, as no military in the world uses them.  They are a semi-automatic version that is cosmetically similar to the M-16/M-4 “Automatic/Select-Fire” weapons used by many military units.

HB451 – Increases the age of purchase, possession and ownership of any firearm from 18 to 21, excepting military service or under the supervision of someone over 21.

SB6 – Outlaws firearm magazines with capacities in excess of 17 rounds.  It requires those currently possessed to be turned in to law enforcement within a matter of weeks.  Amendments that modified this law to penalize persons who commit felonies with high capacity magazines (over 20 for pistols and 30 for rifles) is scheduled to be stripped from the bill.

HB423 – Would shift the responsibility for background checks on firearm purchases from the Federal NICS system to the Delaware State Bureau of Investigation.  This would appear to provide for approvals based on more accurate and timely data.  Delaware DOES NOT report all felony violations to the Federal NICS process – only mental health issues!  Delaware condones potential sale of firearms to convicted felons!  Many of the gun rights/activist organizations SUPPORT this bill as an improvement on the current process and it is co-sponsored by several Republican legislators.  It would also negate the value and avoid the issues associated with SB3, which requires a “License to Purchase” a firearm.  SB3 is redundant and adds bureaucracy and expense to the purchase process, as these checks would be performed at the point of sale – again.

“Unconstitutional, Anti-Gun Bills on the Legislative Hall Agenda,” June 6, 2022.

Given that description of HB450, I just might have to go back and update my testimony against that bill from 2013. I especially love some of my rewrites of the Second Amendment they seem to be proposing.

But these are troubled times for those who believe in the Second Amendment. Even with the defection of Bruce Ennis, there’s a 13-8 majority in the Senate that will pass these and probably 24 (if not more) votes in the House. Methinks if we can hold this off (even in court) until November, though, we may be able to turn these things away.

Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: May 2022

If things had turned out ever-so-slightly different, I would have had dual repeat winners for the first time. Until the last week of the month, Darell Hernaiz was once again the clear leader of the band insofar as the top position player went, but instead of getting another award he got something more important: a long-overdue promotion to Aberdeen on May 24.

Isaac Bellony parlayed his good May into being called up the Aberdeen the next month. Here he celebrates a win over Fredericksburg May 19.

In the interim, this month’s eventual winner did something you don’t see every day: hit a natural cycle of (in order) single, double, triple, and home run. That 5-for-5 day last week (with another single added for good measure in a 14-6 win at Charleston) vaulted Isaac Bellony past the absent Hernaiz and into this month’s honor. The switch-hitting outfielder ended the month with a slash line of .250/4/20/.845 OPS, all of which led the qualifiers. (One hitter had a better average and OPS but in a limited number of at-bats, only 16.)

The 20-year-old native of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands was signed back when the Orioles were beginning their push to rebuild the international pipeline in the latter days of Dan Duquette’s tenure as general manager. (For context, Bellony was signed on July 27, 2018 – right in the midst of five major league selloff trades that brought over a dozen players to the Orioles’ starved minor league system. Those begat a haul that soon brought former Shorebirds Jean Carlos Encarnacion and Jean Carmona over.) Isaac showed some potential in the Dominican Summer League when he began playing in 2019, so after the year-long minor league hiatus he was promoted to the Complex League in Florida, hitting .259/4/11/.804 OPS overall, primarily for the Orange team (37 of 39 games.)

In the absence of Hernaiz, Isaac has become the primary offensive threat for the Shorebirds, and despite his average falling off a little bit in May, his overall .262/6/30/.843 OPS at the end of May led the remainder of the team in those slash categories. One item that may change in the future, though: like Cedric Mullins before him, future success may dictate the switch-hitting may be dropped as Bellony’s only 1-for-21 as a right-handed hitter this season. Given his stat sheet now has a handful of left-on-left at-bats, that may have already occurred.

Fans of the Shorebirds may have noticed the international flavor of the team this year, particularly as Bellony represents a product of the emphasis on scouting abroad. Isaac is the first homegrown international position player to be a Shorebird of the Month since 2017 (current Shorebirds coach Daniel Fajardo was the last) but I suspect there may be more in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, on the pitching side Daniel Lloyd was definitely in the mix for repeating the honor of Shorebird Pitcher of the Month, but instead I chose to honor another player recently promoted to Aberdeen.

While Alex Pham was only in for two hitters in this May 15 game against Salem, his body of work since rejoining the Shorebirds last month was enough to give him the nod as Shorebird Pitcher of the Month.

Righthander Alex Pham was here at the very tail end of an extended 2021 season, pitching in three games as a wrap to a year that sent the Bay Area native from his senior campaign at the University of San Francisco to Wareham, Massachusetts for a brief pre-draft stint in the showcase Cape Cod League circuit to five games (and all of 6 2/3 innings) in the Complex League to two weekends and a week here. Looks like he pretty much covered all the corners of the country.

While Alex was unscored upon here, a couple rough outings in Florida contributed to an overall 3-1, 4.63 mark and 1.543 WHIP. A 12:3 strikeout to walk ratio was also promising for a guy not picked until the 19th round. (Just like Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame pitcher Josh Hader – granted, Hader is by far the most successful from that year’s round, just three of whom even made the Show.)

Pham didn’t show up here this season until the end of April, so I’ll take the liberty here of lumping in his single one-inning appearance with April to his May stats. It all worked out to a 1.59 ERA in six appearances covering 11 1/3 innings, where Alex allowed just eight hits and struck out 15 while walking seven for a 1.324 WHIP. Perhaps those aren’t eye-popping stats, but Orioles management has been aggressive with moving up the 2021 draft class and considering Alex will turn 23 later this fall they wanted to see how his outstanding breaking ball (it was very fun to watch batters react to it) would play at a higher level. (So far, so good – his Aberdeen numbers are a shade better than he had for the Shorebirds.)

Pham emerged from a scrum at the top of the pitching heap that included the aforementioned Lloyd as well as Hugo Beltran, Shane Davis, Alejandro Mendez, and Preston Price. Hopefully those who remain will keep making it hard to select the next Shorebird Pitcher of the Month.

I’ll be back to the normal first Thursday selection in July for the June honorees.