End-of-the-year post

It seems like most people write a year end summary post so I’ll do the same and talk about where my website and I have gone this year.

I went back to the Site Meter compilation I had from 2006 and found out that I had a good year indeed. My average readership for the second half of this year was up 147% from the second half of last year. (Yes, that includes the Rushalanche I had in October but even without it I’m still up 107 percent.) On three occasions I was rated as the most influential political website in Maryland, a distinction that only nine websites in Maryland held, with just three achieving the milestone more often.

I also got to expand my influence in other ways as well. While I maintained my position as a contributor to the Patriot Post newsletter, I also got to host my first blog carnivals (Carnival of Maryland 7 and 17), watched as the Maryland Bloggers Alliance I belong to expanded to over 40 members, and became a contributor to the Red Maryland website that also was rated the most influential political website in the state three times. (Did you know that only three websites were in the top 20 every week they did a rating this year? Mine was one, along with Free State Politics and Brian Griffiths’ website.)

Another milestone was getting my first advertiser, dullscrews.com. So for the first time in 2007, monoblogue turned a profit!

However, as the kids used to say that was so last year. I’m hoping for bigger and better things in 2008.

First off, for a guy with a politically oriented website I’m going to have a hell of a lot to write about. The Presidential culling process begins in earnest on Thursday in Iowa and by the time the smoke clears after the New Hampshire primary January 8th, we’ll likely have a couple fewer candidates on each side as they run out of money or otherwise decide their campaign is doomed. Our primary turn comes February 12th, and while the Presidential race may be all but decided on both sides we have some of the keenest competition for a Congressional seat in the country. Will the moderate GOP incumbent be turned out by conservative voters or can he survive as two candidates to his right split that vote?

Don’t forget also that in a week or so we begin the sausage-grinding in Annapolis as the regular General Assembly session commences and people start to see the impact of taxes wrought in the special session last fall. (Look for a run on cigarette sellers tonight.) Maryland voters shouldn’t forget that we vote not just for President and Congress come November, but both legalizing slot machines and early voting are on this fall’s ballot as we speak.

I’m planning on covering all of that and telling you what I think about it in some shape, manner, or form. But I have a few other changes in store too. Hopefully in the next few weeks monoblogue will have a fresh new look and more advertisers of both a local and national nature. And I’m going to keep trying for that number one influence ranking despite more and more competition by some seriously good writers who continue to jump into the blogosphere.

So I leave this year behind with a standard wish and prayer I always give at this time of year. May the coming year be both your best year and the worst year of the rest of your life.

See you in 2008!!

 

Weekend of local rock volume 8

December 30, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 8 

It’s not a full weekend and it’s a few days past Christmas, nevertheless I went out to Steer Inn last night to enjoy the 12 Bands of Christmas. Today I’ll do the pictures and a little descriptive text for each, later this week when I have more time I’ll come back with more thoughts on the show over on the Myspace site for monoblogue.

First of all, props go to this man:

This guy has put together this event for 10 years now. At the mike is Skip Dixxon of Ocean 98.

There’s not many people who have supported local music like Skip Dixxon. When X106.9 lost his services, it pretty much ended their reign as “the” local music station (and probably hastened their eventual demise as an alternative rock outlet.) Now Ocean 98 is the place where bands go to get airtime and be noticed.

The opening band was one I hadn’t heard before, Melodic Groove. Funky stuff out of Crisfield.

Three-piece band of funk, rock, and a little blues. You pick which is which.

I’ll be linking them on here once I get through with my article. Next up was a band I was somewhat more familiar with, the Aaron Howell Band.

Take one talented musician with a liking for roots rock and add in bass and drums, you get the Aaron Howell Band. Aaron's the guy with the guitar.

His was the second band to start us off with sort of a bluesy classic rock style. But the next band in line kicked things up a notch or three. Meet Another Vicious Cycle:

These folks hammered out about a half-dozen doses of hard stuff.

I’ll go further into this on Myspace, but I saw AVC in one of their first shows and they’ve really put things together since then. After they finished, there was another band I was hearing for the first time.

Slowing things back down a bit, Trailerpark Romeo came across to me as more of a jam band than anything else.

Trailerpark Romeo is a band I wouldn’t mind hearing a little more from. Obviously they’re not as heavy as some of the others but they have a good bar band sound. I’ll be linking to them as well since they hail from Ocean City.

Of course, band number five was a good one.

New drummer, same old great sound from Semiblind.

Yeah, it’s Semiblind with their new drummer. They even played a couple covers I hadn’t heard from them before and did a great job with Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”

Michelle from Semiblind. I think I took this one just as a song that she wasn't singing ended.

As is generally the case I took my gratutitous Michelle shot as well. This one came out halfway decent. I have a second gratuitous shot later, you’ll see why.

Following Semiblind came another staple of local rock, Lower Class Citizens.

Lower Class Citizens rocking out. I thought the 'Keith Richards for President' shirt on the bass player was amusing too.

On their Myspace (it’s linked from here, look to the right) they claim Led Zeppelin as a prime influence and I’m not going to argue with that one bit. There’s more of a classic rock tone to them than there is with most bands.

The OC theme continued with band number 7, Pirate Radio.

Longtime local band Pirate Radio got their set in. Unfortunately, most of my pictures of them didn't come out so hot.

For those of you who were there, Pirate Radio was the band that got Roma (the belly dancer) on the floor. She was actually there advertising classes in tribal bellydance, so I’ll give her a plug. Roma certainly can dance, I’ll give her that. Score a point for unique marketing too. I think she’s why my picture of Pirate Radio was off-center.

Now you’ll notice that I was pretty much able to go where I want for pictures for the first seven bands. Band number eight changed that, they were called Agent 99 and you’ll see just why below.

In this shot, Agent 99 had a guest vocalist. Skip Dixxon is helping out on drums, by the way. And I have no clue what the guy on the right is looking up at.

This band was the one true cover band we had as they played Heart, Skid Row, and Night Ranger songs (among others). I also got gratuitous picture number 2 here, of the bassist – her name is Casey as I found out later.

She isn't quite dressed as black as coal, but she did pretty much stand like Bill Wyman. That reference will probably go right over the head of 99 percent of my readers. Guys like me dig chicks with bass.

The band who probably came the farthest was Skitzo Calypso. They’re from Baltimore but they come down here quite a bit. Last night was probably the third time or so I’ve seen them in my time here and I don’t go that far for shows.

Skitzo Calypso was definitely one of the more active bands on stage, as this shot bears witness to.

Finally, closing out the show was lower case blues. (Yes, there were just 10 bands but they still named it “12 Bands of Christmas” – it’s tradition you know.)

Closing out the show and making it sort of a full circle were the three-piece sounds of lower case blues.

Not surprisingly, they played the blues, but not the slow, sultry kind. A little more uptempo was their set for the most part. They had a few out on the dance floor, which didn’t get a whole lot of use for the bands prior to that (except for Roma). The crowd had thinned some since the departure of Agent 99, but those who remained seemed to dig what they heard.

So ended another marathon show with 10 bands in seven hours. Haven’t gotten word yet, but if the delmarvanightlife.com website is still a profitable enterprise, their anniversary show would fall about the beginning of February and should be the next multiband event locally. However, if you get the opportunity to catch a local band in a soon to be smoke-free bar or other venue near you, go check them out. We have a lot of talent around here as last night demonstrated.

NFL playoff picture week 17

December 29, 2007 · Posted in NFL News, Sports · Comments Off on NFL playoff picture week 17 

It all comes down to this. This week’s NFL schedule features 16 games but only six have any bearing on the playoff picture. With their flexible scheduling, the league placed most of these games in a time slot guaranteed to encourage channel-flipping between games – the 4:15 time slot has four huge games that impact the playoff picture, not to mention Sunday’s capper. But we’ll begin with tonight’s flirtation with history.

New England (15-0) at New York Giants (10-5), 8:15 p.m. (NBC, CBS, NFL Network)

The game’s already making history because it will be simulcast on three networks. Most likely it will be the highest-rated regular season game in NFL history. As far as playoff position, neither team can improve its standing with a win so the importance factor comes in with the Patriots’ bid for perfection.

Moving to Sunday’s early game…

New Orleans (7-8) at Chicago (6-9), 1 p.m. (FOX locally)

Like dominoes, the NFC wild card contenders play in sequence. New Orleans plays the Bears in a 2006 NFC Championship rematch – unfortunately the bloom is off the rose for this one as neither team is likely to claim a playoff spot. The Saints also lose one key weapon in the contest as running back Reggie Bush is out. For the Saints to sneak in as an 8-8 wild card, they need to beat Chicago and hope both Washington and Minnesota lose later games. Then they’ll win the tiebreaker based on a 7-5 conference record (vs. 6-6 for both the Redskins and Vikings.)

Next in sequence the 4:15 NFC game we won’t see…

Minnesota (8-7) at Denver (6-9), 4:15 p.m. (FOX)

After losing to Washington last Sunday night, the Vikings were kicked out of the playoff driver’s seat and now face a team who also looked bad in primetime this past week. But a win over Jay Cutler and company at least gives the Vikings a glimmer of hope by eliminating New Orleans. Minnesota does need a hand in the other key late NFC game though…

Dallas (13-2) at Washington (8-7), 4:15 p.m. (FOX locally)

From all indications the Redskins get a break because Dallas will rely heavily on its reserves to get them through this game. Since the Cowboys have some banged-up players (including Terrell Owens and Tony Romo) they’ll take advantage of the extra week off and lack of travel they’ll get as the highest seed to rest key personnel. On the other hand, the Redskins know the score and they’ll go all-out to win this one over their hated arch-rival. A win by Washington and they’ll earn a trip to Seattle to begin the playoffs regardless of what Minnesota does at Denver (because of their recent Sunday night win in the Metrodome over the Vikings.)

Now turning to the AFC…

Pittsburgh (10-5) at Baltimore (4-11), 4:15 p.m. (CBS locally)

I seem to recall these two teams met about this time last season and Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers spent a lot of the game on his back. I’m not sure the Ravens’ defense will make that same statement this time around as the tables are turned and Pittsburgh is heading into the playoffs while the Ravens stagger toward season’s end. If the Steelers win as expected, they still need a equally bad Oakland team to knock off San Diego to secure the #3 seed and avoid a rematch with Jacksonville in the first round.

San Diego (10-5) at Oakland (4-11), 4:15 p.m. (CBS)

After the 49-11 tattooing Oakland received in Jacksonville last week, expect to see the Chargers’ starters run up a nice first half lead and sit most of the second half. A win by San Diego means they get either Tennessee or Cleveland in their house to open their playoff run as the #3 seed and they avoid playing New England until the AFC title game. They would have a 9-3 conference record against Pittsburgh’s 8-4 mark to win the tiebreaker.

Lastly, we have what’s in essence the first playoff game…

Tennessee (9-6) at Indianapolis (13-2), 8:15 p.m. (NBC)

This is do-or-die for Tennessee. A scheduling quirk by the NFL means that, even though Tennessee and Cleveland have identical records going into Week 17, Cleveland’s game with San Francisco is meaningless to the playoff picture while the Titans have everything at stake. If they win, they gain the playoff berth by being better against common opponents than Cleveland was (Tennessee finished 4-1 against Houston, Cincinnati, Oakland, and the New York Jets while Cleveland was 3-2 against those four teams.) If the Titans lose, Cleveland takes the tiebreaker based on conference record (7-5 vs. Tennessee’s 6-6.) Like Washington, Tennessee gets some advantage in playing against the Colts’ reserves as Indianapolis is locked into their playoff position. So Browns fans need to hope Peyton Manning has a big quarter or so before turning the game over to backup Jim Sorgi.

Just for fun, here’s my prediction of the matchups we’ll see on the first weekend of the New Year as the playoffs begin.

AFC:

#6 Tennessee (10-6) at #3 San Diego (11-5), #5 Jacksonville (12-4) at #4 Pittsburgh (11-5)

NFC:

#6 Washington (9-7) at #3 Seattle (11-5), #5 New York Giants (11-5) at #4 Tampa Bay (10-6)

You can guess what the key prediction for the weekend is if you read the projected playoff matchups closely.

Freshening links

December 29, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Freshening links 

Since it’s sort of the calm before the storm as far as Presidential politics are concerned, I decided to go through my links this morning and make sure they’re current. I culled about a half-dozen dead links, dropped the Tom Tancredo link off the Presidential category, and did some other pruning about the edges. In the case of blogs, I established a rule that they need to be updated at least once in the last three months or 12 posts in six months.

It drives me crazy when a blogger doesn’t take the time to update his or her site on at least a semi-regular basis. (I guess I need to slap myself upside the head then since I haven’t posted a Myspace blog post in awhile.)

Also, there are a few bloggers out there who have been nice enough to link to me but I haven’t reciprocated. I’ll have to check as I go through my feeds over the next few days and see who I owe. I generally will return the link unless I feel the website is devoted too much to personal attacks on a particular blogger. Unfortunately in this locality we have one of those sources that generates a lot of heat but little light and I’m not here to referee that contest.

I’m expecting in the new year I’ll have other changes on monoblogue as I continue to build readership and stature. Hard to believe I’ve been at this blogging thing for almost three years and perhaps 900 posts, probably close to 1,000 with crossposting.

Another illegal immigration battleground

If you haven’t gotten the idea that illegal immigration has supplanted the Long War as a hot-button issue, this may provide further proof. Not five minutes after I put last night’s post to bed, I got an e-mail presser from Senator Pipkin’s campaign:

Harris Supports Illegal Immigrants

Politicians can say anything. Andy Harris believes he can tell the voters anything and get away with it. In an effort to pull the wool over the eyes of Republican primary voters and convince them that he has conservative credentials, Andy Harris says and does anything to win votes.

But no matter what he says, his record speaks loud and clear.

In 2003, Andy Harris voted to allow illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition. Harris sided with the illegal immigration lobby and voted for HB253. This bill would have allowed illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition. Pipkin campaign manager Mike Brown points out, “Harris likes to talk tough on the campaign trail. The reality is he flip flops more than John Kerry. Does ‘I voted for it, before I voted against it’ sound familiar?”

Since entering the congressional race, Harris has tried to fool voters into believing he is tough on illegal immigration.  “Once again, Harris is just not being truthful with the voters.  He voted to give people who sneak into our country the same rights as hard working Maryland families,” Brown added.

By contrast, EJ Pipkin has consistently voted against allowing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.  Pipkin has a record of being strong on the issue even before he decided to run for Congress in the 1st District.

During the 2007 Special Session, Pipkin sponsored a two-pronged approach to take action against illegal immigration.  He introduced legislation that would deny in-state college tuition as well as driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.  Second, to establish a measure of fiscal responsibility, he also introduced legislation to force the State of Maryland to assess how much illegal immigrants cost the taxpayers.”The more people scrutinize Harris’ record the more they realize he and his campaign will say anything to distort the record. I fully expect them to try and deny that they voted for this bill,” stated Brown.

I’m sure the timing was coincidental, but to become more informed I looked up the bill in question. Originally it was intended for immigrants, but later was amended by State Senator Pinsky to include returning servicemen. Harris voted for the third reading of the Senate bill that included the amendments (while Pipkin voted no) but both voted against the bill after the House/Senate conference committee dropped one amendment. Eventually the measure was vetoed by Governor Ehrlich anyway.

It’s the nature of legislation which leads to “gotcha” votes on certain issues. One could take Pipkin’s vote against the legislation as proof he was unfriendly to veterans’ interests as well.

Also in my e-mail box today I got this message. But I’m going to play a game with it as you’ll see.

With only (a time period) to go though, we still have a lots of work to do to overcome (another candidate’s) organization and his negative attacks. He has outspent us … and nearly everyone I meet has seen one of his negative and false attack ads about me or has received a desperate piece of direct mail from his campaign that makes me sound like I should be run out of (a geographic area).

In political consultant lingo, (my opponent’s) campaign is trying to “define me” for voters. The thinking goes, if you run enough negative attack ads, people will begin to believe what they hear and will decide to stay home on (election) night. It is an old trick in politics and probably one of the worst. Wouldn’t it be better if (my opponent) spent his energy and money trying to define himself?

Doesn’t that sound like the First District? It’s actually from Mike Huckabee and talks about Mitt Romney’s Iowa campaign. Here’s what it really says:

With only days to go though, we still have a lots (sic) of work to do to overcome Governor Romney’s organization and his negative attacks. He has outspent us 20 to 1 and nearly everyone I meet has seen one of his negative and false attack ads about me or has received a desperate piece of direct mail from his campaign that makes me sound like I should be run out of Iowa all of the way back to Arkansas.

In political consultant lingo, Governor Romney’s campaign is trying to “define me” for voters. The thinking goes, if you run enough negative attack ads, people will begin to believe what they hear and will decide to stay home on Caucus night. It is an old trick in politics and probably one of the worst. Wouldn’t it be better if Governor Romney spent his energy and money trying to define himself?

By the way, would someone teach Huckabee’s writers a bit more grammar? It’s not the first example of poor proofreading I’ve come across from their camp.

But back to my main point. Another old political trick is for people who have been in the game for a number of years to try and define themselves as “outsiders” who have the deck stacked against them. This is what Huckabee’s attempting to do here (since the e-mail also came with a financial appeal.) Personally, I’m trying to define the candidates based on the issues.

Speaking of that, I think early next week I’ll do my evaluation of how E.J. Pipkin stands on the issues compared to his opponents. It’s not going to be easy because he doesn’t have a whole lot on his website to go by but I’ll do my best.

And as I alluded to yesterday, I did hear from Andy Harris’s campaign regarding polling. I can reveal that their job performance numbers on Wayne Gilchrest aren’t nearly as bad as Pipkin’s, at least in the unfavorable category. (While it’s still leaning unfavorable, the margin is under 10 points.) They also claimed that Pipkin’s numbers were significantly lower in their survey a week before, and questioned how he could gain that much on his poll number in such a short period.

Most astute observers of the political world know that a good campaign press person is paid to blow sunshine up the collective skirts of the media. I’m sure the Gilchrest team has a third set of numbers that they haven’t revealed outside their campaign but they’re using their figures to plot strategy too. Honestly, I’m not wild about the negative tone that the First District campaign’s taken but negativity seems to appeal to the voters who think they can do things better than their man in Washington so campaigns use the tried-and-true to get their point across.

Crossposted on Red Maryland.

A First District update

Some of this you may have seen in other places, and some you may not have. But you won’t know what I think about it until you finish reading tonight’s post.

We’ll begin with the Andy Harris campaign, which secured another endorsement from a national group earlier this week. The Eagle Forum PAC endorsed Harris, but whether Phyllis Schlafly’s group would turn any voters not already backing Harris to his column remains to be seen. In general, the group endorses fairly conservative candidates, including the unsuccessful 2006 U.S. Senate runs of Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania and George Allen of Virginia. Nine of the ten winners they backed for Congress last time belong to the Republican Study Committee, the conservative wing of the House. Moreover, in 2004 the group backed Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland’s 6th District, the state’s most right-wing Congressman.

Competing in the endorsement battle, E.J. Pipkin acquired the backing of Maryland Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley. In part, the press release noted:

The Maryland State Senate Republican Minority Leader Senator David Brinkley has endorsed E.J. Pipkin for Congress.  Brinkley states, “E.J. Pipkin represents the best choice for the voters in the 1st District. His nine year commitment of fighting for the people of the 1st makes him the best choice for the Republicans and the voters as a whole. E.J. Pipkin is the best candidate to keep the 1st Congressional seat in Republican hands.”

At home with his family, Pipkin stated, “I am very pleased to have the endorsement of such a respected leader in the Republican Party. We have worked together for a number of years and Senator Brinkley knows that I have always been a team player for the Republican Party and a tenacious fighter for the people.”

Again, Pipkin leads with the premise (echoed by Brinkley) that only he can keep the seat safe from the Democrats. And again I note that unless they find the Republican candidate in bed with a dead girl or a live boy, I don’t believe the Democrat will get more than 40% of the vote in this district.

But I did finally get a little bit of polling information on the race, along with some context. However, I will caution readers that the polling was done by E.J. Pipkin’s pollster so that needs to be taken into account. Under “Major Findings” the pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, notes:

  • Wayne Gilchrest’s support has dropped off from 39% in November to 33% now, whereas a “strong incumbent” would “expect” 50% of the vote in the primary. Also, Gilchrest’s “hard re-elect” of 28.7% trails the 35% expected from a strong incumbent.
  • Gilchrest’s job approval sits at 36% along with a 60% disapproval rating.
  • Andy Harris’s polling number has gone from 25% in November to 26.8% now.
  • E.J. Pipkin’s polling number is 27.2%, having just got into the race.

McLaughlin’s summary notes that, “The momentum has shifted…it is clear that E.J. Pipkin is closing in on extremely vulnerable incumbent Congressman Gilchrest, and given the appropriate resources, Pipkin is in a good position to win the primary election for Congress.”

First of all, the methodology may be a little suspect because of a pretty small sample size (300 likely Republican primary election voters), so the margin of error is a pretty hefty 5.7 percent. This means that theoretically any of the three could be in the lead, not to mention that 13% of the voters are either still undecided or still backing the two longshots remaining in the race. It’s also unclear how the sample was split among portions of the district, nor do we have the actual poll questions and order. Obviously Pipkin is looking for a bandwagon effect with this release, because if the poll had him at 10% he wouldn’t be trumpeting the fact. On the other hand, neither Gilchrest nor Harris has come out disputing the results.

Pipkin also blasted Harris recently for a negative mailing Andy’s campaign did just in time for Christmas. The contention between the two seems to be on who is more conservative. So I decided to go to a unbiased arbiter called the Maryland Accountability Project, which grades the General Assembly on how conservative their voting patterns are. While my idea of conservative and theirs differ to an extent, this is a good rough guide.

in 2006, E.J. Pipkin scored a 40 on their scale (and has a lifetime 57 rating) while Andy Harris scored 65 (lifetime rating of 78). Here’s a few of the votes they’ve parted on over the 2005 and 2006 regular sessions (I guess the MAP is bit slow on 2007, or they just plain gave up with Governor O’Malley in office. Accountability? What accountability?)

2006 session:

  • SB110 (2007 budget) – Pipkin yes, Harris no (passed 43-2).
  • SB897 (affirmative action for state contractors) – Pipkin yes, Harris no (passed 38-9).

2005 session:

  • SB478 (early voting) – Harris yes, Pipkin no (passed 34-9).
  • HB1525 (hotel rental tax for Wicomico County) – Pipkin yes, Harris no (passed 40-5).
  • HB907 (condemnation of private property for private entity in the town of Boonsboro) – Pipkin yes, Harris no (passed 42-4).
  • HB776 (union service fee allowed to be adopted by Charles County Board of Education for non-union personnel) – Pipkin yes, Harris no (passed 37-7).
  • HB398 (crime for murder of viable fetus) – Pipkin yes, Harris no (passed 36-10).

The last one surprised me, so I had to double-check. Indeed it was true. But on the whole if you believe MAP’s version of conservatism (and they explain the rationale on what they consider a “conservative” position fairly well), then Harris is definitely more conservative in a good apples-to-apples comparison.

One other item I just saw on my feeds – my Red Maryland cohort Brian Griffiths wonders just how truthful Andy Harris’s campaign is. I did my best to set him a little straighter.

And so ends another news roundup. It’s sort of funny that I never get the Harris or Gilchrest mailings but get all the Pipkin ones. Oh well, I still get plenty of stuff to write about and that’s what I like most to do with the info.

Crossposted on Red Maryland.

I have returned…

December 26, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

Just a few thoughts on my time away. I saw in my e-mail I have some good political news to comment on, but that will be tomorrow. Wasn’t expecting to return after 9 p.m. but I did.

I went back to the old hometown to see my family who all happened to be gathered there. It’s been two years since the last time I went to Toledo and I found that not much has changed.

  • The first thing I saw when I drove into the city limits coming in off the turnpike was the three little lit Christmas trees on the triangular traffic island. I guess it’s the mayor’s idea to brighten up the city. But the second thing I saw was all of the potholes along the city street and thirdly was the still uncollected leaves along the curb. (Toledo does leaf collection every fall, generally twice. They’re a little behind this year apparently.) Priorities, people, priorities.
  • One thing that didn’t change is something they need in Salisbury – a good used CD store. I took part of my Christmas money and bought 18 used CD’s for just over $60 with tax. I anticipated making the stop and had to buy another rack to start the next hundred with.
  • The other thing I was happy to find in Toledo that doesn’t exist here is from their local Pepsi bottler. My co-workers know that I drink (plenty of) diet Pepsi at work and prefer to drink it from the 24 ounce bottles – generally I buy them at Giant. (By the way, I see more people I know there. Why is that?) Anyway, here I’m pretty much stuck with regular diet Pepsi but in Toledo they also bottle the caffeine free diet Pepsi AND diet Mountain Dew in that manner. So get on it, Pepsi of Salisbury. Now I know someone else who bottles those and I’m not planning on driving a 1200 mile round trip again for awhile.
  • Finally, something both political and a little closer to home. It occurs to me that all of the money the state of Maryland spends on running generally empty light rail cars around the Baltimore and DC metro areas could be far, far better spent on putting a third lane on I-70 between Frederick and Hagerstown. I got slowed up bigtime by traffic going in BOTH directions. Yes, it’s a holiday weekend but most transportation designs are based on traffic at peak times. It particularly makes me shake my head in disbelief when you take 5 or 6 lanes of traffic coming west out of Baltimore and northwest from DC and choke them to 2 lanes going west. A brilliant engineering feat – not.

Like I said up top, I got two or three interesting e-mails that will deserve comment (or maybe further comment since I was completely out of the loop as far as local blog reading was concerned). I’ll go through all of that tomorrow and get both you, my readers, and I back up to speed.

Merry Christmas to my readers

December 24, 2007 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on Merry Christmas to my readers 

I’m enjoying the holiday with my family, but wanted to give you another chance to enjoy some special stuff I’ve come across in the last few weeks.

First, I took some more close up shots of my Christmas card from the White House.

The watercolor on the outside of the card. 

Scripture verse and signatures inside.

I’ve learned a lot about this card since my original pictures were posted on another website. I also got a lot of readers from that, so hopefully they found other interesting articles here on monoblogue.

Also, I wanted to relink a song I put up a couple weeks ago to keep your holiday mood. Yep, I remembered to put it back up on Christmas Eve, score one for Michael. I’ll have more on my friends from Semiblind after the holiday.

As I stated Friday, I’ll return to live posting on Wednesday. In the meantime, may you and yours have a Merry Christmas.

NFL playoff picture week 16

December 22, 2007 · Posted in NFL News, Sports · 2 Comments 

Taking a few days off from politics, since not much political goes on at the holiday. Besides, the NFL regular season is coming to a close and there’s two big questions yet to be answered. One is will the Patriots match the 1972 Miami Dolphins with a perfect season, and the other is will the Detroit Lions be the first team to lose 10 games after opening the season 6-2? Look for more of these signs if you’re unfortunate enough to be subjected to the Kansas City at Detroit game on your TV.

There are a number of relevant games this weekend though, with one played Thursday night as Pittsburgh beat up on St. Louis. That puts the pressure on Cleveland as you’ll see below – but first we’ll start with tonight’s game.

Dallas (12-2) at Carolina (6-8), 8:15 p.m. (NFL Network)

What’s at stake: A Dallas win puts them one step closer to home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, which certainly beats a trip to frigid Green Bay in mid-January. Carolina needs to win its last two games and have Minnesota swoon to have any playoff hope, but realistically they’re playing for pride at this point.

Key questions: Will Tony Romo’s thumb be an issue as it was last week against Philadelphia? Speaking of quarterbacks, has Carolina had too good of a season to have a high enough draft pick to get a good one who’s not injury-prone?

Also, who’s the genius who allowed the NFL Network to have two Dallas games this season along with quite possibly New England’s capper on a 16-0 season next week? Maybe the better question is why Comcast made it a pay service after it wasn’t last year?

Anyway, continuing in the NFC…

Green Bay (12-2) at Chicago (5-9), Sunday 1 p.m. (FOX)

What’s at stake: The Packers will know if they’re in a must-win situation to have a shot at home field through the NFC playoffs by the time they take the field in Chicago. Should Carolina upset Dallas, Green Bay can win their last two and become the #1 seed. Meanwhile, Chicago is only playing to sweep Green Bay this season since they were bounced out of the playoff picture against Minnesota Monday night.

Key questions: Can the Packers avoid injuries in what should be a bruising, nasty NFC North contest? And can they contain Bears return specialist Devin Hester?

Now for the game we’ll have locally on channel 21…

New York Giants (9-5) at Buffalo (7-7), 1 p.m. (FOX)

What’s at stake: Eli Manning and crew can earn themselves a playoff trip to either Tampa Bay or Seattle with a win at snowy, sloppy Buffalo. After last week’s game in Cleveland that eliminated them from playoff contention, the Bills have probably had enough of snow but play they must in their 2007 season home finale.

Key questions: Will Manning and the Giants continue their trend of playing well on the road? They’re just 3-4 at the Meadowlands but 6-1 in away games, so perhaps they won’t mind being a wild card. For Buffalo, will a December home game become a rarity? There’s been efforts made to schedule one of Buffalo’s home games in Toronto next season and beyond. They would likely be late-season contests since Toronto’s Canadian Football League season generally ends in mid-November.

I was surprised Fox didn’t give us this game…

Philadelphia (6-8) at New Orleans (7-7), 1 p.m. (FOX)

What’s at stake: Because of Minnesota’s Monday night win, the Eagles are out of the playoff picture despite knocking off Dallas on Sunday. But New Orleans still has a legitimate chance at the last wild card since two of their closest foes play each other on Sunday night. So a win for the Saints keeps them in the mix.

Key questions: Can the Eagles avenge a tough playoff loss last year in the Superdome, or will the Saints prevail again? Which Saints team will show up anyway? They’ve been up and down all season and need some momentum to have a shot. What’s sort of funny to me is that the people who came up with the NFL schedule this season probably thought they’d made such a great move having New Orleans finish with their two 2006 playoff foes, Philadelphia and Chicago. Guess which two participants from last year’s NFC playoffs are already eliminated?

Turning to the early AFC games…

Cleveland (9-5) at Cincinnati (5-9), 1 p.m. (CBS)

What’s at stake: A win by Cleveland and they’re in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Cincinnati would love to derail their in-state rivals for at least a week. Cleveland also has an outside chance at the AFC North title if they win at Cincinnati but ironically needs the team that once called Cleveland home to beat Pittsburgh next week.

Key questions: Did anyone think that before the first time these two teams met this year in Week 2 that one team would be 9-5 at the second meeting and the other 5-9? Perhaps, but something tells me if you asked 100 average football fans that day, 98 would’ve said the Bengals would be the 9-5 team. Guess again. So can Cleveland win 10 games for the first time since they returned to the league in 1999? WBOC hasn’t yet put up which game they’ll have this week, but I’m thinking since it’s an AFC North contest this may be the one.

Or we may get this game…

Oakland (4-10) at Jacksonville (10-4), 1 p.m. (CBS)

What’s at stake: The Jaguars lock up a wild card with a win (or a loss by either Cleveland or Tennessee). Possible playoff destinations for Jacksonville are San Diego (who they beat), Pittsburgh (ditto), or maybe Cleveland (who they didn’t play.) Oakland would like to just win, baby.

Key questions: Will Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor vote online 1,000 times for himself to get in the Pro Bowl next season? Apparently 10 times wasn’t enough.

Now to the late games…

Tampa Bay (9-5) at San Francisco (4-10), 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

What’s at stake: Tampa Bay is playing for playoff position since they’ve already won the NFC South. San Francisco is playing to enjoy sunny California before they go to Cleveland next weekend.

Key questions: Will Tampa Bay really be interested in winning? After all, would you really want to be the NFC’s #3 seed and likely go to frigid Green Bay in a second-round game or be the #4 seed and probably play at Dallas? Yeah, there’s the matter of who you play in the first round but the tradeoff looms. Because Seattle beat the Bucs in Week 1 they have the tiebreaker to determine seeding; thus a loss for Tampa and a Seattle win sets their positions.

Miami (1-13) at New England (14-0), 4:15 p.m. (CBS)

What’s at stake: New England’s quest for perfection. They’ve already set themselves up for home field throughout the AFC playoffs.

Key questions: Will this set a NFL record for betting point spread? The opening line was 23 points. One more and they tie the record of 24 points first set in a 1993 game between San Francisco and Cincinnati. The Patriots had a record opening line last week, 27 over the Jets but that soon fell to 24 points and tied the 1993 mark.

But you’ll get to watch this game instead…

Baltimore (4-10) at Seattle (9-5), 4:15 p.m. (CBS locally)

What’s at stake: Similarly to Tampa Bay, the Seahawks are playing to get as weak of a first-round opponent as possible and breaking out the long johns for the trip to Green Bay. As for Baltimore, perhaps what’s at stake is Brian Billick’s job.

Key questions: How long do the Ravens stay with Kyle Boller at quarterback? Certainly Troy Smith didn’t lose the game at Miami last week. Otherwise, will the Ravens win again this year? At least they get a fourth-place schedule next season.

This one might be a better game too…

New York Jets (3-11) at Tennessee (8-6), 4:15 p.m. (CBS)

What’s at stake: Tennessee needs to win or they’re eliminated from playoff contention. Of course, if Cleveland and Jacksonville are victorious beforehand this game becomes meaningless.

Key questions: The obvious – will this game still have playoff implications when it begins? They should know the Jacksonville and Cleveland results by then.

Now the Sunday night game…

Washington (7-7) at Minnesota (8-6), 8:15 p.m. (NBC locally)

What’s at stake: Washington needs to win to have any chance at a playoff berth. Minnesota could seal a spot if they win and Philadelphia defeated New Orleans earlier.

Key questions: Can the Redskins’ Todd Collins play well without a howling wind? Will the Washington D be able to contain Adrian Peterson? NBC picked well for it’s Sunday night game this week, but what will the Redskins do when they play a day game again? This will be three prime time games (Chicago, New York, Minnesota) in a row.

Monday night’s game…

Denver (6-8) at San Diego (9-5)

What’s at stake: San Diego can stay in the #3 seed position with a win. With a victory, they hold the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh based on conference record (8-3 vs. 7-4). Denver’s out of the running but they’d like a little payback for the 41-3 tattooing they received at home against the Chargers back in Week 5.

Key questions: Have the Chargers finally hit their stride? Remember, they were only 5-5 coming into the Baltimore game in Week 12. Since then they’ve won 4 straight but only against mediocre opposition.

Next week I’ll do this again, likely with fewer important games. It’s possible all 12 playoff teams may be set and it’s also possible 8 of 12 teams will be positioned so only a few games will have meaning. We’ll see.

 

Pipkin talks about choice

No, not the choice you may be thinking. This e-mail I received from E.J. Pipkin’s campaign is entitled, “Primary Voters Deserve Quality Choices.”

A good amount of discussion has been going on regarding my decision to run for the United States Congress representing the 1st District. Much of this has surrounded two keys (sic) points.  The first surrounds the concept of who has the right to run for public office. The second involves my ability to win.

The “right” to put oneself forward for office, to be judged by voters, and to represent your friends and neighbors is a basic fundamental component of our representative government. This system relies upon individuals being willing to discuss their ideas, their backgrounds, their strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and their vision for how to improve the lives of those they wish to represent.

This is not the first time I have offered the voters my vision and energy in the political arena. Nor is it the first time I have shown the voters that I am willing to fight for them.

In 2002, I won a Maryland State Senate seat on the Upper Eastern Shore against a 24 year Democrat Committee Chairman who was referred to as the fourth most powerful person in Maryland. I worked full time for over a year to win. During that contest, I knocked on over 10,000 doors, went to hundreds of events, sign waved off the back of my truck in the heat, cold, and rain, and committed my own assets to succeed. Despite a dirty tricks campaign and hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Democrat slate, I prevailed with over 60% of the vote. Our efforts helped lead a Republican sweep of all three House of Delegate seats for the first time in District history.

In 2004, I rose to the call of Republican Bob Ehrlich to challenge the Democrat monopoly in the State of Maryland. After a successful nine way primary, I took on the entrenched Democrat U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski. I dedicated another year of my life to this tough task.

We built a statewide Republican organization, constructed a grassroots operation, and supported Republican candidates across the state. I backed up this endeavor by investing over $2,000,000 of my personal funds. To this day, as a businessman this was not an easy decision, but I was investing in our Republican message and building a party that benefits all the people.

While not achieving a ballot box victory, I received what was at the time the second highest number of votes statewide for a Republican.

My efforts also helped the Republican Party nationally. While Democrat Mikulski was spending $6,000,000 against me in Maryland, she was not able export the huge amounts of cash to other Democrats around the country. We made her keep her Democrat money here in Maryland. This was a team effort and I played my part.

In 2006, when Democrat U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes retired, a rare open Maryland U.S. Senate seat was created. I felt that given my efforts, investment of time, and election results, that I would be the best person to run for that seat. However, the Republican Party leadership decided that Lt. Governor Michael Steele should be the candidate. I supported their decision and did not challenge Michael in a Republican primary and I supported his effort to win and advance the Republican team.

Also in that year, I led the team on the Upper Eastern Shore that posted a number of impressive victories. Despite the difficult environment for Republicans, I won reelection to the Maryland State Senate with again over 60% of the vote. We also returned the entire Republican House delegation to Annapolis. Both Governor Ehrlich and Lt. Governor Steele posted outstanding numbers in my State Senate District.

In 2007, I worked for six months against the O’Malley tax increases. I tried to block every move to call the Special Session. Once it occurred, I proposed over a billion dollars in spending cuts, and opposed every tax increase proposed by the O’Malley administration. I worked hard to make it clear that the government had a spending problem not a revenue problem.

It was during this Special Session that it became apparent that the incumbent Congressman for the 1st District Wayne Gilchrest was out of favor with Republican primary voters. The Republican base has judged him to be too liberal, out of touch, and part of the DC elite that they do not like.

As I watched the campaign unfold, I saw what I considered to be problems for the Republican Party. Problems that I did not think should be ignored.

Andy Harris is from the furthest geographic extreme of the District in Baltimore County. The expected Democrat challenger Frank Kratovil will exploit Harris’s lack of 1st District experience, Harris’s votes against the Eastern Shore, and Harris’s dismal environmental record, in a general election. A Harris victory hands the 1st Congressional seat to a Democrat.

A Gilchrest nomination would leave the district represented by someone that has decided he would rather stand with Nancy Pelosi over President George Bush. While I am sure that no one is happy we are at war, the fact is we are, and our troops deserve to have the full support of Congress without restrictions and timetables.

My instincts told me that it was time to get involved.  It was time to give the Republicans a choice that could not only win the nomination, but also had a record that would retain the seat in November. I choose (sic) to get a second opinion. I had a poll conducted that supports that both Harris and Gilchrest have high negatives, that the district is not happy, and that the people of the 1st District know about the hard work I have put into fighting for them. So, I made the decision to run.

While the Constitution gives me the right to run, it is my hard work for the Republican Party that matters locally. After all the time, effort, and personal investment I have made to build a solid Republican team, I offer the best credentials to keep the 1st Congressional District in Republican hands. The voters know that for the past nine years, in my private and public life, I have tirelessly been an advocate for the people of the 1st.

I believe that 1st District Voters want me, an Eastern Shore Conservative who will fight for Maryland taxpayers, in Washington. I believe they want me to fight for lower taxes, end wasteful spending, stop illegal immigration, protect our 2nd amendment rights, clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and fully support our troops and win the war on terror.

And while only time will tell if I am correct, I am running to represent the people of the 1st District and I will earn every vote that it takes to win.

I appreciate Senator Pipkin answering this question I and many others had directly and honestly. I have three counter-arguments though.

At the moment, we have a Congressman who lives roughly in the center of the district, as does E.J. Pipkin. But where a representative lives in a particular district is of much less importance than how he or she represents me. If my sole criteria on representation was distance from my house, I’d vote for Chris Robinson since he lives just up the road in Talbot County. But obviously I disagree with Robinson on a wide variety of issues. Further, would people on the other side of the bay be so parochial on their choice? They do have about half the district’s population but much less geography. In short, Pipkin’s argument is a little like disdaining Ronald Reagan because he lived on the extreme west coast of the country when he ran for President.

My other argument has to do with timing. Personally, I’ve been frustrated with Wayne Gilchrest on various issues since I got involved in politics here, and that was two years ago. When I bought my house last year and could place political signs in my yard, there were two top-ticket Republicans missing and he was one of them. Wayne was definitely a “lesser of two evils” vote for me and I’m of the opinion that many others in the GOP felt the same way. The reason Andy Harris jumped into the race was because of this frustration, as I photographed last spring.

So something tells me that ambitious politicians with some experience would be testing the waters before they jumped into a race. I’m sure that Andy Harris got the same sentiment from whichever polling outfit he hired to evaluate his chances too.

My last argument is based on Pipkin’s contention that Frank Kratovil could win in this district. Let’s do a mini-Kevin Bacon moment here, shall we? I only need three degrees.

If you look right on top of Kratovil’s website, sooner or later a quote of endorsement from Martin O’Malley will come up. (There’s four from various Maryland Democrats that cycle through.) This is the same O’Malley who’s endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. It’s also the same guy who orchestrated all of our upcoming tax increases, endorsing the same woman who wanted to nationalize health care so we can wait months for routine procedures like Canadians do. It’s a simple algebraic equation:

Kratovil = O’Malley = Clinton

Now those politics might play a little bit on the other side of the bay, but in this half of the district any of those three will be fortunate to get 40 percent.

However, I do have to give Pipkin credit for addressing this issue. In the next couple weeks I’ll subject his views to the same scrutiny I have the other candidates where they were readily available in order to evaluate him for my readers.

In the meantime, this will be the last “live” post I do until after Christmas. I have pre-written posts for tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday and will not have a post on Christmas Day. On Wednesday I plan on returning to live writing. Nor will I moderate comments, but feel free to leave them. I don’t mind having a bunch to go through on my return since my spam filter and word verification take care of the crap.

Crossposted (except final paragraph) on Red Maryland.

Tancredo drops Presidential bid, endorses Romney

December 20, 2007 · Posted in Campaign 2008 - President, National politics, Politics · 1 Comment 

He made his point. While Colorado’s Rep. Tom Tancredo never got much above the low single digits in the polls and was considered a one-issue candidate because his main campaign plank focused on the issue of illegal immigration, he still considers his mission successful.

In a letter to supporters, he wrote:

Dear Friends,
 
It is with my heart full of gratitude and a touch of sadness that I write today to tell you of my intention to end my campaign for the presidency.

As a loyal friend and supporter it is important to me that you understand why I am doing this, even though you may disagree.

For the past ten years I have dedicated my public life to the critical issue of illegal immigration.  I believed then – as I do now – that massive uncontrolled illegal immigration threatens our survival as a nation.  I could not stand by and let open border politicians and corporate lobbyists sell our country out to the highest bidder.

Then earlier this year when I feared that the issue would not be championed by any of the top candidates I threw my hat in the ring.  It was the only way I could be certain that the candidates would be forced to take a stand.

Thanks to your incredible support look what we have accomplished:

Just last week Newsweek declared that “Anti-immigrant zealot [that would be me] had already won.  Now even Dems dance to his no mas salsa tune.” This month alone The Economist, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal and a score of other newspapers have written similar assessments, grudgingly crediting our campaign with forcing the issue of immigration to the center of the national stage and – more importantly – with forcing every presidential candidate to commit themselves to an immigration plan that calls for securing the borders, opposing amnesty and enforcing the law.

Of course, many of the candidates need to be pinned down on their understanding of the meaning of amnesty, but we have succeeded beyond my most optimistic expectations of a year ago.  We even have Hillary jumping through hoops on the issue!
 
So with so much success why drop out of the race now, you are probably asking.  For one reason and one reason alone: I believe the cause demands I do so.

The presidential campaign has come down to less than a handful of viable candidates.  Unfortunately several of them have abysmal records on immigration and can’t be trusted to do what is needed to preserve this country if they’re elected.  My fear is that if I were to stay in this race my votes could be the factor in handing victory to a pro-amnesty politician. Friends, we have done too much, come too far and the stakes are too high to play that hand. And so I am ending my presidential campaign.

I know there are many more battles in our future and you can count on me to stay in this fight with you.  We must continue to build the unquestioned momentum that is fueling our movement today. In the weeks ahead, I will write to you again to share with you my plans for the future, and for the immigration reform movement that is transforming American politics.

But for now, I just wish to again express to you my deepest thanks and appreciation for your partnership with me in this historic effort.  I also want to wish you a very blessed and merry Christmas!

We have come so far together, and through our efforts we have made a stunning and, I believe, permanent impact on the debate over securing our borders and preserving our nation.

Not a day has gone by in this campaign that I have not thanked God for the dedication of so many Americans like you. I can promise you that as long as He gives me life and strength, I will work hard for our cause and to honor the trust you have placed in me.

With sincere best wishes,

Tom Tancredo

Actually, except for his stance on the Long War, Tom was one of my top choices and led the race for my endorsement until that fateful issue came up. What sort of surprises me is that he endorsed Mitt Romney, who I feel doesn’t necessarily line up with Tancredo on his pet issue, nor has that many other conservative bonafides. Romney’s views on illegal immigration are here – now compare them to this statement by Tancredo:

Illegal aliens threaten our economy and undermine our culture. While our brave soldiers risk their lives to protect us overseas, our political elites lack the courage to defend us at home. I am 100% opposed to amnesty. As President, I will secure our borders so illegal aliens do not come, and I will eliminate benefits and job prospects so they do not stay.

Or perhaps you may consider this blog post from over the summer. Maybe Romney has come around on the issue to Tom Tancredo’s satisfaction, but the website Hot Air speculates that Tom feels Romney has the best chance of winning over more pro-amnesty candidates like Mike Huckabee or Rudy Giuliani.

Since Tancredo is not going to run again for his Congressional seat, it looks to me like he’ll he one of those “experts” on immigration issues that you see pop up from time to time on the cable news networks. (Also, I can think of a Lincoln Day dinner where a nationally-known speaker would be welcomed.) But he placed his pet issue front and center in the GOP race, and for that America can thank him.

With Tancredo leaving the race, that makes three former candidates who have endorsed three different Oval Office hopefuls – Tancredo with Romney today, Tommy Thompson throwing his support behind Rudy Giuliani in October, and Sam Brownback backing John McCain after he exited the race last month. Brownback shared some of his perspective about his endorsement of McCain in the National Journal this week:

Q: What was the deciding factor for you to endorse Sen. John McCain?

Brownback: I looked and I thought about all the candidates a lot. I prayed about it, and for me it really came down to Mike Huckabee and John McCain. But I really felt that John was the one that could best compete and win ultimately in the fall of 2008. I think he’s the most qualified person running now, ready to be president. He’s ready to be commander in chief. He has foreign policy experience. He’s a budget hawk, has been for a long time. He has a 20-year pro-life voting record. And he can perform in swing states. He can win in Florida. He can win in Missouri. He can win in Ohio. And we’ve got to have somebody that can perform in those states. So that’s why it came down to John for me. (Emphasis in original.)

Now if Tom Tancredo could explain his newfound love for Mitt Romney and the issues I’d love to hear it. Meanwhile, Tom’s grassroots supporters would probably find a more palatable candidate in Duncan Hunter so we’ll see if Hunter gets any Iowa help from Tancredo’s exit.

Crossposted on Red Maryland

Halfway home

December 19, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Halfway home 

From September 3rd to April 3rd there are 213 days. If you don’t grasp the significance of those dates, you’re probably not a Delmarva Shorebirds fan. By my public school math, today is the 107th day between the dates, thus we’ve reached the halfway point between last year’s home finale and next year’s home opener against the Hagerstown Suns. And spring training’s not all that far away, starting up just after the NFL playoffs conclude.

Surprisingly, I’ve found since I started going to Shorebirds Fan Club meetings that the work really doesn’t slow down after the season concludes. Sure, the field may be covered up and all the large signs that cover the wall during the summer may be down but the front office and staff still has a lot to do over the offseason like baseball’s winter meetings and securing those 2008 advertisers, new and returning season ticket holders, and promotions that will entertain you between innings next summer. This time around, Shorebirds GM Chris Bitters has the advantage of seeing what worked and what didn’t during the 2007 season in planning for 2008. (I know he’s trying hard to get those Thickburgers to return. I swear I had seven or eight of those coupons at one time.)

And I know that Chris would like input from fans as to what they liked and disliked as well. Last Friday the club had its Christmas Party and I managed to get a 2008 pocket schedule, so I can tell you that we’ll have 17 fireworks nights next season, the Bucket Boys and Zooperstars are scheduled to be back, and we’ll have several different promotions that certainly will be worth a look-see. Now if we can get the bands back on Thirsty Thursdays like we had my first season here in 2005 the summer will be good to go.

Who am I kidding? I’m ready for April 3rd tomorrow. But the Hot Stove Banquet is Saturday, January 26th at Perdue Stadium’s Executive Club, that may have to do in the interim.

By the way, one method of keeping that baseball spirit alive is to join the Shorebirds Fan Club. It’s a relatively informal group of fans who just want to do nice things for the players. (If I’m involved in it, chances are it’s pretty informal.) That’s the purpose of our sale table during the summer prior to games. We meet at 7 p.m. the third Tuesday each month during the off-season in the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame located at Perdue Stadium. Thus our next get-together is January 15, 2008. Hope to see you there!

One other offseason Shorebirds note. We won’t have Gary Kendall back as manager next year, the O’s have reassigned him to manage the Aberdeen IronBirds. Instead, we’ll have second-year manager Ramon Sambo, who managed the rookies in the Gulf Coast League last season. Pitching coach Kennie Steenstra is staying put but there’s no word on field coach, so it’s not certain if Kimera Bartee will be returning yet.

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